Happy 2020!

And if the first few days of the year are any indication, there may be a lot of comfort eating this year.

Tonight was Cheaters Calzones.  Leftover spaghetti sauce*, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and crescent roll dough.

Just divide the dough into 4 parts, and mush up the little perforations so you have 4 rectangles.  Add a dollop of spaghetti sauce, the pepperoni, and the cheese.  Fold the dough over, seal the edges, and then put a little garlic salt on top if you want.  Pop into the oven, cooking according to the crescent roll directions.

A square piece of golden brown baked pastry dough on a while plate

Before the tasty, gooey mess when you bite in.

This is my tried & true spaghetti sauce recipe:

1 lb sweet Italian sausage (It always ends up a little less, because somehow some of it disappears between the time I cook it and it hits the pot.)
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 c. onion, minced
1-2 6 oz. cans of tomato paste
4-5 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
The sauce & paste can be plain or “Italian style”
4-8 oz liquid of your choice (chicken or veg stock, water, red wine, white wine – I find beef stock to be too heavy.)
1 tsp oregano
3/4 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1-3 cranks of cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp parsley

Cook up the sausage and get it to a “crumbly” state, drain well. (This can be done way ahead of time and popped in the fridge, there will be more than enough simmer time for it to heat all the way through.)

Saute the garlic and onions in a bit of butter or oil, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add 4 cups of tomato sauce. When you put the first cup in, be ready to stir right away – the pan will be hot and this will prevent burning until the pan temp drops with the additional liquid in it. Then add the rest of the tomato sauce, and work in one can of the tomato paste.

Add in the sausage, heat over medium-low to medium heat until it starts to bubble. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer 15 minutes to let the flavors start to come together before adding the additional spices. (Especially if you’re using pre-seasoned tomato sauce or paste – you may need to go lighter on the add’l spices.)

At the 15 minute point, check the consistency – if it’s too thick for your taste, work in some tomato sauce or your “other” liquid – start with 1/2 cup at a time. Too thin? Add tomato paste, starting w/a half can. If you do adjust the liquids or paste, let it go another 5-10 minutes before adding spices.

Once you have the consistency where you like it, add the spices. This is also a good time to start your pasta water – don’t have to get it to boiling just yet, but if you at least get the pot heated up, when you’re ready to cook your pasta, it should only take a few minutes to get it to boiling. (I have a large pot and it does take forever to get water to boil for me.)

Cover and simmer another 15 minutes on low. Check the taste, adjust spices as needed and simmer another 5-10 minutes w/spice adjustment. When you’ve got it where you want it, turn off the heat, fire up the boiling water for the pasta and enjoy! (It will definitely stay hot enough while the pasta is cooking.)

I also use this sauce for lasagna and baked ziti, and it freezes wonderfully.

* Jarred pizza sauce certainly works, too – I’m a fam of Rao’s sauce.

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