Sumptuous Spaghetti Sauce

Yes You Can: Make Sumptuous Spaghetti Sauce

Sumptuous Spaghetti Sauce

Can you hear it calling?

I’m about to do you a favor. You’re going to use my Grandma Forsythe’s spaghetti sauce recipe for the rest of your life. You’re going to pass it down to your children–and they’ll pass it on to theirs. This is why:

  • This spaghetti sauce is amazingly tasty
  • It’s super easy–it just needs simmer time
  • Also: quite cheap
  • You don’t need a lot of tools: a cutting board, knife, frying pan, pot, and spoon should do it
  • It will make your house smell amazing

This is one of my go-to recipes that has seen me from my first apartment in college to present-day dinner parties with out-of-town guests. Everyone (who eats meat) loves it!

I’ve altered the recipe just a tad over the years–the original called for vegetable shortening and garlic salt. Also, this is actually part of my Grandma Forsythe’s fabulous lasagna recipe–and it is fabulous, rich and delicious and perfect for potlucks or families with new babies. But making lasagna is a pain, and making spaghetti is easy and still quite rewarding. So let’s get to it.

Grandma Forsythe’s Sumptuous Spaghetti Sauce

Makes enough sauce for at least two pounds of pasta

You Need:

2-4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large (28 oz) cans tomato sauce
3 teaspoons dried oregano
3 teaspoons dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water with bouillon cube (I usually use a cup of water with a teaspoon of beef “Better Than Bouillon,” or a cup of chicken stock, or water in a pinch)
1 lb ground beef
1 lb mild Italian sausage

Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Saute the onions and garlic until soft. Add the next six ingredients. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, partially covered.

In a frying pan, saute the ground beef and Italian sausage until cooked through. Drain and add to the sauce. Simmer for another 1 1/2 hours, partially covered.

Put a large pot of water on to boil, and then cook spaghetti according to the package directions. Toss with sauce, then top with a little additional sauce and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Lasagna Variation

Serves at least 12

You Need:

1 lb ricotta cheese
1 lb mozzarella cheese
Parmesan (unspecified: I use at least 1 cup)
1/2 box lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil lasagna noodles according to package directions and spread out on cookie sheets. Place 1/4 of the sauce in the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ pan. Place a third of the noodles over the sauce and top with 1/2 of the ricotta and mozzarella, and 1/3 of the parmesan. Repeat. Top with 1/4 of the sauce, a layer of noodles, the remaining sauce, and the remaining parmesan cheese. Make ahead: refrigerate at this point if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (longer if refrigerated). Let set 20 minutes before serving. Mangia!

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Chocolate Cake

Yes You Can: Make the Best Damn Chocolate Cake in the Whole Wide World

Chocolate Cake

The very best chocolate cake in the world. So seductive!

When I was a child, my goals were simple: I wanted to read all of the Nancy Drew mysteries, and I wanted to eat more cake. My library card helped me achieve my first goal. But when I would ask my mother to bake me a cake, she would tell me she was too busy and that I would have to make it myself.

I quickly agreed, but there was another condition to contend with: my very crafty mother told me she would not buy me cake mixes: instead, I would have to look in her cookbook, then look in the pantry, and see what I could make.

My mom has no time for dilettantes, and I think she thought that I, as a third grader, would quickly give up. Instead, I made a chiffon cake with seven-minute frosting (and her assistance). But I wanted more. I wanted chocolate! During my trip through the pantry, I stumbled across our box of Hershey’s Cocoa, and discovered Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake.

To this day, this is the most popular cake I make on a regular basis–and it’s cheap and super simple. It’s also rich, moist, and so chocolatey, it begs for vanilla ice cream (or at least a glass of milk).

When I got older and had more money, I tried other, seemingly more promising, chocolate cake recipes, bursting with butter (this one calls for vegetable oil) and good-quality melted chocolate. But everyone would eat them politely and then one person (usually my brother) would sigh and say, “This is good, but I really like that other chocolate cake you make …”

This is a great birthday cake. Or fantastic cupcakes. Or a superb sheet cake. I’ve even quadrupled the recipe and made a memorable wedding cake, with the addition of fresh raspberries between the layers.

Chocolate Wedding Cake

Add some raspberries and ribbon, and voila! A wedding cake!

But again: this is super simple, and simply delicious. Even a novice baker can make this, just read the recipe and follow the instructions!

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake

Makes one two-layer 9-inch cake, or one 9×13-inch cake, or 30+ cupcakes

You need:

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans and line the bottoms with waxed paper.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting. Makes 12 servings.

Variations:
One-Pan Cake: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan and line the bottom with waxed paper. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

Three Layer Cake: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans and line the bottoms with waxed paper. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

Bundt Cake: Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

Cupcakes: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

Wedding Cake: Heat oven to 350° F. Make one batch, pour into two 9-inch round pans (greased floured, the bottoms lined in waxed paper). Measure the depth of the batter. Bake as above. Make a triple batch. Grease, flour, and wax paper two 6-inch round pans and two 12″ round pans. Pour batter to same height as the 9-inch layers in each pan (use any leftover for cupcakes). Bake 6-inch layers for about 22 to 25 minutes (test with a wooden toothpick–when it comes out clean, it’s done). Bake 12-inch layers 35 to 40 minutes. Test with toothpicks. Proceed with unmolding as above. Trim layers and decorate as desired (I spread raspberry jam and placed fresh raspberries between the layers of each tier of the cake above, before frosting the exterior in chocolate).

Chocolate Raspberry Wedding Cake

Detail shot of the interior of the chocolate raspberry wedding cake. I am very particular with berry placement.

“Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting

Makes 2 cups

You need:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Beat butter. Alternately add powdered sugar, cocoa, and milk, beating to spreading consistency.

2. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

Make it. Eat it. Bring it to parties and celebrations. Enjoy.