Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Crazy Cooking Challenge: Spaghetti

The "Spaghetti" theme for this month's Crazy Cooking Challenge really had me excited because spaghetti night is fairly common in our house.  What's not to like about a spaghetti dinner, right?  It's quick, easy, budget-friendly, and a general crowd-pleaser.  Around here we're perfectly content with throwing some cooked ground beef into a jar of sauce and calling it a day, but in keeping with the spirit of the "challenge" part of the Crazy Cooking Challenge I decided to look for a from-scratch sauce recipe.  I knew from the get-go that I wanted to look for a spaghetti and meatballs recipe, as opposed to our usual meat sauce.  Meatballs are a treat indeed!


At first I had my heart set on Spaghetti and Meatballs All'Amatriciana from Bon Appétit.  Packed with bacon and red pepper flakes, it was just begging for me to make it.  Most of the bloggers who tried the recipe really enjoyed it, aside from the generous amounts of crushed red pepper.  In the end though, laziness won out for me...after all, I will be having a baby in 2 1/2 weeks!  I found a recipe that uses the slow cooker AND doesn't require me to make my own meatballs:  Slow Cooker Spaghetti by Lizzy of The Lizzy Pad.  As an added bonus, it contains pepperoni!

Recipe Notes:
  • Unless you have a mega capacity slow cooker (7 quarts), I highly recommend cutting the recipe in half.  Or if you're lucky enough to own more than one slow cooker, divide the recipe between two of them and cook them both at once.  I used a 6 quart slow cooker, and it was filled to the brim.  By the time the sauce got up to a nice simmer it was starting to bubble out from underneath the lid and I had to let it cook with the lid off for a while. 
  • This recipe takes a while to cook (10 hours!), so plan accordingly. See if you can set up your slow cooker on a table in the garage like we did.  Spaghetti smells amazing while cooking, but not when it lingers for an eternity after your meal.  Don't know about you, but I can't sleep when I can still smell food :)
  • Lizzy uses both crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes, then purees the sauce for the smoother texture her children prefer.  I skipped this step, but next time I make this I will probably skip the diced tomatoes and use all crushed tomatoes.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce
Slightly modified from The Lizzy Pad
Yield: 6 generous quarts

2 Tbl. oilve oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. cooked meatballs, thawed if frozen
1 lb. pepperoni, cut into chunks
2 cans (28 oz. each) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (28 oz. each) crushed tomatoes
1 can (12 oz.) tomato paste
1 Tbl. dried parsley
2 Tbl. dried basil
2 Tbl. dried oregano
1/4 cup sugar

Optional additions:
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
8 oz. can mushroom pieces, drained 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic.  Sauté vegetables over medium-high heat until tender and golden, stirring frequently.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Brown meatballs in skillet, then transfer to slow cooker.  Add remaining 8 ingredients to slow cooker and stir gently to combine.  (Don't smash those meatballs!)  Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours. 

After sauce has cooked for 4 hours, skim off any fat that has accumulated from the meatballs and pepperoni.  Stir sauce and check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed.  Add crushed red pepper flakes if using.  Continue cooking for another 6 hours on LOW, stirring in mushroom pieces during the final hour (if using).  Skim fat again if needed.  Let cool slightly and serve over cooked spaghetti. 


Hungry for more? 
Be sure to check out all the other entries in this month's Crazy Cooking Challenge! 
Don't forget to click on my entry in the Linky party below :)



  1. Yipee for the slow cooker. It saves so much time and things slowly cooked that way taste so delicious. This sounds wonderful.

  2. I'm sure after that long in the crockpot, the flavors are amazing. Great idea for a busy week. Thanks for posting! Please check out my spaghetti recipe (#3)

  3. Mmm - the pepperoni would make my hubby really happy!! Beautiful photo.

    I hope you'll stop by an visit my CCC - Spaghetti Pie


  4. A perfect way to have dinner on the table after a long day at work! Let the slow cooker do all the hard work!

  5. Any slow cooker recipe can be done in a solar oven, as well. This is a great combination of spices and herbs -- and, pepperoni! Yea. Slow cooking definitely makes all foods taste better, I think. I'm #28. Come visit when you can.

  6. I love the idea of using a slow cooker for this and your sauce sounds wonderful.

    If you haven't already, I'd love for you to check out my CCC entry: Tomato Sauce with Onion & Butter.

    Cook Lisa Cook

  7. Hubby loves any additional meat in the sauce, pepperoni will take him over the top!
    New follower via GFC, surprised it let me!
    And congrats on the baby, Just put Your feet up and make sure everyone spoils you!

  8. Slow cookers are wonderful! I bet this is fabulous :)

  9. Love using the slow cooker for spaghetti sauce - this I have never tried yet! :-)

  10. Hey, if you're having a baby in 2.5 weeks that's not called be lazy, it's be resourceful. Recipe looks great and good luck with your delivery!!

  11. Recipe looks delish, and I'm sure the pepperoni adds lots of flavor that my hubby would love. I've never used a slow cooker, but I definitely will try this on the stove.

    Visit me at #30 in the challenge.

    Good luck with the new addition to your family,

  12. This sounds delicious. I think the pepperoni would be great in this recipe. I like the idea of using a slow cooker, I am sure it adds to the flavor.

  13. Pepperoni is a nice addition. I should use my slow cooker more often!

    Jen #19

  14. I never thought of making spaghetti in the slow cooker, what a great idea!! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Visiting from CCC#61.

  15. I haven't tried spaghetti in the slow cooker, but I'm going to have to give that a try--I'm always looking for easy weeknight meals, and this looks like a great one. Stopping by from the Challenge!

  16. Oh, I like the idea of slow cooker! I don't have one yet but I'm finding more and more reasons to buy.

    - Gay

  17. I want to make sure that it is very important to see whether or not his is something that is going to improve in many way.