Yesterday was one of those days. The day was sunny and warm, but I had two back-to back writing projects that kept me at my desk. However, I was determined to go on a bike ride with my husband, Clif, when he came home from work. I was also determined to make a nice but quick dinner. Time to put on the thinking cap as I rummaged around my pantry—actually a coat closet repurposed for a pantry—and looked for the makings of a quick dinner.
I found two jars of Muir Glen Spaghetti sauce—purchased on sale, of course. One was roasted red pepper and the other was roasted garlic. Now, I could have stopped right there. Clif loves spaghetti sauce, and Muir Glen makes a good one. He would have been happy with jarred sauce and pasta. But, pressed though I was for time, I wanted to go a little further than just jarred sauce and pasta for supper. I thought of the peppers and zucchini in the refrigerator as well as a package of spicy chicken sausage.
There, I had the makings of something approaching a home-cooked meal. Out came the Crock-Pot and in went the two jars of sauce, a chopped green pepper, a small chopped zucchini, and the chopped chicken sausage—it came precooked. I set it on high and let it bubble.
I know you are not supposed to lift the lid of a Crock-Pot before the meal is done, but I can never resist tasting and stirring. It was a good thing I did. Because while the sauce tasted pretty good, there was a little something missing, and that something was red pepper flakes to jazz it up. I added about a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and let everything simmer on high. When the vegetables were cooked—four hours or so later—I turned the temperature to low.
I finished my writing projects, and I even had time to make a batch of corn bread. Clif came home, and we went on our bike ride. The evening was just perfect. Warm, but not too warm, and Maranacook Lake rippled with shades of blue and gray.
After we came home, I put on the water for the pasta and chopped a small bunch of basil to add to the sauce. Clif’s verdict? “Pretty darned good.” He had two-and-a-half helpings.
I know that with the use of jarred sauce this concoction has a Betty Crockerish feel to it. (In fact, the corn bread recipe did indeed come from a Betty Crocker cookbook.) But sometimes, when the day is busy, and you just want something easy and relatively healthy for heaven’s sake, you have to cut a few corners.
When the meal is tasty, and there are leftovers, well, that’s a real bonus, too.