Homemade Spaghetti Sauce- A Spera-Crassweller Family Recipe

My Favorite part of the finish product....TASTING!

For as long as I can remember, my mom has always made her own sauce for pasta. As with anything homemade, it is always better than store bought and you know exactly what is in it. This recipe is passed down from my great grandmother to grandmother to my mom and now my brother and I. My Grandmother was one of ten children and each one had their own way of making the sauce. Some members like to use chicken instead of sausage, others didn't use any meat at all but more herbs. No two sauces will ever be alike. I am sure that as I get older I will be adding different items to make the sauce my own.

While the recipe is super easy; it takes A LOT of time. However the most labor intensive is the first 1-2 hours depending on if you do any prep work the day before. The recipe below is for a 16 qt. pot, I do not expect most to have access to anything larger than a 4-5 qt. stock pot, so keep this in mind when you are making yours.

Ingredients (For a 16 quart stock pot)
  • 6-12 uncooked sausage links (can use chicken/pork/beef depending on your preference.)
  • White or Sweet onions diced 
    •  *For any sized pot you want the onions to cover the bottom by 2 inches. That is about the length of your index finger from tip to first knuckle. Do not do this in the pan as the oil will be VERY hot.
  • 1 head of garlic minced
  • 3 cans of Tomato Paste
  • 3 cans of Crushed Tomatoes
  • 6 cans of cold water
  • Salt to taste (try not to over salt, start with 1 tbls and see how it goes)
  • Pepper
  •  1tbls Basil
  • 1 tbls Oregano
  • 1 tbls Thyme


  1. Place the pot over medium heat on the stove. wait a few min until the bottom gets hot. Add the sausage links to the pan (do not over crowd!). Brown the sausage for approx. five min a side.
We like to use Hot Italian Sausage as it adds a nice flavor and bite to the sauce
Leave fat for the flavor!
  1. Remove the sausage and set aside in a paper towel lined bowl or plate for later. If there is a lot of fat at the bottom drain about a tablespoon or so. Don't drain all of it as you want it to barely cover the bottom of the pan. 
  2. Add your onions to the bottom of the pan and reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and sweat the onions 20-40 min until translucent; stir occasionally.  
  3. Your onions should look pretty close to this.
  4. Add Salt, Pepper, and Garlic and Stir for 1 min.
  5. Add in your Tomato Paste, Crushed Tomatoes and 6 cans of cold water (For every 1 can of tomato paste use 2 cans of cold water.) 
    1. Set heat to medium-high and stir.
    2. Bring to a SIMMER. Cover and let sit for 4-5 hours.
      1. Add the meat back in to cook the whole way through
      2. Do Not Boil. Tomatoes have sugar and can easily burn
    3. Add Basil, Oregano, Thyme; stir and let cook for another 10 min. 
    4. Remove the sauce from heat and let cool.


    Skillet Chicken Parmesan

    Fits in one skillet for easy cooking and serving!
    I have been missing from this blog for a while now. Truth was, I didn't have much of a kitchen to call my own so I wasn't experimenting at all. Also it gets difficult to cook when you are uninspired and that was me for over a year.

    Either way, I am BACK! I got this recipe from a little blog and it looked easy enough to try in my little galley kitchen.

    • 1 T. olive oil
    • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in pieces or 4-6 chicken thighs
    • Remove the skin and excess fat from thighs if that is what you will use.
    • 1 small onion diced
    • 3 c. chicken broth
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 (12 oz.) package egg noodles
    • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
    • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
    • 1 T. Italian seasoning (or to taste)
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • 2 c. shredded mozzarella (or whatever cheese you have around)
    • 1 c. panko bread crumbs
    • 3 tsp. Italian seasoning
    • 2 tsp. olive oil

    1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
    2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
    3. Salt and pepper the chicken then add it to the skillet and cook through
    4. Remove chicken to a plate.
    5. If necessary drain some of the chicken fat but not all.
    6. Throw in the onions and sauté on medium high heat until softened.
    7. Add garlic and stir for one min.
    8. Add chicken broth to skillet, and heat until boiling.
    9. Add egg noodles, cook at least 2-3 min under package instructions.
      1. If you have excess broth drain some of it. When you add the tomatoes there will be enough liquid for the noodles to absorb. You don’t want mushy noodles.
    10. When noodles done, diced tomatoes with juice, crushed tomatoes, seasoning, and salt and pepper.
    11. Add chicken, and stir to combine.
    12. Remove from heat, and top with mozzarella.
    13. Toss bread crumbs with seasoning, and sprinkle over cheese.
    14. Drizzle olive oil over bread crumbs.
    15. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.


    Lemon Ricotta Bowtie Pasta

    Easy weeknight dish!

    I am an avid lover and believer in the power of carbohydrates, they are tasty, and make my moods go from bad to.... not so bad (hey that is better than none!). It would be a sad day in my life if I ever get Celiacs disease. This recipe is REALLY easy to make and I had to switch out some things to make it more flavorful, garlic and basil were my adds because not everyone likes mint. Yet another winner from the blog smitten kitchen I found this very easy on my budget as well as an easy weeknight meal to throw together.

    • 2-4 cloves garlic minced
    • 1-2 lemons cut in half 
      • (you may need more depending on how many people you have over)
    • 1/2 lb bowtie pasta
    • 1/2 lb sugar snap peas 
      • (I buy the ones with the string removed because I am lazy) or use regular peas
    • Parmesan cheese (I like fresh grated but can use the processed here as well)
    • Olive oil
    • Pepper and Salt
    • Mint leaves/Basil Leaves/Sage Leaves.....basically any fresh herbs you can get.
    • Small 8, 12, or 16 oz tub of Ricotta Cheese 
      • (fresh is best but I live in an area where you either make it yourself or go with store bought)
    1. In a medium to large pot boil well-salted water. Add pasta and cook for two min less than the suggested cooking time.
    2. Add in the snap peas or peas and cook for 1 min more. Get one mug of pasta water and set aside.
    3. Drain pasta and peas
    4. In the pot drizzle then glug (like 2 tbls) of olive oil and let it heat up. Add garlic and heat on medium stirring occasionally for 1 min or so but DO NOT let it brown.
    5. Put the Pasta and peas back in, add a half the mug of pasta water and stir to coat. add more pasta water if necessary.
    6. Salt and Pepper to taste then let it sit warm for 5 min to absorb the garlic.
    7. Add Parmesan cheese (at least 1/2 cup) and stir.
    8. Spoon out onto plates, add dollops of ricotta cheese to your liking.
    9. Sprinkle fresh herbs on top. I like the mint and basil combination but you might like something different.
    10. Take one half lemon and squeeze some juice over your pasta. Stir and Enjoy!


    Nashville Style Hot Chicken

    In 2013 I made my first (and most likely only) trip to Texas. My brother and his wife were moving to the Netherlands and they needed help getting everything squared away. As my friend and I drove the near 16 hours back to Pennsylvania, we stopped in Nashville. 

    We went to Princes just on the outskirts of the city center; which is the original home of Hot Chicken. Based on all the reviews of the place I knew we had to be there very shortly after opening or else we would be waiting forever for our pieces. At Prince's everything is made to order, nothing is prepped as they want it to be as fresh as possible. We got 4 legs to bring back with us.

    After our return  I began to have dreams of Hot Chicken. As luck would have it Bon Appetit had a wonderful recipe from Hattie B's (the 2nd most famous in Nashville). I tweaked it a bit but kept most of the recipe as is. You may want to double up on sauce so you have some left over.


    7-10 Chicken Thighs or legs (with bone)
    1-2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons plus 4 tsp. kosher salt
    4 large eggs
    2 cups buttermilk or whole milk
    2 tablespoons vinegar-based hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Frank's)
    4 cups all-purpose flour
    Vegetable oil (for frying; about 10 cups)
           * Whatever pan you use make sure you have 2'' of oil in the pan. if you stick your index finger in 
               and it reaches the base of your second joint, you are good.
    6 tablespoons cayenne pepper
    2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon paprika
    White bread  (for serving)

    Special Equipment
    A deep-fry thermometer- THIS IS A MUST


    1. Toss chicken with black pepper and 2 Tbsp. salt in a large bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. Take chicken out of fridge at least one hour before to warm it up a bit. 
      Make sure you get all the crevices! 
    2. Whisk eggs, buttermilk, and hot sauce in a large bowl. Whisk flour and remaining 4 tsp. salt in another large bowl.
    3. Fit a large deep pan or dutch oven or stock pot with thermometer; pour in oil to measure 2”. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 325°. 
      1. You will have to adjust the flame constantly as the oil temp will drop when you put the colder pieces of chicken in.
    4. Pat chicken dry or nothing will stick. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge in flour mixture, shaking off excess, then dip in buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip back into bowl. Dredge again in flour mixture and place on a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack.
    5. Working in 4 batches and returning oil to 325° between batches, fry chicken, turning every 5 min, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of pieces registers 160° for white meat and 165° for dark, 15–18 minutes. Transfer to a clean wire rack set inside a baking sheet. Let oil cool slightly.
    6. Whisk cayenne, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, and paprika in a medium bowl; carefully whisk in 1 cup frying oil. Brush fried chicken with spicy oil. Serve with bread.
    7. Do Ahead: Chicken can be seasoned 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

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