Homemade Spaghetti Sauce – Onion Free Of Course

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce – Onion Free Of Course

So I promised that I would post my homemade tomato sauce recipe once I perfected it. When all three of my differently palleted family members tasted this sauce, they deemed it “the BEST sauce ever!” I’m calling that good!! 😉 The tomatoes that I used were straight out of my garden – mostly Roma tomatoes but a few other types thrown in because I had them. I had picked 2 small buckets full, quartered them, cooked them, and run them through my food mill with the salse screen. I canned 7 pints but still had about 5 left in the pot. I didn’t have time to can any more that day so I figured that I would make the rest into pasta sauce for dinner the next day. I ended up with 1 pint that didn’t seal so that got thrown back into the pot giving me about 3 quarts (6 pints) of tomatoes. If you can’t start with fresh tomatoes, then use about 6 or 7 15oz cans of petite diced tomatoes instead. To smooth it out a little, you might want to throw it in the blender or use an emersion blender to lightly break up some of the tomatoes. My salsa screen breaks the tomatoes up into chunks about 1/2 the size of most petite diced tomatoes. This sauce is great on its own, but feel free to cook and drain some sausage or hamburger or to throw some of my meatballs in.


  1. Approximately 3 quarts of cooked tomatoes, run through the salsa screen of a food mill (or roughly chopped to your desired chunkiness).
  2. 1 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  3. 1/4 tsp ground red pepper
  4. 3/4 tsp paprika
  5. 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano. You can use dried but start at about 1/4 tsp and gradually add more tasting as you go. (Dried herbs tend to be more potent than fresh.)
  6. 2 TBSP salt
  7. 1 TBSP sugar
  8. 1 12 oz can of tomato paste
  9. 1/4 tsp black pepper
  10. 1 Bay Leaf
  11. 1 TBSP butter


  • Add all ingredients except the butter to a large pot or Dutch oven and cover
  • Set heat to simmer or low
  • Stir to mix well then allow to simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally
  • Just before serving, remove the bay leaf and add the butter. Stir gently to incorporate.
  • Enjoy over your favorite pasta. (I would recommend anything but angel hair as this sauce really needs a “meatier” pasta.)
It’s also great in lasagna!
Sort of Last Minute Vegetable Soup

Sort of Last Minute Vegetable Soup

So here is a recipe that I came up with for vegetable soup one day when it occurred to me at lunch that I had completely forgotten to thaw soup for dinner. I had vegetable soup on the menu so that’s what I made (but trust me that doesn’t always happen.) This would also make an easy and healthy weeknight dinner. since you can get it on the table in under 45 min.


  • 1 quart of my homemade chicken stock – if you don’t have any homemade stock you can use store-bought cans but homemade is so much better
  • 1 28 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 32 oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables (corn, peas, green beans, and carrots)
  • 1 can of cannellini beans (This is just what I grabbed. You could use any kind of beans you want.) Also, feel free to use dried if you can plan ahead and prep them the night before. I would suggest 1 cup of dried navy beans as a substitute for 1 can of cannellini beans. **Update – since first posting this, I have made this soup with 1 cup dried kidney beans, prepped the night before, and it was great!
  • 1 cup of dried lentils
  • 3/4 TBSP sea salt – if you use chicken stock from the store, start with 1/2 tsp salt and add to taste. I don’t salt my stock when I make it, since I prefer to salt the dishes themselves when I make them.
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Rinse lentils well and then place them and 4 cups of cold water into a small pot and cover. Do not salt the water.
  2. Turn heat to medium-low and set a timer for 30 min. Once the water starts to boil reduce heat to low
  3. While the lentils are cooking, add the other ingredients to a large pot or dutch oven and turn heat to medium. Once boiling, turn heat to low and simmer until the lentils are done.
  4. Once the lentils are done, drain and rinse them. Then add them to the rest of the soup.
  5. Stir the soup to incorporate the lentils well.
  6. Serve warm with fresh bread and enjoy!
It’s a tasty dinner that you can feel good about when you come back for seconds (or thirds).
Super Easy Venison Meatballs

Super Easy Venison Meatballs

I don’t know about your kids, but mine LOVE spaghetti. Spaghetti night is one of the few nights when everyone eats happily with no complaining over the menu. As of now, Ragu makes a sauce called Super Chunky Mushroom that doesn’t bother my onion sensitivity. Prego also makes a Sensitive sauce that contains no onions or garlic. We all find that one too sweet for pasta, but it makes an amazing pizza sauce (no I can’t order pizza either). I am still working on perfecting my homemade sauce recipe and will post that when I finish it. That will have to wait until my tomatoes are ready in the summer though. 😉

**Update – My tomatoes came in, and I have finally come up with a great spaghetti sauce recipe. Find it here.

Sometimes we have our sauce meatless or with ground sausage, but the kids’ favorite is with meatballs. Of course, I have to make my own, because the world thinks that onions are necessary ingredients in almost everything.

Here is my super easy venison meatball recipe. This yielded about 72 golf ball-sized meatballs.


  • 4 lbs ground venison
  • 2 lbs of raw breakfast sausage (the kind in the roll that you can usually find near bacon at the store)
    • I have found that Kroger’s Mild and Tennessee Pride’s Mild are both safe for me.


  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Line the bottom pan of 1-2 large baking sheets with sides with parchment paper – you need something with sides to keep the juices from running out.
  • Mix the 2 ground meats together until they are well mixed . I typically just use my hands.
  • Pull out golf ball sized pieces of the meat mixture and form into balls, placing them side by side on the tray of the baking sheet.
    • You can make these bigger or smaller depending on how you like your meatballs. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time.
    • Feel free to crowd them a bit. They will shrink a little when you cook them so you don’t have to worry about them sticking together.
This is about 54 golfball sized meatballs, right before they went into the oven.
  • Once the tray is full, place it in the oven.
  • Bake for about 12-15 min or until done. Use a meat thermometer to be sure that the middle of the meatballs reaches at least 170° F.
  • Allow to cool, then vacuum seal in bags. Label and freeze. Enjoy in the next 6-12 months.
    • I usually put about 12 in each bag.
    • This makes a super easy weeknight dinner. In the morning, I just dump a bag of frozen meatballs into a crockpot with 2 jars of sauce. I set it to low until lunch then turn it down to keep warm until dinner. All I have to do is cook some pasta and slice some veggies or make a salad, and dinner is done! 🙂

BBB Burgers

BBB Burgers

Here is my favorite recipe for burgers. I call them BBB burgers because I make them with bambi (what we call venison), beef, and bacon. DD, who dislikes ground meat, will actually devour these. This recipe yielded 44 burgers each about 1/4 lb.


  • 24 oz fatty bacon – ground
  • 3 lbs of 80/20 ground beef
  • ~6.5 lbs of ground venison


  • Preheat oven to 375° F.
  • Line the bottom pan of 1-2 broiler pans (depending on what you have and how big they are) with aluminum foil.
  • Mix the 3 ground meats together until they are well mixed. I typically just use my hands.
  • Pull out large handfuls of the meat mixture and form into patties, placing them side by side on the tray of the broiler pan.
    • I don’t have a burger press yet but I am hoping to get one soon. Once I get one, I will probably use my scale and make the patties all uniform 1/4 lb burgers.
  • Once the tray is full, place it in the oven.
  • Bake for about 30 min or until done.
    • Use a meat thermometer to be sure that the middle of the burgers reaches at least 160° F.
    • I am cooking these to go into the freezer, so I want them well-done. If you are going to eat some before freezing, then, by all means, cook them to whatever doneness you prefer. There are many charts available online that provide cooking times for burgers.
  • Allow to cool, then vacuum seal in bags. Label and freeze. Enjoy in the next 6-12 months.
    • I usually put 8 in a bag, as that will provide 2 dinners for the 4 of us.

Batch Cooking – Tacos and Taco Soup

Batch Cooking – Tacos and Taco Soup

Here is how I make a huge batch of tacos and taco soup in a couple of hours. This yielded about 12 pounds of taco meat and 11 quarts of taco soup. Each of the finished and separated meals described below will usually feed 3 of us for 2-3 meals with an occasional bit left over for a lunch for 1 or 2 of us. (DD doesn’t like ground meat so she typically opts for a cheese sandwich or a soft taco with pepper slices and cheese instead.)

Taco Meat Ingredients

  • Just over 9 lbs of ground venison
  • 6 lbs of 80/20 Hamburger (that’s 80% lean & 20% fat)
    • Venison is a very lean meat and you need the fat from the hamburger to help it cook
  • 5 1/3 cups of Ortega Original Taco seasoning (the only one I have found to not bother my onion sensitivity)
  • 12 cups of water

Substitution Option

If you don’t wish to or can’t use ground venison, then you can use whatever split of hamburger you like but I would not recommend going any fattier than 80/20

Taco Soup Ingredients:

  • 1/4 of the prepared Taco Meat
  • 3x 15 oz cans of black beans – drained and rinsed
  • 2x 15 oz cans of white beans – drained and rinsed
    • I usually use Great Northern for this soup because they are a similar size to the black beans
  • 3x 15 oz cans of corn – do not drain
  • 4x 28oz cans of diced tomatoes – do not drain
    • petite diced are better than normal diced but either will do
  • 3x 28oz cans of Rotel Original tomatoes and chilis – do not drain
  • 1/4 cup taco seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves

Kitchen Supplies

To handle this massive cooking task you will need:

  • A large stockpot – mine is about 12 quarts
  • A large skillet for cooking the seasoned meat – mine is 12 inches
    • If you don’t have anything that big, then use a large pot like a dutch oven or just use the stockpot again
    • I prefer a skillet because my current stockpot isn’t lined on the bottom and tends to burn easily
  • 2 9×13 pans or dishes lined with a double layer of paper towels
    • These are for draining the meat
    • I use 2 large pyrex lasagna pans
  • Kitchen Scale
  • Bag holder – I got some off of amazon and they make a huge difference
  • Vacuum seal bag rolls – large and small
    • I make the large rolls into 4 bags about 2 ft long
    • I also double seal the bottom of the large bags, because I have had soup leak out of them before – it made a huge mess!
    • I make the small rolls into 6 bags about 1 foot long
  • Vacuum sealer – like a food saver
  • A 1-quart measuring cup
    • I use one of those twisty storage containers. The larger of the 2 sizes sold in most grocery stores is 1 quart.
    • You could also use a measuring cup – 1 quart = 4 cups

Step 1: Cook the Taco Meat:

  1. Put 3 pounds of the hamburger into the stock pot
  2. Cook on Medium-Low (about 4 if your stoves has numbers) until the meat is cooked through, stirring/mashing regularly to break the meat up into small pieces
  3. Once the meat is cooked, use a slotted spoon to dish it into one of the 9×13 pans – leave all the fat and drippings in the stock pot
  4. Repeat with half of the ground venison
  5. Repeat with the other 3 pounds of ground beef – this time using the other 9×13 pan
  6. Repeat with the other half of the ground venison
  7. Remove stock pot from the heat – once it cools a little drain any excess liquid in it into a disposable container – We keep things like old yogurt tubs or spaghetti cheese containers around for this kind of thing
  8. Add approximately, 1/4 of the meat to the skillet
    • Be sure to get a mix of both types. Don’t just scoop from the top
  9. Add 1 1/3 cups of taco seasoning and 3 cups of water
  10. Stir and cook on Medium-Low stirring occasionally until the sauce begins to thicken – about 5-10 min
  11. Repeat 3 times for the rest of the meat
The stock pot keeps the splatter contained while the meat is cooking.
Here is half of the cooked meat draining.
By the time I was done making the taco meat, I had used almost 3 1/2 tubs of taco seasoning!

If you are going to continue and make soup:

  1. Add 1/4 of the taco meat and all of the soup ingredients to the stock pot
  2. Cook on Medium-Low until it starts steaming, then reduce heat to Low (2 if your stove has numbers)
  3. Allow soup to cook for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally to be sure nothing is sticking and burning to the bottom of the pot
  4. Remove bay leaves before eating or preparing for the freezer

Steps for freezing all these meals:

For the Taco Meat:

  1. Place bag holder on the kitchen scale
    • I use to just eyeball but I have found that meal planning is easier when I have a better idea of how much meat is coming out of the freezer.
  2. Fold the sides of a small vacuum seal bag back about 1 1/2 inch so they stay clean – this makes a big difference in how well it seals
  3. Place the vacuum bag on the bag holder, adjusting the height as necessary
  4. Reset the kitchen scale to 0 lbs
  5. Place about 2lbs of taco meat in the bag
  6. Remove bag from the bag hold and unfold sides
  7. Seal and label the bag
  8. Repeat with the other 5 bags
  9. Freeze and enjoy within the next 6-12 months

For the Taco Soup:

  1. See my tips for vacuum sealing soups post for helpful hints
  2. Place bag holder on a very steady surface
  3. Fold the sides of a large vacuum seal bag back about 1 1/2 inch so they stay clean – this makes a big difference in how well it seals
  4. Place the vacuum bag on the bag holder, adjusting the height as necessary
  5. Place 2 1/2 -3 quarts of soup in the bag
    • I typically get 2x 2 1/2 quart bags and 2x 3 quart bags of soup
  6. Carefully remove bag from the bag hold and unfold sides
  7. Seal and label the bag
  8. Repeat with the other 3 bags
  9. Freeze and enjoy within the next 6-12 months

When you want to pull these out of the freezer to eat on a busy day:

  1. Pull them out the night before and place in the fridge to start thawing.
  2. Place them in a slow cooker (crock pot) in the morning and set to low for about 8 hours.
    • The taco meat fits fine in a 2 1/2 – 3 quart slow cooker but the soup tends to warm up better in a larger one.
  3. Dinner will be ready with little to no extra effort from you!

An additional note on the approximate cost of these meals:

  • Ground venison – Free
    • My father deer hunts, and my parents and I do all the venison butchering ourselves.
    • Other than the time required to process the deer, this is a free source of meat.
  • 6 lbs of hamburger ~ $12
  • 5 cans of beans ~$2.50
  • 3 cans of corn ~$1.35
  • 4 large cans of diced tomatoes ~$3.15
  • 3 large cans of tomatoes and chilis ~6.75
  • Taco seasoning ~$11.50
  • Bay leaves ~$0.20
    • Total cost ~$37.45
    • Cost per bag of taco meat ~$2.94
    • Cost per bag of soup ~ 4.95

Tips for Vacuum Sealing Soups

Tips for Vacuum Sealing Soups

Here is how I vacuum seal soups in bags to go in the freezer:

1. Use the large bag rolls.

2. Make the bags at least 18 inches long.

3. Double seal the bottom of the bag. I had a seal fail once, and it made a huge mess when I went to move the bag to the vacuum sealer! I had to move the stove out and clean puddles of soup out from under it.

4. Use a bag holder while you are filling the bags and fold the sides of the bags back about 1 1/2 – 2 inches before you place it on the holder.

5. For an easy way to monitor how much soup is going into each bag, ladle the soup into a 1 quart container. Then pour it into the bag. I use one of those twisty food storage containers. This also seems to minimize splash.

6. Find a space of counter that has a shallow drawer right under it. Place the vacuum sealer a couple of inches away from the edge of the counter. Place the bag of soup into the drawer and then place the open end of the bag into the vacuum sealer. This allows the vacuum sealer to do its job and keeps the soup from spilling in the process.

7. Once you start the vacuum sealer, watch VERY carefully. As soon as the top goes flat and the liquid from the soup starts to get sucked up the bag, press the “SEAL” button to stop the vacuuming process and seal the bag.

8. Double seal the top end of the bag to protect against leaks.

9. Freeze bags of soup flat for easy stacking.