Wednesday, May 19, 2010

kickin' pasta sauce

If you want to get straight to the recipe, you'll have to skip down a little ways.  Sorry.  I have to vent first.

Do you have one of those horrendous travel tales?  You know, the ones where everything that could go wrong on a trip happened?  I'm sure you do.  I do.

Here's mine.

I was in Washington, D.C.  My husband was at home in California.  We both needed to get to Manhattan, Kansas to see these two lovely people graduate from Kansas State University.

 my sister Elizabeth and her boyfriend Ande

My husband and I were both going to fly from our respective locations to Dallas and then meet up to fly together to Manhattan.  Sounds simple, right?

Apparently not.

My husband made it to Dallas okay, and then the thunderstorms hit.  They hit so bad that my plane was rerouted to New Orleans.  New Orleans!  I've always wanted to visit there, but at that particular moment I wasn't so happy to be there.  We had to get off of the plane, but we couldn't leave the gate.  We had to wait...right there...for the airline to decide that it was safe to fly to Dallas.  We waited for hours...and hours...and hours.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, my husband found out that our flight to Manhattan was canceled.  Being the industrious person that he is, he immediately got us booked on another flight to Kansas City.  It wasn't perfect, but it was close.

My flight finally got to take off again, and we got to Dallas.  By the time we got there, the pavement was dry...good sign.  Knowing that I had a flight for Kansas City leaving in a matter of minutes, I told the entire plane that I needed to get off in a hurry.  They let me pass, and I ran down the aisle and up the plank (probably elbow-checking everyone I passed by).  I ran through the door and to my husband, only to find out that I had just lied to an entire plane of people...I didn't have a connection to make...our flight to Kansas City had been canceled.  In fact, all flights going that direction had been canceled.

It gets better.

We decided to go get a rental car and just drive to Manhattan.  We went to every single rental car service booth...called all the 800 numbers...and no one was willing to give us a one-way rental to Manhattan.  The few places that did have cars said that they only rented locally.  I find it odd that rental car services in an airport will only rent locally - surely I'm not the first distressed traveler who needed a car?

So, my husband's aunt dropped everything she was doing to come pick us up at 9pm that night from the airport.  She drove us to the state line between Texas and Oklahoma, where his parents met us (they had to drive a few hours just to get there!).  They drove us back to their home in central Oklahoma, where we met up with my husband's brother who helped us get the rest of the way.

We made it to Manhattan at 6:00am.  We had been up all night and had no showers.  I didn't even have clean clothes - my luggage was still in transit.  Nevertheless, we made it to the graduation ceremony at 8:30am, looking more than a little frazzled.

It gets better.

We called the airline (during the graduation ceremony, I might add) to make sure that the rest of our reservation hadn't been canceled.  I'm not sure why, but apparently if they cancel your flight, they assume that you never made it to where you are going and then assume that you obviously don't need to fly back.  I don't understand it, but I followed protocol and called the airline.  They assured me that we still had flights to get back to California.  Nothing was canceled, they said.


We showed up to the airport on Sunday, bags packed and ready to go, only to find out that our entire reservation didn't exist.  And to make matters even more exciting, all flights were booked that day.

I was frustrated...extremely frustrated.  But, three good things came out of that day.  1) I got my luggage back while we were at the airport finding out that we couldn't go anywhere.  2) I got to spend an extra day with my sister.  3) I got to take over my sister's kitchen and make this amazing pasta sauce.

Yes, it's quite amazing.  It's got a kick to it that most sauces don't have.  And did I mention it was easy?  Well, it is.

You can use any type of meat you want in this sauce.  My personal favorite, though, is Italian smoked sausage.  It's so different!  You often see ground meat in pasta sauce, but how often do you see smoked sausage?  It really takes the cake.

After you dice your sausage into smaller pieces, add it to a skillet with one large chopped onion and 2 heaping teaspoons of minced garlic (about 4 cloves).

Add about a teaspoon of olive oil to give it something to saute in.

Saute until the onions are tender.  If you use a different type of meat (like raw hamburger, for instance), make sure it is thoroughly cooked before you proceed.

Now here's my favorite part!  Grab the following: 2 cans of Italian style stewed tomatoes (drain and reserve the liquid first), 2 jars (7 oz. each) roasted red peppers (drained), 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar.

Put all of these ingredients in a blender, and let 'er rip!  You may have to do this in batches (I did).

Add your blended ingredients to the meat and onions.

Stir and cook until heated through.  Add the reserved tomato juice until the sauce reaches the consistency that you prefer.

Serve this sauce over your favorite pasta.  We ate it over gnocci and followed our meal with the "no dirty dishes" chocolate cake (the nice frosting design was made by Ande).

We love this meal for multiple reasons.  It's fast, it's easy, it's very conducive to modifications (add your own favorite meats and veggies), and it's got a taste like no other pasta sauce we've ever had.  It's kickin'!

We did end up finally making it back to California, luggage and all.  It was quite the trip.  But the pasta sauce may have made it worth it...maybe.

**This post is dedicated to Elizabeth and Ande - congratulations on your graduation!!!**

Kickin' Pasta Sauce
1 package Italian smoked sausage (or any meat of your choice), chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. olive oil
2 cans Italian style stewed tomatoes, liquid drained and reserved
2 jars (7 oz. each) roasted red peppers, drained
2 t. sugar
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. cayenne
1/2 t. red wine vinegar
1/2 t. salt

Saute meat, onion, and garlic in a little olive oil.  Put all other ingredients in blender and blend until pureed (might have to do it in batches).  Mix together and bring to a simmer.  Use reserved tomato liquid to thin out sauce to desired consistency.  Serve over pasta. Makes 12 servings (at least!).

Note:  This recipe is easy to half and freezes well.  For the IBS diet, use ground turkey or turkey sausage and either reduce the amount of onions or leave out completely (season with onion powder instead).

Nutrition (calculated with Italian turkey smoked sausage): 99 cal, 4g fat, 0 sat fat, 0 trans fat, 20mg cholesterol, 754mg sodium, 9g carbs, 2g fiber, 6g sugar, 6g protein, 17% vit. A, 50% vit. C, 4% calcium, 26% iron.

This post has been linked to Foodie Friday!


  1. Kickin-sauce with a krazy tale! Your rant is real for so many of us that have gone through the same thing. You put a smile on my face...thanks!

  2. Ooooo, i LOVE smoked sausage! That looks soooo good! Sorry to hear your trip was so awful. I'm glad you guys are back safely!!!

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about your travel woes - that's horrible! I had no clue you were running around like that.

    That sauce looks wonderful - I love using sausage as well (just a whole 'nother flavor dimension!) but never think of blending. Fantastic!

  4. Good heavens,what a trip. Flying can be so stressful. Even when everything goes right I think it's exhausting. But the important thing is you were there for the graduation. What a delicious looking sauce

  5. Well at least you got a good blog post out of it and got to make what looks like an amazing sauce. MMMMMMM

  6. Travel plans often don't go as scheduled, but goodness, this was a horror story!
    Food always takes care of frustration! And you must have felt great after your kicking Pasta Sauce. I am putting this in my favorites!
    I post a menu every Monday- look for your sauce with a link to your blog on it next week. I have to make this!

  7. Oh the stories I could tell about our travel mishaps. That must be why Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is my favorite movie!


  8. That's my kitchen! And my pots and pans and really bad knife set!! I'm glad the dinner was still a success :)

    We are still eating that cake! It kinda reminds me of that chocolate amazing thing at Applebees/Chiles that looks like a chocolate volcano. I have no idea what it is called, but after heating it up and topping it with ice cream, it tastes just like it!

    (yes, i remembered to put it in the fridge) :D

  9. Thank you so much for this recipe. I just posted my menu for the week and I am making Kickin' Pasta Sauce. I posted a link back to this recipe.
    Thanks again,

  10. I have a startlingly similar story, around going home to Columbus, OH for Thanksgiving from Cedar Rapids, a half inch of snow in Chicago, and bus/train lines having unusual schedules for the holidays. Ack!


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