I decided to start supper early today.

by Amy Carroll March 03, 2017

I decided to start supper early today.

I know I left y'all with a cliffhanger yesterday, so, for those of y'all on the edge of your seat wondering if my pot roast last night was a bust or not (and I know there's oh so many of you), it was pretty good. I think it could have used a little more salt & pepper. BUT, it was not tough at all, so that's a good thing. That seems to be the most consistent way I screw up a roast.

On to today.

Okay. I decided to start supper early today for one reason and one reason alone. See, I'm actually a photographer, and I only have good light in my house for photos during the day. And, evening is when I really do my cooking. I just have not mastered the art of food photography with my cell phone.

But, let me tell you what happened. Apparently, I have also not mastered the art of me-cooking-all-alone photography. It's ridiculous. So, to all those food bloggers out there that make it look easy, kudos to you! I'm just going to walk you through my experience (which also happens to be the recipe).

Tonight, I'm making a traditional meat sauce with black bean spaghetti. Y'all, I think I have tomato sauce coursing through my veins instead of blood. No joke. I love, love, love tomato sauce and pasta! I grew up eating pasta constantly. My grandmother used to make this sauce, then my mom adapted it, and now I'm adapting it again. It's just been passed on down the line. I've been eating it for at least 37 and a half years. I mean, I had it on my first birthday, and I'm 38 and a half years old. 

Anyway, so, you can imagine how flabbergasted I was when I first started eating healthy. I had to wrap my head around how in the world I could still have my pasta and sauces without pasta. Like... what? I did not comprehend. I tried the spaghetti squash noodles for a while, and that worked out decently. I mean, in a pinch. It just didn't have the same consistency to me. But, it worked, so I shouldn't knock it. But, now? These dang Explore Cuisine pastas are rocking my world! Love, love, love.

Because I'm a pretty simple gal, I'm using canned tomatoes. (Please don't shun me. Remember - I'm just trying to be a healthier me.) What I love about the single, little grocery store in town is that their private label brand is pretty sweet! Did you know there are tons of tomato brands out there that add sugar to their canned tomatoes? Why? Why is that necessary??? But, my store brand tomatoes have no sugar! Yay! 

I'll first start out with that ingredients picture. "Easy enough," I think. "Man, I'm gonna be good at this." Ingredients: Olive oil, onion, Pederson's Italian Ground Sausage, tomato paste, petite diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and Italian seasoning. The real stars of the show, though, are that pasta & sausage!

Okay, so let's start by dicing the onions. Let me haphazardly arrange the remaining ingredients in the background... you know... make it look natural. Also, easy enough.

Add about a tablespoon olive oil to a large pot, toss in your diced onions, and start to cook over medium heat. Here's where it gets a little tricky. I grab my camera, zoom out as far as I can, and, well... it's a no go. My lens is not wide enough. I scan the room and grab a bar stool, climb atop, and get my "onion cooking" picture. Fine.

I just don't like a still crunchy onion in my sauce, so I always cook them just a bit before adding the Italian sausage. By the time I've finagled my onion cooking picture, it's time to add the Italian sausage.

As a side note, I used to make this recipe with ground beef. Do you know why? Because I couldn't find an Italian sausage without sugar. But, alas, I now have options! Thank you, Pederson's! <3

Anyhow, toss in the Italian sausage, break it up into little pieces, and brown it over medium heat. (Although, just an FYI, this sausage does not brown like ground beef. It keeps a little bit of a pink color.)

I climb back atop my stool, position myself just so, point my camera down, and the whole thing instantly steams up. I wipe the lens and keep it covered with my shirt until I get myself re-situated. Because I rushed myself, my composition was compromised, and you get a little sneak peak of my Chuck Taylor clad feet. (Yes, I could crop it, but what fun is that?) See below. <eyeroll>

Once the sausage is cooked through, it's time to add your canned tomatoes. My mama taught me to add the tomato paste first. It makes it easier to mix it in and get it evenly distributed. That may or may not be true, but it's the way I grew up doing it, and I don't want to risk the possible disaster that could result if I stir the paste in last. Ha! 

I had to find a new angle for the picture. I find it less interesting, but whatever. How interesting is tomato paste anyway? This time, I only had to stand on the rungs at the bottom of the bar stool to get a little higher. (I'm pretty short, y'all. 5'2". The extra height was necessary.)

(Notice the color of the sausage. That's fully cooked... so, don't panic if yours doesn't brown the way you're expecting it to.)

Okay, paste is all stirred in. Next, I pour in my crushed tomatoes and petite diced tomatoes. I think to myself, "oh, hey... it would be pretty cool if I could get a little bit of an action shot of me actually adding the ingredients." 

Yeah. No. By the time I could figure out my coordination for holding the camera with one hand and pouring a can of tomatoes with the other, I'd missed the opportunity. There's no telling how long I stood there not realizing the can was empty while trying to compose my shot. Sheesh. Nice try, lady. Can's empty. <another eyeroll>

It was at this point, too, that I noticed that glaringly bright blue plastic Maxwell House canister of coffee over in the top right hand corner of the picture. "I should move that," I thought, "and retake the picture of myself holding an empty can. That way, people can think I have a clutter free kitchen." <------ How dumb is that?

"Nah. I'll move it for next time."

Oh well. Moving on. Final step is to add Italian seasoning. I buy it in a jar at the store already combined. You could add all the herbs & spices separately, but that's your prerogative. I like it simple and easy, and I'm relatively lazy when it comes to things like that. 

This time, I think I've got a pretty good chance at an action shot. I mean, you know... you can sprinkle some seasoning in at a pretty slow rate. It worked out okay.

See how I moved the coffee? I do these things, and then I tell on myself. Seriously lame.

Anyway, now, I've just got the lid on the pot, the pot on the smallest burner I have on the lowest setting, and I'm just going to let it simmer 'til supper time. You could really leave this sauce simmering all day so long as you have it low, low, and you stir it occasionally. 

So, now all I have to do is cook the Organic Black Bean Spaghetti according to package directions, and we're ready to rock! (Well, that and attempt to plate it in a pretty way and try to photograph the finished product in crappy light.)

Fast forward 4 hours. Supper time! It was really delicious! This absolutely, 100% feels like I'm cheating. Bwahaha. But, no! This is a super yummy, healthy, filling meal! 

RECIPE: My Mama's & Gramma's Traditional Meat Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 package of Pederson's Natural Farms No Sugar Italian Ground Sausage
  • 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste (Check the label for added sugar. Or don't, but it's really a pretty simple change to make.)
  • 1 14.5 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes (Again, check the label.)
  • 1 14.5 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (Or, if you live in a tiny town like me where there is literally not one single 14.5oz can of crushed tomatoes sold, you can always buy a bigger 28oz can instead. Only thing... you'll have more sauce than pasta.)
  • 1 tablespoons Italian seasoning (Really, y'all, I never measure this. I just dump it in. I tried super hard to get a measurement for y'all, and this is my best guess. But, it's really just a "to taste" thing.)
  • 1 box Explore Cuisines Organic Black Bean Spaghetti, cooked according to package directions.
  1. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot.
  2. Add diced onions and cook over medium heat until they start to become a little translucent.
  3. Add Pederson's No Sugar Italian Ground Sausage to the pot. Use a wooden spoon to break it into little chunks. Continue to stir occasionally until sausage is cooked through.
  4. Stir in tomato paste to combine with onions and sausage.
  5. Pour in crushed tomatoes and petite diced tomatoes. Stir.
  6. Add Italian seasoning, to taste. Stir. 
  7. Cover and simmer over low heat stirring occasionally until ready to serve.
  8. Top cooked Explore Cuisines Organic Black Bean Spaghetti with desired amount of sauce.
  9. Eat & know that you're doing so much better than if you'd made that pasta with regular ol' pasta and sugar filled sausage and tomatoes!


  • -If you like your sauce thinner, use tomato sauce instead of crushed tomatoes.
  • -If you like your sauce chunkier, use regular ol' diced tomatoes instead of petite diced.
  • -If the sauce is too bold & tomato-ey to you, ease up on the paste. (I would definitely suggest NOT leaving all the paste, though! Seriously... 1/2 can minimum. Please promise me that?)
  • You can use any combination of tomatoes (petite diced, diced, crushed, or sauce, and it'll be totally fine. Believe me... I can't remember what I use or the quantities from time to time, but it always turns out great!
  • -If you're super ambitious, make the whole dang thing from scratch!

Amy Carroll
Amy Carroll


Hey there! I'm Amy, and I'm here to share my attempt at healthy eating with you during the month of March. Now, if you came here thinking you were going to read the tales of a Whole30, Crossfit rockstar, you are sorely mistaken. I'm not even Paleo. Or Keto. And, I don't even work out... like... ever. I eat dairy. I'm just looking to find a healthier me by finding healthy alternatives to my everyday struggles.

1 Response


March 04, 2017

See how I moved the coffee? ??

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