Ragu With Pasta

Do you have a routine that you do before you go on vacation?  I do (and maybe that’s not surprising for those of you who know me).

Routines are not a bad thing, but I probably take on more tasks than are necessary.  I’m sure when my husband, aka editor, reads this post he will shake his head because he knows that I’m crazy about my routines.  I like to start packing a few days before we leave and I iron everything, including my t-shirts.  That’s normal, right?  😉  I do laundry, including the bed sheets (the day before we leave) because I like to come home to fresh sheets on the bed.  But the worst offense is probably the fact that the dishwasher must be empty, not even one a spoon to be seen in there.  I have even been known to take things out to wash them by hand just to make sure it’s really empty.  I can’t believe I’m sharing this with you guys.  Please tell me that you have weird things you do before vacation.

Last weekend we spent a few days with my entire family in Lake George, NY.   We go every year and stay at the Mohican Motel.  As a group, we take up 3 rooms (for now).  My parents get a deluxe apartment which has a living room and kitchen and two bedrooms.  It’s like a suite in a college dorm only just for our family, so we all tend to cook most of our meals and hang out there as a group.  It gets a bit crowded, but how many other chances do you get to be on vacation with your whole family all at once?  My husband and I make some goodies ahead of time to bring with us.  This year I made baked ziti, hummus, hummus and quinoa salad, and chocolate chip cookies (recipe coming soon).  My husband took over the kitchen for over 5 (five!) hours making his infamous sticky buns (a double recipe!).

I think I have just realized that this post may be a bit confusing.  So here’s the scoop.  I’ve made a lot of sauces that are really all the same sauce at the end of the day.  There was the Italian meat sauce, the sausage sauce version that skipped the beef, the meatless marinara version, and now this one that only has beef (as a ragu).  I’ve used these sauces in everything from baked ziti to lasagna to just pouring them over some sort of pasta.  Oddly enough, because of the schedules involved when I make a lasagna for hosting something or a baked ziti to bring somewhere, I’ve never actually managed to post either of those things.  In other words, you can search all you like, but they just aren’t on my blog.  Someday I swear I’ll try to make one just for the blog and you’ll be able to find them later, but alas, this is not that day.

I made this meat sauce for the ziti (our first family dinner of our trip to Lake George) and I had some leftover sauce that didn’t fit in the pan because this recipes make a lot.  For our big vacation dinner I put it together at home but I don’t bake it until we’re ready to eat it there.  It’s the very definition of a great make-ahead meal since the whole thing is ready to go the day before and 175 miles away.  With everything done, all we need to do is pop it on the oven, which means more time by the pool!

I didn’t include the directions for the pasta because I trust that you can decide how much and what kind you want.  In fact, you don’t even have to use pasta.  Serve the ragu over polenta, or in a grilled cheese sandwich, or even on a slice of Italian bread!  Yum.

Ragu Recipe
(Makes… a lot)


  • 1 and 1/2 to 2 pounds ground beef (depending on what you find pre-packed at the store)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 gloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley


  1. In a large pot, over Medium heat, cook the ground beef, diced onion, and crushed garlic cloves until well browned.
  2. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.
  3. Season with the sugar, basil leaves, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, salt, ground pepper, and parsley.
  4. Simmer, covered for 1 and 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Adapted from: All Recipes



5 Hats



  1. Kelly Mahan says:

    Wow, this looks so delicious! This weekend my in-laws will come over, so I think I’ll prepare this. I bet they’ll love it! =)

    1. Tina says:

      How fun! I’ve honestly made this sauce for everyone in my family many, many times and it’s always a hit. I hope you and your family love it as much as we do. 🙂 It makes a lot so if you have any leftovers, don’t hesitate to freeze it. I always freeze leftovers in portions for just me and my husband and it makes for an easy re-heat dinner another time.

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