Ketchup Isn't Spaghetti Sauce

There are many things that my mom made up when I was a child. One of them is spaghetti.

Though I was raised in the United States, I grew up in a mini-Honduran home. Our food, language, mannerisms, and so much reflected my family's culture, mixed in with some Nickelodeon. Every now and then we would be treated to some mac & cheese and mashed potatoes to take a break from our typical sides: rice & beans. Maccaroni -- yum.

Then.... there was spaghetti. Before I explain my mom's recipe, you have to understand that she was labeled as the cooking-challenged daughter. This will make sense in a second. The one upper hand my mom had and STILL has, is her life-changing white rice. Divine!! Best white rice you'll ever have (no, it's not JUST rice... it's the perfect portion of peppers, onion, tomato -- AND perfect texture). Other than that, seasoning and food knowledge just doesn't come natural to her. At all. So one night, she decided to make spaghetti. It went like this:

She boiled her pasta and drained it. Then she added some butter to a heated skillet and tossed the spaghetti in. She seasoned it with garlic salt and finished it with.... (wait for it) .... ketchup. And that's it. You have your garlic and tomato flavorings, what else do you need?! The insane part? We LOVED it. And to top it off, my mom kept making whatever we loved, and would suddenly be hit by inspiration. She started experimenting with sour cream for an "alfredo" type of sauce. (pause) Sorry, I had to catch my breath from laughing. And it was STILL good! Don't judge my taste buds. I should probably not speak for my brother because who knows if he was a fan of any of these experiments. I swear we didn't eat like this all the time, hahaha.

Anyway, I forgot to mention her beans are also ON POINT. But that's a skill most of my family has acquired. I'll get there one day.....

As a tribute to my mother, I want to share with you an AMAZING spaghetti sauce recipe I made last week.

(taken with my iphone)

Ingredients (btw - you can do HALF this amount if it's just 2 of you)

  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 4 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cups fresh sliced mushrooms (not necessary)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons white sugar (I mixed white & brown)
  • 1/4 cup basil
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 pinches baking soda
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I don't think I ended up adding the cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons of white cooking wine (not necessary -- just my personal choice)
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano (personal preference)
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley (personal preference)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (personal preference)


  1. Saute garlic and onion in olive oil for a couple of minutes first (get those flavors out). Then add the whole tomatoes (crush them into the pan!), tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, mushrooms, sugar, salt and pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, white wine, red pepper flakes, and 1 pinch of baking soda in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for 3-4 hours minimum. **I know that sounds crazy, but it's not bad at all. Plan ahead when you want to cook this. I started it at 3 p.m., set it on simmer, then worked on my website the rest of the time. Once 6 p.m. rolled around, I cooked the pasta and meat and it was good to go! Some of you might have to try it on a Saturday. Trust me, once you gather the ingredients, you literally just toss them into the skillet and simmer!!
  2. After your lovely waiting, stir in another pinch of baking soda; the sauce will foam. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and almost brown. Make sure to scrape the sides of the pan in to the sauce.
  3. After the sauce is fork consistency (or just delicious), stir in Parmesan cheese (taste sauce FIRST!). Watch that the cheese does not burn. Taste sauce. If it is too tangy or acidic, add another pinch of baking soda and simmer another 1/2 hour (or cook meat in the mean time).
  4. I cooked ground turkey on a different skillet, seasoned with seasoning salt (the red one, not to be confused with white salt), and added 2 pinches of Mccormick 's steak seasoning (I'm my mother aren't I?! :). I let that cook through then scooped the spaghetti sauce INTO the skillet with the meat. I served it with bow-tie pasta and it was DELICIOUS!!!
(Revised version from

I'm a spaghetti fan. Clearly I didn't have very high standards of it as a child, so this was pretty exciting for me. And while I can make this delicious spaghetti sauce, my mom still reigns her throne of white rice. Were there any crazy/goofy recipes your parents made as a child? I know some of you were blessed with AMAZING cooks! But there had to be at least one crazy dish. Can it top ketchup spaghetti?!