Sunday always seems like the perfect day for slow cooked, hearty meals. For most people, Sunday is sort of a lazy day without too much going on, which makes it perfect for spending more time in the kitchen.

Sunday always seems like the perfect day for slow cooked, hearty meals. For most people, Sunday is sort of a lazy day without too much going on, which makes it perfect for spending more time in the kitchen.

All of the recipes I’m sharing today don’t take that much work, but they do stew, bake or roast for longer periods, leading to richer flavors and impressive meals. These recipes are also the perfect excuse for getting your family together for a meal.

One of the recipes is not my own. It actually was created long before I ever was. The Straw family pasta sauce is a recipe that was given to me by my boyfriend’s mother. The recipe goes back at least to her grandmother, who was from Sicily, so this recipe is the real deal. Yes, it takes three hours to make, but I promise it is worth every second and, other than stirring it, there isn’t much work. The sauce is thick and flavorful, the beef is just falling apart and the sausage is bursting with flavor. This is, without question, one of my favorite meals on this earth. Besides being insanely delicious, it also has the added benefit of feeding a crowd. The sauce is really best if you cook it earlier in the day, let it cool and then warm it up when you’re ready to serve, but it will be delicious either way.

My recipe for stuffed pork roast was inspired by stuffed pork chops that I got from an Amish butcher who sets up shop in an auction house not too far from here. Their thick-cut, double pork chops stuffed with white bread and herbs are hard to beat, but I’d like to think my version is a fair tribute. The pork is tender and juicy and the filling has all the classing stuffing flavors. Don’t be intimidated by butterflying the pork roast, it sounds complicated but as long as your knife is sharp, it’s not hard.

I know that we’re in the dead of summer so it can be hard to think about comfort food, but my chicken stew is hardcore comfort food. There are few things that are more satisfying than roasted chicken piled on a bed of veggies and gravy. This is the type of meal that will make your family think you slaved away all day, when in reality, you threw some things in a pot and let it bake. There are several stellar qualities about this dish: one, it is a one pot meal, and two, covering vegetables in gravy is probably the most painless way to get your family to eat them.

I hope these slow cooked meals are a perfect way to gather your family around the kitchen table before you start another busy week.


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Straw Family Pasta Sauce

2 pounds stew beef

1 pound Italian sausage, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

3 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon of olive oil

12-ounce can Hunts tomato paste

3 12-ounce cans of water

28-ounce can Hunts tomato sauce

1 28-ounce can of water

1 bay leaf

Sprinkle dry basil to taste

Sprinkle dry oregano to taste

1 teaspoon anise seed

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 pounds spaghetti

In a large Dutch oven, brown the stew beef and the sausage with the garlic in the olive oil. Scoop off as much of the fat as you can with a ladle. Pour in the tomato paste and sauce, fill the 12-ounce can with water three times and add the water to the pot. Fill the 28-ounce can with water and add it to the pot. Add in the spices, sugar and pepper flakes. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer uncovered for three hours. Prepare the pasta per the package’s instructions and serve. Serves 8.



Stuffed Pork Roast

4 pound pork roast

3 stalks celery, diced

1/2 an onion, diced

4 tablespoons butter

8 slices white sandwich bread, cubed

1/4 cup parsley

6 ounces hard apple cider

3 6-inch strands of kitchen twine


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay the pork roast on a cutting board and pat it dry. With a sharp knife, slice three quarters of the way through the top half of the roast, fold back what you’ve just cut so that the roast is open like a book. With a heavy, wooden rolling pin, pound out the roast to a uniform thickness. Salt and pepper the roast. In a medium pan, melt the butter and sauté and onion and celery until tender. Toss the vegetables with the bread and parsley. Lay the stuffing across the center of the roast, pressing it down slightly to ensure it all fits. Pull the sides of the roast back over and secure them by looping kitchen twine under the roast and tying it off. Place the pork in a roasting pan and pour the cider over it. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the internal temperature reads 160 degrees on a meat thermometer. Serves 8.


Chicken Stew

1/2 an onion, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 white potatoes, cubed

1 pound lima beans

1 teaspoon thyme

2 cups chicken stock

4 pound chicken, softened

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons corn starch

1/4 cup water


Preheat oven to 350. In a large Dutch oven, sauté the onion, celery and carrot until tender. Add in the potatoes and lima beans. Pour the stock over the vegetables and stir in the thyme. Remove the giblets from the chicken, pat it dry, tuck the wings under the back and salt and pepper it. Nestle it on top of the stock and vegetables. Cover the pot and bake the chicken for 30 minutes. Remove the lid, rub the chicken with the softened butter and place it, uncovered, back in the oven. Bake for another hour or until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove the chicken from the pot and place it on a cutting board. Place the pot full of veggies over medium heat. Mix the water and corn starch, and add them to the pot. Stir until the mixture is thickened. Carve the chicken and serve over the vegetables. Serves 8.