As a mom, I don’t always have it all together. While I do sometimes make larger-than-necessary affairs of our dinners, breakfasts, or maybe just meals in general, sometimes I don’t have the energy. Sometimes I let Fiona nap for too long, into the dusky ends of the fall afternoons. I curl up on the couch and read High Five Magazine to her just a little too close to dinner time, letting my hour or two for dinner prep dwindle away into picture puzzles and lazy giggles. Sometimes I let the lunch (or breakfast) dishes sit on the counter until dinnertime and don’t have enough space on the counter to cook up anything too fancy. Usually it’s a quick pureed soup with buttered toast, quesadillas, or a really quick tomato sauce from scratch. Some days I don’t have the energy, you know? Hashtag mom life?
It has been a few weeks since we came home with Isla and I’d be lying if I said the mom-of-four-transition hasn’t hit me harder than I thought it would. It’s been, as many say, a whirlwind of emotions- laughing, crying, and all the moods that the average sleep-deprived mom generally feels. A lot of joy and grace, though, too. As my body slowly shifts back into place, and I inch closer and closer out of maternity jeans, I’m happier to feel more and more like myself again. Last week was a lot of pajama, sweatpants, and bathrobe wearing. Roman, Amelia and Fiona have a new morning routine, which is running into our room to see (read: wake up) Isla just as the sun is coming up. They coo over her crib, lovingly poking her and stroking her jet black hair until she kicks and grunts and is staring wide-eyed back up at them. Then they take turns passing her back and fourth for a good 15 or so minutes until she becomes intolerant for her morning fill of milk. Then they dash up the spiral staircase to their third floor rooms, Fiona not so far behind anymore. I nurse Isla, and we start our day with tea, toast and a to-do list.
Hard days equal simple pasta nights?
Like I said, I don’t always have it all together. As a mom of now 4, how could I possibly, and (honestly) does anyone? Life happens on the daily. Toddlers throw tantrums. Kids deprive you of sleep because of pesky bad dreams. Coffee spills on your good clothes. Everyone is in a mood. Some days I have it together and things are almost IG-picture-perfect. On days where I don’t, though, I always try to show myself more grace. I rest when I’m tired. I communicate my needs. I relax on our food choices. I make things easy, simple and as stress-free as I can. One night after a difficult day of homeschool battles, and toddler tantrum-ing, I was done. Mentally and emotionally at my end, and all I wanted to do was to just sit and watch cooking videos for the evening. I had planned on roasting a chicken with a creme fraiche and herbs, with a side of roasted potatoes and carrots and a garden salad. None of that happened. I scrapped the whole meal, reserving it for another night, and made this lovely, 15-minute tomato sauce from scratch. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was so well received by the kids (Okay, I love it, too) that I’ve added it to my regular repertoire of recipes. A simple tomato sauce from scratch just for the lazy nights-how perfect, no? It’s good, simple, and quick: a simple tomato sauce, served over spaghetti. Nothing ground breaking here, but spaghetti and sauce with a sprinkle of decent parmesan is always something that is met with cheers at our table. I’ve seen several tomato sauce from scratch recipes online, and I’m sure there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands to choose from. Mine takes about 15-20 minutes to prepare, has ingredients that you most likely already have in your home right now, and has a really good depth of flavor for something that’s so quickly put together. Oh, and did I mention the kids love it?
Usually if I have a box of mixed greens or a head of lettuce in the fridge, I can toss some into a large bowl, grate a carrot or slice some cucumbers over it and call it a salad. If you have sorbet in the freezer, or cake leftover from the weekend for dessert? Voila- a three course meal put together in 30 minutes.
How to Make a Simple Pasta Sauce from Scratch
Step One Start by dicing the onions, garlic and the carrot.
Step Two Add a couple of lugs of olive oil to a large pot and set on the stove to medium-low heat.
Step Three Add in the onions and garlic and saute until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 3-4 minutes.
Step Four Add the diced carrots, and saute another 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step Five Add the oregano and thyme, and saute 1-2 minutes.
Step Six Pour in the tomatoes and mix well, turning the heat down to a low simmer. Add the sugar, salt, pepper and clove (if adding clove).
Step Seven Allow the sauce to simmer for about 10-15 minutes before serving or turning off the heat. Serve over your pasta of choice and garnish with chopped parsley or basil, and grated parmesan.
Step Eight Store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Simple Tomato Sauce from Scratch
- 1 Large Yellow Onion
- 3 Cloves Garlic
- 1 28 oz Can Whole, Peeled Tomatoes (Diced or Crushed also work!)
- 1 Tsp Dried Oregano
- 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
- 2 Tsp Sugar
- 2-3 Tbsp Olive oil
- Salt + Pepper (to taste)
- 1 Medium Carrot, peeled and diced
- Pour the olive oil to a large pot and set the heat to medium-low.
- Add in the onion and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent and the garlic is just starting to get some color- about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the diced carrots and saute for another 6-7 minutes, stirring every couple minutes so that nothing burns.
- Add the oregano and thyme and saute another minute or so.
- Meanwhile, in a blender, pour the whole, peeled tomatoes and pulse until roughly pureed, about 15 seconds. If you're already using crushed tomatoes, you can skip this part!
- Pour the tomato puree into the pot and mix well to incorporate the other vegetables and herbs. Set the heat to a low simmer.
- Add the sugar, salt, pepper and a tiny pinch of ground clove (optional). Stir well, and allow the sauce to simmer about 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve hot, over your choice of pasta.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Hi! I’m Amber Rogals.
Hi! I’m Amber Rogals and I am a food photographer, and recipe developer living and working in Maine. I also serve the New England area and beyond, and write and photograph regularly for my food blog, Downeats. I absolutely love cooking and developing recipes with seasonal foods, and gathering with loved ones to enjoy everything. I grew up on the coast of Maine and pretty much never left. I currently live here in Maine with my (gorgeous, amazing, hardworking) high school sweetheart and our (hilarious, talented and wonderful) three kids. I love capturing shared moments, and inspiring others to cook, eat, gather, and live slow. You can read more about me here. If you are looking for a food photographer, food stylist or recipe developer please contact me here.