Feed a Crowd

comments: 29














Well now, here's some more food! I made my mom's mom's spaghetti sauce for our neighborhood pumpkin-carving party the other night. This sauce was a staple in my mom's party repertoire. It came from her mother, who was not at all Italian. Regardless, this is delicious. It really doesn't taste like any other spaghetti sauce I've ever had, anywhere, but it's one of my absolute favorites. It makes a VAT of sauce — we went through two pounds of thin spaghetti for nine adults and eight children, and had sauce left over. (I should have made another pound of spaghetti, honestly. But there was plenty of sauce.) It has pounds of vegetables in it. It cooks for hours and hours. And it truly seems to please everyone, from kids to adults. It's got a wonderful sweetness to it. Like so many family recipes, this one has two brand-name ingredients in it — Ragu sauce and Kraft Parmesan cheese. I'm sure you could substitute other brands, but I personally wouldn't DARE. But that's just me. When I make this I want it to taste exactly like my mother's sauce, and it truly does. But if you like living on the edge, you should totally use what you have or what brands you prefer because I am sure it is still going to taste so good.

What you don't want to change is the amount of time this cooks for. A total of four hours. It matters. Plan to make this the day before your party and then just warm it up the day of. That's what I did and it worked great. (I'm guessing it would freeze perfectly well, too, if you're not in the habit of feeding seventeen people at one time.)


6 medium yellow onions
6 medium carrots, peeled
6 stalks celery (or basically, all of the stalks in an entire head)
1 bunch of parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound of ground beef
1 24-oz. jar of Ragu Traditional spaghetti sauce
3 6-oz. cans of tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 bay leaves
2 cups water

1 8-0z. jar/can of grated Kraft Parmesan cheese

In your largest heavy-bottomed sauce pot (I used my enormous oval Le Creuset pot), brown ground beef until it is no longer pink. Pour off all extra fat. Using a food processor or food mill, grind onions, carrots, celery, parsley, and garlic in batches until all of the vegetables and herbs are finely chopped (but so that you can still see a bit of texture). Add all vegetables to the pot, along with Ragu, tomato paste, cloves, bay leaves, and 2 cups of water (I fill the Ragu jar 2/3 of the way up with water, and shake it to get all of that sauce out of the bottle). Bring all of it to a robust simmer, and then turn down to a low simmer and cook, covered, for three hours, stirring occasionally. After three hours, add the entire jar/can of Kraft cheese, and stir into sauce well. Cook at a low simmer for one more hour.

Serve on top of buttered spaghetti with lots more Parmesan cheese and even a big blob of ricotta. Good with garlic bread and a glass of milk, too.

I also made apple crisp for the party from this recipe (I doubled it). I thought it came out very nice. Classic, nothing sophisticated or fancy, but all of it perfect for a dark and stormy night with our friends and kids, and a whole lot of pumpkin (alllllll over the place).

Gonna work on getting my cross-stitch kit ready for pre-order this week, so stay tuned for that, but don't panic. There will be plenty of time to order, I promise. Excited about this one.


That sauce sounds amazing, I must try it soon! Can't wait to get my hands on your new cross stitch kit! :)

That pumpkin party looked so fun and the food...great! Does that sauce freeze well? I love making a good sauce but only if I can freeze it for those, 'I don't want to cook' evenings. LOL.

You are a brave woman to let all those kids carve pumpkins in the middle of your floor! LOL! How nice of you to make dinner and dessert for everyone. You literally rock. We're still at the beach and it's a hot sunny day.. can you believe it? ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

You fed 9 adults and 8 children with one pound of hamburger? Score! I’ll have to try this for our next family get together.

Stefanie P. says: October 24, 2017 at 05:15 AM

There is something to be said for TRADITION!...I love that this is a "neighborhood" party...and that your mom's spaghetti sauce is the mainstay...why try to improve on GREAT!

Oh what fun! I love pumpkin carving parties. I love the photo with all the pumpkins floating in the dark! And the photo of Mimi,the peace sign and her friend! Thank you for the spaghetti recipe. The spätzle recipe you shared in a previous post was the same my Chicago grandma made with stew. Sweet memories.

Your mother's recipe looks very similar to my mom's!! It's the only other recipe I've seen with celery in the sauce. I think that makes it taste so good. Now I'm hungry for it, going to make it tonight!!

That spaghetti sauce sounds very similar to one that my family makes! It has carrots and celery in it as well and it originated from an Italian prisoner of war that was being held in Toledo,Ohio during WWII. My grandmother worked at the depot where the prisoners were held and the recipe has been passed through the generations. Obviously, ours doesn't use Ragu, just carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes, and salt. Over the years we have added tomato paste, pepper and ground meat, but I bet that it tastes very similar to your recipe. It too is sweet from the carrots and I love it!

I'm so thrilled this recipe calls for Ragu and Kraft parmesan! I try my best to use fresh ingredients most of the time, but nothing pleases my picky family more than recipes that incorporate a can of cream of mushroom soup. Sometimes they actually cheer when I bake a casserole straight out of my mother's 1970s kitchen. I'll bet they'd gobble this up. Thanks for sharing it.

Spaghetti is always great when we have a crowd to eat. Thank you for sharing your mom's recipe! You sure had many talented pumpkin carvers!

Ooh! This recipe looks perfect! I'm hosting Christmas this year (for the first time) and I've been thinking about what kinds of recipes I could make that are easy and feed a group of people!

What a nice party for you to host! I am making your mom's sauce right now. I just tasted it and it is sooooooooooooo good! It appealed to me, first of all, from your picture. And then the list of ingredients just made it look so healthy yet delicious at the same time...and it is! I am actually making it in my big jam pot. It does make a large batch. Perfect for cooler weather. So thank you, I appreciate that recipe. Also the apple crisp looks good too! Andrea

p.s...oh sorry, you mom's mom's sauce! Andrea

Love this cozy, fall post! The spaghetti sauce looks delicious. And I have a big, bowl of apples just staring at me... perfect time with the apple crisp recipe!

I'm definitely going to try your mom's mom's spaghetti sauce recipe! I'm always looking for food to feed a BIG crowd at church potlucks and such. I just love your cozy pics of the house at night with everyone gathered around the table and carving pumpkins. So homey! Also, growing up, we ALWAYS drank milk with our spaghetti and my grandma would serve a small juice glass with grape juice in it! (We were non-alcoholic drinkers!) haha! Thanks for sharing this!

"jar/can" :) Love you! This looks so yummy and I love peeking in on your party:) xxxooo

What a lovely and fun gathering...good food, good company and good fun! The pumpkins are so cute all lit up. Great job people! When I read your blog I almost feel like I'm participating....at least the good feeling part! LOL! Of course, I love the recipes too and I cannot wait for your new cross stitch. I've already decided I'm buying it!

Looks delish and is very similar to my mother-in-law’s, which has a liberal dose of cinnamon (instead of clove). Great for comfy, cold weather dining :) Love all the adorable pumpkins! How fun!

Can I just say that the line "good with garlic bread and a glass of milk" made me so happy!!!! I ALWAYS have a glass of milk when eating pasta and my Italian in-laws think I'm crazy. They always say that the German in me comes out when I ask for milk with my pasta. I don't even know if milk is a German thing...but anyway, I've always thought I was the odd ball for the pairing and I'm so happy to read that I'm not alone.

Your sauce recipe looks wonderful and I think I'll try it this weekend when I have time to let it cook. Love family recipes. Nothing like them. Always the best.

Thank you for sharing!

As much as I love the look of Jack-o-lanterns, I hate the feel of pumpkin guts. I delegate the chore of scooping out the pumpkin to my kids, who totally don't mind the feeling of cold, chunky slime between their fingers. Ha!

Wow, all those lit pumpkins are fantastic! Great job guys!
I can smell the fragrance of that beautiful sauce right through the computer, YUM! And the Apple Crisp is perfect! I'm giving both of your recipes a try this week.
Looking forward to your next kit release.

I love, love, love your page. It's my guilty pleasure. Your home is so warm and cozy and Amelia is such a doll! I often plan to make your recipes and don't follow through but I'd like to try this recipe. Do you really use 6 onions or is that a type-o? Can't wait to give it a try!

I love all that pumpkins! So great and so funny! Such a nice tradition and so sweet that you are welcome your neighbors to make it. I am goin to try that mamaghetti next week! Thank you for the recipe, I always enjoy the one that came from mothers and grandmothers!

Yum, I may try this recipe as a freeze-in-portions thing for my maternity leave this winter! Sounds amazing, like a Bolognese but somehow sounds very foolproof!

I make your Mamaghetti sauce all the time, we love it! It does freeze very well.
Thank you!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


post a comment

About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com