all-day-sauce… and meatballs

sauce polaroidI don’t know who Mama Iuliucci is, but I would like to adopt her as my own (I love you, Mom, but this sauce makes you forget your allegiances).  Hers is the recipe I use for the both sauce and meatballs when it’s “All Day Sauce Day” at the Chickadee household.

Today is that magical day, and the smells wafting through the house make me happy to be alive!  I’m pretty sure angels are singing.  It would be selfish of me not to share the joy of walking into a house that smells like this, so here goes.

My adaptations –

  • for two (with tons of freezable leftovers)
  • keeping it light(er)
  • with no added salt (the canned tomatoes have enough)
  • in a crockpot…

Meatballs (half recipe)

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 4-5 slices white bread, broken into small pieces (I’ve been known to use old hot dog rolls that were past their prime – but not moldy.  That would be gross.)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl – I like to squish with my hands, but you mix them however the spirit moves you.  Roll the meatballs about the size of a golf ball.  This should make about 15-16 meatballs, so if you have a lot fewer, consider making them smaller.  Place the meatballs on a cookie sheet and bake for half an hour or until cooked through.  To be honest, I cook by nose – if I can smell it, it’s usually done!  Feel free to double-check with a meat thermometer.  Ground beef should be about 165 degrees inside.  If you’re going to add the meatballs to the sauce to cook in the crockpot all day, you don’t need to worry about whether they’re cooked through first.


  • 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes (or use pureed if you prefer smoother sauce – diced makes the sauce chunky)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 links turkey Italian sausage (this is common in my hometown but much harder to find here in the South.  It’s worth the search for me, because you’ll have to spoon off all the fat floating on top if you use pork sausage.  Yuck!)
  • a large handful of pepperoni slices, cut into quarters
  • homemade meatballs (I pre-cook mine for a crispier texture.  You can also cook the meatballs right in the sauce, but they come out much softer.)

Combine all of the tomato products in the crockpot.  Rinse out the large cans with just a little water (about 1/4 full) and add that to the mix.  Add everything else except the meat, and give it a good stir.  (I find that it’s easier to combine everything without the bulk of the meat.)  Add in the sausage, making sure it’s submerged, and then the meatballs.  If they’re raw, make sure they’re as covered as possible too.  If they’re cooked, it’s not important to submerge them.  Turn the crockpot on medium, leave it for 6-8 hours (or longer), and try not to bury your face in the sauce when you get home!  It’ll be hot, so that’s probably not a good idea… but you’ll want to.  Oh, you’ll want to!

Serve over the pasta of your choice.  Accept the adoration of your loved ones.  🙂

Note: You can print this recipe by clicking the “Print and PDF” button below – it will allow you to delete as much of the text and pictures as you want prior to printing so you don’t waste ink/paper.


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