- 1 lb. ground beef or Italian sausage
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cans (15 oz. each) diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
- 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 T. brown sugar
- 4 garlic clove, minced or pressed
- 1-2 tsp. dried basil
- 1-2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 3/4 cup water
In a skillet, cook beef (or sausage) and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Transfer to slow cooker. Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and cook on high heat for 2 hours. Then cook on low heat for an additional 5-6 hours. Stir occasionally during the cooking time. Serve over pasta.
**Tip - While I love what a time saver the slow cooker is, it requires that one plans ahead so they have time in the morning to get the recipe started. And that is not something I'm good at...having extra time in the mornings. So one thing that's helped me a lot with this dish is prepping nearly everything for the sauce the night before. I cook the meat and onion, let it cool, and refridgerate it. Then I combine the remaining sauce ingredients in a separate bowl, all except for the garlic because it's best when freshly minced, and refridgerate that, too. The only left to do in the morning is throw it all together in the crock pot, add the garlic, stir, and let the crock pot do the rest...voila! Instant time-saver for all of you who are NOT morning people!
Also, this recipe is awesome to double. Then freeze the extra and you'll have a near-instant meal awaiting you, minus defrosting time, of course. I've also used the extra sauce to make a meal for families who've recently had a baby. Combine it with pasta, salad and garlic bread to round out the perfect Italian meal.