Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's Romantic Spaghetti Night with Romance Author Myra Johnson!

Myra Johnson's Romantic Spaghetti Night

Thanks for inviting me to the café, Ruthy & Missy! So happy to be here during Valentine’s week! To introduce my recipe, I’d like to share a short romantic excerpt from my novel Autumn Rains. The heroine is Valerie Bishop, whose late husband owned an Italian restaurant. In this scene, Valerie is helping her sister-in-law, Ellen, prepare spaghetti for dinner.

The back door swung open and Connor [Valerie’s brother] breezed in. “Mmm, Italian. My favorite.” He planted a noisy kiss on Ellen’s cheek.

“Come back here,” she demanded when he turned away. “You can do better than that.” Grabbing a chunk of his blond hair, she pulled his face to hers and kissed him passionately.

The color rose in his face as Ellen released him. “It’s the marinara sauce,” he said, winking at Valerie. “Always does that to her. You know, Italian, the food of romance?”

Well, I’m not Italian, and these days (cooking for just my husband and me) I usually buy marinara sauce in a jar. But back when I cooked for a family of four, one of our favorite meals was spaghetti with my homemade sauce. If you’d like to give it a try, here’s my recipe. Amounts are approximate because I typically cook using the “a little of this, a little of that” method. This is one recipe you can tweak any way you like!

Servings: about 3-5

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
½ white or yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 14-ounce can tomato sauce
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
½-1 4-ounce can mushroom pieces and stems, with liquid
½ cup red wine (optional) OR ½ cup water
¼ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. basil
½ tsp. garlic powder (or use 1-2 crushed cloves)
¼ tsp. summer savory
¼ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. fennel seed
1 tbsp. sugar
2 or 3 bay leaves (remove before serving)

Brown meat and onion in a large skillet; drain or blot off fat. Add all remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. If sauce becomes too thick during cooking, add more liquid. Serve over spaghetti or the pasta of your choice.

About Myra: Myra Johnson never thought she’d leave Texas, and she’ll always be a Texan at heart, but sometimes you just have to go where the grandkids are. Nowadays she and her husband are enjoying the beauty of the Carolinas and living near three of their six grandchildren. Empty-nesters, the Johnsons share their home with two lovable dogs. Myra’s first Heartsong Presents romance, Autumn Rains, won the 2005 RWA Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript and was a 2010 ACFW Carol Award finalist. Find Myra on the Web at and

About Autumn Rains: Healy Ferguson, a redeemed ex-con, arrives in town searching for the friend who led him to Christ, but he isn’t prepared for the news of his friend’s death, much less to find himself falling in love with his friend’s widow. Valerie Bishop’s life was shattered the night her husband died, but the man who begins to fill the empty place in her heart holds the key to a buried memory that could destroy her all over again. If their love is to survive, they must each confront the fears imprisoning them and trust in God’s healing mercy.

Autumn Rains is currently available through limited markets only, but you can also find it in Myra’s 3-in-1 collection Gateway Weddings, available through and wherever Christian romance is sold.


  1. Myra, I'm lovin' me some spaghetti! Do you remember when the Hunt's Tomato commercials talked about Wednesday being "Spaghetti" night?

    Well up here, it was! We've got lots of Italians that settled in the Rochester area and Wednesday night was always pasta... Only people didn't say "pasta" like they do now. They said Spaghetti because there were like SEVEN different kinds of pasta you could buy... Rigatoni, Manicotti, Lasagna, rings, elbows, spaghetti and rotini... Really, all the fun stuff that they carry now wasn't in most regular grocery stores, so how much more fun do we have now with PASTA NIGHT???

    Love it, Myra!

  2. I'll have to try your recipe, Myra - the blend of herbs is tantalizing!

    I have to admit, I've only made my own sauce once. I must have burned it because it tasted just awful. My 27 yo son makes a simple recipe he found on line - and I haven't even been brave enough to try that!

    (Yes, I was scarred by my first experience.)

    Since I'm working on this week's menu as soon as I get off the computer, I'm makin' Wednesday night "Spaghetti night a la Myra". Maybe we'll watch Lady and the Tramp after dinner, and make it a really romantic night :)

  3. love spaghetti! I wonder if they make a spaghetti and garlic bread scented candle?! bet the guys would love it! and anything with ground meat - I love using my pampered chef's twisty thingy - can't remmeber what it's called but it's great for breaking up ground meat.
    bday party for my friend's little dude today - he turns 4 tomorrow - and they're out of town so had to hunt for a place and we're going to double dave's pizza(sorta like spaghetti right?!) I have to pick up the cake and of course it's raining. blech!

  4. This sounds great! My favorite food is probably spaghetti. One question...what is summer savory? I don't think I've ever seen that at the grocery store. Could it also be called something else?

  5. Mmm... Sounds yummy! I usually cheat and use Prego, but OH this sounds heavenly!

  6. I love spaghetti! =)
    Your book sounds wonderful! Im a fan of Heartsong Presents romance books.

  7. Hello, recipe lovers! I've been out most of the day enjoying a grandson's basketball game (they won--yay!!!) and then hanging out in the spring-like weather while the grandkids tossed a Frisbee around.

    Yes, Ruthy, it was years before I realized there were different kinds of pasta than spaghetti and elbow macaroni--LOL!

    Jan, as I mentioned, for me it's spaghetti-sauce-in-a-jar these days. I cooked for hubby for 30+ years while he worked. Now that he's semi-retired, I let him cook for me as often as possible!

  8. "Anonymous," I think I'll just stick with lavender or cinnamon scents for my candles--LOL!

    Donna, I have no idea what summer savory is, but I like the name. I think I must have needed it for a different recipe once and then just decided to try it in the pasta sauce.

    Linnette, I like Newman's Own and Classico. They have some yummy varieties!

    Melissa, I've enjoyed writing for Heartsong. Right now I'm at work on the third book in my Cross Roads Farm series. The first book, A HORSEMAN'S HEART, came out a few months ago.

  9. Yummy, yummy, yummy with some nice garlic bread.

  10. I'm late! Was gone all day and then came home and collapsed on the couch. :)

    Great recipe, Myra! I will definitely try it! I'm also dying to know what summer savory is. Will do a little research. :)

    Jan, Susanna, Donna Linnette and Melissa, we're so glad you dropped by!

  11. When I put in my sage bush, the "under name" was Summer Savory. If they're not exactly the same thing, they're close. It might be just a different strain of sage.

    It smells like a soft sage... a little lighter. With a hint of rosemary. But they're all related herbs I think.

  12. Well, how interesting, Ruthy! I'm sure that's it. :)

  13. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Missy's agreeing because she's afraid to tell me I'm wrong in public, LOL!

  14. So you're pulling our leg??? I believed you, you goof.

    Or maybe I'm the goof. :)

    1. No, it's true! :) Really. Truly. They're either the same or closely related. If you look up herbs, sage, rosemary, thyme, savory... all linked to the "savory" herbs.

      But rosemary?

      That's the herb of LOVE. :)

  15. I love rosemary, too! Especially sprinkled on Italian bread (like the bread at Macaroni Grill).

    1. Oh, you just HAD to mention the bread at Macaroni Grill! Now I want to go get some!!!

      Thanks for having me on your blog, Ruthy & Missy! What fun!

  16. Myra, thanks for being here. But it's not a blog, honey. How trivial that sounds! It's a "cafe"... Note the coffee pots. The milk foamer. And that array of desserts!!!

    I love rosemary foccaccia bread. I think I spelled that wrong but I'm mad at Mr. Blogger for BLOCKING our friends so zealously. We need a secret entrance card.