Monday, March 5, 2018

Jan's Quick and Easy Spaghetti

Jan here, and I know what you're thinking - What could be easier than spaghetti? It's a basic family dish, and a favorite of kids everywhere.

But I have a recipe that uses only one pot, so that makes clean up even easier, doesn't it?

More about these guys later!

This recipe is for either your Slow Cooker or your Instant Pot (counter-top pressure cooker). Both appliances make this super simple. Serves 6.


1) About one pound meat (optional for vegetarians!): the meat you use is completely up to you. I used browned ground beef, but you could use browned ground Italian sausage, meatballs...whatever you like. Just make sure it's already cooked.

2) Spaghetti sauce, enough to have a total of about 37-38 ounces of tomatoey sauce. I used a combination of a 22 ounce jar of spaghetti sauce and a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes, and it worked very well.

3) Herbs for flavoring: I used 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil and dried oregano.

4) 36 ounces water.

5) 1 pound dry spaghetti noodles, broken in half.

6) Optional additions, according to your preference: chopped green pepper, chopped onions, sliced mushrooms (canned or fresh), etc.

Slow cooker directions: Combine all the ingredients except the spaghetti noodles in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-5 hours.

During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the dry spaghetti noodles and stir. If the noodles aren't cooked through at the end of the cooking time, continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes or so...but watch carefully so that the noodles don't get overdone.

Top with Parmesan cheese to serve.

Instant Pot directions: Put the meat and seasonings into the Instant Pot. Put the spaghetti noodles on top, crisscrossing them so they aren't a solid mass. Pour the spaghetti sauce and water over the meat and noodles, using a spoon to submerge the noodles if necessary to make sure they're completely covered.

Seal the instant pot and set it to manual mode, high pressure, 8 minutes cooking time. When the time is up, use the manual quick pressure release.

Open the pot and stir the spaghetti well. It may appear to be a little liquidy right after cooking, but stirring will incorporate all of the liquid into the noodles before serving.

Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.

This past weekend brought us typical March weather. Saturday was clear and warm, with highs in the mid-50's in the Hills, but in the mid-30's in town. Sunday and today are a different story!

But knowing that the weather was changing on Saturday night, we made sure we made a trip up into the Hills during the day!

We started at Custer State Park.

Much of the ground is still black from last November's fire, and logging crews were busy removing the dead trees.

But the signs were will come back to the park!

The snow-melt will seep into the ground, the ashes will enrich the soil with nitrogen, and in a couple months this area will be bright green.

Meanwhile, the bison are enjoying the warm temps and the rich, dormant grass that survived the fire.

We also went to Mt. Rushmore...

When we realized that we hadn't visited the Boys on the Hill at all last year (although we drove by and waved several times!), we thought monthly visits were in order this year.

And we found one of the Mt. Rushmore mountain goats foraging along the road.

(Have I ever mentioned how much we enjoy living here? *sigh*)

Before I forget, you should find "The Amish Nanny's Sweetheart" appearing in your stores this week! I even found a couple copies in our local Walmart!

Or you can order it from Amazon, etc. Links are on my website:

Have a great week!

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan


  1. Your pictures always take my breath away. I can't imagine seeing that kind of scenery on a daily basis. Incredible! Makes me want to venture out of my city slicker box and head west!

    Never ever thought of making spaghetti in a crock pot! Mind you, it would be overkill for one but I must remember that the next time I need to bring something to a potluck.

    Congratulations on your book hitting the stores this week. Exciting!

    1. This recipe makes too much for two, let alone one! I made it when our two younger boys were eating with us, and we still had leftovers. This will be another staple for my carry-in dinner list, though!

      And thank you! I've been looking forward to this book being out there. :-) I love the story.

  2. Spaghetti in a CrockPot? Who knew? Then again, I have a recipe for lasagna in a CrockPot, so it I really should have been able to figure this out on my own. Still, great tip, Jan. Thanks.

    The Black Hills are indeed beautiful. I always loved making that drive up to Custer State Park. The kids got a kick out of the buffalo. There's a ranch in our county that had a herd of buffalo. I told Richard we should do that. I just go the look, so apparently cattle are sufficient.

    1. Cattle and buffalo are totally different beasties. Many people learn that the hard way when they try to take a selfie with a buffalo, or try to herd them with a motorcycle! We were happy to see them out and foraging, though, after the fire.

      Yes, spaghetti in a CrockPot! The key is not to add the pasta in at the beginning of the cooking time. "Overcooked" is too gentle a word for what happens after five or six hours....

  3. Oh, I love your jaunts into the hills... and the park... and you're common sense and pragmatism about things... The goat! And the bison! OH MY STARS!!!!

    That's just incredible, and to live almost in the shadow of the Big Four... ;)

    Pretty sweet. And close enough to frequent Meg Brummer's ice cream shop!!!!

    That's a daily fix for you!

    I've actually got a pot of sauce and meatballs in the fridge because I'm working double time on two projects right now and food is last on my mind... so they can feast as needed and I'll check things off my winter to-do list... and by the time these commitments are met, it will be SPRING IN THE NORTH!!!

    Happy dancing!!!! :)

    But right now it's cold and snow and more snow expected mid-week, but that's okay... hints of spring abound beneath the snow, just like in Bette Midler's "The Rose". THE ROSE WITH BETTE MIDLER AND WYONNA JUDD

    "Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snow, lies the seed that with the sun's love, in the spring... becomes the rose..."

    1. Oh, I love that song!

      And yes, to live so close to Mt. Rushmore is fabulous. The Shrine of Democracy!

      Just to make you jealous - I'm on my way out the door for a run to the post office...and LUNCH AT ARMADILLO'S!!! Soup, sandwich, and ice cream. What could be better?

      Stay warm during your coming Nor'easter!

  4. Enjoyed the pictures with your post. New life bursting forth all around despite colder weather once again.
    I'm looking forward to reading your new release. Congratulations, Jan.