Photos by Aimee Broussard

Aimee’s Pretty Palate: Press Pause for Pasta

My dear friend Terri Williams shared her family’s Homemade Spaghetti Sauce and Italian Meatballs recipe with me years ago as part of The Traveling Apron recipe swap. She explained that whenever they made their yearly trek to Ohio to visit her great grandmother Catherine Fitzpatrick Pruzzo, they were always greeted with a hug, kiss and the smell of her signature dish wafting through the air. “There is not one member of my large family that does not consider this the staple dish of their childhood,” she says.

The sauce requires simmering for several hours so it’s probably not something you’ll be adding to your weeknight repertoire, but one sure to welcome guests with the same comforting and aromatic embrace as Mrs. Pruzzo once did for a special occasion.

A sauce as special as this one deserves a savory bread component to ensure every remaining bit is properly removed from the dish. Considering licking one’s plate is frowned upon, some Garlic Parmesan Crescent Rolls will easily do the trick. These semi-homemade rolls are buttery and savory, worthy of mopping up that leftover sauce without judgment.

Finish the meal with something sweet like my Vegan Chocolate Brownies. Don’t worry, no one will know that they do not contain dairy when they bite into the rich, fudgy deliciousness. They’re perfectly indulgent for guests with or without dietary restrictions.

When the occasion calls for it, press pause on life and the business it often brings by enjoying a pasta meal filled with nostalgia and memories. If not with this recipe, then with one special to your own family.

Pruzzo’s Homemade Spaghetti Sauce & Italian Meatballs

For Spaghetti Sauce:
Oil, for simmering and browning
½ cup celery, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. onion flakes, softened with a bit of hot water
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
20 oz. tomato paste
36 oz. tomato juice
4 cups water
1½ tsp. oregano
2 tsp. basil
For Italian Meatballs:
1 lb. ground round
2 Tbsp. onion flakes, softened in water
1⁄3 cup total of chopped celery and chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
1 egg
4 slices white bread, cubed and moistened in hot water
1 “good shake” Lawry’s seasoning
Heat a bit of olive oil in a large skillet and simmer celery, parsley, onion flakes and garlic until softened. Add salt and pepper. Add liquid ingredients to mixture along with oregano and basil. Simmer on low for 3-4 hours.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine meatball ingredients and use your hands to form into balls. In a large skillet coated with oil, brown meatballs over medium heat. Once cooked, add meatballs to skillet containing sauce and allow to simmer for 1 hour prior to serving.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Garlic Parmesan Crescent Rolls

1 tube (16-oz) refrigerated crescent rolls
For Garlic Parmesan Butter:
2 Tbsp. salted butter, softened
1 tsp. minced garlic
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp. parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Separate crescent dough into 8 triangles. Roll up from wide end and place point side down 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Curve ends to form a crescent.
Combine butter, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Coat each crescent with butter topping. Bake for 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven until slightly browned. While hot, sprinkle grated cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 rolls.

Vegan Chocolate Brownies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cup quality unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 cup hot coffee (medium roast) *see note
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick baking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper.
Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl until combined. Add coffee, vegetable oil and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Spread batter evenly in prepared baking dish.
Bake until top is no longer shiny and center is no longer wet and giggly, about 30 minutes. Allow brownies to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares.
*Hot water can be used in place of the hot coffee. Coffee adds a richness to the brownies that make them truly indulgent.
Makes 12 brownies.

Aimee Broussard is a Southern food blogger and award-winning cookbook author. Seen on QVC, Rachael Ray and more, she is a self-proclaimed accidental entrepreneur with a penchant for porches and sweet hospitality. Find her online at