Will Ferrell’s Elf is another holiday favorite, one my kids watched over and over, making it a prime candidate for the Dinner and a DVD treatment. Ferrell is very funny in his over-the-top performance as an innocent and over-excitable man raised by elves at the North Pole, but what really makes it work is the slow-burn performances by James Caan, Zoey Deschanel and Bob Newhart. And don’t miss Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage as an arrogant children’s book author.
And it just so happens that the story includes a meal suggestion; there’s a scene in which Buddy and his new-found family sit down to a spaghetti dinner, which is a pretty quick and easy choice for a busy pre-Christmas evening that might involve wrapping gifts, last-minute decorating, or picking up visitors from out of town.
Our homemade spaghetti sauce recipe is ideal; it cooks in the crockpot while you go about your day.
This recipe is a mix of ideas from a few different sources, including the Vincent Price Cookbook, the Los Angeles Times California Cookbook, the Ladies’ Home Journal Cookbook, and Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, combined with some experimentation.
1 (1 lb. 13 oz.) can Crushed Tomatoes
1 (1 lb. 13 oz.) can Tomato Sauce
2 (6 oz.) cans Tomato Paste
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
2 teaspoons Onion Powder or Minced Onion (or one of each)
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
2 teaspoons Ground Oregano
1 teaspoon Italian Seasonings
1/4 cup Wine
dash of Paprika
1/4 cup Honey (In honor of the movie, instead of honey, we substitute maple syrup, one of the four basic food groups: “candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.”)
Throw it all in the crockpot, stir well, go away. Come back in a little while and taste it. Fiddle with the seasonings if necessary. Go away again. Repeat.
If desired, brown up some meat of your preference (we like ground turkey) and add it to the sauce about an hour before dinner time.
Come back later and cook your spaghetti.