Come Into My Kitchen

Olathe cook’s easy spaghetti and meatballs recipe can be made ahead

Kathy Brockway, of Olathe, says her spaghetti and meatballs recipe makes for great leftovers.
Kathy Brockway, of Olathe, says her spaghetti and meatballs recipe makes for great leftovers. Special to the Star

Kathy Brockway of Olathe cherishes having her family gather at the table for a home-cooked meal.

She and her husband, Dave, raised a son and daughter, who are now married and live nearby. Kathy loves to cook dinners for them and her three grandsons. She works in sales and is a territory manager for industrial gloves.

Q: Do you like to cook and when did you start cooking?

I have always loved to cook. My sister and I cooked often when we were growing up and we frequently prepared dinner.

My mom was a great cook, and while I have very few written recipes from my mom, the foundation and knowledge of everything I cook comes from her.

Q: Are family dinners important?

I feel there is nothing better than a family meal at home. I cook all the time, and my family comes for dinner or comes by and picks up something I have prepared frequently. Today, whenever my brother Chuck, my sister Debbie and I are together, we plan dinners and love to cook together.

I am a cancer survivor and finished chemo and radiation treatments last July. During that treatment I especially missed our family meals and am grateful to be back in the kitchen and again sharing dinners with my family.

Q: What recipe are you sharing and why?

This meatball and sauce recipe was my mom’s and I cherish it as I have so few written recipes from her. I love that it is in her handwriting and the paper is a bit splattered from years in the kitchen. I had to decipher it a little as some of the ingredients were just a listing and did not have an exact measurement or clear instructions. I also tweaked it a little for my family’s tastes.

I grew up in Des Moines and my mom got the recipe from a friend, who claimed it came from a local restaurant. I remember my mom making it for Sunday dinner and my brother would eat the meatballs as fast as mom could dish it up.

Q: What tips do you have for the recipe?

It makes great leftovers, if there is any left. I often make it the day before as I feel the flavors meld and get better when refrigerated overnight. You can make the meatballs ahead and freeze them, then just thaw, heat and add them to the hot sauce.

You add a whole carrot to the sauce as it cooks, but it is removed before serving. Mom said it removed any bitter taste from the sauce. Also, I use a scoop to shape the meatballs so they are consistent in size and we like them a little smaller so there are more meatballs.

As with any cooking, tweak the recipe to your flavor preferences. For example, increase or decrease the crushed red pepper flakes as you wish.

Mom’s Meatballs and Sauce

Makes 6 to 8 servings


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

6 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste

3 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

12 tomato paste cans water

1½ teaspoons dried basil leaves

3 bay leaves

Salt and pepper, to taste

9 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 whole carrot, trimmed

Hot cooked spaghetti

Heat the oil in large Dutch oven. Add the onion and sauté 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, basil leaves, bay leaves, salt, pepper, sugar and red pepper flakes. Heat until the mixture begins to simmer.

Stir in the carrot. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

Before serving, remove and discard the carrot and the bay leaves. Add the fully cooked meatballs to the sauce. Serve over hot, cooked spaghetti.


2 pounds ground beef

1 cup dry plain breadcrumbs

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients. Shape into meatballs, using a 2-tablespoons scoop (making meatballs about 1½ inches in diameter.)

Arrange the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, about 25 minutes or until done. Add the meatballs to the sauce.

Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore are cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. They have published over 12 cookbooks and thousands of recipes. They are members of Les Dames d’Escoffier and blog at . Email them at