We’re spicing up pasta and giving away $150 (because I’m a RAGU mombassador!)

Congrats to our winner Jaque!

Anyone who reads any of the blogs I write with any regularity knows this one thing about me… I am not a self described maven in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong you will always find me in the kitchen eating something- but there’s a pretty good chance either my husband made it- or I used my trusty index finger to dial out for it.

I grew up with a mom who cooked, but unlike my two sisters who quite literally pour their whole selves into each meal, challah or confection they concoct, like me, my mother did it because it was required- and not because she had a real passion for it. She fed us the basics and of course made sure we got lots of red meat (remember the days of eating steak five nights a week because it was good for you?!) and veggies- but ultimately we were a Duncan Hines kinda family.

Perhaps I inherited her gene, this true lack of love for whipping up a steaming bowl of anything for my kids- and if not for my husband they would likely be raised in a cold cereal I’ll feed you anything that is easy and quick, because you have to eat childhood.

Of course being married to a man- who takes a real sense of pride and satisfaction in how one should chop an onion, or saute garlic, bake bread and prepare a quiche- he is slowly but surely at the very least enticing me- to see cooking as not so utilitarian but more so as an artform, and a release of one’s stresses. A way to completely pour one’s self into an activity whose result provides the very sustenance of life for one’s family. And of course when you look at it that way- well it’s hard to say– Eh, not interested- where’s the phone so I can call out for Chinese ( mind you I ALWAYS get the steamed chicken and broccoli and brown rice for my kids- but I digress).

So when the opportunity to be a Ragu Mom Ambassador, presented itself I saw it more as a reason to perhaps familiarize myself with that thing they call an oven and find ways to prepare the one food I know how in even more scrumptious ways– PASTA.

And this week’s Mom’s the word on Dinner Ragu video is all about just that- how as a mom, do you spice up your family’s pasta ( the one food I ALWAYS know my kids will eat- no matter what or where we are, of course granted we’ve got Ragu Sauce for my daughter who is actually quite particular about the sauce she lets touch her pasta (my son not so much!)

So how do we (and by we I mean my husband, as I look on and take notes) spice up pasta up in these parts?

-We douse it with lots of fresh cheese– my kids ADORE mac n cheese so at least we try and make it healthier by spicing it up with organic cheese and yes just a PINCH of that packaged orange stuff, whole milk and even some mozzarella to give it that quite cheesy fun and stringy texture.

And a good way to get your kids to eat SALAD? ADD their favorite pasta!! All of a sudden it is no longer a bowl of veggies but rather a bowl of pasta with some veggies thrown in!

Being a Ragu Mom Ambassador I will not only have an opportunity to share tips and tricks about getting kids excited about dinner but I’ll also be offering some fantastic giveaways and today is the first of MANY!

For a chance to win a $150 AMEX gift card leave a comment here with you number one tip to spice up pasta. For a second entry you can like Married my Sugar Daddy on Facebook and for a third entry you can follow Madijack on Twitter and retweet this giveaway!
Good luck! Giveaway ends September 17th at 12 midnight EST.


  1. Deborah Rosen says

    I like to spice up our pasta with fresh garlic, herbs like parsley and basil, and whatever veggies are in season (diced fine when there are children in the house).

  2. says

    Add some fresh lemon and lemon juice with olive oil and a touch of white wine vinegar – minced fresh basil and toss with pasta. Bright, fresh, and can be served with fish for a fabulous meal . I know that is not tomato sauce – but I bet your kids will love it.

  3. Kelly D says

    I spice up pasta with a good sauce like ragu, and extras like garlic, onion and pepper, sometimes even some chili powder.

  4. Margaret Smith says

    I like to add a little (about 1/4 tsp.) fennel seeds, some oregeno, parsley, garlic salt and a little sugar.
    Thanks so much.

  5. Carol says

    I spice it up with fresh basil and parsley from our garden….and dried oregano I actually dried myself in our dehydrator.

  6. Sandy Klocinski says

    Sautee ¼ cup onion and 2 cups of mushrooms until soft. Add 3 tablespoon butter, ½ cup of heavy cream, ½ cup of grated parmesan, romano, or asiago cheese. Add jar of sauce

  7. anne hill says

    my #1 tip to spice up pasty is to incorporate a little red pepper into the sauce & if u make a stuffed pasta from hand, then mix in a little dijon mustard to it to follow thru with the spiciness.

  8. Rae says

    fresh vegetables and herbs really make a difference! I love to make sauce with plum tomatoes, onion, roasted garlic and basil leaves. Sometimes crushed red pepper to make it spicy.

  9. Theron N.Willis says

    I add red pepper flakes and crushed garlic to a premade sauce such as Ragu. Top that on spaghetti and serve with cheap Chianti.

  10. Stephanie V. says

    saute fresh basil, roma tomatoes, olive oil, zucchini with some pepper and fresh garlic — so good!
    tvollowitz at aol dot com

  11. Marcella says


  12. Valerie C. says

    I saute garlic and a veggie (usually broccoli) in olive oil then toss with pasta……top with grated cheese and the kids love it. So easy too πŸ™‚

  13. David Brooks says

    My secret is a pack of italian spheghetti seasoning added to the store bought sauce. found with all the other seasonings (taco,meatloaf,crockpot things); people say its better then restraunts theyve been in

  14. Jennifer says

    For years my pasta tended to be pretty much the same: garlic, peppers, onions and sometimes I’d toss in a jalapeno because my husband likes everything HOT. But then I fell in love with fennel and now I have some new twists. I like to use sweet onions and fennel sauteed together and then use a sweet Italian sausage. Sometimes I do a veggie one and use a good manchego cheese tossed with olive oil and fennel. I still make the old flavors and I also use crushed chili in these recipes to spice it up for the husband, but it’s nice to change things up once in a while!

  15. Marilyn Wons says

    My number one tip to spice up pasta is to serve it chilled tossed with virgin olive oil, topped with chilled shrmip, peas, garlic and capers.

  16. ellen says

    Hubby and I have different ideas how to spice up pasta. Myself, I like butter, some vegatbles and lotsa garic. Hubby likes meat meat meat and cheese πŸ™‚

  17. says

    I “spice” up pasta by simply adding Brocolli and Tomatoes! This way we can sneak it in there for the kids and reap the benefits for the whole family! It also tastes so great and makes a simple pasta dish something much more.

  18. Theresa Jenkins says

    number one tip to spice up my pasta … We add meat to the sauce…half lb. beef, 1/2 lb pork and a couple of bones brown with olive oil , onion and salt and pepper ;add tomato sauce with a mix of Italian spices and finish in ovan at 350 for at least an hour

  19. ky2here says

    The best way to spice up dinner is to make a big fuss and build excitement. Children often follow your lead. Manipulate their emotions!

    ky2here at msn dot com

  20. Suzanne K says

    I spice up pasta by adding sliced italian sausage and serving it on the tri colored pasta or shells or some other kind of pasta!

  21. says

    There are a lot of good tips here and like this author, I do not cook the majority of the meals in this house because of a sheer lack of passion for the culinary arts.
    But as far as sprucing up Pasta goes, I add home grown herbs. It’s fun to let the G’Kids pick herbs and help toss them in whatever pasta dish being created. Getting creative with serving is fun too. Use one of those trick or treat pumpkin buckets to hold the cooked pasta and a witch’s cauldron to put the sauce in. The kids won’t be so antsy about having to eat before going out on Halloween!

  22. says

    @grandmasezso is following @madijack on Twitter (and I have to add that I like the way you write. Reading your post was like setting down at a kitchen table and listening. Easy and honest)

  23. Kerri M says

    I use FRESH veggies and always fresh basil to our pasta. Sometimes, I’ll add some Tapatio to our pasta sauce to give it a bit of a kick!

  24. Karen M says

    My #1 way to spice up pasta is to use a different shape pasta each time. Corkscrew, elbow, spaghetti, thin spaghettin, fettuccine, tri color and of course using whole wheat pasta for extra fiber. Thanks.

  25. CATHY TRUMAN says

    We like green peppers,red peppers and yellow peppers.fresh mushrooms
    fresh garlic, fresh ground black pepper and fresh herbs. We use whole wheat
    pasta. Top with freshly grated Romano cheese.

  26. Keri Jones says

    I use fresh meat, fresh tomatoes, fresh spices, and I use the secret ingredient.. KETCHUP to make my sauce then cook it until the spices set in for I dunno maybe 15 minutes then add the noodles. The absolute best spaghetti ever!!

  27. Alexandra T. says

    Being Italian, my mother taught me to through in some hot sausage to the tomato sauce and let that settle all in. When you need a kick, it’s great. You don’t need pepper at all.

  28. Denice P says

    This is how i like to eat my pasta. I have my husband brown sweet Italian sausage and then cook it in the sauce. then we of course add it to the pasta and you can taste the sauce in the meat. It’s really good.

  29. Amy Zachek says

    My number one trick to spice up pasta is to add a hint of tamari! It’s a delicious soy-esque sauce that works well in any dish, and will wow your taste buds when paired with pasta.

  30. Cindy D. says

    I like to add grilled chicken, shredded cheese and various spices to my pasta and then bake it. Topping it off with fresh bread crumbs and drizzling it with pure olive oil is a plus.
    Dove056 at aol dot com

  31. Deb B. says

    My son and I like a cold pasta salad with a small amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, diced tomatoes, and small amount of minced garlic and italian seasoning. Goes great as a side to a grilled steak.

  32. says

    well my comment didnt show up so here it is again… hope it works this time!
    My tips for spicing up pasta are: (Always include a great glass of your fave wine!)..use grated fresh garlic, grated lemon rind, olive oil, cracked pepper, thinly sliced poblano peppers( even the kids love poblanos), for the adults- a dash or two of Habenero or Chipotle drops, depending on heat desired…also I love to include a side of tiny spicy turkey or beef(organic) mini meatballs! And you can do all this even when using your Ragu sauce…. no one will ever guess you and Ragu were in the kitchen together!
    Cathy B
    pbprojecthope at yahoo dot com

  33. Judy S says

    In order to spice up pasta I throw a little onion powder into the sauce and we love the three cheese parmesean topping to put on it.

  34. Cindy Merrill says

    I love a spicy Pesto sauce over Pasta- I make mine with dried green tomatoes, Olive oil and basil with garlic and walnuts! Very unusual yet spicy good.

  35. Geoff K says

    My best tip for spicing up pasta sauce is to add just a dash of Chinese red pepper sauce or Chinese 5 spice – a little of both goes a long way and adds amazing depth of flavor to any sauce. Thanks!

    gkaufmanss at yahoo dot com

  36. Jamie W. says

    When it comes to Ragu I don’t feel like I have to spice up my pasta sauce! I love their huge variety of sauces and can get just what I want based on their sauces. Really, all it needs to give it some oomph is some lean meat and spaghetti. Eh, i’m a traditional type of person I guess!

  37. Scott Martin says

    I spice up spaghetti by adding some bmexican tomatoes.

    Scott Martin
    spmartin122 at gmail dot com

  38. Aisling says

    Pasta salad is my family’s favorite. I add mayo, mustard, hard boiled eggs, pickle relish, shredded cheddar and frozen peas.

  39. Ingrid says

    To get my youngsters to eat whole wheat pasta as they hate that, I put color die in the water and they colorful pasta and will it right up

  40. Katharina says

    My number one tip to spice up pasta is to make a summer pasta salad into a meal. It’s an oil/vinegar/sugar/herbs dressing lightly put over a mix of pasta twists, meat cubes (ham, ring bologna, or whatever’s available), and cheese cubes. Cherry tomatoes can be added, too.
    Katharina angelsandmusic[at]gmail[dot]com

  41. clynsg says

    About the only thing I do to spice up pasta is to use spicy sausage rather than hamburger in the sauce, and sometimes add a few herbs.

  42. Holly C. says

    I spice up my pasta with good quality olive oil, fresh herbs and lots of garden veggies. and I say yes! to fresh grated cheese, yum!

  43. wcc says

    I like spicing up my pasta sometime by using real, imported pasta – you can definitely tell the difference from the mass marketed stuff! For the sauce, I like spicing it up with my homegrown herbs. Thanks for the chance! πŸ™‚

  44. Mildred Thomas says

    We spice up our pasta with a can of button mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and of course, some love!

  45. Theresa says

    We spice it up with fresh spices- basil, fresh ground pepper, a little fresh parsley, and toss it in a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle some fresh parmesean cheese and yum!

  46. Gayle C says

    I like to add a jar of roasted red peppers, minced very fine, to my Ragu sauce. Sometimes I also add whole milk or half and half to make a thin Parma Rosa type sauce.


  47. Kristie says

    I use pasta in lots of different ways, but leftover pasta I put olive oil, parmesan cheese and garlic powder and serve as a side dish.

  48. Angela Winesburg says

    I use either garlic, peppers or onions to spice up our pasta. I have use different cheese in the past to add heat as well, thanks for the chance

  49. mary gardner says

    my favorite is pretty simple – just add a little lemon juice (you can add some of the zest also if you like it lemon), garlic sauteed in evoo, and some basil

    marygardner49 at aol dot com

  50. Patricia Edwards says

    I am a follower on Facebook!
    I would put some jalepenos in my husband’s pasta. I can’t eat spicy foods myself because I suffer from Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease.

  51. Jill L says

    It’s hard to spice things up as my kids like totally boring food. They are quite happy to have Ragu over noodles with a little cheese on top.

  52. Catherine L. Petersen Peters says

    I spice up the pasta with mushrooms, green peppers & garlic – sometimes onions – especiallyh green onions

  53. Jen Harriman says

    pasta is always better with garlic, always! I also love to put crushed red pepper flakes on as well. I am all for flavor so I get creative

  54. Michelle Hagewood says

    After I boil the pasta and drain it I like to let it sit in the bubbling sauce to kind of let it soak up some of the flavor. Adding fresh garlic and basil are mainstays in my home. After we reserve some for the younger kids we’ll add some salsa that a friend of mine makes from scratch to the sauce. It all mixes together nicely and gives it just a little extra spice!

    boylaneely at hotmail dot com

  55. Amy Bishop says

    I like to use whole wheat pasta first off, for the added nutrients. Then I like to make meat sauce with ground beef and sauteed onions and garlic and top off with fresh grated parmesan.

    *I followed on Twitter ( bish4224)
    * I liked the facebook page (Amy Bishop)

  56. Kellie Vrba says

    I like to “spice” up my pasta by adding red pepper flakes and pepper jack cheese…the kids and hubby really love this:)

  57. Katie says

    I love pasta in just about every form, so there isn’t one good answer to this question. But I do like to mix it up a little, using Asian flavors sometimes instead of Italian, for example. And when I make homemade mac and cheese, it has 2 more unusual cheeses [fontina and asiago], and broccoli to make it healthier!

  58. christina singer says

    skip the heavy sauces. a little oilve oil lends itself to the addition of countless flavor options. my favorite, olive oil, roasted garlic and sundried tomato. yum!

  59. Rosey says

    A good way to spice up pasta is to add red pepper flakes to the recipe. This is something our oldest chlid started in our house years ago, and we all just love it. It gives pasta just the right amount of zip.

  60. Jennifer Boylan says

    My number one tip to spice up pasta is to add a lot of sugar to the sauce and a little bit of vinegar. The sugar will take out the acidity for people who have problems with that and the vinegar gives it a little bit of kick.

  61. kelley c says

    My trick for spicing up pasta: avocado pasta. In a food processor mix one avocado, a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice to taste (i like lots), a sprinkle of salt, and some fresh basil. Mix it with fresh pasta and sprinkle with romano cheese. So yummy!


  62. Jackee says

    My favorite way to make a quick pasta is adding fresh chopped tomatoes, minced garlic, evoo, balsamic vinegar and chili pepper flakes. Yum!

  63. Jaclyn Reynolds says

    We cook with olive oil and make yummy noodle and sauce meals all week. The kids love it when I top a homemade pizza with pasta and Ragu.

  64. Roxann says

    Use the best olive oil you can find and make sure to use fresh spices and herbs to get the best, spiciest taste possible.

  65. Debra F says

    I don’t like food that is too spicy, but I like to add a kick to the meat that accompanies the pasta in the dish with a touch of cajun seasoning – this is especially good when mixed with a cream sauce like alfredo.

  66. Christine Holliday says

    For white sauces & pastas I like to add a pinch of red pepper and fresh parsley , for red sauces and pasta, add a little cheese to the sauce and pasta water ,and for any and all pasta , cook al dente and mix with sauce and allow to cook for a few more minutes in a pan, not pot. Also don’t forget the salt.

  67. HILLARY says

    i saute mushrooms with olive oil salt and fresh garlic when its almost done i add in cherry tomatos. cook hamburger or turkey whatever you prefer. then i ad the tomato sauce to the fully cooked meat and add in1teaspoon of sriracha (its a spicy chili paste ) mix them all into the drained thick spaghetti and add in fresh Parmesan cheese,salt,pepper,garlic,and chopped basil. and ENJOY =)

  68. latisha depoortere says

    I love pasta I love to add garlic my favorite also green pepper , onions to my sause gives alot to the taste! Thank you so much for sharing alot of great tips!
    tishajean@ charter.net

  69. Chris N says

    We always add fresh grated Parmesan and good olives (both black and green). It makes a really yummy dinner.

    ezmerelda at mail dot com

  70. brian e. says

    Thanks for the giveaway…we like to throw a mix of sauteed veggies & garlic into the sauce i.e. diced onions, diced green & red peppers, spinach, etc.

    senorpiero [at] yahoo [dot] com

  71. meme says

    I spice it up with garlic, bay leaves and oregeno and if you want to spice it up a little more sometimes I add a dash of chili powder

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