Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce

If you like pasta as much as we do, you’ll love this super quick pasta sauce!  Get dinner ready as quickly as spaghetti, with a fancy twist and a ton of flavor.  Enjoy!
Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce

  Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce

Needs Fulfilled: Quick Meal, Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly, Low Carb, Vegetarian/Vegan
Serve With: Salad and Garlic Bread
Prep: 0 minutes  Cook: 20 minutes
Time to Table: 20 minutes
Needed Equipment: Skillet
Serves: 4

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • None!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 2 Tbsp basil (I tried this basil stir-in paste, which worked really well, but you could also use chopped fresh leaves or even pesto).
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Start cooking your pasta (see below).  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and let cook about 1 minute.  Add in the remaining seasonings and let cook until fragrant (until it starts to smell very basil-y).  Add in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low.  Let simmer while the pasta cooks and the sauce thickens a little.  Toss the pasta with the sauce.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • You can use just about any kind of pasta that you choose – for a heartier meal, choose a penne or ziti noodle; for a more typical pasta night, go with spaghetti noodles!
  • Choose gluten-free noodles or use zoodles for a gluten-free or low-carb option.
  • Sprinkle with some shredded Parmesan or mozzarella, if desired
  • Add onions or switch the basil for oregano or marjoram for another flavor twist.
  • As always, adjust the basil, garlic, salt, and pepper for your family’s tastes!

Make Dinner Happen Friday #3: What Meal Plan? Edition with Chipotle Corn and Pinto Bean Tacos Recipe

Make Dinner Happen Friday #3Make Dinner Happen Friday is a new series where I will share with you what I am planning on cooking next week.  So come and join me in making dinner happen!
Y’all, let me tell you, this week has been rough.  I got a bad cold on top of starting homeschooling a few weeks ago.  My meal plan has been really rough and rocky this week, I am not afraid to admit; ok, it was more like I didn’t even have a meal plan!  We’re talking, going to kitchen at 5 o’clock to figure out what is for supper kind of deal because I forgot to put the food in the slow cooker again!
I am trying out some new organization strategies to help our how overall run better (starting with a bullet journal).  Tomorrow, I’m also going to share more in depth about how I adjust my meal planning when times are crazy busy (spoiler: I am gentle with myself during busy seasons, plus I use freezer cooking with my leftovers!).
On the plus side of all that crazy, I came up with a delicious Chipotle Corn and Pinto Bean Taco recipe on the fly for dinner tonight, so I am sharing the recipe with you at the bottom!
Before we get into that though, I wanted to let you all know that we are extending our Back to School Sale until Saturday!  So if, like me, you have had a crazy week and missed it, you can still get a one-on-one coaching session to get all the skills you need to take on the school year, including your first week all ready to go for just $10!  Head on over to the Meal Planning Coaching to sign up!  Offer ends at 11:59pm, Saturday, August 12!

Recap from Last Week

First of all, let me start by saying, I didn’t actually even touch my slow cooker this week!  I know, shameful (I mean everyone should use their slow cooker all the time anyway – because it’s awesome – but it’s so much worse that I planned to use it a lot!).  I did make the the Camembert Macaroni and Cheese, which turned out quite tasty, although we didn’t care for the bread crumbs on the top (I would skip the whole broiling step to keep it more moist as well).
We also had the Lentil Barley Stew on Monday as planned (although I made it on the stove rather than in the slow cooker – this is usually how we make it).
The rest of the week went haywire!  I had a ton of cucumbers from the garden, so I made a pineapple gazpacho with apple curry one night.  I pulled down some leftover Lamb Stew from the freezer.  We finally made the lasagna last night, but we made it in the oven (I decided I wasn’t brave enough to try the slow cooker since I had only made it once before – and that was with zucchini!); I used the recipe in my trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook.  It turned out great – a new family favorite, I think!

Friday

Chipotle Corn and Pinto Bean Tacos with Tortilla Chips
We had a long, hard day with school work, and I still hadn’t gotten dinner on the table.  I was going to pull some of the leftover Lentil Barley Stew out of the freezer, but I saw some tortilla chips on top of the fridge and decided Mexican was in order tonight.  I threw together this delicious taco filling which was also very tasty as a topping for nachos!  Check out the recipe below!

Saturday

Muthokoi (Akamba Corn and Beans) and Chapati
I have this meal on plan again this week because I still really want to see if I can make it!  I am making a double batch of the muthokoi (but just a single batch of the chapati because they are better fresh) so that I have leftovers for Wednesday.

Sunday

Brunch: Cinnamon Rolls and Meat and Potato Quiche
We have been really enjoying having some variety in our breakfasts, so I will be making extra of both of these to use as leftovers!  The cinnamon rolls I make using an adaptation of the Soft American-Style White Bread (pg 324) recipe in Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  The quiche recipe comes from the More with Less Cookbook (a great older cookbook – it looks like there is a newer edition that, according to the index, does not include this recipe but is probably still fabulous) – I love this recipe because I don’t have to make a pie crust!
Dinner: Lasagna Leftovers and Salad
The lasagna was a huge hit with the family, so I am glad that I made extra!

Monday

Pork Roast with Slow Cooker Rice and Carrots
I’m having another go at this recipe as well.  I am going to do the prep for it the night before – getting the carrots ready, making sure the roast is thawed.  To make sure that I had plenty of time, I put this meal on Monday so that I could do the prep on Sunday evening.  I am again making extra meat and carrots to have later in the week and to freeze (I am not making extra rice because it doesn’t keep as long without going bad).

Tuesday

Chicken Tetrazzini with Garlic Knots
To celebrate the feast of the Assumption, I wanted to choose some white foods, so I went with this family favorite from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, served with garlic knots (Seeing a pattern here?  Lots of family favorites and old stand-bys are one of the ways that I meal plan for when things are hectic!).

Wednesday

Leftover Muthokoi and Fresh Chapati
Making my mid-week easier with leftovers – just add fresh chapati!

Thursday

Leftover Pork Roast and Carrots with Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Keeping it nice and easy again with more leftovers and some Dairy Free Garlic Mashed Potatoes (You don’t have to have a dairy allergy to like these!  They are some of the best that I have ever made).
So there is what will hopefully be our meal plan for the next week!  So come on guys, do you have any tips to share for getting the hang of a homeschool schedule?  Anyone else in a crazy time of life?  Share it on Facebook or Twitter with #makedinnerhappen!
P.S. Don’t forget about our Back to School Meal Planning Coaching for just $10!  You can get equipped with all the skills you need to take on meal planning plus have your first weeks meal plan ready to go in about an hour all for just $10.  Don’t wait – sale ends August 12!

 Chipotle Corn and Pinto Beans Tacos

Needs Fulfilled: Vegan/Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Quick Meal, Allergy Friendly (with modification)
Serve With: Tortilla Chips
Prep: 0 minutes   Cook: 20 minutes   Time to Table: 20 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan or large skillet
Serves: 3
Chipotle Corn and Pinto Beans Tacos

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • None!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Oil
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 1 can (~15 oz) corn, drained
  • 1 can (~15 oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1/2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp chipotle powder (adjust to taste – you can find this in the spices)
Possible toppings:
  • 9 tortillas
  • 1 1/2 oz lettuce, shredded
  • 1 1/2 oz cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp ranch dressing
  • 1 avocado, sliced or chopped
  • 1 1/2 oz black olives, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp onion, diced (1/4-1/2 onion)
  • 3 Tbsp salsa or pico de gallo

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the oil in the saucepan (or skillet) over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute (cook, stirring occasionally) for 1-2 minutes until golden.  Add the rest of the ingredients except the toppings.
  2. Let it heat up, stirring occasionally, until it starts to bubble a little (there won’t be much moisture, so it won’t bubble a lot), then reduce your heat to low while you get the rest of the stuff ready for dinner.  Serve on the tortillas with any other toppings as desired.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • You can serve this as a topping on nachos instead – super good!
  • You could substitute 3/4 lb chicken breast, chopped for the pinto beans for an allergy friendly version – just brown the chicken in the skillet with the garlic and drain off any excess fat.

What’s Your Quick Meal? Contest + Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

Spaghetti SauceQuick meals – meals on the table in a flash – can save dinner when life gets hectic.  Our family’s go-to quick meal is pasta with homemade spaghetti sauce that we always keep stocked in the freezer, but I want to know, what is your family’s quick meal?  I’m looking for the best and the worst quick meals – those that your family loves and those that you are maybe a little embarrassed to admit that you actually eat.  Check out our family’s recipe then scroll to the bottom to find out how you can win one of 5 one week meal planning coaching sessions!

Spaghetti Sauce

Needs Met: Quick Meal, Prep Ahead, Allergy Friendly, Vegetarian/Vegan
Makes 12 cups

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 – 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 12 oz tomato paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • 4 tsp basil
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp oregano

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a stock pot. Partly cover, heat over medium low heat (avoid the urge to turn the heat higher, just let it be), and simmer for 2 hours, stirring regularly (if not, it will stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.
  2. Freeze in 1½ cup portions for 3 servings of spaghetti or 1 cup portions for 1 pizza.I use freezer-safe Mason jars (some people say you can use the regular Mason jars for freezing, but they are prone to breaking), but you can also use freezer zip-top bags.  Try it with the quick cooking pasta recipe.
So now it’s your turn!  What is your family’s quick meal?  Share your family’s favorite (or most embarrassing) quick meal by sending me an e-mail at ameredith(at)sparkmeals(dot)com or by sharing on Facebook or Twitter.  I will choose 2 of the best sounding recipes to share and 3 of the worst quick meal disasters – each winner will get a free one week meal planning coaching session for themselves or a friend or family member.  Entries must be received by May 1, 2017.  Don’t forget to sign up for the mailing list to get the winning recipes!

For the Love of: Asparagus

Asparagus has arrived at our grocery store, which means it’s spring!  Here are some tips and recipes to help you get the most out of your asparagus!
The thing that is so wonderful about asparagus is that it is one of those vegetables that truly is seasonal still.  While you can get canned asparagus (or perhaps frozen), it just is not the same as those crisp bright green stalks that are so delightfully fleeting.  So, to start off with, here are some basic tips for cooking your asparagus:
  • Keep the cooking time short to keep the crispness (cook it too long and it will get soggy)
  • If the bottom of the asparagus is woody (the bottom of it will look like wood), snap it off – where it snaps off will be at the top of the woody part
  • Keep your asparagus fresh longer by standing it up in a glass with a little water; cover with a sandwich bag, tie on with a rubber band, and put it in the refrigerator!
  • Boil your asparagus for about 4 minutes or steam for 6-8 minutes on the stove until crisp-tender.
  • Microwave your asparagus with about 1 Tbsp of water in a microwave safe container covered in plastic wrap for about 4 minutes.  Let stand covered for 2 more minutes and drain before serving.
  • Keep your asparagus bright green by putting the cooked stalks in cold water before serving.
  • Serve asparagus cold on salads or warm in sautes, soups, or side dishes.

Spring Vegetable Soup Spring Vegetable Soup

Needs Fulfilled: Prep Ahead, Allergy Friendly (with sub), Vegetarian/Vegan
Serve With: Saltine or oyster crackers
Prep: 15 minutes   Cook: 20 minutes   Time to Table: 35 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan
Serves: 4
Because spring vegetables (like peas and asparagus) don’t take long to cook, this soup is ready relatively quickly – you can get the meal on the table even more quickly by doing the prep ahead of time!  This soup also made surprisingly good leftovers – even the potatoes and the asparagus stayed flavorful and crisp (I don’t recommend trying to freeze this one, though!).

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • Cut carrots, onion, and celery according to directions (you can do this ahead of time and store together in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 lb new (or fingerling) potatoes, in 1” chunks (some I left whole, some I cut in half, and some I cut into quarters depending on the size – I bought mine at the grocery store but they were like these)
  • ½ bunch asparagus, cut into 1 ½” pieces
  • 1 cup frozen peas (or fresh if you can find them!)
  • 15 oz Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat.Add the carrots, onion, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.While that is cooking, prepare the potatoes.
  2. Add the salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, and basil and cook for another minute.Add the bay leaf, water, and potatoes.Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 8-10 minutes until the potatoes start to soften.
  3. Add the asparagus, peas, and beans, return to a simmer, and cook for about 4 minutes until the asparagus is crisp-tender.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • Substitute 1 lb browned ground meat for the beans
  • Substitute cannellini or small red beans for the Great Northern beans
  • Add 2 cups fresh spinach or kale with the asparagus

Asparagus-Artichoke Vegetable Sauté

Needs Fulfilled: Quick Meal, Allergy Friendly (with sub), Vegetarian/Vegan, Grain-Free (with sub)
Serve With: Quinoa and a side salad
Prep: 5 minutes  Cook: 15 minutes   Time to Table: 20 minutes
Needed Equipment: Skillet
Serves: 3
This is an Italian-spiced version of a vegetable sauté – one of the first recipes that I ever invented when I was first cooking for myself, so it holds a dear place in my heart.  If you prefer a meat option, check out the “Make It Your Own” section below.

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • Cut up asparagus and artichokes (you can leave the artichokes in fairly large pieces, but remove any harder outside pieces – they stay hard even after you finish the saute).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 12 spears asparagus, cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 6 oz artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 ½ cup frozen okra
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ¾ tsp dried minced onion
  • ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat.Add the garlic and asparagus and cook for about 1 minute.Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until the asparagus is crisp-tender and everything else is heated through.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • Brown ¾ lb chicken, diced, first in the oil in the skillet (cook, stirring occasionally until it appears brown – about 5-8 minutes).Drain most of the excess fat and continue with adding the garlic and asparagus.
  • Add in 15 oz chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or kidney beans for a vegetarian protein option
  • Substitute in ½ lb of other vegetables, such as diced carrots, peas, kale, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, or cauliflower.
  • Boost the vegetables by about a 1/3 each and serve without the quinoa for a grain-free, low carb meal!

Cook Once – Eat Twice: Ratatouille and Rice and Middle Eastern Vegetable Soup

Ratatouille and RiceThis easy slow cooker ratatouille pairs with a simple garlic risotto for one dinner, and easily transforms into a delicious, spiced soup the second night.  These two recipes work well together by easily creating different flavors and textures in the second meal for a whole new dish!  You will be making a double batch of the ratatouille (stewed eggplant, squash, and tomatoes) and risotto (a creamy, but dairy-free rice dish) and using half of it for the Middle Eastern Vegetable Soup.  It is important that you have the second meal the next day, as rice that has been kept longer than one day can make you sick even after being thoroughly reheated.

Ratatouille and RiceRatatouille and Rice

Needs Fulfilled: Slow Cooker, Prep Ahead, Cook Once-Eat Twice, Allergy Friendly, Vegetarian/Vegan
Serve With: Fruit Salad
Prep: 10 minutes   Inactive Cook: 3-8   hours   Active Cook: 40 minutes
Time to Table: 40 minutes
Needed Equipment: Slow cooker, 2 saucepans
Serves: 3
Arborio rice is a particular kind of short grain rice that you can find with the grains and beans at the grocery store.  It is essential for making the risotto that you use this type of rice as long grain rice does not form the right kind of starch when it cooks to give the risotto is creamy texture.  Eggplant is a very tricky vegetable to get right.  You can tell it is done when it starts to taste good – if it is chewy and bitter, it is not done yet.  If you would prefer to avoid this finicky food, you can substitute 2 yellow squash.

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • Cut eggplant and zucchini according to directions (you can do this ahead of time and store together in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days – the eggplant will turn brown but it doesn’t affect the taste or texture and you cannot tell once it is cooked).

INGREDIENTS:

Ratatouille:
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes (peeled if preferred)
  • 3 zucchini, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 3 tsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 30 oz canned diced tomatoes (I prefer the petite diced tomatoes with no salt added)
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 ½ tsp basil
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds and stems removed and cut into ½-inch pieces
Garlic Risotto:
  • 5 cups broth
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • ¾ tsp oregano
  • 1 ½ cup Arborio rice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place all the ingredients for the ratatouille except the pepper into the slow cooker.Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
  2. Place the broth for the risotto in the smaller saucepan (if you have two sizes) on a back burner of the stove on medium-low heat (you are just going to warm it – you don’t want it to be boiling).Place the second saucepan on a front burner, add the oil and heat over medium heat.Add the peppers for the ratatouille to the slow cooker, cover, and place on high to continue cooking while you make the risotto.
  3. Add the garlic and oregano to the oil in the larger saucepan (front burner) and saute 1-2 minutes.Add the rice and saute another minute until the edge of the rice starts to be translucent.
  4. Add about a quarter of the broth to the rice.All the rice to cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently but gently (this helps to develop the texture). As the liquid is absorbed, add in another quarter of the broth, again allowing it to be absorbed while stirring frequently but gently. Once all of the broth has been absorbed, taste the rice and add the salt and pepper as desired. (If you need to, you can cover and let the risotto sit off of a burner until you are ready to serve.)
  5. Serve the ratatouille over the rice, remembering to save half for the soup the next day, storing them covered in the refrigerator in separate containers.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • You could add 15 oz Great Northern beans (drained and rinsed) or 1 lb ground meat, browned to the ratatouille with the peppers for a punch of protein.
Credits: The ratatouille and rice recipe is adapted from the “Provencal Vegetables and Rice” recipe in One-Dish Vegetarian Meals by Robin Robertson.

 Middle Eastern Vegetable SoupMiddle Eastern Vegetable Soup

Needs Fulfilled: Quick Meal, Cook Once-Eat Twice, Allergy Friendly, Vegetarian/Vegan
Serve With: Bread from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (there are also gluten-free breads in there!)
Prep: 0 minutes  Cook: 15 minutes   Time to Table: 15 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan
Serves: 3

STARTING PREPARATION:

None

INGREDIENTS:

  • Leftover Ratatouille
  • Leftover Garlic Risotto
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine the leftover ratatouille and risotto with the water, coriander, and cinnamon in the saucepan over medium high heat.Heat through, stirring occasionally.Taste and add additional seasonings (salt, pepper, or more coriander or cinnamon) and serve!

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • You could use other seasonings such as ½ tsp ginger for the coriander for a slightly sweeter flavor or ½ tsp rosemary with 1 stalk celery, chopped for both for a more Italian flavor.

Sausage and Broccoli Casserole

Sausage and Broccoli CasseroleThis broccoli and sausage sauté with noodles and tomatoes makes a great, quick dinner – with simple gluten free substitutions to make it your own!   Plan this meal the week after the Kale and Kielbasa Soup to use up any leftover sausage (because no one likes to waste food!).  Oftentimes, you can plan on having the same protein more than once in one week to simplify your planning.  Kielbasa, however, has a very strong flavor, so putting it on two different weeks saves you from feeling like you are eating the same thing twice.  If you want to have them on the same week, you can try out one of the substitute proteins below!

Sausage and Broccoli Casserole

Needs Fulfilled: Quick Meal, Prep Ahead, Cook Once-Eat Twice (with rice substitution) Allergy Friendly (with substitution)
Serve With: Applesauce (if you like – this meal is complete on its own)
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 20 minutes Time to Table: 30 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan, skillet
Serves: 4

STARTING PREPARATION:

  • Cut sausage and broccoli according to directions (you can do this ahead of time and store in separate sealed containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup macaroni
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ lb kielbasa, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • ½ lb broccoli, chopped (you can substitute frozen if you prefer)
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions or with the following quicker-cooking method: Use a regular size saucepan filled about half to three-quarters full of water, then add the pasta right away. Add salt as desired (it helps to improve the flavor but is not necessary). Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high so that the water continues to boil well. The whole time stir often! (This is the key because the smaller amount of water tends to make the pasta stick together.) Continue cooking the pasta until it is done (about 5-8 minutes after the water starts boiling). Drain.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the kielbasa and brown (cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to turn brown). Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and the cooked pasta. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes until the broccoli is nicely cooked.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN:

  • For a gluten-free version, use 2 cups cooked brown rice (about 1 cup uncooked); omit step 1.Pair this recipe with a meal that uses rice the night before, saving the rice in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day until ready to use.
  • Switch up the vegetables with the same amount of yellow squash, zucchini, or cauliflower.
  • If you cannot find kielbasa that will work for your family, you can use the same amount of ground meat or use this substitute recipe for 1 lb of breakfast sausage:
    • 1 lb ground pork
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ½ tsp dried parsley
    • ¼ tsp dried sage
    • ¼ tsp pepper
    • ¼ tsp dried thyme
    • ¼ tsp coriander
  1. Mix together in a bowl, then use as directed in the recipe.
Credits: The sausage and broccoli casserole recipe is adapted from Healthy Lunchbox by Rallie McAllister.

Toasted Quinoa Southwest Salad

Toasted Quinoa Southwest SaladAll-in-one meals are my favorite, and this easy quinoa dish with avocado, tomato, corn, beans, and some serious Southwestern flavor is no exception!  Not only do they make fewer dishes (yay!) but they also make meal planning a breeze!

Toasted Quinoa Salad

Needs Fulfilled: Quick Meal, Prep Ahead, Vegan, Whole Grain, Allergy Friendly
Serve With: Nothing!
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 20 minutes Time to Table: 30 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan with lid and skillet
Serves: 4
STARTING PREPARATION:
-Cut up jalapeno and tomatoes. You can cut up the jalapeno and tomatoes ahead of time and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
INGREDIENTS:
  • 8 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/3 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cup canned corn, drained (about 1 can)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pit removed, and diced
  • 15 oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 4 Tbsp fresh cilantro, stems removed and minced (about ½ bunch)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Rinse quinoa if needed according to the package directions. Add the quinoa and saute (cook stirring occasionally) for about 10 minutes until it starts to brown (be careful not to turn the heat up too much as you can burn it). While that is toasting (browning), cut up the avocado and cilantro.
  2. Add the water to the quinoa, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the “tails” start to pull away from the center of the quinoa and it is soft.
  3. While that is simmering, heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin and let cook for about 1 minute. Add the jalapeno and garlic and let cook until the jalapeno starts to soften (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. When the quinoa is done cooking, put the jalapeno mixture in a large bowl and whisk in the remaining oil (6 Tbsp), apple cider vinegar, and salt; taste for seasoning (you may need to add a bit more salt or vinegar). Add in the quinoa and the remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
MAKING IT YOUR OWN:
  • Not a fan of beans? Substitute 1 cup cooked chicken, chopped and warmed
  • You can omit the corn, tomatoes, and/or avocado – you could substitute in some peas or sautéed zucchini if you like
  • Like some heat? Increase the amount of jalapeno
  • Refrigerate and serve as a salad for a flavorful and refreshing dish
Credits: The quinoa salad recipe is adapted from the “Toasted Quinoa, Corn and Avocado Salad” in the Fresh & Fast Vegetarian cookbook by Marie Simmons.

Fettuccine Alfredo So Good…You’ll Wonder Why You Ever Ate It From a Jar

Fettuccine AlfredoIf you ever needed an excuse to eat butter and cream (I don’t know why you would), this is definitely it, because this creamy masterpiece will NOT turn out without them.  So indulge with this easy peasy mac and chees-y…well, fettuccine alfredo!
Note: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  When you purchase items through these links, I get a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra charge to you.

Fettuccine Alfredo

Prep: 0 minutes Cook: 30 minutes Time to Table: 30 minutes
Needed Equipment: Saucepan, large skillet (preferably not non-stick)
Makes 3 Servings
STARTING PREPARATION:
None
  • 8 oz fettuccine noodles
  • 8 Tbsp butter (yes, that’s a whole stick)
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (buy a half pint rather than a big container if available)
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (I just get a bag of the store brand)
  • Dash salt and pepper
1.Cook fettuccine according to package directions or by this quicker method. Drain pasta.
2.In the skillet, heat the butter and cream over medium heat until it starts simmering. Reduce heat to medium-low so that it continues simmering and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes until it starts to reduce (be patient – letting it reduce a bit is what gives you the lovely thickness of the sauce).  You can tell it is ready when it starts clinging to the sides of the pan a bit.
Alfredo Sauce CookingSLXLM

3.Remove from heat and stir in the cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir gently until the cheese melts (again, patience is the key here). Pour over the drained pasta and toss to combine. Serve immediately.  Go ahead and it all, it doesn’t make good leftovers anyway!
Credits: The alfredo recipe is adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, Bridal Edition.

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Bowl

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Bowl  Pasta, chicken, corn, and Southwestern goodness – how can this go wrong?  This quick and easy meal will delight you and your family!  Adjust the hot sauce to your family’s preferred spiciness.  I made mine using the Restaurant Style Salsa recipe from The Pioneer Woman.  Serve with tortilla chips and salsa if desired.
Prep: 10 minutes   Cook: 20 minutes   Total Time: 30 minutes
Needed Equipment: saucepan, skillet
Makes 3 servings

STARTING PREPARATION:
-Thaw chicken (in the fridge overnight, in a sink of cold water for a couple of hours, or in the microwave).
-Cube chicken (or use leftover cooked chicken)

INGREDIENTS:

  • ½ lb chicken (chicken breast or thighs or used leftover cooked chicken)
  • 1 tsp oil (omit if using leftover chicken)
  • ¼ tsp each paprika, garlic powder, and cumin (omit if using leftover chicken)
  • 6 oz fettuccine or spaghetti noodles – gluten-free if needed (use fettuccine noodles preferably)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • 1-2 Tbsp chili sauce
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped (you can substitute 4 tsp dried cilantro, but add with the other ingredients)

DIRECTIONS:

1.Heat oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Add chicken to the skillet, sprinkle with the seasonings, and toss to combine.  Cook until no longer pink in the middle.  Remove from heat, drain off excess fat, and set aside until needed.

2.While the chicken is cooking, cook the pasta in the saucepan until not quite done.  While the pasta is cooking, chop the cilantro (be sure to use a clean cutting board, not the one you used for the chicken unless you washed it first).  Drain the pasta, keeping about ¼ cup of the water.

Pasta with Water
Leave about this much water
3.Add the chicken and the remaining ingredients except the cilantro and return to medium heat.  Continue cooking until pasta is done and the other ingredients are heated through.

Add in your ingredients

Adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook.