Easy Dinner

Taco Pasta

Is there anything better than the simple comfort of pasta with the simple deliciousness of taco seasonings? I think not. I’m not sure why the idea to combine the two took me so long to figure out, but I’m glad I finally did!

Taco Pasta

Taco Pasta

This simple recipe combines my taco seasoning with fridge-forage veggies and cooked pasta. It’s a riff on pasta salad, which means you can serve it cold or hot and everyone will celebrate. The possibilities are endless: serve this with chicken, or meat free; with shredded cheese or dairy free; and always load on the veggies to make it a one bowl wonder. This works perfectly for dinner and for lunchbox leftovers.

If you’re looking for more pasta ideas, I’ve got you covered!

If you make this, I’d love to hear what you add! Tag me so that I can see!

Taco Pasta Lunchbox
taco sauce ingredients

taco sauce ingredients

Taco Pasta

Sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
2 tablespoons lime juice
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
*optional: pinch of cayenne pepper 

Pasta
8 oz dry pasta, cooked as directed
1-2 cups of chopped veggies (I used cherry tomatoes and bell peppers)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Method

  1. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, add cooked pasta with chopped veggies and toss to combine.

  3. Add sauce and toss again to thoroughly combine.

Quick and Easy Turkey Meat Sauce

Quick Meat Sauce

A Quick Meat Sauce is a back pocket essential as far as I’m concerned. Most of the time, I make ours with ground turkey, but occasionally I’ll use half turkey/half ground pork, or a turkey/pork/beef combination. I love this dish because it comes together in under 30 minutes, and works beautifully in the lunchbox as leftovers. My kids will eat this cold or hot, but they definitely prefer it packed in a thermos.

With just 7 ingredients, this simple recipe is perfect for a busy weeknight. Add veggies like spinach or chopped bell peppers, and you’ve got a one-pot wonder on your hands. This pairs well with any pasta shape, and we’ve also made it with polenta.

If you make this, let me know how it goes or tag me on Instagram.

Quick Meat Sauce

Ingredients
2 shallots, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped 
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds ground turkey 
28 ounce can of chopped or crushed tomatoes
Chopped basil to taste (I used about 1/4 cup)
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat a large saucepan to medium heat and add the olive oil.

  2. Sauté the shallots for about 2-3 minutes or until they become translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute.

  3. Add the ground turkey and combine thoroughly. Sauté until the turkey is almost cooked through.

  4. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for another 15 minutes or until the meat is completely cooked through. 

    *Note: my kids like it “meaty.” If yours like it more saucy, simply decrease the amount of ground turkey that you add. 

Chicken and Veggie Lo Mein

Chicken and Veggie Lo Mein

Chicken and Veggie Lo Mein

Chicken and Veggie Lo Mein is on repeat at my house these days. The veggies and the noodles may change depending on what I’ve got in the fridge and pantry, but the sauce! That’s the key here. 😍 

I switch frequently between gluten free pasta and other times I use regular pasta, depending on what I have in my pantry. I often add chicken to this recipe, but it’s definitely doable without any meat. I love this dish because it’s loaded with veggies, protein, and fiber — basically a “bowl in one!” 

veggie loaded

veggie loaded

I’ve adapted this recipe from my friend Karen @healthygffamily and my kids are psyched to get leftovers in their lunchboxes. Check this out if you’re looking for more pasta-inspired lunchboxes.

Chicken and Veggie Lo Mein

lo mein ingredients

lo mein ingredients

INGREDIENTS

Sauce
5 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

Lo Mein
12 ounces of dry pasta (gluten free or regular)
1 tablespoon neutral oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2-3 cups chopped vegetables (I used broccoli, carrots, shitake mushrooms, snow peas and bell peppers here but you can use anything you’d like).

Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (we prefer the thighs for their juiciness but you can use any chicken part that you prefer)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

Pasta

  1. Cook pasta as directed.

Sauce

  1. Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Chicken

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

  2. Place the chicken parts on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

  4. Roast for approximately 25-30 minutes until the thighs are cooked through and still juicy.

  5. Remove from oven and slice into chunks.

Lo Mein

  1. Heat the neutral oil and sesame oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the vegetables and stir fry until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, depending on which vegetables you use.

  2. With the heat set to medium low, add the cooked chicken and noodles to the pan with about half of the sauce. Toss to combine. Taste and add more sauce if desired.

chicken and veggie lo mein

chicken and veggie lo mein

Easy Dinner Recipe: Strata

Eggs

If there's one thing all 5 of us always agree on, it's eggs. Strata is basically a frittata with bread and I love it because I can make it ahead of time and just reheat for dinner and I can also pop it into the lunchboxes! Score! 

I've made strata with spinach and with broccoli. I've made it with cheddar cheese and goat cheese. I've made it with olives and chick peas. But the version I keep coming back to has just tomatoes, basil and cheese. It's like having an egg and tomato sandwich with cheese, only better. Way better. Here's another thing I love about strata: it's a great way to use up bread that's getting stale. (here's another use for that)

Strata

Here's what you'll need: 
10 large eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups of crusty bread, cut into one inch cubes
1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Optional: 1/2 cup shredded cheese or goat cheese

Strata slice

Here's what to do:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and salt
3. Add the bread and combine so that the bread is totally soaked in. You can pop this in the refrigerator for 2+ hours or proceed from here. 
4. Add the tomatoes, basil (and cheese, if using) to the bowl. Combine thoroughly. 
5. Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet (I prefer cast iron) over medium heat. Swirl the oil to coat the bottom and the sides. 
6. Pour the mixture into the skillet, and make sure everything is evenly spread. 
7. Bake until the eggs are completely set and the edges are golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. 
8. Let the Strata cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes.
9. Use a spatula to flip it out of the pan onto a board and serve. 

Beet & Sweet Potato Soup

Ever since my husband and I became parents (almost 11 years ago!) we've been celebrating Valentine's Day with a home cooked meal instead of going out. He's quite talented in the kitchen but he's not home in time on weekdays to cook. Valentine's Day is one of those holidays where he lets his cooking skills shine, and frankly, I love it. This year, though, we're sharing the kitchen and I'm making one of our favorites as a starter: this beautifully red, earthy and delicious Beet Sweet Potato Soup. 

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Look at that color! This is Mother Nature at her best. Starting our special meal with a chock-full-of -vitamin soup is just perfect. Did you know that beets are loaded with folate (a B vitamin), potassium, fiber, magnesium and vitamin C? And sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin B, potassium, manganese and fiber? It's a powerful combination!

My husband is the son of immigrants. He ate a lot of borscht as a kid, and while this isn't a traditional borscht, it's kind of related. The best part is, it's something we both love to gulp down. I may serve this in tea cups, because it's got the consistency of a smoothie, so why not drink it?! 
The prep takes about 10 minutes and it cooks for about 40 minutes. Pureeing takes about 5 minutes so this soup is ready in under an hour.

However you choose to celebrate, I hope it's festive. ❤

Here's what you'll need:
5 beets
2 sweet potatoes (I used the Japanese white flesh variety) 
3 tablespoons avocado or neutral oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped plus extra for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: sour cream or sea salt yogurt to garnish

Here's how:
1. Peel the beets and sweet potatoes and cut into 2-3 inch chunks. I like to use gloves when I do this to prevent staining.
2. In a large soup pot, sauté the onions in the oil on medium heat.

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3. After about 5 - 7 minutes, add all of the beets and sweet potatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir for 2-3 minutes so that the oil and onions are evenly distributed.

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4. Add the vegetable broth and water and turn the heat up to high. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer.
5. Add the fresh dill, stir, cover and cook for 40-45 minutes.

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6. Purée with a stick blender. Sometimes you'll miss a spot and there will be a chunk of beet or sweet potato. That's ok. Life isn't perfect; soup doesn't have to be either. 😊
7. Taste and see whether it needs more salt or pepper.
8. Pour into bowls and garnish with dill (and sour cream, if using).

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