Five-Minute Tomato Sauce

So quick, and the lemon zest makes it a little surprising and so good.


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (I like less, you do you)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed red tomatoes
  • zest of one lemon


  1. Combine olive oil, pepper flakes, salt, and garlic in a cold saucepan. Stir while you heat saucepan to medium-high heat–45 seconds, should be fragrant but not brown.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and continue to heat to a gentle simmer.
  3. Remove from heat. Add salt if needed and lemon zest.

Spinach & Spaghetti

(Originally published February 2008) Marlene Lehl (from Zion Church) brought me this as a mercy meal (I think it was when Liv came home) and it was delicious. I passed it on as a mercy meal last night and wanted to share this meatless main dish with the rest of you.


  • 4 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced dried onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash pepper
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, drain well.
  2. Combine egg, sour cream, milk, 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, onion, salt and pepper; add monterey jack cheese and mix well.
  3. Add spaghetti and spinach and mix well.
  4. Turn into a 8 x 8-inch square pan. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Bake covered at 350 for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15-20 minutes more or until warmed through.

Lazy Day Lasagne

This recipe is from the (old) Zion Cookbook. I think Brook has a similar recipe from her mom. It’s on the menu at our house this week.

1 12-ounce carton cottage cheese

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 eggs

1/3 cup parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 jar spaghetti sauce

1 pound ground beef or sausage, browned

9 lasagna noodles, uncooked

1/4 cup water

Parmesan cheese, grated

In a large bowl, mix cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, parsley, onion powder, basil, and pepper; set aside. In medium bowl, mix spaghetti sauce and ground beef; set aside. In a 9 x 13 pan, spread 3/4 cup meat mixture in bottom. Layer with 3 uncooked noodles. Spread half of cottage cheese mixture and 1 1/2 cup meat sauce. Layer with 3 more uncooked noodles. Spread remaining cottage cheese mixture over noodles. Top with remaining noodles and meat sauce. Pour water around edges. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 additional minutes or until golden brown. Just before serving, sprinkle top of lasagna with Parmesan cheese.

Chicken Pomodoro

This is a quick, easy, inexpensive, delicious sauce with a fancy name. The recipe comes from Cooking during Stolen Moments (via Pinterest).


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I used less)
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pesto or 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or cut chiffonade style
  • 1/2 pound chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (I used more)


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until onions are nearly translucent, about 3 minutes.
  2. While the onion and garlic cook, pour the tomatoes (with liquid) into a food processor or blender. Process until coarsely chopped to desired consistency. (Process less time for a thicker, heartier sauce or longer for a creamier sauce.)
  3. Add the tomatoes and sugar to the skillet. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until very fragrant and somewhat thickened.
  4. Stir in the pesto and simmer an additional 5-10 minutes. (If using fresh basil, let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes and then stir in the basil after removing from the heat.)
  5. Stir the chicken into the sauce just until warmed through. Serve over pasta.

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

This was a great recipe for our family. I don’t think Simon has really eaten anything I’ve cooked for weeks. He threw a colossal fit before dinner, but I talked him down with a promise of cereal if he ate three bites and still didn’t like it. No need. He ate his whole piece and asked for seconds too. A totally unsolicited review: “Mommy, this is really good meatloaf. Thank you for making it. If you make it again sometime, I will eat it.” Success! (Jason and Ian went for seconds too, and we polished off the whole loaf.)

The recipe is from What’s Cookin, Chicago? and is a riff on, well, Chicken Parmesan.


  • 1 pound ground chicken (ground turkey can be substituted)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1–2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup pasta sauce (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
  • minced parsley for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan with cooking spray, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. To not over handle the mixture otherwise it will get tough. Place the mixture in the greased loaf pan and form into a loaf. Top the meatloaf with pasta sauce.
  3. Place filled loaf pan on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 40–45 minutes. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and sprinkle the top with the remaining shredded cheese. Place the meatloaf back in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted.
  4. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow to rest for 5–10 minutes before serving/slicing. Garnish with parsley if desired.

* To make ahead/freezer meal – Prepare the meatloaf mixture as directed and place in a disposable loaf pan. Cover and freeze. When ready to prepare and serve, defrost the meatloaf completely and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Top with pasta sauce and place filled loaf pan on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 40–45 minutes. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and sprinkle the top with the remaining shredded cheese. Place the meatloaf back in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow to rest for 5–10 minutes before serving/slicing. Garnish with parsley if desired.


Spaghetti and Meatball Casserole with Basil Cream

Today was the second time I made this casserole, and to be honest, I had forgotten how many steps there are. Don’t necessarily let that scare you off, though — if you don’t have cranky, clingy kids underfoot, the 25 minutes of “hands-on time” that Clean Living Magazine claims may be more accurate for you than it was for me. The steps are actually very similar to making a lasagna. In any case, it’s really good and definitely worth it — the basil cream sauce makes it memorable, and I keep trying to think of other uses for the delicious (and easy!) addition. (And, yes, this is the second time I’ve made a creamy basil-y sauce today.)


  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 pound spaghetti noodles
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated, divided (I used more than twice this amount, family preference)
  • 1/3 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 6 ounces extra-lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon wheat germ
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray; set aside. Cook spaghetti to al dente according to package directions. Drain pasta, rinse under cold water and drain again; set aside.
  2. In a food processor fitted with a chopping blade, add garlic and pulse until finely chopped. Add basil and pulse again until finely chopped. Add oil and half of Parmesan and pulse until well blended. Remove 1 tablespoon basil mixture and reserve in a medium bowl. Add cottage cheese to food processor and process until smooth and blended.
  3. Add beef, wheat germ, and milk to bowl with reserved basil mixture and mix gently until blended. Form mixture into rounded teaspoon-size meatballs (about 24 total). Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium -high heat. Spray skillet with cooking spray and add meatballs and onion. Cook, turning occasionally, until meatballs are browned and onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaf to skillet, reduce heat to medium and simmer until meatballs are cooked through and sauce is beginning to thicken, about 8 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
  4. Spoon 1/4 cup tomato-meatball mixture into bottom of prepared casserole dish. Toss spaghetti with remaining tomato-meatball mixture and transfer half of spaghetti mixture to casserole dish. Dot tops of noodles in dish with half of basil mixture then cover with remaining spaghetti mixture. Dot top layer of noodles with remaining basil mixture and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake in oven until bubbling, about 10 minutes. Then remove foil and continue to cook until top is browned, about 10 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Chicken Pesto Pasta

My sister-in-law made this one evening and since it’s become my favorite mercy meal. (Mercy meals are arranged by our church for friends who’ve had babies or have been ailing or had surgery. They are the best idea ever.) Since the recipe makes such a large amount of pasta, it can easily be divided for two small families.

2 packets Creamy Pesto Sauce (and all ingredients required to make it)
1 rotisserie chicken
1lb pasta, any shape

Debone chicken while still warm and discard bones/cartilage. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces, set aside.

Make pesto sauce according to packet instructions. You will be doubling the sauce mix, but here’s one warning: do not double oil—the dish will be too oily if you do.

Cook pasta, drain. Dump in large bowl or back into your pot, then add chicken and sauce. Mix well and serve. Easy-peasy, as my 7 year old says!