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Fast and Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

Fast and Easy Weeknight Spaghetti Sauce

While there’s nothing I like more than making a Bolognese sauce from scratch – except for cheese – I just don’t have the hours required for this endeavor during the week.  For instance, on Monday night I left work at 6:15 pm, headed to the computer store to see if they could fix or at least recover data from my laptop that committed hari kari last week, and painted two test patches on a wall upstairs to see if either would work for my home office (Medici Malachite I love you even if Jim doesn’t).  By 7:30 pm it was time to get dinner cooking and on the table. 

And that’s where Fast and Easy Weeknight Spaghetti comes in.  20 minutes from start to finish:

Fast and Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

Serves 4 people.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef (I use 96/4 from Trader Joe’s) or ground turkey;
  • 1/2 large onion diced (any onion will do but I like Walla Walla Sweets or Vidalia);
  • 1/2-1 TBSP garlic;
  • 1 standard size jar of tomato and basil marinara (I like Trader Joe’s organic tomato and basil marinara);
  • 1-2 tsp Oregano;
  • Pepper;
  • Fresh Basil;
  • Parmesan; and
  • 3/4 package dry Spaghetti or Vermicelli noodles (I like whole wheat spaghetti noodles).

Preparation

  • Place a large frying pan or skillet on the stove-top over medium heat;
  • Add ground beef or turkey, breaking into small pieces; 
  • Stir frequently; 
  • After 2 minutes of browning add onion.
  • Once meat is browned you can either drain the fat or if you are using very lean beef or turkey proceed to the next step;
  • Add 1/2 -1 TBSP garlic, Jim and I really like garlic so I add a full TBSP;
  • Add the entire jar of sauce;
  • Add pepper to taste;
  • Add 1-2 tsp Oregano (I use 2, but again this is a personal preference thing);
  • Stir;
  • Turn heat to simmer and cover sauce;
  • Bring water and a pinch of salt (I like Kosher or sea salt) to boil in a pasta pot or another pot deep enough to accommodate your spaghetti noodles;
  • When water is boiling, add spaghetti noodles and take cover off of sauce, if you like a thick sauce you can turn heat up to medium at this point;
  • Cook noodles for 7 minutes if you like them al dente, 8 if you like them more well done;
  • Drain noodles;
  • Dish up noodles, top with sauce and fresh basil and/or grated parmesan;
  • Serve and enjoy!

In the mood for a spicier spaghetti?  Use Newman’s Own Sockarooni sauce and add hot italian sausage to your ground beef.

In other news: I posted a new article on Examiner.com: 27 Restaurants in Seattle with Award Winning Wine Lists.  You can check it out here.

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A Few Favorite Fast, Healthy and Low-Cal Meals

Fast and Healthy Quesadilla

Fast and Healthy Quesadilla

While I love eating out, it’s a calorie minefield and requires more time then I often have.  So, I need a repertoire of super easy, fast, low-calorie meals that will keep me going and keep hunger at bay for at least 3-4 hours.

Two of my “go-to” meals are Easy Pasta with Tomatoes and Onions and Fast and Healthy Quesadilla.  Both dishes take under 15 minutes to prepare and are east enough for the cooking impaired.  Bonus, both are less than 400 calories, contain more protein than most protein bars and contain a decent amount of fiber to fill you up and keep you going. 

<h1>Easy Pasta with Tomatoes and Onions</h1> 

-1 c. whole wheat penne or spaghetti
-2 fresh tomatoes (3 if you use campari tomatoes), chopped
-1/2 onion, diced
-2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
-1 Tbsp minced or chopped garlic

Fill a medium size pot with water and bring to a boil. While waiting for your water to boil, dice your onion and chop your tomatoes.
When water comes to a boil, add whole wheat pasta. If you are using penne, boil for 9 minutes. If you are using spaghetti, boil for 8 minutes. Drain pasta once time has elapsed.
Once you add the pasta to cook, spray a medium skillet with any brand cooking spray (I use PAM) and heat over medium heat. Add onions to skillet and cook 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic to skillet and cook until pasta is finished cooking.
Add drained pasta to skillet. Add parmesan cheese to skillet and stir parmesan cheese, pasta and tomato, garlic and onion mixture together.
Salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.
Serves 1. Nutritional value is approximately: Calories: 380, Fat: 5.7 grams, Protein: 16.7 grams, Fiber: 9.6 grams.

<h1>Fast and Healthy Quesadilla</h1>

1 burrito size tortilla (I use Trader Joe’s Organic whole wheat and corn tortillas)
2 Tbsp Trader Joe’s Spicy Black Bean Dip (or an equivalent bean dip)
1/3 cup shredded Mexican Cheese
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper cut into strips (I used green, but red or yellow would work too)
Cooking Spray
Optional: Tomatoes, chopped and/or salsa

Spray bottoms of small and medium skillet with cooking spray and place both on medium heat.
Dice onion and slice bell pepper and add to small skillet. Saute until onions are brown (cook longer if you do not want crunchy bell peppers).
Add tortilla to medium skillet and spread black bean dip on tortilla. Sprinkle cheese on top of black bean dip. Cook until cheese is melted and tortilla is crispy (about 4 minutes). Add bell peppers and onions to tortilla, cheese and black beans and remove from skillet. If you like, add tomatoes and/or salsa (I was out of both when I made this). Fold tortilla in half. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 1. Without tomatoes and/or salsa, nutritional value is approximately: Calories: 287, Fat: 11.1 grams, Protein: 12.8 grams, Fiber 7 grams.