It’s my night out, so why am I cooking again? Or, quick and healthy.

Last night I had a date.  We’re still somewhat new to our area, and making friends can be a slow process in a rural-ish area, especially when most people have long commutes and small children, leaving little time to socialize.  So, despite the fact that things are completely crazy at work, my lovely husband went out of his way to set me up.  I’d met Josh(uaine) at a few work-related get-togethers and we’d been Facebook friends for a while, but we hadn’t gotten much chance to talk.  She seemed smart and snarky, and the media had already informed me it was my duty as a woman to see Bridesmaids (plus I’d heard it was hilarious (and it was!  See it!)), so it seemed like a great time to get together.

Sure, he looks cute, but this kid is a whirling dervish of energy come dinner time...

The plans were made, but I was feeling guilty leaving Josh home alone when I knew how stressful work had been lately.  The least I could do was leave him something tasty for dinner, something he would love and that the boys would almost certainly eat (nothing is absolutely certain when it comes to Mack and eating).  However, once I’d finished running the bajillion errands I needed to get done, I only had 10 minutes.  Crap.  What could I make in 10 minutes?  Pasta!

My little cuddle bug

I used to mock the prechopped section of the grocery store.  How hard is it to chop veggies, right?  Having two small kids totally changed my tune.  At least one of my hands is spoken for at almost all times.  More than half of my cooking is done with Liam, my littlest one, in my arms.  Chopping?  Yeah, that’s not happening.  So Trader Joe’s prechopped Mirepoix has become my best friend in the kitchen.  I add it to everything, but I especially love it for it’s ability to pep up jarred sauces.  The extra veggies add a lot of good texture and flavor to the sauce.  I also add Herbes de Provence, which adds a nice earthiness. Throw in some soy crumble, and you’ve got a hearty (sort of) homemade meal that’s slowest step is boiling the pasta.

Courtney’s Super Fast, Sort of Homemade, Penne with (f)Meat Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Mirepoix (or, if you want to chop it yourself, one small onion, a couple stalks of celery, and a couple carrots, all diced)
  • 1-4 cloves garlic (prechopped, pre-peeled, or just as it comes, whatever fits your timeline and tastes)
  • 1-3 tsp(s) Herbes de Provence
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package Morningstar Farms Veggie Crumble
  • 1 Jar Trader Joe’s Arrabiata Sauce (or your favorite jarred sauce)
  • 1 Package Barilla Plus Penne

Start your pasta water boiling.  Chop the garlic, then saute garlic and mirepoix in olive oil.  Add Herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper.  When onion starts to look translucent, stir in crumble and saute.  I like to caramelize it a little, but it can be done once it’s thawed, so just cook it until the crumble is a texture you like.  Add in the jar of sauce and simmer on low.  Once the water boils, cook pasta according to preference.  Once the pasta is ready, dinner is ready!

This sauce also works beautifully in Lasagna!


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