As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Last Minute Meals (and a Recipe)

Even though my rule of thumb is "Plan to eat," I confess that there are days when the dinner hour catches me unprepared. 

Perhaps I was away from home longer than I expected, or maybe there was a change of schedule, or maybe I just got busy and forgot to take something out of the freezer. Whatever the reason, the result is the same...I have no dinner in the works. 

Instead of ordering pizza or going out for fast food (although I have done both), I find it helpful to keep a repertoire of quick and easy meal possibilities for those days. 

Some of my favorite last minute meals are:
  • Cheesy scrambled eggs and muffins or biscuits and fruit
  • Omelets, made to order with sauteed veggies, deli ham, bacon bits, chives, or cheese (always cheese)
  • An easy alfredo sauce over pasta
  • A quick marinara sauce over pasta
  • Tilapia (which can be cooked quickly, even if frozen)...Parmesan-crusted or lemon garlic
  • Aunt Linda Casserole (if I have ground beef available) My sister introduced us to this easy Mexican-style dish which now bears her name. :)
  • Taco soup (also requires ground beef) 

Years ago, I clipped from a magazine an article with a name something like "The Only 10 Recipes You'll Ever Need."  One glance at my recipe collection will tell you that I did not take that suggestion to heart...but I did find a winner recipe in that article! It is a basic marinara sauce which can be made in under 30 minutes. 

Now if you have a recipe for the marinara that your Italian grandmother made, then you might not want to try this one. But if you need a quick meal that tastes great (even if it's not "Italian grandmother" great), then this might become a standard for you too.

1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed with garlic press
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes

4 tablespoons tomato paste*
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

2 tablespoons dried basil

1 pound pasta

  1. In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, and pepper; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in basil.  
  3. While sauce is simmering, prepare pasta in boiling salted water per package instructions. Drain. 
  4. Toss hot pasta with sauce. 

* I use about half of a 6-oz can of tomato paste, and put the other half in a baggie in the freezer for the next time. 

You can change it up too!

Creamy Shrimp Marinara
Add 1/2 cup of half-and-half and a pound of thawed, small peeled and deveined shrimp along with the basil at the end of the 15 minutes of simmering; heat through. 

Garden Veggie Marinara
Cook some garden vegetables (thinly sliced carrot, chunks of zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced mushrooms) while you're cooking your onion, about 10 minutes, and then proceed with recipe. 

Sausage and Pepper Marinara
Omit olive oil in step 1. Add 1/2 pound of Italian sausage (casings removed), 2 small sliced peppers, and onion to hot pan. Cook until meat is browned and vegetables are tender. Continue with recipe.

Now it's your turn! What do you do for quick meals when you're in a jam? Do tell!


  1. Last night was cheesy scrambled eggs with leftover Paska toast and a dish of canned fruit. My favorite fast sauce recipe for pasta is from Smitten Kitchen and it is amazing for two ingredients. Some of the most delicious sauce I have ever eaten. I am not very good with meal planning. I am no cook, though John tells me that I have him fooled.

  2. I would probably go to the pantry and find a can of tomato sauce and open that to use with pasta. My husband would prefer that I add some ground turkey which I would have to microwave before browning in the skillet. But yes, similar grab and make meals, and it happens more often than I'd like to admit!

  3. Tacos are a quick meal around here. I usually keep soft taco shells in the freezer.
    Other go-to meals include tortilla pizzas (using tortilla shells as the crust) and omelets.
    Your list is great.

  4. I make a "What You Have Pie". It's something like a quiche and whatever leftovers you have goes in it. I've used onions, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, broccolli, asparagus, green beans... whatever is in the fridge. I posted it on my blog if you are interested.

    I make that same marinara sauce and have for years. But I just use my great-grandmother's recipe. Great minds and all that.

  5. I usually saute some veggies and make a quick frittata or if I have a frozen pie shell I'll make a quiche. Eggs are great for dinner and if I have the energy, maybe pancakes, or waffles. I'll try your ideas, Cheryl. Thanks! ♥

  6. Looks so good! I didn't have plans for dinner tonight so I am making it as I type! Looks yummy!

  7. I used to make a lot of pasta with ground beef and tomato sauce. But now in need of a quick meal, I will make tacos, or grilled chicken and salad. We do love scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon or ham, or omelets!


  8. Those recipe sound very yummy! In just the past two weeks I've realized I am cooking too much. Isn't that a wonderful discovery (well, if cooking isn't a thing you really love)?


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