Cooking · Dinner

Dinner in a Pinch

I find that I am often thinking that I am making dinner in a pinch. It probably is not the case as much as I think it is. Often if I am in the kitchen I have everything I need and I am making dinner – I am usually all in.

But this past Sunday SC and I were definitely in a pinch! It was after 7 pm we were at Trader Joe’s, and we were doing shopping for the week. The only thing was we did not have anything for dinner at home, we did not have anything in mind, no inspiration and it was getting late! We had eaten a “hurry up” lunch over our kitchen counter earlier that day as we were running out the door to visit friends. (We had eaten an early breakfast, been busy and nearly forgotten to eat lunch. This happens from time to time!) It was a funny enough sight, the two of us huddling over our leftover burritos, standing at the kitchen counter and eating our burritos washing up and heading out the door. I did laugh at the absurdity!

So Sunday night. It was after 7pm. I was annoyed that I was uninspired – and even if I had a great idea for dinner, it was late. I did not have a ton of time to get home and cook for an hour or more and then come up with a great dinner. I did not want to eat at 9pm. Instead we decided to pick up a jar of tomato sauce from TJ’s and I knew I could jazz it up a bit and we had good pasta at home that my sister had given me as a Christmas present – my first ingredients from the newest exciting thing in Boston – Eataly. I was really excited to try the pasta.

When we got home I helped bring in the other groceries we got (we haven’t had TJ’s peanut butter pretzels in over a year. We are loving them as the occasional after work snack this week!) and then I got to cooking. I put on my onion goggles (yes they are a thing – and I now wear them every time I chop onions. I love chopping onions, I do not love the tears that stream down my face when I do it. I don’t shed a single tear with my onion goggles. Get them if you have a similar affliction!) and started chopping up half an onion, along with a tomato, four garlic cloves and some basil. This is a really easy way to jazz up any run of the mill jarred tomato sauce when you don’t have hours to cook and perfect your own sauce:

We also added some grass fed, organic, lean beef to our sauce. I heated up a tablespoon of olive oil in our pot. Once the oil was hot, I added the onion and sautéed it for a few minutes (maybe 5 – SC likes his onions translucent when cooking, raw ones don’t love his stomach). Then I added the beef and broke it up as I was browning it. Once the beef started to brown, I added the garlic. Once the beef was cooked through I added the jarred sauce, basil and chopped tomato. The sauce was coming together nicely – and I had the water heating for the pasta. This dinner was coming together so nicely. Not a lot of effort, and it was going to taste good. I was pretty happy with how things were going!

It helped that we had my favorite jarred pasta sauce and some great pasta to work with:

The pasta cooked in about seven minutes, and it was wonderful! The entire dinner took just over half an hour to come together. SC was super impressed with the Pomodoro tomato sauce from Trader Joe’s – after tasting the sauce he said that with our few enhancements it tasted like we had been cooking the sauce for a couple of hours. The final product was nothing to sneeze at:

Thankfully we had some extra sauce – so Tuesday night we had a super easy dinner! While spaghetti squash is a total pain in the butt to open, once you have it halved it is just a joy and so easy to prepare. As I waited for SC to get home from the office on Tuesday, I prepped and roasted our spaghetti squash. The house smelled so nice as it was roasting away in the oven.
I prepped it with a little olive oil, a pinch of salt on each side, freshly ground pepper and a little bit of garlic powder on each side too!

Once seasoned, I put the squash in the oven. It cooked for one hour at 400 degrees.

The finished product was so delicious and fresh – and rather low in calories. I love replacing pasta with spaghetti squash. I topped our dishes with the tomato sauce we made on Sunday night, along with some parmesan and fresh basil:

It was such a great dinner and pretty healthy, too. I was happy that our dinner we made in a rush on Sunday was so good that we wanted to eat it again!

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