Very Veggie Marinara Sauce

Very Veggie Marinara Sauce is easy, economical and full of fresh vegetables.

There’s something so satisfying about a plate of pasta with a hearty, flavorful marinara sauce. It’s a meal that can be put together in a hurry, when you’re low on groceries or have no idea what to make, and it’s inexpensive but still delicious. 

When my husband and I were dating, he pretty much lived on pasta. At the time, we were both waiting tables at the Old Spaghetti Factory, and they gave us a free plate of pasta every shift. I’m pretty sure he would have eaten spaghetti and pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. His Italian mama made him spaghetti at home, too, always with her homemade sauce.

Over the years, I’ve developed my own marinara sauce recipe, and I usually make it using the pressure cooker or Crock-Pot. My recipe uses carrots and celery in addition to tomatoes, onions and garlic, with a touch of extra virgin of olive oil. I love having this sauce on hand, to top pasta, grilled chicken or zucchini noodles, or to use as a dip for breadsticks. You can also use it for baked pasta dishes like Allie’s Baked Caprese Tortellini.

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Avocado Green Rice

This Avocado Green Rice (Arroz Verde) is full of flavor and color. It's simple to make, and is perfect for burritos, tacos, salads, or on it's own.

If you’ve spent much time on our blog, you know we love rice and Mexican food. 5-Ingredient Spanish Rice is our most popular recipe, and Mexican or Southwest recipes always seem to be our favorites. This week I’m making another rice recipe that I absolutely love – Avocado Green Rice. If you’ve never had Green Rice (or Arroz Verde) before, you’re missing out, and the avocado just takes it to the next level.

This Avocado Green Rice (Arroz Verde) is full of flavor and color. It's simple to make and is perfect for burritos, tacos, salads, or as a side dish.

This recipe gets its fresh flavor and touch of spice from cilantro, parsley, jalapeno, lime and garlic. I’ll be honest – this rice is actually great before you even add the avocado, but adding the avocado just gives it an extra kick. It adds a creamy texture that is so satisfying, and the avocado flavor complements the basic green rice perfectly.


Add this rice to tacos, use it in burritos or salads, or (if you’re me) eat it on its own. It’s so good, I could eat a big bowlful all by itself.

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Sugar & Spice Pecans

Gorgeous sugar & spice pecans look impressive but take only five minutes to make.

I don’t know how many times I’ve walked by one of those food carts that sell cinnamon almonds and just had to stop and enjoy the amazing aroma – I love to smell roasted cinnamon almonds almost more than I love eating them. This recipe for sugar & spice pecans will fill your kitchen with the scent of toasted nuts, brown sugar, vanilla and spices, but with a savory touch of salt and a little kick of pepper. 

Sweet, salty and spicy is an addictive combination. When I make these pecans, I usually find my family hovering around them as they cool on a sheet of waxed paper, waiting until they’re ready to eat. I make these pecans as a topping for salads, especially my Berry Spinach Salad with Feta, but they’re also excellent by themselves as a snack. 

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Easy Homemade Salsa Verde

This salsa verde is so easy, and way better than store-bought salsa. You're only a few ingredients and about 15 minutes away from your most delicious salsa verde ever!

I love salsa: salsa roja, corn salsa, pico de gallo, mango salsa, I’d be happy to eat salsa every single day. But I think salsa verde might just be my favorite. I bought salsa verde for years without thinking about making it myself, for some reason I always thought it was going to be difficult or require complicated ingredients. Last year my family planted a large garden for the first time and we made salsa verde from our own homegrown tomatillos.  It was hands down the best salsa verde I’ve ever had, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was. After that summer I’ve never gone back to store-bought salsa verde.

This salsa verde is so easy, and way better than store-bought salsa. You're only a few ingredients and about 15 minutes away from your most delicious salsa verde ever!

While traditional red salsa is tomato based, salsa verde is tomatillo based. If you’ve never cooked with or purchased tomatillos, they’re those small green tomatoes with husks on them. They’re not actually tomatoes, just a member of the tomato family and they have a bright, fruity flavor that I think comes out especially well when they’re roasted. 

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Clean Eating Balsamic Glaze

Spinach salad with berries, almonds and balsamic glaze

We celebrated Easter and a family birthday this past weekend, and it made my heart happy to reconnect with loved ones. I hope you had a wonderful holiday as well. I ate more than my fair share of candy and yummy baked goods, and now that the holiday is over, I really want to get back to a healthier eating pattern and invite more veggies into my life. Maybe that’s the reason I felt inspired to make this low-calorie balsamic glaze using only two simple ingredients. It adds a sweet-tart deliciousness to salads, grilled or roasted vegetables, grilled chicken or salmon.

It’s easy enough to pick up a bottle of balsamic glaze at the grocery store, next to the balsamic vinegar, but if you make your own, you’ll find it has a more intense flavor. It’s also free of corn syrup and starchy thickeners, ingredients you will find in ready-made balsamic glaze.

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Chickpea and Spinach Curry

This quick and delicious weeknight skillet dinner is packed with protein and veggies. It's also vegan and gluten free.

This Chickpea and Spinach Curry is one of my all-time favorite vegan recipes. It’s packed with veggies, protein, and fiber, and it can be cooked from start to finish in 20 minutes.

This quick and delicious weeknight skillet dinner is packed with protein and veggies. It's also vegan and gluten free.

Sometimes I make this curry as a quick weeknight dinner, but most often I actually make a batch and divide it into lunches for the week. It’s a perfect lunch because it holds up well in the fridge and it can be eaten by itself or with a grain or bread. One serving is one heaping cup (which feels like a lot) and it has 208 calories, 10g of protein, 9g of fiber, and a healthy serving of spinach.

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Easy Focaccia Bread Recipe

Soft and fluffy focaccia bread with rosemary and sea salt. It's so easy - perfect for a novice baker.

Breads, Fall Recipes, Italian | February 11, 2016 | By

This easy focaccia bread recipe is a staple in my kitchen. My mom has been making it for years and I loved it when I was a kid, and now my family loves it too. Focaccia is an Italian bread easily recognized by its signature dimples. It’s crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and usually topped with olive oil, sea salt, and herbs.easyfocacciarecipe

This recipe is about as simple as it gets when it comes to bread. It requires just a few ingredients: flour, salt, olive oil, yeast, water, and sugar, plus the toppings of your choice. If you’re a novice bread maker, starting with a simple, diary free recipe is the way to go.

Most focaccia bread recipes call for similar ingredients, so the method is what makes this recipe particularly easy. Some focaccia recipes call for rising the dough overnight, or require a lot of complicated folding or kneading. This recipe is made in a mixer, rises quickly, and is baked in a standard rimmed baking sheet.

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Flavored Homemade Microwave Popcorn

Six flavors of homemade microwave popcorn, a healthy, satisfying snack that has only 120 calories.

Microwave popcorn is a popular snack with our family. The smell of corn popping brings people running from all corners of the house, hoping for a “sample,” or maybe a little bit more. People in our family have been known to hide their stash of microwave popcorn in dresser drawers and closets, just to keep it out of other family members’ greedy hands. 

Reading the ingredient list on a package of commercial microwave popcorn might send people running in the other direction, though. Most microwave popcorn contains the chemical preservative TBHQ, and the strong “buttery” taste and aroma of some microwave popcorn comes from chemical flavorings, such as Pentanedione

A better alternative is to make your own microwave popcorn, so you control the ingredients. The cost is a lot lower than commercial microwave popcorn, and you can experiment with creative seasonings and flavor combinations. Another great thing about this recipe is that it’s lower in calories than most microwave popcorn – 30 calories per cup, compared to 64 calories per cup for “movie theater butter” microwave popcorn. 

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Balsamic Roasted Carrots

Balsamic roasted carrots is an easy side dish that takes only five minutes to prepare.

Boring vegetable sides are easy to understand – it’s hard enough to come up with a main dish for dinner at the end of a long day, so by the time you get to the side dishes, opening up a can or drizzling bottled dressing on a bagged salad seems like all you can handle. That’s why a recipe like this one is such a lifesaver. Tangy, sweet and salty, with a deep roasted flavor and a hint of garlic, these balsamic roasted carrots require only five minutes of prep time followed by about 30 minutes in the oven. They’re so simple and versatile, you’ll find yourself making them again and again.

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Best Ever Mexican Black Beans

These really are the best ever Mexican black beans. Served as a side, on tacos or salads, or in burritos or enchiladas, they're delicious, quick, and easy!

I know food bloggers are prone to hyperbole, but I really think these are the best ever Mexican Black Beans. I’m aware that it’s crazy to get excited about black beans, but that’s how much I really love this recipe. It’s super versatile and my family absolutely loves it. The recipe can be made in under 15 minutes and all you need is…

These really are the best ever Mexican black beans. Served as a side, on tacos or salads, or in burritos or enchiladas, they're delicious, quick, and easy!

Honestly, I make these black beans so often that I don’t really use a recipe, I just make them from memory. Writing the recipe down reminded me how quick and easy it really is. One thing you’ll notice about this recipe is that it calls for a little less liquid than most Mexican black bean recipes and that means the consistency ends up being slightly different. There’s a little less liquid in the final product and it’s less (for lack of a better word) soupy. If you like you’r black beans served in a little more liquid, feel free to add more tomato juice. I think it is the tomato juice that is the real magic ingredient in this recipe. Most Mexican black bean recipes call for chicken or vegetable stock, but the tomato juice adds so much more flavor.


These really are the best ever Mexican black beans. Served as a side, on tacos or salads, or in burritos or enchiladas, they're delicious, quick, and easy!

It was actually my toddler’s love of this recipe that led to it being made so often in our house. Not too long after his first birthday I made these for the first time. He ate them by the handful, and ended up covered in beans from head to toe. He started asking for beans every night for dinner and eventually I had to make a rule that we would only eat these once a week. He just turned two and still loves these just as much as the first time he ate them.

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