Coming up with names for my food is so hard. This one is my attempt to tell you that there is more sauce and chunky tomatoes in here than meat. I’m not a fan of marinara made with lots of meat and only a tint of tomato, because I like my pasta to be juicy. And, of course, I am the type who uses meat for flavor and not typically as the main dish. Anyways, this sauce is amazing. It’s healthy, flavorful, and perfect for a busy day when you need a meal that can be prepped ahead of time. Enjoy!
Saucy Spaghetti Sauce
1 Cup Onion, chopped
1/2 Cup Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 Cup Celery, Chopped
1/2 Cup Carrot
2 Cloves Garlic
1/2 Cup Mild Italian Sausage, cooked*
1/2 Cup Ground Beef, cooked*
8 Cups Diced Tomatoes, (Four 15-ounce cans), undrained
1 6-ounce Can Tomato Sauce
1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dried Marjoram
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil (or 1 Tablespoon Dry)
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
8 ounces Whole Grain Spaghetti
8 ounces White Spaghetti
Freshly Shredded Parmesan
1. In a food processor, finely chop the onion, bell pepper, celery, carrot and garlic. Pour vegetables into a large stock pot along with the sausage and beef. Cook until meat is not longer pink or frozen. *See notes.
2. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil and simmer for about 30 minutes, covered. Remove lid and let simmer another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add fresh basil and vinegar.
3. Meanwhile, boil pasta according to package directions. Top cooked pasta with sauce and a sprinkle of freshly shredded parmesan.
Pair your spaghetti with a dark green salad like my Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette to make this a complete meal.
*Notes: I often cook my ground sausage and meats 1 pound at a time. Whatever I don’t use goes into 1 cup portions in a zipper baggie, and I freeze it for later use. The amount called for here would be about 1/8 pound each of beef and sausage if cooking it from a raw state.
This year marks my 10th Mother’s Day. Wow. I’m getting old. I feel like the longer I have been a mother, the less I think I know. I laugh at the fact that I used to tell my In-laws how to feed their children based on the textbooks I was reading in school. They would respond by saying, “We’ll see how that works when you actuallyhave kids.” Each of my four children are so different. Some of them eat anything I put in front of them while others protest much of what I make. One of my children is a natural athlete, while the other is an artist. I have one child who prefers wearing a swimsuit year-round, while another refuses to go swimming without a shirt on. One of my children is a ninja in a 3-year-olds body and another is a prima ballerina in the making.
Motherhood has been a fun, challenging, exciting, harrowing, happy, depressing, (enter a gazillion more adjectives here) ride. Nothing has helped me more on my journey than the people around me, supporting me along the way. So, when I get asked what my Wish List is for Mother’s Day, it’s never full of tangible items. Seriously, (I sound like my mom when I say this) all I want for Mother’s Day is peaceful, happy children. That’s it really. Well, and maybe a day of no dishes.
As cute as that sounds, I know there are a lot of sons, daughters, husbands, neighbors, grandkids out there looking for gift ideas for the mothers in their lives. So, I have put together my top 10 list of the most-used items in my home to share with you. Most are for the kitchen, because that is where I spend 85% of my time at home. So if you are looking for the perfect gift for the Moms in your life, maybe there’s something on this list for her. Affliate Links Included.
I use this EVERY. Single. Day. It cuts meal prep time in half! (Pun intended.) I use it to make fresh salsa, ranch eggs, stir fry, salads, and anything else you can think of that needs prepping before a meal. This is $20 bucks very well spent.
This is another kitchen tool that appears on my kitchen counter almost daily. Whether it’s pancakes for breakfast, quesadillas for lunch, or burgers for dinner, this thing is always in use. We have been through a lot of cheap griddles, but this one has lasted the test of time (2 years so far). This is a smart investment of $30 if you are asking me.
While I am not totally in love with this blender, it has to be mentioned that I use this at least every other day for a morning smoothie. I’ve had it for 6 years and it is still running strong. Pretty impressive for a $30 blender.
I use the Instant Pot weekly, and I brag about its features all the time. Most frequently, I am pressure-cooking dry beans with it. It is so impressive the way it can cook two pounds of dry beans in less than 45 minutes. I feel like that feature alone is going to save me money in the long run. I also make a lot of chicken in my Instant Pot. Usually, it is on those days when I forget to take chicken out of the freezer and dinner needs to be on the table within an hour that the Instant Pot comes to my rescue. I have made many chicken dinners from freezer to table in 30 minutes with this beloved appliance of mine.
Now here’s an appliance that I definitely cannot live without. I used to tell people that making bread was too hard for me, and I would just succumb to store-bought bread for my family. That was before I received my Bosch last Christmas. Now I am a bread-making machine! In the winter, I bake bread weekly, and in the summer I make pizza dough every Friday with my Bosch. It saves so much moolah to make my own doughs and breads. And, seriously, what says “home” better than a batch of homemade bread baking in the oven? Or cookies? Or pizza? Or cinnamon rolls? The recipes are endless and WAY simpler with my Bosch mixer.
With the Bosch, I highly recommend purchasing the Food Processor Attachment. I make my own pesto sauce, spaghetti sauce, black bean brownies, hummus, and more with my food processor. In the summer when my garden is laden with zucchini, I shred it up in no time with the shredding blade. If you are planning to buy a Bosch, this attachment is a must!
While we are on the subject of blenders, there’s one more your Mother might like for her kitchen, and that’s an immersion blender. It’s nice to have one of these for when making a large pot of soup on the stove. Instead of pouring piping hot soup into a countertop blender (I’ve been burned a couple times attempting that task), just dip the wand of your immersion blender into the pot and go to town. I also use this a lot when I am sneaking vegetables like sweet potatoes or butternut squash into my cheese sauces. After the sauce is prepared, I pour the cooked veggies into the pan and puree it all together. That way, those sneaky veggies go completely unnoticed!
After my brother-in-law came back from his two-year Church mission in Italy, he made me promise to never buy bottled parmesan ever again. I have followed his counsel and never regretted it. Freshly shredded parmesan has so much more flavor than the bottled stuff! Shredding by hand can be annoying though, so I found this Zyliss Classic Rotary Cheese Grater and it has made the process so much faster. My kids love taking a turn to shred parmesan for me now and then too. I top lots of different pastas and soups with shredded parmesan, and it is a key ingredient in pesto and alfredo sauce—all of which make regular appearances on our table. Thus, a good rotary grater is a must-have item in the Andersen Family kitchen.
My wheat grinder is a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law about 8 years ago. She used it for a couple decades before that. The one linked above is a newer version of mine, so I can’t vouch 100% for this specific model, but I can tell you that the Wonder Mill (Formerly Whisper Mill) brand is a good one. I grind my own wheat to make flour for pancakes, muffins, pizza, bread, and more. I have even made cornmeal out of popcorn kernels before. This appliance can be spotted on my counter at least twice a week.
Lastly, I can’t make a list of all my favorite appliances and tools for my home without including what I call my “sanity booster.” The messes that get tracked into my home from four (soon to be five) busy kiddos can really send a compulsive cleaner like me into frequent anxiety attacks. If you know me at all, you know I am not exaggerating here. My oldest was a car-sick baby, and I was constantly cleaning puke from the upholstery of our vehicles with a bucket of soapy water. One day, my friend offered to let me use her Bissell to take care of the mess. After that I was sold! Santa left one under the tree for me that Christmas and my sanity has been greater ever since. From potty training accidents, couch stains, Spring Cleaning carpets, and spills on my white rug, the Bissell has never failed to take care of the mess. I justified the cost of this vacuum considering it usually costs around $150 to get my carpets cleaned once or twice a year. I feel like my carpets are just as clean or cleaner when I do them myself with the Bissell, so it pays for itself after just a year on carpet cleaning alone.
So there you have it, folks! All my favorite tools and appliances in one spot. Now, make sure you hug that Mom of yours extra tight this year. She does a lot more for you than you know.
Remember that one time when I had one dinner planned, but it wasn’t quite fancy enough for the company that was coming over in just an hour? That’s when I pulled my Instant Pot out and threw together this incredibly delicious dinner from FROZEN* chicken in 45 minutes. Whew! Dodged that bullet! It’s the best. day. EVER. when you find a quick fix like this that pleases the masses at the dinner table. I like to serve this chicken over Brown Rice with a green salad to make it a complete meal. Enjoy!
Instant Pot Teriyaki Orange Chicken with Walnuts and Green Onions
4 FROZEN* Chicken Breasts (2 pounds)
1 Cup Water
1 teaspoon Chicken Better Than Bouillon
1/4 Cup Teriyaki Sauce
3 Cloves garlic, minced
3/4 Cup Orange Marmalade*
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1/2 Cup Green Onions, sliced
1/2 Cup Walnuts, chopped
4 Cups Hot Cooked Brown Rice (2 cups dry)
1. Add COLD water, bouillon, teriyaki sauce, garlic, marmalade, and cornstarch to a large mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Make sure the water is cold. If you use hot water the cornstarch will encapsulate itself and never dissolve into the mixture.
2. Secure the mason lid and shake the sauce mixture until the cornstarch and bouillon are completely dissolved.
3. Place frozen chicken breasts on the bottom of the Instant Pot bowl. Pour sauce over top and turn the breasts to coat.
4. Secure the Instant Pot lid and press the [Manual] or [Pressure Cook] button. Adjust the pressure to high pressure and set the cooking time for 15 minutes. If your breasts are extra large, you may want to increase the cooking time to 18 minutes.
5. When the pressure cook setting ends, let the steam naturally release for 25 to 30 minutes or until the red steam button indicator is fully depressed.
6. Cut chicken into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Garnish chicken with green onions and walnuts. Serve atop cooked Brown Rice.
Makes 8 servings.
*Notes: This recipe is designed specifically for frozen chicken cooked on the high pressure setting of an Instant Pot. The slow cooker setting will require thawed chicken and 1/2 extra cup of water. Also, with the Orange Marmalade, I prefer Smucker’s Natural Orange Marmalade Fruit Spread, because it contains no High Fructose Corn Syrup.
If you are in the mood for a sweet and tart treat, this is the one for you! This recipe is a slight modification of one given to me by a friend in college. I only took out a teeny bit of sugar so it would have more lemony zing to it. Unlike most of my recipes in the treats category, I have not substituted any applesauce for fat, whole wheat flour for white, or flaxseed for eggs. This is just a good ol’ pastry. That’s probably why my husband made the comment after tasting this, “You know, when you actually try to bake, you are really good at it.” Ha! Well, I hope you like this too. Enjoy!
Tart Lemon Squares
2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Cold Butter, cut into eighths
1/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 1/2 Cups White Sugar
1/3 teaspoon Salt
Extra Powdered Sugar for dusting the tops
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan and set aside.
2. For the crust, mix together flour, powdered sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly and can be pressed together.
3. Press the mixture evenly into the greased pan, and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown on the edges.
4. Meanwhile, whisk together flour and lemon juice until flour is completely dissolved. Then add eggs, sugar, and salt until sugar is completely dissolved.
5. When the crust is golden, pull it out on the oven rack and pour the lemon/egg mixture over the crust. Decrease the heat to 325 degrees and bake until the filling is springy to the touch, between 25 and 30 minutes.
6. Cool completely in a refrigerator or freezer. Dust with powdered sugar and cut into 2-inch squares before serving.
Many black bean burgers have come out of my kitchen, and most of those were not well-received at the dinner table. These, however, are a different story. Three of my four kids wouldn’t touch the previous burgers. These ones, however, were devoured by ALL FOUR KIDDOS and my husband! And me. Of course. Now, I do love a good, grass-fed, high quality beef burger on occasion. The rest of the time, I skip the red meat and eat black bean burgers for their fantastic fiber and heart-healthy benefits. I sure hope you enjoy these as much as my family and I did!
Southwest Black Bean Burgers
2 Cans Black Beans, drained (24 oz.)
Half Jalapeno, seeded (1/4 Cup)
Half Red Bell Pepper, seeded (1/2 Cup)
Quarter Yellow Onion (1/2 Cup)
1 Cup Rolled Oats
1 Packet Dry Ranch Mix (2 Tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
Burger Directions: 1. Pre-heat an electric, non-stick griddle to 375 degrees. Drain the beans and let them continue draining in a strainer as you complete the next steps. You want them as dry as possible.
2. In a food processer or blender, shred jalapeno, bell pepper and onion. Remove from motor and pour out the juices, using your hand to catch the shredded vegetables.
3. Pour shredded vegetables into a large mixing bowl. Wipe out the processer and pour in the rolled oats. Blend until oats make a course flour. Add oats to vegetable mixture.
4. Add all remaining ingredients and spices to mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, mash the mixture together until only half of the beans are left whole.
5. Use your hands to form a ball of bean mixture, just smaller than a tennis ball. Drop the ball onto the heated griddle and press into a burger. It should be about 3 inches in diameter.
6. Cook the burger about 8 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other. The burger should be golden brown in color and hold its shape.
7. Serve on a bun with avocado, tomato, lettuce, cheese, and whatever else fits your fancy.
Oven Fries Directions: 1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix together Julienned potatoes, oil and salt in a bowl.
2. Line a large cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Pour potatoes in an even layer onto the greased foil.
3. Bake potatoes for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once half-way through. Fries should be golden brown, crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside.
Shepherd’s pie is such a classic comfort dish. I found a way to lighten up the typical recipe without sacrificing any of the flavor. Basically, my recipe has less meat and more legumes/vegetables than other recipes. Since I am not a fan of lamb, my shepherd’s pie is more of a cow herder’s pie, because I make it with beef. This can also be a great way to sneak in lots of extra vegetables that need to be eaten up from the fridge.
Healthy Shepherd’s Pie
1/4 pound (1 1/2 Cup Cooked) Ground Beef*
1 Cup Carrots, diced
1 Cup Celery, diced
1/2 Cup Bell Pepper (any color), diced
1/2 Cup Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can Diced Tomatoes, with juice
1 8 oz. can Tomato Sauce
1 Cup Frozen Corn
1 Cup Frozen Green Beans, 1 inch pieces
2 (15 oz.) cans Kidney Beans
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons dried Parsley
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
8-10 Medium Russet Potatoes (6 Cups peeled and chopped)
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Greek Yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Chives
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Pepper
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded for topping
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 3” deep 9 x 13 pan. Mine is a Pampered Chef Stoneware Pan(Amazon Affiliate link). Set aside.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the carrots, celery, bell pepper and onion with the ground beef until the meat is completely brown.
3. Add minced garlic and cook for just 60 seconds before adding remaining vegetables, tomatoes and tomato sauce. Cook on medium-high heat until the green beans are crisp/tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Add Kidney Beans, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Reduce heat to a simmer until potatoes are ready.
5. While the meat and vegetable mixture simmers, bring a large stock pot of water to boil. Add chopped potatoes and boil until tender, about 10 minutes.
6. Drain water from potatoes. Using a potato masher or hand mixer, blend the potatoes with butter, yogurt, chives, salt and pepper until the potatoes are smooth and creamy.
7. Fill the greased pan with the meat and vegetable mixture. Top with potatoes by scooping 1/2 cup dollops evenly over the mixture. Use a spatula to spread the potatoes as a smooth topping.
8. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil, top with shredded cheese and bake uncovered for 5 more minutes.
9. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
*Notes: I often cook 1 to 2 pounds of ground beef at a time with a diced onion and freeze it in 1 1/2 cup portions in baggies. If you do the same, cook your veggies in this recipe with 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil. Add the pre-cooked beef in step 4 with the kidney beans so it doesn’t become too tough.
Somewhere in my Mom Life, I had forgotten about these delicious enchiladas. I used to make these ALL the time when we were first married, but somehow, I have not made them for a good 6 or 7 years. I don’t know why. What I do know is everyone gobbled these up last Sunday when they made a reappearance on our dinner table. They are light, creamy, and full of whole-ingredient flavor! To make sure I never forget how awesome these are again, I am sharing them here with you. To complete the meal, I served these with my Mango Salsa. So. Stinking. Delicious! Enjoy!
Greek Yogurt and Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
16 oz. (2 Cups) Sour Cream (full fat is best)
16 oz. (2 Cups) Plain, Non-fat Greek Yogurt 2 Recipes Hearty Cream of Chicken Soup
1 (7 oz.) Can Diced Green Chilis, un-drained
18 (8 inch) Flour Tortillas, cooked
2 Cups Sharp Cheddar, shredded
1 1/2 Cups Cooked chicken, shredded
1 (15 oz.) Can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 Cup Sliced Green Onions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease TWO 9 x 13 pans.
2. Stir together sour cream, yogurt, soup, and chilis. Spoon about 3 Tablespoons of mixture down the center of the tortilla.
3. Sprinkle with about 1 1/2 Tablespoons each of chicken and beans and 1 Tablespoon cheese. Reserve 1/2 Cup cheese for topping at the end.
4. Roll filled tortillas and place in greased pan.
5. Spoon remaining cream mixture over the rolled enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
6. Cover pan with foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
7. Remove foil, and bake for another 5 minutes. Top with green onions before serving.
Makes 18 Enchiladas
Note: This recipe makes two pans, so freeze one and save it for a busy day later. We usually eat a pan and a half and have the rest for lunch the next day.
If you can imagine, I LOVE to host dinners for family and friends. It’s just my thing. I get a lot of satisfaction out of sharing my love for others through delicious food. Once in a while, we will have company with food allergies or intolerances, so I try to adjust the menu to fit their needs. These fudgy brownies made the cut in a big way with our friends with wheat and dairy intolerances. The pan was empty when they left, and that made me feel so good! Not only are these brownies allergy-friendly, but they are delicious too! If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, whip up a batch of these babies and watch your company’s eyes light up when they realize they can indulge in some dessert with no worries!
And just incase you are curious how these brownies stack up nutritionally in comparison to a boxed mix, I drew up the numbers for you. Diabetics will be happy to see that one brownie is less than one carbohydrate exchange. Here are the stats:
Nutrition Facts Comparison for one 2” Brownie
Black Bean Brownies
Betty Crocker Brownie
Black Bean Brownies (Allergy-Friendly)
1 1/2 cups black beans (15oz can), rinsed and drained
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup honey
1 egg (substitute with 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil for friends with egg allergies)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 Cup Pecans, chopped (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 8 x 8 inch pan.
2. Combine all ingredients except chips in a food processor, and blend until totally smooth. I use the food processor attachment on my Bosch mixer. I have also used a big bowl and an immersion blender. Whatever tool you choose, just make sure the mixture is VERY well- blended.
3. Use a spatula to fold the chocolate chips into the batter and pour into the greased pan. Sprinkle pecans over the top, if desired.
5. Cook the brownies 15 to 18 minutes. Let them cool before serving.
The Instant Pot is changing my life in the food-prep department. Although this rice pilaf takes just as long to make in the Instant Pot as it would on the stovetop, (approximately 45 minutes) I discovered two big advantages to making it this way. First, it doesn’t boil over! Every time I make rice on the stovetop, I have a mess to clean up afterwards. Second, I love having the option to assemble the pilaf and delay its cooking for later. This allows me to do my food prep in the mornings or during afternoon naptime and then not think about it again until dinner is ready. Anyways, Rice Pilaf is one of the Andersen family staples, so I am elated to have the choice to make it in my Instant Pot now. I hope you are as excited as I am…
Instant Pot Brown Rice Pilaf
1 Tablespoon Butter
1/2 Cup Yellow or Red Onion, chopped
1 Cup Celery, chopped
2 Cups Brown Rice, dry
4 1/2 Cups Water
4 teaspoons Chicken Bouillon (I prefer “Better than Bouillon”)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Fresh Parsley for garnish
1. Using the [Sauté] setting on your Instant Pot, cook the onion and celery in the butter for about 5 minutes. Add the dry rice and sauté for another 5 minutes to brown the rice.
2. Whisk the water, bouillon, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. I zap mine in the microwave for 60 seconds so the bouillon dissolves faster.
3. Add the bouillon mixture to the rice and vegetables and change the setting on your Instant Pot to [Multigrain]. Adjust the time to 28 minutes. Seal the lid and let it do its thing.
4. After the alarm beeps, manually release the pressure. Carefully open the lid and give the rice a quick stir before serving.
Looking for a fun dinner to feed a large crew? Look no further than Indian Tacos! I ALWAYS make our fry bread inside a skillet on our outdoor barbecue grill because I can’t stand the smell of lingering fried foods in my kitchen. Thus, this is a perfect meal for warmer months. I also did this once for Halloween (instead of candy) and my neighbors LOVED it! Whatever the occasion, I hope your crew enjoys these Indian Tacos as much as mine does.
1. Prepare one recipe of my Whole Wheat Pizza Dough. (Right click on the link or just search “Whole Wheat Pizza Dough in my search bar.) Set aside.
2. Heat Canola Oil in Cast Iron Skillet. Test the heat by dropping a marble size ball of dough into the oil. If it sizzles, the oil is ready.
3. Meanwhile, combine all Taco Meat ingredients in a large stock pot. Simmer the taco meat while frying the bread.
4. Flatten a ball of dough using your fingers. Start with a ball between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball.
5. Carefully drop the flat dough into the hot oil. Cook on one side for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Use metal tongs to flip the dough over and cook for another 3 minutes.
6. Place the cooked fry bread on a large plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess grease.
7. Top fry bread with Taco Meat and desired toppings. Enjoy!