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Vegetarian Main Dish Favorites

Pirate Burgers

This recipe came from the Betty Crocker kids’ cookbook from the 80’s.  I was intrigued because I have tried other forms of salmon cakes to no avail in our family.  These I sold as “Pirate Burgers” sprinkled with the little nuggets of “gold”.  I continued to elaborate and told my children they were just like big chicken nuggets.  I served them with oodles of ketchup, and they were a total winner.  Best way my kids have ever eaten salmon!

3 6-oz. cans cooked salmon, drained
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup shredded mozzerella or swiss cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. dried parsley or 1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups sweet corn
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  1. Combine salmon and eggs with fork in mixing bowl.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except oil.
  3. Form into patties.
  4. Brown both sides in large skillet in oil over medium heat.
  5. Serve with lettuce, ketchup and whole wheat buns.

Bruschetta Salad

I can’t get enough of this recipe.  It’s easy, delicious and makes awesome use of those extra tomatoes and basil (from the garden or farmer’s market).  My kids ate a small portion of it, but it’s mostly a scrumptious adult recipe, if you ask me 🙂

4 cloves garlic, chopped into small chunks
1 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP red wine vinegar OR balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP olive oil
2 cups grape tomatoes (or any kind will be great, but about 2 cups is what I’ve used)
1 whole palm-full of FRESH basil leaves (however, you could substitute 1 or 2 TBSP pesto, if needed)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 bag of fresh spinach leaves
crumbled feta cheese OR fresh mozzarella chunks

In a small sauce pan, heat the 1 TBSP olive oil over medium-high heat…then add the chopped garlic cloves.  Watch this carefully, stir often until the garlic has turned a golden brown (NOT burned!)…see image to the right.
Then remove it from the heat and pour into a medium bowl.  Add the vinegar, 1 more TBSP olive oil, chopped tomatoes and chopped basil leaves.  Add a little salt and fresh pepper, if desired.  Put it in the fridge for about an hour (or more).

When you are ready to serve the salad, chop the spinach leaves into bite-sized pieces…put about a cup or two into a bowl, top with several large spoon-fulls of the bruschetta mixture on top.  Lastly, sprinkle feta cheese (or mozzarella chunks) over everything…as much as you like!

Meatless Monday: Stuffed Shells

This is a very common, simple dish…and my kids gobble it up, so that’s why I am sharing it!  I especially like the small touch of ground nutmeg – adds a wonderful flavor and reminds me of fettuccine alfredo 🙂 


  • Approx. 1/2 box jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 (24 ounce) container cottage cheese
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella 
  • Optional: 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 1/2 cups Pasta sauce (I make my own, but any marinara sauce is good)


  • Cook the jumbo shells according to the package directions…but do not overcook them (I usually aim for 1 minute less than what they say so that they are “al dente”).
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the entire container of cottage cheese, half of the mozzarella cheese, optional parmesan cheese, the chopped spinach, all the spices and egg.  Stir well, making sure the egg is evening mixed in.
  • Once the shells are done cooking, drain them and immediately run cold water over them. This will help cool them off and make sure they don’t get mushy.  
  • Pour 1 1/2 cups of the pasta sauce into the bottom of a 9X13 inch baking pan.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Fill each shell with a huge spoonful of the cheese mixture.  Then place the filled shells into the pan with the sauce.  
  • Use the remaining sauce to put as little dollops on top of the shells.  Then sprinkle the remaining half of the shredded mozzarella over everything.  
  • Cover with tinfoil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  
  • Warning, those shells can really trap in the heat so make sure you cut your kids’ shells in half so they don’t get burned! 

Tex-Mex Beans and Rice Casserole

This recipe started as Monterey Rice from the Vegetarian Express Lane Cookbook, but I added a few more ingredients for a little more Tex-Mex flavor.  The fresh avocado wedges are the icing on the cake.

4 cups cooked brown rice (from 2 cups uncooked)
1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup cottage cheese
1 14 oz. can sweet corn
1 14 oz. can black beans
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 4 oz. can mild green chilies (optional)
1 cup tomato sauce (or spaghetti sauce)
3-4 green onions, sliced
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional–if the kids can handle it)
sour cream
shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients except for toppings in large bowl.  Spread into oiled 9×13” baking dish.  Bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Top with sour cream, cheese and avocado.
  4. You could also roll this casserole into a tortilla for a stellar burrito. Enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Delicious Quinoa Burgers

My kids don’t love meat, so I have been more adventurous lately, giving lots of vegetarian recipes a try. This was a success on Monday, so I wanted to share it. I found it via Pinterest, from Linda’s blog. Thanks so much, Linda! I made a couple of adjustments to my recipe…and I put ketchup on the side for the kids and my yogurt-dijon dipping sauce for the adults. A very tasty side dish is the pictured, Asian Cole Slaw – coming soon!

Makes approximately 12-14 small quinoa burgers – feel free to make them bigger if you wish!
2 cups cooked quinoa
-cook according to package directions
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup finely shredded or grated carrot
3 eggs
3 Tablespoons flour
2 green onions, diced
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt
Olive oil for frying
Yogurt Dijon Dipping Sauce:
Mix together: 3/4 cup plain yogurt and 2 tsp dijon mustard, taste and adjust proportions as you wish.

Cook quinoa according to the directions…let it cool. In a large mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients. Mix until everything looks incorporated evenly. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Take a 1/3 measuring cup, scoop the mixture into your hand, flatten it a bit (so that it’s about 1/2 inch thick). Place on the heated skillet and let it cook for at least 6 minutes. Peek at the bottom, and if it looks golden brown, flip it with a spatula and cook the other side for the same amount of time. Note:they will fall apart easily if you are “peeking” or checking on them too often. Try not to move them for that whole 6 minutes.
ENJOY! Oh, and they taste amazing the next day for lunch!

Kid-Friendly Vinaigrette

I have experimented with salad dressings enough to know what will sell fresh veggies to my kids. In our house, it’s store-bought ranch, or it’s homemade vinaigrette. I like this one because we always have these ingredients on-hand, and you don’t even need a seasonings packet. It’s the best way to disguise and sell any fresh veggie to kids!

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. honey mustard


  1. Combine all ingredients in dressing cruet.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Serve over any salad or fresh veggies. (My kids’ favorite salad is romaine lettuce with chopped apples, mozzarella cheese chunks, craisins, and toasted chopped walnuts!)

Baked Breakfast Egg Rolls (with Yogurt Dijon Dipping Sauce)

Have I mentioned how much I like egg rolls? Well, I do and so do the kids 🙂 So, I have been experimenting and coming up with some different recipes that we enjoyed. When I made these, my two your old ate 3 of them in one sitting! The yogurt dijon dipping sauce is probably going to be enjoyed by the adults more than the kids…just a fun idea that I really liked.

These breakfast egg rolls are great if made the night before…and then pop them into the oven in the morning for a delicious, hot breakfast (great for group brunches!) This recipe listed here makes roughly 12 egg rolls, so just double everything for a larger batch. Also, we made some with sausage and some with ham…just adjust things to what your crowd likes.

1 package of egg roll wraps
1/2 pound ground sausage (we like the Jimmy Dean bulk sausage – comes in 1 pound portion)
1/4 pound sliced deli ham
4 eggs
2 TBSP milk
2 heaping cups fresh spinach leaves (clean and totally dry)
4 ounces shredded cheese
Optional: cream cheese (see notes)
cooking spray
Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1-2 tsp dijon mustard
  • If it’s a meat-eating crowd, brown the sausage in a large skillet, drain the fat by placing it on several paper towels. Dice the ham into small pieces. If you’d like vegetarian egg rolls, substitute the meat for your choice of protein – black beans would be delicious!
  • Crack the eggs into a small bowl, pour in the milk, whisk well.
  • Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add about 1 TBSP olive oil. Pour the eggs into the hot skillet and cook just until scrambled (or make a large egg omelet that can be cut up afterwards).
  • Shred the cheese and chop the spinach into very small pieces.
  • Place one egg roll wrapper on top of a dry hand towel. Measure and place about 1 TBSP of the cheese, 1 TBSP of the eggs, 1 TBSP of the meat or meat substitute, 1 TBSP of the spinach. (See image to right)
  • Roll from the bottom corner about half way up, fold in the sides, and add a little something by taking 1 teaspoon cream cheese, smear it just above the rolled portion and just below the top corner, then dip your finger in water, wet the top corner and fold over completely to close the egg roll. (See image to left)

  • Place the completed egg rolls onto a greased baking sheet, seam-side down. IF you are making these the night before, place them into a large zip-lock bag (store in the fridge over night) and transfer them to the greased baking sheet in the morning. Once they are all on the pan, spray the tops of them lightly with cooking spray. This will help “crisp” them just a bit.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, bake for 7 minutes. Take them out, turn each egg roll, and bake for another 4 minutes. If you are serving with the yogurt dijon dipping sauce, just mix that up in a bowl and place everything onto a serving tray. Enjoy! They stay hot for quite a while, so make sure you cut open the egg roll for the kiddos to cool more quickly.

Meatless Monday: White Beans and Greens

Here is another flavorful vegetarian recipe we discovered in our mostly meatless January.  It is adapted from the Vegetarian Express Lane Cookbook.  The cheese and bread crumbs keep it pretty kid-friendly.

3 Tbs. olive oil
2 16-oz. cans white beans (or 3-4 cups cooked)
2 tsp. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 10-oz. package frozen leaf spinach, thawed and chopped (or fresh spinach chopped)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup grated parmesan or cheddar cheese
1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
crushed red pepper to taste (for the adults)


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Grease an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil.  
  2. In large bowl combine beans in their liquid with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar, and salt.  
  3. Saute peppers and spinach (if using fresh spinach) in skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon oil until pepper is tender, approximately 3-4 minutes.
  4. Pour bean mixture into baking dish.  Top with cheese and bread crumbs.
  5. Bake for 20 min., or until mixture is bubbling and bread crumbs are golden brown.
  6. Serve over brown rice with steamed broccoli or asparagus.

Harvest Cranberry Rice Dish

Our “mostly meatless January” had been a fun challenge with the vegetarian recipes.  I modified this from something I found on allrecipes.  The kids were pulled in by the craisins.  I chopped up the mushrooms and onions very finely…can you see any mushrooms or onions in this picture?  So when the question is asked: “Mom, did you put onions in this?”  I can respond: “Can you see any onions?  Well, then.”  🙂


1/2 cup slivered almonds
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup brown rice
1 cup wild rice
6 Tbs. butter
2-3 onions, chopped finely for the kids
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup fresh mushrooms, diced
1 tsp. orange zest
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Toast almonds on ungreased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, or in a toaster oven on medium setting.
  2. Combine broth, brown rice, and wild rice in a large skillet and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20-30 minutes until rice is tender.  If rice still tastes crunchy and the broth is absorbed, add a bit more water until rice becomes tender.
  3. In medium skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add onions and brown sugar.  Saute until butter is absorbed and onions are translucent and soft.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until onions are caramelized.
  4. Stir cranberries and mushrooms into the skillet with onions.  Cover and cook about 5 minutes or until berries start to swell.  Stir in almonds and orange zest, and then fold the mixture into the cooked rice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  This is a newer-flavored dish for our kids, but they ate it!  The almonds could be omitted for pickier eaters.  Enjoy!

Mamacita’s Cowboy Soup

Once when my mom was here, she cooked up this concoction, (adapted from the instructions on the bag of a 9-bean soup mix) and served it to the kids as “Cowboy Soup”…just like real Texan cowboys.  I never knew any cowboys or cowgirls who ate this when I lived in Texas, but it’s a great title…enough to make everyone in our house thrilled to try it!  So we have continued this tradition.  And we welcome fully-costumed cowboys and cowgirls to the table.  The soup definitely tastes best when you’re wearing boots.  

1 lb. bag of variety beans (I get the market pantry 16 bean soup starter)
5 medium carrots, sliced or chopped
1 onion, chopped (optional…my kids despise onions so I skip them)
2 cloves garlic
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes (I use “petite diced” for smaller bites for the kids)
1 lb. kielbasa cooked sausage or ham, diced (optional…great vegetarian-style too!)
3 cubes chicken bouillon (if no ham seasoning packet in bag of beans)
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Either soak the beans overnight and drain, or for a quick soak, bring the beans and 8 cups water to a rapid boil for 2 minutes. 
  2. Simmer over low heat for one hour. 
  3. Then add carrots, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and sausage.  If the soup comes with a ham seasoning packet, add this, or if not, add 3 cubes chicken bouillon.
  4. Simmer 30 minutes or until beans and vegetables are tender.  
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  
  6. Put on your boots and call the cowboys.

Tortellini Soup

So my brother-in-law sent this book to my husband a few months ago, and the result is that we are attempting a mostly meatless January.  I am already enjoying this vegetarian challenge.  And now Lindsey is counting on me for some meatless Monday recipes.  🙂  Here is a yummy tortellini soup from my mother-in-law that I’ve made for a few years now, so it’s kid-tested and approved!  I always double the recipe so we have enough for leftovers.


1 Tbs. butter

4 garlic cloves, minced

4 cups chicken broth

1 9 oz. pkg. frozen or refrigerated cheese tortellini–(I get the whole wheat kind at Target!)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp salt

ground black pepper to taste

1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes

1/2 bunch (or 2 big handfuls) spinach, chopped

6 fresh basil leaves, chopped

(or 1 tsp. dried)

Additional grated Parmesan

Melt butter in heavy, large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes until a toasted golden brown. Add broth and tortellini and bring to boil. Reduce heat. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until tortellini are just tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, spinach and basil. Simmer 2 minutes. Serve with parmesan sprinkled on top and a nice slice of Mamacita’s Whole Wheat Bread!

Garlic and Herb Pasta

Garlic…one of my favorite things to cook with…one of my least favorite things to smell on someone’s breath. Well, this dish is well worth it! My husband is not a pasta-lover (he eats it when I make it, but usually sticks to one serving). I had to cut him off on his third helping with this dish because the kids were wanting more of it too! It is simple, and a great “Meatless Monday” option. Next time, I will double the recipe because we all wanted more!

6 Tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped (not minced)
1 cup chicken stock
4 Tablespoons white wine
1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 2 Tablespoons fresh), chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried), chopped
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 box pasta (we used spaghetti noodles but anything will do) – approximately 16 ounces
1 chicken bouillon cube
kosher salt and black pepper (to season to your liking)
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add the onions and cook them while stirring often for approximately 15 minutes. They will start to turn golden brown (see image below.) Add the garlic and cook for another 4 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the chicken stock, white wine, rosemary and basil and increase the heat to medium-high (to bring to a simmer). Let this simmer for about 10 minutes so that it is reduced by about one third.
  • At the same time, boil a large pot of water (with the chicken bouillon cube in the water) and cook the spaghetti (or pasta of your choice.) Once the noodles are cooked, drain, and add to the butter mixture and season with salt and pepper.
  • Lastly, before moving to a serving dish, add the walnuts and toss the pasta to coat everything evenly. Top with parmesan cheese, if desired. My mouth is watering as I type this!

Tangy Green Beans

The past couple of weeks have been filled with fun and good food 🙂 I tried a new recipe for Christmas and think it’s a keeper for our family! I found the recipe on Epicurious, but made a couple of adjustments. It’s a great recipe because it can all be made ahead of time and served at room temperature.

1/3 cup olive oil
1 large shallot, finely diced
3 Tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons course kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup dried tart cherries, chopped
1 1/2 pounds trimmed green beans
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Whisk together the oil, shallots, sherry, salt, sugar and black pepper in a small bowl. Mix in the chopped cherries. Set aside (if you make this a day before, cover and chill but then bring to room temperature and re-whisk before using it). Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the trimmed green beans and only cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water or put in an ice bath to stop them from cooking too much. These can also be made the day before but dry them well and store in a plastic bag and bring to room temperature about 1 hour before serving. When it’s time to serve the dish, toss the green beans with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts.

Lemon Garlic Broiled Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts and “kid-friendly” in the same sentence? Well, I was surprised to see 2 of the 4 kids popping these little things like they were candy! Ok, maybe that’s not true, but they seriously came back asking for more! But don’t be shocked if every child doesn’t act this way…my daughter tells me she will love them when her taste buds change in another 7 years. It makes for a great side dish for the adults, and it is very EASY.

Brussel sprouts (sold already cut up or on this crazy looking branch)
2-4 TBSP olive oil
1 lemon
Lemon pepper
Sea salt
1 clove of garlic (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut each individual sprout in half. If you buy the “branch” kind, just cut each sprout off, rinse, and then cut in half.
Drizzle 1-2 TBSP olive oil onto a cookie sheet. Disperse the sprouts all over the cookie sheet. Crush a clove of garlic and spread all around, along with some lemon pepper and sea salt (however much you like). Drizzle with another 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, toss with a spatula to coat every sprout. Bake for approximately 10 minutes (keep an eye on them so that they don’t start burning.) Once they are beginning to look crispy and sizzling, remove the sheet from the oven and squeeze the lemon over all of the sprouts. Bake for another 5 minutes. If you would like them to be more crispy, just broil them for a couple of minutes (watch them so they don’t burn) They should be cooked but not mushy.

Easy Egg Bake

This is my favorite dish for birthday parties and morning get-togethers.  I adapted it from this recipe over the past few years. You completely assemble it the night before so all you have to do the next morning is stick it in the oven.  Plus the kids always love it and it’s great with Pumpkin Spice Bread!

1/2 lb. cooked sausage
6 slices whole wheat bread, cubed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
12 eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry or prepared mustard
1 cup sliced fresh spinach or frozen spinach
1/4 cup minced fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil
  1. Cook sausage in in skillet over medium heat until brown.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Layer bread cubes, sausage, and cheese in greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
  3. In separate bowl whisk together eggs, milk, salt and mustard.  
  4. Add spinach and basil.
  5. Pour egg mixture over bread mixture.  
  6. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours overnight.
  7. Remove egg dish from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes until knife tested in center comes out clean.

Eggplant Chips

I took all of the kids to the Farmer’s Market again and stocked up on fun veggies. I always let each child choose one thing and we end up with a great selection. Look at the colors from these veggies?! I wish I had a good camera to capture the beauty, but my point-and-shoot that has been dropped oodles of times did a pretty good job 🙂

Anyway, one of the things I made was Eggplant chips. Those beautiful purple things to the right are Japanese Eggplant. I had no idea what to make with them but made something up that the kids LOVED.
  • Eggplant (Japanese OR regular)
  • olive oil
  • kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp sugar, mixed
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
  • After washing the eggplant, slice the eggplant (with the skin on) very, very thin…end up with little, round discs
  • Spray 1 or 2 cookie sheets (depending on how much eggplant you have) lightly with cooking spray
  • Put the eggplant discs in a bowl, drizzle with about 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil, stir to coat
  • Sweet chips: sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Salty chips: sprinkle with the salt. OR do half and half to please both the sweet and salty lovers.
  • Arrange the eggplant discs in a single layer on the cookie sheet
  • Bake for 5 minutes and then check on them. They should curl up a bit on the edges, and turn a light golden brown…don’t burn them but also make sure you cook them long enough to be a little crispy. Keep cooking and checking every 2 minutes or so. (The longest I needed to bake them was 11 minutes)
  • Let them cool a bit, but serve warm – hopefully your kids will enjoy them as much as mine did! I should also mention that they won’t be super hard and crispy like potato chips…the moisture from the eggplant prevents that from happening…but still, my kids called them chips 🙂

Frozen Garlic Cubes

I cook with garlic at least twice a week, so when I finally figured out a way to save time on peeling it, and crushing it, I was very pleased. Every few months, I take some time to do this, but warning: your family and friends will think you flew to Italy and bathed in garlic. Use a cube or two for spaghetti, pizza sauce, chili, soups or whatever calls for 1 or 2 cloves of garlic!

Ice cube trays
Olive oil
fresh garlic
garlic press
freezer bags
Fill each ice cube tray about 1/3 full with olive oil. Crush 1-2 cloves of garlic per cube. Place the trays very carefully, into the freezer. Once frozen (after a few hours), pop them out and store in a freezer bag in your freezer. Trouble getting them to pop out? Very quickly dip the bottom of the trays into a sink of warm water…that will melt the oil just enough to release the cubes.

Tomato Basil Pasta Salad

This is a great recipe, especially if you grow your own tomatoes and/or basil in your family’s garden. Get the kids involved in picking and washing the veggies!


1 (16 ounce) package rotini or similar pasta

1 (6 ounce) package feta cheese, crumbled (or you could use mozzarella)

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped fresh tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper (if desired)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil (lightly salted, if desired). Add pasta and cook for 8 minutes for al dente. Drain and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and balsamic vinegar. Add the noodles, stir, and then add the remaining ingredients. Top with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (if desired) and serve immediately.

Sneaky Pasta Sauce

I get excited when I come across easy, healthy lunch ideas that the kids will enjoy. This summer, I have experimented with making a large batch of pasta sauce and using it for several meals. The trick though, is to incorporate other veggies into the sauce and the kids love this one so much, I had to share it! This recipe requires a little work ahead of time, but once you have it made, you can use it for a few different meals, if desired!

3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small white onion, finely diced (optional)
2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
3 ice cubes of pureed zucchini
2 ice cubes of pureed carrot (or 1 jar of carrot baby food!)
To make zucchini puree: chop zucchini into large chunks, puree in food processor for at least 3 minutes, or until super fine. To make carrot puree: Chop carrots into large chunks, steam for several minutes and then puree in food processor until smooth. Freeze both vegetables in ice cube trays.
To make sauce: Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the oil and onions (if you are using them), saute for a few minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and tomatoes and all of the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Once it boils, turn the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. I usually serve the sauce with whole wheat penne or similar. Store the rest of the sauce in a large jar or tupperware and use later in the week. I have also browned up some ground beef, turkey or chicken and then add the sauce to it for a different meal. Or even use it for homemade pizzas!

Meatless Monday: Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf

I adapted this recipe from the bag of Costco organic quinoa, and the kids ate it!  I won’t say they love it yet because quinoa is new to them, but they did eat it.  And I recently discovered (thanks, Lindsey!) that quinoa is a complete protein!  What a deal!  Plus it cooks so quickly.  So hopefully next time around, I’ll get some, “Oh yeah! It’s quinoa for dinner tonight!”  

2 Tbs. canola oil
4 green onions, sliced (or 1/4 c. diced chives)
4 carrots, chopped
2 cups quinoa
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional–I just let the adults sprinkle them on top)


  1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. 
  2. Stir-fry carrots and chives for 3 minutes.
  3. After rinsing quinoa in strainer, add quinoa and vegetable broth.  Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce to simmer.  Then cover and cook 15-20 minutes or until quinoa is tender and fluffy.
  5. Stir in basil, parmesan, and walnuts. Be sure to save some quinoa without nuts for the kids who won’t eat them!
  6. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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