Deconstructed BLT Pasta

One of my favorite dinners is a BLT pasta I got from an old Rachael Ray magazine.  It has pesto, bacon, and tomato, which are all some of my favorites.  (I can’t find the original recipe or I would link it).  It’s an easy recipe, but not really helpful when I’m trying to follow my eating plan.  It’s not terrible, but pesto is super fattening and has more calories than I would prefer.  Plus, it’s kind of expensive!  I know I can make my own pesto, but it’s just not the same.

My husband requested this pasta dish for dinner recently, and I wanted to oblige without sabotaging my own eating plan.  This deconstructed version was created.  It’s still pretty easy, and it reheats well.  You could eat it cold if you were in a rush, but it’s better warm.  You can also switch out the ingredients to fit your taste–you could do shredded chicken instead of bacon, or diced onion or red pepper instead of tomato, or kale/spinach instead of basil.  It’s very versatile!

Deconstructed BLT Pasta (adapted from Rachael Ray)

1 lb whole wheat penne, cooked according to package directions

1/2 lb thick cut bacon, cooked and chopped

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2-3 tablespoons finely chopped basil (fresh)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1-2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper


Put cooked penne noodles in a large saucepan or serving bowl while still hot.  Add the minced garlic and olive oil and stir to combine, allowing to sit for 5-10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper, mixing to combine.  Add tomatoes, basil, cheese, and bacon.  Stir to combine.  Best when served warm.

Serves about 6.

Grandma’s Tomato Sauce from Fixate

Tomato sauce can be struggle.  I don’t love any jarred sauce–there is not enough flavor for me and I don’t like the extra sugar, salt, and other ingredients that I don’t really want or need.  But I’ve also struggled to find a homemade sauce that doesn’t have an overpowering tomato flavor.  I know, I know–it’s tomato sauce.  It should probably taste like tomatoes.  But I don’t like feeling like all I’m tasting is tomato–I want to taste the aromatics and spices, too.

Grandma’s Tomato Sauce from the Fixate cookbook by fitness trainer Autumn Calabrese fits all my wants–it’s simple to make, it’s full of wholesome ingredients, and it’s got a great flavor!  The versatility of the sauce is great, too–we use it for pasta, sloppy joes, panini sandwiches, and pizza.  One batch makes about 4 meals worth of sauce, and it is a freezer staple.

Fixate pic


I’ve listed the original recipe below, but I make a few tweaks.  I omit the cheese rind and opt to add in about 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese because it’s cheaper and I usually have it on hand anyway.  I also leave out the wine because we never have wine in the house–although this would be a great excuse to finish off a good bottle!  I add 1/4 water instead.

I usually follow Autumn’s advice and use whole canned tomatoes and use my immersion blender to mix it all together once all of the ingredients are added, but you can certainly use a blender or food processor before you add the tomatoes to the pot.

The longer you let this sauce simmer, the better the flavors meld together.  You can also add some pre-seasoned diced tomatoes to add some extra flavor (a small can of garlic/oregano/basil diced tomatoes would add some extra flavor!).


Grandma’s Tomato Sauce from Fixate

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 6 oz can tomato paste, no salt added

1/4 cup red wine

2 (28 oz) cans whole peeled tomatoes, blended in food processor or blender

2 tbsp agave nectar (I use pure maple syrup)

1 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 3 oz Parmesan or Parmagiano cheese rind

3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil


Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, stirring frequently, until onion is soft and translucent, about 5-6 minutes.

Add garlic and tomato paste, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes.  Do not let tomato paste burn.

Add wine, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, agave/maple syrup, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat to low; gently boil, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

Add cheese rind.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for one hour.

Add basil.  Mix well.

***I separate the sauce into 1.5 cup portion sizes.  This sauce keeps well in the freezer!

Clean and Easy Shrimp Bowl

One of my biggest struggles in meal planning is lunch. I only have 20 minutes to eat lunch during the work day, so whatever I eat has to be filling, quick, and easy to travel with.  The easiest thing to do is just have leftovers from dinner the night before, but sometimes the leftovers don’t fit the lunch criteria and I need to figure out something different. Other times, dinner is so delicious that we eat it all and don’t have any leftovers!

Those are the times that I find myself scrounging through the freezer and pantry for something to throw together for lunch the next day–that was how this meal was born.  I found a bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer, a can of diced tomatoes in my pantry, and a bag of onions on my counter.  Put it all together, and voila!  An easy, cheap, filling, clean meal.

Clean and Easy Shrimp Bowl

1 14.5 can diced tomatoes, no salt added

1 lb bag frozen shrimp, deveined and peeled

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

1 tsp olive oil or coconut oil

1 tbsp each oregano and basil

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 minced garlic cloves


Cook shrimp according to package directions and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add diced tomatoes, garlic, and spices.  Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add cooked shrimp and simmer together for 10 or more minutes to let the flavors blend together.  Serve warm!

Makes 2-3 portions, depending on your appetite.  I split it into two portions and counted it as 1 green and 1 red container.