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When I first got married, I took on the job of cooking because it’s what I love to do. But for the first couple of months of married life, I took on the role much too seriously and ended up stressing myself out. I felt like I needed to make fancy meals every night, even though my husband never said anything to even suggest that I should. I think, as women, the traditional expectations of what a “good” partner is, is much more embedded in our consciousness than we realize. And so night after night, I made extravagant meals that took longer than it should’ve and it became nearly impossible to outdo the previous night.

So finally, I took a step back.

A “good” partner is someone who’s happy. Cooking makes me happy but so does spending my time in ways that I want to. The solution? Simple meals and proper meal planning (as well as making the husband cook every once in awhile and going out to restaurants!). And so, today’s recipe is one of my go-to recipes for a really simple, delicious, and healthy weeknight meal. I usually make the sauce while the husband works the barbecue.

Quick & Easy Tomato Sauce
(Serves 2)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes
1 can (14 oz.) of plum tomatoes
1 tbsp. dry Italian herb mix (or better yet, fresh herbs!)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 huge handfuls of spinach
salt & pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

  1. Over medium heat, cook the onion in olive oil until translucent (about 3 minutes). Then add garlic and hot pepper flakes and cook until fragrant for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the can of plum tomatoes. I’m sure you can use stewed tomatoes but this is all I had on hand.
  3. Throw in your herbs. Fresh herbs like basil or parsley would be ideal but alas, I killed my basil plant a couple of days ago.
  4. While simmering, give it a taste and if the tomatoes are quite tart or sour, add a little bit of brown sugar at a time until it suits your taste.
  5. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until desired consistency. I like mine a little chunky.
  6. Bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then throw in the spinach and let it wilt (this won’t take long) and serve over pasta with parmesan cheese.

Blackened Chicken
(Serves 2)
2 Skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Olive oil
1-2 tbsp. (or enough to cover the chicken) Emeril’s Essence Creole Seasoning*

  1. Pat the chicken dry and brush with olive oil (you’ll need enough to cover the entire surface).
  2. Sprinkle the seasoning on both sides of the chicken until relatively covered.
  3. Grill for about 4-5 minutes on each side.
  4. Serve on top of the pasta with tomato sauce.

*I highly recommend making a whole bunch of the creole seasoning and setting it aside. I’ve used it quite often for different dishes. For example, I sprinkled it on chicken in the crockpot and shredded it to make chicken tacos. It’s also a really good addition to jambalaya.