January 23, 2018

My Formula for a Quick Go-To Meal

Instead of posting a particular recipe today, I thought I'd change it up a little and post a method that I use for my go-to meal when I'm clueless of what to make and I'm starving.

This whole combination started when I made these amazing green beans years ago. I was fairly new to cooking, and it was then that I realized what a magical combination olive oil and garlic is. I learned that by gently sautéing garlic in olive oil, the olive oil picks up the flavor of the garlic and can coat anything you want.

This (while nothing new) opened a world of possibilities to me, hahaha. (several variations below)

So, the first recipe I created was Quinoa with Spinach and Feta Cheese. It was delicious! Then I decided to try swapping out each of the main ingredients, and developed more of a formula than a recipe. But here it is, as well as several combinations that I've made... 

Grains and Garlic Go-To (for 1 Serving):


1 serving of cooked pasta, rice, quinoa, barley, or any other grain you'd like
2 teaspoons of olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (or sliced paper thin)
1/2 cup vegetables (fresh or frozen, whatever you want)
1 Tablespoon of cheese (usually parmesan works best)
Optional: Meat or other protein
Salt and pepper to taste


Cook the grains according to package directions. 

Prepare the vegetables--if you're using something that cooks very quickly, like spinach, you don't really have to prep it. If you're using broccoli, which takes longer to cook, then you may want to steam it in the microwave or toss it in with your grains while they're cooking. Frozen veggies can be microwaved for a minute to thaw and heat through; or, again, just throw them in the pot with your grains toward the end of cooking. 

If you're using meat, prepare that as well. You can cook it in a small skillet, and then use the skillet to prepare the dish as written below. 

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, and cook very gently (be careful not to burn the garlic--turn the heat to low if necessary) until garlic is translucent, just a minute or two. Add the vegetables to the skillet, and gently toss them in the oil.

Add the cooked grains, salt and pepper to taste, and stir it all together. Top with cheese, or stir the cheese in until it melts.

Quinoa with Spinach and Feta

Quinoa with spinach and feta cheese

Whole Wheat Penne with Asparagus and Parmesan

Penne with asparagus, garlic, and cheese

Short Grain Brown Rice with Peas and Parmesan

Brown rice with peas and cheese

Rotini with Broccoli (no cheese)

rotini with broccoli in garlic infused oil

Whole Wheat Penne with Broccoli and Parmesan

Penne with broccoli and parmensan

Brown Rice Spaghetti with Brussels Sprouts and Chicken

Brown rice spaghetti with brussels sprouts and chicken

Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp and Parsley

angel hair pasta with shrimp in a garlic sauce

Penne with Asparagus and Parmesan

Penne with asparagus and parmesan


If you use a little more oil, you can sauté your vegetables (and/or meat) in the pan with the garlic, then just add everything else.


  1. Yum!! This looks so good, thanks for sharing!

  2. I've never thought to have a base recipe that I then mix it up. This is such a time and diet saver!

    1. I've found base recipes to be a huge time saver! I did that with smoothies/protein shakes when my jaw was broken, and I made some really interesting ones... all with the same base. Changing just a couple of things turns it into a whole new dish :)

  3. I wanted to use my frozen peas and searched pinterest. Your recipe for the peas and pasta came up and I made it with leftover whole wheat pasta I had. Loved it and have been having small portions with my lunch this week. What a coincidence you shared this today! Thank you and have a great day!

    1. I happen to LOVE peas! I wish my family loved them as much as I do, because I'd eat them all the time. I'm glad you like the recipe!


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