Easy and healthy Spicy Tomato Pasta + my kitchen dinner staples

After a long work day, sometimes the last thing you want to think about is cooking dinner. It’s a common conundrum many of us face; we want to stay healthy, we don’t want to spend money on going out to restaurants multiple times a week but we also don’t want to stress over what to eat when we’re finally home after dealing with everything the world threw at us throughout the day! I get it and I’m with ya! Some nights I’m all about cooking, it helps me relax and unwind, especially when it’s paired with a glass of wine (pre-pregnancy of course and let me tell ya, non-alcoholic wine is not a sufficient substitute, at least for me!) but there are other nights when I’m just NOT feeling it. It’s those nights where I tap into my go-to kitchen staples and throw together something quick,easy and healthy that satisfies whatever mood I’m in and also allows me to have ample time to watch “Our Planet” before my 9:30pm bedtime..I know guys, the Mills live a WILD life!!!

Check out this super simple recipe you can have on your table in no time as well as a list of all my go-to kitchen dinner staples to ensure you never have to ask yourself whilst surviving rush hour traffic, “What do we even have to eat at home?”

Spicy tomato sauce over pasta and seared scallops

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 1/2 lb of wild caught sea scallops (we just had scallops in our fridge we needed to use but chicken, sausage, shrimp, ground turkey/beef will also work well)
  • 1 1/2 cups of pasta of choice (I used a combo of black bean and whole grain penne)
  • One medium summer squash and 2-3 portobello mushrooms (again, we just had these in our fridge so I decided to chop them up and add them in. You can use really any veggies you have on hand… zucchini, asparagus, peas, spinach, eggplant, etc. or can just omit)
  • One medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • One 16 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp of capers

If I’m being honest, I eyeball all of my seasonings so these measurements are guesstimates 🙂

  • 1 tbsp of dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (I probably used closer to 1/2 tsp but I like it HAWT!)
  • 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes (Again, I probably used closer to a full teaspoon. Always start by putting less and then you can add as you go)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Add 2 tbsp of EVOO to a large saucepan and heat garlic, onion and squash over medium heat.
  • Saute garlic, onion, mushrooms and squash until onion is translucent, squash and mushrooms have softened and the garlic aromas start filling up your kitchen (YASSSS)
  • Add in the can of diced tomatoes, basil, cayenne, red pepper flakes, capers and S&P, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 20-30 mins
  • While sauce is simmering, cook pasta according to package directions
  • Once sauce is nearly done, heat a medium skillet with 1 tbsp of EVOO over high heat, once hot, add scallops, season with more S&P if desired and sear on each side 1-2 minutes.
  • Add cooked pasta to tomato sauce and combine, plate it up, top with the seared scallops and parsley and VOILA, you’re done! #cheflife

Now I’m never going to say I’m a recipe developer or esteemed chef, I just like to cook and have found that having these items in my kitchen help make whipping up dinner much easier.

In my fridge:

  • Vegetables: Spinach, kale, arugula, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, peppers are some of the veggies we always make sure to have on hand. Always check to see what veggies are in season too as they tend to be less expensive at the grocery store
  • Avocados, lemons, limes
  • Eggs (breakfast for dinner is LEGIT some nights)
  • Low sodium organic chicken, vegetable or beef stock
  • Dressings, condiments and marinades you enjoy. You want to be careful when purchasing these though as a lot of them are filled with refined oils, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Brands I like include Primal Kitchen, Tessemae’s, Bragg’s Organic, Annie’s Organic, Organic Girl, Siete, Sir Kensington’s. You can also easily make your own marinades and dressings!

In my freezer:

  • Frozen vegetables. Use these for stir frys, soups, casseroles, add to pasta sauces, etc. Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually picked when they’re at their peak of ripeness and then blanched in hot water to kill bacteria and stop enzyme activity that can spoil food. They’re then flash frozen, which tends to preserve nutrients. So easy, so nutritious and won’t spoil..can I get an AMEN!
  • Frozen wild shrimp and scallops and chicken sausage (these are easy to quickly dethaw if you forget to take something out that morning!)
  • Turkey burgers, veggie burgers, chicken burgers…all the burgers!! You can usually just cook these from frozen so you don’t need to worry about taking them out beforehand.
  • Organic free-range chicken, organic grass-fed beef, organic free-range ground turkey/chicken, wild caught seafood including salmon, cod, haddock, tuna, swordfish (when I’m not pregnant). You’ll need to somewhat plan ahead by taking these out of the freezer beforehand so I usually just take out 2-3 options in the beginning of the week so they’ll be thawed when I decide to use them.

In my pantry:

  • Canned organic low sodium beans (black, refried, garbanza, kidney, navy…whatever you like, the bean is your oyster!)
  • Canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste
  • Marinara sauce. A lot of jarred tomato sauces have a ton of added sugar and use unhealthy oils like canola and soybean so be sure to check out the ingredient list and try to get ones with <8 grams of sugar per serving and only use EVOO. Brands I like include Rao’s Homemade, Amy’s Organic and Newman’s Own Organic.
  • Potatoes (sweet, russet, fingerling, etc)
  • Grains (quinoa, farro, rice, couscous, etc)
  • Pasta (so many healthy pasta options these days…chickpea, black bean, whole grain, lentil..play around with them and find what you like best!)
  • Panko breadcrumbs, almond flour, coconut flour, oat flour
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, cashews)
  • Seasonings: basil, rosemary, oregano,sage, dill, thyme, paprika, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, old bay, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoning salt

And there ya have it! What are some of your kitchen dinner staples? I’d love to hear!