By Angie Sutton, www.momsapronstrings.com
Have you ever looked around your home and thought to yourself, “I sure hope we don’t have visitors drop by.” This is particularly true for most of us during 4-H fair week or just after we unload our belongings from a long weekend away at a livestock show.
I recently read a factoid which stated the number and arrangement of items posted on your refrigerator is a good indicator of what you’ll see in the rest of the home. I immediately went to my kitchen and sure enough, it has some truth. Typically, the refrigerator is a collection point of snapshots of family, a piece of artwork from a child, treasures like a souvenir magnet from a faraway place visited and calendar of where everyone needs to be and when.
Translate that to what you might find in your home. Family photos framed and hung or lined up on the mantle. In my home the children’s artwork adorns my walls, literally. Treasures are displayed including family heirlooms, memorabilia, artwork and collections. Then there is our hyper-scheduled calendar which dictates what leaves the house with us. Gymnastics gear, softball gloves, show clothes, our four perfectly formed cookies on a plate and many other objects that serve specific purposes. All of these items are typically strewn about the house in disorganized organization.
Meal time can add to the number of choices you make during the day. Wouldn’t it be great if we could make that meal-planning concept work for more than a week? Often one of the best solutions can be as simple as a meal idea. Making tacos doesn’t require a recipe nor does baked potatoes, pork chops and green beans. Balance your plan with meals that need a recipe with meals that truly are simple.
At Sutton Central we make it a priority to eat together at the table as much as possible. We ask each family member what their favorite thing about the day has been so far. We often find ourselves eating shifts like many families. This is when a main dish that can be easily warmed up from the refrigerator or served chilled comes in handy.
This dish can be served right away or served chilled. I toss in mini pepperonis for added protein.
8 oz. uncooked linguine
1 Tbsp. zesty Italian dressing
1 c. thinly sliced fresh broccoli
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 c. sliced green onions
1/4 c. butter, cubed
1 1/2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 clove garlic (I use 1/2 tsp. of prepared garlic)
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
6 oz. fresh snow peas (roughly 2 cups)
1/4 c. chicken broth
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Cook linguine according to package. Drain and toss with 1 Tbsp. of zesty Italian Dressing.
2. While noodles are boiling, cook the broccoli, carrot and onions in butter for about 3 minutes.
3. Add the mushrooms, garlic, basil, salt and pepper and cook 1 minute longer.
4. Add the snow peas and broth. Cover and cook for 2 minutes longer until peas are crisp-tender.
5. Add linguine with dressing to skillet and toss to coat.
6. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top of each serving.
Apron String Notes: This recipe has many opportunities for amendment... skip the snow peas and add frozen peas; toss in baby spinach leaves during step number 4; what about a few black olives and mini pepperonis?
Italian Sausage Pasta
One of our favorite entrées to keep handy in the refrigerator on busy weeks.
1 lb. Italian sausage, browned and drained
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 c. broccoli florets
1 med. zucchini, cut into 3/4 in. pieces
1/4 c. white cooking wine
5 large Roma tomatoes
1 lb. rotini pasta, freshly cooked
1 c. Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. (about) purchased Parmesan cheese salad dressing
1. Sauté sausage in a heavy large skillet over medium heat until cooked through, transfer to a paper towel and drain grease.
2. Add olive oil to the skillet. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add broccoli, zucchini, and wine; sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 4 minutes.
3. Add sausage and tomatoes, toss until heated through.
4. Transfer to a large bowl (large!) Add pasta, cheese and enough dressing to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Tammie’s Chicken Tetrazzini Recipe
This recipe can easily be made in two 8-in.-by-8-in. baking dishes. Bake extra chicken from another meal and keep it in the freezer to pull this entrée together quickly.
1 (16-oz.) box spaghetti noodles, broken into 2-in. pieces, uncooked
1 can chicken broth
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 c. cubed cooked chicken
1 small onion, chopped
2 small jars diced pimientos
4 c. shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese, divided
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, combine chicken broth, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, celery salt, pepper, chicken, onion and pimientos together in a medium sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until warm.
3. Stir the spaghetti and 2 cups of the cheese mixture into the soup mixture. Spread into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.
4. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes, or until heated through.
Cheesy Ziti and Ground Beef Pasta Bake
This recipe can easily be cut in half and baked in a smaller baking dish.
1 lb. dry ziti pasta
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 lb. lean ground beef
2 (26-oz.) jars spaghetti sauce
6 oz. package sliced non-smoked Provolone cheese
1 1/2 c. sour cream
1 (8-oz.) pkg. finely shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and boil until al dente, drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Butter a 9-in.-by-13-in. casserole dish. Layer in this order: half of the pasta, Provolone cheese slices spread to cover pasta, sour cream, half of the sauce mixture, remaining pasta, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
4. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until heated through. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.