Practical tips, reliable recipes, & family-friendly food ideas

Spring Family Menu 4 – Easy Family Meals x 5

It’s still Spring (technically), but summer is near.  This week’s menu features 5 easy family meals with a couple of little surprises for the grill.  I love grilled food! Not only does the grill impart a distinct, flavorful char on things we cook on it, but it makes clean up quick and easy.  I also find that cooking outdoors helps to keep our (indoor) kitchen nice and cool in the warmer months.

weekly-family-menu-spring-no.4

Another preference I have developed is that of roasting vegetables in the oven, rather than cooking them on the stove top.  Because I have a conventional slide in range with 4-burner stove and single oven, I often end up with main dishes and side dishes competing for space. When the oven is empty, I always roast my vegetables.  If the oven is occupied, then I will saute or steam them.  Roasted vegetables almost always cook at 450° for 10-20 minutes. Check out the link above for an unbelievably simple roasted carrots recipe.

A couple of notes about the Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce this week. It’s a Checca Sauce Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network.  This sauce requires no cooking. With the tomatoes and basil, it is the epitome of summer.  It’s light, refreshing, flavorful and incredibly easy with a food processor.  If you have a vegetable garden and find yourself with an abundance of tomatoes, this is an excellent way to use up your extra tomatoes for the season. Our kids lick their plates clean when this is served.

Oh! I almost forgot! Download this super helpful printable menu and grocery list to get you through this week’s menu. I’ll be posting/linking the recipes for the currently unlinked menu items soon.

Hope y’all have a great week!

Super Easy Southwest Pasta Recipe

This is one of many ridiculously easy pasta recipes I have up my sleeve (and the first to be officially documented).  I’ve shared it with countless friends and family members who have all given me positive feedback regarding the ease and the taste of this flavorful, healthy, kid-approved pasta recipe.  I hope it will become a favorite weeknight dinner for your family, too!

 

Buy Ziti Pasta Online at Amazon

Some quick tips before you get started:

  • You can cook the pasta and prepare the sausage/pepper sauce at the same time.
  • Don’t drain the pasta! Scoop it out of the boiling water with a large slotted spoon and put it directly in the sauce.
  • I use light cream cheese AND light sour cream (not fat free!).
  • The red sauce/marinara I use is something I usually have left over in the fridge.  It can vary from several tablespoons to a 1/4 cup of sauce from the jar. Nothing special, it just adds some tang to the cream sauce.  If you’re starting with a new jar, use the rest as pizza sauce or dipping sauce for calzones!
  • Serve the sausage on the side if you have vegetarians coming over for dinner and everyone will be a happy camper.

Super Easy Southwest Ziti

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings.

A great, easy weeknight family meal idea! If you love pasta and spices, you'll love this Southwestern dish with it's sausage, peppers, and creamy tomato sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 box of Ziti or Penne Pasta (your preferred tubular pasta and brand)
  • 1 lb. Sausage (ground pork sausage or even chicken sausage works well - choose your favorite)
  • 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 3 Bell Peppers (1 red, 1 yellow, 1 green) cut in to strips and then cut strips in half.
  • 1 box of reduced fat cream cheese (8 oz).
  • 1 ½ cups of light sour cream (about ¾’s of a 16 oz. container)
  • ¼ cup Marinara (or your favorite Italian red sauce)
  • ½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Cilantro and/or Parsley - chopped (garnish)
  • Crushed Red Pepper (to taste – can vary per individual serving if needed)
  • Extra Parmesan (to add tableside)

Instructions

  1. Brown sausage on medium to medium-high in a 12 qt. sauce pan or wok (you’ll need a large pot as this will end up being where everything is tossed together).
  2. After browning sausage, drain on a large plate covered in 2-4 paper towels (layered).
  3. In the same pan/wok, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and all bell peppers. Cook peppers
  4. at medium heat until only slightly tender (but not mushy!) 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add back the sausage, and add cream cheese, sour cream, and marinara. Cook until
  6. cheese is melted and sauce is well blended.
  7. Add Parmesan cheese and stir until blended.
  8. Meanwhile, boil water for pasta in a large 3+ quart pot. Salt your water with 2-3 tbsp. of kosher salt (to season your pasta)
  9. Cook pasta until it is “al dente” or about 2 minutes shy of the package instructions. It will cook some more when you add it to the sauce so don’t over cook.
  10. Add Pasta to sauce pan/wok and toss with sauce, peppers, and sausage.
  11. Add Salt and Pepper to taste.
  12. Serve on individual plates or shallow bowls and top with chopped cilantro, crushed red pepper and extra parmesan cheese (if desired).
  13. Enjoy!

Notes

This dish makes enough to share with friends or to enjoy as leftovers the next day.

https://www.menubility.com/super-easy-southwest-ziti-easy-pasta-recipes/

Spring Family Menu 3

Our 3rd week of Spring Family Menu Ideas includes 6 complete dinners to satisfy grownups and kids, alike.  For our crew, this menu will start on Saturday and run through Thursday since we’ll be heading out of town on Friday for Memorial Day.  We’re hoping to invite some of our new neighbors over for dinner on Saturday night to enjoy the Smoked Pork BBQ!

Many of ingredients needed for these meals are on sale at Harris Teeter this week.  Because we start this week off a little “meat heavy”, we’ve got some lighter (but still very satisfying) vegetarian options mid-week.

And before you say anything, yes – we eat a lot of cheese in our house!

Download and print out this handy dandy all-in-one printable menu and grocery list.

 

*More recipes coming soon! I realize it’s hard to shop and cook the same meals without recipes.  I “wing” most of what I make, so until I write down my own recipes and the modifications to the ones I actually use, these weekly menus are really “ideas”.  Thanks for your patience while these features (and recipes) are developing!

 

Spring Family Menu 2

Ideas for our Family Menu for the week include 6 scrumptious meals.  We started our week on Sunday night with the Chicken Tacos.

  • MEAL 1 Chicken Tacos, Spanish Rice & Warm Corn/Avocado Salad
  • MEAL 2: Quinoa Cakes + Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad
  • MEAL 3: Stuffed Shells, Garlic Bread & Parmesan Zucchini
  • MEAL 4: Pizzadillas (think Quesadillas with pizza ingredients) + Tomato/Cucumber Salad
  • MEAL 5: Chicken Lettuce Wraps + Udon Noodles with carrots, cabbage and zucchini
  • MEAL 6: BBQ Meatballs, Rice & Roasted Broccoli

These menu ideas were derived from a list of things that are on sale at Harris Teeter through May 12th.  Including staples that I had to replenish (like milk, OJ, bread, etc…), I spent about $145 on our groceries for this week.

Soon, I hope to add grocery shopping lists and recipes to reference!

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Update: I worked on the formatting for an all-in-one, printable menu and grocery list.  What do you think?  Get free, downloadable PDF using the link above.

Seasonal Ideas for Dinner – Spring

Our family menu lineup for the week of May 3rd through May 9th includes these 5 ideas for dinner:
  • Meal 1: Chilaquiles Verde, Mango + Avocado Salad, Corn -on-the-cob
  • Meal 2: Perogies, Sauteed Zucchini & Squash, Salad
  • Meal 3: Homemade Chicken Tenders, Macaroni & Cheese (from scratch), Steamed Broccoli
  • Meal 4: Naanzas (individual pizzas made on Naan) + Salad
  • Meal 5: Italian Baked Chicken, Pasta and Garlic Bread