Monday, September 11, 2017

How to Feed a Houseful of Dudes in 30 Minutes

As summer s’mores melt into back-to-school prep, seismic shifts occur in homes with school-age kids. Though this annual evolution is not unexpected, drastic changes occur on a daily basis, like kids reacclimating to wearing socks again after a summer of flip-flop fun, and eating normal meals again, rather than shoehorning an apple and string cheese into 8 hours of playing outside, becomes a necessity.

With school back in session, one thing I know for sure is that the minute the Junior dudes get home, they are ready to eat. That means dinner must be quick and easy to prepare while three kids simultaneously ask for snacks.

That’s why my famous Turkey Pasta Bake is a ‘Dude Family classic’.

My boys love pasta (who doesn’t?), and would be happy to eat it 8 days out of 7, but variety is important, as are incorporating protein and vegetables into their diets.  So when the Little Dude was even littler, Mrs. Dude and I started making this tasty recipe that is also fast and easy, because when hunger hits, the food is never ready fast enough. But in as many years, I’ve learned that I can boil some water, put an episode of their favorite show on the DVR and when that 30 minute show ends, voila, dinner is served.

One of the trickiest parts of dinner is choosing everyone’s favorite pasta cut, and Barilla® offers 38 different options, so you could eat a different one every day of the month without repeats. For this recipe, I used two of my boys’ favorites: Barilla Blue Box Penne and Rigatoni.
While the pasta cooks to a perfect al dente, in about 12 minutes, I brown a pound of ground turkey meat on the adjacent burner. Once the pasta is finished, I drain it and add Barilla Mushroom Sauce (my favorite!) to the fully-cooked turkey meat, along with garlic, oregano and a few other seasonings.

Then, I mix the pasta into the sauce and pour the combination into a glass baking pan, with a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese on the bottom and provolone slices on top. Last, I put the combined dish into the oven, which had already been preheated to 350°F, and bake for 15 minutes, or until the top layer of cheese is lightly browned.

To balance the meal, we mix a nice green salad, garlic bread and some fruit while we all talk about highlights and lowlights of our days.

Once the pasta masterpiece is served, it’s only a matter of minutes before my hungry kids are not only no longer hungry, but asking for seconds. And after they clear their plates, hopefully there is still enough daylight remaining for them to play outside for a bit before the school night bedtime activities begin, and we start everything all over again the next day.

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Barilla Pasta for this promotion. Though I have been compensated for my participation, all ideas, thoughts and tasty treats are my own, for better or worse.