30-Minute Menu: Pizza Pasta Toss & Salad Greens
At home in historic Beverly, West Virginia, realtor Lori Daniels' two girls, Hannah, 11, and Heidi, 7, keep her constantly on the go with Girl Scouts, basketball, music and church activities. And then there's work. "As a realtor, you need to be flexible with your schedule to accommodate customers and clients who work or come from out of state," Lori says.
Luckily, Steve, her husband of 17 years, helps to get meals on the table. Besides being a machinist and welder, Steve also raises Black Angus cattle and has a garden, from which he harvests many of the fruits and vegetables Lori uses to prepare nearly 10 meals weekly!
One of her favorite menus is featured here. It starts with Pizza Pasta Toss, a super-easy, kid-friendly Italian recipe that came to her one busy night. "I needed a quick one-skillet dish to put on the table. I thought if I added pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese, it might appeal to Heidi's 'selective palate.' I was right! Since it tasted like pizza and was topped with gooey cheese, it was an instant hit." Now she makes this entree several times a month.
Alongside, Lori serves her simple Salad Greens & Creamy Sweet Dressing. "Salads are a quick side dish and a healthy addition to the table. My children like them, as long as they don't have too many veggies. And we've found that if we add croutons or potato sticks and a tasty dressing, they'll eat them up!"
She finishes the meal with an easy dessert recipe as special for the kids as it is for Dad. "One night after making chocolate chip cookies, I decided to top them with ice cream and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Now, Cookie Sundaes are one of our favorite treats. I love watching my husband's eyes light up when I serve this!"
Here's the plan:
- Put pasta water on to boil
- Put cookies in oven, brown ground beef mixture
- Add pasta to water and sauce ingredients to beef
- Remove cookies from oven and drain pasta (when done)
- Prepare salad dressing
- Add cooked pasta to skillet, then add cheese
- Prepare desserts, place in freezer while eating
- Use that slow cooker! "My slow cooker comes in really handy on busy days," Lori says. "I get a meal started in the morning, then Steve does the finishing touches at night. This way, we can still have dinner on time."
- Turn to your family for help. "I try to make meal preparation a family event and my girls are a really big help in the kitchen. They assist with unloading the dishwasher, setting the table, mixing, stirring and even cracking eggs. Most dinners are a family effort and a great opportunity for family time."
- Get outdoors! "We save a lot of time in the kitchen during the summer by grilling outside. My husband takes over that job. Nothing tastes better than a farm-raised grilled steak with fresh corn on the cob, garden veggies and berry pie!"
- Plan ahead. "I bake muffins, breads, cookies, etc., on the weekends to enjoy throughout the week," Lori says. "I'll also make a big Sunday dinner with a roasting chicken or pot roast, then use leftovers for a meal later in the week."