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Quick and easy school night suppers

Kim Reid Contributing columnist

September 15, 2013

Well school is back and Labor Day is behind us, so like or not it is time to get back into the schedule of the school year! With ball games, club meetings and dance class commitments it is tough to accomplish the family meal! Most of us in my age bracket grew up having a “family meal” and whether we realized it or not at the time, we reaped quite a few benefits over mealtime. Some of the benefits of hosting a family as many nights as possible include; everyone tends to eat a healthier meal, kids learn to love veggies and try new foods, families are less likely to become overweight because you can control the portions, school grades tend to be better, studies show that family dinners help kids say “no” to abusive behaviors such as drugs and alcohol, you will learn more about what your family is doing, there will be less stress in the home, and of course, you can put more cash in your pocket!


The challenge is finding good healthy meals that you can make in minutes and that your whole family will enjoy. Here are some ideas for quick fix main dishes and more.


Cheddar Beef


Casserole


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish


Kosher salt


3 cups wide egg noodles (about 5 ounces)


1 1/2 cups sour cream


1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan


12 ounces ground beef (or turkey)


1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped


1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), finely chopped


1 tablespoon tomato paste


1 teaspoon Italian seasoning


One 14 1/2-ounce can petite diced tomatoes


2 cups grated Cheddar


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Oil a 2-quart baking dish.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook to al dente according to the package directions. Drain and put in the prepared baking dish. Toss with the sour cream, Parmesan and 1/4-teaspoon salt.


Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add the bell peppers and scallions and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Make a space in the pan; add the tomato paste and toast for a minute. Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning and 1/4-teaspoon salt. Add the diced tomatoes, stir and bring to a simmer. Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.


Pour the beef mixture over the noodles and sprinkle with the grated Cheddar. Bake on the middle rack until the cheese is melted and the edges are bubbling, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


(Editor’s note: Kim Reid is the Family and Consumer Sciences extension agent with Sampson’s Cooperative Extension.)