September 14, 2017

A 30 Minute Meal Your Kids Might Eat

*I have partnered with Barilla and Life of Dad for this promotion.

Now that school is back in session, it's time to get back to our routine. The summer was spent going from barbecue to barbecue, from pizza place to pizza place, and ice cream shop to ice cream shop. There never was a time where we sat down as a family and enjoyed a nice home cooked meal... there just wasn't any time. I know summers are supposed to be for relaxing, but it seemed to be nonstop from start to finish.

But now that school is back, all that HAS to change and it starts at the dinner table.

My boys can be picky, but they also have started to get into foods that they haven't eaten in the past. It used to be everything was bland or fried, but now they both seem to enjoy spice a little bit more... except when it comes to pasta. Like most kids, mine could eat pasta with butter for every meal. In fact I would say that the makeup of any child is 35% pasta. Our pantry is one shelf of cereal, one shelf cookies, and four shelves of Barilla® pasta. I would say that water boils in my house at least four hours each day.

Pasta... it's (usually) what's for dinner.

And lunch.

But it's time to shake up my pasta game a little bit and start offering my kids something more. I mean, my oldest is a teenager now and I can't send him off into the real world only being able to stomach pasta with butter. Knowing that they are capable of eating something else, I thought I would make them something they would enjoy... hopefully.

The first order of business when you are cooking for kids is to not over do it. I can't tell you how many times I've spent hours in the kitchen making something delicious only to see them snub their noses at it and end up eating cereal. Why should I put the effort in, when I know that the kids aren't going to enjoy it? So my goal from now on is to spend no more then 30 minutes on any meal, unless I'm using the crock pot where I can pretend that I spent all day cooking.

30 MINUTES... that's all it takes to satisfy the kids and YOU.

Obviously this starts with all the basic ingredients: Barilla Mezzi Rigatoni, tomatoes, Barilla Chunky Traditional sauce, and cheese. I'm leaving out a surprise ingredient in case my kids see this recipe and wonder what the heck the green stuff in their food was.

The first order of business is to boil the water to where it's "al dente." Each box of Barilla pasta is different, so as to avoid mushy or overcooked pasta, please follow the instructions on the box.

The second step while the pasta is cooking is to cook the chicken. I put a little butter and oil in the pan and seasoned the chicken slightly with salt and pepper.  Too much pepper and your kids will hate it.

Thirdly, we drain the pasta and set aside a plain serving for later.

Next we add tomatoes and our secret ingredient spinach into the pan that we used to cook the chicken in. 

Next cut up the chicken and add that to the pan. Please make sure that you chicken is cooked all the way through. Consuming undercooked or raw chicken can cause you to become sick... not that I would know of course since I always seem to cook it WAY too much leaving it WAY too dry.

Add the Barilla Chunky Traditional sauce and coat evenly.  Make sure not to use TOO much as you don't want your pasta to drown in the sauce. The sauce and the pasta should work in perfect harmony and too much much of either will detract from your dish.

Add the pasta and stir it all together. If you notice the green spinach you can add one more step.

CHEESE... it makes everything taste better, even spinach. 

I decided to pair this dish with a fine 2% milk and yelled to my kids that their food was ready.

Needless to say, my son decided after one bite that this meal wasn't for him and went for the plain pasta that I set aside and a little the leftover chicken.  What can I say? I tried. For me, this was delicious.

Barilla's classic line comes in 38 different cuts of pasta and 14 varieties of sauce. That leaves you with an endless amount of meal combinations for picky eaters in your house. Barilla offers you stress-free meal combinations perfect for back to school season, and the taste will leave your kids coming back for more... even if it's only pasta with butter.  

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


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