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Kid-friendly meals

By Angie Sutton, www.mothersapronstrings.com

Taco Spaghetti

It's the perfect combination of two things kids love! Add a green salad on the side to finish off the meal.

Ingredients:

1 lb. lean ground beef (95 percent)
1 (1.25-oz.) pkg. taco seasoning
2 c. tap water
1 (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
8 oz. thin spaghetti, broken into 5-inch pieces
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef, crumble as it cooks. Drain if needed. Stir in water and taco seasoning packet.

2. Stir in diced tomatoes and green chilies, tomato paste and spaghetti. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and cook for 10 to 13 minutes..

3. Remove from heat, gently stir and top with cheeses. Cover until melted, about 3 minutes.

Apron Strings Notes:

We garnish with a dollop of sour cream and diced fresh tomatoes. The pot-sized spaghetti is perfect for this one-pot dish. Kick up the heat with the hot version of diced tomatoes and green chilies if you like.

Apron Strings Tips:

"Complete these meals with a green salad or cut up fresh fruit."

"Prepackaged vegetable trays are a quick solution to warding off the kids rummaging through the refrigerator before dinner."

"Use part-skim mozzarella and reduced fat cheddar cheese to lighten the recipe."


Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Foil Packets

Easy clean up on this recipe that will please both adults and kids! Add cut up fresh fruit on the side to complete this meal!

Ingredients:

1 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, sliced
1 small yellow summer squash, cut in half lengthwise, sliced
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, drained
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat gas grill for medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine zucchini, yellow squash, drained tomatoes, tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese in medium bowl.

2. Spread four 18-by-12-inch pieces of heavy aluminum foil on counter. Spray each with non-stick cooking spray. Place one chicken breast in the center on each piece of foil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread a quarter of the tomato mixture over chicken in each packet. Double fold top and ends of each piece of foil, leaving space for steam to gather.

3. Place packets on grill grate; close lid. Grill 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in centers (165 degrees F).

4. Open packets being cautious of the steam and sprinkle the top evenly with mozzarella cheese.

Apron Strings Note:

Slice your vegetables a bit thicker for an al dente finish.


Broccoli Chicken Alfredo

Adapted from "Julia's Album"

Ingredients:

10-oz. fresh broccoli florets
8-oz. penne pasta
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast tenderloins, cubed
1 garlic clove, minced
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. milk
1 1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:

1. In a saucepan, cook broccoli in boiling water for five minutes, drain. Cut broccoli into smaller bite-sized pieces if needed. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions for al dente, drain.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and butter on medium-high heat. Add chicken breast pieces and saute chicken breast for about 5 minutes on each side, until chicken is no longer pink in the center and cooked through. Remove chicken to a plate.

3.In the same skillet, add minced garlic and cook it in chicken juices and oil remaining in the pan, scraping up the chicken bits from the bottom of the pan, on medium heat for about 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant, making sure to avoid burning. Add cooked broccoli and mix in with garlic. Remove from the pan.

4. To make the creamy sauce, in the same skillet heat one cup of heavy whipping cream until it boils. Immediately add the cheese and stir until melted and nice and creamy. Reduce heat to medium-low, and slowly, in small portions, add milk, constantly stirring, simmering, until nice and creamy consistency is reached.

5. Add cooked pasta to the creamy sauce, then add broccoli. Season with salt and pepper. Top with sliced, cooked chicken.

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