Easy, fast family meals



May 26, 2004|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN FOOD EDITOR

If you're looking for quick and easy ideas to bring your family to the table, they're here in Betty Crocker's Easy Family Dinners (Wiley, 2004, $22.95).

Many of the dishes featured in this 190-page book are hardly inventive. Ready-made foods such as fish sticks, hot dogs, deli meats and canned pasta sauce make frequent appearances in the recipes. Some, such as the Turkey-Cheese Wraps, are so simple that they hardly require a recipe. (Spread herb-and-garlic spreadable cheese over tortilla. Top with turkey, lettuce and cheese. Roll up.)

This isn't a book for folks who love to cook so much as for those who dread it. But it provides reassurance to stressed and over-scheduled families that it is OK to serve sandwiches or scrambled eggs on pizza for dinner. What's important isn't how sophisticated the foods are, but that they are nourishing and that the family eats together.

Almost as important as the recipes in this book are the tips on each page for family activities. Again, some of the suggestions are no-brainers: "Rake leaves in your yard together before the weather gets too cold. Once the leaves are in a pile, take turns jumping in before bagging them."

But other ideas, such as having family fun nights revolving around particular cultures or countries, are good ways to combine food, fun and learning.

All of the recipes are easy, and most can be made in 30 minutes or less. Photographs throughout the book make even the simplest meals look appetizing.

Fish Sticks Marinara

6 servings

2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen broccoli spears, thawed and drained

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

12 frozen breaded fish sticks

1 container (15 ounces) marinara sauce or 2 cups tomato pasta sauce

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

6 slices (1 ounce each) mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange broccoli in ungreased square baking dish. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with basil and garlic. Place fish on broccoli. Spoon marinara sauce over fish. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Arrange mozzarella cheese on top.

Bake uncovered about 30 minutes or until heated through.

Per serving: 315 calories; 18 grams protein; 16 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 28 grams carbohydrate; 4 grams fiber; 30 milligrams cholesterol; 760 milligrams sodium

- Analysis from "Easy Family Dinners"

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