When You Just Have to “Wing it”

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Our favorite Pasta Roni variety!

I have two very, very picky little brothers.  Well, little is relative: one is fifteen and taller than me, the other is eight and almost as tall as me.  Picky is no exaggeration, though; these boys will not eat ANYTHING, especially the older one (the kid won’t eat pizza or hamburgers, for starters).

We are home alone a lot in the summer, since my parents work, so we often have to fend for ourselves for lunch.  When I don’t feel like trying very hard, or paying to take them out to lunch, there’s one trick I’ve found to be a popular favorite and it only takes about five minutes to make.  It comes in very handy when all you can hear is a whiny chorus of “I’m hungryyyyyy.”

Ever heard of Pasta Roni?  My brothers absolutely love the stuff, and it comes in really handy when we don’t have the time or ingredients for homemade creamy pasta.  It doesn’t taste half bad, and the Angel Hair varieties only take 4-5 minutes to cook.  We like the Pasta with Herbs and Parmesan Cheese varieties, and all you have to do is follow the directions right on the box – just add butter, milk, and water.

For those quick lunches, I like to cook 2 boxes of Pasta Roni and grill up some Tyson frozen chicken (not the breaded strips kind, the grilled chicken breast kind).  I cook both, spicing the chicken with a bit of garlic powder, salt, pepper, and whatever else is sitting in the front of the spice cabinet.  When they’re done cooking, I just cut the chicken up into bite size pieces and mix it into the pasta.

This isn’t a truly homemade lunch, but the boys love it and it is super quick to make.  And since you can get boxes of Pasta Roni on sale for $1 each or less, it’s a pretty good bang for your buck.

I prefer to make my own homemade creamy pasta sauce, but this works well for two picky boys who look at anything unfamiliar like it’s alive and going to crawl off of the plate at any moment.

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Creamy Garlic Pasta Sauce

Delicious, creamy, and sooooo easy to make! I made it this time with leftover grilled shrimp and homemade salsa, served over whole wheat penne.

I found a recipe awhile ago online for a creamy garlic pasta sauce.  I have since tweaked the recipe a lot and it has become my favorite homemade pasta sauce.  It is super easy to make and only takes about as long as the pasta does to cook.

Since I have mostly been cooking for myself this summer, the ingredients list is for a single serving.

Ingredients:

A single serving of your favorite pasta (I have tried it with linguine, penne, and thin spaghetti, and it works well with all of them.  It tastes great with whole wheat pasta, too!)
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp garlic powder (you can always use fresh garlic if you have it on hand)
3/4 tbsp flour
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup milk
Salt
Pepper
Parsley Flakes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (not the Kraft kind in the green bottle, it doesn’t have the right consistency)
Optional: your favorite meat or veggie addition – I like to use bacon bits or grilled shrimp and homemade salsa  (make sure you cook or heat up anything else that you are going to add to the sauce BEFORE you add it)

Preparation: 

(1) Start by boiling the water for the pasta.  While you wait for it to boil, gather your ingredients and measure out your chicken broth, milk, and Parmesan cheese.  You will need to have these ready to grab with one hand when the time comes.

(2) When the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to box directions.  In a separate, small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Once the butter is about halfway melted, add garlic powder.

(3) Once the butter has melted completely, grab yourself a fork, add the flour, and stir constantly for about 30 to 45 seconds.  It is going to turn into a thick, chunky mush.  Keep smashing it with that fork until the butter and flour are completely mixed.

(4) While continuing to stir, add the chicken broth, followed by the milk.  Combine completely until the butter/flour mixture disappears into the liquid.  Turn the heat up to just above medium and stir frequently until the sauce thickens and begins to boil slightly.

(5) Add salt, pepper, and parsley to taste.  I like just a dash of each.

(6) Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until it melts completely.  If you like bacon bits, now would be a good time to add them.  Anything else you can just add when you serve it.  Your pasta is probably just about done now, so turn the heat on your sauce down to just below medium and let it cook awhile longer while you strain the pasta.   Once the pasta is ready, the sauce is too!  I like to serve it to myself in a big bowl with a little extra Parmesan cheese on top.

Like I said, this is my favorite pasta sauce recipe.   It doesn’t take more than ten minutes, and it works with any kind of pasta or add in.  One time I served it with shrimp and salsa (pictured above) and the veggies were a nice addition to the creaminess of the sauce.

Hope you like it! Happy Eating!