Everyday Mom's Meals: Slow Down Summer

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Slow Down Summer

How exactly is it July already? It's ironic how ssssllllooowww March and April crawled along while we were all in lockdown, and even the beginning of May as things were starting to reopen (at least here in Indiana), but as soon as Memorial Day and then June came along, someone hit turbo speed on time.

Summer is flying by, and I for one, am not happy. I go through this every single year. I wait and hold my breath for these sunny, hot days and then before I can blink, I am flipping pages on the calendar as fast as fan blades.

We still have plenty of fun to look forward to this summer, but as I type this stores are setting out school supplies...actually I first saw those in the stores over 2 weeks ago. All of us are trying to figure out what the school year will look like this year, and it's bringing a lot of apprehension and anxiety.

I will be honest, I am so thankful Max isn't old enough for school yet, because I can't imagine having to send him off for the first time, in the current atmosphere. We have decided to homeschool another year of preschool before even considering sending him to a brick and mortar program (he won't go to Kindergarten until he is 6) and I am so thankful he will be home with me. It is hard enough convincing the sophomore that wearing a mask all day and practicing social distancing in high school is going to feel "normal". It's isn't. There is no way around that, and we all just have to be an encouraging as possible to our kids and all the teachers and staff who are trying their hardest to come up with a plan that allows for everyone to return to the classroom.

So much unknown in the world right now. It seems like every morning I get up to read the news and think to myself "Okay, let's see what has happened now." But I also see the ways in which this crazy time has brought people together in new ways. Case in point...our city created a to-go restaurant Facebook page back when carry out was the only thing possible, to share and promote local restaurants who needed as much support as possible to survive. And even now that dine-in is an option again, there are thousands of followers on this page who share the places they love, places that could use some more business and most of all, some amazing food. This brings me to my point...

With so much division in the country right now, about so many things, I find over and over food is one thing that can bring us all together again. Other things too of course, but I live in a foodie world, so I notice this one a lot. People sharing more recipes, cooking at home more, trying new things, supporting local establishments, being more appreciative of food industry workers, etc. We are all finding ways to celebrate food once again, and I am here for all of it!

This recipe is my latest contribution to the foodie craze, a tasty pasta bake that is comfort food on a plate and perfect for your hungry crowd. I hope you are still able to find joy in these trying times, and maybe something yummy to eat can help that.

Rigatoni Pasta Bake
1 lb. rigatoni, cooked to al dente
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 (26 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce with meat
1 (14 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided use
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese, divided use
Salt and Pepper
Dried Parsley

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. In a large skillet brown beef with onion until no longer pink. Drain if necessary. Add spaghetti sauce, tomatoes with juice, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. When pasta is cooked, drain well. Add to sauce mixture. Stir to combine. Add 1/2 beef mixture to baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1 TBS Parmesan. Add rest of meat mixture. Top with rest of cheese and sprinkle with some dried parsley. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to sit 10 minutes before serving. 

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