Posted on 2/2/14

pasta primaveraKENTUCKY (4/12/14) — This week on Biscuits & Bacon - Food Column for the Hungry, Curious Mind, Maureen dishes what to cook for a crowd of teens and offers time-saving tips for mid-week meals.

Dear Maureen,

I’m hosting dinner for my son’s fishing team next week. These boys are not the appetizer crowd ̶ they are hungry. Help!

Hungry Boys in Bowling Green

Dear Hungry,

I’ve got three words for you.

Pasta. Salad. Cookies.

Make a large pan of ziti (add chicken for a balanced meal), serve a large bowl of salad (or add vegetables to the ziti) and have a mongo plate of chocolate chip cookies on hand. Or if you’re stretched for time (like the mom in the next question), order several cheese pizzas instead, (but don't forget the cookies).

Have plenty of water, sports drinks, or fresh lemonade on hand too. And once the food is ready, make yourself scarce for a while.


Dear Maureen,

I took a full time job and still have two teens at home. I need hot meals during the week, but I'm tired when I come home and don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

Mom in Madisonville

Dear Mom,

First, congrats on your new full time job. And let me add, I know the I’m tired and don’t feel like cooking song.

Preparing meals ahead is your solution to quick, easy mid-week meals. When you have foods already prepared, or partially prepared, making mid-week meals is a snap.

For instance, prepare your sides dishes ahead. Chop vegetables, clean lettuce (in a spinner - which is a great storage unit also), and cook pastas on Sunday. Place cut vegetables in a container with a little water water and keep pasta in a cover container in the refrigerator. Don’t forget to save a cup of the starchy, salty pasta water for the reheat, too.

Later in the week, these ingredients will make a healthy primavera salad, served either hot or cold. Place cut vegetables and pasta in a large bowl, add fresh greens, drizzle a salad dressing or vinaigrette (try my Pear & Tarragon Vinaigrette recipe below), toss and serve.

Another recipe to make that offers several uses for mid-week meals is a simple red sauce. The easiest, most versatile, and my ultimate favorite red sauce is Marcella Hazan's Butter, Tomato, and Onion Sauce.

Later in the week, toss pre-made pasta with already made red sauce. For a ten-minute flatbread, smear a few spoonfuls of red sauce on raw pizza dough, or a pre-made crust, add vegetables (broccoli, asparagus and fennel are your go-to vegetables this time of year) and bake. How about another idea for the pre-made red sauce? Sear chicken breasts and thighs in a skillet with onions, add several shakes of sweet papkika to your red sauce, add the sauce to the skillet, cover and simmer until the chicken is done (time will vary based on size) to an internal temperature of 165. Serve chicken paprika with a plop of sour cream and a side mixed green salad for a balanced meal.

One-dish casseroles and pots of soup are the ultimate time saver and don’t require a lot of Sunday time either. Cook, cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to reheat and eat. Think tuna noodle casserole, chicken and white bean chili, potato and leek soup, whole roasted chicken (or two), even a simple quiche or an asparagus tart can be made ahead.

Good luck and let me know what works for you.


Pears 003 1024x617(Photo Maureen C. Berry)

Pear & Tarragon Vinaigrette

Cook notes: To save time, make the vinaigrette ahead a few days, but don’t add the oil until you’re ready to serve.


  • 4 tablespoons of pear simple syrup, or juice from a can of pear
  • 1 tablespoon of champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • Dash Kosher salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + or - for taste
  • A handful of chopped toasted pecans (optional)


  1. Whisk all ingredients except the oil and nuts.
  2. Just before serving, drizzle the oil in as you whisk to create a smooth emulsion.
  3. Add the nuts to the vinaigrette and stir to coat.
  4. Spoon nuts and vinaigrette over salad greens. Top with grilled chicken breast, salmon filet or shrimp.
  5. Serve immediately.

Appetite required.

Got a food-related question? Send Maureen an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or leave a comment on the SurfKY Facebook page.

Maureen C. Berry is the copyeditor and food writer at When she’s not writing or cooking, she’s photographing wildlife in her backyard. Maureen founded Center Street Writers' Guild in conjunction with Hopkins County Public Library. CSWG offers free writing/critique workshops. She lives in Western Kentucky with her husband and wire fox terrier, Reagan. Follow her on Twitter @seafoodladyorl.

Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources. your social media marketing partner

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

3/13 - 16

Weather Sponsored by

1 DOW 16,472.37
+200.36 (1.23%)    
2 S&P 1,951.36
+27.54 (1.43%)    
3 NASDAQ 4,707.77
+80.69 (1.74%)    

Stock Report Sponsored by

3/13 - 16

Most Read This Week

September 30, 2015 10115

Dawson Woman Dead After Princeton Factory…

by SurfKY News
October 01, 2015 6805

UPDATE: Madisonville Woman Charged after Bank…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
September 29, 2015 5942

UPDATED: Witness Describes Crash at Dawson…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
September 28, 2015 4528

Woman Charged with Methamphetamine Possession…

by SurfKY News
September 30, 2015 4179

Four Arrested After Allegedly Exposing Children…

by SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

September 16, 2015 12127

Mining Accident Fatality - Update

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
September 30, 2015 10115

Dawson Woman Dead After Princeton Factory…

by SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

October 03, 2015 1280

Happenings, Meetings Listed for Following Week

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
October 03, 2015 958

Chemotherapy: New Advances, A New Age

by KET
October 03, 2015 912

Hopkins District Court Fines Handed Down

by SurfKY News
October 04, 2015 882

Learning More About Childhood Cancer

by KET
October 03, 2015 689

Weather Folklore - Persimmon Seeds, Woolly Worms

by SurfKY News
October 03, 2015 682

ColorFall Kicks off Fall Color Season in Kentucky

by SurfKY News
October 03, 2015 660

Proposed Restaurant Tax Would Promote Tourism,…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
October 03, 2015 498

Hooked on Science - 'Singing Rod'

by SurfKY News
October 04, 2015 474

Dave Says - Oct. 4, 2015

by SurfKY News
October 04, 2015 439

Outdoor Truths - Oct. 4, 2015

by SurfKY News