What 's A Kid To Do After School?

An after school snack and homework always come first. TV? Sometimes, but we have created theme days for each weekday after school. Mya Mondays for when her very young cousin visits for an hour or so and Alex helps babysit. Make It, Bake It, and Take It Tuesday when we help Alex prepare a food item to take home and share with her family. Grandpa Wednesday is a special outing with just the two of us finding a restaurant with a great dessert. Grandma takes over with Crafty Thursday as she and Alex work on a craft project. And since the weekend starts after school on Friday, Relaxing Friday tends to find cartoons or playing outside as the goal.

Scheduling regular events like this sets a pattern that everyone, including Alex, looks forward to and enjoys.


Rigatoni and Sweet Italian Sausage

Alex loves loves spaghetti and meatballs.  So is rigatoni with Italian sausage close enough?  You betcha!  I don't let her do the cooking on the stove top if there is a concern of hot spills or grease burns, but I make sure she experiences all of the prep work and cooking safely possible. With this recipe she was able to place the meat in the skillet, add the rigatoni to the water, mix the ingredients together and then dish up the end results.

Simple ingredients can make a great meal - boxed rigatoni, a pound of sweet Italian sausage, your favorite spaghetti sauce, and some shredded mozzarella or shredded parmesan cheese.

Cut the Italian sausage into thirds and sautee until cooked thoroughly.  Add the rigatoni to boiling water and cook until just tender (rigatoni takes quite a bit longer to cook than spaghetti due to the thickness of the pasta).  Drain the pasta and the sausage.  Add these two ingredients to a deep skillet or a large pan and pour most of a jar of spaghetti sauce on top.  Stir until lightly coated and leave on medium heat for a few minutes to let the sauce blend with the meat and pasta.  Make sure the kids get to do the mixing and stirring, that's their favorite part.

Once heated through, add to the plates. Some like to pour a little more sauce on top, but sprinkle on shredded cheese for a finisher.  This was a meal that Alex and I were delivering so the re-used plastic Chinese carry-out containers worked great.

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