Fall favorites in a flash

September 07, 1999

Fall means football games, play practice, homework and plenty of "chauffeuring" for mom and dad. All of these after-school activities are bound to stir up appetites, but who has time to prepare a hearty dinner?

You do! Quick and convenient foods from simple stir-fry to one-dish skillet meals suit diverse family tastes.

[cont. from lifestyle]

Connecting at the dinner table

The dinner table is a place not only to eat, but also to connect with the family. According to the 1999 Kitchen Report, a new survey from the National Pork Producers Council, most families eat dinner together at least five days a week.

Try these dinnertime activities to make the most of your time together:

* Get the family involved in meal preparation. Have younger kids, ages 2 to 6, help with age-appropriate tasks, such as measuring and mixing the ingredients and setting the table. Teach older kids cooking basics or put them in charge of a side dish or salad.


* Let everyone choose a night and theme for a favorite dinner. Pretending there's a famous person at the table can make conversation interesting.

* Keep a calendar of everyone's activities and schedule dinner every day. If you know a busy night is coming up, plan ahead to serve leftovers.

* Turn off the television and talk. According to the Kitchen Report, 89 percent of families talk about the events of the day, 77 percent discuss family-related news, 66 percent make plans for the next day and 47 percent talk about current events.


Savory Pork Stew with Potato Dumplings

  • 1 pound boneless pork loin, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 12-ounce jar pork gravy
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 16 ounces frozen vegetables: broccoli, red peppers, onions, mushrooms
  • 1 packet butter and herb seasoned mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg, beaten

Season pork with pepper. Cook pork in oil in 10-inch skillet over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes or until brown, turning to brown evenly. Stir together gravy, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and red pepper in small bowl; stir into pork in skillet. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Stir in vegetables. Heat to boiling; cover and simmer over medium-low heat 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, make mashed potatoes as directed on package; stir in egg. Place mounds of potatoes on top of simmering pork mixture. Cover and simmer 5 minutes longer. Serve in shallow bowls with warm dinner rolls or French bread, if desired. Serves 5 to 6.


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