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A DELICIOUS ITALIAN FAMILY DINNER…

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a_delicious_italian_family_dinner_1As a working mom with kids in school and sports, it can seem like our family is always on the go. I try to make dinner at least a couple of times a week because it’s so important to me that we sit down as a family and have a nutritious meal. After long days of photo shoots, designing and blogging, the dinners that I make need to be easy to prepare and delicious. Thankfully, there’s Balance Your Plate. It’s an educational program that helps consumers meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans by providing simple meal planning ideas pairing frozen meals and pizzas with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. For our family meal, I decided to pair Stouffer’s Lasagna with Meat & Sauce with two simple side dishes that my family loves.

Stouffer’s has recently announced its new “Kitchen Cupboard” commitment. This new initiative focuses on simplifying recipes that only include ingredients that we can recognize and find at home, like vine-ripened tomatoes, freshly made pasta, and real mozzarella. This effort begins with Stouffer’s Lasagna with Meat and Sauce, one of the brand’s classic offerings. The simpler recipe now contains fewer ingredients, but continues to offer the same great taste that we know and love. It’s a great staple product to have in the freezer, ready to pop into the oven on those crazy days! It’s a frozen meal that you can still feel good about feeding your family, especially paired with some delicious and easy to prepare sides.

a_delicious_italian_family_dinner_2We are sharing a few easy ways you can add some special touches to your next family dinner. With pretty paper placemats and our printable conversation starters, you can turn a simple weekday meal into a fabulous family dinner.

a_delicious_italian_family_dinner_3Our pretty conversation starter cards can be placed around the table or picked out of a jar during dinner to keep the conversation flowing! Hear about each other’s favorite part of the day, favorite family traditions, where you would travel if you could go anywhere and more. Simply print and cut our downloadable card designs.

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Fabric napkins dress up your simple place settings, especially when tied with pretty ribbon and a sprig of rosemary added. These table setting ideas only takes minutes, and you can create them while your lasagna is cooking in the oven! Here is how to make these darling hand-drawn paper placemats. Let’s take a look…

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Directions

1. Start with a simple paper place mat. We used these from Hester & Cook.

2. Place your plate in the center of the mat, and use a white paint marker to trace outside the outer edges.

3. Draw on the leaves starting at the bottom of the line, the leaves getting smaller as you make your way up the line.

4. Allow the paint to dry for a few moments, then place on the table!

Easy!
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a_delicious_italian_family_dinner_10Doesn’t this Stouffer’s lasagna look delicious? Pair the lasagna with a couple of nutritious sides and you’ll be set to serve your family a balanced meal!

a_delicious_italian_family_dinner_11Made with fresh vegetables and whole wheat bread, this panzanella salad is so delicious.

Panzanella Salad
Serves 8-10

Ingredients

1 baguette whole wheat bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, separated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced into halves
1 hothouse cucumber, diced
3 assorted colored bell peppers, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
10 sprigs basil, leaves julienned

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper with the remaining olive oil to make the vinaigrette.

Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl, making sure to coat all the ingredient with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

a_delicious_italian_family_dinner_13Asparagus is a vegetable that my whole family loves. With tomatoes and garlic, and topped with a balsamic drizzle, it’s even better!

Garlic Roasted Asparagus with Tomatoes and Balsamic
Serves 6

Ingredients

2 lbs asparagus, ends trimmed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
reduced balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Toss together all the ingredients, with the exception of the balsamic vinegar, on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes or until the asparagus is tender. Transfer the asparagus and tomatoes to a platter. Drizzle with as much reduced balsamic vinegar as you’d like. Serve.

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a_delicious_italian_family_dinner_16Delicious! Add some fresh basil to the top of your lasagna for a pretty and flavorful garnish!

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a_delicious_italian_family_dinner_21We loved enjoying such a flavorful and nutritious dinner, and hope you will too! For more tips and inspiration on creating a game plan for balanced, nutritious and delicious meals, visit www.nestleusa.com/balance. Their great tasting food and side dish recipes show you don’t need to compromise flavor for nutrition when turning to convenient options that fit your busy lifestyle!

Design/Styling | Kim Stoegbauer, The TomKat Studio
Styling Assistant | Madie Richardson, The TomKat Studio
Photography | Rennai Hoefer, Ten22 Studio
Food Styling/Recipes | Joanna Meyer, Baked by Joanna
Kraft Paper Placemats | Hester & Cook

THIS IS A SPONSORED POST. THE TOMKAT STUDIO HAS RECEIVED PAYMENT, TRADE AND/OR PRODUCTS FROM NESTLE/STOUFFER’S IN EXCHANGE FOR PROMOTING, HOWEVER ALL OPINIONS STATED ARE MY OWN AND I ONLY PROMOTE PRODUCTS I LOVE (AND I LOVE LASAGNA).

  1. Alyssa

    June 11th, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Hello! Do you mind confirming what white paint marker you used?
    And where did you find the white linen/Cotten napkins?

    Thanks!

  2. Kim

    June 13th, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    I don’t remember the brand of white paint market we used! So sorry!

  3. Alyssa

    June 13th, 2017 at 11:49 am

    HEllo! This is so pretty! Where did you find the white cotton napkins?

  4. Kim

    June 13th, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Thank you! The napkins are from Pottery Barn!

  5. Find Better Balance for Family Meals this Year | Family Life Tips Magazine

    June 19th, 2017 at 6:00 am

    […] a nutritious meal,” said Kim Stoegbauer, creative director and founder of The TomKat Studio, who created a few easy ways to add some special touches to your next family […]

  6. KRAFT PAPER FOR THE HOME

    February 19th, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    […] The Tom Kat Studio {A Delicious Italian Family Dinner} […]

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