Family dinner should be a relaxed affair. Creating the right setting helps. Chairs with arms and cushioning are more comfortable than solid wood or metal chairs, so they encourage family members to linger. Light candles or control ambient lighting with a dimmer switch to create an intimate scene. When setting the table, include all practical items, such as salt, pepper, condiments and drinks. This limits interruptions during the meal.
A humble pasta dinner is a family-pleaser on a winter weeknight. Steaming bowls of fettuccine serve as the perfect foundation for a satisfying meal. While wintry winds howl outdoors, the dinner table provides a haven of warmth and fellowship. Remind your family about the mighty power Jesus displayed on earth and how even the wind and sea obeyed His commands. Serve the meal in courses—bread and salad first, then the entrèe. The idea isn’t to eat more but to slow down so the family has time to engage.
Pasta is enhanced when served with a flavorful salad and piping hot garlic bread. Dress up a store-bought Italian loaf or baguette with melted butter mixed with garlic, Parmesan and a variety of seasonings. Place in the oven until lightly toasted. For the salad, arrange baby Romaine and arugula leaves on a platter, topped with sliced red pears, thinly sliced fennel and crumbled goat cheese. Toast chopped walnuts in a skillet and toss onto greens. Drizzle on a white balsamic vinaigrette dressing to complete a salad that even the pickiest eaters will enjoy. For the pasta, use prosciutto in place of traditional Italian sausage to cut down cooking time without sacrificing flavor. Homemade Alfredo sauce is easily made by melting butter and thickening it with flour, then adding heavy cream, freshly grated Parmesan and fresh lemon juice for a refreshing, zesty kick.
Homemade Italian sodas serve as fun, sweet desserts. Fill a glass with a few ounces of a bottled, flavored syrup and mix in sparkling water. If desired, top with a few ounces of half-and-half for a creamy texture kids are sure to love.