When You’re Tired and Hungry

Some nights I just feel like a gerbil in a wheel.

Work hard, drive to pick up Kelly – turn around because he’s already walked to my office before I thought to call him, then get in a high-energy workout at the gym.

Shower and head home. Get the mail, unload the car. Run inside, start dinner. Unpack gym bag, repack gym bag. Put on jammies, set out work projects for post-dinner. Catch up on podcasts while finishing dinner. Collapse into a chair – pushing a kitty off the lap – so I can eat dinner. Then a bit of work, some chit-chatting with Kelly, a tv show or sports event and off to bed.

I honestly think evenings can be more hectic than my days!

Thursday night’s was just that way. I still wanted us to have a home cooked meal, so I pulled out a trusty favorite: Penne Pasta with Vodka Sauce. It’s another one from Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade 20-Minute Meals.

I’ve changed the recipe up a bit (just a little) to make it healthier. For those who don’t drink alcohol, don’t fret! The alcohol cooks off, so the vodka is merely for flavor.

Here’s my adapted version:

Penne Pasta with Broccoli in Vodka Sauce

  • Whole wheat penne pasta (13.5 oz pkg)
  • 1/3 c. whipping cream
  • 1/2 c. vodka
  • 1 jar pasta sauce (I like to use either marinara or tomato basil)
  • 2 slices bacon (I use turkey bacon) or 2 T. real bacon bits (like Hormel’s)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 bunch broccoli

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add bacon (or bacon bits), heat until thoroughly cooked. With wooden spoon, scrape any burnt or stuck pieces off pan bottom. Add vodka, let come to a quick boil. Turn heat to medium-high, add pasta sauce. Let sauce return to a boil, then turn heat to low. Cover pan and let sauce simmer.While sauce is simmering, bring a pot of water to boil . Cook pasta according to package instructions. Steam broccoli until crisp tender. Stir whipping cream into sauce. Heat through. Add broccoli and allow to continue simmering another 5 minutes.Here’s a tip! I use bamboo steamers perched over my pot of water to cook the broccoli before cooking the pasta – that way I only boil water one time in one pot.

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