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The Culinary Tour Guide: Marcus Rohlfs

Jen Siska

A trip abroad awoke the palate of his young son, who now enjoys everything from octopus to Brussels sprouts. This papa couldn't be prouder. Read more about each #FamilyDinnerHero, then vote for your favorite.

Hometown: San Bruno, California

COOKING LIGHT: What’s your key to being a dinner hero?

MARCUS ROHLFS: Engaging my 9-year-old son, Cole, and keeping him excited about food and healthy eating. We’ve filmed our own cooking demos just for fun. And we started a pop-up kitchen in the backyard a few summers ago. We printed a multicourse menu, invited friends and family, and my wife served as front-of-house. We had a blast and have replicated it a few times since. It’s given him confidence in the kitchen, taught him safe skills, and demystified it so he tries everything now.

Vote for Marcus

CL: What’s your top tool?

MR: It sounds simple, but Ziploc plastic bags for marinades and leftovers. My wife and I enjoy wine, but when we can’t finish a bottle, we pour the leftovers into ice-cube trays, throw them into freezer-friendly Ziploc bags, and then we have wine cubes on hand for stocks and sauces.

CL: How do you keep cooking fun for your family?

MR: We extend it outside the home, like when we go camping. My son and I will bake muffins wrapped in foil in the fire. We can treat my wife and make her feel special and also have some guy time together. With a little planning ahead, we can bring the kitchen experience outdoors.

CL: What defines success in the kitchen for you?

MR: Once our son was born, we needed the ability to pull together meals that are lean and satisfying and come together quickly. When I can accomplish that and everyone enjoys it, it feels like success.

Rich and Hearty Sauce

"This is the sauce that I make on Sunday evening when we feel like something robust and satisfying, but that is very healthy and full of veggies,” Marcus says. “It’s even better as leftovers days later when the flavors continue to meld, and it freezes well (to get you out of a future dinner pinch)." While the recipe has a lot of vegetables, it’s pretty easy to make. Prep the vegetables ahead so that you don't have to stop what you’re doing for the short time you have to sauté and stir at the stove. Marcus loves its versatility: He can serve it over whole-wheat noodles for his son or spaghetti squash for his carb-conscious wife.

Active: 25 min. Total: 1 hr. 20 min.

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 (20-oz.) package 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 (28-oz.) can unsalted tomato sauce
  • 2 (14 oz) can unsalted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (6 oz.) can unsalted tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • 11/2 lb. small broccoli florets
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 large bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow)
  • 8 oz. unsalted chicken stock

1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large stockpot. Add Turkey and cook until it begins to brown, stirring and breaking up meat with a wooden spoon. Add onion; cook 5 minutes or until turkey is browned and onion begins to soften.

2. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste, stirring to combine. Add next 12 ingredients (through bell pepper), stirring to combine. Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat.

3. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot. Uncover and adjust heat to low; simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding chicken stock, in 1/4 cup increments, as sauce thickens. Cook 15 more minutes until sauce is thickened.

SERVES 10 (serving size: about 11/3 cup) CALORIES 187; FAT 6.9g (sat 1.6g, mono 2.7g, poly 1.9g); PROTEIN 16g; CARB 19g; FIBER 6g; SUGARS 9g; CHOL 42mg; IRON 3mg; SODIUM 307mg; CALC 103mg