Some of you may know that Elliott and I were vegetarians for a few years, before I got pregnant with Sophie. There were several reasons for this, mostly religious and health reasons. When I got pregnant with Sophie, I started having crazy cravings for chicken, and then for beef, so we started eating meat again. I was vegetarian through my pregnancy with Emma, so I am not sure what was going in, but I had to give in!
I felt so much healthier and had more energy when we were eating more beans and vegetables. I think I am at the point now where I would like to go back to the way we were, but cutting meat out entirely would be so hard, both psychologically, and also because of the ease of fixing meat dishes. (Plus, Ethan's favorite dinner is hamburgers, so I guess every once in a while that will be a special treat!)
I decided we would baby step our way back to a meatless life... so for the past few weeks we have not bought any red meat. I am trying to be more creative in my cooking too, because I want the kids to get full nutrients. I have considered the "Deceptively Delicious" cookbook, but I already have so many cookbooks that sit unused, I decided to forgo a new one.
Anyway, along those lines, I tested out two new meals for dinner, and they were both winners, so I wanted to pass one of them along (The other was pinto bean and rice burritos, which I thought the kids would hate, but they all ate right up.) Plus, another proven winner in our family is Shrimp Pasta, so I will include my variation of that here.
3 Tb. Olive Oil
1 med. onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 Tb. sugar
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/3 c. Progresso Italian Style bread crumbs
1/3 c. Kraft Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. shredded Italian cheese mix
In a medium saucepan, saute the onion and garlic in 1 Tb. olive oil. Stir in the tomato sauce, tomatoes, and sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat until the sauce is simmering, and let it reduce until the chicken is done.
Between sheets of wax paper, flatten the chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness (I pounded them with a rolling pin, but if you have a kitchen mallet, that would be easier.) Mix the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl, and then spread on a dinner plate. Dip each chicken breast in the egg, and then coat it with the bread crumb mixture.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat. Cook the chicken 10-15 minutes, turning once, until no longer pink in the center. Serve chicken with sauce spooned over it.
I served this over Barilla whole grain pasta, with green beans and a green salad. My kids each ate about a third of a breast, so we had leftovers for lunch the next day. I think they liked it so well because Ethan announced to them all that I had made chicken nuggets. Whatever made them like it, it was a winner.
Shrimp Pasta - This has long been a favorite in our house.
3 c. Barilla whole grain pasta
1 c. frozen shrimp, (approx. 1-1.5 inches long) tail off and deveined
2 Tb. olive oil
1 tsp. dried Italian herb mix
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
1 15 oz. can extra large ripe (black) olives, drained
1-2 Tb. capers, drained and rinsed
3 c. broccoli florets, steamed
Cook pasta according to package directions
Saute shrimp until cooked through.
In a large bowl, combine olive oil, herbs, and salt. Chop the tomatoes, and add to the olive oil mixture. Add the olives and capers. Mix everything together until it is all coated with oil and herbs. Let sit until pasta is done.
Add the pasta and shrimp to the olive oil mixture, and combine well. Finally, add the broccoli, and combine gently.
Serve with San Francisco style sourdough bread, and fresh baby carrots. Yum!