It happens to us all. It has been a busy day at work. You've been running around like the proverbial chicken and in all your headless glory, waltz in the front door, kick off your shoes, and are ready to pour yourself into bed when a child (if you have more than one child, you know which one of yours is the foodie) will walk up to you, all doe eyed and "starving" and ask the question...."What's for dinner?" You forgot! Headless chicken, remember? So, for some this is answered by a quick dial to the local pizza joint, or a hop in the car to go get something!
But we are trying to be (relatively) healthy here, so eating out isn't our best option. This is where the "Go To Meal" comes in. That one meal that you just have in your back pocket. The ingredients are almost always on hand, in some variation, and not only does this dinner please the family but you can get it on the table and in hungry bellies in under an hour. Check. Mate.
In my family's case, I have one but have made it in many varieties depending on what protein we have on hand at the time. Mine consists of whole wheat pasta with a tomato cream sauce and some sort of meat. I have done this with shrimp and grape tomatoes, and with pork and a sort of, whiskey cream sauce with mushrooms. This evening we happened to have chicken, so it worked. I even added shredded Parmesan cheese and some red pepper flake to add a little something. From the start of the prep to cleaning up the kitchen and putting leftovers in containers it took just an hour. This way you have kids cleaned up and in bed on time and you and the significant other have time to just....be. Which is SO hard to come by sometimes!
So here is my general recipe, you can make it your own, but just know, a "Go To" is almost always easier, cheaper, and healthier than a "To Go".
Protein-enough for your family
Whole wheat pasta-any kind, we like the Penne cause sauce gets alllll up in there
Tomato paste-you can used sauce, rotel, whatever you have on hand
Shaved Parmesan cheese
*Note: Pasta not your thing? This would be great with mashed taters and some asparagus or greens! Also remember I am making this one with chicken cause it was what we had but you can add anything you want, including making it all vegetarian with some eggplant or zucchini.
I place a little EVOO in my pan over medium heat and season up my chicken with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning on both sides and put it in the pan to get all brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. While the chicken cooks I cook my pasta according to package directions. Then I made the sauce in the pan with the chicken. You can leave the breasts whole or cut them up and let them soak everything up, it is all about personal preference here. I cut mine, and then I pour 1/4 to 1/2 the container of heavy cream to deglaze my pan, start with a little then work your way up. Then I add more Italian seasoning, and about 3 tablespoons of my tomato paste. I mix it all together until it is well mixed and started to thicken up. This is where you can get creative and add the red pepper flake to make it spicy, extra chopped veggies or cherry tomatoes, and the cheese if you want a thicker cheesier sauce. I strain my pasta and then pour it all in the sauce pan and mix it up so everything is coated and mixed well, and then put it all in a bowl! Presto! Done! And the two pans are all you have for clean up, spices go back in their cabinet, and counters get wiped down. Family is full and happy and you didn't have to spend all night in the kitchen or spend money going out to eat!
What are some of your "Go To"s? I am always wanting to try new things and add them to our regular rotation! Happy and healthy eating all!
All my love,