If I had stayed single and childless, I would probably have lived on fruit and bread. Growing up in a house of six brothers, meat was the main staple of all dinners, but my mom is also an excellent baker and made dinner rolls and breads for most of the meals too. I ate my main course of bread and salad with a little meat on the side most days, not because of any health reasons or convictions, but because meat was just not my thing.
Now, I am married to a fireman, who is used to the firehouse rule of meat and lots of it. Oh, and I have three sons, who can subsist on goldfish and bananas right now, but are starting to turn into major carnivores. Last week, the five year old ate half of a Chick-fil-A nugget tray at a play date. My grocery bill is going to explode! This current pregnancy hasn’t done any favors to me either, creating a slight anemia and major addiction to red meat and protein, as well as an aversion to chicken. If I could put roast or steak on the menu every night, I’d be a happy, swollen mama.
Thankfully, I can’t afford to be practicing that habit, so I have started looking for other satisfying and economic ways of feeding my minions, and on days in which the Fireman is on shift (24 hours), I try to make our meals easy, quick, and meatless.
I am a super picky tomato soup eater; it can’t be that nasty, sickly sweet stuff from a can. I like a thick, super savory and flavorful soup that doesn’t completely soak and melt away the crackers or croutons you drop in it. When I started growing herbs in my yard, I discovered how much more amazing tomato bisque becomes with fresh basil! It’s like eating all the flavors of a cheese pizza in a bowl. Swoon.
Tomato Bisque, serves 4
1 can of good quality crushed tomatoes
1 cup of vegetable or chicken broth
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of onion
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of fresh, chopped basil (or 3 teaspoons of dried)
1/3 cup of heavy cream
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping
Optional: 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper for heat
- Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil until softened and aromatic.
- Add tomatoes, broth and basil and let simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, until reduced and thickened.
- Add cream, Parmesan and crushed red pepper and keep on heat until heated through, five minutes.
- Top with extra cheese, basil and croutons of choice!
In my search for quick, meatless options that satisfy my pregnancy cravings, I remembered a summery salad I had come across during a Pinterest-wandering-episode. I hadn’t tried the trendy new protein source of quinoa before, but it sounded like something that I could stand to prepare ahead of time and then grab out of the fridge for quick lunches or dinners. Now I am addicted to it, and must eat this salad for lunch every day. It seemed like to a good pairing for those who can’t just eat soup for dinner and be satisfied.
Apple Quinoa and Spinach Salad, serves 1, double quantities to feed more
2 cups of fresh spinach
1 small apple, cored and chopped finely
1/4 cup of cooked quinoa
2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons of dried cranberries
2 tablespoons of feta, blue or mozzarella cheese
- Toss all ingredients together and drizzle with favorite vinaigrette. My personal favorite is a homemade concoction of fresh lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, prepared mustard, brown sugar or honey, and garlic powder.
Of course, my kids don’t touch salad at all and soup is a similar situation. To fix this problem, I make them grilled cheese sandwiches to dip in their soup and at least get a little bit of the veggie goodness without having to use a spoon. Some days it works, some days we struggle. But the sandwiches are delicious and very unkind to the adult waistline, so make sure you don’t make more than your kids will pick at. Because if dinner goes badly, you might be eating all those untouched sandwiches in your anger and frustration.
Roll-up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, serves 3 picky boys
6 slices of white, pasty, empty-calorie filled bread
6 slices of cheese (American melts best but I prefer the taste of cheddar…not that I am eating these)
1/2 stick of butter
- Roll the slices of bread flat with a rolling pin and slice off the crusts.
- Slap a slice of cheese on each piece of bread and roll up.
- Dip the rolled up sandwich in butter and fry in a non-stick pan WITH MORE BUTTER.
- Serve warm, ooey and gooey to picky eaters for dipping in their minuscule bowls of soup.
- Try not to eat any leftovers.