Sunday, May 16, 2010

Almost Chicken

When I decided to give up meat, I knew that chicken would be something that would be greatly missed.   When I broke the news to my husband, his first reaction was "so you're not going to make me anymore of your chicken!"  In fact, just a few days before we gave up meat, I made a baked breaded chicken dish for the kids that they just loved.  But then there is my famous homemade chicken soup!  I have spent years making this soup for my family and friends and myself.  Whenever someone was not feeling well, I would make my soup.  I was so surprised when my stepchildren began to request that I make it for them when they were sick.  You know you've made something good if your children ask for it!  It takes hours to make from scratch, but I have received so many compliments and requests from people.  I knew that this would be a hard thing to give up.  How do I just give up making something that I have put so much into?  So I just had to find a way to create a whole new set of  veggie chicken meals that people will love just as much.  Then I cam across Smart Strips in the grocery store.  Smart Strips are seasoned veggie strips that look like chicken.  So far, I have found them to work very well in my dishes.  They looked like chicken, but I wasn't sure how they were going to taste.  So I decided to first try them out in a dish where they would be mixed with other flavors, "chicken" enchiladas.  I made them as I would regular enchiladas, but substituted the chicken for the Smart Strips.  In fact, I used one of those enchilada kits that had all the ingredients in a box, except for the meat.  They came out great!  My oldest daughter even asked for seconds.  I thought for sure she would be the first to complain, but no, she liked them.   A few days later, I decided to try them again.  This time I wanted to make a pasta dish.  I sauteed the strips in a pan with onions, green peppers, tomatoes and garlic and then tossed with whole wheat spaghetti (see this dish on my veggie meal page).   I was only cooking this for my husband and I because I really didn't think the kids would like this.  My daughter saw what I was making and said "Can I have some of that too"?  So I fixed her a plate and waited for her to say that it doesn't taste like chicken.  I was wrong! She loved it and again, asked for more.  This is the girl that used to complain to me that we ate too much chicken!  Well, I am happy that they are still loving the food.  This would be a hard journey if no one liked the things I made.  So Smart Strips will become a regular item in my grocery list.  I'm hoping to come up with many more meals that my family will love.

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