UPDATE: Although the original recipe does not specify a brand for the Italian style tomatoes, I strongly recommend Hunt’s – which was the first brand we used. We just made the recipe again this evening using a different brand, and the difference was significant.
Last summer, our family signed up for E-mealz, a service we first heard about on Dave Ramsey’s radio show. For just $5 a month, we get weekly meal plans and a corresponding grocery shopping list. We’ve been extremely impressed with the product, and the results – from the reduced grocery budget to the greatly-improved quality of our diet – have been impressive indeed. E-mealz offers a wide range of options, based on family size (meals for two, or meals for the family), dietary needs (low-fat, low-carb, vegetarian, gluten-free) and even store-specific plans if you prefer one-stop shopping. Our family is on the “Points System (like Weight Watchers) – Any Store” plan right now, although in the past we’ve also tried out plans specific to Wal-Mart and Aldi. Subscribers are able to change their plan once every three-month period, which is great in that you can try out different plans to find the right fit for your family. The variety is phenomenal (I don’t recall seeing a repeated recipe for as long as we’ve been subscribed), the value is amazing (seven home-cooked meals to feed four, and rarely over $65/$70 a week in groceries) and the dishes are all surprisingly easy and quick to make. Bottom line: it saves us a ton of money, allows us to eat better foods, and gives us time to actually sit down and enjoy dinner as a family.
Moroccan Chicken with Pasta (From E-mealz)
6 servings @ 5 points each
- 8 oz. dry whole-wheat penne, cooked and drained
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breasts, diced
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. curry powder
- 1 purple onion, diced
- 14 oz. can Italian-style diced tomatoes (I recommend Hunt’s)
Season chicken with salt and pepper; brown in a no-stick pan over high heat, about 4 minutes. Remove chicken. Reduce heat and add onion. Cook onions until lightly browned. Add curry powder; stir while cooking for one minute. Stir in chicken and tomatoes; return to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add pasta and toss.
E-mealz suggests a tossed salad as a side dish, of chopped lettuce, cucumber (peeled and diced), a large diced tomato and fat-free Catalina dressing. (The salad would add one additional point to the total for the meal).
Thoughts on Process: I didn’t do much at all to modify the instructions above, although in the interest of time management I didn’t start my pasta boiling until I got to the ‘reduce heat, cover and simmer’ step on the chicken/tomato/onions. Therefore the pasta had just finished cooking when it was ready to drain and toss back in with the rest of the meal. I also scaled it down just a tad (mainly the pasta and the chicken) since there are just three of us solid-food eaters.
Reception: WOW! Unanimous rave reviews from everyone at the table with the exception of Violet, who doesn’t have teeth yet and so couldn’t try it out anyhow. Even Katie, who as I mentioned before is going through a bit of a ‘bland’ phase, requested seconds!
The curry powder really pushed the dish over the top for us. It was subtle enough to still let the flavor of the onion and tomatoes through, but powerful enough to even flavor the pasta. And our house still smells good from it!
There was literally nothing left in the pan at the end of the meal. In fact, that’s why I went with a close-up photo of some curry powder rather than a photograph of the actual dish – by the time I was thinking of doing a write-up, we’d already eaten the subject!