The girls have evolved over the years. When they were little they were much more suspicious of vegetables, they gravitated toward kid-friendly options, and they loved their fried meat. Then they started to like a lot more vegetables and became willing to eat most things.
In retrospect, I should have appreciated that Beautiful Heyday of Food Acceptance. Because then they continued to evolve, and they started to get more health conscious and ethically aware. M covered nutrition in some class and started realizing how much sodium and sugar are hidden everywhere. J flirted with vegetarianism. They’ve become a bit more moderate, but these days they absolutely prefer to consume less meat, fewer low-nutrient carbs, and more vegetables. And yet they still want deliciousness! I am doing my best. Here are three recent successes.
This recipe is really, really healthful. We gravitated toward this recipe because of the chickpeas–as I’ve mentioned, the girls are completely obsessed with roasted chickpeas. M is a particularly huge fan of this one. I think that the rest of us like it but also sort of want a big bowl of ice cream after eating it.
When the kids started agitating for more vegetarian meals, I went hunting in our family cookbook for new ideas. We found this recipe, and the girls liked it very much.
- 1 – 15 oz. can of corn, drained
- 1 – 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 – 10 oz. tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 – 8 oz. container of sour cream
- 1 – 8 oz. jar of picante sauce
- 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1/4 t. pepper
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 1 – 6 oz. can black olives
- 8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Combine first 8 ingredients.
- Spoon into a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
- Sprinkle with remaining ingredients.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
This is yummy. And as I said, the girls liked it. But with their aversion to extraneous not-so-nutrient-rich carbs, they wanted to ditch the rice. I subbed in some beans instead. The result is that this casserole acts more like a sprawling, gooey dip than a casserole with textural heft, but we all think it’s yummier. Then one day I forgot to buy Rotel tomatoes, so I just threw in more Picante sauce. The girls thought this version tasted better, and it seemed vaguely simpler just to cut that ingredient. They also thought it was a bit too cheesy, so we cut that down a little bit. Meanwhile I’m a sucker for olives, so I often throw in some green olives as well. The result is a recipe that’s easier than the original, for a change, and also one that I routinely double because it’s so good that everyone’s sad when the leftovers are gone. So here’s the revised recipe.
- 2 – 15 oz. can of corn, drained
- 2 – 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 – 15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 – 8 oz. container of sour cream
- 36 oz. jarred picante sauce
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 t. pepper
- 2 – 6 oz. can black olives, chopped
- 12 oz. green olives, chopped
- 16 oz. shredded Pepper Jack cheese
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- Put all ingredients except the Pepper Jack and chopped green onions directly into two 13 x 9 inch baking dishes that you haven’t bothered to grease because there’s cheese.
- Mix it up, then sprinkle with cheese and onions.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, because that’s plenty of time.
West Indian Peas and Rice with Tempeh
Okay, this recipe is the crazy, crazy surprise. I had absolutely zero expectation that I would like this dish. Its two main ingredients are tempeh and black eyed peas, neither of which I thought I liked. It’s from the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. J had requested more vegetarian main dishes, so I plopped the cookbook in front of her to peruse some options. And then I was like. . . black eyed peas and tempeh? Really? And then I sighed and figured I could try it.
I don’t follow the recipe exactly. I skip the fennel because I don’t like fennel, and I couldn’t bring myself to use a quarter cup of oil — more like a couple of tablespoons. We also don’t make it with dried peas — I skip that and use canned instead. And for us, it was a little too much rice. Now I make a single recipe of the rice, then a double recipe of all of the other stuff. And I have to double it, because it’s delicious. This is what it looks like before adding the scallions on top.
By the time I realized that I’d gotten a picture without the scallions, it was already all gone again because this stuff goes fast! If you try making it and don’t love it, add more salt and cayenne. In the original recipe in the book, it says one small chile or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, but we like it with both a small chile and extra cayenne, which we keep at the table and sprinkle on top to taste. It is weirdly delicious.