Dinner + Picky Eaters + Stubborn Mama = Mexican Stand-Off

Meal planning at my house is very similar to Cold War disarmament negotiations.

My husband is a picky eater. He will not eat a variety of things, including but not limited to green onions, under-cooked yellow onions, purple onions, squash, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cooked carrots, spinach, most shrimp etc. The few vegetables he does eat, he prefers cooked nearly to death, preferably with some form of pork for flavor.

My boys are excessively picky eaters who are genuinely flabbergasted that I will not alternate between chicken nuggets, pancakes and macaroni and cheese for every meal. What can I say? I am the meanest Mom ever.

I, on the other hand, am a stubborn-ass who continues to try and make well-balanced, diverse meals, with the theory that they don’t have to like it, but they dang sure better try it. (Except the squash…my husband put his foot down on that, and said he would not punish his children in such a cruel manner….*sigh*)

As such, at least one, if not all these guys are less than enthusiastic come dinner time. I’ve accepted this fact…in a grumbly, passive-aggressive, eye-rolling kind of way.

I did have one meal experiment this week that was a definite victory in the husband department. I made this recipe from this month’s Better Homes & Gardens:

It is Chicken Enchilada Pasta. The recipe looked a little weird, and of course I had to tweak it for Captain Picky, but it definitely impressed my husband. After all, it is a meal of chicken, beans, pasta, well-hidden vegetables and a liberal sprinkling of Doritos. What’s not to like? Here’s the recipe:

Chicken Enchilada Pasta


Ingredients

  • 1  12-oz. pkg.  dried jumbo shell macaroni
  • 3  large  green and/or red sweet peppers, chopped
  • 1-1/2  cups  chopped red onion (I used yellow onions)
  • 1    fresh jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2  Tbsp.  vegetable oil
  • 2  cups  chopped cooked chicken (I used the grilled chicken breasts strips from the deli…it was a weeknight after all)
  • 1  16-oz. can  refried beans
  • 1/2  of a 1.25 oz. envelope  taco seasoning mix (3 Tbsp.)
  • 2  10-oz. cans  enchilada sauce
  • 1  8-oz. pkg.  shredded Mexican-style four-cheese blend
  • 1  cup  sliced green onions (Obviously left these out)
  • 2  cups  nacho cheese-flavored tortilla chips, crushed (2 oz.) (I used Baked Doritos in an effort to convince myself it was more healthy)
  •     Avocado dip and/or sour cream

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Rinse; drain and set aside.

2. In skillet cook sweet peppers, onion, jalapeño, and 1/4 tsp. salt in hot oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken, beans, taco seasoning mix, and 1/2 cup enchilada sauce. Cook and stir 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup each of the cheese and green onions.

3. Divide filling among shells. Spread 1 cup of the remaining enchilada sauce in 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Arrange shells atop sauce. Drizzle with remaining enchilada sauce.

4. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with chips and remaining green onions. Serve with avocado dip and/or sour cream. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

As I said, my husband loved this meal. As for my kids?

Well, I can’t win them all, I guess.

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