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Monday, April 21, 2014

My Kids' Favorite Dinner Meals

VeegMama's favorite kid friendly meals
Goofyfoot Photography
As the family cook, I have a difficult job.  I am sure some of you other mothers can relate.  Daily, I am challenged to make a healthy, delicious meal that everyone will eat – and hopefully ask for again and again.  I often feel like my cooking efforts go unappreciated, and my beautiful meals are “wasted” on their picky palates.  On those days when I hear “Yum Mommy, this is really good,” I feel like a rock star!  I have found the key to “rock star” status usually involves simple presentation, minimal ingredients, and do-it-yourself options.  Essentially, the kids need to be able to recognize all of the ingredients easily in the dish, as well as be able to customize their plate to their liking.  Below are three meals that do just that, and are on my kids’ current list of weeknight favorites.

Chili Potatoes
Serves 2 adults and 3 kids

This is definitely not the most glamorous of meals, but it is simple (due to its use of semi-homemade ingredients) and very delicious.  I like to serve it with a simple green salad or steamed broccoli. 

Ingredients:
4 large Russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
4 cups of vegan chili
2 cups of shredded Daiya cheddar cheese
1 jar of salsa
Vegan sour cream

Directions:

      1. Poke potatoes with a fork all over the skins.  Cook in microwave approximately 10-15 minutes.
2.  
Heat chili in a saucepan (or make your own pot if you are feeling ambitious!).  We love the vegetarian chili at Trader Joe’s.
3.   Cut each potato in half and then lengthwise.  Mash the center of each potato until it is slightly mashed.
4.   Ladle a ½ cup of chili over the top of the potato.
5.    Top with vegan cheese, salsa, and/or sour cream

Baked Pasta
Serves 8-10

This is one of my family’s go-to weeknight meals.  I can prepare it in the morning or earlier in the day and just pop it in the oven when we are ready to eat.  Now that I am cutting back on gluten, it is also super easy to swap out wheat pasta with brown rice or quinoa pastas instead. 

Ingredients:
1 pound of pasta noodles (such as rigatoni, penne, mostaccoli, or fusilli)
2 jars of marinara sauce
2 packages Daiya mozzarella style cheese
1 container of Go Veggie! Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.  Set aside.
      3.   Ladle ½ cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9x12 baking dish.
4.   Add a layer of pasta on top of the marinara sauce.
5.    Top with the Daiya cheese and then the vegan Parmesan cheese.
6.   Add another layer of pasta.  Spoon half of the remaining marinara on top of the pasta.  Top with cheeses.
7.   Add the rest of the pasta on top.  Cover with the remaining sauce.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
8.   Bake for approximately 30 minutes until cheese is melted and heated through.

Black Bean and Corn Tacos

Taco Tuesday is my kids’ favorite meal of the week.  It probably has a lot to do with the fact that Grandma and Grandpa join us for dinner that night, but they are pretty crazy about the tacos too!  We go all out with homemade guacamole, an onion-cilantro relish, and a black bean and corn filling.  I like to use romaine lettuce leaves as shells, while my kids love homemade fried corn tortilla shells.

Click here for the recipe.