We're big on recipes around here - ones that are straightforward, easy, require few ingredients, and still have a flavor familiarity that can accomodate a picky almost-three-year-old and a five-year-old who won't eat anything green without a huge struggle. We cook things that, during or after assembly, are "walk-away" foods: meals taht don't require having someone stand over them constantly, staring at the meal from start to finish to make sure nothing burns or is overcooked. Most of all, our meals require being sneaky, trying to get kids to eat things they wouldn't otherwise try without being paired with a familiar food.
Today, I share what I made for dinner last night - a tasty Mexican-inspired dish that can easily be made vegetarian or vegan without batting an eye. Please be aware I cook for five people with intentional leftovers for Hubby and I to take to work for lunch.
3 lbs ground beef (for low-fat option, choose ground turkey; for vegetarian/vegan choose semi-firm tofu or tofu crumbles that are marinated in the seasonings listed or vegetarian chorizo and ground veggie burgers)
2 boxes Jiffy cornbread
2 eggs (for vegan, choose egg substitute either powdered or liquid)
2/3 cup milk (for vegan or lactose intolerant, choose soy or almond milk, or other milk substitute of your choice)
1 12oz jar Tostidos salsa, your preference of heat (mild, medium, hot)
Seasonings (garlic, onion, white pepper, black pepper, salt, Tobasco sauce, chili powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, parsley, all to taste)
1 12oz bag Mexican cheese blend (for vegan, choose a veggie cheese blend of similar cheeses)
1 12oz bag frozen corn (if desired)
1 8oz box frozen spinach (if desired)
Sour cream (for topping, if desired)
Crumble and brown meat until mostly cooked (some pink at this point is normal and okay; meat will finish cooking in the oven). Add seasonings, jar of salsa, and veggies if they are being added; stir to combine and then spread into the bottom of a glass 13x9" baking dish. Top with 3/4 bag of Mexican cheese. Combine eggs, milk, small sprinkle of red pepper flakes, remaining cheese, and both boxes of cornbread in another bowl, stir until most clumps are gone. Spread cornbread mostly evenly atop meat mixture and pop into oven set to 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until top of cornbread is brown and a knife stuck into the middle of the cornbread comes out clean. Slice and serve topped with extra cheese and/or salsa if desired, and sour cream.
Serves five, with leftovers for two days of lunch for two people.
This would also work in a slow cooker on high if you were able to add in the cornbread about an hour before cooking was completed.