Proven Meals for Picky Eaters

by | May 01, 2009

Meal 1

This meal's recipes are flavorful and fun - just what you need as you emerge from winter doldrums. Most of the recipes can be made ahead and/or frozen for a quick meal down the road. They are also very versatile and can be served over rice, on their own, or as a delicious layered dish in individual pie tins - a sure hit with kids. Leftovers are perfect for use in burritos, enchiladas, tacos, or sandwiches.

Baja Bonanza Cilantro Chicken

  • 2 pounds frozen chicken breasts
  • 2 14-ounce cans chicken broth
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1 handful chopped, fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt

Place the frozen chicken and chicken broth in the bottom of a 4-quart slow cooker. Squeeze lime juice over the chicken. Discard all but 2 of the wedges; place those in with the chicken. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Simmer for approximately 8 hours on low heat. When the chicken is done, take 2 forks and shred the chicken. Keep in the slow cooker and serve in natural juices over rice or as part of another dish. Freeze leftover chicken to use in burritos, tacos, enchiladas, or to make a great chicken sandwich. Serves 6 to 8.

Sweet Rice

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups long-grain brown or white rice
  • 1 yellow Walla Walla onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 handful fresh, chopped cilantro leaves
  • 6 cups water or chicken broth

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add rice, onions, lime juice, cumin, and basil and saute until rice is lightly browned. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, cover with a lid, and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes. This is a great side dish or filling for enchiladas, tacos, and burritos.

Serves 6 to 8.

Pork Barbacoa

  • 1 2-pound pork roast
  • 3 12-ounce cans Coca-Cola® or Sprite®
  • 1 14-ounce can chicken broth
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Place pork roast in a large, nonreactive bowl. Pour soda over the top, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight. In a 4-quart slow cooker, combine chicken broth, brown sugar, butter, pineapple chunks (including juice), cumin, seasoned salt, ketchup, and vinegar. Discard soda marinade and place pork roast in the slow cooker. Simmer on low for at least 8 hours. Shred pork with 2 forks and serve in sweetened natural juices over rice or as part of another dish.

Serves 10 to 12.

Dinner in Pie Tins

  • 6 to 8 10-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 recipe Sweet Rice
  • 1 bag salad greens
  • 1 recipe Baja Bonanza Cilantro Chicken or Pork Barbacoa
  • Guacamole
  • Pico de Gallo
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream
  • 1 recipe Jill's Tomatillo Dressing (see below)
  • Tortilla chips, crushed
  • Pie tins for each family member

In each pie tin, let family members layer ingredients in this order (using as many or as few ingredients as each person likes): tortilla, beans or rice, salad greens, chicken or pork, guacamole, pico de gallo, cheese, sour cream, Jill's Tomatillo Dressing, crushed tortilla chips.

Serves 6 to 8.

Jill's Tomatillo Dressing

  • 6 tomatillos
  • 1/2 .87-ounce packet buttermilk ranch dressing
  • 1 1.1-ounce packet Hidden Valley Fiesta Ranch Dip®
  • 1 cup chopped, fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup milk

Peel husks off tomatillos and discard. Wash tomatillos and place in blender along with all remaining ingredients. Blend until a fine sauce forms. Chill until ready to serve.

Makes 2 cups.

Meal 2

Pasta and garlic bread are a staple in most homes with picky eaters. This week, try a new recipe that doesn't involve cooking spaghetti noodles and dumping a can of sauce on top. Let the kids help you stuff the shells and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Extend the "cheesy" theme and add shredded cheddar cheese to your garlic bread. After all, what kid doesn't love gooey, melted cheese?

Cheesy Stuffed Shells

  • 24 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 4 tablespoons minced chives
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 4 cups meatless spaghetti sauce, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions. In a small bowl, combine half the mozzarella cheese, asiago cheese, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, chives, and 1 cup of the spinach. (Save remaining spinach for other uses.) Spread 2 cups of the spaghetti sauce into a shallow 9x13-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Drain pasta; stuff shells with cheese mixture and arrange in baking dish. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce and mozzarella. Bake 30 minutes.

Serves 4 to 6.

Cheesy Garlic Bread

  • 1 large loaf French bread
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut French bread in half length-wise. Spread butter onto soft sides of cut French bread. Sprinkle seasoned salt, garlic powder, and cheese onto bread. Bake 5 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and bread is lightly toasted. Cut into squares and serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8.

Meal 3

Never heard of Captain Crunch cereal for dinner? Well, now you have. The secret in this week's main recipe is the Captain Crunch. Just knowing that a yummy breakfast cereal is part of dinner will make kids eager to dig in. This is a great main course or a wonderful appetizer.

Chicken Crunch

  • 3 cups Captain Crunch® cereal
  • 1 cup Cornflakes® cereal
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves cut into bite-sized pieces*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put the cereals in a zipper bag and crush with a rolling pin or a cup. Combine crushed cereals, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. In another medium mixing bowl, beat the egg with a fork. Stir in the milk. Dredge chicken in the milk and egg mixture. With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the egg mixture, and then toss it in the dry mixture until the chicken is evenly coated. Place chicken pieces on a cookie sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with Tangy Mustard Sauce (recipe following) or your favorite barbecue sauce.

Serves 4 to 6.

*Chicken that is slightly frozen is much easier to cut into pieces—and saves a lot of prep time.

Tangy Mustard Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Grey Poupon® Country Dijon Mustard
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon creamy style horseradish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Chill until ready to serve. If you are a "saucy" person, you had better double or triple this recipe, because it is good. You can also serve this on grilled chicken or atop a green salad.

Serves 4 to 6.

Quick Summer Slaw

  • 1 16-ounce package coleslaw
  • 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider, balsamic, or raspberry vinegar (your choice)
  • 1 package chicken-flavored ramen noodles

Toss coleslaw, green onions sunflower seeds, and almonds together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, vinegar, and the seasoning packet from the noodles until well blended. Just before serving, stir in dry, crushed ramen noodles.

Serves 4 to 6.

Pear Ice

  • 1 28-ounce can pears, chilled
  • 4 cups ice

Pour chilled pears, including juice, into blender. Add the ice and blend. Serve in dessert glasses or freeze into popsicles.

Serves 4 to 6.

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