A recipe for success

It’s no secret that Brandon is a very picky eater. Once upon a time, I too had some odd food aversions, but for the most part, pregnancy has done away with that. I’m now a confirmed lover of peanut butter, chocolate cake, bananas and probably a few other things I’ve forgotten to hate on.

Brandon is not pregnant, though. Nor will he be. So I have to deal with his picky eating in a slightly more juvenile manner: sneaking things into recipes.

At first I was painstakingly careful to make sure things were minced up teeny tiny, and in small quantities, so that he would either not notice or not be able to pick them out. Onion was a big one. It’s nearly impossible to cook without it. Finally, after becoming less and less sneaky about my additions, I was able to confirm that yes, he does like onion when cooked in something else. Point for me.

Tomato is one of those foods that he claims to hate, but only in certain conditions. I almost had a nervous breakdown a couple of months ago when he said (and I quote), “I don’t like tomato sauce, but I do like marinara.” I wish I were joking. After a LOT of trial and error, there are two ‘ick’ factors: actual tomato texture, and additives in many tomato sauces that don’t agree with him. These are fairly non-negotiable, but they can be worked around. In recipes that call for canned tomatoes, a healthy dose of tomato paste can be substituted for flavor without adding any ‘yuck’. (Of course, I will continue to experiment with the tiny pieces, but I’m not getting my hopes up.)

Another pleasant side effect of eating like a 10-year-old is, the foods he does like, he will eat over and over. Chicken, turkey and salmon are our meat staples. Green beans, broccoli, and carrots are the basic vegetables. Add in rice or couscous, factor out anything with more than a little dairy because of my allergy, and you understand what a mind-numbing challenge it can be planning our meals for the week. (No that’s not ALL he eats, but those are things he will eat without fail.)

Now, we did have a little chat about how he was going to be subjected to more and more experimental recipes lately. Partially because after four years of dancing around his picky tastes, I’m throwing in the towel. But mostly because I had to eat whatever was prepared for me growing up, and our kids will do the same. AND they will have TWO good role models. Thankfully, he only somewhat begrudgingly concurred.

Which brings me to our dinner Monday night. Every Sunday before we go to the grocery I do a mad search for a recipe to try, and most often come up empty-handed. This week, I found something magical: jambalaya. He wasn’t impressed with the recipe or the picture, but I made the call anyway. This week, I’m making this. And you’re trying it.

It has rice, which you love.

It can have turkey (sausage) which you also love.

I’ve already proven you don’t hate onion, no matter what you say.

Tomato paste is already in the recipe, so we can take the stewed tomatoes out.

Bell peppers are a crap shoot. Green ones are obviously way more potent, but I’m going to hedge my bets and try red ones.

Shrimp you hate, so I’m not even going to bother.

The rest I sort of made up as I went along, using this shrimp and sausage jambalaya for inspiration. The end result was so good, there’s none left to take pictures of. Sad as that may be, it’s the reason I’m bothering to blog this recipe at all. So here it is, Brandon approved jambalaya:

Turkey Sausage Jambalaya

2 TBSP olive oil
1 package Jennie-O Hot Italian Turkey Sausage Links, sliced
1 cup chopped yellow or white onion
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp “Cajun Seasoning” (I used Emeril’s Bayou Blast)
1/2 tsp Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
2 cups uncooked Minute Brown Rice

In a large pot (or dutch oven) heat oil over medium high heat. Add sausage and yellow or white onion & saute for 3-4 minutes. Add green onion and red peppers, cook until just tender, about 1-2 additional minutes. Add all remaining seasonings and spices, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add rice, cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes uncovered. Serves 4

I will admit this recipe doesn’t taste super authentic, but it does pack a fair amount of heat with lots of great flavor. And Brandon likes it, which sometimes is all that matters.

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