Monday, February 9, 2015

Stuffed Peppers As a Discipline Tool?

We are in the middle of one major picky-eating epidemic in this house.

Children who used to eat just about anything now have long lists of things they no longer deem palatable.

I have actually had the following conversations with my children:

Waitress: Would you like anything on your burger?
Phoenix: lettuce and tomato
(after the waitress leaves) Me: Just two days ago you complained about tomatoes in soup and picked the tomatoes out of the soup I made.
Phoenix: I don't like tomatoes that are cut up and soft in soup. I like them on burgers.

Me: Why are you throwing those raisins away? You chose to eat raisins.
Buttercup: These are the sour ones.
Me: Ummmm...come again?
Buttercup: I can tell by looking at them which ones are sour. I don't like the sour ones.

Me: What do you want for lunch?
Cuckoo: Do we have bagels?
Me: Yes.
Cuckoo: OK, I'll have a peanut butter bagel. I like peanut butter on bagels but not peanut butter sandwiches.

Thus far I have managed to avoid bringing up the starving children in Africa, but just barely.

They are pushing my patience to the limit.

No joke. If I see one more person take 45 minutes to eat an itty bitty clementine because he must dissect it in order to remove every single speck of white bit THAT ISN'T THE RIND AND WON'T KILL YOU IF YOU EAT IT! I just might go over the edge.

Since yelling at them or having ridiculous power struggles with them is pointless, I decided to passively-aggressively punish them by making all of their least favorite dinners.

On the menu this week:

Stuffed peppers

aka Something for everyone to hate all in one meal.

Zucchini! Onions! Mushrooms! Oh My!

Back when my sister-in-law was still my sister-in-law she introduced me to this lovely dish. It can easily be made without the meat for all my vegetarian friends.


(I don't measure anything, so good luck with that.)

bell peppers
shredded zucchini
chopped onion
chopped mushrooms
ground meat (I use pork, because...what else would a pig farmer use?)
cooked rice
tomato sauce
salt and pepper and whatever other spices sound good
shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown the meat. I throw the onions in to cook with the meat.

While the meat cooks, I wash and prepare the peppers. I hear that some people blanch their peppers first, but I don't. I prefer my peppers on the crunchier side and see the blanching as a waste of time and one more pot to clean.

Once the meat is cooked, drain it and throw the rest of the ingredients into the pan.

(I forgot to take a photo after the sauce was added.)

Mix it all up and warm it for a bit.

Finally, fill the peppers. I put a sprinkle of the mozzarella cheese in the bottom of the peppers before stuffing them with the meat mixture.

I always have more stuffing than peppers, seeing as how that is the best part. I just fill in the baking dish around the peppers with the overflow.

Put them in the oven for about 30 minutes on 350. I add cheese to the top for the last 5 minutes or so.

Feeds 2 adults, one kid who almost likes the meal, 1 kid who doesn't mind it too terribly much, 1 kid who will choke it down, and three kids who will turn their noses up and just move the food around their plates.  There will be plenty of leftovers for the 2 adults who appreciate a wide variety of good, healthy food.

As an aside, a couple of the kids saw me working on this post and read it. The comments included, "Phoenix ordered tomato on his burger?! After that fuss about the tomatoes in the soup?!?" and "Is that why you're making all of those bad dinners lately?"

Yes, Child. Yes, it is. There will be groaning no matter what I make, so I might as well make things that I like.

How do you deal with picky eating? And if you don't have picky eaters, I don't think I want to hear about it.

Unrelatedly, there is no question about it. A culinary blog this will never be.

Have a lovely day!


  1. So, your kids are human after all. I think you are handling picky eating very well. Do not become a short order cook. Some moms let picky kids fix themselves a pb & j, but in Cuckoo's case, apparently that requires bagels rather than bread. :-) I would say that picky eaters eventually grow up and move out, but my pickiest child still lives with us, so I don't know if that statement is actually true. Good luck! (Maybe Buttercup could go through and separate out your raisins for you--that way, you could have your "safe to eat by themselves" raisins separate from your "must use in a recipe with sugar" raisins!)

    1. Very. :)
      There is no way I could become a short order cook. I have no time for such things. I don't let the kids eat anything besides dinner. No sandwiches, no cereal. I always have side dishes, so I know everyone is eating something, but if they are really hungry, it's the main dish or nothing. (We had strawberries with the peppers, so milk and berries is all some of the kids had.)
      Ha! I am not about to encourage her!

    2. I was the same way--dinner, or no dinner, but not different dinner.

      You are too kind. I was thinking the sorting of the raisins was another passive/aggressive punishment. :-)

    3. Hahahaha!! Unfortunately, she would be all for the idea. Actually, the next comment she made after her announcement that she could tell the difference between sour and non-sour raisins was, "Give me the container. I'll separate the whole thing if you want."

  2. At least you aren't running a restaurant. Some parents do just that. Several different meals at the same time. You aren't doing that so good for you.

    My son was a picky eater. Terribly picky. I fixed one meal only and if he didn't like that well okay. If he was hungry he would eat, if he wasn't he didn't.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. No, I will never do that. It's the meal we're having or nothing. I always have a fruit or other side with our dinners, so I know they aren't going to starve. Eat it or don't. Their choice.

  3. I love this post so much, especially after my Facebook post on four different meals this weekend. For the record, that is not my modus operandi, but some sometimes I just don't want the fight. Leo is the pickiest little eater, and his preferences change constantly.
    Also very much appreciate the recipe that I can probably remember, more or less, because there are no amounts to remember but just an oven temp. I think my brain can handle that.

    1. I saw that post, and I assumed it wasn't normal behavior since you did post it. The only time this is acceptable is on leftovers night and they can have whatever they want out of the fridge.
      The changing of the preferences is so frustrating. It can only be a power thing, because taste buds don't change that fast.
      It is darn near impossible to mess this up. Go for it!

  4. As you well know, I am on quite the cooking tear lately. And I have always wanted to try stuffed peppers so I am glad to have a credible source (Don't worry...I won't ask your children their opinion about them). I won't tell my children where the recipe came they may throw the peppers at you...

    1. You've never had stuffed peppers? Huh. Never would have guessed.

      Thank you for your discretion. I would hate for your boys to be upset with me. :)

  5. i think something is wrong with blogger or it could be my internet - but I was not able to see all the pics but I am sure it is delicious sounds yummy - stuffed peppers are my favorite - I don't have picky eaters they eat what ever I make but they are stubborn and say things that confuse me - James from the beginning always said that he didn't like mushrooms so we teased him told him that Mom and Dad love mushrooms and try to add mushrooms in every meal (we don't) a couple of weeks ago I made stuffed mushrooms place it on the table - he ate 7 and liked them .

    I've told them from day 1 if you don't try it you will never know if you like it. but truly we don't beat ourselves about it - i place it on the table it is there if they want it. if not more for me and hubby. James eating the mushrooms was his choice - I think that is ok :)

    1. Oh, sorry to hear that. They are the best photos EVER! (Just kidding.) :)

      Finally, a kid who will eat mushrooms! Mine all swear that mushrooms are horrid.

      My kids aren't allowed to say, "I don't like it" unless they have tried it not once, but multiple times.

  6. I am quite delighted to know that my child is normal in this regard.
    Zilla was never a picky eater - I mean she was like the poster child for a perfect, willing eater. I was the envy of moms everywhere. Your kids eats what??? For real??? On purpose??? Yes, thank you very much. We credited ourselves with the fact that we never made "kid" food for her, just served what we were eating unless it was just not OK for her to have at a particular age. There was nothing she wouldn't try and nothing she didn't love.
    For a while.
    Lately, I can't figure out what the problem is, but she suddenly "hates" everything. Ev-er-y-thing. It's ridiculous, really, and I'm certain it's just a personality issue with her, really. Just her exerting her will and doing the power play dance. One day she loves tomatoes; the next day "I've never liked tomatoes in my whole six years of life." Insert any other food on any other day and you have every day here for about the last four months or so. I blame school lunch.
    The way we deal with it is to simply call her bluff. "Never liked a tomato in your whole life, huh? Funny because you loved them with fresh mozzarella and drizzled with balsamic vinegar yesterday. How odd." "You hate chicken you say? Then how is it possible that you raved about the Southwester chicken scaloppine we ate last week?" "You hate all fish? Interesting that you had a tuna sandwich for lunch, then." Watching her explain her way around it is mildly entertaining.
    Challenge me to a battle of wits, will you child? OK.
    The rule here is that no matter what is served, she has to try at least three bites. Not licks. Not grains of rice. Actual bites. Usually by the second or third one she realizes it is indeed pleasing to her palate.
    I've started serving a glass of wine with dinner - I think it helps. Me, not her. :D

    1. Yup. I was just as pompous when our oldest two were little. They ate everything and plenty of it.
      It is most certainly the kids wanting to control something. Plus, they have never gone without food, so they don't understand just how fortunate they are. I've told my kids so many times, "It doesn't matter if it's not your favorite or if you don't particularly like it. You should still eat it if for no other reason than your body needs it." Apparently, they aren't quite mature enough to see that yet.

      I have pointed such things out to my kids, too. They don't even try to talk their way out. They are teens and just disagree.

      Our rule is no seconds of the things you like (We always have sides so I know everyone will eat at least the fruit.) unless you eat the other things on your plate. Or dessert. If we're having dessert, you don't get it if you haven't eaten dinner. Many a times, kids will eat what they don't like just to get the things they really want.

      Ha! I don't doubt it. If I didn't have to drive after dinner half the time, I would do the same. :)

    2. Oh no...I do sound pompous dont I? Ugh. :(

    3. It's not a bad thing, just normal to be pompous about such things. I think that's part of why kids change on us or do crazy, frustrating things. Brings a little humble to our attitudes.

  7. speaking as a one-time picky eater, tell me that you have never said, 'yes there is (fill in newly non-favorite recipe component) in it, but you can't taste it'
    Even as I five year old I was aghast at the audacity of the momlogic that was at the core of that statement.

    And, in the spirit of solidarity with your children, (if not their respective age groups), I will admit to hating cheese and loving Cheetos without the slightest sense of being inconsistent.

    1. Hahahahaha!!! Me? Say such a thing? Ummmm...I just read this comment to my kids, and they answered in the affirmative. Star forcefully replied, "You say that about onions all the time!" Hahahaha!!

      You are just cracking me up with this comment, Clark. That point isn't inconsistent at all. Cheetos don't actually have cheese on them!

      In the spirit of solidarity with you and my kids, Cheetos are awesome.

  8. I am beyond impressed with your plan. One of my kids refuses to eat citrus. Another one insists on peeling away that thin membrane between slices. I could weep.

    1. Why thank you!
      Oh, OH the membrane peeler! I have one of those, too. Drives me bananas. Which happens to be a fruit that half of my children refuse to eat.

  9. Bwahahahaha I do adore your style :D #MamaWin

  10. *insanity often ensued at ivy's place when her picky eater was young enough to live at home....

    "Look prunes are just big em!"
    "Don't throw that away! You think apples grow on trees ? Eat it!"

    1. Oh wait! I forgot! Same kid to this day at 25 yrs old does not see my issue with his hating a boiled egg but loving Easter eggs. It must be that theres a little bit of Jesus in them....he said that when he was 7.

    2. a little bit of Jesus in them!?!?!? That has got to be one of the best lines ever spoken by a 7 year old! Hahaha!

      I may or may not have said the same things about prunes. Doesn't mean I ever ate them. And I love raisins.

      As for the apple, I've done that so many times with food that the kids themselves have chosen. Unfortunately, they are getting quicker and tossing food when I'm distracted with another child.

  11. I have one child who's reallly picky. My general philosophy on meals is that I make what I like. My kids either eat it, or they can make their own peanut butter sandwich or havfe yogurt. Except this week my on picky child just might starve because the bread I bought "has seeds in it" so he doesn't like it.

    Your stuffed pepper recipe sounds good!

    1. Ha! We have had a round or two over the years with a child who didn't like the seeds on the bread I happened to purchase that week. Good luck to your starving child. :)

      It is good. I'll be finishing off the leftovers at lunch today, and I can't wait!

  12. Your making me laugh again, Christine. I can just picture it. Stuffed peppers, that'll fix 'em. The recipe looks great - adding zucchini for some added vegetable value. I'm going to try this sometime soon.

    1. I do like it when people laugh. :)
      Even better, the zucchini was from the massive amounts we got in our garden this year. I had shredded a bunch, put it in baggies in 2 cup portions, and threw it in the freezer for just such occasion as this.
      Let me know what you think of them!

  13. I do not like peanut butter and I do not like chocolate but I do love reeses peanut butter cups.
    Figure that one out.
    My kid is a garbage disposal and will eat all the things except for onions and I'm ok with that. I'll pick them out of whatever it is if that's the worst of his pickiness. I couldn't imagine suffering through a 45 minute clementine meal. Oh hell no.

    1. Reeses Peanut butter cups doesn't have real Jif peanut butter.
      Or you are an irrationally picky eater that would drive me crazy.
      One of the two.

      I would be perfectly fine if each child had one thing that he just couldn't choke down. I can't eat peas or sweet potatoes without gagging. I get that. It's the not eating things they have eaten their whole lives that makes me super annoyed.

      I hope your little guy continues eating like that his whole life.

  14. You've heard some of the stories of Kyle's legendary pickiness. (That must not be a word, because spell check put a squiggly, red line under it.) I'd like to feel sorry for you, but I cannot. I win for world's pickiest eater.

    On her children's birthdays, a friend of mine would fix whatever meal they chose. The other kids in the family would choose their favorite foods, but one daughter would choose liver and onions, not because she loved them (she did not), but because she knew the other kids all had to clean their plates and eat it all....

  15. Ugh. This is another reason why it stinks to be in charge of dinner. Half the time someone turns up their nose at it. UGH.


Thank you for taking the time to tell me what you're thinking!