What’s for dinner, Mama?

My daughter is at the age where it’s still novel that we carry on real conversations. Those consist of her saying things like, “I don’t like monsters. Do you like monsters?” and “What’d you make for dinner, mama?” Whenever it’s time to eat, I list foods that will be on her plate and she can hardly contain her excitement. “Olives and tomanos (tomatoes), yummy in my tummy!” All whilst doing a little shimmy.  When she does that, I am absolutely elated. I’m sure every child gets excited about food but her excitement thrills me. Maybe it’s because I hold food to be incredibly important, maybe it’s because I’m proud of her for liking foods such as olives and tomatoes, or maybe it’s because it wasn’t too long ago, more like yesterday, that I got as excited about and did a dance for food.

I’m the type of mom who makes one meal for dinner. While I try to incorporate ingredients that everyone loves, I’m not about to be a short-order chef, and I have to say, it works out quite well. I know toddlers love options so I leave those for the beverage department (do you want water or milk?). The minute I start throwing out random options that are not on the table, I consider myself doomed. That could come from my upbringing. I remember sitting at the table for a solid hour after my family finished, just staring at my plate. My parents would tell me that I can’t get up from the table until I finished (insert a Lebanese dish here). I was stubborn and ironically did not enjoy eating. Pause for confusion. I fought the good fight and some days, I’d shove three bites worth in my mouth, others, victory was mine. This went on for years. Sorry, parents!

That being said, I now delight in most foods I did not enjoy in the past. I credit my parent’s perseverance but also not budging on what we have for dinner. I remember my mom would say “this is it, and you’re going to eat it.” I actually have an apron that says “you’re going to eat it, and you’re going to like it,” one of my favorite humorous aprons gifted to me from a dear woman I’ve known and loved almost my entire life.

On days when the kids go to daycare, Juliana rushes through the door with arms open wide to give me a big hug only to immediately ask “what did you make for dinner?” Last night I told her We’re having rice and mushroom soup.” As she took her first bites, I asked if she liked it. After smacking her tongue to the roof of her mouth she said, “yes, it’s good! It’s yummy in my tummy!”

Well, there you have it, folks. A promising recipe loved by all is upon you, just ask my 2.5-year old. I got the original recipe from APinchofYum, one of my favorite recipe sources, and made a couple adjustments. Sidenote: Her recipe is great, I just decided I wanted a heartier soup so I did a long grain/wild rice combo instead of solely wild rice. Since I made that adjustment, I had to tweak the liquid ratios. I also added more (like double the) mushrooms because, well it’s mushrooms. If you have something against mushrooms, substitute another mild vegetable, like green beans or asparagus!

1 yellow or sweet onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
16oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped 
5 stalks celery, chopped
1 box long grain and wild rice combo (I used Rice-a-Roni)
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp thyme
6 tbsp butter
2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
In a large pot over medium heat, saute onion and 2 tbsp butter until translucent and soft. Add the vegetables, garlic, and seasonings, and half 1/3 the pack of rice seasoning. Stir every few minutes for about ten minutes so that the flavors can meld together before adding the broth. Add the rice and broth, give it another good stir and close the lid. Lower the heat to medium-low. In the meantime, make the roux. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add flour and quickly whisk or stir together so that it becomes a smooth paste. Add the milk and continue stirring to avoid burning the roux. It’ll thicken quickly, keep stirring. Once the consistency is that of a thick gravy, pour it into the soup. Stir the soup, and simmer for about ten minutes longer. You’ll know the soup is finished when the rice no longer has a bite to it. 

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