Posts tagged ‘ideas’

April 23, 2012

Italian Wedding Soup

I’ve always loved a piping-hot bowl of Italian Wedding Soup, but I had never found the right recipe. Until now. I scoured the Web and combined a little bit of this one with a little bit of that one, added a few more vegetables and voila—it was perfection. Everyone had seconds and asked me to make it again.

I started by sauteeing a container of mirepoix from Trader Joe’s, which is basically chopped carrots, onions and celery, in olive oil. Pre-chopped vegetables for a good stock is just what I needed on a rushed day. Then, I added 8 cups of low-sodium chicken broth, plus 1 can of cannellini beans and a the heel of a wedge of Parmesan cheese. I let it simmer for a about 15 minutes and then I added the meatballs.

For the meatballs, I combined:

1 lb. of lean ground beef

1/2 lb. ground mild Italian sausage

1 small onion, chopped

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

2  tsp minced garlic

1 egg

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup bread crumbs (leave out if you’re GF)

I shaped them into mini meatballs and dropped them into the simmering broth until they were cooked through. Lastly, I turned off the heat and stirred in a bag of baby spinach. You could substitute endive or Swiss chard, but you’d have to increase your cooking time. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.

April 5, 2012

Sweet Sandwich Ideas

I know it’s been a good long while since I’ve posted, so I wanted to start back up with something fun. I’m in New York City this week and came across some sweet sandwich ideas at the much ballyhooed Dylan’s Candy Bar. Check out this menu and let me know if you’d try any of these at home.


February 29, 2012

Light, Lazy Lunch


This was one of those mornings I would have rather washed dishes and vacuumed the house than pack lunches. When I feel that way, I grab the LunchBots containers and silicon muffin liners. I line each with six red cups and start looking in the fridge and pantry for anything that I can drop into the liners. Today, I found baby carrots, kalamata olives, hardboiled eggs, string cheese, strawberries, sweet potato chips and gluten-free animal cookies. C is a lighter eater than S, so I added some sliced pastrami to S’s container. Lunch was packed in just a few minutes, and in the process I even managed to clean out some bags from the pantry and jars from the refrigerator.

I know this is a lot like the Tapas Lunch I posted a few months back. But this morning I filled it with different food items. That counts as a different lunch, doesn’t it?


January 31, 2012

Five under 5: Pesto Pasta

I’m completely exhausted. I don’t know if it was all the Chinese New Year festivities or sleeping six hours each night for the past week, but I am toast—crispy and burnt. So, for the next week or so, I’m going to try to come up with five lunches that have five or fewer ingredients. This morning, I grabbed some leftover (already cooked) brown-rice fusilli noodles from the fridge, a handful of peas from the freezer and ran them both together under very hot water. Then, I warmed store-bought pesto (I like Buitoni) and tossed the peas and pasta in it. Lastly, I chopped some grape tomatoes and sprinkled it throughout the pasta. Lunch is done, and using just four ingredients: fusilli pasta, pesto, peas, and grape tomatoes. Yay! To turn this into dinner, all you’d have to do is grill some chicken or fish and serve  it alongside the pasta.

January 12, 2012

Brie, Brie and More Brie!

S is going on a field trip today, so that means she needs a completely disposable lunch. That’s a struggle for us, because S typically prefers a hot lunch. But I have a surprise for her. And honestly, it was new to me, too. We had some leftover bagels in the freezer from the weekend, and then I remembered I had bought Brie at Trader Joe’s earlier this week. I usually steer clear of it because I can eat the whole creamy mess myself. This time, I put back the triple cream variety in favor of double cream. It was hard, but I do try to keep my children’s virgin arteries in mind. At my house, we call it “butter cheese.” It’s one of the few soft cheeses S loves (because she has a special relationship with butter), so I put it in my cart, hoping to come up with something creative for lunch.

When I was in England, I had more than my share of Brie and tomato sandwiches. But tomatoes don’t hold up so well in the lunchbox. On the other hand, apples do! And I have a bunch of them, thanks to my CSA. I lightly toasted the bagel, arranged pats of “butter cheese” on each half, followed by thin slices of apple. On one half, I even put a few slices of turkey. I’m sure I’ll get feedback from the peanut gallery later this afternoon.

I could have packed another turkey and avocado sandwich, but I have to come up with another 50 or so lunches before I get to 108. Help! I’m not even halfway there and we’re already past the halfway mark of the school year. If you have any ideas, please send them along. The Lunch Diva is starting to lose steam.

January 4, 2012

Meatball and Pineapple Skewers

Remember those meatballs I made a few months back? Well, they’re still in my freezer and I decided it was time to repurpose them. Yes, I could make meatball sliders, spaghetti and meatballs, or simply meatballs and sauce. But I wanted a different flavor altogether. And when I opened the freezer, I also saw a bag of frozen pineapple tidbits. Ta da! Then, I saw the light.

Our microwave oven is still busted and I don’t foresee one in our near future, so instead of warming the meatballs in the microwave I set them in a steamer and let them get nice and juicy. Then, I skewered them on a toothpick along with a piece of pineapple. I wanted to heat up some teriyaki sauce and brush it over the meatball and pineapple, but I ran out of time. If you’re not up for making your own meatballs, you can always opt for the cooked ones in the freezer aisle of your grocery store. Usually, you can find them in beef or turkey. Also, pineapple chunks would skewer better, but I’m so neurotic about canned foods, especially acidic ones that can leach BPA into your food, that I always choose fresh, frozen or jarred, if it’s an option. Next time, I’ll cut up a fresh pineapple.

Part of me is waiting for S’s school to call and reprimand me for sending her to school with toothpicks. The horror! The truth is, it’s S, my daughter, and not C, my son, which means no one will get their eyes poked out today. Except for maybe the boy who grabs the toothpick out of S’s lunchbox.

If you want to try making your own meatballs, here’s the link to the post:

Homemade Meatballs!


December 5, 2011

Beans and Franks You Can Feel Better About

The kids made gingerbread houses yesterday afternoon and we all got so involved that I lost track of time. Before I knew it, it was time for dinner. I needed something on the table—quick! It was a night for beans and franks. But not your mom’s version of it. Something ever so slightly healthier. I had organic baked beans in the pantry and Trader Joe’s apple chicken sausage (free of nitrates and nitrites) in the refrigerator. I poured two cans of beans into a pot and dropped the sausages into a skillet. The kids like it when the sausages get nice and charred. Then, I made a big green salad. All done in less than 30 minutes.

This morning, I packed leftovers for S, including some baby carrots and apple slices to make sure she gets some fruit and vegetables. I also added a cute holiday napkin with a penguin wearing a Christmas hat. It’s almost as good as a little note. She’s happy, I’m happy and lunch is done.

December 2, 2011

The Golden Age of Gluten-Free?

My husband ate my blog post. Literally.

I like to take pictures of all the food I post, but I couldn’t this morning because the leftovers traveled down my husband’s gullet last night while I was snoozing. That also meant no leftovers for S for lunch. So instead of bragging about the delicious Chinese noodles with pork and peanut sauce I made, I thought we’d discuss gluten. (Hopefully, the noodles will return in another post later this month.)

There’s a fascinating, well-reported article in the New York Times this week entitled, “Should We All Go Gluten-Free?” and though it’s pretty lengthy, it’s worth a read. While my family does not maintain a gluten-free diet, I do try to limit everyone’s intake by opting for wheat alternatives like brown rice pasta and rice crackers. Last year, the kids and I went grain-free for six months, which of course eliminated all gluten. Did we feel better? Yes, to some extent. But it was hard to tell what the culprit was, because we were completely grain- and dairy-free.

I considered going gluten-free again after we got home from Portugal because the kids’ eczema had gotten much worse. I couldn’t put my finger on it. While we were away we really didn’t eat that much dairy, which I do know incites C’s eczema. Even S’s eczema, which is usually well under control, was scaly, angry and fiery. The only thing I could come up with was bread. They served it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then, there were the croissants and myriad of pastries. Of course, my kids took every opportunity to indulge. How could I blame them? After all, European bread is something different altogether. It’s so much lighter and fluffier. Is it the result of flour with a significantly higher gluten content? I don’t know. But I do think the gluten is to blame for all the dry patches.

The article in the New York Times talks about the growing prevalence of Celiac disease and gluten intolerance and how gigantic corporations, like General Mills, are responding to the need for more gluten-free products in mainstream grocery stores. Is gluten-free here to stay? It sure looks that way.

Are you or your family gluten-free? If so, why? If not, do you think it’s just another fad diet? Let me know.

September 12, 2011

What Do Chefs Make Their Kids for Lunch?

In the most recent Weekend Edition of the Wall Street Journal, editors caught up with three top chefs to find out what’s in their kids’ lunchboxes. The skinny is in A Gourmet Lunchbox.

The article inspired me to think outside the lunchbox. What about you?

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