Posts tagged ‘lunch’

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.

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April 12, 2012

Would You Let Your Child Pack Her Own Lunch?

Last night, I got too involved with Katniss and Peeta. It was past midnight and I was still trying to figure out if there was any way they would both make it out of the Quarter Quell alive. Yep, I’m talking about the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy. As a result, I didn’t get out of bed until 6 this morning. When I stumbled down the stairs, I found S packing her own lunch. A first, for sure.

Here’s what I found:

A gluten-free bagel with Trader Joe’s Cocoa Almond Spread (It’s basically Nutella, but made with almonds instead of hazelnuts.) and bananas. That’s almost healthy, right? Gluten-free and with fruit? LOL. To her credit, she also packed a pear, a granola bar and water. It’s certainly not the lunch I would have made for her, but she saved me the trouble of packing a lunch. For that, she got a big hug and the right to eat what she made. Had I known I didn’t have to make lunch, I would’ve kept sleeping.

Here’s the funny part: when I picked her up from school this afternoon, she told me the chocolate spread and bagel “tasted rotten.” After one bite, she decided to eat only the bananas. I was so floored I almost drove off the road. Now that Nutella sandwiches are off her radar, I clearly need to come up with some sort of arrangement with her so I can sleep in while she makes her own lunch. At least until I’m done with the Hunger Games trilogy.

Would you let your child eat whatever he/she packed for lunch?

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.

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February 16, 2012

Five Under 5: Meatball Sliders

Okay, I admit I’m cheating a bit with this post. But you really could make this with less than five ingredients—if you bought pre-made meatballs and sauce. Friends have told me that the turkey meatballs from Trader Joe’s are quite tasty. And there are a number of jarred sauces on supermarket shelves that are winners. I had a few meatballs left over from the batch of 100 I made months ago. I warmed them up in some sauce (confession: I made my own) and put a little slice of fresh mozzarella over the top of the meatball. I lightly toasted some mini hamburger buns and pieced it all together.

1 – Mini hamburger buns

2 – Meatballs

3 – Marinara sauce

4 – Fresh mozzarella

I packed the sliders with some baby carrots, cucumbers and a banana. These sliders would be great for dinner, too.

In doggie news, my sweet German Shepherd is feeling much better after chemotherapy and some prednisone. She’s finally eating and wagging her tail again. Keep your fingers crossed that remission is on its way and that it’ll be a long one.

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!

 

January 3, 2012

Pastrami and Avocado Sandwich

Happy new year! For 2012, I’ve resolved to convince S to eat more sandwiches—or at least get her to believe that sandwiches can be tasty. That’s why I’m starting the year with a simple pastrami sandwich. Less is more, so I decided to simply pair the pastrami with some avocado.

S tells me that her favorite sandwich bread is the gluten-free multigrain from Udi’s. It’s not my favorite, but if it gets her to eat a few more sandwiches a month, then I’m game. To round out her lunch, I also packed her some carrots and hummus, along with some rice and adzuki bean chips from Trader Joe’s. I needed an easy way to start the new year, because I certainly didn’t miss packing lunches.

Have a lunch that’s a winner with your kid? Send it along and share it with us.

December 13, 2011

Lentil Soup

I love rainy days. You know, the kind that makes you want to stay in your pajamas all day, drink hot tea and make a big pot of soup. In Seattle they might be a dime a dozen, but here in San Diego they’re cherished like a double rainbow. At least, by me.

Yesterday morning as the rain pounded down, I reached for the lentils in my pantry and all the vegetables in the back of my refrigerator that have yet to find a purpose. Carrots, potatoes and celery made their way back into the light—and into my Dutch oven, along with a large onion, chopped. I had been craving soup, so I had a hock of uncured ham in the fridge waiting to flavor a pot of lentils, split peas or whatever the legume du jour may be. Usually, I don’t use ham for my soups, since plain broth is healthier. But I sometimes find it difficult to achieve the same depth of flavor without the smoked ham hock. But it’s a delicate balance, because ham can so easily make a soup too salty, which is why I never salt a soup if I’m going to use ham.

For my lentil soup, I sautéed 2 cups of chopped onion, 1 cup of chopped carrots and 1 cup of diced celery in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Then, I added 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, two bay leaves and some sprigs of thyme. After stirring for a minute, I added 10 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (if you’re using the ham, you could just use water) and 1 ham hock. I let it simmer for about 1 hour until the ham was tender. I then added 2 cups lentils and 2 chopped tomatoes (trying to use up some of those tomatoes from my CSA). After 10 minutes, I added two chopped Idaho gold potatoes and let it simmer for another 20 minutes. Lastly, I removed the ham hock, cut it into bite-sized pieces and returned them to the soup. I seasoned with some coarsely ground black pepper and and chopped parsley. It was perfect for a chilly day. And for leftovers in S’s lunchbox.

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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.

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