Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lunch-Box Ideas

Hi guys.  So I finally have a few minutes to type this bad boy…..We have been super busy since school started.  Addy is back at school, but Paisley is still home with me.  She starts preschool on Friday.  She is lonely since Addy isn’t here so I just spent some quality time playing My Little Pony with her.  That is 15 minutes of my life that I won’t ever get back;)
I promised you that I would give some lunch box ideas today, so let’s get to it.  I try to mix things up when it comes to Addy’s lunches.  I will pack a basic sandwich, chips and apple, but not too often.  She is really bad with claiming to like something, but then 2 days later she hates it.  So I have to keep things exciting.  I also try to utilize leftovers from dinner whenever possible.  Today I am going to show you a couple different ideas…..using leftovers and other random things you probably already have in your fridge.  I also will give you my recipe for lemon blueberry bars.  They are Addy’s favorite so I made them for her lunch for the first day of school.
I don’t know about your kids, but mine will eat anything if I put it on a stick.  I don’t know what that says about them, but seriously, if it is on a stick….they will eat it.  I know that most schools probably don’t want a bunch of 6 year olds packing skewers in their lunches, so I use lollipop sticks.  They are less shank-like.  I use whatever fruit I have on hand, like grapes, strawberries amd bananas, and I serve it with yogurt to dip the fruit in.  This is a great way to get fruit in your kids.  If it is bite-sized they are more likely to eat it.
Sometimes the fruit can be hard to thread on a lollipop stick since it isn’t sharp on one end.  I use a skewer to poke holes first.
This is the “lunch-box” version of what I had above.  Just make sure you and your kids are on the same page about the yogurt being the dip;)
Above are skewers of turkey, cheese, tomatoes and leftover tortellini.  I serve it with carrots, celery and a ranch dip.  We had tortellini the night before so I just reserved a few for Addy’s lunch.
I make my own ranch dip.  I think that ranch out of a bottle is a bit too loose for dipping.  I make mine with dry ranch mix, cream cheese and a smidge of mayo.  This makes a thick dip that stays on the veggies when you dip it.  I use low-fat mayo and cream cheese so that it isn’t pure fat. 
This lunch has everything your kid needs….  Protein from the turkey, calcium from the cheese, carbs from the pasta and the veggies are chalk full of good stuff.  Plus, I used lollipop sticks again so it looks fun and pretty.  This is Addy’s all-time fave.
Above is that same lunch….all packed up and ready to go.  As long as you put an ice pack in their lunch…this should stay nice and cold. 
My last lunch box idea is what we call “roll-ups”.  Basically, I take whatever left-overs I can find, and I roll them up in pizza dough.  Once they are sliced and baked, they make pretty little pinwheels.  They are the perfect use of left-overs, and your kid will eat them because they look cool.  They are perfect in a lunch box because they can be eaten cold.  Everyone likes cold pizza, right?
I will show you two versions that I made recently.
Above I have a can of pizza dough, left-over shredded chicken in BBQ sauce, cream cheese, left-over veggies, sliced turkey, and shredded cheese. 
I rolled out the pizza dough on a floured board and cut it in half.  One half got the chicken with sauce and shredded cheese.  The other half got cream cheese, veggies, sliced turkey and some more shredded cheese.  I made sure to leave a border all the way around….this will help with rolling.  It will keep all the filling from oozing out.
You really could put just about anything on pizza dough, roll it up and call it lunch.  Some ideas would be leftover taco meat and cheese, chili and cheese, cream cheese and jelly, etc.  The possibilities are endless.
I roll them up, tightly, and then slice them into pinwheels.  Yes, the one on the left could use some help.  He got a bit over-filled.  I baked these according to the pizza dough package directions…..it should make lunch for a few days.  You can also freeze them once they are cooked and take them out as needed.
The BBQ chicken roll-ups are my favorite. 
The veggie version was Addy’s favorite.  I pack these in a zippered bag, just like I would a sandwich.  I realize these are, essentially, a sandwich.  But the pizza dough gives it that extra something that makes it so much more special than a sandwich.  Your kids will love ‘em!
The main thing I like about all the ideas above is that they don’t take that much time.  Packing lunches is a pain in the butt, and most of us would rather not do it (I think).  These ideas are quick and easy.  They really don’t take much more time than making a sandwich.  But these will get eaten.  You won’t open your kid’s lunch box after school and find a partially eaten sandwich…..Or worse, open it Monday morning and find Friday’s sandwich.  Gross.
The last thing I am going to show you is my lemon blueberry bars.  These are a take-off of a Paula Deen recipe.  She has a recipe for orange brownies that I love.  They aren’t brownies like what you are expecting.  There is no chocolate in them.  They are called “brownies” because they are the texture of brownies.  They are cakey, but they don’t have any baking powder or soda in them, so they don’t rise.  They are dense, like a brownie.  I changed up the recipe and used lemon instead of orange, and I added blueberries.  They are amazing……
The bars need sugar, flour, butter, eggs, salt, lemons and lemon extract and blueberries.  Few ingredients=easy recipe.
I start by mixing the sugar, flour and salt together in a large bowl.
With a hand mixer, I beat in softened butter, the eggs, lemon extract and lemon zest.  I beat it for just a couple of minutes.
The blueberries get stirred in and it is ready to bake!  Could not be easier.
FYI-I stir a tiny bit of flour into the blueberries before I dump them in.  This keeps them from sinking to the bottom.
I spread the batter into a 13x9 that I had lines with foil and sprayed with cooking spray.  These bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Once the brownies come out of the oven, I poke the top with a skewer.  Are you picturing my house packed with sticks and skewers?  I swear it’s not, but I do seem to use them a lot;)
The poking helps the glaze sink in.  The glaze is just lemon juice and powdered sugar.  I spread it all over the top.  It will sink in quickly because the brownies are nice and warm.
These “brownies” are so unbelievably good!  They are tart and sweet at the same time.  They are a perfect lunchtime treat.  Pack some extras for your kids friends!
I hope that this post gave you a couple of lunch time ideas for your kids….or for you!  It is super important to get a good lunch in your kid, as I am sure you know.  The afternoons can drag….and you don’t want your kid to be starving.  Your child’s teacher will appreciate it too!

Lemon Blueberry Bars

1 & ½ cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks butter, softened

4 eggs

2 teaspoons lemon extract

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 cup blueberries


1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13xp baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar and salt.  With a hand mixer, beat in softened butter, eggs, zest and extract until combined.  Stir in blueberries, gently.

Spread batter in baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While bars are still warm, poke all over the top with a skewer.

Combine glaze ingredients and pour over the top.  Let cool before slicing.

1 comment:

  1. This may be a really stupid question, but when do you cut the roll ups into pinwheels? Before you cook them or after?
    Thanks for the great ideas! Kristin