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What’s for Dinner Wednesday: A freezer full of food

27 Aug
Cooking for someone else this summer got me thinking about the school year dinner menu.

Cooking for someone else this summer got me thinking about the school year dinner menu.

At the beginning of last month, I helped out a young woman at our church who had recently had some surgery that left her on “light duty” for 4-6 weeks. She’s got a new baby and several other children, one of whom is a toddler himself.

You can laugh. A mom…on light duty. I know what you’re thinking.

Impossible right?

That’s what I thought too, so I sent her a message to see if I could help her out at all by making a few meals that she could just reheat. She said absolutely.

I had asked her because the next day I had some time to myself, just a few hours in the afternoon where I could run to the store and pick some things up and prep her a few meals. It wouldn’t take much time and at the moment, I was able-bodied with older kids who’d be away for part of the day, so I was able to help out.

That afternoon, I picked up my supplies and spent some time in my kitchen, cooking up ground turkey for Shepherd’s Pie, boiling pasta for a pasta bake and cooking some chicken for chicken noodle soup. As I stood there at the stove, stirring my various meats and pasta, I got to thinking, “I really need to do this for us before school starts, put some meals into the freezer early on.”

So often throughout my parenting life, I’ve had these moments of “Why didn’t I think of that sooner??” and this was one of those types of moments. Now clearly, I know how to cook ahead, I know how to freeze meals, but oftentimes I don’t do it soon enough. Like in the summer. I’m so carefree in the summer as compared to the school year, that the last thing I’m thinking about is dinner for the first month of school.

This had me thinking though. I was going to try to do better. Each year I find that I’m just a little more organized than the last year. Each year, I get better. As a friend joked with me recently, by the time my oldest goes to college, I’ll be all set, totally prepared and organized.

Oftentimes, I find myself making breakfast and dinner at the same time. Here I've got muffins for breakfast, and cooked chicken to freeze ahead for a future lunchbox salad or a dinner.

Oftentimes, I find myself making breakfast and dinner at the same time. Here I’ve got muffins for breakfast, and cooked chicken to freeze ahead for a future lunchbox salad or a dinner.

A few weeks later, I sat with one of my daughters who loves to menu-plan and we made two lists: the first list was a list of make ahead meals we wanted to make and the second list was a shopping list of all the things I’d need to pick up in order to make anything ahead; things that would be above and beyond my normal two weeks of meals shopping list.

On our list for the grocery store included things like multiple pounds of ground turkey, multiple bags of chicken tenderloins, multiple boxes of pasta and a jar of sauce (in this case I was not using our homemade sauce).

As the summer progressed I kept these things in mind, and as I planned out my meals, I tried to think of things I could make double of, eating one that night and freezing one for another night. One night that wasn’t too hot to bake, I cooked up enough ingredients for two chicken pot pies. I used the recipe linked here and used chicken instead of turkey. I also only use a top crust on my pies, so one box of two refrigerated crusts will equal two pot pie meals. One Sunday, my husband made a double batch of American Chopped Suey and we ate a batch and froze a batch. Now we had two frozen meals.

We were on a roll.

The weekend before school began, we did a shopping and picked up a family pack of ground turkey which contained three pounds. I split it into one pound and two pounds and cooked them up in two separate skillets, shown above at the left, where I was also hard-boiling eggs for the fridge for the first week of school breakfasts and lunches.

Into my one pound of ground turkey, I added a packet of Taco Seasoning. I had a packet on hand, but you can also make your own, which I’ve done in the past. I split that pound of taco meat into two half pounds and froze them. I now had enough taco meat for a taco meal and lunches of taco salads, or two taco meals or two sets of lunches with taco salads. Either way, I was set for a little bit with taco meat. All I needed to do now was thaw it and use it.

Into my second skillet containing two pounds of ground turkey, I put two cans of creamed corn for a Shepherd’s Pie. We found that we need two pounds for one pie, given the size of our family. It also provides us leftovers for another time.

I put those into the freezer with the taco meat.

The night before school, I made Chocolate Chip Muffins for the first day of school breakfast. After they baked, since the oven was already on, I cooked up an entire two-pound bag of chicken tenderloins. These I froze for future dinners, salads, lunches ( chicken caesar salad is a popular choice). I was making real progress.

I think this excited me the most of all: two loaves of bread made into sandwiches of the kids' choosing, and frozen for lunches.

I think this excited me the most of all: two loaves of bread made into sandwiches of the kids’ choosing, and frozen for lunches.

And finally, the thing I’m probably most proud of that I’d been wanting to do: my make ahead sandwiches for the freezer. I can’t take any credit for this idea. A friend who I get a lot of great ideas from in my menu-planning had the idea herself. Her thought was that if Smuckers “Uncrustables” could work for lunches, couldn’t we use our Pampered Chef Press and Seal tool to make our own and freeze them? I tried it a couple of times last year and it worked out fine, but I really wanted to make up a whole big load of sandwiches. I had two loaves of bread waiting for me.

The night before school, I got my supplies together: creamy peanut butter, crunchy peanut butter, strawberry jelly, grape jelly, Nutella and Trader Joe’s Crunchy Cookie Butter. I got a cutting board and a whole bunch of knives (no cross contamination!) and got to work. It took about one minute before my two kids who were nearby saw what I was doing and wanted to take over the project for me.

Excellent!

Many hands make for light work! We got a lot done in half as much time.

Many hands make for light work! We got a lot done in half as much time.

I got a second cutting board and they both got to work.

In under an hour they’d done both loaves of bread, creating and sealing any kind of sandwich they personally liked or knew someone else liked, and I bagged them and labeled them. Done. I put three in the fridge for the next morning and gathered the rest.

I was so excited. I went downstairs to my freezer and cleared a spot on the door for them. I looked into my freezer, so proud. We were ready to star off the school year right: a bit more organized and prepared than before.

I can’t promise that I can maintain this through the busiest parts of the year, but I feel like if I prep it during the slower parts of the year, then I can be ready when those crazy times hit, which for us is just prior to the holidays and during the last two months of the school year. We’ll see how it goes. For now though, we are better off than we were! My general philosophy is “anything I do is better than doing nothing at all” and I do believe that. One step ahead is better than being three steps back.

I hope everyone has a great fall, and a great school year!

 

 

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Simple Shrimp and Chicken Stir Fry

26 Mar
I loved the flavor in this stir fry!

I loved the flavor in this stir fry!

You might think to yourself that if you’ve had one stir fry, you’ve had them all. How different could they possibly be?

I think it depends on what your ingredients are. There are so many different flavors out there, whether it’s the sauces you throw in or the ingredients and vegetables that you include.

Recently I had so many veggies left in my fridge that I didn’t want to go to waste, I decided to do a stir fry. I wanted to try a new one though, just to see what was out there. I also knew that besides the veggies I wanted to utilize, I also wanted the stir fry to include both chicken and shrimp, since I have kids who like one or the other, but not both.

I Googled “shrimp and chicken stir fry” and chose this one from http://hipfoodiemom.com and I really loved it! I had everything the recipe called for except mushrooms and snap peas, but I also had zucchini so I threw that in instead. It seemed reminiscent to me of a “Dump Cake” recipe I once read, where you literally just dump all the ingredients in together. That’s what I love about stir fry recipes, you can really throw in a lot of different things.

I think that the difference between this recipe and some of the ones I’ve tried in the past are the sesame oil and the balsamic vinegar. Those are new to any recipe I’ve tried before.

Here is the recipe as Hip Foodie Mom has it on her site. I hope you’ll pay her a visit!

It was the unique combination of sauces that made this recipe so good!

It was the unique combination of sauces that made this recipe so good!

Author: Hip Foodie Mom

Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 cups broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 package mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 to 3 carrots, cut
  • 1 bell pepper (red or yellow), chopped
  • 1-2 cups sugar snap peas, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • about 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • about 1 pound shrimp (fresh or frozen, but if frozen, make sure it’s completely thawed)
  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken; chopped
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
  • Serve with brown rice
Instructions
  1. Get all your veggies prepped: washed and chopped. And cut up your rotisserie chicken.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. After a minute or 2, throw in all of your vegetables and allow them to cook until just tender, for about 2 minutes. Stirring occasionally. After 2 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-high and cook your vegetables or another 3 minutes or so. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  3. Add the shrimp and chicken. Drizzle the sesame oil, add the low sodium soy sauce and a splash or 2 of balsamic vinegar. Taste and add more soy sauce or balsamic vinegar if needed. Cook for another 5 minutes or so. Serve over brown rice.

 

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Taco Pizza

19 Mar
This was a fabulous addition to our ever-growing list of gourmet pizzas!

This was a fabulous addition to our ever-growing list of gourmet pizzas!

A couple of weeks back, I had a typical Facebook messaging exchange with my friend Gina. It consisted of the usual commiserating about the fact that neither of us knew what to make for dinner that week. I happened to mention that I did have taco meat already cooked up and frozen, but that I didn’t necessarily want to have tacos again.

Her suggestion: Taco Pizza.

“Ohhhh…..I said, I like that idea!”

Lucky for us, there’s a bakery right down the street that sells fresh dough

If you love Tacos, you'll love trying out Gina's Taco Pizza!

If you love Tacos, you’ll love trying out Gina’s Taco Pizza!

by the pound, 24 hours a day for just a little over a dollar a bag.

That’s right, 24 hours a day. If I wanted to go at midnight to get a bag of dough, slice of pizza or a cookie, I could. I don’t, but it’s nice to know the option is there.

So last week I got my dough (during daylight hours) at the bakery and came home to get ready for our pizza dinner. We had a regular work day combined with a pre-dinner meeting and Dance for one of the girls. Pizza for dinner was the perfect answer to our need for quick, easy and delicious.

I’d actually gotten three bags of dough. We were having a ham and pineapple pizza, a meatball, cheese and sauce pizza, and our newest addition: Taco Pizza, thanks to Gina.

Coincidentally, we were also having furniture delivered the next morning between the hours of 6:30 am and 9:30 am in time for us to be out the door for work and school, but right smack-dab in the middle of lunch preparations. Having pizza for dinner the night before would allow me to bag up slices of whatever flavors anyone wanted for lunch the next day, after dinner.

Easy-peasy. It took a lot of advanced planning to make the night and next morning go off without a hitch, but it was healthier than ordering take-out that night or school lunch the next day, and much tastier too!

For this pizza, the only thing I’d do differently the next time, is crush up my tortilla chips and bake them right in there with the meat, underneath the cheese. This first time that we tried out the recipe, we crushed them up and added them on top. I found them hard to eat, but in our Taco Bake recipe we put them right inside, and I think I’d enjoy them more that way on the pizza than on top.

Otherwise, this is so easy!

Spread out your pizza dough, add your taco meat on top, and throw on some crushed tortilla chips if you’d like to, before adding your cheese. We used cheddar cheese on ours because of the nature of the pizza, rather than mozzarella.

Once your pizza is cooked, it’s up to you what toppings you’d like to add, anything you’d normally add to a taco.

Here are some suggestions:

Sour cream

Avocado

Olives

Tomatoes

Lettuce

New sponsored post for Jimmy Dean Sausage crumbles

16 Mar
Be sure to check out my newest post for Jimmy Dean!

Be sure to check out my newest post for Jimmy Dean!

I’m excited to share that my second post for Jimmy Dean Sausage Crumbles is now live on SheKnows.com! I hope you’ll check it out by clicking on this link.

Since completing the posts for Jimmy Dean, we’ve been finding all kinds of great ways to incorporate them into our recipes. We’ve used them in eggs and pasta, among other things. They’re a very versatile and convenient ingredient and I like to have them on hand.

Enjoy my post at SheKnows, and give Jimmy Dean sausage crumbles a try!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Paninis

5 Mar
This made for an awesome Sunday night supper!

This made for an awesome Sunday night supper!

This past weekend was a busy one. We were all over the place on Saturday, and on Sunday it was much the same. It was all good, just busy.

By the time dinnertime planning time came around on Sunday afternoon, I was stumped and had to run out the door onto the next “thing” before I could help with the decision making.

As I was standing outside in the freezing cold that afternoon, helping to man my daughter’s Girl Scout cookie sale at the local grocery store, I got a text from my husband: Paninis for dinner.

YUM!!

I was so excited! We have a panini maker but I never, ever think to use it. It’s stored neatly in the box it came in, with the booklets of recipes tucked neatly inside, all in a closet in our hallway.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Apparently, the decision was a group decision made by Don and the remaining kids at home. A menu of paninis, roasted red potatoes, cole slaw (not seen on my plate because I’m not a fan), and sauteed zucchini was created and the specific types of paninis were requested.

We could have any of the ingredients on our sandwiches, or all of them.

We could have any of the ingredients on our sandwiches, or all of them.

The ingredients for the sandwiches were also decided upon together: bbq chicken, tomatoes, bacon and cheese. We could have any or all of those ingredients in our sandwiches, allowing everyone to tailor their dinner to their liking.

It was SO good. So, so good!

There were even some halves of sandwiches leftover, so they became lunch this week. Don reported his was even better the second time around!

Although we chose chicken, bacon, cheese and tomato for our panini ingredients, you can have virtually anything in yours! A list of suggested recipes were given to us as part of our gift when we received our panini maker, and a guide came with the maker itself.

Here’s a list of some suggested panini recipes for you to try. Be sure to read to the end!!

Portobello Panini

Panini with Prosciutto, Roasted Pepper and Mozzarella

Roast Turkey Panini with Pesto, Roasted Red Peppers and Fontina

Grilled Prosciutto, Soppressata, and Mozzarella Panini

Fresh Eggplant and Roasted Red Pepper Panini

Pesto Chicken Panini

Grilled Eggplant Panini

Grilled Marinated Artichoke Heart, Ham and Provolone Panini

Panini Caprese

Grilled Chicken and Arugula Panini

Mediterranean Tuna Melt

Salami, Sun-dried Tomato, Basil Panini

Ham, Chestnut Honey Mustard and Gouda Panini

Turkey and Cranberry Panini

Roasted Eggplant, Sweet Pepper, Feta and Fresh Spinach Painini

Flank Steak, Vidalia Onion, Porcini and Fontina Panini

Grilled Sausage, Peronata and Herbed Goat Cheese Panini

Sweet Dolci Chocolate Panini

Dolci di Latte Caramel Sauce and Apple Panini

Ricotta and Preserved Orange Panini on Raisin Bread

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

13 Nov
Lunch or dinner, this was a great new recipe!

Lunch or dinner, this was a great new recipe!

Things are constantly getting lost in our house.

“Have you seen…”

“Does anyone know where…..”

“I can’t find my……”

This recipe is one of those lost items. I’d ripped it out of a magazine over the summer. It’s from the June 2013 Woman’s Day magazine. I thought it sounded great.

My husband’s family is Lebanese, he loves Lebanese food, especially tabbouleh, and so does Elizabeth. I love it as well. I thought for sure it’d be a hit.

If I could find it.

Once I ripped it out and showed him, he agreed it sounded great, and then I never saw the page again.

Until last week.

We happened to move the couch away from the wall to get something one of the kids had seen fall back there, and lo and behold…my Woman’s Day recipe!

It just so happened that we’d made quinoa the night before as a side dish for our dinner. We had leftovers and it was in the fridge already.

With the quinoa cooked and cooled previously, this was a super-easy lunch to throw together in the morning before school for Don and Elizabeth’s lunchboxes. I even had sliced cucumbers leftover from the day before too, so I was really already on my way.

The votes came back with big thumbs up for the new salad. I sent wheat pita pockets on the side. Elizabeth scooped hers up with the bread, Don put his right inside the bread.

We had a little bit leftover and they used it as a side dish one night with dinner.

This is a great, quick tabbouleh and if you like Middle Eastern foods, give this a try!

QUINOA TABBOULEH SALAD

Woman’s Day June 2013

In a medium bowl, whisk together:
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice1 Tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon olive oil
a pinch each of salt and pepper

Add:
3/4 cup cooked quinoa1/2 cup canned chickpeas
1 plum tomato, chopped
1 seedless cucumber, chopped

Toss to combine.

Fun Friday: Bread and Jam

11 Oct
"Mom, you *have* to share these recipes on your blog!"

“Mom, you *have* to share these recipes on your blog!”

As a reporter and writer, I have a wacky work schedule, I’ll be the first to admit it.

Flexible, but wacky.

It’s different every single day, night and weekend, and I’m often working when a lot of people are off, but at the same time I also have a lot of flexibility to plan around the needs of my family, and that allows me to keep my focus of “family first” a top priority.

This week, after what seemed to be a crazier block of work days and nights than usual, I finally had a day off. I had a whole Wednesday day and night, where I didn’t have to work at all. I had nothing to cover, nothing to type for the newspaper, no place to be while my children were at school. Although my afternoon and evening would be busy bringing the kids to their Wednesday activities, my day was free.

Wide open.

You might think to yourself, “Oh…shopping, lunch, manis and pedis!!”  But no, I didn’t go that route. Instead, I decided that I’d use that day to the best of my ability, to cook ahead as much as I could, in order to be better prepared for the coming days when things were back to normal.

I’m so glad I did.

Focus, focus, focus! Once I got on a roll, I got a lot done!

Focus, focus, focus! Once I got on a roll, I got a lot done!

I got so much accomplished.

In one day, I cooked two banana breads, three batches of strawberry jam, 16 crustless baby quiches, six peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches to freeze ahead for lunches, and a dinner for that evening that was NOT cooked in the crock pot, of Shepherd’s Pie, which I made into seven individual pie tins just for the fun of it.

I rocked it.

I ate one of the sandwiches before it went into the freezer, but it’s okay. I earned it.

When my kids were eating their breakfast the next morning, enjoying their jam, Elizabeth said to me, “Mom you definitely have to share this recipe on your blog, it’s so good!”

And so I will share it with you today.

I can’t lie though: A big part of the secret to my success on Wednesday involved the crock pot…again!

Just when my kids thought I couldn't cook another new thing in the crock pot, I pull out the triple crock, and go to town!

Just when my kids thought I couldn’t cook another new thing in the crock pot, I pull out the triple crock, and go to town!

However, I used something different: our triple crock pot that we normally use for big gatherings–holidays, birthday parties, and big events like that. An anniversary gift from my mother-in-law years back, I never thought to use it “just” to cook in.

I don’t think I even realized that you could cook in it, since we’d always used it as a warmer to keep the food we’d pre-cooked for the parties, warm.

When a friend passed along two recipes to me, one for banana bread in the crock pot and one for strawberry jam in the crock pot, I decided to give it a try, and do it all at once in the triple crock. This would allow me to use my oven and stove top for other things at the same time so that I could get more than one thing going at a time.

I must say, I loved that option! I also have to say my house smelled AMAZING the entire day. I was hungry all day long!!

The recipes were both super-easy and super-fast to prep. My triple crock has two small wells on the sides and a larger well in the middle. For that reason, I opted to make two smaller breads using the sides and do the strawberries in the middle. I could’ve gone either way I suppose. I could also, in the future, make a double batch of breads: one larger one in the middle and two small ones on the sides.

Lots of options.

Using my crock pot freed up my oven and stove so I could cook a non-crock pot meal for dinner that night!

Using my crock pot freed up my oven and stove so I could cook a non-crock pot meal for dinner that night! Individual shepherd’s pies were fun to eat!

And, now that my bread and jam in the crock pot experiment was successful, I know that I could do this as an after school snack in the future, baking all day long while I’m gone, making the house smell warm and welcoming when we return.

The link to the bread recipe is here, from the Crockpot Ladies.com.

The link to the jam recipe is here, from The Lady Wolf.com.

I encourage you to try them both and see what you think!

Sponsored Post: My “me time” treats

10 Oct
With their smooth, irresistible caramel centers, these LINDOR truffles are my Me Time Treats!

With their smooth, irresistible caramel centers, these LINDOR truffles are my Me Time Treats!

Any mom of young children will tell you, your “me time” pretty much disappears when a baby appears on the scene. From the day your child is born you want to spend all of your focus, all of your time all of your everything with the newest member of your family; and that’s the way it’s supposed to be!

Your new baby, your child and children are the star of the show.

But, every so often, you wish for just a little time to steal away.

Recently, I was asked to think of the most shameless excuse to escape for some “me time,” and I thought way back to when my kids were really little. I thought of when I’d go to a doctor’s appointment, for me, on my own, by myself. It could be a well visit, a cold, it didn’t matter. I’d listen to grown-up songs on the radio on the way there and back. I’d bring along my coffee, my book, and sit back and read; even if it was just for a few minutes. I’ll never forget (and this is a true story) the physician’s assistant coming into the room and seeing me sitting in a chair, in my johnny, reading a book, drinking coffee. I looked up at her holding her blood pressure cuff, and said, “Take your time. This is my Me Time.”

I will say it’s gotten easier as my children have gotten older, to enjoy something on my own.

Every day with my lunch I have a little treat, just for me: a little bit of Lindt chocolate; either a couple of pieces of my favorite salted caramel chocolate bar or a couple of their fabulous LINDOR chocolate truffles. The truffles are my absolute favorite, because of the center! I find them to be totally irresistible; you can’t eat just one! Luckily you don’t have to.

And guess what?
I just found out: LINDOR has a new flavor: milk chocolate truffles with a caramel milk chocolatecenter!!!

I’ve had them.

They’re amazing.

The caramel center literally melts in your mouth; it’s so smooth.

The next time you’re looking for a little treat just for you, give the new LINDOR caramel milk chocolate truffles a try!

*This is a sponsored post, and although I was compensated for today’s post, the thoughts expressed in it are my own.*

Back to School Edition: What’s for Dinner Wednesday?? Lunch!

28 Aug
Our newly posted lunch menu. Good idea? We'll find out!

Our newly posted lunch menu. Good idea? We’ll find out!

Lunch.

My nemesis. It always has been, even when my kids were toddlers and preschoolers. I hate lunch. I hated coming up with lunch ideas. I also hated relying too heavily on things like chicken nuggets, hot dogs and mac and cheese. Although all have their place, they couldn’t all be every day occurrences. We didn’t love sandwiches at the time, our choices seemed few.

First kid enters first grade, and it’s time to send in lunches. The other option–buy school lunches.

What to send? Who likes what? Who likes nothing? Who wants to spend $2.25 on school lunches that may be less than stellar?

And so it went, on and on. Each couple of years or so, another child entered full day school and the lunch issue hovered over us. It didn’t consume us, it was just a pain, trying to figure out lunches.

This past school year, I wrote about Elizabeth’s desire for better lunchtime choices and her new cookbook, purchased with her own money, “The Lunch Box.” Last year, Caroline and I won the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and traveled to DC for the first Kids’ State Dinner, and Alexandra came in second place for the Jr. Chefs Competition in our school district with her Healthy Sunshine Salad.

I felt like this coming school year, we just had to do better.

I thought about it all summer as we tried out different lunches at home from various cookbooks. In the meantime, my kids also changed a little bit in that they all suddenly seemed to love sandwiches. We joked when we were at Subway one day that we could name some of the sandwiches after them, “The Alexandra, The Caroline, The Elizabeth” because they each had their favorites and they’d sometimes order their sisters’ favorites instead of their own.  We started recreating their favorites at home on occasion too, and they’d start ordering them by name, as if on a menu.

That’s when an idea hit me. Good idea, bad idea, we’ll see as the year goes on.

I had the idea to make a list of all the things they loved to eat that I could put into a lunchbox pretty easily, so that similar to the school menu that comes home each month, they could pick and choose what they’d like for lunch from home and as long as I had the items on hand in the house, I could make them some lunches with more variety than what’s now known as “The Usual” (pb&j).

The girls and I sat one day and came up with our lists. We started with our new-found love: sandwiches. Then we added salads, something Alex always loves to take and something easy enough to change up depending on your tastes. We thought about sides–healthy fruits, vegetables and dips/dressings etc. Finally, we added in specials: the things that they get to take only when we have leftovers from the night before–pasta with meatballs, mac and cheese, things like that.

It looked good! I even had my own sandwich, “The Mommy,” which is Nutella, Peanut Butter and Banana on a fat free wrap.

I printed it out. It took up three pages, with all the choices we’d come up with. Is this something I could maintain all year? Something I could manage?

I’m not sure. But, I’m going to try.

Mix and match, grab and go, fast and easy!

Mix and match, grab and go, fast and easy!

Keeping our already-chosen dinner meal plan in mind for leftovers (or “specials”), and knowing that my days are a little more open this first week of school, we came up with a decent list of lunches for each of the kids. Caroline’s newly into braces and still needed something soft the first day because they’d been tightened the day before. Elizabeth chose something that might sound complicated--Baby Quiches, but is fast and easy to prep early in the week and grab and go. Salads made the list for each of them on one of the day; I was thrilled.

The night before school, I mixed up one dozen eggs in a bowl. I added some milk, and grabbed a muffin tin. Into it I put some spinach and cheese in six of the cups, ham and cheese in six more, and since I still had leftover egg, I did just cheese in three more. 25 minutes later I had 15 mini quiches, or whatever you’d like to call them, for anyone’s taste. I put them into ziploc bags labeled with the chosen variety on them and put all the bags into a bucket in my fridge. Done. Lots of lunches. Both Alex and Liz took those on the first day and they’re scheduled to take them again later in the week, if they last that long.

I don’t know how this new system will work out. I do know how crazy our weeks get, but I feel like at least we’re trying; we’re making an effort to have a good variety of healthy choices for everyone to eat for lunch. And I feel like for every day that we can’t pull it off, and they have to have “The Usual,” there will be so many more days that we can.

I am a keeper of lists. I need to see things in print or I forget about them. I have lists of smaller lists. I now have a list of lunch ideas to keep things creative in our lunchboxes this year.

We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, on this first day of school, it’s time for lunch!

Enjoy!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Strawberry English Muffin Fruitwiches

24 Jul
English muffins: not just for breakfast!

English muffins: not just for breakfast!

A while back I posted about Elizabeth’s cookbook and I posted one of the recipes we’d tried at the time, a tuna salad recipe. Since then we’ve had it for lunch and even for dinner!

Today, I thought I’d post another recipe from that same cookbook, one that we have had for lunch and for dinner this summer, and one that we’ve also modified slightly to meet everyone’s different taste buds. It’s a great summer meal because it is cool, doesn’t involve using an oven, and uses a great summer fruit: fresh strawberries.

The ingredients for this are simple, no matter which way you choose to make it. You need:

Fresh sliced strawberries

an English Muffin

Strawberry jam

Goat cheese, cream cheese, or peanut butter

Elizabeth's cookbook of choice

Elizabeth’s cookbook of choice

The directions are even more simple!

“Split an English Muffin and lightly toast the halves. Spread the cut side of the bottom half with softened goat cheese or plain whipped cream cheese (we also have done peanut butter). Top with a thin layer of strawberry jam, followed by a layer of thin strawberry slices. Cover with the top half of the muffin, jam side down, and press gently.”

We prefer to do open-faced sandwiches, in order to have more fresh strawberries! This sandwich has been a hit every time we’ve served it, and it’s easily modified for everyone.

Next time you’re looking for a summery lunch or a cool dinner (or maybe even a yummy summer breakfast,) give these English Muffin Fruitwiches a try!