Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Leap day lunch

Tomorrow is leap day.  I thought about coming up with some sort of fun leap-themed lunch but Juju is 3 and a half which means she doesn't even know tomorrow is a Wednesday, let alone a day that only happens once every four years.  I think I'll just include a cute drawing in her lunch and call it a day.

Leaping off an idea from one of Leemore's lunches, I made star avocado and muenster cheese sandwiches.  They are joined by Persian cucumbers from the Hollywood Farmer's market that are among the best cucumbers I've ever had, HFM fresh peas, strawberries, kiwis, heirloom tomato slices and pomegranate seeds for dessert.  I also packed some Greek yogurt (not shown) for snack.

Today's lunch was leftover chicken and rice (the KOAM made a roast chicken again on Monday, I'm starting to feel like the Jeffrey to his Ina Garten. . .and I like it!), plums, strawberries, avocado, clementines, cucumber teddy bears and a caramel wafer cookie for dessert.  The cookies came to me from my friend Lynn, and not Leemore as previously reported (I can not credit Leemore with everything here!  Thanks Marisa for the heads up!).

Happy leap day everyone!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lunch on February 24 - stepping up my game

I really enjoy this blog.  Forgetting that I love to pack lunches these days, I just really like the distraction.  I have a lot of work to do tonight and this is a great way to relax and procrastinate.

I was not relaxing in the kitchen on lunch duty tonight though.  I mentioned my friend Leemore in my last post who is also a PlanetBox fan.  She told me she has also photographed her lunches from time to time and yesterday she sent me a few.  They completely put mine to shame.  You'll notice I stepped up my game a bit for tomorrow's lunch and it's all because of Leemore.  More about her in a moment.

Tomorrow I am serving falafel chips with edamame hummus, strawberries and grapes, an egg salad sandwich with cucumber letters, and vegetable "flowers" with string beans as stems and cucumbers as the petals.  I put small circles of carrots and even smaller circles of strawberry pieces in the center for color.  Dessert is a granola bar cut into the shape of a heart.  In case you were wondering the letters are stuck on the sandwich using hummus as glue.  Perhaps I should have used the same method with the flowers.  I don't have any confidence that they will arrive to the lunch table in this condition. . .

I completely stole the flower idea from Leemore who did something similar using cucumbers as stems in this at home lunch to the left.  She told me she served: "cheese and avocado sandwiches in the shapes of airplanes and clouds, flowers made with cucumbers as stems, strawberries, carrots, and pomegranate seeds as flowers."  I took one look at this lunch and wondered how this is not yet a competitive sport.  Keep in mind that not only is Leemore a mom but she is a full-time fancy schmancy lawyer and she still found time to pull this off.
Her other lunches are equally amazing and she makes fantastic use of sandwich cutters.  I'm jealous of her tools but I'm trying to take a break from spending on my lunch stash these days so I will just have to live vicariously through her bread slicing.  Here are just some of the amazing lunches she has sent to school recently with her descriptions below:

"avocado and cheese sandwich in shape of a truck, homemade sweet potato chips, homemade kale chips, apples rubbed with lime (tastes like a green apple jolly rancher, and citrus keeps it from browning), and a sliver of date wrapped in coconut"

"turkey avocado sandwich in shape of whales or dolphins, strawberries and mango, green peas, carrots, and one choco chip for dessert"

"valentine inspired: almond butter and jelly sandwich in shape of a mommy elephant and baby elephant, strawberries and cherry tomatoes, apple with lime, red pepper (which r loves and i now force myself to eat), and tart dried cherries for dessert"

"an avocado crackerwich (i am out of bread and we all love ak-mak crackers), mango and strawberries, leftover potato medley from dinner last night (sweet potato/potato), carrots and cherry tomatoes, and homemade granola for dessert.  cant wait to see if the granola spills over into the other compartments, but i dont think it will."

Amazing, right?  I told you so.  I also have to thank Leemore for reminding me that my family loves kale chips.  We made some tonight and they were delicious!  A warning, watch the kale while it's roasting, I burned the first batch because I wasn't paying attention!

I already knew Leemore was gorgeous and smart, but now that I know she has such a talent at the lunch table, I'm expecting her to share more lunches and ideas with me and all of you.  Maybe we can even get her to guest blog.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lunch on 2/21/12 and 2/22/12

I am going with an old standby, egg salad, for lunch tomorrow.  My favorite part about making egg salad for Juju's lunch is having the leftovers for my own lunch.  My egg salad recipe is very simple.  Place 6-10 eggs (depending on how much egg salad you want to yield) in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, turn off the flame and cover the eggs for 10 minutes.  Give each egg a crack (you can spill out some of the water and smack the eggs against the side of a pot) then place them into an ice bath to cool them down so you can peel them (if you have time you can just let them sit to cool).  Chop celery into tiny cubes, mix with eggs, light mayo, salt and pepper.  I mix everything together with one of my favorite kitchen tools, the Kwik-Kut (it chops and mixes at the same time!)  Chill and serve with bread, crackers, or eat all by itself.  My husband also likes to add dill and/or mustard but I prefer my egg salad plain.

I served the egg salad as a sandwich along with cut up plums (Juju's current favorite fruit), Trader Joe's veggie sticks, carrots, and ranch dressing for dipping.  Dessert is a caramel wafer cookie.

Today's lunch was courtesy of leftovers from dinner the night before.  The KOAM roasted a chicken which was delicious and yielded a ton of leftovers for lunch for everyone in the family.  I also sent rice, plums, celery sticks, grapes, and a piece of a date covered in coconut.  The date dessert idea came from my friend Leemore who is also a Planet Box lover (she has promised to show me some of her lunches soon).  Leemore has great taste in food so I love her recommendations.  And, she was kind enough to bring me a box of her favorite dates!  If I'm not mistaken she also brought me the caramel cookies that Juju will be enjoying for lunch tomorrow.  Thanks Leemore!

I'm out of time to write more tonight but I promise an update on the Planet Box soon.  I wrote an email to the company's founder and I got a sweet and comprehensive note back with information on cleaning the carrybag, (one of my only complaints with the bag).  I promise to report soon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lunch on 2/16/12 - imitation crab and pasta

My friend Erica recently purchased a Planet Box and posted a photo of her lunch on Facebook and tagged me in it.  I'm flattered!  It's nice to know people are reading (and maybe getting some inspiration from) what I am posting,  And actually seeing it is even better.  Please continue to send me photos and reports of your lunchpacking (and if you do it in the comments field on this blog, everyone else can see it and enjoy it too!)

Tomorrow I am serving leftover pasta, edamame, grapes, imitation crab, peas, and a chocolate covered pretzel for dessert!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lunch on February 14, 2012 - A hearty lunch for Valentines Day

You don't have to say anything, I know today's lunch is a little over the top but it's Valentines Day, and I have all of those cookie cutters, so, why not?  They don't celebrate Valentine's Day at Juju's school but since I love a holiday that is all about red and pink and hearts, I figured I'd send some love in her lunch.  I am serving heart plums and cucumbers, heart shaped challah bread spread with edamame hummus, heart shaped fruit leather and granola bars, and sushi since it's her favorite.  Oh, and of course, conversation hearts for dessert!  Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Lunch on February 13 - pasta and proteins

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm trying to spend less this year.  But, while I'm not stocking up on lunchbox items, that doesn't mean you can't. . .especially when some great staple items go on sale.
I just noticed that my favorite hot/cold container from Pottery Barn Kids is now discounted from $16 to $7.99 and it ships free.  This is the only thermos-like container I have found that works for little kids.  Everything else on the market is really tall and meant to be poured into a bowl but toddlers can't be counted on to do that at the lunch table.  This container allows me to send soup or a hot pasta dish to school and know that she'll be able to stick her fork or spoon in and eat it like it's a regular bowl.  It works for adults as well; this way you don't have to source your own bowl if you pack yourself soup on the go.

Juju isn't really old enough to report back yet about the efficacy of the hot/cold features but even if the broth does arrive lukewarm, this is still the best way to send soup to school.

I'm not serving soup tomorrow (although the forecast calls for rain so perhaps I should be).  I packed leftover plain pasta, edamame, strawberries, avocado, a veggie medley of carrots, peas, and cucumbers, and some chocolate covered raisins for dessert.

If you have time to take further look at the Pottery Barn Kids website you'll notice they are expanding on their non-plastic lunch packing items.  They have just introduced reusable snack bags and are now offering the Kids Konserve stainless steel containers in turquoise and my absolute favorite Spencer utensil set in both turquoise and lavender.  Bravo PBK and keep it up, I'd love to see even more stainless steel and fabric options.  Lunch box fairy, take note!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lunch on 2/10/12 - Veggie delight!

I have to go out later so I made tomorrow's lunch this evening.  That means this is my third post in about 7 hours.  Can you tell I'm procrastinating today?

The falafel chips and edamame hummus were a hit today so I am repeating them tomorrow along with peas, strawberries, plums, cucumbers (shaped like hearts - I broke out the cookie cutters which means I am really avoiding doing work today!), edamame, and for dessert - chocolate cheese!!  Trader Joe's managed to combine two of my favorite things in this delicious blend of white cheddar and dark chocolate.  It is pretty amazing.

Save for the dessert, this is actually a vegan meal.  I know some of my readers are vegan or veg.  I hope this lunch inspires you.  I'm always looking for new ideas on how to make kids food vegan or veg friendly so please send me yours!

Have a great weekend.

Menu planning

On paper you would think I am an organized person.  I'm always on time and often early, I think ahead about most things, and I rarely find myself in situations when I feel unprepared or like I've left something at home.  But as it turns out, I can be pretty scatterbrained too.  I often panic when I realize in the middle of the day that I have to make dinner that night and all we have is yogurt, ketchup, and baking soda in the fridge.  I wish I could be one of those people who sits down on Sunday night and makes a meal plan for the week.  At some point I will accept that I never will be.  In fact, I really don't know anyone who has the time to do that anymore.

But, many many years ago, lots of people did.  My grandmother was one of them.  One of the most exciting finds in her cookbook that included such delights as "Shrimp a la Harriet Ross" (her neighbor) and a recipe that called for "39 cent caviar" was a list of menus for the week.  She told me she wasn't sure whether she actually cooked everything on these lists, or whether it was just that my grandfather requested them, but she did make meals just like these, every night.  There was always an appetizer, (and sometimes soup too), a main, two sides and a dessert.  Imagine four courses of food, every night, in your own home.

This menu was for the week of "Feb. 17, 1947" and is written in my grandfather's handwriting.  If you can't read from the photos, I have typed out what he wanted below:

Week of Feb 17, 1947
Grapefruit supreme
Soup du jour (vegetable)
2 double boned lambchops
Brussel (sic) sprouts
Mashed potato
Lettuce and tomato salad (Russian dressing)
Chocolate eclair

Tuesday, Feb 18, 1947
Tomato juice cocktail
Celery and olive appetizer
Broiled liver with onions
Baked potato
Danish pastry

Wednesday, Feb 19, 1947
Fruit Salad
Broiled Sirloin Steak
FF Pot (french fried potatoes)
String beans
Pound cake

I don't have time to post more now but will continue to post the great finds from this cookbook soon.  If only I had spent the last 10 minutes menu planning and not blogging maybe I could get 4 courses on the table tonight. . .

Lunch on 2/9/12 - Homemade chicken fingers

Today's lunch is one I really want to eat myself.  I got in a rut (you'll see yesterday's boring lunch at the bottom of this post) so I went to Trader Joe's for some inspiration.  I realize my affinity for Trader Joe's could be classified by some as cult-like but I really am just so happy to shop there that I will try almost anything they produce.  So, while perusing the "new items" section I picked up a bag of new "falafel chips."  At first bite I wasn't that impressed but when I dipped them in some edamame hummus (also a Trader Joe's house label item) I was onboard.  They are made with garbanzo beans and falafel spices and really do smell like the real thing.  So, today I am serving falafel chips, edamame hummus, green peas (Juju is crazy about peas, I have to ration her each day so we don't run out), orange slices, an Andes candy for dessert, and homemade chicken fingers with marinara sauce for dipping.

Someone asked me why I don't post recipes on here anymore so here is how I made the chicken (by the way this blog is nearly a year old and I am still not sure what it is supposed to be; I started it to keep a record of the fun I was having with Juju's lunches when she first started to eat lunch at school - I guess some of you have looked to me as a resource for recipes too.  I'll try to keep up and post more!):

I took one pound of chicken breast cut into strips, (you can often buy chicken tenders already cut in the supermarket) dipped them in a bowl of one beaten egg, and then rolled them in breadcrumbs.  I lightly fried them in olive oil to get each side crispy and then transferred them to a cookie sheet to continue baking in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.  If you want you can add spices or salt and pepper or even honey to your egg mixture but this time I made them plain.  The marinara sauce can spice them up.  You can also just fry them in a pan and skip the oven if you don't care about using a lot of oil.

Yesterday's lunch was pretty boring though I did make it in the morning so at least it was fresh.  I served an avocado, orange slices, peas, veggie stix, and a muenster cheese roll up on whole wheat lavash (and of course an Andes candy for dessert.

My friend Monica told me she was in the West Elm store in Chicago and while discussing the abundance of bento and other food storage containers with the manager, mentioned me and this blog and my conundrum about what to do with the dessert section of the Planet Box.  I'm so flattered!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lunch on February 6: Orange and green and lox supreme!

I haven't posted in a while because I've been in Florida visiting friends and my grandparents.  I made an amazing find at my Grandmother's house: her cookbook!  It is filled with fantastic recipes, some for dozens of complicated appetizers she used to serve at dinner parties in the 60s, others for lots of ethnic food her mother used to make (chicken fat is always included as an ingredient).  It also included a week's worth of menu planning that is pretty incredible - I promise to post about it soon.  I also took her Settlement cookbook from the year she got married, 1944.  I'm really excited to go through everything and will post what I make here as much of it will inevitably end up in Juju's lunch.

Today is our first day back at school in about 10 days.  I am serving lots of orange and green.  I made a lox and cream cheese roll-up on whole wheat lavash bread and am pairing it with carrots, peas, orange slices, and muenster cheese with whole grain crackers.  There is an Andes candy mint for dessert.