California Fresh: Muesli and Yogurt Loaded with Fruit, California Rolls, Cashews and Goldfish

lunch on 29 May 2014: muesli with yogurt and fruit, California rolls, cashews and goldfish
lunch on 29 May 2014: muesli with yogurt and fruit, California rolls, cashews and goldfish
lunch on 29 May 2014: muesli with yogurt and fruit, California rolls, cashews and goldfish

I love a big bowl of muesli and yogurt loaded with fruit—in this case: strawberries and apricots. Yesterday, my little one got to have a lunch date with Grandma and they brought home a big container of California rolls. Yippie! A rare treat for lunch. As I was packing these lunches this morning, Iain insisted that I throw in some Parmesan Goldfish (which he was attempting to eat for breakfast, that crazy guy). I decided that Parmesan Goldfish would pair nicely with some roasted cashews. And there you have it: a California fresh lunch.

Rice Noodle Salad with Baked Tofu, Cashews and Veggies

lunch on 28 May 2014: rice noodle salad, fresh peas, baby dill pickles and nectarines
lunch on 28 May 2014: rice noodle salad, fresh peas, baby dill pickles and nectarines
lunch on 28 May 2014: rice noodle salad, fresh peas, baby dill pickles and nectarines

Last night I made a big bowl of Vietnamese style (lime juice + fish sauce + sweet chili sauce) rice noodle salad loaded with veggies (kale, cabbage, carrots, and green onions), baked tofu, cashews and basil. Actually the noodles are bead thread vermicelli, which are made from mung beans, but they look and taste a lot like rice noodles. So, the kiddos think of them as rice noodles, also known as “those yummy clear noodles.” I think yummy clear noodle salad is the perfect versatile (you can add grilled meat, seafood, tofu or eggplant) light dinner for a summer day, so I plan to make many more batches in the coming months.

Grilled Chicken, Hummus and Zucchini on Pita Bread and some Good Looking Summer Produce

lunch on 27 May 2014: grilled chicken, hummus and zucchini on pita bread with English shelling peas, strawberries and cherries
lunch on 27 May 2014: grilled chicken, hummus and zucchini on pita bread with English shelling peas, strawberries and cherries
lunch on 27 May 2014: grilled chicken, hummus and zucchini on pita bread with English shelling peas, strawberries and cherries

The kiddos feasted on this lovely summer lunch today. The whole wheat pita triangles are stuffed with zucchinis (from Mom-in-law’s garden), grilled chicken and hummus. We had a slightly more elaborate version of this sandwich for dinner last night (a few more condiments: some juicy tomatoes, cucumbers and hot sauce for the grown-ups). Those gorgeous green peas are English shelling peas from the farmers market. My little one is addicted to these: she just loves popping the big super sweet peas into her mouth.

 

Fruit Salad and Sweet Sandwiches

lunch on 23 May 2014: fruit salad with yogurt, peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches, and pretzels
lunch on 23 May 2014: fruit salad with yogurt, peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches, and pretzels
lunch on 23 May 2014: fruit salad with yogurt, peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches, and pretzels

This week’s lunches have been heavy on the fruit now that berries AND stone fruit are in season. For this fun Friday lunch, I made a fruit salad with raspberries, apricots, nectarines, pluots, and bananas. Mmm, crazy good fruit salad! I put a nice dollop of yogurt on top, because I wanted to use the word “dollop” today. The sandwiches are the ever popular combo of peanut butter and Nutella. There may also be a tiny bit of marshmallow creme on the there (shh, don’t tell: it’s Decadent Friday!).

Breakfast Hash in a Quesadilla

lunch on 22 May 2014: breakfast sausage and veggie quesadilla with grape tomatoes, pretzels and fruit
lunch on 22 May 2014: breakfast sausage and veggie quesadilla with grape tomatoes, pretzels and fruit
lunch on 22 May 2014: breakfast sausage and veggie quesadilla with grape tomatoes, pretzels and fruit

Wednesday nights have become breakfast for dinner nights, because it’s just me and the kids—and we all love breakfast food. Last night I made some savory crepes filled with a kind of breakfast hash made with sautéed diced potatoes, carrots, kale, peas, corn and maple turkey sausage. I’ll admit it was a little more elaborate than the typical breakfast for dinner night (eggs + toast  or frittata), but I just had a hankerin’ for some crepes, so that was that. The kiddos out their crepes plain and I had mine sprinkled with Cholula hot sauce (yummers!). We ate so many crepes that I had to make our strawberry chia jam and Nutella dessert crepes out of sad little scraps. No one complained. I had a tiny bit of hash/crepe filling left over, so I stuffed it into these quesadillas for lunch.

Chia + Stawberry Love

lunch on 20 May 2014: strawberry chia granola bowl with whole wheat banana bread and veggies
lunch on 20 May 2014: strawberry chia granola bowl with whole wheat banana bread and veggies
lunch on 20 May 2014: strawberry chia granola bowl with whole wheat banana bread and carrots

Strawberry season is in full swing here, so I’ve been getting tons of strawberries (for cheap!) at the farmers market. That means that strawberries are showing up all over the place in the kiddos’ lunches. On Tuesday, they feasted on these delicious little strawberry chia granola bowls. I made a strawberry chia pudding with lots of fresh strawberries blended with almond milk and dates. The chia seeds thickened up what was basically a simple strawberry smoothie. With a little homemade granola sprinkled in and some banana bread on the side, this is a perfect naturally sweet lunch for the kiddos.

yogurt with strawberry chia jam, mini tuna panini and summer fruit
yogurt with strawberry chia jam, mini tuna panini and summer fruit

The strawberry chia theme continued on Wednesday with this bowl of plain yogurt swirled with strawberry chia jam. Several weeks ago, I made a small batch of strawberry chia jam and the kiddos went crazy for it. Strawberries are so delicate that they only last a few days in the fridge. So any strawberries that come home from the farmers market and don’t get eaten in three to four days get transformed into strawberry chia jam. Chia seeds are a great addition to jam/fruit preserves, because they help to thicken up the jam very quickly (15–20 minutes of simmering and the jam is done). I made a couple of little tuna melt sandwiches to go along with the yogurt and yummy summer fruit: nectarines, raspberries and pluots.

Super Fast Lunch = Leftover Ham and Pepperoni Pizza

lunch on 19 May 2014: ham and pepperoni pizza with sugar snap peas, carrots, cherries and an apricot
lunch on 19 May 2014: ham and pepperoni pizza with sugar snap peas, carrots, cherries and an apricot
lunch on 19 May 2014: ham and pepperoni pizza with sugar snap peas, carrots, cherries and an apricot

Oh Monday mornings, how difficult you have become as the school year drags on. On Mondays, I often find myself staring into the refrigerator, thinking: “hmm, what can I cobble together for the kiddos’ lunches today?” Imagine my delight when I saw a couple of pieces of pizza left over from a Saturday night pizza making extravaganza. I cut up some carrots, pitted a few cherries and threw in some sugar snap peas and apricots. Lunch: done in under five minutes.

Pasta Salad with Broccoli, Sugar Snap Peas, Tomatoes and Ham tossed in Yogurt Cilantro Dressing

lunch on 14 May 2014: pasta salad with yogurt cilantro dressing, TJ's cheddar corn puffs, and nectarines
lunch on 14 May 2014: pasta salad with yogurt cilantro dressing, TJ's cheddar corn puffs, and nectarines
lunch on 14 May 2014: pasta salad with yogurt cilantro dressing, TJ’s cheddar corn puffs, and nectarines

I’m having a bit of a deja vu moment, because we are in the midst of yet another heat wave. Didn’t we just have a heat wave two weeks ago? Why yes we did. It’s too hot in the house to do much of anything—let alone cook—so we’re eating a lot of salad. Last night I made this pasta salad for dinner. Usually I do an oil and vinegar dressing for pasta salad, but this time I decided to try a yogurt cilantro ranchy type of dressing. It turned out quite yummy and kiddos and grownups enjoyed it again today for lunch.

To make a yogurt cilantro ranchy type of dressing, mix up some yogurt with lots of minced cilantro, a little bit of mayo, juice of a lemon, a little garlic powder, a little onion powder and salt. I don’t think proportions matter much, just keep sprinkling in spices and tasting until you like it. Easy peasy.

Shredded Pork and Pinto Bean Quesadillas and, in other news: Apricots are Here!

lunch on 13 May 2014: shredded pork and pinto bean quesadillas with sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes and apricots
lunch on 13 May 2014: shredded pork and pinto bean quesadillas with sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes and apricots
lunch on 13 May 2014: shredded pork and pinto bean quesadillas with sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes and apricots

The kiddos are crazy about stone fruit: apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, pluots, etc. Before I set out for the farmers market on Saturday mornings, I always ask if they have any requests. Iain usually asks for apricots or “other stone fruit.” I’ve been explaining to him for the past two months that stone fruit are not in season and that we probably won’t see any until June. And, then, it happened. Last Saturday: apricots, nectarines and peaches arrived at the farmers market. Oh praise the generous stone fruit gods! I brought home a big bag of fruit that was devoured in two days. Luckily, apricots have also appeared in grocery stores, so I was able to replenish our supply with a quick trip to Food for Less. I just love apricots—what a fantastic snack food. There are also some lovely veggies and a pork and pinto bean quesadilla in this lunch, but the apricots are the star of the show.

Mother’s Day Brunch Fare for Lunch

lunch on 12 May 2014: scone, kale and ham frittata, apples and carrots
lunch on 12 May 2014: scone, kale and ham frittata, apples and carrots
lunch on 12 May 2014: scone, kale and ham frittata, apples and carrots

Because I love making brunch food and the kiddos have no patience for lackluster leisurely restaurant brunches, we ate in for Mother’s Day. It was quite lovely and totally (actually, ridiculously) homemade and home grown: frittata with ham, kale, and spring onions from our garden, fresh baked currant scones, homemade yogurt and honey granola, farmers market strawberries, fresh squeezed o.j. from our orange trees, and lattes made by own personal barista who I had the good fortune to marry. If you’re food obsessed and love breakfast at home, you really shouldn’t marry someone who can’t foam milk and pull a perfect shot of espresso. Just sayin’. We all have our roles in the kitchen.

An my lucky little sweeties got to have Mother’s Day brunch all over again in today’s lunchbox.

A Kid Favorite: Baked Pork Taquitos

lunch on 9 May 2014: pork taquitos with carrots, apples and pears
lunch on 9 May 2014: pork taquitos with carrots, apples and pears
lunch on 9 May 2014: pork taquitos with carrots, apples and pears

Some days you have to mix it up. I make a lot of quesadillas for the kiddos’ lunches, but every one in awhile I’ll get crazy and bake up a couple of taquitos. Usually taquitos are delicious and decadent little deep fried corn tortilla roll-ups. As much as I appreciate “traditional” taquitos, deep frying is just not part of my lifestyle (too messy, too dangerous, too much oil…). Baked taquitos are much more manageable, especially if you have a fridge full of beans and pork carnitas left over from a big taco night. Friday’s lunch contained these yummy taquitos made with flour tortillas, carnitas, pinto beans, and queso fresco served with apple slices, pear slices and carrots.

Deconstructed Sandwich and Ham and Cheese Nibbles

lunch on 8 May 2014: ham and cheese slices with veggie crackers, radishes, carrots, baby dill pickles and fruit
lunch on 7 May 2014: grilled pork, baby dill pickles, fruit and homemade whole wheat maple oat bread with butter
lunch on 7 May 2014: grilled pork, baby dill pickles, fruit, carrots and homemade whole wheat maple oat bread with butter

I’ve noticed that sometimes the kiddos eat more of their lunches if the food is presented in little bites. Of course, finger food is pretty fun. They also like deconstructed sandwiches: all the normal sandwich ingredients served as individual pieces instead of made up into a big sandwich. That’s exactly what I decided to do for Wednesday’s lunch: I cut up some leftover grilled teriyaki pork tenderloin and served it with baby dill pickles, a couple of slices of homemade bread with yummy Irish butter and some delicious strawberries, grapes and carrots.

lunch on 8 May 2014: ham and cheese slices with veggie crackers, radishes, carrots, baby dill pickles and fruit
lunch on 8 May 2014: ham and cheese slices with veggie crackers, radishes, carrots, baby dill pickles and fruit

I continued with the small bites theme in today’s lunch, which had slices of ham and cheddar cheese served with a side of veggie crackers. The kiddos just love mom-made Lunchables. Unlike real Lunchables, mom-made Lunchables have all sorts of fresh fruits and veggies.