Lunch, Courtesy of the Bread Machine

lunch on 29 Sept 2016: focaccia with salami sticks, grape tomatoes, carrots and apples

Remember when I bought a bread machine? Well, I love that thing. On average, we go through about two loaves of bread per week. I also make pizza and focaccia dough in the bread machine, and it turns out perfectly every time. What can I say? We’re a gluten-loving household.

lunch on 28 Sept 2016: peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich with a baby carrot, grapes, raspberries and mini cheese filled crackers, and veggie sticks
lunch on 28 Sept 2016: peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich with a baby carrot, grapes, raspberries and mini cheese filled crackers, and veggie sticks
lunch on 29 Sept 2016: focaccia with salami sticks, grape tomatoes, carrots and apples
lunch on 29 Sept 2016: focaccia with salami sticks, grape tomatoes, carrots and apples

A Muted Palette of Fruit and a Bright Black Bean Salad

lunch on 27 Sept 2016: raspberries, grapes, baby carrots, peanut butter and Nutella roll-ups, and veggie sticks
lunch on 27 Sept 2016: raspberries, grapes, baby carrots, peanut butter and Nutella roll-ups, and veggie sticks
lunch on 27 Sept 2016: raspberries, grapes, baby carrots, peanut butter and Nutella roll-ups, and veggie sticks

Aren’t the colors in this lunch so soft and pretty? I especially love the pale raspberries and the fancy little Riesling grapes that I got at the farmers market. Just like yesterday, the kiddos are suffering through a hot day at school: 107˚ the last I checked!! My plan for dinner on this wretched hot day is a nice black bean salad:

black bean salad
black bean salad

I piled all sorts of goodies into this big salad bowl: black beans that I cooked in the Crock-Pot yesterday, corn, peas, sweet red lipstick peppers, scallions, rice, and cilantro. The salad is dressed in a little olive oil and fresh lime juice with lots of lime zest. For spices, I used cumin, smoked paprika, chile powder, and a healthy sprinkling of salt + pepper. Yummers!

It’s a heat wave, so it’s fruit for lunch.

lunch on 26 Sept 2016: grapes, cantaloupe slices, mini Nutella and jam sandwiches, and cheese sandwich crackers
lunch on 26 Sept 2016: grapes, cantaloupe slices, mini Nutella and jam sandwiches, and cheese sandwich crackers
lunch on 26 Sept 2016: grapes, cantaloupe slices, mini Nutella and jam sandwiches, and cheese sandwich crackers

It’s been really, really, really hot here on the Central Coast, and today might be the worst day yet. The kids typically don’t eat much for lunch on super hot days, so I try to pack lighter fare with lots of fruit. Today, I threw in some little grapes from the farmers market and some nice, cool slices of cantaloupe.

lunch on 23 Sept 2016: fruit salad with strawberry chia yogurt and peanut butter filled pretzels
lunch on 23 Sept 2016: fruit salad with strawberry chia yogurt and peanut butter filled pretzels

On Friday, I made a fruit salad with cantaloupe, grapes, and green plums. For sides, I included a yummy mix of chia seeds, strawberry jam and plain yogurt with some peanut butter filled pretzels. We’ll be powering through the week with more fruit and crunchy snacks from Trader Joe’s.

A Pretzel Roll and Stuff

lunch on 21 Sept 2016: buttered pretzel roll, salami sticks, grapes, green plum, cheddar cheese, and sugar snaps
lunch on 21 Sept 2016: buttered pretzel roll, salami sticks, grapes, green plum, cheddar cheese, and sugar snaps
lunch on 21 Sept 2016: buttered pretzel roll, salami sticks, grapes, green plum, cheddar cheese, and sugar snaps

Today the kiddos have a rather European lunch with fancy cured meat and aged cheese: “Irresistible” salami sticks and New Zealand sharp cheddar, both from Trader Joe’s. Fruit and veggies are: grapes, a green plum and some sugar snap peas.

And, here’s a little peek into the grown-up lunch of the day:

leftover enchiladas with salad and sliced plums
leftover enchiladas with salad and sliced plums

My husband has been getting slightly better lunches since I got a set of EasyLunchboxes a few weeks ago. Normally, he grabs a random container of dinner leftovers for lunch, but I’ve been motivated to pack up those leftovers in a cute EasyLunchbox and that means side dishes! Fancy, huh? We both keep glass containers at work for any microwaving, because I try to never microwave anything in plastic after melting tons of Tupperware/plastic containers and finally realizing that I didn’t want to eat a side of plastic for lunch.

Variations on a Sandwich

lunch on 20 Sept 2016: ham and cheese roll-ups with veggies, fruit and Veggie Straws
lunch on 20 Sept 2016: ham and cheese roll-ups with veggies, fruit and Veggie Straws
lunch on 20 Sept 2016: ham and cheese roll-ups with veggies, fruit and Veggie Straws

We’re having one of those Central Coast September heat waves that I’ve come to dread. On hot days, the kiddos alway request lunches that aren’t so heavy. That means that big sandwiches are out and cute, dainty sandwiches are in—like these little ham, pub cheese and sweet pickle relish roll-ups. Some nice, crisp fruits and veggies round out this lunch: carrots, sugar snaps, grapes and green plums. And, of course, a salty treat and kid fav: Veggie Straws.

lunch on 19 Sept 2016: trio of pretzel bread sandwiches with banana, green plum, carrots and sugar snaps
lunch on 19 Sept 2016: trio of pretzel bread sandwiches with banana, green plum, carrots and sugar snaps

Yesterday, I made mini sandwiches out of sliced pretzel rolls filled with 1) Nutella and peanut butter 2) Nutella and jam, and 3) butter and jam. The kids really love these little sweet sandwiches. And I’m afraid those bananas look a bit dodgy. I like my bananas just on the other side of green, but it’s been so warm in my house that they seem to go from green to speckled and really ripe in a matter of hours.

Fun Friday Lunch of Snacks

lunch on 16 Sept 2016: veggies, applesauce, ham and cheese kabobs, and rice cracker trail mix
lunch on 16 Sept 2016: veggies, applesauce, ham and cheese kabobs, and rice cracker trail mix
lunch on 16 Sept 2016: veggies, applesauce, ham and cheese kabobs, and rice cracker trail mix

I got motivated last night to make a fun Friday lunch full of kid-approved snacks: mini ham and cheddar kabobs, rice cracker trail mix, carrots, lipstick peppers, cucumber and apple mango fruit crusher.

Peanut Butter + Nutella + Raspberry Jam = Yum!

lunch on 15 Sept 2016: peanut butter, Nutella and jam sandwich with granola bar, veggies and a little apple
lunch on 15 Sept 2016: peanut butter, Nutella and jam sandwich with granola bar, veggies and a little apple

Today’s lunch has another delicious sandwich in it: peanut butter, Nutella and raspberry jam. This lunch is similar to Monday’s except I threw in a Trader Joe’s Raises the Bar chewy granola bar and a few more veggies: carrots, lipstick peppers and sugar snap peas.

A Fancy Sandwich: Salami, Cheddar and Watercress

salami, sharp cheddar and watercress with a little butter
lunch on 15 Sept 2016: salami, cheese and watercress on focaccia, carrots, Goldfish and nut trail mix, grapes and strawberries
lunch on 15 Sept 2016: salami, cheese and watercress on focaccia, carrots, Goldfish and nut trail mix, grapes and strawberries

Last night I made a nice focaccia to go with our black bean soup for dinner. My bread maker is still going strong and it makes the best focaccia and pizza dough ever: light and filled with air. I had just enough bread left over to make fancy sandwiches for the kids and dad.

salami, sharp cheddar and watercress with a little butter
salami, sharp cheddar and watercress with a little butter

If you’re curious, I have this bread machine and I love it!

Pesto Pasta and More

Lily presents: Lunch

Now presenting: lunch.

Lily presents: LunchLily helped me pack these lovely lunches last night. She’s very excited about the Laughing Cow Cheese Dippers that she forced me to buy on our last grocery outing. I don’t typically buy packaging-intense convenience snacks like this, but Lily can be very persuasive. She thought the cheese dippers would go great with last night’s leftover pesto pasta. A few chopped veggies, some fruit, and this lunch was done in a flash.

lunch on 13 Sept 2016: pesto pasta, strawberries, pineapple, Laughing Cow cheese dippers, sugar snaps, carrots and lipstick peppers
lunch on 13 Sept 2016: pesto pasta, strawberries, pineapple, Laughing Cow cheese dippers, sugar snaps, carrots and lipstick peppers

Super Simple Monday Lunch

lunch on 12 Sept 2016: peanut butter, Nutella and jam sandwich with carrots, strawberries and tiny grapes
lunch on 12 Sept 2016: peanut butter, Nutella and jam sandwich with carrots, strawberries and tiny grapes
lunch on 12 Sept 2016: peanut butter, Nutella and jam sandwich with carrots, strawberries and tiny grapes

This is an “I’ve got five minutes to pack lunch” Monday morning special: peanut butter, Nutella and raspberry jam on homemade egg bread. All the produce is from the Saturday Farmers Market: sweet baby carrots, strawberries, and Champagne grapes. Can you call them “Champagne grapes” if they are grown right here on California’s Central Coast?

A Friday Snacky Lunch

lunch on 9 Sept 2016: crackers, hard-boiled egg, salami sticks, cheddar cheese, carrots, strawberries, and a little chocolate
lunch on 9 Sept 2016: crackers, hard-boiled egg, salami sticks, cheddar cheese, carrots, strawberries, and a little chocolate
lunch on 9 Sept 2016: crackers, hard-boiled egg, salami sticks, cheddar cheese, carrots, strawberries, and a little chocolate

Today the kids get their favorite kind of lunch: snacky finger food. There are lots of yummy little bites in this lunch: a hard-boiled egg with salt and pepper (technically a hard-steamed egg since America’s Test Kitchen has taught me that steaming is preferable to boiling eggs), crackers, salami sticks, cheddar cheese, carrots, and strawberries.

How to Make the Perfect “Boiled” Egg

Choose a pot based on the number of eggs you want to cook: the eggs should fit comfortably in one layer on the bottom of the pan or in a steamer basket. Put about an inch of water in the pan and heat it until it’s nicely bubbling. Carefully lower your eggs into the hot water (if you have lots of eggs to cook, it’s easier to put them in a steamer basket and lower them all at once). Put a lid on the pot and lower the heat so that it continues to simmer. Cook for 6-1/2 minutes for the perfect soft-boiled egg. And when I say perfect, I mean perfect: the whites will be set and the yolk will be gloriously runny in the center. Cook for 13–14 minutes for the perfect hard-boiled egg. Experiment with the time until you find your version of the perfect hard-boiled egg. I like mine with the yellows just a little soft and darker in the very center. Run the eggs under cold water for about 30 seconds, peel and enjoy your perfectly “boiled” egg.

Thanks to those geniuses at ATK for doing all the work to discover the perfect way to boil eggs.

Spam Musubi: Thursday’s ‘Ono Lunch

lunch on 8 Sept 2016: Spam musubi, carrots, cucumbers, teriyaki tofu, apple, and Goldfish trail mix
lunch on 8 Sept 2016: Spam musubi, carrots, cucumbers, teriyaki tofu, apple, and Goldfish trail mix
lunch on 8 Sept 2016: Spam musubi, carrots, cucumbers, teriyaki tofu, apple, and Goldfish trail mix

How lucky are the kids today? They’ve got Spam musubi for lunch! Spam musubi is a surprisingly delicious Hawaiian snack food made with rice, Spam, and nori. They sell it everywhere in Hawaii—even at 7-Eleven. It’s basically Spam sushi. When I was in Hawaii a couple of years ago, I picked up a fantastic Double Size Musubi Maker:

musubi press

I just love this contraption, because you can quickly make a giant brick of Spam musubi, which can then be cut into dainty little rolls. Because, let’s face it, a little Spam goes a long way. I’ve contemplated loading up the musubi press with healthier ingredients, but the teriyaki Spam is just so incredibly ‘ono that I always end up making it the classic island way.