In Praise of the Bread Machine

a loaf of challah fresh out of the oven

A bread machine is one of those big bulky kitchen appliances that I never imagined would be an essential item in my house—that was, until I got a bread machine. I love this thing. The loaves that bake in the machine are a little funky in size: tall and puffy with a hole in the bottom from the mixing device. But, the kids don’t complain: they love fresh, warm bread. The thing that I really love about the bread machine is that it mixes dough perfectly. We use every week to make pizza dough: dump the ingredients in and the dough is ready in 45 minutes. All it needs is a short rest and then it’s ready to roll out.

I’ve also discovered that the bread machine can make lots of other doughs, including enriched doughs for brioche, sweet rolls, pan de muerto and challah. Look at this beauty I made yesterday:

a loaf of challah fresh out of the oven
a loaf of challah fresh out of the oven

And here is today’s school lunch, featuring that lovely bread:

challah with Nutella and jam, pistachios, baby carrots and strawberries
challah with Nutella and jam, pistachios, baby carrots and strawberries

In Praise of Strawberries and Fancy Sandwiches

crazy big strawberry from the SLO Farmers Market

Here at Love and Lunch Corporate Headquarters, we have had a rough couple of weeks (a month?) of sicknesses working their way through the office. As a result, I haven’t been keeping up to date with my lunch posts. But, rest assured, we have been eating. And eating quite well, I might add. I was thinking about this as I made sandwiches for the kiddos last night. I took sandwich requests (always a mistake), so I had to make two different types for today’s lunch: one with mortadella and the other with roast beef. Making these fancy sandwiches made me reflect on my own childhood of bologna, American cheese (Kraft singles), and ketchup (Heinz, please) sandwiches. Yep, that atrocious combo was my favorite. My kids definitely have way better taste than I ever did at their ages.

sandwiches made to order: mortadella, cheddar and sprouts for Princess and roast beef, cheddar, a few sprouts and dill pickle relish for Big Dude
sandwiches made to order: mortadella, cheddar and sprouts for Princess and roast beef, cheddar, a few sprouts and dill pickle relish for Big Dude

Of course, I didn’t grow up in California (except for a brief stint in kindergarten when Dad was stationed at March AFB), land of plenty. I mean just look at this strawberry:

crazy big strawberry from the SLO Farmers Market
crazy big strawberry from the SLO Farmers Market

My kids are so lucky to have year-round access to such amazing produce. It makes it a lot easier to pack reasonably healthy lunches when you always have delicious fruit and veggies on hand. Here is a round-up of some recent lunches. Almost all the produce is from the SLO Farmers Market. Yum, yum and more yum.

lunch on 13 Mar 2017: carrots, apple slices and strawberries with mini peanut butter and jam sandwiches, and pistachios
lunch on 13 Mar 2017: carrots, apple slices and strawberries with mini peanut butter and jam sandwiches, and pistachios
lunch on 14 Mar 2017: rice cake with crunchy peanut butter and jam, graham fish and dry roasted peanuts, strawberries
lunch on 14 Mar 2017: rice cake with crunchy peanut butter and jam, graham fish and dry roasted peanuts, strawberries
lunch on 15 Mar 2017: jam and butter on homemade egg bread with dried apricots, a Fig Newton, strawberries, carrots and sugar snaps
lunch on 15 Mar 2017: jam and butter on homemade egg bread with dried apricots, a Fig Newton, strawberries, carrots and sugar snaps
lunch on 17 Mar 2017: sandwiches with grapes, carrots and baby cucumbers
lunch on 17 Mar 2017: sandwiches with grapes, carrots and baby cucumbers

Sandwiches, Pizza Bread and More

lunch on 14 Feb 2017: pizza bread, sugar cookies, carrots and radish flowers

This week I made a variety of sandwiches and such on bread. For Valentine’s Day, the kids got pizza bread on King’s Hawaiian rolls with sugar cookies, carrots and radish flowers on the side. I admit that I’m not very skilled at making radish flowers, but the kiddos were eager to jump in and help.

lunch on 14 Feb 2017: pizza bread, sugar cookies, carrots and radish flowers
lunch on 14 Feb 2017: pizza bread, sugar cookies, carrots and radish flowers

Wednesday it was Make Your Own Sandwich day with some kid-approved sandwich ingredients: salami, ham and delicious Irish cheddar cheese.

lunch on 15 Feb 2017: Make Your Own Sandwich lunch with salami, ham, Irish cheddar and King's Hawaiian rolls. Chunks of mango, carrots and radishes on the side.
lunch on 15 Feb 2017: Make Your Own Sandwich lunch with salami, ham, Irish cheddar and King’s Hawaiian rolls. Chunks of mango, carrots and radishes on the side.

I got creative with my bread machine this week and made a lovely loaf of spiced carrot bread. I love adding shredded fruit or veggies and cinnamon/pumpkin pie spice into the bread dough: it gives the bread just a little hint of sweetness. Yum!

lunch on 16 Feb 2017: peanut butter and honey on spiced carrot bread with a chocolate oat bar, carrots, and orange slices
lunch on 16 Feb 2017: peanut butter and honey on spiced carrot bread with a chocolate oat bar, carrots, and orange slices

And here were are at the end of the week with a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich. Seriously, what could be better than ending the week on a sweet note?

lunch on 17 Feb 2017: peanut butter and Nutella sandwich with nut, chocolate Powerberries, satsumas, parmesan Goldfish and pretzels
lunch on 17 Feb 2017: peanut butter and Nutella sandwich with nut, chocolate Powerberries, satsumas, parmesan Goldfish and pretzels

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 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!

Lunch Roundup and Bread-Making Extravaganza

lunch on 2 Mar 2016: applesauce with a peanut butter and Nutella sammie
lunch on 2 Mar 2016: applesauce with a peanut butter and Nutella sammie
lunch on 2 Mar 2016: applesauce with a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich, veggies and Goldfish

Lunch making just got a little more fun here at Love and Lunch, because—BIG NEWS—we just got a bread machine. I love to make bread and was raised in a house of homemade bread made by my Mom (and expert baker) who learned how to make bread from her Mom (and expert baker), my amazing Nanny Yetman. Well, both Mom and Nanny are probably having a heavenly tête-à-tête right about now—enjoying a nice cuppa and discussing what a hopeless Yankie (this is the Newfoundland term for us ‘Mericans) I am with my newfangled bread machine. Now, I never even considered buying a bread machine until a good friend, neighbor, expert baker and all around superDad extolled the incredible convenience of a bread machine. I thought about it, did some research and then thought about it some more. Then I asked our wonderful neighbor to make us a loaf, which the kids promptly declared the “best bread ever.” Sold.

The bread maker arrived last Thursday, and since then I’ve made three loaves of white bread, one loaf of whole wheat bread and a focaccia (by using the pizza dough setting). This bread is not artisanal or crusty or complex: it’s super soft, amazing sandwich bread. The process is ridiculously easy: measure ingredients, put in pan, press start. A loaf of white bread takes four hours start to finish. Wheat bread takes longer: five hours. Dough whips up in about 45 minutes. Amazing. I’m in love with this newfangled contraption.