Getting Kids in the Kitchen, or, Outside of the Kitchen

learning the proper way to remove a slider from the grill

I’m continually trying to come up with ways to get my kids interested in food prep and cooking. Some days it’s easier than others and I don’t try to force it if they’re not feeling it. A few days ago, my husband decided to give Iain, who is almost 12, a little grilling lesson. This kid LOVES burgers. And, he also loves fire, so it was a perfect combination. We made sliders, which are especially kid-friendly in terms of both flipping and eating.

Iain gets slightly smoked out while grilling
Iain gets slightly smoked out while grilling
Iain gets an audience
Iain gets an audience
learning the proper way to remove a slider from the grill
learning the proper way to remove a slider from the grill

The best part about making sliders: serving them for lunch the next day. The kids said they were delicious cold. Too bad there weren’t enough leftovers for me to have some for my lunch.

lunch with fruit, carrots, pretzel thins and a mini cheeseburger
lunch with fruit, carrots, pretzel thins and a mini cheeseburger

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

Back into the Swing of Things, Lunch Style

lunch on 30 Nov 2016: hummus and veggies, crackers, grapes, and mini chocolate mint stars

It’s always a challenge to get back into the school routine after having an entire week off for Thanksgiving break—especially when that break includes a trip to Disneyland followed by the making and consumption of way too much food. The first few lunches of the week were typical lazy mom affairs made with minimal fuss and effort.

Exhibit A:

lunch on 28 Nov 2016: cinnamon swirl bread with butter, dried apricots, carrots, apples and a GoGo Squeez
lunch on 28 Nov 2016: cinnamon swirl bread with butter, dried apricots, carrots, apples and a GoGo carrot applesauce

Exhibit B:

lunch on 29 Nov 2016: peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich with carrots and oranges
lunch on 29 Nov 2016: peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich with carrots and oranges

For today’s lunch, I put in a little more effort and made the kiddos a nice hummus (edamame hummus from Trader Joe’s) and veggie lunch with multi-colored carrots, quick boiled green beans and baby bell peppers. I also included some delicious Ritz crackers, grapes, dried apricots, and Trader Joe’s adorable little mini mint chocolate star cookies.

lunch on 30 Nov 2016: hummus and veggies, crackers, grapes, and mini chocolate mint stars
lunch on 30 Nov 2016: hummus and veggies, crackers, grapes, and mini chocolate mint stars

Lunches with Variety

lunch on 7 Nov 2016: quesadilla with carrots, sweet peppers, and watermelon

Here is a roundup of last week’s lunches. You can see certain recurring motifs: watermelon, big green grapes, and colorful carrots (we all love little dark purple carrots). And, cheese, lots of cheese.

lunch on 7 Nov 2016: quesadilla with carrots, sweet peppers, and watermelon
lunch on 7 Nov 2016: quesadilla with kale, lettuce, carrots, sweet peppers, and watermelon
lunch on 8 Nov 2016: cheese and crackers, trail mix, grapes, banana, and persimmon slices
lunch on 8 Nov 2016: cheese and crackers, trail mix, grapes, banana, and persimmon slices
lunch on 9 Nov 2016: peanut butter and Nutella sandwich with Goldfish, watermelon and grapes
lunch on 9 Nov 2016: peanut butter and Nutella sandwich with Goldfish, watermelon and grapes
lunch on 10 Nov 2016: cheese and butter on whole wheat pitas, salami sticks, sliced radish, carrots, and grapes
lunch on 10 Nov 2016: cheese and butter on whole wheat pitas, kale, salami sticks, sliced radish, carrots, and grapes

Lunch Round-up: All About Variety

peanut butter and Nutella sandwiched between blueberry pancakes, pears, persimmons, and garden tomatoes

Here are some recent school lunches packed in my new favorite lunchboxes.

Iain was complaining recently that he was tired of peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches. Say what?! So, I decided to mix things up with a peanut butter and apple sandwich. I also drizzled on some honey and sprinkled some cinnamon on those apples to give the sandwich an extra burst of Fall flavor.

peanut butter, honey and apples on multigrain sourdough, brownie bite, sweet peppers, and carrots
peanut butter, honey and apples on multigrain sourdough, brownie bite, sweet peppers, and carrots

Leftover pancakes are always a kid-favorite lunch when spread with peanut butter and Nutella. Yes, that combo is okay when sandwiched between some blueberry pancakes.

peanut butter and Nutella sandwiched between blueberry pancakes, pears, persimmons, and garden tomatoes
peanut butter and Nutella sandwiched between blueberry pancakes, pears, persimmons, and garden tomatoes

This was an easy end of the week lunch: a little cheese pizza roll up with applesauce, carrots and chunks of Asian pear.

cheese pizza roll up with applesauce, carrots and pears
cheese pizza roll up with applesauce, carrots and pears

You could call this “Mom Has a Little Piece of Leftover Pie Crust and Is Feeling Motivated Lunch.” Yep, I actually made little apple pies for lunch last week. Now the kids want more apple pies for lunch.

apple hand pie, yogurt with honey, cinnamon and chia seeds, sweet red pepper
apple hand pie, yogurt with honey, cinnamon and chia seeds, sweet red pepper

And, finally, today’s lunch is a merry mixup of plain yogurt sweetened with marmalade and honey, a juicy kiwi, a granola bar, a mini sweet pepper, a mini cucumber, a Hebrew National hot dog (the only hot dog worth eating, in my opinion), and a Babybel gouda. Fancy!

yogurt with chia seeds, marmalade and honey, kiwi, hot dog, cucumber, sweet pepper, granola bar and Babybel gouda cheese
yogurt with chia seeds, marmalade and honey, kiwi, hot dog, cucumber, sweet pepper, granola bar and Babybel gouda cheese

Two Ways with King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

lunch on 17 Oct 2016: tuna salad on King's Hawaiian rolls with a sweet lipstick pepper, carrot, Goldfish, and grapes

Is there anything as satisfying as a King’s Hawaiian sweet roll? It’s like a soft little pillow of love. The kids go crazy for King’s Hawaiian bread, so we started the week with some delicious little tuna sandwiches:

lunch on 17 Oct 2016: tuna salad on King's Hawaiian rolls with a sweet lipstick pepper, carrot, Goldfish, and grapes
lunch on 17 Oct 2016: tuna salad on King’s Hawaiian rolls with a sweet lipstick pepper, carrot, Goldfish, and grapes

The second King’s Hawaiian sweet roll lunch has little slider pizzas (marinara sauce + mozzarella on a little roll, pop in a 350˚ oven for 10–15 minutes). Don’t those little pizzas look delicious?

lunch on 18 Oct 2016: pizza bread on King's Hawaiian sweet rolls, Goldfish, and persimmon slices
lunch on 18 Oct 2016: pizza bread on King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls, Goldfish, and persimmon slices

 

It’s Yummy Sandwich Monday!

lunch on 10 Oct 2016: tuna salad sandwich with baby carrots, Goldfish and grapes
lunch on 10 Oct 2016: tuna salad sandwich with baby carrots, Goldfish and grapes
lunch on 10 Oct 2016: tuna salad sandwich with baby carrots, Goldfish and grapes

Today’s yummy sandwich is tuna salad with lots of pickle relish and butter lettuce on homemade egg bread. I also threw in some baby carrots, whole grain cheddar Goldfish and grapes. This sandwich looked so good that I made one for my own lunch. Happy Monday.

Two Ways with Peanut Butter and Nutella

lunch on 6 Oct 2016: peanut butter, Nutella and banana sandwich with carrots, sweet peppers, persimmon and pineapple slices
lunch on 6 Oct 2016: peanut butter, Nutella and banana sandwich with carrots, sweet peppers, persimmon and pineapple slices
lunch on 6 Oct 2016: peanut butter, Nutella and banana sandwich with carrots, sweet peppers, persimmon and pineapple slices

We’re finishing off the week with some peanut butter and Nutella. For Thursday’s lunch, I made a peanut butter, Nutella and banana sandwich on a nice, fluffy roll.

lunch on 7 Oct 2016: peanut butter and Nutella roll-ups, apples, carrot, GoGo Squeez, and shrimp chips
lunch on 7 Oct 2016: peanut butter and Nutella roll-ups, apples, carrot, GoGo Squeez, and shrimp chips

Today’s lunch has some little peanut butter and Nutella roll ups with lots of apples (sliced and GoGo Squeeze strawberry applesauce), a baby carrot and a small serving of delicious shrimp chips. And with that, another week of school lunches is crushed. Happy Weekend!

Leftovers for Lunch: Two Ways with Tortellini

lunch on 5 Oct 2016: tortellini, peanut butter filled pretzels, persimmon slices, pineapple, grapes, and baby carrot

Tortellini from last night’s dinner translates into some yummy lunches today. For the kiddos, I tossed the tortellini in a little olive oil with some grated parmesan. Tortellini always seems really filling to me, so I just gave the kids a small serving of the pasta. I also packed lots of fruit (pineapple, persimmon, and grapes), a baby carrot, and some peanut butter filled pretzels.

lunch on 5 Oct 2016: tortellini, peanut butter filled pretzels, persimmon slices, pineapple, grapes, and baby carrot
lunch on 5 Oct 2016: tortellini, peanut butter filled pretzels, persimmon slices, pineapple, grapes, and baby carrot

And here’s the grownup version of leftover tortellini for lunch:

Daddy lunch: tortellini and kale salad, pineapple chunks and grapes
Daddy lunch: tortellini and kale salad, pineapple chunks and grapes

I tossed the tortellini with some kale, shredded carrots, diced salami and balsamic vinaigrette to make a delicious and filling salad. Just call me master of leftovers. And, yes, I’m loving my EasyLunchboxes.

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.

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.