Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What's in the lunchbox today...

Same lunch for both kids today: organic red & yellow pepper "swords", Snap Pea Crisps, cream cheese & jam on whole wheat (cut into hearts today...since there's probably a limited window when my sons will let me cut their sandwiches into hearts without being mortified), strawberries, and a few cinnamon graham crackers. Then my older son also has a bag of Crispy Wheats tucked in the front of his bag for a snack today.

For those who want a few more ideas, here's what I packed the first two days.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What I packed for lunch the first two days of camp...

While I'd gladly send my kids in with that pea dip filled pita and call it something cool like "slime stuffing"in their camp lunches, because I made it with pine nuts it's a no go on the "nut free policy". A few of you have asked me what I am putting in their lunches, so I'm trying to remember to photograph the lunchboxes before zipping them up. Here's what's in them this week:

My older son's lunch (pictured above) included: (leftover from Sunday's BBQ) black bean-corn-jicama salad, a cheese stick, a squeeze yogurt, and water. Then, there's a container of cinnamon graham crackers tucked in the top pocket you cannot see. Since he liked the black bean salad a lot on Sunday, I excitedly told him I was going to put it into his lunch on Monday...and yes, it was polished off.

His camp also asked us to pack a snack separately, so I tucked a baggie of cucumbers and Newman's fig newtons in the front pocket of his lunchbox...but the newtons came back untouched as a smushed mess. So, apparently there's little time for snack or he wasn't hungry yet.

My little one's Monday lunch included: (also leftover from Sunday night's BBQ) grilled chicken, a few slices of jicama and some cherry tomatoes, strawberries, a cheese stick and water. At his camp, they give the kids a crunchy snack of some sort.

You'll note that one child got the chicken he really liked the night before, the other got the protein-rich side dish he liked a lot. I packed something different for both kids, but both lunches took me minutes to prepare since I was using food I'd already prepared. Aside from making a sandwich, I really try to keep packing lunches simple, based upon what I have in the fridge ready to go.

On Tuesday, both kids have the same lunch for camp: a container of jicama and cherry tomatoes (already washed and cut stored in the fridge), edamame (again, cooked and ready to can usually buy them this way too in the produce section if you're short on time), a squeeze yogurt, and cream cheese and strawberry jam on whole wheat bread (cut into stars, I know, how very Martha of me).

Then for my older one's snack I sent in a bag of these yummy dried bananas I recently discovered. (In Lower Fairfield County, I know they carry them at Walter Stewart's and Whole Foods in Darien and Westport.)

Pea dip as (quick) outdoor lunch

The pea dip in action as a quick lunch by the swing set: strawberries, whole wheat pita bread, cucumbers, Ak-Mak crackers and bright green pea dip.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bright Green Pea Dip (that can multi-task as a sandwich spread and veggie side for the kids)

I love a recipe that multi-tasks. And, with the fun but action-packed days of summer, I need a couple of recipes up my sleeve that I can pull together with a moments notice-- with ingredients I have on hand. I made this dip yesterday and it was a hit. Today I plan to serve it for lunch on some crusty bread. And I made such a large quantity that early this coming week, my children will probably see it on their dinner plates as a veggie side, accompanied by some whole wheat pita chips to dip. Originally torn out of a Mark Bittman column in the New York Times' food section, I modified it based upon what I had on hand (or didn't as the case was, so no mint). Note to self: the omission of fresh mint probably made it more kid-friendly, so add it or not, depending upon your audience.

Bright Green Pea Dip
(adapted from Mark Bittman)
1 bag of organic frozen peas
1 box of organic veggie broth (you'll probably use about 1 cup)
3-4 cubes Dorot frozen garlic (or 2 fresh cloves)
handful of shredded parmesan cheese
handful of pine nuts (optional)
fresh mint, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Put the frozen peas into a saucepan or fry pan with just enough veggie broth to cover the peas. Heavy simmer for a few minutes, until the peas are bright green. Try one to make sure they're tender. Drain the peas, reserving the cooking liquid.

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of the cooked peas, the shredded Parmesan, and pine nuts and mint if you're including them. (I did add pine nuts, but left the mint out because I didn't have any.)

In a Cuisinart, puree the remainder of the peas and garlic until smooth (see above). You may add some of the cooking liquid if you'd like to make it really smooth. (I simply pureed the peas, and didn't add anything so there was no need for me to save the cooking broth.)

Add the pureed peas to the mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper, to taste. And voila, a bright green pea dip that is quick, healthy and a little different in a delicious way.

Last night I served the pea dip surrounded by a couple different varieties of pita chips (not photographed in the bowl yet, since it's so humid here). But, the Bright Green Pea Dip can do double duty as a sandwich spread, and since it's made with peas, some cheese and nuts, it's a kid-friendly veggie side as far as I am concerned!

Picky Tip (since I know a few of you have kiddos bummed out by lumps and bumps in their food): This should be a hit since kids love to dip...But, if your child isn't going to like the chunky consistency then try pureeing all of the peas, along with the cheese (and mint and garlic if you're including them) and omitting the pine nuts and non-pureed peas. You can add some of the cooking broth or some olive oil to make it as smooth as you wish. You'll still have a bright green dip that is healthy and quick.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Today, I'll be digging out of laundry and doing the re-entry gig after our weekend getaway to relive my husband's youth. The kids thought the (grimy) college dorms were awesome. I would have to say that two of the highlights of the trip were the afternoon we spent at our friends' absolutely beautiful Vermont spread where the kids frolicked in their pond all afternoon, and the visit to my husband's aunt and uncle who served us homemade cider with a splash of homemade sour cherry juice upon arrival to their farm. Such a treat.

I can't share a recipe for this sort of thing...because really, what's the point unless you have an apple and cherry orchard? But, I do have some simple recipes to share for dinner solutions on busy summer evenings that are tried and true these first two weeks of summer at our house. But first, several loads of laundry...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Orange Yogurt Dressing...Topping...Marinade...

Orange Yogurt Dressing (or topping or marinade…)

makes about 1 ½ cups

  • Garlic, start with 2 cloves and add more if you’d like
  • Kosher salt, start with 1 teaspoon and add more if you’d like
  • Olive oil, start with 4 Tablespoons and add more until you reach desired consistency
  • Plain yogurt, 1 cup (whole fat, low-fat, non-fat...whichever you prefer)
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, start with 6 teaspoons and add more until desired tanginess (or substitute white wine vinegar)
  • Orange marmalade, start with 4 Tablespoons and ad more until desired level of sweetness

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until combined. Taste and add more lemon juice or marmalade for tanginess or sweetness. You may also thin the dressing with olive oil or water, if you’d like.