Easy School Lunch Planner

BY  |  Friday, Aug 22, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

School Lunch Planner

While many of us are rejoicing about the start of school in two weeks—i.e. the peace and quiet of having the kids out of the house—the dark side looms: school lunches.

Mornings are chaotic enough without having to come up with a Pinterest-worthy lunch for our children.

Now, wind back the clock to before the summer break. By last June I was in a lunch rut: I was giving the girls the same-old sandwiches because I knew the same-old sandwiches were the ones they would eat. So to stop myself getting in that rut again, I’m mixing it up this school year. Each day I will provide them with a different base and then the options are limitless, depending on what I have in the fridge and/or freezer!

After a few minutes planning, I came up with enough options to cover the school week and created an easy School Lunch Planner.

Here are five days of kid-friendly lunches with a few options thrown in:

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What’s for Dinner?: Perfect Steamed Lobster

BY  |  Sunday, Aug 03, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

 Steamed Lobster

Time to celebrate! I finally overcame my fear of cooking lobster. People are often amazed to discover that I had never cooked one before. I think I was scarred by the lobster scene in Annie Hall. Watching Annie and Alvy chasing the lobster around the kitchen with a wooden paddle made a big, bad impression on me. Alvy (Woody Allen) sums it all up when he says “I told you it was a mistake to bring a live thing into the house.” His words stayed with me for years.

This week, we were on vacation in Cape Cod with friends and the reality of me having to cook lobster was inescapable. The darned things are everywhere out here and such is my reputation, our friends expected that I would be serving lobster at every meal. I was cornered…

Now, I’m never one to show weakness or failings so I fibbed a little -— “yeah sure lobsters, no problem, I cook them all the time.” So, with much trepidation I bought my first live lobsters: four of the creepy crustaceans to be precise.  Even though the claws were secured with rubber bands I could hear the bag rustling in the trunk of the car and had visions of losing one along the way. I drove home very slowly, taking every bend in the road smoothly in order to avoid having an Annie and Alvy situation on my hands. In a Volvo. A mistake to bring a live thing into a car? I should never have left Baristaville…

Once I was home I relaxed a little (the glass of rosé helped) and I was able to reflect on the conversation I had with the good people at Mac’s Seafood who had sold me the beasts in the first place. As it turns out, cooking lobster is pretty easy. The key to serving successful lobster however comes down to three things: storing, steaming and equipment:

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What’s for Dinner?: Pea, Feta, Mint and Barley Salad

BY  |  Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Pea, Feta, Mint and Barley Salad

Pea, Feta, Mint and Barley Salad has one of my favorite food combinations — peas and mint. The sweetness of the peas contrasts with the freshness of the mint. This salad takes that combination and adds the salty tang of feta, with barley providing the backdrop. Apart from the time it takes to cook the barley, it is incredibly simple. It will also last a few days in the fridge, so there you have it — dinner and lunch! Continue Reading

What’s for Dinner?: Chard and Garlic Scape Tart

BY  |  Sunday, Jul 20, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Chard and Scape Tart

I love picking up my CSA veggie box: my two-weekly bounty of just-picked produce. However, the last two deliveries have been abundant in both chard and garlic scapes and as much as I love all things green, both of these seasonal anomalies can be a bit challenging. Kale is still the rockstar vegetable in our house so like an old Spandau Ballet record, the chard tends to get overlooked and forgotten about.

Chard and Scape TartAs for garlic scapes, well, their novelty soon wears off. I was so excited the first time they made an appearance in my veggie box I eagerly made some scape pesto, which was good, but not great. There is a reason that pesto is traditionally made with basil – it has an amazing flavor with which garlic scapes just cannot compete, so now, I just use them as a green onion substitute.

Until now…

This Chard and Garlic Scape Tart combined with some robust cheddar and Parmesan cheese takes these two vegetables to a whole new level.

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What’s for Dinner?: Strawberry Shortcake

BY  |  Sunday, Jul 06, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (2)

Strawberry Shortcake

OK, I’ll be honest: Great Britain is not known for its culinary prowess.

Good British food is usually simple, honest and often a straightforward, unfussy partnership: fish and chips, bangers and mash, strawberries and cream, with the latter representing a quintessentially English dessert. Nothing says “English summer” like Wimbledon and nothing says “Wimbledon” like an abundance of strawberries and cream (other than perhaps say, tennis whites and Pimm’s).

If you take strawberries and cream as your starting point and add scones you have another classic English dish, the English Cream Tea (also known as a Devonshire Cream Tea) which you will find served at village fetes and in tea shoppes the length and breadth of the sceptered isles. America took this summertime staple and—this is where I get controversial—made it better by substituting strawberry shortcake for the scones.

Although shortcake actually dates back to England in the late 1500s, America championed it and turned scones into biscuits, meaning that this adaption of the English classic allows the buttery qualities of the American Strawberry Shortcake to provide a delicious vehicle for serving fluffy dollops of cream and sweet strawberries.

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What’s for Dinner?: Eton Mess (English Summer Berry Dessert)

BY  |  Sunday, Jun 22, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Eton Mess

The creamy, crispy, slightly decadent Eton Mess offers an easy but impressive way to use some of summer’s staple ingredients: fresh berries.

This traditional English summer pudding — so-called because its thrown-together combination of broken meringue, strawberries and whipped cream can look a little messy — originated at Eton College in the UK. Rumor has it that it was a meringue dish that was trampled on by a dog at picnic. Messy? Yes. Delicious? Definitely. Continue Reading

What’s for Dinner?: Summertime Curried Quinoa Salad

BY  |  Sunday, Jun 08, 2014 10:45am  |  COMMENTS (0)

curried quinoa

“What can I bring?” is the inevitable chorus of summertime; whether you’re attending a pot-luck in the park, spending an evening grilling out in yard or going to one of the topical and plentiful Montclair Toasts for the Teachers, you’re going to need to take something with you.

Often at these gatherings, desserts and main courses are always over-represented—it is so easy to pick up a tray of cookies or slap some burgers on the grill, after all—but finding good side dishes that can cater to the pickiest of picky eaters (gluten intolerant vegetarians for example) are few and far between.

This healthy, tasty Curried Quinoa Salad however, is the perfect accompaniment.

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What’s for Dinner?: Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

BY  |  Sunday, May 25, 2014 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Stuffed portobello mushrooms

The road to good health is paved with a bounty of fruit and vegetables — everybody knows that. You can’t pick up a magazine these days without getting that message loud and clear. Even those stalwarts of steak and beer, men’s magazines, now feature articles on eating your veggies.

I was feeling pretty smug that I was managing my 5-a-day, then a recent study by the BMJ showed that we should be aiming for SEVEN servings of fruit and vegetables a day.

With that in mind, these Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms are a delicious and easy way to increase your veggie consumption. My steak-and-beer-consuming, men’s-magazine, reading other half couldn’t believe how tasty this dish was.

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What’s for Dinner?: Rhubarb and Almond Crumb Bars

BY  |  Sunday, May 11, 2014 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

rhucloseup

Rhubarb is the all evidence we need —spring really is here! I bought a big bunch of rhubarb from the Montclair Farmers’ Market this weekend. I love the stuff but my kids needed a bit of persuading. These Rhubarb and Almond Crumb Bars are a great way to get them to eat it. You can cut up into squares and add as a treat to lunch boxes.

If you have nut allergies just replace the almond flour and almond extract with plain flour and vanilla extract. If you need an added incentive to get the kids to eat it, add some white chocolate chips – they’ll take the edge off the rhubarb a little.

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What’s for Dinner?: Spring Pea Soup

BY  |  Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Spring Pea Soup

This light pea soup is an ode to spring: a seasonal spring poem in soup form. Forget the hearty, heavy split pea variation that immediately comes to mind when you hear the words “pea” and “soup,” as this one is a different pan of soup altogether. Like the green shoots of rebirth evident all around, it is the very essence of freshness and vibrancy. Continue Reading

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