We are back from vaca! Did you miss me?
The end of our time off signaled the beginning of the school year here and forty-eight hours after we returned I was waving goodbye to Evelyn as she marched into her first grade classroom. *sigh* This morning she rode the bus for the first time ever and I made my husband zip over to the school to make sure she was doing OK. I could practically hear her roll her eyes at me. Such a big girl!
My husband and I were recently blessed with an early Christmas present: an iPad! Although I am still trying to figure it all out and frankly am a bit intimidated by all it is capable of, I thoroughly enjoy the convenience of it. Apple sauce led to the demise of my last cell phone so I am looking for some kind of impenetrable case for the iPad that can withstand a nuclear blast and, of course, small children.
Favorites post! I am already making notes for an Autumn addition. Also, I know that many of you have munchkins headed off to school soon (or like mine, have already started) and that means packing lunches. And speaking of bagged lunch, we like to use these bags instead of plastic. They last forever, look super cool, and are much better for the environment!
While Evelyn is the least picky six year old I know, she was still less than impressed with the food served at her school. Lack of flavor and canned veggies were at the top of her list of grievances so she bagged her lunch a lot last year. This year is looking like much of the same, but I am ready for it! Here are a few ideas if you are looking for some variety for your kids or your own bagged lunch!
Earth Bread- Make this now while zucchini is in season! Bake as loaves or muffins and freeze. I send Evelyn with a whole muffin, some fruit, and string cheese or cottage cheese. I also slice the bread and make a sandwich with cream cheese in the middle. My kids devour it for breakfast too.
Veggie Couscous- I make this all the time with whole wheat pasta. Mix it up the night before and pack it cold for lunch. Feel free to skip the veggies and pack what you like separately. My daughter asks for this at least once a week!
Banana Bran Muffins, Honey Bran Muffins, Pumpkin Pie Muffins- All of these are healthy enough that I pack them as a substitution for a sandwich. They are already portioned and can be pulled right from the freezer.
Homemade Granola Bars- I usually cut these a bit smaller when I put them in my daughters lunch. otherwise she doesn't have an room for fruit or veggies! Individually wrapped in cellophane, they freeze great and go straight into her lunch box. They defrost perfectly by lunch time.
Chicken Salad Wraps- I pack these just like you seen in the picture, but I use a mini tortilla, whole wheat if I can find it. Some organic greens, chicken salad, and I wrap it tight in wax paper. I do the exact same thing for my husband to take to work or for the family when we go on a picnic. Crazy good. For a change of pace, I also pack it in a small dish with a fork and a separate little bag of whole wheat crackers.
Margarita Pasta Salad- Because this salad is so good cold, I save out a portion when I make it for dinner and then it is all ready to send with her the next day. Sometimes I give it to her plain, sometimes I add diced grilled chicken. Either way, super good when all the other kids are eating chicken nuggets.
Super Healthy Cookies- I like the combo of dried cranberries or cherries and dark chocolate chips, but feel free to vary this recipe to your tastes. A variety of dried fruit is particularly good. Thanks to the whole wheat flour, oatmeal, wheat germ, and canola oil, these cookies are healthy enough for the kids to have two! Freeze them and tuck them in lunches for a treat that tastes like dessert but is heart healthy and full of fiber.
Oatmeal Raisin Snack Bars- These are a great change of pace but taste so good you won't believe it. I wrap them individually in plastic wrap and freeze them just like the granola bars. Make sure to save a few to eat right away. They are addicting!
Sweet Potato Fries- These are fantastic cold!
Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps- These are good cold and pack surprisingly well. One of my daughters favorite meals!
Tofu Chocolate Pudding- Much better for you and/or your kids than the store bought stuff!
Also our faves...
-whatever fruit is in season
-carrot sticks, bell pepper strips, sliced cucumbers-my kids prefer these plain but this ranch dressing is great with veggies
-dried fruit and nuts
-crackers and cheese
-graham cracker, whipped cream cheese (it is easier to spread), and jam sandwiches-these taste just like cheesecake
-peanut butter and jelly whole wheat tortilla roll-ups, although I do the cream cheese and jam on these too
-hummus and pita chips (Evelyn is currently on a mission to perfect her own hummus recipe!)
-cubed salami or summer sausage and cubed cheese
-hard boiled eggs, cut in half and seasoned with salt and pepper
-graham crackers with yogurt or applesauce to dip them in
-leftover Salmon Nicoise, all diced into bite sized pieces
-rice cakes smeared with peanut butter
I hope these ideas help! And please note that if I could find a thermos that my daughter could get the top off easily herself, she would probably eat soup twice a week. And now, on to the cookies!
I like to call these cookies Lunchbox Chocolate Chip Cookies for a couple of reasons. First of all, they are super simple. Think of them as a streamlined version of a chocolate chip cookie. No extra ingredients and no extra steps. Second, this recipe makes exactly two dozen cookies. Every time. Perfect for a quick treat in the middle of the week, a speedy dessert for unexpected guests, or a snack for a class. This number will only be off if you eat too much dough. I speak from experience....
This recipe is in my daughters cookbook, Betty Crocker Kids Cook! And even though I have a bazillion cookie recipes to choose from, the kids wanted to make the one in their cookbook. Totally understandable. So we made them, and they were good. Quite good. Simple and good. With such a small ingredient list, I figured we could make them the old fashioned way and mix them in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Now, that is the only way we make these. No mixer, nothing to plug in. Just a bowl, a spoon, and some elbow grease!
Please know that these are in no way an ultimate or best chocolate chip cookie. We far prefer this cookie more. But these are just simple, fast, easy, and yummy. And sometimes, that is just what our families need.
Two Years Ago: Tortellini W/Shrimp, Zucchini and Tomato Cream Sauce
Lunchbox Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Betty Crocker
1 stick of butter, room temp
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 c chocolate chips-M&M's would be nice too
In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter together with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add egg. Mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into a greased or covered sheet pan and bake at 375 for 10 minutes or until golden brown.