Musings about food, gluten-free/dairy-free/soy-free cooking and life in general. A place to share my enthusiasm for cooking from scratch, gardening, raising 3 wonderful children and striving toward a simpler, more content life.
Well, now that I've found some space in my freezer, I've been baking up a storm whenever I have a chance so I have some goodies stashed away for school lunches and snacks. So far I have apple muffins, zucchini muffins, cranberry muffins, banana muffins, mini chocolate chip cookies, snack balls, personal pizza crusts, pizza pockets and two loaves of sandwich bread. Yay! I'll try to post some recipes soon, but if there are any in particular you're interested in, let me know and I'll get it posted ASAP.
School starts TOMORROW!
We have school lunches planned for the first three days:
Somehow, this almost slipped my mind. For the boys, at school, I make them each a bag of goodies that can stay there through the school year so they have both some treats (for birthdays or other celebrations I wasn't forewarned about) and some snacks (also for things that we miss, but also so they would have some safe snack options should they, say, forget their lunch and I'm not available to bring it in). This has worked quite well in the past. The teachers keep the bag somewhere for the kids, so it's not like they're munching from it all the time, but it's easy access when the need arises. I'm not sure quite how I'll wind up modifying this for my 7th grader this year (first year at the Jr. High, so we're beyond birthday parties in class, at least).
Some items I've included (in a sealed, labeled, gallon Ziploc bag with their name on it); all items are individually wrapped to maintain shelf-life:
Candy - Skittles, Starburst, Mike & Ikes, Hot Tamales, Smarties, Dots, Jolly Ranchers, Nerds, Dum Dums, Necco conversation hearts (Valentine's)
If ice cream or popcicles may be served, having the school keep one or two Fla-Vor-Ice or Del Monte Fruit Chillers in a freezer is a good idea (these can be transported by your child, not needing to remain frozen.
School starts in 8 days! So I thought I'd have a post dedicated to school lunches. The best advice I can give for packing lunches is to make a menu, or at least a list of ideas for those mornings where you just can't think of anything. Last year, I tried writing up a month-long school lunch menu, just like the other kids got for hot lunch. It was a huge hit with the boys, but I got lazy about it after the first couple of months.
I also try to freeze lunch size portions of leftovers for crazy days. I've been stockpiling baked goods in the freezer, so I've got some reserve. The other day I made tamale and baked half into muffin tins for lunches (they'll just be thawed and reheated then popped in a thermos).
Speaking of which – having a food thermos is a must, as is having many different size/shape lunch containers. You can look at bento sites for great ideas and modify to whatever you have on hand/locally available (for example: small plastic spice jars, with half the holes covered with tape work well for a salt shaker; a clean food coloring squeeze bottle makes an excellent sauce bottle).
I keep a notebook of ideas, though (almost everything is homemade, since we've got three food groups to avoid) -
Bread sticks with pizza sauce
tortilla chips & salsa or guacamole or bean dip
cereal & milk
fried rice w/ pork or chicken
ham, cheese & pickle rolls
crackers, ham & cheese
inside out sandwiches (bread, cheese & pickle wrapped with ham, wrapped with lettuce)
French toast sticks
Pancakes – mini w/ side of syrup
pasta (mac & cheese, spaghetti, tomato/bacon/basil, chopped ham & veggies, mini meatballs &
sauce, chicken & broccoli)
meatballs with rice
wraps/sandwiches/rice cakes/bagel - PB& J, PB & apple slices, PB & banana, PB & honey, PB & marshmallow crème, PB & chocolate chip, egg salad, tuna, ham, chicken salad, chicken and bacon, buffalo chicken wrap (chicken strips, hot sauce, lettuce, tomato, mayo), bacon/lettuce/avocado/tomato, ham & egg
sandwich kabob (skewer with meat, cheese, bread, pickle, etc)
sausage/spanish rice/corn & black beans
salads (green salad, tuna salad on lettuce, grilled chicken, greens w/ pecans, cranberries, apple or pear slices, layered salad, taco salad)
More canning the other day, although the weather is not cooperating - it's in the 90's. Way too hot, even though I do the actual canning outdoors (I really need a shade tent!). Got 10 half pints of strawberry-honey jam and 13 half pints of blueberry jam put up. Hopefully I'll get a picture added soon - they're so pretty!
Next up, I hope to try making some pickled carrots/onions/jalapenos since the local grocery stores no longer carry them. Right now we're left to stock up any time we make it up to Spokane, so it would be great if I could master making them myself.
School starts in two weeks, so I'm starting to get into stock-up mode (baking extra bread, muffins, cookies and getting other snack foods made). However, I ran into a problem this year. My freezers are too full to hold extra baked goods. So, I've spent snippets of time over the past few days to inventory all that is lurking in the depths of the freezers. Now it's time to start some menu planning to use up some of this bounty! (And, canning some rhubarb...my mother was generous with it this year and brought me 72 cups of frozen rhubarb!!)
I've been busy this week with the start of canning/drying/freezing/fermenting. Last weekend I picked up 2 boxes of apricots and a large cabbage at the farmer's market. I canned 5 pints of apricot sauce, dried 5 trays of apricot leather and 8 trays of apricot halves (giving me a gallon jar of dried). I'm attempting my first batch ever of sauerkraut, so I'm crossing my fingers that I have something decent to show for my efforts in 5 weeks.
A couple of days ago, a dear friend let me raid her cherry tree. I harvested two large sand buckets full, which gave me enough to freeze 5 4-cup bags and bake a cobbler. Last year I canned the cherries, so I'm interested to see which method produces a better product.
Today I tackled the blueberries (unfortunately, from the grocery store) that have been taking up my refrigerator for the past two days (I played hookie yesterday to take the kids to the beach). I canned 11 pints of blueberry syrup and started a blueberry-basil vinegar that sounded interesting. The vinegar needs to steep for 4 weeks, though, so I'll have to report back then. My basil is growing like mad, so I'm interested in trying some new recipes with it - if anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.