Friday, September 18, 2009

September: Lunchbox Lusciousness

I think we found out what the women of the Coal Creek ward are doing most of the time in their kitchens--making lunches for their kids--because we had upwards of 16 people at the most recent cooking club meeting! Some great ideas were shared for getting out of the PBJ rut, and for making lunchtime at school more fun for kids. Several moms like to stick a note in with lunch, and some like to include a riddle, or fold the letter into a cute origami form. The links below will help you find fun things to include in lunchtime love letters, and how to make them into cats, cranes, cars, etc.

Riddles for kids:

Origami folding techniques:

April also recommends two mom-blogs that she follows with great lunch ideas for kids:

Join us Oct. 15 at 7:30 at April Ulrich's house for Winter Soups and Quick Breads.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Filled Rice Balls with Peanut Sauce


2 C short grain (sticky) brown rice
5 C water
1 tsp salt
4 Tbl black sesame seeds

Directions: Reserve sesame seeds. Simmer rice, covered, on low heat until all water is absorbed. Spread cooked rice on a wax paper-lined baking sheet to cool.

While rice is simmering, make red lentil filling.


1 cup large or small red lentils, sorted and rinsed
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt

In a 3-quart saucepan over high heat, combine the lentils with 4 cups water and bring it to a boil. Skim and discard any foam and add the bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes; drain.

While the lentils simmer, in a small saute pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and pine nuts and cook until the onion softens and the pine nuts begin to color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, coriander, caraway, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Continue to cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat.

In a food processor, add the lentils and onion mixture and puree until smooth.

To assemble rice balls:

It is sometimes helpful to coat your hands with canola oil when making the balls. Mound about two tablespoons of rice in your palm and compact it. Make an indentation in the center, and put a few teaspoons of lentil filling in. Cover with more rice and roll gently in your hands, pressing firmly until you have a solid ball. Roll one side of each ball in reserved sesame seeds.

Peanut dipping sauce:

1/2 C natural peanut butter
3/4 C tablespoons coconut milk
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tbl teaspoon red Thai curry paste
1/2 teaspoon chili paste or siracha chili sauce
1/4 C white or brown sugar


Whisk all ingredients together until smooth

Homemade Pretzels with Dipping Sauces

4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping


In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.

When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.

Put a pretzel in your child's lunchbox with small containers of mustard, honey, ranch, ketchup, cheese sauce, or whatever dipper he/she likes.

Lemon-Poppyseed Mini-Muffuns

One mom recommended making large batches of muffins and quick breads ahead of time, slicing them, packing them in individual ziplocks and freezing them. In the frenzy of the morning, just grab one out of the freezer and toss it in the lunch box.

Kid Kabobs

Cut bread, pepperoni (or whatever kind of meat your kids like), cheese and vegetables into manageable chunks, and skewer them. Drizzle with Italian dressing before serving.

Black Bean Dip

1 can (19 oz./540 mL) black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup (175 mL) salsa (hot, medium or mild)
1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp. (30 mL) mayonnaise
2 tbsp. (30 mL) chopped cilantro (optional)
1/2 tsp. (2 mL) salt
shredded Monterey jack or cheddar cheese (on the side)
assorted raw veggie dippers, such as celery, carrots, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower or whatever your child likes
tortilla chips for dipping


In the container of a blender or food processor, combine the beans, salsa, garlic, mayonnaise, cilantro and salt. Blend, scraping down the side of the container once or twice, until not quite completely smooth. A little texture is nice.
Transfer dip to a serving bowl, sprinkle with shredded cheese and serve with veggies and tortilla chips.
If you are packing this in a lunch bag, pack the dip, cheese, veggies and chips in separate plastic containers or zip-top bags. Let your child add the cheese at lunchtime.

Whatever's in the fridge Pasta Salad

Add whatever vegetables, meat and cheese (in cubes) that you find in your fridge to a bowl of cooked pasta. Toss with Italian dressing.

Flatbread chicken squares

You can buy flat bread at the store, and top it with cream cheese or hummus, and whatever vegetables and meats you find in your fridge.

Banana Protein Muffins

Sneak extra fruit and protein into your kids' lunches with these tasty muffins.

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/3 cup protein powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 olive or canola oil
2 tsp baking powder
1 beaten egg (or 1/4 cup Egg Beaters)
2 bananas, mashed

Mix-in ideas:
Chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts
chopped apple

Peel bananas, mash with fork.
Mix ingredients and pour into greased muffin tin. Do not use paper muffin cups.
Bake at 400 degrees for 16 minutes.

Sweet and Chunky Peanut Butter Spread

Delicious on sliced bread, muffins, in sandwiches, or as dip for fruit.

Mix together:
peanut butter
sunflower seeds (unsalted)
grated carrot

Until you are pleased with the consistency and level of sweetness and chunkiness.

Almond-Crusted Chicken Tenders with Honey Dipping Sauce


Canola oil cooking spray
1/2 cup sliced almonds
6-8 whole-wheat crackers
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard or tumeric
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 large egg whites
1 pound chicken tenders

Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard


Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set a wire rack on the baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray.
Place almonds, crackers, paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard or tumeric, salt and pepper in a food processor; process until the almonds are finely chopped and the paprika is mixed throughout, about 1 minute. With the motor running, drizzle in oil; process until combined. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish.
Whisk egg whites in a second shallow dish. Add chicken tenders and turn to coat. Transfer each tender to the almond mixture; turn to coat evenly. (Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture.) Place the tenders on the prepared rack and coat with cooking spray; turn and spray the other side.
Bake the chicken fingers until golden brown, crispy and no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.
Whisk sauce ingredients together until smooth.

Caramel Apple Brownies

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 C. flour
1 tsp. Baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 large or 4 small apples, peeled and diced
granulated sugar (for sprinkling on top after baking)
Caramel Ice Cream topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Choose your pan size: either a 9 x 13 pan, two pie pans, or a pie pan and four mini-loaf pans. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and apples. Mix well. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sugar and drizzle with caramel ice cream topping.

Tortilla Roll-ups

It turns out that things kids don't like to eat between two slices of bread, they'll happily devour rolled up in a tortilla, so ransack your fridge and fill those lunchboxes.