Anyway, I had offered to bring fruit for our Back to School Staff Breakfast. I wanted to include a few fruits including apples. Whole apples don't usually have a lot of takers at buffets so I needed to pretty them up as well as avoid yucky browning. I searched "apple art" and found some neat layered and polka-dotted ones from a site in Russia. Here are my first-attempt versions:
Stripes! I cut a few different types of similarly-sized apples into thick slices and mix-and-matched the pieces after giving them a quick dunk in orange juice.
Spots! Using my Core 'N More, I used the small end to carve out dots from different colors of apples, bathing the dots in orange juice as per the slices, and then popped them into contrasting-colored apples.
It was a lot of fun to play with the apples!
The final presentation...
Do you or your kids find sandwiches a bore? If so, you have a lot of company. For holidays at our school, some classes have shared lunches for which families sign up or are assigned a certain part of the meal; this may sound regimented but otherwise we would have 75% of the class bringing cupcakes and other treats, myself included! One year at Hallowe'en, it was my turn to supply the main dish for Miriam's class. Having sandwiches for yet another day seemed a bit sad for what could have been a more festive meal. I looked around the bakery for non-bread offerings and spotted the cheese breadsticks. They were kind of long and flat. Now I have quite a phobia of snakes so my idea even surprised me...
I split the breadsticks, spread the tops and bottoms with the desired condiments (usually mayo and "paint mustard," as my chef friend used to call it), and filled them with ham, cheese, and lettuce, cut to fit. To snake-ify them, I cut strips of fresh red pepper into forked tongues, inserting them in the ends of the buns, and adhered Cheerio eyes with cream cheese. I cut the buns in half to serve the hungry 7-year-olds; you have to leave room for cupcakes, right?
There are extensive lists of creative lunch ideas if you search; those bento box meals look amazing but I'd have to make three each for my own kids to satisfy their teenage appetites! I'm just going to include a few of my family's and former students' non-bread loaf faves here, hoping you'll see a few things you'd like to try. :-)
- Bagels: Split the traditional way (don't end up in Emergency - use a cutting board, please!), and toast a half per child (they have very dense carb content - the bagel, not the kid). Spread with jam, cream cheese, pea-butter, or cover with grated cheese and toast them. You could also make a little pizza out of a bagel half. Alternately, cut the bagel vertically into finger-width coins. They could be toasted for crunchy little bites to enjoy or even made into tiny (sorry, "s-word" coming up) sandwiches with something simple like the spreads mentioned, Cheez Whiz, pea-butter and banana slices, or banana slices and strawberry jam. If you don't mind a little more work, use a toonie-sized circular cookie cutter to make pieces of meat or sliced cheese to fit in the bagel bites. That's a better alternative to the s-word!
- Breadsticks, Cheese or Garlic: Split them, spread with pizza sauce, and fill with pizza toppings, or send marinara sauce in a little container for dunking.
- Breakfast for lunch: Try toast & scrambled eggs, or perhaps cubed French toast, waffles, or pancakes; serve syrup in a little container on the side. Don't forget a fork!
- Cereal: This can be nice for a change, milk served on the side, of course! Hot cereal, such as oatmeal or Sunny Boy, kept warm in a thermos is so nice on a cool day.
- Cinnamon bun: Sugar for lunch is okay once in a while!
- Chili, soup, or stew with a bun: I like making a big batch to be used for suppers and school lunches for a few days.
- Corn dogs: This one's in remembrance of my student, Julie, who ate corn dogs almost every day at school! Keep them warm by wrapping in tin foil or sending in a thermos.
- Crackers, cheese, kubasa, & pickles: Cut about the same size and have enough to "come out even" as Frances says in Bread & Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban.
- Hamburgers & hot dogs: Good even when cold as far as I'm concerned!
- Quesadillas: Between flour or corn tortillas, place leftover pieces of chicken or beef along with (according to your family's tastebud preferences) sauteed onions or sweet peppers and shredded cheese. Heat a large frying pan to medium-high and brown on both sides until the cheese melts. Cut into wedges, cool on a rack to help avoid excessive sogginess, then pack them up. Send sour cream or salsa if desired.
- Pasta & sauce: Reheat leftover KD, lasagna, pasghetti & meatbulbs, etc. in the morning and pack in a thermos.
- Pitas: These can be miserable things! My friend Amy's little guy remarked last week that we should call pita pockets "closed pockets." Very insightful! Don't bother wrestling with them if the sides are stuck together; pretend they're just like a hot dog bun and fold or roll your fillings inside. I love pita with tzatziki, lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.
- Salad: Mix up some weeds, cut up fresh or dried fruit, some additional chopped veggies like cucumber, celery, peppers, and maybe some cubed or grated cheese, diced chicken, taco beef, or black beans, and add a starch (bun, crackers, breadsticks, etc.) for a well-balanced meal. Pasta or grains like quinoa could be substituted for the greens. Include dressing on the side to combat Soggy Salad City.
- Tortilla chips: If your child has access to a microwave, pour some chips in a square container and cover with grated cheddar to be heated at lunch for 30-60 seconds. Send little containers of salsa and/or sour cream if you or your child like these.
- Tortilla wraps: Spread your condiments to at least an inch / 2.5 cm from the edge of the tortilla, add lettuce, cheese slices, meat, pickles, etc. Roll up tightly , secure with toothpicks, and wrap with (sorry to waste resources...) plastic wrap so everything sticks together. My kids like a warning about how many toothpicks I've used so they don't get any unexpected fibre!
Thanks for coming by the island again and Happy New (School) Year!
P.S. Only 179 more lunches to make... ;-)