Archive for September, 2011

Eggplant Lasagna; Lunchbox

Sorry, no pictures again.  We have a semi-regular tradition of sharing dinner with another family in our building every couple of weeks – it’s a great way to make a complete meal out of the odds & ends of two pantries at the end of the week.  Tonight my contribution was an eggplant lasagna, brought to you by the fact that I had 3 eggplant and a box of lasagna noodles to use up.  Crushed tomatoes in the pantry are a staple, so the only shopping was for the cheese.

I sliced the eggplant medium-thin, salted it and let it sit in the colander for about 20 minutes.  Then I layered it on a plate with some paper towels and microwaved it for 5 minutes (hat-tip to Cook’s Illustrated for the idea).  What this extra step does is suck a TON of the moisture out of the eggplant so it doesn’t make your lasagna watery.

For the sauce, I did a simple base of chopped onion and red pepper, salt, pepper, garlic, Italian herb blend, and a 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes.  I let that simmer while the eggplant drained.

Layered it up with some no-boil noodles and mozzarella cheese, grated parmesan on top, and into a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes.  Gorgeousness. Like an eggplant parmesan but without the hassle of breading and frying.  (Without the oil too, I guess, but I’m pretty sure there was enough extra cheese in the lasagna to wipe out that advantage.)

Lunchbox for Monday: Apple slices with peanut butter (peanut butter on the bottom of the container, apple slices vertical); salami & cheese mini-pita sandwiches; buttered green beans (hey, I can dream, right?)

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Vegetable Chili

This is a staple in our house – unfortunately it looks like the pictures are broken in this old post, but you guys know what chili looks like, right?  It’s chili.

The only major change I made this time around was to use pinto beans instead of kidney beans.  Otherwise, this is the same chili I’ve been making for years, the same chili that my mom made for me as a kid.  Every year around this time, I pull out my fall jacket and long sleeved shirts, and start to crave this chili.

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Lunchbox: Turkey & cheese pita sandwiches; grapes; granola bar

No picture (forgot to take one), so this is really just a record so I can remember what I sent. 2 mini-pitas from Whole Foods stuffed with turkey & cheddar cheese (they’re each about the size of a silver dollar, so 2 of them is the eequivalent to about a half-sandwich made on regular bread), red grapes, 1 homemade granola bar (almond, cashew, craisin, apricot, choc chip).

Yesterday was a salami & cheese sandwich cut into the shape of a stegasaurus, red grapes, and a container of strawberry yogurt.

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Lunchbox: Almond butter & jelly; dried apricots; crackers; Honey Nut Cheerios; chicken sausage

The apricots and crackers are leftovers from today’s lunch, the sandwich is almond butter because the little girl we nanny-share with is allergic to peanuts.  It’s in the shape of a D and a star.

 

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Pizza night!

 

Did I mention this week was all about the quick and easy?  I love pizza night because Dylan loves to help make it, and it’s a super-easy way to get him to eat veggies.  I told him what we had in the fridge and said that the only rule for what to put on this pizza is there had to be two vegetables on it.  He picked broccoli, mushrooms, and scallions.  (Also pepperoni and cheese.  Here’s a hint to avoid having to pat down the grease off your pizza – use turkey pepperoni.  It tastes exactly the same as the pork stuff.)

Dylan menu: pizza, milk, peach yogurt

Aeryn menu: cheerios, peach yogurt, formula

 

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Lunchbox: Hard boiled egg, cheese sticks, pepperoni, edamame, apricots, crackers

Hard boiled egg, cheese sticks, pepperoni, edamame, apricots, crackers

Hard boiled egg, cheese sticks, pepperoni, edamame, apricots, crackers

Boy, this one has a lot of components, doesn’t it?  Don’t worry, I’m sure this level of detail won’t last.

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Mu Shu Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Mu Shu Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Mu Shu Chicken Lettuce Wraps

The theme for this week is “quick and easy” since we’re easing into a new routine.  And apparently also “hoisin sauce” for no particular reason at all. This recipe comes from Real Simple by way of FreshDirect, and is, appropriately enough, really really simple.

  • 3/4 lb chicken, sliced thin
  • 2 large carrots, in matchsticks
  • 2 red bell peppers, in matchsticks
  • 1/4 green cabbage (about 2-3 cups), shredded
  • 1-2 cups button mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 head of butter lettuce
  • 2-3 tbsp hoisin sauce, more for drizzling
Heat some vegetable oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet, add mushrooms.  Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until mushrooms have given up their water and are starting to brown.  Add chicken, cabbage, carrots, and peppers, cook about 7 minutes or until veggies have wilted and chicken is just cooked through.  Add hoisin sauce, toss to coat, and continue to cook until you like the way it looks.  (If you want your vegetables on the crisp side, just another minute is enough.  If you want it to be softer and more Chinese-takeout-esque, you can let it cook for quite a while.)
Serve wrapped in lettuce leaves, drizzled with a little extra hoisin.  Delish, and also low-carb if you’re into that sort of thing.  (Also gluten free, unless hoisin has gluten in it, but there’s probably a GF version out there.)
Dylan’s menu: mu shu chicken over rice, milk to drink
Aeryn’s menu: mashed potato/sweet potato, cheerios, formula

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Chicken & Rice with Kale and Arugula

This one’s a quickie – just a link, no picture.  Last night’s dinner was from Martha Stewart – One-Pot Chicken & Rice With Kale and Arugula.  The original recipe called for chard, I had kale and arugula in the fridge to use up.  Otherwise I made this exactly as written and it was quite tasty!  Dylan ignored the kale on his plate but did eat the chicken and rice (and some of the carrots).

No lunch box post today because Dylan decided to have the school lunch (“Trayless Tuesdays” mean hamburger day).

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Lunch Box: Pizza sandwich; granola bar; carrot sticks

Half-day pre-K in NYC starts with 2 hourlong days with only half the class present (half the class comes in from 12:30-1:30, the other half from 1:50-2:50) and the parents staying in the room.  This means that even though Dylan sort of started school last week, tomorrow is his first day bringing lunch to school.

Pizza sandwich, granola bar, carrot sticks

Pizza sandwich, granola bar, carrot sticks

Pizza sandwich (whole wheat english muffin, pizza sauce, mozzarella, sandwich-size pepperoni), granola bar (from Smitten Kitchen‘s recipe), and carrot sticks with ketchup.   (Putting the dip in with the dippers instead of sending a separate container is a brilliant idea I got either from ParentHacks or The Kitchn – my Google-fu is weak at the moment.)

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Lunch Box Tech Rehearsal: Chicken sausage chunks,cheese squares, edamame, pb&j shapes

We spent most of today at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and since their museum cafe is one of the worst places in the known universe to get food, I packed lunches for all of us.  Which meant that Dylan got to test-drive his new lunchbox!

My inspiration for all things packed-lunch related come from Wendolonia, who packs the most beautiful bento lunchboxes I know of.  Mine aren’t nearly as pretty as hers, but I do get a lot of “oh hey, not just a sandwich!” ideas from reading her blog.

PB&J shapes; edamame; chicken sausage; cheese

PB&J shapes; edamame; chicken sausage; cheese

I also recently splurged on Amazon and bought this enormous set of cookie cutters so I could cut sandwiches into interesting shapes (that would also make them fit into this surprisingly narrow lunchbox).

So today’s lunch was one peanut butter & jelly sandwich cut into shapes (two stars, one 4 and one D), a little container of edamame, and a little container with some cut-up chunks of chicken-apple sausage and cheddar cheese.  And a water bottle.

Everything was a hit (“Oh, edamame my favorite green vegetable!  Oh, my sandwich is shaped like a STAR!)”, except that we were at the museum with a friend of his, and together they were too distracted to eat much of anything.  So out of this spread, we came home with most of it except for the pb&j, which was eaten because, dude, SHAPED LIKE A STAR.  (The sandwich shape thing…I’m so conflicted.  On the one hand, kids really do love things in fun shapes.  On the other hand, it wastes so much of the sandwich.  On the other other hand, how much of the wasted sandwich would have been eaten anyway?)

Tomorrow is Day One of packing a lunchbox to take to school.  Hopefully I’ll remember to take a picture tonight.

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