Thursday, December 17, 2009

throw and go

Today is 'one of those days'.  I was up at my school last night helping sort the fundraiser and also getting last minute touches ready for our Christmas program and party today. 
I came home and it looked about how I left it - my dining room table is covered in 'school stuff', there are piles to walk over, and the dishes in the sink are starting to talk to each other and become old friends.
AFTER TODAY things calm down (deep breaths, amanda).

So, upon request here is a quick pic of one of our throw together lunches.  The laptop lunchbox was in the sink under who knows what so I grabbed his LL bean bag today.
salad with raisins and cranberries (he is anti-dressing all of a sudden), a few banana chips, annies cheddar bunnies, a little blends yogurt and a baby bell cheese.  The water bottle is in front.... it is the one with the pink cap.  His sister's was the only clean one!  Dishes are FIRST on the list when I get home today!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

nativity lunch

I had this lunch planned out (in my head) for my daughter's lunch today... but she was still recovering from a weekend attack of the sniffles and didn't go to school.  When your name comes out as BOBBY instead of MOMMY, it's not a good thing.
She has a class party planned for thursday and doesn't need a lunch brought to school, so I went ahead and made this one for my son tomorrow.

Sliced chicken and cheese sandwich with a crust stable roof, and crust manger. Granola sprinkled in the manger as hay, sliced chicken ground, chicken and cheese angel, cheese star and a raisin backdrop as the night sky.
The other containers have cranberry, raisin and peanut butter ants on a log, carrots, and blue cheese dip.

The crazy week!

Oh, so much to catch up on... I was going through pictures and realized I need to post the last three weeks worth of groceries, catch you up on the latest of the lost lunchbox saga, and I have a few recipes to share.  BUT first I have to get through this week! 
Between this kids party, that kids program, my turn for providing breakfast for the monthly work meeting, wrapping all the teacher gifts, my husband working late hours, teaching my own class, my class party, the class christmas program..... and on and on. 
Is my head spinning?!

I hope to do some catch up posts soon! - just not this week!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

snowflake quesadilla

Have I mentioned how much I love the ready bake tortilla dough?  Since it is dough, it is pliable enough to fold many times to cut into .... oh, something like a snowflake.  how cool is that?  
I use these a lot in the lunches because
A.  my son has a wierd freaky thing for quesadillas.  Even plans to open a quesadilla restaurant one day (be on the lookout for a 'quesadilla house' opening near you in.... oh...... say 15 years).  
and B.  It is SO versatile. 

This lunch has two quesadilla snowflake sandwiches, one on top of the other, tortilla stars made from the dough scraps, half an apple, carrots with blue cheese dip, and ants on a log.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

santa, snowman, and lights.

As asked, my son has been getting very plain lunches lately.  I haven't posted them because they started to look the same.   Usually a sandwich, applesauce or yogurt, cheddar bunny's and an apple.  No fancy cutting or anything.  I think he's been missing his special lunches a bit.  As soon as his new lunchbox arrived today, he asked if he could get a santa hat sandwich like his sister did yesterday. 
I was so thrilled that I threw in lights and a snowman too!

Actually, the lights were planned for my daughter's lunch tomorrow but her class earned a pizza party so we were told not to bring lunch. 

The snowman.... well... just kinda happened.

The lights and santa hat are just peanut butter and jelly and plain cream cheese sandwiches.  the lights have almond halves at the bottom.  I wish I had a black licorice string to be the wire, but oh well.   The lights are on a bed of lettuce.  The santa hat is sitting on top of sweet couscous (raisins and cinnamon added to couscous).  The snowman is vanilla yogurt with frozen blueberries for eyes and mouth and a carrot nose.

It's here! It's here!

If you've been following this blog, you know my son has had a love/hate thing going on with his lunches all year.  He has loved his home made lunches, wanted to buy, and wanted a normal 'bag' lunch all in the four months of the school year so far.  A few weeks ago, he lost his laptop lunchbox.  I went back and forth as to whether or not I should order a new one.... 
Every time I made up my mind, I changed it again.   I couldn't tell if he didn't like the lunchbox or the food inside.   He insisted he liked the lunchbox and the food but wanted a "normal" lunch.   Well what the heck does that mean? 
Then, the makers of the laptop lunchbox read my post and offered me a free buddy set (which has the wonderful large container I had packed the day the lunchbox vanished) and a discount on the rest of my purchase (How awesome are they?!!).  After long discussions with my son, WE decided to go ahead and buy a new lunchbox but we agreed he would get more 'normal' lunches in them. 
His idea of normal lunches meant "not decorated".   I didn't like it, but I faked a June cleaver-ish smile and agreed on it.

Well, dag on....  you know what the first thing out of his mouth was when we opened the new set?? 

"Can you make ME a santa hat like you did for my sister?"

hee hee... I think we are back in business! 

his new lunchbox!

Homemade granola

We made our first batch of homemade granola this week.  It was super easy and makes a pretty large batch.
The kids have eaten this as a cereal, on yogurt and just munched on it plain!  Side note - the serving sizes on most granola is less than regular cereals, so use a little less than you would for boxed cereal. 

The original recipe came from  my Earthbound Farms Organic cookbook - Food to live by.  by Myra Goodman.  (LOVE this cookbook btw!)  I tweaked it just a little...

Maple Cranberry Raisin Granola
makes about 8 cups.

4 1/2 cups (18 ounces) old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shelled, raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup slivered raw almonds (or coarsely chopped)
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnimon
1 1/4 cups pure maple syrup
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup dried cranberries.

Preheat oven to 325F
Place oats, seeds, almonds and cinnamon on a large (12x17) baking sheet with sides.  Stir gently to combine.
Add maple syrup and oil.  Mix with hands till dry ingredients become moist.

Smooth out mixture on baking sheet to an even layer.  Bake on center oven rack 40 minutes, stiring with a flat spatula a few times while baking.  Watch closely during the last 5-10 minutes to prevent any burning.

Place cookie sheet on a cooling rack and stir in raisins and cranberry.  Let cool completely.  Transfer to an airtight container and store up to 1 month or frozen for up to 6 months.

Monday, December 7, 2009

santa claus is coming to town

Here is my daughter's red and white themed, santa hat lunch for tomorrow.  The santa hat is an inside out sandwich, where the top bread is on the bottom and she knows how to pull it out and place it on top to eat it like a regular sandwich.
The sandwich is almond butter and strawberry jelly and the white is cream cheese.   It is on a bed of baby spinach and arugula salad with herbs.

The top right container has some of the last of our homegrown tomatoes from this year.  A freeze came through this week and knocked out all the tomato and pepper plants as well as the rest of my basil.  Some of the tomatoes were still on the vine and looked awesome - I got to them just in time!!   However, I am kicking myself for not getting out there to get the basil to make a bunch of pesto!!  The freeze got to it first.   I do have some pesto in the freezer, but I could have easily made another big batch.   Next year....
The remaining items are kashi whole grain crackers, dried cranberries, and white radish slices... we think they look like snow!

After taking the picture, I added a small container of salad dressing to the lunchbox.

Friday, December 4, 2009

End of november shopping

I've gotten behind in my grocery postings.  Here are a few shots I took over the last few weeks but neglected to post.  My husband made a few grocery runs that did not get photographed.

This is a Kroger run, saved $34.31 (does not count manager special item savings) in sales and coupons and spent $56.98

This was a Tom Thumb trip - saved about $35, spent 77.35.  not a great trip since I did not really buy a lot.  But I am a toilet paper snob and we are now loaded up for a while! The lunchmeat and cheese is a good quality too, and a littler pricier.  As for the pizzas... it was just that kind of day that day!!

As for the trips NOT pictured this month, we were in charge of the turkey for Thanksgiving and decided to 'splurge' on an organic turkey. 
We spent $36.96 on the turkey.
$54.86 on a quick costco run.
$9.62, $26.89 on a few quick run in trips my husband made for milk, eggs, etc.
Plus add the grocery runs at the start of the month... and......

Goal for november - $ 400
actual TOTAL for november.....$395.33 !

green and not so green smoothies

Not long ago, it was warm in Texas.  We were walking around in T-shirts and flip flops and craved a nice cold drink.  This was... oh, say LAST week.  Today we have the heat cranked, wood set out for the fireplace, and winter coats by the door.

So, I feel a little silly posting this warm weather drink on a cold day like today.... but, oh well.

Green smoothies.  This may be a new term for you, it may not.  I've seen several variations of the Green Smoothie recipe on the web, but the heart of the recipe comes down to using green vegetables mixed with fruit in a smoothie.  The green veggie most commonly used is Spinach, because it will blend nicely in the drink and not be at all gritty if blended enough.   Fresh spinach is better..... MUCH better... on MANY levels.

Here are some of the variations we have tried depending on your audience...

If you want to keep it GREEN and use cool smoothie names like 'Incredible Hulk' 'Green Goblin' "Super Slime' 'Green Monster' 'Oscar the Grouch', etc.....
Use fresh spinach, yogurt, ice, and.... key ingredient (drum roll please.....) BANANA.  For us, the banana is a must.  It will overpower the spinach, add sweetness but keep the color of the drink GREEN.

Now, if green is not the final result you are wanting... you can do a PURPLE smoothie and call it 'Grape-alicious' 'purple princess' 'purple monster', etc, etc...
Same ingredients as above, but add BLUEBERRIES and STRAWBERRIES.  If using frozen berries, you can omit the ice!

For a PINK version, start with the same basic ingredients as above, but just add STRAWBERRIES, and POM juice. Adding more yogurt/banana to the smoothie and less spinach will create a 'prettier' pink.  Come up with some great 'pink-alicious, princess y' name, and viola!

Really, the sky is the limit - I usually do kitchen sink version with whatever we have on hand. 
Pictured are the smoothies we made last week with some of the POM juice we received to try.
On this particular day, I used spinach, kefir and yogurt (both were almost gone and needed to be used), a small handful of fresh blueberries, banana, frozen strawberries, pom juice.  After tasting, I decided the strawberries were a little tart and added a squirt of honey to the blender!

The kids INHALED it - as did I!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree...

Here is my daughter's lunchbox for tomorrow....

Spinach salad christmas tree with cheddar star, whole wheat tortilla trunk, carrot ornaments, and some extra carrots and sunflower seeds around the edges.  I used a little bit of press n seal to hold it in place and added a small container of raspberry vinaigrette on top of the press n' seal after taking the picture.  Some star shaped wheat tortilla and cheddar and swiss cheese, and a yogurt round out this lunch.

The star is the shape of the month at her preschool this month!  That (and the fact that I need to use up the spinach) inspired this lunch.

My son got the same lunch, plus a banana...   just that his lettuce was not in the shape of a tree.   Mr. Picky pickerton said it was ok to add some star shaped cheese though ;)  

back and forth...

Just when I have my mind made up....
I received an email from Nancy, from the Obentec company. They are the makers of the Laptop Lunchbox.  After reading my last post (how cool is that!!!!), she offered me a FREE new set of 'buddy' containers (the set with my well loved larger box) and a discount on the rest of my order.
Even before recieving her email, I had spent the last few days quizzing my son to find out what a 'normal' lunch is and if he wants another laptop lunchbox or not. 

I needed to find out if it was the box or the food that was 'not normal'.

He says he likes the Laptop Lunchbox but wants more 'regular' foods inside and not the fancy lunches I sometimes make.  It felt like a stab through the heart, but I kept the smile on my face.  Besides, who am I doing 'fancy' lunches for if he does not want them??!!


I am going to humble my selfish artistic pride and get back to the focus of why this blog was created - to keep me accountable while I provide a healthy, organic/natural diet for my family as frugally as possible.   If that means it may not be a showcase of a lunch, then so be it.  If he changes his mind down the road, great.  If not, I am ok with that. 
Although..... (hee hee) my daughter on the other hand LOVES the fancy lunches, so I can still sneak them in a few days a week!  In the meantime, I am going to put an order in for the outer box and a solid color carry bag.  I will write his name on the outer bag in LARGE writing with a PERMANENT marker!  It will make lunch making more streamlined if both children have the same lunchboxes and containers to pack.

Thanks again to Nancy at Obentec!  What awesome customer service!!!  And how cool that they read my blog!


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