Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lunch Magnets

Do you pack school lunches the night before?

I am not a morning person, so most of the time I get the kids' lunches ready right after cleaning up dinner. And because their nutrition is important to me, I do cater to their preferences. No assembly line for us. A lunch that gets eaten is better than a lunch that gets brought home after school!

One likes spicy mustard. Hold the mayo for another. Another wants bologna and American cheese. One prefers steamed broccoli to grapes and dislikes Gala apples. Two like shredded-carrot salad, or pineapple. One likes Greek yogurt, another only eats yogurt without fruity bits. One takes leftover pepperoni pizza, the others get plain cheese. But how in the world to keep them all straight?

This was my solution at the beginning of the school year, and it has worked beautifully!

Each child has their own magnet. When I make their lunch, I pull their magnet off the fridge and set it with the food. When they pack their lunch coolers, they know which stack of containers is theirs, and they stick their magnet back on the fridge.

What are your organization secrets?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Parmesan-Herb Breading Mix

One of my mom's homeschooling friends shared this recipe with my family many years ago, and it was our company chicken dinner for a while.

Today, the breading is a staple in my kitchen. I keep a container of the mix in my freezer and use it for everything from zucchini planks and eggplant rounds to chicken breasts or fish fillets. For lunch last week, I dredged chopped veal steaks in the breading, panfried them, and served them atop roasted spaghetti squash with marinara sauce. It was heavenly!

For the bread crumbs, I take whatever odds and ends are left on my counter from making sandwiches--anything that's not too seedy or nutty--and pulse them to bits in my blender. When my sister visits next month, I'll try a version with gluten-free bread crumbs.

Parmesan-Herb Breading

1/2 cup soft fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Store mix in air-tight container in the freezer.

Spread some breading mix on a shallow plate. Dip boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a little melted butter, then immediately roll them in the crumbs. Bake, uncovered, @ 375 F for about an hour.

Zucchini Planks or Eggplant Rounds:
Brush veggies with olive oil and arrange on lightly oiled baking or broiler pan. Spread breading in a thin layer over each vegetable slice. Bake @ 350 for 40 minutes or till tender. Sprinkle hot veggies with shredded mozzarella cheese and/or serve with marinara sauce.

Drizzle melted butter over thawed or frozen fish (tilapia) fillets. Sprinkle evenly with breading mix. Bake @ 425 for 10 (fresh) or 15 (frozen) minutes or till fish flakes easily.

On a plate, dredge veal chopped steaks in breading. Heat 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil in a skillet. Add veal and cook about 4 minutes on each side, or till done. Sprinkle with mozzarella, if desired, and top with your favorite tomato sauce.