Chicken Taco Hand Pies

This was another lunch box idea that went over really well with the boys. They could have turned out better, but for my first attempt I was just pleased that the boys liked them as much as they did. Next time I will probably make the pies smaller and use something other than canned biscuits. Make the night ahead and refrigerate. Pack them into a lunch box the next day and you’re good to go. Serve these with extra salsa and/or sour cream on the side.

chixtaco

Chicken Taco Hand Pies

1 pkg taco seasoning mix (1/4 cup)

2/3 cup water

1/4 cup Sriracha sauce

1 lb cooked chicken, shredded or chopped fine

1 can (16 oz) refrigerated biscuits

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Mexican blend cheeses

Sour cream and salsa, for dipping

1. Heat oven to 375*

2. In saucepan, cook taco seasoning, water, Sriracha and chicken until thickened.

3. Roll each biscuit into a flat 6-inch round.

4. Fill each one with some of the chicken mixture and 1 T of cheese. Fold dough over and press to seal.

5. Place on lined baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes, or until browned.

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Chicken Enchilada Puffs

Here’s my newest addition to the Lunch Box Collection. I love making cute, fun little meals for the boys. I know they aren’t getting bored with their lunches yet. These were super easy to throw together. Once they were done I only had to store them in the refrigerator. When packing up a lunch box I just add a side of taco sauce or salsa and some tortilla chips. Muy bueno!

enchilada puffs

Chicken Enchilada Puffs

1 pkg jumbo crescent rolls

3/4 cup cooked chicken, shredded or diced

3 oz. cream cheese

3/4 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese, divided

1/3 cup enchilada sauce

2 tsp taco seasoning or enchilada seasoning mix

1. Preheat oven to 375*. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

2. Place cream cheese and 1/2 cup of Mexican shredded cheese in a small bowl and microwave about 20-30 seconds, just until warmed- not melted. Stir together well, and add in taco seasoning, enchilada sauce, and chicken.

3. Unroll crescent rolls and spread out a little with fingers if needed. Place a spoonful onto the center of the larger end of the crescent roll.

4. Pull the two ends over the chicken mixture and then roll it toward the skinnier end, enclosing the filling.

5. Sprinkle the puffs with the remaining shredded cheese and bake for 15 minutes, or until browned.

For more quick and awesome lunch box ideas, check out some of my other posts: BBQ Chicken Pizza Pinwheels, Pizza Sushi, Mini Meaty Cheesy Quiches, Pizza TartsChicken Taco Hand Pies, Chicken Dumplings,  Corndog Muffins, and Pizza Buns 

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Pizza Buns

Clearly I have a thing for versions of pizza, but who doesn’t love pizza?? As long as I continue to find different ways to put the same ingredients together the boys will not get bored with their lunches, and so today I have yet another pizza idea for you.

pizzabuns

Pizza Buns

1 package pizza crust*

pizza sauce

mozzarella cheese**

turkey pepperoni

1. Roll out the pizza dough on a heavily-floured surface. *I found some awesome pre-made pizza dough balls at Trader Joe’s in the meat and cheese section. This is way better than the canned stuff if you can’t make homemade dough.

2. Spoon some pizza sauce over the surface of the dough, then place pepperoni all over- as much or as little as you like. (Too much will make it hard to roll up the dough. Mini pepperoni seem to work best but turkey pepperoni only comes in regular size that I’ve found.)

3. Place about a 1-inch squared piece of mozzarella near the bottom of the dough, **or sprinkle shredded cheese over the bottom 3/4 of the dough.

4. Carefully roll up the dough and seal the ends over.

5. Cut into 1-inch slices and place in greased muffin tins.

6. Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes, or until browned. Makes a dozen buns.

7. Serve with extra pizza sauce on the side.

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Chicken Dumplings (Pot Stickers)

These were fun to put into the boys’ lunches and not particularly difficult to make either. It only took a little bit of patience. I left out some of the ingredients because I knew they’d prefer it plain, but the entire recipe is here for you to customize it as you’d like.

chixdumplings

Chicken Dumplings

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 lb cooked chicken, chopped fine

1/2 cup finely chopped cabbage

1/2 tsp sesame oil

20 wonton wrappers

1. Mix soy sauce, ginger, and 1 T water.

2. Pulse chicken in food processor if you have one, until ground.

3. Mix cabbage, chicken, soy sauce mixture, sesame oil, and up to 2T extra water if needed.

4. Divide mixture among the wrappers.  Brush edges of wonton wrappers with water and press the four corners at the top, creating a seal.

5. Steam 3 to 5 minutes. Serve with extra soy sauce.

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Corndog Muffins

Since we stopped eating pork nearly 10 years ago there have been several food items that we just don’t eat anymore. One of them being the corn dog. Now, I won’t lie and say I’ve particularly missed this food, though it was a favorite at carnivals (sooo greasy and delicious!) However, now that nitrate-free, all-natural hotdogs made of beef and turkey are more readily available, I don’t see why we can’t indulge in a corn dog or two. And since I’ve been working on some great lunchbox ideas for the boys, this muffin version seemed pretty perfect.

*I made these ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The next day  packed them into lunch containers with a side of ketchup. No reheating necessary and by the time lunch came around the muffins were warmed up a little and a bit softer.

corndog muffins

Corndog Muffins

1 1/3 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

1 T baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup flour (I used my 1/2 & 1/2 mix)

2 eggs

1 1/4 cup milk

1/3 cup butter, melted

3 hotdogs, sliced thin

1. Preheat oven to 425*

2. In medium bowl combine cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and flour.

3. In another bowl whisk together milk, eggs, and butter.

4. Stir milk mixture into cornmeal mixture just until moistened.

5. Stir in hotdog slices.

6. Spoon corn dog mixture into muffin tins (foil liners work best) 2/3 full.

7. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

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October Menu ~ 2013

Oh, Fall, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…..

I cannot express enough how much I love this season for so many reasons.  I am essentially a cool weather kind of girl, and even though I do enjoy Summers off with the kiddos, I hate to sweat and I truly dislike the clothes. I like the jeans, layers of shirts and jackets, and trendy boots of the Fall season, not to mention the crisp air, apples, pumpkins, turning leaves crunching under your feet, and best of all Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Ah…………….

Okay, maybe the lattes aren’t the very best part of Fall but they come pretty close.

So this month I am jumping  head first into the baking season, full of deliciousness and comfort.  This is my time to snuggle down with a hot cup of spiced chai, read some good books, plan the holiday get-togethers (yeah, I have to start planning now) and cook some awesome food. Ready?

oct collage 2013

October Menu ~ 2013

Meatball Minestrone Soup

Italian Beef Sandwiches with Giardiniera

Crock Pot Meatloaf

Skillet Ratatouille

Crock Pot Swiss Chicken

Dijon Dill Salmon

Not Your Typical Rice & Beans

Quinoa, Black Bean & Corn Burritos

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken

Peasant Soup with Rosemary Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

GF Tex Mex Polenta Pizza

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Dumplings (Pot Stickers)

Pot Roast Sliders with Creamy Chipotle Sauce

Crockpot Lasagna

SIDES

Spinach Squares

Carrot Mash Bake

Savory Skillet Veggies

Asparagus Feta Tart

Cheesy Pesto Pull-Apart Bread

LUNCH

Pizza Tarts

Mini Meaty Cheesy Quiches

Corndog Muffins

Pizza Buns

 Chicken Enchilada Puffs

BREAKFAST

Zucchini Tomato Feta Frittata

No Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

Breakfast Cookies

DESSERT

Crock Pot Blueberry Cobbler

 Cannoli Tarts

Pumpkin Pie Spice Whoopie Pies

Plum Crumble

Pizza Sushi & Healthy, Fun Lunch Box Ideas

This year I am trying to make the boys’ lunches more interesting and fun while maintaining a degree of health and nutrition. I absolutely love all the great bento lunch ideas I see all over the net, and even though my kids are (almost) 12 and 16, they can still appreciate and tote gourmet lunches in school without feeling like a little kid.

My lunch ideas are not all that original so I’m sure you’ve seen a million other blogs posting lunch box ideas. But I will say this- if you haven’t gotten on the bento wagon yet all it takes is a little bit of prep time and you can do it. Here are a few tips for preparing and packing awesome lunches for anyone in your family.

1) Cook extra at dinner and use leftovers for lunch. This could mean extra rice or potatoes or pasta, which you could make salads from, or extra meat. I like to cook extra chicken to make chicken salad with.

2) Get the kids involved. Number One is easy to please so I just ask him what he’s in the mood for (I don’t always pack the same thing for the boys), but for Number Two it’s best if he’s got an interest in what’s coming in his lunch box. Some things I know he’ll like, other things I know he’ll like more if he helps prepare it. I also ask him ahead of time what he’d like the next day (if there are options. If not I just go by the meal plan.)

3. Skip “kid” foods. There is no such thing when looking at your grocers options in terms of nutrition. I’m talking about Lunchables (you can easily make your own), Crustables, and pudding cups, etc. These conveniences are the absolute worst things you could be feeding your kids. Give them real food. They will eat it.

4. Pick your battles. If your child says he/she didn’t like something you packed, trust them and move on. I love the idea of my kid happily munching away on bell pepper sticks at lunch, but I know that’s not going to happen. It’s better to save the veggie battle for dinner time when you can be there to model good eating habits and encouragement.

5. You might get “But he gets lunches like….” complaining. Just stick with your plan, use the great lunchbox ideas that are everywhere, and get your kid(s) involved. You’ll see the struggle wane soon enough when your child realizes that other kids want what he’s got.

6. Menu plan. If you work outside the home this may seem like extra work for you, and I agree. But in the event you are planning your dinners already (as you should be. Trust me, your life will get so much easier!) it really won’t take too much extra time to plan a few extra things. This could include baking a batch of muffins or breakfast cookies while you’re already in the kitchen preparing a meal, or perhaps just taking a little time over the weekend to prepare and freeze some things. Other things like wraps, veggies, fruit, chips, and trail mix can be pre-bagged for the week ahead so they’re all ready to go.

pizza sushi

Ready for the pizza sushi? I adapted this idea found in a Rachael Ray magazine, as well as many of the tips above. It’s a fun lunch for the kiddos and super easy to prepare. Below is also a few options for mixing and matching simple roll-ups and dips.

Pizza Sushi

6 inch tortillas

turkey pepperoni

cream cheese

marinara or pizza sauce

Other options: Mozzarella cheese, roasted red pepper, olives, etc.

Assembly is pretty basic.  Just spread the desired amount of cream cheese onto the tortilla (you can even mix a bit of ranch mix into the cream cheese!) and top with pepperoni slices and anything else you’d like. Roll it up and slice into even sizes. Pack it up in your lunch box with a smaller container of dipping sauce on the side.

Other roll-up options: Really, you can take any kind of sandwich concept and put into a roll-up- though I usually leave out the condiments because I’ll put a dipper on the side. You see it all the time now with all the wrap options offered in restaurants. For example, Number One isn’t going to want pizza sushi in his lunch so he gets a more manly wrap with hummus, lettuce, roast beef, turkey meat, and two kinds of cheeses. Also I use a larger tortilla for those kinds of sammies. Number Two likes all kinds of roll-ups so I can take any kind of meat and cheese combo and simply roll it up, and either leave it whole or cut into sushi-style pieces. He likes the smaller pieces best so he can dip them into ranch, honey mustard, salsa, pizza sauce, etc.

lunch box rollups

I especially love the all natural-nitrate free bologna from Trader Joe’s.

Lunch box sides: One of Two’s favorite things to snack on are carrot sticks dipped in peanut butter. Now you can buy easy to pack  peanut butter to go cups. They are single serving size and perfect for lunches. Even better now is an all natural option. So to round out a healthy lunch I like to add carrots or snap peas, grapes, blueberries, or some other fruit or veggie I know he likes and maybe add a dip if there’s one that’ll go with it well. Dips include hummus, ranch, peanut butter, or chocolate flavored peanut butter (those are available in single size too). Other sides can simply be a pickle or some olives. Whatever you like- there are no limits.

Additional dip options are salsa, ketchup, soy sauce, BBQ sauce, pizza sauce, or any kind of dressing.

Additional dip options are salsa, ketchup, soy sauce, BBQ sauce, pizza sauce, or any kind of dressing.

Another option are salads such as pasta or potato. Number Two has a thermos and likes to have macaroni and cheese sometimes. I buy Annie’s organic microwaveable single serving mac & cheese and just whip it up real quick and put it in the thermos. Lunch is ready in three minutes!

Lastly are the “chips” and “desserts”. This doesn’t mean I include something from every category in every lunch. It really just depends on what I’m packing for that day. But these are some other things I will put in their lunches because sometimes you really want the crunch of a chip. I don’t buy regular chips because personally I think they’re junk, but I do buy and eat pita chips (Stacy’s naked chips are awesome and go great with my hummus!), corn tortilla chips, pretzels, pretzel chips, Veggie Smart chips and straws, and popcorn chips. Also making your own crackers is super easy (I’ll be posting a recipe soon), and it’s way better alternative to buying prepackaged crackers that are full of chemicals.

I know it was a long post- I hope you read through it all and enjoyed it anyway. Stay tuned for my healthy, energy-packed trail mix! It’s a perfect addition for any lunch box, picnic, or snack 🙂

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Back to School: Breakfast & Lunch Menu Aug. 26th – 30th

back to school

School is definitely back in session. For many others across the country it has already started, but for us this is our first week back. I can’t complain (even though the summer flew by too quickly) although I still don’t get why they can’t just push it back until after Labor Day like they did in the good ol’ days. Right?

lunch bag

But alas, here we are again. So in an effort to make things easier on myself, and to ensure my kiddos eat healthy, I have come up with some new breakfast and bagged lunch ideas. I will still pull from my older recipes, but I have some great new ones, too.

Red links will be added as the recipe is posted, so stay tuned for those.

Monday, August 26th

Breakfast:  Bacon & Egg Puffs

Lunch:  Turkey & Cheese Rolls, Pretzels, Fruit Gummies, Juice or bottled water

Tuesday, August 27th

Breakfast:  Granola Bars (with dried fruit added), Yogurt, Juice

Lunch:  Macaroni & Cheese in thermos, Carrots & Peanut Butter, Juice or bottled water

Wednesday, August 28th

Breakfast:  Hard-Boiled/Scrambled Egg Wraps

Lunch:  CornDog Muffins with ketchup, Veggie Chips, Trail Mix, Juice or bottled water

Thursday, August 29th

Breakfast:  Breakfast Cookies, Yogurt, Milk

Lunch:  Pizza Sushi with Marinara, Granola, Juice or bottled water

Friday, August 30th

Breakfast:  Breakfast Bagel Sandwich, Milk

Lunch:  Mini Quiche, Pretzels, Fruit Gummies, Juice or bottled water