Wednesday, February 25, 2015

School lunches | The Kitchen Series

With the onset of the new school year comes the challenge to reinvent school lunches. I thought l would revisit some recipes here for you in a school yard series.  This is the first for the year for the Kitchen Series, but I seem to be playing catch up, I'm sure you can relate. 
I've been committed to baking and making food from scratch for my tribe. It has made a big difference in the variety of foods my kids are eating and enjoying. We eat seasonally and attempt to try lots of new foods in our daily meals and lunches. New to our summer salads have been heirloom tomatoes and french beans instead of just Roma's and Tommie's.

One big realisation Is it's all about preparation. I make the lunches the night before and have everything in containers ready to put together in the lunch box as we are heading out the door. I'm not a morning person so l need to be organised and have routines in place {I'll post my list of tips for Intentional learning and school prep soon too}. Today l am going to share with you my bliss bomb recipes, an Anzac cookie recipe {that fed several families last week}, a nectarine and date cake that is perfect for the whole family for a desert and on it's own and a nut free trail mix perfect for the playground and some scroll recipes for easy freezing and lunch box goodies. The key l have found is to bake in stages and when things are in the oven, get the kids doing an activity. We have been focusing on nature studies and lessons about the seasons for intentional learning. Leaf rubbing, painting stones, chalk drawings of the garden, seasonal harvesting, planting and cooking.
Next week it's dinosaur smoothies, Madeleine's, gingerbread and quesadillas for easy meals and a giveaway, so stay tuned. 

From the Kitchen Series Archives

Bliss Bomb Three ways- can be found here.
Anzac Cookies - four ways to make them, recipe here and here.
The Ultimate Nana Cookie recipe here.
Scroll recipes found here, you can change the recipe and use Vegemite and cheese. You can do a nut butter and almond scroll for home or basil pesto and feta. Lots of possibilities and they freeze really well.

Nut free Trail Mix
My tribe love grazing and sometimes it's hard to make antipasto interesting so l have tried a couple of new things to brighten up the lunch box. One of these is making a big jar of trail mix using fruit, carob bits, and seeds. It's been about a week since I've made it and it's nearly all gone.

1 cup of raw cacao bits 
1/2 cup of goji berries
1 cup of cranberries 
1 packet of yogurt saltanas or fruit balls
2 cups of sultanas
2 cups of corn puffs (found in the organic section of the supermarket)
2 cups of sunflower seeds
2 cups of Pepitas

How to make
Mix together in a large bowl until combined. Place in a big container for easy access and spoon into a small snack container for school lunches or car rides. It keeps in an air tight container for 2-3 weeks.

Nectarine and Date Tart 
Originally l saw a recipe in the Donna Hay Seasons cookbook but l changed some of the ingredients and made it to suit my family. It called for an orange syrup which in my opinion made it to sweet and I really wanted to add the dates as we love them in our family so this is my version.

Nectarine topping
3 nectarines, quartered and stones removed
1/4 cup (55g) of caster sugar (I blitzed raw sugar in the thermomix to make caster sugar)

How to make
1. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat.
2. Sprinkle the nectarine pieces with the sugar and place skin side down into the frying pan and cook until the sugar is melted and golden.
3. Set aside to cool slightly.

Tart Base
90g of butter, softened
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of almond meal (ground almonds)
1/4 cup (35g) plain flour
2 teaspoons finely grated orange/ or lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

How to make
1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius and lightly grease a rectangular loose bottomed tart tin. I cut corners here by using baking paper and literally spread it in and around the edges of the tart, it provides a non stick shield and prevents sticking, easy to lift out later and cut ready for the lunchbox,
2. In a food processor/thermie, add the butter and sugar and blitz until just combined. In the thermie l blended speed 6/8 seconds.
3. Add the eggs, almond meal, flour, orange zest and baking powder and process until just combined. Thermie speed 6/18 seconds.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tart tin. I place baking paper in the cake tin and then pour in batter (less clean up).
5. Press the prepared nectarines into the mixture and on the side of the sections of nectarine press in a date along the side of the tart pan and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. You can place the nectarine and dates into the bottom of the baking paper in the cake tin and press down and then place batter on top. When cooked just lift out and flip over for a tarte tartin. 

Honestly, I don't think you need to be a great cook you just have to be prepared and try something new for lunch boxes in the vain hope that they might become as passionate as you with school lunches. Food should be an adventure not a playground for highly processed food, over packaged snacks and tasteless options honestly it's not hard to make their daily lunch  a more appealing and fun packed event. What have you been cooking lately? Any recipes to share, tips for the school mum. I'd love to hear from you. If you try out the recipes let me know how it turns out. 

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