Tag Archives: lunchbox ideas

Back-to-School Freezer Fillers 3: Pollo Guisado (Stewed Chicken)

9 Sep

Pollo Guisado is one of those abuela (grandmother) dishes that Puerto Ricans and other Spanish-Caribbean folks grow up on. It is uncomplicated, but rich in flavor.

Yes, there is both wine and beer in it; that is not an error in the recipe! This is a modified and milder version of the classic Pollo Guisado which I have posted before (which uses  flavorful chicken thighs rather than mild breast, and twice the beer). Very kid-friendly, it is best served with rice. It looks and tastes impressive, but is a cinch to make and is mostly hands-off.

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Pressed Sandwich with No Press(ure)

13 Jun

As the maniacal good-foodie mom of a kid about to enter kindergarten, I am turning my attention to future lunchbox fillers that can compete with Tater Tots and Elio’s Pizza (can you tell what I ate in high school?). Sandwiches are going to have to be an integral part of my strategy, but wouldn’t you know it? The kid doesn’t eat sandwiches (nor do I very often, to be fair).

So when he finally tried and loved grilled cheese sandwiches at his daycare, I felt a sense of relief. The breakthrough I was hoping for has happened!

However, me being me, it is, of course, not possible to slap a couple of slices of American cheese on white toast and relax. I didn’t really want to make a production out of it, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a good-looking pressed sandwich with real cheese and real bread? Except that I don’t have a sandwich press.

It didn’t matter. With a bit of invention, I made some delicious grilled cheese sandwiches with grill marks, even! I used my grill pan, and to achieve the press, I took a heavy skillet (with a clean bottom!) and laid it on top. Then I placed another heavy pot on top, so I could walk away for a few minutes without having to press it myself.

And I got high marks from the little guy and at least one sandwich solution ready for September….Whee-hee! Who knows where we can get from here? I’m thinking BLT, baby!

Pressed Sandwich Without a Real Press

¼ tsp oil or spritz of oil spray

Four sandwich slices of bread, spread with a scraping of butter (I lightly toast mine first)

2-3 oz soft, meltable cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, muenster, gouda), sliced

Heat grill pan or skillet with a smear of oil or spray.

Have another heavy pan at the ready.

Lay two slices of bread, buttered side up, on the grill pan. Top with cheese slices. Cover with remaining slices of bread and press under second pan. Use another heat-proof pot on top to weigh it down. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes before slicing. Serve!


Lunchbox Solutions (stuffed tortillas x3)

29 Mar

 Most days I just have a salad for lunch. I shouldn’t say “just,” as my salads these days tend to be heavily-loaded with seeds, nuts, beans, dried fruit and cheeses, in addition to the standard lettuce-cuke-tomato base. I love loads of different textures in my meal.

But even with the ever-changing ingredients, sometimes I have to switch it up.

That’s when I grab myself a packable wrap (I do not like sandwiches all that much…the bread: filler ratio is too skewed towards the bread) or slap together a cheesy quesadilla, often using leftovers and bits from the fridge. Quesadillas, especially, are a lifesaver for Leandro’s lunchbox. He doesn’t like sandwiches either, but melt cheese and leftovers in a tortilla and he is all over it.

So here are some of the lunch solutions, including a new tuna salad recipe inspired by a reader! Erin commented that she modified my mayo-chipo-ketchup dip to dress her tuna salad, I knew she was onto something, so I did it too. Thanks Erin!

The asparagus wrap comes from a previous post, but it is so easy to roast asparagus and I make it so often that I thought it was worth repeating, especially as asparagus comes into season!

Okay, so you can't see the beans very well, but I liked this picture!

Black Bean Quesadillas

 1/2 Tbs olive oil

One small onion, chopped

(optional – chopped red or green pepper; if I have end bits that need to be used, I chop ’em up and put them in too)

one 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained (or one pint beans, if using home-soaked)

half a chicken or vegetable stock cube (the whole thing, if the beans are low sodium)

5-10 oz sliced cheddar or monterey jack cheese (or grated)

3 – 4 soft tortillas

Heat oil in a small pot on medium high. Add onions, stir, then lower heat to allow to soften. Add beans, 1/4 Cup water and stock cube and simmer up until thick. To make a quesadilla, heat a  skillet to medium with just a smear of oil. The skillet shold be large enough for the whole tortilla to lay flat. Lay the tortilla down and put a single layer of beans on one half. Lay cheese on top of the beans, as desired, making sure to put it on the edge. Fold tortilla over the beans and cheese and press flat. When the cheese on the edges melts, flip. Flip a few more times to desired crispness. Repeat until you are out of ingredients. Slice into wedges (a pizza slice works well) and serve with Mexican-style condiments.

Admittedly not the best-wrapped tuna sandwich around -- you should see me struggle with birthday presents...

Mayo-Chipo-Ketchup for Tuna Salad

(play around with the proportions to suit your taste; Erin eliminated the ketchup, if I am not mistaken)

1 Tbs prepared mayonnaise

1 Tbs plain yogurt (nonfat or lowfat are fine)

1 tsp ketchup (optional)

1 tsp chipotle in adobo (minced)

1 tsp lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced fine

5oz can tuna, drained (you will have enough dressing for two cans, or reserve remaining dressing for other dipping purposes)

1/4 red onion, minced fine

1 small celery stalk, minced fine (optional)

Pinch salt, if desired

two 8-inch tortillas

Mix all ingredients (except tuna, red onion, and optional celery) in a bowl. Add tuna, red onion and optional celery and mix well. Salt to taste and serve atop a salad or in a wrap with avocado, cucumber spears, carrot spears, sliced red peppers, sliced tomatoes (sun-dried, of you like!) or other crunchy or creamy salad fixings.

(For tortilla: warm tortillas — soft, burrito-style preferred — in a toaster oven set to toast for 1 minute, on a hot skillet for 30 seconds or so, each side, or wrap in dampened paper towel and heat in microwave for 15 seconds on high.)

Wrap and go

Asparagus Wraps

1/2 lb asparagus spears, bottoms snapped off and set aside for stock/another day

1 red pepper, top and seeds removed, sliced long

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus a smear of olive oil for the skillet (only if sauteing the peppers)

½ pint small tomatoes (grape, cherry, Sungold), halved

1-2 Tbs prepared hummus per wrap (about 1 Cup)

4-5 wrappers of your choice (tortillas for example)

If roasting the asparagus and red pepper, preheat oven to 400°F. Coat vegetables in olive oil and roast 20 minutes, turning once or twice, until fairly tender. You may also simmer the asparagus for five minutes in water instead and follow skillet instructions for red pepper.

In a skillet, warm each wrap until soft and pliable and keep warm on a plate, covered (may also be heated in microwave, following package instructions).

In the same skillet, warm a bit of olive oil on medium to cook the red pepper (if you haven’t already roasted it) until tender. Add the roasted vegetables and the raw tomato halves to the skillet and cook on high about three minutes, until the tomatoes look slightly charred and softened, shaking the pan frequently. Go back to the wraps, smear one half of each with a tablespoon or two of hummus. On the half that has the hummus, place a few vegetables. Roll up and serve, or pack up for an excellent work lunch or beach snack.

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