Lunch inspiration for kids (and adults)

Lukas takes a packed lunch to kindergarten every day and it’s hard to keep coming up with new and interesting things to put in his box. But here is a list of the things I like to give him.

Most of the things are made in batches so I have it in the freezer and can take it out on the morning or the night before.

Sandwiches: 

Any kind of sandwiches made in homemade buns. I try to make the interesting with lettuce, vegetables and pickles.

Pasta salad with ham or tuna (or couscous salad or rice salad)

Boil some pasta, couscous or rice,  mix with peas, chopped cucumber, chopped tomatoes, sweetcorn, feta cheese and ham or tuna fish. I buy little zippy bags and in one of these I put some yogurt dressing so that the pasta doesn’t become soggy during the morning.

Pizza swirls with bacon or ham:

Make a tomato sauce out of 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, some garlic, some finely chopped onion and a packet of streaky bacon or ham, sliced finely. Season with oregano, salt, pepper and a little bit of sugar. Now make a normal, white dough or buy a ready made pizza dough. Roll it out to that it’s the size of a large, thin, square pizza. Spread the tomato sauce all over the base, add grated cheese. After this, you roll the dough to a long “sausage” and make slices so that you get pizza swirls. Bake the swirls in a 200 degree warm oven for approx 20 mins.

For a more healthy pizza, substitute some of the flour with wholegrain flour instead and leave the cheese out.

Mini pizzas:

Make the recipe as above, but instead of making swirls, you make mini pizzas and put any topping on they like – pepperoni, bits of sausages, ham, sweetcorn, vegetables, baked beans – the sky (and your child’s taste buds) is the limit!

Sausage rolls:

normal bread dough wrapped around small (or 1/2) hotdog sausages. These are not like the English sausage rolls which are made with puff pastry.

Pork meat balls:

1 lb minced pork, mix with 1 egg, a handful of breadcrumbs, a finely chopped onion, salt and pepper and a splash of milk. Mix and leave to stand for 1/2 hour. Shape into balls the size of a generously sized golf ball or into sausage shaped patties and fry on a pan for 10-12 minutes til cooked through. Lukas also likes them with a few dried herbs (thyme and oregano), a bit of garlic and some feta cheese crumbled into them. Can be made with mince beef, but they tend to get a little bit dry when they get cold. Can be used as they are or to put into a sandwich, wrap or pita bread.

Fruit and nuts:

Small bags of almonds, hazelnuts and dried fruit or fresh fruit chopped into bite sized chunks, or a fig bar.

Pita breads with filling:

Pita bread with lettuce, dressing and meatballs or other meat filling.

Wraps with filling:

Tortilla wraps with lettuce, sweetcorn, red pepper, mild salsa, minced, fried beef with ground cumin or bits of fried chicken.

Skewers

Marinate bits chicken or pork or other kinds of meat in either barbecue, soy sauce or just season it with salt, pepper and paprika (or whatever you like to do to your meat). Put them onto wooden skewers and fry them on a pan. Remember to soak the skewers for 1/2 hour first and to snap the pointy end off before putting it into the lunchbox. Lukas loves gnawing off the skewers.

Vegetables: 

Carrots, small tomatoes, chunks of cucumber and/or slices of red pepper

Other things:

A small block of cheese, any manageable leftovers, whole pickled gurkins

Pizza on pizza stone

After a few days of rich Christmas food, I decided to christen the pizza stone! I made 4 pizzas with different toppings (a boring one for my son and three interesting ones for the adults to share.) I invited my brother over as he is hung over and what is better than a beautiful, crispy, golden pizza when your body needs to recover? Also he is the one who gave me the pizza stone for Christmas, so it seems only fair that he was invited to the christening.

I love pizzas, but our local pizza shop make awful pizzas; cheap ingredients and way too much cheese – the box comes drenched in fat and it doesn’t seem worth the money when you can make healthier and much nicer pizzas at home.

The dough:

I know you are supposed to use fancy, specialised flour, but on my limited budget, I prefer to spend that little bit extra on the toppings, so I buy the cheap flour from the supermarket. You can invest in durum flour or Typo 00 which makes a more “Italian” style base.

This portion makes 4 pizza shop sized pizzas. Roll them out really thinly or they won’t become crisp.

  • Approximately 1/2 kg of strong white bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 15 g of compact yeast or 1 sachet of dried yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 300 ml of tepid water.

I have a dough maker, so it is easy for me to make to make the dough – I simply dissolve the yeast in the tepid water, add oil, salt and sugar, then the flour and leave the machine to do its magic for 10 minutes.

If you don’t have a mixer, then you follow the same procedure, but perhaps use the dough attachments for your hand mixer or even (god forbid), use your hands…… make sure you kneed the dough for at least 10 minutes to allow the fibers to really stretch…….I have found that stretching the dough away from you with the back of one hand whilst holding the other end with the other hand and then bringing it back repeatedly for 10 minutes, is better than just beating it!

Now roll it into a ball, smear all over with olive oil (makes it easier to tip it out of the bowl later without bursting all the nice bubbles from the proving).

Leave to prove for approximately 1 hour. When it’s risen till double size, tip it out of the bowl, cut carefully into 4 pieces and (again) carefully shape 4 balls out of each. It is now easy to flatten each ball and on a floured surface and then roll the balls out to thin bases.

Tomato sauce:

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • olive oil to fry onions and garlic
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely diced or pressed through a garlic presser
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes (neutral taste)
  • 1 bunch of basil leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar

Fry  the onions and the garlic until soft. Add the chopped, tinned tomatoes and half of the basil leaves. Add salt, pepper and sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce to lowest heat and cover with a lid. Leave to simmer for as long as you have time – the longer, the more the flavours come out. You can always add a little bit of water, should the sauce dry out…..right at the end, chop the last basil leaves and add them to the sauce.

If you find that the sauce is a little too coarse, you can give it a quick blitz with a hand blender before adding the last basil leaves.

Toppings:

Ham, tomato and grated mozzarella

Parma ham, green asparagus, artichokes, eggs, tomato and grated mozzarella

 

Spanish chorizo, brown mushrooms and olives, tomato and grated mozzarella

prawns, smoked muscles, tuna, and capers, tomato and grated mozzarella

TIPS:

  • You can buy a really good ready made pizza tomato sauce in Fakta (Denmark) and Morrissons (UK) also do an affordable, good sauce.
  • Many supermarkets also sell mixes for doughs and all you need to add is water
  • Put the pizza stone in a cold oven, leave the oven on highest heat for at least 30 mins so the stone is as hot as it can be. If you put the pizza onto a cold stone, the base will suck itself into the stone end the stone and pizza will be ruined.
  • Make sure you have your oven on your highest setting. A pizza oven is about 350 degrees, a temperature a conventional oven will never be able to reach, so you want to get it as hot as possible.
  • Put the cheese UNDERNEATH the meats and veg (base, tomato sauce, cheese then topping)
  • Bake your pizza in the top of the oven to take advantage of the rising heat

OTHER TOPPINGS:

  • Turkish pizza without cheese: mix minced beef with garlic, oregano, thyme and salt. Make little balls and dot them all over the pizza. Add sliced red onion, chopped fresh tomatoes and jalapeño peppers.
  • Parma ham, fresh spinach (blanched first and then wring the moisture out of it), and an egg (add the egg 6 minutes before the end for a runny yolk or at the beginning, if you want a firm yolk)

Please write and suggest more toppings if you have an interesting favourite.

The pizzas were scoffed in no time and though I am hot and sticky from the work, it was worth it to see my brother feeling better and better after his drinking session.

Christmas presents for me

Well, it is no surprise that I received some  kitchen related presents this year; my brother gave me a pizza stone and my step mum bought me a Römertopf:

 

This beauty is supposed to make cooking healthier, easier and less messy as it’s an all-in-one-pot kinda pot!

Am excited to experiment with the pizza stone and the pot – have never tried either!