Last update: 05-Dec-2013 4:26 am
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Take the hassle out of back to school Mealtime Menu
For most moms “back to school” will elicit either sighs of relief or sighs of anguish. There will be relief that the children will once again be occupied for most of the day in a constructive manner or anguish at the return to the routine and hustle that back to school usually dictates. The break in routine at holiday time usually lifts a tremendous amount of stress from the shoulders of parents and caregivers. But the long vacation should have given you enough time to refuel your energy and refresh your thoughts on how you’re going to get through the next couple of months without the stress, and constant running on empty, that seem to plague many busy parents.
Mealtime and menu planning can be a challenge, but planning a schedule for yourself will help you stay on top of the game. Start by planning lunch box menus and family mealtime menus on a weekly basis. Do all your shopping on the weekend as this will help you to have the ingredients you need at the time you need them. You may even try to make some dishes ahead of time and freeze them if you foresee a particularly busy week ahead. A school lunch should comprise a whole grain sandwich with fillings like tuna, egg salad, chicken salad, roast beef or sliced chicken breast. You can also pack fresh fruit, a bottle of water and a home-baked snack.
Cooked meals can also be included like pasta and meat sauce, veggie pasta salad, or even rice, beans and meat. Don’t use chicken if it cannot be reheated. Snacks can comprise oatmeal cookies, muffins or even brownies. Remember by being prepared you lessen the amount of fast foods your family eats, and you feel better when you know you’re giving your kids fresh, healthy homemade foods most of the time. Happy cooking and Happy Independence to all.
MEXICAN BAKED CASSEROLE
This is tasty and nutritious, perfect for your lunch box.
3 cups elbow macaroni
2 tbsps parsley, finely chopped
3/4 cup tablespoons grated cheese
2 tbsps butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium sized green pepper, seeded and chopped
3 clove garlic chopped
1 tbsp chili powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 (51/2ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 tsp sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
Preheat oven to 350F
Cook macaroni in lightly salted water until tender. Drain and combine with parsley, half the cheese, butter and salt. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large heavy frying pan.
Add beef and lightly brown. Add onion, green pepper and garlic. Cook to soften. Drain excess fat. Stir in chili powder, oregano, sugar and tomato paste. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
To assemble, spoon half the macaroni into a lightly greased 9-inch square-baking dish.
Top with meat mixture, them remaining macaroni.
Beat eggs and milk together. Pour over macaroni. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake for 45 mins until hot and browned.
OVEN FRIED CHICKEN STRIPS
Although the preparation time for this dish seems a little involved, it can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to cook. The cooking time is mostly unattended. Serve this with mashed potatoes and a fresh green salad.
2 lbs chicken breast cut into 1-inch wide strips
½ cup plain yogurt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs fresh thyme, finely chopped
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsps Grated Parmesan cheese, or your choice of cheese
2 cups fine breadcrumbs
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
Pat the chicken pieces dry.
In a medium sized bowl combine the yogurt, garlic, thyme, black pepper.
Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and salt set aside.
Dip the chicken in the yogurt mixture; ensure all pieces are evenly coated. Then roll in crumb mixture.
Place the chicken pieces on a rack and let stand uncovered in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. This helps the breading to stick.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Transfer chicken to a greased baking sheet, bake uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.
(Serves 4 to 6)
BANANA STREUSEL CAKE
Cut these into 2 inch squares for easy, healthful and delicious lunch box options
1/2 cup butter, unsalted
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 bananas mashed
1 tsp vanilla
For the streusel topping
1/2 cup chopped nuts
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
To make cake
Preheat oven to 350F
Grease and flour a 9-inch cake tin
Cream butter with sugar until light, add eggs one at a time, combine flour with baking powder.
Combine milk with bananas and vanilla
Add flour alternately with milk.
Spoon into a 9-inch pan.
Combine ingredients for streusel, sprinkle on top of cake.
Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
Makes one cake.
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