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Thursday, 1 September 2011

Lunchbox Recipes - For Kids and Grown-ups

There has been loads of discussion between us Mums and Dads on Twitter about school lunches.  So I thought, since my girls go back to school this coming week, I would blog a few recipes that my children and husband like to have in their packed lunches. 

Easy Falafels

I was given this recipe by one of the of the Mums at school and it's now a firm favourite in our house. The falafel can me eaten as a lunch in a wrap with salad, taken on a picnic or served as a weeknight dinner with couscous and salad leaves. The falafels are also freezable for up to 6 months in an airtight container. Great for make-ahead lunchbox treats or emergency dinners.

2 (400g) tins of chick peas

1 large onion, very finely chopped or grated

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp ground cumin

4-6 Tblsp plain flour

Salt and pepper

Oil for frying

Put the chickpeas in a bowl with the very finely chopped onion, crushed garlic gloves, cumin, ground coriander, salt and pepper. Use a potato masher or pestle and mortar to lightly mash the mixture until it begins to stick together. You can quickly pulse it in a food processor but don't be too over enthusiastic, you don't want a mushy puree.

Take walnut-sized blobs of mixture and and shape them into small flat rounds about 1/2 and inch thick. Roll the falafel in the flour ensuring they are well coated. Chill them for 15-30 minutes, this makes them much easier to work with. Heat some oil, about 1 inch deep, in a frying pan. When it's hot add a few falafels and cook over a medium heat for about 5-6 minutes, turning them frequently. Carefully take them out of the oil and drain well on kitchen paper.

To use the falafels from frozen: Put them on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and warm in the oven at 180°C/(350°F)/Gas Mark 4 for about 10 minutes or until piping hot.

Serve with a dip and crudités, in a wrap with salad leaves, or as a dinner/lunch with couscous salad.

Yoghurt Dip with Mint and Cucumber

150ml natural yoghurt

2 Tblsp mayonnaise

Juice of 1/2 a lime or lemon

1 small or 1/2 a large cucumber, thickly grated then drained on kitchen roll

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 Tblsp chopped fresh mint leaves

Pinch of salt

Put the yoghurt, mayonnaise and lime/lemon juice in a bowl and whisk together well with a fork. Add the drained cucumber, garlic and chopped fresh mint leaves. Mix together well and, if you think it needs it, add a pinch of salt.

Cover the dip with clingfilm and leave in it the fridge for at least 1 hour to allow the flavours to mingle before you serve it.
 
Other recipes that are fab for lunchboxes include:

Super Quick Couscous and Chickpea Salad

Mini Meatloaf Savouries

Here's another couple of recipes that I use often:

Easy Banana Muffins

1 3/4 cups self-raising flour

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 cup natural yoghurt

1 egg

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 large ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 12-hole, 1/3 cup-capacity muffin pan. Sift flour and sugar into a bowl.

Combine yoghurt, egg, oil and 1 cup mashed banana in a large bowl. Gradually add dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.

Spoon mixture into muffin holes. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Stand muffins in pan for 5 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve warm or cold.


Calzone

You can use whatever filling you like with this versatile bread parcel, just make sure the filling isn't too wet.  Leftover bolognese or stew from dinner also works well if the sauce is nice and thick. 

8g sachet instant dried yeast

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon caster sugar

3/4 cup warm water

2 cups plain flour

2 tsp dried mixed herbs (optional)

2 1/2 Tblsp olive oil

250g thinly-sliced ham

200g mushrooms, sliced

100g cheddar cheese, grated

1 small bunch spinach, shredded

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons salt

Combine yeast, salt, sugar and warm water in a jug.  Stir with a fork to mix it well. Cover with clingfilm and set it aside in a warm place for 5 minutes or until bubbles form on surface.  Sift flour into a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture, the dried mixed herbs and 2 tablespoons of oil. Mix it all together to form a soft dough.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.  Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover it with clingfilm.  Set aside in a warm place until doubled in size. 

I do the mixing, kneading and proving in my stand mixer.  It's loads quicker and I can get on with other things whilst it does the job for me.

Preheat your oven to 220°C.  Brush a large baking tray with the remaining oil.  Knock the dough back and  then knead it gently on a lightly floured surface.  Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Knead each piece into a ball and then roll out each ball into a 10 inch (25cm diameter) circle.

Arrange a quarter of the ham, mushroom, cheese and spinach over half of each round, leaving a 1 inch (2.5cm) border around the edge. Brush the edge with water.  Fold dough over to enclose filling and firmly press the edges together to seal each round.

Put the calzones on the oiled baking tray. Brush the tops with egg which gives them a nice glazed top. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper if you want to.  Bake the calzone for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden and crisp.  Serve hot or cold.

Vege Parcels

These are fab to keep in the freezer for weekend lunches, or after school snacks as well as lunchbox fillers.  You can cary the fillings or use pumpkin instead of  the sweet potato.  I have been known to add some curry powder to the mashed sweet potato for an extra kick, or pesto mixed in to the mashed sweet potato works well too.

1 small sweet potato (kumara), peeled and roughly diced

1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 potato (Maris Piper is a good type to use), peeled and finely chopped

1 handful of frozen peas

1 small can of sweetcorn, rinsed and drained

1 handful of grated Cheddar cheese

2 eggs, lightly whisked

3 sheets ready-rolled frozen shortcrust pastry, just thawed

Preheat oven to 220°C. Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper.  Cook the sweet potato in a medium saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender and then drain it well.  Transfer it to a heatproof bowl and use a fork to mash it smooth.  Set it aside to cool in the bowl.

Meanwhile, cook the carrot and potato in a saucepan of boiling water for around 5 minutes or until they're tender.  Make sure you drain them well and then set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.

Add the cooked potato and carrots, peas, corn, cheese and 1 egg to the mashed sweet potato and stir everything to combine it well.  Season with salt and pepper if you think it needs it.

Use a 12cm diameter pastry cutter to cut 12 circles from the pastry sheets.  Spoon the vegetable mixture evenly amongst the circles of pastry.  Brush the edges of the pastry circles lightly with the remaining egg.

Fold the pastry circles in half to enclose the filling and use your fingertips to gently press and crimp the edges together to seal them.  Put the parcels on the lined baking tray and lightly brush them with the remaining egg.  

Bake the parcels in the oven for 15 minutes or until they're golden brown and cooked through.  Remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool.  Once they're completely cool, wrap them and put them in lunch boxes.

As an  added bonus you can freeze these parcels unbaked.  Just before you bake them, put in an airtight container in the freezer. When you're ready to defrost them, put them in the fridge for around 4 hours to defrost and then bake them for 15 - 20 minutes at 220°C.

2 comments:

  1. wow,fab recipes, will bookmark this page.Thx!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Never knew falafels were that easy to make! Will go perfectly with yoghurt and cucumber dip so will def try out :) (came here through BlogHorm)

    ReplyDelete