Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Welcome Wednesday!

Yes, we are welcoming Wednesday with open arms this week.  It is the final full day of school before Christmas break.  That means that Christmas is almost here and we couldn't be more excited.  We are ready to celebrate the birth of Christ with our friends and family and even strangers as we greet them with a hearty "Merry Christmas!"  This time of year is amazing to watch when you have children.  The Christmas lights sparkling in their eager eyes and the incredible smiles that stream across their faces are unmatched by even their birthdays.

We would like to wish each and every one of you a Very Merry Christmas and a Joyous and Prosperous New Year!  See you next year in 2011!

The Final Lunch of the Year is a by request only lunch.  Molly and I sat down and she decided what she would like and I said that she could have anything.  This is what she decided on...
Our main entrée is pepperoni, cheese and crackers.  Molly thinks that this "party food" is one of the coolest things to have for lunch.  We used Keebler Town House Toppers Crackers in their holiday variety.  If you look closely, you can see a tree and a snowman embossed on the center of the crackers.  The cheese is Colby Jack and it and the pepperoni were loving prepared by Molly's Daddy.  (Thanks Daddy!)

Our vegetable side is a baby spinach salad with pea shoots.  It is served with Trader Joe's Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Our fruit side is a combination of Clementine segments, raspberries and pomegranate seeds.  Molly said that she really likes it when she gets a combination of fruits because she has so much to choose from.

Finally, our Christmas dessert is one of Molly's Daddy's Famous Pizzelles that has been broken in to bit sized pieces and a Brown Eyed Susan cookie.  These two are some of our absolute favorite holiday cookies and Molly definitely deserves a very special treat for her final school lunch of 2010.

Again, Merry Christmas to One and ALL!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tinsel Tuesday

Our family has become obsessed with Disney's Prep and Landing, to the point that it is #3 on our all time favorite Christmas television specials.  We think that the story of Wayne and Lanny's attempt to save Christmas for Timmy Terwelp is so fun, hysterical and heartwarming.  One of Lanny's favorite phrases is, "this is SO Tinsel!"  Now our family is calling really neat or cool things, tinsel.  We received a very pretty Christmas card in the mail today and Molly's little sister said, "that's SO tinsel, Mom."  So, tomorrow will be Tinsel Tuesday because it's going to be a fun day at school and at home.  There are still a few more Christmas specials to watch and a few more cookies to bake.  This truly is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
Our main entrée is a croissant sandwich with Castle Wood Honey Ham and Castle Wood Pepper Jack Cheese.  We added a little bit of mustard at Molly's request.  We also added pea shoots for a great veggie flavor and not the normal lettuce.  The croissant is a special and delicious Christmastime treat.

Our veggie side is carrot sticks dressed with a few extra pea shoots to fancy it up.  We feel that the crunch of the carrots will be an excellent pairing with the softness of the sandwich.

Our fruit side is a Clementine with a few pomegranate seeds to dress it up.  Molly absolutely loved the pomegranate seeds from yesterday's lunch so this may be a recurring fruit in her lunch.

Finally, we added two Hershey's kisses for her dessert.  Just a little something sweet to end her lunch.

ps - in case you are wondering what our top two picks for Christmas television specials are, here goes:
#1 - Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas
#2 - A Charlie Brown Christmas

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Monday

We are in the thick of it people!  Christmas is less than a week away and the excitement is hardly containable.  We have wrapped a plethora of presents, baked dozens of dozens of cookies and decorated to our heart's content.

We have a tradition at our house when it comes to presents that we started with Molly's 1st Christmas.  Santa brings only three gifts for each child plus a few stocking stuffers.  Why, you might ask?  Because that is the amount of presents Baby Jesus got for Christmas.  This tradition has proven to be a tremendous help to us.  First, our house doesn't have a thousand plastic toys sitting and collecting dust a week after Christmas.  Second, friends and family members that wish to purchase a gift for our children can do so and we have ideas for them because Santa hasn't used all of them.  Third, it really saves a lot of money.  Fourth, the children seem to appreciate their gifts even more because there aren't too many of them.  Fifth and the most important thing, it teaches the story of Christ's birth and how people from all over the land followed a star to come to see this amazing babe and bring him gifts.

We have only three full days of school this week before the kids have their Christmas vacation.  We will be doing our best to make this week's lunches as fun as possible for Molly.
Our main entrée is a cold tortellini pasta salad.  These are Trader Joe's Fresh Cheese Tortellini.  We've added light Italian dressing to coat.  (Notice the red and green flecks of color that keep with our Christmas theme.)

Our vegetable side is canned green beans with no salt added.  These are an all time favorite of Molly's.  She's just like her Mother. ☺

Our fruit side is pomegranate arils or seeds.  These are sweet and mildly bitter with a juicy pop to them.  The health benefits of this "super fruit" are too numerous to list.
*We removed the seeds from the pomegranate by slicing a cone around the top at about 1/2 inch down.  We then scored the pom with 1/4 inch deep slices going from top to bottom in four sections.  We then submerged the pomegranate in a bowl of water and started to tear it apart.  (This keeps your hands and kitchen counter from turning pink.) The seeds sink to the bottom of the bowl while the pulp floats to the top.  We removed the pulp then strained the contents of the bowl, and were left with the seeds...YUM!

Finally, our dessert is Chewy Egg Nog Cookies from Trader Joe's that according to Trader Joe himself, "exude egg nogginess from the moment you open the box."  They are INCREDIBLE!  Plus, they are a nice way to finish up a festive lunch.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Final Friday!

It's the final Friday of school for this calendar year.  The last "Fun Friday" until 2011.  We are almost done with 2010 and as I look back, I can't believe how much my Molly has grown up.  Physically, I'd say that she's grown at least 4 or 5 inches taller in 2010.  Mentally, she is doing so much better with every subject in school and her intellectual growth is astonishing.  Spiritually, I can see an incredible relationship with God blossoming.  She is asking a million questions and learning how to pray. She has a better understanding and appreciation for the Bible and why and how things happened so that she can live life the way that she does.  This is such a fun age!

Now it's time for lunch that Molly's Daddy was AWESOME enough to help me with.  You Rock Daddy!
Our main entrée is a peanut butter and jelly on white bread.  After all, they are cut out like snowmen so they needed to be white. ☺ We used Trader Joe's Cranberry Apple Butter as our jelly on these.  It's tartness and sweetness are such a great compliment to just about anything.

Our vegetable side is organic carrots cut into sticks.  We have these on hand almost all of the time in our house.  They are one of those great things to have around for a quick snack because they satisfy that crunch craving, and they are very good for you.

Our fruit side is a Clementine.  Molly really likes these.  Oranges of any type always remind me of the holidays because when I was young, we used to stud oranges with whole cloves to make the house smell good.  And boy did it ever!

Finally, our Final Fun Friday treat is S'More Pops!  We stuck a lollipop stick in a marshmallow, dipped it in melted milk chocolate and set them on crushed graham crackers.  We then sprinkled some Christmas-like sprinkles or Jimmies (if you are from the Pittsburgh area) on them to make them more festive.  We make these every year for teachers, neighbors and friends.  We then attach a note saying, "Have a Merry Christmas and many S'More!"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What about time?

Time, it's a funny thing.  This week seems to be dragging on forever.  Tomorrow is only Thursday when to me it seems more like Saturday.  But then again, I feel like the first day of school was just last week.  It seems like the months have flown by but then we reach this week and the brakes have been put on in a hurry.  Maybe it's because I have three young children that are beyond excited about Christmas and it seems like Christmas will never get here.  Maybe it's because I have all of my shopping done and all that I need to do is enjoy myself instead of running through the hustle and bustle of this time of year.  Or maybe it's because I'm looking forward to a "do nothing" weekend.  Our plans include cookie making, present wrapping and watching Christmas movies.  Regardless of how fast or slow time seems go be going, now it's time for lunch.
Our main entrée is an incredible combination sandwich.  We used the same Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread that we used for yesterday's lunch, for our bread.  We then spread peanut butter and apple butter on the bread and sandwiched them together.  It's a great combination because the apple butter brings out the yummy spice flavors in the bread, then the peanut butter adds a great creamy flavor and texture.

Our vegetable and fruit sides are one in the same today.  We have a baby spinach salad with fresh raspberries.  This is served with Trader Joe's Balsamic Vinaigrette on the side.

Our dairy side is Dannon Light and Fit Strawberry Yogurt.  Molly requested this because she thought that it would go nicely with the sandwich.  If she makes a request, I try to honor it because then she will probably enjoy her lunch a little more.  

Finally, we have Daddy's Famous Pizzelles for dessert.  This is just one pizzelle but we broke it into pieces so that it doesn't crumble everywhere and then she can enjoy every little bit.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fruit for Thought

Right now, Molly is on a big fruit kick.  We are trying all kinds of new fruits and some old ones too.  She is asking for fruit with every meal and instead of dessert.  Molly has always been open to trying different types of foods and the more strange, the better.  (That is, if Mom or Dad eat it first.)  So now we are on the look out for new and exotic fruits for her to try.  I'm thinking about persimmons and pomegranates.  Maybe kumquats?  Keep an eye out for whatever I can find around here.
Our main entrée is a sandwich made from Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread and whipped cream cheese.  This boxed pumpkin bread mix is so flavorful.  We substituted apple sauce for the oil in the recipe to bring down the fat content.  When we baked it, the whole house smelled incredible.  We then sliced a few pieces and spread some whipped cream cheese on them.  

Our vegetable side is a cucumber that has been cut into sticks.  For some reason these particular cucumbers have a very strong cucumber flavor and it's really delicious.

Our fruit side is kiwi, raspberries and star fruit.  Molly requested this combination.  It's funny that even though we are in the beginnings of winter here in Western PA, there is an abundance of amazing fruit that is available to us.  This combination of fruits is the perfect mix of sweet and tart.

Our diary side is Dannon Light and Fit vanilla yogurt.  A sweet and creamy side that boosts the protein and calcium in this meal.  Molly also requested this because she, along with the rest of our family, loves yogurt.

Finally, we put in two Hershey's Kisses as an added treat to get her through Wednesday.  This week seems to be dragging on a bit so why not add a goody to give a little push for the rest of the day.  

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup!

Tomorrow, Molly's school is serving one of her absolute favorites...Chicken Noodle Soup.  I'm willing to give in  and let her buy lunch because of this.  Plus, it is absolutely frigid here in Pittsburgh so some hot chicken noodle soup sounds absolutely wonderful.  This is served with an oven baked chicken patty on a bun, which isn't very nutritious but better than something that is deep fried and is fine for a special treat.  Their vegetable side is a tossed salad.  I'm hoping that they will serve the dressing on the side but you can't always get what you want.  (Wait a minute, I think that there is a song that says that! ♪♫) The cafeteria is also serving assorted chilled fruit, which is served every day.  I would rather they serve an apple or some sort of other fresh fruit, but alas, they don't.  Finally, they are serving Cheezit Scrabble Crackers.  I usually have these or Pepperidge Farm Goldfish on had for an easy snack because they aren't completely bad for you.  Then they serve milk for the drink.  I have to say that this lunch is pretty good and not nearly the catastrophe that most of the school lunches are.  Is it that hard to step away from processed food and invest in fresh ingredients?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pizza Monday

I've mentioned before that Molly's school serves pizza on Mondays so I've decided to jump on that trend this Monday.  We have some left-over pizza from Daddy's Birthday Dinner tonight and I figured that Molly will fit right in with everyone else by having pizza too.  The biggest difference between Molly's lunch and the school cafeteria lunch is that Molly's is portioned for a child, it includes vegetables that are not dripping in fatty dressing, fruit that is not sitting in heavy syrup and a dessert that isn't as big as her head.  At school, they serve Papa John's pizza with government cheese added to it, salad that is soaked in dressing, fruit in sugar laden heavy syrup and a large hot pretzel. Then, they have cookies for sale that are bigger than a salad plate.
I understand that kids like rewards and fun foods but it's all about portion control.  I'm not the Mom that will only give her children ultra healthy food at all times.  Yes, I do try to give my kids a variety of healthy foods but I too like pizza and cookies now and then.
Our main entrée is cheese pizza from Little Caesars.  Today is Molly's Daddy's Birthday and as part of our celebrations, we picked up some pizza.  Cold leftover pizza is really delicious, as noted in our previous post called Cold Pizza.

Our vegetable side is cucumbers.  We sliced these kind of thick so that they give Molly a nice crunch.  Plus, they have a lot of water in them that will help combat the saltiness of the pizza.

Our fruit side is a Clementine.  One of those little Christmastime gems that are a huge favorite in our house.  Just the smell of them can perk you up!

Finally, our dessert is an anise pizzelle that Molly's Daddy made.  These are light and crispy with a delicate sweet flavor.  Definitely a cookie that most anyone will enjoy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Friday Already!

Did this week fly by or is it just me?  Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy that tomorrow is Friday.  This means that the weekend is close by and that Christmas will be here soon.  We drove around our neighborhood tonight to look at everyone's Christmas lights and decorations.  The kids were giddy with glee and squealed from one house to the next.  We are just enjoying every moment because it truly is amazing to experience Christmas when you have young children.  Their pure excitement is contagious!
Our main entrée is a whipped cream cheese and apple butter on whole wheat sandwich.  Molly has yet to try this combination but her brother and sister loved it today for their lunch.  She likes apple butter so I'm pretty confident that she will be requesting this sandwich again.  We used some star cookie cutters to make it fun.

Our veggie side is sugar snap peas and cucumbers.  These are both crunchy and juicy plus they're very tasty.

Our fruit side is a segmented Clementine.  These tiny oranges are seedless and sweeter than a regular orange. They are perfect for kids because they are small and easy to peel because their skin is very thin.  Plus, they are delicious and nutritious.

Finally, our Fun Friday treat is a homemade gingerbread cookie.  This was made by Molly's second cousin for our family Christmas party.  And WOW are they scrumptious!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New and Interesting Foods

Yesterday, I lamented about how we didn't have very much in the fresh fruit or vegetable category in our house.  Well, we remedied that today.  Sam's Club has an incredible selection of fresh produce and we took full advantage of it.  I find it important to introduce new or different things to my kids.  Even if they don't like it at first or have not liked it in the past, we always try it again.  We have a two bite rule at our house.  If after two bites, they still don't like it, then they don't have to eat anymore of it.  This works pretty well for us, usually.  We'll see how the star fruit goes over in tomorrow's lunch.
Our main entrée is Castle Wood Honey Ham and Kraft 2% Cheddar Cheese.  We rolled up the ham and sliced it in half for a fun new twist.  Molly's Daddy was nice enough to chunk up the cheese and he did an excellent job!

Our veggie side is a baby spinach salad.  This will be a nice contrast the the salty and creamy flavors of the main entrée.

Our fruit side is a combination of kiwi, raspberries and star fruit.  The kiwi is sweet and tart at the same time.  The raspberries are incredibly flavorful.  And the star fruit, if you never tasted it, could be described as a cross between a green grape and a lime.  This combination is absolutely delicious!

Finally, the dessert is Mini Honey Teddy Grahams.  Molly really likes these.  They aren't too sweet and have a nice crunch.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mother Hubbard?

This Mom really needs to go food shopping.  These past few weeks have been concentrated on Christmas shopping, family parties and sick kids so the grocery store has been the last thing on my mind.  There are a few staples that are always in our house but the refrigerator is looking like it did when I was in college.  There's milk, juice, a few condiments, some spinach, apples, eggs and a few other random things.  Luckily, I was able to make a nice lunch out of what was around.  We definitely need to make a run to the grocery store tomorrow.  We are in desperate need of fresh fruit and veggies!
Our main entrée is pasta salad.  The pasta is mini shells, they are really cute and pretty "meaty" for a mini pasta.  We added chunks of pepperoni and a string cheese stick that was cut into chunks plus some light Italian dressing.

Our veggie side is canned, no salt added, cut green beans.  Molly likes these warm and cold.  I just wish her siblings did too.

Our fruit side is apple slices.  Sometimes we leave the skin on because it adds a lot of nutrients.  Also, there are times when Molly asks to have the skin cut off.

Finally, we have Aldi Fit & Active strawberry yogurt covered raisins for dessert.  These are a delicious and healthy dessert.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sick Day

Molly stayed home from school today.  December 6th and her first sick day.  Not too bad in my opinion considering the plethora of sickness that has already steamrolled through her school.  All 3 of our kids were quite cuddly and clingy today so needless to say, not much was accomplished except lots of TLC from Mom.  (Which was fine with me. ☺)
Tomorrow, Molly will be headed back to her first grade classroom.  She started feeling better after a nap this afternoon and she's ready to get back to it.  You may notice that two of the items are the same as yesterday because she only ate the waffle sandwiches and apples for lunch today.
Our main entrée is peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat.  We've broken out the Christmas cookie cutters and decided to go with a snowman and tree.

Our fruit side is mandarin oranges.  These will be a nice contrast to the peanut butter.

Our dairy side is Dannon Light and Fit strawberry yogurt.  This will help her belly feel better after being sick.

Finally we have our trail mix of peanuts and raisins.  Even if she only eats a little bit of this, it will help keep her appetite satisfied until she gets home.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Maybe Monday?

Molly has been feeling kind of sick all weekend.  She has a stuffy nose and a cough that just won't let up.  She didn't go to church this morning and I'm wondering if we'll send her to school tomorrow.  Poor thing.  Plus, she is still a sad sack because she says that school won't be the same without Miss Sizer, the student teacher who's last day was Friday.  I'm preparing myself for a little bit of a struggle tomorrow morning and I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised with a child that is feeling better and not as sad.

Maybe a little breakfast for lunch will help.  We haven't done this in a while.
Our main entrée is mini waffle sandwiches.  We put some real maple syrup in a little bit of whipped cream cheese and then spread it between two mini waffles.

Our fruit side is a sliced apple.  A nice crunchy and juicy contrast to the waffle sandwiches.

Our dairy side is Dannon Light and Fit strawberry yogurt.  This will provide extra protein plus a delicious creamy and sweet flavor.

Finally, we have a little mix to round things out.  We used about 1/4 cup of unsalted, dry roasted peanuts and about 1 TBSP of raisins.  This is something that we usually have for an after school snack and we figured that it would be nice for a lunchtime side as well.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bittersweet Day

Tomorrow will be the last day for Molly's student teacher.  She is finished with her required fieldwork and will be able to teach on her own.  Molly is very sad and so is Miss Sizer, the student teacher.  Molly found a great friend and mentor in Miss Sizer and will really miss her.  It's bittersweet because we're sad that Miss Sizer is leaving but we are so happy for her because she is now starting a new and exciting chapter in her life.  Maybe someday, Molly or one of her siblings will have Miss Sizer for a teacher, but for now we will wish her the best and hopefully keep in touch via e-mail.  I'm sure that this will be a Fun Friday that Molly will never forget.

We will try to keep this sad day full of love by giving Molly some really special and fun things.
Our main entrée is cheese and crackers with pepperoni.  Molly really likes cheese and crackers, in fact she asks for it most every day for her after school snack.  The crackers are Keebler Town House Toppers.  These have a bit of a hollowed out top to them so that toppings fit better.  They are really tasty too.

Our vegetable side is a baby spinach salad with Trader Joe's Balsamic Vinaigrette on the side.  Another favorite of Molly's.

Our fruit side is mandarin oranges.  Molly, her sister and her brother would go through a can of these daily if we let them.

Our FUN Friday treat is Cafe Bistro Cookie and Wafer Mix from Aldi.  These incredible cookies only come out at Christmastime.  It is like a big bag of the best Pepperidge Farm cookies out there.  The chocolate is superb and all of the cookies almost melt in your mouth.  Molly truly deserves this awesome treat. ☺

ps - We just want to send out a GIGANTIC THANK YOU to Miss Sizer for being such a great student teacher!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let It Snow!

December 1st came and so did the snow.  I knew that there was a possibility of snow today but I did not expect to look out the window this morning and see my van covered in the white stuff.  The chill in the air and the beautiful snowflakes falling are just another reminder of the Christmas season that is upon us.  This is my kind of winter.  Just enough snow to cover everything in a beautiful shimmer of white but still warm enough that you can stand outside and not freeze completely.  I did not care for "snowmageddon" last year with several feet of snow.  I'll take a little more so that we can make a snowman and that will do it for me.
Our main entrée is banana bread sandwiches with whipped cream cheese.  These are something that you might find at a tea party.  Molly has always loved to play tea party so we decided to pay homage to one of her favorite things during this lunch.

Our veggie side is sugar snap peas.  We are giving the salads a break for the day.  Molly really enjoys these sweet and crispy veggies.

Our fruit side is apple slices.  These will be a nice accompaniment to the banana bread sandwiches.

We also added a string cheese to add some protein and calcium.

Finally, we have Aldi Pfeffernusse Cookies for Molly's dessert.  These cookies are like gingerbread but lighter in texture and flavor.  They are chewy and yet have that little crunch from the white icing.  YUM!