Nothing says great lunches like a stomach bug…

Easy lunch box ideas: barbecue pulled pork sliders; and a yogurt parfait. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

Which is why the lunch line has been offline for a little bit.

Let’s just say there was a whole lot of mopping up and laundry that needed doing…

When Parker gets a bug, he REALLY gets a bug…

Fingers crossed that things are back to normal today.

But between his illness and the various mega-death storms (yawn…) rolling through, it does feel a bit like I’ve not left the house in two weeks.

Oh wait… I think it’s because I haven’t left the house in two weeks…

The joys of working from home…

Hope everyone else weathered the storm well. Though we didn’t actually see much snow, some parts of the region did get smacked. My parents, who live in southern New Hampshire, got nearly 3 feet of snow.

But with things getting back to normal, lunch must go on.

On Monday, my team was testing and shooting a fresh ham for Easter. A mere 24-pound fresh ham.

Holy crap, that’s a lot of meat!

Last night I took some of the remnants and shredded it, then tossed it with a homemade barbecue sauce for pulled pork sliders. And if that was good enough for dinner, it’s good enough for lunch.

For Parker’s parfait, I had to use frozen fruit. Not having left the house in an awful long time, we’re out of fresh fruit…

And yes, you’ll notice the candy and honey globbed on top. Parker is a scrawny kid and I’m aiming to get some calories back into him after too long of not eating.

Hope everyone else is doing better than we did with flu season!

That’s right… I went there. I made bacon chili.

Easy lunch box ideas: bacon and barley chili; and a yogurt parfait. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

It wasn’t the plan. But then nothing about last night’s dinner went as planned.

It all started with the bushel of parsley I found in the back of the refrigerator. Roughly 20 bunches. Or so it seemed. And all of it was perched on top of a cucumber.

Surely I could do something with these.

I decided to make a salad sort of thing. So I washed the mountain of parsley and diced the cucumber. I tossed them together… And inspiration failed me.

So I popped four carrots in the food processor and made a mess.

So I dumped the mess in.

There was a bowl of citrus preparing to rot on the counter, so I juiced about 6 limes and 2 lemons, splashing one of the cats in the process. The cat was pissed. So I dumped that (the juice, not the cat) in.

Salt, please!

It tasted gross. Like — Are you ready? — way too much parsley.

So I added some Greek yogurt. Meh.

So I added some Dijon mustard. Meh.

So I boiled up about 10 pounds of pearled barley, then chilled it in nature’s refrigerator (the sub-zero porch). I dumped in some of that.

Say it with me… Meh.

It was one of those meals where in desperation to save a dish I just kept adding things hoping the next item I grabbed would be the magic one that tied it all together, but never did.

Finally, I drizzled in some honey.

Eh.

Which was an improvement over meh. So I decided to live with it.

But there was no way the veg-phobic kid was eating this mess. Cue the bacon.

Mostly because that was the only meat I had. So I diced it up and sauteed it.

Now what?

I added the rest of the barley that didn’t get sacrificed to my salad, a can of diced tomatoes, a can red beans, some chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and smoked paprika. Salt, pepper and… Whatever.

It was fine. For being built on a base of 1 pound of bacon, it should have been better.

So that — along with an utter mess of a yogurt and graham cracker parfait — is Parker’s lunch today.

Time for a classic Parker lunch…

Easy lunch box ideas: steak taco fixings and a yogurt parfait with peanuts and white chocolate. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

Last night’s dinner was a bust. Don’t know why… Probably doesn’t matter.

I totally went out on a limb and made steak tacos.

Because, you know, I’ve never made those for him before. And he hates steak.

And cheese.

And sour cream.

So obviously I was trying to poison him.

Which is why it landed in his lunch today…

Two lunches for the price of one… Including barbecue pulled lamb!

Didn’t have time to post yesterday. Was too busy mopping up all the rainbows and kittens my beloved child was spewing. Rainbows… Kittens… Puppies… Lollipops… So much fun!

So let’s start with yesterday’s lunch. Had friends over for dinner Saturday and decided to make something different. I used a recipe from Gabrielle Hamilton’s new cookbook, “Prune.”

Easy lunch box ideas: leftover mashed potatoes; and barbecue pulled lamb on whole-wheat buns. http:www.LunchBoxBlues.com

It was a delicious lamb shoulder that is braised in red wine, tomatoes, cinnamon and lemons. The meat was so tender it fell apart after about 3 hours in the oven. I served it with mashed potatoes and cauliflower soup.

And by the way, you should try that soup. All I did was simmer two heads of cauliflower, two onions and a few cloves of garlic in chicken broth (I also added a few whole peppercorns).

When everything was tender, I dumped it in the blender and pureed it. Then I added some light miso. It was outrageously good. So creamy and rich. The next day I made a broccoli version for lunch. Almost as good.

So for yesterday’s lunch, I just tossed some of the leftover lamb with barbecue sauce and popped it on some buns. Add a thermos of leftover mashed potatoes and we’re done!

Today’s lunch was less exciting…

Easy lunch box ideas: a yogurt parfait with berries, peanuts and candy; chocolate graham crackers with peanut butter and jelly; and hummus with pretzels. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

 

I started with a basic yogurt parfait — topped with a little candy and some peanuts. Then I added hummus with pretzels. Finally, chocolate graham crackers with peanut butter and jelly…

Now… If only I knew what I was making for dinner tonight.

Leftover chili, Take 2 — The pasta edition

Easy lunch box ideas: black bean and barley chili with whole-wheat penne and cream sauce; and a yogurt parfait. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

Last night I lacked the time, energy and ingredients to make a proper dinner.

All I had was a bowl of the leftover chili I’d made the night before (and repurposed into Parker’s lunch yesterday).

If I tried to serve it for a third meal, there likely would be a rebellion. So it was time to improvise.

I started by boiling up some whole-wheat penne. Once that was cooked and drained, I returned it to the pot along with the leftover black bean and barley chili.

Next, I added whatever random cheese I could find in the refrigerator. I think there was Asiago, Mexican blend and mozzarella. They all seemed to get along fine.

That mixed up wonderfully. But it was still missing… something.

So I added a splash of hot sauce.

Still in need…

Heavy cream!

A hefty splash of cream pulled it all together.

And the leftover got trotted out one last time for today’s lunch.

Is there anything chili can’t accomplish?

Easy lunch box ideas: barley and black bean chili; and a yogurt parfait. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

 

Serioulsy. I’m starting to think I could dump just about anything — maybe even the dreaded broccoli — into a pot, call it chili… and my boy will devour it.

OK, perhaps not broccoli…

But just about anything else.

Last night I was struggling for inspiration when I noticed a bag of leftover canned black beans and a bag of cooked barley.

Good a start as any.

So I chopped up a quarter pound of bacon and a package of sweet Italian chicken sausages. Those and a diced yellow onion landed in the pot.

Once the bacon was cooked and the sausage browned, I added the beans and the barley. Two cans of diced tomatoes and some water rounded things out.

Once everything was simmering, I seasoned with chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika and garlic powder. Then I walked away for a while.

It was crazy delicious. Parker took his — of course — with sour cream.

I took mine with bourbon.

He gobbled it up. Not bad for a chili that was mostly beans and barley (the bacon and sausage didn’t actually amount to much).

Next time, I think I will push my luck a bit and try adding baby spinach. It should wilt away into nothing. I may also add some shelled edamame.

A lunch via a random discovery in the refrigerator

Easy lunch box ideas: bacon-grilled chicken breast on whole-wheat sourdough with cream cheese; and a yogurt parfait. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

Surely I can’t be alone.

And I don’t mean alone in terms of reaching for the bourbon.

Because clearly I’m not alone there.

I mean in reaching into the refrigerator to see what I find come lunch packing time.

This morning I was more adventurous than usual. I reached in and found a lone chicken breast.

Normally, this wouldn’t do much for me. But this morning I didn’t have many alternatives. A raw chicken breast was really all I had to work with. So I made it work.

I had some bacon. So I set four slices of bacon into a skillet over medium-low heat.

Then I pounded my breast.

The chicken breast, that is. Until it was really thin.

And I slapped it over the bacon in the skillet. Add cover and walk away.

1-7-15-B

About 5 minutes later, I flipped the whole thing, bacon and all. About 5 minutes after that I had a bacon-crusted chicken breast ready for… something!

Something ended up being slices of sourdough smeared with my boy’s favorite condiment — cream cheese!

And there we had today’s sandwich. Pulled from the nether regions of an otherwise barren refrigerator.

 

A sweet-and-spicy chicken sandwich… And a new bourbon!

Easy lunch box ideas: spicy panko-crusted chicken breasts on whole-wheat tortillas with cream cheese and barbecue sauce; and strawberries. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

OK, I accept that this blog isn’t about bourbon.

But it’s about at least one aspect of parenting.

So isn’t that kind of the same thing?

I know! Shocking and appalling that raising a child might drive me to drink (a lot). I’m sure I’m the only one.

But in the unlikely event that one or two other parents have the occasional need to imbibe, I’ve encountered an new and wonderful bourbon you should try.

A good friend gave me a bottle of Angel’s Envy for Christmas. Oh. My. If you like bourbon, get it. It’s sweet and smooth and rich with vanilla. It’s so very tasty.

I like to think of it as Daddy’s Little Helper. But I’m not sure they want that sort of advertising help.

But on to lunch… Because that’s what we all spend every waking moment thinking about, right?

OK… I’ll kill the sarcasm.

Today’s lunch is leftover chicken breasts that are breaded and baked. The breading is just a crazy delicious blend of smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and sugar mixed with panko breadcrumbs.

I sliced each breast in half horizontally, then pounded them flat. After breading and baking, we ate them as is. But this morning I slapped them on whole-wheat tortillas with cream cheese and barbecue sauce.

Like I said, crazy delicious. I’ll post the full recipe soon.

Time to recover from all that holiday joy!

Easy lunch box ideas: barbecue pork butt with cream cheese on a whole-wheat tortilla; and a parfait. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

Totally disconnected for the past 2 1/2 weeks. It was very nice. And badly needed.

The holidays were good. I ate and drank WAY too much. Paying for it now.

Was also treated to a bottle of Angel’s Envy bourbon by a friend. Wow! So good!

On Saturday, Parker and I were mostly housebound thanks to an ice storm. So I decided we needed a slow roasted pork butt (which I’d been conveniently thawing in the refrigerator for a few days).

So I put Parker to work pulling the leaves off a whole mess of fresh rosemary and sage. Then I combined them with a pile of garlic, a ton of olive oil and a smattering of salt and pepper.

I rubbed all of that over the pork butt, then popped it into a Dutch oven. It then roasted at 250 F forever… Or about 8 hours. By dinner, as the ice blanketed everything and we watched our new favorite obsession (“Agents of Shield”), the pork was meltingly tender.

So this morning I shredded some of the leftovers and tossed them with barbecue sauce. Add to a whole-wheat tortilla and it’s good.

Oh, and yes, the parfait is heavy on candy today. Got to ease back into school life, after all…

Yes! We have more… Burritos!

Easy lunch box ideas: refried bean, beef and cheese burritos; and graham crackers with peanut butter and chocolate cookie spread. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

Time for the Super Bowl!

Seriously.

Because that’s the way we work in the food publishing world. Before I can shut down AP food operations the middle of next week and take a bit of time off for the holiday, first I must contend with the Super Bowl!

So last night for dinner I was testing a burrito recipe. Mini-burritos, actually. And they were really yummy and easy.

Smear refried beans over 8-inch tortillas. Pile on some browned ground beef and some cheese, then wrap, top with more cheese, and bake.

Parker gobbled them up. So two more made it into his lunch today. Add some graham crackers with peanut butter and chocolate cookie spread and… Now I can get back to some chicken wings.