Blogs may come and go, but last-day-of-school traditions never get old


I hear you. It’s been a while.

Lunch, however, always marches on.

And today is my not-so-little-anymore guy’s last day of fifth grade. And those brave readers who have muscled through these many years with me know that can mean only one thing…

Anything goes.

Parker and I have a long tradition for the last day of school. The day before, I take him into town and head to any shops he wants. He is allowed to pick anything for his lunch for next day.

And he always loads up on broccoli. I couldn’t be prouder.

Or more obviously full of crap.

His usual grabs are candy and pastries and soda. After all, anything goes.

So yesterday after school we headed to the natural foods store, where he picked out chocolate milk. The soda he’d been planning on wasn’t there, but he seemed pretty content with the alternative.

Then we went to the candy shop. He went on a candy bin binge, loading up little bags with this and that. The candy berries and Lego pieces are always part of the mix.

Then on to his favorite bakery. He’d already special ordered his must-have raspberry brownie, but impulsively added a lemon square to the mix, too.

And there’s your last day of school.

Fear not. We’ll be back. We’re regrouping a little. Might lay a little low for the summer. Because at the moment I feel a bit like Parker’s lunch box looks! Into the trash (for it, not me!).


And if you need a little inspiration to get you through the summer, feel free to visit Trashy Cocktails. It’s not much. And I do it just for fun (my name isn’t even on it). But it’s a small collection of cocktails I’ve been keeping mostly for myself for the past few years. I know I’ve certainly made good use of the recipes…!

A lunch special — 2 for 1 today only!

Yesterday got a bit away from me, so today we’ll cover two lunches for the price of reading one post! A bargain.

Easy lunch box ideas: bacon; ham and cream cheese on a flour tortilla; and apple wedges.


Yesterday was a what-have-you sort of day. Apple wedges (washed in salt water to keep them from browning), bacon and a ham and cream cheese sandwich on the last slab of Whole Foods fresh flour tortilla.

I know it seems like a lot of bacon, but… It is. Parker is tall and lean. He needs a little meat on his bones.

As for today’s lunch…

Easy lunch box ideas: bacon; apple halves coated in peanut butter and granola; and leftover chili mac.


Yes! We have more… Bacon!

Truth be told, we cooked off roughly 5 pounds of it Monday for testing purposes. So we have a lot of bacon to burn through. I know… Hardship.

Those two orb-like things are an apple — halved, cored, smeared with peanut butter, then dunked in granola. Keeps it from browning. Keeps it delicious.

Also, some leftover chili mac from the night before. He wasn’t thrilled with it, but he ate it.

And some days, that’s all you can ask for.

It’s a good thing I don’t live near a Whole Foods…

Easy lunch box ideas: bison steak and cream cheese on flour tortillas; bison steak with sour cream; and a yogurt.

I would weigh 300 pounds and spend every penny there.

I went to the closest one — about an hour away — Saturday evening. All I actually wanted was a snack for the ride home. I spent over $100.

You’d be amazed by how simple it is to snarf live pate and sushi as you drive on the highway…

Ditto for handmade flour tortillas. This Whole Foods makes them onsite and oh my are they tender and delicious.

They were perfect for scooping up gobs of pate as I drove…

They also were perfect for Parker’s lunch yesterday. I quickly seared off a bison steak, then sliced it thin. Smear the tortillas with cream cheese, slap on the steak and it’s good.

At least Parker thought so!

And since not all of the steak fit on the tortillas, the rest landed on the side with sour cream.

Lunch! Under pressure!

Easy lunch box ideas: chili; noodles with steak and butter; and rice pudding.

So I got an electric pressure cooker the other day. I’ve been playing around with it. Interesting.

I haven’t used a pressure cooker for about 15 years. Back in the day, I was macrobiotic and used it daily for rice and beans. But it was a stovetop model that had little ability to control the pressure level, etc.

Since then, it seems that electric models have become the dominant style. Most include a saute mode, and also double as slow cookers. Seemed worth a try.

I ended up buying an Instapot model. I used it twice yesterday. And so far I like it.

I started by making one of my favorite foods — rice pudding. I turned it on to the saute setting and melted butter, then added Arborio rice and stirred that around for a few minutes. Then I added milk and cream and cinnamon and sugar, then clamped on the cover. About 15 minutes later I had the creamiest most awesome rice pudding I’d had in a long time.

Next up, dinner! I’d soaked some beans the night before (something I never, ever, ever do). But last night, I used the saute mode to brown some beef, then added the beans and a puree of tomatoes, onions, garlic and roasted red peppers (pureed because I am, after all, feeding a veg-phobic boy), the pressured cooked the you-know-what out of it. Delicious!

So today’s lunch is made from that chili and rice pudding, as well as some leftover whole-wheat noodles with bison steak and butter from the night before.

Hope everyone has a great weekend. Will report more on cooking with pressure next week.

Can we save some of the bacon for later?

Easy lunch box ideas: bacon and cream cheese on a whole-wheat tortilla; yogurt; and fruit.

No. I’m going to insist that you eat the entire pound for breakfast.

Another day… Another pound of bacon.

I didn’t need all of it. But since I was baking it this morning, it takes no more effort or time to do the entire pound than it does the few strips Parker would have for breakfast.

But he clearly thought I intended him to eat it all.

Of course, there have been times when he probably would have. Growth spurts and all…

But no, I assured him we could save some. So for breakfast he had three strips of bacon, a slice of bread with butter and a mug of coffee. I know… I know…

But I guess I’d rather my kid drink coffee than eat Lunchables…

So today’s lunch was a bacon and cream cheese wrap ¬†with the usual sides.

Not very exciting. But tomorrow’s lunch will be. Stay tuned. I got an electric pressure cooker today and already have started playing around with it. Fun. And fast.

Enough with the damn yogurt parfaits!

Easy lunch box ideas: bacon and cream cheese on sourdough; and peanut butter and chocolate chips on sourdough.

This morning I’d had enough. Parker hadn’t, but too bad.

Every day for the last month or so he has begged to yogurt parfaits morning, noon and night.

Given that I’ve been ever-so-slightly distracted of late, I’d been giving in.

Breakfast and lunch. All about the yogurt parfaits.

Today, I decided I’d had enough.

I didn’t ask what he wanted for breakfast. I just fried up a pound of thick-cut bacon and slapped four slices on a plate for him. He ate it without question.

No brainer, right?

For lunch, there also would be no parfait. I slapped more bacon between slices of sourdough with a bit of cream cheese to hold it all together. Then I made an extra half sandwich with peanut butter and chocolate chips.

Add some berries and we’re good.

The boy who rarely eats sandwiches, suddenly has an all-sandwich lunch.

We’re back! And everything is ducky!

Easy lunch box ideas: barbecue duck on a bun; and a parfait.

Or rather, Parker’s lunch is ducky.

Today’s lunch is a continuation of last night’s dinner. For work, we needed to roast a couple ducks yesterday (Easter!). So dinner was leftover duck.

Today’s lunch was leftover leftover duck. This time tossed with Parker’s favorite condiment — barbecue sauce. Dump it onto a bun and we call it lunch.

Only one lunch from last week is worth noting. It was pretty delicious.

And as ever, it started with dinner the night before.

Ever since I was Parker’s age, I’ve had a really trashy way of roasting haddock. It’s so bad, it’s great. I loved it as a kid. I still love it. And now Parker loves it.

And it’s very complicated!

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Slap down a couple slabs of haddock. Now mix together equal parts mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup. Slather that all over the haddock. Make it nice and thick.

Get a whole mess of panko breadcrumbs. If you like, add some seasoning. I like smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Sprinkle those heavily over the haddock, pressing them lightly into the mayo mixture.

That’s it. Bake at 400 F for about 12 minutes, or until the thickest part flakes easily.

Leftovers are perfect for sandwiches the next day!

Easy lunch box ideas: baked haddock sandwich and a yogurt parfait.

I get an infection in my hand, so Parker gets pizza

Easy lunch box ideas: leftover cold pizza and a yogurt parfait.

That’s pretty much what it takes for us to order pizza in this house.

No particular reason. We just never seem to order pizza.

But on Tuesday, our new kitty — that’s right, for those keeping track we’re up to four — bit my right hand. She’s a bit of a problem child. We’re not sure how this will work out.

For the moment, however, she bit me. And by Tuesday night, my hand hurt. Badly.

By yesterday morning, it was very red and rather swollen.

Hence, no lunch photo yesterday. Instead, I got to go to the doctor.

And nothing says fun like antibiotics and a tetanus booster!

By last night, I was just feeling cranky and miserable. I had a pile of chicken in the refrigerator and a stack of recipes to test. But as I stood in the kitchen, I just felt… meh.

So I dialed for delivery. Bacon and steak on Parker’s. Tomato and feta on mine.

And yes, I ate WAY too much of it. So did Parker.

Ah well…

Of cardamom cakes, candy and smoked ham!

Easy lunch box ideas: ham and cream cheese on whole-wheat bread; a yogurt parfait; and orange-cardamom flourless chocolate cake.

Yes, Parker’s lunches are leaning to the indulgent side lately.

My boy tends to be rather lean. And when he spends the better part of a couple weeks rather ill, he becomes even leaner.

Oh, to have that problem…

Anyway, I’ve been trying to bulk him back up with some calories. I’ve taken to buying this richly indulgent Greek yogurt from Cabot — 10 percent milk fat. It’s like thick whipped cream.

And then I pile on some candy and honey and granola.

Today, I also added a slice of orange-cardamom flourless chocolate cake. It’s a recipe from Food Network personality Aarti Sequeira, who writes a column for me.

This cake was insane. I ate way too much of it yesterday. So I stashed the last piece in Parker’s lunch today. Because unlike Parker, I don’t need to pack on any pounds…

Add a ham and cream cheese sandwich, and we’re good. Don’t worry, the cake recipe will be ready to share in a few weeks. So good!

It’s a whatever-chicken-you-got kind of day

Easy lunch box ideas

The rest of New Hampshire was off for the snow day today.

Not my kid.

My kid’s school doesn’t cancel for snow.

I love my kid’s school.

There were only 13 fifth graders able to make it in today.

My kid was one of them.

That’s because we live a mile from his school. Need be, I can strap him to my back and carry him.

My kid goes to school.

Which, of course, did mean I didn’t get a break from lunch duty today.

I wanted to pack him the leftover risotto from last night’s dinner.

Last night’s dinner was supposed to be homemade hummus topped with browned ground chicken (well spiced) and diced hard-boiled eggs. It’s a Middle Eastern thing that you eat by scooping it up with hunks of flatbread.

Except I realized too late that I had no chickpeas for the hummus.

But I did have some crazy delicious bacon (a friend’s husband cured it himself) and a craving for carbs. So I made a bacony-cheesy risotto.

Inexplicably, Parker was lukewarm about it. He ate it, but he didn’t love it.

The kid loves Parmesan. He loves rice. And we all know he loves bacon. Not sure what’s up with him not liking this risotto. Whatever.

Anyway, it wasn’t going in his lunch today because I wasn’t willing to risk having to throw it out if he brought it home.

So instead I grabbed the remnants of several chicken dishes I was testing this weekend. Jammed bits and pieces of each into a whole-wheat tortilla smeared with cream cheese and wrapped it all up.

Add a parfait and…

Off to school you go, snow or no snow!