Sure, sandwiches are fine. But why not enlist your child to help create their own lunchbox entree? These three easy baking recipes will have your child measuring, mixing, and timing his yummy treat, while giving him a sense of what it really takes to fill a lunchbox every day. Plus, he'll get to eat his creation at lunch the next day!
These savory treats are based on the Greek dish, spanakopita. I kept the first part of the name, which means "spinach," and dropped the "pita," which means "pie." Why "footballs"? Well, back in the old days before test messaging, we passed notes in class on actual paper. This triangular fold was known as a football.
- 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 4-ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 8-ounce package frozen phyllo dough, thawed according to the directions on the box (find this in your grocery's frozen foods section).
- 3/4 stick of butter (6 tablespoons), melted
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Squeeze the water out of the spinach and put it in the mixing bowl (the spinach, not the water). Add the feta, ricotta, egg, garlic, and pepper and stir until well combined.
- Put one sheet of phyllo on the cutting board and brush it all over with melted butter, making sure that you don't skimp at the edges. Line up another sheet of phyllo on top of that and brush with butter. Don't worry about a few wrinkles or tears. Do a third layer the same way, phyllo and butter.
- Cut the three layers of phyllo in half lengthwise. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the spinach/cheese filling on to one end of the each rectangular strip of phyllo. Starting at the end with the filling, fold the phyllo over the filling to make a triangle. Continue folding until you have a neat triangular football of yum. If there's a bit of extra phyllo hanging off the side, fold once more so that the extra in on the bottom. Do the same thing with the other strip and place the two footballs on a baking sheet 1/2 inch apart.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you've used all of your filling. Brush melted butter on top of your goodies. Bake them for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the corners are brown and crispy and the tops are golden. Don't flick these football - eat them!
Real Man's Quiche
In the 1980s quiche got the reputation of being fussy, prissy food. maybe because its name is French and some people felt stupid because they didn't know how to pronounce it. (It's easy: keesh).) Luckily, that ridiculous attitude went out with cassette tapes.
- 1 frozen pie crust
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups veggies, chopped into bite-sized pieces (I use broccoli).
- 1/2 to 1 cup cooked meat, chopped into bite-sized pieces (I use turkey bacon).
- 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (I use cheddar).
- 1 1/2 cups milk, heated until it steams but doesn't boil.
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt (use less with salty meats such as bacon or ham).
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Dash hot sauce (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill the unbaked pie crust with the veggies, meat, and cheese.
- Combine the milk, eggs, salt, nutmeg, pepper, and hot sauce. Pour the mixture over the goodies in the pie crust.
- Bake 35 minutes. Check to see if the edge of the crust is browned. If it is, loosely cover the quiche with foil so the crust doesn't burn. Bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the bottom crust is browned and the middle of the quiche barely jiggles when you shake it. (Of course, you'll only be able to see if the bottom is browned if you use a glass pie plate.)
- Remove the quiche from the oven. Let the quiche cool for at least 15 minutes before you cut it into servings.
Give Pizza a Chance
Pizza has it all - fun to make, fun to eat, and you can customize it with your favorite toppings. I made this one half pepperoni, half veggies. Which side would you choose?
- 3 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/3 cups water, the temperature of a warm bath
- another splash of olive oil, about 1 tablespoon
- 2 to 3 cups tomato sauce
- 3 to 4 cups grated mozzarella cheese
- your choice of toppings (meat toppings must be precooked)
- Stir the flour, yeast, and salt together in the mixing bowl. Add the arm water and olive oil. Mic until you have shaggy dough. Dump the dough onto the pastry board and knead 4 to 5 minutes, until it is a smooth, springy ball.
- Put a splash of olive oil in the second mixing bowl. Put the dough in the bowl, slop it around, flip it over, and slop it around some more, so the dough is lightly coated with olive oil. Cover the dough in the bowl with a kitchen towel, and let it rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
- Preheat the over to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Punch the dough down and shape it into a flat disc. Make two fists and put the dough on top of them. Move your fists in little up-and-down circles. The dough will rotate over your fists and stretch out into a larger circle. It's easy, and it doesn't have to look perfect.
- Place the dough in the pizza pan and use your fingers to push it all the way to the edges of the pan. Spread the tomato sauce on the pizza with the rubber spatula. Scatter your toppings on the sauce. Sprinkle cheese over the whole shebang. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown. Let the pizza cool off some before you slice and eat it - pizza burn on the roof of your mouth is horrible.
Excerpted with permission from Bake It Up! by Rose Dunnington (Lark Books, 2006).