Tag Archives: lunch menu

New Soup

I have always liked to have at least one home made soup included on our four week revolving menu.  Over the years I have tried many different soup recipes but sadly none of them have ever received enthusiastic, positive reviews from the children.

I blame bread.  I like to have a heavy, home made savory bread with soup to dip in and soak up the broth…yum.  However, if I serve homemade bread then ALL the children eat only the bread and won’t even try the soup.

So, I tend to make all my homemade soups very thick – more like a thin stew than a soup.  With pasta or rice included in the soup we don’t need to have bread added as a side dish to get the grains.  Still, soup is definitely not a popular item with the children unless it comes from a can and is laden with salt.

Last month I introduced a new soup and this week we had it for the second time.  All but one of the children eat this new soup – in fact, most asked for a second helping too.  The one who doesn’t eat it has never even tried it, adamantly insisting they don’t like it without tasting even one bite of it.   Stubbornly sitting at the table eating only raw vegetables and salad because I didn’t make any bread. 😉

Here is the recipe for Lasagna Soup;

  • 4 Italian sausages,cut in half lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 680ml can of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 L water
  • 1 L vegetable stock
  • 8 lasagna noodles, broken in small pieces
  • 500 ml cottage cheese

Stir fry sausages and onions together in large pot.  Add pasta sauce, tomatoes, water and vegetable stock. Simmer.  Add noodles and cook until softened (about 30 minutes).  Remove from heat and add cottage cheese.  Serve topped with Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese if desired.

Here’s a picture but it was taken later in the day after  the leftover ‘soup’ had already been refrigerated and so the noodles have soaked up almost all the broth but it still tastes good.

15-11-soup

Miscellaneous Things

From time to time my collection of ‘Photos I Want to Blog About’ accumulates a number of pictures that by themselves don’t manage to become full posts but I still like and want to share them.  Here are a few of them;

15-09-misc01This was a new soup I offered the children – I’m trying to add some new items to our menu.  I combined many of their favorite foods and made what I called ‘Southwest Chicken & Rice Soup’.  Sadly the children were unimpressed – even the less picky toddlers were reluctant to eat it.  They did all like the onion bread I served on the side.

15-09-misc02One of the toddlers enjoys crawling on the stumps.  In the years since the stumps were first introduced to our play space the children have enjoyed climbing on, jumping off etc but crawling on them was something I haven’t seen them do before.  Fantastic coordination!

15-09-misc03The baby was very focused on this old stump so, trying not to interrupt, I went to see what had captivated his attention for so long…..

15-09-misc04OOoooh…..Spiderwebs! 🙂

15-09-misc05There are plenty of old pots, plates, bowls etc in the yard but the children still really like to use the bark pieces instead.  Love it!  Of course the pots still get used too.  Every day this summer at some point there would be a pot sitting here;

15-09-misc06This group has decided that the tunnel makes a great ‘oven’ so they continually place stuff here to ‘cook’ while they go play elsewhere.  They come and check on it often and there is always plenty of excitement from the group when the ‘food’ is deemed ready – they all rush to the table.  Maybe I should ask the cook for their recipe – it might make a good addition to our lunch menu.

Squash

This year we got a lot of squash in our CSA box from Wild Earth Farms.  We got a lot last year too but this year there was more. Luckily squash keeps longer than the other types of fresh produce so I didn’t have to use it all at once.  Some of it made a nice addition to our Fall decor.

14-11-squash01

I like that we got so many different kinds of squash and some I had never tried before.  I find it interesting that as I search for new recipes it doesn’t seem to matter what type of squash I use in the search I still get many similar recipes.  The only exception is the spaghetti squash which has some unique recipes that would not work as well if you used another type of squash.

I have roasted the various squash and used them in stir fries and stews.  I love squash however, it has been a challenge to get the children to eat it.  If it is not baked in a pie, loaf, or cake they will usually just leave it on their plate.

This week I tried something different.  I cut up an acorn squash, coated it with egg and a mixture of bread crumbs, flour, cornmeal, and taco seasoning.  Then I baked it until it got crispy – about 30 minutes at 425 F.  I served it along with our Mexican Chicken and Rice.

I loved it.  The baby inspected it very closely then dropped it off the side of the highchair without ever even tasting it.  The 2 year old children expertly gnawed all the breading off every squash nugget but left the innards. The three year old never even touched the squash.

After eating every last bit of her chicken and rice she pushed her plate away and announced that she was done.  The rest of our conversation went like this;

  • Me: You didn’t try your squash.
  • 3 yo: I don’t like it.
  • Me: How do you know that if you haven’t even tasted it.  It’s like a chicken nugget.
  • 3 yo: It’s not a chicken nugget.
  • Me: Try a little one.
  • 3 yo: No, I don’t like them.
  • Me: Why do you think you won’t like them?
  • 3 yo: McDonald’s doesn’t have squash nuggets.

Sigh.  No they don’t.

14-11-squash02

Oriental Casserole

I haven’t done a major overhaul of the lunch menu for quite a while but there have been a few minor changes.  One of the more recent additions – about four months ago – was the Oriental Casserole.

This recipe was originally added because I needed a new rice recipe – I try to have a mixture of rice, pasta, potato and bread/sandwich lunches on the menu each week.  Now, I’d also have to say that, when they were young, my own children would have refused to eat Oriental Casserole or any other rice dish.  Now that they are all adults there is still only one that actually likes rice.

However, many of the children in my care today actually do like rice and for some reason they all LOVE the Oriental Casserole.   Even the really picky eaters eat it.  There was a lot of excitement at lunch yesterday because it was Oriental Casserole day.  I listened to the comments made throughout the meal and I think I know what ingredient in particular makes this dish so poular.

This is a short excerpt from the lunch conversation;

  • “You’ve never had this before? Oh, you’ve got to try it!  It has bamboo in it.”
  • “I didn’t know you could eat bamboo.  Now I know why panda bears like bamboo.”
  • “I think Cheryl should be on ‘Chopped'”.
  • “I can’t wait to tell my dad that we had wood for lunch.” (giggle)
  • “I wonder where you can buy bamboo?”
  • “I think they sell bamboo at IKEA.”

Just for the record, I don’t think opening a can of bamboo qualifies for participation on ‘Chopped’.  Here’s the rest of the somewhat vague recipe I use to make my Oriental Casserole.

Heat olive oil in pan and stirfry 4 stalks of celery (sliced), 2 onions (chopped), and any other veggies like peppers that I have on hand and feel like tossing in.   Add one or two cans of sliced bamboo shoots (drained), one can of water chestnuts. and a pound of cooked, ground pork.  Heat through.

Cook 2 cups of Basmati rice in 4 cups of water/chicken stock with several Tbsp of soya sauce.  Combine cooked rice with stirfried veggies and pork.  Serve immediately or put in a casserole dish to reheat in oven later.

I think it is really a pretty simple recipe but the children really enjoy it.

 

Mixed Reviews

We’ve been trying out some new recipes.  The first one I want to mention is my personal favourite of the three.  I originally made Veggie Pies for a potluck dinner but there was one whole pie leftover so I decided to reheat it for lunch the following day.

It did not replace the regular lunch but I used it as a side dish instead of salad or raw veggies and dip.  The children were unimpressed.  Few of them even tried it, choosing instead to just stare at it and shake their heads.  Fine then, more for me.  I wasn’t really surprised – cooked veggies are never popular.

MR01

Veggie Pie

  •  2 onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 4 large carrots thinly sliced
  • 2 cups Broccoli florets
  • 2 Tbsp chicken bouillon
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 cups water
  • Pie crusts

 Sauté onions, celery and red pepper with olive oil in a large pot until softened.  Add carrots and broccoli and continue cooking for about five minutes stirring often. Blend in flour.  Mix water and bouillon and pour over veggies in pot.  Cook, stir often, until mixture thickens.  Pour into pie crusts in a deep pie plate.  Cover with top crust and seal the edges.  Make a few small slits in top for steam to escape.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 40 minutes until crust is brown.

 

The second recipe was also first introduced to the children because I had made far more than I needed for supper the evening before and rather than make more food for lunch I used the leftovers.  The reaction truly shocked me this time – every one of the five preschoolers finished all of their first helping and asked for more.

I added it to the lunch menu and the next time it was offered none of the children ate it.  I had inadvertently placed the wrong attachment in the food processor and sliced the carrots instead of grating them.  Carrot slices were easily recognized as cooked veggies and therefore rejected.  The third time I remembered to grate the carrots and most – but not all — of the children ate it again.

I couldn’t find the picture of the finished recipe – maybe I forgot to take one.  This picture is cropped from a larger picture where the food was not the main topic but it will have to do for now;

MR02

Quinoa Pilaf

  •  1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Olive oil
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 carrots, grated
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt & pepper to taste

 Combine quinoa, cold water and salt in a saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until liquid in fully absorbed.  Heat olive oil in large pot, add the celery, onions, and grated carrots; cook and stir until softened.  Add garlic, raisins, spices and quinoa, cook and stir until evenly mixed and heated through.

I also have this picture of one of the babies trying to eat every last piece of quinoa off the plate.  The spoon was too slow – he shovelled handfuls from the plate to his mouth.

MR03

 

The third recipe is one that I can barely force myself to eat but my husband and youngest son love it.  It has been offered twice as a daycare lunch.  Some of the children refuse it.  Most of the children eat it but none of them are really excited about it.  I doubt I’ll leave it on the menu.

It looked better before it was cooked;

MR04

Afterwards – not so much;

MR05

Chinese Stew

  • Olive oil
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 lb pork, cubed or sliced
  • 4 cups frozen stir fry vegetables
  • 5 potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 398 ml can of crushed pineapple with juice
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic

Heat oil in large pot, add pork and onions.  Stir fry until pork browns and onions are soft.  Add vegetables, potatoes and broth.  Stir.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender.  Combine pineapple, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar and garlic.  Add to pork mixture.  Heat and stir until sauce is boiling and thickened.

Those are just a few of the recipes we’ve been trying out recently.  Lunch is part of the adventure.

Chili or Not

Chili is not one of my preferred menu items but many of the children like it so we currently have chili buns once every four weeks.

Lately the children seem to be growing tired of  some of the menu items including chili buns  so I’ve been going through my recpies with the intention of changing a few of the menu items.

I came across a quinoa chili recipe and decided to try it to see if the children like it better than the regular chili.  It starts with a whole lot of vegetables;

Carrots, onions, peppers (red, green and jalapeno), and zucchini sauted together.  Then crushed tomatoes, frozen corn, garlic, cooked quinoa, two cans of beans and some spices (salt,  pepper, cumin, and chili powder) are added.

Simmer — Mmmm smells good.

For the preschoolers I cut the buns into cubes before topping with chili — easier to eat that way.  Then cheddar cheese is sprinkled on top.

I found the quinoa chili was not as saucy as the regular chili so the buns didn’t soak up the chili as well.  The children still seemed to enjoy it but no one wanted seconds and I have far too much leftover chili. Good thing I like quinoa chili better than beef chili.

Still, I think that it may be time to remove chili buns from the menu.

Our Week Outdoors – Day Three

The children have settled into a comfortable ‘all day outside’ routine.  Day three was very similar to the other days — chalk drawing, ball games, tag, a walk through the neighbourhood, gardening, digging in gravel etc.

The baby has surprised me.  He has absolutely no difficulty being outdoors all day.  The biggest difference has been nap time.  He actually stays up a little longer – not falling asleep earlier but definitely sleeping longer.  His naps have been about 3 hours each day.  Even though I have his playpen set up in a high traffic area between the back door/upper deck and the lower deck/yard he is not disturbed by our passing by or by the various sounds in the neighbourhood – including lawnmowers and sirens!

Probably the biggest change for me has been the lunch menu.  Tuesdays are always sandwich days so nothing had to be modified for that day.  Many of the other days had lunch items that required cooking and since I don’t have access to the stove I had to modify the menu this week.

Monday should have been ‘French Fries and Meatloaf’ but instead we had ‘Potato Salad and Garlic Sausage’.  Wednesday would have been ‘Mexican Chicken with Rice’ but in the morning I made ‘Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas’ before the children arrived.  They were served cold and the children have declared that they would like them added to the regular menu.

Today would regularly be ‘Ham and Mozza Biscuit Bake’ but instead I will be baking biscuits this morning and add cheese and ham when I serve lunch.  Tomorrow would be ‘Sausages and Parmesan Pasta’ but I have a pasta salad recipe that I am going to try.  We’ve never had a pasta salad on the menu – mostly because I don’t like cold pasta – so this will be a new experience.  I’m very curious to see how it goes over with the group.  Maybe we will be making some permanent menu changes. 🙂