Kitchen & Pantry

Packed school lunches

Let’s just say I’m making up for my delinquence so I’m lumping three school lunches in one entry. When I started Sassyfoodie.com, there were two goals — learn to bake and document the packed school lunches that I prepare for my two daughters. The baking half is fine but documenting the school lunches is easier said than done.

Mornings in our house are toxic. The rush is unimaginable. I loathe the idea of setting up the camera on the tripod with everyone rushing in and out of the kitchen. So, unless I wake up super early (which I rarely do — my husband has to pull me out of the bed, literally, almost every morning), there really isn’t much time to take photos. I did manage, though, on some mornings.

On January 16th, the kids’ school lunch was tuna fillets, potato and carrot wedges in cream of mushroom soup.

casaveneracion.com school lunch - tuna fillets, potatoes and carrots in mushroom soup

I pan-fried the tuna fillets (seasoned with salt and pepper) in butter then set them aside. I added more butter to the pan and pan-fried the carrot and potato wedges. When the edges started to brown, I added some shredded onions. When the onions started to soften, I poured in about a cup of water, sprinkled some salt and pepper and simmered the vegetables until tender.

Meanwhile, I dissolved about half a pack of powdered mushroom soup in water. I poured it into the pan and added the pan-fried tuna. I let the mixture simmer until the soup thickened.

On January 18th, school lunch was nilagang baka (boiled beef) and cabbage wedges. The beef was simmered until tender the night before so it was just a matter of adding the cabbage in the morning. To be more precise, we had nilagang baka for dinner the night before. Before adding the vegetables, I set aside enough meat for the kids’ lunch the following day.

casaveneracion.com packed school lunch - nilagang baka (boiled beef) with cabbage wedges

Normally, I add a lot of vegetables when I cook nilagang baka but the kids’ favorites are cabbage and kalabasa (squash). Since I only had a quarter of kalabasa the previous evening, I had to put all of it into the nilagang baka dinner. I had a large head of cabbage though so I managed to save a quarter for the next day’s school lunch.

Today’s school lunch was breaded asohos (Sillago) which allowed me to make good use of the breading mix from the Christmas gift pack from Mama Sita. The breading mix is actually recommended for chicken but, what the heck, I decided to use it on fish. No need to season with salt and pepper — I simply dredged both sides of the fish in the breading mix and dropped them into the hot oil.

Come to think of it, I have never used commercial breading mix on whole pieces of chicken but only on strips of chicken fillets. I remember getting free packs of McCormick breading mix when we bought dried herbs and we only used them on chicken fillets. My 14-year-old daughter, Sam, finds these breading mixes useful when she’s too lazy to cook properly. See, with large chicken pieces, we prefer overnight marinating. The kids complain when the seasoning doesn’t go all the way into the meat. So I never rely on seasoned coatings that only flavor the skin.

But with fish as small as asohos, or fish or chicken fillets no more than 1/4-inch thick, the breading mix works well.

casaveneracion.com school lunch - breaded asohos

As you can very well see, the photo above isn’t as sharp as it should be. That’s because a very short lens was attached to my camera and there simply was not enough time to change lenses as the school bus was due to arrive any minute.

But blurry as the photos of today’s school lunch is, the photos of what the kids’ brought for recess are sharp and plentiful. That’s the next entry — home-baked chocolate crinkles. I will post the recipe with all seven step-by-step photos within the day. :)

[tags]school+lunch, cooking, beef, fish, tuna, asohos, breading+mix, Mama+Sita[/tags]

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