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Susan S. Yeske: Recipe of the Week

New ideas for school lunches


We really didn’t need reminding that fall will soon be here, but a few recent days with temperatures in the low 70s have done the trick.
While no doubt many warm days lie ahead, this week marks the return to school for many local children. With the return of many students to the classroom comes the need to prepare school lunches.
Most parents are experts in this area, since they are the ones who deal with their children’s likes and dislikes every day. But it doesn’t hurt to look for some new ideas that might tempt their palates and convince them not to trade away their lunches.
For those without allergies, peanut butter and jelly is the fallback choice; it’s quick and easy to make, doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and most kids love them. They can be jazzed up a bit with jam, preserves or honey instead of sugary jelly; almond or other alternative nut butters instead of peanut; and rice cakes or pita bread in place of white bread.
If your back-to-school kids are older and prefer salads over sandwiches, you can put them in plastic bags instead of containers to reduce the fuss. Of course, avid environmentalists won’t mind carrying the reusable containers back home.
Cheese and crackers can offer the same protein as a sandwich, with a little added crunch, while hard-boiled eggs are a portable meal in a shell.
Hummus is a go-to choice for those who don’t like meat, and it works well with cubes of bread or raw veggies. Cheese quesadillas also are a winner for those who aren’t crazy about meat.
Parents know how to fill out a lunch box with cookies (homemade are best), pretzels, yogurt and fruit. It’s important to remember that a child’s tastes may vary and a favorite one day may be ignored the next.
Here are two ideas from to help vary the lunch routine:

Ham and Cheese Pockets

1 loaf (1 pound) frozen bread dough, thawed
2½ cups finely chopped fully cooked ham
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

1. Let dough rise according to package directions. Punch down; divide into 10 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a 5-inch circle.
2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place 1 circle on a greased baking sheet; top with about ¼ cup ham and 2 tablespoons cheese to within ½ inch of edge. Press filling to flatten. Combine egg yolk and water; brush edges of dough. Fold dough over filling and pinch edges to seal. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Brush tops with remaining egg yolk mixture.
3. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Fruity Peanut Butter Pitas

¼ cup peanut butter
1/8 teaspoon each ground allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg
2 whole wheat pita pocket halves
½ medium apple, thinly sliced
½ medium firm banana, sliced

In a small bowl, blend the peanut butter, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spread inside pita bread halves; fill with apple and banana slices.