CHEF ILONA DANIEL: Great back to school lunch options for kids – The Journal Pioneer

This fall, back to school will have a lot more considerations for our kids. It won’t be enough making sure that you picked up the proper geometry set, you will also need to factor COVID-19 safety measures into your plans.

First of all, you’ll want to set your alarm a little early on the days you want to send a hot school lunch with your kids.

All it takes is a microwave, hot water and a little extra time for a delicious hot school lunch. One of the places where some proactive measures can be employed is the way lunches are prepared and packaged. Thermos use is a very effective way to cut down on direct finger contact with food. Using a wide-mouth Thermos to make hot lunches a really easy exercise.

While it is easy to imagine popping a soup or stew into a Thermos; think bigger! Scrambled eggs, chicken fingers, ramen, oatmeal, nachos, and pierogis work really well in a Thermos. These recipes can be made in bulk and frozen, and reheated as needed; these pizza grilled cheese sandwiches work especially well. Do up an entire loaves worth of grilled cheese, wrap individually and freeze.

Meal planning and bulk cooking is the way to balance your desire to make nutritious home-cooked food with the realities of your limited schedule. My tomato soup recipe uses an Instant Pot to streamline the process; work smarter not harder, as my Grade 5 teacher Mr. Malar always used to say.

Creating a hot lunch for your kids is easy if you use a Thermos. Try filling it with Chef Ilona Daniel's tomato soup and serving it with a side of her pizza grilled cheese sandwiches. - SaltWire Network Creating a hot lunch for your kids is easy if you use a Thermos. Try filling it with Chef Ilona Daniel’s tomato soup and serving it with a side of her pizza grilled cheese sandwiches. – SaltWire Network

Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Created by Chef Ilona Daniel

  • Makes 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 8 slices Italian bread
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese, or 2 cup grated mozzarella
  • 1/2 green pepper, cut into thin slices
  • 8 slices ham
  • 18 pepperoni slices

Directions

  • Butter one side of each of the bread slices.
  • Buttered side of bread down; layer the following (do all four at the same time, assembly-line style, to make the process much quicker):
    • Cheese
    • Oregano
    • Pepperoni
    • Peppers
    • Ham
    • Cheese
  • Top with remaining slices of buttered bread; butter side up.
  • Cook three to four minutes per side or until bread is browned and cheese is melted. Cook in batches if necessary. Serve with Creamy Tomato Sauce to create the complete the pizza component experience or spread a tablespoon of pizza sauce before the first layer of cheese in the assembly-line order.

These pizza grilled cheese sandwiches can be made ahead of time and frozen until you're ready to send them to school with your kids. - SaltWire Network These pizza grilled cheese sandwiches can be made ahead of time and frozen until you’re ready to send them to school with your kids. – SaltWire Network

Instant Pot Creamy Tomato Soup

Created by Chef Ilona Daniel

  • This soup is ready to eat in under 30 minutes!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced (you can use a mini food chopper to make it faster; do extra and freeze for quick soups)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, ground
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 x 28 oz canned whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup of heavy cream

Directions

  • Select the “saute” function on your Instant Pot and allow to heat up.
  • Add the butter, onion, and garlic and saute for two minutes, then add the oregano, salt, and pepper. Continue to saute for another two minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent.
  • Add the chicken stock and canned tomatoes.
  • Put on the lid and set to high pressure for 10 minutes.
  • Once finished, use the quick release method to depressurize, then remove the lid.
  • Blend the soup with an immersion blender, until smooth and lump-free.
  • Stir through the cream and serve hot

*If you plan to freeze the soup, omit the cream and add the cream when you are re-heating. If you want to make this soup keto-friendly, omit the sugar. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, just do it the old-fashioned way; on the stovetop!

Chef Ilona Daniel welcomes comments from readers by email at [email protected] or on twitter: Twitter.com/chef_ilona

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