national school lunch week 2012 — friday

pasta bar

the most hated menu option on the middle school lunch program is the pasta bar.  i have watched students line up 25 deep for deli sandwiches because we are out of everything else to eat except pasta bar.  so what makes up this loathed pasta bar.  you get a serving of noodles, and a choice of up to 2 sauces out of 3 options of sauce including; cheese sauce, spaghetti sauce, and spaghetti meat sauce. the funny thing is the kids love mac and cheese.  and the mac and cheese is the same noodles that are used on the pasta bar with the same cheese sauce, just on the pasta bar they aren’t mixed together.  some days i worry about them that they haven’t figured out to create mac and cheese from the pasta bar.

my final conclusion about eating lunch every day at work…………i’m glad it’s over and i shall be bringing my lunch again next week but i’m also taking a menu home with me so i can highlight the days when i want to chow down on some of the food i do enjoy.  while the food wasn’t that bad just lacking in flavor it also wasn’t very filling.  i think it’s from all the soy and corn fillers commodity food is filled with.  i understand why the kids are starving by the end of the day when they go home, the food temporarily fills them up and is gone 2 hours later. i have also come to realize that we could probably only serve them chicken nuggets and pepperoni pizza every day for the rest of the year and the kids would be the happiest kids in the world.  my hopes and dreams for the youth of america……that by the time they get to college they get more adventurous with their food choices.

national school lunch week 2012 — thursday

wrap it up

the photo does not do this lunch justice.  so far its been my favorite from celebrating national school lunch week.  today’s hot line option was buffalo chicken nuggets.  so i took those spicy nuggets and put them into a wrap sandwich, a little lettuce, tomato, plenty of pickles, american cheese and a dash or two of ranch dressing, all wrapped up in a giant tortilla shell.  i will admit it was yummy and got me thinking this lunches haven’t been that bad. a little lacking in seasoning and flavor but by far not the worst thing i’ve ever eaten.  and i’ll admit i’m a total sucker for those industrial mashed taters.  give me those instant tater flakes!!!

taters in a can


















national school lunch week 2012 — wednesday

grilled cheese with apple slices 

pumpkin pie


ok so these are not school lunches.  that would be because we didn’t have school today.  god bless teacher work days. if there aren’t kids to feed lunch ladies don’t have to work.  the other day we all agreed we’d never want a “normal job” all we do is count down till the next 3 day weekend, then thanksgiving vacation and once christmas has come and gone you start looking forward to spring break and spring break marks the final days till summer vacation, aka 3 months of paid time off.

so what did this lunch lady do on her day off?  it involved a fall trip to “the orchard”  or better known as sunshine valley farm. best homemade bread and pie in tow.  i chowed down on a grilled cheese sandwich which i like to put my apple slices on, drank some hot apple cider and finished the meal off with pumpkin pie all while being surrounding by apple orchards, pumpkins and the lovely company of my friend elise.  i was also informed on this trip to the orchard that if you ask the right people they’ll do “fancy grilled cheese” for you.  when’s that next day off?


Dinner at Farmer’s Gastropub

Farmer’s Gastropub in our little Springfield Missouri was voted one of the best gastropubs outside of the U.K. You know we had to get to the bottom of this!




Lynley’s bangers and mash.


Dad’s cottage pie.


Mom’s cheese sandwich.


My veggie Saturday curry.


With an extra side of mushy peas – of course!


Then there was the Scotch Egg for dad and Lyn.


And of course the pub part…


All around some of the best British food I’ve had in the states!



Pumpkin Beer Taste-off: Round One

I love pumpkin beer.

So why not have a pumpkin beer taste-off. Inspired by a pint a couple of weekends ago, I decided I needed to know which pumpkin beer is my favorite. We hit a beer snag right away when the beer I wanted to test the most was sold out (and reportedly selling for $8 a glass in the KC metro area).

So I made due and decided to have a second round of tastings ASAP.

Josh and I were the tasters. John the pourer and photographer.

We judged using some of my beer tasting learnings from my Sam Addams Tour a few years ago: clarity of the beer (is it cloudy and it shouldn’t be), scent, and how does it taste when you swish it all around your mouth.

We added some specific pumpkin tasting qualifications (which we made our finally judgements on) pumpkin flavor, autumn color, seasonal flavors, and overall rating.

Let the pumpkin awesomeness begin.

The contestants:


The official opener:




Beer number one:





Scores for contestant 1:

Pumpkin flavor: 0
Autumn Color: 3
Seasonal taste: Mostly tastes like a sweet wheat
Overall rating: 1

Second contestant:




Scores for contestant 2:


Pumpkin flavor: 2
Autumn Color: 1
Season flavors: All Spice, not so much a pumpkin flavor
Overall rating: 2

Contestant Number 3:








Scores for contestant 3:


Pumpkin flavor: 2 1/2
Autumn Color: By the third tasting we forgot to rate color- a sign of a good tasting.
Season flavors: Cinnamon, Nutmeg and a hint of pumpkin in the after taste.
Overall rating: 2

The O’Fallen was our overall favorite for this round of beer tasting. Stay tuned fir more pumpkin beer events!
If you have suggestions for round two let me know!


national school lunch week 2012 — tuesday

the queso dog

tuesday in the middle school cafeteria is known as “tortilla tuesday”  aka nacho day.  nacho day is our most successful day for the hot lunch line.  normally i bake 40-45 pizzas a day, on nacho day i bake a total of 15.  nachos however were not sounding as tempting as they could be so for today’s national school lunch week lunch i created what i am going to call a “queso dog.”  i took a hot dog which we were offering on the grill line and topped it with some of the nacho cheese, jalapeno, and chopped tomatoes.  the funny thing about the hot dogs, is that starting at the middle school level they get a foot long hot dog but they don’t allow us to order foot long hot dog buns. no matter which lunch lady wraps up the hot dogs they always comment on this.  i think it is because we take pride in our product and having your hotdog hang out of its bun an inch on both sides just isn’t how these ladies would proudly serve their dogs.


national school lunch week 2012 — monday

its national school lunch week!  what does that mean?  well when i asked my fellow lunch ladies they had no idea.  we all fantasized about having the week off or perhaps even getting our lunch catered.  however when i looked up national school lunch week, i discovered that the school nutrition association sets a week aside to celebrate new programs, recipes, accomplishments and what makes your school lunch unique.

i have decided to celebrate national school lunch week by eating lunch at work everyday.  yes this lunch lady won’t be bringing her lunch this week she’s eating off the hot lunch line.  school lunch programs have a bad rap.  most the time everyone is horribly applaud by what we serve our kids and i’ll admit i’m sometimes applaud too but it’s also not the school lunch programs fault.  when the government doesn’t invest in better quality ingredients there is only so much you can do to create 600 lunches with a budget of $3.00 per lunch.

each day this week i’m going to try and create a yummy lunch with all items that are available to students and staff who get the hot lunch.  all items you see on my plate can be recreated by the average student.

so what was for lunch today?……………..cheese pizza with a side salad

meatless monday — “lets do dinner!!! IV”

october i have declared is the beginning of soup season.  for the latest “lets do dinner!!!” dinner party i created an apple-butternut squash soup.  i am one of those cooks that finds a recipe and then never follows it.  that was the situation when creating this soup.  i had never made an apple-butternut squash soup before.  when purchasing the ingredients i strictly followed the recipe, however things began to change the instant the ingredients were brought into the kitchen.

first of all i don’t think the editors of that recipe proof read their ingredients list.  the list said 1 1/2 lbs of apples peeled and chopped and 2 butternut squash equaling 5lbs peeled and chopped.  at first i thought this seemed like a lot but figured i’d be pureeing it so i went with it.  1 1/2 lbs of apples peeled and chopped and 5 pounds of butternut squash peeled and chopped later i realized the recipe was WRONG!  and the funny part is the serving amount on it said 12 appetizer servings…..for who?  king kong?!

1 1/2 lbs of apples….check

ever tried to cut up a butternut squash before?  it’s a bitch and that’s the nice way of putting it.  but i do have a trick for you……heat them up on low heat in the oven for about 15 minutes, they then cut like butter.  once i realized the recipe was wrong i threw it out the window and started throwing in anything that seemed like fall into the pot….pumpkin beer, apple cider, curry powder.  purred with a tartine topped with goat cheese and dinner was served.

fall in the form of soup

to join in on this soup season kick-off were my friends ingrid and ray.  chowing down on chive-horseradish bread and wine a-flowing  the topics of conversation included…..what muscican would you want to have over for dinner? (i said james taylor), what famous person would you have over for dinner?  which led to a debate on how some people would be better to go out to eat while others were ideal to have at home, example brain williams would be ideal to come to you house while bill clinton you’d probably want to go out with.

very hungry friends

chive-horseradish bread oh so yummy

to end the fall themed meal i created a chocolate-pecan pie.  what is more fall than pecans and honestly adding chocolate to any dessert is usually a very good idea!

might have eaten the rest of this pie for breakfast

a little side note on this meal.  ingrid and ray weren’t the only ones who got to enjoy it.  at work i was telling the story of cutting up the 6 1/2 pounds of ingredients.  the ladies got all excited about the soup.  so on wednesday i brought in the leftovers.  while the kidos might have been served chicken poppers the lunch ladies were chowing down on apple-butternut squash soup topped with goat cheese.


5 gala apples — peeled and chopped

1 large butternut squash — peeled and chopped

1/2 cup onion — diced

3 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP curry powder

2 cups vegetable broth

1 cup apple cider

1 bottle pumpkin beer

* in a large stock pot sautee onion in olive oil  with curry powder till golden brown.  add apples and butternut squash mix throughly, add in vegetable broth, cider and beer, bring to a boil.  simmer mixture for 20-30 minutes, until butternut squash is soft.  transfer mixture to a food processor or use a hand held processor to puree mixture.  puree till smooth or leave slightly chunky, its your own personal  taste.  top soup with goat cheese and or tartines.