Back to school cooking and baking today!
My “helpers” might have ate more than they made…
Do you struggle to find what to pack your kids for lunch? Do you feel you run out of ideas within the first month back to school and your kids come home with uneaten lunches?
For years I have struggled with finding easy recipes that my oldest wouldn’t get sick of. And if i asked him what I could give him that he would eat, his response was “I like pizza, pizza pops, taquitos……” and the list would go on.
It basically included every food I DID NOT want him to have. Nothing was that great from a nutritional perspective. That’s often the way it goes right?
I have managed to find 3 GO-TO recipes over the years that all my kids like, will eat, and include ways to switch up the ingredients to make it something my kids WANT to eat!
When Seth was young we lived near a farmers market that opened on Saturdays and I happen to come across the booth of a Ukrainian Baba who made these tiny buns filled with a variety of fillings. I bought a dozen to try out, and wouldn’t you know it! Seth ate all of them by the next day!
I took this as my queue and we walked to the farmers market every Saturday and bought a few dozen that I would divide into portions of 3 to pack in his lunch during the week. Seth LOVED these little buns and the variety of fillings made it seem like he was having something different every week instead of the same thing over and over. A big key to making this work was that I let HIM choose the filling he wanted for that week!
Now, we all know that we buy things at a premium and its often cheaper to make it ourselves. However, I had no recipe or idea of what they were until I finally asked and found out they were called Pyrizhky (Ukrainian) or Perishke (Mennonite).
Traditionally Perishke are filled with sauerkraut which I love (but my husband and kids don’t) so finding a great bun recipe was key to being able to switch up the fillings inside. Now, I have tested out several recipes over the years but none of them were my favourite or ones worth making again. I was so bummed.
Then a few years ago I was given a recipe by my Aunty’s mother in law who happens to not only an amazing cook, but her dough recipes are always the best! I knew it was going to be a good one because it came from her and was super excited to try it out! I can tell you it did not disappoint, it has become my go-to, and I am so happy to pass on this recipe to you today!
I will be upfront and say this recipe takes a bit of time. Its a traditional dough that needs to rise twice and then the making of the Perishke can take a while. But trust me when I say it is soooo WORTH IT! I have made these one handed while nursing a baby and I make them regularly with two toddlers running around my kitchen and my teenager trying to sneak them off the pan fresh out of the oven. 🙂
If i can do it, so can you! Plus, this recipe makes a few dozen and freezes amazing leaving you with a whole stash for freezing too! That is if they don’t all get demolished first! haha.
I will take a few out of the freezer the night before and keep them in the fridge overnight. By the time my kids sit down for lunch the next day they are good to eat! They are great warm or cold and the filling variety is endless!
GO-TO RECIPE #1: FLEISCH PERISHKY (Pyrizhky)
Meat Filling – Prepare ahead of time and store in fridge.
Approx. 2 lbs ground beef
1 package onion soup mix
1 heaping TBSP flour
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 .Brown meat with soup mix and pepper.
2. Add rest of ingredients heating through to ensure everything is cooked. (I like to add egg last. I make a whole in the centre of meat and scramble the egg in the centre then mix it thoroughly with the meat mixture when it is almost done cooking)
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup oil (I typically use vegetable oil)
3 TBSP butter
1/4 cup water
Flour** (you will need enough to make a soft elastic dough. Typically will be 6-6.5 cups)S
3 scant TBSP instant yeast.
1. Scald milk in microwave or stove top then pour into large mixing bowl.
2. Add oil, butter, water, and salt to milk in large bowl and then let mixture cool.
3. Mix flour and yeast and add to above mixture when cooled.
***start with two cups flour and continue to add more flour until dough is soft and elasticy (if thats a word. haha).
I use my kitchen aid with dough hook.
4. Let dough rise.
5. Punch down dough.
6. Let dough rise again.
7. Punch dough and then form small buns (approximately the size of a walnut). Flatten with rolling pin and add approximately 1 tsp. meat filling in the middle. Pinch dough together to close and lay seam side down on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
8. Bake buns for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees or until tops are golden.
9. Optional: While still hot brush tops of buns with milk for a shiny look.
**Additional filling options: Pizza filling, taco filling, Potato cheese and dill, buckwheat and bacon, Potatoes spinach feta lemon, Cottage cheese onions spices……the possibilities are endless!
My second go-to recipe is easy, fast, tasty and a great way to use up extra produce you have in your fridge. The best part is your kids probably won’t even know there are a ton of veggies packed in it!
GO-TO RECIPE #2 – EASY VEGETABLE PIZZA ROLLUP
2 oz or half a brick cream cheese softened
1/4 cup mayo (optional. I prefer the avocado mayo from Costco personally if I do)
1/2 packet dry ranch dressing
1 1/2 cups shredded raw veggies (broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber ect)
1/2 cup shredded cheese
Tortillas of your choice (our faves are whole wheat, veggie and corn)
- Combine cream cheese, mayo and ranch dressing.
- Blend any combo of veggies in a food processor. (I use a mini processor and do 1-2 veggies at a time) and chop it up very fine. If using cucumber squeeze out with paper towel to absorb some of the liquid and prevent any sogginess.
- Add squeezed veggies and shredded cheese to cream cheese mixture and stir.
- Spread on tortilla, roll up and cut in slices or in half.
These handy bites are packed with goodness and the best part is it looks like a cookie. I mean, I am not suggesting we trick our kids, but hey, whatever works! 🙂
GO-TO RECIPE #3 – MAGIC BITES
1 large egg, fork beaten
1 overripe banana mashed
1 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup almonds sliced, toasted (If your school allows. Otherwise omit)
1/2 cup brown sugar packed
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients above in a large bowl and mix well. Add to this the following:
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 cup of quick oats
1/4 cup of flaxseed
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Mix until no dry flour remains. Drop by spoonfuls about 1 inch apart on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.
There you have it! My 3 go to recipes for lunches I have come back to over and over for the last 16 years! Oh my. That makes me feel old. I’m not old, right? haha.
I can always use more ideas for the vault and I’m sure others can too! Please feel free to share your favourite lunch recipes below.