Brown-bagging it in style
Lessons learned after thousands of school lunches
Top of the class: Grown-up flavors for the older kids, such as salami and cream cheese sandwich, left, and our sunny carrot sandwich, work well. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Pat dry; sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.
2. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir until golden, about 4 minutes. Add chicken in a single uncrowded layer. Cook, stirring once or twice, until golden and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes for tenders, or 6 to 7 minutes for thighs. Stir in balsamic during the last minute of cooking.
3. Cool. Refrigerate covered up to 3 days.
Per serving: calories, g fat, g saturated fat, mg cholesterol, g carbohydrates, g protein, mg sodium, g fiber.
Chocolate cherry peanut butter oatmeal cookies
Prep 25 minutes
Cook 12 minutes
Makes about 60 small cookies
Note: Be sure to check for peanut allergies before sharing these cookies at the lunch table.
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup each: granulated sugar, packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup extra-crunchy natural peanut butter
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup salted, toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or hulled sunflower seeds or peanuts
½ cup dried cherries (chopped if large), dried currants or small dark raisins
8 ounces milk, semisweet or dark chocolate bars, roughly broken into 1/4 inch pieces
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Beat together butter and sugars in large bowl of electric mixer. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until smooth and creamy. Beat in baking soda and vanilla. Beat in peanut butter until incorporated. Use a wooden spoon to stir in oats, sunflower seeds, cherries and chocolate pieces.
3. Use a teaspoon to make balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place on prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart and flatten slightly with spoon. Bake until set and bottoms are slightly golden, about 12 minutes.
4. Cool cookies on pan for 5 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a wire rack to cool completely. (You can reuse the paper-lined baking sheets to bake the remaining cookies.)
5. Store cookies in a covered container up to several days or freeze up to 2 months.