Sunday Linner

tomato pie baked

As soon as school starts, I lose touch with many friends until I resurface again in May when school ends for the year. This year, I am going to make more of an effort to be in better contact. It starts today with a Sunday family lunch/dinner. One of my mom friends from swim team is having us over this afternoon for late lunch/early dinner. It is a perfect time. I can still get all of my Sunday chores finished. We will be home in plenty of time to get kids ready to go back to school tomorrow and be in bed at a reasonable time, and I don’t need a babysitter since the kids are included. My contribution to this afternoon’s linner is a tomato pie.

What are other easy ways to stay in touch with adult friends during the school year? Do you feel like you disappear when after school activities and school projects start?

tomato pie slice

Ingredients

  • 1 pie crust (I use store bought)
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/2 bag basil, chopped
  • 1/2 bag chives, chopped
  • 4 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c. to 3/4 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  • Cook pie crust in a 9-inch pie pan at 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until browned. Remove from the oven and let cool. You may need to put uncooked beans or other pie weights in the pie crust to keep it from puffing up while it cooks.
  • Turn the oven down to 350 degrees after the pie shell is finished.

tomato pie tomato slices

  • While the pie crust is baking, cut tomatoes in slices and let drain on paper towel for 30 minutes.
  • In cooked pie shell, layer tomatoes, basil, chives, and green onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and repeat.

tomato pie layers

  • Mix mayonnaise and grated cheese and top the pie with the cheese mixture. You don’t have to spread the cheese mixture too much. Just dollop on the center and push down with the back of a spoon. It will spread as it bakes.
  • Sprinkle the bacon bits on top.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

tomato pie toppings

I would like to give a shout out to the 30306 Book Club without which I would not have this tomato pie recipe. Many years ago when I was fun and single, I had an amazing book club in Atlanta. This recipe is from that book club. I miss you!

The Last Lunch

fried chicken salad in container

“Manager’s Special” is on the menu at my daughter’s school today. What that really means is the cafeteria is cleaning up for the summer and is serving anything they have left in the refrigerator. I don’t like to eat the clean-out-the-refrigerator meal in my own house, so I certainly would not want to eat it at school.

Since I am already on summer break, and my daughter is not, we overslept this morning. I sent her to school without a lunch and promised I would bring something to her. I figured my daughter’s teachers did not want the Manager’s Special either, so I packed a lunch for everybody. Consider it a final little teacher gift for the year.

As a reminder, teachers are stuck in the school building all day. Unless you hire a sub, there is no leaving the building to grab a sandwich. If you are looking for an easy, low cost end of the year teacher gift, consider bringing a tasty lunch.

fried chicken salad w dressing

Fried Chicken Salad

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

  • 3 T. cider vinegar
  • 2 T. honey, room temperature
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T. coarse-grained mustard
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. white pepper
  • 1/4 c. walnut oil (can use all olive oil and delete walnut oil)
  • 1/2 c. olive oil

honey mustard vinaigrette

Salad

  • 2 tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small bites (I like Granny Smith apples)
  • romaine lettuce, chopped, enough for 4-6 people (or any lettuce combination you prefer)
  • 1/2 lb. blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 c. pecan halves, toasted
  • 2 T. chopped green onion, white and green parts
  • good fried chicken tenders, ~2 per person

Directions

  • Prepare dressing by combining vinegar, honey, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in oils until well blended.
  • Place lettuce greens in a large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Sprinkle apples, cheese, green onion, and pecans over the top.
  • Cut chicken strips crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces. Arrange on top of salad.
  • Drizzle with remaining dressing if needed.

Notes

  • In order to keep the apples from browning, toss the apples in a little lemon juice before sprinkling on the salad.
  • If making for a school or work lunch, compose the salad but keep the dressing in a little container on the side. I like to keep the chicken strip pieces on the side too. Do not add dressing until ready to eat and then top with the chicken strips.
  • If I have the option, I always use Publix fried chicken tenders. When we lived in New Orleans, I used Popeye’s fried chicken tenders. If you do not have a Publix or Popeye’s in your area, I find that most local grocery stores usually have superior fried chicken tenders to other fast food restaurants. Chik-fil-a tenders do not really work for this salad because their coating is a little different than a straight up fried chicken strip.
  • This salad is great for baby showers, picnics, luncheons, and summer dinners!

I delivered the teacher salads and my daughter’s lunch a little before 10 am this morning. My daughter had a decomposed salad in her lunch box (chicken strip bites in one container, apple slices in another container…). The teachers received their salads in a bento style tupperware that they get to keep– cookies included.

Happy summer everybody!

fried chicken salad

Pork Tenderloin Picnic Sandwich

platter pork tenderloin sandwiches

Anyone need a really good sandwich recipe for a Memorial Day picnic? By Memorial Day weekend, it will be two days away from my last day of school, so chances are I will be almost comatose on my sofa and not going anywhere. However, if we do attend any events that weekend, I will be preparing pork tenderloin sandwiches with a champagne mustard sauce. I have brought these to the Derby races, Mardi Gras parade parties, potluck events, Super Bowl parties, and tailgates. They can be served at room temperature and can be made several hours ahead (but I prefer not to refrigerate them overnight because the arugula gets soggy).

Marinade

  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. bourbon
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 pork tenderloins

champagne mustard sauce

Champagne Mustard Sauce

  • 1/3 c. sour cream
  • 1/3 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 T. champagne mustard
  • 1 T. finely chopped green onion
  • 1 1/2 t. garlic vinegar

Sandwiches

  • arugula
  • crusty French baguette

building pork tenderloin sandwiches

Directions

  • To prepare marinade, combine soy sauce, bourbon, brown sugar, and garlic. Place pork in a large Ziploc bag. Pour marinade over and seal the bag. Marinate at room temperature for 3 hours turning occasionally. You can also marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Remove pork from marinade and prepare grill. Grill pork until center is a little pink. Remove pork from the grill and tent the meat with foil. Let rest until room temperature. The pork can be cooked a day ahead. Do not slice the pork until you are ready to assemble the sandwiches.
  • While pork is resting, prepare sauce. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, green onion, and vinegar in small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  • When pork is cooled, slice thinly on the diagonal.
  • To assemble sandwiches, halve the baguette horizontally separating the top of the loaf from the bottom. Spread sauce on the bottom and top of the bread. Place slices of pork along the bottom half of the bread. Top with arugula then put the “bread lid” on the sandwich. Slice into wedges.

NOTES

  • Champagne mustard is hard to find. I have located Stonewall Kitchen’s Maine Maple Champagne Mustard at Whole Foods. If I don’t have a champagne Mustard, I use Dijon.
  • Garlic vinegar is also hard to locate. I replace with white wine vinegar. I think I could probably steep garlic in my white wine vinegar to make my own garlic vinegar, but I never think about it ahead of time.
  • Squishy rolls like Portuguese rolls work well too instead of the French bread.
  • If taking to a tailgate, the sandwiches can be bagged individually and stored in a cooler.

pork tenderloin sandwich

Lunch This Week

Not only am I tasked with making a lunch for my two children every morning, I also have to pack my own lunch. If you read about the Teacher Emergency Kit, you know teachers are trapped in the school building all day until after the students are gone. It is a rare day that we can step out and pick up a sandwich at lunchtime, and I want more than the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches my kids are getting in their lunch bags. If I am on my game, I make something for dinner Sunday night that can be re-heated over the next few days for lunch. This week, I was on my game.

I made a double batch of Orzo with Roasted Vegetables, which is delicious at room temperature or slightly heated. I do think it only has a leftover shelf life of 2 to 3 days, so I would not plan to eat it all week. Anybody have any other suggestions for adult school lunches?

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
  • 1 medium yellow squash, 1-inch diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, 1-inch diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 c. good olive oil (or a little less)
  • 1 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 lb. orzo

Dressing

  • 1/3 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/3 c. good olive oil
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. freshly ground pepper

To Assemble

  • 4 scallions minced, white and green parts
  • 1/4 c. pine nuts, toasted
  • 15 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
  • Toss the bell peppers, onion, zucchini, squash, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned turning once with a spatula.
  • Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  • Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.
  • For the dressing combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and the vegetables. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pine nuts, and basil. Check the seasonings, add another splash of fresh lemon juice (if desired), and serve at room temperature.

Better Than a Brown Bag Lunch

Bring your child’s teacher a really good lunch the first week of school! In fact, this is a great little sirsee for a teacher’s birthday, teacher appreciation week, standardized testing week, or any random day. As mentioned in the Teacher Emergency Kit post, teachers are trapped in the school building all day.  Unless a planning period aligns with the moon on a Tuesday in January, they are not getting out of that building to go pick up a lunch. Most teachers (read: me) hastily pack a half of a peanut butter sandwich along with their kids’ lunches as they are racing out the door in the morning. What a treat it would to receive a good lunch one day.

The Bag: I sewed the bag in the picture above modifying a pattern I had for an art bag. I would not recommend sewing your own lunch tote. After 7 hours at the sewing machine, I decided I do not like my children’s teachers THAT much. Pick up a lunch bag at any store where you purchase school supplies or even your local grocery store.  A cute disposable gift bag would work well too. I really like the neoprene lunch totes if you want to upgrade the gift. Almost all teachers have access to refrigerators, so you should not need an insulated lunch bag.

The Food: I made a really good pesto chicken salad and put it on a squishy roll with arugula. I included pretzel crisps, raw veggies, and a small container of cashews, almonds, and dried fruit. I added a bottle of water too. Teachers usually have a microwave available, so you could send something yummy in a tupperware with re-heating instructions instead of a sandwich.

You can click on Fancy Sandwiches for the pesto chicken salad recipe and a few others. I realized after I decided to post these recipes, they probably have a bad breath factor to them. No problem– include a mint with the lunch OR make sure your child’s teacher has the Emergency Kit, so he/she has a toothbrush.

The Extras: Do not forget to add a paper plate, napkin, and any plasticware that is needed.