When the school year begins, school lunches are always a hot topic. Healthy school lunches. Fun school lunches. Easy school lunches. From bento boxes to regular paper bags, at back to school time everyone is looking for new ideas. But in many ways, the school lunch is infinitely easier than the summer lunch.
On summer break, my kids complain about lunch to my face, not by secretly throwing out their lunch in the trash. It makes me look forward to the fall and its school lunches.
To avoid becoming a short order cook, preparing four different lunches daily, I set up bread and cold cut buffets with plenty of fresh fruit for variety. Leftover sweet potatoes or roasted cauliflower also provides a nice way to jazz up ordinary sandwiches. Changing up the bread choices also keeps lunch exciting (and complaint free). Some days we keep things simple with toasted sliced sandwich bread. Other days we feast on warm baguettes or focaccia.
This summer, La Brea Bakery is going on tour around the US to sample some of their breads that are available at your local supermarket. They spent early June in Chicago and are now in Charlotte, NC through Sunday, June 21. They’ll be driving around town, but you can catch them on Friday morning at 8:30 Uptown at S. College Street and E. 3rd Street.
While jazzed up cold cuts may be my kids’ favorite summertime lunch option, a croque madame is my lunchtime treat. I crave the perfect marriage of an oozy happy egg yolk, an assertive melted cheddar, and a slice of ham. Whipping out a pan to fry the egg is a little bit of effort, but being a short order cook for myself is well worth the hassle.
- 2 Slices of Bread
- 2 Tablespoons of Butter
- 2 Thin Slices of Good Quality Ham
- 2 Slices of Cheddar Cheese
- 2 Slices of Muenster Cheese
- 1 Egg
- Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Don't skimp! The butter makes this sandwich. Before it browns, add the bottom layer of bread.
- Top it with the cheddar, the ham, then the muenster. Cover with the last layer of bread.
- Press down with a spatula and cook for 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Remove the sandwich from the pan with the spatula and hold up in the air while you add the last tablespoon of butter. Melt. Carefully flip the sandwich and brown the second side, pressing down with the spatula, for another 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the sandwich from the pan, place on a plate, and cover with a second plate to keep warm.
- Crack the egg into the pan and fry, being careful not to break the yolk. Once the egg is cooked (the whites should not be runny, but the yolk should not be hard), carefully slide the egg onto the ham and cheese sandwich.
- Sit down immediately, spear the yolk, admire it as it glistens, and eat your sandwich. Enjoy!
How about you? Now that summer is here, how are you handling lunch for the kids? I have free La Brea product coupons for anyone who leaves a comment here. Bring on the summer lunch inspiration – together we can do this!