Monday, August 12, 2019

Skip the sandwich, pack cucumber sushi for school lunch

As school starts back up across Indiana, I thought it would be fun to share a unique lunch idea—one that kids enjoy making and eating. Let me preface this by saying I don't have children, but I do pack my lunch every day! For the first five years post-college, I packed a turkey sandwich on multigrain bread with provolone cheese and mustard every day. And I liked it. In fact, I looked forward to it!

But one day, I just couldn't do it. I could not eat another turkey sandwich.

I needed a replacement that was equally healthy and equally cheap.

I present you with cucumber sushi! They're easy to make and easy to customize.

Use a melon baller to remove the seeds from the inside of a cucumber and stuff the hollowed-out part with your favorite fillings. The sushi in these pictures consist of ham, cheese, carrots, and peppers.

Serve your cucumber sushi with hummus or soy sauce (I actually use amino acids) for dipping.

Cucumber sushi
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 slices ham or lunch meat of choice
  • 1 string cheese, cut in fourths
  • Matchstick carrots
  • Red pepper, cut julienne style
  1. Cut off ends of cucumber. Slice in half.
  2. Hollow out center of cucumber using a melon baller. Leave about 1/2 inch of cucumber from the edges.
  3. Stuff cucumber with rolled-up ham, cheese, carrots, and peppers until center is filled.
  4. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
  5. Serve cold with hummus and soy sauce. Refrigerate leftovers.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Indianapolis Colts Grazing Platters

You probably already know what a charcuterie board is—a platter with meats (like salami, ham, and prosciutto), cheeses, crackers and other small bites such like nuts, olives, gherkin pickles, and spreads.

I’m sure charcuterie boards have been around for a very long time, but I feel like they gained popularity several years ago with the bite-sized snack trend. You can find them everywhere, from grocery stores to fancy restaurants.

What’s great about charcuterie boards is how simple they are to put together, yet they look very impressive.

In the past year or so, charcuterie board’s cousin, the grazing platter, has become more popular. A grazing platter is very similar to a charcuterie board with the focus still on bite-sized eats, but it has a wider variety of foods. Pretty much nothing is off limits. I’m talking fruit, candy, nuts, chips, popcorn, cookies, etc. The beauty of the grazing board is that it involves a little bit of everything.

That being said, it’s a lot of fun to design a grazing platter around a theme, which is exactly what we’re doing today. With the start of the NFL season right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to create a Colts-themed grazing platter with blue and white foods.

So I’m going to walk you through the steps of preparing a grazing platter.

First, start with a big serving platter. Large wooden boards, either rectangular or circular, look really nice and are really sturdy. They’re especially great if they have a lip because it makes them more portable. Crate and Barrel has some really nice options (like this one), but they’re a little on the pricier side. I recommend looking at HomeGoods for some cheaper options. Plastic serving platters and even regular old cutting boards will do the trick. What’s most important is you have a lot of space to work with.

Second, let’s talk about the food on the platter. I like to incorporate the five basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami (savory). However, depending on your mood or theme you can focus on just one or two of the tastes. For example, the platter picture here with candy and popcorn focuses on sweet and salty.

Third, arrange everything on the platter.
  • The first thing I do it place a few small bowls on the platter to hold things like jams, dips, and small candies. 
  • Add bigger items, like cheese, to the board next. It’s fun to play with the shapes and sizes of the cheese. For example, it can be served as a wedge, a circular block, or slices.
  • After the big items are in place, add fruit, crackers, and any other medium-sized snack items.
  • Sprinkle in the smallest items, like nuts and dried fruits, for the finishing touches. This is the time to fill in any gaps.

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