Keeping the Lid on the Heat with Creative Meals in Jars

Keeping the Lid on the Heat with Creative Meals in Jars

Creative cooks are always looking for innovative ways to keep their families excited and looking forward to dinner. Salads are always inviting but not all younger children can tolerate them. My granddaughter said to me clearly that she does not like salads, so what can a mother do? 

 

We will learn of novel ways to use glass bell jars in food preparation service. Your family will be able to eat a hot dish in the summer without heating up your kitchen. For example, if you cook your pasta early in the morning before the weather heats up, you can just microwave the ready combination in a couple of minutes. Or if you layer a glass jar with soup components you will have to simply add boiling water. The trick is to do the preparation early in the day. The variety of summer fruits and vegetables invites even the novice cook to experiment and come up with beautiful ways to present their meals. 

Presentation is a big part of getting children to eat healthy whether it’s shaping raw vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots and radishes with cookie cutters or slicing hard boiled eggs in half and calling them baseball caps. Instead of calling the recipes below salads, think of novel ideas for the names of these pretty and colorful salad in a jar ideas.

There are certain staples that should always be in your pantry and fridge so that when it's time to prepare new dinner concepts you will be well prepared. Now, we know that vegetables have a limited shelf life especially in the summer but if you look online or in stores such as container and organization places you can find inexpensive gadgets that will increase the shelf life of your vegetables. Some people have within their budget to buy ready cut up vegetables and shredded colorful ones such as red cabbage and carrots. These beautiful rich and monochrome delights are both beautiful to look at and very wholesome as we know that the brighter the color the more vitamins and minerals inside. Light green colored vegetables such as cucumbers and iceberg lettuce have their advantages as they are easily digestible and low in calories. 

We will also touch on another wonderful idea to get your children interested in soups. I know mine shy away from soup as it is sometimes too much of a bother to eat, takes too much time and the kids are choosy about what’s in them. Yes, blended soups are popular with kids but the soups in a jar will give them a beautiful introduction to eating soup with pieces. Just make sure that the jar you use is made for boiling water. 

As far as what type of jars you would choose for your creations, it would be more practical to use wide mouth jars for the ease of putting and taking out the food. It really doesn’t matter that much what type of cover you use, it could be plastic, metal or attached to the jar itself because you are going to be serving your preparation soon after you make it. In canning and pickling it is vital to have certain air blocking covers to assure no bacteria enter but in this case any jar will do. I would discourage the usage of plastic since it does not have the same visual appeal and clarity as glass. Plastic is just not classy enough for these beautiful masterpieces in a jar. 

Crispy Cabbage Salad in a Jar 

This salad is like coleslaw except that we have a method that keeps the cabbage crisp which makes it more filling and less mushy. 

Ingredients

1 package ready coleslaw mix with carrots

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup frozen peas

1 cup chopped red pepper 

Dressing

½ cup mayonnaise

½ tsp dry mustard

1 tsp lemon juice

¼ to ½ cup sugar (depending on the age and taste of the persons)

1 tsp celery seed

¼ cup finely chopped onion 

Directions

1) Mix dressing well until no lumps remain from the mayonnaise.

2) Depending on how large your jars are you can make one large jar of salad or up to four smaller ones.

3) If using more than one jar divide the vegetables and dressing equally.

4) To keep salad crisp, place the dressing on the bottom of the jar.

5) Layer the vegetables according to your liking separating the red pepper so that you have two separate layers for contrast.

6) If you see you have extra room in the jar add any of the vegetables that you have left over always making sure to leave enough room on top of the jar for the person to be able to shake the salad up to disperse the dressing.

7) Refrigerate till use. 

I like to serve this salad in individual wide mouth jars with kids eating straight from the jar. Remind them to shake the jar vigorously before eating. This is a lot of fun for friends and family! 

Do it Yourself Ramen Soup 

Have you realized that ramen noodles have become a staple in today’s kitchen? Your kids will love this soup which will remind them of the more commercial and less healthy alternative. 

Ingredients

2 one-quart wide mouth canning jars (hot water safe)

3 oz package ramen noodles

1 Tbs. chicken consommé (low sodium)

1 cup frozen peas

½ cup shredded carrots

1 chicken cutlet boiled and cut into tiny pieces (or you can use shredded cooked chicken breast)

4 cups boiling water 

Layer the two jars in the following order of the ingredients below. 

Order of Ingredients: Ramen noodles, chicken, consommé, carrots, and peas. 

Serving: Pour two cups of boiling water into each one-quart jar and let it stand until warmed thoroughly. Then shake gently to assure the seasoning is dissolved. 

Please Note: Before setting up this soup pour boiling water into your jars to assure that they are equipped to withstand the high heat of the boiling water. 

Microwave Pasta Alfredo in a Jar 

6 cups penne pasta

1 cup ready refrigerated Alfredo sauce

1 8 oz jar sweet roasted red peppers drained

¾ cup frozen peas

¼ finely grated hard cheese such as parmesan or mozzarella

Four one-pint wide mouth canning jars 

Order of Ingredients: Pasta, Alfredo sauce, red peppers, peas, and cheese. 

Make sure to cover and refrigerate till serving time. These jars are not microwavable so the ingredients must be transferred to a microwave safe bowl and heated. You then have the option of transferring them back to the jars. 

Smoked Cheese Lunch Box Salad 

¾ cup mayonnaise

⅓ cup reduced fat sour cream

1 ½ tsp. White wine vinegar

¼ tsp. Salt

⅛ tsp. Pepper

¼ tsp. Sugar

2 tbsp. Water

1 small red onion halved and sliced very thin

2 cups frozen peas thawed

6 chopped hard-boiled eggs chopped

1 cup shredded smoked or Swiss cheese shredded

4 cups iceberg lettuce shredded

6 cups baby spinach

Four one-quart wide mouth canning jars 

Order of Ingredients: Dressing, peas, onion, eggs, cheese, lettuce, and spinach.

Make sure to whisk first seven dressing ingredients till smooth. Place the jar cover on securely and refrigerate until serving. If you leave enough room on the top of the jar for mixing, it can be eaten straight from the jar otherwise transfer to a bowl. 

Summer Fruit Salad with Protein 

Who said that fruit salad can’t be a meal? Every fruit except watermelon would be fine in this dish. Watermelon gets mushy and is so delicious, plain and fresh so leave it out of your fruit salad and it will last longer. We will not give you specific amounts since you can play around with the fruit and size of the jars. The main point is to try to use an array of colors and textures.

Ingredients 

Cut up peaches, nectarines, and plums

Grapes cut in half

Cut up kiwis

Pomegranate seeds

Dried sour cherries

Sliced almonds

(Orange juice optional)

Whole milk cottage cheese 

Directions 

1) Place the cottage cheese on the bottom of the jar.

2) Layer equal amounts of the cut-up fruit to get the prettiest look.

3) If you like your fruit salad slightly softened add some orange juice.

4) Place sliced almonds on the top so they stay crisp.

5) Leave room on the top of the jar for shaking. 

Keep refrigerated until eating or if you would like to take it with you place the jar into an insulated small bag with a small size dry ice. 

Final Words 

The word summer reminds us of simpler and more relaxing times. Meals that would not rate the word dinner are easily acceptable in the summer as the heat lends itself to such fare. We hope you have fun making these ideas, from pasta to soup and that these will encourage you to create your own meals in a jar. Have fun while feeding your family healthy food. (By the way, I think my granddaughter would try any of these in a minute.)

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