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Beacon Foodie Serves Up Back To School Lunch Ideas

Stacie Merrill of Valley Table Magazine. Photo Credit: Submitted
Laura Lee Holmbo of Valley Table Magazine. Photo Credit: Submitted
Rice balls and peanut butter balls make for an easy back to school snack. Photo Credit: Submitted
Rice balls. Photo Credit: Submitted

BEACON, N.Y. -- Back to school means back to stocking the fridge.

And so we turned to two moms who know food. Stacie Merrill, production specialist at Valley Table -- and a Beacon resident -- and Laura Lee Holmbo, Valley Table's director of marketing, who lives in Cold Spring, offer two of their tried-and-true ideas for packing healthy kids' meals.

The Valley Table is a local, quarterly magazine that celebrates the agricultural heritage and cuisine of the Hudson Valley. The company is also the producer of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, which runs Nov. 1 to 13.

Recipe: Onigiri (contributed by Stacie Merrill)


  • Steamed rice
  • Salt
  • Dried bonito flakes (Katsuobushi) mixed with soy sauce
  • Roasted seaweed


  • Put some rice in a rice bowl.
  • Wet hands with water and add salt. Place rice in one hand, press and form into a triangle shape.
  • Make a well in the middle of the rice ball and put in Katsuobushi mixture. Close the well.
  • Reshape and wrap with a sheet of roasted seaweed.
  • Sprinkle with black sesame seeds

Holmbo, a mom of four, often serves up this "Nut Ball" snack:

Mix peanut butter or almond butter with honey (try to always use raw) and ground flaxseeds. With hands rinsed in cold-water, form the mixture into little balls and put them in the fridge. Optional additions: mini chocolate chips, oats, dried fruit or nuts.

For something else, Chef Ramiro Jimenez of La Puerta Azul in Salt Point offers the following Mushroom Quesadilla recipe.


  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • 2 pounds cremini mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 4 pasilla chiles* (dried or fresh) cut in strips
  • 1/4 cup parsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 8 corn or flour tortillas
  • 1 cup Oaxaca* or Monterey cheese
  • 2 cups sauteed mushrooms
  • 2 grilled onions
  • 4 sprigs epazote* or cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons oil



  • In a large pan on medium heat add oil, garlic and pasilla chiles, stirring constantly until lightly browned.
  • Add mushrooms and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer mushrooms to a bowl and mix in parsley.


  • Preheat cast-iron griddle or in medium heat heavy skilled.
  • Brush one side of each tortilla with oil and place on the griddle.
  • Spread 1/4 cup cheese on each of 4 tortillas, leaving a small border around the edge.
  • Add mushrooms, onion and epazote and wait until the cheese starts melting.
  • Top with the remaining empty tortillas and press firmly to close.
  • Serve with salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

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