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Brown-Bagging Made Easy

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Crispy Cheese Popcorn

(Family Features) - The end of summer shifts morning routines into high gear. There are kids to get dressed, homework to gather and lunches to pack - all before a frenzied rush for the door. To reduce back-to-school stress, keep brown bag preparations under control. Here's how:

Get Organized

Making lunch is more efficient with everything you need at hand.

  • Stock up on easy sandwich fixings like cheeses and cold meats. For your cheese selection, consider cheeses imported from Ireland to encourage in your kids an appreciation for quality and flavor. Kerrygold cheeses are hormone- and preservative-free. Kid-pleasing favorites include Blarney Castle, a semi-soft mild cheese; Dubliner, a Cheddar-type cheese with an inviting, Parmesan-like bite; and Kerrygold Swiss and Aged Cheddar.
  • Purchase plastic wrap and plastic containers of various sizes to pack sandwiches, salads, dressings and dips.
  • For variety's sake, stock many kinds of breads in your freezer. Defrost what you need the night before.

Make Ahead

If mornings are too hectic, consider making lunch the night before.

  • Make grilled cheese sandwiches, wrap and refrigerate.
  • Pack leftovers. Pizza or stews are delicious the next day.
  • Make a week's worth of meat and cheese sandwiches, wrap securely and freeze. Pack frozen, to defrost by lunchtime. (Avoid mayonnaise or vegetables - they won't thaw successfully.)

Be Creative, on the Spot!

If you're rushing to make lunch in the morning, but still want to be creative, try these ideas:

  • Munchie Lunchie: Combine cubes of Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese in a plastic sandwich bag with pretzel pieces or croutons and raisins or dried cranberries. Nibble as a snack-lunch, instead of a sandwich.
  • Tortilla Roll-Ups: Spread a small flour tortilla with Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter. Layer with thin slices of Kerrygold Blarney Castle Cheese, slices of smoked turkey and spinach leaves. Roll up tightly and wrap securely in plastic wrap.
  • Shake it Up! Salad: In a large container, layer pre-washed salad greens, strips of Kerrygold Swiss Cheese and ham, shredded carrots and sliced cucumber. Pack ranch dressing separately. At lunchtime, pour dressing into container and shake to toss.

For more about Irish cheeses and butter and other great lunchbox ideas, visit www.kerrygold.com/usa.

Crispy Cheese Popcorn

A fun and flavorful lunchbox snack that's cheesy-delicious.
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  • 1 mini bag (1.5-ounce) microwaveable popcorn, prepared according to package directions (5 cups popped)
  • 2/3 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) shredded Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese

    1. Heat oven to 325F. Spread popped popcorn evenly on foil-lined baking sheet, packing together closely. Sprinkle cheese evenly over popcorn.
    2. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. (Cheese should be browned for best crispness, but watch to be sure it doesn't burn.)
    3. Remove from oven; cool pan on wire rack. When cool, divide into 2 portions, breaking up any large clusters. Place each portion into resealable bags or containers. Refrigerate any leftovers after 1 day.

Makes 2 servings (about 2 cups each)
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SOURCE: Irish Dairy Board

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