Frank prepares great back-to-school foods


Posted on August 1, 2011 at 12:03 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 2 at 9:09 AM

Frank Davis / Eyewitness News

Here's Part 1 of the two-week special on "Back To School" lunches and snacks. Got a suggestion: I know I'm recommending them for kids, but it's perfectly permissible to make these for yourselves and have them as TV snacks. I'm just saying.


The Elvis Presley Sandwich

Sorry, in spite of what you may have heard, there was no bacon in the original recipe:

2 slices white bread (thick cut & not toasted in toaster)

1 whole banana, super fresh but not overripe

Peanut butter, either chunky or creamy, warm and softened

Butter, about 2 to 3 pats, softened

Old fashioned grape jelly


Spread the peanut butter on a slice of fresh white bread, slice one whole banana length wise and lay on peanut buttered slice. Then put a large dollop of peanut butter on the other slice of bread and spread it around evenly.

Next, peel a small banana and place it on a cutting board on your countertop. Then either slice it thinly or mash it thoroughly with a dinner fork. Now put the banana on one of the peanut-buttered slices. (Basically you now have bananas in between 2 slices of peanut-buttered bread).

Now put a pat or two of butter in a 12-inch, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and let them melt. Then lay the sandwich down in the pan and let it soak up all the butter. When the “down side” turns brown and toasty (3 to 4 minutes), add a couple more pats of butter to the skillet, flip the sandwich to the other side, and cook until brown and toasty.

Elvis reportedly preferred thick sliced bread because it’s said thick slices kept the peanut butter from melting too much and running out of the sandwich. The sandwich is best if eaten immediately out of the skillet. But. . .have lots of napkins handy! Enjoy!

Chef’s Note: While the original Elvis sandwich also had no “jelly” in it, later versions of this prized treat does call for a generous serving of grape jelly (and a couple strips of thinly sliced, cooked bacon). Simply spread the jelly evenly over the slice of bread which has been spread with just peanut butter.

The sandwich cooks best if flipped with a metal egg turner. Serve hot for dinner at home or cold in the lunch box for a perfect and nutritional quick, favorite, kiddie meal.


Chicken Salad Pitas

Outstanding, satisfying, and popular for carry-to-school lunches (or well received as an after-school snack). Simply split a Pita bread in half crosswise and stuff it “full” with your homemade chicken salad. If you’re going to send it to school for lunch, be sure to double-wrap the stuffed Pita with plastic film or aluminum foil. I suggest you make the sandwich the “night before” and keep it in the refrigerator until time to pack the lunchbox. The chilled sandwich will keep the mayo from spoiling.

2 cups chopped roasted chicken

1 cup ready-made mirapoix

1 small jar mayonnaise, added as desired

2 tablespoons minced sweet pickle slices

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (optional)

Sea salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

2-3 fresh Pita breads, halved

1 stick softened butter


In a medium size bowl, drop in the chopped chicken. The place the right-from-the-store mirapoix on a cutting board and chop it to a fine consistency. When that’s done, put the mirapoix into the chopped chicken bowl and fold everything together well.

At this point, spoon enough mayonnaise into the bowl to create a moist chicken salad and combine all the ingredients into the mayo. Then sprinkle in the minced pickle (and add the hard-cooked eggs, if you opted to use them) and gently fold them into the mixture.

All that’s left is to season the salad with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Finally, open the pita bread halves, lightly spread the insides with a little of the softened butter, and begin stuffing the breads. When they’re full (overstuffed depending upon whether you making the breads for a first-grader or a junior high student), wrap them tightly in, first, plastic wrap then in aluminum foil.

If at all possible, make the sandwiches the night before school and refrigerate them. That way, when it’s time for lunch they will have warmed to room temp and you will have insured against any possibility of spoilage.

Lagniappe Treat: Carrot sticks in a zipper bag. Instead of salty, greasy, potato chips, pack alongside the pita chicken salad sandwich a small zipper bag with thinly sliced or julienned carrots. A second zipper-lock sandwich bag containing a dollop or two of ranch dressing makes a great dip for the carrots. I prefer these refrigerated overnight as well.


In addition to needing full school-time meals, back-to-schoolers will also be ready for some snacks when they get home after a day of cracking the books. But if you don’t want them to “root’n ‘round” through the fridge or pantry looking for junk snacks, here are three popular kid snacks you might want to have ready (or at least get ready to whip up on a moment’s notice).


Stuffed Celery Sticks

8 celery pieces, 4-inches long

Peanut Butter, chunky or smooth, enough to fill the celery grooves

Raisins, enough to garnish the top of the peanut butter

Goldfish crackers, enough to garnish the top of the peanut butter


Very simply, holding a stick of celery in one hand, take a butter knife and pile the peanut butter into the “groove” on the reverse side of the celery stick. Since it’s the peanut butter that will lend the greatest amount of flavor to the celery, I suggest you kinda “overstuff” it. As they are prepared, place them on a dinner plate and set them aside until every stick is stuffed.

Finish up the creation by taking either raisins or goldfish crackers (or both) and pushing them into the peanut butter, equidistant down the length of the stick. All that’s left is to “tent” them lightly with plastic wrap and stash them in the fridge until the kids get home. They get a great, healthful snack and you get no messy cleanup.

Chef’s Note: Since so many kids these days have allergic reactions to peanut butter, you can still make these snacks by substituting Philly cream cheese for the peanut butter. The only alteration you need to make is sweetening the cream cheese with a little powdered sugar before you stuff the celery. Of course, if your child is one of those who naturally likes the taste of cream cheese, you can forget about the powdered sugar.


Homemade Back-To-School Fruit Smoothie

1/2 ripe refrigerated banana

1/2 cup frozen berries (any kind your kid likes)

1 cup ice-cold whole 2% milk


Drop all the ingredients into a blender. Then on high speed, whip everything together until totally smooth, creamed, and thickened (it should have the consistency of a thick malt). For a little added oomph, have the ingredients and the blender ready and let the kids make their own smoothie. Oh—I’d also make them clean up their own mess when the “creating” is done.

Note: If you have a large commercial blender, this recipe may be doubled.


Apple Shortcake Cups

6-8 shortcake cups (ready made)

1/2 stick butter

2 cups Fuji, Gala, or Braeburn apple slices, peeled

6 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Whipped cream topping (or vanilla ice cream)


First, set the oven to 250 degrees, place the shortcake cups on a sheet pan, slide them onto the center oven rack, and warm them while you’re cooking down the apples.

In a heavy, 12-inch, non-stick skillet, melt the butter and bring it to a sizzle over medium-high heat. Then drop in the apple slices and sauté them—stirring continuously—until they begin to soften and turn brown. When that happens, immediately sprinkle on the brown sugar and toss everything until the sugar dissolves and a thickened butter sauce forms. At that point, add the cinnamon, turn down the fire to low, and simmer the apples in the sauce until they are soft through-and-through.

When they’re done, remove the apples from the stovetop and allow them to cool. All that’s left is to spoon out the apples and the sauce into the cups and top with the whipped cream topping when served.

These cups can be served hot or at room temperature.