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Cranberries Inspire School Lunch Recipes

Cranberries Inspire School Lunch Recipes

Contest winners Recipes for chicken taco, quinoa salad and gelatin dessert, all with cranberry accents

Ingrid Rockwell prepares Cranzy Chicken Tacos.

Ingrid Rockwell, cook at Deerfield (WI) Elementary School, has been in the school foodservice profession for less than a year, but she’s already ahead of the game. She recently won the $2,000 grand prize in the 2014 Cranberry Marketing Committee (CMC) USA/Wisconsin School Foodservice Cranberry Recipe Contest.

School foodservice professionals in Wisconsin were challenged to ‘get their cran on’ and show off their best “creative, kid-friendly recipes that catered to school lunch guidelines and featured the U.S.-grown cranberry,” says Scott J. Soares, executive director of the Cranberry Marketing Committee USA.

Rockwell, who operated a food cart at the Dane County Farmers’ Market for nine years prior to her current gig, says cooking with cranberries works so well because of their versatile, tart flavor, which works in both sweet and savory dishes.

The Cranzy Chicken Taco, which can be served as part of a ‘Build Your Own’ food bar, combines baked chicken that’s coated with a cranberry sauce-honey mixture with a tangy bean salad and a creamy cranberry-mayo sauce, all on a whole-grain tortilla.

The grand prize is divided into two parts, $1,000 for Rockwell, and $1,000 for the school kitchen. Rockwell says the school plans to purchase an industrial food processor.

The runners up include: Dianne Swiontek, foodservice manager, Clayton (WI) School District, whose recipe is Cranberry & Cilantro Quinoa Salad and Pamela Zuberbier, head cook, St. Peter’s Lutheran School, Fond du Lac, whose recipe is Razzy Cran-Grape Gelatin.


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Cranzy Chicken Taco

YIELD: 48 servings (serving size 1 taco)

1 ½ qt. cranberry sauce, whole berry
1/3 cup honey
4 ½ lbs. chicken, cooked, diced, thawed
¾ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

For the bean salad (6 qts.)

3 qts. beans, Northern, reduced-sodium, canned, drained, rinsed
3 qts. dried sweetened cranberries
1 ½ cups apple juice, 100 percent juice
1 cup scallions or red onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. garlic, fresh, minced
1 tsp. black pepper, ground

For the cranberry mayo (3 cups)

1 ½ cups reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 ½ cups cranberry sauce, whole-berry
¼ cup scallions, minced
1 tsp. ground black pepper

For the tacos

6 qts. spinach, fresh, chopped
48 whole-grain, 8” tortillas

In a large sauce pan, melt cranberry sauce with honey, about 2 minutes.

Add chicken and cheese to cranberry-honey mixture and toss to coat well.

Lay out chicken pieces on parchment-covered sheetpans in a single layer and bake in 350°F convection oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Hold hot for service.

In a bowl, toss together all Bean Salad ingredients; mix well, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

In a bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, cranberry sauce, scallions and pepper until combined; place in a wide mouth squeeze bottle, replace lid and hold at 40°F until ready to serve.

To Serve: Set up food bar to Build Your Own. Portion ¼ cup chicken, ½ cup bean salad, ½ cup spinach onto a tortilla. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. Cranberry Mayo. Wrap to serve.

Recipe: Ingrid Rockwell, Deerfield Elementary School

Cranberry & Cilantro Quinoa Salad

YIELD: 48 servings (serving size ½ cup)

1 ½ qt. water
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ lb. quinoa, whole grain, rinsed (cooked yield 12 cups)
2 lbs. dried sweetened cranberries
3 cups carrots, minced
1 ½ qt. red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 cup cilantro, fresh, minced
1 cup lime juice, fresh
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. red pepper, ground

In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil over high heat; stir in quinoa, reduce heat and bring to a simmer. Cover pot and cook until all liquid is absorbed (about 15 minutes).

Remove from heat and transfer quinoa to a hotel pan. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Add cranberries, carrots, peppers, onions and cilantro to chilled quinoa and stir to mix evenly.

In a small bowl, mix together lime juice, oil, salt and pepper and pour over quinoa-cranberry mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

To Serve: Scoop (#8) a ½ cup portion of salad into a bowl and serve. Does not need to be served cold.

Recipe: Diane Swiontek, Clayton School District, Clayton, WI

Razzy Cran-Grape Gelatin

YIELD: 48 servings (serving size ½ cup)

6 lbs. grapes, seedless, red, off stem
1 ½ qt. grape juice or grape juice blend
18 oz. gelatin, raspberry flavored
5 cups cranberry sauce, whole berry

Wash grapes thoroughly and remove stems.

Process grapes in food processor until finely chopped. Remove from processor bowl and hold.

In a large stainless steel sauce pot, bring grape juice to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in gelatin until dissolved.

Mix in cranberry sauce and mix/mash until dissolved.

Stir in grapes and mix thoroughly.

To Serve: Ladle or scoop (#8) ½ cup portions into 6 oz. cups or dishes and refrigerate. Chill at least 3 hours to set properly. Or place in a deep, quarter hotel pan, chill and scoop after firm.

Recipe: Pamela Zuberbier, St. Peter’s Lutheran School, Fond du Lac, WI

TAGS: K-12 Schools
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