Thursday, November 29, 2012

Corn Dog Muffins

Tried these out and they were a rousing success. The kids all loved them! They're just beef hot dogs, sliced up, baked inside of cornbread muffins. Delicious, better than chemical-filled corn dogs, and easily portable.

Bean and Princess took leftover corn dog muffins for lunch. Bean asked me to draw snowflakes on hers. At 8 in the morning, with a mean sore throat and fever (me, not Bean), after almost no sleep the night before... They look more like starbursts or fireworks than snowflakes. But she was thrilled with them, so I'll call them a success!

Bean has corn dog muffins, blueberries, Annie's Organic cheddar bunnies, a chunk of cherry cheesecake, and purple grapes.

Yep... I still see starbursts.

Princess has the same food, but with HelloKitty decor.

If I can find it again, I'll share the corn bread recipe I used to make these. I think any basic cornbread recipe would work. Just place pieces of hot dogs or mini sausages in a muffin tin and pour the cornbread batter over top, and then bake. Super easy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hey, Where's Perry?

Not here!

When Beaker woke up this morning, the very first thing he said was, "Can you make me Fee-Ferb lunch today?" Like, immediately. Before he even got out of bed. And then five more times before he had breakfast. Clearly today was going to be a Phineas and Ferb kind of day.

I've made Phineas lunches before, but I wanted to try something a little more challenging today. I thought hey... why not Perry?

Um, this is why not:

Not exactly my best effort! The Perry sandwich looks more like... um... a brick with eyes? I will have to try again soon, see if I can do it up better. Feel free to laugh at my first sad attempt!

The details: "Perry" sandwich is sun-butter on homemade bread with cheese bill and tail and candy eyes. Beaker also has purple grapes, outer space Goldfish crackers, baby corn, Perry fruit snacks, and a little cup of red beans and rice. A pretty big and hearty lunch, but Beaker ate almost everything. Hungry boy today!

Bean, Brick, and G-man all wanted to get their lunches at school today, so I only packed a lunch up for Princess. She took a Thermos full of cheese ravioli with a butter-garlic sauce, and a small bento dish with baby corn, a few mini Hilshire Farms beef sausages, apple slices, and some chocolate rice cakes.

Bean packed her own snack today. I had some qualms about the peanut butter - one of her friends at school is allergic to nuts, which is why I never send nuts to school with Bean. However, I was assured (and the girl herself has told me the same) that nuts only affect her if she eats them herself, that she's okay to be around them. I let it go. Apparently she thought she would be very hungry today ~ this is more than twice as much as I usually pack for her snack. She packed herself peanut butter with apple slices and crackers, and two mini sausages.

My lunch yesterday was simple. Pepper jack cheese spears with chunks of homemade bread (YUM!) and two tiny Chips Ahoy! cookies.

Lunch today was way better. Leftover red beans and rice with spicy sausage and chunks of homemade bread on the side. Delicious! Spicy and hot and so yummy. Worth the heartburn.


I love it when the sun shines. Especially when the day starts with a layer of icy frost on the ground. That shiny bright sun melting the cold away always puts me in a happy mood.

It was still a cold morning, even with the sun. Brick wanted a hot lunch, and I was happy enough to put something together. He took a Thermos of hot bean and, goop? What do you call something that isn't quite a dip? The Dude made bean burritos for his dinner the night before, and the leftover bean-cheese-Rotel thick goop is what Brick took for his lunch. Filling. I'll call it filling. Anyway, Brick took a Thermos of filling for his lunch, along with a small salad with shredded cheese on top, some ranch dressing and a big tub of fresh salsa, some crispy tortilla strips, and a small handful of trail mix. Everything he needed for a taco salad, or a salad with chips and dip - his choice.

G-man doesn't do beans, so he took leftover egg nog pancakes for his lunch, along with ham rolls, a couple of strips of leftover bacon, a cheese stick, some trail mix, and some canned pears (drained, rinsed, and patted dry to remove some of the excess sugar and liquid) with a dash of colorful sprinkles on top.

It's the little touches that makes lunch special. Like rainbow sprinkles (or jimmies, if you prefer) and a couple of music note picks.

Princess, on the other hand, loves bean filling goop. I made her a quick happy bean burrito - see how happy he is? Full of glee, that little burrito. Glee, and beans. Glee, and beans, and cheese. With a little snow hat on top! She also has some black olives, a cup of fresh salsa with crispy tortilla strips, and canned pears with sprinkles. I was a tiny bit nervous about sending a bean burrito for her lunch. She loves them, but she usually eats them hot and this would be served cold. I was pleasantly surprised to see that she ate more than half of the burrito at school, and then ate the rest as soon as she got home!

For Bean, who likes beans but only hot and only sometimes, I sent a sandwich made with leftover tuna salad and yummy homemade bread, one of her favorite sandwiches. She also has some black olives, a couple of mini Oreos, some canned pears with blue and white wintery sprinkles, and pepper jack cheese slices with crackers.

Love these snowflake picks!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Seasons: Autumn and Winter

Two simple, basic lunches from today, and a muffin tin, too.

Princess has a loose Autumn theme, with a lot of browns and yellows and some leafy picks for decoration. She has a cup of applesauce with cinnamon, corn kernels, frozen blueberries (which were thawed in plenty of time for lunch, though apparently the juice leaked a bit, turning the corn a purple-orange color. Her friend told me it was "very cool and Fall-like" but Princess was not happy and requested frozen blueberries be very carefully sealed off from now on.), ham rolls and a cheese stick. For dessert and snack she has chocolate rice cakes and a homemade trail mix of honey rye crisps, sesame sticks, sunflower seeds, M&Ms, and candy coated sunflower seeds.

Bean had a similar lunch, but with blue snowflake Winter-y picks and peas instead of corn. Yes, the peas are frozen. They were thawed in plenty of time for lunch, since I put the lunch together the night before. Bean said they were pretty good, and easy to eat (she has a loose tooth; makes crunchy foods a little difficult to navigate, though she did say she liked the trail mix anyway).
Both lunches are in Easy Lunchboxes, our favorite boxes.

Beaker had a muffin tin lunch, in honor of Muffin Tin Monday.

He has a loose star theme, with trail mix in a star shaped silicone cup, pineapple "Saturn" rings with dried cranberries in the center (the planet core, of course), some Club crackers for dipping in the star shaped cup of tuna-pickle salad, outer space Goldfish, and a small chunk of German chocolate cake.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Frozen Pudding Cups!

But first...

Yoshi lunch!

G-man asked for a Super Mario lunch. I didn't want to do another Mario-Star lunch, but was short on supplies, time, and ideas. I dug through the cookie cutter bin and pulled out... an egg shape. An egg? OH! Yoshi! The super cute dinosaur friend of Mario hatches out of spotted eggs. Yoshi was always one of my personal favorite characters from that game series.

The yoshi egg sandwich is ham and cheese on whole wheat white bread with decorating gel green spots. G-man also has graham crackers, a (sad, poorly done) checkered apple slices, Super Mario Bros. fruit snacks, and Biscoff spread for dipping the apples and grahams.

Princess, Bean, and Brick all wanted to take leftover lasagna for their lunches, with some veggies and ranch.

Brick has a Thermos with lasagna, broccoli and carrots with ranch, and a mini Milky Way leftover from Halloween. To fit the lasagna into the Thermos, I reheated it in the morning by dumping a big glump out of the casserole dish into a saucepan, and then cutting it up with a wooden spoon as it heated. I also tossed in a little extra shredded mozzarella cheese. It turned into a sort of thick lasagna goop, which was exactly perfect for scooping into the Thermos and much easier to eat with a plastic fork, since they didn't have to cut up the noodles into bite sized pieces. My kids like the texture of the noodles better that way, too. Not so thick-feeling.

Princess has frozen chocolate pudding, Annie's Organic bunny grahams, and apple bits, plus broccoli and carrots with ranch, as well as a Thermos of lasagna goop.

Bean's lunch was similar, apple bits and frozen chocolate pudding, ranch hiding under the carrots and broccoli, and a Thermos of lasagna goop.

Bean also took a small container with purple grapes and Annie's Organic bunny grahams for her snack.

The frozen chocolate pudding was easy, and turned out to be a great way to keep the pudding cold for a semi-frozen treat at lunch! It was thawed just enough by lunch time to scoop onto the apple and graham pieces, but not so much that it made a mess. Worked out nicely.

To make the frozen pudding I just made pudding... and froze it. Okay, that was pretty obvious, right? I used silicone baking cups laid out on a baking sheet. Just mix up your pudding, scoop into the cups, and pop the sheet into the freezer. Easy! Works great with silicone ice trays, too, just like the yogurt.

I included a pick to make dipping easier ~ Princess just had to poke an apple piece with the pick, dunk it in the pudding, and eat. Fun and super easy!

Finally... the Dude made a cute bento for Beaker! I thought it was sweet. He went to make lunch for Beaker while I was working on something, and I figured he was making mac&cheese or something. He came out of the kitchen a little bit later with this in hand:

He made a bear shaped pepper-turkey sandwich with Goldfish grahams and carrots, cucumbers, and broccoli with ranch for dipping. A cute balanced lunch in an Easy Lunchbox!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

All Last Week

The week after our vacation was all half days due to conferences, and then the next week (last week) was busy and stressful. I have been a bad blogger - no posts for over a week, yikes! I'm making up for that now with one big huge mega post, and then will try to keep on track moving forward.

In no particular order:

A Beaker snack... mozzarella string cheese cut into pieces, banana chunks, Goldfish grahams, and turkey with a pair of dinosaur picks. The picks made great makeshift forks.

Beaker's lunch... two lunches, actually. As I was nearly finished with the first tiny lunch, Beaker came into the kitchen and reminded me that he asked for a "Fee-ferd" lunch. I had promised and then forgotten - oops! It was his first time with a sitter (my awesome friend agreed to watch him for me kind of last minute so I could get to my class), and I was willing to do anything that would help him be more comfortable, so making two separate small lunches didn't tweak my nose. He wound up having a fantastic time and ate both lunches by the time we got home.

The first is in a tiny two layer bento box. The bottom layer has peeled clementine pieces, halved grapes, and Phineas and Ferb fruit snacks, and the top layer has mini beef sausages and "space" themed Goldfish.

The second is a Phineas sandwich, made with turkey, whole wheat white bread, a candy eye, and a clementine piece for the 'hair'. He also has ranch, carrots, and Teddy Grahams.

Snack for Bean - Angry Birds Cheese Nips with Laughing Cow cheese wedge tucked into a triangle onigiri case.

Bean's lunch: peeled clementine segments, grapes, mini beef sausages, a snack size chocolate bar, mini pretzel balls, and Annie's bunny grahams.

Princess' lunch: mini pretzel balls, Annie's bunny grahams, mini Oreos, peeled clementine segments, grapes, mini beef sausages, and a McDonald's barbecue sauce tub tucked in under the cookies. Fast food is rare here, but when we do go I tend to collect extra sauce packets and things to keep in the cabinet. Super easy to pack into lunches!!

A Beaker at-home lunch - carrots with ranch, apple slices, caramel apple candy corn, and super cheesy tuna casserole.

Princess lunch - carrots with hummus, Angry Birds grahams, Angry Birds Cheese Nips, and grapes.

I also packed a tiny turkey sandwich and a pack of Angry Birds fruit snacks for her lunch.

Bean lunch - Not-Lunchables. Purple grapes in a triangle onigiri case for her snack, with heart shaped turkey and cheese, Ritz crackers, and carrots, cucumbers, and spinach leaves with ranch.

Lunch for the Dude: carrots and cucumber bits with tiny cheese hearts, purple grapes, a couple of pieces of leftover Halloween candy, Wheat Thin crackers, and a pair of turkey-veggie wraps.

Lunch for Brick - carrots with ranch, Ritz crackers and leftover Halloween candy, and a pair of turkey wraps.

G-man liked this next one so much he has asked for another for tomorrow. Super Mario Bros. fruit snacks with purple grapes, Ritz crackers with super stars, and Power Up Star Biscoff sandwiches.

Another Beaker at-home lunch, this time featuring Bad Piggies/Angry Birds. Bad Piggies is Beaker's favorite. He knows how to operate the tablet, can turn it on and put on Bad Piggies all by himself. It's kind of a construction/Incredible Machine type game. He has piggy Angry Birds fruit snacks, a 'wood plank' turkey sandwich, apple sticks with Biscoff spread, Angry Birds grahams, and Angry Birds Cheese Nips.

Seriously, these crackers are adorable.

Random snack for Bean, of apple slices and Teddy Grahams.

Bean lunch, with a pair of Halloween candy bars, apple slices and Annie's bunny Grahams with Biscoff spread, and a turkey and sprouts star sandwich.

Princess lunch - roasted pumpkin seeds, Halloween candy bars, apple slices and Teddy Grahams with Biscoff spread, and a turkey bear sandwich.

Princess and Bean had identical lunches this day; I'm not sure whose this was. They each had a chicken caesar salad with the dressing on the side in that little tub, cucumber slices and carrots, cheese flavored mini rice cakes, Halloween candy, a peeled clementine, and pomegranite seeds.

Brick had a very similar lunch, but without the carrots and cucumber.

And finally, Beaker's Muffin Tin Monday lunch! Clockwise from the left he has Italian pasta salad, grapes, a Fig Newton and M&Ms, carrots with ranch, cheese slices, and Scrabble Cheez Its.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Easy Luncboxes now has a recipe book!

It has been a crazy couple of weeks here! I have all everything from last week, but still haven't gotten around to updating the blog. Sorry about that! I will get it done tonight, and hopefully get myself together enough to get back into a daily schedule tomorrow. The kids had half days all the prior week due to conferences and it really threw me off.

Recently I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to review a fantastic new recipe book. It's called Cooking With Trader Joe's Easy Lunchboxes. It has taken me a while to get around to writing the review, but I was really excited to have the chance to read the book and try out some of the recipes.

It really is a neat book! I admit that I have a weakness for recipe books. I love them. I have a small collection, and I really use them frequently. I think that each different recipe book, regardless of how similar it might seem to others, has its own merits. Each book has something different to offer. And this one really is nothing like any others I have!

Here is the official blurb:

About the book
Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook - Easy Lunch Boxes is a delightfully different cookbook, born from social media. Through the online network that grew around her EasyLunchboxes products, Kelly discovered a world of bloggers and parents whose ideas for attention-grabbing, healthy food matched her own ingenuity – so she brought them together for this book. Among the book’s 32 contributors are popular food bloggers Marla Meridith (the book’s food stylist and photographer), Aviva Goldfarb, Leslie Durso, and Lisa Leake, with a foreword by food activist Bettina Elias Siegel. The cookbook offers options for the entire family, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free offerings.
Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Easy Lunch Boxes is available at bookstores everywhere including Barnes & Noble and (hardcover, $24.95, Brown Bag Publishers).

I like that each section in the book has an intro from the author of that section. Quite a few different authors came together to contribute to the book, and it's great to read a little about each of them, get to know who they are and where they come from.

It would be dishonest to say that I wasn't a bit disappointed in the first few pages of the book. The first bit contains 'recipes' that are really just creative ways of displaying prepackaged frozen foods, like frozen mac & cheese bites. Not bad, just not what I expected when I opened a recipe book.

But the rest of the book is fantastic. Tons of excellent recipes! And some very beautiful, colorful pictures, too. Each recipe is featured with a photo of the finished product displayed in a packed lunch, tucked into an Easy Lunchbox with complimentary sides.

I've given a few of the recipes a whirl, and I was impressed! I LOVE the Personalized Baked Oatmeal To Go recipe - that was a huge hit with the kids. Bean dug into the Pickle Salad and immediately declared it "DELICIOUS!" The Oatmeal Blueberry Pancakes were great, and easily reheated after being frozen for later. I plan to give the Reuben Pasta Salad and Smoky Chipotle BBQ Beef recipes a shot this week, and am sure they will have excellent results!

The book has an excellent variety of recipes, all kid friendly and well-balanced. They're geared for good health, very well put together, and use fresh delicious ingredients. There are recipes for every taste - including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes, too!

If you hurry, you can get the book for a lower price. It's on sale right now through Amazon for only $16.47!

Read Me

Blogging tips