Monday, January 30, 2012

Muffin Mix Ups Bento #4 - Fruits & Sweets

I discovered something last week while working on these posts. Unlike the sandwich spins, which had me making a different type of sandwich each day, muffins yield a lot more food. And we're drowning in muffins. The slight break in the series was to catch up on eating all of the muffins I made last week before I delved into another batch.

This is also why day #4 is fruits and sweets. I have plenty of savory muffins, both entrees and side dishes and we needed a change. I love mini muffins as bento desserts. They are cute, with just the right amount of sweet in them, and there are tons of options for adding fruits. My favorite recipe is my mom's, that I link here often. It makes a great base muffin and you can just add your choice of fillers to it. This week, we did straight blueberry ones.



We also, obviously, took a break from the entrees muffins, I had two leftover mesquite BBQ pork sliders from the other night that we made, so each kid had one of those, carrots, grapes, and two mini blueberry muffins.

Make your own mini-muffins - The above base recipe and let your kids pick the fillers. Mine loved doing it!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hormel January - New Year's Resolutions

I'm so excited to get to be part of the Hormel Family of Bloggers for the second round of the project. Last go round, we got to try a lot of great new products and recipes, so the kids (and the husband) are all set to do it again.

The first topic, rather fitting for January, is New Year's resolutions, especially in terms of food and eating healthy. What goals are you setting this year, nutritionally? Do you have any tips to help along the way?

We decided, in our New Year's goals, that our big one was going to be meal planning again. We've learned in the past that when we meal plan, we actually eat at home. When we don't, well, there are a whole lot of restaurants to choose from. It's both healthier and cheaper to eat at our house. The other goal, and we're slacking on this a little, is trying a new recipe a week. I didn't try one this past week, but have had a few good ones in the last month that may even get made again.

Hormel also sent some great tips for healthy New Year's resolutions:
  • Keep it simple. Don't attempt to overhaul your entire style of eating immediately. Gradual changes are key. Start by adding fruit as a dessert or a delicious veggie as a side dish to dinner.
  • Eat a variety of foods. Bringing the same sandwich to work every day isn't going to get you the nutritional value that your body needs.
  • Don't deny yourself your favorite treats. It's important to remember moderation, not elimination.
  • Sit down with your family and create a meal plan for the week. Keeping in mind the food pyramid and using a tool like MyPlate, create dishes that everyone in the family will enjoy. Let each family member plan a dinner dish for the week and then get everyone's input on what changes can be made to make it a healthier meal.
  • Remember to drink water consistently throughout the day. For the body to function properly, you need to continually replenish it with water. This goal could be the perfect opportunity to cut out that extra glass of juice, soda, or coffee, and replace it with a cup of water.

What are your resolution this year? Are you sticking to them so far? Any go-to recipes that are helping you along?

And while you're at it, check out Hormel's Go Big for the Big Game Sweepstakes on Facebook! Enter to win a $500 gift card.

Disclosure: I have received product and information from Hormel Foods in exchange for being a Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger. All opinions expressed within the post are my own.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Muffin Mix Ups Bento #3 - Think Outside the Muffin

Muffin tins don't actually have to hold standard muffins made with things like flour, egg, milk, corn, etc.

These mac & cheese muffins are a great favorite of the kids and they actually taste good cold. Or you could do what I do and eat the first couple ones out of the oven because you're the only one who actually knows how many went in the oven the first place. Another favorite option is meatloaf muffins. Just whip up your favorite meatloaf and bake it in muffin tins for perfect singles servings.


Today, Faith had a macaroni and cheese muffin, pineapple chunks, carrots & cucumber, and some creme brûlée crisps.

Oh, and Ben had lunch with the principal today. Not because he did anything (which was my first guess), but apparently she has lunch with a few kids in each day daily and he was one of them. Anyhow, he came home and said he was supposed to tell me that the principal really liked his lunch! He had almost the same as Faith, but blueberries instead of pineapple.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Muffin Mix-Ups Bento #2 - Use Veggies!

So what else can you do with muffins? How about something with veggies for an extra serving or partial serving?

I find veggies the hardest part to add to lunches at times, we seem to get in a cucumber and carrot rut quite frequently, and some of F&B's favorite veggie options are only good served warm.

One great veggie option is to add to the stuffed muffins we had on Monday. Diced chicken or turkey goes great with a typical frozen mixed vegetable blend. Also, zucchini and carrots make for some great desserts.

Today, however, we opted for great side veggie dish, zucchini parmesan mini muffins. These are perfect for bento and great warm or cold, plus we love our zucchini goodies. We used them in lieu of bread or crackers along with some meats & cheese for a snack-style lunch.



Ben had two of the zucchini parmesan muffins, a ham flower (two slices of ham to get it fluffier), some smoked cheddar cubes, blueberries, carrots, and some granola bar. I still hate the way blueberries photograph, they always look almost dusty, even though I know I washed them right before putting them in the fridge.

Some other veggie muffin ideas:
Sweet Potato Muffin Cupcakes (taste like pumpkin!)
11 F&B Taste Tested Zucchini Recipes - some aren't muffins, but all kid approved

What's for Lunch Wednesday, Week 87

What's for Lunch Wednesday

Welcome to "What's for Lunch" Wednesday!!!

Thanks so much for joining in last week if you did and looking forward to seeing all the fun lunches this week!

Want to join in?

Just choose a bento (please, just one bento or post or link) you've made from the last week you want to share, copy the URL of that post from your blog (you may need to click on the title to get it), and enter it into the linky below.

Click on the "Add Your Link" button to add yours and follow the steps, it's simple, I promise!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Today's No-Stove Bento

Well, I *thought* today would be day 2 of the Muffin Mix-Up series, but last night was "The cable company cut the gas line and we had no gas in the house until 5am which meant I had no oven and couldn't bake anything" night.

So the series will continue tomorrow as I'm baking today, and thinking about making a few things since I apparently don't plan well.


Yellow box on yellow/red background = yellowish photo

Today, however, we went with food that was already ready as the house was flipping COLD this morning, so getting out of bed was a chore. Both kids took one of yesterday's stuffed muffins, along with some granola bar and carrots. Ben also had blueberries, but Faith is not a fan of raw blueberries so opted for cucumber slices instead.

I took them to school then came home and Shaun & I discovered we didn't have to light a pilot light to turn our heat back on. Apparently, it has an auto ignition. Good things to know in advance of losing the gas.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Muffin Mix-Ups Bento #1 - Stuffed Muffins (Entrees)

I really liked doing the 5 Simple Sandwich Spins back in November, so decided it was time for another series. This time, we're going with muffins, or muffin themed, items.

One of our favorites, from way way back, are stuffed muffins. Basically, these are corn muffins, with added cheese, meats or veggies, then baked. Very easy, and a typical batch makes at least 12, so you can freeze the extras. There are two basic options--make corn muffin mix (my recipe is here) or use a boxed mix like Jif. Make the corn muffin batter, then add several cups of extras to it. You want to see lots of the extras in the batter, not mostly corn muffin batter. Bake per your recipe or package directions.


Today, the kids had ham and cheese muffins (a packet of diced ham and several handfuls of shredded cheese), along with carrots & hummus, strawberries, and creme brûlée crisps.

Two other favorite stuffed muffins:

F&B also like corn dog muffins--dice up hot dogs, add those and shredded cheese to the cornbread batter.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

One Last Bad-Photo Bento

Or at least until the next time I have a camera mishap!

Thankfully, the husband came home with a brand new SD card for me, so I should be back to normal tomorrow.

This lunch was actually Friday's for Ben. The husband hadn't been feeling well on Thursday and only wanted soup, so I abandoned dinner plans and made the kids and I a cheesy ham braided bread. We ended up having one end piece left, so I cut it long-wise for Friday's lunches.


Ben had the braided bread and a few caramel crisps on the top tier of his box, along with strawberries, blueberries, and a few carrots on the bottom.

Side note, the braided bread was awesome--refrigerated pizza crust, stuffed with cream cheese, ham, shredded cheddar, garlic and mayo, then baked. I love making braided breads, they are so pretty and really no work!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Ben Lunch Bento, or how I broke an SD card

In case you've ever wondered, apparently yes, you can break an SD card. There's a little floppy switch on the side that locks & unlocks the card. If it somehow disappears or breaks off, the card becomes permanently locked. I'm sure you all can guess how I learned that one. I just wish I knew how it broke. It's either in my camera or in my card reader, so not too many ways to break it?!?!

Because of this, today's bento had to be photographed at the last minute with my iPhone, apologies in advance for the horrible picture quality.


Ben had a turkey and cheese sandwich with his name on it, in case sometime between morning and lunch he forgets who he is. To the right, he has some vanilla creme brûlée crisps, some strawberries and blueberries, and some carrots on top of the sandwich. He begged for berries at the commissary on Wednesday, and I didn't have the heart to tell him no, even though the prices pained me greatly (I miss the cheap produce in Texas).

Either way, it's packed in our Easy Lunchboxes (also available on Amazon) because I had just emptied the dishwasher and they were quite handy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What's for Lunch Wednesday, Week 86

What's for Lunch Wednesday

Welcome to "What's for Lunch" Wednesday!!!

Thanks so much for joining in last week if you did and looking forward to seeing all the fun lunches this week!

Want to join in?

Just choose a bento (please, just one bento or post or link) you've made from the last week you want to share, copy the URL of that post from your blog (you may need to click on the title to get it), and enter it into the linky below.

Click on the "Add Your Link" button to add yours and follow the steps, it's simple, I promise!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Another Version of the Pita Taco Bento

Hope you all had a lovely long weekend!!! We spent ours skiing at Keystone. Thanks to our cool little tracking pass, we now know we covered about 43,000 vertical feet over the 3 days (part day Saturday, all day Sunday, and a few hours on Monday; Monday was cold). The kiddos are doing awesome, skiing blues already and they have both discovered they can jump on their skis. With Faith's track record, it's questionable how good this is.

Anyhow, we got home late yesterday afternoon, so we had a simple taco dinner, with enough leftover to fill in today's lunches. We buy these great half-pitas that are perfect for the kids, especially for messy sandwich filings. I had just enough taco meat left for two taco pitas!


Both kids had a taco pita, with a sprinkle of cheese and some veggie straws. Since I was low on fruit, Ben had frozen blackberries, and Faith skipped the fruit and took carrots and cucumber instead. I was going to make it all pretty, but then I realized I was quite tired and sleep sounded like a better option. It's packed in our Easy Lunchboxes (also available on Amazon) to keep things simple, and dishwasher safe.

Friday, January 13, 2012

One Option for Apples in Bento!

F&B are on an apple kick lately, but I find that if I don't slice the apples, they waste too much of them. Besides dipping the slices in Sprite, this idea I found on Pinterest seems to do the trick rather nicely--slice the apple in to thirds, piece it back together, slice in thirds again, like a tic tac toe cut, piece it back together and hold it with a rubber band.

Unlike Pinterest, I don't quite slice mine all the way through, leaving a fraction of an inch at the bottom so that it's easier to put the apple back together and rubber band it. It's such a little bit uncut that the kids can easily break the last part on their own, and they are trained to bring home the rubber bands, of course!



This would be Faith's lunch, but both kids had the same--turkey & cheese sandwiches on multigrain rounds, carrots sticks and cucumber flowers, a few veggie straws, and a rubber banded apple. I was pressed for time, so no cute sandwich toppers today.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's for Lunch Wednesday, Week 85

What's for Lunch Wednesday

Welcome to "What's for Lunch" Wednesday!!!

Thanks so much for joining in last week if you did and looking forward to seeing all the fun lunches this week!

Want to join in?

Just choose a bento (please, just one bento or post or link) you've made from the last week you want to share, copy the URL of that post from your blog (you may need to click on the title to get it), and enter it into the linky below.

Click on the "Add Your Link" button to add yours and follow the steps, it's simple, I promise!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pizza Pita Pockets Bento

Kind of in a goofy mood this morning, so I made F&B pizza pockets. Since frozen pizza pockets don't taste great unless they are cooked fresh, and they get soggy if left sitting, we make our own, using pita breads with sauce, cheese and pepperonis inside.

And of course, in case someone didn't realize what these were, I labeled them!


Each kid has an appropriately labeled pizza pocket, along with carrots, honeydew and blueberry-pomegranate crisps. It's packed in our Easy Lunchboxes (also available on Amazon), since the pita pockets need to lay flat.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lunchable-style Bento

Like most kids, F&B love the concept of a Lunchable. It's like a pseudo-bento, but missing a lot of their favorites, and not really enough food for either of them

Now, as the person who cooks around here, I don't quite get the allure of assembling your own lunch. I assemble lunches of some sort 7 days/week. It's really not all that fun. However, they think it's awesome, so lunchable-style bentos it is.


For the meats, we have turkey and ham flowers (skewer with a bit of uncooked spaghetti instead of a toothpick) and for cheese, some chunks of mozzarella. There are some crackers and carrots, lots of honeydew, and a bit of brownie that I made the other day.

And apparently, one of Faith's friends wants her lunches because they are cute. Cute is important to the 9 year old girl set.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Back to School Bento

Today, F&B are back in school. And I thoroughly enjoyed a day of quiet in my house.

I did feed them at least!


Ben had pita pockets stuffed with turkey and cheese, some carrot sticks, blueberry pomegranate crisps, and honeydew.

And did I mention how peaceful and quiet it was today?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What's for Lunch Wednesday, Week 84

What's for Lunch Wednesday

Welcome to "What's for Lunch" Wednesday!!!

Thanks so much for joining in last week if you did and looking forward to seeing all the fun lunches this week!

Want to join in?

Just choose a bento (please, just one bento or post or link) you've made from the last week you want to share, copy the URL of that post from your blog (you may need to click on the title to get it), and enter it into the linky below.

Click on the "Add Your Link" button to add yours and follow the steps, it's simple, I promise!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top 10 Bento Posts of 2011

I did this on my personal blog and liked it so much that I had to do it here as well.

For statistical purposes, I am doing just posts, not post tags (the What's for Lunch Wednesday and EasyLunchboxes tags are in the top several), or my media page and profile, or, obviously, coming in on the main site.

#1 - The Kids Cook Monday - Macaroni & Cheese Muffins - This was featured on TipJunkie plus pinned on Pinterest quite a bit.



#2 VeggieTales for Faith - The folks at VeggieTales featured it too, which is probably how it got the #2 slot.

VeggieTales Bento Veggie Tales EasyLunchboxes

#3 Pita Tacos for Faith - I have *no* clue how this is number 3, it's not the most exciting bento by far.



#4 Yo Ho Ho Ho, A Pirate's Lunch for Ben - A long time favorite of mine!



#5 Monday, Monday Bento - Another seemingly plain bento that cracked the top 5!



#6 A New Disney Bento with Phineas & Ferb - One of the series of bentos I made for Disney online!



#7 The Kids Cook Monday - Faith's Favorite Pork Chops - A recipe post, featuring Faith's all-time favorite meal recipes--creamy ranch pork chops with maple carrots


#8 Halloween Bat Bento - I do love my Halloween bento supplies, and we were finally moved in and *not* making hotel bentos!


#9 11 Zucchini Ideas from F&B's taste tested collection - Summer zucchini ideas, approved by my little chefs

#10 Arrrrr Matey, and I'm live on Disney - My first Disney post, for Pirates of the Caribbean



And if you're curious, my top 10 personal blog posts are right here. Apparently, everyone finds our possum story hilarious. ;o)
 

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