Cute kid lunches!

If you have toddlers or had, you probably know how once they hit 2 1/2 they learn the word no and seem to use it profusely, especially when it comes to food. My now three year old twins always ask what we’re eating, then after I respond they follow up with a, “I don’t like (insert what’s for dinner).” So irritating. We never have a problem with breakfast, lunch is usually a fight and dinner, well,  I’m working on it.

Maybe you’ve seen some of the adorable kid food ideas out there or the amazing bento boxes some people make. Using these ideas, I needed to make these adaptable for what my kids like to eat, which is mostly peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Really, all you need to make food a little bit more exciting is cookie cutters. A fun shape goes a long way with kids! I discovered that I have a lot of cookie cutters, it’s kind of a problem, they aren’t the easiest things to store! Mine are stuffed in a drawer with some baking items and then the overflow is in a huge hat box. I may need to trim these down a little bit, but since they are helping my kids clean their plates every day, perhaps I will keep them around a little bit longer.

As you can see, I have a few cookie cutters.

So here are a few of my kids lunches, If you have any ideas, please leave a comment! I’m always on the quest for new material for the girls!

Bears and fruit in a silicon cupcake cup.

Owlies.

Ladybugs with fruit flowers.

The very hungry caterpillar, our favorite!

Fish with a string cheese octopus.

The only way to eat snails!

This one was inspired by my seasonal allergies.

Ernie with a mango rubber ducky.

Carrots and rabbits.

Roar! Lions in the grass, I found these grass cupcake wraps at Cost Plus and trimmed them.

I was hoping I could get the sun to come back out!

An apple with a string cheese worm. Black sesame seeds make great eyes!

All of these were from the last few weeks, so you’ll have to wait a while before I can come up with another cache. Hopefully these will keep you fueled for awhile. Finally one last picture, with all this cute food for the kids, enter the reality for us moms.

This is my lunch.

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Pie pops!

What another pie post? I know what you’re thinking, this lady is obsessed with pie. I do love pie, but I’m really just trying to use up all the strawberries I have taking up valuable fridge space! Since I had a few leftover after the jam  and the strawberry rhubarb pie. I thought I would whip up another batch and make some pies in jars to freeze. Nothing is more lovely than pulling a summer pie out of the freezer during those blustery fall days and baking it. Delicious smells and warm pie to cheer you up. I should have perhaps looked at my supplies before I started on this project, after I had already made my dough, I realized I only had 4 straight sided half pint canning jars with lids. Whoops, what to do with the extra filling and dough? How about pie pops? Have you seen them around?

As of late, there has been a large surge with anything associated with a pop. Cake pops, gourmet popsicles, marshmallow pops and now, pie pops. I think anything that comes on a stick is automatically infused with whimsy and charm, perhaps that is their allure. Don’t forget the portability and kid appeal, a huge plus to any mom or “big” kid on the go.

The finished “pretty” pic.

They’re so easy to make and only need a few modifications from a standard pie. One double crust pie with filling should make about 50 pie pops. In my case, it made 4 pies in jars, 2 crisps and 7 pie pops. I realized I only had 7 lollipop sticks, again to my point of checking your supplies before you begin a project!

Pies in jars, can either go straight in the oven or into the freezer!

For pie pops, you just need lollipop sticks and a 2 5/8″ dough cutter (I used my Demarle dough cutters) or like size. I like a fluted edge, but a round or even a heart would be so cute! I used the pate brisee dough from Martha Stewart, linked in my last post. An all butter crust has a little bit more workability and will hold together a little better when you bite into it. For a filling, anything will do, but I suggest you cut your ingredients a little smaller that you normally would. When you’re putting in only a tablespoon of filling, a half inch chunk of rhubarb can take up a lot of space! Just roll out your dough, cut out your circle and lay on your Silpat or a cookie sheet with parchment. Brush an egg wash on the circle then place a lollipop stick 1/2″ from the upper edge. Spoon a tablespoon of filling in the center of your circle and place your crust on top. I used a fork to press around the edge of each pop, cut about of vents, brushed with egg wash and baked at 375 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes.  Ta dah, instant yummy on stick!

All baked and ready to eat!

I think the twins liked them!

Dancing in meadows of strawberry jam

Hood strawberries are in season in our area and being sold at every farmers market and pop up stands outside of Costco. What that means to me is JAM! This is my fourth year making and canning jam, so I still consider myself a bit of a novice. That being said, if I can can, you can can. Hee hee, can can.

Making jam is actually pretty easy, the prep, cooking and canning can be a bit time consuming and sweaty. But as long as you’re not doing it in an unconditioned house on a 90+ degree day, you can do it. My husband goes through an alarming amount of jam, like a pint every two weeks. His routine involves taking two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to work everyday. I’ve tried to entice him to take leftovers or letting me make him something different, but he won’t do it. I say he’s stubborn, he would say he’s consistent. This year I made my tried and true strawberry, strawberry vanilla and natural fruit strawberry (pectin free). The vanilla batch was especially lovely.

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A few of my jamming accoutrement.

The thing with canning is unless you’re more than a novice, you really shouldn’t fiddle with the recipes too much. If something scary starts growing in your home canned food, it can make you very sick. I use the Ball canning book where each recipe is tried and tested, making sure there is a proper amount of acid in each recipe to inhibit bacteria growth. Don’t be scared to try, I would recommend checking out a few books from the library.

What you will need:

  • Canning jars (canning is in, you can find jars at most major retailers or online)
  • Canning tools (I bought a canning tool kit for less than $10 at Cost Plus)
  • A big canning pot (again purchased at Cost Plus)
  • A big pot to make the jam in (I caution against doubling a recipe, jam bubbles up, a big pot is needed)
  • a few odds and ends you most likely have, big spoon, slotted spoon, knife, colander etc.
  • A GOOD CANNING BOOK AND RECIPE (I’m not even trying to post a recipe, because I think it is important that you read the basics of canning to get started)

Please don’t be afraid, give it a try! Feel free to ask me any questions and I can try to answer them! I’m hoping to go beyond jam, I’ve tried mango chutney and canning peaches with success, but perhaps I will venture to pickling this year. With the resurgence of home gardens and people trying to save money any way they can, what better way than to make and store your own food!

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Oodles of jam!

Now if your like me and you may have some leftover strawberries, what better way to use them then make a strawberry rhubarb pie! What makes this recipe super yummy is the brown sugar and cinnamon that are in the filling make it deliciously syrupy with a hint of spice!

Lattice-Topped Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (from Epicurious)

Crust

For the filling

  • 3 1/2 cups 1/2 ” thick sliced trimmed rhubarb
  • 1 16oz container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t salt

1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 t water (for glaze)

Make crust according to recipe instructions and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Toss gently to blend. Roll out 1 dough disk on a Demarle RoulPat or a floured work surface. Transfer to your pie dish of choice. Trim dough leaving a 3/4″ overhang. Roll out second dough disk, cut into 14 half inch strips. Or you can eye ball it like me, they were not perfect, but I think it adds a rustic touch! Spoon filling into crust. I like to lay half of my strips on my RoulPat (a Silpat will work as well) then weave in the remaining strips. I then flip my lattice on top of my pie, trim the ends and fold over the edge of the dough and flute the edge. You can also lay the strips on your pie and weave them on there! Do what is comfortable for you!

Brush glaze over the crust, transfer pie to baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens (a glass pie plate = 1 hour 25 minutes, Demarle pie mold = 1 hour)

I promise you, you will not be disappointed with this recipe. I have tried several recipes for strawberry rhubarb, but once I tried this one, it has been my go to ever since!

What I enjoyed whilst posting this blog!

Muffin Tin Lasagnas

Lately, I have been a bit enamored with my muffin pan, just a bit. I’ve discovered that anything shaped like a cupcake is a big hit with my twins. They think they’re getting cupcakes for dinner and that’s fine with me. If you’re familiar with Pinterest, you’ll know that muffin tin meals have been widely circulated. This recipe is very flexible so you can adapt to suit all tastes and diets.

ImageThese are the bare basics of ingredients, but feel free to use your own sauce and add ins. I like to use cooked Italian sausage and spinach as well. Pork sausage has more fat, but tends to give you a more flavorful lasagna. I have used turkey and chicken sausages as well with good results.

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I used my Demarle muffin pan, so I didn’t need to grease, but if you are using a metal pan, be sure to prep your pan with cooking spray! Place the gyoza (round) or wonton (square) wrappers in your pan. Next comes your sauce.

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See look how easy this is! Layer in your ricotta, meat and spinach.

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CHEESE! Then repeat, layer another wrapper and all your fillings. I like to use a mix of mozzarella and parmesan on the top. There are enough wrappers in your package to make two batches of lasagna. I like to freeze the second set so I have a second dinner later. If using a Demarle tray you can pop out the lasagnas once frozen and place in a ziploc bag, if using a metal tin, I would suggest leaving it in the freezer. I hope you have two muffin tins!

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until browned. If baking from frozen you will need to add at least 5 more minutes.

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Feel free to go nuts with this recipe, this is just a starting point for whatever you can come up with. My friend and fellow blogger, Lula Harp, used egg plant instead of gyoza wrappers with equally delicious results. I’m actually looking forward to the summer zucchini season. I try to keep my eye on those pesky zucchini, but some always escape me and grow too big. I’m going to slice some of those oversize squash thinly and use them as noodles. Anyway I can sneak some vegetables into my kids diet is a win in my book! I hope you enjoy the recipe!

Muffin Tin Lasagna

  • 1 package gyoza or wonton wrappers
  • 1 16 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup pasta sauce
  • 1 cup (or more if you like) grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (for top)
  • 1 lb cooked sausage
  • 1 cup cooked spinach
  • salt and pepper to taste

Layer wrapper, sauce, ricotta, meat/spinach then mozzarella in your muffin pan. Repeat, topping with parmesan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. You will have enough ingredients to make two trays. Freeze for later or bake both for a crowd. These reheat nicely!

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