Tag Archive: What To Pack For Lunch

Feb 21 2013

Rise and Shine! KAF’s Morning Glory Muffins

Growing up in a house with a mom who bakes and blogs about it has really impacted my kids. Not necessarily in an abundance of goodies, though it cannot be denied that they probably enjoy more homemade fare than the average kid. Instead, my daughter has decided she wants to be a food blogger when she grows up–and she’s decided that the ripe old age of 12 is when she’ll be ready. In the meantime, she’s practicing.

KAF Morning Glory Muffins

When I do a photo shoot, she runs for her Nintendo DSi or my old point-and-shoot camera, ready to capture the moment and share the results. She’s even been known to take her treats and set up her own shoots, propping up stuffed animals, grabbing cloth napkins and special plates from the props cabinets to add her own touch. I haven’t had the heart to tell her that she still needs to find a “real” career. But it’s nice to see the fruit didn’t fall far from the tree.

Mags's photo shoot

One day, she pounced on me when I walked in from a long day at work, eager to share that they had a special snack at school that day. A friend had celebrated her birthday and instead of the usual sugar-coma-inducing cupcakes or cookies, this friend brought in Morning Glory Muffins, baked by her father. My daughter knows this because she asked. Who made them. How were they made. And if she could have the recipe. I kid you not. Her classmate was a bit puzzled by her last request, but my daughter was insistent; she wanted to get the details so we could recreate them at home.

Mags's photo shoot 2

Her friend never did come through with the coveted recipe–I’m sure she forgot about it shortly thereafter. But I have not forgotten, and Morning Glory Muffins have been on my mind ever since. After a lovely Google+ hangout last night with Allison of King Arthur Flour, I decided to browse their recipes for some inspiration–and there they were: Morning Glory Muffins. This was surely meant to be.

KAF Morning Glory Muffins

I have little patience for grating veggies. Instead, I cut the carrots and apple into chunks and put them in the mini food processor to chop finely. A little texture in a muffin like this is a good thing. These are not overly sweet–no cupcake masquerading as a muffin here. But you won’t miss it. They also do not rise a whole lot, thanks to the whole wheat flour. Despite this, they are far from being hockey pucks–fluffy with a hefty helping of power-packed add-ins to fuel you on a long, busy day. Or at least get the kids to make it to lunch without having their tummies start grumbling in class. They’ll appreciate that.

KAF Morning Glory Muffins

It’s going to be a beautiful morning!

KAF's Morning Glory Muffins
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast/Brunch
Serves: 18
Ingredients
  • ½ cup dark raisins
  • 2 cups King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • 2 cups peeled and grated carrots
  • 1 large tart apple, cored, and grated (or peel it; your choice)
  • ½ cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • ⅓ cup shelled sunflower seeds
  • 3 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup fresh clementine juice (from about 2 clementines)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water and set them aside to soak.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  4. Stir in the carrots, apple, coconut, nuts, and sunflower seeds.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and clementine juice.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until evenly moistened.
  7. Drain the raisins and stir them in.
  8. Scoop the thick batter into the prepared pans. You'll be filling each well pretty much to the top. KAF said you'd get 12 muffins, but I filled 18.
  9. Bake 25-28 minutes, or until domed and a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the inner muffins comes out clean.
  10. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes in their pans on a wire rack, then turn out of pans onto the rack to finish cooling.
  11. Store in airtight containers at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

 

Jan 26 2013

Homemade Super Crunch Granola

My son is an early riser. Regardless of the day of the week, no matter what time he went to bed the night before, you can be sure he’ll be up by 6 A.M., knocking on my bedroom door to ask if he can have breakfast. I hate mornings.

Homemade Super Crunch Granola

I’ve become complacent since returning to work a year ago, allowing my son to eat pretty much anything he can prepare himself so I can eek out an extra 30 minutes of sleep, even if the quality of that sleep is pretty crummy. I will always be a night owl, shunning the light of day (though there’s very little light at 6 A.M. this time of year!) as long as possible. This means he’s been allowed to eat a ridiculous amount of cold cereal, albeit somewhat “healthier” cold cereal. And I hate myself for this.

Homemade Super Crunch Granola

I’m trying to change this.

While my daughter has welcomed my overnight steel cut oats experiments with an open mouth, eager to try each concoction and happily devouring anything I put in her path, my son still shuns oatmeal. I can understand. He requires a little more finesse in order to tempt his taste buds.

Enter granola. Similarly power-packed, with much less fuss. No microwave required.

Homemade Super Crunch Granola

He’s still a little picky about it. He picked all the walnuts out of my prior version. This one, however, received two very big thumbs up. A success! Now if only I could alter his internal clock a bit…

Granola is eternally adaptable, so consider this a jumping off point. High quality ingredients will pay off in spades, so don’t skimp. Go crazy with it! I’ve started keeping a jar at work to mix into my daily Chobani indulgence  Keeps me full most of the day (and away from the Starbucks goodies across the street!).

Homemade Super Crunch Granola
 
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This is actually a guideline, because it's a really flexible recipe. Change out some of the fixings and you can personalize it to your tastes.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 2 cups flaked coconut, unsweetened
  • 1½ cups almonds, chopped roughly
  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds, shelled
  • ¼ cup ground flax meal
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons raw (turbinado) sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup dark raisins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Get out a rimmed nonstick cookie sheet and put it aside.
  2. In a very large bowl, mix everything except for the raisins together. Spread evenly on the cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown and dry, stirring every 10 minutes.
  4. Once completely cooled, stir in the raisins.
  5. Store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 2 weeks (if it lasts that long!).

 

Sep 13 2012

What To Pack For Lunch: Slow Cooker Applesauce

I recently hit the Gala apple jackpot. One of my co-workers–the same one with the peach abundance–happens to also have quite a few apple trees on his property. He has already donated many boxes of fruit to help those who are less fortunate; what he brings into the office is just a small portion of the windfall. Though I can imagine that for him, it’s not as much of a blessing as it appears to us–it’s a lot of WORK.

slow cooker applesauce

As I looked at my plastic grocery bag full of Galas, I grinned stupidly thinking about all the things I could make with them. I certainly never have this many on hand under normal circumstances! After filling a bowl on the table for the kids’ snacks, the first thing I made was applesauce. Slow Cooker Applesauce, to be exact. It doesn’t get any easier than that–which is good because I’ve never made applesauce before. The old “fix it and forget it” mentality is a wonderful thing when it comes to something like apples, which will fill your house with the most amazing aroma just in time for your arrival home from work. Ahhh… Cinnamon apple aromatherapy!

slow cooker applesauce

The only mistake I made was a bit too much water in the beginning, which I strained out before mashing, serving spoon by serving spoon. I feared that I had lost a lot of flavor doing that, but once the applesauce cooled, it was perfect. Not too runny, flavored just right. YUM. I had high hopes for canning the extra sauce, but, believe it or not, a 4.5-quart capacity slow cooker full of apples ends up cooking down to nearly nothing. I had just shy of 1 quart of applesauce when all was said and done. I guess it’ll take a bit more effort than I put in to fill the pantry shelves.

slow cooker applesauce

Slow Cooker Applesauce
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 12 Gala apples (or as many as it takes to fill the slow cooker)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup Sugar In The Raw (turbinado sugar)
  • ¼ cup water (I used ½ cup and it was too much)
Instructions
  1. Peel and core apples, cutting into large chunks, tossing into the slow cooker crock.
  2. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top of the chunks.
  3. Pour the water over the top and stir.
  4. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set on low heat.
  5. Cook for 4-6 hours, or until very soft.
  6. Mash with a potato masher for chunky applesauce; process through a food mill for finer sauce (highly recommend the mill, if you have it).
  7. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Notes
You can add some lemon juice to prevent browning, but I figured it would turn brown anyway with the cinnamon, so I wasn't too concerned about it. *** If you have a food mill, you do not have to peel or core the apples. I would still cut them in half and cut off the blossom and stem ends. *** Play around with the spices. I've made this with pumpkin pie spice, too, and the scrapings of a vanilla bean.

 

Sep 11 2012

What To Pack For Lunch: Chocolate Granola Bars

Another school year means another year of getting creative with lunchboxes. Granted, the little guy is in Kindergarten, so he’s not technically there for lunch every day, but they have snack time (and my daughter has afternoon snack in addition to lunch!), so we have a full house of lunch on the go to prepare.

Chocolate Granola Bars

My kids love packing their lunches. I have a hard time holding them back so I can ensure they come up with a balanced meal. Sometimes it’s all fruit, other times all grains, but it’s always completed with enthusiasm. Far more enthusiasm than I usually have for the job.

I’m lucky that my kids are mostly adventurous eaters. Hummus is not that unusual, meanwhile I only just tasted it for the first time in the last 2 years. My daughter can’t get enough of single-serving-sized Brie. My son’s weakness is for raw broccoli. He’ll eat it all before I can use it for a recipe.

Chocolate Granola Bars

This year, I’m tasking myself with making more of their snacks. I got pretty complacent halfway through last year and relied far too much upon hot lunch, despite my initial desire not to. None of that this time around! No excuses!

Muffin Mondays make great additions to snack and lunch bags. In addition, this week I made Chocolate Granola Bars. An ice pack is recommended for the lunchbag, as they get a little melty in your hands at room temperature, but they’re worth the mess. And since I made them, I controlled the ingredients. Not much sugar here, but both the kids gave them their seals of approval.

Chocolate Granola Bars

Chocolate Granola Bars
 
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Author:
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1½ cups crisped rice cereal
  • 1½ cups old fashion rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • ⅓ cup chopped almonds
  • ½ cup brown rice syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup smooth natural peanut butter
Instructions
  1. Grease and line a 9"x13" pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a very large bowl, mix together the chocolate chips, cereal, oats, coconut, and almonds. Set aside.
  3. In a small pot, boil the brown rice syrup and coconut oil for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add to it the peanut butter, stirring until smooth.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix with a large silicone spatula until evenly distributed. The chocolate chips will melt a bit--this is perfectly okay.
  6. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan, using wax paper and your hands to press it down evenly.
  7. Refrigerate for at least one hour before attempting to cut.
  8. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

I’m going to try to make this somewhat of a series to help the other stumped parents out there. Look for more What To Pack For Lunch!