Saturday, December 19, 2015

Muffin Tin Meals

Did anyone out there once imagine they would make wonderfully healthy cooked-from-scratch meals for their family every day? Oh, almost all of you? Well there's a surprise - NOT.

Melanie LaDue, who blogs at Reasons to skip the Housework, was one of us in this respect. Her mother even gave her a box of recipes when she got married, that showed her how to spend the whole afternoon in the kitchen making such meals. Hahahaha. As, like us, Melanie doesn't live in the 1950s, she needed fast, healthy meals that could be eaten, on the go if necessary or in a packed lunch, and stored in the freezer in single portion sizes (you don't want to defrost a whole shepherd's pie and be left eating it every day for a week).

One day she realized that a lot more could be done with a muffin tin than just bake muffins (or cupcakes). Super Quick Muffin Tin Meals - 70 Recipes for Perfectly Portioned Comfort Food in a Cup was the result. I was sent the book to review and I can honestly say that I've had a blast with it.

The genius is so simple - normal meals in muffin sizes that can be frozen and used as needed. There are spaghetti nests filled with a meatball, individual  lasagnes, shepherd's pie (you need cupcake holders for this one), chicken pot pies, deep pan pizzas, chilli in polenta nests, muffin tin meatloaf...

Melanie also makes desserts including individual cakes, pies, and s'mores.

I love that the base of your cup can be things other than dough or pastry. You can use a slice of ham or salami, slices of bread or pitta moulded into the muffin tray, or pancake batter, Another idea is to make shells from e.g. bread, pittas or wraps, and fill them with creamy chicken or vegetable salads.

I decided to start with cheesey hashbrowns, If you know me you'll also know that I'm almost incapable of sticking to the recipe as it's written. If I'm already grating potatoes I might as well add a couple of carrots and a chunk of cabbage, right? I actually just put all three in the processor and then added some eggs, milk, grated cheese, salt, pepper, oregano and zhuzhed (why mess up a mixing bowl aswell?). I added a tablespoon of flour for extra binding and some onion soup powder because I realized that an onion would have been good but I didn't have one. So basically, I made it up as I went along and it came out delicious.

Really that was quite enough for one day week, and I am trying to eat through the food in my freezer rather than feeding it more food. However, I'd already cooked some broccoli and defrosted a few cubes of chopped spinach so I had to press on. I was going to make frittatas in brown bread cups but I decided that was a waste of bread. I changed the plan to broccoli, spinach and cheese frittatas. Each muffin cup received a generous spoonful of chopped broccoli, spinach and grated cheese mixture. On top of this I spooned a custard of eggs, milk, a bit of flour for binding as I'm always scared it won't set, salt and pepper.

I've also already defrosted a packet of blackcurrents (or they may be blueberries, who knows) so I'm going to make blueberry oven pancakes as soon as the frittatas come out.

Muffin Tin Meals is published by Race Point Publishing, New York, NY (2015) and costs $21.99 US/12.99 GBP/$25.99 CAN. Perfect for a post-Christmas present as there is ample opportunity to use up the leftovers from Christmas dinner, for example, turkey stuffing bites and turkey cheddar melts.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Turning Seven Tidbits #37

I send DD to Young Scientists' Club once a week after school because girls don't have to do only ballet, art, and piano, right? The first week she came home with a windmill they'd contstructed themselves with a perpetual motion device made with a weight on a string that wound and unwound itself on a stick that the arms were fixed to. The srting was held to the stick with a bead. 
DD: Do I really need to keep this windmill? I mean what do I need it for?
Me: It's interesting to see how it works but you don't have to keep it.
DD: Good, so I can take it apart and throw it away?
Me: Yes if you want to.
DD: I want to because I need that bead to make a necklace.

Birthday doughnuts instead of a cake
Me (In a deep southern drawl): Well lookee here
DD: You're exactly like Apple Jack except that you don't like moving very much. Well actually you're more like Granny Smith.

Cake for school birthday party
Me: Happy Birthday!
DD: Finally I'm not the youngest in my class anymore.

Hours of imaginative play with Barbie-type dolls
DD (Holding up her new Barbie doll): I must go to the mall I need some new shoes.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Reasons 2B Cheerful When You Turn Seven

1. DD's school have made a herb garden on an old previously plain wall. It makes me happy every time I see it. I'm hoping we will be able to use some of the herbs when they've grown.

2. Make it a Habit has lasted six weeks for me and I've lost a steady 2lbs a week making it 12lbs in total. 

3. It's DD's birthday tomorrow. There'll be two parties, one at school in the morning and one at home in the afternoon. The school party is just a cake, a present for the classroom (ususally a book) and a small activity for the children to do. When I say small, I mean really small - last week they had had a photocopied wordsearch of words about the birthday boy. 

I'm no baker so the birthday cake for school went like this: 

First go shopping

Next unwrap the cakes and place them in a baking tray

Finally cover with a sugar glaze and decorate with marshmellows and sprinkles
(I made the sugar glaze myself out of icing sugar and water and DD didn't want the M&Ms on it)
The activity is a bookmark for each child to colour in, with their name on it in Hebrew and English. 

Cut strips of card, write the names and punch a hole in each card

Make tassles from leftover crochet cotton wrapped round a Pink Level Reader

They came out very nicely I think
For the party at home we'll be having lunch followed by fancy [shop bought] doughnuts instead of cake and each of the five children and five mothers will get plain bookmarks (tassles but no names) to decorate with stickers and colours in order to make Hanuka presents for themselves and whoever else they want to make for. 

I'm feeling pretty cheerful about all this and linking up to R2BC over at Lakes Single Mum.