Why Do They Want Dinner Every Night?!

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With changing our clocks “back” - this ending of daylight...I mean, Daylight Saving Time...I think we are all feeling a bit out of sorts. Our body clocks are alarmed and we are getting less light than usual. Plus, all these damp rainy days? Aaaaaah, it’s enough to make a mama want to just curl up and drink endless cups of tea under a soft blanket!

 

This rainy Monday morning, my plan du jour is to get organized so I can grab those coveted minutes of tea-infused bliss! I, unlike many, adore Mondays. Once my best girl is on the bus and my hubs is off to work, I get the house to myself and I get to marinate in the sounds of silence and the hum of my dishwasher and washing machine (not at the same time, mind you).

 

With my ginger cinnamon tea next to me, keeping me company, it’s time for a girl chat!

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Let’s get real, mamas. As much as I love cooking and embrace it as a vehicle of expressing love for others, there are plenty of times that I would much prefer to attend to other things than making lunch for myself, or yes, even making dinner for my best girl! I know, #scandalous! Can you relate?

 

There are ways for us to make it easier though. We can make some steps simpler in order to get a tasty result while also showing a little love for ourselves. Let’s face it: your family wants to eat EVERY DAY, and that won’t ever stop!  I won’t mention the dreaded words with the initials MP…(“meal prep”), because those words fill me with almost as much dread as the words “sleep training.”

 

There is help. I give you, dear friends, the humble muffin tin.

 

The thing that is so lovable about the muffin tin (aside from the making of yummy muffins), is that they can help us create kid-sized meals and snacks because the very size of muffins are not only endearing but also non-threatening.

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Have you ever noticed that when you give your child a large portion of some food at a meal, they seem to eat less of it? I think it’s a psychological phenomenon, like looking up at a mountain and feeling anxious to climb it.  I’ve proven my own theory by giving my best girl both a tiny bit of something and a larger amount (of food I know she likes) and she always feels better about eating the tiny bit.

 

So, what about the muffin tin now? Yes, I have used muffin tins to prepare foods that kids eat willingly. And I mean lots of kids.

 

Let’s start with the one we made in class just yesterday.

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5 Make-Ahead Foods You Can Prepare in a Muffin Tin

 

1) Pasta Frittata There are so many things to like about this recipe. The first is that there is actually protein and vegetables inside and kids love to eat them! They are like little pasta cakes (what could be bad!). The second is that you can put your leftover pasta to use! Finally, what I love about this recipe is that it’s very flexible and you can use any vegetable you have on-hand plus it’s very forgiving because you don’t have to be that careful about measuring the ingredients! #momwin Here's that recipe! 

 

2) Korean Egg Breads (Gyeranbbang) When I tell you that I’ve personally witnessed hundreds of children eat up these little breads, I am so serious. They are delightful, really. They are actually a kind of muffin, though traditionally they are baked in oblong pans in South Korea. The ingredients are very simple and you most likely have every single one of them! There’s flour, eggs, butter, sugar, milk, baking powder, vanilla, scallions and salt and pepper. Plus, you can be flexible with the fillings you use. I usually use vegetable protein crumbles, and many people use ham or bacon. Don’t be put off by the sweet and savory ingredients - it really works!

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3) Meatballs or Meatloaf. You can be really flexible with your seasonings here. When I got home from teaching, I had a bunch of the pasta frittata filling left and I made another dozen of those babies. Since I had the muffin pans out, I thought I would just continue down the muffin pan path and I decided to make some meatballs in the muffin pans!

I had some ground turkey that I had planned to make burgers with, and the ease and simplicity of the muffin pans changed my mind! I chopped up some garlic, red onions and cilantro, added some panko bread crumbs, cumin and adobo and gave the pans a spray with oil and popped those balls in there! After 20 minutes, I flipped them and cooked them another 5! I made another batch with tomato sauce in the pans. I admit, 1 or 2 of them may have fallen into my mouth! Yum!

 

4) Chicken Pot Pies. A few months ago, when I played around with the meals I could make with 2 chicken breasts, (see blog post here) I made little pot pies and we ate those babies up! You can get fancy and make your own pie crust, or pick up a ready-made one (make sure you have 2 crusts for this recipe). Same goes for the chicken. You can make your own, or get a ready-made one from your local store. The ingredients are simple: chicken breast, carrots, potatoes, peas, onions, butter, flour, milk and chicken broth. You can bake them and then freeze them, too. Dinner: done!

 

5) Little Tacos. On Tuesdays or any day! The taco shell is a corn tortilla, and the kids will enjoy pressing out a circle from the tortilla from either a cookie cutter, drinking glass or a large mason jar. The kids can also put the circles into the muffin pan. I would spray the bottom of the muffin tin with a little oil just in case, because I wouldn’t want the taco cups to stick. If you’re feeling brave, then skip it!

 

Drain and rinse a can of your favorite beans and then mix them with a bit of cumin and salt. You can also use red onions, garlic, grated carrots, green beans or whatever you have handy. Add a bit of grated cheese onto the tortilla circles, then the beans and vegetables and then add some more grated cheese on top. After cooking them for 20 minutes at 350 F, and letting them sit for 5 minutes, you can add salsa, avocado, sour cream or whatever you like!

I hope you have the best post-Daylight Saving Time day possible! Be careful out

there, friends! Do let me know if you found any of these tricks helpful! I’m going to go eat my meatballs now!