The Momtrends hunt for a food writer begins. First up: Shannon Carino
Three years ago, my oldest started kindergarten. We bought uniforms, picked up school supplies and chose a special backpack & lunchbox. Then it came time to fill that lunchbox. Her school didn't have a cafeteria, so lunches were left up to me. I got bento-box creative.
Bento boxes appealed to me in several ways. Cute food presentation intrigued my daughter, meaning that she'd be quicker to sit down & eat. Small portions made it easy for her to finish her food in a timely manner and bite-sized pieces were less daunting than things like a whole sandwich. Homemade food seemed more nutritious as well. The green aspect of reusable containers also appealed to me As a former teacher, I've seen how much trash a lunchroom of students can generate. Since our original foray into the world of bento, we've added reusable stainless steel water bottles and Mommy-made cloth napkins, her lunches are getting close to 100% waste free.
Over the years, we've tried many ideas for our bentos. One long time favorite is "Cheeseburger Muffins", a savory corn muffin stuffed with ground beef & shredded cheese. The base concept allows for many substitutions--taco muffins with seasoned beef & cheese, chicken or turkey and mixed vegetables, even corndog muffins with sausage or hotdogs sliced in. The compact size packs well in a lunch and as an added bonus, the muffins freeze well.
We typically pair it up with some extra protein such as cheese or a boiled egg, some fresh fruits and veggies, and a little treat like a cookie or mini-muffin.
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
~*~or, for a shortcut~*~
1 box corn muffin mix
1 cup milk
3/4 lb of ground beef, cooked & drained
1-2 cups shredded cheese (use as much as you like)
1. Saute ground beef, drain, set aside.
2. Combine corn muffin mixture--dry, then wet ingredients, until batter is just moistened.
3. Add in ground beef & cheese. Mix gently.
4. Spoon mixture into muffin cups, about 3/4 full.
Any given scoop of batter should have lots of visible ground beef & cheese.
If there seems to be too much muffin mix per scoop, you may need more
meat & cheese.
5. Bake at 425 for approximately 20-25 minutes for homemade mixture or bake at
package directions for premade muffin mix.
Serve warm immediately or cool & freeze for later use.
Shannon is a former middle school teacher and a mom to a 7.5 and 4.5 year old. She's interested in quick, easy & fun ways to help my kids eat healthy and blog about our food adventures at www.bentolunch.blogspot.com and our family at www.nouveausoccermom.blogspot.com.
Vote! Momtrends readers will pick the next food editor. Every time you comment or link a recipe you are making your voice heard.