Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Baked Pancake Valentines - Put 'Em In The Oven for Baby and Z!

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Pattycake, pattycake, baking Mum
Bake me a cake and make it real fun!
Mix it and pour it, quick as can be,
and put it in the oven for Baby and Z!
I had just seen some baked banana blueberry pancake muffins at iPackLunch, and since pancakes hate me, I figured this had to have a much better shot at turning out well versus relying on my lack of skill to tell when it's time to flip in a frying pan. And my lack of flipping skill. And my inability to pour correctly. You get the picture. Plus, since they're less labor-intensive during the cooking process, I was able to assemble the rest of the lunches the night before while they cooked.

On Wednesdays, Baby and I go to a co-op preschool class. But the first Wednesday of each month, Little Z's AM preschool is cancelled due to "late start" for some reason or other. Since Baby goes to the same preschool Z went to the past three years, and one of the teachers in our class had her for the past two, she is allowed to come with us. Which is great, since with her social issues, we don't exactly have a ton of babysitters to call upon!
Since I would be there to help open, I was able to use my new Laptop Lunches set! (I don't know if it's hard to open the outer box, or if I'm just totally overlooking the totally easy solution, but I have a hard time figuring out how to get it open with just one hand. Or two.

Little Z's Lunch
Clementine, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, frozen peas,
baked Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Pancake bites, SunButter-apple-granola "sandwich"

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"Orange" You Glad I Love You?: I used a Sharpie to draw a heart on her clementine orange, but then remembered she had recently drawn a picture and pointed out that her person had "love eyes. See? Because they're hearts. Those are love eyes." So I added another to make Love Eyes! And a smile of course. A leaf pick sticking out the top makes any fruit cuter! Especially one with a face!

"Cheese" My Sweetheart: In the heart-shaped silicone cup I put a mix of cheddar and mozzarella mini hearts, cut with my FunBites Luv It cutter. Mostly because I couldn't find my heart-shaped cutter collection, but also because the pushy-outy-thingy makes popping them out of the cutter a breeze! 

"Peas" Tell Me You Love Me Too!: My little wackadoo loves frozen foods, and since she could start eating any time once we got there, I knew I could pack them in the insulated bag with my heavy-duty ice pack and they'd still be frozen.

You are the Apple of My Eye: I loved the Apple "Sandwiches" recipe from MOMables, and it was an easy way to add a little protein to our lunches. Plus I was able to keep the apples from browning by arranging them strategically, and only had to rub Fruit Fresh around inside the cored center (I didn't bother with mine. I can eat browny apples!)
Since it's a nut-free school, I used SunButter instead of peanut butter. Mmmmmm! Good choice! I've loved (and actually prefer) SunButter subs in everything except the traditional sandwich combos.
I opted for a softer granola this time, which made it easy to eat, but I could also stack more together. After spreading the SunButter on one side of each apple slice, I pressed it down onto a plate of spread-out Naturebox granola. (Citrus something-or-other, as I recall.) I had to pick all the nuts out first though. Omnomnom.

Hearts and Crafts: I cooked up most of my batter (recipe below) in a mini hearts muffin pan for the girls, so gave her as many as I thought she would eat, and stuck a heart skewer through one of them.

In the far right compartment is a spoon for her peas (hiding underneath,) and a reusable cloth napkin from Red Poppy Crafts on Etsy. I rolled the napkin up tight and threaded it through a heart cupcake topper ring. So cute!
This Laptop Lunches box is the "Garden" color combination. It came with a little dip container which I didn't use, and lids for the two containers with rounded corners, which I also didn't use. Had I been sending this to school with her instead of carrying it myself, I would have had the peas swap places with the apples and put the lid on over them. And the one on the container with the cheese as well.

For my baked pancake muffins, I used this recipe from iPackLunch as my base, but changed it up a bit.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Pancakes
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
4 Tbsp pumpkin puree (any fruity puree will do. You only need 2 Tbsp to sub for the oil, but I wanted a more pumpkin-y flavor, so I doubled up.)
1/4-1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (1/2 cup was too many. I just wanted enough in there to entice Z to try them. These were "choc" full of them!)

Combine dry ingredients and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients and mix well. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and mix as you go. Add chocolate chips (or whatever other mix-ins you like) and mix evenly.
Tip: I have a large measuring cup with a pour spout. So I measure the milk in there and add everything else in after - then I can easily pour directly into the muffin pans or frying pan!

Preheat to 350 F. Brush butter into or spray muffin pans (if you're using shaped ones, be sure to get in all the little crevices.) Fill each cup a little over halfway. Cook at 350 F for about 15 minutes, until the tops feel dry, firm, and springy. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before removing from pans. (Note: If using mini muffin pans, check at around 10-12 minutes.)
You can check out her cooking directions for more tips and such. Or just cook them in a pan like regular pancakes. Yummm!

Baby's Lunch
Banana, grapes (halved,) baked Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Pancake bites, hummus, cheese scraps 
I packed Baby's lunch in my Lunchbots Duo. (This is one of the older ones. The new ones have squarer corners and the lids are interchangeable.) It's a great size for her.
For the banana, I used a mini heart cutter to break through the outer skin of the peel the night before, and it had browned by morning. It doesn't even take that long. You can cut words or pictures into the peel in the morning and it will appear by lunch time!
I had originally planned to add crackers for the hummus the next morning, before we left. But I forgot! Oh well. She enjoyed dipping her cheese scraps (and fingers!)

She ate all four of her pancake bites, cheese, hummus... well. Everything except the banana. Which she ate later that day. She also ate one of Big Sister's pancake bites too! And licked off half of my SunButter and granola!

Mama's Breakfast Lunch
Baked Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Pancakes, broccoli, beets, guacamole, mandarin, Sunbutter-apple-granola "sandwich"

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After filling up all 24 holes in the mini muffin pan, I still had some batter left. So I poured the rest into a ruffled silicone heart muffin pan to make bigger ones for me. I used a mini heart cutter on a slice of raw beet to make hearts to go on top. They immediately started bleeding color into the muffins, so I took them off overnight and put them back on before leaving in the morning.

In the mini muffin cup is a heart of frozen guacamole, made in a heart-shaped ice cube tray from IKEA. Since I would be eating my lunch soon after leaving the house, I didn't use an ice pack in the lunch bag for me and Baby, so this could hopefully thaw in time. (It thawed by the time I was done eating everything else. Yay!)

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  1. I'm glad I'm not the only parent who's kid LOVES frozen fruits and veggies. My oldest will only eat his peas hot and my youngest LOVES frozen peas! :)


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