Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lovely Leftovers...

Well, it's no secret that I love the Yumbox for Z's lunch during the school year. The original Yumbox is great, but I'm especially loving the new design of the Yumbox Panino. As you can see below, it holds a lot of food. It is the perfect size for older kidlets. Z only gets 25 minutes for lunch, so I really like that all of Z's lunch is in the Yumbox. All he has to do is sit down at the lunch table, open his Yumbox, and start plastic baggies to mess with, no small containers with difficult lids to get off, no searching for a teacher to take said difficult lid off. All of his lunch time is spent doing what he should be doing.....eating his lunch. The Yumbox Panino is small enough that it fits in any lunchbag. So, your kids can still have those super cute character bags that they seem to clamor for. And, best of all, the Yumbox Panino has all of the great features of the original Yumbox. The new school year starts very soon, and I'm sure I'll be reaching for the Yumbox quite often. To see my review of the original Yumbox, click HERE.

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This lunch is packed in the Yumbox Panino.
*leftover ravioli with meat sauce and breadstick
*tomato and mozzarella salad
*red seedless grapes
*natural applesauce

Some of the things that I used to make this lunch:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ravioli Lasagna Cups

Wow!!! My family and I returned home from a 9 day vacation yesterday. While I was gone, I had a ton of requests for a recipe for the lasagna cups that I made for my last post before we left. I never dreamed these little cups would be so popular. I have had a blast of social media activity on that little lunch. Hmmm.....maybe I should go on vacation more often! We love these lasagna cups, and they really are very easy to make. There is a surprise ingredient in them....ravioli. Yep!! I use precooked ravioli for the noodles. And why not?? Ravioli are the perfect base for lasagna made in muffin cups, providing not only the pasta, but the yummy cheesy filling, as well. I adapted my recipe from The Muffin Tin Cookbook. This is a great cookbook with over 200 recipes for meals cooked in a muffin tin. If you like to cook using a muffin tin, this would be a fabulous book to add to your cookbook arsenal.

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Ravioli Lasagna
Serves 6, using a jumbo silicone muffin cup

12 large cheese filled ravioli- I use the Kirkland brand 4 cheese ravioli at Costco.
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
3 cups of your favorite tomato based meat sauce- If you make your own meat sauce, please use that. These lasagna cups are delicious with homemade meat sauce. If you don't have your own recipe for a meat sauce, Here is a very tasty recipe. This is my exact recipe except that I add 1 tsp sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes, add 1 bay leaf, and sometimes I add a can of sliced mushrooms.
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese- I use Kraft Parm/Romano/Asiago blend
1 Tbsp. milk or half & half
1/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray the jumbo cups with cooking spray and set them on a foil lined (or Silpat lined) baking sheet. Or, you could also put them in a jumbo muffin tin. 
2. Cook the ravioli according to package instructions until al dente.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and milk (or half & half).

4. Cut each ravioli in half, so you have two circles (It's okay if the filling ends up mostly on one side. This step allows all the flavors to combine like a real lasagna.)
******At this point, I like to set up the ravioli, cheese mixture, mozzarella cheese, and meat sauce in sort of a makeshift assembly line. ******

5. Place a dollop of meat sauce in the bottom of each cup. Ok, I say 'dollop' here because I don't know exactly how much meat sauce I use. I generally just use a regular sized spoon and scoop enough sauce to cover the bottom of the cup.
6. In each cup, layer 1/2 of a ravioli (noodle side down), 1 tsp. ricotta mix, 1 tsp. mozzarella, and 2 tsp. meat sauce on top. Repeat this two more times in each cup. Honestly, I do not measure these amounts when I make these. I usually eyeball the amounts. But, if you eyeball these amounts, don't get so zealous adding the ingredients that you run out of space in the cups to add all the layers.
7. Top each cup with 1/2 of a ravioli (noodle side up).
8. Top with enough meat sauce to cover the ravioli, and sprinkle the top generously with the Parmesan cheese blend. I actually forgot to buy the Parmesan cheese blend when I made these. So, I added a bit of cheddar cheese on top. 
9. Bake for 15- 20 minutes until bubbly. Allow to cool and set for 10 minutes or so before eating. 

Friends, these are hard to mess up. If you aren't a meat eater, use your favorite spaghetti or marinara sauce in place of the meat sauce. If you love garlic, add more garlic. Same with the spices....add the spices you like best. Want a little zing? Add your favorite hot sauce. Change the ravioli flavor to spinach and cheese....these would still be delish!! Don't like mozzarella cheese? Use cheddar cheese. You can change the ingredients in the lasagna cups up a hundred different ways, and they will still taste great. This recipe alone is yummy. But, you can use it as a base to build your own lasagna cups. Tailor these to your family's taste. 


Some of the things I used to make this lunch:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lasagna cups...

Hi Friends! Happy Wednesday to you. Do any of you have these jumbo silicone cups? Do they sit up in your cabinet all lonely, collecting dust, anxiously awaiting the day you decide to make some of those Costco mammoth-sized muffins? Well, if you are like me, mammoth-sized muffins aren't typically on your baking radar. However, aside from the typical use of making jumbo muffins and cupcakes, these lonely little cups can do double duty in other ways in the kitchen. How, you ask?

My favorite way to use them is in the lunchbox. They are great for keeping foods separated, which is important for Z because he's funny about his food touching. They add color, cuteness, and function to a lunchbox, too. And, they fit perfectly in the Easy Lunch Boxes. I love that. I also use them to make individual servings. You guessed it....portion control. These Casabella jumbo cups that I have are 3/4 cup capacity and are very sturdy. They are free-standing so they are easy to fill. They're oven, microwave, and freezer safe and can be placed in the dishwasher. Have I piqued your interest? I like to make individual lasagna (today's lunch), shepherd's pie, and quiche in the jumbo cups. I put them on a cookie sheet and stick them straight in the oven to cook. They are great for desserts, too....again, portion control. I have made individual trifles, banana pudding, and strawberry shortcake. I make fruit salad cups for my kids all the time in them. Cover the cups with plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator or freezer. So, if you have these hidden jewels in your cabinets, why not get them out, wash them up, and see what creative uses for them you can think up!

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This lunch is packed in Easy Lunch Boxes.
*lasagna cup with daisy flower pick- These jumbo cups actually hold a lot of food. Z only ate half of this cup. You can find the recipe for the lasagna cups HERE.
*garlic cheese bread flowers
*corn on the cob
*strawberries and blueberries
I added a few fun flower picks for some cuteness.
*linked to: What's for lunch Wednesday
                 Becoming a Bentoholic/Leftovers on Friday

Here are two more lunches that I made using the jumbo cups:

 Fun Bites Fun                                   Smiley face kids

Some of the things, or similar things, that I used to make this lunch:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Froggy Yumbox Panino

Woo!!Hoo!! Lookie what I got! So excited to be one of the first ones to get my hands on the new Yumbox Panino. We love the original Yumbox. You can see my review of it HERE. But, the new design of the Yumbox Panino rocks!! The new Panino has a tray that has been redesigned to hold a full sandwich and more. Z has a full sandwich (I cut the crusts off because Z prefers that), and there's still plenty of room for more food. That green pea pod silicone cup takes up a lot of space. But, if I had left it out, I could have fit half of another sandwich. The treat/dip well is larger, too, and so are the 2 smaller sections. Yumbox has also reinforced the hinge design of the lid. It feels a lot sturdier now. The previous design of the Yumbox is perfect for younger kidlets with smaller appetites. But, the new Panino is great for older kids and bigger appetites. Great job, Yumbox, great job!

������ Just a Matkins reusable placemat giveaway is still open for entries. Click the giveaway graphic on the right sidebar at the top to go right to the giveaway post. ������-------CLOSED GIVEAWAY

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This lunch is packed in the Yumbox Panino.
*Natural Selects ham and Colby-Jack cheese sandwich- I cut an additional piece of cheese with a frog shaped cutter and placed it on top of the sandwich. I gave him candy eyes and mouth.
*red seedless grapes in the silicone pea pod cup
*pizza flavored pretzel thins tucked in beside the sandwich
*green olives
*tomato salad- Z loves this salad. It is red and yellow cherry tomatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, Craisins, and croutons mixed with balsamic dressing. I put the dressing in the froggy container for Z to add on his own so that the salad won't become soggy before lunchtime. He loves adding the dressing on his own so Win-Win!
*Yoplait yogurt with a froggy gummy on top- I don't usually include a sweet goodie in Z's lunch. Believe me, he gets plenty of sweet treats when he's at Mimi's house. He's pretty happy with yogurt or natural applesauce. But, on occasion, I will include a fun treat. These little frog gummies were too cute to resist.
*linked to: What's for lunch Wednesday

Some of the things, or similar things, that I used to make this lunch:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cuddle Palz Bear lunch...

Monday night, we had dinner at my mom's house (Mimi to my boys). Two things you should know about Mimi....Mimi is the most awesome cook, and Mimi doesn't know how to cook for less than 50 people. I obviously benefit from both of these, as my kids eat her cooking as if they've been starving for 2 weeks, and I get to bring home copious amounts of leftovers. YAY for leftovers!! Well, Mimi makes this great cornbread dish that my brother, sister and I have been eating since we were all kids. We have always called it "cornbread stuff". That's it...just cornbread stuff.  "What is cornbread stuff?" you ask. Cornbread stuff is cornbread with a layer of ground beef and sausage, creamed corn, onions, mushrooms, and a ton of cheese all cooked into the middle until it is ooey gooey melted goodness. Holy haberdashery Batman!!! My mouth is watering just thinking about this dish. It really is super scrumptiously delicious. Yes, my kids ate it Monday night as if I hadn't fed them all day. She made 2 huge cast iron skillets, and to my delight, cornbread stuff came home with us. Over the weekend, I made the Pasta  Fagioli, and it turned out very good. So, Tuesday's lunch was cornbread stuff and Pasta Fagioli. They were some happy boys!

🔷🔷🔷 Just a Matkins reusable placemat giveaway is still open for entries. Click the giveaway graphic on the right sidebar at the top to go right to the giveaway post. 🔷🔷🔷------CLOSED GIVEAWAY

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This lunch is packed in Easy Lunch Boxes.
*homemade Pasta Fagioli with Colby-Jack cheese on top- I cut the cheese with the CuteZCute Cuddle Palz bear cutter and placed it on top of the Pasta Fagioli after it was heated so that it would get all ooey, gooey, and melty. This soup is delicious. My kids love it. You can find the recipe for it HERE.
*wedge of Mimi's "cornbread stuff"
*cantaloupe cubes
*Nonni's almond pistachio crisps- These crisps are a cross between a biscotti and a chip. My kids love them for a snack. They have no added color, no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, and are loaded with pistachios and almonds. I bought these at Super Target, and they have quickly become one of our favorite snacks.
*linked to: Eats Amazing/ Fun Food Friday

Some of the things, or similar things, that I used to make this lunch:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

CuteZCute Cuddle Palz Koala lunch...

If you visit The Lucky Lunchbox often, then you already know how much I love the CuteZCute line of cutters and stamps. The CuteZCute Animal Friends deco cutter set is by far one of my favorite sets to use, and the Animal Palz set runs a close second. Both of these sets are easy and fun to use, and the possibilities for super cute creations with them are endless. You can see my Panda lunch made using the CuteZCute Animal Friends kit HERE, and my Mess of Monkeys lunch made using the Animal Palz kit HERE.

Recently, CuteZCute released it's newest baby......the Cuddle Palz sandwich cutter and cookie stamp kit. I'm so excited to be one of the first ones to receive this kit to try out. Like the original CuteZCute Animal Friends, there are several cute options in one kit. Actually, the Cuddle Palz kit has over 40 fun and creative options. With this system, you can create a bear, a koala, a hamster, or a tiger shaped sandwich. I decided to make a koala sandwich my first time using it, and it turned out adorable. The Cuddle Palz kit also comes with this cute koala pick to help remove small cut-outs from the cutters. But, it makes a great fun food pick, as well. I used it for Z's hotdog. Cuddle Palz gets a thumbs up from The Lucky Lunchbox. 

🔷🔷🔷 Just a reminder..... My Matkins reusable placemat giveaway is still open for entries. Check the side bar to the right for the link to the giveaway. The Matkins placemat is awesome, and I know you will love having one. 🔷🔷🔷--------CLOSED GIVEAWAY

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This lunch is packed in Easy Lunch Boxes.



*peanut butter and strawberry all-fruit spread
sandwich featuring Cuddle Palz koala
*Rold Gold mini pretzels
*green olives
*Natural Selects turkey hotdog slices
*black seedless grapes
*Yoplait dye-free Trix yogurt
*linked to: What's for lunch Wednesday

Some of the things, or similar things, that I used to make this lunch:

The EASIEST Pasta Fagioli recipe

My family loves soup. When the season changes from summer to fall, and the air just begins to turns crisp, the first thing on my menu is soup. It is such a comforting and filling food, especially in the cold months. However, we love soup all year around. Pasta Fagioli is always a favorite in my house, and this recipe is awesome. It's unbelievably rich, thick, and hearty....everything you could ask for in a bowl of soup. It's full of beans, veggies, and good! The best part is that this soup is crazy easy to make. You've got to love that!

There are a bajillion recipes for Pasta Fagioli on line, and they are all very similar. I've had this recipe forever, and I don't even remember where I got it. This recipe reminds me very much of the Pasta Fagioli at Olive Garden. I often will stop and pick up a package of the Olive Garden breadsticks to serve along with this soup when I make it. This is a pretty good runner-up.

Pasta Fagioli-
2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
3 carrots, julienned
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (16 oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (16 oz) can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 (10 oz) cans beef stock
1 (20 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, optional 
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons oregano
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons pepper
8 oz Ditalini  pasta.  (Sometimes, I use small elbow macaroni if that is what I have in the pantry.)

1. Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Drain off most of the fat.

2. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute for 10 minutes.

3. Add remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.

4. About 50 minutes into the simmering, cook the pasta in 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is al dente, or slightly tough. Drain.

5. Add the pasta to the large pot of soup. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more and serve.

6. If you like your soup a little thinner, add water or more beef stock until it's the right consistency.

I serve this with shredded Italian blend cheese, garlic bread (or Olive Garden breadsticks), and a salad.

This recipe makes a ton of soup. I usually make this in a very large stock pot and will freeze half of it.
If you want a smaller amount, cut the recipe in half. Also, if you make the full recipe and plan to freeze some, divide the soup before you add the noodles. Freeze the soup without the noodles so they won't become mushy. I usually cook fresh noodles to add to the soup when I plan to thaw the frozen batch to eat.


Here is a lunch I made with the Pasta Fagioli.

                                                           Cuddle Palz bear lunch

Monday, July 14, 2014

Matkins Placemat Giveaway

Hi Friends! Happy Monday to you! I hope you all are enjoying your summer break. It's going by soooo quickly though, isn't it? The new school year is right around the corner. My kids start back to school the second week of August, and I know yours aren't far behind. So, how about an awesome back-to-school giveaway?!! WooHoo!!! I love giveaways! And, this is the very first giveaway for The Lucky Lunchbox. That makes me super excited!!

To say a big THANK YOU to all my fabulous readers, friends and family for visiting my blog and for showing all the love and support on Facebook and Instagram the past 9 months, I'm hosting a giveaway for the super cute Matkins reusable placemats. SPOILER ALERT....look for another back-to-school giveaway in September to celebrate my 1 year blogiversary!

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We really love using the Matkins placemats. They are such an easy and fun way to provide a germ-free eating surface. They are a perfect addition to the school lunchbox and are great to take on-the-go to a restaurant, park, playdate, or anywhere really. Your kids will be the envy of all their friends at lunchtime. You can see my Matkins review HERE and one of my Matkins lunches HERE.

                                                      Giveaway Time!!!!
 Matkins has generously offered to send one lucky reader of The Lucky Lunchbox two Matkins  placemats of their own! I know whoever wins will absolutely love them! Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter widget below. The first 3 entries are mandatory. Once these are completed, other optional entries become available. The optional entries will give you additional chances to win. Complete all the optional entries, or just 1, it's your decision.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Important!! Please read the Terms and Conditions of this giveaway!
Winner chooses which 2 patterns they would like. This giveaway is open to U.S, Canadian, and UK residents only 18 years of age and older. Prizes cannot be shipped to P.O. Boxes. Winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and notified by the email entered in Rafflecopter. Entries that do not fulfill the mandatory requirements will be deleted. Winner will have 48 hours to respond  before a new winner is selected. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are in no way associated with this giveaway. One set of entries per household, please. If you've chosen to "like" or "follow"  The Lucky Lunchbox or Matkins for an entry, you must still be doing so at the time of the drawing or you will be disqualified, and I will draw again. The Lucky Lunchbox is not responsible for the shipment of the prize. I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner. The product provided for this giveaway was free of charge from the company. The giveaway ends Monday, July 21, 2014 at 12:00 p.m.CST. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Busy butterflies lunch

Do your kids like cheese? Z is not a fan of cheese in his lunch. He will eat different types of cheese if on a sandwich or if it's cooked in a dish like lasagna or pizza, but he will not eat cheese if I put cubes or a stick in his lunch. I know, I don't get it, either! I LOVE cheese!!! So, I recently decided to try him on the Babybel cheese, and I'm so happy to say that we have cheese eating success! He is fascinated with how you peel the cheese to eat it. He insists that he be the one to peel it. I like how you can cut different shapes out of the easy way to cutify (yeah, it's a word) a lunch. I've seen some other cute things done with them, too. So, I think we'll stick with the Babybel for a while.

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This lunch is packed in Easy Lunch Boxes.
*butterfly shaped Natural Selects ham sandwich with sprinkle decorations and eye picks
*white cheddar cheese Nips
*Babybel cheese- I used a small butterfly shaped cutter on the wax.
*butterfly shaped carrots, black olives, red cherry tomatoes
*Bing cherries and peaches with butterfly cupcake ring
*linked to: What's for lunch Wednesday

Some of the things, or similar things, that I used to make this lunch:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dining with dinosaurs...

We have this amazing place here in the M- town called the Pink Palace. It's actually a museum that has some really cool and unusual exhibits in it. It has a huge IMAX theater and a planetarium, and it's a great place to go on a hot summer day. My kids love to go there, and we could spend the whole day looking at all the neat and interesting stuff. This week, the Pink Palace has a special exhibit set up that's all about dinosaurs. There's a gigantic life size animatronic T-Rex that is so lifelike, it's unreal. My oldest son was absolutely obsessed with dinosaurs when he was Z's age, and still loves them, so, of course, we had to go see this exhibit. The little guy has never been quite as enthralled with them as my oldest, but he was totally amazed. So much so that he asked for a T-Rex lunch. I aim to please, so T-Rex lunch it is. A dinosaur lunch worked out quite well, actually, because I just received these super cute dinosaur silicone cups in the mail and have been dying to use them. Thanks to Grace from Eats Amazing and Anna from Becoming a Bentoholic for sending me these cute cups and some other great goodies, too. You girls rock!!! Please stop by and visit Grace's and Anna's blogs. You will be blown away at all the lunch making cuteness from them.

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This lunch is packed in Easy Lunch Boxes.
*T-Rex shaped peanut butter and strawberry all-fruit spread sandwich with T-Rex shaped Natural Selects bologna on top- I used food safe markers for his spots and gave him a candy eye.
*"D" is for dinosaur Babybel cheese- I used a "D" from a 1 inch alphabet cutter set.
*Rold Gold pizza flavored sticks for Dino the dinosaur to stand on
*sweet peas with carrot dino bones
*blueberries in the green dinosaur egg (The green egg had Easter candy in it at one time. I repurposed it into a dinosaur egg.) and raisins
*linked to: Eats Amazing/ Fun Food Friday

Here are a few fun dinosaur facts for you:
> The length of a T-Rex tooth was 8 inches- the largest tooth of any meat eater.
> The T-Rex could swallow 500 pounds of meat in one bite.
> The name "dinosaur" means "frighteningly big lizard".
> Stegosaurus had a brain the size of a walnut and was probably one of the dumbest dinosaurs.
> Most dinosaurs were herbivores, which means they ate meat.
> Some dinosaurs had more than 1000 teeth and could replace their teeth at any time.
> Dinosaur remains have been found on every continent, even Antarctica.
> The average dinosaur was no bigger than a station wagon. The smallest was no bigger than a robin, and the largest was 3 school busses long.

Some of the things, or similar things, that I used to make this lunch: