Since I'm home in the morning with the girls and able to pack their lunches, I can make sure they have more nutritious lunches than what they can buy at school or what they might pack for themselves (bread, chips, and M&Ms are NOT a balanced lunch.)
We get up earlier than we need to so there is no rush in the morning. That gives me time to make them hot items to go in their thermoses. A lot of the time they want leftovers or chicken noodle or tomato soup. They love turkey wraps, pretzel roll sandwiches, or the traditional PB & J. But if I want to really make their day, I start digging in the fridge for leftover rice and they know what's coming.
(photo and recipe courtesy of http://recipesquickandeasy.blogspot.com/2012/11/baked-cheddar-broccoli-rice-cups.html)
Throw together some chopped broccoli, shredded cheddar, rice, an egg or two, some ranch dressing, and a mini muffin tin and you have some tasty goodness. The mini muffins fit nicely in the thermoses and 4 muffins is perfect for an 11 or 9 year old. Throw in a Cutie orange, a water bottle, a few crackers and you have a good lunch that makes them happy.
Not only are these good for lunch, but they're a great appetizer when you have friends over or if you're going to a potluck. Making them in a standard size muffin tin is perfect for a dinner, too. Just add a salad and you've got a complete meal.
I always make as many of these as I can. The girls will gladly take them for lunch as many times a week as they can and I love them for breakfast!
Broccoli Cheddar Rice "Muffins"
1 cup quick-cooking rice, like Minute Rice (can substitute about 2 cups regular, cooked rice and omit the 1 cup stock below. I always use leftover jasmine rice that I cook specifically for this purpose.)
1 cup chicken stock (not needed if you're using leftover rice)
1 10-oz. box frozen, chopped broccoli, thawed and excess water squeezed out (I always use fresh or leftovers)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup Homemade Ranch Dressing or store bought
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Prepare rice as directed on package, substituting stock for water. Place cooked rice in a large bowl and let cool slightly. Add the remaining ingredients, using only 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese, and stir until combined. Transfer mixture to eight well-greased muffin cups–I like to use an ice cream scoop–and top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until tops are lightly browned and edges are starting to get crispy.