Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Preschool Snack Bento #7 - Cheesy Piggie Bread & a Car Egg

I opted for more "cute" with today's bento lunch snack, since I was actually thinking about it yesterday. That gave me enough time to actually piece together the parts (ie. the egg) that needed to be prepared in advance.

The piggie bread was inspired by the "Cute Yummy Time" book. Piggies are easy to make! Circle for the head, circle for the nose, circle cut in half for the ears, see the theme here? I thought it would have been adorable with peppercorn eyes, but we wouldn't want the boy to think I was poisoning him now. ;o) Instead, it's all cheese pieces (two colors) and cream cheese to act as the "glue".

In today's bento, we have a car shaped hard boiled egg, canteloupe and honeydew cut into stars, and a piggie shaped flatbread with cheese parts.

He ate it all and told me he wants another piggie bread soon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Preschool Snack Bento #6 - Breaded Tofu, Zucchini Appetizers & Melons, a "Square" Theme

OK, it's not a square theme, it's more of a "how can I get this food into the little clean box" theme.

I've had a recipe from Family Fun for breaded tofu. The boy loves tofu! For a child who won't eat things if he hears what they are made of, I don't get this. He picks it out of our soup bowls at Japanese restaurants, he likes it dipped in teriyaki sauce, and I keep thinking "meh, it's white & jiggly".

However, right before school, we decided to quickly make some breaded tofu for his bento. I had grandiose ideas of shaped breaded tofu, until I realized that tofu is wiggly and it falls apart when you try to poke it out of it's neat little tofu box. So we made squares.

Nothing really too them--cut up the tofu, dip it in egg, roll it in breadcrumbs (we used Panko) and fry it with a little bit of butter until it turns brown & crispy. We will try again tomorrow with cookie cutters and the knowledge of how to get the tofu out of its container.

Ben's bento lunch snack included the cubes of breaded tofu, cubes of cheesy zucchini appetizer, and cubes of canteloupe & honeydew. I warmed the zucchini appetizers too, then wrapped foil over that half of the bento to keep it warm. The boy reported back that it was still warm when they had snack time.

A Bento Book - Cute Yummy Time

I received an email a week or so ago from Penguin Publishing, offering F&B and I an advance copy of "Cute Yummy Time" by La Carmina, in case we would like to take a look at it and perhaps review if for our blog.

Read more ...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Preschool Snack Bento #5 - Turtles & Inside Out Flowers

Back to preschool for Mr. Ben today!

He comes home starving, so I'm still trying to figure out the right amount of food to send him. Today's bento snack was more of a smaller bento lunch.

He took turtle quesadillas (really, just cheese quesadillas sliced into turtles) plus a few extra square pieces underneath. He also had inside-out canteloupe and honeydew flowers, which I am totally impressed with for the cuteness factor! There are also regular chunks of melon underneath to make my job easier.

For the flowers, I just sliced the canteloupe & honeydew into half inch slices and punched out the big flowers with a cookie cutter. I took a smaller cutter and cut out the inside flower and swapped the pieces. I could not believe how thrilled F&B were with these! We also made a "Carebear" with a teddy bear cookie cutter & a small heart, and some funny faces with animal shaped cookie cutters and a straw for eyes & noses.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Not Quite a Bento, Just Random Lunch Cuteness

I totally forgot that I had these animal head cookie cutters!!! I think my friend Michelle brought them back for me on one of her California trips.

Anyhow, I recieved a book in the mail today (to be reviewed in another post) that had all sorts of cute animal shapes in it. So, we made some toast, slathered on some herbed cream cheese, folded up some ham, and animal shaped cheese!

Faith picked the bunny, Ben picked the bear, then they ate the spoils as well. ;o)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Preschool Snack Bento #4 - Cheesy Zucchini Bread & More

As mentioned in the "zucchini-lemon" cookies post, Benjamin is more than happy to eat things, providing you don't tell him exactly what is actually in them. Today's bento lunch snack is no exception.

My mom makes what she calls "zucchini appetizers" with fresh zucchini grown from her garden. They are similar in composition to a cornbread, but with no corn. Instead, they are flattish bread with zucchini, parmesan and spices. When we were home in Canada during the summer, she made them for a dinner and Ben liked them. Of course, we did tell him they were "CHEESY appetizers" and didn't really elaborate on the zucchini part. He also accepted that the "green stuff" was seasonings.

Today for snack at school, Ben has a sliced boiled egg and a piece of yummy "cheesy appetizer".

Recipe for Zucchini Appetizers, Cheesy Appetizers, Zucchini Herb Bread, whatever you'd like to call it:

3 cups sliced zucchini
1 cup Bisquick
1/2 cup chopped onion (or 1 tblsp minced dried onion flakes)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 c oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp oregano

Combine all ingredients and spread into greased pan.

Bake for 50 minutes at 350 or until baked through and lightly golden.

When about 5 minutes from done, top with shredded cheese and bake for a couple more minutes to melt.

Slice into squares while still warm.

**My note - Besides slicing the zucchini, you can shred it in a food processor. Ben has more trouble identifying it that way and I actually prefer it shredded too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pineapple Muffin Recipe from Friday's Bento

These were so yummy and a perfect way to use out leftover fruits (or in my case, a can of wrongly opened fruit)!

The base muffin recipe is my mom's creation, and apparently, multiple rounds in the making, to come up with a perfect muffin base:
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk (Mom's note: if it seems dry after mixing, add a little bit more milk)
1/2 cup oil (Mom's note: I use canola)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tblsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients together till smooth (Mom's note: a wooden spoon is preferable)
Add whatever fruit you want and blend in.
Spoon into cupcake lined muffin tins.
Bake at 350 about 20-25 minutes until done; yields 12 large muffins or 18 normal ones.

For this week's Pineapple Blueberry Muffins, I added a can of crushed pineapple (not drained) and a half a container of whole rinsed blueberries. With the pineapples being canned in juice, the batter was moist enough without adding any extra milk.
F&B gave them two thumbs up and regular size muffins are perfect for snack bentos or for part of a bento lunch. We also like mini muffins for bentos, but I was out of mini muffin wrappers.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Volleyball Snack Bentos

We had lunch at home today, so no bento lunches obviously. For the house, I'm a bigger fan of dishwasher safe plates & utensils.

However, Miss Faith had volleyball practice this afternoon and I knew both kids would be starving, so we packed some snack bentos to take along with us.

Both kids have the same thing--homemade pineapple blueberry muffins, grapes with canteloupe flowers and some string cheese for protein (since I'm out of normal cheese). :o) The muffins were a hit! Good thing, because I made 18 of them. ;o)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Preschool Snack Bento #3!

Back to a more snack-like bento instead of a bento lunch today. We're going to eat lunch before preschool, so Ben can have an afternoon snack, then an earlier dinner before church tonight.

Today, Ben has 3 homemade zucchini lemon cookies with a lemon glaze (recipe below), fresh blueberries & raspberries, and a couple of canteloupe hearts because Mommy loves him, and because they look nice for color. ;o)

Lemon Zucchini Cookies:
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated zucchini, unpeeled

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and lemon peel.
Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt just until the dry ingredients are mixed in, stir in the zucchini.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until cookies are golden around the edges.

Combine 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar with 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice.
Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ben's Preschool Snack Bento #2

Today is Ben's second day of preschool!

I packed a little heavier snack bento for him today because he had a late breakfast which means he is unlikely to want a whole lot of lunch before we need to go.

Today, he has a mini pita stuffed with herb & spice cream cheese, grapes, and a cow shaped boiled egg, packed into his new Clickity Click bento. I wish the egg had turned out a little neater. It stuck a bit to the mold, but it still was too cute not to give him!

Wouldn't you be a happy 4 year old with this? :o)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New Boxes!

It's always fun to go shopping and find something you didn't even know you were looking for! In my world, that usually means I find a bento box, or two, or ten.

Faith & I went to Minoya the other day for snacks and they apparently had gotten some new supplies in. I know I keep saying I don't *need* anything, but I didn't have these! And, well, I wanted them. ;o)

I got each of the kids a mini Clickety Click box with a snap down lid. It's really more of a bento snack box than a bento lunch box. I plan to use Ben's for his snack tomorrow, so I'll see how much food I can fit into it.

I also got a two tiered Clickety Click box for Ben. He doesn't have anything two-tiered and sometimes, with salads, I want to keep it completely separate from the rest of the food. So he now has his own that is a little more boyish than what I already have. ;o)

What I really want are picks that I keep seeing online and on Ebay. One of these days, I'm going to need a shopping trip to California.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Day of Preschool Snack Bento, and a recipe

Today was Mr. Ben's first day of preschool. Since we are homeschooling Faith this year, I moved him to the preschool program that she went to that I absolutely love. It's from 1-3:30pm, so perfect for him and I only need to send snacks, not a whole lunch.

Of course, the boy does like to eat, and our version of snack may be a little larger than average.

Today, he took homemade cherry banana bread (see below for the recipe) and cantaloupe stars. It was all gone and he told me it was yummy.

What, did you think I was going to send a juice box & granola bar and call it a day? ;o)

Banana bread:
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar **see note about this
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup mashed bananas
1/2 cup yogurt **see note about this

Beat butter & sugar together, add eggs.
Add banana, yogurt, vanilla, blend well.
Add dry ingredients, blend until moist.
Bake in a loaf pan at 350 for approximately 50 minutes-1 hour.

You can use plain yogurt or flavored. I use flavored in complementary fruits (cherry, blueberry, strawberry, etc) and sometimes throw in a cup or so of dried or chopped fruit with it. If you use a flavored, sweetened yogurt, you can cut back 1/4 cup of sugar without a noticeable flavor difference. If you use plain yogurt, I'd leave the full amount of sugar.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bento Organization & Google!

I often get asked exactly what our bento supplies really look like, so Faith & I organized the cabinet, took out some stuff that is too young/small for her & Ben and took pictures.

Bear in mind that there is one more shelf above this, except it stores random holiday items since I can't reach it without a chair. Shaun's stuff is stored in the tupperware cupboard & the cutlery is all in a separate drawer. I also need another bin of some sort for the sauce bottles and extra elastic bands.

Top shelf - mid-size boxes (Dora, Diego, Spongebob, etc), some sandwich boxes, some divided bowls that I probably need to get rid of since they are for babies, 2 Laptop Lunches, frequently used cookie cutters, and two very cool triangular boxes that my friend Michelle brought me from California

Middle shelf - two tiered boxes, an egg slicer and a couple of shaped boxes that don't stack well (the Hello Kitty & Shinkansen shaped bento box happen to be two of my favorites)

Bottom shelf - smaller boxes, food picks, egg molds, rice molds, side dish containers, silicone dividers, mini cookie cutters and usually the water bottles in the open area but I took them out for the picture

And in other news, open a new window, go to Google and type in "bento lunch blog"!

My husband is on this whole Google thing for work lately with SEOs and all sorts of junk that goes in one of my ears and out the other. Basically, meaning I do absolutely nothing to work on my own Google rating other than writing a blog.

That said, for the above search terms, I'm first!!! :o)

A friend of mine also pointed out for what she would consider more difficult search terms to conquer, that "bento blog" still yields me #4, and "bento lunch" ends up at #7 (or #8 if you count the Google images link.

Just had to celebrate that, since it was never a plan of mine. :o)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Simple Snack Bento

We headed out to a park playdate this afternoon and opted to bring along a simple snack bento to keep us from stopping for junk food. It worked, no stops, but next time, we need more water! :o)

The kiddos had canteloupe & honeydew, some deli ham, cheese cubes and a few crackers (underneath the ham). For reference, this worked fine because I back our lunch right before we left for the park and we ate within the hour. I do not recommend putting crackers under ham if you don't want soggy crackers later in the day. ;o)

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