Friday, December 21, 2012

A Christmas Story Bento

Inspired by A Boy and His Lunch on the second week of the Ho Ho Holiday Hop, I decided to create a bento based on A Christmas Story for my husband on his last full day of school before Winter break. 

Since drawing on a tortilla worked well for me for the Hobbit lunch, I decided to use the same approach for this lunch. Using food-safe markers, I drew the lamp Mr. Parker won and I drew Ralphie in the bunny suit. I also cut letters out of cheddar cheese for the quote "You'll shoot your eye out!". Both tortillas were filled with turkey and a cream cheese-based spread with bacon, cilantro, and pepperoncinis.

I tried six different boxes before settling on this MyBentoMeal box to fit this food. This is a rather large bento box and gave me the space I needed to lay out the words. I placed the cheese quote and lamp in the upper divided layer and put Ralphie in the bottom layer with some sugar snap peas, cucumbers, cherub tomatoes, carrots, pretzels, raspberries, and blueberries. I wanted to make sure everything stayed in place, so I packed the box in my daughter's lunch bag since the box fit perfectly in it and delivered it to my husband at work before joining my daughter for lunch. My daughter was a little worried when she saw me carrying that lunch bag because the school was serving pizza for lunch and she wanted to get a tray. But, after I explained, she thought it was pretty funny that her dad was getting his lunch in her purple owl bag. He was really impressed with his lunch and spent so much time showing it off that he almost ran out of time for eating :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hobbit Hop

A few weeks ago when I signed up for the Bento Bloggers and Friends Hobbit Hop I knew it would be a stretch from my usual style of lunch packing. I knew I needed to do some research so that I could come up with an idea. So, about a month ago my family and I watched the animated version of The Hobbit in preparation for this lunch. My daughter, who has always liked lizards, was pretty fascinated with Gollum. I guess he reminded her of some kind of reptile. She suggested that I make him for this post. When I went to the grocery store earlier today, I bought all kinds of green food (peppers, cucumbers, peas, kiwi, zucchini,  green tortellini, etc.) thinking that I would somehow come up with a way to create Gollum out of some of those items. But, in the end, I decided to simply draw him. I followed this image of Gollum holding the ring. I am pretty pleased with the way he turned out.

Drawing on a tortilla is MUCH easier than drawing on bread like I have been doing for my daughter's sandwiches! So, Gollum is drawn on the top flour tortilla; turkey, ham, and muenster are layered below the drawing. I decided to go with red and green foods to coordinate with the colors of the drawing. I packed tomatoes, cucumber slices, green pepper strips, sugar snap peas, and some surprisingly delicious (for this time of year) strawberries. A few blackberries and some Cheez-Its are tucked under the tortilla. This was packed in our Pororo stainless bento box because I needed something with a large horizontal space that would allow for overlap into neighboring compartments when the lid was added. This is a tray-like box with a really cute lid, especially for young kids.

I had planned to send this lunch with my husband, because I don't think my daughter would actually eat Gollum, but the PTA is providing lunch for teachers at his school tomorrow. So, I guess I will have this for lunch. Be sure to click on The Hobbit Hop button to visit Robot Squirrel and the Monkeys to see what kind of Hobbit lunch she has created and then keep following the links until you get back to me.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Themed Snacks and Bentos

After finally making it off the naughty list ;) I am joining another Bento Bloggers and Friends Blog Hop, this time as part of Week 2 of the Holiday Ho Ho Hop Series. So, after checking out my Christmas bentos below, be sure to click on the Hop button to see what everyone else has been packing this month.

My daughter has still been wanting to take lunches themed around the letter of the week in her kindergarten class, so I have been limited in my ability to sneak holiday items into her lunches. Most of my Christmas themed packing has been in her afternoon snacks, so I will share a few of those.

One day, she took a gingerbread man themed snack. She had raspberries and blueberries with gingerbread man picks from a Dollar Tree game, a Pepperidge Farm gingerbread cookie, a cheddar cheese gingerbread man, and two gingerbread people holding gumdrops. This was packed in a single layer of our Lego bento box.

Candy canes were the theme for another day. She had candy-cane shaped cheddar cheese, candy cane Life-Saver gummies, yogurt covered pretzels, blueberries and raspberries on candy cane picks, and a candy cane shortbread cookie above a few more pretzels.

On another day, I packed raspberries and blackberries with a snowman pick, a few snowman SweeTarts, some yogurt covered pretzels, and peanut butter on snowflake shaped Ritz crackers. This snack and the one above were both packed in boxes from Target's Dollar Spot.

Santa was the theme for another snack, and she had blueberries on Santa and Christmas tree picks, a few Santa-shaped pieces of Christmas Crunch cereal in the red silicone cup at the back, sunflower seeds in the Santa container, and Santa-shaped pieces of cheddar cheese in the green silicone container. Below those snacks were a few white cheddar cheese puffs. She mentioned that she saw those in other kids' lunches and would like to have some one day. She had a lot of tearful days recently at school, so I included the cheese puffs here thinking that they might be a bright spot in her afternoon.

I did talk my daughter into one Christmas themed lunch. They were focusing on the letter F and she agreed that a Frosty the Snowman lunch would be a good idea. So, on Friday last week, she had a Frosty peanut butter sandwich decorated with a toboggan pick and cookie decorations from Wilton. I also spelled out Frosty in picks since my daughter likes her food to be linked to what she is learning in class. Along with the sandwich, she had carrots, red pepper strips, sugar snap peas, blueberries and grapes on snowman picks, Cheez-Its, yogurt covered pretzels, cheddar cheese shaped snowmen, an icing snowflake, and a little blue cup of sunflower seeds.

My husband had a similar lunch in our Planetbox. He had the negatives from my daughter's cheese with some snowflake Ritz crackers, sweet peppers, tomatoes, carrots, sugar snap peas, sunflower seeds in the blue cup, grapes, blueberries with a snowman pick from a Dollar Tree game, and a turkey and muenster sandwich stamped with a snowman cutter.

The funny thing about these two lunches is that neither my daughter nor my husband ate the Frosty sandwiches. They each took a bite of the head and ate some of the decorations but left the rest of the sandwich. They ate the other food, just not the sandwich. My daughter reported that she, "Did not want to get nasty from that black stuff." left by the snowman buttons and my husband said he didn't have enough  time. Oh well, I also had a Frosty sandwich, but I ate mine :).

Be sure to click here to continue to the next stop at Mommy Kiki Can! to see what she has to share for Week Two of the Holiday Ho Ho Hop. I am sure it is something great; her lunches are always incredibly elaborate, detailed, and fun!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Letter A Lunches for Kindergarten

For the week that my daughter's kindergarten class focused on the letter A, she wanted lunches featuring things that began with the letter A. On Tuesday, she took an Ant lunch in our blue Sassy box. She had a small ant peanut butter sandwich with six legs (They have learned in class that insects have six legs and that is a detail my daughter wanted to include.). The ant was on top of a red checkered tablecloth peanut butter sandwich with ant spelled below in picks. She also had Cheez-Its, pretzels, tomatoes, cucumber slices, carrots, apple slices, and ants on logs.

For Wednesday, she wanted an Apple lunch. And, she specifically wanted Andy the apple to match the Alpha Friends Chart her school uses. So, in our pick Sassy box, I packed an apple-shaped peanut butter sandwich with Andy spelled in picks. There was also a gummy worm crawling around the apple and a few pretzel Goldfish. The right side of the box held blueberries and raspberries, the letter A cut in cheddar cheese, cucumber slices, celery, sugar snap peas, carrots, and tomatoes on leaf picks to look like apples.

For Thursday, I had trouble thinking of something beginning with the letter A that would interest my daughter and be feasible with the supplies I had on hand. Finally, I remembered that I had a airplane cookie cutter. So, I made an Airplane peanut butter sandwich and let it fly in the blue sky of my Lock&Lock box. The clouds were made of cheddar cheese and I included Better Cheddars in an orange silicone cup to make the sun. The "yard" below included carrots, sugar snap peas, blueberries and grapes on picks, cucumber flowers on picks, and tomatoes on flower picks. The blue container held sunflower seeds. I liked the way this lunch turned out and my daughter ate most of it too.

If you are wondering about Monday and Friday of this week, you can see the Ax lunch she took on Monday here and the field trip lunch she had on Friday here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Letter M Themed Lunches

After spending one day per letter of the alphabet, my daughter's kindergarten class began focusing on one letter a week. They started with the letter M and we planned letter M themed lunches for the week. (These lunches are from September, I am WAY, WAY behind on posing!) Monday's lunch was inspired by the book Happy Birthday Moon. It is a story about a bear who gives the moon a hat for a birthday present. The bear places the hat high in a tree so that the moon can "wear" the hat. Later, the wind helps the moon return the hat to the bear and the bear thinks that the moon has given him a gift. So, for this lunch, my daughter had a Moon-shaped peanut butter sandwich wearing a cheddar cheese hat. She also had come blueberries in a bear shaped silicone cup with an orange bear pick, a few moon shaped crackers, a bear shaped egg, cucumber slices on a bear pick, carrots, and some sugar snap peas.

On Tuesday, she had a Map-themed lunch. She requested a pirate's treasure map. I used my sandwich sealer to make the peanut butter sandwich and then used food safe markers to draw on the map. I was attempting to draw a river, pine trees, rocks, a red X to mark the treasure, but drawing on bread doesn't always turn out the best. I used a flag from a Playmobil set for decoration and I used a couple of picks from a cupcake set to hold blueberries and raspberries. Pirates booty sat on top of a few carrots, sugar snap peas, and cucumber. My daughter saw me packing this lunch; she lifted the sandwich and was disappointed that nothing was under the X on the map. So, after she went to bed, I rummaged through her toys to find a small treasure box. I filled it with jelly beans and placed it under the map to surprise her at lunch the next day. I also included this note to go along with her lunch. When she first started kindergarten, I was concerned about what kind of note to include for someone who was just learning to read. I couldn't find any preschool or pre-reader lunch notes to buy. But, her school has really pushed "high-frequency" words (such as: I, like, we, the, a, and, me, look) so I have included lots of notes using these words. My daughter requested that I also include a note on this day with the quote, "Yo ho yo ho, a pirate's life for me." that she remembers from the Peter Pan play we saw earlier this fall. She couldn't read it independently, but I included it anyway.

Snack that day included blackberries with a koala pick, a few peanut butter pretzels, and two homemade strawberry-shaped gummies.

Wednesday's lunch that week was a moose-shaped peanut butter sandwich on a layer of sugar snap peas and carrots. She also had blueberries, raspberries, cucumber slices, a few pretzel Goldfish, and a milk chocolate Milano cookie. This was packed in our panda bento box.

I included a simple note using high frequency words with the moose lunch also.

Snack that day included wagon wheel pretzels, chocolate bunny graham crackers, grapes, and blackberries.

For Thursday, my daughter requested a "Mimi Mouse" lunch. The reading series that her class is using assigns characters to accompany letters of the alphabet and Mimi was the focus for the week. She gave me specific directions to follow this image and we created a peanut butter Mimi Mouse holding colby cheese just like in the picture. I was really glad I had that red bow pick on hand because she was insistent that we include the tail with a red bow. :) Mimi was accompanied by pretzel Goldfish, crackers, blueberries, slices of plum, a Roma tomato (my daughter really wanted it for some reason), red pepper slices, sugar snap peas, cucumber slices, and carrots.

The snack for Thursday included a homemade raspberry gummy star, peanut butter pretzel sandwiches, raspberries and blackberries with a shell pick.
I chose a monarch theme for Friday's lunch because it began with the letter M and because they were learning about the life cycle of a butterfly. In the left hand side of the box, I mimicked the life cycle stages: the sunflower seeds were the eggs, the gummy worm was the caterpillar  the pieces of Mini Wheats were the chrysalis, and the peanut butter sandwich was the butterfly. The other side of the box held slices of apple, blackberries, and cucumber slices.

I taped some butterflies to the lid of the second section and included another simple lunch note.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Bento of Thankfulness

 I was really excited about what was to be my second blog hop with Bento Bloggers and Friends. My five-year-old daughter and I had discussed some plans. When I originally explained the topic to her, she said  "Oh, Mommy I have TONS of ideas." She was especially in favor of the idea of making a lunch about being thankful for clocks; she has become particularly interested in time since beginning kindergarten.

So, I was planning to make a Thankful for Time ... with family ... to play, etc. type of post. But, then rota-virus turned our home upside down. It started with my one-year-old son, then my daughter, then me, and then my husband. It was seriously bad stuff and caused us to cancel most everything we had planned over the last week. As we were recovering, my husband commented that this had been the worst time of our married life. I have thought about that a good bit and I have decided that even though I was miserably sick with that virus, that we must be doing okay with each other and our family if this last week has been our worst time.

With that in mind, I packed this lunch for my husband for tomorrow. He was fantastic over the last several days, taking care of our kids even though he also felt terrible. I am very thankful for him and our children. I hope this lunch will be a bright spot in his day.

He will have gingerbread Oreos, Cheez-Its, almonds, cucumbers, Sunburst tomatoes, sugar snap peas, orange pepper slices, grapes, blueberries, and a turkey and muenster leaf-shaped sandwich.

I made a fall-themed lunch for my daughter for tomorrow. I am hoping the bright colors will entice her to eat something; all she ate out of today's lunch and snack was one bite of an apple slice and one single Goldfish. Everything else was untouched. It was her first day back to school after being sick and she said she did not feel like eating.

So, I am hoping that tomorrow will be better and that she will like this box. I packed cucumber slices, orange pepper slices, sugar snap peas, grapes, blueberries, Sunburst tomatoes, almonds, and a squirrel shaped peanut butter sandwich.

Be sure to click here to follow the hop and see what everyone else is thankful for. Next up is Lise over at Veggie Bento and you don't want to miss the lunch that she has prepared.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Themed Kindergarten Snacks

My daughter's kindergarten class has been focusing on one letter of the alphabet per week for the last several weeks and she has wanted to take lunches representing items or animals that start with the letter of the week. Therefore, my plans of lots of Halloween themed lunches for her have not played out the way I planned. But, I have been packing some her spooky snacks and this is a post to share some of those. First, we have a snack with large black bat picks holding raspberries and grapes. There are a few pretzels in the back and some chocolate covered sunflower seeds in the small green container, along with a pumpkin-shaped piece of cheddar cheese. My husband fund these picks at TJMaxx. I had to cut down the ends because the sticks were about eight inches long.

Another day, scarecrows were holding grapes that I placed on top of a few apple slices in a pumpkin-shaped silicone cup. Below that were a few peanut butter pretzels in a spider silicone cups. In a different snack, she had bat-shaped cheddar cheese bites with mini Saltine crackers in a pumpkin-shaped silicone cup along with apple slices and an Andes mint. Both of these snacks were packed in small Fit&Fresh boxes. I like these when I am using picks that are kind of tall or when I want to use a slightly wider containers like these pumpkin and spider cups.

She had a very simple and quick snack in a round Sistema container one day. The top layer held a small container of almonds, a gummy worm, a few apple slices cut like leaves and some Pirates's Booty. This container is great for packing something bulky like this popcorn and the two layers allow for quick and easy separation of the wet and dry foods.

On two other days, I decorated sugar cookies that were leftover from a baby shower that we hosted. I drew a web on one with a food safe marker and added a spider from a Martha Stewart die-cut set. Along with the cookie, she had green and purple grapes on spider picks, and a few Spiderman Cheez-Its in a spider cupcake liner. I used markers to decorate the other cookie like a Jack-o-Lantern. She had grapes and pretzel rods along with it. Both of the cookies were very fast to make and I was pleased with the way these snacks came together with minimal time invested.
Another snack was packed using my homemade Halloween silicone cups. It held a skull-shaped granola bite, a homemade skull-shaped gummy, bat-shaped pieces of apple, and few Cheez-Its. I was trying to sell my daughter on the idea of eating the granola bite by making it look cool in the skull, but she didn't go for it. She ate everything else and tried to pick the eyes and mouth off of the skull, but didn't eat it. I have been trying to get her to believe that these are very much like chocolate chip cookies, but so far she isn't buying it.

Lastly for this post, I will share one of my daughter's letter A Lunches. On Sunday night, as we talked about things that begin with the letter A, she got the idea that, "She needed an ax lunch for Monday. Ax starts with A - A X spells Ax." she said repeatedly.  I tried to suggest other items or animals that begin with A as alternatives because I wasn't sure that the school would be crazy about the idea of a kindergartner bringing an ax-themed lunch to school, but she was persistent. She needed the ax lunch. "The ax lunch should spell A X, the ax in the ax lunch should have a wooden handle, the ax in the ax lunch should be cutting her cucumber, and so on." So, I packed the ax lunch:

She had an ax-shaped peanut butter sandwich that I cut with a flag cookie cutter and then modified. I used pretzel rods for the wooden handle, and spelled AX in cheddar cheese. The ax was on top of carrots and sugar snap peas and packed along with tomatoes, cucumber, grapes, Goldfish, and a few gummies. I couldn't figure out how to position the sandwich so that it was slicing the cucumber the way she wanted, so instead I used a saw pick to cut the cucumber. I also added a mini clothespin with a zombie head because I thought it was cute along with the crazy ax idea. By the way, no one at school objected to the lunch, and she ate everything *except* the ax. Kids!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Halloween Themed Lunches

 Welcome to my first post as part of a Bento Bloggers and Friends Blog Hop:

This was a Halloween-themed lunch I packed for my husband in our PlanetBox. He had a pumpkin-shaped granola treat, carrots, pumpkin-shaped pear and apple slices (treated with Fruit-Fresh to avoid browning), cherry tomatoes, a Babybel with a Jack-o-lantern face, a few pretzels, a few chocolate covered sunflower seeds, a turkey and muenster sandwich in the shape of a witch's cauldron, and two homemade grape-flavored gummies. To create the brewing goo in the witch's pot, I used tri-color tortilla strips that we happened to have on hand to go with the chicken tortilla soup we were having for dinner.

The granola was made following a modified version of this recipe from Another Lunch. I have been using Melissa's granola recipe for about a year now and we love it! We add one teaspoon of cinnamon and sometimes substitute cinnamon chips, cappuccino chips, or Reese's Pieces (like in this one). I placed two Reese's pieces and some mini chocolate chips on top of the granola to make the face of this Jack-o-lantern.

The gummies were made using this recipe from Skip to My Lou. We have used blueberry, raspberry, orange, strawberry, green apple, and cherry flavored Jello and they all get eaten within a day! These were made with grape Jello because I wanted the purple color to go with the rest of the Halloween theme. I poured the gelatin into these cookie presses that I have had for years but never used successfully for cookies. I had been hanging onto them confident that I would use them for something, someday with my kids. And now, I am glad that I still have them because they worked great as gummy molds.

One day last week, I packed matching lunches for me and my husband in our black Lock & Lock boxes. We had cheddar crackers in homemade (see below) pumpkin silicone cups, apples cut in the shape of leaves, blueberries, grapes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, celery and carrots in another pumpkin cup, and a brownie in homemade skull and ghost cups.

I also used the homemade silicone cups in lunches for us at work on another day. These lunches, like the ones above, accompanied chicken salad and pitas that were packaged separately.

For another day at work, I packed the same food for the two of us, but used different boxes. I thought it was interesting how the amount of food looked like more in the PlanetBox compared to the LunchBots Trio even though it was essentially the same. One of the really cool things about packing bentos is fitting a lot into a small space. Anyway, we both had carrots, cucumber slices, tomatoes, a piece of granola bar, Goldfish, kiwi, grapes, raspberries, and a turkey and havarti sandwich. I decorated my husband's sandwich/pita with cheddar cheese pieces to create a pumpkin face. We also each had a gummy O because I am still trying to use up the bag of those that I bought for my daughter's letter O lunch.

Earlier this fall, I had the idea to make my own shaped silicone cups by purchasing silicone cupcake or muffin molds and then cutting them apart. I had noticed the prices of silicone molds getting lower and that they were becoming easier to find. I thought they would be easy to cut with scissors so when I saw this Halloween set at Walmart for about three dollars, I decided to try out my idea.They did cut easily, and I did not have problems with the silicone tearing even in the areas with sharp turns like in the bat's wings. I have been using these cups in lunches for the last couple of weeks; they are holding up very well and seem to be just a durable as any individual silicone cups I have purchased. So, as long as these themed silicone trays remain inexpensive, I will use this idea for other holidays.

For, my last lunch of this post, I will share the lunch I packed for my daughter's first kindergarten field trip. I was required to pack a fully disposable lunch for this trip. Luckily, I had been reading lots of bento blogs over the past couple of years so I a) knew what this meant and b) had stored up some good ideas on how to approach packing a lunch where nothing would be returned to me.

I had saved a few produce containers and decided to use this one, which once held tomatoes. I went with a pumpkin theme since they were visiting a pumpkin patch. She had a pumpkin-shaped and stamped peanut butter sandwich that I packed in the pumpkin snap-top bag from the Dollar Tree. The repurposed container held an apple slice with a leaf cutout, blueberries and grapes on homemade pumpkin picks, sugar snap peas, cucumber slices, orange pepper slices, cherry tomatoes, a few almonds, and a few Goldfish (under the almonds). I used paper spider cupcake liners and turned them inside out so the images would show; I learned that trick from Cristi at BentOnBetterLunches.

I placed a die cut from this Martha Stewart pack on top pf the container and packed the box inside a bag that my husband bought last year for a quarter at Walmart. The bag was made of the same material found in many types of inexpensive reusable shopping bags and had a Velcro closure. The orange color and robot drawing made it pretty perfect for this lunch. My daughter enjoyed the trip and was really pleased with the pumpkin, corn, gourd, and apple that she was allowed to select and bring home.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I am really excited to be part of this group and to be doing my first post as part of a blog hop. Be sure to click to follow the hop to the next stop at Rachel's Random Ramblings.Then, keep clicking so you don't miss any of the cool lunches and great ideas included in all of the other posts.