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.

Monday, October 8, 2012

V is for Vampire and Halloween Supplies I Will Use Soon

The day the letter V was covered, I packed a Vampire lunch in our blue Sassy box. The top section held a cheddar cheese V and two circle-shaped peanut butter sandwiches held by a vampire that was propped up on a Milano cookie and some pretzel Goldfish. The vampire is from a set of cupcake picks from Wilton. These are made of a fairly thick plastic sheet that can be washed and reused. I think they will be useful as baran in addition to decorating sandwiches like in this lunch.


The bottom section of the lunch held blueberries, cherry tomatoes, carrots, raspberries, annd more blueberries all on homemade picks. These were all lying on sugar snap peas. The picks were made using clipart for a vampire bat, vampires, and scenes from a Max and Ruby episode where Max dresses like a vampire to try to scare Ruby. I included another screenshot from that episode as a lunch note for my daughter. She loved watching this show when she was three and she sometimes still watches it when she feels like a "feel good" familiar show.

I have picked up several Halloween-themed items I plan to use in lunches and snacks this month. I am going to share some of these here because I used to read blogs and see someone use something really cool in a lunch and want to get the item, but then not do it because I wouldn't see it in time to order and receive it before the holiday had passed.With that in mind, I thought it might be good to do a preview of Halloween supplies, before I use them in lunches.

First, I was happy to find these Halloween linzer cookie cutters. I found a Christmas set last year; I used those a lot to cut cheese and nectarines for my daughter. So, I think this Halloween set will also get a lot of use.The small size of these is great for creating cute little accents for bentos. This set (Wilton Halloween Metal Cookie 18-Piece Cutter Set) also has lots of small, cute cutters.

I found this Wilton Bat Silicone Ice Cube Tray that I plan to use to make bat-shaped gummies. We have made gummy candy a few times at home using this recipe. It is a great twenty minute or so activity for my daughter and it allows us to make cute things to add to themed lunches and snacks.The gummies peel out very easily from silicone trays and there is no need to spray the trays with nonstick coating. A Silicone Skull Tray is also available.

Last year, my mom bought me this set of pumpkin silicone cups after Halloween was over. I saved it all year long and now that October has arrived, they are finally getting some use. I have used them in several lunches for work and for a few of my daughter's snacks. This year, I bought a set of spiders and they also look really cute in lunches.


Silicone Spider Cups

Silicone Pumpkin Cups

At Michael's I bought a few foam stickers to use for homemade picks. I think the little faces on the mini-clothespins are really cute. I plan to stick those on picks or to clip them on silicone cups.

I bought this cookie cutter set on sale at a Ross store. I think the broom and witches hat will make a cute lunch, and the cauldron can potentially be used for lots of other things like a fishbowl, globe, and so on.

And, last (for this post anyway), I bought these Martha Stewart Adhesive DieCuts to use as baran and as decorations on lunchbox and container lids throughout this month. The package has several items of various sizes.
They are all cute; I am sure they will come in handy one night when I am rushed and need to just throw something in the box to finish rather than fussing over the details.