Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mmmmmm.... toes.....

I have a small collection of Halloween lunches now and a couple of sweet "use it up" lunches for Mom too!

This first one is a bit of a stretch to get to the Halloween theme.  It also is a good example of bad planning!  I wanted to give Monstro sushi but the extra veggies I had available were wet, sloppy ones.  So instead of being able to use 1 nice, full box I had to use 2.

The top tier is a sushi snake.  It's what we've decided is "Katsushi."  I used a leftover piece of torikatsu, mixed white sushi rice and brown long grain rice (seasoned with sugar and rice vinegar of course), some carrot strips and Okonomi sauce.  I always eat the ragged ends (we call them butts) and this was so good!  I put in a spider cupcake cup to help take up space and tucked in a skull skewer of star shaped green peppers from Hilltop.  Then on the bottom, I made an eyeball out of silicone cupcake cups with pineapple bits inside.  Then the spider was filled with tomato wedges from Hilltop.  Yeah, we've STILL got veggies from our trip 10 days ago!!

For my lunch I used the other 1/2 of the tomato wedges and a lone pepper star as a garnish for my cajun pasta with seitan.  We had it for dinner Friday night when a veggie friend stopped by and have been eating off of the MASSIVE left overs since then.  I used the seitan recipe linked above but subbed in cajun seasonings and didn't sauce it in the oven.  When it was baked I cut it into small cubes and used it in the pasta recipe just like chicken!  It was REALLY good! :D  The picture doesn't look like much but I was a happy, happy girl eating that!  I also took the rest of the carrot that I shaved some pieces off of for the sushi.  It went in a baggie because I didn't want it to get sauce-y!  This meal (and the next) show something I LOVE about the Lunchbots Eco.  It is really easy to just dump things in it, throw on a cute accent and go.  And it's big enough that I don't need to pack several things to get through the day.

I was really excited conceptualizing this next lunch.  Then I ran into some stumbling blocks.
My vibrantly (but naturally) colored pasta faded badly while cooking and the colors that did stay were covered by the sauce (handily frozen in icecube form a week or so ago!).  I realized all of my Halloween cutters were WAY too big for the pepperoni slices I wanted to put on top of the pasta.  So, I had the in-house artist cut out some ghosts with scissors, carved that red pepper cheek to look like a jack-o-lantern and used some other veggies to give the lunch some brighter color!  We've got broccoli tucked around the edges to hold things in place, wedges of a lemon cucumber we grew in our yard, some carrots and a 1/2 prune plum with craisin eye.  I threw some mixed beans in with the pasta too for a little extra oomph since it was a Gym day too.

I got to use up the "scraps" from Monstro's lunch to make my own.  We had grilled chicken salads the night before and there was a small piece of chicken, some goat cheese and some greens left.  I chopped up the chicken and greens.  I shredded the rest of the carrot that wasn't sliced into Monstro's box.  I cubed the other 1/2 of the lemon cucumber and some tomato left from the day before.  I sliced up some radishes that have been languishing in the crisper since the bento class -  there are only so many mice and mushrooms I can carve!  It all got tossed into the box with a little bear full of salad dressing, some craisins and the other 1/2 of the prune plum from the lil one's lunch.  I did take the time to make some cajun skillet croutons.  We have 3/4 loaf of sourdough rye cocktail bread laying around.  So I cubed a few slices, dusted them with cajun spice and toasted them in a bit of olive oil and butter.

And finally.... those tasty toes!  Monstro loves having this doll foot in his lunch.  When I saw that Pepperidge Farms now makes Goldfish shaped bread I was beyond excited!  I thought it was the cutest thing ever but the kiddo wasn't so impressed.  And for $4 it wasn't worth it if he wasn't going to freak out over it.  But, I was still inspired to make a piranha sandwich.  So here it is!  I used red pepper for the evil fish eye and bloody teeth chewing on the foot.  The sandwich was cut with kitchen scissors and is filled with hummus, pepperoni and pepperjack cheese.  I did have to cut off a small bit of toothpick and use it to keep the teeth in place.  Monstro was warned before I packed it up so that he wouldn't eat the wood!  I tucked raw broccoli around it.  The smaller box has tomato bits with a .... wait for it... tooth-pick and hummus with carrot fingernails - both in spider cups.  There are more carrots, red pepper strips and some sauteed yam slices tucked around the spiders.

Monday, September 26, 2011

All Things For Sale Affiliate

Peppermilk is now an All Things For Sale affiliate!  Wooohooo! 

The only problem is that I can't get the code to work here on blogger.  Sooooo.... until I get this all figured out, if you've got a hankering for some new bento boxes or amazingly cute picks just hit the link in this big mess of code! ;-)
<iframe width="200" height="497" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" framespacing="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" border="0" hspace="0" vspace="0" src=""></iframe>

Hopefully I'll have it worked out by Tuesday night!  Just in time for a new round of Halloween lunches!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

All Things For Sale Giveaway!!

My new favorite online store for affordable bento supplies, All Things For Sale, is hosting a Halloween giveaway!  (RIP Ichiban!)

You can enter on the site and on Facebook.  And to make it even more super cool... if one of your Facebook friends wins through your shared link then you win too!! 

Here's the prize.  I have to say that I've been eying those cutters AND I think that box looks like Sabbath from Emily The Strange!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Double Halloween Bento

I feel like today is a bento fail day :-(  I wasn't particularly inspired, had some malfunctions and the lack of light in my kitchen made for some pretty sad pictures.  *sigh*  Oh well, it was still a Halloween extravaganza!

Monstro asked for chili again so we've got a repeat - chili and spider cornbread.  I took a sock from the dollar bin at Target and cut the foot off to make the thermos Halloween-y.  Other than being able to see through it up close I think it works pretty well!  I tried to carve an orange Jack O Lantern but when I was scooping out the orange pulp I scraped right through the skin!  Wooops!  So I made him a cyclops but I think it's pretty obvious he was an accident - wahwah.  I gave him the rest of the green pepper left over from yesterday and some carrots.

Then I made my own lunch.  It's a turkey sandwich with sliced tomato and a TON of spring salad mix!  I took a piece of turkey (leftovers from the "Cool Lunch") and cut out a spooky cat.  But that pinky color looks kinda.... well, gross.  At least it tasted good!  I also had a plum prune, a spider filled with carrots and a skull n crossbones cupcake pick of pepperjack cheese cubes.  It was all tucked into my Lunchbots Eco.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Who loves Halloween? We do! We do!

Even though I didn't have to work until the afternoon I was super excited to get started on this lunch the night before.  Monstro asked for a "Cool Lunch" (aka Lunchables) and I told him that I'd make him a Mommy Love Cool Lunch.  So he picked out the crackers (reduced fat Wheat Thins?!?!  Weird!), cookies, meat and cheese.  He even got to be a smarty-pants and prove to me that some Lunchables do indeed come with Oreos.  Then I let him pick out what shape the meat and cheese would be cut.  He chose the question marks which made it a little challenging to fit the Halloween theme in there!  But!  I did it!

  A creepy Horned Owl hoots on top of his pile of beans (black and pinto mixed).  I just free-handed the shape with a knife and added cheese wings and a nori face.  The tomato looked like a tiny fall gourd so I put that in and after I took the picture I remembered that we have scarlet runner beans that are a very Halloween-y shade of purple so I added those in too.  I stamped the "WHO" out of cheese and added it to a section of green pepper from our trip to Hilltop Gardens.  The little monkey is filled with pineapple.  His crackers and his Oreo (in a Trick-or-Treat cupcake cup of course!) are in the top mesh part of a sandwich box.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Devil's in the details

We've got another Halloween lunch today.  I can't decide if I like the challenge of making Halloween lunches from now until November or if I need to dial it back to just a few and then the whole week of Halloween.  Hmmm... I guess we'll see how inspired I can stay! :D

For today's lunch Monstro had leftover chicken strips from Pioneer Woman.  We LOVE these chicken strips and I take some liberties with the recipe.  I always add more spices and hot sauce than called for!  I always try to make extras and freeze them uncooked to pull out and use later.  For this lunch I just sat 2 cooked strips aside and put them in the toaster oven to crisp them up in the morning.  I put them in special "oil absorbing" cupcake cups to keep them crispy and topped them with skull n crossbones punched from nori.

The onigiri is mixed brown and white sushi rice plus a heaping mound of tobiko for color.  While the rice was warm I mixed sushi seasoning and the tobiko then spooned it into plastic wrap.  If you keep twisting the wrap it makes a nice little circle.  I made 3 balls and 2 small cubes then I froze them.  In the morning I microwaved it straight from the freezer for 30 seconds then 20 seconds to warm/moisten it up.  I just used kitchen scissors to cut the nori face.

The bottom tier is carrots, frozen wild blueberries with a prune plum eye and mixed beans with a crossbones pick.  I had to cut the bottom of the pick off for it to fit - a sad fate for most cupcake picks in our bento!

I'm trolling Flickr for Halloween inspirations - if you see anything awesome let me know!! :D

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Halloween already?!?

Yep, at our house it's Halloween time as soon as Target starts packing up the Back To School section.  That's when Monstro starts asking every day when they'll have "pushy guys" - those horrible, noisy, electronic Halloween decorations.  It becomes his personal Holy Grail to find the newest, coolest (aka loudest) pushy guys each year.  He collects plastic skulls and hanging bats.  We usually have his Halloween costume planned by the second week of September.  It's kind of awesome really :D

So, since he's ready, I'm ready.  Halloween theme bentos commence today!  It's a very simple lunch and not very pretty.  But it will be yummy and filling and that little spider is too cute!  Monstro wanted chili for dinner last night so when I made the cornbread I made 2 spider muffins so he could have them in his lunch to kick off the Halloween lunch bonanza. 

Today he has left over chili and a spider corn muffin with black beans.  I was pretty excited when it came out of the oven and the beans had settled into wonky little eyes!

I think I'm going to make a thermos sleeve so I can change the look of the thermos for different lunches.  "Spring Flowers Hello Kitty" just doesn't feel right with the spider! ;-)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Yay for free veggies!!

Saturday morning Monstro and I went to Hilltop Gardens to harvest his garden plot from summer camp.  When we got there we were told we could take whatever we wanted so we went bananas!  Of course, lots of the goodies ended up in lunches for Monday and more will show up through the week!

For Monday morning I have to be at work when Monstro is just getting up for school.  So both my and his lunches are ready to go tonight to save time in the morning.  I don't do this often because I like to be able to change my mind about what goes in depending on how we're feeling in the morning.  But, tonight it just had to be done!

We both have mostly the same things - good for saving time and my brain power!  It didn't save enough brain power because I forgot to add his scarlet runner beans.  Oops!

Here's what we'll be eating Monday afternoon:

From our Hilltop adventure we have pattypan squash (in that amazing gratin on the left of each lunch), cucumbers, red tomatoes, yellow tomatoes and that awesome rainbow bell pepper!

Here's a link to the pattypan gratin that we've both got!  I used just mozzarella and a local Parmesan - no cheddar.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I've been encouraged to blog about Bento and share our lunches.  I resisted for a while because there are dozens upon dozens of Bento blogs out there who do things, I feel, much better than I do.

My philosophy on Bento is pretty simple:  if it looks good, they'll eat it!

I don't think anyone needs to spend an hour making lunches for children or themselves (although I do love to look at the ones who do!) but I think that giving just a little extra attention to detail makes everyone feel special and loved. 

I love making Bento as a way to be creative and to show my son how much I care.  Not just in the addition of heart shaped cucumbers or sandwiches with smiles but in the balance of nutritious foods and naturally vivid colors used.  I also feel like it's a good unspoken lesson being "green" when we're not using things that get thrown away each meal.