Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mellow Yellow

Today was all about yellow, and it's really anything but mellow! I can't believe all the options for yellow foods, but I stuck with what I had on hand rather than going crazy. I wanted yellow watermelon and yellow carrots and a golden kiwi.. could have done something cute with an egg yolk or pasta, but I had a bit too much going on as it was already. Next time..

rainbow color yellow bento lunch
Yellow bell peppers, summer squash, swiss cheese, ranch in container, organic smoked white meat turkey hot dogs, corn on the cob, graham cracker Goldfish, Golden Delicious apple, Brown Cow vanilla yogurt with yellow star sprinkles, banana, and pineapple.

In this lunch...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Well, our ladybugs arrived today from Insect Lore... hundreds of them! We have a unmanageable amount of rose bushes in our garden, yet the aphids always seem to manage just fine. I thought about getting some lacewings, but settled on ladybugs thinking they'd be more fun for our little one, and I was right! She had a blast releasing them into different areas of the garden, and even had a ladybug lunch for the occasion. So far, we've had great luck with Insect Lore, and been happy with all the caterpillars we've got in the past. This year, we even ordered a mantis egg case, which hopefully hatches successfully for us.

ladybug release

ladybug bento lunch
Cucumbers, carrot, watermelon cubes, Babybel cheese, yogurt raisins in container, open face salami and provolone sandwich on white toast with mustard, and Trader Joe's roasted seaweed.
ladybug release garden

ladybug release garden

In this lunch...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kabob Sampler

I keep seeing folks talking about these Aidells chicken sausages.. mostly the apple and chicken one, but I'm not so sure about that one just yet. I found one with roasted garlic and gruyere cheese though, and that sounded delicious! I just sliced them and sauteed them in a little oil, and while the sausage-y texture is still a bit odd to me, the taste was absolutely delicious. I would definitely try other Aidells products.. I'm now on the hunt for the Chorizo chicken sausage or portabello one that's on their website!

Aidell's kabob bento lunch
Kabobs of Aidell's garlic and gruyere chicken sausage, white and rye toasts, watermelon cubes on a stick with feta cheese, chocolate raisins, and skewers of cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and parsley.

This lunch is linked up to Bent On Better Lunch's Lunch On A Stick Day post!

In this lunch...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

On the Road

Today, I had to get some errands done, and rather than only get part of them done because I had to run back home for lunch or *the horror* end up with the convenience of 'fast food' or something like that, I packed a munch-able lunch that would travel well, and still be fun and nutritious. I've been wanting to try the using an apple instead of bread slices for a sandwich for a little while, having seen it somewhere before, but with peanut butter. It turned out really well and is the first time I've managed to get my kiddo to eat apple skin. Bonus!

car apple sandwich bento lunch
Pretzel rods with strawberry cream cheese and strawberry fruit leather hearts, Dove chocolate, parsley, car shaped hard boiled egg, cherry tomatoes, and a smoked turkey, sharp cheddar, and smoked Gouda 'sandwich' using apple slices in place of the bread.

We linked up at Bent On Better Lunches: Stop for Lunch linky! Want to see other great lunches featuring travel, traffic, trucks, and more? Then, be sure and take a detour on your journey, and head over for a visit!

In this lunch...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Recipe Review - Baked or Grilled Tofu

This recipe is great! It is a fantastic way to eat tofu, and is so versatile, both in seasoning, as well as temperature, cut, and cooking method. You can tweak the marinade to your liking with no trouble at all. You can eat it hot, room temp, or chilled. You can bake it or grill it! The only step you can't fool with too much is 'milking' the liquid out of the tofu. The best way to do this is get extra firm tofu, wrap it in a clean kitchen towel and lay something heavy on it. Stick it in the fridge the night before or the morning of and let the towel draw out and soak up all that water. That way, the marinade you put your tofu in gets sucked right in. Yum!! Play with the marinade if you like. Try to make the marinade spicier with more chili sauce or garlic. Add some sweetness with honey or brown sugar and sesame seeds. Use plain soy sauce or Ponzu. You can even use your old standby vinaigrette style salad dressing. Whatever you like!

Best Baked Tofu

I have used different variations of the marinade, but these are the staple ingredients - 1 block of extra firm tofu (pressed and cut to your liking), 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, 1 Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tsp sriracha, 1/8 tsp dry ground ginger (can use 1 Tbsp fresh grated too), and 2-3 pressed garlic cloves.

Spicy Baked Grilled Tofu

Stir the marinade and add your cut pieces of tofu. Let soak, tossing or flipping a few times, for at least an hour. The longer they are allowed to sit and soak up the goodness, the deeper the flavor you'll get. Stash your pan in the refrigerator while they are marinading.

You can grill the tofu on medium for 5 or so minutes per side. You can bake on a foil lined cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for anywhere from 10 - 20 minutes per side, flipping every 10 minutes. The longer you bake them the denser they will be. At a shorter baking time, they will have a sort of crusty exterior, but silky interior. I like them both ways, depending on the application. On salads or for dipping, or if eating them cold, I like them cooked a bit longer. If eating warm or over rice or noodles, a little less cooking time is my preference. Obviously, if you cube your tofu rather than leave in larger chunks, the marinade time as well as cook time could be reduced. Experiment to find what you like best!

Spicy Baked Grilled Tofu

You can serve your tofu with rice or sobe noodles with a similar marinade and fresh green onion or parsley and toasted almonds (or even crunchy chow mien noodles) on them. You can eat them plain as a snack. You can serve them on Asian greens. You can eat them warm, cold, or room temp. However you eat them, enjoy! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Just Monkeyin' Around

Okay, so my monkey looks more like a bear (or a pig according to the hubby), but I will continue to claim it is the fault of the container, not the sandwich maker. When I set the ears lower on the head, it looked like a monkey, but there just wasn't room in this particular box to lay the ears that way, so this is what she ended up with. I told her it was a monkey and she didn't challenge it, so good enough says I!

I tried to keep the lunch in the monkey theme beyond the sandwich too. Let's see.. omnivore diet, so had to have fruits and greens and meats and of course, bananas! We also made smoothies for lunch (and saved some in the freezer for a couple more days) of Brown Cow vanilla yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. Yum!

Monkey Bento Lunch
Monkey Fluffernutter sandwich with Naan for bread, strawberry fruit leather, roasted seaweed (which before I could take a picture of the lunch, 3 more sheets had already been eaten), banana, raspberries, parsley, chow mien noodle 'twigs', Trader Joe's mini peanut butter cups, smoked turkey, and smoked Gouda cheese.

In this lunch...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mommy's Day

I am amazed every day at how my life has changed since becoming a mom. While today is about celebrating and being celebrated for this incredible role we play, in reality we celebrate it every day of our lives. What a blessing. What an honor. What a journey!

This year, we did a couple projects to share with Grandma, Great Grandma, and Nana, as well as to keep for ourselves. Both of these were found in the Preschool edition of The Mailbox. I love that publication and am lucky that our library carries it and lends it out, so I'm not spending a fortune on a subscription.

Mother's Day Project Plant

The first project was a red paint hand print and painted green stem that we laminated as a bookmark with a poem on the back that says, "After reading for about an hour, mark your place with this special flower." The other was an extension project of the seeds we are already growing at home for our herb and veggie garden in our yard. The little one planted Marigolds about two weeks prior to Mother's Day and decorated the pots with stickers. In each is a poem that says, "My heart you touch. My hand you hold. Please accept this Marigold. I planted it with a finger or two because it's Mother's Day and I love you!"

Of course for Mother's Day, I was the dessert maker. It seems that is how it always works out. Tuna pasta salad and something sweet are always what is requested. I made the Trader Joe truffle brownies and OMG are they fantastic! I also did my Lemon Tart, which is so light and refreshing, and so versatile too. Use whatever fruit you like and you have a wonderful dessert! I didn't take step by step photos, nor did I take a photo of it sliced. I meant to... I did, but before I knew it, it was gone!

Strawberry Lemon Tart
Lemon Berry Tart
Ingredients - 1 1/4 c flour, 1/2 c butter, 3 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 c lemon curd, 8 oz cream cheese (room temp), 2 c berries or fruit of choice (strawberry/raspberry and strawberry/kiwi/blackberry are favorites or ours)
Mix together flour, butter, brown sugar and egg to form a dough. Press firmly into a tart pan with removable bottom. Bake 14-16 minutes at 400 degrees until light golden. Cool at least 30 minutes before adding filling.
To make the filling, beat together the cream cheese and lemon curd until smooth. Spread over the crust. Refrigerate 1 hour, or up to overnight. Just before serving, arrange (or pile on) your fruit. Slice and serve!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Some Bunny Loves You

Yes, Easter has passed, but bunnies are just too darn cute to sit in storage until next year. Plus bunnies were on the request list today, so who can deny the 3 year old? No really! Who can? I need pointers!
Bunny Bento Lunch
Carrots, ranch in container, yogurt raisins, smoked Gouda cheese, mini turkey burger, Trader Joe's veggie straws, and an apple bunny.

In this lunch...