Friday, September 30, 2011

Butterflies & Autumn Leaves

Bella has an autumn themed lunch again. I just love fall, and leaves, and I love the colours of this lunch. ♥  It's pretty yummy too - I know, I nibbled quite a bit when I was making it up ;) She has grapes, carrots, & tomatoes,  a homemade pumpkin oatmeal muffin I baked last night, leaf shaped ham & cheese quesadilla, a treat of leaf shaped butter cookies, and fruit leather leaves.

Here is my picky picky Beanstalk's lunch. Mandarin orange, string cheese, Power Bar, grapes, and pumpkin oatmeal muffin.

Pickle had a leaf shaped peanut butter sandwich. This is a typical lunch for him. Sandwich, yogurt, apple juice. Sometimes I include an oatmeal cookie. Yesterday he had 2 sandwiches so I didn't add a cookie, but I will today.

Bento of the Week

Yesterday the lunches were full of butterflies :) Birdie & Sprout had butterfly pasta, carrots, grapes, butterfly shaped cheddar, & butterfly crackers with butterfly shaped mozzarella slices in between. Lots of butterflies! Sprout won't eat the veggie pasta so I picked out just the plain ones for her. Thankfully Birdie isn't as picky about her noodles!

Bella got a butterfly PB sandwich, a little pink box of almonds with a mozzarella butterfly on the lid, tomatoes with cheese butterflies, and the same crackers and cheese as the little girls.

Pickle got butterflies too! I had a little more fun with his :)

Beanstalk took a bowl of cereal, and orange, and little bottle of milk for lunch yesterday. I didn't get a picture. And I didn't make lunch for the little girls today, because their Sailor Boy dad took the morning off to stay home with them and they want him to make them macaroni & cheese from a box.  I'm going to be at the salon all morning, that's my birthday gift from my folks! ♥ Happy Friday to me, and to you too!

Some stuff used for these lunches:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Greens to Go!

I just love the container I used for Bella's lunch today! It's a Klip It Salad To Go by Sistema. There is a divided plate that sits atop the main bowl part, with a little well in the middle for a small lidded dip/dressing container. It can also be used without the top tier. Very cute. Bella has chicken garden salad on the bottom, apple slices (some cut in celestial shapes) & shredded cheese (for sprinkling on the salad) on top, and a little caramel dip for the apples. The container came with a fork & knife that clip in the lid but she prefers the Light My Fire Spork.

The little girls' lunches are not very inspired, but they are still cute, and nutritious - that's the main thing of course - right? ;) Goldfish crackers, carrots, cheese, & turkey for Sprout, and goldfish, carrots, cheese, & grapes for Birdie, who has gone off meats again.

For Pickle I used both our Lunch Punch Train and Train Bytes cutters to make a long peanut butter sandwich train.

I was able to puzzle it all into one container but there was a wee empty space, that he insisted I fill with a piece of the cut off bits - funny boy - and hey, those bits are MY breakfast!  :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Please excuse the mess...

Excuse the Mess

I'm messing around with the templates and stuff...

Well, I didn't do much, just made the one long side column into two...
I'll live with that for a bit :)

Bento Lunch #46 - This & That

 Leftovers in the lunchboxes today :)

Chicken & sausage kebabs for Bella, on a bed of lettuce, some shredded mozzarella, Triscuit crackers, and Cran-Apple Jell-O.  I just discovered that Jell-O makes an unflavoured variety you can mix with the juice of your choice - sweet! That's got to be better for the sproutlets than the artificially flavoured and coloured kind, right?

Turkey & lettuce for Bean Sprout & Baby Bird. Sprout has rice, heart & star apple slices, and cheddar cheese,  while Birdie has shredded mozzarella & cheddar shapes, and red grapes & apples.

Beanstalk & Pickle opted for the school hot lunch, pancakes.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Bridal Lunch

For the past few days, my 4 year old Bean Sprout has been wearing one of her dress-up gowns, a lacy white Communion dress, everywhere - she even wore it to bed last night - and her little sister, 2 year old Birdie, has been trying to copy her look with a lacy white shawl. So I thought a white lunch would be fitting for my little brides:

Yogurt, Cauliflower, Mozzarella,
Chicken, Rice, and Egg
I used my egg molds to shape the rice!

They didn't even touch their cute little cauliflower trees :( I love the smiling tree picks and thought they might make the veggie cute enough to try. They gobbled up the rest though, after I added soy sauce to the rice :)

My little brides 
●  ●  ●  ● 
Stuff used to make these muffin tin meals:

Blustery Day

What a blustery, rainy morning we are having! I kind of like it, to be honest, the wind and wet outside makes my home seem all the cozier inside by comparison :) I like the cooler days that fall brings. Yesterday I simmered orange slices, cinnamon and cloves on my stove, just for the smell of it, and the orange and yellow leaves blowing past the windows made me smile.

But this weather is not so nice for my school-age sproutlets, whose classrooms may be a bit gloomy, and who won't get outdoor recess - so I tried to put a little sunshine into lunch time. Smiling sun cheese quesadilla (atop the scraps from cutting it out), turkey rolled up on flower picks, grapes, and salad. Bright, cheerful oranges & greens.

An elephant mama & baby PB sandwich for Pickle. 

This Lunch Punch reminds me of Disney's Dumbo, which reminds me of the lullabye "Baby Mine" that I sang to my Pickle at bedtime when he was a baby, and still do to this day. I doubt he will think of that when he opens his lunch, but it brought a smile to MY morning  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall for Lunch

Autumn is finally here, my favourite time of year! For the first day of Fall, the sproutlets are getting colourful autumn themed lunches. The vibrant colours of their EasyLunchboxes lids are so fall-ish too! 

Fruit Leather Leaves
Here is Bella's bento - she has cinnamon pumpkin pancakes, covered with "fallen leaves" cut from fruit leather roll-ups, Bugles corn chip "horns o'plenty",  cheese pumpkins & leaves, green & red grapes, and Granny Smith apple wedges. I love this lunch!  ♥ 

Bella's Autumn Bento

Beanstalk didn't want cheese or grapes, but he had peanuts & raisins. 
He also ate most of his fruit leather leaves while I was packing the lunches!
(I gave him a plain un-cut roll to take with him)

Beanstalk's Autumn Bento

Birdie and Sprout both had the same thing as Bella but in smaller portions.

Birdie & Sprout's Autumn bentos

And last of all, for my Pickle's first day of Fall, a pumpkin shaped peanut butter sandwich on white wheat decorated with bite sized whole wheat leaf and acorn mini peanut butter sandwiches. And yogurt and oatmeal cookies as usual :)

Pickle's Autumn Bento

Don't the leaf & acorn fruit leather roll-ups look appetizing? So pretty too! I almost wanted to stick them on the windows instead of in the lunches!

Cutting fruit leather leaves for fall lunches

Time to start decking my halls for Fall!

Stuff I used to make these Fall Lunches:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Feast your eyes on my sandwich cutter drawer!

I have an abundance of sandwich cutters. 26 at current count! Hey, I make a lot of sandwiches! Anyways, I needed a way to organize them all, that was easily accessible, but not out in the open - my kitchen looks cluttered enough as it is :) I thought about mounting them on the cupboard door with the Lunch Punch iGrips, but (A) there wasn't enough space on the door for all of them, and (B) that might still look cluttered.  I had pretty much resigned myself to mounting them all on the wall in the pantry/laundry room - but was still a bit dissatisfied with that, since it's outside of my prep space. Sigh.

Then we ran out of garlic salt.  As I added it to the grocery list, I decided to take inventory of all our spices and see what else we needed. I opened the spice drawer ... which is conveniently located beneath the pull-out cutting board... and has tiered rows... see where this is going... and inspiration struck! I could put the spices I reach for most often on the spice rack on the wall, and the ones I use less frequently in the cupboard above the stove - and use the tiered spice drawer for the sandwich cutters!

Before: boring old spice drawer
After: fabulous new Sandwich Cutter Drawer !

Perfecto! Each of the 5 tiers is the perfect width and depth to hold 4 sandwich cutters, and they can be stacked 2 deep - so there's room for all I have now, and more...  and see how easy it is to see all my sandwich cutting options at a glance? 

And what of the spices? This lovely wall rack holds most of them, still in proximity to the stove (on the wall right above the drawer they were in, in fact), and for the spices that didn't fit on the rack - I had the brilliant idea (if I say so myself) to make a shallow shelf across the back wall of the cupboard over the stove, using long nails and a yardstick.  Oh how I love when an organizing idea works out so well!

Yes, organizing makes me happy. I'm such a geek.
I know I'm not alone though, which is why I am perfectly comfortable sharing :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The freezer is my new friend!

Thanks to a tip from a fan of Family Fresh Cooking's facebook page, and my freezer, I'm going to be saving some precious morning time from now on!

It had never occurred to me to make peanut butter sandwiches ahead of time and freeze them. I didn't even know you could freeze peanut butter, had no idea what it would be like once thawed. Not wanting to send my Pickle off to school with a sandwich that might not be to his liking, I experimented first. I used my SweetBytes heart sandwich cutter since it made 2 symmetrical hearts I could put together,  so if it didn't turn out well I'd only be wasting one slice, and if it did turn out, Pickle could have it for an after school snack. I suppose in retrospect I could have just folded the one slice in half - but that wouldn't have looked as cute :)

So here it is, a plain peanut butter sandwich on white wheat (no butter or maragarine). I spread it thick so I could see if the consistency of the peanut butter was affected.

Lacking sandwich baggies, I wrapped it in plastic cling wrap and put it in the freezer overnight. Frozen, the peanut butter looked about the consistency of fudge. I don't know why I thought it might not freeze well - after all, I put peanut butter balls in the freezer and they come out just fine  :)

When I packed the sproutlets' lunch bags, I put the frozen PB in a lidded sandwich box to thaw until noon, so I could see if it got mushy from condensation, and what it would look like to Pickle by lunchtime if I gave him one packed frozen.

When I opened up the sandwich box at lunch time, I was pleasantly surprised - it was perfect! There was no moisture in the container, the bread was soft, and the peanut butter seemed to have returned to it's original consistency - only slightly darker in colour. And the best thing was, it had not soaked into the bread at all! Peanut butter sandwiches packed freshly made don't look this good hours later - the peanut oil seeps into the bread - but this frozen and thawed sandwich looked freshly made!

Pickle did have it for snack after school, and ate it right up - success!

Now I can make a whole loaf of bread into sandwiches and freeze them, then just grab one in the morning and pack it frozen :) Hooray for time-savers!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Arrr Ye Hungry, Me Hearties?

It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day!  And Muffin Tin Monday too :)

I had kind of a hard time thinking of something pirate-y AND healthy to make for my sproutlets. The first things to come to mind were gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins, and gummy fruit snacks shaped like gems or sharks... which the kids would love... BUT, candy doesn't have a place in our lunches this week - I've taken the Family Fresh Cooking Project Lunchbox 30-Day Challenge pledge :)  I'll give the scallywags their chocolate doubloons some other time - this week their pirate's gold will come in the form of sliced carrots ;)  So, what do little pirates eat? Whatever they can catch with their little swords! Their seaworthy tins hold turkey dog octopi, fish sticks, fish eggs, a school of goldfish, grape jellyfish & peach starfish, and a cheese map around the tin to the X marks the spot over the carrot gold.

Cap'n Bean Sprout

First Mate Black Birdie

My schoolgirl didn't get a pirate booty lunch, but this friendly frittata should put a smile on her face anyways...

Carrots & mozzarella stripes, mango fruit leather squares nestled in almonds, and ham, cheese & peppers frittata (modified from this recipe for the ingredients I had).

Pickle got playful dolphins peanut butter sandwiches made with a Flipper Bytes sandwich cutter, yogurt & apple juice.

Project LunchBox –

Like the look of our EasyLunchboxes? Get some!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thank you, Ponyo

"Ponyo loves HAM!" exclaimed the title character in one of Birdie & Sprout's favorite movies, Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo. And now, thanks to that little redheaded goldfish, my little Birdie does too! She used to eat ham only if I camouflaged it somehow, but today I gave her some plain (well it did have a little flower pick through it - but it wasn't rolled up in anything). "Wha dis?" she asked, wrinkling her nose when I put it in front of her. "Ham!" I said brightly, "like Ponyo!" "Ham?" "Yep - Ponyo loves ham. You love ham too!" "Otay." And she ate it! Thanks Ponyo :)

Oh, and thanks to my handy dandy little egg molds, the little girls don't need to be encouraged to eat hard boiled eggs either :) The extra time spent making their lunches cute feels absolutely worthwhile when I see my sproutlets dig into their healthy lunches without making a face. 

So, my plan for today's school lunches was a sort of a breakfast for lunch thing - waffles, ham, eggs, strawberries, and yogurt. There was some deviation from that plan though, as Bella and Beanstalk had their own ideas about what they did and didn't want in their lunchboxes...  

Bella ended up with waffles, ham, an egg, syrup for dipping, and the apple slices she took for lunch the day before but didn't eat, in lieu of the strawberries. She reminded me, in an exasperated tone I hadn't expected to hear from her at only 8 years old, that she doesn't like strawberries. I knew that - I was just hoping if that's what I packed, and she was hungry, she might give them another chance. My plan was thwarted, but oh well, apples are fruit too.

Beanstalk was not at all interested in breakfast for lunch. He chose what went in his lunch box - raisins, almonds (in the green container), cheese crackers, and apples - and I added the Power Bar because I didn't think that was enough for a growing boy. Oooh, and guess what - those apples were sliced yesterday! They have a yellow tinge because they are Gala apples - but NO browning, the Fruit Fresh works great!

Pickle's lunch was just as I planned it. Waffles, yogurt, syrup dip, and strawberries :P OK, so the strawberries are peanut butter sandwiches - gotta give the boy his daily dose of PB! Thank goodness he drinks juice, or the only fruit he'd ever get would be the puree I sneak into muffins!

Today was much better than yesterday. We got out the door with minimum stress, and the lunchboxes came home almost empty - with no leakage from the syrup sections :)

EDIT TO ADD: Notice the improvement in picture quality from my older posts? Sailor Boy got me a NICE camera for my birthday! It's fancy, it's going to take me while to learn to use all the settings - whee!
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