Ugly Duckling Lunch

Ugly Duckling Lunch

I like the idea of representing stories or songs with food but I think that I have only made a few. This Ugly Duckling themed lunch based on the story by Hans Christian Anderson has been on my to-do list for awhile. If you are interested in swam themed meals see this one I made a in 2012.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Ugly Duckling: Duckling drawn on Cheddar cheese with food safe marker

Nest: Chocolate eggs in silicone cup (small eggs – white chocolate, large egg – peanut butter)

Swan: Peanut butter sandwich on white bread, eye (dried blueberry), beak (crust), snow peas, blueberries

Kathy and Hans

This photo with me and Hans was taken many years ago in Central Park, NYC.

 

Posted in Bento / Cute Food, Food | Tagged | 13 Comments

Kid Made Eyeball Lunch

Kid Made Eyeball Lunch

My 9 year old nephew made this lunch for himself. He used bagels leftover from breakfast to make sandwiches. I think that he had fun using these eyeball picks to add character to each course.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Sandwiches: Assorted homemade bagels (cinnamon & sugar, sesame, sunflower, and poppy seed) made into raspberry jam sandwiches

Vegetable: Snow peas

Fruit: Miniature apple

Linking to:
Bento Lunch

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Eight Easter Lunches

8 Easter Lunches

I love working with a theme. Here are 8 Easter themed bento lunches. I included many common symbols of Easter: eggs, lamb, chicks, basket, cross, and bunnies.

Easter Onigiri

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Easter Egg Rice (Nishiki rice packed with plastic wrap into an egg shaped cookie cutter), decorated with spinach, carrot, and some round sprinkles, background (lettuce and spinach), letter picks

Top Right: Almonds

Bottom Right: Grapefruit

Spring Lamb Bento

This lunch was previously published here.

Easter Egg Calzone Bento

When making calzones for dinner, I made a few in Easter egg shapes to use for lunch the next day.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Easter egg shaped cheese calzone, lettuce

Top Right: Orange

Bottom Right: Cooked green beans

Cheesy Chicks

This lunch was previously published here.

Rabbit Bread Lunch

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Top Left: Rabbit shaped watermelon

Bottom Left: Bunny shaped hard boiled egg (I used this egg mold)

Right Side: Rabbit shaped bread (I used a basic french bread dough, sprinkled with cinnamon, dried blueberry eyes and nose)

Peanut Butter: In Mini Dippers

Easter Basket Bento

This lunch was previously published here.

Easter Cross Lunch

This lunch was previously published here.

Bunny Sandwiches Bento

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Top Left: Lettuce salad with bunny and egg shaped carrots

Bottom Left: Pistachios decorated as Easter eggs with food safe markers

Right Side: Bunny sandwiches (peanut butter on wheat bread with dried blueberry details), alfalfa sprouts

I enjoyed creating these Easter lunches using many of the common symbols of Easter. If you try any of these, I would love to see a photo of your meal.

Linking to:

Leftovers on Friday

BentoForKidlet

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Easter Themed Dinner and Ribbon Egg Decorating

Easter Themed Dinner and Egg Deco

My niece (15 years old) and I have a tradition of decorating eggs for Easter. Each time we focus on a different technique while keeping with our initial color scheme of blue and white. This year we decided to decorate our blown-out eggs with ribbon.

Techniques we used in the past:

Easter Bunny Salad

We enjoyed an Easter themed dinner to go along with our egg decorating. This dinner many look fancy but it was minimal effort for the huge payback in visual appeal.

Simple Easter Themed Dinner

Menu:

  • Bunny Salad – lettuce, raw spinach, cucumber with egg and rabbit shaped carrots. I used the egg from this set and this 3D cutter set. Serve with your favorite dressing.
  • Ribbon Pasta with Asparagus and Parmesan – Wegmans Mafaldine pasta, cooked asparagus, butter and Parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper (I had planned to add sliced almonds but forgot to use them)
  • Chocolate Nests – We used this recipe. Instead of semisweet chocolate we used dark chocolate chips, instead of the marcona almonds we used Cadbury Mini Eggs. The recipe is very simple but I was confused about the size of muffin tin. The recipe says to use a 6-cup muffin pan. My 6-cup pan is the larger size. I probably should have used 6 cups from my 12-cup pan (smaller).  So even though the recipe is supposed to make 6 nests I ended up making 4 large nests to be able to shape it into a nest using the larger muffin cups. I was concerned about being able to remove the nests from my muffin cups but I had no problem using a knife to pry out one side – it then popped right out!

Serving Dinner

It was dinner for 3 this night. You don’t need a crowd to make a special dinner.

Egg Nest Dessert

Three nests fit perfectly on my small cake plate.

Egg Tree

We used assorted ribbon in our color scheme and tacky glue. We tried different designs but were happiest with a simple band of ribbon around the center of the egg. My niece came up with the idea of gluing two different colored ribbon to each other and using that as a band around the center. We also tried making ribbon bows and glued them to the eggs.

My niece enjoys painting (I don’t) so she mixed up a custom color and painted some of the eggs blue. We find that painting the eggs works better than dying them.

Our hanger ribbon is 1/8 inch (3 mm ) wide. The widest ribbon we used as decoration was 5/8 inch (15 mm) wide.

Ribbon egg Tree 2

For my egg tree I used branches that my Mom sprayed with white paint a few years ago.

Dk and Lt ribbon egg

Dot Ribbon Egg

Ribbon Egg Tree

Dk Blue Ribbon Egg

Leaf Ribbon Egg

This dinner and egg craft project was a hit! I would love to know if you try either of these and how it worked for you.

Linking to:

Eats Amazing Fun Food Friday

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Okayama Travel and Bento Lunch

Momotaro Bento

This is the second article in my series of travel photos and bentos inspired by my trip to Japan. My Mom and I stayed at the Hilton in Osaka and took the Shinkansen (Bullet train) to Okayama for a day trip. It was an easy day trip from Osaka. My Mom wanted to see the Okayama Korakuen garden. It is on the list of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan. I was interested in seeing the town that claims to be the setting of the Momotaro (Peach Boy) story.

Container: Book Bento Box

Contents: Cooked broccoli and cashews, Nishiki rice with smoked salt, Momotaro (Cheddar cheese with spinach and food marker details), Oni (Cheddar cheese with food coloring, spinach, cheese, and carrot details). I included a monkey and dog pick but omitted the bird from the story because I do not have a bird pick and decided not to make one.

Book Bento Box

This was my first time using this cute Book Bento Box. I received it as a Christmas gift. Since Momotaro (Peach Boy) is story, it seemed appropriate to put in in a book shaped box. This bento came from All Things for Sale.

Inspiration photo for my Momotaro Bento
Momotaro Bento Inspiration

I don’t think that Okayama is a typical town for foreigners to visit because when I told many Japanese friends about our plans they seemed surprised. When I was in the process of deciding to visit Okayama I consulted many blog posts in English. Some people recommended it and some did not. I think that it depends on your interests. We were very impressed with the Okayama Korakuen garden and it was early spring (often not an ideal time to visit a garden).

Okayama Castle Bento

This is my attempt at a simple Okayama Castle drawing. My Mom and I bought combination tickets to the Okayama Korakuen Garden and Okayama Castle. We enjoyed walking around and through the castle. They have many interesting historical displays and a gift shop.

I used leftovers from dinner in this easy bento lunch.

Container: Black Bento Box

Small Tier: Strawberries and walnuts

Large Tier: Okayama Castle drawn on a flour tortilla with a food safe marker, Penne with asparagus and pine nuts (I used vegetable broth)

Inspiration photo for my Okayama Castle Bento
Okayama Castle

We toured the castle and garden on our first full day in Japan. We were tired and jet-lagged but we had a wonderful day. Some people may say that early spring is not the best time to visit Okayama Korakuen. But it is such a well-designed and gorgeous place that I think it would be wonderful to visit in any season. We took a lot of photos here as everywhere we looked there was beauty.

Momotaro Statue

Momotaro (Peach Boy) Statue

We easily found the Momotaro statue as it was right near Okayama Station. We never did find the Momotaro themed manhole covers. Their location was not obvious and we ran out of time. We found one information desk but were not able to find the information center. Supposedly they have the Momotaro story in English to giveaway. It was in a lower level somewhere. We made an effort to find it but gave up. Instead we ate ice cream and fruit in crepes at Baskin-Robbins.

The bus that goes to Okayama Korakuen is not far from the Momotaro statue. I asked a family (in Japanese) how to get to the garden. They were going to the same place and were very kind to make sure we knew where to get off and watched out for us a little.

Momotaro Statue 2

Momotaro (Peach Boy) Statue with Dog, Monkey, and Bird

Peach Ekiben

Okayama Ekiben (Station Bento) in Peach Shaped Box

Ekiben (train station bento) are found in train stations in Japan. I knew about the peach box and was on the lookout for it. I actually thought about buying it for the box (as a vegetarian I don’t eat fish) but decided that it was probably flimsy.

Okayama Ekiben

Sign Showing Okayama Ekiben (Train Station Bento)

This photo shows Okayama Ekiben (train station bento). It showcases local specialties. I was fascinated by bentos in Japan and took many photos.

Look up at Okayama Castle

Okayama Castle

Okayama Castle Back

The Back of Okayama Castle

Korakuen 1

Pine Tree at Okayama Korakuen

Korakuen Early Spring

Okayama Korakuen in Early Spring

Korakuen 3

Okayama Korakuen

Korakuen 4

Okayama Korakuen

Korakuen 5

Okayama Korakuen

The older woman in this photo spoke with us in Japanese. She was friendly and asked us where we were from. I later heard her tell another worker at the garden that we were from New York.

Candle tree

Japanese Allspice

I believe that this was my first time seeing this tree (Wintersweet or Japanese Allspice). It was very fragrant! I asked what it was called and was given the name in Japanese. Part of the name is the same for candle. Here is a detailed explanation and some beautiful photos.

Plum

Plum Tree in Bloom

Plum Close

Plum Tree in Bloom

Cranes

Cranes

Okayama Korakuen has several cranes. Here is some more information on the cranes at Okayama Korakuen.

Pine Korakuen

Okayama Korakuen

I hope that you enjoyed seeing my photos from Okayama and my inspired bento lunches. Please let me know if you have any questions and I will try to answer them.

Linking to:

BentoForKidlet

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Hiroshima Travel and Bento Lunch

In March my Mom and I returned from a 2 week trip to Japan. My plan is to make bento and share travel photos and memories. I am not yet sure how many articles will be in this series but this is my first.

Hiroshima Peace Bento
Hiroshima Peace Bento

This trip was my second time to Hiroshima. The first time I was impacted by the message of peace and the paper cranes school children prepare and leave at Sadako’s statue. So I decided to use this as my inspiration for my Hiroshima bento.

If you have not already, I recommend that you read the children’s book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Dijon Lentil Salad, (this recipe does have flaws as I mentioned here. Remember to add Dijon) Cheddar cheese with Sadako statue drawn using food safe markers

Top Right: Fresh pineapple chunks with PEACE letter picks

Bottom Right: Lettuce and spinach salad with doves (carrot)

Inspiration photo for my Hiroshima Peace Bento
Sadako Statue

My Mom and I used a Japan Rail Pass when we traveled to Hiroshima by Shinkansen from Osaka. We met my language exchange friend in Hiroshima. Prior to our trip my Mom was concerned about my language skills since she would be depending on me. So I spoke via Skype with some Japanese women seeking a language exchange. We connected through the site http://mylanguageexchange.com/ and chatted a few times via Skype prior to my trip to Japan. My language exchange friend in Hiroshima was such a wonderful host and tour guide and it was so nice to spend time with her in person!

In Hiroshima we stayed at the Hotel Granvia. It is a beautiful hotel and very convenient to the train station. It was also wonderful that we could leave our luggage there in the morning prior to check-in. We then spent a day touring. In the afternoon when we returned to check-in, our luggage was already in our room!

Miyajima Bento
Miyajima Bento

This was an easy but beautiful and cute lunch if I do say so myself!

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Nishiki rice, Tori (orange bell pepper), blueberries

Top Right: Blueberries

Bottom Right: Cooked sweet potato deer (I bought the deer cutter at Natural Kitchen – an 100 Yen store in Japan), walnuts

Warning: I sliced raw sweet potato, cut three slices with the deer cutter and then boiled until tender. I always like to have a backup in-case of problems. It is possible that I cooked them a little too much. Two of the three deer were decapitated when I removed them from the pot. I was relieved that one remained intact.

Inspiration photo for my Miyajima Bento
Miyajima Tori

Below are some of my Mom’s and my favorite photos from our day in Hiroshima and Miyajima. As I mentioned above, it was my second time to Hiroshima but it was only my first time to Miyajima. It is such a special place and I would love to return again someday when I have more time to wander around.

Atomic Dome

Hiroshima

Peace Park

Hiroshima Peace Park

Dome close

Atomic Bomb Dome

Cranes at Sadako

Display at Children’s Peace Monument

Paper Cranes

Paper Cranes at Children’s Peace Monument

Miyajima Map

Map of Miyajima

Chestnuts Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Chestnuts and Sweet Potatoes

This little shop was located on Miyajima. We snacked on these roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes. I am not normally a huge fan of chestnuts but these were delicious and the best chestnuts I ever ate!

Large wooden rice scoop

Large Wooden Rice Scoop

Miyajima is known for their rice scoop. Of course, I had to take a photo of it.

Miyajima Rice Scoops

Miyajima Souvenir Rice Scoop

Leaf Cakes

Leaf Shaped Food

Scene in Miyajima

On Miyajima

Deer in Miyajima

Deer in Miyajima

Miyajima Early Spring

Plum Blossoms

Miyajima Deer

Deer in Miyajima

The deer in Miyajima are known to be more gentle than the deer in Nara but a deer ate a corner of my map!

Walking Under Tori

Tori (gate) at Low Tide

This gate at Miyajima is a site to behold at any time of day. We were there at low tide and walked below it. At first I did not want to get muddy and wet but my Mom and friend were going to walk below it so I went along. I am glad that I did not let the concern of wet feet stop me. My feet stayed dry and it was a memorable walk.

Tori Close

Close-up of Tori (gate)

Wedding couple

Bride and Groom at Itsukushima Shrine

On Miyajima we were lucky to see a Bride and Groom. It was not a weekend so maybe a rare occurrence on a Tuesday?

Hiroshima Ekiben

Miyajima Ekiben

At the train station I took a photo of this display of train station bento (Ekiben). It is shaped as the rice scoop from Miyajima. As a vegetarian I doubt there are any Ekiben that I can eat but I am fascinated by the shaped of the boxes and beautiful display of regional food. I would love to tour around Japan taking photos of Ekiben.

I hope that you enjoyed seeing my photos from Hiroshima / Miyajima and my inspired bento lunches. Please let me know if you have any questions and I will try to answer them.

Linking to: Bento Blog Network

Posted in Adventures, Bento / Cute Food, Food | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

Treat Yourself with Van’s Natural Foods

I was so excited when Van’s sent me some products to try. It was such a treat to try these. Of course you can eat these products by themselves right out of the packages but I came up with a few fun and delicious ways to try these healthy snacks.

Vans PBJ and Chips Bento

I wanted to create a bento style lunch featuring Van’s Nacho, Nacho Man Chips and their PB&J bar. The result was this fun and fulfilling meal.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Van’s Nacho, Nacho Man Chips, sugar snap peas, mozzarella cheese stick, Van’s PB&J bar

Top Right: Apple slices cut with a crinkle cutter

Bottom Right: Peanut butter in Mini Dippers, walnuts

Vans BBQ Chips with Chili

I decided to try Van’s Mighty Good BBQ! chips crushed over chili. The chips added amazing flavor to my homemade chili! The next time I make chili I need to buy more of these chips to serve with it. It is my new favorite chili topping.

Vans Chips with a Trio of Chips

What goes well with chips? Dip of course. But because Van’s Nacho, Nacho Man Chips are healthy I decided to serve them with a trio of healthy dips.

  • Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
  • Cottage cheese with hot paprika
  • Plain Greek yogurt with some garlic powder, dried basil and dried oregano

Vans Nacho Nacho Man Chips with Soup

Instead of serving bread or crackers with my homemade broccoli and cheese soup, I ate it with Van’s Nacho, Nacho Man Chips. It was so much fun to eat the chips with soup. A wonderful treat!

Vans PBJ and apple

These bars are amazing for a portable snack. I added an apple but the bars are great on their own.

I enjoyed treating myself with these healthy products!

Disclosure: Van’s Natural Foods sent me all of the products shown here for review. I was not financially compensated. All opinions stated here are 100% my own.

Posted in Bento / Cute Food, Food | Tagged , | 8 Comments