Llama Mashed Potatoes

I made this llama meal for my Mom. The carrots were a hit from Easter. In my haste of making this meal I added twice the amount of pepper by accident. They were spicy!

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Llama – garlic mashed potatoes cooled then cut with a cookie cutter, Eye – dried blueberry, Garlic and Herb Roasted Carrots

Top Right: Macadamia nuts

Bottom Right: Flowers – apple cut with a cookie cutter and dipped in water with lemon, strawberries

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Flower Mushroom Pizza

My 19 year old niece and I prepared this meal for her when she was at my house. The only thing I did was make and freeze the flower shaped pizza crusts. She did everything else.

Flower Pizza – I used Martha Stewart Pizza Dough recipe, rolled out dough with plenty of flour, cut with a cookie cutter and followed these directions to pre-bake the crusts to make it easy on day of the dinner. My niece added tomato sauce, mozzarella, black olives, mushrooms and baked until brown and crispy.

Trees – Broccoli

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Craft Room

Awhile ago, I completed decorating my new craft room. The theme is fairy tale forest during the day. I am finally getting around to sharing the room here. Of all the various craft rooms I have had, this is my favorite. The wallpaper mural is perfect for the space. My parents installed it and made a frame for it. I love that I have a lot of closet space and a hidden room which has even more storage. In the main room I set up various crafting stations (wrapping / mailing, Cricut, Sewing, general crafting). Most of the storage I used in my other craft rooms.

Mural: I bought it from this Etsy shop.

Tree Chairs: In my last two craft rooms these chairs were white with pink floral cushions. I painted them brown and bought tree cushions.

Owl Lamp

Cricut Table

Sewing Table

Dropleaf Table: I had this in my last two craft rooms. It was my grandparents and they loaned it to a friend for 60 years. That friend gave it back to my parents. In my last two craft rooms, it was green. This time, I painted it white.

Wrapping / Mailing Station: I am not sure where I bought this. I used it in the kitchen of the apartment I lived in before buying this house.

Fairy light pull: I bought this on Etsy but link and shop is no longer active.

Dragonfly switch plate

Hummingbird switch plate

Walls: I painted them a pale green.

This is the “before” photo of my craft room.

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Mother’s Day Gyoza Dinner

My parents came to my house for Mother’s Day weekend. I finally made a meal my Mom loves but had not made it in a long time.

Vegetable Gyoza – I made my own with store bought dumpling wrappers. I shredded cabbage, carrots, snow peas, scallions, and fresh ginger separately in my food processor. I added sesame oil and soy sauce.

Gyoza Dipping Sauce: Trader Joes

Flower Shaped Rice – I used a flower Japanese rice mold with cooked Nishiki rice.

Vegetables – Sauteed onion, red bell pepper, broccoli, asparagus with sesame oil, soy sauce, cashews

Flower Cut-out cookie with cream cheese frosting

My critique of the meal: We all enjoyed! I have shared vegetable gyoza on this blog many times but it had been awhile. The cookies were adorable! I made the gyoza and sugar cookies a week ago and put in my freezer. I decorated the cookies a few hours before serving.

Posted in Bento / Cute Food, Food, Party Planning | 1 Comment

Star Grilled Cheese

I made this simple but fun grilled cheese lunch for my Dad.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Star – push cookie cutter into cooked grilled cheese, sourdough bread, sharp cheddar

Top Right: Black beans, corn, salsa

Bottom Right: Blackberries

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Cow Pancakes

My Mom and 19 year old niece made these pancakes when at my house.

Cows – Pancakes cut with cookie cutter, Nutella and fresh whipped cream

Calves – Pancakes cut with cookie cutter, fresh whipped cream

Droppings – Chocolate chips

House – Pancake cut with cookie cutter, Nutella

Others in this series:

Dinosaurs, MooseBunny RaccoonGhosts

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Heart Grilled Cheese

I made this simple but fun grilled cheese lunch for my Mom.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Heart – push cookie cutter into cooked grilled cheese, sourdough bread, sharp cheddar

Top Right: Cherry tomatoes, feta cheese

Bottom Right: Blueberries, mango

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Laundry Room

I have a laundry room on the main floor (the same floor as my bedroom). This makes doing laundry easier than any other place I have ever lived. When I started to plan my redesign, two things were important: cabinets instead of open shelves, wave wallpaper instead of plain white walls. I am amused by having waves of water on the walls in my laundry room. My parents installed the wallpaper. They said that the design made them seasick but they enjoy the end result.

Wallpaper

Cabinets: Home Depot

Ceiling Light: Home Depot. We had to install a new ceiling light since the old one was too big for the cabinet doors to open.

Outlet Plate: My parents covered it with wallpaper.

Switch Plate: this is part of my continued quest to change all of the boring cream outlet plates in my house.

Mop Hooks

Door Hooks: Command hooks

This is the “Before” photo of my laundry room.

My parents are amazing. I was impressed at how fast they hung the cabinets and wallpaper while I worked at my job.

I like the fun, function, and convenience of this laundry room. It is a little bold compared to the rest of the design in my house but I can keep the doors closed when desired. I enjoy my laundry room with waves.

I am guessing that I will reveal most of the rooms as they are mostly “completed”. This is my second reveal. The first was my cookie cutter closet.

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Butterfly Mac and Cheese Bento

I assembled this meal for my 19 year old niece. My Mom made the Mac and Cheese.

Container: Wooden box purchased in Kyoto at Bento&co.

Contents: Mac & Cheese, rainbow carrots, broccoli

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Rice Tulip Lunch

I made this simple lunch for my Mom on a day in March when my parents helped me get settled into my new house. I moved in January, it is taking longer than I want to make this my home but it is coming along. I am thankful for my parents help.

Container: Book Bento Box

Contents: Tulip – Nishiki rice formed with a rice mold sprinkled with cinnamon, snow peas, strawberries, tomato, feta, pepper

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Easter 2022

We had a wonderful Easter. It was my first major holiday in my new home. My parents and 19 year old niece came to my house for the weekend. My friend Carol joined us for the Easter main meal. My niece and I planned and prepared the meal. She made the soup and desserts! Carol brought the beautiful flowers. The tulips were lovely. I did not know about peony tulips before. The daffodils at each place were from Carol’s garden. My niece made the favor baskets. At breakfast we enjoyed Easter baskets. In my family adults enjoy Christmas stockings and Easter baskets. We are not too old for the magic of a holiday.

Breakfast Menu

Main Meal Table

  • Favor / Place cards – Niece designed and made out of paper. Filled with Easter grass and assorted chocolate. Wrote names on basket.
  • Napkin Ring – I mostly followed these directions but I used 2 pipe cleaners to make them longer. It was still a tight fit on my napkins.
  • Menu Card – I found bunny template online and fit menu onto template. Added mini honeycomb tail.
  • Tablecloth – My Mom’s Easter tablecloth
  • Placemats – Assorted color rounds

Main Meal Menu

  • Asparagus Soup (see image below)
  • Bunny Shaped Sourdough Rolls
  • Egg shaped butter (spread softened butter into small egg molds)
  • Easter ravioli – I used my favorite pasta dough, and added some butterfly pea powder to the dough, I made a small batch with turmeric added to the dough (for the dots) filling – Ricotta, Asiago, salt and pepper
  • Pesto Cream sauce – homemade pesto mixed with sour cream
  • Garlic and Herb Roasted Carrots
  • Cream Puffs (see below)
  • Macarons – Nutella, Strawberry Jam (see below)

Bunny Cream Puffs

Ingredients

  • 120 g flour
  • 100 ml whole milk
  • 100 ml water
  • 100 ml water
  • 10 g granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 80 g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • Whipping Cream
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Starbursts

Sift the flour. In a saucepan, bring the milk, water, sugar, salt and butter to a boil. Remove from heat, incorporate the sifted flour into the hot liquid, mixing energetically with a spatula until homogenous.

Return the saucepan to low heat and stir vigorously for 1 minute to pull out the moisture from the batter, so that it forms a mass and pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer batter to a large bowl and allow to cool. Add the eggs one at a time, carefully incorporating each into the batter with a spatula.

When homogenous, on a parchment lined baking sheet. pipe into cream puff shape.

Bake at 375 degrees for at least 30 minutes without opening the oven.

Before serving prepare cocoa cream to fill the cream puffs.

Whip whipping cream with some cocoa powder and powdered sugar to taste.

Use metal pastry tip and piping bag to fill cream puffs from the bottom.

Microwave starbursts for about 5 seconds until pliable. Stretch into bunny ears. Use knife to make slits into cream puff for the ears. Add starburst ears to cream puff. Pipe small dots of cocoa cream for the eyes.

Nutella or Strawberry Jam Macarons

Ingredients

  • 275 g finely ground almond flour
  • 250 g confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 1/2 egg whites
  • 210 g granulated sugar
  • a few drops food coloring

Combine the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor and pulse to obtain a fine powder. Sift or strain through a sieve to remove any lumps.

In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites to a foam. Once they are frothy, add a third of the granulated sugar and whip until sugar is dissolved. Add another third of the granulated sugar, whip for another minute, finally add the remaining granulated sugar and whip for 1 more minute. Using a clean rubber spatula, delicately fold the sifted mixture of ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar into the whipped egg whites. Add a few drops of food coloring to obtain desired color (split the batter if you want more than 1 color). In a separate bowl, beat the remaining 1/2 egg white until just frothy. Then add to the final mixture, folding gently to slightly loosen the batter.

Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pipe small macaron rounds. Dip finger in bowl of water to gently smooth out pipped round. Lightly tap the sheet so the macarons spread fully.

Preheat oven to 300 F. Allow macarons to sit uncovered for 10 minutes, then place in the oven.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes until they form a slight crust.

Remove baking sheet from the oven, and with a small glass, carefully pour a tiny amount of water in between the sheet and the parchment paper (lift the paper ever so slightly corner by corner). The moisture and steam that result from the water on the hot baking sheet will allow the macarons to peel off more easily once they are cool. Do not pour too much water as this could cause the macarons to become soggy. Allow to cool completly.

Spread Nutella or strawberry jam between 2 macaron rounds. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

My critique of the meal: We all enjoyed the food, the roasted carrots were a surprise hit. I expect to make them again. It was my first time making cocoa cream. It was delicious in the cream puffs. I definitely want to make it again. We were fortunate to have spent this holiday together. A memorable first holiday in my new home!

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Easter Egg Mashed Potato

I made this cute Easter themed meal for my Mom. She was delighted to see it.

Container: U Konserve

Contents: Easter Egg – cheese mashed potato with pesto and dried cherries, lettuce, Rosemary Macedonia Almonds, Bunnies – melon cut with an imprint cookie cutter

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Alligator Snack Meal

I made this snack meal for my friend’s 14 year old daughter Elizabeth. It was on a day that she helped me with some Cricut crafting and installing of wall decals. I appreciate her skillful help.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side:  Alligators – tortilla chips cut with a cookie cutter, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with garlic – bake in 375 over for about 10 minutes, cherry tomatoes, sharp cheddar cheese

Top Right: Sunflower seeds

Bottom Right: Strawberries

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Tulip Ravioli Dinner

I made tulip shaped ravioli for my parents and myself. My dining room is not yet complete. At the time of this meal, I still didn’t have a table. But it is enjoyable to eat in this room.

Tulip Ravioli – I used my favorite pasta dough, and added some tomato paste to the dough, filling – Ricotta, Asiago, salt and pepper

Black Bean Sauce – Black bean sauce I just threw together in the food processer. Can of black beans, some garlic power, pinch of salt, splash of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, some salsa.

Salad – Romaine, carrots cut with a cookie cutter, Trader Joes Unexpected Cheddar

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Tulip Tortilla Chip Salad Lunch

I made this meal for myself on the same day I made this meal for my friend Deborah.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side:  Tulip chips – tortilla chips cut with a cookie cutter, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with garlic – bake in 375 over for about 10 minutes, Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad

Top Right: Pumpkin seeds

Bottom Right: Orange and blueberries

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Bee Hive Mashed Potatoes

I made this Bee / Honey themed meal for my Mom.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Bee Hive – mashed potatoes cut with a cookie cutter, cheddar broiled on top, peas

Top Right: Bees – melon cut with a cookie cutter

Bottom Right: Plain Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey

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Rhino Pizza

I made this meal for my Dad. I added radish since he enjoys them.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Rhinos – cheddar pizza cut with a cookie cutter, black sesame seed eyes

Top Right: Celery, radish, hummus

Bottom Right: Strawberries

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Pesto Shamrock Potato Meal

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I made this Pesto Potato Shamrock meal for my Mom.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Shamrock – homemade pesto on top of mashed potato cut with a cookie cutter, mashed rutabaga

Top Right:  Pistachios with shamrocks drew with food coloring marker

Bottom Right: Orange

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Shamrock Ravioli

I made Shamrock ravioli for a meal with my parents. I came up with the idea of adding Irish Whiskey to our cheese sauce. It was delicious!

Shamrock Ravioli – I used my favorite pasta dough, and added some spinach powder to the dough, filling – Ricotta, Asiago, salt and pepper

Whisky Cheddar Sauce – basic cheese sauce, add Irish Whiskey to taste.

Mashed Rutabaga

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Irish Hat Pizza

I made this pesto pizza lunch for my Mom.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Hats – pizza dough cut with a cookie cutter, pesto

Top Right: Shamrocks – cucumber cut with a cookie cutter, black olives

Bottom Right: Orange

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Cardinal Pizza Lunch

I made these cute cardinals for myself. I am calling them pizza but they are just tomato sauce on pizza dough.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Cardinals – pizza dough cut with a cookie cutter, tomato sauce, Eye – dried blueberry

Top Right: Rosemary Macedonia Almonds

Bottom Right: Pearl fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, black olives

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Lace Tortilla Chip Salad Lunch

I made this for my friend Deborah on a day she came over to see my new house and have lunch.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side:  Lace chips – tortilla chips cut with a cookie cutter, holes punches with a straw, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with garlic – bake in 375 over for about 10 minutes, Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad

Top Right: Pumpkin seeds

Bottom Right: Orange and blueberries

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Lamb or Lion Pizza Dinner

Happy March! I hosted a Lamb or Lion themed dinner with my parents and friend Carol. Carol made the flower arrangement. I love that some of the flowers look like lion manes! March weather described as a lion or lamb is a theme I have revisited many times over the years (see links at the end of this post).

Lamb Pizza – Mozzarella, feta, garlic powder, black olives, pizza dough

Lion Pizza – tomato sauce, orange cheddar, black olives, orange bell pepper, mini cherry tomatoes, pizza dough

Lettering – carrot cut with a mini cutter

Lamb Dessert – plain Greek yogurt, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut

Lion Dessert – plain Green yogurt, chocolate chips, Cracker Jack popcorn

My critique of the meal: I think it all came out delicious and adorable. One surprise for me were the desserts, plain Greek yogurt with fixings were delicious. The combinations were an experiment and it worked! My guests were given a choice of a lamb or lion dessert. I think that everyone enjoyed.

Past Lamb / Lion themed food

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2021

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George Washington Mashed Potatoes

I made this simple George Washington themed meal for myself. It is only the second President Washington themed meal I made. Five years ago, I made him from rice.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: George Washington – Cheddar mashed potatoes cut with a cookie cutter, peas

Top Right: Brazil nuts

Bottom Right: Cherries (frozen)

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Cookie Cutter Closet

I am working on organizing and making the rooms in my new house beautiful. I have my first room ready to show the world! It is actually a closet under the stairs. My dream for my house was to make my cookie cutter collection easier to use. I accomplished that goal. I am very happy with the look and function of this room (closet). Previously I had my entire collection in 4 large plastic totes.

This is the “before” photo of my cookie cutter closet.

Cube Shelves – I used one ClosetMaid 9 cube, two 6 cubes, and one One-Space 4 cube shelf. I bought them from Lowes and Amazon. My Dad put them together. He also installed a battery operated motion sensor light.

Storage Boxes

I used my old Brother P-Touch labeler to create labels for the cubes. I made a guide for myself and posted it in the closet. I also have a spreadsheet with all the different separate categories in each cube. For example, Spring Holiday has Hearts, Cupid, Leprechaun, Pot of Gold, Shamrock, Easter / Eggs and Crosses.

Not all of the cubes are filled (more room to grow my collection) and some of them contain other supplies to create cute food.

Posted in Bento / Cute Food | 1 Comment

Puzzle Heart Meal

Happy Valentine’s Day! I made this simple but delicious meal for myself.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Heart – beets and mashed potatoes cut with a cookie cutter, roasted cauliflower

Top Right: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Heart

Bottom Right: Cottage cheese with cinnamon

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Fun Pizza Collection

I enjoy making cute themed pizza. It has universal appeal and there are so many possible combinations. Here is my collection of over 50 different creations! 

Updated on 3/3/22

ANIMALS

Feta, Mozzarella, and Black Olive Lamb 

Cheddar, Sauce, Tomatoes, and Black Olive Lion

Hummingbird Pesto Pizza

Pesto Hummingbird

Butterfly Pizza Lunch

Olive, Spinach, Cheddar Butterfly

cow pizza

 Mozzarella and Black Olive Cow

Donkey Pizza Lunch

Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella Donkey

Elephant Pizza Lunch

Mozzarella and Tomato Sauce Elephant

Pesto Fish Meal

Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella Fish

Frog Pesto Pizza Lunch

Cheddar Frogs on Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella 

broccoli frog shaped pizza lunch

Broccoli and Mozzarella Frogs

Moose Pizza

Mozzarella and Tomato Sauce Moose

Penguin olive paste pizza

Olive Paste and Mozzarella Penguin

Penguin Pizza Lunch

Mozzarella and Tomato Sauce Penguin

Polar Bear Pizza

Mozzarella Polar Bear

Back to School Basics Hop

Mozzarella and Tomato Sauce Sheep

Cheddar Sheep

Turtle Pizza Lunch

Mozzarella and Broccoli Turtles

BODY PARTS

Tooth Pizza Lunch

Mozzarella Teeth

CHARACTERS

Mickey Mouse Pizza

Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Broccoli Mickey Mouse

DINOSAURS

Mozzarella and Tomato Sauce Dinosaurs

FLAGS

Winter Olympics Flag Pizza

Assorted Flags

GAMES

chess-pizza-lunch

Mozzarella and Cheddar with Tomato Sauce Chess Board

Puzzle Make own Pizza lunch

Make Own Pizza Puzzle

HOLIDAYS

Be Mine Pizza

Green Pepper, Mozzarella, and Tomato Sauce Heart

Shamrock Pesto Pizza

Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella Shamrock

Shamrock Pizza Lunch

Broccoli and Mozzarella Shamrock

shamrock pizza lunch

Spinach, Mozzarella,  and Tomato Sauce Shamrock

Pesto Shamrocks

bunny pizza lunch

Mozzarella Bunnies 

Jack-o-Lantern Pizza Lunch

Mozzarella and Tomato Sauce Jack-O-Lanterns

Ghost Pizza Lunch

Mozzarella Ghosts

Skulls and bones lunch

Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, and Basil Skulls

candy cane pizza lunch

Mozzarella and Tomato Sauce Candy Canes

Pesto and Yellow Bell Pepper Christmas Tree

Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, Spinach, and Black Olive Santa

IMAGINARY

Sea Serpent

Mozzarella and Dried Blueberry Sea Serpent 

Cheddar and Spinach Unicorn

JAPANESE CULTURE

Childrens Day Japan pizza

Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce,  Black Olive, and Mushroom Koinobori (Carp Flag)

Girls Day Pizza

Mozzarella, Orange Cheddar, Spinach, and Carrot Emperor and Empress

Oni Setsubun Pizza Lunch

Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, Cheddar, and Spinach Oni 

NATURE

Mozzarella and Tomato Sauce Volcano and Dinosaur

SnowmanLunch2

Mozzarella, Carrot, and Black Olive Tortilla Snowman

Mozzarella and Black Olive Snowman

may-flower-pizza-lunch

Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, and Olive Flowers

Radish Waterlily Broccoli Pizza Lillypad

Broccoli and Cheddar Lily Pad

Pesto and Butterfly Pea Flower Powder Thistle

Sun pizza no sauce

Mozzarella and Orange Cheddar Sun

Tokyo Bento Lunch

Pesto and Mozzarella Mt. Fuji

Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, and Red and Yellow Bell Pepper Leaves

Pesto and Mozzarella Tomato Sauce Island and Sky

ROYALTY

Crown Pizza Lunch

Cheddar and Mozzarella Crowns

SPACE

astronaut-salad-with-pizza-stars

Mozzarella and Tomato Sauce Stars

planet-pizza-lunch

Orange, Cheddar, and Tomato Sauce Planet

alien-pizza-lunch

Mozzarella,Tomato Sauce, and Candy Eyes Aliens

man-on-the-moon-pizza-lunch

Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, and Black Olive Man on the Moon

rocket-pizza-lunch

Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, and Spinach Rocket

SPORTS

Soccer Pizza

Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, and Black Olive Soccer Ball

Tableware / Food

Hummus, Red Bell Pepper, and Snow Pea Tea Pot

Pesto, Asiago, Tomato Sauce, and Black Olives Watermelon

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Groundhog Ravioli Dinner

Happy Groundhog Day! This year my parents and I enjoyed a Groundhog shaped ravioli dinner. I made the ravioli weeks before my move so it was an easy dinner during a busy time.

Groundhogs – I used my favorite pasta dough, the filling was Ricotta, Parmesan, Asiago, garlic powder, salt and pepper. 

Dirt – Black bean sauce I just threw together in the food processer. Can of black beans, some garlic power, pinch of salt, splash of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, some salsa.

Green peas

Fresh Mango, Cottage Cheese, Cinnamon

Critique of the meal – The groundhogs were cute and the black bean sauce was delicious! Salsa, black beans, and balsamic vinegar are a delicious combination!

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New to Neighborhood Cookies

Since I am new to my neighborhood, I wanted to meet my neighbors. I thought it would be easier to ring their bell if I had something to give them. At first I considered making my mini bagels. My Mom thought it would be better to make house cookies with my house number. Of course, I had house cookie cutters in my collection.

Basic Cut-out Sugar Cookie with a homemade buttercream frosting.

I packaged up cookies for the number of people I expected in the house (some neighbors helped me). I attached a card I printed with my information. It was snowy and cold (13 degrees F) but I now have the names and numbers for the neighbors in the 5 houses closest to me. One neighbor told me about a neighborhood email distribution list and they will get me added.

I enjoyed baking in my new kitchen. It has a lot of space. Cutting out the cookies and frosting them was relaxing. Ringing doorbells of people I don’t know made me a little nervous but I am glad I made the effort to meet my neighbors.

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New House Ravioli

On January 4, I closed on a house. I moved in on January 21. It has been a whirlwind of stress, planning, and hard work. The house needed a large amount of somewhat cosmetic work that does not seem minor when there was a huge volume of it. My parents are extremely supportive and hardworking to help me get comfortable and settled in this house.

My parents and I enjoyed this House themed ravioli meal! 3 Cheese Ravioli (cut with a house cookie cutter) that I made and put in my freezer weeks before my move. I used my favorite pasta dough, the filling was Ricotta, Parmesan, Asiago, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Wegmans fresh tomato sauce, roasted zucchini (cut with a key cookie cutter)

Some of our activities during the past month:

  • Removed carpet in 4 rooms to reveal beautiful hardwood floors. (involved removing tack boards, tacks, added wood door transition boards, and cut the carpet in pieces for disposal).
  • Removed a huge amount of paint splatters / spills from the hardwood floors. (My Mom has done the brunt of this work.)
  • Replaced and standardized light bulbs throughout the house. This became complicated by the many dimmer switches and odd fixtures. (My Dad took on this task).
  • Deep cleaning just about everywhere.
  • We painted my bedroom.
  • I painted the plywood floor in my hidden room.
  • I painted the laundry room white and my Mom refreshed the trim. We will eventually put up wallpaper on 2 walls when it arrives.
  • My parents installed beautiful cabinets in the laundry room. There were wire shelves before. (They replaced the existing light to make room for the large cabinets.)
  • My parents renovated my kitchen pantry to transform the existing wire shelves to beautiful wooden shelves with leaf trim. They mostly followed this.
  • My Dad has assembled a lot of furniture:
  • The closets barely had systems. My parents painted and Dad installed new wooden closet systems in my closets and the guest room closet. They used existing closet systems to renovate closets in my craft room and office. (I painted my office closet).

Of course this is just a start. Soon I will paint and decorate my office. I expect the craft room will follow. I ordered mural wallpaper for one wall.

I am working with a designer to design two rooms – my library which will take the place of a traditional living room, and my formal dining room. Eventually she will help design my kitchen refresh.

I am not ready for final reveals of any project yet but here are some sneak peak photos.

Posted in Adventures, Bento / Cute Food, Food | 3 Comments

Dad’s Pizza

During my life, my Dad did not do a lot of cooking but he is known for making a few dishes: Onion Rings, Easter Bread, Blueberry Blintzes. Now I am finally getting around to posting about his thin crust pizza. He makes it more times a year than his other known specialties.

He does not have an exact recipe.

Mix about 1 1/2 cups white flour, a little olive oil, salt and pepper in the bowl of a stand mixer.

Heat about 1 cup of water to 120 degrees. Add 1 tsp yeast and a pinch of sugar.

Pour the water / yeast mixture into the flour mixture.

Use dough hook to knead it a little.

Proof the dough in a warm oven for 1.5 hours.

Push dough into pizza pan.

My Mom makes the tomato sauce. Often they have some in the freezer.

He adds sauce, garlic and onion powder, mozzarella cheese and whatever toppings they want (usually mushrooms and pepperoni). Sometimes he adds fresh chopped herbs or dried herbs.

Bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes. We like the pizza crispy.

Posted in Bento / Cute Food, Food | 1 Comment

Snowman Pizza Lunch

I made this snowman pizza meal for my Mom.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Top Left: Cauliflower

Bottom Left: Macadamia nuts

Right Side: Snowman- cheese pizza with black olives and cheese nose (assembled after baking).

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Moon Stars Sweet Potato Meal

I made this sweet potato, cheese and black bean meal for my Dad.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Moons – cheese cut with a cookie cutter, Stars – roasted sweet potato cut with a cookie cutter, Black Bean Sauce – I did not use the cilantro

Top Right: Stars – apple cut with a cookie cutter

Bottom Right: Pistachios

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Happy New Year 2022

Happy New Year! I made this fun meal for myself.

Container: Glass Container with Lid

Contents: 2022 – Homemade polenta cut with a cookie cutter, sautéed zucchini, pearl mozzarella balls

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Top 10 Bento 2021

As is my tradition, here are my Top 10 Lunches from 2021!

I made this Hug Your Cat meal for my friend’s daughter Natalie.

I made this Ghost Melon salad for myself.

I made this Nutella Bunny lunch with my 19 year old niece.

I made these Tower of Giraffes for myself.

I made this Hippo lunch for myself.

I made these Cauliflower-Potato Planets for myself.

I made this Llama meal for my Mom.

I made this Acorn bread meal for my Dad.

I enjoyed this Mount Rushmore mashed potatoes meal.

I made this Sloth meal for my friend’s husband Jeff.

Happy New Year! May your 2022 include delicious and attractive food.

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12 Days of Christmas Themed Meal

This year for Christmas dinner, I prepared and served a 12 Days of Christmas themed meal (12 Courses!) My parents, friend Carol, and her son Mike joined me.

Table Decor

  • I like the look of placemats on top of a tablecloth.
  • My Mom made the centerpiece. She found different items to represent the 12 days. They were added for each course.
  • Menu cards – I printed them and folded for a tri-sided place card. We turned them for each set of 4 courses.

Menu

I planned the menu to include some make ahead and freeze and make ahead and refrigerate items. I prepared a lot of items the day before. I tried to keep the courses small since there were 12 courses! We had a set of 4 courses and took a break. I planned it to be a slow meal and it took the place of 2 meals. I was inspired by many of the 12 Days of Christmas themed posts available but I put my own spin on them.

Course 1: Poached Pear with Partridge Crisp

On the 1st day of Christmas my true love sent to me, a partridge in a pear tree.

Mini Poached Pear with Partridge Crisp – I made my own pie crust for the partridges. Their eyes are mini chocolate sprinkles. I served them with Mascarpone instead of whipped cream. We poached the pears a day ahead and stored overnight in the refrigerator in the liquid. These had a wonderful flavor. I reduced the sauce a few hours before serving. I reduced it too much since I was concerned about it being too liquidly.

Course 2: Chocolate Turtle

On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love sent to me, two turtle doves.

Chocolate Turtles– I used Werther’s Chewy Caramels and Wegmans Cyprus Sea Salt flakes. Delicious! We made them a day ahead. They stuck to the parchment so we put them in the freezer. I thought that they were difficult to eat but my guests had no problem with them.

Course 3: French Onion Soup with Cheese Bread Hen

On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love sent to me, three French hens.

French Onion Soup – I mostly followed this but used Vermouth instead of the Red Wine. I made the soup a day ahead.

Cheese Bread Hens – I made this focaccia without the topping (the day before). My Mom cut the hens with a cookie cutter and then sliced in half. Shortly before serving, I broiled some shredded Wegmans Le Gruyere cheese on top of the Hens and put into bowls filled with the heated soup.

Course 4: Vegetable Birds with Pesto

On the 4th day of Christmas my true love sent to me, four calling birds.

Vegetable Food Art – Daikon birds cut with a cookie cutter, zucchini musical notes cut with a mini cutter, carrot sticks. Served on homemade pesto that I made a week before and put in my freezer. This was a refreshing and delicious course!

Course 5: Onion Rings with Ranch Dip

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love sent to me, five golden rings.

Onion Rings – my Dad made his onion rings. Served with Ranch dip made with Hidden Valley Ranch packet and sour cream.

Course 6: Macadamia Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette & Goose Kohlarabi

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love sent to me, six geese a laying.

Romaine Macadamia Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette – (click on print to see the entire recipe). I couldn’t find frozen cranberry concentrate. I used unsweetened cranberry juice with maple syrup in the vinaigrette. I used whole macadamia nuts for the “eggs”. I shredded Irish Cheddar for the salads.

Kohlrabi Geese cut with a cookie cutter.

Course 7: Swan Ravioli with Savory Blueberry Sauce

On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, seven swans a swimming.

Swans – Homemade Ravioli cut with a cookie cutter. I used this dough and filled with a mixture of Ricotta, Parmesan, and Asiago cheeses. I made the swans a week ahead and put in my freezer.

Savory Blueberry Sauce – I didn’t use the thyme. This was my first time making a savory blueberry sauce. I would make it again.

Course 8: Mini Peppermint Milkshakes

On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, eight maids a milking.

Mini Milkshakes – talenti Peppermint Bark ice cream with whole milk, sprinkled crushed candy canes on top. This was delicious and the candy cane gave it a special touch!

Course 9: Ladies Dancing Tortilla Chips with Cheese

On the 9th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, nine ladies dancing.

Ladies Dancing Tortilla Chips – cut flour tortillas with a cookie cutter, place on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, spray with cooking spray and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. I planned on making Salty Ladies but I forgot to salt them.

Cheese – I did a cheese consult at Wegmans.

  • Wegmans Marcel Petite Comte
  • Balderson 6 Year Extra Sharp Cheddar
  • Fromager d’Affinois Ail & Fines Herbes Brie
Course 10: Leaping Lord Sugar Cookie

On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, ten lords a-leaping.

Lords Sugar Cookies – I made my own cream cheese frosting (cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, little heavy cream) with some cocoa powder added for the hats and boots. Eyes – blue sprinkles. I made the cutouts with ninja (did cookie surgery for the second arm) and snowman hat cookie cutters and put them in my freezer a week ahead. On the day of the meal, I frosted them.

Course 11: Cheats Éclair Pipe

On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, 11 pipers piping.

Cheats Eclairs with decorations to look like pipes. I made these shortly before serving.

Course 12: Frosted Pound Cake Drum with Pretzel Sticks

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, 12 drummers drumming.

Pound Cake Drums frosted with Strawberry Frosting, pretzel sticks. I used strawberry frosting since we loved it at my Tea Party. I struggled with frosting these. They looked like shag carpet. My Mom saved the day with a tip from her Mom (she died years ago). After setting the butter frosting in the refrigerator, she used a knife dipped in warm water to smooth the frosting.

I served the last 3 courses as a dessert trio since I am fond of making dessert trios.

My critique of the party: I think that everyone enjoyed the food. I am impressed that I pulled off a 12 course meal! I had a spreadsheet with courses and the plates I planned to use. Also, my Mom was an awesome help.

Other Christmas Meals

Carol of the Bells

7 Continents (Santa’s travels around the World)

Dumplings Around the World

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Easy Christmas Eve Dinner

I made an easy to prepare but festive Christmas Eve meal that I enjoyed with my parents.

Asparagus Christmas Tree tarts – Puffed pastry with asparagus, Boursin cheese, Cheddar cheese stars (cut with a cookie cutter)

Blue Cheese Dip – with celery and bell peppers

Grapes

Marcona Almonds

Christmas Cookies (not in photos)

My critique of the meal: This was easy to prepare and enjoyed by all. Maybe it will become a new tradition.

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Santa Pizza Lunch

I made this for my 19 year old niece. She had more pizza with this meal that we didn’t photo.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Santa – Pizza cut with a cookie cutter, mozzarella, Eyes – spinach (cut with a straw), Mouth – black olive, Hat – tomato sauce

Top Right: Green beans

Bottom Right: Raspberries

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Sweet Potato Bells Meal

I made this meal for my Mom. She loved the blue cheese sauce.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Top Left: Pistachios

Bottom Left: Hershey Kisses

Right Side: Bell- Cheddar cut with a cookie cutter, cinnamon stripe, Bells – Sweet Potatoes cut with a cookie cutter and roasted. Blue Cheese Sauce.

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Wreath Themed Meal

I made this festive meal for myself.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Wreath – Fresh Mozzeralla with pesto and red bell pepper, Livera Italiana Pasta  

Top Right: Cashews

Bottom Right: Honeydew melon wreath (cut with cookie cutter), pomegranate seeds

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Candy Cane Polenta

I made this meal for myself. It is fun to think of how many different foods I can make into candy canes.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Candy Canes – Polenta cut with a cookie cutter, smoked paprika on cheddar, sautéed spinach with onions

Top Right: Kidney beans

Bottom Right: Greek Yogurt with cinnamon stripe

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Candy Cane Bagel

I made this meal for my Dad. I gave him more than one candy cane bagel but one alone looked better in the photo.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side:  Candy Cane – use the dough from this recipe. Break off desired portion of dough and make two equal sized balls. Knead tomato paste into one portion. Make two ropes. Twist the two ropes together to form a candy cane, romaine

Top Right: Sundried tomato cream cheese

Bottom Right: Pistachios

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2021 Gingerbread Sweet Creations

For the 5th year in a row, I made gingerbread for the Eastman Museum’s Sweet Creations gingerbread show. Just like last year, all of the creations have covers. The auction to benefit the museum is now online. Go here to see all of the creations and to place a bid. To see the gingerbread in person, visit the Eastman Museum by January 2. Reservations are required.

Here is a sample of my favorite creations this year.

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Gingerbread Japanese Shrine and Garden

This year was my 5th consecutive year making gingerbread for Sweet Creations at the Eastman Museum. This is a concept I have considered since 2016. I am glad that I finally made it. It will be on display at the museum until January 2, 2022. Reservations are required. For the second year, the auction to benefit the museum is now online. Go here to see all of the creations and to place a bid.

Gingerbread Recipe: I used this recipe.

Royal Icing Recipe: I love using this recipe which uses Meringue Powder. It hardens fast and in works very well.

Torii (Gate): Cardboard frosted with royal icing (I made several gingerbread cookies in this shape but most broke)

Wall near rock garden: Pretzel sticks

Rock Garden: Royal icing with shredded unsweetened coconut

Moss Balls: Moss cookies

Pathway: Lemon pez frosted onto cardboard to make placement easier

Tree: Gingerbread with green royal icing and coconut dyed green

Stream: Royal icing with blue sanding sugar, lined with candy rocks

Bridge: Gingerbread

Red Koi: Mini Swedish Fish

White Koi: Fondant with black food coloring

Stepping Stones: Candy rocks

Moss Ground Cover: Coconut with green food coloring

Fox Statues: Fondant on top of caramels

Stairs: Wafer cookies

Hill for Shrine: Rice Krispy treat made in a loaf pan, covered with grey fondant

Shrine Roof: Gingerbread baked with small foil balls underneath to bring up the corners, black Royal Icing, licorice tires

Shrine Balcony: Gingerbread covered with edible gold leaf

Shrine Sign: Fondant wrote with toothpick with paste food coloring (I wrote the word “Shrine” in Japanese)

Shrine Curtain: Fresh lasagna noodle cut, used a small stamp and food coloring market to print design on the noodle.

Shrine details: White fondant

New techniques I tried this year: 

  • I used edible gold leaf for the first time!
  • I stamped a pattern onto a fresh lasagna noodle.

My Gingerbread Collection: Go here to see most of my gingerbread creations.

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Thanksgiving for Two

This year I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my friend Carol. It was supposed to be 3 of us but a co-worker had to cancel that morning because of side effects from his 3rd booster shot. Carol and I had a wonderful meal and visit.

Table: I borrowed my Mom’s harvest plates that she bought at Wegmans many years ago. Carol made the beautiful flower arrangement. I used the cornucopia napkin rings that I bought in NYC in 1999. I made simple place cards with this leaf pattern. I used my Great-Grandmother’s sterling silver flatware. Brown table cloth.

1st Course: Pumpkin Apple Soup with pumpkin seeds garnish, Cream Cheese Chive Rolls from Martha Stewart Baking (I prepared the rolls few days before and put in my freezer. I baked them right before serving.

Main Course: Sweet Potatoes with Blue Cheese and Candied Walnuts (I used mild Wegmans creamy blue cheese.), Roasted Green Beans, Homemade Cheese Tortellini (made and put in freezer a few days before) with Vodka sauce.

Dessert: Apple Turnovers with homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream. I baked the turnovers right before serving. The ice cream I made a day ahead and pre-scooped that morning to make it easy for serving.

My critique of the meal: Everything was delicious! The sweet potatoes were a repeat from last year’s Thanksgiving. I would do the dessert again – delicious but easy and the ice cream was make ahead.

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Turkey Themed Polenta

I made this turkey themed meal for myself.

Container: Prep Natural Glass Meal Containers

Left Side: Turkey – Melon cut with a cookie cutter, Eye – cinnamon, blueberries

Right Side: Turkey – Polenta cut with a cookie cutter, Body – Broiled Cheddar cheese, Eye – Dried blueberry, Wattle – Tomato, white beans and zucchini

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Fox Polenta Lunch

I made this fox themed polenta meal for my Mom.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Fox – Polenta cut with a cookie cutter, face – cinnamon (drew with a toothpick), sautéed spinach with onions

Top Right: Cottage cheese with cinnamon

Bottom Right: Apple Crisp

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Snake Pizza Lunch

I made this snake themed pizza lunch for my Dad.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Snakes – Pizza with Cheddar or Mozzarella cheese (cut with a cookie cutter)

Top Right: Green beans

Bottom Right: Brazil nuts

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Dinosaur Pancakes

My 19 year old niece styled and ate these dinosaur pancakes.

Dinosaurs – Chocolate chip pancakes cut with cookie cutters

Snow – Whipped cream from a can

Droppings – Chocolate chips

Meteor – Chocolate chip pancake, whipped cream with food coloring

Others in this series:

MooseBunny Raccoon, Ghosts

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Giraffe Polenta Meal

I made this adorable giraffe polenta and bean meal for my Dad.

Container: EasyLunchBoxes

Left Side: Giraffe – polenta (cut with a cookie cutter), goat cheese with smoked paprika, kidney beans with salsa

Top Right: Pecans

Bottom Right: Clementines

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