I made this meal for my friend Renae’s 13 year old daughter Elizabeth. I am happy with how the cheese bananas and celery look together. I attached the bananas to the trees with spaghetti and left one at the bottom on purpose.
Left Side: Monkey – tortilla chips cut with a cookie cutter, lightly brush with olive oil, put on cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp, Bananas – cheddar cheese cut with a cutter cutter, celery
Left Side: Sloth – cheddar cheese cut with a cookie cutter, Eyes & Nose – spinach cut with a mini cutter, Tree Branch – celery, lentil salad (I loosely followed this but did not use the onion, bell pepper, bay leaf and parsley. I cooked the lentils in vegetable broth.) Asiago cheese is under the lentils.
Contents: Large Elephant – cut with a cookie cutter, lightly brush with olive oil, put on cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp, Small Elephants – cheddar cheese cut with a cookie cutter.
I made this themed meal for my friend Renae. Awhile ago she came up with the theme idea to help me use some letter cookie cutters. I enjoy using my collection and am on a continued quest to use all of them.
Left Side: Big E and other letters – cheddar cheese cut with cookie cutters, lentil salad (I loosely followed this but did not use the onion, bell pepper, bay leaf and parsley. I cooked the lentils in vegetable broth.) Asiago cheese is under the lentils.
Top Right: Eye Glasses – tortilla cut with a knife, brush with olive oil and bake at 375 until lightly browned. Prop up on some foil while baking (see image below), toasted pecans
Bottom Right: Eye – apple dipped in water and lemon juice to prevent browning, Eyeball – skin of the apple, blueberries
To celebrate Hug Your Cat day, I made this meal for my friend Renae’s 15 year old daughter. Natalie was a natural choice to make this meal for since she eats a variety of food and often hugs / holds Joy, her Russian Blue cat.
Glass Containers with Lids
Left Container: Hair – peanut noodles, Head – water chestnut, Eyes – spinach (cut with mini cutter), Mouth – radish, Body – cheddar mashed potatoes with garlic, Cat – cheddar mashed potatoes with butterfly pea flower powder (cut with a cookie cutter), green peas
Right Container: Hug Your Cat – carrot lettering (cut with cookie cutters), cream cheese, celery, blueberries
Awhile ago, I came up with the idea that I wanted to have a meal by a waterfall. My friend Deborah was happy to join me in this adventure. We met at the Holley Canal Falls. I made this vegan meal for Deborah. I made a similar but themeless meal for myself with nuts instead of the cookie nest. I think it was my first time to make a carrot salad. I loved the flavors, especially the curry and maple syrup! Deborah brought along a tablecloth and flowers. It was the first time for both of us to visit this waterfall. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed it so much that we stayed there for 3 hours! Now we are planning our next adventure.
My Mom had a boat christening party for my parent’s new Pontoon Boat. The weather did not cooperate as we had planned. It was cold and rainy. We adapted and still held the christening ceremony and party but instead of having the boxed meals on the boat, we had them in the house. My Mom had a small speech prepared and broke the special ceremonial bottle. She allowed me to participate by pouring a small amount of red wine into the water. I enjoyed attending this special ceremony and look forward to many rides in the boat. It is very comfortable!
They named the boat, “The Smiling Fox”. The name was a secret and I did not know it until the ceremony. It has special meaning for my family.
We toasted with Asti and enjoyed these appetizers. I mostly used the idea from this but filled it with vegetable hummus and garnished with mini green pepper anchors cut with a cookie cutter. Everyone enjoyed!
7 people attended the party. Before the ceremony I gave the guests their meal choices. My Mom and I prepared bento boxes with their choices. I labeled the lids with their name written on masked tape.
In honor of Vesak day, I made a Buddha bowl with a tortilla buddha. I love this Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl recipe! I made it several times. I make three servings at a time and eat it three days in a row. Healthy and delicious!
If I don’t have chickpeas, I switch out with another type of beans. I use broccoli instead of broccolini. Also I use raw spinach leaves instead of kale and serve the spinach raw.
Buddha tortilla chip – flour tortilla cut with a cookie cutter, place on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, spray cut-out with cooking spray and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp,
Left Side: Sunglasses Emoji – cooked Nishiki rice pressed into a round emoji cookie cutter, cheddar cheese broiled on top of rice. Sunglasses & Mouth – spinach cut with a mini cutter and free-hand, peas
In October 2020, my parents and I planted over 100 daffodils at my parents lake house. The three of us made quick work of the planting. My Dad used my bulb drill bit to drill the holes and my Mom and I planted the daffodils. I loved the idea of a special daffodil dinner to celebrate our planting. For a few months, I enjoyed planning a daffodil themed dinner. My friend Renae was awesome and agreed to make a daffodil cookie cutter for me with her 3D printer! I was excited to see the results of our efforts this spring. The daffodils opened up just in time for Mother’s Day. This was a memorable Mother’s day meal.
Daffodil Cheese Ball – mix cold cream cheese with shredded cheddar, garlic powder and freshly ground pepper. Shape into petals. Mix a small amount of the cheese ball mixture with some turmeric. Shape into small balls and make a cup to resemble the center of a daffodil. Arrange on a small plate with snow peas.
Daffodil Cream Dessert – soften 8 oz cream cheese, whip a small container of heavy cream with some vanilla and a little sugar, whip cream cheese with some sugar, fold cheese mixture and whipped cream together with a spoon. Put some blueberries on the bottom of each individual container, spoon the cheese / whipped cream mixture on top, garnish with lemon cut in petal shapes, roll thin pieces of lemon for daffodil center and hold together with a piece of wooden toothpick. Sprinkle green sanding sugar on top.
Note: most people will probably not eat lemon zest but warn your guests that there is a small piece of wooden toothpick in the lemon garnish.
My critique of the meal: We enjoyed everything. The onion feta tarts were a nice change from other tarts I have made. My parents already requested that I make them again. The daffodil desserts ended up being cute but they did cause me some stress. Originally my plan was to make mango daffodils but I was unable to make them look right. My Mom suggested that I use lemon peel. It is not edible for most people but looked very cute. I am already thinking about other flower themed meals to make.
White horses remind me of my Grandpa. When I was a child and we saw a white horse, he said it was good luck. He showed me the custom of stamping to get the good luck. My Grandpa is the only person I ever knew who licked his thumb when he saw a white horse. I am guessing he learned it when he was a child in Illinois.
Strawberries with Dark Chocolate – I melted Endangered Species Chocolate, Strong + Velvety Dark Chocolate 88% Cocoa and made round disks.
My critique of the meal: It was good for an easy meal but I am more satisfied when I make a bigger effort. I would not make this eggplant recipe again since I like other recipes better but Renae liked it. I enjoyed the chocolate better in this form than from the chocolate bar.
I made this meal for my Dad at his request. I seldom ask him what theme he wants. I usually make whatever I want. This time I thought that weather was appropriate since he often talks about the weather. I asked him which weather theme he wanted. He said, “clouds with lightning bolts”.
Container: Cloud box from Japan (set of 3)
Large Box: Clouds – cheddar cut with cookie cutters, Lightning – carrot cut with cookie cutters, cheddar mashed potatoes with garlic and Butterfly Pea Flower Powder
I made this colorful and delicious meal for myself.
Container: Cloud box from Japan (set of 3)
Top Box: April – carrot cut with cookie cutters, clouds – cheddar cheese cut with cookie cutters, blueberries
Bottom Box: May – carrot cut with cookie cutters, flowers – yellow and red bell pepper cut with cookie cutters, dried blueberries attached with spaghetti, rice mixed with roasted broccoli and Asiago cheese, more roasted broccoli under the rice
Awhile ago, I made this meal for my friend Carol. She had recent dental surgery and needed to eat a soft food diet. I made and delivered this meal and then we both ate and visited over video. It was a simple meal but I hope that it added some fun to eating a soft food diet.
My parents have made a version of this for many years (probably at least 35 years). Over the years they make it slightly different – sometimes with candied fruit, sometimes orange zest, sometimes lemon zest, sometimes nuts on top, sometimes an icing drizzle. They used to make a large one but now with only a few people, they make half the recipe. I included a photo of the original recipe but they do it their own way. They make the bread the night before and leave in an off oven until morning. They usually put dyed hard boiled eggs on after baking.
As usual, we had a nice time with a beautiful table, delicious food, and gifts from the Easter Bunny.
What are Wagashi? Wagashi are traditional Japanese sweets usually served with green tea. Most of the ones I made here are in the Nerikiri style. Traditional Nerikiri Wagashi are soft and smooth. They are made by hand from rice flour and white beans and are often filled with red bean paste. Wagashi are made to represent the seasons.
What are my imitations? I decided to make food that looks like Wagashi but are really savory food. My bird, flower, and balls on a stick are cheddar cheese mashed potatoes. Greenhas finely chopped fresh spinach leaves. Yellow has tumeric. Red has tomato paste. Purple has Butterfly Pea Flower powder.
Why I made these? Inspired by Fukuyadou Honpo (Kyoto Love Story) drama I watched on Amazon Prime in the winter. The drama is set in Kyoto at a traditional Japanese sweet shop. I only have a little experience eating actual Wagashi and not the Nerikiri type I imitated here. I used one potato and ate these as part of my dinner.
How to make? Probably the most difficult part is getting the mashed potatoes the correct consistency to shape by hand. I got lucky with these (I did not add butter or milk). But I have experience with shaping mashed potatoes. The strawberry is covered with Greek yogurt. I also include a spinach pancake leaf with potato ladybug at the end of this post.
My Spring Potato Wagashi Set:
Bird – Cheddar mashed potatoes with Butterfly Pea Flower powder, candy eye
Hanami Dango – Green – cheddar mashed potato mixed with finely chopped fresh spinach leaves, White – cheddar mashed potato, Pink – cheddar mashed potato with tomato paste, wooden skewer cut to size
Flower – Cheddar mashed potato with tomato paste, Center of Flower- cheddar mashed potato with tumeric, Leaf – spinach. Use the side of a chopstick to press into a mashed potato ball to make the petals. Make an indent in the center with the larger end of a chopstick.
Strawberry Daifuku – Strawberry dipped in plain Greek yogurt. Freeze.
Leaf with Ladybug – Leaf – pancake with finely chopped raw spinach, cheddar mashed potato ball, Ladybug – cheddar mashed potato with tomato paste, black sesame seeds, black food coloring
Dishes: The small leaf and flower plates are from Natural Kitchen (100 Yen store in Japan).
I enjoyed making this Wagashi set for spring. I am already thinking about ideas for the other seasons.
Maple Vinaigrette – Olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup whisked together (I did not measure but I have experience making vinaigrettes).
Three Cheese Flower Shaped Ravioli – This is my favorite pasta dough, I used a flower shaped cookie cutter to cut the dough. The filling is Ricotta, Asiago, and Mozzeralla cheeses with some garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook in boiling water for about 5 minutes. After plating, sprinkle dried basil on top.
Tomato Sauce – Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil, add canned strained and chopped tomatoes, basil, and oregano, cook for about 25 minutes.
Roasted Asparagus – Drizzle a little olive oil over asparagus, roast asparagus in a 420 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Add Asiago cheese after plating.
No-bake Lemon Cheesecake Cups with Raspberries – soften 8 oz cream cheese, whip a small container of heavy cream with some vanilla and a little sugar, whip cream cheese with some sugar and lemon zest, fold cheese mixture and whipped cream together with a spoon. Put some raspberries on the bottom of each container, spoon the cheese / whipped cream mixture on top, garnish with more fresh raspberries.
My critique of the meal: We all loved it. I don’t think that I would have done anything different. But if I really need to be critical, maybe next time I would plan a decorative center on top of the flower ravioli. I thought about it ahead of time but did not plan anything. Last minute as I was plating, I sprinkled some dried basil on top of the ravioli.
This week I received my second COVID-19 vaccine. It seemed fitting to make a themed meal for myself to honor the occasion. I was excited to use the COVID-19 cookie cutter made by my friend Renae. She now has a 3D printer and has made several cookie cutters for me!
My cheese person getting a COVID-19 vaccine is not wearing a mask so you can see the smile. The smile is there since it was suggested by my friend Renae. Without the face, it was not clear what was happening here. Sometimes I send images to friends while I am in the middle of making something to see if they know what it is supposed to be. Also, often I make art with people or animals without facial details and wish later that I had included a face.
Container: Wooden box purchased in Kyoto at Bento&co.
Contents: Person: cheddar cheese, Face: paprika and food coloring, Shot: cheddar cheese, food coloring, spaghetti, Other: roasted asparagus, Broccoli Quinoa, COVID-19 tortilla chips: flour tortillas cut with cookie cutter, (place on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, brush with olive oil, bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp), Other: pecans, fresh broccoli.
I have a longtime fondness for stickers so I was especially happy to receive this sticker after getting my vaccine. Also, I like to think that I am tough.
Camels – tortilla chips – flour tortillas cut with cookie cutters, (place on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with smoked paprika and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp)
Left Side: Emperor – garlic mashed potato with spinach and radish details, painted with green food coloring mixed with water, Empress – garlic mashed potato with spinach and radish details, painted with red food coloring mixed with water, snow peas, radish flower cut with a cookie cutter
Top Right: Dry roasted edamame
Bottom Right: Greek yogurt mixed with raspberry jam, strawberries cut with a cookie cutter
I made this as part of dinner for myself. Will March come in like a Lion and go out like a Lamb? This proverb to describe the weather in March amuses me. It was fun to celebrate the idea of upcoming spring with this themed meal.
Lion: Sweet Potato cut with a cookie cutter, roasted in oven
Lamb: White Potato cut with a cookie cutter, roasted in oven
Grass: Pesto made with fresh basil, lemon juice, walnuts, Asiago cheese
I made this lunch for myself and decorated it with flamingo shaped radish. I picked this theme since I wanted to use my flamingo cookie cutter for the first time. On a whim I colored them with Butterfly Pea Flower Powder mixed with a little water.
I made this dinner for myself. It was easy and delicious! I am glad that I enjoy cooking and can make interesting food for myself. I don’t think I had ever made romesco sauce before. I had all of the ingredients. It was quick to make in my food processor. Usually I don’t like raw garlic but I enjoyed it in this meal.
Left Side: Heart Eyes Emoji – cooked Nishiki rice pressed into a round emoji cookie cutter, cheddar cheese broiled on top of rice. Eyes – radish cut with mini heart cutter. Mouth – spinach cut with a mini cutter, peas
To celebrate my friend Carols birthday with her this year I made and delivered dinner. Then over zoom we ate together and talked. She requested the same meal as last year. I prepared the Wellington the same way as for our virtual Thanksgiving.
I made this two box meal for my friend Deborah on her birthday. I was happy to try making an earth out of eggplant! When I delivered her food, we went for a walk. It was lovely to go for a walk together. The air was crisp and woods pretty from a recent snowfall. And I always enjoy speaking with Deborah.
Contents: Earth – roasted eggplant brushed with a little olive oil and Butterfly Pea Flower Powder for the water and some basil-lemon-walnut to represent land. Hands – polenta cooked in vegetable broth, cut with cookie cutter, mashed garlic broccoli (to make it vegan for my friend, I did not use cheese)