My Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese is very popular. When her kids and grandchildren visit, it is one of the most requested meals. I am including the original recipe from Betty Crocker here but over the years, my Mom has made it her own. She uses Seriously Sharp Cabot Cheddar Cheese. Mom adds onion powder and dried mustard to the cheese sauce. Also depending on who she is making it for, sometimes she makes it with a breadcrumb topping and sometimes without. When she uses breadcrumbs, she puts extra cheese on top of the elbow pasta then adds the breadcrumbs. I prefer the breadcrumb topping. We like a brown and crispy crust. Mom bakes it for 45 minutes. Delicious!
I want to buy a house. I’ve been searching for nearly 2 years. A house that meets my requirements, lists less than once a month. Last weekend 2 houses that mostly fulfill my requirements listed on the same day. The last time a house listed for me was the end of April!. Last weekend my friend Renae went with me to see the houses. Since we had appointments at lunch time, I packed identical snack lunches for us to eat in the car.
I made this skunk themed meal for myself. It is my first time to use this cookie cutter. I have no idea why my skunk is orange and has no stripe. Next time, I should make one that looks more like a skunk. But I enjoyed eating it.
Today is my 10 year blogiversary! To celebrate, I made this meal for myself.
Container: Cloud box from Japan (set of 3)
Large Box: 10 – Cinnamon tortilla chip – flour tortilla cut with a cookie cutter, spray with cooking spray, sprinkle with cinnamon, put on cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp, popcorn
Medium Box: 10 – Cinnamon tortilla chip – flour tortilla cut with a cookie cutter, spray with cooking spray, sprinkle with cinnamon, put on cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp, romaine, cherry tomatoes
Small Box: 10 – Blueberries, Greek yogurt
I show my love for the people in my life by making fun food for them. I aim to please so I often ask their food and theme preferences. People usually don’t like that question. I am happy when I know what they like and can make them especially pleased with my efforts. I love being challenged with a new theme. Sometimes people inspire me to try something I would not have thought about on my own. Such as tapping maple trees, wood burning in a fireplace, historical weapons, or field hockey. It is also fun to see how many different versions of elephant meals I can make (elephant is my most requested theme).
Over the past 10 years my life has changed; relationship status, jobs, dwellings. Throughout it all I make cute food for the people closest to me at the time.
I looked at past posts to see how many different people I gave my cute themed food. Over the past 10 years, I prepared themed boxed lunches for 49 different people!!
Of those 49 people, I looked at the top 10. I am actually number 1. The other 9 are not a surprise (ex-husband, nephews and niece from marriage, both my parents, friends Carol and Dennis).
I don’t show many photos with recognizable people. I show parts of faces and lots of hands and arms. My image only appears in 3 posts (Hans, Easter, Helicopter).
Having my blog and what I create for it makes life more fun. I have a tradition of announcing a new companion with a photo of the back of his head while about to eat one of my cute themed bentos. In the 4.5 years after divorce, the backs of 2 mens heads appear on my blog (here and here). There was a 3rd new man I made a meal for (between the 2 pictured) but we broke up before I was ready to post. This is life and I can see the humor in it.
I am grateful for the 49 people who were close enough to me to eat my fun food. It gives me so much joy!
I made this gorilla themed meal for myself. I wanted a gorilla cookie cutter with 4 legs that was not 3D. My friend Renae made it for me with her 3D printer. I think that it turned out very cute. Looks more like a gorilla than this one I made last year.
Left Side: Gorilla – cheddar cheese cut with a cookie cutter, Eye – spinach cut with a mini cutter, 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.)
Top Right: Toasted walnuts
Bottom Right: Palm trees – celery cut with a cookie cutter, mango, blueberries
I made this zucchini, tomato, rice and cheese casserole for my friend Dennis and myself. It was a last minute dinner and easy to throw together.
Zucchini Tomato Casserole– I used the recipe as a guide but did not exactly follow it. I used spring onions and zucchini from my CSA. I baked the casserole in individual portions and sprinkled Asiago cheese on top.
Sliced Strawberries with Ricotta – My portion has plain ricotta. Dennis has sweetened ricotta with sugar and vanilla.
My critique of the meal: We both enjoyed this meal. This is an easy meal and it has a lot of different flavor possibilities. I don’t use these individual dishes very often but I should. They are very attractive and fun to use. The only problem was that I should have served it after cooling down awhile. It was very hot in temperature!
This year I am enjoying making different themed ravioli. I made these cute ravioli stars for dinner with my parents at their Lake House. It is not obvious in the photos but there is a black bean sauce under the ravioli.
Star Salad – Cucumber stars cut with a cookie cutter, tomato, black olives, romaine
Star Ravioli – I used my favorite pasta dough cut with a cookie cutter, filled with a mixture of ricotta, corn, basil, Asiago, black pepper, and parmesan cheese
I made these festive tacos for my parents and myself. They are easy to make. The only part that takes some time is cutting and roasting the sweet potatoes. I enjoy cutting food with cookie cutters. Its relaxing for me.
Sweet Potato cut with a cookie cutter and roasted until tender
Canned black beans, rinsed then mixed with some smoked paprika
How to Make:
Prepare all the ingredients.
Heat the corn tortillas using a method of your choice.
My parents and I had a delicious 4th of July themed meal at their Lake House.
Red, White, and Blue Appetizers – Red Stars – red bell pepper cut with a cookie cutter, White Stripes – blueberry white cheddar, White – this onion dip but with dairy sour cream, Blue – blue homemade potato chips.
Red, White, and Blue Ravioli – I added butterfly pea flower powder to 1/2 of my favorite pasta dough, the filling was ricotta, parmesan, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Red, White, and Blue Dessert – Sliced strawberries, blueberries, fresh whipped cream.
My critique of the meal: We all love my homemade ravioli. Everything was delicious.
Left Side: House – cooked Nishiki rice pressed into a cookie cutter with plastic wrap, Heart – red bell pepper cut with a cookie cutter, black beans, corn, salsa
Top Right: Key – tortilla chips cut with a cookie cutter, lightly brush with olive oil, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, put on cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp, pistachios
Bottom Right: Dog – watermelon cut with a cookie cutter, blueberries
I made a woodland themed dinner at my parents Lake House when my Aunt and Uncle were visiting from Atlanta. I am sorry that my Aunt was not feeling well and could not join us for the meal. But the rest of us enjoyed.
Woodland 3D Appetizer Plate – Fresh mozzarella balls and tomatoes with basil, tortilla chip bear, fox, and deer – cut tortilla chips 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
Tree Ravioli – I added spinach powder to my favorite pasta dough, the filling was ricotta, parmesan, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I cut the tree shapes with a cookie cutter. Since I did not want it to look like Christmas trees, the sauce is a cheddar cheese sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley.
Forest in a Cup – Chocolate cups, Greek yogurt with peanut butter powder, cinnamon tortilla chip trees – cut tortilla chips with a cookie cutter, lightly brush with olive oil, sprinkle with cinnamon, put on cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp, miniature peanut butter cups
My critique of the meal: I think we all enjoyed everything. I especially liked the 3D Appetizer scene and hope to make different scenes in the future. I don’t eat mushrooms but my parents and Uncle enjoyed them. As usual, I want to improve my ravioli plating but the trees were cute and delicious. I was concerned that my parents and Uncle would think that the dessert was not sweet enough but the sweetness of the chocolate off-set it. I used unsweetened yogurt and peanut butter powder in the filling. The tortilla tree had only cinnamon on it. I think it was a perfect complement to the chocolate cup and peanut butter cups.
I made this lunch for my Uncle while he visited my parents at their Lake House. It was the first time I made a themed meal for him. During his employment days, he worked on airplanes. This theme was a natural choice for him. He was excited that I made a 3D carrot airplane and said that it even had landing gear!
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.