Thursday, September 30, 2010

orange you glad

It's pouring rain again!?! Well, it had to happen. After such a lack of rain here all summer, we're getting it now, just like we did in the spring. Most of the brooks in the area are completely dry, and the reservoirs and big rivers are super low.

I had nothing in the way of face food to prepare today without getting extremely creative. So no faces. Just food...Maia's lunch: leftover kale meatyball baked ziti; orange pieces; Tofurky lettuce rolls; mini pumpkin muffin; carrots; stuffed green olives; cucumber slices.

And Ryan seems to have picked up the other virus that I know some of his friends had, so another day home for him. He feels pretty much fine, just needs to be near the bathroom, poor kid.
AJ's lunch: mini pumpkin muffin; orange pieces; carrots; cucumber slices; Tofurky lettuce rolls; Thermos of leftover kale meatyball baked ziti (which in AJ's words is "AMAZING!").

Plus three dozen
mini banana muffins
left for preschool
with Nate this morning
for his class' snack.
Well, ALMOST three
dozen...a few always
seem to disappear when
I'm not looking! I hope
there's enough for
the kids to have seconds!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

you have 20 minutes

I felt like I was on Chopped this morning. First I had to make the boys' lunches as usual with a circus going on around me. I don't normally prepare them ahead of time because I want them as fresh as possible.

Ryan & AJ's lunches: vegetable cracker sandwiches w/We Can't Say It's Cheese cheddar spread; Annie's chocolate chip bunny cookies; a carrot; a pickle; cucumber slices; plum wedges; apple wedges; green beans; peanuts.

With Ryan & AJ out the door, it was off to drop Nate at preschool. Then I arrived home again. I glanced at the calendar on the way to the computer to unload my camera. AGH!! Today was wednesday. It was the fall staff appreciation lunch at the elementary school. First grade families were supposed to bring a fruit or dessert, and second grade families were assigned salads. Well, it was 9:35am. The food was supposed to be dropped off by 10am. I had 25 minutes in which to create 2 dishes from scratch and deliver them down the street.

I had our farm share still heaped in front of the dishwasher after yesterday's rainy evening pickup. And I spied 2 cans of chick peas still sitting on the corner of the counter waiting to be put away after grocery shopping. So first, a chick pea salad...

Quick Chick Pea Salad

2 cans chick peas, drained
1 tomato, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 slice purple onion, finely diced (about 2-3 tablespoons)
12 green stuffed olives, sliced (black olives are fine too)
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 T. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 clove garlic, finely minced, or 1/8-1/4 tsp. garlic powder
a few grind of fresh black pepper
1 T. fresh thyme

Put chick peas in a large bowl. Cut up tomato, bell pepper, onion & olives. Add them to the bowl. In a small bowl or container with a cover, add all remaining ingredients to create the dressing. Whisk or shake until combined. Pour over chick peas & veggies. Toss & serve. Garnish with a little extra thyme leaves.

Asian Carrot Salad

2 cups grated or matchstick carrots (the grater attachment of a food processor is fastest)
1 cup bok choy or other cabbage stems, sliced finely (I used a mandoline for speed)
1 leek, washed & sliced in thin diagonals
1-2 T. toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup shoyu (naturally brewed soy sauce)
2 T. rice vinegar
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 T. mirin (or other sweetener)
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Grate carrot. Slice bok choy. Trim, wash & slice leek. Toss in the sesame seeds. Add the cilantro if you are using it.
In a small bowl combine shoyu, vinegar, ginger & mirin. Pour over salad & toss. Preferably you'll want to let in marinate for a little bit before serving.


I finished the food at exactly 10am. But I still had to pack it up, take a couple of the quickest pics in the east, and get them to the school. I put Maia on my back and speed walked down to the school. We were back by 10:13am. Whew!
So yeah, technically they got two salads, no fruit or dessert. But I don't think anybody's going to notice. And Americans could use some extra servings of veggies anyways. :-)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hello Kitty!!

It's finally time for Maia's first preschool lunch!

Maia's lunch: Hello Kitty rice face; steamed broccoli; carrot flowers; edamame; Tofurky flower.

I thought I was going to be faced with making 3 lunches and 4 snacks this morning, but Ryan saved me the trouble by throwing up all over his bed and his brother's bed last night. I'm so glad all the sheets had just been washed...not. So only AJ needed a lunch. And we were providing the preschool snack today, so I made 4 dozen mini muffins, enough to put in all of the kids' snacks.

AJ's lunch: mini pumpkin muffin; cucumber slices; edamame; rice ball; carrot flower; steamed broccoli; Tofurky flower.

Can you tell that Tofurky slices were on sale this weekend?? LOL. They can be shaped into cute things pretty easily. More often than not I create lunches based on what's available on sale versus buying specifically for a bento design.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Laundry list? French laundry? Money laundry?? No, just laundry. I promised myself I would do no blogging til I had done ALL of the laundry today. And I do mean, diapers, towels, bed sheets, socks (the only thing I bleach). So it's 7pm, and while the diapers are still in the dryer and have yet to be folded, everything else is indeed done and PUT AWAY.

I had intended to share my gyoza recipe over the weekend, but a plethora of kids' birthday parties, Star Wars characters at Build-A-Bear, and an excess of hiking on sunday kind of quashed that plan too.

So here it is, monday again. But a RAINY monday, thank goodness. We need the rain here desperately. However it does nothing good for food photography. Meh.

Ryan & AJ's lunches: mini gel cups; checkered apples; Pichu sandwich of Tofurky, lettuce, mustard & Veganaise; baby carrots; meatless meatballs; gherkin pickles.

Now, on to the problem of the not-so-spiffy napa cabbage left under the lettuce in the produce bin. Bleh.

Napa cabbage is my
favourite. Not that
cabbage is in general
my favourite, it's not.
But I like the light &
mild flavour napa
cabbage has. It's great
cooked or raw. But I
had inadvertently left
a lovely little head of cabbage in the bottom of the bin too long, which makes me angry, because I hate wasting food. I mean, we compost all produce scraps, but we only get a couple of heads of napa cabbage from the farm each year, and I hate to pitch it all in the compost pile.

So I began removing the
outer layers. The frilly
leafy part was pretty
gnarly, but most of the
inner rib was perfect.
So I salvaged that, about
a cup's worth, and set it
aside for a few hours
while I took out some
frozen dumpling wrappers to thaw on the counter. The ones I had are Assi Brand imported from Korea. I buy them at the local asian market in the refrigerated section. They are one of the few I've found that are free of eggs.

Sunshine Gyoza

1 cup chopped cabbage rib
(or bok choy stems)
1 small leek, sliced thinly
(or scallion)
1 tsp. grated ginger
1/4-1/2 tsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Barbecue Sunshine Burger, thawed & crumbled
24 gyoza skins
oil for frying (optional)
shoyu for dipping (optional)

Dice cabbage. Slice leeks. Grate ginger. Chop garlic.
Mix first 6 ingredients together.
Thaw or nuke the Sunshine
Burger for 30 seconds.
Crumble and mix into cabbage.
Spoon 1-2 tablespoons onto
each gyoza wrapper. Fold in
half and pinch the edges
closed, then press the edges
with a wet fork to secure.

Heat peanut oil in a non-
stick saute pan and fry
for about 1 minute on each
side, or until lightly browned.
Alternately, you can steam
these (in single layers so they
don't stick) for a few minutes.

Drain on a paper towel
on a large plate. Serve
at any temperature.

All four kids absolutely
loved these, as did my
husband. Yippee for such
a yummy cabbage
delivery system!My lunch hike bento: blanched spinach w/shoyu on the side; soba noodles; Sunshine gyoza; mini tofu broccoli quiche.

Friday, September 24, 2010

end of the week

It was one of those mornings to use whatever was left around to create lunches & snacks.

& AJ's
on bread
& a few

Nate's snack:
carrots; cucumbers;
bunny cookies.

Ryan & AJ's snacks:
corn thin; apple halves.

Now it's off to the

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Well, it's the first full day of autumn. And our first day ever with all 4 kids in school where we could leave them for long enough to actually do something!!
I did brunch bentos for the boys today...

Ryan & AJ's lunches: tofu broccoli mini quiches; home fries; apple tart; raspberries; oranges.

We have a ton of local apples right now from Autumn Hills Orchard. So last night I whipped up a quick tart for after dinner...

I completely forgot
to photograph Maia's
snack before school
(and Nate asked for
a Zbar so no pic needed
for that) I quickly
opened her snack up at
school over her hook
and snapped a quick
pic. Maia's snack: mini cucumber slices; baby carrots; raspberries; Annie's gluten-free bunny cookies.

Then it was off for a quick hike up to Tippling Rock with my husband...
If you enlarge the picture
above you can see the
Hancock and Prudential
buildings in Boston in the

We snacked on some
sheep sorrel growing
at the top. It's very
sour and I've enjoyed
it since I was very

We got back to preschool as Maia was eating. They gave her a juice box, which explains why she wasn't eating very quickly, and why she didn't want lunch later. I asked that they please stick
with a small cup of water in the future, which is why I don't pack a drink. Kids tend to fill up on any drink you give them and then many parents wonder why they don't eat a healthy meal.

Next week will be
my first time packing
a lunchbox for Maia!
I doubt it will be much
bigger than her snack,
since the purpose of
school lunch is routine,
socialization, & self-help
skills...not eating, LOL.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bikini Bottom

Time for more Spongebob Squarepants!
Ryan & AJ's lunches: Spongebob macaroni w/Daiya cheese in a Thermos; raspberries; mini banana apple blueberry muffin; meatless meatballs; blanched spinach w/shoyu.
For the jellyfish picks I just attached cardstock stickers to toothpicks. Ryan wanted to know if he could eat them. Aaagh! Glad he asked! I'm not THAT good. But apparently he thought crystalized sugar could produce such a result, which is quite smart of him. I wonder if the stickers are non-toxic, LOL.
Gary is made of Tofurky, cucumber, & rice cheese. The floatie is soy cheese and red bell pepper.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

AJ's yellow Pikmin

Only AJ needed lunch today, since Ryan was going to be at a dentist appointment over lunchtime.AJ's lunch: green grapes; steamed broccoli; cucumber flowers & leaves; sandwich of smoked Tofurky, Veganaise, lettuce, & melted Daiya cheddar on wheat bread; spicy baked tofu; carrot flowers. The Pikmin is made of vegan rice cheese & white soy cheese.

This is exactly what AJ
asked for, including "lots
of green stuff to look
like leaves in the forest".
Imagine my pickiest eater
asking for that!

And there's a good reason
he got just what he asked
for... Yesterday I made one of my biggest lunch blunders to date... I put the WRONG bento in the WRONG lunchbox. Yep, I made two different lunches, and I accidentally put the Toy Story one into AJ's lunchbox. His solution: eat NO lunch. He drank his drink, but otherwise came home starving, whereupon Ryan convinced him to share the leftover bento with him. Not sure what a good idea that was, but AJ agreed. So we had a talk about mistakes, I told him I'd be extra careful that it didn't happen again, and if it did I implored him to at least try to eat some of it even if it didn't meet his expectations.
Now secretly I'm thinking: JUST MAKE IDENTICAL LUNCHES from now on!

Nate had to bring along a cupcake for a friend's birthday, so I gave he and Maia equally small snacks: cucumber flowers, 1/2 a Tofurky slice, Trader Joe's flat pretzels.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pizza Planet Pikmin

Ever heard of Pikmin? If you haven't, you're too young! We used to play the original Pikmin on the GameCube before we had kids. Then Pikmin 2 came out. There is a version available for the Wii now I believe. But Pikmin 3 has been in the works for what seems like FOREVER, and our boys are once again impatiently anticipating its supposed release this fall.

AJ's red Pikmin lunch: rice triangle w/goma shio & a red pepper Pikmin; green grapes; green olive; Cluck-phrey Chic-A-Roos; plum slices; cucumber strips; carrots; green beans; smoked Tofurky "flower".

I've gotta say I love
being able to set my
iPhone or the iPad
nearby when creating
character food. The
image is right where I
need it and I don't have
to run back and forth
to the big computer.

I was putting Ryan's lunch in a Toy Story bento, so I made him a pizza planet rocket. Of course when he saw the Pikmin that AJ had asked for he was jealous, so it looks like I'll be making more Pikmin bentos soon!

Goody Good Stuff summer peaches fruit chew; Cluckphrey Chic-A-Roos; green olive; plum slices; green grapes.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

out to lunch

Whoa, is the weekend over already?! That's what happens when I'm outside all day every day...poof!
My bento: creamy kale; raspberries; roasted almonds; orzo Pasta Caprese (veganized from vice president Biden's family recipe).

Farmer's market food...
Shanghai choy, cucumber, amaranth greens, zucchini & summer squash, bread.

The amaranth greens were
really pretty. There were a
lot of them so I used them
three different ways.

But after blanching some to
serve simply with soy sauce,
I saved the cooking water.

Pink Playdough

1 cup flour
1 1/2 T. cream of tartar
1/2 cup salt
1 T. canola oil
a few drops of a flowery
essential oil (opt.)
1 cup water from
blanching amaranth greens

Combine all ingredients in
a pot. Stir constantly over
medium-high heat. When
it forms a ball, cook for
about 1 more minute until
dough begins to firm.

Allow to cool, kneading
every so often as it cools.
Store in an airtight con-

Here is Nate playing
with the new dough,
still warm from the

And another bento...

Mine: hummus, red onion, lettuce, grated carrot on flax lavash wrap bread; husk cherries; amaranth greens w/garlic & pine nuts.

Here are Nate and Maia at the farmer's market...
They get right into the
loaf of bread while it's
still warm.

The weather is
cooling down now,
but we've gotten
a few sporadic
warmer days left
to enjoy these final
days of summer.