Tuesday, March 30, 2010

bento business

I have been on a bento strike the last couple of weeks. First, I deleted a bunch of pics from the camera on accident, then I didn't take any pics for a week or two, now I'm just in a bento funk. Not feeling inspired, you know? Does this ever happen to you?

My latest venture is figuring out how to pack husband's bentos. He is a police officer so his meals have to be something he can just toss on his seat really. This is proving to be a bit more challenging for me. For him I've mostly been using just your standard Rubbermaid container that has a divider down the middle. I found a bunch of these Fit and Fresh Lunch on the Go containers at a discount store for just $4 a piece. So far so good. I would just like it to be a bit bigger.
On the bottom of the container I put a burrito made from our Cool Taco Salad leftovers, Thin Mint girl scout cookies, and these amazing giant rosemary crackers called La Panzanella from Costco. Then the ice pack goes on top of that, and as you can see it fits the two little containers on top. In those containers I have celery and almond butter (ground fresh at a local health food store) and a light laughing cow cheese wedge for the Panzanella (seriously. so good!). And grapes.

I am trying to find practical adult sized bento containers, but haven't found anything that would work for him yet. Any ideas out there? Remember it has to be on the go with him. He's not sitting down at a table to eat necessarily. A laptop lunch box would be perfect if it were just a bit bigger. Again, any ideas would be appreciated.

Monday, March 29, 2010

menu plan monday: week of march 29th

MONDAY  mini quiches (already in freezer) :: steamed veggies :: potatoes o'brien

TUESDAY  Mexican Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas :: whole wheat tortillas :: avocado :: salsa

WEDNESDAY  1-2-3 Soup :: cornbread :: kale

THURSDAY fish n chips

FRIDAY  Pizza night :: veggie pizza from Papa Murphy's

SATURDAY  smorgasbord/leftovers

SUNDAY  fruit salad :: chicken salad on croissants

Crockpot Curry

We love this curry recipe. We've been making it for years. I'm sorry I can't say where it came from, but it is now part of our permanent recipe collection. We eat it with brown rice and/or naan. It is also optional to sprinkle chopped peanuts over each serving. We have a boy with a peanut allergy so we don't do that. Everyone who has tried this recipe loves it and it does make the house smell wonderful while it's cooking.


3 Tbsp. flour
3 Tbsp. curry powder
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ lbs chicken (1 in. chunks)
2 c. potatoes, peeled & chopped
1 ½ c. bias-sliced carrots
1 cup cooking apple, chopped
¾ c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (it is very mildly spicy. You can add more jalapeno if you want more kick)
1 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
½ cup water
1 (13 oz.) can coconut milk (in Asian store or Asian aisle in grocery store)
cooked brown rice
Optional: ¼ c. chopped peanuts

In a gallon Ziploc bag, combine flour, curry, cumin, and salt. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time; seal bag. Shake bag to coat. In a 3 ½ - 4 quart crock pot, combine potatoes, carrots, apple, onion, garlic, jalapeno, and bouillon. Top with chicken. Pour water over all. Cover and cook on low setting 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. If using low setting, turn to high at the end and stir in coconut milk. Cover and cook for 30 minutes more. If desired, serve over hot rice.

**Last time I made this I didn't follow the ziploc bag instructions to coat the chicken. I just threw it all into the crockpot together and mixed it together and cooked on low for 8 hours. I did use a crockpot liner and that made for ZERO cleanup (other than the lid).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

menu plan monday: week of march 22nd

Good grief this week isn't even halfway over and it's insane already. I just discovered that I washed a diaper with my last load of laundry. Not only was the cloth part of the diaper shredded and covering all of my darks like a thick blanket of lint, but the gel stuff that is inside the diaper, was EVERYWHERE. I've never seen anything like it. Little gel balls that mush when you touch them, yet stay sprinkled all over and stick to the clothes and the washing machine. I just finished cleaning it up and am hoping that another cycle will clean it up. Then tomorrow I've got friends coming over, daughter's birthday on Thursday and am taking treats to her class, and then parent/teacher conference after school. Friday is her birthday party with 7 other little girls at our house, and I can go on and on! But I'm going to post my weekly menu plan instead. This week we will be using what's already in our fridge, freezer, and cupboards to make our meals. No trips to the store until the weekend!

spinach lasagna rolls (this time I made it the traditional layering method. I used fresh spinach, and dumped a jar of Newman's Own Marinara sauce over the top of everything. I also just layered the lasagna noodles without cooking them first. I threw it together in about 5 minutes and then cooked it for 40 minutes. It was delicious.)

smorgasbord: vanilla yogurt with granola and diced up fruit with whole wheat quesadillas and raw veggies

slow cooker chicken and apple curry with naan (recipes to come)

Daisy's birthday dinner. She still hasn't told us what she wants.

pizza night



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

kiwi popsicles

if you are wondering what's on the wall, it's a homemade preschool board I made with bulletin boards. It has a calendar, the weather, days, months, numbers, etc.
I've had this recipe for probably 15 years or so, since I was about 15. I think I cut it out of a magazine, but I'm not sure which one.

Kiwifruit Popsicles
4 kiwis
1 can (6 oz.) lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 cups water

Peel kiwis. Process in blender or food processor just until smooth; do not crush seeds. Stir in lemonade concentrate and water. Pour mixture into ten 3-ounce popsicle molds or paper cups; place cups in freezer until partially frozen. Place popsicle sticks in center of cups and freeze firm.

nutritional information per serving (makes 10 servings):
50 calories :: 0 g protein :: 0 g fat :: 12 g carbs :: 3 mg sodium :: 0 mg cholesterol ::

***my notes***
I don't like the corn syrup in frozen lemon juice concentrate, so I used fresh squeezed lemon juice sweetened with agave. For every 1 cup of sugar, you would use 2/3 cup agave. It is actually sweeter than sugar. I've used Simply Lemonade before as well. As far as I know, it doesn't have anything suspicious in it. It says natural cane sugar and other flavors. Whatever that means. So I ended up using 2 cups of just lemonade in place of the frozen juice, and it turned out great. It changes the consistency and texture slightly.

Monday, March 15, 2010

(healthy) choco-nana shake

This isn't your standard chocolate shake. This is sort of a health nut shake. But who cares! It's delicious and you'll love it even more that something this good is also healthy. From the taste, I think you would be surprised that it didn't have milk or ice cream in it.

2 cups filtered water
1 cup raw almonds
3 frozen bananas, sliced into chunks
3 rounded Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp. sea salt (any salt will do if you don't have sea salt)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 Tablespoons Agave nectar (maple syrup or honey will work too)
2 cups ice

Blend all ingredients until smooth. We weren't able to blend the almonds very fine so we had some crunch in ours, but it didn't bother us at all. Next time I might experiment with grinding the almonds before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

menu plan monday :: week of march 15th

see other menus here at org junkie
Brinner: biscuits and egg gravy :: fruit

Slow Cooker Chicken with Apricots and Dates :: quinoa or wild rice on the side

quesadillas :: refried black beans :: rice (I know, no St. Patrick's Day feast!)

tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Pizza night: Cool Veggie Pizza (I will use artichoke, zucchini, peppers, cauliflower, olives, etc.) and fruit pizza for dessert using the same idea, just sweetened cream cheese for the spread.


spinach lasagna rolls :: crusty bread :: salad

Saturday, March 13, 2010

bento # 42

I'm kind of bummed! I had a week's worth of bentos to post and I accidentally deleted them! Has that ever happened to you? And they were cute too. I made a little more effort to have them be all cute, but oh well. What can you do.

This one is a bagel and light cream cheese, cut in half to resemble a rainbow, raw cauliflower, kiwi fruit, and Newman's Own Chocolate alphabet cookies.

Friday, March 12, 2010

the giant jam sandwich

Remember this? My giant loaf of bread? This is why I made it:
The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord, 1975. This is a book I read a lot as a little girl. I loved the illustrations and was fascinated by the story. 
One hot summer in Itching Down,
Four million wasps flew into town.
They drove the picnickers away,
They chased the farmers from their hay,
They stung Lord Swell on his fat bald pate,
They dived and hummed and buzzed and ate,
And the noisy, nasty nuisance grew
Till the villagers cried, "What can we do?"

So the villagers decide that since wasps love jam, they would build a giant loaf of bread and spread strawberry jam on it and lure the wasps to the jam and as soon as they land the plan is to splat the top slice of bread down on top of the wasps, sticking them to the jam and smashing them inside.
The story ends with just three wasps getting away, and the birds carrying off the giant sandwich to "have a feast for a hundred weeks". In my opinion, this is a must have book for little children. Check it out for yourself at your local library in the children's picture books.

So onto the "meat" of this post. This was how we spent one of our recent dark rainy days indoors. We constructed a giant loaf of bread. I made luscious bread and put all of the dough, minus 2 regular sized loaves into a disposable roasting pan. The dimensions were approximately 15 X 11 and 4 inches deep. I think. If I ever do this again, I will go ahead and put all the dough in the roasting pan. I was worried about it being too much, but it could've definitely been a lot taller. I was worried about the temperature and the amount of time to cook it, but it was decided to keep it at the standard temperature given in the recipe, but cook it 15-20 minutes longer. I covered the top with tinfoil so that it wouldn't get too dark on top. It worked! It was one giant luscious loaf.

We didn't have our own homemade strawberry jam, but we used a GIANT bottle of organic strawberry jam from Costco. We spread a nice thick layer across a thick slice of our bread.
Luckily, the Dinoco chopper was on hand to help carry the top slice of bread that we would be "splatting" on top.
We were brainstorming what to do for wasps, and while browsing at the grocery store we found Honey Maid Honey Bees. Perfect. So the flew in and landed on top of the bread. (the kids decided that they didn't actually want them to be inside the sandwich. Wimps.
I'm thinking these are some happy looking "wasps".
The kids loved their snack and they loved making the book come alive. We've done this with other books. It is a lot of fun. Here's some of the ones we posted about.
Matilda and How to Eat Fried Worms

While looking for images of the story, I found this homeschool list of activities for the Giant Jam Sandwich.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

menu plan monday :: week of march 8th

to see other menu plans go here!

Planning out all three meals was a little too crazy! I'll try to do it again for next week. For now, here's dinner:

brown bag burritos (I've already made these and they are in the freezer! So easy and everyone will eat them.)

carrot soup with homemade croutons (recipe to come)

cool taco salad (eating for life cookbook). We usually double or triple this recipe to feed the whole family and/or to have leftovers. We love this recipe.

pioneer woman's quesadillas :: guacamole, salsa, and sour cream

pizza and a movie night

leftovers day!


Saturday, March 6, 2010

luscious bread

If you're looking for one of those whole wheat and sweetened with honey bread recipes, this isn't one of those. For this "project", I needed a large batch of white bread. So I went to the family cookbook and decided to use my Aunt's Luscious Bread recipe which yields 5 large, luscious loaves.
The 16 month old boy was bery helpful in testing each loaf.
Luscious Bread
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (2 packages)
1 cup lukewarm water
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup oil
3 tsp. salt
4 cup lukewarm water
2 beaten eggs
1 cup sugar
12-14  cups unbleached flour

Dissolve yeast and sugar and 1 cup water; let stand. Add oil, salt, 4 cups water, eggs and sugar; mix well. Blend in yeast mixture. Add flour. Knead with dough hook for 10 minutes. Remove dough to greased bowl, cover and let rise until double. Punch down and let rise until double again. Divide into 5 pans; let rise again. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

I only made 2 loaves and then the rest went into a giant roasting pan to make 1 GIANT loaf of bread! But I will show you what I did with it tomorrow. The tops of my loaves aren't very smooth because I didn't smooth over the dough when I placed it in the pans. I just sort of slopped it in there and it made marks or knots on top. My mother would never approve. I hae only made bread a few times in my life. My mother always brings this up. She has guilt because she never taught me to make bread and sew and all that. But what she doesn't remember is that I rebelled against learning those things and only now wish I had sat down and learned.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

bento #41

star cut-out sandwiches on honey wheat bread with strawberry jam inside, a heart-shaped hard boiled egg (turned out kind of funny. I think the mold I have is for super jumbo eggs) apple half, edamame, and honey bee crackers.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

more man-pleasin' (and kids too) food: cornbread muffins

These were some of the best cornbread muffins I've ever had. I loved the addition of whole kernel corn mixed into the batter. They can also be left out and taste just as good. This is another recipe from the Sur La Table cookbook, Baking Kids Love by Cindy Mushet. She bakes the recipes in the book with the help of her tween daughter, Bella. The recipes are delightful so far and this is a great book for a child that loves to cook. There are lots of explanations and tips throughout the book.

This recipe calls for a 24-cup mini muffin pan. I just used a standard sized muffin pan and ended up with 12 muffins.

Mini Cornbread Muffins
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup fine conrmeal (we used coarse, but I would recommend using the fine, especially for kids)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (leave out if you use salted butter)
1 cup milk ir heavy whipping cream (we used the cream because we had some)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (optional)

Position over rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees, Lightly grease the muffin pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour the milk into a 2 cup measuring cup. Crack the eggs into the milk, then stir with a fork until the eggs are fully blended with the milk.

Pour the milk mixtre and melted butter into the dry ingredients. Whisk gently at first, and then, as the mixture blends, whisk faster, until the batter is smooth and no dry patches are visible. Use a silicone spatula to stur in the corn kernels.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups (2 Tbsp. per cup if doing mini muffins) If doing standard size muffins, fill them 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Monday, March 1, 2010

bentos #39 & #40

mini cinnamon waffles, swedish fish for a treat, string cheese cut and skewered, chicken apple sausage, and a clementine.
Same thing as first one, just banana slices instead of a clementine.
A new bento box! I found a pretty nice Japanese market locally, and they had a few selections. I thought this one was cute. I don't have a better picture of it, bit it is a two-tiered box.