Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Trick or Treat! Happy Halloween! Whew ~ I made it through another month of bento lunches which means no school food for my kidlets. I had fun making this below and I even managed to bake up some mini sugar cookies last night. This will be my last bento for this week since we will be out of town the next few days. I hope everyone has fun tonight & be safe! I will see you all next week!
Mini Halloween Sandwiches
Mini Halloween Sandwiches - Mr. Candy Corn, Mr. Boo, Mr. Pumpkin & Mr. Frakenstein (all on whole wheat bread and filled with egg white salad). Clementine orange and mini sugar cookies!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

'Twas The Night Before Halloween

It's the day before Halloween! Are you all ready with your kidlets costumes? I know my little ones are excited! 
I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with today's lunch, so it's somewhat all over the place.  I wanted to do something really super cool, but at the same time, something easy that wouldn't take too long. Pasta it is! I finally got to use the skeleton food pick for decoration and the Halloween pasta that I bought at Cost Plus Market. You can't really tell, but the pasta is Halloween shaped and colored black, orange and cream.

In the top box are Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins (Click here for the recipe!) which I made to resemble a one eyed monster ?? (Yes, yes that's what it is!) Strawberries and apples on the side.  The bottom has Halloween pasta with light Alfredo sauce and turkey meatballs.
Happy Halloween Eve!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Mummy Returns!

Hello! I hope that all of you had a lovely weekend! Well, it's the last few days leading up to Halloween so I have a few treats in store for my kidlets and for all of my lovely readers/followers/passer-byers. =)
A few weeks ago, I made a Mummy Sandwich and guess what?!? The mummy returns! [Insert scary movie scream!] But this time he's come back in the form of a hot dog and he even has  buddy with him!
Again, since I'm new to bento lunches, I've been seeing these hotdog mummies in everyone else's lunches.  I had to make sure to try some out for Halloween because I'm not sure what these would translate to during other holidays like Christmas  (Ugly Christmas Sweater Hotdogs??).

To make the mummy hot dogs I used canned bread dough (Pillsbury Grand Biscuits to be exact). I flattened out the dough, cut them into strips and then wrapped them around the hot dogs to make them look like mummies. Talk about couture! I baked them for 20 mins at 350 degrees.
I also added some white chocolate covered strawberry ghosts and a clementine orange with a pumpkin face (again). 

A joke to end the night:

Q: Why was the mummy so tense?
A: He was all wound up!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Keep Calm & Bake - Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I was finally starting to feel  a little better today so I thought I'd try get back into the swing of things and bake up something good. I was craving something "pumpkiny" (haha  I know that's not a word!) and I remembered that I had a two ingredient recipe on one of my Pinterest Boards. The recipe called for one can of pumpkin pie filling and yellow cake mix.  I switched it up a bit and used Spice cake mix and added mini chocolate chips to it. YUM! 

  • One box of Spice or Yellow Cake Mix. I think you can use any kind actually, but like I said, I was in the mood for something "Pumpkiny"
  • One can of pumpkin puree
  • Chocolate chips (if you wish and as much as you want!) I did not measure, I just poured some here and there
  • Pumpkin Pie spice .. again I didn't measure. I added about 3 or 4 shakes (BIG SHAKES!)
  • I noticed that as I was mixing the batter, it seemed a little thick, so I added about 2/3 cups of water to the mixture. 
And that's it for the ingredients. Make sure to mix well. 

I used mini Halloween cupcake liners. Spooky huh?  You can also use regular size cupcake liners.

Line your pan with baking cups and fill with batter. I used about
1 teaspoon in each mini cup. 
[**Notice how the batter looks uneven in the cups?? 
I will come back to this in a few pictures down. **]
I baked the muffins at 325 Degrees for 30 minutes (but different ovens & times may vary).

** Ok, remember how I mentioned to note that the batter was uneven? Well this is what the muffin will look once it's done baking. What I forgot to do with my first batch was to smooth down the batter before I baked it. To do this, wet the back of a spoon and smooth of the top of the batter once it's already in the baking cup.  This will help create a nicer top when the muffin bakes.

Here is a picture of the second batch. This looks much nicer and will be easier to decorate.
You don't have to do this step though! It's totally up to you. I just did it because I forgot I was planning to decorate a few of them. I used cream cheese frosting in the pictures below.

Ever wonder how to make those spider webs on cupcakes and cookies? Well here is a quick tutorial!
1. Pipe 3 - 5 circles onto your cupcake (the number of circles depends on the size of cupcake you are decorating).
2. Take a toothpick and starting from the center circle, drag the toothpick down so that the icing also goes down with it. Drag all the way down from the center to the outside circle. You may need to do some "re-tracing" if the icing doesn't follow all the way down the first time. 
3. Continue step 2 until you complete your spider web.
4. Ta-dah! All done. Easy right? 
You can also do the following:
~Alternate circle colors of the spider web
~Frost a base color first (such as black) and then pipe on a white spider web

Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
The Final Yummy Product!
I'd love to hear if you tried this out and see how you liked it!

I was playing and made a little mummy one too!!
Happy Halloween from our home to yours!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sometimes, Simple Works Too

It's Friday! Yippee! I hope that all of you had a wonderful week & that your weekend will be fun and eventful. I know, I know, I sound as excited as I feel as I'm still trying to kick this cold and get back into the full swing of things (ever since Wednesday I have been not been feeling 100%).
Last night we had our niece sleep over so I had 3 lunches to pack. I honestly wished I could have made my little Sparky (that's her nickname!) a cute Hello Kitty bento lunch, but Auntie BFF (what she calls me!) just didn't have the energy last night. I kept it simple, and sometimes simple is best. I showed her this morning and she was thrilled! 
Kids Bento box lunch with mini character sandwiches.
I used mini sandwich cutters shaped like a bear, elephant and rabbit. There's also a star and heart sandwich.  Grapes and carrots and since it's Friday I included a little treat: Vanilla Bear Panda Cookies.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Husband to the Rescue!!

In my previous post, I mentioned how I was not feeling up to par yesterday and was pretty much in bed for most of the day/ night. God has blessed me with the greatest husband ever who not only took care of pretty much everything last night...he also made the boys their lunch. This is how the conversation went:
Me: "Babe, can you please make the boys their lunch for tomorrow? 
I really don't want them eating at school."

Hubby: "Ok but it's not going to be all pretty like yours."

Me: "That's ok. As long as you make them lunch, 
you don't have have use the bento boxes. Just make sure you take a picture of it."

Hubby: "Why do I need to take a picture of it then??"

Me: Smile. Back to bed.

(Later on I saw him looking up kids bento lunches)  < ---- This is why I love him.
I heard some clattering going on in the kitchen later that night and this is what I found in the morning when I was getting ready to take the kids to school. Swoon!! What a guy!

So not only did he make their lunches, but he made TWO different sandwiches for the boys!! Like I said before, I'm totally blessed to have my husband, not only because he takes care of our family and loves us so much, but because he also takes interest in the things that I love & supports me just as much in them. I love you, Mr. Ochoa

Red Ribbons

I meant to post this yesterday but was feeling so sick that I ended up confining myself to the bed for most of the day.  There's this strange phenomenon that happens in our household where when one of my kids gets sick, I usually end up catching it as well. Does this happen to any of you? =)
I'm still trying to continue on the them of Red Ribbon Week and although I didn't get a pic of my yesterday, I did catch one of them today.
The mini sandwiches are egg salad and pbj on whole wheat bread. I also included some cheese puffs from Trader Joe's, clementine's and grapes.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Special Guest Bento

Tonight,  I have a special guest bento pic from my cousin, Stella.  Stella is my creative soul-mate. Literally. We are known as the "Crafty Ones" in our family and we both inspire each other with ideas especially when it come to party planning and baking. She introduced me to fondant cakes (we've even made a few cakes together) and I just recently introduced her to bentos.  I love her dearly and I'm so happy that I'm able to share her bento creation with all of you.
Bento lunch with star shaped rice and lumpia shanghai (mini eggrolls).
Stella's bento includes rice stars, lumpia shanghai (mini eggrolls), an empanada and fruit.  Check out the cute little smiley faces on the stars! 

Just Say No To Drugs!

Hello Everyone! In honor of Red Ribbon Week, I thought I'd take a break from the Halloween theme for the rest of this week.  I love seeing my kidlets dress up for the all spirit days as they celebrate Red Ribbon Week.  Yesterday's theme was "Don't Let Drugs Turn You Inside Out" and they wore their shirts inside out with crazy socks (And of course, I forgot to take a pic). Todays theme is "I Don't See Drugs In My Future" where they wear sunglasses (outside only of course). 
My little one always asks to see his lunch and his reaction today, "Mom you're the best lunch maker ever!" Awww...he really likes me his lunch!

Bento lunch that says Just Say No To Drugs on top of the sandwich.
The letters on top of the sandwich are cut out from a strawberry fruit roll up, baby carrots, grapes and (gasp!) 2 Oreo cookies.

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's The Frankenstein!

One more week until Halloween & we haven't had a Frankenstein debut yet! So, here he is today and a friendly one at that.
I like Frankenstein when he is cute and smiley. What are your favorite Halloween characters?
Frankenstein sandwich in a bento lunch for kids.
The eyes are candy and the hair, nose and mouth are pieces of crust. I tried to make the apples and grapes look like a mouth and teeth.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens....these are a few of my favorite things????  Um, no. Not for me at least. Funky cookie cutters and fun colored silicone cupcake liners - These are a few of my favorite (bento) things! 
You might ask, "What exactly do you need to make a bento box?" In all honesty, you don't need any special tools. Just some imagination and maybe a pairing knife to cut out shapes if you want.
I thought I'd share some of my favorite supplies toys, that I like to use and why. And to be honest, I could probably do with out all these items below but this is what makes it fun for me.

Bento lunch accessories
  • Cookie cutters are great! I like to use them for bread, tortillas and fruit. The metal ones, such as the star above, works best for fruits and vegetables. The Darth Vader shape is also another type of cookie cutter.  It cuts out the shape AND it also impresses an image into the bread. Super cool!
  • Silicone cupcake liners. I use these daily to hold fruit, hard boiled eggs, veggies...pretty much everything. They are perfecting for keeping food separate and they also add that pop of color.  I have square and circle ones. I just recent purchased mini cups and star shaped ones (look for these in an upcoming post from my trip to Daiso).  
  • Food Markers are a fun, creative and SAFE way to draw on food. They are completely food safe so I can add little faces to clementine oranges or draw pirates on mini hamburger buns. The possibilities are endless!
  • Plastic food dividers or "baran".   In the picture above, they are the ones that have the little animals printed on them.  These ones are plastic and I like to use them to put little fruits of gummy fruits in. Some of them are flat pieces of plastic but the ones above open into a little mini cup.
  • Food picks are probably one of my MOST favorite accessories. The kids can use them to pick up pieces of food that I've cut small or sometimes I will just stick one in sandwich to add some pizazz to it.  I buy my food picks at the grocery store and even at the cake shop.  The "BOO" pick above is one that you would actually use in a cupcake.  You can also make your own food picks by attaching stickers to a toothpick.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into my bento supplies! =)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Please Don't Feed The Spiders!

What a week it has been! Thankful that the weekend is finally here because this mommy needs a break! I hope you all enjoy your weekend & I will see you next week! Cheers! 

Halloween Bento Lunch with spider theme
My youngest took a bean and cheese burrito (whole wheat tortilla, fat free refried beans, and low fat cheese), pears and strawberries. I love easy lunches! I'm hoping his other lunch buddies didn't freak out over the spider. BWAHAHAH! Disclaimer: I always show my kids their lunches before they go to school - so that THEY don't freak out either.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Let Me Tell You About Cookie Butter

I asked my little man last night what he kind of lunch he wanted and said "Pumpkin! Oh and something with Cookie Butter! PLEASE!!!!" If you haven't heard of Cookie Butter (available at Trader Joe's), then you are missing out. It's like...Christmas on a spoon. Literally. If you love the taste of gingerbread cookies, then this my friend, is for you. My youngest and I will eat this stuff right out of the jar. Which is why I can only keep 1 jar at time in our house. My husband and older son would rather not come near the stuff.  That's ok though! More for us! Enough rambling about my love for cookie is the bento for today.
Mickey Mouse Halloween bento lunch for kids
 I wasn't sure how to make the mini sandwiches resemble Mickey Mouse, so I just left the cut outs as it (which is actually a bear head). I used food markers to decorate the Clementine and mini cookie butter sandwiches as pumpkins. And nothing says Halloween like a star shaped egg, right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Two For One! [2 Bentos 1 Day]

Last night I could not wait to make lunches for my boys. I've been seeing cute little mummy sandwiches online and having been wanting to try it out.
I was also SUPER excited to use my Hello Kitty cookie cutter for my lunch. I had to go into the office today, so I thought I'd pack myself a lunch too. I had a hard time eating it though because it was just TOO CUTE (in my opinion anyways). For those of you who know me...I like LOVE HELLO KITTY! 
Halloween Bento Lunch for Kids with Mummy Sandwich
The black background on the sandwich is Nori (seaweed)  and I used candy eyes. I even included a Dirt Cup! A favorite of my boys. It's the easiest thing to make: make jello, top with crushed Oreos, add gummy worms. Get grossed out a little bit, eat and enjoy! 

I entered my bento above on for the Halloween Meme! =)

BOTW: Halloween

Hello Kitty Bento Lunch with Hello Kitty shaped sandwich
Hello, Hello Kitty! This was my lunch and I love the final out come. Tuna sandwich, cucumber slices, hummus and corn. Nom... nom... nom. This one did take a little bit more time to put together but it was well worth it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Eye See You!

Yesterday I had to to go the cake shop to pick up supplies for my son's birthday cake. (Cross you fingers that it turns out well enough to post up on the blog this weekend!). They had a TON of Halloween cupcake rings and picks so naturally, i wanted (NEEDED) them. I showed my son his sandwich (turkey and provolone on a mini croissant) and he said "That looks scary mom!"
Reminds me of an almost evil Pac-Man. Almost.
Halloween Pac-Man Bento Lunch with one eye


I'm finally all caught up on my bento posts! Whew! This lunch below was Monday (yesterday!). Ghost quesadilla with Clementine Oranges, Grapes, and Yogurt Covered Pretzels. BOO!
Halloween Bento Lunch with Ghost Shaped Tortilla

Pumpkins and Bats and Ghosts! Oh My!

I'm finally getting into the swing of the Halloween spirit. I picked up a Ghost Cookie Cutter  and a silicon skulls and cross mold(my Bento collection keeps growing!). Most of the items I buy are from the grocery store, Target. I got lucky when I was at Cost Plus Market and found the silicon mold there.
So far the boys have been enjoying their lunches (from what they have told me). 

Ghost bento kids lunch with ghost shaped sandwich
Turkey and Cheese Ghost Sandwich, baby carrots, cheese puffs, granola bar and strawberries.

Pumpkin shaped Mac-N-Cheese, steamed broccoli, hot dogs (these were chicken hot dogs from Trader Joe's which actually weren't too bad in my opinion). I added a new fruit to their lunch as well: Kiwi.
The skull and cross bones in yogurt that I froze in the molds. Cool huh? I found that tip online.

Pizza roll with marinara dipping sauce, clementine orange disguised as a pumpkin, apple sauce and Hi-Chew.

Grilled Cheese pumpkin sandwich, cheese puffs, apple, grapes, granola bar.

PBJ Sandwich and in the middle I cut out a bat shape and filled with sprinkles. (Hey, it's Friday!). The little bats are provolone cheese. Grapes and fruit chews on the side.

October Fun!

Now it's the month of October. I've added Star Wars cookie presses (available at and food markers to my tool tool box. My boys and hubby are huge Star Wars fans nerds! I also found Jr. Scrabble themed Cheeze-Its. They're fun to add little spelled out words in the boys lunches (but a pain to actually find the letters you need).

Star Wars PBJ Sandwich, left over corn cake (left overs work great for lunch!), Cheeze-Its and Grapes.

Chicken Drumsticks, Tortilla, Grapes.

Mini Chicken burgers (Trader Joe's has mini buns that fit well into a bento box), string cheese, grapes and a granola bar. I was trying to get into the Halloween spirit with it being October now. I added a skull pick to help go with the theme.

My oldest on requested Spam & Eggs for lunch one day so this is what I came up with. I have a Mickey Mouse mold that I used when I cooked the egg. I added strawberries and cheese puffs in the top layer.

Hi-Chew!!! It was Friday so I just put together some items
that I knew the boys would like. Hard boiled egg in the shape of a star (I used a mold), pumpkin muffin, string cheese, grapes, Boba Fett PBJ & Hi-Chew candy. TGIF!

Yum-Yum Bento Box

This is my first bento book purchase! It was the only at Barnes and Noble so of course I had to buy it. It has recipes and how-to's along with pictures of the completed bento box.  Eventually I will make some of the lunches in this book but for now, I'm enjoying the reading and the pictures! =)

We Did It!

We made it through our first month of school! YAY! Is it time for summer break yet? These are the remaining lunches that the boys took for September. (As I'm posting this -  it's mid October!)
Bow tie pasta, turkey meatballs, steamed broccoli and apples.

Cheese quesadilla, chicken breast, cantaloupe, grapes & a mini PBJ Bear Sandwich.

Chicken cordon bleu, Grilled sweet potatoes, strawberries, oranges.

Grilled Cheese sandwich (don't forget the ketchup!), turkey slices, apples, strawberries and Teddy Graham cookies. I really love how the star turned out on the apple.

This was another pizza Friday alternative. I used low fat pizza dough and topped it with sauce and cheese. Bake and ta-da! Pizza! My initial intention was to have them "build" the pizza, but I went ahead and baked it all together.  Apples and grapes on the side.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

So Far So Good!

I believe the lunches below are from the second week of school and so good.  I learned that left overs are TOTALLY ok to take for lunch (especially if it's my hubby's home made Mac-N-Cheese) or Orange Chicken from our favorite Thai Restaurant, Bai Plu. Lunch can still be fun even without all of the cutesy additions. 
Mac-N-Cheese (Home Made) from my son's birthday party that weekend. My husband made a huge pan and we had some left over. The boys didn't hesitate to answer "YES!" when I asked them if this was ok for their lunch. That's banana bread from a filipino bakery in the upper left corner. BEST Banana bread...EVER. 

Rainbow PB&J Sandwiches. Lunch was in techni-color this day!!
Raspberries and Cantaloupe added a nice punch of color.
Thanks to the boys auntie for supplying the bread.

One of my favorite carb items at Traders Joe's: Mini Pita Pockets.
I stuffed them with honey ham and cheese and little bit of dressing inside.
The stars are roasted sweet potatoes. I cut the stars, tossed them in some EVOO, added a pinch of salt and broiled for about 15 mins while flipping in between. Easy-Peasy.

This was a little snack I packed for them. Homemade blueberry muffins and apple/carrot sauce.
(Note to self: My boys are not fans of the apple/carrot sauce.)

Orange Chicken, rice balls, (orange) Carrots, (orange) Cantaloupe.
I kinda went crazy on the orange theme that day but not on purpose. It's what was
stocked in the fridge (HONEST!).

The egg. If you squint hard enough and tilt your head to the right you just might make out the shape of a heart. The egg was too small for the mold that I used. Who knew egg size mattered for these molds. Not me.

Friday, October 12, 2012

You Can Never Have Enough Supplies...Right?

My second week into Bento lunches I realized two many things:
  • You can never have too many bento boxes
  • There's a possibility that the bento box might not come home
  • Kids tend to lose or throw aways things (even though I remind them to keep everything)
  • There are just WAY too many cute accessories for bento boxes...but it's really up to your imagination which is the best part!
The items below were bought at Daiso Japan. Think: dollar store but on a Japanese level. This store has tons and tons of items - you name it and they probably have it. You might ask "How much is all this stuff?" and I will tell you: Each item below was $1.50 each. Yes. One Fifty. One dollar and fifty cents -- each. There are bento boxes online that you can buy at $19.99 each, but I'm not ready to take it to that level just yet. I'm not ready to lose that type of lunch box yet.

Some of the items below: Bento boxes, stainless steel lunch containers, cutters, silicone containers, rice molds, baran and sandwich sealer. Do I really need all of these accessories? Probably not, but I couldn't resist at $1.50 each. Me = sucker for cute things.

Bento boxes and accessories

Getting The Hang of It

After my sad attempt at my first bento box, I did some more research Googl'ing and found stores where I could buy bento boxes and supplies. AWESOME! I did a little bit of shopping and picked up 2 bento boxes, some small plastic containers for dipping sauces, metal food cutters (see the stars below) and a few more silicone cups. I also picked some plastic grass "baran" also known as food separators. They add a nice little touch.  Below are the lunches that boys took the first week of school.

Mini Chicken Tacos, Fat-Free "Refried" Beans with provolone stars and grapes. 
The sauce on the side is Tapatio, per my older son's request.

Mini whole wheat bagel sandwichh (I can't remember what was inside), Turkey and Cheese rolls, Low Fat Wheat Thins, Apples and 2 Angry Bird Gummies.

We changed it up a bit and had breakfast for lunch! Boys loved it! Waffles, chicken sausages and apple slices.

Friday is pizza day at school. This was our lunch alternative. Thank to Pinterest, I found a recipe where you use low-fat crescent rolls that you bake with mozzarella cheese in them. Side dipping sauce is pizza sauce. I added some color with the strawberries and cantaloupe balls. Those little puffs are from Trader Joes.