Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Serving Others

     Last week I was blessed with the opportunity to help my dear friend from church with her ministry.  She needed help with snacks for the girls, so I signed up.  I wanted to do something special for the girls so I made each of them little bento lunches.  I was so happy to be able to make them for the girls.  I wanted to bless them with a little something to let them know they are loved.
     The opportunity to serve others is always there, no matter how big or how small the need might be.    That is one of our purposes in life: To Serve Others.
     My husband and I completed our Second Step classes at church a few weeks ago.  The classes were focused on what it means to serve and how we serve for the Lord.  One of my favorite parts of our lesson was a chapter from A Purpose Driven Life titled "Accepting Your Assignment".  The chapter talks about how we are to give something back and that we were each created for a special plan by God.
"Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you.  
Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work." (Jeremiah 1:5)  
     That right there is already mind blowing.  He KNEW me before I was even created.  I still try to figure out who I am and the only one who truly knows me is God.  He ALREADY had a special plan and purpose for me! Wow.
     The chapter goes on to talk about serving in ministry and serving others and why we sometimes give excuses as to why we can't serve.  He sent His son to die for our sins, so we should honor God and serve him.  "In God's kingdom, you have a place, a purpose, a role, and a function to full."
     My take away from that reading was this:

  • I was CREATED to serve God.  
- God already has plans for us and set up apart to serve
  • I was SAVED to serve God.
- When we become saved, God intends to use us for HIS goals.
  • I am CALLED to serve God.
 - We are FULL TIME Christians in service.  God gave us talents, gifts and abilities to serve Him by helping others.  He can surely take them away as well.
  • I am COMMANDED to serve God. 
- Service is not an option.  To serve and to give is God's 4th purpose for us.  We exercise our spiritual muscles through service.

     God gave us talents, gifts and abilities to use for His glory and to serve others. These little lunches may not seem like much, but to God, no service is to small.  If our hearts are right and it is our desire to serve God, then that is what God honors.

     "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 
which God prepared in advance for us to do." ~ Ephesians 2:10

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Lunches - Part 4 Counting down the days

    Have you had your fill yet of Halloween lunches? Hahaha!! I think I have...well almost.  Just a few more days to go. My youngest is still enjoying his lunches though and that's what matters.  He even helped me make his lunch for Friday.  
    UPDATE!! My oldest son (he's 11) got a costume this weekend!! YAY!!  Last week he still wasn't sure if he wanted to dress up or not.  But he said a few of his friends are AND he found out that they also get to wear their costume to school on Halloween (they weren't able to do this in elementary school).  So I think that was a possibly a deciding factor for him.
     I'm really happy that he decided to dress up this year.  I know that when he gets older he'll probably not want to go Trick Or Treating, but I'll cross that bridge (again!) when we come to it.  
     On to Part 4 of our Halloween of today, Halloween is in 3 more days! 

Baked ravioli's with marinara dipping sauce, apples and rice krispie treats.  
Do I spy creepy zombie hands coming out of the ravioli's?

Cute ghost themed lunch with chicken sandwiches, oranges, grapes and cookies.

Witchy panda bear brewing up some yummies for lunch! There's also
a side of Mac and Cheese and requested by my little one.  It's his fave!

Pop up sandwich using my CuteZCute cutters.  For directions 
on how to make a pop up sandwich click HERE.  I thought this little
kitten holding a pumpkin turned out cute!

Pizza Friday as requested by little one.  He also helped with picking out the food toppers
and put them in himself.  For the pizza's,  I bought the personal size pizza's by
Lean Cuisine and cut it into 4's. I did the same for my older son (minus the Halloween picks of course).  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sugar Cookie Recipe & CuteZCute Cookie Tutorial

     I was chatting with my friend JeeJee over at CuteZCute cutters the other day, and she was asking me about my cookies and how I make them.  I sent her my recipes that I use for the cookies and royal icing.   We were just chatting away and then she came up with the brilliant idea that I should make tutorial for my blog.
     Let me just say this: I am still cookie-er in the making. I'm still learning.  =) I'm barely going into my 4th month of making cookies as I type this out.  I haven't had any formal training (although I would love take some classes) and honestly have learned through reading different cookie blogs.  Oh...and A LOT of trial and error!  A LOT.
     These are by no means the set way to do cookies, but these are the recipes and techniques that work for me.  You eventually find out what works for you and what doesn't work for you in terms of recipes and when it comes to decorating.  You just gotta try it out and find your groove!
     I guess what you'll need first is a recipe.  I'm sorry I don't have the original link for this.  I wrote it down while searching for recipes online and didn't save the website or link at all.  But who ever came up with recipe...THANK YOU!  I've gotten so many compliments that the cookie didn't taste like your normal sugar cookie.  The cookie itself is moist and chewy and not overly sweet.  And do you want to know has cream cheese in it! Yes! That is the secret ingredient.  Whenever I make these cookies, my cousin always asks me if I have any extra because she likes to eat them just as they are.  You want the cookie to the be STAR and the royal icing to be it's supporting role.
     Here is the recipe which yields about 30 medium size cookies.  It really depends on the size of your cutter though.
  • 8 oz of cream cheese (room temp)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
With a mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese and sugar until it is light and fluffy. 
Add the egg, vanilla and almond extract and continue to mix.
Add in 1 cup of flour at a time. You don't need to sift the flour. Add baking powder in between the cups of flour and continue to mix until it starts to form into dough.
Your dough is going to be a little sticky once it's been mixed and that's ok. I can tell that my dough is done mixing when I touch it and it sticks just a little bit to my finger. Place the dough in a gallon ziplock bag and refrigerate for atleast 8-10 hours.  

Here is a picture filled tutorial on how to make cookies using CuteZCute cutters!
Once you're ready to start making cookies, dust your work area and rolling pin with flour. Roll out your dough about 1/4 inch thick. (I usually do it in handfuls at a time because it's too much dough to roll out at one time). You can also dust your cookie cutter with flour to keep it from sticking to the dough.

Take your cutter and cut out as many cookies as you need.

Next, take the stamp and place it onto your cookie.  Make sure to use the side of the stamp that makes the imprint and don't press too hard.  You only want to place an imprint of the face and not cut out the actual dough.

Your cookie should look like this when you're done.

Make as many and different animal faces as you like.  Have fun with it!

Place wax paper on a flat plate that will fit in your freezer. Next place, your cookies onto the wax paper. You can add another piece of wax paper on top of cookies and layer them if you make a lot of cookies. Place your cookies in the freezer for about 30 min. THIS IS IMPORTANT especially with this recipe since there is a lot of fat (butter, cream cheese) in it.
Freezing the cookies will help them keep their shape while they are baking. Trust me on this.

Place your frozen cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Your oven may vary so if you're making this for the first time, keep any eye on the cookies while baking and adjust accordingly.

Tada!! When you cookies are done baking, let them sit for a few minutes on the baking sheet before you transfer them to a cooling rack. Sometimes, they are still a bit too soft to move immediately from baking sheet to rack. I normally let my cookies sit for 24 hours before decorating.
But you can decorate the cookie as soon as you wish! Just make sure they have cooled down completely.

Remember how I mentioned it's important to freeze your cookie before baking it?  This is why.  See how well the cookie kept its original shape and size? 

When the cookies have cooled, you can leave them as is or you can decorate them using royal icing or any other confectionary goods!  I use Sweet Sugar Belle's royal icing recipe to the T.  Here are the cookies I decorated and I noted some little important tips to remember when working with royal icing.

And there you have it!  A cookie recipe and how to make CuteZCute Animal Cookies.  
One day I'll try to create a tutorial on royal icing when I perfect it.  But if you're interested in learning more about it now, check out my favorite cookie blogs below:
If you have any questions, please fee free to ask below in the comments!!
Thanks for stopping by and happy baking!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween Lunches - Part 3 Cute and Spooky Fun

Hellooooo everyone!! Are you getting your fill of Halloween lunches yet? If not and you're still looking for more ideas, check out Bento Bloggeres and Friends: Frightfull Fall Blog Hop!  My friends and I at Bento Bloggers and Friends have more than 50 fun Halloween themed lunches to share with you! 

We have 11 more days until Halloween!! I was out shopping with my oldest son yesterday who wanted to pick up some goodies with his birthday money.  While we were out, I was amazingly, able to get almost everything that I needed for my costume.  That has never happened. EVER.  It usually takes me about 2 weeks to round everything up.  Oh and now he's thinking about maybe getting dressed up!! I hope he does.  I realize he's getting older, I've seen plenty of kids older than him that still get dressed up for Halloween.  

These week we have 3 Halloween lunches.  I made my son a birthday lunch on Monday, and these were the other 3.  I only have 3 lunches because on of the days I made a "practice" lunch for our blog hop.  Yes, I had to practice. Haha! It was my first hop and I wanted it to be perfect! So my youngest son got the same Rilakkuma lunch twice.  He didn't mind that one bit!

I forgot I had eyeball cupcake toppers lying around so I thought it would be funny to make a spooky faced sandwich.  Of course, with a mustache.  My youngest son told me he got scared when he opened his lunch! Hahah!! Which I'm not sure why because I always show him his lunch before I close it up. This was a chicken breast patty sandwich with some fruit, Oreos and string cheese.  

I made a pocket sandwich with cookie butter and used my new CuteZCute Animal Palz stamper to make the bat.  I love his 1 little fang.  I also included some chicken nuggets and grapes.  

And my pride and joy bentos.  It's Rilakkuma wearing a witch hat.  This was the lunch I posted for our blog hop.  Here is the original post.

We have 9 more days of Halloween lunches to go!! This is one of my favorite themed lunches to make.  Although, I also can't wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out last week's lunches!! 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Bento!

Our oldest son celebrated his 11th birthday on Monday.  Normally we take them to Disneyland on their birthdays, but he's grown into (and is still growing) into such a responsible young man.  He wanted to be at school instead so that he wouldn't miss anything from school.  I am a proud momma!  So, instead, I sent him to school with a special birthday lunch (he was ok with this just for today).  And since it was National Dessert Day,  I sort of themed his lunch around desserts as well.

The cupcake sandwich is actually a turkey and cheese sandwich. I also include some chicken nuggets (one of his favorite foods), some cookies and ube cake (it's a type of Filipino cake).  He was pretty happy about the cake since that's his favorite one as well.

I love you so my little man.  Even though you're 11 now and you're almost taller than me, you will always be the little peanut that slept on top of a pillow because you were that small.  You'll always be the little 2 year old who LOVED Bear In The Big Blue House and The Wiggles.  I'll never forget the time when you fell asleep with the turtle back pack on (the back pack was from Build-A-Bear ) and you were just so cute! I won't ever stop telling you on every birthday about the day you were born.  It was one of the most unforgettable days of my life.  It was the day God blessed your dad and I with such wonderful son.  You are my sunshine and I pray that you will always keep God close to your heart and that He will continue to guide you in all that you do.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rilakkuma Halloween Lunch

Welcome everyone to my stop on this year's Frightful Halloween Blog Hop hosted by my friends, Bento Bloggers and Friends!  I'm honored to be part of this wonderful group of people who have really been my inspiration.  We have so many fun Halloween themed lunches on this hop so make sure to click on the button at the end of this post to check them all out. This is my first hop that I've participated in!  So here we go!!
Our special lunch for today is a Rilakkuma sandwich.  Do you like the cute witch hat and bow tie he's wearing?  Because, as you know, witch hats and bow ties are THE latest in Halloween bento fashion.  He's also surrounded by purple and orange kettle corn (Nom! Nom! Nom!).  Oh and look!  He has friends!  Our friendly ghost has made another appearance and is floating along in strawberries and white yogurt chips.  Don't forget the little pocket bat sandwich above him.  He is the newest addition to our bento goodies made by CuteZCute.  Adorable little bat isn't he? 

Wishing you all a Happy and Safe Halloween!! 

Be sure to check out my friend Myra's fabulous Halloween lunch at MommyandMeLunchBox!
Click on the image below to keep on hoppin' through our Frightful Halloween Blog Hop!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Halloween Lunches - Part 2! The Fun Continues

Welcome back everyone! We are into our second week of fun themed Halloween lunches!  We are already half way through October and my youngest has finally made up his mind on what he wants to be for Halloween.  It always changes about 3 or 4 times leading up to the 31st!  This year, my youngest son wants to be one of the Treblemakers from his favorite movie, Pitchperfect (aca-scuse me!).  He already has a red hoodie that we got him for his birthday that says "Treblemaker" on the back and it also has his name on the front.  All we need now is a toy microphone, red shirt, and as he said "I need some cool shoes mom."  Easy. Done. Please don't change your mind again.  
We're still not sure what our oldest son wants to be or if he even wants to dress up anymore.  Sigh...  He's just turned 11 yesterday and I don't know if he feels like getting dressed up is "too kiddy" for him.  Either way, whether he gets dressed up or not,  we're going Trick or Treating!  Stay tuned...he just might change his mind!
And, since we've been talking about Halloween this month, again, I present to you our lunches from last week.
BOO!  This one was my favorite lunch.  Our little ghosts are happy and so stylish with the bow tie.  Not all ghosts have to be scary!  The ghosts are turkey sandwiches with some fruit and crackers on the side.  

More pumpkins! I tried to make a little pumpkin out of a mini cinnamon roll.  His nose looks kind of funny though. =)  Pumpkin shaped sandwich with some Mickey Mouse Chicken nuggets and apples.

The boys took left over spaghetti to school with some garlic bread, grapes and cookies.  I always have a hard time making spaghetti look "nice".  Someone suggested to make monster hair.  I think I'll have to try that out next time.

We're going batty!!  Bat sandwiches with Nutter Butters and apple sauce.  The eyes are little candy eyes and I used fruit leather to make the little fangs.  
I put stickers on the apple sauce cover to go with the theme.

Pizza Friday!  Little mini bagel pizza mummies with grapes and Oreos.  I like how the mummies are looking in different directions.  

Will you our your kids be dressing up for Halloween? Share below in the comments! I would love to hear all of your ideas! =)  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Happy 1 Year Blogaversary & Giveaway!

Happy 1 Year Anniversary to my little blog, Love Peace Bento! It's been a year of fun, learning new things and meeting new people! Shout out to my Bento Bloggers and Friends! You are all amazing people and your blogs that inspired me and STILL inspire me to this day! 

I started making lunches for my kids, bento style, because I wanted to be able to present their food in a fun artsy way.  My husband and I also decided that we wanted to stay away from cafeteria food and this was the perfect fit for us. So I started a year ago, and here we are now.  

Before I go on, I just wanted to say to my sweet family ~ a big big loving "Thank You".   Thank you to my husband for always being so great and supportive and for not freaking out (still) about the fact that our kitchen has been over run with bento supplies and cookie cutters. "You're the best....around"(inside joke) and I love you to infinity and beyond.  To my boys, who are so patient with me in the morning as we're getting ready for school, "Mom... are our lunches ready YET?" as I try to snap away pictures ~ thank you too! And thank you for your honesty when you tell me that you don't like what I packed for you or that you can really do without the nori details. Thank you also for being so good about bringing home the food picks (most of the time) and the little containers!  I love you my sunshines!

Thank you to my readers, visitors, friends and family for visiting my blog and for all the love on FB and IG.  You guys are the best!  Here's to another fabulous year ahead!! 

Here's the part you've been waiting for.  To celebrate, All Things For Sale will be giving away 1 Cute-Z-Cute Cutter Kit to a lucky winner!  I really love my Cute-Z-Cute cutters. They were my first official bento cutters that I bought and I've been having fun with them ever since.  They're easy to use and 100% fun!

To enter for a chance to win, use the Rafflecopter widget below.  Make sure to read the fine print for the rules and contest dates.  Good luck to everyone who enters!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Halloween Lunches - Part 1

I'm so excited that October is finally here. Why? Because it means PUMPKIN everything...pie, lattes, cakes, muffins. I'm sure I missed some other pumpkin goodies, but those are my favorites. 
Oh and October also means that we get to turn back the time one hour, which means we gain one more hour of SLEEP!!  My husband doesn't like the time change because it gets darker earlier, but me, it's something I look forward to every year! October means cooler weather (except this last weekend when it was 90 degrees!), scarves, boots, sweaters and cuddling under the covers to keep warm and we can't forge: Halloween!
This is one of my favorite times of the year to make bento lunches. Really the possibilities are endless.  And there are so many Halloween goodies out there to jazz up our lunches, that it's effortless really.  All you need are some plastic spiders and some Halloween cupcake toppers and you're ready to rock!
Check out our lunches below!  

Ok, I know this isn't Halloween themed but it was still September.  I had to wait it out one day.
Here is a bow tie quesadilla with some fruit and cookies on the side.

FINALLY October! Woo!  Spiders are so icky in my book especially if they are real.  But I can handle fake plastic ones.  Mini turkey and colby cheese sub sandwich.  I use the mini sub sandwich bread made by King's Hawaiian.  They are basically the little mini rolls, but 2 put together.  They're the perfect size and portion for my kids.  The purple and orange kettle corn I bought at Target.  WARNING: That kettle corn is addicting! I thought I would have some for a "small snack" that night.  Yeah, that didn't happen. It turned into more of a meal.  I know, bad mommy!

I told you Pumpkin everything!  These are mini whole wheat pita pockets stuffed with turkey and cheese.  The cookies are pumpkin cream cheese cookies (again from Target) and again addicting.

Breakfast crescent roll pockets with eggs and sausage inside with some kettle corn and some grapes.
To make the pockets, scramble some eggs an sausage together.  Spoon some onto a single triangle from your crescent rolls and roll the dough as you would.  You may have to pinch the sides together to keep the pocket from opening.  And be sure to not overfill it either like I did with one, because you won't be able to close it nicely.  

My youngest son loves Cookie Butter from Trader Joe's so this was his lunch.  My oldest son still isn't sold on the stuff so he had a sandwich instead.  

And there you have it! Our first week (ok almost full week) of Halloween lunches!! 
I'm participating in a Halloween Blog Hop coming up soon so make sure to check back for that! It's fun hop hosted by Bento Bloggers and Friends and we're sure you'll love it!