Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Down-Under Dinner & A Calm Down Jar

My Sailor Boy is back to work after his holiday leave, boo. It was so nice having him home every day, letting me sleep in and laze about, even making lunches and cleaning up! (xox thanks sweetie!) School is still out, so I'm not packing the sproutlets' lunches yet, but I packed the man an EasyLunchbox with a down-under theme:


His leftover-Christmas-ham sandwich in the shape of Australia (with a wee imprint for Tasmania, cute!) was made with a special Lunch Punch - it's a Landwich ;) There is a slice of pepper-jack cheese on there already but I added a cheddar kangaroo in case he wants more. Or maybe it's a Wallaby, the cookie cutter doesn't say. In any case, there are a couple of peppers underneath whatever marsupial it is :)  On the side, some sliced kiwifruit, and I wanted to include some kumara (sweet potato) but he said he wouldn't like that cold, so a raspberry, blueberry, and green grapes toss went into that compartment instead.

Bento Lunch

       

The following isn't food but I want to share it anyways:

Pickle's Calm Down Jar


A friend posted a pic of this craft on facebook a couple of weeks ago and I immediately thought of my Pickle, he had asked if we could make a craft with one of his empty peanut butter jars. I found the blog the pic came from to get instructions to make our own - thank you Chasing The Firefly!


The "recipe" is simple: 1 tablespoon of glitter glue per 1 cup of hot water, and add extra glitter as desired. Combine in a clean jar and seal.

Cross-eyed with concentration - cute!

We used 2 small tubes of Elmer's glitter glue - 1 blue, 1 silver, and added about a teaspoon each of blue and silver loose glitter. I'll use a bit more next time.
I wasn't keen on giving Pickle a glass preserving jar, plus we have heaps of empty plastic peanut butter jars at our house :) I don't know if the plastic makes a difference in the jar's ability to seal, but when we first turned it upside down, it leaked. I took the lid off, wrapped pipe sealing tape around the threaded part a few times then screwed the lid back on tight, and that did the trick. Pickle and the rest of the sproutlets have taken turns shaking, swirling, even accidentally dropping the jar, and Pickle prefers watching the sparkles swirl upside down... but no sign of a leak so far so I'd say it's sealed :)


Everybody wants one now! 

For the Kids Friday

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Jolly Bento & more

I've hardly made any lunches for my sproutlets lately! I've been busy shopping, decorating, painting (our kitchen/family room) and shopping some more - leaving Sailor Boy, who's on leave, to prepare lunch in my absence :)

But today I decided to stay home and make lunch for my family. Beginning with this light bento lunch for my sweetie :

He laughed at his jolly bento. It contains a cucumber cup wreath, carrots (stacked like logs) with red and orange pepper slices arranged like flames above them, raspberries topped with sharp white cheddar snowflakes, and cauliflower "snow" with more cheese snowflakes. 

Isn't the wreath adorable? It's a wide slice of cucumber, with a bowl hollowed out then filled with ricotta cheese, and topped with bits of chopped green and red peppers. I copied these Cucumber Cups from Super Healthy Kids, subbing ricotta for the ranch dressing because that's all we had :)


I forgot to snap a photo of Bella's, Sprout's or Beanstalk's, but they were just slightly different versions of Birdie's (below),  in different containers. Birdie got a toddler-friendly nibble tray in a Happy Holidays Jell-O Jigglers tray mold :)

She has cauliflower (in the Santa mold, it was almost the right shape!), a cucumber tree, cheddar gingerbread men & stars, a banana snowman & stars, carrots, raspberries, & a sugar cookie. The cheddar cheese scraps are tucked under the gingerbread men.

Pickle requested a gingerbread man sandwich. I have 4 sizes of gingerbread man cookie cutters, but go figure, none were the size of the bread! So I used one that was just over half the bread's size and made candy canes with the excess sandwich. 


I made them with white bread bottoms and wheat tops so I could make the candy cane stripes without wasting any bread. For the first man's face I used bread crust cut out with a straw and a tiny food cutter, but I didn't like the way he turned out, so for the second man, I just poked his features out with the same tools, and I like him better.


Pickle also reminded me not to forget the yogurt! We've been out for a couple of days so he hasn't had any - and yogurt is like a major food group to him! I bought some yesterday though, and made it more festive with a little strawberry syrup swirled in.

Pickle was pleased :)

Linked to:
Bento Lunch

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Sandwich Cookies

My mom gave me this cookie embossing set years ago; it works great on sugar cookies. This year I thought, why not try it out on Pickle's sandwiches?


The photo does a poor job of showing how well they came out - it was around 4:30 pm when I made them and the light was dim (shortest day of the year, Happy Solstice!) but with the flash the embossing didn't show up at all. You can still tell they looked super cute :


We couldn't really make out the "Happy Holidays" under the tree, since the bread did spring back a bit (if I'd had some food colouring markers I probably could have highlighted those details... they are on my Christmas wish list though, hint hint Sailor Boy) but even so, Pickle loved his holiday sandwich cookie afternoon snack! 

I love finding fun uses for stuff I already have, and getting closer to my goal of 101 peanut butter sandwiches :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Muffin Pan Pizza Party!

No school this Monday, the sproutlets are out for Winter Break - so we had heart-y personal pizzas for lunch: 


We had a holiday muffin pan pizza party to make them!
Ham, sliced grape tomatoes, yellow peppers, 
red peppers, green peppers, and pepperoni.

 Shredded mozzarella, monterey jack & cheddar mix, and sauce.

Heart-shaped personal pizza dough!

We took turns preparing the pizzas to minimize the mess :) Bella & Bean Sprout went first. I gave them a barbecue brush to spread the sauce; Bella helped Sprout "paint" her sauce on.

Pickle & Sprout went next. Beanstalk declined to make one, bah humbug :)

Birdie saying "Cheese!" and Bella giving her pizza a thumbs up!



Our heart-shaped muffin tin pizza lunch was inspired by HeartJourney's pizza muffin tin meal :) 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Festive Favourites & FunBites Winner!

I could just announce the FunBites Giveaway winner and be done with it, but that doesn't make for a very fun post :) 

So, since I didn't make a bento or any other lunch to post about today (Sailor Boy fed the sproutlets), I'd instead like to share with you a few of my favourite fellow lunch bloggers' festive creations:

By Keeley of Keeley McGuire Blog,
Keeley's been counting down the days until Christmas with a different holiday lunch every day! Awesome! I love them all! Here are a couple of my faves:

This cheese-topped sunbutter & honey Santa Claus sandwich waved at Keeley's Little Miss from her EasyLunchbox. A carved Baybel cheese round counted 24 days left until Christmas!

Frosty the Bagel's earmuffs counted 18 days left :)

Karen makes extraordinary lunches every day for her son John, most by request! She's so talented and creative! See for yourself:

Watching A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV has been one of my favourite holiday traditions since I was little girl. I'm sure John loved this Snoopy snoozing on his decked out doghouse sandwich & Woodstock 'Nilla wafer cookie - I know I do!

This Polar Express themed lunch Karen made for her John was the inspiration for the Polar Express peanut butter sandwich I made for my Pickle.

Another favourite holiday TV special brought to lunch life! The Grinch, his dog Max, and little Cindy Lou Who count 24 days until Christmas :) I love all the detail Karen puts into her edible paintings!

All pictures belong to their blog owners. 
Click on them to see the full posts on the original sites.

And now, for my FunBites Giveaway Results....
Wow, how often does this happen? Congratulations Kristina Franklin, your comment was #1, and you win your choice of a Luv it! from FunBites!


Thank you to everyone who entered, for visiting my blog, and FunBites' Facebook page! If you would still like a FunBites of your own, FunBites is still offering FREE shipping (US only) through December 25th with the code FreeShipDec2011, and if you're outside the US, you can use the code FriendsHoliday2011 for 30% off.  Enter at checkout on the FunBites website http://www.funbites.com/

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Last School Lunches of the Year!

Wow, Beanstalk let me pack his lunch with a little festive touch today! He still chose what went in it though. Today's the second to last day before the winter break, and they don't take a lunch tomorrow - there will be a classroom party with lots of food - so this is his last school lunch for the year 2011!

Beanstalk's Lock&Lock bento box contains honey ham, raisins, 
Jazz apples, & organic Clif Z Bar white chocolate chip brownie.

Here's Bella's last packed school lunch of the year:


Her EasyLunchbox contains carrots, celery, and cheese bites left over from trying out the FunBites Cube it! She also has a couple of pepper Christmas lights, a cauliflower snowball, cucumber Christmas trees, honey ham, and the last of the leftover wiener bites.  Butter cookies on top of the cheese are supposed to make it look like a little present with a bow... kinda sorta? 

I love Pickle's peanut butter sandwich present! 


It came out just as I pictured :) It's made with regular and white wheat bread, cut into squares and rectangles and arranged with a wheat bow on top (made with a flower cookie cutter).

Half day of school tomorrow, then my sproutlets' Winter Break begins! 
Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

FunBites Review & Giveaway, Hooray!

Hip Hip Hooray, today's the day for my FunBites review & giveaway!

You may have seen these around recently, but in case you haven't.... 
These cute colourful gadgets are FunBites http://www.funbites.com/ 
and you use them to cut food into fun bites :) They come in 2 styles, Cube it! which makes 12 cube shaped bites, and Luv it! which makes a big heart of 8 geometric shaped bites plus 2 bite size hearts.


FunBites were invented by a mom & her kids! Gotta love that :) They are dishwasher safe and BPA-free. The idea is to make food more appealing to little ones by making it fun, and the perfect size for little hands, mouths, and appetites. I got to try both out styles and see what they could do!

Make Food Fun!

Play with your food! I saw a cute snowman made of bread bites among FunBites' Facebook photos, and wanted to try to make my own FunBites Snowman with my 7 year old peanut butter sandwich monster, Pickle. I chose Luv it! to get the shapes FunBites used for theirs and followed the instructions:

Step 1: Place cutter on top of food.  Remove popper top and set to side.
Step 2: Grab cutter handles on both sides, press down firmly and rock 5-6 times to cut through the food.
Step 3: Lift cutter up, insert popper top and pop out the bite-sized pieces!

Hmm.... it didn't quite work with my peanut butter sandwich.  Peanut butter oozed and squished out of my bread's nooks and crannys, and made a big mess of the Luv it! cutter too. Maybe I used too much peanut butter. Or maybe firmer sandwich fillings are better. Silly me, snowmen are white, I should have stuck with plain bread :) UPDATE: I've since perfected a mess-free method for using my FunBites cutters with squishy sandwich spreads like peanut butter - click here for that post!

Notice the FunBites is smaller than the bread. More cheese slice sized.

Pickle didn't mind though. We flipped the Luv it! bites over to the intact side and made a snowman-ish shape - then Pickle added the triangles and turned it into a "snow star man". He had no use for the hearts but I stuck them on the plate anyways because "you can't forget the love!"

I tried them again the next time I made a peanut butter sandwich, but I didn't use as much PB this time, and they were less messy. Pickle used the shapes from this sandwich made with the Luv it! to arrange tangram-like pictures - a fish and a bird, he said:  

I still don't think they are ideal for PB sandwiches, but that's OK, sandwich cutters I have. 
FunBites do things sandwich cutters don't - read on...

Cut almost any food into bite size pieces!

FunBites are extremely sturdy, quite a bit more so than any of my sandwich cutters. They are made of DuPont Delrin, a polymer bridge between plastic and metal, to be strong, sharp, and durable.  I figured they could handle cutting through a hunk of cheese an inch thick then....


Well, the FunBites could handle it, but the cheese crumbled and stuck and made a big mess. So this cheese was a Fail for me, but you can learn from my mistake; while very thick hunks of cheese will not harm the FunBites cutter, your results may be less than desirable :) Normal slices work great though, even string cheese comes out fine - but cheddar an inch or more, not so much.


No worries though, I could still make something with that cheese. 


I used Cube it! to cut up chicken breast - it cubed like butter. And since the cutters aren't metal, I figured they'd be perfect for chopping lettuce since they wouldn't contribute to oxidization, and my lettuce wouldn't brown as quickly.


Along with the Luv it! cheese chunks, the lettuce and chicken made a tasty, healthy, fresh salad lunch for my 9 year old Bella to pack to school.


Make food safer!

FunBites can be used to make tot-friendly bite sized pieces of foods that little ones might choke on, such as hot dogs. No need for any other tools, just use the Cube It! like this:



You can use the same method to cut mozzarella cheese sticks, celery sticks, even carrot sticks. Yes, raw carrot sticks! Although, you might not want to cut hard things like raw veggies into smaller pieces for a little toddler ... but still, you could... and maybe your kid has lots of teeth, what do I know. I'm just saying because I tried it and they did. I told you, FunBites are sturdy :)

Make food kid-friendly!

Serve a meal in wee little nibble pieces and it suddenly tot-friendly. Plus, you can put a few bites out at first and as they get eaten, magically (sneakily) add more - try to get away with that with a big sandwich :)

Almost everything in this lunch was cut using the Cube it! or Luv it! FunBites. Along with the strawberries and yogurt, my sproutlets got cubed mozzarella, cheddar and wienies, and heart & triangle apples and pancakes.Perfect for toddler finger food, and even more fun for a child old enough to give a pick to :)


Make Eating Out With Toddlers Easier

This is just a thought I had. I think the FunBites would be really convenient to tote around in the outing/diaper bag, for several reasons:

1 - They are small, so wouldn't take up much room.
2 - Although they cut, they are not sharp to the touch, so aren't dangerous to carry around.
3 - They are not a weapon, so could go in a carry-on bag for air travel.
4 - They cut uniformly - so you could make unfamiliar food look more familiar to your child.
5 - You can turn food into finger food without using eatery disposable cutlery, so they are more environmental (not to mention cleaner... how many hands reach into those bins...)

I didn't put any of those reasons to the test, but they sound good to me!

Make Food Pretty!

My favourite thing I did using FunBites was decorate! I used the Luv it! to cut out fruit leather shapes, then arranged them like a stained glass mosaic on the inside of the lid of my daughter's lunch container:


Lovely! The bright flower garden scene on the lunch box lid makes the plain sandwich and banana lunch look cheerful and fun!


Want to win the FunBites of your choice ?

All you have to do is leave ONE comment telling me which FunBites you would like to win, Cube it! or Luv it!  That's it! *

I'd love it if you would visit FunBites on Facebook and Like them. Even tell them I sent you! But not everyone has a Facebook account (It's true! I know people!)  so I'm not going to make that a requirement. And if you want to Like me or Follow my blog the buttons are there for you :)

The winner will be chosen by comment #, using Random.org,  on Saturday night, December 17th, at midnight. Good luck!

* I need a way to contact you.  If you enter as Anonymous, with no contact information, I can't contact you to get your information to give to FunBites and they can't send you your prize.  So make sure your comment includes a way to contact you :) 1 comment only. Oh, and US entries only, please.

Oh, and if you can't wait the 3 days to see if you win, or if you want to order the other style, or whatever, FunBites is offering FREE shipping (US only) through December 25th with the code FreeShipDec2011. Enter at checkout on the FunBites website http://www.funbites.com/

Disclosure: I received 1 of each FunBites to review and then do what I please with.  No other compensation or payment was given. All opinions and descriptions are my own.  Prize will be provided by FunBites.
Disclosure: My posts contain affiliate links to products & services I've used & approve of  :)  If you make a purchase after clicking one of those links, I earn a small commission. Thank you!


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