Quinoa Garden

If you haven't tried quinoa, you need to. We use it instead of rice. I always burn rice or overcook it or do something to otherwise ruin a perfect batch of rice. Seriously, I can cook the most complicated recipe out there but I can't make a batch of rice (or scalloped potatoes, but that's another post) And really, no one in my family just LOVES rice. But, quinoa is another story. It's got a bit of a crunch to it, it cooks in only 10 minutes, and everyone likes it. Plus it's really healthy. Quinoa is high in fiber, gluten free, and a complete protein. Anything I used to make with rice, I've made with quinoa - stir frys, Spanish rice, gumbo. The chic's lunch for tomorrow is a garden on a bed of quinoa.Quinoa background, yellow bell pepper sun, hot dog flowers with asparagus stems, cheddar and provolone flowers, sugar snap pea grass, watermelon cubes and whole wheat barnyard crackers.

To answer the question, "how does this all stay in place?" - I took out the two small containers and covered the garden with Press and Seal pushing down as I covered it. It kinda vacuum sealed it. I heart Press and Seal!

Usually, the chic likes sugar-free lemonade or a water bottle with her lunch. But, on my shopping excursion last weekend, I found chocolate almond milk in individual juice box sized boxes. I had never seen almond milk in individual sized boxes and the chocolate variety only had 6 grams of sugar. Regular chocolate milk has 24 grams! The chic has taken a couple in her lunches and has really liked them. Now we have another option in the drink category!

This will be my last lunch until next week. The chic has an early release day on Friday and a holiday on Monday, so we will be school lunch free for a couple days.

Lastly, thank you Amanda at Lunchbox Limbo for the Over the Top Award!

The rules of this award are to (I'm copying Amanda's words here):answer the questions with only one worded answers (those are below)- thank the blogger who gave it to you over and over and over (that's exaggerated a bit) :)- pass it on to 6 of your favorite blogs. I hereby grant this award to:

What's for Lunch at Our House

Bento Beginner

Hawaii's Bento Box

Happy Little Bento

Pigs Do Fly

Bento Babe

Now the questions: (and I'm not good with one word!)

1. Where is your cell phone? ..being repaired while I have a nervous breakdown without it!

2.Your hair?...long
3. Your mother? ...supportive

4. Your father? ...funny

5. Your favorite food? ...osso buco

6. Your dream last night? ...none
7. Your favorite drink? ..coffee

8. Your dream/goal? ...happiness

9. What room are you in? ..living room
10. Your hobby?...cooking and knitting

11. Your fear?...heights

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?...back in college for my master's

13. Where were you last night?...Home

14. Something you aren't?...shy
15. Muffins?..cranberry orange

16. Wish list item?...Foodsaver
17. Where did you grow up? ...all over the US

18. Last thing you did? ...dropped my phone off

19. What are you wearing? ...sundress

20. Your TV? ...off

21. Your pets?...2 dogs 3 hermit crabs

22. Your friends?...fun

23. Your life? ...busy

24. Your mood? ...panic (the phone, y'all!)

25. Missing someone? ...my oldest when she's at school during the day

26. Vehicle? ...minivan

27. Something you're not wearing?...shoes

28. Your favorite store? .. Banana Republic

29. Your favorite color?...red

30. When was the last time you laughed? ...?

31. Last time you cried? ...?

32. Your best friend? ...the hubs
33. One place that I go over and over? ...Costco
34. One person who emails me regularly?..mom

35. Favorite place to eat? ...Brio
Everyone have a great weekend!

Almuerzo Rojo (Red Lunch)

When I was in school, we didn't even think about foreign language until high school. Now almost every Kindergarten curriculum has a foreign language incorporated in it somehow. At the chic's school, they start Spanish in Kindergarten. She has the class a few times a week and so far she really likes it. She likes to make-up words sometimes and pretend that she is teaching us Spanish (we haven't told her that mommy took four semesters of Spanish in college ;)) but sometimes the words actually are words she learned in class. Her favorite word so far has been "rojo" which means "red". It was one of the first Spanish words they learned and for some reason it really stuck with her. I thought it would be fun to incorporate her favorite Spanish word into her lunch, so here is her "almuerzo rojo" (red lunch):

Apple shaped peanut butter filled apple, Honey oat flax bread with homemade red raspberry jam, Babybel cheese, Red mini peppers, Red raspberries with provolone "rojo"

And an apple tip-o-the-day for ya...I used to always run a lemon over my cut apples to keep them from browning, but I read somewhere that Pink Lady and Honeycrisp apples hardly brown if exposed to the air. I had to test it out (cause I'm a freaky foodie like that) and I'm pleased to report that they are correct. My apple was just fine even after being left uncovered and untreated overnight. Lucky for us, these are our two favorite apples varieties!

Something's Fishy!

Blue jello has got to be bad for you. It's just gotta. I mean, besides the crazy amount of sugar, it's freakish electric blue. They don't make Berry Blue jello in sugar-free and it makes me wonder if there's some component in the dye that reacts with sugar substitutes or something? I don't know. What I do know is that the Berry Blue is my chic's favorite jello flavor. FAVORITE! I've tried all the other jello flavors with her (sugar-free of course) but she always wishes she had blue.

So, because I'm convinced she may grow a third arm one day from all the dye, or that I'm cursing my future grandchildren to a life in the circus where they'll lament "Oh, our evil grandmother! She let our mom eat dye filled blue jello and now we're circus freaks", she gets it very, very rarely. But because I bought a box when she was feeling sick a few weeks ago and never made it AND because I had some Goldfish crackers, I started thinking, "Blue jello, Goldfish crackers....hmmmm...ocean themed lunch!"

Fish shaped ham sandwich and cheese curd skewers, Cucumber starfish, Whole grain Goldfish crackers, Blue Jello Ocean

Blue Corn Quesadillas

One of the great things about living in Texas is the availability of awesome Mexican ingredients. We did some grocery shopping at one of our favorite stores this weekend and as we walked by, they were pulling these blue corn tortillas off the griddle. They were just begging to jump into our cart...no, seriously...begging! So, we brought them home and made quesadillas for the chic's lunch tomorrow.

Watermelon flowers with kiwi hearts, Black beans, Sesame crunch, Sugar snap peas, Cheese and red pepper quesadillas on stone-ground blue corn tortillas.

Thanks to The Suburban Jungle http://thesuburbanjungle.blogspot.com/ for the "Our Lovely Blog Award". I LOVE getting awards!

Honey Oat Flax Bread Recipe, by request - many many requests...

I think this is my fourth batch of this bread. It is so good! After telling about it in several posts, I've been asked for the recipe a buncha times. So, here is the recipe for Aimee's Honey Oat Flax Bread...kinda. I tweaked a few things, as I always seem to do. Enjoy!

Honey Oat Flax Bread
Scant Tbsp Yeast
3 Tbsp Honey (Molasses is good also!)
2 1/4 cups Warm Water
9 Tbsp Powdered Buttermilk (I have also used regular powdered milk)

Place all in the bowl of a heavy stand mixer and let sit 5 minutes or so until yeast is bubbly. Then add:
2 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 cups Bread Flour
1 1/3 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1/4 cup Flaxseeds
2 Tbsp Ground Flaxseeds
scant Tbsp Wheat Gluten
1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

Mix with dough hook in stand mixer on low just till it comes together, then turn up the power and knead until it forms a ball that pulls from the sides of the bowl. Continue to knead a few more minutes.

Cover bowl and let stand for an hour or until doubled. Punch down, remove from bowl and twist dough (like your wringing a towel - I always thinks this makes a nice texture inside??) Place dough in a buttered 13" Pullman pan or two regular sized loaf pans. Let rise until almost doubled again. Slide lid on pan, if using a Pullman. Bake 375 deg for 40 minutes. Turn out on rack and resist eating the whole loaf before it cools!

We really enjoy this with peach jam and goat cheese!


Bread to Bake (and a Snack to Make)...

Tomorrow is Student Council Pizza Day and, as I've said before, I cannot compete with a pizza day. So, no lunch for tomorrow. I did decide to make her a snack since I'm sure there will be no fruits or vegetables on her pizza! This is the snack bento for her pizza Friday:

Edamame, Black olives, Apple bites and pistachios.
I gotta be honest, I didn't mind the lack of lunch-making today. My mind was on bread making instead of lunches. I was waiting on a man with a pan. I learned about Pullman pans last week. Pullman pans are the long lidded loaf pans that make perfectly square loaves of bread with a thinner, softer crust - perfect for sandwiches. In all my years of bread making, how could a Pullman pan have escaped my sight? So I went on a shopping frenzy looking for one and found that they are surprisingly hard to find (and really expensive!). I finally found one on King Arthur Flour's website AND it was on clearance for $19.99. It was meant to be! So, today I learned that the three greatest words are not "I love you" - they are "Out for Delivery" and I stalked the UPS man.
As soon as the thing was in my hand, I whipped up a batch of Whole Wheat Honey Oat Flax bread. This is the bread just before placing the lid on to bake.

And here it is fresh out of the oven:

I can't wait to bake more bread in it. I really like being able to make our own bread, but have never liked the shape of the loaves from a bread machine or a regular loaf pan. Plus I heard that I can make European Black Bread (my absolute favorite bread) in it because the lid keeps black breads from burning during their longer cooking times. I see LOTS of breads in my little foodie's future lunchboxes!

Burger Face Bento

We really enjoy a good hamburger now and then, but we like veggie burgers, too. I have a love/hate relationship with them. I really love some types and really hate others. I also think that there are several that market themselves as healthier versions of a burger but really aren't. There was one type that had MORE fat than a beef burger! (Another reason to learn to read the nutritional labels on everything you buy - even when you think you know what you're buying.) I think we've tried them all - beans, veggies, soy proteins, all different brands. Our favorite soy protein burger is Morningstar Farms Grillers Prime. They have a little smoky flavor to them that actually mimics the taste of a flame grilled burger pretty well. The chics really like em, so that's what's in the lunchbox tomorrow...

Vanilla yogurt with strawberries, Mini sweet peppers, Soft chocolate cookies, Burger face with mini ketchup bottle (how cute is THAT?)

I found the little ketchup at Wal-Mart in their deli section. I thought it was so cute, I couldn't pass it up. The chic will love it cause she loves to order room service at hotels and this is just like the one they bring you for room service.

The chocolate cookies were from Sunshine Mom's post http://sunshinemom.blogspot.com/2009/09/soft-chocolate-cookies.html Yummy! I'm going to try her brownies next!

Finally, finally, FINALLY, I am done messing with my blog layout. I FINALLY decided to have someone design the header for me since I'm obviously graphic-design challenged. I think she did an amazing job! Please check her out if you need anything like this done... http://veronicachapp.blogspot.com/ You won't be disappointed!


It has been raining for forty days and forty nights! Okay, we may have had one day of near sun, but still...it's been raining for two weeks straight. I'm going to have to get phototherapy soon! Seriously! I know in other parts of the world, this is totally normal, but here in Texas, we don't usually see Fall weather until about...uhhh...Christmas! On top of that, the beloved Kindergarten teacher has been out for a couple days, so the chic has been a bit down. In order to brighten things up a bit, her lunch for tomorrow is a little whimsical.

Strawberry and grape skewers, Ladybug Babybell cheese on green beans, Smart Pop popcorn and organic fruit roll-up flowers, Turkey sandwich on whole wheat mini bagel with provolone and cheddar heart cutout.

I've had a few people ask about it, so I just wanted to clarify - the ladybug is decorated using Nori, not black marker! : )

Bananas and Chicken Eggs

I buy bananas every time I go to the grocery store. Even on the little "oops, I forgot (fill in the blank)" trips. It seems like I'm ALWAYS buying bananas. I don't know why...maybe cause they're cheap, or cause they look so yummy next to the boxes of Nilla Wafers, OR cause my chics are begging for yet more bananas. Anyway, the point of this is that we NEVER seem to finish them all before they've gotten too ripe so we ALWAYS have overripe bananas in the house. I usually just throw them out but this weekend, the hubs asked me to make banana nut bread. I subbed whole wheat and flaxseeds for most of the flour and I think they turned out really well!

Multigrain Wasa Crispbread with Apples and Peanut Butter, Cheese and Celery Flowers, Strawberries, Baby Carrots with Blue Cheese Dip, Whole Wheat Banana Flax Muffin, Quail Chicken Eggs

- While perusing food art for my new header, I came across a picture of these little chicken eggs. And although I didn't love it for my header, I did love it for the chic's lunchbox. I couldn't resist trying them out on my smaller quail eggs. So, technically, they're quail chicken eggs. Now, that's a hybrid!

Here's the recipe for my version of banana nut muffins:

Whole Wheat Banana Flax Muffins
(An adapted banana nut muffin recipe from allrecipes.com)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line mini muffin tin with muffin papers or spray with non-stick spray. Mix together both flours, flaxseed, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nuts. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugars, egg and melted butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until combined. banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon into muffin cups until 3/4 full. Mix together topping ingredients and sprinkle over muffins. Bake 10 - 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

One Month and One Thousand Visits!

Wow! Hard to believe that a month ago I was just starting my whole journey into the bento lunchbox. I've learned so many new things and have been inspired by so many of the other bento blogs. There are some amazing moms out there. It's also hard to believe that in that month, there have been over a thousand visits to Foodie Footsteps! Thanks everyone for visiting my blog and for keeping me on the creative wagon, so to speak. It really does make me think more about keeping the chic's lunches new and exciting! Now - on to the food...

For the chic's first lunch of the new month, I've made her favorite salad (Strawberry Spinach Goat Cheese) into a wrap.
Spinach Strawberry Salad Wrap with Balsamic dip, Black Olive Penguins, Almond Nut Thins and Fig Newton Cookies, Cottage Cheese

Black olive penguins were from a recipe from allrecipes.com. I think they are ADORABLE! But, they would be a pain if you had to make a bunch of them. That's what I like about the bento lunch box - it's not a biggie to make stuff like this if you're only making a few!

Everyone have a great week!

Fun Food Friday!

My girl has really been enjoying her lunches. Every day on the way home from school, I get to hear her story of who said what about her lunch. Apparently, the rabbit sandwich drew a crowd, a boy thought her yogurt was gross cause there were blueberries on it (she said he's "crazy" anyway), and the mice were a huge hit. She's been liking them so much that she hasn't even asked to buy hot lunch this week - hasn't even looked at the menu. So to reward her for her good food choices, I'm giving her a fun food Friday.

Marshmallow rice sushi, Cucumber Ribbons with bell pepper flower, Scrabble Cheez-its, Babybel Cheese, Ribbon Sandwiches

Ribbon sandwiches started when my nephew (a high schooler now, sniff-sniff ) was small and my sister told me that even I couldn't make a pb&j exciting. (See - that's how long I've been into the whole food thing!) Well, I had to prove her wrong- and much to my sister's dismay, he asked her to start making sandwiches like Aunt Michelle! Ahhh - sweet victory! Since then, I've made these in lots of variations. My fave was pimento cheese, cucumber, and egg salad for a baby shower. Anyway, you can all probably figure this out yourself, but just in case you'd like details, here it is:

Ribbon Sandwiches

(This makes a sandwich big enough for two)

4 slices of whole wheat bread

Peanut Butter (smooth works best)

Two different colors of jam (here I used Red Raspberry and Peach)

Assemble in the following order:


Jam A


Peanut Butter


Jam B


With a bread knife (it will give you the best looking slice), cut off crusts and them slice into desired shape.

*My three year old wanted to cook in the kitchen today so we made marshmallow rice treats. There's nothing healthy about this, believe me. I've tried a bunch of healthier versions of the old standby, but none of them have ever been very good. We only make them a few times a year and no one in my house will die from eating them on occasion. Everything in moderation, right? I've seen marshmallow rice sushi millions of times (okay maybe only a hundred) but never made it cause, honestly, marshmallow rice treats do not last long in my house. Generally when we make them, the chics are eating as fast as we can mix them, and the hubs is hovering around grabbing spoonfuls. I never get a chance to try to make anything with it. So today, I shaped a bit into nigiri and a few into rolls, added some fruit strip "nori", and ta-dah...marshmallow rice sushi.

*Scrabble Cheez-Its are cool! Especially for kids learning their letters! I put the letters in her lunch to spell her name several times. (Yes, I went through the box and pulled out the letters - don't judge me!)

New Stuff

I love new stuff. Who doesn't, right? So, the chic's lunch for tomorrow is all about me getting to use some of my new bento accessories.

Shelled Edamame in a NEW Silicone Muffin Cup, a Boiled Egg molded into a bear by my NEW Rice Mold, Hello Panda Cookies from my NEW family sized box, Homemade Honey Oat Flaxseed Bread made from a NEW recipe from my friend Aimee, and Waldorf Salad (okay, so nothing's new in that...but it's still good)

This morning, I finally found the silicone muffin cups I've been looking for! I really didn't need a dozen of them, but I guess there are actually people that use these for cupcakes and they actually need a dozen. Who knew? Technically I didn't have to use a muffin cup for the edamame, but I really wanted to!

I also used my rice mold to make a bear boiled egg. I think it turned out pretty good except for the small tear in it's cheek. You have to peel the things while they're hot, and although I've got pretty heat resistant hands from all the cooking I do, I'm not perfect. Hey, my chic has a dimple so we'll call it a dimpled bear!

The bread is my friend Aimee's recipe. I call her the Earth Mother cause if there is anything you need to know about holistic, organic, natural anything, she's the one to go to. She even inspired me to start making my own yogurt. So she gave me a recipe last week for Honey Oat Flaxseed bread and everyone in my house devoured it. The chic is getting the last of it in her lunch.

The waldorf salad is super easy. You don't even have to measure anything. Just eyeball it according to your tastes. It's apples, carrots, celery, dried cranberries, walnuts, oj, and a bit of mayo. It's really good, and I usually always have the stuff to make it.

The last item in her lunch is gonna win me some big BIG brownie points! Hello Panda cookies are these little cookies filled with chocolate frosting-ish filling. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Hello Panda cookies and can usually only find them in individual bags at boba tea places. When we were at the Asian market last week, I found a family sized box for the same price that I pay for a small bag. I hid them, I mean put them, on the top shelf of the pantry hoping, I mean thinking, no one would see them. Well, my oldest busted me and has been begging for them. She loves em too. So when she opens her lunch tomorrow, she is gonna be thrilled! Maybe I can convince her to clean the playroom now?

Daddy/Daughter Bentos

Well, it finally happened. My chic forgot her beloved Laptop Lunchbox at school. Poor little thing, she cried when she realized that she left it in her locker because she was afraid she wouldn't have a "pretty lunch". Awww...I love her! Since I had already decided what she would be having in her lunch tomorrow, I had to change my plans to fit into a traditional bento instead of her Laptop Lunchbox. I made her dad a lunch yesterday (see below) and thought I would just go with similar daddy/daughter lunches.

Cheddar cheese stars, Ham and Provolone rabbit sandwich, Pretzel sticks, Pineapple and red bell pepper cubes, Kosher dill pickles and black olives.

I don't know what's up with the camera and lighting today, but I swear that the pineapple is a fresh bright yellow pineapple!

It all fit (barely)! Here it is, all lidded up and belted.

We'll see how the bento works tomorrow, but I can't wait to have her other lunchbox back! Gotta say...after packing this lunch, I love that Laptop Lunchbox even more. Everything seems to fit in there so nice and neat. But, she's taking this bento tomorrow and has hopefully learned her lesson on bringing her Laptop Lunchbox home.

A Bento for the hubs...

When I cleaned out my kitchen cabinets last week, I came across a container that is perfect for packing my hubs a bento lunch. So, as luck would have it, he asked me to make him a lunch yesterday and I was ready for him! After informing him that I will only pack bento style lunches now (and him rolling his eyes), this is what he got.

Lettuce and Tomato for his sandwich (he likes it to be packed separately), Dill pickle, Choco-Pie (moon pie that he got at the Asian market last week), Dinosaur Egg Pluot, Babybell Cheese, Pretzel Sticks, Ham and Cheese sandwich.

I think this container is awesome and can't believe that I didn't realize it was lurking under my cabinet this whole time. I need a few of those silicone muffin cups and it'll be perfect!

(Thanks for everyone's patience with my ever changing blog format. I finally decided to make my own header and I think this is what I'm gonna stick with!)

Time to Cut the Basil...

When my basil bush starts growing out of control, it's time for pesto! I don't always have pine nuts so I just improvise with whatever nuts I have. This time I used walnuts which seem to substitute really well. My oldest really likes it so that is what she's getting for lunch tomorrow.

Vanilla yogurt with frozen blueberries, Sliced tomatoes and green beans, Pecan brownie bite, Whole wheat pasta with homemade pesto and a ricotta heart.

I really like to make brownies in a mini muffin pan because they are the perfect size for the chics! Plus, they are a lot neater than trying to cut gooey brownies into squares.

Brownie Bites

Your fave brownie batter (any batter will do...homemade, box, pouch, whatever) prepared according to the directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini muffin tin with non-stick spray. Scoop a tablespoon of brownie batter into each cup. Bake 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely in the pan. Run a knife around the edge and pop em out.

Baby Bento

My little one has been feeling a little left out with all the attention focused on her sister's lunches. During our shopping trip yesterday, I let her pick out a bento box. Today she insisted that I make her lunch in it AND take pictures. SO, although this is not technically a school lunch (she ate it while sitting on the couch), I'm posting it. Hey, it's my blog...I can break the rules!

Quail egg, pb&j butterfly sandwich (homemade peach jam and natural peanut butter), cucumber chain, dinosaur egg pluot.

The butterfly was a total fluke. I was cleaning out the cabinets today and had the cookie cutters on the counter. I just grabbed one and that was it. I really liked it though and think that my big girl will be getting one in her lunch next week...with more decoration, of course!

I don't have any cute bento dividers so I used a celery stick that I wedged in the container.

My little one was so proud. She ate everything and then carried it around all day!

Alice in Wonderland...

Ya know in Alice in Wonderland where Alice drinks the potion to be really big and then to be really small? Well, that's kinda what I thought about with the lunch today. Kind of a take on disproportionate sizes.

Mini "candy" apples, quail eggs, mini whole wheat blueberry muffin, long beans

During my bento shopping today, I found a couple things that I love. First quail eggs. They taste just like chicken eggs but soooo much cuter. And I found long beans. My daughter LOVES green beans - really really loves them. So much so that for her first Easter, we filled her Easter eggs with green beans cause it was the only thing that we KNEW she would hunt for! So I like the long beans for the novelty of the food she loves in ginormous size.

I also made mini "candy" apples. Melon baller, apple, peanut butter, and nuts. Shove a stick in it and there you have a mini dessert.

My bento shopping today was pretty successful. I found two cute bentos for snacks and maybe a lunch for the three year old. I also found a set of rice molds that I'm hoping to use for eggs and maybe quinoa? I'll have to work on that one! The hubs went with me and even though he complained at first that it was too far away, he ended up saying that it was really a fun day. We had a blast walking around checking out all sorts of things. We went to a little mom and pop type place that carried lots of neat bento items and then on to a huge Asian grocery store. I even found palm sugar which I've been looking for forever (it's in Pad Thai). Here's a picture of my treasures:

Two Bentos (they are the same size, I just opened the one on the right for those of you that wanted to see the inside), rice molds (a bear, a boy, and a girl), two bands to hold the bentos closed (I'm sure there's a name for em but I don't know what it is), and the flatware/chopsticks that fit in the top of the bentos.

Overall, I think that to get some serious bento ware, I'm gonna have to do some online shopping, but will definitely make plans to go to the stores again in the future.

Brunch for Lunch

Why does breakfast food always taste so much better at lunch or dinner? My daughter certainly thinks it does, so her lunch today is a few of her favorite breakfast items.

Spinach quiche, Orange segments, Turkey sausage, Blueberry Flaxseed Pancakes with sugar free blueberry-ish syrup.

This lunch took me all of five minutes to throw together cause everything was already made and in the freezer. Usually I try to cook big batches of things and then stick em in the freezer for later. I figure if I'm already making something, why not spend a few more minutes and make more to save myself time later. The only thing I had to do was cut the orange! Simple AND healthy!

*Blueberry Flaxseed Pancakes - I'm not sure where I got this recipe, but I've had it a while and the girls love them. I serve them with sugar free syrup that has been mixed with a bit of blueberry puree.

Blueberry Flaxseed Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat pancake mix

1/4 cup ground flax seeds (not powdered)

1/2 - 3/4 cup skim milk (depending on how thick you like your pancakes)

1 egg

splash vanilla

1/2 cup blueberries

Combine all and cook on griddle sprayed with non stick spray.

As a side note, my daughter came home yesterday and said that one of the kids said, "I don't know your mom, but she sure makes good lunches!" Ha ha! I asked her if anyone ever says anything about her lunches and she said that some of the kids come over to her to see her lunch everyday. She was beaming with pride when she told me that and it makes me so so happy to know that she is proud of her lunches! That means she'll eat them more and ask to eat the hot lunch less. YAY!

One of the blogs that I read frequently http://bentolunch.blogspot.com mentioned a place in my area that carries Bento supplies. I am taking a trip over there tomorrow to check it out. I really want an egg mold (my oldest LOVES boiled eggs) and some cute accessories. I may even get a different type of Bento for my three year old (and maybe one for the hubs). Wish me luck!

You also may have noticed that my blog skin has changed. I've been experimenting with different skins, so don't be surprised if you come to visit and it looks a little different. The current on is from http://simple-blogskins.blogspot.com As the blog gets more and more traffic, it seems worth it to invest a bit of time to spruce things up a bit! Thanks for visiting!!

Flowers and Mice

Getting ready to go back to school from Labor Day, which my daughter declared, "the worst day ever" cause she isn't going to school today. Guess it's a good thing she likes school, but still...I think the separation has been worse on me than on her!

I can't wait to hear what she thinks of her lunch for tomorrow. I might have not have mentioned this, but she likes for her lunch to be a surprise. So, I'm not allowed to talk about it in front of her and I have to make it when she's not in the kitchen. It's kinda funny that she wants it that way, but on the other hand, I don't know what else I'd expect from her. She loves food as much as I do and the promise of a surprise in the lunchbox is very appealing! Hopefully, this one won't disappoint!

Strawberry mice, homemade fruit and nut granola bar, cucumber chain, peanut butter and jelly cut outs.

*The strawberry mice idea is from Disney's website. They have some cute food ideas. They were super fast to make too!

*Granola bar recipe can be found here http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Playgroup-Granola-Bars/Detail.aspx but I made a few changes. Instead of wheat germ, I used 1/3 cup ground flax seeds and 1/3 cup wheat bran, I lowered the sugar to 1/2 cup, added 1 cup of chopped nuts (pecans, almonds and walnuts), instead of all raisins, I did half raisins and half craisins, threw in a handful of whole flax seeds, and used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. They are delish! I wanna try applesauce for the oil and egg, but haven't yet.

*PB and J - We do LOVE the natural peanut butter at my house. We buy it in the bulk section at Central Market and if you haven't tried it before, you really should. Look on the back of a jar of peanut butter some time and you will be shocked at how much extra stuff is in it! The ingredients in the natural peanut butter ...peanuts and salt. That's it. And honestly, I think it tastes better. For the jelly, I have to admit that I DO make our jelly. Again, lots of creepy stuff in a jar of jam or jelly, so I taught myself to make it and now that's what we eat. I don't make sugar free, but the only ingredients are fruit, sugar and pectin. I can live with a little sugar. This was red raspberry.

One last thing to wrap up today's post...

"How long do you spend making her lunches?" I've heard this a bunch. I even read a comment on another blog that linked me saying that I must only have one child and a lot of free time. HA! Nope. Two kids and one is home with me. I wish I could say that I lounge around eating bon bons and watching soap operas all day, but sadly, that's not the case. I never think it takes that long to make lunch. I spent more time making her lunch when she was at home all day. So today, I timed myself. It took 27 minutes from pantry to dishwasher (start to finish). I don't think that's bad. So there it is..."How long do you spend making her lunches?" "27 minutes."

Spaghetti Heads

Since I've started blogging, I've been looking around at some other blogs by moms with bento lunch boxes. It's interesting to see what ideas everyone can come up with. Shannon at http://flytomywindow.blogspot.com/ had the cutest post about Spaghetti Dogs. And though I'm not a fan of the hot dog (traumatic childhood experience), my kids are. I don't buy them very often, so it's really a treat when they get them. Fortunately, hot dogs have come a long way since my childhood and can actually be fairly nutritious.We buy natural hot dogs without nitrates and preservatives. Coleman Natural Beef Hot Dogs are our favorite.

I planned on making the spaghetti dogs as is, but it kinda took off from there. As I was starting to assemble them, I decided that the spaghetti would make super cute hair. So I used the ends of the hot dog and kind of experimented with the amount of spaghetti. (My 3 year old was more than happy to gobble the rejects). I added a cherry tomato slice for the mouth and capers for the eyes and affixed them with tiny pieces of uncooked pasta. The trick to doing the hair is to put a ton of pasta in the spaghetti. I tried a few with less spaghetti and they were fine (see the one on the left) but were better with more (the middle and right). So for her last lunch before the Labor Day weekend, she gets the beloved hot dog.

Tomato Basil Salad with Balsamic and Olive Oil, Whole Wheat Blueberry Almond Muffin, Homemade Applesauce, Spaghetti Heads

Precooked spaghetti heads...these were the "first generation". Add about three times that much spaghetti for best results.

Asian Flavor

Today's lunch was a collaboration of events. My daughter wanted noodles... and I had some Udon from Costco, and I had a bunch of veggies left over from fish tacos...and some pork chop from, well, pork chops...AND she loves Mu Shu Pork. Mix it all together and this is what you get...

Mu shu-shi, Pluot and strawberry, Babybel cheese, "Sesame" Udon (it's actually flax seeds)

Mu shu-shi

(Get it...Mu shu sushi? heehee!)

1 Whole Wheat Tortilla

1 Tbsp Hoisin sauce

1/3 cup Chopped Cabbage, cucumber, carrots, red bell pepper, and cilantro

Cooked Pork, just a few slices (could use chicken or tofu)

Sprinkle of flax seeds (or sesame seeds)

Spread the hoisin on the tortilla. The picture doesn't show it, but spread it all the way out to the edge. That helps it stay sealed shut. Place chopped veggies on one end of the tortilla and top with the pork. Sprinkle with flax seeds. Roll up as tightly as possible without tearing the tortilla. Cut ends off to make a flat edge. Cut the remaining roll into four equal pieces.

*Hoisin is pretty high in sodium, but there's only a bit in the whole roll. I figure it's worth it if she's also eating all those veggies!