Monday, January 26, 2015

Get Ready For #BlueberryPancakeDay with Driscoll's!

 
January 28th is National Blueberry Pancake Day, and what better way to celebrate than with some blueberry pancakes for breakfast (or lunch!)

[This post is sponsored by Driscoll's Berries]

I don't really have a "pancake recipe" since I'm usually lazy and just use a gluten-free pancake mix. But I always add 1-2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp real vanilla extract in addition to whatever the package says, and I substitute non-dairy milk and butter. However, I do enjoy making a quickie microwave berry compote to go on top instead of syrup!

I tried making a big batch of compote once, but I'm the only one who eats it - my girls prefer maple syrup or honey or powdered sugar on their pancakes. And Hubby prefers peanut butter. So I figured out a way to make myself a single serving in the microwave. Quick, easy, and I don't have to boil jars to store the leftovers... since there aren't any!

Microwave Blueberry Compote
Single-Serve:
~1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I just use a 6 oz berry clamshell usually)
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2-3/4 tsp corn starch

Enough for Everyone (3-4 servings):
3 cups fresh or frozen berries
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp corn starch

Combine berries, sugar, and corn starch in a large microwave-safe bowl (can use smaller bowl for single-serve size.) Mix well.
Cover (I use a plate) and microwave on High for 2-3 minutes.
Stir (mash fresh berries a little if needed) and microwave again for 2-3 minutes, until bubbling and starting to thicken.

I like to stock up on organic Driscoll's berries when they are on sale or if I have a coupon, and then freeze any that don't get used up fast enough. Fresh berries are great for lunchboxes and shortcake or sundae toppings; and frozen berries are perfect to add into pancakes or baking, making compote or jam, or to make cold smoothies without needing to water it down with ice! 

Berries shown in the Crisp reusable Berry Basket. Great for rinsing, straining, and storing fresh berries and grapes!
3pk Berry Baskets

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Top 14 of 2014!

To help me pick just fourteen of my favorites from 2014, I started with choosing one post from each month, then filled up with the ones that were most memorable to me! Check out more "Top 14" bento posts from all kinds of amazing bento bloggers over at Eats Amazing!

January
1. My favorite January post has got to be the toasted cheese Totoro in an EasyLunchbox for Little Z! 

February
2. Z's Macaroni "push-pop" lunch is my February favorite, mostly because I'm impressed with my own cleverness! Hahaha!

March
3. For March, how could I not pick the "Bee" a Friend anti-bullying lunch?

April
4. The Easter Egg Hunt lunch I sent for Z's lunch was a definite favorite all around!

May
5. I just love all the colors in these simple Planetbox lunches. So they're my pick for May!

June
6. I had fun making these CuteZCats lunches, and they turned out so cute!

July
7.  In July, we had fun building these lunches the girls packed themselves!

August
8. These Powerpuff Girls lunches were such a hit for our concert in the park picnic. Plus, adorbs!

September
9. These checkerboard sandwich bites were so quick and easy to make, and the girls loved them!

October
Build-Your-Own Mummy Pizzable Lunch for Halloween!
10. I enjoyed planning and making this DIY Mummy Pizzable for Halloween. So fun!

November
11. For November I chose this CuteZCute "Hamster and Cheese" Sandwich lunch in a Yumbox. 

December
12. This decorate-your-own gingerbread house 3-D sandwich is a no-brainer for my favorite December lunch!

Mama's Picks
13. One of my all-time favorites is the edible "April Fools" bouquet lunch I made for Z. I can look at it for hours. Well. Minutes, anyway. 

14, I really wanted to pick at least ONE of my pretty salads, but I just couldn't miss showing off Z's Franny K Stein lunch again! It was suuuuuuch a pain in my heinie to make! But came out so incredibly well!

What a fun year of lunches!

Monday, December 22, 2014

3-D Gingerbread House Sandwich for Lunch!

I found this mini gingerbread house cookie cutter and had to find a fun way to incorporate it into a lunch! So I made little sandwich "gingerbread" houses, stuck together with peanut butter. A perfect Christmas-y lunch for the last day of school before the holiday break!

 [This post contains affiliate links.

Surf Sweets gummy bears, Sprinkelz, PB, GF PB house, organic apples and carrots, assorted dye-free sprinkles and candy
For my First Grader, I built this little bread and peanut butter house on a square of foil-wrapped cardboard, just like you would a regular gingerbread cookie house. I even added a few bread trees using some tiny tree cutters.
I thought it would be fun for her to decorate her little house too, so I added a bunch of candy - way more sweets than I normally would include. Last day of school before vacation though, so cause for a special treat! In addition to a packet of dye-free Sprinkelz, I sent a single-serve packet of dye-free Surf Sweets gummy bears, and a zip-close baggie with extra peanut butter for her to use as icing. I taped it to keep the PB near the corner, and used a Sharpie to mark where to cut it to turn it into a piping bag and a message to only make a tiny cut. At her school they eat in the lunchroom, and she is allowed to access scissors to help open packages and such.
I also packed an EasyLunchboxes Mini Dipper with some dye-free Choco-Rockscandy-covered sunflower seedsjelly beans, and India Tree Nature's Colors snowflake quins.

I didn't pack too many apple slices and baby carrots in the gingerbread man silicone cup because I knew she wouldn't eat much - she'd be too busy eating and decorating with the candy!

The only lunch box deep enough to hold the assembled house sandwich that I own is a Yubo, but it is designed to be carried sideways. Plus I couldn't find all the parts to ours. Doh! So I used a large Snapware container and packed it upside-down so she wouldn't have to lift the house out of the box and risk dropping it or messing it up. Because everything was all loosey-goosey in there, I carried it in for her and put it in her cubby. That way she only had to be careful carrying it to the table at lunch.

A Little Crooked House
 
I packed these lunches the day before, and Little Sis saw me making a house for Big Sis. And wanted one! My first house looked terrible, since the roof wasn't fitting right when I built the house as pictured. So I stupidly tried making each side overlap one of the other sides, making the whole house lopsided and the roof crookedy. Doh! So I decided my toddler could have that one, and I made a better version for my older girl!
The next day, when I served up her lunch, instead of using her extra PB to decorate the house, E dipped her apples in it, and ate the candy separately! Hahaha!

Tools of the Trade
    
Food for Thought