Friday, October 29, 2010

Frank and Spiders

A's final Halloween bento (I think) today.  I sent her with hot dog spiders, pumpkin seeds, edamame, ghostmallows, a Frankenkiwi (I stole this idea from here - but hers was way cuter!) with apple neck bolts and carrot sticks.

We stayed up late last night putting together Halloween goodies for A's Yochien party (which got moved to Monday, I found out today, due to the typhoon...).

Darn it!  Three days early with the goodies.  Oh well, her sensei still seemed pretty happy about it and I'm thankful to not have to make treats over the weekend.  :)

Nightmare Bento

Since the movie first came out in theaters, The Nightmare Before Christmas has been my all-time favorite movie.  I love Tim Burton, I love Danny Elfman, and I love love LOVE Jack Skellington.

Yesterday, since we were in Typhoon Chaba and not doing much else, I made A a Nightmare Bento, complete with Jack Skellington and Zero.  She loved it and ate every last bit.

C's bento was more snacky and made up of ghostly goodies.

I think we're down to just one final Halloween bento.  Can't believe it's about to pass us by!

Bento Lunch

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I have stumbled across so many cute and awesome Halloween goodies this year that I've been overwhelmed and admittedly at times a bit in over my head.  And now we're only four days out from Halloween and trick-or-treating and I am realizing that I haven't even finished up the kids' costumes yet!  Yikes!

But today we caught a little break.  Okinawa is currently under Typhoon Chaba - a category 4 storm which is blowing like crazy and keeping us all indoors.  This has given me some time to hang out with the kids, finish up some of my treat-making (and brainstorm the treat-making yet to come), and make another extra pair of Halloween bentos.

Last night I was up late icing my Skellie-Men cookies.  I am SO thrilled with how they turned out.  When I got the first little man iced I literally squealed and ran to show him to my husband.  Today I have a tray full of Skellie-Men, ghosts, skulls, and Skellie-Bats.  I still have half a batch of dough in the fridge that I'm planning to make pumpkins out of, but we're all about baby steps here.  Plus, I keep adding more projects to my list, so I am kind of having a hard time keeping up with...  myself.

Anyways, these cookies are pretty much the coolest thing I've ever made, I think.  ;)

Skellie-Men Cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs.  Gradually stir in the sifted ingredients to form a soft dough.  Divide the dough into two pieces, flatten and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least two hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 375º F.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8" thickness.  (I dusted the top of the dough and the rolling pin with cocoa powder before rolling it out.)  Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.  (We used a mini gingerbread man, mini bat, mini ghost and mini skull.)  This dough is sticky so be sure to add more flour and/or cocoa powder to the rolling surface as neded.  Place the cookies 1 1/2" apart on cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven (for mini cutters, 8 minutes was plenty to produce a crisp cookie).  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for five minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
  4. Ice as desired.  I used CakeMate's Easy Squeeze bags and tips.

I shared this post at MySweetCreations for Sweet Sunday.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Today is A's last "full bento" day before Halloween.  On Friday I'll pack her bento but it won't be carb-heavy since she'll have not only bread and milk but also Halloween treats for the Yochien party.  Friday's bento will be small.

I was so excited for this bento, I've been planning it for several days.  I am so happy with how it turned out.

Tamagoyaki Pumpkins
Edamame rice Frankenstein
Bottom tier:  Mini peanut butter cupcake, sliced carrots, roasted spiced pumpkin seeds and grapes.
So, for the tamagoyaki pumpkins, I used this recipe - to which I added some red and yellow food coloring - and before rolling it up, I added a little sprinkle of shredded Colby Jack - just to help it stick and make it a little more orange.  I fastened them in their round-ish shapes with leaf picks and added nori details for their faces.  They share a space with some boiled hot dog mums.

Frankenstein is made of edamame rice - I don't have a mortar and pestle here in Okinawa (though as with most of my kitchen gadgets, I do have a nice one in storage in the states!) so I added a little bit of the water I cooked the beans in and blended them up them in my Magic Bullet before I combined them with the rice.  All of Frank's details are nori, and his neck bolts are a couple of little slices of boiled hot dog.

Bento Lunch

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Breakfast MTM

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

I am so sad that it's Halloween week!  I mean, I'm excited - Halloween is pretty much my favorite holiday - but I'm sad because I've got to cram in all of my last Halloween foods now or else hold on to them for a whole YEAR!  :(

On the bright side, though, we've been enjoying Halloween nom-noms.  Today's Muffin Tin Monday theme was Halloween.  I'm all over that!  This was kind of a last-minute thrown together hodge podge of foods since I had forgotten about MTM till last night and had little time to brainstorm, but I like how it turned out and the kids really seemed to enjoy it, too.

"Moldy" scrambled eggs, spider eggs (Kix), homemade pancake syrup (for dipping the pancake below)
Ham and cheese ghost, cob-webbed fruit salad (with coconut cobwebs), pumpkin shaped pumpkin pancake

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Swamp Thing

Like I mentioned before...  I am running out of Halloween bento days!  So I fixed the girls a lunch I had been eyeballing for weeks this afternoon:  Swamp Creatures!

These were like beyond a major hit.  It may have been because I used this REALLY delicious macaroni and cheese recipe (because I was out of Kraft Mac-n-Cheese, that is!), or maybe my kids really just enjoyed the cool swamp thing theme.  Either way, success is success.  We enjoyed this.  (Even though they weren't as cute as the originals!

A's "Swamp Thing" bento
C's "Swamp Thing"
Included in these bentos were swamp creatures, grapes, corn, strawberry and mini fruit jelly.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Yummy mummies - part 2

More mummies for lunch.  I brainstorm A's lunches the night before so that I won't have to use my brain too heavily in the wee hours of the morning.  I don't work super well before dawn.

Anyways my brainstorm for today's bento got a little out of control.  I have so few bento days remaining before Halloween but so many yummy ideas I want to try out before it passes!  Poor A has had some intimidating lunches as a result.  Today's had way too much food in it (especially for a rainy day when she wasn't able to run and play outside before she ate...  which also happened to be a "bread and milk" day!), but she did enjoy it anyway.  I have a feeling we'll have a bento picnic this weekend so that I can have another extra bento day.  :)

On the right side of her box, she had hot dog mummies made with half cheese dogs and strips of crescent roll dough.  A's not big on condiments so I just poked "eyes" into the dogs before I baked them.  They didn't turn out super defined but A got the point anyway.  She loves the Monster Halloween Backyardigans, so she knows a "mummy king" when she sees one!  The mummies were propped up on a few roasted chickpeas so as to fill in some of the extra space.

The "clutter side"of her bento contained a mish-mash of Halloween themed treats.  I made mini peanut butter cupcakes last night and iced them with chocolate frosting and a candy corn. There's also a couple of Jacarrot-o-Lanterns, a Boo-berry, some kiwi, ghost marshmallows, grape witches and broomsticks.  Uh, can we say excessive?!  LOL!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Candy Corn

I love fall.  Have I said that before?  It's true.  I really really do.  But fall hits in a really sneaky, roundabout way here in Okinawa.  We get these hot, sunshiney, summery days peppered in with a bunch of gloom and rain.  So the general "feeling" around here changes in a really back-and-forth sort of way.  You never can be sure if it's going to start getting cold, (until about January when you get a whole 5-6 weeks to dust off your sweaters and coats before the heat starts in again!) or if it's just another meteorological tease.

So I'm still not completely sure if any of us are actually sick, but I kept A home from school again today.  M has been working really late hours (like, he doesn't head home till 1:45AM...  And then is expected back at work by 7:30AM), so I've been having some late nights.  A has a dry cough, C has a really runny nose, and I have a sore throat that won't quit.  It's so much fun in my house, let me tell you!

Anyways, I figured I'm running short on Halloween bento days, so took the opportunity to make one for A's lunch today.

A's bento:  Candy corn onigiri, cheese dogs,  boogly-eyed strawberry, candy corn, grapes and flip-sides crackers (underneath the berry and the candy)

C's bento:  Same as A's, but smaller.  :)
I sat A down with her bento and she picked up a candy corn and said, "What's this?"  I hadn't even considered that she'd never eaten candy corn before!  No matter though, she loved them and onigiri is always a hit with her.

As an aside, I was playing in the kitchen last night while I waited to hear an ETA from M.  Can't wait to put a couple of these in A's lunch!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Yummy mummies - part 1

This morning I struggled to get my act together and couldn't get enough coffee to save my soul...  We got out the door late and then on the way to drop A off at school, I bumped a curb and popped a tire.  Now, I don't claim to be the world's greatest driver...  but I'm certainly not the world's worst driver, either, and this was a first for me!  (Uh, the tire popping, not the curb bumping! ;)  hehehe)  I've never had a flat!  Well - I had one once, but it was flat before I got in the car and I didn't get very far from home before I realized I was down one tire.  Close enough, in fact, that I was able to drive the car back home and call the tow truck.

This time, however, I literally popped it at the midway point between home and Yochien.  The tire had a BIG hole - and it was raining and the kids were panicked.  (Uh, me too.)  And I was right on the side of a relatively busy road, partially blocking a side road.  And, just to ice the cake, I forgot my cell phone at home.  FUN times.

I stood beside my car for about two minutes, waiting for a "Y plate" car (in Okinawa all the Americans drive cars with "Y" or "A"  on their license plates - the locals all have kanji characters preceeding their license plate number) and for the first time ever, none passed.  Finally, I saw a familiar car - one of my friends (and also the mother of other children that attend A's Yochien).  She recognized my car and pulled over right away and I called my husband at work with her phone to beg for help.  Somebody really should have taught me at some point how exactly to change a tire!!

My friend dropped A off at school for me and I sat with C in the car for nearly an hour waiting for my husband to arrive.  (His commute sucks.)  Finally the workers at a nearby pallet yard took pity on me and changed the tire for me.  Language barrier hooray, but they were extremely helpful and didn't seem to be too annoyed by my total lack of knowledge about anything car and tire related.  (Spare??  I have NO idea where that is.  Jack??  Uhhhh...  Maybe my car didn't come with one??)  They managed to find and use the donut spare and the jack and then even let me use a cell phone to call husband with an update.  Gomennasai!  Domo arigatou gozaimasu!!  My husband was close by and followed me to the on-base auto shop where I left the car to get fixed up.  (By the way, my donut spare was just about flat too...  No telling when the last time that thing got used was!)

Grrrr...  In the five years I drove stateside, I only had to replace tires on one car one time.  In the two years I have been on Okinawa, I've had to replace SEVEN TIRES on two cars!  And the tires here are horribly overpriced.

Ok.  Enough ranting and venting.  It was definitely a nerve-wracking morning for the kids and me.  At least A will have a fun bento to enjoy at lunch time.

Kiwi, roasted chickpeas, edamame-on-a-stick, corn on the cob and a halved PB snowball

Yummy mummy mini pizzas!  Mmmmm, spooky.
Here's to a better afternoon!  (I'm cautiously optimistic.)

Bento Lunch

Monday, October 18, 2010

Muffin Tin Lunch

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

I kept A home from school today.  She had a late night last night (we had friends over and she stayed up watching How to Train Your Dragon) so I let her sleep in this morning.  As she approaches Kindergarten age, she is quickly outgrowing the possibility of staying home simply for a lazy day so once in a while I do like to embrace it.  Plus, it gave me an extra day to wash and press her uniforms for the week.

Then she spent the whole day coughing and sniffling and I figure it's probably a good thing I kept her here.  Gross!

But she did enjoy painting butterflies for herself and for C's lunches.  (She covered her mouth when she coughed - I supervised!  ;)  We made 8 butterflies with half hot dogs and used the leftover two biscuits to make a couple of quickie donuts.

Babybel cheese, diced peaches, pears and pineapples, cinnamon/sugar donut
Painted butterfly, edamame, steamed carrot butterflies
Hopefully tomorrow she's past the coughing.  I think she's just responding to the change in the weather - it went from hot-hot-hot and sunshine to gloomy gray skies and rain literally overnight.  Today inside our house - even though it's 81º outside - it feels cold.  I'm not quite ready to turn the air conditioners down from their summertime norm of full-blast just yet.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Found the cute idea to hollow out an orange and turn it into a Jack-o-lantern fruit cup...  And then was feeling uninspired for A's lunch so I went with it.  I was definitely not in the mood to go to the commissary (AGAIN) so her lunch is just a bunch of things we already had.

A's snack-o-lantern, filled with a fruit salad of strawberries, orange, apples, grapes and kiwi
Snacky is propped up on a couple of carrot wedges.

PB Snowball, snack-o-lantern, carrots (underneath), pumpkin chocolate chip cookie,  ham and cheese ghost picks and corn (underneath)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Banana Oat Mini Muffins

Breakfast, breakfast.  I've been on a muffin kick - mini muffins particularly.  It's something about fall, I think.  This morning when A woke up and saw me transferring these muffins from the pan to a cooling rack, the conversation went a little like this:
A:  Mommy, why are you always making muffins?
Me:  Because they're delicious and they're easy and fun for breakfast.
A:  Well, I don't like muffins any more and I don't want them for breakfast.

Insert a sad face here.  She did manage to choke one down and enjoyed it, but I think I'll have to lay off the muffins for a bit so that she can have a muffin break.  Le sigh.

Oh well, these actually turned out quite well and I'm happy with them.  I'll be saving the recipe for later on when A is past her muffin hiatus.  We got about 3 dozen muffins out of this recipe.

Banana Oat Mini Muffins
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup Splenda
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 mashed bananas
  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Combine flour, oats, sugar, Splenda, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly.  Stir in the milk, applesauce, and vanilla.  Add in the banana and combine thoroughly.  Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined.
  4. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin and add the batter to the cups, filling them almost to the tops.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love cookies, but these are my all-time favorite.  When we were living in Southern California, we frequently shopped at the nearby Ralph's grocery store.  It's on the spendier side - especially compared to the commissary on base - but everything in there seems so colorful and fresh and awesome, so shopping there seemed like a special treat.  Plus, I really like shopping in grocery stores with "ambiance" - it's something about the lighting - and Ralph's was chock full of it.

Our favorites there were the freshly baked daily croissants - my husband had their baking schedule memorized and would get there just in time to bring home fresh, piping hot croissants - and their pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  The pumpkin chocolate chip cookies were available year round - even in the heat of summer I could satisfy my pumpkin obsession and if I went home and sat in front of a fan while indulging in the cookies, I could pretend it was fall.

We were so sad to leave Ralph's territory and leave these delicious, soft and flavorful cookies behind.  In fact, I was so attached to these cookies that when we passed through California en route from Texas to Okinawa, I made sure to pit stop at Ralph's and bought a couple dozen of them to bring with us.  For the first week in Okinawa, my husband and I carefully rationed the cookies out to each other, savoring every bite.

Then, one day I got a phone call from a friend in hysterics.  She claimed that she knew how to make the Ralph's cookies!  Impossible!

She was right, though, and the cookies are amazingly easy.  And incredibly satisfying.

Pumpkin Chip Cookies
  • 2 boxes spice cake mix
  • 1 large can pumpkin pie mix
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 cups chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer.
  3. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets about 2"apart.  I line the sheets with parchment paper and use a cookie dough scoop.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven.
  5. Allow to cool several minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Yep, that's IT!  Pretty cool, right?  These are a must try for the season, trust me.  Be prepared to share, though!  When we made these yesterday morning, I ended up with a grand total of 82 cookies.  That's a lot, even for me!  ;)

I shared this post at MySweetCreations for Sweet Sunday.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin MTM

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

Since A was home today for the holiday, I did a lunch tin this week.  The theme was pumpkins.  I absolutely love pumpkins and fall is my favorite time of year, so this was fun.

Yay for a monochromatic lunch!  Imagine this tin times two - A had already started eating hers by the time I got a photo.  I made some carrot onigiri (I got that idea from my friend Kristin) pumpkins with a little piece of sausage for the stem.  Then there's a peanut butter snowball and a couple of orange wedges.  In the lower three spaces, there's chicken nuggets, pumpkin shaped cheese cut outs, and a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie (we baked them this morning, they're our favorite!).

Sport Day Bentos

That's a lot of bento.
In Japan, "Sport Day" is a national holiday.  Like, a REAL national holiday where you have the day off from school or work.  But the schools put on quite a show for Sport Day.  It's one of the biggest events of the year at A's Yochien, and this year was her school's 51st Sport Day Festival.  The event lasts from 9AM till 2PM, so parents are expected to come prepared!  I knew A would be famished after a whole morning of outdoor physical activity, so I packed us big lunches.  Daddy took a thermos of soup, so I only had to pack three lunches instead of four.  Still, three lunches was a whirlwind of effort at 6AM!

A's bento - she ate all of it!

C's bento
My bento
The bentos are pretty much all the same as far as content.  I made some pasta and tossed it with garlic sauteed zucchini, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese.  For the kids, I topped the pasta with Mickey and Minnie Mouse pan-fried ham slices (decorated with nori), mine I topped with left over rotisserie chicken.  Then there's a mini zucchini muffin, spinach and ricotta bites, kiwi, corn, red grapes, and in the kids there's a strawberry jelly.

The lunches went over pretty well - it was definitely interesting to get to watch A eat her bento for once - and Sport Day was AWESOME!  We missed out on going last year (C was a lot smaller and under the weather, daddy was deployed, and I was having a hard time juggling everything - a whole-day affair seemed like a daunting idea!) and I'm actually pretty sad about it.  It would've been really nice to go.  I was extremely impressed by A's abilities and efforts.  She did SO well!

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