Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Day of School Treats

Today was my son's first full day of kindergarten. We made these super adorable "Teacher Treats" for his new teacher. They were pretty straight forward to make and easy enough to assemble the night before. For a full tutorial click here. The treats in the tutorial look more professional, but ours worked out well too. You can also find free printables for parties and other occasions on Shindig Parties.
We used regular chocolate oreo cookies and we used sticks of gum for the leaf. I found that if the chocolate gets too hard, you can heat a butter knife, touch it to the chocolate to melt it slightly, and stick the leaf on securely.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beef Lo Mein

The other day I had a few minutes to kill and decided to swing through the asian grocery store that was nearby. I thought I might pick up a few supplies for my son's bento box and thought it would be fun to browse as well. I did in fact find a few cute things for his lunch and I also picked up a pair of beginner chopsticks. On my way out I also grabbed up a couple boxes of lo mein noodles to take home.
Even though I didn't have a plan, I ended up having everything I needed for a quick and tasty beef lo mein. This dish is great because you can use whatever combination of veggies you have and it will taste great.
The kids loved having a chance to use the chopsticks we had picked up and they gobbled up their entire dinner. My son had three helpings...he was a fan of this dish. I will be adding it to the rotation! Beef Lo Mein
8 oz chuck roast, sliced thinly
1 small onion sliced, julienned
1 small zucchini, julienned
1 small summer squash, julienned
2 carrots, sliced
2 cups cabbage, chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
sesame oil
1 T sugar
2 t cornstarch

Cook lo mein noodles according to directions. While noodles are cooking, heat large frying pan on med high and add a tablespoon of vegetable or peanut oil. Season beef with salt and pepper and add to hot oil. Fry until just cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside. Add all remaining vegetables to hot oil and cook for 3-4 minutes or until desired doneness. Add beef and cooked noodles to hot pan. Stir soy sauce, sugar, and cornstarch together. Pour over noodles. Stir and cook until everything is coated in sauce. Add about a teaspoon of sesame oil to finish dish, add more soy sauce and/or sesame oil to taste.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Bento Boxes

Years ago I came across a few blogs that focus in on bentos...Japanese style lunch boxes that are super cute. At the time I had just had my son and dreamed about making him cute appealing lunches to take to school. Fast forward 5 years and it's finally time for me to pack his first school lunch.
A few weeks ago I started to acquire a few tools to make fun bento boxes. The first thing I ordered was a book by a fellow blogger called Yum-Yum Bento Box. It has pictures of cute bento boxes and lots of ideas for creating your own unique lunches. While many of the lunches are centered around Japanese cuisine they show you lots of examples that will appeal to the American palette as well. My son happens to love sushi and chinese food in general, so this works quite well for our family.
I also ordered two very cute Bento boxes, a travel utensil kit, a few sandwich cutters and rice molds. It is really quite fun to browse through the bento sites and see just how many cute things there are out there for creating cute lunches. Who knew??
Today I filled the bento boxes with a small lunch/snack to take with us in the car while we were out. I wanted to get my son acquainted with the box before heading off to school so that he could see how to use it. I made a version of a rice caterpillar with fruit and veggies. It was super easy and it only took me about 15 minutes, but both of the kids were delighted with their lunches and gobbled up everything. For myself and my husband I made larger onigiri (rice balls), filled with ham and I folded a piece of nori (seaweed) over it to make it more traditional looking. I was really surprised by how tasty it was and the kids both said they liked it a lot.
My son is excited about his new lunch box and says he can't wait to eat at school. I'm happy that he is excited and hopefully it will make sending him off to kindergarten for the whole day a little easier. I can put a little extra love into his lunch box and let him know that I'm thinking about him even while he is away.

Check out a few of these bento sites for more inspiration.

Bento Lunch

Just Bento

Cute Obento

Yum Yum Bento Box Book

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Broccoli Salad

I ate my first bowl of this broccoli salad when I was in college and I was instantly hooked. It is such an interesting combination of ingredients, but it all works wonderfully together. I have had it many many times since, but friends of ours recently made it with big chunks of cashews and I fell in love with it again!

Broccoli Salad

1 large head broccoli
1/2 cup bacon bits
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cups dried cranberries or raisins
1/2 cup cashews
1 cup mayonnaise
2 T white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Wash broccoli thoroughly and cut florets into bite-sized pieces. Place in a colander to dry for a few minutes. In a large bowl combine mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth. Add all remaining ingredients to large bowl and stir to coat with dressing.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Breakfast Toasts

These two breakfast toasts were inspired by two Barefoot Contessa recipes I have made before as appetizers. The first makes a great appetizer without the egg on top...but makes an even more delicious and complete breakfast "toast." I think the egg really enhances the entire dish. The second is super simple. Here I used a store-bought ricotta cheese and added a little flavor with green onions. The original recipe uses multiple herbs with dill being the main flavor component you taste...but this simpler version turned out super tasty as well.
1 Tuscan-style loaf, sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled
3-4 oz. prosciutto
6 eggs, cooked over easy
fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
2 green onions, thinly sliced
salt and pepper

Cut 6 slices of toast in half and lay out on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place under broiler until browned and crisp on edges. Remove and rub with clove of garlic while still the bread is still hot.
Lay a few slices of prosciutto on 6 of the slices of bread. Place a slice of fresh mozzarella on top of each or grate some regular mozzarella cheese on top. Place one egg on top of each toast and sprinkle with chopped parsley. In a bowl, mix ricotta cheese, sliced green onion, salt and pepper. Spread mixture onto each of the remaining 6 slices of toast. Enjoy with a hot cup of tea for a delicious breakfast!

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