Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Super Simple Cupcake Recipe -- For The MICROWAVE?!?

A few days ago I stumbled upon a recipe for single-serve microwave cupcakes and proceeded to put it on Pinterest thinking it might be something good for John and his lunches. This afternoon I mixed it up and to my amazement they were actually really good ... even though I don't seem to be able to follow directions and did my own tweaking to make three cupcakes instead of one. After we devoured those and John went to bed and Tom to work, I decided to make another batch as a test run for Friday's lunch .... and this time I took my camera phone with me!

Mix 45 grams (about 5 Tablespoons) cake mix, 1 Tablespoon yogurt (the first time I used Yoplait Splitz Rainbow Sherbet -- this time Dannon Toasted Vanilla Coconut) and 3 Tablespoons soda (the original called for soda water ... I found a bottle of Sprite that was purchased accidentally and used that).
I scooped about 1/3 of the batter out of the bowl and added some red coloring to it.
I started layering them in the cupcake papers in my silicone (and badly stained) muffin pan. First white, then red, then white. Instead of the three I got the first time I only got two this time. Shrugged that off, microwaved on high for 90 seconds, let them cool a couple of minutes before popping the microwave open and realized why I only got two .... and here's why:
 DO NOT FILL THE CUP!!!! The bottom one was filled just over half full ... the top? Obviously too much (about 3/4 full, probably). Once I removed it from the pan and got it frosted, though, you would never know what a mess it was.
And once John unwraps his at school Friday he'll see the fun stripes (just like the Cat's hat ... more or less)!

(Sorry about the whacky coloring differences!)

This is definitely going to be a regular recipe in our house now.
Can't wait to try it out with different flavor combinations of soda/yogurt/cake!

Linked up to Momtrends

Seuss Week Day Four: Yertle The Turtle

Is it just me or has this week been flying by for anyone else?
Tomorrow is ALREADY Thursday?!? Seuss Week is almost done?!?
I think I'm going to be suffering from separation anxiety, but first....

Yertle The Turtle!!!
Yertle and friends (?) are bologna and cheese on whole wheat.
Yertle's name is colby cheese.
The top left is fruit salad.
The bottom left is celery & carrots with some Biscoff in the small container.

I kept it pretty simple because I've got big plans for Friday and I need to store up my creative juices as best I can. I'm thinking big thinks for the birthday lunch ... and hopefully I'll be able to pull at least a couple of them off!  Come back sometime tomorrow (quite possibly late afternoon or evening) :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Seuss Week Day Three! Fox In Socks

John became a fan of Fox & Knox not because of the book Fox In Socks, but from watching The Wubbulous World of Dr Seuss! (Jim Henson's son takes after his daddy quite well! I'm still bummed it only lasted two seasons but VERY thankful that Netflix has those two!)  Originally our Knox & Fox lunch box was going to based on the characters a la the tv show, but then John saw a picture from the actual book of "Knox in box" and "Fox in socks" and decided he would rather have that. So here it is!
The sandwiches are Biscoff and jam on whole wheat. The names are cut from American cheese with the mini alphabet cutters. The side container has LifeSaver Gummies and grapes.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Johnny said I could!

I asked Johnny if I could use some of "his" cutters (and fun Fit & Fresh) for my lunch for work tonight. Not only did he say I could but he also helped pick out what I should use. I'm so spoiled sometimes!
Star-shaped turkey sandwiches and colby cheese, pineapple cottage cheese & grapes.
All together: 10PP

Seuss Week Day Two: The Sneetches!

Thanks to finally finding a lunch bag big enough for the Easy Lunchbox but small enough for him to take it to school in his backpack, tomorrow John will get to take one for the first time! The bag in question is Built NY's Tasty and while it's a tight fit, it's a fit! He's even practiced taking the box out without dumping it all over.
So, the ELB will get to make it's kindergarten debut in all of it's bagged glory with my favorite Seuss characters:
The Sneetches!
 The Sneetches are drawn on American cheese with natural food color with stars cut out along the side using one of the bonus cutters from the little alphabet cutter set I mentioned yesterday. They're joined in the large compartment by star shaped cheese crackers from CVS. The top right holds a clementine with a star drawn on it and a mini York Peppermint Patty (just because). The bottom right has cocktail weiners skewered with pretzel sticks for the Sneetches' frankfurter roast! Yes, John actually likes them cold (he's his daddy's boy!). I will be nuking them a little bit before the final lunch packing tomorrow morning, but only enough to make me feel better. (I know they say they're already fully cooked in the package ... it still skeeves me out a bit to watch the male half of the household actually eat them right out of the package!)

And the natural food colors winner is ....


I'm sending an e-mail to the address on your profile.
If I don't hear back from you with a mailing address within 48 hours I'll draw again.

Okay, now anyone who didn't win & wants to "unlike" or "unfollow" ... go for it! ;)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Healthy Choice ... and Chocolate ;)

It's a 12 PP Easy Lunchbox night tonight for work. I find I'm typically better off when I plan to be a little Point heavy -- especially on the nights when I have to work and John has school the next morning. Once he gets on the bus and I get his lunch for the next day at least partially done I sleep .... sometimes right up until it's time to get him off the bus! If I can manage to eat a couple of times during my work night I won't be so ravenous that I won't sleep well.

Anyway, tonight I'm trying a new meal from Healthy Choice. I've packed their 100% Natural Portabella Marsala Pasta with a slice of italian bread (no butter since I'll probably use it to sop up sauce anyway), a massive naval orange, my Psych bottle of water .... and 3 mini York Peppermint Patties just in case I need the added sugar rush to get me through ;)

Seuss Week! Green Eggs & Ham in Lock & Lock!

It's the start of Dr Seuss Week!!! Theodor Seuss Geisel's 108th birthday is Friday and we're doing an entire week of Seuss lunches to celebrate (plus two from this past week because John didn't want to wait)!

For Monday we've got Green Eggs & Ham in John's new Lock & Lock box from the greatest bento store online: AllThingsForSale (he even got the Lock & Lock water bottle which he insists on taking, too, even though he'll need a teacher to help open it!). It's a nifty little box with two removable compartments each divided into two so it can be used in a couple of different ways.

As soon as we opened the box and I started showing John the different configurations he immediately laid out how his "Sam I Am" lunch needed to go ... and here it is (with water bottle on the side)!
On the top left is the "green ham" which is actually Hormel's Pizza Style Canadian Bacon and below that is the green egg. They were colored by being soaked in some water mixed with all natural green powder. The egg is actually already cut in half and devilled with some ranch dressing mixed into the yolk and also colored with the powder so when he takes it apart ...
 The sandwich is cream cheese and jelly (and, yes, he had me color the cream cheese green, too) with Sam I Am punched out of colby cheese with cute little alphabet cutters, also from AllThingsForSale!

Tomorrow: The Sneetches! (It was originally supposed to be The Lorax, but he had that this past week so wanted something new and we love The Sneetches!)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hi-ho hi-ho dangnabbit...

After four nights off it's back to work I go tonight. At least I'll be going with decent food, though, so it could be significantly worse. I suppose.

Tonight I'll be hiking up the hill in the snow with my Laptop Lunchbox full of yummyliciousness:
Clockwise from bottom left:
Tossed salad with lettuce, egg white, colby jack, tomato
Steamfresh Rotini & Broccoli in Cheese Sauce
Reese's Minis
Ranch Dressing
Mandarin Orange Segments

Also along for the ride will be a Cleo Coyle book and my awesome new Thermos from Cafe Press (I have Crystal Light drink sticks stashed at work):
(I'm just a wee bit addicted to Psych!)

All in all: 10 PointsPlus!

Oh ... and have you entered the giveaway for a set of all natural food colors over at What's In John's Lunch Bag?  Only a couple of days left!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Another Pre-Seuss Week Special: Thing 1 & Thing 2

John is SO excited about Seuss Week coming up. He's been off school for the week which would normally mean slacking off on the sandwich art for the lunches but thanks to the new natural colors and John's "pretty pretty please"s, slacking isn't on the menu this week. (Maybe the weekend ... we'll see ...)

Today John's having Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat In The Hat in one of his Fit & Fresh boxes.
Thing 1 & Thing 2 PB&J with cotton candy hair and Goldfish (Krinkelbein, Norval, whatever).
He'll also get fruit and probably carrot sticks when it comes time to eat!

WARNING: The cotton candy used for the Truffula tree tops yesterday and the hair today? Don't try sending it to school! I had his lunch for today sitting out since this morning -- hair and all -- just like it would be if it was a school day and by the time lunch rolled around it wasn't hair anymore but a pile of sugar dust. REAL glad I tried at home before I tried sending!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sharing the natural color love (my first giveaway!)!

It's rare that I become so excited about something that I'm willing to buy it for someone else just so they, too, can "ooooh" and "aaaaah" with me over it's awesomeness. That's exactly how I feel about the natural color powders, though, and exactly what I'm going to do.  Peggy from the Chocolate Craft Studio has agreed to ship on my behalf to someone else .... but first we need to know who that someone else will be!

What's being given: the same 6 pack that I ordered for myself and reviewed here

Why it's being given: because I love them ... and you :)

When is it being given: entries will be accepted now through Monday, February 27th @ 9am ET. I will pick a winner (well, will) and announce it once I get home from getting John onto the school bus. The winner will then have 48 hours to claim it so I can get it ordered and shipped out. In order to let the winner know I'll need contact information so unless we already talk regularly, please make sure that you leave your e-mail address in at least one of the entry comments.

Who is eligible? Unfortunately since this is coming out of my pocket and overseas shipping is outrageous I have to limit entries to addresses from the United States or Canada. Sorry!

How to enter: I asked John how many entry options there should be and he said 5 (since he is 5, I'm assuming). Please leave a different comment for each one you do in order for random to count it accordingly! And the 5 entries will be:

* Follow this site via Google Friend Connect (on the right under "Followers")
* Like What's In John's Lunch Bag? on Facebook
* Like Chocolate Craft Studio on Facebook
* Follow What's In John's Lunch Bag? on Pinterest
* Pin or repin a lunch from What's In John's Lunch Bag? on Pinterest (must be a new pinning -- some of you have pinned before ... those won't count)

Easy peasy, right?

Dr Seuss' Lorax (a pre-Seuss Week special!)

After we were done at the museum yesterday we stopped in to the drugstore by the bus stop to grab a couple of things. Mostly, we went in for Angry Bird Gummies that we noticed earlier when we ran in to grab a pack of pocket tissues for a little boy's runny nose ... but then I saw something I knew would be perfect for Truffula tree tops:
Of course, John knew immediately what I was thinking when I picked up the bag and he agreed ... and asked for The Lorax for today (even though he had already put it on the schedule for next week!).

I put together the body last night with the new natural food color and finished it up this morning. I made sure it was done by the time John would normally be heading for his school bus so we could see how everything held up being left out like it would be on a school day.  The love for the natural colors continues!!! In fact, no new powder was used today ... I just added a drop of water to yesterday's that had dried up and it sprung back to life!
 Clockwise From Top Left (in an Easy Lunchbox):
* pretzel sticks (for Truffula trunks)
* pepperoni bites topped with colby cheese painted with "I speak for the trees!"
*The Lorax bologna & cheese on whole wheat with American cheese mustache standing on a pepperoni bite log, Truffula Trees and tops, and grapes

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Natural Coloring -- I'm in love!

I feel like I need to start out by saying that I wasn't put up to doing this by the company in question. A bunch of us got talking on Facebook about natural food color options and I decided to dig around and see what was out there and stumbled upon and ordered their mini assorted pack of water-based natural color powders. I was wary. I was a little terrified. I was a whole lot of excited.

As you probably know, I use color. Sometimes a lot of color. The natural colors are a bit more expensive upfront than the cheapy gels I've been using .... but note the "upfront" part and keep on reading.

Thanks to a fellow blogger letting them know that I had told her about them when she also placed an order, I received 8 jars in the mail instead of 6 since they included 2 jars of "shimmer paint" as a thank you. John and I had to see what they looked like!

Clockwise from left: shimmer, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, black
Today John was finally feeling well enough that we had plans to go down to the Museum of Science & Technology here in town. Before we left, though, I decided to work on the top slice for today's lunch to try out the new colors. I had looked but couldn't find any sort of guidelines anywhere for using powdered color (natural or not) for sandwiches so this really was winging it at it's utmost!

The first thing I did was layout the jars (except for the shimmer) and a silicone cup with 1/8 teaspoon of water in it for each one.

Then a teeny dab of color and stirred each up with a toothpick (because you know I can't survive without toothpicks)...

I opted for a rainbow on Italian bread so it could be fast, use all of the colors, and the bread was chosen because I figured the white would show off the colors better.
Used a watercolor brush for the rainbow stripes. Note to Self: Buy more brushes!
Wrote John with a toothpick (with the point snipped off) using the black.
Decided to give the shimmer a try and added a cloud to the rainbow!
John wanted to help paint the "sparkly cloud" and hit the outline a couple of times which is why there's some smudge going on.
My initial reaction? "I'M IN LOVE!" Even though the consistency is a lot different than what I'm used to, a little powder goes a super long ways and the colors really pop. The black came out more a very dark brown but I'm totally okay with that since we've been using brown for about 95% of our outlining anyway.

Popped the slice of bread in a ziploc bag in the fridge and headed off for the museum at about 9:30am. We got home just after 1:30pm and I took the bread out to make lunch. The rainbow was still a little damp (I'll have to work on the water-to-powder ratio), and amazingly the cups still had some color waiting to to be used ... so I took my handy-dandy toothpicks and wrote numbers at the bottom before drying the bread by popping it in the toaster at the lowest setting (a nifty trick I used sometimes with the gel).

1-Blue, 2-Black, 3-Green, 4-Orange, 5-Red, 6-Yellow
And then came lunch. Of course, in an Easy Lunchbox.
John loves knowing that the colors are all made out of plants (as do I). He's always been quite the environmentally conscious little boy and even more so since watching the original cartoon version of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. In fact, when he saw that there was still some color left in the cups after he was done eating he asked if he could have The Lorax for tomorrow's lunch (even though he's already planning on having him next week as well). I told you a little powder goes a long way and it's also why I made the comment about the upfront cost being more. These jars are going to last a lot longer than the gels!

So here's a preview for tomorrow:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

And ... Mardi Gras lunch!

For Mardi Gras lunch John has a Jester hat in an Easy Lunchbox (with the green lid, of course)!

The sandwich is ham and I actually did the top slice of this at work using a picture I found thanks to Google and then threw the rest of it together while waiting for the breakfast to be done. The bells on the hat were cut off of the colby jack stick separating the sandwich from the LifeSaver Gummies (yellow, green and purple ... of course). In the top right corner is applesauce with some of the sprinkles leftover from the biscuits and in the bottom are purple & green grapes.

Mardi Gras Breakfast! (with a recipe! kind of...)

Today, of course, is Mardi Gras!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

I've been looking at tons of recipes for King Cakes, pinning them on Pinterest, looking some more ... but none of them really screamed "MAKE ME" to me. I came up with this idea at work, though, and couldn't wait to get home to make them!

First, I preheated the oven to 400 and popped open a can of buttermilk biscuits.
I added yellow, green and purple coloring to some cream cheese and placed about half a teaspoon in the center of each biscuit then rolled them into balls, making sure they were well-sealed.
I sprinkled some yellow, purple and green sprinkles into a small dish and plopped each ball in before placing them into a round pan.
After baking for about 10 minutes and letting cool for a few, it was time to see if they were edible! They were wonderful AND fun after finding the cream cheese inside. In fact, John ate three in hopes that he would end up with all three colors and he did! He also says they're "cool" and "super deeeeeelicious" :)
I know these should have a cute name but we haven't come up with one yet ... so if you have one, let me know. They can be made any time for any occasion, which is also pretty cool. Just change the colors around !

Monday, February 20, 2012

Apple Bangers & Mash

When John sat down for lunch with his ELB today I said that I was a little hungry, too, so he suggested I grab my ELB that I had all set for work tonight. So I did and it was absolutely delicious .... but left me with nothing for my lunch bag.

Last week or somewhere around there I added a couple of recipes to one of my Pinterest boards for different variations on good ol' Bangers & Mash. One of them was from Martha Stewart and was just for the Mash ... with apples! That immediately reminded me that I grabbed some Al Fresco Apple Maple Chicken Sausage last time we were at the store and my mouth has been watering every time I've thought about it since.

So I made a quick and easy version of Apple Bangers & Mash:
Chopped and cooked 3/4 cup peewee potatoes and mashed them with 1/2 Tbsp Country Crock, 1 Tbsp milk and 2 Tbsp applesauce. Cooked up two of the chicken sausages, chopped them and tossed them on top.
I licked the fork I used to move the mash into my Fit & Fresh dish and ooooooooh baby is that good stuff! I was pretty tempted to stand there in the kitchen and eat the whole thing ... but then I would have to come up with another lunch for work ... again!

(WW PP Total: 6)

Life's A Beach!

The best thing about being on break for John isn't getting to play all day (today he's been re-writing and acting out The Lorax with Legos, Cowboys and Indians and this time the trees all survive ... or at least grow back quickly). It isn't wearing his pajamas 'round the clock. It isn't even watching and playing pretty much anything he wants to on my iPad...

It's getting to have lunch in the ELBs!

He may still be fighting off the horrid cold he caught and it may be the middle of February and a blizzard could hit any day in central New York, but for John? Life's a beach ... and so is his lunch :)

Top left: Star crackers because he may decide this should be a night scene.
Top right: Vanilla yogurt with yellow sprinkles in a "sun yellow" silicone cup.
Bottom: PB&J on whole wheat island with palm trees and a sailbot in an AirHead ocean with a school of Vanilla Cupcake Goldfish Grahams swimming underneath (trees and sailboat cut from itty bitty cutters purchased from -- same place I got yesterday's Monster Truck!)

IT'S FRIDAY!!!! (For me, anyway!)

Since I'm taking off Tuesday-"real" Friday this week instead of just my typical Wednesday & Thursday, today kinda feels like Friday. Well, today doesn't quite yet but tonight will. (I know. I confuse myself sometimes.)

Lunch again in the ELB. It probably would have made more sense with this one to use the Laptop or any of the other containers with super secure lids since any little slip and this could make one massive mess .... but I really wanted to use my ELB so I'll just walk real carefully carrying it (and I slapped some packing tape down on the lid ... just because I'm wary like that).

Clockwise from top left:
4oz Cantaloupe
Stouffer's Stuffed Pepper w/ 7g Shredded Pizza Cheese
Rainbow Sherbet Yoplait Splitz Yogurt 
 Don't judge on the pepper from a box. It was an impulse buy and it was only a buck.

Total PP: 8

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Easy Lunchbox Monster Truck Lunch

John has still been a bit under the weather. He made it to school Wednesday-Friday, but we're all very glad he has this next week off to rest up and recuperate. Part of his blahness yesterday and today has included a rather diminished appetite ... but that went flying out the window when I showed him what I put in our (as I'm no longer to claim them as just "my") Easy Lunchbox:
Clockwise from top left:
Fun Size Oreos
Monster Truck italian bread & butter (well, Country Crock)
and grapes.
Very simple and hopefully very easy on his stomach!