Bento Lunches In The Heart of Montana


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Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy....

Posted by Kathleen on October 29, 2010 at 5:57 PM Comments comments (0)

So long old pal.  Today is the last day our little ghost friend will be making a bento appearance this year. 






Today he’s a little trick-or-treater.  Amazing what two eye holes and a couple of nori circles can do to transform him.  Today is also the last day for our monster mouth in school lunches (it will be making a command appearance in the Princess’ birthday party lunches tomorrow).  The top tray has just a few banana slices, apple slices and a bit of peanut butter for dipping.  Captain Hindsight says I should have turned those grapes into some really creepy eyeballs by peeling them but I’ll file that away for next year.


Time to brainstorm Thanksgiving ideas AND don’t forget next weeks Give Away.

M.I.C...See you real soon K.E.Y....

Posted by Kathleen on October 27, 2010 at 10:09 AM Comments comments (0)

Because we like YOU!!  OK, I have seriously dated myself but I just couldn’t help it.  Since our Disney trip this summer the Princess has been all Disney all the time.  So when she asked for Mickey again in her bento today I was happy to oblige.


It has been my goal not repeat bento designs this school year and while I have been pretty successful thus far today’s lunch come fairly close to some others.




So today’s lunch features our good friend Mickey again (what can I say she loves him) on a bed of rice and meatballs round out the bottom tray.  The top tray has carrot sticks, sweet snap peas and on top of the carrot sticks are the “magic eggs”  The yellow yolk egg is just a boiled egg, but the white star shaped egg is egg white with a mozzarella “yolk”.  The little Mickey container has a bit of ranch. 


Today lets take a look at the amount of landfill waste in this bento.  There is none.  Most bentos don’t use disposable containers, wrappers, or other things that will end up in our landfills.  So not only are the cute, but they are environmentally friendly…that’s a win win.



Come back to Montana Bento next week for a chance to win some Color Mist by Wilton.  If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time you know this is my go to coloring for cut sandwiches.  Also next week the “secret” behind the totally awesome shaped egg yolks.




Posted by Kathleen on October 26, 2010 at 10:37 AM Comments comments (0)

Do you remember the Minion bento?  I nested the little minion in what turned out to be a hidden Mickey sandwich and while my daughter liked the Minion, she squealed with delight at the hidden Mickey so you can imagine her delight when she opened her bento box and found this:




I have mentioned in the past how her Princess make-over completely changed her outlook about her broken lip and we are now another Disney obsessed family. So today’s bento features the King of Disney himself, MICKEY.  Her lunch is actually very simple (except for those eggs…we’ll have a tutorial about those eggs next week along with a surprise giveaway) a bologna and cheese sandwich with Mickey (made from pasta sheets) some left over pasta and fancy boiled eggs.  The heart eggs are just regular boiled eggs but the yellow yoked eggs actually have no yolk at all…the yellow is cheddar cheese and corn.


Our Little Pumpkin is Back

Posted by Kathleen on October 20, 2010 at 10:06 AM Comments comments (0)

I try not to repeat designs in the Princess’ lunches but this pumpkin is to cute not to be seen again and honestly…I was tired this morning so it was another 10 minute bento morning.


This little jack-o-lantern was made with my trusty little pumpkin cutter, bologna, striped cheese, nori, a few grapes and a return of the much loved candy corn rice.

From an Orphan to A Princess

Eggy Cheesy Muffins

Posted by Kathleen on October 19, 2010 at 10:18 AM Comments comments (0)

I’m always looking for something to send in my daughters lunch that is not just another sandwich and these Eggy Cheesy Muffins fit the bill perfectly.  Here’s the GREAT thing(s) about these muffins A) they are super easy to make B) they taste GREAT as “left overs” and C) they have veggies in them!!



Eggy Cheesy Muffins



bacon, diced



onion finely chopped



garlic clove, minced






carrots, grated









cheddar cheese grated






baking powder






dried tarragon


Pre-heat oven to 350


fry bacon until crispy. Drain bacon reserving 1 tbs of grease. After pan cools slightly clean with paper towel and return pan to heat, add bacon grease, onion, garlic and veggie's. Cook, stirring, until veggie's soften - 3 to 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl to cool.


In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk and cheese. Add flour, baking powder, salt, tarragon, bacon and veggie. Stir until just combined.


Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Bake until edges start to brown and tops spring back when pressed, 20-25 minutes.


after baking refrigerate muffins or freeze to eat later. Microwave for 30 seconds (50 if frozen) to reheat.

Servings: 12

and if you haven't already go take a peak at Jessica's Disney Memory - it was such a great day for her and seeing that people "like" her photo has been such a big boost for her.  Sadly Disney has taken it off of the main website so you can no longer search Princess or Orphan Princess and find her but you can still see it with this link -

From an Orphan to a Princess


Posted by Kathleen on October 18, 2010 at 10:58 AM Comments comments (0)

The Princess is beside herself with anticipation of the new Disney movie Tangled.  So when she found out that Rapunzel was now greeting people at Disneyland she renewed her request for a trip to Disney on Christmas day as both her birthday and Christmas present – being sure I understood…”just one present for both things, get it Mom?”  Well we just can’t make that trip happen for her but I put this together for her lunch today.




Typically when I make her sandwiches using pasta sheets I cut the shapes out the night before but last night I didn’t do that so everything had to be cut this morning.  I wish that I had time to perfect the attachment of the spaghetti hair to the sandwich and boy do I need to work on my faces BUT I think she’ll be happy when she opens her lunch today.  I did send a side car of spaghetti sauce :-)


On a non Bento note most of you know that my daughter was born with a cleft lip and palate.  They have been repaired but the Princess is still keenly aware and hurt by people, especially children, staring at her face. 


This summer we went to Disneyland and Jessica had a make-over at the Bibbidi Boppity Boutique.  That make-over transformed her day.  She walked tall an proud the rest of the day, holding her arms out to her side like a princess.  Every time a cast member called her Princess she beamed with pride.  On that day she just knew that everyone was looking at her because she was a Princess, not because her lip was broken (as she calls it).  If you ask her today she will tell you that she HAS a Fairy God-Mother. 


So when Disney started their Let The Memories begin campaign Jess asked if we could send her picture in and she was delighted when it made it to the website.  Then when she noticed that TWO people liked her photo she was amazed…when 30 people liked her photo she was on cloud nine…people like HER.  Her lip matters not.  Thanks to many many people Jessica’s picture now has 1700 likes.  If you have a moment can you please go to her picture and “like” it too?

Click Here to see Jessica's Disney Memory


This isn’t a contest, there is no trip to Disneyland, she doesn’t win a prize.  But she does WIN.  She wins every time she looks at the picture and sees the “likes”, she wins the knowledge that people see her, and her face and like HER.  It has been an amazing journey for her from an orphan to a Princess.  And while your looking at Jess' life changing memory - take a moment to look at all the others as well.  It really is such a nice website and Disney has out done itself letting us all participate.


Wilton, It's Not Just For Cakes Anymore

Posted by Kathleen on October 15, 2010 at 4:32 PM Comments comments (0)

Yesterday’s cute little pumpkin sandwich got a lot of attention and a few questions…mostly about what I used to color the bread.


Creating bento in the heart of Montana is not an easy task but I have a secret weapon….the cake decorating isle of Michael's and Wilton products.


Wilton makes a great spray on food coloring called Color Mist.  The colors spray on nicely and don’t leave the bread the least bit soggy.  The adorable pumpkin sandwich was made possible by Wilton….



…right down to the cookie cutter pumpkin.


As I mentioned yesterday the key to a cut sandwich not becoming a big messy “mushed” up sandwich is cutting one piece of bread at a time. 



Now, you want to be sure to put a paper towel down on your work surface – as this is a spray there is inevitable over spray and it can stain.  But look how great the color is, and you’ll just have to trust me that the bread is not soggy or moist from the spray.



Now I grab some Wilton’s brown paste food color and a paint brush…just paint a tiny bit of color on the edge of the cookie cutter to make the ribs on the pumpkin.  Use green and paint on the stem.




And there you go….so simple and cute enough to bring a smile to a lunch box!!

Cut Sandwiches

Posted by Kathleen on October 14, 2010 at 12:10 PM Comments comments (0)









The very best way to start sending bento lunches with your child is to start small.  In Montana it is next to impossible to get authentic bento supplies.  Bento boxes – nope, nori cutters – not in this state, sandwich molds – none at all, BUT all is not lost. 



It doesn’t take any specialized supplies to create cut sandwiches in most grocery stores you can find decorative sandwich cutters like the pink one in the picture.






Other things I use for cutting sandwiches are just plain cookie cutters.  The large copper cutters came from a specialty cooking shop in Billings, the small round cookie cutter came just from Michael's as did the pumpkin shaped cookie cutter.



TIP:  When making cut sandwiches cut each piece of bread out individually.  If you are using things like bologna or cheese, cut them out individually as well and then construct your sandwiches.  If you attempt to cut a sandwich after it has been constructed you will get to much “squish”.




Now that the holidays are upon us today's challenge is to dust off the cookie cutters and make a cute cut sandwich for your little one.



Posted by Kathleen on October 11, 2010 at 12:11 PM Comments comments (0)

One of the more common reasons to avoid packing bento lunches for children goes something like this….”you are so creative, I could never come up with those ideas”….so lets talk a little about inspiration and creativity.  I’m not particularly creative, most of the bentos I make are inspired by something….I’m an imitator :D 


Bento themes come from everyday life.  I love it if I can make a lunch that relates to something the Princess is doing that day…


Swimming at Day Camp….





Fishing at Day Camp…..




Other ideas come from the Princess herself… the day she wanted a tree in her lunch.  Those days are bit harder for me as I have to figure it out on my own.  Sadly this is the result of the tree request….




Other ideas come from movies – a minion from Despicable Me….





And last night we watched Wall-E….



Inspiration can be found all around us.  Look around.  What inspires you?  What makes your child smile?  Start small….maybe just a cut sandwich…your child’s heart will smile.



Home Made Bake Beans Bento

Posted by Kathleen on October 5, 2010 at 10:27 AM Comments comments (0)

As I said previously I’m not about depriving my daughter of those yummy kid foods…chicken nuggets, hot dogs, baked beans…she loves them all.  But I am loath to tear open a bag, or open a tin of beans and call it a meal.  So when my daughter asked for baked beans for lunch I got to work.  Homemade baked beans are delicious, they can be as healthy as you’d like to make them and frankly your house smells amazing while you are making them.  So following you will find my favorite baked beans recipe and the changes I generally make to them…..



Baked Beans






Onion, diced



garlic clove, chopped



dried navy beans



chicken broth







brown sugar






dry mustard



bay leaves

Heat a large pot, add the bacon and render until crispy, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add the onions and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and beans and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat, stir in the chicken stock and bay leaves, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the beans for about 2 hours, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard. Continue to cook for another 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and flavors have come together. Season the beans with salt and pepper, to taste, before serving.

So as usual I’ve made a few changes to the recipe.  First I would NOT cook the bacon until crispy.  I find cooking until crispy gives the bacon a less than appealing texture at the end of cooking.  Only cook the bacon until it is started to render it's fat and become translucent.


But perhaps the most important change is that I found it took much longer than 30 minutes after the addition of molasses, brown sugar, ketchup and mustard for the sauce to thicken and the beans to be completely cooked…for me it took more like another hour.  Also, because I like a tarter taste I added 1/4 cup of prepared yellow mustard to the beans.


Feel free to play with the recipe to suit your needs or tastes.