Monday, April 14, 2014

Captain America Bento Lunch

Captain America Bento Lunch

Year 2, Week 30: Captain America Bento Lunch. Today's lunch is for my son. He hasn't received one for awhile and he really wanted a Captain America lunch. I made my daughter a lunch as well, but it is under wraps for now. It is for an upcoming exciting event that I can't talk about yet, but you will hear about it soon! Anyway, both of my kids love superheroes and this one was actually really easy to do. I picked Captain America because he is one of my son's favorites.

It is made in an Easy Lunch Boxes container. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook so you can get all the updates about some exciting stuff coming soon. Have a wonderful Easter next weekend.


Captain America Bento Lunch
Ingredients
Whole wheat sandwich rounds
Fat free cream cheese
Peanut butter
4 strawberries
blueberries
1/2 banana
1 flour tortilla
1 handful of spinach
1 serving star shaped crackers
1 serving nonfat Greek yogurt
Blue food coloring
Red sprinkles
Optional: Superhero sticker










Captain America Bento Lunch
Directions
1. Spread peanut butter on sandwich rounds, put pieces together and put cream cheese on top of sandwich round.

2. Slice strawberries and banana. Press slices into cream, alternating strawberries and banana as shown. For inner circle dye the cream cheese blue and then top with blueberries. Finish with a star made out of a tortilla.

3. Place spinach in main container as a background. Put Captain America sandwich on top.

4. In one side dish place star shaped crackers. If desired put a superhero themed decoration on top. I put a sticker that says "Hero."

5. In second side dish, place yogurt inside and tint with blue food coloring. Cut an "A" out of tortilla and float on top of the yogurt. Arrange red sprinkles all around.


Captain America Bento Lunch

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Review: Yummy Dough, Food You Can Play With and Eat!

Yummy Dough Product Review

Admit it. When you were a kid playing with Play-Dough you always wanted to taste it. Some of you might have even taken the plunge and eaten a little. However, it only took once not to do it again. Every generation of kids faces that same temptation. The makers of Yummy Dough want to make your childhood dreams a reality. They have created a dough with which you can make fun creations...and then eat them! But is it tasty and does it actually work?


Yummy Dough Product Review
The dough comes in a tub in powder form. You are given everything you need to make it except water. It comes with four colors. The instructions even show you how to mix the colors to make other colors. To make the dough, mix the powder with water. The process is easy, but can take some time. Preparing it by myself, it took me 7-8 minutes of stirring to get each color to be the desired consistency. In order to use this product, you must plan for appropriate prep time. Unlike Play-Dough, this won't last for long periods of time. The container says it should be used within a day while the website states the dough should be used within 2-3 days.

Once I prepared the dough, my kids washed their hands, and took over. They had a ton of fun making different sculptures. The colors were bright and could easily be manipulated to make whatever shape they wanted. Yummy Dough can be eaten raw or cooked. When raw, it tasted similar to sugar cookie dough. It can also be heated up and cooked in the microwave or oven. My children and I did not like the microwave cooking method. It just didn't taste right. Cooking it in the oven for 12-14 minutes worked great, however.  The dough kept its shape and didn't expand much after cooking like normal cookies do. It tasted a bit like sweet biscuits or animal crackers.

Yummy Dough is made with no preservatives but does contain food allergy warnings. Please check their website with any concerns. Their website also contains some great ideas, tips, and instructions.

Yummy Dough is a unique product that helped me to have a tremendous amount of fun with my kids. It would be a unique addition to a kid's birthday party or for a special dessert. I wish it didn't take so long to mix, and it would be great if the dough lasted more than a day or two. However, besides those things, it is a great idea. To buy Yummy Dough, or to find out more, you can go to www.yummydough.com.
Yummy Dough Product Review
Disclosure: Yummy Dough sent me their product to review. I have received no other compensation for this post and the opinions I’m expressing here are solely my own.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: ibattz Mojo Refuel Aqua case for iPhone 5/5s


A few months back, I heard of ibattz and a new kind of case they made for the iPhone. A new case is something big because there are so many interchangeable iPhone 5/5s cases out there it's ridiculous. The name of the case that I heard about was the Mojo Refuel Aqua. The thing that made it different was that it was a battery case PLUS it was water, shock, and dirt proof! I am familiar with battery cases but I never owned a case with that extra level of protection before. I couldn't justify the extra bulk it added to my phone. However, when you combine those two features, everything changes. The promise of the Mojo Refuel Aqua lured me in and ibattz soon sent me the case and a number of other items that I cannot wait to tell all you parents about.

The Mojo Refuel Aqua has been billed as a great case for outdoor sports, underwater fun, and relaxing days at the beach. The features, however, make it the perfect case for the roughest sport of all...Parenting! I tested the case in hazardous parent situations and here is what I found.

First of all you need to know what is included. You get the battery case (back), battery itself, waterproof top case, waterproof outside case, headphone adaptor, micro usb charging cable, plastic bumper, and manual.

To install, you basically slide the phone on the battery case, put the waterproof top over it, then fit it into the waterproof sleeve and make sure it's sealed. After I took it apart and put it back together a few times it really was a snap. The included bumper is very nice because if you don't need the extra protection all the time, you can just quickly remove the waterproof parts and snap the bumper on. It takes all of 20 seconds. It is important to read all the instructions to test the case to make sure it is waterproof before you use the phone in it. 

The size of the Mojo Refuel Aqua and Mojo Refuel Armor do add a bit of size. In the picture below you can see the size of the Aqua (middle), Armor (right), and the competing Lifeproof case (left). Both ibattz cases can be fit into a belt holster (sold separately).


One of the most common types of damage that happens to parent's phones is drops. You are in the parking lot and it falls on the ground, or your child is watching a show and it cracks on the floor. The Mojo Refuel Aqua offers "medium" protection against drop and the Mojo Refuel Armor gives "heavy" protection against drops. I did have light drops with each of these and they handled them no problem. The hardest drop was with the plastic bumper installed. The phone slipped out of my pocket onto a concrete floor and it was fine. Even though the cases added bulk, I felt much safer with my phone in them.

The big deal with the Mojo Refuel Aqua is obviously the waterproof feature. Below you will see the video I shot testing it out. Besides the obvious function of accidental dips in the pool, I love that you can actually wash the case off (with the iPhone in it) when food, dirt, etc. gets on it. This always happens with parents and it easily cleaned off under running water!



As you can see, the Refuel Aqua stood up to the tests. It is IPX8 certified meaning it can stay in up to 6.5 ft. of water for up to 60 minutes. You can can also use the camera function and touchscreen while underwater. 

The battery function was also very important to me, as it is to many parents. If you are out and about, it is not practical to have a phone battery die on you in the store, at the playground, etc. The iPhone is notorious for poor battery life. I found the ibattz Refuel to live up to its claim of charging to 100% from 15% battery life. You can also switch out the battery for another one. It is easy to turn on the case battery, just press the button in back. A blue LED will show you how much juice is left.

A separate charger, the I9300 Powerbank, can be purchased to use with a second battery. I tried it out and, while it was easy to use, it worked fine but seemed to take awhile to charge. This charger can plug into any regular USB outlet. The interesting feature of this is that it can be reversed and used to recharge other micro USB devices as well.

So all of these features sound great, but what are the drawbacks the the Mojo Refuel Aqua? With the case on, the screen is not quite as responsive as I like it to be. You have to press a little harder on the keys, which can get a bit annoying for long text messages. The screen cover for the Mojo Refuel Armor seemed a little more sensitive. Also, the sound can be muffled when talking on the phone. You can improve the sound quality by opening the bottom ports. This technique seemed to help others hear me better, although its not always the most convenient thing. The other drawback is the price. At $120 the Refuel Aqua is one of the more expensive cases on the market. However, it is cheaper than a new phone and has more features than most other cases. If you don't want the waterproof feature the Mojo Refuel Armor with battery is only $90.

The company also sent me their Mojo Powerstation Tough Dual Pro to test out as well. This is definitely the most protected external battery I have ever seen. 
This would be great for parents if you are camping or outside for extended periods of time with your family. The best feature of this is that it can charge two USB devices at one time. If you are a parent who is rough on their electronics, this is the external battery for you.

Although they aren't the most well known company in the cell phone market, I have found their products to live up to the hype. This is the only case in which I would add size to my iPhone because you get protection from almost everything PLUS the battery. For me, that is the key. If you are a parent looking for all these features, go to ibattz first. You can find them online at www.ibattz.com.

Disclosure: ibattz sent me their products to review. I have received no other compensation for this post and the opinions I’m expressing here are solely my own.

Throwback Thursday Lunch Linkup #8

Here is today's "Throwback Thursday" lunch post linkup. This is to give everyone a chance to post their past fun meals! The rules are simple. Anyone can post their fun lunch, but it has to be at least 6 months old. Not the lunch itself, the post. A 6 month old lunch would be gross and no one wants to see that. The lunch also has to be your own, not one that you saw on someone else's site. So dig up those old pictures and post them for everyone to see. Please share the linkup on your social media networks as well so everyone can join in on the throwback fun.


My Throwback Thursday bento lunch for today is:

A "Lego" lunch! You can see the whole recipe HERE:




Monday, April 7, 2014

My daughter wanted to #MakeAStand for today's lunch

#MakeAStand Bento lunch to help free child slaves

Year 2, Week 29: Make-A-Stand Lemon-aid bento. This week we learned more about a 9 year old girl named Vivienne who has made it her mission to fight child slavery around the world. She started selling lemonade to raise money for this and ended up making her own brand of "lemon-aid" which is now available in stores. It is called "Make A Stand." Go to her website to hear her full story and see how you can help and get lemon-aid as well! 

My daughter and I talked about it and she thought it would be a great idea to make a lunch to tell people about this problem of child slavery and to support Make A Stand Lemon-aid. This lemon-aid is organic and fair trade certified as well. Not to mention it tastes awesome! You can see my daughter tell it in her own words in the short video below:



We each took different parts of this lunch. It was a team effort this week! The Make A Stand logo is actually a peanut butter sandwich. The lemon you see on the right is a real lemon. However, you can see in the picture below that we hollowed it out and put a strawberry in there instead. I got the idea from my friend over at Veggie-Bento HERE.
#MakeAStand Bento lunch to help free child slaves

#MakeAStand Bento lunch to help free child slaves


We used some of the lemon pulp in the bottom of the Greek yogurt to give it a kick! My daughter also drew the children holding hands. We cut them out and attached them to the toothpick. Then we inserted the toothpick into the sandwich. This was made in an Easy Lunch Boxes container.

#MakeAStand Bento lunch to help free child slaves
Ingredients
Whole wheat bread, two slices
Fat-free cream cheese
Yellow jam or fruit filling
Peanut Butter
Artichoke leaves or some other vegetable for a background
Tortilla
Greek yogurt, nonfat
Yellow sprinkles
Lemon, hollowed out
Lemon pulp
Raspberries
Strawberry
Make A Stand Lemon-aid





#MakeAStand Bento lunch to help free child slavesDirections

1. Use circle cookie cutters to make bread circles. Spread peanut butter inside and make a sandwich. Put cream cheese on the top. Use a jam or yellow fruit filling to make heart shapes on the top. I used a pineapple/mango filling. 

2. Cut letters out of tortilla. Arrange artichoke leaves in background of main container. I just had these leftover, you can use whatever vegetable you want. Place sandwich on top. Put letters on top as well. Put homemade paper kids on sandwich if desired.

3. Arrange raspberries and half of the hollowed out lemon in side dish. Place strawberry inside lemon and then put other half of lemon on top. 

4. In second side dish put desired amount of lemon pulp. Spoon Greek yogurt over the top. Finish with yellow sprinkles to give a little sweetness to the yogurt.

5. Finally, you have to serve Make A Stand lemon-aid if the lunch is going to go along with the theme! We usually just give water for lunch, but today we made an exception.

At this point, I normally ask you to follow me on social media, but instead I want to encourage you to check out www.makeastand.com. Consider raising awareness and supporting the cause to fight child slavery around the world. It is everywhere, so see what you can do to be part of the solution!


#MakeAStand Bento lunch to help free child slaves


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Review: Chuao Chocolatier's Flavors Are Unique, But Will They Please Everyone in the Family?

Chuao Chocolatier Chocolate review

Some people think one chocolate is as good as another. Those people are wrong, dead wrong. Ever since I saw the movie Willy Wonka, as a child, I have been infatuated with this dark, sweet, amazing food. When I found Chuao Chocolatier at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco awhile back, I knew they were different. The only question was if they were too different to appeal to adults as well as kids. Readers of my blog know that I review products from the perspective of the entire family. Chocolate is no different. I know I don't usually review dessert products here, but you cannot go through life avoiding good chocolate. If you do, you should be arrested. In this review you will find my family's take on Chuao Chocolatier chocolate and some ideas for how we used it. Just don't drool on your keyboard while reading it.

Chuao Chocolatier Chocolate reviewChuao Chocolatier was founded by Chef Michael Antonorsi and his brother. They feature many different specialty chocolates and even alcohol and chocolate pairing packages. You really need to see their website to look at the myriad of choices they offer. I like that their chocolate is ethically sourced and made with natural ingredients.

Chuao sent me samples of their truffles, bars, and chocopods. Let's start by talking about the flavors that my kids enjoyed. By far their favorite was the Pop Corn Pop chocopods. Chocopods are mini 2-3 bite chocolate bars. The Pop Corn Pop flavor is very unique because they literally pop in your mouth as you chew them. They reminded me of Pop Rocks candy. My kids also enjoyed the Potato Chip bar. It sounds strange but it is crunchy and salty mixed with sweet milk chocolate. The flavors worked perfectly together. One other personal favorite of mine was the Orange-A-Go-Go. If you like fruit flavor in dark chocolate, this is the bar for you. 

Rocky Road Popcorn with Chuao Chocolate
One kid-friendly recipe we tried was Chuao chocolate and popcorn. We had a movie night and served it to our kids. They loved it! We tried a few different flavors but Rocky Road was by far the winner. In second place was Maple Bacon. One note about the Maple Bacon flavor was that kids and adults at our house did not prefer it by itself, but paired with popcorn it tasted great.

Since Chuao tries some very interesting pairings with their chocolate, my family and I came up with an adult recipe that was a fun and different take on a typical side dish. We put chocolate in salad. That's right, and we used it for dinner! We had my in-laws over and included Chuao's Honeycomb chocolate bar. It is honey that has been caramelized into crisp bits, and combined with dark chocolate. We used most of one bar and combined it with sliced pears, mixed greens, and sliced almonds. It was topped with a honey mustard vinaigrette which gave the salad some moistness, but didn't have an overpowering flavor. The salad was so good and unlike any other salad I have ever tasted.


Chocolate Pear Salad with Chuao Honeycomb Chocolate

When it comes to the truffles, Chuao produces distinctive flavors that I haven't seen other places. The truffles are small, but work for an adult tasting plate when you are looking for flavor over quantity. Chuao sent me their Caramel Chic and Sultry Sea Salt varieties to try. My top three choices were the Dulche de Leche, Bananas Foster, and Firecracker. Honorable mention goes to the Goat Cheese and Pear. All of these were unique, the flavors were strong but not overpowering, and I would definitely get them again. The truffles that didn't work for me were the Strawberry Seduction, Maple Bacon Caramel, and Rosemary Salt Caramel. One note about the Rosemary Salt Caramel flavor. My friend, who loves Rosemary, really liked this one. It seems that this is a polarizing truffle.

Chuao Chocolatier makes varieties of chocolate that you just can't see anywhere else. The great thing about this is that you can definitely find flavors that you and your kids will love. You might have to taste a few samples before you find the flavors that you like the best, but lets be honest, there are worst things in the world than taste testing different types of chocolate. To find out more, go to www.ChuaoChocolatier.com.

Disclosure: Chuao Chocolatier sent me this product to review. I have received no other compensation for this post and the opinions I’m expressing here are solely my own.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Review: Everyday Bento Recipe Book

Everyday Bento Recipe Book Review

If you ever want a book on hand to give you some easy ideas on how to make fun bento lunches for your kids, parties, or play dates, you should look at Everyday Bento. This book is a collection of recipes that will shock you at how simple and fun it is to make these types of bento meals. 

One of the things that impressed me the most about this book is how it is applicable to both beginners and experts. I have been creating fun bento lunches regularly for about a year and a half, so I am pretty experienced at it. When I read through this book I learned a bunch of fun tips that would have my life so much easier, had I owned this when I started. The other part that stands out are the simple instructions and helpful pictures. The author, Wendy Thorpe Copley, goes out of her way to make sure you read and see every necessary step in the meal. I felt like I was right there with her making the lunches!

Besides the recipes, Copley also devotes time to techniques, tools, and templates. My favorite ideas had to be the Rock n' Roll bento and the Dinosaur Bento. You will look like a genius if you make these for your kids! I want to make them this weekend actually.

My recommendation is that you pick this up right now. You can buy it on Amazon HERE for $11.94. Besides a reusable bento box this should be one of the first things that you buy, along with my ebook of course! You also should check out Copley's blog, Wendolonia, for even more great ideas for parents.

Disclosure: Tuttle Publishing sent me this product to review. I have received no other compensation for this post and the opinions I’m expressing here are solely my own.