Monday, October 20, 2014

Black and Bleu Bacon Sliders

I have been on vacation this past week but I thought I would share with you one of our families favorite burger recipes. If you're looking for a burger with flavors that will dazzle your friends at your next party, but is easy enough to whip together in minutes, you've found your recipe. The great thing about this slider is that the mushrooms, bacon, and bleu cheese work together perfectly. This unique burger is always the favorite.

Makes Six Sliders

1 lb. hamburger meat
16 ounces sliced mushrooms
4 slices bacon
1/3 cup bleu cheese
Pretzel slider buns
Dijon mustard (optional)


1. Mix bleu cheese in to hamburger meat. Form into small patties and heat up your grill.

2. In large pan cook bacon slices until halfway done. Remove and cut into small pieces. Put bacon back into pan along with the mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. While mushrooms and bacon are cooking, BBQ patties until they are fully cooked.

4. Place patties on pretzel buns and cover with mushrooms and bacon. You can spread a little Dijon mustard on the bun if desired.

5. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Toy Story Jessie the Cowgirl Lunch

Toy Story Jessie Bento Lunch

You might be wondering why I made this lunch in the middle of October instead of a Halloween themed one. We do family costumes almost every year. This year happens to be Disney Pixar's Toy Story, and my daughter is going as Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl. I have to say this year's costumes on my kids are so awesome! They might be my favorite one's they have ever worn. Anyway, I thought this would be a fun way for my daughter to talk to her friends about what she was going as for Halloween. It has a little more sugar than I normally like to put in, but hopefully it won't affect her too much.

I'm not going to lie to you. This lunch took way longer than the average one that I make. However, I think it was worth it for a special occasion. I think it took awhile because I haven't made faces on bread lately so I am a little out of practice. I just realized that is one weird sentence I just wrote. I better just get on to the recipe now. By the way this was made in an Easy Lunch Boxes container. 

Toy Story Jessie Bento Lunch
Whole wheat bread
Fat-free cream cheese
Food coloring
Peanut Butter (or nut spread substitute)
Slivered almonds (or shredded coconut)
Strawberry jam
Spinach leaves
Star shaped crackers
Red Fruit Roll-Up or fruit leather cut into strips
Babybel cheese
Sliced apple
Cheddar cheese
Black edible modeling dough

1. Cut face shape out of bread. This is actually pretty easy, don't overthink it. Place dab of cream cheese on and flatten for the eyes. Create facial features with food coloring and a toothpick.

2. Cut cowgirl hat out of another slice of bread. Use a circle cookie cutter to make it easy. Spread jam on the hat and peanut butter on the other side of the bread face. Place two piece of bread together as shown. Put almonds (or coconut) around the edge of the hat.

Toy Story Jessie Bento Lunch3. Arrange red fruit roll strips in the shape of Jessie's hair and braid. Optionally, you can use a yellow piece as a hair ribbon. In main container put spinach leaves and place sandwich on top. Surround with star crackers.

6. Cut boot shape from the wax in Babybel cheese. Place in side dish container.

7. Spread cream cheese over apple slice. Cut cheddar cheese in yellow pocket shape as shown. Flatten and shape black edible modeling dough into "cow" spots. Roll a small amount of red fruit roll up into a rope shape. Place all of these on the apple slice to form Jessie's pattern that she wears on her clothes. Place desired amount of apple slices in a side dish and put the decorated apple slice on top.

8. Serve to your little Toy Story fan or place it in the fridge for tomorrow's school lunch!

Toy Story Jessie Bento Lunch

Monday, October 6, 2014

Creepy Mummy Halloween Lunch

Creepy Mummy Halloween Bento Lunch

I'll be honest. I was gone at a conference for the last four days and came home with allergies or a cold that put my head in a fog. Basically I didn't have the time, energy, or clarity to be super unique for today's lunch. In other words, I had a parenting week that I'm sure you all can relate to. After a busy weekend sometimes you can barely get yourself together enough to make a lunch, much less a fun and creative one. I get it. I understand. It happens. So today's lunch can be put together in a matter of minutes. Seriously, you should try it for yourself you might be surprised how easy it is to make. Every once in awhile quick and simple is best. 

Creepy Mummy Halloween Bento Lunch
Well, the good news is that the holiday season is just getting started so it is pretty easy to come up with some themes. I will throw some Halloween ideas out there for you over the next few weeks. Today's is a Creepy Mummy Lunch for no other reasons other than it sounded fun, I had the food, and and it was easy. I made it in an Easy Lunch Boxes container with a Halloween themed Lunchbox Love note. Make sure and follow me on all my social media channels so you don't miss a thing!

Whole wheat bread
Turkey (or your child's favorite meat)
White cheese
Sweet peppers (red, yellow, and orange)
Dried mango
Dried blueberries
Boo Chips
Black food coloring marker

1. Cut slice of bread in half and cut off crust. place turkey in the middle of the slices of bread. Slice cheese into strips and cut two small pieces of red sweet pepper and two smaller pieces of yellow sweet pepper.

2. Arrange the cheese on top of the bread like strips of mummy cloth. Optionally you can "glue" them on with a little mustard. Place the red and yellow pepper pieces where shown for the eyes. You can use mustard to "glue" these as well.

3. Place sandwich in main compartment and surround with pieces of dried mango and dried blueberries. This gives it an orange and black "Halloween" look.
Creepy Mummy Halloween Bento Lunch
4. Use a black food coloring marker to draw a jack-o-lantern face on an orange sweet pepper. Place in a side dish. In second side dish place ghost shaped Boo Chips. I bought these at Whole Foods, but you can probably find them another place or substitute in a similar Halloween shaped snack.

5. If desired, use a Halloween Lunchbox Love note to finish the lunch. They have all sorts of options and kids love them!

Creepy Mummy Halloween Bento Lunch

Friday, October 3, 2014

Being a Parent is Hard Work, Being Healthy Doesn't Have to be!

Thanks to Anthem Blue Cross, who sponsored the campaign, for including dads in this important discussion about family health care. My views are based solely on my experience as a parent, and not as a medical professional.
It all goes back to Mrs. Garcia. Many people have asked how I got started making fun lunches for my daughter. This one Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Garcia, changed the way I thought about my daughter's lunches, and in turn our family's health. She challenged us as parents to give more thought to school lunches than just juice boxes, cookies, and chips. I had already decided to make fun lunches for my daughter once a week, but this request added an extra layer of difficulty. I wasn't immediately thrilled. 

A funny thing happened, however. As I struggled to make the school lunches as healthy and balanced as I could, my daughter started eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. The process then started to become easier and easier. We looked for produce on sale at the store and whole wheat became the normal bread to use. As it turns out, making healthier school lunches wasn't that difficult after all, it just took a change of mindset. This mindset change ended up affecting our whole family. Here's a quick video showing how my family has fun and works on our health at the same time. 

You can make your own #HealthyDad video and enter to win $100 gift card by posting it on the Healthy Dad Facebook page. You can find all the details HERE.

Soon after making these lunches, we started looking at how the whole family was eating and made choices to improve our health. We even looked at how to make eating healthier an easy thing. As a busy parent in a family on the go, being healthy has to be convenient. Most parents don't have much extra time and they need quick and simple solutions to their issues. Here are 3 simple tips we came up with to make packing healthy school lunches easier:

1. Prep what you can at the beginning of the week. Many fresh fruits and vegetables can be cut up and prepared on Sunday to be used throughout the week. When you cut them up all at once, it saves time during busy nights later in the week.

2. Move dinner leftovers directly into lunchboxes for the next day. If you have extra grilled chicken and rice, don't just put it away, pack it in your child's lunchbox immediately. When you clean up dinner, you might as well skip the middleman and make their lunch at the same time!

3. If fresh fruits and vegetables aren't available, use dried fruit with no added sugar. Dried fruit is tasty and very convenient to pack in lunches. Some brands have added sugar, so skip those varieties and use all-natural ones.

Another simple way to improve your health is by having a health insurance that understands that busy parents need flexible options that adjust to your schedule. Anthem wants to help. Sometimes you need help right away so they offer family friendly options like LiveHealth Online which gives you expert advice using your computer or mobile device. They also have a 24/7 NurseLine to help in situations like your toddler having a fever at 3 am. Not that that ever happens to parents. They also have many other options for busy parents like us. 

Anthem wants to help us be healthy parents and healthy families. So remember to look for easy ways to make school lunches healthier, try to exercise, and check out the Healthy Dad Facebook page for even more inspiration and to win the #HealthyDad video contest they are currently running!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew Lunch

Narnia The Magician's Nephew Bento Lunch

One of my favorite things to do with my kids is to read books with them before bed. The really cool thing is that my daughter is old enough to get into some of the books that my dad and I read together. One of our favorite series to read right now is The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. You may be remember my "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe Lunch" from awhile back. This weekend we finished The Magician's Nephew so it was obviously time to make another lunch from the series. This book is the prequel to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and it describes the creation of Narnia.

In this lunch you see one of the main characters, a pegasus horse, named Fledge. There is also the apple tree with the magic silver apples. In the side dishes are dried apples (for the apple tree), Teddy Grahams, and Annies Organic Rabbit Crackers. In the book you find Aslan creating all the Narnian animals so this was an easy decision. Lastly, I had to put in the famous green and gold rings made of cucumbers and yellow sweet pepper. 

I made this lunch in an Easy Lunch Boxes container. Remember to follow me on all my social media channels including Pinterest and Instagram! The buttons are towards the top corner of my site. Have a great week!

Narnia The Magician's Nephew Bento Lunch
Whole wheat bread
White cheese
Turkey (or other lunch meat)
Silver ball sprinkles
Fresh spinach
Dried apples
Teddy Grahams
Annie's Organic Rabbit Crackers
Cucumber slices
Yellow sweet pepper slices

1. Cut tree shape out of the heel of whole wheat bread. Place turkey slice in the main container, spinach leaves on top, and tree on top of that.

2. Cut horse shape out of bread and another out of white cheese. Use cheese scraps to cut out two wings. 

3. Place bread horse on top of tree. Secure with a toothpick if desired. Slide one wing under bread horse and place the cheese horse on top of bread horse. Place second wing on top of cheese horse to finish pegasus. The cheese should stick together in the refrigerator.

4. Dip toothpick in honey and make little dot for each silver sprinkle. It sounds for detailed than it actually is. You can also use the toothpick to easily pick up each silver ball and place on the honey dot. The honey will glue the ball to the bread. The whole process only takes a minute. 
Narnia The Magician's Nephew Bento Lunch
5. In one side dish place yellow sweet pepper slices and cucumber slices with the middle cut out to form the magic rings.

6. In second side dish arrange dried apples, Teddy Grahams, and rabbit crackers. 

Narnia The Magician's Nephew Bento Lunch

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why I Quit Making Fun Lunches For My Kids

I’m thick headed sometimes but I finally get it. It’s clear as day. All of the faceless internet trolls, who have never met my family, are making sense now. They have been trying to speak wisdom into my life for the last two years and I haven't been willing to listen. I have now decided to quit making fun bento lunches for my kids forever...or at least until next Monday. Here are five of the actual comments made about my blog that have helped me to reevaluate my life: 

1. Aint nobody got time for that!
I finally see this now. How have I been finding time to make lasting memories with my kids when there is so much other quality stuff to do on the internet? I mean, all of those cat videos on Facebook aren't going to watch themselves. Maybe I can finally spend hours a day searching for other parents doing awesome things on the internet and help them see reality also. Thank you for the help Facebook life coaches, I salute you.

2. You must be a stay-at-home dad.
Actually I'm not, but I should probably become one. According to these wise commenters all a stay-at-home parent does is fight boredom and try to think of things to fill up their schedule. There are no stay-at-home moms or dads that have to get up early, work around the house, take children to school, help with homework, or become exhausted from the long hours. According to the enlightened internet trolls it seems like all these parents do is sit around watching TV and looking for social media to comment on. Sounds amazing, maybe I should try it.

3. There is no way all that food looks like that after your kid takes it to school.
First, thanks for going to my kid’s school and watching them eat lunch to update me on how it looked. That’s not creepy at all. Second, I guess science has proven food has no friction and therefore it is physically impossible for bread and cheese to stay together. We can split the atom, but can't make peanut butter stick to apples. I promise I will never again rebel against these scientific food laws that these school lunch sages have apparently been studying.

4. Shouldn't you be doing more important things with your kids?
This one really hit me hard. I write about parenting so I should know about priorities. I make these lunches once a week, on Sunday nights, after my kids go to bed. I mean, there’s so much I can do with my children at that time of day. The possibilities are endless. I can go in their rooms and watch them sleep or even wait outside their doors for them to wake up in the morning. Here’s to you internet trolls for helping me to get my parenting priorities back in order.

5. If PB&J on white bread and a Twinkie in a brown paper bag were good enough for me as a kid, it’s good enough for my children.

This type of solid reasoning might be the one that finally helped me to change my thinking. Why let the nutritional discoveries we have made in the last 30 years change our mindset on kids’ school lunches? It’s not like we live in an obese society or anything. In fact, this reasoning should help us finally get back to the good old days of believing the earth is flat, using leeches to cure diseases, and not using seatbelts. Let’s throw out those cell phones too because any societal advances after 1980 certainly can't be trusted. If white bread and Twinkies were good enough for us growing up, dang it, they're good enough for everyone!

I hope I've convinced you never to make lunchtime fun for your kids or even to try and do special things for them. These internet gurus are obviously speaking rock solid truth that cannot be argued with. If strangers on the internet don't know what’s best for our family then who does? So I pledge to give up this ridiculous hobby forever. On second thought, maybe I will just keep making fun lunches for my kids, tell my children that I love them, and pass on ideas to help you do the same.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Paper Doll Lunch

Paper Doll Lunch for School

This weekend I was all out of inspiration and time. It happens to everyone, right? We had my nephew's birthday party to go to, there was work, and I put everything off. Sometimes we have to make do with what we have. I always say it's not about making the most complicated lunch, it's about putting in a little extra effort to let our kids know that we love them. This is one of those lunches. 

My daughter loves paper dolls so my wife came up with this idea. There's nothing wrong with letting your kids play with their food every once in a while. I'm not going to bother with a full recipe because this is more of a "self assemble" lunch. It is made in an Easy Lunch Boxes container with a Lunchbox Love note. Plus I used Driscoll's strawberries for the strawberry purse. They are our favorites and my kids suck them down. 

I included whole wheat bread for the paper doll, string cheese and all natural fruit leather for hair (not pictured), cheddar cheese for the dress, lunch meat for the shirt, red sweet pepper pants, strawberry purse, dried mango and grapes for shoes. That is it, super simple! Have a great week and remember to follow me on all my social media channels!
Paper Doll Lunch for School
Disclosure: Driscoll's berries sent me coupons for free berries. I received no compensation and the opinions expressed are my own. Seriously though, they have some awesome fruit!