Thursday, July 31, 2014

BBF Back-to-School Blog Hop and Giveaway

With back-to-school right around the corner for many of us, my fellow Bento Bloggers and Friends and I thought it would be fun to celebrate with a fun Back-to-School Giveaway. It's open worldwide (sweet!) with an awesome bento prize for each region. To enter, collect the pieces found on the end each of the posts in the blog hop and answer the 2 mandatory questions. "Like" our sponsors on Facebook to unlock more entry options. To hop, simply click on the blog hop button or hyperlink towards the bottom of this post.

For me, the first day of this new school year has already come and gone as we attend year-round schools. In fact, we have just started our first "track out" which means after 3 weeks of school (the start is always a little odd for our track), we are out for three weeks and then we will start our more regular 9 weeks "on" and 3 weeks "off" schedule. I gotta say, I love it! Gives me a break just about when we all need it, from the daily grind of making lunches and getting kids off to school. But even with just a week off between grades, I felt fresh and recharged and ready to start the new year. I hope you guys have enjoyed your summer, whatever schedule you guys are on, and will be rarin' to start off your new school year, too!

This is what I sent the girls on their first day of school this year. Pictured is Little Sis' lunch. Big Sis' was very similar but without the fresh fruit. lol. and *sigh* Got this awesome recipe from my favorite new cookbook from Laura Fuentes, the founder of MOMables: Best Homemade Kids Lunches Planet. It's just the thing you need to get yourself off on the right foot!


Pin It

Here are some "How-To" tutorials I've written up in the past, that makes lunches (and packing them) a little more fun for everyone. :) How to make...


  

Now here's your codeword piece. Be sure the write it down!


And now hop on over to: Sarah of Green Lunches Green Kids to see what awesome back-to-school lunch and/or tips she has for you!



Now go to the Rafflecopter on the BBF page to enter.

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some affiliate links to the products I love and use on a daily basis. Well, I don't use ALL of them everyday but I do use at least 3 every day... you know what I mean! :) Feel free to ask me about any of 'em!

Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

Items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :)

   

My favorite Bento supplier @ All Things For Sale.  Just click on the pix to view/purchase now! :)

Japanese Bento Accessories Silicone Colorful Food Cup 6PJapanese Bento Accessories Sandwich Cutter New Design 

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Week of Menus' Velvet Cupcakes


Mom#2's (aka Nana's) birthday was last week. She came into town for the day yesterday to look at a couple houses (yay!) and take the whole family (ie all her 3 kids and their families) out to dinner. Makes perfect sense that she'd take US out to dinner, right? Well, I've learned over there years that there's no fighting that so the least I could do was to make some cupcakes for her. I wanted to make something different than the usual, something yummy of course and that's when red velvet came to mind. I know so many people who are goo goo ga ga over them so I thought I'd give 'em a try and went on a hunt. The one I settled on was Week of Menus' Velvet Cupcake Recipe. I've used many of her recipes and they've always been great, so no worries there! What I loved about this was that it was actually Red Velvet without the Red part, ie no food coloring. I rarely ever use food coloring and when I do, I use the kinds that are derived from veggies. But that said, they don't always work that great nor do they end up with the most vibrant of colors. So, you can bet when I saw this, I was excited to try them out. Little did I realize that Red Velvet is actually kind of like chocolate cake but tinted red w/ a splash of vinegar. Okaaaaay!

I was already so excited by the batter alone - it was so light and fluffy. FYI: this recipe calls for buttermilk. I had just ran out of the powdered buttermilk I usually have on hand so I just used my go-to buttermilk substitute. To make 1 cup of buttermilk, simply add 1 Tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup and then add enough milk to make 1 cup. If you need more buttermilk, just adjust the amounts accordingly. In this case I used vinegar but was a little worried because the recipe calls for some vinegar, but worry not, it came out just fine.


And now I'll just skip right to the good stuff! Stuck the frosting in a big pastry bag and piped it out using a giant star tip.


Pin It

I made a double batch so I could get a full 2 dozen cupcakes (well, minus 2 for taste testing - haha) for this party of 11. Love to fill my handy dandy cupcake carrier! ;) All done and ready to go!


Ok, wow. These were delicious AND a hit and I'm not even a huge fan of red velvet! After a delicious Italian dinner at Daniel's Restaurant, I brought out the cupcakes and we sang Happy Birthday to Nana. The cupcakes were a hit and even Little Sis who isn't a fan of cream cheese frosting ate the whole thing without batting an eye. We had a few leftover so we left one for our serve as well as the foursome at the table behind us who were eyein' them big time and even jokingly asked "Where's our?" Why not share the wealth!??! I certainly didn't need them sitting in my fridge, beckoning me to eat them all! :)


Pin It

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some affiliate links to the products I love and use on a daily basis. Well, I don't use ALL of them everyday but I do use at least 3 every day... you know what I mean! :) Feel free to ask me about any of 'em!

Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

Items used in this post:

 

This post has been shared at:
Homemade Mondays
Tuesday's Table
Anyonita Nibbles' - Tasty Tuesdays

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Homemade Salsa

Finally tried my hand at making my own salsa and all I can say is why the heck did I wait so long?!?!



Pin It
Homemade Salsa
by happyvballgirl @ My Epicurean Adventures
http://www.myepicureanadventures.com/2014/07/homemade-salsa.html

Ingredients:
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 Tbsp dice pickled jalapenos (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 lime, squeezed
5 fresh whole tomatoes (vine-ripened work reeaaaaally well but makes for a more watery salsa.)

Directions:
  1. Mix together and enjoy!
  2. If you're using a food processor or blender, no need to finely chop everything. Just quarter tomatoes and coarsely chop onions and green peppers and place ingredients in the order it is listed above. Pulse slowly (speed 4 if using a Vitamix Blender) 4 or 5 time for a couple seconds at a time or until desired consistency.
Makes about 4 cups of salsa. 
Note: salsa will be slightly watery.

Papa Spuds - for providing the freshest fruits and veggies (and more) right at my doorstep!

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some affiliate links to the products I love and use on a daily basis. Well, I don't use ALL of them everyday but I do use at least 3 every day... you know what I mean! :) Feel free to ask me about any of 'em!

Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

Handy Kitchen Tools:
Vitamix - what can I say but I love it! You can enjoy free shipping when purchasing one through their website using this coupon code: 06-009331 (or just click on the hyperlink or button below)

vitamix.com Products

or purchase one through Amazon.com:

  

Nutribullet - Didn't think I needed one when my parents gave it to me, but it sure has come in handy:

  

This post has been shared at:
Homemade Mondays
Tuesday's Table
Anyonita Nibbles' - Tasty Tuesdays

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Spinach Taco Salad

I've been on a serious taco salad kick lately. Must be the leftovers from Taco Salad Night. :) Plus, they are so darned yummy. And can be pretty healthy depending on what you put in it!

Here's yesterday's lunch:


Pin It

... and dinner from a couple nights ago. I just can't get enough! But alas, I finished off the last of it, so it'll be a little while until my next one. 


Pin It
In these Taco Salads:
  1. Baby Spinach, chopped up
  2. Shredded Carrots - further chopped up
  3. Broccoli Slaw - further chopped up
  4. Taco meat (see Taco Salad Night for a link to the recipes)
  5. Mushrooms (dinner has 'em, lunch doesn't - I LOVE mushrooms but this one tastes better w/o 'em)
  6. 3 Blend Shredded Cheese from Trader Joe's
  7. DELICIOUS Cherry Tomatoes from my CSA Papa Spuds
  8. Muir Glen Organic Salsa - Medium
  9. Mt. Olive's diced jalapenos - best idea ever. :)
  10. Fresh cilantro - this is what makes them irresistible to me!
  11. Sour Cream
  12. Crispy Tortilla Strips (see below)
* The lunch has a side of cantaloupe and the tomatoes on the side.

The icing on this cake was DEFINITELY the crunchy tortilla strips on top. I just took one soft flour tortilla, cut them up into strips and toasted them in my toaster oven until they looked like this! You can also bake them in the oven at around 350 for about 7 mins or until lightly browned. Yummy!


My Epicurean Adventures: Spinach Taco Salad for Lunch and Dinner in @easylunchboxes

Pin It
Shout Outs:

MOMables - for sharing so many delicious and healthy recipes with us!

Papa Spuds - for providing the freshest fruits and veggies (and more) right at my doorstep!

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some affiliate links to the products I love and use on a daily basis. Well, I don't use ALL of them everyday but I do use at least 3 every day... you know what I mean! :) Feel free to ask me about any of 'em!

Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

My new favorite cookbook - sooooo many awesome recipes perfect for kids and adults alike:

   

The Lodge - for their high-quality made in America cookware that seriously makes cooking more fun. :)

  

Pyrex Storage Containers to store leftovers (or get leftovers from!):

Monday, July 21, 2014

Here's Lunch #31: Jelly Sandwich Sticks

Girls wanted some jelly sandwiches last week, so I reluctantly obliged. Made sure to at least include some cheese for protein. With that, heeeeeere's lunch! :)


Big Sis' Lunch:


Little Sis' Lunch:


Pin It
In this lunch:
  1. Jelly sandwiches using Cascadian Farm Organic Blueberry Jelly on Trader Joe's Organic Wheat Bread
  2. Organic Carrot Sticks w/ Simply Dressed Ranch Dressing
  3. Trader Joe's 12-grain Mini Crackers
  4. Food Lion Brand Monterrey block of cheese cut into squares
  5. Organic strawberries in Little Sis' and Peeled Snacks Apple Clusters and a box of Sunmaid Raisins in Big Sis'
  6. Annie's Homegrown Cheddar Bunnies
  7. Mini Whoopie Pie (leftover from Big Sis' Soccer party)
* "Here's Lunch" is a series of lunch posts for those days when I really don't have more to say than "Here's lunch". :)

Shout Outs:
Annie's Homegrown for so many delicious and wholesome foods I love feeding my girls.

Peeled Snacks for a healthy fresh fruit alternative (for Big Sis)

Papa Spuds - for providing the freshest fruits and veggies (and more) right at my doorstep!

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some affiliate links to the products I love and use on a daily basis. Well, I don't use ALL of them everyday but I do use at least 3 every day... you know what I mean! :) Feel free to ask me about any of 'em!

Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

Items used in this post:

  

Ice Packs:

  

My favorite Bento supplier @ All Things For Sale.  Just click on the pix to view/purchase now! :)

Japanese Bento Accessories Sauce Container set of 4 Lovely Mayo Cup Japanese Bento Accessories Silicone Colorful Food Cup 6P  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Grilled Wraps or Burritos


I've been really into grilled burritos and wraps lately. Something about that crispy tortilla shell just makes my mouth water. What's awesome about these is that you can put just about ANYTHING in them and they will still taste delicious. I had a grilled chipotle chicken wrap at the mall last week, a grilled burrito using leftovers from Taco Salad Night a couple days ago and now this one. Even made one for the girls' dinner last night. This one is from today. I call it the "fridge-clearing wrap" because I was able to use up the rest of the grilled chicken, Mexican rice, Annie's Homegrown refried black beans as well as some shredded lettuce that was on the verge of trashdom all filling up my fridge. I also threw in some salsa, diced pickled jalapenos and sour cream to top it off. I can't believe I forgot the cheese, but I didn't notice it lacking any deliciousness when I bit into it. :)


I grilled it using my favorite "newish" kitchen toy, my Lodge 8" Cast Iron Skillet. I SWEAR cooking food in this pan makes just about everything (minus scrambled eggs which get blackened - lol) taste better. Simply spread a little butter on each side of the burrito/wrap and fry it up in a pan. I cooked it over medium-medium/high heat until it was nicely browned on both sides.

Here's what the hubby got, who's working from home today:


And mine, as I headed out the door with it. Notice mine has a little treat! It's a mini whoopie pie I made over the weekend for Big Sis' soccer team party. I love me the occasional little treat, don't you? Can't forget these delicious little cherry tomatoes that I got from our CSA, Papa Spuds.


What yummy ingredients would you put in yours?

And thank you Kelly, for putting this lovely collage together. You are so awesome!

My Epicurean Adventures: Grilled Wraps or Burritos in @easylunchboxes

Pin It

Shout Outs:
Annie's Homegrown for so many delicious and wholesome foods I love feeding my girls.

Papa Spuds - for providing the freshest fruits and veggies (and more) right at my doorstep!

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some affiliate links to the products I love and use on a daily basis. Well, I don't use ALL of them everyday but I do use at least 3 every day... you know what I mean! :) Feel free to ask me about any of 'em!

Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

Items used in this post:

   

And a lot of Pyrex Storage Containers:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Here's Lunch #30: Bunny Mac and Cheese and Hummus

Heeeeeere's lunch! :) Just a snack for Big Sis who's buying lunch at school today (corn dogs, her fave) and a full lunch for Little Sis.



Pin It

In this lunch:
  1. Annie's Homegrown Bunny Mac and Cheese (in the Hello Kitty Thermos)
  2. Snack Factory's Pretzel Chips
  3. Sabra's Tuscan Herb Garden Hummus (Little Sis' new fave)
  4. Fresh organic strawberries
  5. Organic carrot sticks
  6. The Pioneer Woman's Dark Chocolate Brownies
* "Here's Lunch" is a series of lunch posts for those days when I really don't have more to say than "Here's lunch". :)

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some affiliate links to the products I love and use on a daily basis. Well, I don't use ALL of them everyday but I do use at least 3 every day... you know what I mean! :) Feel free to ask me about any of 'em!

Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

Items used in this post:

 Shop LunchBots 

    

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)