Recipe Mama

“Under the sea” bento February 24, 2011

Filed under: bento,For Kids,Lunch — obsidian @ 2:25 am

This is a cute little kids school lunch I made today.

I started out by taking a spoonful of cream cheese in 2 separate containers, added a bit of food colouring, and spread it onto a halved slice of bread.  This forms the background.  The fish with pink scales was made with a boiled egg, placed into an egg mould and allowed to cool.  Then painted with pink (natural) food colouring.  The eye is a dot of cream cheese leftover from the background, with black sesame seeds as eyelashes.

Baby fish cut from carrot (by hand, a fish cutter would be handy)… “seaweed” is a cheese stick “stringer” cut in half and peeled open.  The starfish is a piece of bread spread with apricot jam and orange sprinkles.

The “octodogs” were something new I tried today, they get their name from hotdog octopus… and these are a skinless cocktail frank.  What you do is cut the bottom portion in half lengthways, then turn it on it’s side and cut again, so now there are 4 “legs”, then carefully cut between those (I did single layer, not all the way through, so I could make sure it was even) to make 8 legs.  Then simply put them in a pot of water, bring to the boil and watch their legs fan out  Allow them to cool before putting in the lunchbox.

They curl more the longer they are in the water, this shows the difference in just the time it takes to cut each one (the most flared went in first, the least flared was in shortest time)

Personally they don’t seem very appealing cold in a bento, but apparently kids love them… They are a bit cute, I admit, so I think I might make some hot ones one day just for fun…  maybe poke a piece of wild rice into where the eye should be?


Spring Rolls August 4, 2010

500g pork mince
1/4 cabbage
3 good size carrots
handful of bean vermicelli
handful of bamboo shoot slices (optional)
handful of dried shitake mushrooms (optional)
about 2 tb finely chopped fresh ginger (optional)
handful chopped leek or spring onions (optional)

Spring roll wrappers (I find the ones from Asian grocers to be far better than the pampas ones you get in the supermarket)
1 egg, beaten
about 2tb soy sauce
about 2tb oyster sauce
about 1/4 tsp cumin (optional)
about 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice
a pinch of mace (optional)
dash (1/8 cup maybe) water

Brown off the mince in a dry frypan (I always fry mince dry, since it loses oil anyway and that’s enough to stop it sticking in my non-stick pan)… Soak the mushrooms and vermicelli in boiling water to soften.  Add the leek/onion and ginger to the mince and cook them off….  Finely chop (I use a food processor) the carrot, mushrooms, bamboo and cabbage.  Add the chopped veg to the pan and cook that until they start softening…

Chop the the vermicelli into small pieces and mix that through.  Mix the sauce ingredients together and pour that over (the egg should thicken things up), then roll the spring rolls up…

Put a heaped tablespoon in the corner of the sheet

Start to roll it up until you reach the centre

Fold one side over, then fold the other side over

Then roll almost to the end, wet the last point of the spring roll paper, and continue rolling it up.  The water sticks the spring roll closed.

(You can make mini spring rolls by cutting the sheet in half, but I find it more fiddly)


You can  just cook them in the oven as is….  but the outer goes a bit crispy… you can brush them with oil and oven cook them, but I have found the tastiest way is to shallow fry them in very hot oil for a second until the pastry outer starts to darken and bubble, then put them on paper towels to absorb excess oil and put them in the oven to finish off cooking.

I like them with chilli plum sauce.  To make that, mix equal parts chilli sauce and plum jam (you can microwave the jam to make it mix through well).  You can make a batch of this up and keep it in the fridge.


Meatball Patties February 21, 2010

I find a flatter meatball is easier to eat… so I make these as a sort of golfball size meatball and then flatten it a bit.

500g mince
1 carrot, grated
1 small zucchini, grated
1 small onion, diced (optional)
1 tin lentils
1 large egg
Spices to taste
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

Drain and rinse the lentils, and press them into the colander to squeeze out extra moisture. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Form into balls/patties and place on a lightly sprayed oven tray. Bake at 180ºC for 15 mins, then flip them and bake for a further 15 mins.


Wholegrain Cheese & Ham Rolls August 9, 2009

Filed under: bread,Extras & Side Dishes,For Kids,Lunch,Soups — obsidian @ 11:55 pm
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This is a flavoured bread, using this bread recipe as a base.

2 cups warm water
2 tb dried yeast
2 tb sugar
2 tb olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup wholemeal plain flour
3 cups bread flour (or plain flour)
1 cup wholegrain mix (see note)
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped ham
2 tb chives

Pour the water into a large bowl. I actually boil the kettle while I get everything organised and use 1 cup boiling water and 1 cup cold tap water to make water that is warm. The bread recipe I use suggests using hot tap water but you should never consume water from the hot tap!). Sprinkle the yeast and sugar into this, give it a stir and leave it for 10 mins.

Then stir in the wholemeal flour, the oil and salt. Add the chives and wholegrain mix. Add the remaining flour, a cup at a time, mixing well. Turn this out onto a floured bench and knead for 10 mins.  You will need to add more flour as it gets sticky.  Then lightly oil the bowl you mixed it in, and the surface of the bread, cover the bowl with plastic wrap (I use one of those shower-cap looking things), and put it somewhere warm to rise for an hour. After an hour, knead it again. Then spread it out and sprinkle the cheese and ham over it, fold and knead it to mix this through. Form into golf-ball sized balls and place them on a baking tray about 1cm apart if you would like a “pull-apart” type loaf, where the buns are connected but you can pull them off… or about 3cm apart for separate ones. You can sprinkle some more ham over the top if you like. Bake at 180ºC for about 15-20 mins, until the bread is browned and sounds hollow.

Goes nicely with soup or for a picnic. If taking on a picnic, try to time it so they come out of the oven just before you leave, then wrap them in a clean teatowel and put them in an insulated container to keep warm.

note: I buy a wholegrain mixture for adding to bread, that has rye, barley, corn, linseed and oats in it – and I often use a little over half a cup of this and the rest of the cup of crushed linseeds, or I use a full cup of the wholegrain mix.


Chicken Sausage Rolls

1 chicken breast
1 carrot
1 zucchini
1 tin (drained and rinsed) lentils
1 clove garlic
1 tb dried basil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp curry powder
Bread (about 3 crust slices – the crust is better because it is less soft/moist, you don’t want the mixture too moist or your sausage rolls can ooze)

Chuck that all in a food processor and blend until it makes a sausage mince consistency. Cut a sheet of pastry in half, a spoon the mixture out to make a line down the side of one half of the pastry sheet (about as thick as a thin sausage), roll the pastry over, and cut it into sections to make sausage rolls. Bake at around 200ºC for about 15 mins or until pastry has browned.


Pastry Pizzas June 14, 2009


These are simple and make great party food.  Just take sheets of frozen puff pastry, spread with tomato paste or pesto, add toppings and bake!


Simple toppings work best,  because the pastry is thin you can’t have too much topping.  Try:

  • Ham, cheese & tomato paste (with olives or pineapple on top)
  • Basil or olive pesto with cheese
  • basil pesto with ham, cheese, mushrooms & olives

You can cut the pastry into shapes before adding toppings if you like.



Preschool & School Bento Ideas May 16, 2009

Filed under: bento,For Kids,Lunch — obsidian @ 10:23 am

“Bento” is a great way to encourage your child to eat lots of vegetables and healthy things, and it can look fun!

It doesn’t even have to take a long time, and you can make them up the night before.

Some of the usual ingredients I use are:

  • Salad vegetables –
    • Cherry or Grape Tomatoes. I have a tomato lover, so I normally use about 6 each lunchbox. You can buy cute “picks” that are a balloon string that can make a cherry tomato look like a balloon, very cute.
    • Cucumber. I wash it and leave the skin on, but you can peel it or even cut shapes from the slices. You can use a small (flower, star etc.) cutter to cut a shape from the centre, and also cut one from something like carrot, and then put the carrot centre in the cucumber… for an interesting effect.
    • Carrots – I peel and slice it, sometimes cutting shapes out of the slices, or I cut it into sticks. You can also grate carrot in sandwiches.
    • Mini Beetroot. My little one and I LOVE beetroot… so I buy the tins of whole baby beets and cut them in halves (or quarters if they are large) and put those in the lunch, with a mini fork. I’ve also used beetroot slices and cut shapes from it.
    • Peas and Corn – these fairly normal things can be quite cool when threaded onto a toothpick! (in a pea, corn, pea, corn configuration)
    • Peas in the pod (Sugar snap peas – where you eat the pod too).
  • Bread/sandwiches – I don’t normally make “sandwiches”, since want to focus on the vegies, but sometimes if I’m a little light on supplies I’ll make a half sandwich (one piece of bread), sometimes cut into shapes. Also another thing I sometimes do is take one slice of bread, cut the crusts off (since they normally come home anyway) and spread it with cream cheese, then sprinkle grated carrot over it and roll it up. You can also just cut the bread out into shapes with cookie cutters if they like to eat plain bread.
  • Muffins – Savoury or sweet…
  • Pikelets (mini pancakes). These are so quick and easy to make!  you can include fruit, sultanas and other things in them too
  • Cheese – Instead of buying cheese sticks and things, buy normal block cheese and cut a slice off then use a cookie cutter to make it into fun shapes. Can be served with crackers.
  • Cold Pizza – you can make them with pita bread, pizza base or pastry – just spread a little tomato paste, some ham, cheese and pineapple and cut out the pizzas in small fancy shapes.
  • Cold Chicken Nuggets – if your child will eat them cold of course (make sure they are cooked properly – I precook a whole batch them freeze them and take them out as needed.)

Please remember that if using any meat or dairy products you should make sure there is a freezer block in with the lunch to keep everything cold.

My first (and most elaborate bento)

Slices of wholemeal bread (buttered), with carrot, beetroot and capsicum flowers, Dinosaur cooked pasta shapes, cucumber skin stalks (and the flowers on stalks are on a cheese star). With purple rice balls, Cucumber slices and peas to fill the gaps and a red capsicum heart. I made this the night before, and it took about 40 mins, but I was not organised and didn’t know what I was going to do.

A Sushi Bento 🙂

I made tuna sushi (and added some beetroot offcuts which made it bleed pink a bit), topped with a cheese flower and a smaller nori flower. Then there are cheese flowers with cracker pieces, mini corn, sultanas and carrot slices. With wholemeal bread stars filling the gaps. I realised I would need a “lid” to keep the sultanas in the cup, so I made lids from cucumber slices with beetroot and pink cucumber (coloured with beetroot juice) inserts.

This way way too much food for her and more than half of it came back uneaten.

Star Bento

This has ham sandwiches on wholemeal bread, cut into stars. Cheese teddy bears, carrot slices, watermelon chunks and cherry tomatoes. It doesn’t look like enough food, but sometimes she’d not eat all of it (They provided fruit at the preschool too)

A Birdy Bento

in an alfalfa nest 🙂 with cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas (podded), carrot stars and cheese hearts.

I had a go at creating a bird from a piece of apple….

I even scooped out a bit of apple and poked a piece of pea pod in there for the eye

This one shows the pea/corn toothpicks and bread letters

More Bentos!


Carrot flowers, cheese hearts, flowers cut from cucumber and the shells of those too, Grape tomatoes, cut baby beetroot.. and muffins and a mandarine.


Tbento0903Star pizzas, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, pink bunny rice, carrot slices, cubed baby beetroot.  With apple slices and plain wholemeal pikelets.


Tbento0904Cooked corn cobbs, carrot slices, cubed baby beetroot, cut cherry tomatoes and a yoghurt/jelly/peach dessert (made by adding gelatine to yoghurt and letting it set in the silicone cases)



Sushi made with purple (naturally so) rice (with tuna and carrot), made into a catterpillar with a pea eye, carrot antenae and an apple mouth.  With carrot slices and cherry tomato

Tuna filled “sushi balls” (I even gave them  slightly rosy cheeks with some jam!)… with pea necklaces, carrot sticks, and some “hello panda” cookies,  a choc-chip muffin and a tub of homemade custard with banana (yellow tub)…