Thursday, November 8, 2012

How to make Shaped Dogs for Bento (or any cutesy ocassion - even if it is just lunch at home)

Tools of the trade that you'll need:

Sharp knife
Cutting Board
Carrot (for the beak)
Pan with hot water  - A slow boil is fine, just make sure it is HOT enough to cook the dogs.
Food grade marker(s)  - Wilton makes some, as does Betty Crocker.  You can find them in the baking isle, or in the cake decorating isle at WalHell.  They run about $5 for a 4 piece set of different colors.

Cut your hotdog in half.

Now, for the PENGUIN -

Cut 3/4-2/3 of the way through the top, curved part of each piece of dog. Do NOT cut all the way through!

Next, cut from the curved end of your hotdog, down through the "cheeks" of the hot dog to the 1st cut.  You should end up with 2 small pieces per hotdog.
Starting  1/3 of the way down on your hotdog, you need to cut wings.    Using your knife, make an angled cut from the body, down to the edge of the dog.  Repeat for each side of the penguin dog.

Now, time for the carrot.  You want one thing round.  About 1/4" is plenty thick.

Cut that round in half, then remove the core.  You should have 2 rough c shapes.  These will be your penguins' beaks.

Cut a small slice in the 'face' of your penguin, between the "cheeks" you cut earlier.  Push half of the carrot c into the hole so it will stay there, but so that it looks like a beak.

Next your going to BOIL the dogs in a little hot water for about 3-5 minutes, until the wing tips curl out.  Drain on paper towels. Use your food marker and make 2 eyes, one on each side of the head.

(These are your finished product)

For the BUNNY hotdog:

After cutting your hotdog in half, as in the first penguin step, you need to make the legs.  Using your knife, slice an angled cut on one side, about 1/3 of the way from each end to the end.

Next you're going to cut the ears.  On the opposite side of the dog, at the CURVED end, about 1/3 of the way in (cutting towards the flat end), make another angled cut.  Very carefully, slice this small flap in half, length ways.  Now you have a bunny with ears, and legs.  Pop it into the boiling water for 3-5 minutes until the little legs & ears curl away from the body.  Drain on paper towels.

These are the newly boiled, draining penguins and rabbits.

Using your food markers make eyes on each bunny.  You can also draw a little fluffy tail on the cut end if you want.

These are the bunnies in their bento box, getting ready for lunch.

The complete penguin bento.  The little carrot slice on the back is supposed to be a sun.  There are globe grapes, iceburg lettuce with baby portabello mushrooms, some tortilla fish with food marker details, and a mini bag of M&Ms for a treat.

The complete bunny bento.  Iceburg lettuce, little carrot pieces cut to LOOK like little bunny sized carrots, & some baby portabello mushrooms.  There are also some celery sticks, globe grapes, a tortilla "fence", and mini M&Ms.

A slightly better view of the "fence" made by slicing a 1/4 of a tortilla into strips.

All told, making the bunnies & penguins took me less than 10 minute in prep, and cooking time.  While I was cooking to dogs, I was prepping the rest of the lunch.  Bento might seem HARD or time consuming, but really it isn't.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Shaped Hotdogs for Bento!

Oh how I love BENTO!!

Bento means lunch box in Japanese, but it conveys much more than that.  It conveys time and love in making your lunch.  This is not just your mama's thrown together PB & J.

Coming up next are a series of photos I took this morning so that you can see how to make shaped hotdogs.  :)  I got the inspiration from Winny (Nippon Ham Group) . No I can NOT read Japanese, but the pictures are VERY self explanatory.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


So we've been doing bento (or more like I've been doing bento) of late. Bento means box in Japanese, but its used to refer to lunch boxes. Sometimes they're kawaii (cute) but that's sorta hit & miss at times.

I just made up a batch of Namasu, a salad/pickle of Japanese origin that's made with Daikon & Carrots. It involves NO cooking so its actually not hard to make, you just need to make it in advance as it needs a few hours/overnight to set up. It keeps for a week or more so you can make it on the weekend & use it later.

3 Cups Daikon, finely julianned
1 Cup Carrot, finely julianned
1 Tbs Salt (Sea Salt works best)
2 Tbs Sugar
2 Tbs Vineger (rice wine vinegar if you have it)
2 Tbs Lemon Juice
*1/2 Cup dried fruit, finely diced (if desired)

Finely julianne the Carrots & Daikon. By finely, I mean as fine as you can do it without cutting yourself. Remember to go WITH the grain of the vegetable for the best crispy taste.

Add the Salt to the julianned veggies. Mix by hand, making sure to work the salt in. Squeeze, by the handful, to remove as much liquid as possible. Once you've drained 1 handful place in a separate bowl. This is the bowl you'll store it in so make sure it has a lid that fits tightly.

This is the amount of liquid I squeezed out by hand so expect a lot of liquid.

Once all the liquid is squeezed out, mix in the sugar, vinegar & lemon juice with the drained veggies. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved. *IF you're using dried fruit NOW is the time to add it. Make sure it is finely chopped, like with a food processor.*

Wrap or cover tightly & store in the fridge for several hours, or overnight for best flavor.

While it technically is a pickle due to the vinegar it shouldn't come out too sour or salty or sweet so you can use it as a regular side dish like a salad if desired.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Simple, yet tasty.

2 cups Heavy Cream (Whipping Cream)

Place cream in bowl & beat until milk separates and butter comes together, about 10 minutes. You can also use a stand mixer.

Strain out all the buttermilk (& retain for future use!), rinse with cold water, & pack into a plastic container, pressing firmly to release any extra buttermilk.

Can be frozen if desired.

You can purchase special butter presses, though they can get very pricey very quickly. Also, you can chop up herbs, spices, or even use jelly mixed in to the butter (after churning) to make your own special flavors.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mexican Turkey Soup

Another great use for those Turkey leftovers, or sub chicken if you'd rather.

2 cups cooked Turkey (or chicken) shredded, or cubed
3 medium Tomatoes, chopped
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 can Corn, undrained
1 can Enchilada Sauce (Red or Green)
1 cup Rice, uncooked
1 Tbs Chili Powerder
Powdered Garlic & Onion - to tastes
Salt & Pepper - to tastes

Bring 6 cups water to a boil. Stir in turkey, tomatoes, onion, rice and seasonings. Boil for about 10 minutes, then stir in corn & enchilada sauce. Turn down to simmer & cook another 5 or so minutes.

Top with sliced avocados, shredded cheese, & sour cream. Serve with tortilla chips if desired.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Cabbage rolls

Left over time again folks.

2 cups shredded, or cubed, cooked turkey
10 fresh cabbage leaves
1 can Chopped Tomatoes (UNdrained)
1/s cup Rice
1 med Onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup Cheese, shredded (your choice, but yellows & soft whites work best)
Garlic, Salt, & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup Water

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Put in cabbage leaves & boil 2-3 minutes. Drain well.

Mix turkey, rice, tomatoes, cheese & spices in a large bowl. Add water & stir to combine. Spoon 2Tbs turkey mix into each cabbage leaf, tuck sides in & fold top and bottom over (like a burrito). Place in baking dish. Top with remaining turkey mix, & shredded cheese if desired. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until cabbage is tender.

An interesting take on Polish style Cabbage Rolls. Feel free to add more tomatoes, or Ro-Tel but remember not to drain them. The rice will need the liquid to cook in the oven.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey Enchiladas

Another great left over idea.

3 cups Turkey, shredded (mix the white & dark if possible)
2 cups Shredded cheese (I use Colby-Monterrey Jack but the possibilities are endless)
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup Rice
1 can Ro-Tel Tomatoes (undrained)
1 small can Diced Jalapenos
1/2 cup Water or Broth
18-20 Corn Tortillas

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Mix turkey, onion, rice, Ro-Tel, Jalapenos, water, & 1 cup cheese in a bowl. Heat tortillas in a dry skillet, or in microwave for about 30 seconds - just enough to be flexible but not dried out. Spoon 1-2 Tbs turkey mix onto center of tortilla, roll edges, & place seam down in a baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Spoon remaining mixture over enchiladas, top with cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is melted & a little bubbly (cover with foil to prevent over browning if you'd like). Serve immediately.