Gingerbread Mancakes

Make these SUPER yummy and fun pancakes for Christmas breakfast...or whenever!  I used a slight variation on the Gingerbread Pancake recipe from Williams-Sonoma.  Here is a link to theirs
but this is what I made:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda  
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger 
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves  
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1/4 cup milk
I mixed all ingredients then poured into a standard condiment squirt bottle.  I found that decorating the gingerbread man with raisins (which tastes divine, by the way!) is most effective if I laid them on the hot oiled griddle first, then squirted the gingerbread man shape on top of the raisin design.  (The raisins sink and can't be seen well if you lay them on top of the cooking batter).  Flip, plate, and enjoy!  SO tasty, a very delicate gingerbread flavor (omitting the molasses makes it more subtle) and a HUGE hit with the kids!


Christmas Side in School Lunch

This is just a tiny side to the lunch.  Cheese cut to santa face, with a strawberry hat!

Grinch Pancakes

More Christmas pancakes!  This time its the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  Apparently this turned out pretty good because Henry was afraid of the pancake!

Rudolph Lunches

Now here is a really easy christmasy lunch to pack!  I used my multi-sized biscuit cutters to cut turkey sandwiches into 2 sized circles & stacked them.  Pretzel bits made the antlers, half a cherry tomato for the nose, cheese for eyes with blueberry pupils.  These lunch boxes came back empty!

Quristmas Quesadillas!

I cut the quesadillas into squares, used bell pepper strips for ribbon, and put sour cream (smoothed out a smidge with milk for easy squirting) into the same squirt bottles I use for pancake batter.  I squirted out white & food-color-dyed "red" to make sour cream candy canes for dipping.  The boys LOVED this for dinner!

Christmas Vegetable Tray

I thank pinterest for this idea - sorry for no credit, but I saw similar ideas posted all over the place.  We took this to our neighbor's christmas party.  It's fairly obvious how to make it.  The bell peppers at the bottom are filled with dip.

Elf on the Shelf Breakfasts

2 of our mornings this December: our elf made tiny breakfasts!  The pancakes are easy enough to miniaturize.  The donuts are cheerios rolled in powdered sugar, cinnamon, and some were frosted.  I made the mini box with card stock & tape.

Christmas Pancakes!


Olive the Other Reindeer Lunch

Another Christmas lunch, for the slightly more advanced lunch-maker.  Topping a standard sandwich is a hand cut cheese "Olive", the dog from one of our favorite Christmas books, "Olive the Other Reindeer".  I used a hand-cut pita slice to make the two-toned color of her face, and cut nori (seaweed snack) for her eyes, ears, & mouth.  Using holiday books as inspiration for school lunches makes for some very enthusiastic kids!

Stocking Lunch

Another fun Christmas-themed lunch is this stocking sandwich.  Simply cut to a vague sock-shape, topped with cut cheese "fur", colorful details made with bell peppers, and a cute message or name made in cheese cut with fondant cutter letters (purchased at Michaels).  Ho Ho Hungry?

Santa Lunch

With Christmas just around the corner, here are some fun lunch ideas to keep festive in the brown bag!
This sandwich is topped with cheese cut to look like the big man himself.  Red & green bell pepper make the colorful details.


Healthy Elmo Preschool Snacks

It was my turn to bring snacks to my 1 year old's preschool class.  The room-mom had a great idea to have snack sign-ups so that the kids could eat FRESH snacks rather than months-old vats of goldfish every day.  When my turn came, I made these:

Fruit & Cheese Elmo Snack Cups
   **They are in *foil* cupcake cups (important not to use paper since they will soak through) 
Cut strawberries and pile in to make a base for Elmo face (skin side UP for vibrant color)
Half a Cutie (orange) wedge for nose
String Cheese sliced into rounds for eyes
Raisin bits inserted into holes in cheese, dug out with toothpick & jammed in

I transported them to school in the baking pan so they wouldn't slide around and lose their faces. Top with cling wrap, and they transport very easily.

Although I made these for snack, they are a fantastic & fun HEALTHY alternative to actual cupcakes for birthday celebrations too!  The kids were thrilled to eat!

I may do this again with blueberries to make Grover or Cookie Monster next time.


Halloween Party!

So we hosted a pre-trick-or-treating Halloween party for a whole bunch of neighborhood kids & parents last night!  We had pizza, veggies, fruit, and these:
mummy hot dogs & octopus hot dogs and jack-o-lantern clementines.  I also made a very tasty fall sangria for the grown-ups.  I LOVE Halloween and I'm sorry to see it go for another year.  I guess we're moving on to Thanksgiving and holiday baking...not a bad trade!


Halloween Lunch

Nursery school halloween lunch for my littlest guy.  He does better (ie: eats more) with his turkey sandwich cubed, so his hand-cut cheese lays on top.  His Frankenstein-style surprise ghost is a banana with raisin face, "bolted" into & hiding in its own peel...maybe next time I'll do a mummy locked inside a banana peel coffin.  Hmmm....

Halloween Lunch

Another halloween lunch.  Cookie cutter turkey sandwich.  I got lazy and used the triangles from kid#2's jack-o-lantern cheese as the ghost's face.  They really should have been circles.  The monster mouth is an apple cut to hinge open and look like teeth.  I've seen people do this online by shoving nuts into the apple for teeth, but my guys are both in nut-free schools, so hand cutting it is!  The tongue is a cut red grape.  Vanilla yogurt with raisin face made the spooky treat at the bottom.


Halloween Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie

The kids helped with this one.  I made our usual recipe of chicken pot pie, but rather than crusting up the top of the iron skillet and throwing it in the oven, we transferred to individual ramekin dishes.  The boys used ghost & pumpkin cookie cutters to make fun Halloween shapes in the dough.  We placed the dough on top of the ramekins and baked in the oven.

Halloween Dinner: Creepy Octopus Hot Dogs

Using the cut & boil technique you see in the Japanese bento boxes, I made little octopus hot dogs for little man, and big ones with long tentacles for my big boy.  We always use nitrate & nitrite free hot dogs.

Halloween lunches: pumpkins & ghosts

We ran out of bread, so I used a bun for the sandwich.  Turkey sandwich cut to ghost shape with raisins embedded as spooky face.  Night scene made with stars & moon cheese shapes.  Jack-o-lanterns are a Little Cutie orange, peeled & halved.  The faces are made from seaweed snack cut with scissors.  The spooky tree is broken pretzel & seaweed snack.  This lunch came back eaten to the last crumb.

This turkey sandwich is cut to a pumpkin shape with cheese as the face details.  The Little Cutie is halved and peeled away from the skin.  I cut the jack-o-lantern faces into the peel and then replaced it over the fruit again.

Halloween Breakfast: Witch Pancakes

Using squeezy bottles with pancake batter, I build the pancake picture backwards by making details, letting it cook over low heat for a while to create a contrasting color, then filling in the rest.  Flip and finish cooking.  I added chocolate chips for eyes at the end after flipping.  Placing the chips on top makes it melt a bit just from the heat of the finished pancake.  These creepy witches are great for Halloween.

Halloween Dinner

Using refridgerated pizza dough from the grocery store (yes, making your own is "easy" but extra work), we made ghost shaped pizzas with olives & mini meatballs (made for dinner earlier in the week) for the spooky faces.  Big hit with the boys!  Plus, we got a school lunch out of it too!

Here is the lunch I packed.  Ghost pizza and an orange bell pepper cut to look like a jack-o-lantern:


Totoro Lunches

 The boys LOVE Miyazaki, like their parents.  Totoro is a household favorite.  In fact, our youngest's nursery is entirely decorated like My Neighbor Totoro.  Here are their matching lunches.  The Totoros are both turkey sandwiches with cut cheese and spinach for decoration.  The pupils of the eyes are tiny bits of raisin.

The banana trick was new to me this year.  As you can see below, when you first "draw" on the peel (making a firm indentation with a toothpick, as I would draw with pen on paper) you can't see much.  By the time lunchtime rolls around, the peel has bruised to make lovely dark lines where I drew the design.

Being a huge Whovian, I particularly like this artists banana designs:
As you can see, I did not invent banana art and have not even begun to "scratch the surface" of what is possible.  I will certainly be showing more of it in the future.

**Important note to school lunch packers though, if you like to use bento-style all-in-one boxes like me, bananas can be very pungent when included with the meal.  Be warned that they can often infect sandwiches with a hazy banana smell by lunch time...as well as everything else in that box!  Some banana fans are fine with that.  Other kids lose their interest in having bananas included with lunch very quickly. (you will note that I put a banana in only ONE of the above lunches for just this reason)


Octonauts Lunch

Octonauts Lunch
Once I started doing what my 4 year old started calling his "Cool" lunches (I don't do them cool EVERY day, just about half) he started making requests.  At the time, he was really into The Octonauts.
If you haven't seen this show on Disney Jr. or read the books, you're missing out!  It is a very cute show/line of books that got Henry really into marine biology.  This is Kwazii Cat, one of the main characters (he has a patch over one eye & a sailors hat).  This is the hand-cut cheese I was talking about before - makes a great canvas for any fun requests!

Batman Grilled Cheese Lunch

My 4 year old (3 at the time) is obsessed with superheroes (just like his mama) and he requested a lunch to match his Pottery Barn lunchbox.  I obliged with this:
Batman Lunch
This is a grilled cheese.  I started by trying to hand cut out the bat signal from the top slice of bread so that the cheese would show through.  This was not successful, as dark rye is a little too soft to manage a distinct shape with a paring knife.  Pre-sliced cheese IS, however, a fantastic medium for food pictures, as I have since discovered.  So with this one, I made the grilled cheese as normal, then added a bat signal cheese to the top.  My sandwich was not yet cooled completely, so it began to melt a bit (hence the translucency)  Also, note that when including grilled cheese to a lunchbox, always let it cool first, otherwise you get condensation and soggy bread.

I have since seen similar ideas online using Halloween Bat cookie cutters.  I, personally, rarely use cookie cutters, except for my FAVORITE little star one, and occasionally some others.  I really like to hand cut shapes myself.

I would think that if you grill an open-faced grilled cheese, then toast the top bread separately, and cookie cut from the toast, you may get that "window" into the sandwich I was trying to do at first.  I don't know, I never went back and tried that technique, but maybe you can tell me if you have!

Football Lunch

So I suppose I need to start somewhere.  This was the lunch that "kicked" it all off, so to speak.
Football Lunch
Now, I've always been more of a "inside" kid, drawing and reading and watching Star Wars.  I'm not a big football fan, but I just couldn't resist making this one from Dark Rye and hand-cut sliced cheddar.  This is a turkey sandwich on the inside.  You'll see that I always like to keep it healthy, balanced, and low on sugar.  This lunch included fresh fruit, steamed veggies with hummus, and a bonus cheese cut into a star...for my little all-star!  (awwww)

Relaunch and Introduction

I'm a mom.  I'm an artist.  I'm a geek.  I am obsessive about designing cool food for my kids.

I have illustrated children's books and designed a line of organic children's clothes that highlight food as an adventure for kids.  But the real adventure has been having two of my own kids.  Now with a 4.5 year old in pre-K and an 18 month old in nursery school, I have to find interesting places to interject my creativity just to keep my sanity.  Let's face it: making school lunches is a chore!  Day in and day out,  how many snacks do parents dole out every day?  Breakfast?  Dinner?  AGH!

For the past couple of years I have been playing with food while I play with my kids, and my more traditional art has taken a back burner (yeah, pun intended).  I have been sharing photos of my creations as casual facebook posts and been delighted at how well received they have been.  I've also been "egg"ed on to make this a more public pursuit, so here is the beginning...

I'm relaunching WonderToast as a more inclusive brand, not just of the characters in my books, but of a fun family philosophy.  I want my children to draw inspiration and joy from the world around them, to find a thrill in learning with an open mind.  So I lead by example.  We have fun.  We are silly.  We live in a fantasy world where snacks become space ships and breakfasts become friends.  Art and food are a daily necessity in our house, and what better fun than to marry the two ideas!

I am excited to make Batman sandwiches and Star Wars snacks.  The kids are excited to eat them.  I make fun food inspired by the interests of my two boys (which often are heavily influenced by what their parents love too!).

Please join our adventure.  Learn about new foods, healthy foods, fun and fast foods, but mostly really cute and beautiful foods.  Some call them American Bento, some think I'm nuts, but I bet you'll find these projects are easier than you thought.

I'll post old lunches and meals that I've photographed over the past few years (please excuse the poor quality! I wasn't planning on "publishing" them!) and start on some new photos and videos.  I'd love to hear your feedback and questions!  My ultimate goal is to get enough audience participation to take requests to make lunches of *your* favorite subjects.  I'll walk you through step-by-step to show YOU how to do it too!

I'm a mom.  I'm an artist.  I'm a geek.  I am obsessive about designing cool food for kids.  Here we go!