Guest post by Lise LaTorre of Veggie-Bento
One of the ways I speed up lunch-making in the morning is by preparing batches of cute food in advance. That way, making lunch is just a matter of grabbing a little of this, smashing a cookie cutter on that, then sticking a bunch of picks everywhere. If I have five more minutes, I smash around some smaller cutters to add that ‘special touch’ (Did I mention I have a full-time job on top of being a mom?). By far the best tools I have for advance cutification are silicone molds.
3 Ways To Use Silicone Molds for Cute Lunch Foods
1. Freeze Stuff
Hummus freezes well and retains its shape and detail even after it has defrosted. Smaller shapes work best so that they will be soft enough for dipping by the time lunch rolls around.
Yogurt is another great item to freeze. I particularly like using coconut yogurt since it adds some nice transparency. I prefer larger molds with easily identifiable shapes since yogurt melts quickly and details get lost by lunch time. I have also started putting colored coconut yogurt shapes on a plain greek yogurt background. The difference in consistency and color helps preserve the shape once melted.
2. Bake Stuff
Baked egg whites are very easy to make and have a nice, smooth consistency. Simply pour egg white into oven-safe molds and bake at 325° for 15 minutes. For a little extra fun, drop the shapes into a cup with warm water with a little natural food color in it. This works best for simple shapes without a lot of detail.
I’ve recently been experimenting with burying healthful ingredients in cheese to get my daughter to eat them. So far, we have been most successful with beany cheese bites. Stuff cheese pieces into smaller baking molds, spoon in some re-fried beans, then cover with more cheese. Bake at 350° until cheese is fully melted. Allow to cool, then pop them out. Easy and yummy, even at room temperature.
Conventional egg molds make shaping hard-boiled eggs easy and fun. However, they come in a limited range of designs and my highly-distractable preschooler got bored pretty quickly. So, I have been experimenting with less traditional forms. Thus far, medium-sized silicone molds are the winner. Place a warm, peeled egg in the mold of your choice and put a plate and something heavy on top so that the egg is slowly, and gently pushed into the mold. If the egg is a little on the small side, stuff paper towel in the non-essential part of the mold. Thanks to Alexandra Einess and Kendra Peterson of Biting My Hand for these great egg molding tips!
Similarly, rice molds are common in the world of bento. We don’t eat a lot of rice so I haven’t wanted to invest in them. On the rare occasion I do want to include rice in a lunch, I use the silicone molds instead. For these, I use pre-made sticky rice and molds with very simple shapes. I put the rice in warm, and put a piece of parchment paper on top. Once it cools, I flip it over and plop it out onto the parchment paper, then flip it back over to place in the lunch container.
Silicone is such a versatile material the possibilities are endless! What are some of your favorites?