Day of the Dead Bento Box; I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead?


We are celebrating Day of the Dead with cookies and chocolate instead of sugar skulls.  My kids are not deprived; Anya’s birthday party included a sugar skull craft even though it was just past Valentine’s Day.  We do traditionally make large sugar skulls on the first of November or thereabouts, but I don’t have the ingredients as my focus has been on edibles.  Instead, we have used our medium sugar skull molds to make chocolates, and our never-used sugar skull cookie cutters/stamps to make enough Dios de Los Muertos cookies to last all week.  I think Connor was disappointed until he saw me painting the cookies with icing last night.  We had no blue, but our other colors were amazing while they were still wet and shiny.

It is past my most productive time, but I had a morning appointment and then I came home to rest (even though I can’t sleep while it is light out) so I am just now putting pen to paper.  I have slept restlessly for weeks now, and one post-concussive symptom I haven’t discussed is sleep disturbances.  Since the accident, I wake up repeatedly during the night, often struggling to fall back asleep.  I didn’t refill my prescription for Ambien because I was using my time in the crazy-early morning hours to make bento boxes, and now the prescription has expired.  I desperately need sleep and don’t see my doctor until the 14th, so I am hopeful that my body will be tired enough to rest peacefully tonight.  It is a challenge to allow myself to sleep deeply enough and still be awake early enough to make bentos.  I can’t set an alarm, because the early a.m. hours are when my husband sleeps best.  I have never managed well when sleep-deprived and it is affecting me.  My creativity and thinking are impaired.  When I have blogged this week, I have ended up editing long after posting (especially with daily prompts) as I am too tired to express myself clearly or eloquently.  Ghost Car was posted about 11 a.m. on Halloween, but edited on and off all afternoon, and only final around 5:00.  I haven’t looked at it; it may still need revising.  I need to rest for my body and brain to heal and hope that taking care of myself doesn’t affect the quality of my bento creations.  I need to make corn shells today, and should probably work on flautas for Thursday, but I am sore and uninspired.  I need that to change.  I never feel low when I am making bentos.  Maybe if I start, I’ll get a second wind and some creative energy.

The kids had a rough Halloween.  Anya was missing a party, over-hungry and had blistered feet, so she did not trick-or-treat.  Finn and Connor both contracted a stomach ailment after Benihana’s on Sunday, and Finn was sick enough that he quick trick-or-treating early and threw up twice.  I waited all day for festivities to begin but the family was rather moody.  Connor was the Halloween hero and went out and collected enough candy for everyone.  This was the first year I didn’t join the kids for trick-or-treating.  I stayed back with Anya and answered the door and baked Dios de Los Muertos cookies and roasted pumpkin seeds.  This morning, exhausted as I was, I turned left-overs into skull sides, and put together our first Day of the Dead bento box.  I hope it cheers the kids, and reminds them of what is really important.  November 1 is a celebration of children who have passed and November 2, of adults.  We are blessed to have only grandparents who lived long lives to remember.  I don’t think my kids would be celebrating Day of the Dead if I had actually died.  They certainly wouldn’t have the bento-themed lunch.

Today our bento boxes contain Dia de Los Muertos Rice Molds, Yellow Corn Muffins, Chocolate Sugar Skulls, Cashew Butter Skulls, Farmer’s Cheese-Almond Skulls, Spicy Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, and Dia de Los Muertos Cookies.  Of course, we’re blending Day of the Dead  Smoothies.


Bento ingredients:  Dio de Los Muertos rice mold (sushi rice, Pico de Gallo recipe, organic purple carrots, organic radishes, black olives, orange baby peppers; Corn Muffin Recipe; Chocolate Sugar Skull (see chocolate frogs recipe at “Halloween Bento Boxes” ); Cashew Butter Skull (see Cashew Butter balls at “How to Pack Love Into Your Kids’ Lunch [Bento]a/k/a Miracle Cure for Traumatic Brain Injury [My Personal Experience]” and “Brain Food” for vanilla bark instructions.  Top with strawberry and grape slices.); Fresh Farmer’s Cheese and Almond Skull (see Fresh Farmer’s Cheese Rats at “Healthy, Homemade, Halloween Bentos”.  I removed tails and ears from rats and remolded cheese into skull shape.  Topped with grape slices); Spicy Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe; Dio de Los Muertos Cookies recipe.


Pico de Gallo

1 red onion, finely chopped

4 Roma tomatoes, diced ( just ripened from our pre-freeze harvest)

1 -2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped  (also from harvest)

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, shopped

Fresh lime

Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and let sit refrigerated for 2 hours.

(I combined with sushi rice, to keep with our Mexican theme, and molded into skull shapes)


Corn Muffins

1 c cornmeal

1 c flour

1/3 c sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1/4 c melted coconut oil

1 c milk

In bowl combine first five ingredients.  Add remaining liquids and stir until batter is smooth.  Pour into lined baking cups and bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.  ( I doubled recipe to have enough muffins for the whole week)


Spicy Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 c pumpkin seeds

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp salt

4 c water

olive oil spritz

garlic sea salt

Combine first five ingredients and bring to a boil.  Allow to simmer until water level drops.  Drain seeds and pat dry.  Generously spritz with olive oil and fresh ground garlic salt.  Bake at 400 degrees for 1/2 hour, checking at 15.  Seeds are ready when they are light brown.

Dio de Los Muertos Cookies

(The cookie cutters are from Amazon; this was their first use.  One side cuts the cookie and the other side presses a pattern into the dough)

1 1/2 c butter softened

2 c sugar

1 tsp vanilla

4 eggs

5 c flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 c powdered sugar

2 Tbsp melted butter

1/8 tsp vanilla

1/4 c milk + extra

Cream sugar, butter and vanilla.  Add eggs.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt and mix with creamed butter until dough is formed.  Roll out onto a floured surface to about 1/4″ thickness. (These cookies will hold their shape!)  Cut skull shapes and place on cookie sheet.  Stamp pattern into dough.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.  Do not over-cook.  Allow to set for 2 minutes, then move to rack.  Makes 3 dozen skulls.  To ice:  Combine powdered sugar, butter and vanilla.  Add milk and stir.  Continue to add milk, one Tbsp at a time until consistency is thick enough that it won’t  run, but thin enough to paint.  Divide into cups and use food coloring to dye.  Paint cookies with icing, ( I washed hands, and used my finger)  allowing colors to blend.  Dry to stack in 10 minutes.




Day of the Dead Smoothie

1/2 c coconut milk

1/2 c coconut water

2 small bananas

1/2 c strawberries

1/2 c pineapple juice

Pour all ingredients in 24 oz Nutri Ninja cup and blend.  Makes 3-8 oz servings



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