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luxe and the lady

Spring Bento Brunch

*This post was created in collaboration with Arctic Zone. All words, images, and opinions are my own.

Birds are chirping, the flowers are starting to pop up and mornings are finally sunny! Spring has officially arrived and to celebrate I’ve created a super simple and adorable brunch with my friends at Arctic Zone. Perfect for a day spent soaking up the sunshine or to get you through a busy workday. Complete with matcha pancakes, fresh fruit garden salad and ladybug cheese and crackers it’s a meal that’s full of fun!

This garden spring theme was inspired by the pretty pink hue of the Arctic Zone Margot Lunch Satchel, which reminded me of cherry blossoms. Just like all Arctic Zone products, the bento box containers are BPA, PVS, and phthalate free, and the spacious design allows for amply room (so you can feel free to pack snacks). All the containers you see here are included along with a high-performance ice pack to keep your cute creations super fresh! The nesting containers are also made with Microban antimicrobial protection for stain resistance and an easy cleanup. You can find the Margot in 4 gorgeous styles at ArcticZone.com. Now, let’s hop to it and create a sweet spring food art that’s sure to brighten even the rainiest of April days!

Ingredients: (makes 1 bento brunch, with leftovers)

Fluffy Frog Pancake:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk (you can make your own by mixing 3/4 cup whole milk and 3/4 tablespoon white vinegar. Allow the 2 to combine for 10 minutes before using)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Matcha powder (about 1/4 -1/2 teaspoonful color and flavor)
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
Vegetable or coconut oil (optional, to smooth the chocolate)
Pink oil-based food coloring or pink melting wafers

Fruit Garden Salad:

Your favorite fruits – I used honeydew melon, watermelon, mango, blueberries, and strawberries

Ladybug Cheese & Crackers:

6-8 round crackers

3-4 slices of your favorite white cheese (I used goat)

4 grape or cherry tomatoes

4-6 large black olives

Optional: basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Let’s start with the pancakes! In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and butter until smooth.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk together until mostly combined (it’s ok to have some lumps at this point as we will be mixing again to add the color).
  4. Transfer the batter to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. 5 minutes before you begin cooking the pancakes heat your griddle or nonstick skillet over medium/medium-low heat. I did not use any butter or oil to grease my pan which also helps to keep the color vibrant. If you notice your first pancake sticking to the pan you can add a tiny bit of oil.
  6. Take about ½ cup of batter out of the bowl and set it aside. Color the remaining batter with your matcha powder (start with ¼ teaspoon and work your way up to ½, if needed).
  7. Working with 1 bowl at a time, scoop about 1/3 cup batter into the middle of your prepared griddle or skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on the first side (until bubbles rise to the surface and begin to pop), then flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the second side until cooked through. Transfer the finished pancakes to a plate. Continue to cook the pancakes until you’ve used all the batter. Allow the pancakes to cool completely before cutting.
  8. Once cooled, use a 3.5” circle cutter to make the main round for the frog’s body. Then cut a 2.5” circle out of the plain pancake for the belly (stack on top). Use a 1” cutter to create the eyes (cut it in half before placing on top of the large circle). Then cut 4 oval shapes out of leftover matcha pancakes for the frog’s legs. I used the edge of the pancake to create the leaf “stem” and cut a teardrop shape out for the leaf.
  9. To decorate, melt the dark chocolate wafers or chips in a heatproof bowl, in the microwave, in 30-second intervals at 50% power. Stir after each interval until completely melted. You can add ¼ teaspoon of the oil to make it smoother. Dip a toothpick into the melted chocolate and draw the veins directly onto the pancake leaf. I made the eyes, smile and cheeks by drawing with the melted chocolates directly onto wax paper and then peeled the shapes off, once set, and placed them on top of my pancakes. To do this, melt the white and pink chocolates the same way as you did with the  dark.                                                         
  10. The fruit garden can be made with any fruits you have on hand- I used melons because they are in season and work wonderfully to cut out shapes. Stamp out the flowers using small flower cookie cutters and then use a large round piping tip to cut the flower centers out of either mango, pineapple or even cantaloupe. Fill in the gaps with fresh berries (and even mint leaves if you’d like).
  11. To create the ladybug cheese and crackers, use small round cookie cutters to cut the slices of cheese into enough rounds for each cracker you are packing. Place a black olive longways and cut a small piece off one of the ends. This will be the head for the ladybug. Cut a grape or cherry tomato in half and then split it again to make the wings. Add to the top of the crackers and cheese, place the olive in front of the wings and use a small round piping tip to cut the spots out of extra olive (use a toothpick to transfer the pieces to the top of the tomatoes). I made the eyes and smiles using extra cheese and olives, but you could even decorate using edible sprinkle eyes to save time. If you won’t be eating your meal for a while you could also just cut up all the pieces for the ladybugs and assemble when you are ready to enjoy. 

Pack up your super cute spring brunch and head out on an adventure (or just to the office 🙂 ). These recipes would be equally awesome for Mother’s Day or even an Easter brunch. Please let me know if you try this tutorial, I would love to see your version :).

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