Customer Reviews: Cute Yummy Time: 70 Recipes for the Cutest Food You'll Ever Eat
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on February 13, 2010
The book attempts to take Japanese techniques of making food look like cute animals and apply it to western recipes. However, I find two major flaws with this book.

The first is that for the most part the pictures of the recipes are not nearly as cute as I expected. There is nothing inherently wrong with creations such as the "Hot Dog Croc" on page 85, but it lacks the finesse and polish that I think a cookbook should have. While there are a few standouts, for the most part there were few designs that appealed enough to make me wish to emulate them. While that may sound harsh, I expect that books that teach will be written by people who excel in their craft.

The second is that aside from a few tiny illustrations in the forward, there are no patterns in the book. Since the creation of these decorative foods is a craft where you often need to cut special shapes and combine them, the lack of any patterns is mystifying and frustrating. Instead of patterns, there is a short fluff story on each page which relates to cute animal featured in the recipe.

If you are looking for projects to do with younger children, this might be an acceptable book for you. If you seek to emulate the Japanese style of cute food decoration, or have an artist's taste, I am sure you can find better guides.
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on August 9, 2010
I bought this book because I wanted to find a bento book that focused on American ingredients so that I could make healthy lunches for my daughter. Though the book is cute and has some neat ideas about how to display food, many of the recipes are faulty. For instance, the Piggie Bread shouldn't be made with just wheat flour. The bread will have a grainier texture, won't rise properly, and will feel heavy and dull in your mouth. If you're going to go through the trouble of making bread, you want it to be flaky and tender. And I would never put peppercorns on my daughter's food hoping that she wouldn't eat them! She should have used diced raisins or currants.

There are a lot of mistakes like this throughout the book that suggests the author does not have a strong culinary background. Also, I felt that there wasn't much of a focus on the "bento" part of the book. The few lunch items included, though pictured in a bento box, were not placed in there as if all you needed to do was slap on the lid and send them off to school. They were either popping out all over the place (see: Politician Frog Pita) or they didn't represent a full, nutritious meal (see: Woodland Caprese).

And to make matters worse, most of the recipes didn't sound tasty. I understand her focus on healthy alternatives to typical foods, but no kid is going to eat buckwheat pancakes that are gray and flat!

I thought that maybe it would be a cute book for my daughter to read (since there is an adorable storyline that goes along with the recipes), but then the introduction started talking about "condoms" and "Waking Lovers Crepes", which makes it completely inappropriate.

All and all, I am extremely disappointed with this book and suggest to anyone that is looking for a good bento book to look elsewhere.
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on November 5, 2010
You can tell just from the preview images that this is not a professional cookbook. The photos are poorly done, and would not make an actual bento you could take anywhere. That being said, if you just want some ideas for making your food looking cuter AT HOME, then it is all right (though to be honest, a real bento book can be used for this purpose too). Well, also if you can get over the bad photography/editing :( I really like food photos though

If you want to make real bentos, run away. Very fast. There are many, many other, much more researched, edited, and educated bento enthusiasts who have put out much better books for the same price point. Virtually all the "bentos" in this cookbook are just regular foods put into a bento box as a prop. Not only would it become a mess to bring to work or school, some of the food is not even transportable. Not a well-thought out book at all
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on October 10, 2009
Our family started following the author's "Cooking Cute" videos on YouTube about a year ago to get ideas for fun cooking activities that we could do with the kids. It's since become a big hit in our home (where we've always had an interest in Japanese culture and cooking, since we lived in Japan for a year because of a work assignment). The kids have blossomed into creative chefs from following the recipes, and often come up with wacky ideas of their own. I knew we'd found something the kids liked when they woke us up one morning with an elaborate breakfast they'd prepared by following the YouTube recipes (which I highly recommend for anyone who wants to get a sense of what this book is like; there are lots of easy, DIY recipes in quick and quirky videos that kids just love: [...]

This book, however, is on a whole other level from the YouTube videos. It has the same quirky, even slightly weird-in-a-funny-way attitude of the videos-- which the kids just seem to love-- but the author has clearly taken a lot of time and care over the last year (or longer?) to make sure that every recipe not only tastes great and looks great, but is also practical and do-able in any kitchen and at pretty much any level of cooking ability. I find that so many cookbooks are full of recipes-- even the ones that are supposed to be for 'quick and easy' kids' meals-- that seem easy at first but turn out to be so complicated half-way through that you wonder whether the author ever actually tried out the recipe him- or herself before publishing the book! Not so with this book. Everything in here is easy to do and you and/or your kids will have fun doing it.

It was my youngest daughter who found out that the blogger La Carmina was coming out with this book, and she insisted that we pre-order a copy. That was a month ago, and our copy arrived just earlier this week. The kids have been in the kitchen ever since trying to out-do each other. Our kitchen has been like a kids' version of Iron Chef all weekend!

What's terrific about this book is that it's a great way for parents to spend time with their kids on creative and fun projects that give them a great sense of accomplishment when they're finished (which they can then enjoy themselves, or share with the rest of the family). It teaches responsibility as well as organizational and time management skills, by requiring kids to get all the ingredients lined up, measuring them out, and making sure that things are done in a certain order and for certain amounts of time. At the same time, it encourages a playful and creative approach to food, and gives kids a sense of responsibility for and ownership of what they choose to eat.

Now, you could say that about lots of cookbooks, but the thing about most cookbooks is that, even when easy to follow, they're frankly boring. By contrast, every recipe in "Cute Yummy Time" is fun and presented with colourful, eye-catching and creative ideas to turn basic and affordable ingredients into great-tasting and NUTRITIOUS snacks that kids love. There are definitely a few sugary goodies in here for special occasions, but otherwise, the book actually accomplishes the impressive feat of taking things that kids usually hate (veggies and fruits, anyone?), and, through a little creative presentation, turning them into funny-looking cartoon characters that kids just can't resist.

The design and layout of this book looks great and is easy to follow, especially for budding young chefs. The kids get to be playful and creative but by trying out the recipes in this book, they'll also be laying the foundation for a lifelong, universally appreciated and (nowadays, sadly) all-too-rare skill-set of actually having some idea of what to do in a kitchen. In Japan, it's mainly parents who take the time to prepare meals like these in 'bento boxes' for their kids to enjoy at school. We started doing that for our kids, but next thing we knew, our kids enjoyed them so much that they insisted on taking over; nowadays, with a little supervision, our kids are making lunch for themselves to take to school every day! (That's pretty win-win, if you ask me!)

Even if your kids aren't interested in cooking themselves (and if they are, they will love this book), then you will still make quite a name for yourself in the elementary-school cafeteria when your kid pulls out of his or her lunchbox any of the meals in this book. We've already had other parents come up to us asking "how we do it," and that was just last month when the kids were back in school and bringing the lunches based on the YouTube videos. Now that we have this book at our house, we may have to organize a PTA meeting and just tell everyone what our 'secret' is!

If you're a parent who wants tips on how to 'spice up' your kids snacks and meals, especially for how to present healthy food in a fun and creative way that makes kids interested in eating healthy, this book is a fantastic idea. If you've got any kids who are budding chefs and like to play around in the kitchen, they will absolutely love it. I will also say that this would make a fantastic Christmas present for any parents with young kids, or for the kids themselves.
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on January 18, 2011
Luckily this cookbook is inexpensive. There were a couple of good ideas in it. Yum Yum Bento cookbook is better.
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on March 20, 2011
It's just what I needed since my brothers are such picky eaters, usually I couldn't get them to eat a fruit or vegetable to save my life. Thanks to "Cute Yummy Time", it helped me shape the boring everyday food into healthy, cute, and irresistible food. Now, my brothers can't seem to wait to eat their next meal. :)
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on February 16, 2012

the recipes are not pratical at all.

i bought this for bento related lunches....nothing in this book will help with that.
who needs 30 ways to make a cute inside of the sandwich!? you cover it up with a bread anyways!!! D:

dont buy it. unless you can get it under $5.00
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on October 6, 2009
If you got this book because you're looking for something to start you on charaben, save yourself some money. There are at most, 10 images in this book that are actually cute. There are some very scary looking images of food that should not have been put into the book such as the Little Birds Sushi, Evil Eel Sushi, Hedgehog Pork Loin, and the Little Lamb Chai Muffins.

The recipes don't always match the instructions or photos too, so it's poorly edited. You can see sesame seeds in a photo where there is none in the ingredients list or 1/3 cup olive oil is called for frying, but in the instructions only 1 tablespoon is used. This same recipe was also plagiarized from a well known bento blogger.

The "bentos" in the To Go section are all wraps, sandwiches, salads, and the scary looking sushi mentioned above. There is one that uses onigiri, but it uses two full sized bento boxes and one half-tier box to pack it. Bento boxes are used as little "tables" to showcase food that is impossible to pack into a box (frozen popsicles).

I haven't cooked anything from the book and frankly, I don't want to. If you want to get started into bento with simple and easy to use recipes, try Bento Love, Kawaii Bento Boxes, or Bento Boxes: Japanese Meals on the Go.
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on May 24, 2012
Without the option to see the inside of this book online, I figured at such a cheap price it couldn't be that bad of a purchase. I am really disappointed with it. The pictures don't look professional and the food isn't even that cute. In the intro the author talks about not particularly liking japanese food and then makes a LOT of items that contain japanese products. Good luck getting your kids to eat eel or pea burgers. I would return it if going to the post office wasn't more of a hassle than sucking up the $7.
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on April 2, 2011
i love la carmina's blog and bought cute yummy time. perfectly adorable. it's not supposed to be a bento book and unfairly critiqued on these terms. the food is healthy and that is important to me. the recipes turn out as they should and the cuteness makes it a joy for the whole family. as a mother, i highly recommend.
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