Pinterest is just crawling (excuse the pun) with ideas for making food more fun, which usually means it resembles something that we wouldn’t normally eat – like bugs and spiders and other small critters. We even have our own idea board full of great ideas for packing fun into anyones’ Bento lunchbox. In fact, one of my all time favorites is a roll-up on top of a sweet pickle with carrot antennae- the only way to eat a snail, if you ask me.
So, in the spirit of Spring, we made our own version of the ridiculously cute Ladybug Cracker Appetizer recipe made popular by A Taste of Home magazine. They’re easy enough to make, and even little hands can help with the assembly – as long as the prep work and cuts are done ahead. Make as many or few as you want- all you really need is a savory spread, a carrier cracker, some small tomatoes and some creativity. You’ll want to have all the items ready for assembly, small prep bowls help keep things handy. Make the spread first and refrigerate until ready.
Ladybugs for Lunch
1 package of your favorite crackers, wide enough to host a bug.
Cherry, plum or grape tomatoes, halved
Canned beans, rinsed – we used red kidney beans and black eyed peas (black beans or black olive halves work well too, depending on what you have in your pantry)
Micro-greens or small leaf salad mix, spinach or even basil
Sprouts (or green onions, trimmed to thin ‘sticks’)
Black sesame seeds
Spreadable Dip: (we mixed up our own, but anything from Boursin to a nice thick Ranch dip will do here – according to your families taste)
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1T sour cream, Greek yogurt or mayonnaise
1 green onion, chopped fine
Chopped fresh herbs of your choosing – we used fresh dill and thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste
In a small glass bowl, stir together the softened cream cheese and sour cream until you reach a spreadable texture. Pull herb leaves from the stem, starting at the top and sliding backwards along the wood center. Chop herbs and green tops of onion fine with a paring knife or utility scissors. Stir into cream cheese mixture until combined, add s&p as desired.
Spread dip evenly on a cracker and top with a small piece of greens.
Cut the rounded tip from the halved tomatoes, then segment lengthwise about 3/4 of way, leaving the ‘wings’ connected near the flat top.
Select a bean or halved olive that is just shorter than the tomato so that it will fit inside the ‘wings’, creating the lady bug body. Set atop the greens.
Next pinch the sprout tail back so that you have enough of a stem for the tiny leaves to show over the lady bug head, but not too much that it will fall over. If using green onion stems, cut to a similar length. Set the antennae in place in front of the cut top of the tomato body.
Dip a small bean into the cream cheese spread and set in place at cut end of the tomatoe, pressing back to ‘glue’ the antennae in place between the head and body of the bug.
Now for the eyes and spots. The easiest way to place your sesame seeds is to use a tooth pick or the sharp tip of a small paring knife. Spread a small number of seeds out on the counter so that none touch. Dip the tip of your pick or knife into the cream cheese spread and then tap a seed lightly to pick it up. Press the seed to the tomato where you want a spot and roll slightly sideways to adhere in place. Repeat for the eyes on the bug face. Once the seeds are in place. Handle by the cracker edge only to avoid loosing spots or eyes.
Refrigerate until served.