Wednesday, June 1, 2016

PBS television show Lucky Chow shoot

Top: In the midst of bentomaking demo
Bottom Left: Display of various bento boxes and tools
Bottom Right: The Lucky Chow team (and me)

We had a bit of excitement last week over here at Happy Little Bento when the team from the PBS show Lucky Chow came over to shoot a segment for an upcoming episode of their second season. This episode will focus on Japanese culture and food, so I talked with host Danielle Chang about bento, and then we assembled a couple of cute bento together while her cameraman walked around filming us. I gave behind-the-scenes camera duties to MisterMan, and he took a bunch of photos I'll share with you here. Thanks MM!

They arrived at 5pm, so I spent the afternoon setting up a display on the table and preparing food and bento supplies for us to use for our bentomaking in the kitchen. TS and I think it looks all right!

They wanted to film a greeting for the opening, so TS filled in with an impromptu performance. She really got a kick out of that.

I had to wear a microphone and transmitter so that we could walk around and talk. They decided to have us talk at the table first.

I didn't realize someone was peeking around the corner here...

The bentomaking itself was a lot of fun. I've never done a bento demo alongside someone else at the same time. It encouraged me to explain exactly what I was going to do next and clearly describe the tools and foods.
Are you ready for your close-up?
Make one, teach one! 

The whole thing took about 3 hours and we were finished with our bento just as the natural light was pretty much fading. Perfect timing. I think things went well and in fact my kids couldn't tell whose bento was whose!

The completed bento sets!

 Guess who ate the bento for dinner? ^__^

It was a lot of fun. If the editing goes well and the episode airs, I'll let you know. Thanks for taking a look at our adventures. Happy bentomaking! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Salmon Hash ECOlunchboxes Bento

Today because I happened to have potatoes, I decided to make salmon hash instead of the usual broiled teriyaki or furikake method. I made a kind of pistou with parsley and broccoli, with garlic and olive oil, to go with it. I also added some yuzu too. It was pretty good. A hash is nice because you cook it all in one pan, and you can add whatever extra veggies you have. I had some kuri squash so I diced it along with broccoli stalks and onions. It would have been good with sweet peppers too. This ECOlunchbox Oval comes with a separate container for the nectarine and grapes, so they stay out of the salmon. So handy and practical!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Planetbox Sandwich Bento

I don't know why, but Planetbox Rover seems to scream sandwich bento! to me. Today, at least. It has a nice big compartment for it, and even though it's a square, I'm putting a baguette in there, because that's how I do it. It's a sardine sandwich, and before you judge, listen: it's packed in harissa, covered in melted cheese, and laying on a whole wheat sweet French roll. The lettuce underneath he'll pack between the bread right before eating, so it doesn't get all soggy. It's good! Besides that, he gets super ripe strawberries, cara cara orange, homegrown kadota fig, tomatoes, carrots, cinnamon yogurt, and tiny bear cookies (because they fit in that little space perfectly!). Yum!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Tacorice Bento

Tacorice! It's like taco, but over rice. So good. I used ground turkey flavored with taco spices served over rice with grated cheddar, shredded romaine lettuce, and chopped grape tomatoes. You can also add chopped or sliced avocado, and salsa. I put hot sauce on mine. I packed TinySprite's lunch in the bottom of this cute two tier pink polka-dotted bento, with peaches and strawberries (and carrot) in the top tier. The set even comes with a teeny tiny fork. How cute is that?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Shoyu Chicken LunchBots Bento

Uh huh, yup yup, it's shoyu chicken again. With all the standard sides again (I made Moroccan chickpeas but I forgot to put it in! Oh well. It didn't really go with the Japanese theme anyway. Next time!) like broccoli and tomatoes. Instead of a lettuce leaf, you can pack yours over rice, which is how I like to eat it. The smaller LunchBots Clicks holds strawberries, watermelon chunks, and carrots. These two boxes are very cool! I love them because they are completely leakproof, with tight-sealing snap lock lids. They are a nice options to plastic containers and one of the few stainless steel box sets I have that are leakproof. Plus, the two together hold just the right amount for my third-grader. Perfect!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Steak Salad and Potatoes ECOLunchboxes Bento

I made a steak today. I know, weird! I never cook steak. I don't know why; they (the fam) all love meat. I actually really just wanted to make chimichurri. I put parsley, cilantro, garlic, red onions, olive oil and white vinegar in mine: it's so good and you can put it on anything. I gave my kids a few pieces of strip steak over a kale and romaine salad tossed with cherry tomatoes and fresh grated black pepper. At dinner we also had a yogurt dill dressing that I could have packed alongside as well, come to think of it. The dressing also is good with the pan-fried potatoes. You can mix the chimichurri into the salad too, and it's very good that way! This all fit nicely in the ECOlunchboxes Solo Cube. I packed along the EcoDipper on the side with a few strawberries and chopped peaches. That should keep her filled this afternoon, I hope!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kuri Curry LunchBots Thermal Bento

With the weather cooling down a bit, I'm thinking more about thermal bento these days. And when I saw the cutest kuri squash at the market, I had to make curry. I wish I took a picture of the squash before I cut it. If you haven't seen one, it's a small roundish squash with a tough outer skin in a brilliant red color. The flesh is orange like pumpkin and it's great in curry because of the autumny color! My curry is packed with all kinds of veggies (and ground turkey) like broccoli, celery, onion, carrots, and sometimes mushrooms and potatoes. You can pack it over rice or just straight, like I did here, in the LunchBots Thermal Food Container. I packed a side box with beautiful cara cara oranges (also called red navel in my market) and watermelon balls. I also packed this cute Light My Fire combo spoon fork because it's MisterMan's favorite. It even has a serrated edge for cutting. How cute! Happy Start of Fall!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pork Chop Strips Bento

For this simple lunch I made pan-fried Vietnamese style thin pork chops, which I sliced into strips for the kids' bento. I marinated the meat in a mixture of fish sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, shallots, and cracked black pepper before cooking them in a cast iron pan. Added the sliced peppers too, and reduced the sauce. You can serve them in a lettuce wrap with pickled veggies, or over shredded lettuce, or with baby sweet peppers like I did here. A half peach and some chopped Asian pear round out the bento for MisterMan. They both love this meat, and it's a great way to get them to eat lettuce too :)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cold Penne Pasta Salad

Looks like we're on a cold noodle salad roll over here. I really don't know why it didn't occur to me to make pasta salads ALL SUMMER long, but the idea is now in my head. This one doesn't have a sauce, but gets all its flavor from the diced garlicky chicken sausage, roasted red peppers, and pickled onions. I parboiled broccoli that I had chopped finely and tossed that in too, because you know me, I gotta have some green in there. I loosely used a Serious Eats recipe for Spanish Pasta Salad but adapted some ingredients because it was more convenient. It still tastes good!

Spanish Pasta Salad With Chorizo, Piquillo Peppers, and Pickled Onion

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 pound small pasta, such as macaroni (I used penne because I like the color of this carrot version)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 6 ounces Spanish chorizo (about 2 sausages), diced (I used chicken garlic sausage)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted or grilled piquillo peppers from 1 (12-ounce) brine- or oil-packed jar (I used roasted red peppers)
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley leaves and tender stems (about 1/2 bunch)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons zest from 1 lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper

    1. In a small mixing bowl, cover onion with sherry vinegar and let stand until lightly pickled, at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
    2. In a pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until very tender throughout, 2 to 3 minutes longer than al dente stage according to package. Drain in a colander, then chill under cold running water. Let drain well, then drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss to coat. Set aside.
    3. In a small skillet, cook chorizo over medium-high heat until fat has rendered and chorizo is crisp, about 8 minutes; during last 1 minute of cooking, stir in garlic.
    4. In a large serving bowl, toss pasta with chorizo, garlic, and its rendered fat, along with olive oil, piquillo peppers, parsley, scallions, and lemon zest. Drain onions and toss into salad. Season with salt and pepper. Serve right away at room temperature or make up to 1 day in advance, refrigerate, and return to room temperature before serving. 

    The rest of the bento contains sliced plums and white nectarines, as well as a grape tomato. I hope TinySprite enjoys her Paperchase lunch box bento!

    Wednesday, September 23, 2015

    Soba Salad Round Bento

    Cold soba salad is typically a warm weather food, and I know it's late September - the first day of Fall, in fact - but it still feels like summer around here. And I just realized I forgot to make soba salad at all this past summer -- so here it is! I used cha soba (it looks pale green and has a faint tea flavor), and topped with chopped romaine (my favorite salad green these days), julienned carrots and cucumbers, sliced grape tomatoes, and char siu. Sprinkled with sesame seeds and packed with a little soy-ginger dressing in the little yellow container this bento is ready to eat. I actually put the dressing container in the main part on top of the soba -- the top tier presses down on it just enough to keep it from moving around and spilled open. And if it does spill, it will spill on the salad. Top tier holds sliced plum and a few strawberries. All very refreshing on a warm summery day.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2015

    Ham and Cheese Pinwheels Bento

    Sometimes you need a no-cook bento idea because you didn't cook anything for dinner and there weren't any leftovers anyway. That's when I make sandwiches. If you've looked at my blog for awhile you'll know I don't make sandwiches often. Unless I have unusual or fun bread, I think they're a tad boring. But it's easy to make them fun by rolling pinwheels! I flattened the bread with a rolling pin, cut off the crusts and tossed them to the dog (but you can also save them for other purposes like in soup or for croutons!), then layered cheddar, spinach, and nitrite-free ham. Roll up and secure with long picks. Done! The other half of the split Sistema container holds pairs of plums, grapes, tomatoes, and carrots. Aww, I hope TinySprite will love it!

    Thursday, September 17, 2015

    Salmon Salad LunchBots Bento

    I made salted salmon (shiozake) to serve over baby lettuce greens in a simple salad for my kids' bento today. Since we still have fresh corn, I added fresh cooked corn off the cob as well. The salmon has flavor enough to make this small portion quite tasty. And since she loves them, I also pan fried some potato wedges and sprinkled with furikake in the next section. In the last section of our well-used LunchBots Trio I placed sliced elephant heart pluots (I think this may be our last batch of the season. So sad! I love these sweet dark red fruit very much) and carrots to round out the bento. The lid stays on well enough to keep everything separate for them come lunchtime. Perfect!