Furikake mahi mahi, brown rice, kimchi, cherry tomato. Pineapple and sliced grape. All my Hawaii bento are non-cooked by me! (so far)
We're still in Hawaii on vacation, and that is my excuse for another ready-made bento. I love furikake mahi mahi. You have to use lots of mayonnaise to get the furikake to stick while you cook the fish, and so it's not super healthy. Plus, I can't ever get it to cook without burning. But it's very yummy! I got this one from Loco Moco. Have you been eating healthy over the holidays? I am definitely eating more than usual, and more sweets than usual too. I know the new year has nearly started (a few more hours here), but I will go back to cooking healthy bento as soon as we get back! Til then, maybe this one and another local grinds bento to fill in the blog?
We are spending the holidays in Hawaii with family this year. I was born in Hawaii and lived here until I went to California for college. Lots of my family are still here, so there's plenty of reason to visit as often as we can. Here is my first bento in Hawaii, using local eats that were already hanging around the house: kimbap, long rice, smoked tako, Kahuku cherry tomatoes, pickled daikon-carrots-bittermelon-cabbage-cauliflower-red onion.
Packed in my lovely Japanese field-worker's bento, happily the perfect size for a hot weather appetite.
It's so good to come back home to the familiar local flavors again! It might look like a mishmash of stuff, but to me it's just a mix plate bento :)
Here is MisterMan's last school bento of the year! So I decided to throw in the rest of the holiday cheer.
I made 5 spice chicken, baked a la hapabento's recipe. Of course, I changed it a little, but still it came out okay! It's pretty tasty, and the kids seemed to like it. I used skinless thighs, since that's all I had, and browned and baked it after marinating in shoyu and 5 spice. Quick and easy! Giant lights, actually made of mini sweet peppers and a cucumber, lay atop a bed of furikake rice. Tofu cube Rudolph with cucumber, red pepper and nori detail. There's a rogue broccoli, and fruits include overripe plum and raspberries.
Sticky rice, the sequel. When you make a big batch, it lasts a couple days! I formed a bowl of rice, putting the "fillings" underneath so I would have a plain rice top to decorate. I made a steamed broccoli Christmas tree, decorated with tiny carrot disc cutout ornaments. They aren't stuck on, so they'll probably scatter all over by lunchtime :) Tofu circles and halved tomatoes surround. Fruit bowl has kiwi and raspberry "holly" atop satsuma mandarins.
Made yummy sticky rice! Love to use sticky rice for bento. All the goodies are already in there, and the kids really like it. I added a small salad with marinated artichoke heart, carrot sticks, peapod vase with flower, and cherry tomato "wreath"! It's just a circle of tomatoes, but I'm calling it a wreath, and it's my festive Christmas detail in this bento :)
Plum and yellow carrot flowers for dessert.
Do you have any favorite "one-dish" meals you like to prepare because it's a fast and easy way to get the protein and veggies on the table all together? As you may have seen, I do... and I am always on the lookout for more!
Wild salmon teriyaki with roasted asparagus thrown in there too. Baked purple potato "chips", cherry tomatoes and cucumber. Fruit side has satsuma mandarin, kiwi and raspberries. Yellow carrot added a bright punch with flower and star cutouts. The stars are cut out by hand, very simply with a knife tip. I am really liking the bright intensity of the yellow carrots -- I think I'll be using it quite a bit during these dark days of winter.
No holiday details here (too tired to think of any)! Maybe tomorrow...
Get it? Tofu-Snowman? Snow-tofuman? Hm. Okay, nevermind.
One more snowman bento -- I forgot to add him into the last post, but it's okay.. I think he may be my favorite. Doesn't he look happy? Maybe because he's making his final appearance in a long week full of snowman bento? Or because I finally managed one that looks kind of cute rather than "interesting"? Trouble is, since I have been in snowman mode so long I may have a hard time remembering other Christmas theme possibilities for this week's bento... Well. Anyway.
For this one I made ma po tofu using ground chicken, fermented mustard greens, green onions, black bean sauce and a little guilin chili garlic sauce ('cuz I love it, but the kids can't handle too much). Also, I roasted some asparagus in olive oil and garlic powder. I made the tofu snowman face with nori and carrot facial detail and purple potato hat with yellow carrot buckle on a bed of white/brown/black (Forbidden) rice mix. Raw carrot stars. Fruit section has kiwi flowers with blueberry centers, satsuma mandarins, strawberry and raspberries.
Is it cold where you are too? Snowman is happy about it, but I'm not! I am counting the days until we are on vacation.. to a sunny and warm spot on the globe where we can thaw out ^_^
I have finished up a week of Snowmen bento, as a kind of fun challenge for myself! I did a similar thing during Halloween, with jack o'lanterns. I think the results here were mixed, with some snowmen turning out cute and others, more - well - interesting. I'll post the series here, and you can decide for yourself! Which one do you like the best?
In this first one, I made TinySprite a snack bento featuring a snowman egg wearing a purple carrot scarf, and with nori facial details and a mini carrot stick nose!
Along with him, she gets a fruit selection of satsuma mandarin, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Also, some edamame skewers.
This guy is made of roasted baby potatoes, and goes with lemon garlic salmon and brussels sprouts, along with purple potato "chips" and starred fruits :)
This happy snowman is made of spinach ravioli with purple potato and purple carrot detail. There are those purple potato chips again!
Okay, the cauliflower snowman isn't quite as cute, but perhaps I can get some props for being adventurous? The fried egg sandwich and 4-bean salad was a hit, though!
The minestrone seemed to call out for a little riceball snowman.
I tried for a nashi (Japan pear) snowman this time, surrounded by fruit! He went with chicken and pickle wraps.
Are all these snowmen starting to make you feel like singing? Go ahead! I know you are, hapa bento ;)Happy winter!
Mochiko chicken using hapabento's recipe. Well, based on it...I deviated a bit, but I think it came out okay! The kids loved it, and since it was baked instead of deep-fried, it really wasn't that greasy. Thanks hapabento!
I used chicken thighs, and cut into smallish pieces, easy for kids to eat.
For the sauce, I mixed all together: equal amounts (4T each for my small batch) shoyu, flour, cornstarch, mochiko flour, sugar. Plus I added an egg, salt, minced garlic and finely chopped green onion (white part). Then I added to the chicken pieces and marinated for a few hours. As for the baking, I didn't get the pan super-hot like hapabento advised -- my olive oil was burning, and I should have used a different oil, with a higher boiling point, like peanut oil. So as a result it didn't "sizzle", and I was disappointed. It just quietly baked. Next time I will be sure to get the sizzle.
My boy also gets a rice "cupcake" with lavender purple potato "snowflakes" on top. The rice is actually just a thin layer of white on top -- underneath it's mixed with nori furikake. I also made more roasted brussels sprouts, and there's a "snowflake" satsumaimo and a cherry tomato. I know. It's just a star with holes in it. But I'm calling it a snowflake. Fruit square has grapes, a black plum, strawberries and blackberries.
A tip for really yummy roasted brussels sprouts: make sure you cut a deep "x" on top, toss in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and make sure the vinegar gets into the heart of the sprout. Mix around a bit during roasting too, to make sure they are all well-coated. You will find that the brussels sprouts get nice and soft-crispy, with a yummy rich flavor. Even kids will love it! Try it, you'll see!
A kind of wintry-themed bento, with the snowflakes and all, esp. since the weather here has been very frosty! Though there are really few cute details in this bento, it was extremely tasty, which made up for it :)
I have powers of levitation that I put to use in my magical bento today...what do you think? Actually, the light blue background I used just makes it appear as if there's no background at all! Also, it must have been a particularly bright day. Now that the days are getting shorter, I find my pictures might be getting darker with more shadows. Since I have no professional lighting equipment, this lack of natural light must be reflected in my photos, *sigh*. Do you use high-wattage lamps? Or like me, is the quality of your photo dependent upon the weather?
MisterMan has standard vermicelli noodles with grilled chicken, cherry tomato, cucumber baran, broccoli, purple potato wedges and bursting yellow carrots. Fruit side has satsuma mandarins, grapes (underneath), kiwi, blackberries and raspberries.
This bento is so simple, but it includes my boy's favorite kind of food: noodles, so I know it will be a hit. As for the rest of it, as usual I just throw in whatever I have in the vegetable crisper, making sure there is representation of most of the color groups. This is for nutritional balance as well as aesthetics. Starting after this bento, I am trying to put a festive touch into each one. There are only a few weeks left until Christmas, so we might as well make the most of it, right? Happy holidays, friends!
Chow mein with various veggies, satsumaimo flowers, broccoli, peapods, roasted sweet peppers, garlic roasted purple potatoes. Fruit side has grapes, one whole satsuma mandarin, and purple carrot discs. I wanted some contrast to the orange, and wished I had blueberries. Oh well -- the purple carrots seemed to do a sufficient job.
This is a handy Monday bento, when after the weekend I am too tired to cook anything. A quick chow mein can be supplemented with onions and mushrooms, then roast a few other things on the side and add them too. Even decoration is minimal, with only simple florettes. Still, the effect may be pleasing, especially since the boy loves fried noodles (his favorite food, I think!)
This was the requisite leftover turkey bento! Did your leftovers make it to a lunch or two? Along with a few slices, I packed gravy in a yellow container, a little square of cornbread, potato croquette (not homemade), purple and yellow carrot skewer, pear tomatoes, satsuma mandarin, grapes (underneath), blackberries, raspberry and chocolate persimmon.
Have you ever seen this kind of persimmon? I've only seen it recently for the first time. It looks the same as a regular persimmon on the outside, but the flesh looks darker. Seems to taste quite similar to me. You might like to try it if you happen to see it at your local farmers market.
I find most of the unusual produce I use in my bento at the handful of farmers markets I try to explore each week. The food there is fresher, more recently harvested, and more genuinely delicious. Also, if you're not sure how to prepare something, the vendors are happy to share their suggestions with you -- an added bonus :)
For this bento I made eggplant with pork, since I happened to find the cutest tiny eggplants at the farmers market on the weekend!
Besides that, MisterMan gets a veggie section with purple and gold cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, peapods, flower-shaped purple carrot & potato skewer, and romanesco (underneath). Fruit section has grapes, satsuma mandarins, strawberry, blackberries and raspberries.
Also, I put rice under the eggplant; it has a nice sauce so he is sure to like it together :)
To see the making of the eggplant recipe, see this post. It's a nice, tasty dish -- would you be surprised to learn that my kids wolfed it down?
So many people have wondered about these purple potatoes, I thought I would post some pictures to show what they actually look like. These are not the Okinawan sweet potatoes, which also have purple flesh (though with white skin) -- those are completely different (as they are sweet potatoes). I have come across two different kinds of purple potatoes. The one on the left is a lighter color, although you can't really tell from this photo, and the one on the right is much darker, almost black.
These are the same potatoes. I cut them in half, raw, to show you what the uncooked flesh looks like. Pretty cool-looking! You can see that the "black" ones on the right have better, darker and more uniform color.
After cooking. I roasted these, for about 30 minutes with olive oil. The "black" ones have a nice dark rich purple color, which intensifies over time! If you keep the cooked potato in the fridge overnight, it will be even darker the next day. The other purple one has a lighter lavender color; also very pretty in its own way. Strangely, I haven't noticed that this color changes over time.
Here they are the following day after cooking and storing in the fridge overnight. The light ones actually got lighter, while the dark ones got darker!
So there you have it: my very unscientific comparison of the two purple potato types available in my neighborhood. In case you were interested. ^_^
Almost forgot to mention: they look super pretty in bento!
This snack bento is for my 2 year old TinySprite ~ a nori-wrapped hard-boiled egg ninja standing guard with his various weaponry. Watching over the satsuma mandarin, sugar plum, black grapes, strawberry and raspberry. Sword, dagger and throwing star shaped cucumber.
Inspired by fellow flickr bentoist MAHOUTAKE's egg man, and a challenge! Come eat the fruit! Dare you!
Little snack bento for toddler usuallly consists of fruit and cheese -- her favorite foods -- but I usually try to add some protein and veggies as well. Eggs and peanut butter are good stand-bys. She loves hard-boiled egg, which she will eat yolk and all, but for some reason she is not a fan of scrambled eggs or omelet, unfortunately. If your child is picky about certain foods, perhaps the stubborn one may come around if you present the food in a different form. Beans and peas are another specialty food; she prefers them deshelled. Don't bother to deshell them first; little kids love to "play" with their food and may even end up eating more if you let them pop the peas out themselves. My girl may be picky, but I can be sneaky too :)
I am a former research scientist turned stay-at-home-mom of 2 who got started with bento in an effort to help my kids learn that eating healthy and nutritious foods can be fun and cute. I make a bento lunch for my 12yo (7th grader) son & my 9yo (3rd grader) daughter every school day, and post the pictures on my sherimiya ♥ flickr photostream. Here in this blog is where I describe each bento, and you'll also get a peek inside our family adventures. Thanks for taking a look, and please let me know what you think ^-^!