Hangin' out with TinySprite today, she watched me make her bento and had lots of questions. By now she knew right away about the apple bunnies, but was very curious about the egg and the turkey dog thing. "You making egg? You cutting hot dog? You rolling it? You making samwich? It's hot? Don't go so close? Can I stand here? How 'bout here?" And etc. Then afterwards, "Can you take picture? Take MY picture!" So finally after putting it together I showed it to her and she yelled right away "Lion!" And knew the boy lion had a "hat". Success!
She got: turkey dog egg rollup lions with nori detail, steamed broccoli, grape tomato, grapes, mini mandarin and apple bunnies.
I saw the penguin theme has been taken up by hapa bento and The Blogging Mum; take a look to see some very cute penguins in bento there!
Well, TinySprite liked her penguin so much she wanted to see more, so I decided to make some for her brother. I had black (Forbidden) rice, so I thought I would make some penguin musubi. I made two small rice balls and cut faces out of egg white omelet. I used a small sharp knife and cut semi-heart shapes but the egg was very fragile so it's not very exact. I used nori for the eyes and carrot for the beaks. There's a boy and a girl. Can you tell? Well, okay; they're not very penguin-y. We'll see what MisterMan says.
In the back there's Korean barbeque chicken, which I roasted in the oven and sprinkled sesame seeds over, in a lettuce cup. I also stuck some romanesco and baby carrots in the spaces. Fruit side has the last of the strawberries, a mini mandarin and some kumquats underneath.
MisterMan gets a "burrito": tortilla filled with refried beans, soytaco, melted cheddar, chopped onions & tomatoes, and spring greens. We also had avocado, but I forgot to add it to this one. I folded up the tortilla, "glued" it shut with melted cheese, and cut it in half to fit in the box.
He also gets sliced maroon carrots (these are dark red on the outside, but regular orange on the inside), dry roasted baby bok choy, peapod fillers, and a fruit section including sliced strawberry and mini mandarins.
On top I placed a purple potato flower which I microwaved before cutting. You can see that cooking it this way results in a lavender color, as opposed to the dark purple (almost black) color you get when you roast them (like I did in a previous bento). I used a rose fingerling potato for the tiny flower and added sesame seed detail. Have you heard of these potatoes? Here's what they look like. That's a kiwifruit on the side for size comparison :)
I think they are officially called Rose Finn Apple Fingerling potatoes. Somehow I thought they might be rose colored inside. But they're not.
See? Just regular old plain potaters. Maybe I'll dye them next time. :)
TinySprite got a penguin hard-boiled egg made with nori and carrot beak detail. I should have used the other end for the head, so it wouldn't be so pointy, but oh well. She also got carrot sticks, broccoflower, cherry, kiwi, mini mandarin, sliced strawberry, and cinnamon banana discs on a cute marlin skewer! I got this skewer from a bento pal as a gift -- thank you! There are other fish in the set too, and I really love them!
When I gave this to her, she said "Oh! Can I eat the snowman?" What?!
Penguin, I said, penguin! Oh, penguin, she repeated.
Sigh. Oh well.
Are you ready for Spring yet? I know I am. This bento has a bunch of plum blossoms to get us in the mood and signal to the world that we are ready for flowers (and sun)!
I steamed cod in shoyu, ginger and scallions with just a little cracked pepper and a final drizzle of sesame oil. At the same time I roasted some sliced yellow squash and broccoflower, which I placed next to the fish on the lettuce. In the next container I placed some purple potato chips (also roasted), a grape tomato and some red carrot flowers. All the veggies roasted together. I thought the purple might run off into the lighter colored stuff, but it held its color well. I brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic powder during cooking and that's it. In the fruit section I put a strawberry, 2 cherries and a partially peeled mini mandarin. I was in the midst of peeling the whole thing like I usually do, but at this point I noticed that it looked like a little hooded creature! So I added eyes and a nose and put him in like that. Afterwards I also noticed that the cherry stems look like antennae, kind of.
This is a newish bento box that I got from a Korean market. It's nice because it has 3 sections as well as a transparent lid. The volume is 480ml, which is just right for MisterMan if I pack it full(ish).
Hapabento started a sunshiny trend that I think we should continue, especially since we have been "blessed" with very dark wintry days recently.
So here's my sunshine bento: Leftover Thai chicken and vegetable curry including zucchini and eggplant, rice topped with yellow pepper sun, 2 color carrot skewer (orange and maroon), romanesco and grape tomatoes. Fruit box contains sliced strawberry and blood orange wedges.
Who's next with the sunshine? Please pass it along! :)
I made quinoa salad for this bento. There are several different varieties of quinoa, which you may know about. I took a picture of the four that I happen to have in my pantry right now: clockwise from top left. Black, regular, red (Peruvian) and tricolor (which is just obviously the previous 3 kinds, already mixed together).
This time I used tricolor quinoa. It's so easy: just saute the veggies first (I used yellow capsicum, onion, garlic, carrots, zucchini), then add the quinoa and broth in a 1:2 ratio. It cooks in 15 minutes. After taking off heat, stir in diced celery, spring onion and almonds for crunch. Use your favorite flavorings: I used garlic powder and cumin this time and it was pretty good. This meal is healthy and tastes good at any temperature; even as a cold salad, making it perfect for bento. Quinoa is also a "perfect" protein, as it contains essential amino acids and yet is a (plant) grain. Plus, it's quick and easy to prepare. It's also good mixed in with oatmeal or other hot cooked cereal for breakfast.
In addition, he gets carrots, grape tomatoes, romanesco, and a cucumber frog. For fruit he has cherries, kiwi flowers and sliced kumquats. Ribbit!
This is my special bento box purchase from my recent trip to Hawaii (on sale at Shirokiya): a floral shaped two-tiered lacquer Hakoya bento box.
Each tier has a tight-fitting plastic lid, and they fit together, fastened with a red velcro belt (not pictured).
Here is the best part of the box: a three-sectioned divider that fits in the top tier. Isn't that cool? Can't wait to use it :)
Now on to some blog awards!
First, I would like to thank tatabonita of Bonito's Cooking Wonderland for giving me this sweet holiday award! If you haven't checked out her blog, you really should! She has cute bento and great recipes with beautiful photography. Thank you dear, I really appreciate your encouragement and kind comments!
Secondly, I got this wonderful award from Lia of MyBentolicious, whose blog I also love; I should be giving her this award instead! Lia has lots of tips, recipes and of course examples of her detailed and elegant bento.
So sweet of you both; I am very grateful for bento blogging friends like you!
Today's bento has veggie chili with 3 kinds of beans, as well as chopped cauliflower and zucchini hidden within. If you do this, you might want to chop the veggies small enough that they are unrecognizable, depending on how astute your kids are. I got lazy and just threw in the chunks, so my kids immediately pointed out that those white things were cauliflower and not tofu, which is what my hubs initially assumed.
I also put in a piece of yellow corn. Doesn't it look bright and summery? I love yellow in bento. Besides corn, I like yellow carrots and sweet yellow peppers; I think this color really makes the food look cheerful and delicious :) I decorated the corn with a carrot flower and cilantro leaves. And because chili goes with rice, I put some in a little cup as well, with nori and ume furikake sprinkled on top.
We have some nice fruits in the house right now, and I was able to give him cherries, a big juicy sliced strawberry, and some kiwi flowers.
All packed up in my new Pokemon box!! Isn't it cute? I got it at Ichiban Kan, which I was surprised to discover is now carrying "designer" bento boxes now. They always in the past had stocked a few Hamtaro and Hello Kitty bento accessories, but usually the boxes were other, widely available brands. So, my boy will be happy to see this at lunchtime. He is still very excited about the Pokemon books these days ^_^
Today's bento is completely disposable because MisterMan is going on a field trip to the Children's Museum. I usually pack a sandwich, boring as it may be, because it's the easiest thing for him to eat neatly whilst sitting on a bench somewhere in the windy, rainy, stormy weather we've been having lately.
In his whole wheat sandwich thin he gets a fried egg, ham, cheddar cheese and spring greens. I put a bear face on top to make it a little happier. The bear is made of corn tortilla and his facial features are nori. The crown is a piece of cheddar cheese. To make the face to stick to the sandwich, I melted some cheese on the back to "glue" it on.
I also threw in a peeled satsuma mandarin, a giant strawberry, and some cherries. I wrapped it all up in wax paper to keep it from drying out, and I used a grass baran to try to keep the sandwich away from the fruits to keep it from getting soggy.
For the container, I used a recycled plastic strawberry box, which I like because it has a lid which snaps shut tightly. Of course, there are holes all over the box, which is why I had to use the wax paper. Actually, I put the whole thing in another plastic bag with his water bottle, so that should keep everything from drying out too much before lunchtime.
On my recent trip to L.A. over the long weekend, I scored a bunch of new bento stuff. Yay! This multi-sectional box is one of them. I found this one at a store in Little Tokyo called Tokyo Japanese Lifestyle. It's a very cool store, and you should check it out if you're in the area.
This box also came as a two-tier option, with the lower tier a box of the same size without dividers or containers. Each section of this box holds 170 mls, and the label claims the total volume is 1.2L. I guess this takes into account the convex lid (which I don't show here), which does allow you to stuff extra food in there.
Anyway, this size is just perfect for my first-grader. I don't have to fill up the sections fully, but yet each stays separate from the others to keep sauces and flavors distinct. I love it!
For the first use, I gave him Singapore rice sticks in the red box, a green salad with marinated artichoke hearts and grape tomatoes topped with crumbled feta in the green box, pan-fried garlic enoki and broccoflower along with 2 carrot goldfish in the purple box, and a selection of desserts in the yellow box: cherries, kumquats, a beautiful strawberry and a piece of homemade zucchini bread.
This box is a little wider than my others, and it barely fits in his insulated lunch tote, but I squeezed it in there. What do you think? It's a pretty fun box, eh?
I made zucchini bread today; I was craving the one I made in Hawaii last week, and I happened to have 2 zucchinis in the fridge, so off I went to bake some.
Can't figure out why it didn't turn out exactly like the last loaf, which was dark, dark brown. Anyway, it's still very moist and delicious, so I won't complain! This bread is perfect with a cup of tea. It's not too sweet, it has dark chocolate and nuts, and best of all -- it's good for you! Two whole zucchinis can't be wrong! So I am passing this excellent recipe on to you, so you can benefit from the nutritious qualities of this healthy bread :)
Grate 2C zucchini. This usually turns out to be about 2 medium-size zucchini. Note that after grating, you should squeeze through cheesecloth to get most of the moisture out. There will be a LOT of moisture.
*eta: I've been notified that it's not necessary to squeeze out the moisture! Well, that would certainly change the cooking conditions, but I'll try it that way next time.
Mix grated zucchini with 3 eggs, 1C vegetable oil, 1C packed dark brown sugar, and 2t vanilla.
In a separate bowl combine:
1C flour, 1C whole wheat flour, 1/4t baking powder, 2t baking soda, 1t salt, 3t cinnamon, 1C walnuts, 1/2C dark chocolate chips (or more) and 1/4C wheat germ.
Combine the contents of the 2 bowls.
Pour into loaf pan.
Bake at 350F for about an hour.
Try to wait for it to cool before you eat it, but you won't be able to. So go ahead.
Enjoy -- remember, it's healthy!
It's Keroppi! If you follow my tweets, you'll know that I was so excited to find this vintage Keroppi bento box in a second hand store I was browsing through in Hawaii recently. I was such a big fan of Keroppi as a schoolgirl, which does date me I suppose. Anyone else with me on this?
Anyway, it's such a tiny box...it's really kind of impractical. So, I decided its inaugural use would be as a snack for my toddler. After I made the rollups, though, I realized it was a pretty hefty meal after all. I used a fried egg and rolled with ham, spinach, and grated cheddar cheese, which promptly melted nicely on the hot egg and ham. I added a couple of grape tomatoes for color, which she loves, and in the tiny divided section I put 3 kumquats and some kiwi flowers.
Well, she took one bite of the kumquat and politely handed it back to me. It wouldn't be the first time I was the recipient of half-masticated foodstuffs. Such is the job of the mom, right?
Next time I think I'll slice them up thin and mix them in with pineapple or something else intensely sweet. Ha! I'll figure something out. ^_^
I was very honored to receive this award from Jenn of BentoforKidlet! She is a great mom who makes a bento for her son every day, with a cute character to brighten his school lunches. Please check out her blog to see her wonderful creations!
Here's what I'm supposed to do:
Copy the award image into a post.
List 10 things that make you happy.
Tag 10 bloggers who brighten your day.
Put in a link to their blogs.
Notify the award receivers.
Recipients should link back to the sender's blog. (I say this can be optional. If I have given you an award you are in no way obligated to link back to me, just enjoy your award!)
Okay, here are my 10 things that make me happy:
1) Family, friends and wonderful people in general.
2) Chocolate chip cookies, preferably homemade, that are crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside, with nuts and dark chocolate chips.
3) A good book. I like novels and my favorite authors are Kundera, Tan, and Eco. But I recently discovered the spy/adventure genre, and now I am working my way through Clive Cussler. He writes about adventure on the high seas with a scientific bent, which is cool.
4) Swimming. Also, the ocean, and water in general. When I first started seriously swimming, it was a spiritual experience for me. It helps me keep things in perspective, and I have a whole philosophy about the myriad ways it improves me. Maybe for another post.
5) Travel. Before kids, we traveled a lot! It felt a bit indulgent then, but now we are definitely glad we did it, since it will be many, many years before we can travel in quite the same way again (with carefree abandon and no reservations).
6) Music. Especially acoustic, folky, guitar vocally stuff (remember Indigo Girls "Closer to Fine"?) because it brings me back to my salad days of grad school. I feel nostalgic about those days even though I was poor, stressed and fatigued because in a way that's when I felt most appreciative of everything. It's good to remember what it means to not take anything for granted.
7) Minis. Not the skirts -- just teeny tiny things. Anything! I love miniature food toys like Re-Ment, mini bento, mini dollhouses with furniture, even terrariums that evoke miniecosystems. I like tiny notebooks and pencils, bonsai and dwarf fruits like lady apples and mini mandarins. Did I mention I used to be a microbiologist?
8) Andy Garcia and Robert De Niro. And The Godfather.
9) Making bento, shopping for bento stuff, thinking and planning bento, looking at everyone else's bento blogs and flickr pools, skimming through bento cookbooks, admiring my own stash, drawing sketches of dream bento creations, and on and on...
10) My morning coffee and toast. And newspaper. In the morning sun. With the dog at my feet and the kids still in bed. I love to start the day peacefully and slowly, because after that it doesn't quiet down again until bedtime!
Okay! Now for the 10 bloggers that brighten my day: Well, it seems most of them have already been given this award... if this is true for you, that's ok, I just want to let you know that I love your blog and look forward to reading the interesting and cool ideas and experiences you share with us!
Today I made roasted sweet miso chicken a la hapabento's recipe... although I changed it up a bit... and I added a panda rice musubi because as I've mentioned before, I really like chicken with rice! I think they go together like peaches and cream! Or hugs and kisses! Anyway. I think I'm convincing MisterMan of this, as he is eating the riceballs every day, and I'm not hearing any complaints :)
For the chicken, I only had skinless boneless thighs, so that's what I used. I marinated the pieces whole in equal parts white miso and agave syrup, which is the juice from the agave plant and a sugar/honey substitute. I forgot the mirin, but I added it just before cooking. I roasted at 450F in my trusty toaster oven for quite awhile; I think maybe 40 minutes or so. I even had extra room in there so I also roasted some mini sweet peppers at the same time (though those came out after about 20 minutes).
After the chicken was done, I also roasted some baby bok choy, another hapabento idea. I had previously accidentally roasted some brussels sprouts leaves, and discovered the crunchy leaves are kinda fun to eat. Have you ever tried it? So, I thought I would try the same thing with the choy. It didn't crisp up as well, but it still came out okay, and I think it tastes neat this way. My kids swiped it through the miso sauce, and I guess it was acceptable, because they ate it all.
I added some raw carrots for extra color, and in the fruit section I put some chopped fresh pineapple, cherries, and blood orange wedges.
This bento came home completely empty; all the lettuce and sauce included -- it looked like he had washed it already! I guess he liked it :)
For MisterMan today I made ma po tofu, but with a number of changes from the traditional recipe.
I used ground turkey, and I added chopped baby bok choy because I think it adds better color and nutrition. In addition, I had to omit most of the chili sauce due to the low tolerance level of the kids. However, I did add some! This is a big step, considering they used to cry whenever they tasted a chili pepper in months past. And finally, I don't make mine with lots of goopy sauce; it's actually kind of dry. We prefer it like this :)
All I do for my ma po is brown the meat, add some black bean sauce and chili garlic sauce, and cook a bit. Then add chopped fermented mustard greens, fresh chopped bok choy and stir to wilt. Then add in the cubed tofu. I used firm tofu just because the kids like it like that. I add some water for a little sauce, and thicken with cornstarch. You see, it's not like genuine ma po tofu, but it's close enough that I'm gonna call it that!
I gave him rice, so I could make two carrot crabs to display. I just got some new cutter toys, and wanted to try them out! They really make cute details a lot easier!
Finally, I made crinkle cut cucumber baran, a peapod flower, some romanesco and a cherry tomato. I put the fruits in a separate container so they wouldn't get sauce on them. He has a cute tiny mini mandarin, sliced kiwi and some cherries.
Oh, I forgot to mention that this is a new bento box from Marukai in Hawaii! It's stainless steel, with a tight-fitting plastic lid. I have these in lots of shapes and sizes, but this is the first time I've seen it in a flat square shape. It's shallow, so I can't fit large things in here, but it means that you can see everything pretty clearly in the shot. It's kind of cool :)
This post is part of a collective joint post extolling the virtues of Banh Mi as a bento item. My fellow bento bloggers and I wanted to show how this sandwich can be modified to fit nicely into just about any kind of nutritional lifestyle. We all make bento with different objectives, for people with different tastes and caloric requirements, yet we are all able to utilize this item effectively. There is a banh mi for everyone! Read more about how the delicious and versatile banh mi is playing a part in:
vegan/vegetarian adult bento for Debra at hapabento,
healthy yet tasty adult bento for megan at bento zen,
Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich. It is widely available where I live (California) from ubiquitous Vietnamese restaurants and delis, in any number of varieties. They usually have some kind of meat filling (such as bbq or grilled chicken, pork or beef), which is accompanied by cucumbers, pickled carrots and daikon on a crunchy soft French sandwich roll. It's very delicious, fresh and light, and also very inexpensive. The kids really like it, so naturally it's a regular go-to lunch item in our house!
MisterMan is a typical, active first-grader, so I sent him to school with a bit over half of a sandwich. To the grilled pork and pickled veggies I added more cilantro as well as dandelion greens. He'll take awhile to crunch through this big sandwich, so in the side section I added just a few fruits: kumquats, cherries and checkered apple. Recently I've noticed that I have to take time consideration into account, as he's told me a couple times that he "runs out of time" to finish! I think maybe he wants to rush out to the playground with the other kids after lunch.
Did you notice my new sandwich bento box? Up to now I have always used my Keroppi basket bento box, which you may have seen before, in a past banh mi bento post. This one has a flip-top lid and an included side cup. It's just the right size for a sandwich and a side, or some musubi and a side. But best of all, since it's not a basket, I don't have to wrap in paper to prevent drying out. It's so cute! Here's how it looks all closed up:
Do you have a favorite banh mi? Tell me about it! Or, if you've never tried it, perhaps we have piqued your interest :)
Actually this is not exactly Mauna Kea Korean Chicken, since it's not deep fried... but it still uses the same Korean barbeque sauce. It's sweet, so the kids like it.
Here's how I made it:
1/2 C shoyu
1/2 C sugar (I used raw sugar)
1T sesame oil
1T toasted sesame seeds
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1T ginger, grated
green onion, chopped
Traditionally, you should add Korean Kochujang (chili) sauce, but I omitted it since my kids are sort of intolerant of too much spice. It's still good without it!
If you were making kalbi you would marinate the meat and then grill. For the original chicken recipe you would deep fry the chicken so it's crispy, but instead I simply broiled the chicken after marinating. I precut the chicken into smaller pieces so it's easier for my kids to eat. If you do this, you should watch to see when the chicken is done. It might take about 30 minutes or so. Flip to brown the other side. You can serve with extra sauce for dipping, which kids love to do. The sauce is also excellent for dipping assorted other vegetables that happen to be around, which greatly increases the likelihood that your kids will eat them. In this case, broccoli and squash.
The broccoli is simply steamed, and the sweet dumpling squash is roasted. I added brown sugar to the squash and my 2 year old girl gobbled it up. It didn't go over very well with my boy, but with the barbeque sauce the taste seems to improve :)
I also put in two mini onigiri because I really think chicken should go with rice, even though my 6 year old often doesn't agree. I think he doesn't like to take the time to eat rice when he'd rather eat more interesting foods during their short lunch period. We'll see if he goes for it. I am so short on fruits that all he gets is cherries! Carrot stars complete this bento.
Luckily it's the end of the week and maybe I can find more interesting fruits this weekend at the farmers markets. Happy weekend friends! ^_^
Hi everyone! I'm finally back to bento. I'm out of practice, though, so it may take me awhile to relearn how to do it nice...
Here's a roasted salmon, and yes those are chili flakes. MisterMan ate some kimchi over the break, and I am hoping it means his taste buds are becoming more tolerant of the spicy stuff ('cuz his dad & I LOVE spicy!). He ate it for dinner, and didn't say anything about it, so I'm gonna try more hot stuff too. Yippee! I also threw some garlic powdered fingerling potatoes in the pan along with some balsamic vinegared brussels sprouts. Tossed with olive oil and left for about 20 minutes. I'm another one who often makes the whole meal in the toaster oven; it's sooo convenient, and you often don't need to add much to the vegetables when you cook this way, retaining their healthful qualities.
I added some cherry tomatoes dressed up as cherries for a pop of color, and I also put in some real cherries, and the winter necessity - apple bunnies. I rarely make apple bunnies because there are so many other (better--sorry apple bunnies!) fruits available throughout the year that I use those when I can. But, in the winter the pickings are slim, and here's when I turn to those dependable apples to help my bento look nice. *sigh*
And those cool pencil chopsticks! I have to say Thank You to gamene, for sending them to me as a sweet new year's surprise waiting for me in the mail just today!
Happy New Year, friends. Are you resolving to make more bento this year?
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 13yo (8th grader) son & my 9yo (4th 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 ^-^!