I made dry curry for today's bento, using ground turkey and a bunch of vegetables that I happened to have on hand already: onion, carrot, orange / yellow / red mini sweet peppers, peas, and also some new potatoes. I chopped everything up finely (except the peas) before adding them to the browned meat. When everything was tender I added the curry mixture, which included curry powder, shoyu, mirin, and sake. And a bit of water. Stir in and cook until dry. The nice thing about dry curry is that since it is "dry", it is a good choice for bento -- there is no thick sauce to get all over everything.
In this bento, I scooped the dry curry on top of fresh rice. In the next section I put some roasted baby bok choy, and the final 2 sections include red grapes, a purple carrot skewer, a strawberry and a half plum. Nope, it's not summer here yet; it's a Chilean plum...but I couldn't resist. My own apricot tree is nearing full bloom, and I'm dreaming of fresh tree-ripe fruit in the coming months, hopefully. Our tree is very popular with the neighborhood birds and squirrels, so it'll be a battle to get our share.
We had a great, sunny day today, which I spent hanging out in the garden with TinySprite, but tomorrow calls for more rain :( Come on, Spring!
Today, since TinySprite has been stuck at home with congestion, I decided to do some cleaning. As a result I came across a bunch of photocopies I made several months ago of a bunch of lunch ideas. Wow, and on a day that I was putting off bento planning -- perfect! First on the list: Things to put in a tortilla wrap. Great!
So here's today's bento: black beans, black rice, soytaco, spinach, cilantro, green onions, and cheddar cheese. All folded into a whole wheat tortilla and cut in half. I didn't make a "roll" because if I leave the ends open, my boy will pick it up and half the fillings will just slide out the other end. But if I fold up the bottom, then fold in the sides, it makes a little pocket that he can eat more easily. To fill in this box I added a piece of steamed broccoli, some carrots, grape tomatoes and peapods. On the fruit side I was able to squeeze in a strawberry, a sliced kiwi and a couple grapes. This box is the Pokemon one, and it's super cute, but sometimes a challenge to fit everything in. After I took the shot, I lay the 2 halves down flat and put the tomatoes over on the fruit side.
I was so happy that the sun decided to make an appearance for my photo! Makes for a much nicer shot than the dreary ones I have been taking lately..
I know, I know. Usually you make furikake salmon or furikake mahi mahi, like I had in this bento. But, I thought I would try it with wild cod, since it was available in my market, and I figured since it is a mild-tasting fish the furikake would give it a nice shot of flavor.
Here's how to do it:
1. Spread the fish with mayo.
2. Sprinkle generously with furikake.
3. Fry in butter until done, then flip.
That's it! Fillets like salmon and mahimahi hold together well, but cod tends to fall apart so it ended up being more like chunks of furikake cod. But actually this works out well for kids, since it's easier for them to eat like this anyway. For this bento I lay the fish on some lettuce, added some garlic roasted asparagus, and decorated with tiny yellow carrot flowers. I also gave him maroon carrot sticks and Okinawan sweet potato flowers. In the fruit section he has a strawberry, grapes and a mini mandarin.
Since today is National Sweet Potato Day (you learn all kinds of things via twitter), I decided to toss in two kinds of sweet potato into MisterMan's bento to celebrate. I steamed regular orange and Okinawan purple sweet potatoes, cut them into flower shapes, and lay them in. I also put some roast chicken in lettuce wrap, quick pan-fried garlic enoki mushrooms, steamed broccoli with tiny maroon carrot flowers, starcut carrots and a grape tomato.
In the fruit section I place a giant, juicy red strawberry, some red grapes (underneath), and some yellow carrot stars on blood orange slices with the rinds cut off, like I saw ehmeelu do yesterday. I like the cool effect.
I used a kind of indigo dyed cloth-like paper for background. I can't remember where I got it, but it came in a big sheet which you fold up like fabric although it's actually paper. And do you see the cute Keroppi pair?
They are a gift from a very, very thoughtful and sweet bento friend!! I LOVE them; thank you!!!
On to other news:
I was so fortunate as to receive the following award from Natesgirl of Give Peas A Chance.
Thank you so much!! I am so flattered and honored. You should take a look at her blog; she is so talented -- making bento, cooking, baking, crafting... and raising a beautiful family to boot! Wow!
Since I have already told you several things about myself in an earlier post, I won't bore you again...but I will pass this award on to one of my favorite bloggers, Lia of MyBentolicious. If you don't already know how amazing Lia's bento skills are, you must take a look at her blog and discover for herself!
I sometimes don't bother posting the Monday bento because I am usually running late and the rushed bento doesn't look pretty...but this time I am posting it. It's a simple one; a quick and easy sandwich on a fluffy wheat bun. I fried some ham and an egg, melted cheese on top, and added a few baby spinach leaves. This sandwich bento box is a perfect size for it.
A few details turned it into a horse: broccoli mane, grape tomato and purple carrot eyes, maroon carrot nose, and a carrot smile. In the side box I gave him some red grapes, juicy strawberries and a mini mandarin. That's it! That's all I have time and energy for; and when I closed the box, the facial details smooshed down to stay in place. Yay!
I haven't made a mini bento in sooo long, and you know how much I love minis! Just had the urge to make a mini bento today. Well, I picked up a pack of Mini Toasts and thought they would be so cute as a mini sandwich. Usually I make mini-er foods than this, but this is a nice scale to work with too.
On the toasted breads I put two circles of smoked ham, swiss cheese, some mini curly lettuce, a mini slice of avocado, and finally I sliced some grape tomatoes and lay them on top. Looking at it now, I think I should have squirted a squiggle of mustard right on top of the tomatoes. Next time.
I cut some mini carrot sticks to go along with this healthy "lunch" on a tofu "plate". The whole thing sits on top of a mini mandarin, with red grapes and strawberries surrounding. I added a tree of broccoli for color too. Here's a closeup view:
Today I made a batch of mixed rice, containing black "Forbidden" rice, brown rice and regular white rice. This combinations ends up looking kind of multihued purple and black. It's nutty and chewy, and really good -- the kids love it too! Anyway, I always think this rice makes a nice bear-colored musubi, so that's what I made.
The bear face is molded by hand using fresh, hot rice, and the facial details are made from tofu and nori. I also baked some wild Alaskan salmon with just olive oil, and then dressed it in Mauna Kea sauce, which I usually use with chicken as in this bento, but which is also good with fish.
For color I added star cut baby carrots and a grape tomato puffy heart (thanks for the idea, hapa bento!)! I also roasted some brussels sprouts and mini sweet peppers. If you crosscut the sprouts, you'll see that they open up and "bloom" during cooking. Sometimes I toss with balsamic vinegar, which saturates them all the way through and they taste fanTAStic!
Fruits include strawberry, red grapes and mini mandarin.
Today's bento has a theme: Olympics! It's an easy one, and it might even provide more than one themed bento over the next week. I'll tell you what this one shows, since you may not be able to decipher it on your own: Snowboard Cross.
Yes, I know it doesn't look like a snowboard but the truth is he was supposed to be a downhill skier. After I cut out the carrot man, I couldn't get him to stand on two skis so I used only one. And didn't bother to cut a proper snowboard by that time :) But luckily this way I don't need to figure out how to put poles either.
I made honey garlic pork, using sliced pork loin instead of chops so it's easier for the kids to eat and better for bento. I also stirfried yellow zucchini (squash) and sweet red pepper with olive oil and garlic powder. There's also steamed broccoli, a maroon/purple carrot skewer and a grape tomato. The snowboarder is made of carrot with a grape head and a purple carrot ski, and he is perched on a tofu hill. In the fruit section I put sliced blood oranges, a strawberry, a yellow carrot star and some red grapes (underneath).
Today's bento showcases a couple new things I got during New Year festivities, both in San Francisco and Los Angeles. We spent the past 4 day weekend roadtripping to L.A. to visit with family for New Year's and Valentines celebrations, and managed to slip in a bit of shopping too ^_^ !
First, notice the cute froggie thermal bento! I finally got one, since I've seen a few other bloggers use it, and it turned out to be perfect for this jook bento. I put jook (congee/rice porridge) in the thermal part with chopped scallions, and mixed stir-fried veggies in the upper smaller container. This little container has a lid of its own. You set it in the thermal and it sits on top; there's a larger screwtop handled lid which goes on top of it all.
Second, you'll notice his fruit box contains a new item: taiyaki! Along with mandarin, grapes and strawberry there lies a fish pancake, traditionally filled with red bean paste. I got a new taiyaki pan at Marukai in L.A.'s Little Tokyo last weekend, and couldn't wait to try it out! I used a whole wheat multigrain waffle batter and cooked it stovetop on my gas flame. It was pretty easy! I didn't expect it to go that well, so wasn't even prepared with fillings. But I did try chocolate, and that was gooood. I wasn't sure how much I could use without it exploding, but it turns out that the batter doesn't expand that much so I could have used a lot more fillings. I'll try that next time for sure. Oh, I almost forgot, can taiyaki count as pancake for Shrove Tuesday / Pancake Day?
Back to the bento routine after a long, fun weekend off!
This is my final Happy Valentines Day / Chinese New Year dual bento!
I made two sweet potato tigers with nori and sesame seed detail, with a red pepper heart to show their love. Also in the box, which is a tiny bamboo steamer, broccoli, maroon carrots, yellow carrots, strawberry and red grapes. My boy brought a bunch of lay see and candies home from his class party, so I used some of them for the photo.
Hope all my bento friends enjoy a weekend of love and best wishes for an auspicious new year's beginning :D
I did this tiger snack bento for my toddler girl because I really love the little quail egg animals and wanted to see if I could dye this one yellow using golden beets. I tossed a beet in with the water while I was boiling the eggs, and then after the eggs were cooked I peeled them and soaked them in a small container of beet juice overnight. I guess if I boiled them they may have come out darker, but it did turn a light yellow! I decorated his face with nori details and made yellow carrot ears. Also in his box are nice ripe strawberries, broccoli, baby carrots and red grapes (underneath).
I decided to make a double celebration bento: Chinese New Year and Valentines Day, so here's my effort.
Along with shoyu chicken in lettuce, this bento has roasted broccoli and sweet tricolor peppers. For detail interest I cut some sweet potato and pink carrot flowers. The fruit section contains the mini mandarin tiger decorated with pieces of red grape for Chinese New Year, and strawberry hearts. More red grapes underneath. The facial details took the LONGest! But it turns out that grape skin is pretty good for this purpose. You just have to cut it away from the flesh so that it lays flat enough to stay on the surface. I was happy to keep it all in the fruit family for the decoration, for taste's sake :)
This festive paper and heart doily are a gift from a bento friend, and I found this sweet dessert mini fork just for this occasion. It's kinda frilly and flowery, but my 6 year old boy won't mind! He still loves the lovey-doveyness of Valentines Day :D
I got this newest addition to my vegetable cutter collection last weekend at the Chinese New Year festivities in San Francisco. It's a graceful bird, and my first bird cutter ever - not counting ducks and chicks. I used it to cut a slice of apple in this bento, and it cut very nicely, considering I had to cut through a part with the seedy middle. I couldn't get through the street fair without procuring bento stuff, I guess... but at least I only got two things: this cutter, and a thermal bento! To be seen another time....
Yes, he's a pointy-headed tiger. I'm pretty fixed on the pointy headed animals; don't know why. Maybe I should have made the ears bigger to compensate. Anyway, it's a sardine sandwich, made with tomato, basil, and celery, and I actually fit two sandwiches in this box. The lid is raised pretty high, so you can cram a lot of food in these little boxes.
In the mama box I put some kale I baked with olive oil, a la Steamy Kitchen, and it was crispy and awesome when fresh, but it probably won't be by MisterMan's lunchtime. It's okay. I'm betting he'll still inhale it :)
Finally, in the baby box I managed to squeeze in some blood orange slices, a strawberry and a tiny kumquat.
The photo is a bit busy, but I really wanted to use this bamboo forest fabric for my tiger bento, so that's how it goes. Here's how they look all closed up. It's a hippo family set!
Today's bento has fish "tacos" in lettuce wraps. Pan-fried cod with olive oil and lemon pepper lie next to baby carrots and halved grape tomato. The salsa for the fish is in the next compartment. Here's what it's made of:
One peeled, segmented, cubed orange
One peeled, cubed avocado
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onion
You can alter the proportions to personal taste, and add other things like shredded cabbage, celery for crunch, or tomato. The orange and lime gives a zesty flavor that makes me think of summer. If you were making real tacos, you would put some fish and a scoop of salsa in the tortilla -- that's what we did for dinner. It's really good, and the kids love to make them.
In the fruit section he has two strawberries, some red grapes, and two "lovebirds" cut from apple with my new cutter. This detail makes it a Valentine's bento! And, it's also eligible for hapabento's REDB.O.M.B. contest!
I made mini pizzas using pocketless whole wheat pita rounds, pepperoni, sun-dried tomatoes, cheese and shredded spinach. Since MisterMan is learning fractions this week, I was going to write "1/4" on each piece with asparagus, but they were too big and simply fell off. Later I realized I should have just used pepperoni. Next time.
Since this tiffin is quite deep, I was able to put all slices in the bottom and place the top tier on top. I filled the top, shallow bowl with a variety of fruits: red grapes, kiwi flowers, a mini mandarin, cinnamon apple hearts, and a grape tomato. The grape tomato is very important, as it allows me to enter this bento in the REDB.O.M.B.contest at hapabento's blog. Yay! I guess the tablecloth also counts too, right?
Today's bento has teriyaki salmon on a lettuce wrap, with a roasted sweet yellow pepper vase of roasted pencil asparagus. Two red radish heart details make it eligible for the REDcontest at hapabento's blog!
I also made a pink heart riceball using beet. On top of it I place a carrot sakura blossom with peapod and sesame seed detail. As an aside, I thought I would try to make pink rice during cooking by throwing a washed, peeled raw beet into the rice cooker. Maybe some of you have tried this before? I thought all the beet juice would come out and soak into the rice while cooking. Ha! What I ended up with was a nice cooked beet sitting on top of a nice batch of rice-colored rice! So I had to dye the rice afterwards, in a small bowl with the chopped up cooked beet and a little extra water.
Fruit side has blood orange slices, red grapes and kumquat halves. I put nori detail on them, which sounds weird, but kumquats have a strange taste -- kind of tart / a bit sweet -- anyway, so what's a little nori gonna do?
You'll also notice new utensils I got as a gift from a dear friend! It's keroppi, and his little face is stamped on the fork and spoon! So cute, thank you!! I have more too... and you will see them in the near future... ^_^
Today's bento has stir-fried eggplant and tofu in chili garlic sauce, which I thought for sure might be met with some resistance in the under 7 group, but they both gobbled it up! So in it went to MisterMan's lunch bento, with yellow pepper flower details, purple potato "chips", carrots, broccoli, grape tomato, grapes and a RED apple heart.
Starting the week with the 4-square 4-color bento box!
Here's a little historical tidbit: Many moons ago, when hapabento and I were just young'uns, we each had a round bento box. We also had other boxes, but we noticed something interesting. Whenever we used the round box, the bento looked beautiful. Even when we were tired that day and only had leftovers, somehow the food you threw in the round box became a lovely bento. Try it, you'll see. Amazing, right? So, this box was christened The Magic Round Box. Its status remained until the appearance of hapabento's 4 Square Box. I was skeptical at first, but then I got one, and lo, it's true. I mean, look at it -- it's got 4 boxes within another box, all perfect stylized squares of varying colors. You can color-coordinate or not, mix and match flavors or textures, use a theme, the options are seemingly endless. Very cool, right? And so, the Magic 4 Square Box was born!
Anyway, back to today's bento: MisterMan got lentil curry over rice with carrot butterflies, purple potato chips, spring greens salad with peppadews and radish mushroom, and fruit box with grapes, red pear and sliced kumquats.
Radish has a heart shaped spot, did you notice it? And the red spotted background is one of a few that I got as a gift from a bento buddy... thank you!! It's just right to start off the "red" month of love... ^_^
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 9yo (4th grader) son & my 5yo kindergartener girl 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 ^-^!