It's the last Halloween bento of the season. Yay! I'll put TinySprite's first since i think it's cute. I've seen people make mummified hot dogs using refrigerated puff pastry but I don't have any of that, and really should just get some since you can make all kinds of cool shapes with it. So I went with my standard whole wheat tortilla, which is just as well since TS can put it away just as is. I cut the round tortilla in a spiral, which made it easier to wrap around the cylindrical turkey dog. I melted some cheese, but used two heart picks to fasten it just behind his "head" and "feet". Two sesame seeds are his eyes. The rest of the bento includes broccoli, purple cauliflower, carrots, grapes and cubed dragonfruit. Are you familiar with this fruit? I don't usually buy it; it's very expensive here. But it does look cool.
The other cute thing I want to tell you about is the quail egg candy corn. Isn't it cute? I love quail eggs, as you may notice if you scroll through my past bento. They are so versatile and fun to use. You can even shape themy by hand. To make the pyramid (triangle) shape, just pinch the top between your thumb and forefinger while pressing the bottom flat with your other thumb. You'd do this while the egg is still warm, and it only takes a few minutes. Then, to dye it, just sit the egg down in a bowl of golden beet juice with the liquid level reaching up 2/3. After it's nice and yellow, take it out and place it in a bowl of regular beet juice, up to 1/3. The red will combine with the yellow to create orange. Voila, you have a candy corn. OKAY, I know the purists among you will say "Candy corn colors are white, then orange, then yellow on the bottom", and you are right, but it's more difficult to get the stripes in that order so you'll have to accept this substitution from me.
MisterMan got smoked salmon / cream cheese / baby arugula rollups, the same veggies, fruit and candy corn, but his dragonfruit is a dalmation, playing with a ball. Awwwww.
So that's it for this year, people! Thanks for indulging me!
We're coming up on the last couple days of Halloween bento, so bear with me and we'll soon be back to normal. But I really wanted to use this mummy idea since string cheese really does look like gauzy mummy wrapping, doesn't it? And since my boy has recently informed me he likes "raw" cheese now, I get to try it! I made a rice ball with black rice and criss-crossed some thin string cheese strips on top. Since the rice was warm, it melted on a little bit and needed no other fastening. Have you ever had rice and cheese? I haven't, but he said he liked it. I made some eyes with pink and purple carrot discs -- nothing could be easier. Voila: mummy.
This was accompanied by a piece of luscious misoyaki butterfish leftover from dinner the night before. I really love this fish; I think it's another one of my top ten foods of all time. I used the recipe here but this time I marinated for over 48 hours, only possible if you can procure a very fresh piece of fish. I got mine from my local farmer's market, and it was delicious. I used to think it was called butterfish due to its buttery texture; it melts in your mouth and has a very silky quality.
TinySprite is a fan of the fish too, but I decided to give her something a little more user-friendly. While her brother can neatly and deftly handle all kinds of food types, she's a little more, um, hands-on -- so the easier the food is to manipulate, the more she can end up actually eating. I made cutout ghost sandwiches with ham and cheese, and stuck some mini chocolate chips as facial features. There's also a persimmon jack-o-lantern along with carrots, broccoli, purple cauliflower, tomatoes, grapes and apples -- just as in her brother's bento. Double bento --> done!
As did many others who participated in the #twitterfoodparty yesterday, I squeezed a bento out of my contribution. I made won ton mein (soup with noodles) for dinner, and simply packed a few extra won tons into MisterMan's bento box. As good as they are in soup, won ton are also just as good by themselves. If this were my bento, I would have drizzled chili oil all over these -- yum. I used my crescent silicone cup to separate the fruit from the rest of the meal, which included purple cauliflower, peapods and a little carrot jack-o-lantern. I took a chance on this dark red plum, and luckily it was a sweet one. I waited until it achieved a little softness to ensure maximum sweetness. I filled in the rest of the cup with that old winter standby, red grapes. Do you notice we are rockin' the orange and black today? Halloween (and SF Giants) colors are in the house! Making our way to the final countdown for Halloween week ^_^
Today's double bento post is from last Friday. MisterMan got a bacon-wrapped turkey burger and roasted purple potatoes. He got a colorful selection of veggies including broccoli, purple cauliflower, carrots and a tomato, as well as a piece of corn on the cob. I think that's the first time I actually used 5 different color vegetables in a single bento. Yay! Only bummer is that this one is light on the fruit. I used a bunch of black grapes to design a bat on the corn. You might need to use a bit of imagination. My boy called it an octopus until I hinted that it fell into the Halloween category. After awhile he guessed "Uh, a bat?" Um, yee-ssss. Sigh.
TinySprite gets a more finger friendly bento -- a perfectly round char siu bao just called for transformation into a jack-o-lantern. I cut the features with a small paring knife, and rather than punch out the cutouts, I just lightly pushed them in. So much easier, and it looks fine this way. I used a piece of corn on the cob for the stem, and filled in the rest of the gaps with the same veggies as in her brother's bento. Done! Love these quick ones. Just a few more days of Halloween themed bento, but it's been fun! ^_^
For MisterMan's bento I made balsamic vinegar chicken, based on Maki's recipe. I simply mixed equal volumes of balsamic vinegar and shoyu, marinated overnight, and oven-roasted the next day. I cut the chicken into smaller pieces so they'd cook faster, and also for ease of eating. You can sprinkle with sesame seeds, but I totally forgot about that. It's really good, and I love the way the chicken comes out a rich dark brown color. Since I was using the oven I also roasted some tomatoes and brussels sprouts. These I tossed with garlic powder. Everything nestles in a green lettuce leaf, as usual, along with a piece of corn on the cob decorated with purple and orange carrots. In the fruit section I put some black grapes, a few nectarine slices and a tiny tangerine. Since I had another section I scooped some yogurt and topped with letters spelling Boo! cut from nectarine and purple carrots. Only one bento today; TinySprite hung out with me for the day. I've noticed that the days she has off from preschool are days she seems to catch up on napping. Yay!
It was a double bento day, and I wanted to make a black jack-o-lantern to contrast with last time's ghost pumpkin. Is it creepy-looking? It sits alongside some garlicky shrimp in a bed of lettuce. It's almost the end of summer fruit, and I had to pick up some apples because I have a feeling the stone fruit are going to be rather unsweet these days. Sigh. To brighten up the lowly apple, I decided to carve another jack-o-lantern. I'm not good at the apple carving, and rarely do checkered apples because I always end up cutting outside the lines and digging out too much flesh. I took kind of a long time to carve this apple, and probably won't be doing this again unless I have lots of time to spare. Also in this section are grapes, carrots, purple cauliflower, a couple nectarine slices, and those teeny yellow pear tomatoes were actually picked from my homegrown vine. There are still a couple more hangers-on, clinging to the final days of "summer".
TinySprite got more of the shrimp, and I also tried out my new quail egg mold. Can you see the faces? I dyed them in beet juice to enhance the definition, but not quite long enough. The quail egg molds are so cute. They came in a set of two: one makes these cute expressions and the other makes animal shape imprints. I never realized how much quail eggs vary in size, but each of the three I molded was a different size. The biggest one actually didn't fit at all; it split and oozed out the edge. However, that didn't really make a difference on the face side. I just cut off the excess and it looked fine. I also gave her some grapes, nectarine slices, carrots, purple cauliflower and a carved crabapple. This apple was really hard to carve and you can probably see that it didn't come out that nicely. But she didn't mind! She loved it. Last week you might remember that she didn't show much interest in eating at lunchtime, and I have been slowly increasing the size of her bento to see if she might start to eat more. Well, today was the first day I walked in and she was already in the play area. I asked her why she wasn't eating and she said she finished already. Wow! The teacher verified it. And get this: she ate everything; even the lettuce! I guess her appetite is increasing, what with all the INTENSE playing she's been doing at school. Twitter pals will know what I mean. ^_^
Only one bento today, since TinySprite only goes to preschool 3 days a week. I used my two-tier red usagi box and put pan-fried chicken and red pepper sausage on a lettuce leaf in the bottom tier, plus a Frankenstein musubi made from broccoli rice and decorated with nori facial details plus sriracha cheeks. Upper tier has carrots (yellow carrot flowers in the bottom too), purple cauliflower, grapes, strawberry and golden cherry tomato. MisterMan told me his classmates thought it was The Hulk, but he set them right, telling them it was "FrankenstEEn". Uh huh, okay.
I added this bento to What's For Lunch; head over there to see more!
These two bento are from last Friday; I was too lazy to post them then so I'm posting now. It works out great because today's bento were purchased banh mi sandwiches which weren't really worth posting. I didn't even take any pictures of them. Last Friday I made sardine furikake and used it to make these sushi rolls. I also added sliced cucumber as well. MisterMan's bento had a full-size roll plus a hard-boiled egg carved into a jack-o-lantern. It kinda looks like a ghost pumpkin, don't you think? There are carrots, strawberry and grapes as well. I added a little container of shoyu and packed them into my new nesting frog boxes.
TinySprite's bento has the same sushi but I made mini rolls for her. She also got a cup of broccoli florets that I had sauteed with shallots and toasted walnuts. I rounded out her bento with grapes, carrots, a crabapple and a golden cherry tomato. I noticed during her first two days of preschool she didn't have much appetite for her bento, and brought the leftovers to finish at home. Well, on Friday I let her stay until the end of the lunch period, and sure enough, she finished the whole thing. I'm glad, because this bento looks pretty small to me, compared to what she usually eats at home. I'm thinking that she's been distracted by the kids and the novelty of school, and when things get more settled she'll have more of an appetite again.
For MisterMan: Chicken drummettes, steamed broccoli, corn on the cob and carrot sticks for lunch today. Fruits were strawberries, grapes and a glowing jack-o-tangerine.
For TinySprite: Boiled egg decorated as Hello Kitty with radish ears and rice stick whiskers, nori eyes and corn nose. Corn on the cob, steamed broccoli, carrot sticks and gold cherry tomato. Strawberry and grapes.
Seems like hers is a miniature version of his, doesn't it? I think I got this double bento thing down! This bento seems very small for her lunch, but she hasn't been hungry lately. Maybe she's too excited. I picked her up during lunchtime and she hadn't finished the corn so she ate that when we got home. She is quite busy with the talking and gesturing during lunch, I noticed. It's a wonder she has any time to get any eating done at all. Sigh.
Today MisterMan has chili and rice, with a jack-o-lantern cheddar cheese topper. I could have melted it in, but I left it "raw" and he ate it. Yay! I also roasted some cherry and pear tomatoes in olive oil and garlic and put them in a silicone cup. For fruit he got strawberries and grapes. The rest of the gaps I filled with carved carrots, steamed broccoli, and peapods. Everything fit snugly in this EcoLunchbox. I love the separate lidded container it comes with; you may have noticed I usually use it for things like chili and other gravy- or sauce-type foods. I've also used it for yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit topping.
I'm including TinySprite's first preschool bento here too. It contains tortilla rollups with ham, cheese and spinach, carrots, a strawberry, grapes and orange melon. It was her very first day today, and she did great! They had a lot of fun, went on a walking field trip, picked apples and tomatoes, and she even made a bff. The teacher told me I'd hear all about her new best friend, since they spent a lot of time chatting and playing together. I picked her up during lunchtime, and watched her interact with the other kids. Sure enough, she was so distracted talking with them that she didn't finish. I was a little disappointed about that, but figured she could finish the rest at home. Well, this is what happened when she sat down to finish:
At first I thought she was just thinking, but then I saw this:
Back to Halloween bento today: it's finally just about the end of the roast pork. I layered it under the black rice on a bed of green leaf lettuce. I halved a boiled quail egg and added nori facial details to the skulls, and added carrot strips for the crossbones. Is it scary? I think my boy may be getting toward the age where he thinks scary and gross is cool, so maybe I'll have to switch out of the cute mode pretty soon. I won't be too sad, since I'll still have my sweet girl to make cute bento for! I tucked two golden cherry tomatoes in the corners, and packed some nectarines, strawberry and grapes in the fruit section. Everything seems right at home in the Pokemon box with the monsters on the lid. Two more weeks to go. Can we keep up with the Halloween theme? We'll see...
This lunch was added to What's For Lunch. Lots of other cute ones there too; take a look!
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and here is my contribution to ProjectPink, which Bento Blog (@bentoblog on twitter) is hosting at http://bentoblog.fr.nf/. To find out more about this, search twitter for #ThinkPink and #ProjectPink, and see other pink ribbon bento. Tomorrow there will be a posting of all the pink bento that were submitted from all over the world, to draw attention to the disease and the need for research to develop a cure. Do check it out!
This one was made for my toddler girl. Under the black rice is shredded roast pork, which provides a nice backdrop for a pink ham ribbon. I added some carrot and cilantro flowers as well. The rest of the bento includes steamed broccoli, cheese stars, more carrots, peapods, strawberry, cherry tomatoes and the cutest little crabapple. She loved that little apple, and ate around the core in a very ladylike fashion. Hehe. Think PINK!
Tomorrow there's no school for MisterMan since they are having first quarter parent-teacher conferences. So instead, I'm posting a picture of the snack bento I made for TinySprite this afternoon. She ate this when she got up from her nap. We didn't get her brother right away because he had music class after school. On these days I give her a snack to tide her over until I start dinner. Even though it's just a snack, I still like to put as many nutritious foods (including vegetables) in there as I can.
Today I cut a slice of steamed sweet potato with a pumpkin cutter, and stamped a face using triangle and square cutters without pressing all the way through. I added a couple of salami and mozzarella cheese stick skewers (the rest of the cheese stick is behind the sweet potato), some cherry tomatoes, sliced peaches, a strawberry and a tiny crab apple. I filled in the gaps with blanched peapods. First thing she said when she took off the lid of (my new Cinnamoroll) box was "Scary!" But she picked up the jack o'lantern and ate it first! Are you surprised to learn that she ate everything in this box? I was! I didn't expect her to eat all the peapods, but she did. It's cool because soon I'll be sending along a bento box lunch to accompany her to preschool, and I'm hoping the cute presentation will encourage her to finish everything there, even with all the distractions of other kids (and possibly junk food). Stay tuned and we'll see...
Egg-o-lantern today, dyed with beet and shoyu, and with a nori face, sits on greens next to grilled portobello (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and green onion). He also gets a piece of corn on the cob, a purple and pink carrot skewer, an orange cherry tomato, some pickled renkon (lotus root) and bittermelon, and sliced pluots. Are you feeling the Halloweeeeen yet?
Continuing on with the jack o'lantern theme... Today's jack is cut simply from a regular orange carrot cross-section. I hand-cut the facial details with my tiny paring knife. Placing it on a black rice ball makes for a nice contrast. I made roast pork over the weekend and since it was so big it may make several appearances in bento in the near future. I used my mom's recipe; called Ono Pork Roast, which says it all.
Mom's Ono Pork Roast
Rub a 3-4 lb pork shoulder with the following mixture: 1-2 minced garlic cloves, salt & pepper, and 2tsp Worchestershire sauce. If using stovetop, brown on all sides in a large pot. I just put mine in my crock-pot. Add 1 cup water and 1/4 cup shoyu, and cook on high for 3-4 hours, turning occasionally.
Delicious over hot rice. This is one dish that the kids will be tricked, er, tempted to eat lots of veggies to sop up the sauce. Really! Broccoli goes well on the side. For this bento, I lay the rice and meat inside a green lettuce leaf and stuck some peapods around it. In the other cups I added broccoli, yellow carrots and yellow tomatoes, some black grapes and some red plum.
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 ^-^!