We made squash blossom pizza a la our favorite pie from Pizzeria Mozza and Scala's Bistro. I used whole wheat flatbread rounds for the kids' bento since they are such a cute size and perfect for little hands. I sliced the zucchini thinly, and sauteed briefly, then scattered on the flatbreads along with chunks of mozzarella. I layered fresh squash blossoms (a whole bag from my farmer's market for $2) on top and baked. For the adults I added peppers (Scala's uses padron) and for the kids I added garlic powder. Super yum! These happened to fit just right in the two-tiered stainless steel tiffin, and I was able to keep the fruit and vegetables separate on the top: corn, cauliflower, tomatoes, grapes, cherries and pluots. Looks like a pretty sunflower, kind of. ^_^
The theme of today's bento is ... fish! To go with the miso butterfish that I made (method and recipe here), I cut some big-eyed goldfish from Okinawan sweet potato using my very cool goldfish vegetable cutter. I've cut carrots (in this bento) and regular sweet potato (in this bento) before, but this is a first for purple goldfish. I think they look rather vibrant, if not very realistic; do you agree? The mottled color looks kind of cool. It's a bit tricky to get the fish out without damage, and there were a few casualties. A stiffer vegetable would cut more easily. The rest of my LunchBots Trio contains: grape tomatoes, corn on the cob, green cauliflower, carrots, plum, cherries and raspberry.
It's teriyaki salmon again, this time with roasted baby potatoes tossed in olive oil and garlic powder. I packed the rainbow in the LunchBot: white lychee, red dinsaur pluot, orange carrots, yellow carrot (with nori dog face), purple carrots, and purple Okinawan sweet potato (cut into bunny shapes which you can't ascertain). I'm still stretching out the summer fruit, since they are still available in my farmer's market. Think I can make it last through September?
Here's another First Day of School bento. Along with shoyu chicken, corn on the cob, carrots and steamed broccoli, I packed sliced Flavor Rosa pluots, lychees and blueberries inside the stainless steel divided LunchBots Trio. I made a little chalkboard from cheese and nori to commemorate the beginning of school. I freehand cut the numbers and letters with my microscissors. Do you see the little Anpanman? He (a gift from a thoughtful bento friend!) seems a bit apprehensive about all the learning. I remember how bittersweet it was to return to school in the fall. On one hand, it was hard to leave long lazy days of summer behind; but then again it's always fun to see friends again, right? How are your kids adjusting back to school?
Today I experimented with filo pastry pie, which I baked in a muffin tin. I used feta and spinach filling, like I did for spanakopita in this bento. I thought the little pies would make perfectly sized bento portions and the kids would have fun eating them. Besides the spanakopie, I packed the usual sides: corn on the cob, carrots, broccoli, car-shaped Okinawan sweet potatoes, cherries, strawberries, blueberries and a little ripe raspberry. It went over pretty well!
I suppose this can count as a back to school bento, with a radish "apple" for the teacher, and a trio of Okinawan sweet potato stars! Although maybe they should have been gold stars. Also included in this round bento: teriyaki salmon, steamed broccoli, corn on the cob, carrots, plum, nectarine and blueberries. The summer fruit are still going strong in our markets, so summer will live on (in our bento) despite our return to school!
The weekend before school started we took a roadtrip to L.A.; a last chance to enjoy some warm summer weather and time with family. I packed our three-tier tiffin with some munchies to tide the kids over during the long ride. They each got a char siu bao, and they shared an assortment of fruit I packed in the bottom tier. I've made several different character baos (Ponyo, AstroBoy, Harajuku Lovers, Totoro, Shifu, Hello Kitty, Hamtaro, Kireizukin Seikatsu, and Pikachu) but never Mickey and Minnie Mouse! So that's what I did. Yes, I know they look like monkeys. That's why I used the little flag picks, to add a little power of suggestion. TinySprite got Minnie, with eyelashes and mouth cut from nori, and a strawberry bow. MisterMan got Mickey. Both have grape eyes and noses, with cheese detail. I cut their faces with my paring knife and used the extra for their ears. Their fruit section contains strawberries, grapes, cherries, plum and nectarine. I chilled that tier so that it stayed nice and cool. The temps in the Central Valley reached 100+, so it was a nice cool treat!
RAWR! It's Domo today! I recently realized I hadn't made a Domokun charaben in a long time. Here's another Domo sandwich I made. And another one. (Seems I only made him on field trips! How funny.) And why not? He's so cute. I made a tiny cream cheese sandwich using rye cocktail bread, which is square-shaped and comes in a long loaf. His eyes are bits of grapes, his mouth is a red plum, and his teeth are cut from mozzarella. This was a snack bento for TinySprite, so she got a few little cups of fruit: peach, nectarine and raspberries, along with cherries and grapes. I also squeezed a few peapods, carved carrots and tiny broccoli florets next to him. He looks like he wants a hug, doesn't he?
Added to What's For Lunch!
This is another TinySprite bento from last week. She got her favorite salt grilled chicken wings (recipe here), of which she can eat massive quantities. If you make these, be sure to make an extra large batch so there will be enough for bento. They taste best fresh, hot and crispy, but the kids do love to eat them at room temp just as well. The adult version has Japanese seven spice pepper (shichimi togarashi) sprinkled liberally, which makes it mouthwateringly delicious for spice lovers. Make sure to pack lots of napkins, as the eating will be messy. She also gets carved carrots, steamed Okinawan sweet potato flower shapes, broccoli, strawberries and blueberries. Simple, colorful, and tasty!
Another TinySprite bento. Actually, MisterMan's lunch was provided during this last week of Summer Adventures, so I've been making only the little girl's bento. She doesn't eat nearly as much, so I feel like I can make hers in no time at all! For example, in this bento I gave her a few pieces of pan-fried snapper sprinkled with furikake, then a section of steamed corn on the cob, a few carved carrots, a little piece of steamed broccoli and Okinawan sweet potato heart shapes, some grapes and a sliced strawberry. I had one more spot left, just big enough for a quail egg. And you know what my favorite quail egg character is! I didn't even bother to shape the egg into an oval. Once I add the nori eyes, corn ears and nose, somen whiskers and trademark red ribbon, she becomes instantly recognizable. I can make this Hello Kitty in just a few minutes now. I keep a little container of punched oval and circle shaped nori bits, so I don't even need to dig out the craft punchers. She really is the easiest charaben ever!
TinySprite gets sweet tomato sauce meatballs in her little bento today (see the sauce recipe here). I was able to squeeze four of them in, alongside a piece of sweet corn on the cob topped with an Okinawan sweet potato butterfly cutout. I nestled everything into a lettuce leaf, but naturally she didn't eat it. She's not a big "salad" fan, unlike her brother, unfortunately. The top tier contains carrots, steamed broccoli, cherries, blueberries, a blackberry and sliced dapple dandy pluot. This pluot variety has sweet flesh but tart skin. Have you tried it?
This is a no-cook bento using (by request) the last of the pizza we got from Tony's. I supplemented with two hard-boiled eggs: one chicken egg dyed in golden beet juice and decorated as Pikachu with nori details, and one quail egg placed inside a matching sized halved cherry tomato and decorated as a pokeball with nori details. I cut all the nori by hand, which was definitely the most time-consuming part of making this bento. I packed everything together with the usual sides: steamed broccoli and Okinawan sweet potato, carrots, grapes and a big juicy strawberry. Pika!
My kids got matching bentos, consisting of chicken and spinach nitrite-free sausage and zucchini skewers. I love the way they fit in the long section of my LunchBot Trio. Veggies went in another section: car-shaped Okinawan sweet potato, corn on the cob, broccoli, and orange and purple carrots. Fruit went in the last section: luscious peaches, raspberries, blackberry, and baby sugar plum.
TinySprite's bento had the same ingredients, in a more petite version. Ta-daaa!
It's a panda panda bento! These are organic spinach and feta ravioli that I lay atop some lettuce and added a nori face to. I had to hand-cut everything since I don't have the right size punches for any of these features. In fact, I don't have a panda face punch at all. Can you believe it? This bento is for TinySprite. She gets a partial corn on the cob (mainly because the whole piece wouldn't fit), Okinawan sweet potatoes, carrots, and some fruit in the top tier (dinosaur plum, cherries, grapes, raspberries and blackberry. I barely got this one to close, but it was secured with an elastic belt. She loved it. It came home empty, for the first time in a while. Yay!
This is our first real bento after a week off. I made teriyaki salmon and packed it in the two-tier stainless steel tiffin bento because there's more room this way. My boy is entering 3rd grade and I'm finding that the kiddie-sized bento boxes are getting too small for his appetite already. I should have packed a musubi next to the salmon in this bento, but I didn't think of it. He said he made salmon lettuce wraps with the lettuce. This is also one of the few boxes that allows me to pack a big piece of corn on the cob (without slicing off a few rows first, like I have to do in TinySprite's bento). He gets the usual extras: carrot, broccoli, Okinawan sweet potato; and in the top tier peach, cherries, grapes and strawberry.
TinySprite's two-tier bento is similar, although she got purple carrots instead of sweet potato. She ate everything here, even the lettuce, except the corn on the cob. Don't know why. >.<
Here's another bento from pre-vacation break; a super easy no-cook one. I made turkey colby cheese rollups, which is just a more fun way to pack a turkey colby cheese sandwich. First I flattened the bread with a rolling pin. You can cut off the crusts to make this neater (I didn't do this, as you can see - they might have rolled together more tightly if I had). Layer cheese, turkey, and fresh greens. You can add mustard or pickles if you like. Then roll tightly. I think I melted the cheese onto the bread first, before adding the rest of the ingredients. I rolled it in a makisu (a bamboo mat used to roll makizushi), then sliced into a thickness that would fit neatly in my stainless steel EcoLunchBox bento box. The rest of the box contains cherries and carrots, and the separate (lidded) container holds Greek yogurt topped with berries and a walnut. Can you see the face? ^_^
This is a bento set from the week before we left on vacation. I didn't get a chance to post all week; in fact, I didn't even boot up the laptop, heh. It was fun to take a bento-break while we visited with family in Los Angeles. The kids love going swimming and playing ball at their cousins' place, and visiting with their grandparents. We got to enjoy a real summer week of 90s temps too! It was great. For these bentos I made spaghetti with pesto and roasted grape tomatoes. I decorated MisterMan's with a colby cheese and Okinawan sweet potato "ice cream cone" while TinySprite got a Hello Kitty face on hers. They both got corn on the cob and various summer fruit like: lychee, cherries, blackberries and donut Sweet Peach Pie peaches. Cool pasta and fresh fruit make a perfectly satisfying summertime bento. Don't you think?
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 ^-^!