The last Halloween bento of the season! Monster finger calzones with almond fingernails. One of them even has a bloody wound, which was unintentional but actually looks pretty real, right? There's also carrots, broccoli, strawberries, raspberries and "diced" dragonfruit. Get it? Happy Halloween from the conflicting forces in our house! Hope you had a safe and scary night with lots of goodies in your candy haul!
Continuing on with the skull theme, today I made a quail egg skull on black rice to accompany some shallow-fried panko chicken, broccoli and roasted kabocha. There are also carrot flowers, corn, strawberries, grapes and honeydew melon. All packed up in my supercool slim double decker Zen box from Bento & Co. I love this box so much it was hard to entrust my boy to take it to school with him, but it's proven quite sturdy and impervious to normal 8-year-old boy wear and tear. So far. You all ready for Halloween? One more day...
We're taking a break from jacks today because I just found this skull and crossbones cutter that a dear friend sent me last Halloween. I should have marked out the skull and bones shapes to more clearly delineate the image, because when MisterMan saw it he said "Oh, a gingerbread man!" Whatever! Come to think of it, I guess skulls and crossbones are more pirate-y than Halloween-y. Oops. I lightly pressed the cutter partially through the sweet potato bread top slice of his sandwich, which fit perfectly in one side of my Sistema box. The other side is just right for a selection of colorful fruit and vegetables: carrot, corn, broccoli, Okinawan sweet potato, strawberries, honeydew melon and grapes. I used a few grapes to cut out the face for the skull, which I sealed in place with plastic wrap. Scary or not?
This one is just an afterschool snack for TinySprite. I wanted to try making a mini jack-o-lantern from a ... quail's egg. I tried dyeing it in a mix of red and golden beet juice, but I guess I didn't let it soak long enough. I used luckysundae's shaping method but hers came out much better! In fact, my son asked if it was a tomato. Oops. This jack took way too much time for me. After hard-boiling, I had to squeeze with strings into the puffy pumpkin shape overnight, and then I had to soak in dye another few hours (which obviously wasn't enough). Maki uses turmeric and shoyu to get orange; I'll have to remember that for "next time." I tried a hen's egg too, but it cracked along the seams. Also in this teeny bento: strawberries, peapods, carrot and Okinawan sweet potato.
Of all my bento boxes, this is the one I get the most email queries about. Unfortunately, it's not available online (as far as I know). I found mine in a dusty corner of a shelf in the housewares aisle of my local Asian grocery, where it probably sat for months. I love the way it looks; the trio of sections is somehow very aesthetically pleasing to me. It's also quite uncommon to find a bento box that includes three subdivisions. The only other one I have is the Lunchbots Trio, which I also love. Anyway, today I've packed chicken sausage with sweet pepper and mushroom stirfry, along with corn, steamed broccoli, carrots, and Okinawan sweet potato star shapes. The fruit section contains grapes, a strawberry, and ... a persimmon jack-o-lantern. Have you started seeing persimmons in your markets? It's not a favorite of mine, sadly. I'd like to enjoy it more, since it's so plentiful this time of year, and since the inlaws have a tree which bears a TON of fruit. Luckily the kids seem to like it though! ^_^
A fun bento that the kids totally loved: burger and fries. Woohoo! Okay, they were turkey oat burgers and oven-roasted fries but still. I also snuck in some roasted kabocha, a couple colorful carrot sticks, broccoli, and a cup of red fruit: pluots, strawberries and raspberries. The burger is topped with none other than our favorite smiling "jack" - I know, I should have used jack cheese! Sheesh. What was I thinking? One more week of jack-o-bento to go... I think I'm gonna be able to pull it off. Hey, maybe next year I should go for a whole month of jacks! Nah only joke..
I strayed from the jack-a-day series today because I wanted to make a little candy corn quail egg, and it took so long that I didn't feel like trying to find another food to carve into a jack-o-lantern. First of all, I didn't shape it triangularly enough, and then I didn't have time to soak it long enough to keep the colors dark. But then, if you've dyed eggs before, you know that the color tends to fade pretty quickly anyway. To dye this egg I used golden beet and regular beet juice. I first let the egg sit halfway in a cup of golden beet juice, then placed it 1/3 of the way into a cup of red beet juice. I had nice sharp lines of color demarcation at first, but then they bled out and faded. I had made these cuties before (in the two bentos here) and I think they looked better then. Oh well! This bento contains butterfish misoyaki (see my method here), homemade oven roasted "potato chips", steamed Okinawan sweet potato, corn, tomatoes, carrots, and a fruit assortment (pluots, honeydew melon balls and grapes) -- all packed up in my favorite Lunchbots Trio. Have a sweet day!
I happened to find the most perfect pumpkin-shaped mini orange sweet pepper at the farmers market last weekend. It just begged to be carved, so how could I resist? I stuffed it with cottage cheese and sunflower seeds after seeding and carving it. This box is convenient for deconstructed fish tacos in that the cod can go in one section while the tomato-onion-avocado-cilantro salsa goes in another. Of course, you can put them together, but it's prettier this way. You can pack the tortillas separately if you wish. I put a fruit selection (strawberry, plum and grapes) in the last compartment, and topped with a purple Okinawan sweet potato bat. I think it looks fresh and colorful. And my boy really did eat the whole pepper, cheese and all ^_^
Lazy person's bento contains rotisserie chicken and rice. Come on; don't tell me you haven't done the same at least once before! Maybe Sunday after a long weekend and you're too tired to cook anything? I love the rotisserie chicken option. So easy. To keep the Halloween theme going, I made a brown rice onigiri mixed with shredded carrot, and cut a face from nori. A cute pick helps you identify the jack-o-lantern if you haven't already :) Also included: Okinawan sweet potato, corn, broccoli, plum and raspberry.
I made gyoza. Yay! That's the response from the kiddos every time. I made, as usual, a double batch to last us for bento lunches the next day (see my method here). I packed as many as I could in here, and then filled the other section with carrots, grapes, and a honeydew melon Frankenstein. Muahahah! I cut the features from grapes and Okinawan sweet potato. I made ears with raspberries and I know that the carrots look like earrings but whatever. He's the new Frankenstein. But he's still a monster! RAWR!
Yes, it is in fact a Jack-O-Lantern calzone! Kind of. Instead of the half moon shape, I tried to make it rounder by closing it on the bottom instead. I found that it's not easy to cut a jack face into a calzone. I didn't want the innards to run out, so I didn't cut all the way through. And I think I made the features too small, for the same reason. Anyway. There he is, and I'm calling him a jack-o-lantern, so there! Also in the container: carrots, kabocha, Okinawan sweet potato, broccoli, star-cut radish, orange wedges, and grapes. Two more weeks to go. Can I do it??
In today's LunchBot Trio I've packed some wild salmon marinated then broiled in a molasses, shoyu, garlic and ginger sauce. There are some diced roasted potatoes and quartered brussels sprouts in the next section, topped with a polenta jack-o-lantern. Polenta is excellent for carving, in case you were wondering. It's a perfect consistency and quite easy to cut. I recommend it. I made mine with grated white cheddar, but I bet if I had used yellow cheddar it would look more pumpkin-colored. The rest of the bento contains carrots, Okinawan sweet potato, grapes, strawberry and raspberries. Have I mentioned how much I love this three-sectioned box? It's so practical and handy for keeping separate flavors separate. It's hands-down one of my favorite bento boxes.
I've been seeing a bunch of mummies in bento lunches flying around the internets lately, so I thought I would make some for my pizza-loving kids. I used sandwich thins for these, but you can use whatever kind of mini pizza crusts you like. Smear with tomato sauce, top with pepperoni and spinach, then layer strips of mozzarella string cheese across the top for a nice bandaged effect. I added some olive eyes. You could also add a pepperoni smile to make it a friendly mummy if your kids prefer. On the side I packed steamed broccoli, carrots, corn on the cob, Okinawan sweet potato, grapes and a strawberry.
Yes, we took a roadtrip this weekend, which called for a picnic-style tiffin bento set the two kids could share in the backseat. It was the perfect chance to make Jack-O-Lantern baos, don't you think? If you haven't tried it, you'll find that char siu baos are super easy to "carve" -- I've done it a lot. You can either slice off the top layer of brown to reveal the fluffy white bread underneath, or (much easier), simply push in the cut areas to suggest a 3D effect. Cool, right? Each kid got their own tiffin with their own personal Jack, plus I added a couple of tiny carved cherry tomatoes, a broccoli "stalk", carrots, and Okinawan sweet potato slices. The third tier is packed with corn and fruit for the two of them to share. The best thing about these car trip bentos is that everything is finger-friendly and basically mess- and waste-free. Love that. Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and Columbus Day!
MisterMan and TinySprite both get ma po tofu (I adapted Lovelylanvin's recipe) in their bento boxes today. The kid version always looks so bland to me because I have to omit all chili sauce. I think my son would be willing to try this dish a bit spicier these days, but my daughter would surely rebel against any red flakes she might happen to spy. The other half of the LunchBot contains strawberries, yellow cherry tomatoes, Okinawan sweet potato slices, blackberries, and a tangelo jack-o-lantern -- made with tofu eyes and teeth. Heheh!
Today's TinySprite bento is no-cook: turkey dog "sushi" with black Forbidden (mixed with white) rice. I made the little jack-o-lantern faces from nori, and the most time-consuming part was cutting the smiles. I first cut a regular smile shape, then cut the three teeth afterwards. The stems are bits of peapods. There are also carrots, strawberries, Okinawan sweet potato, blackberries, raspberries and grapes. Are you getting tired of the jacks yet? Or are you asking yourself whether I can possibly keep it up for another 3 and a half weeks? Good question. I'm betting I will have to start recycling ideas pretty soon. ^_^
We had our first rainy day of the season today. It started out nice and sunny, so I got a nice swim in the morning, and the clouds moved in this afternoon. It was full on raining by the time I picked the kids up from school; good thing I had a big pot of chili simmering. It hit the spot perfectly. Best of all, there's enough for tomorrow's bentos for all! Both kids get chili in their respective thermal food jars, plus a separate container for the fruit sides. I even carved a mini sweet pepper jack-o-lantern just for fun. Happy Fall!
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 ^-^!