This one is a classic favorite bento of mine: pan-fried salmon butteryaki with furikake rice, fried kabocha and steamed broccoli. TinySprite's version is miniature-sized for her preschool appetite and packed in the adorable pink Hello Kitty bento box I found at Japanese Lifestyle (I think). She won't be able to use these tiny boxes much longer, so I should really use them now as much as I can. I have a Cinnamoroll one too; I really love them a lot. The removable smaller section contains a mini clementine with a star-shaped cutout which I cut by hand using a small paring knife, some blackberries and a grape tomato. Colorful, balanced, nutritious, and gluten-free. Win!
I haven't used my Keroppi sandwich bento in a long time; it's nice for certain foods that are large and bulky - like sandwiches. I used to pack bánh mì in the top portion for MisterMan in summertimes past. Today I used the extra-tall part to pack a pizza for TinySprite. This one is homemade with arugula, sauteed mushroom and zucchini and melty cheesy toppings on a gluten-free crust. I used Bob's Red Mill gluten-free pizza dough mix for the first time. It's very, um, different than regular pizza dough. If you weren't exactly sure what gluten is or does to baked goods, try this pizza dough and you'll understand. For one thing, it's not stretchy or elastic at all. It's also very wet and doesn't stick together very well. While I was rolling pressing it out, I wondered how in the world this was going to make a pizza. It came out pretty nicely crispy though, and held up to the toppings very well. I think the trick is to press it as thin as possible. TS loved it, so that's what matters! On the bottom section I gave her some cottage cheese with sunflower seeds, by her request, and some carrots, strawberry and blackberries. Gluten-free experiment seems to be progressing quite well!
I've been asked how I make the star-cut radishes. You know, the ones with the star-shaped cut in the center; basically the most common cut I ever make (besides the radishroom). It's really very easy, which is why I do it so often (along with the flower cut baby carrots which I always do as well). There may be other ways to do it, but this is how I cut a radish star.
1. Start with a radish; remove root and stem.
2. Cut in half with a sharp knife.
3. Place the radish half on the cutting board, flat side down. Make the first cut at a slight angle, near the center, right down almost to the bottom. Make the second cut a slight distance away from the first cut, at an angle, to meet with the first cut at the bottom, to make a V wedge.
4. The wedge will stick to your knife and slide out easily.
5. Turn the radish 90 degrees and make a similar V wedge perpendicular to the first one.
6. There will be two half-wedges instead of one due to the space left by the first wedge. Now you have a cross.
7. Repeat the wedge-making cuts right along one of the angles made by the cross.
8. See? Repeat one last time along the last angle.
9. There you have it! A lovely star. Or firework, or flower blossom.
Any knife will suffice. You can also make the wedges all start at the same point at the bottom of the radish, so that they look like leaves of a plant. Don't you love how a few easy cuts can add an elegant touch to your bento, in just seconds? I'm a big proponent of quick and easy bento decoration. If I can do it, it means you can get by with basic knife skills and not a lot of extra effort or time. Hope you can try it yourself. Have fun!
MisterMan really liked this bento: it has lots of different flavors, which he likes, and lots of healthy stuff, which I like. I made lentil curry chicken in my slow-cooker, using chicken thighs and adding chopped spinach at the very end. The meat was so tender it fell apart. I also made bhindi (okra) masala, and packed them in the lower tier alongside millet quinoa rice with a radish decoration. [I was asked about my method for cutting the star radish, and I managed to take some process photos that I'll show you next time.] In the upper tier of this classic EcoLunchBox, I packed carrots, grapes and cara cara orange chunks beside a separate container of Greek yogurt topped with strawberries and wheat germ. The little oblong container comes with a stainless steel top to keep the contents secure, and both tiers latch together tightly. I really like the way this one came together, and do you see my cute Moomin cutlery? From my dear Finnish friend :D
Continuing on with the gluten-free meals for TinySprite, she gets turkey bean chili with cornbread topping in her thermal bento. There's also a side box of grapes, carrots and a happy broccoli tree to go along. So far so good!
Today I made a fun one for TinySprite. This is a 4-sectioned plain old plasticware container that I used to use for my kids when they were babies. I distinctly remember packing this box to go to the park with MisterMan, my moms' group, and their babies. I'd put cottage cheese in one part, scrambled eggs in another, kale-oatmeal (yes, for real!), and sweet potato or some kind of fruit. I always thought of it as baby-sized, but now that I dug it out of the cabinet, it looks like a good size for my preschooler actually. Yeah, MM has always been a HUGE eater. TinySprite's appetite has been unpredictable recently, and she's getting over a bug of some kind, and we're also trying a gluten-free diet with her for awhile, so I thought this box would be appropriate and fun for a change. She ate this one at home with me, so I got to watch. She loved looking at all the different portions. The first thing she downed was the corn tortilla/cheese/spinach wraps, then the yogurt with strawberries and sunflower seeds. She then informed me that she doesn't like blood oranges, so I had to swap those out for cara cara oranges. She stared at the sauteed mushroom/zucchini for a long time, and let me tell you she actually liked the lettuce leaf better. She did end up eating the whole thing, though, and even shared my green smoothie afterwards. Success!
I made the shoyu chicken for this bento using the recipe from Secrets of the Red Lantern. I adapted it a bit, using my slow-cooker so that I could run out of the house to take care of the multiple kid activities pickups and dropoffs. The recipe promised meat that falls off the bone, and it did not disappoint. Super tender and flavorful! I just served it over brown millet rice and the kids loved it. There's a sprig of broccoli in there for brightness, and the top tier of this cool apple-shaped bento box contains strawberries, carrots, blood oranges and grapes for MisterMan. When I was a kid, shoyu chicken was my absolute favorite. If my mom ever asked what I wanted for dinner, that was what I requested every time. When I ask my kids, TinySprite invariably shouts "Mac and cheese!" and MisterMan, always the diplomat, never chooses. He says "Your choice mom. I like everything you make!" Awwww. ^_^
I'm really digging this LunchBots Quad bento box for my preschooler now. Her overall appetite is less these days, so this way I can offer a variety of foodstuffs in smaller quantities while keeping them all separate. Strangely enough, it's the strawberries and carrots that have been coming home lately. Does she not like strawberries?? I can't fathom that. Everyone loves strawberries, don't they? Anyway, in this bento I've arranged: steamed cod with shoyu, ginger and green onion, roasted shredded Brussels sprouts dusted with parmesan, tiny roasted taters, a star-cut radish, carrots, grapes, strawberries and blackberries. Did I mention how much I superlove this box? Really awesome! Going to be using it a lot this coming school year. ^_^
Today's bento contains mozzarella stuffed turkey meatballs (which also include grated zucchini, onion, oats and flax), over pasta and broccolini. To stuff, simply place a cube of mozzarella onto a flattened patty, then add a dab of meat on top and mold it around the cheese until it's completely enclosed. If it's not completely surrounded, you may get some oozing out during cooking. I served it with marinara sauce, but omitted the sauce for TinySprite's bento, as she's not a huge fan of tomato sauce. I decorated with mozzarella sakura flowers, and the rest of the bento contains strawberries, carrots and blackberries. This one was a big hit!
A cute little quail egg bunny. So easy, anyone can do it. The hardest part is poking the cheese ears into the egg far enough so that they stand up (you have to poke pretty far). Then just sit him in a bowl of rice, add the nori face, sriracha cheeks, pink somen whiskers, and wait for the kiddos to go "Ohhhh sooo cute!" Imagine a whole basket full of baby bunnies? Or bunnies and chickies? Awwwww!
Yes, I know Easter was yesterday, but you know I had to make a bunny calzone, right? I saw so many pictures of cute little bunny breads working up to Easter that I thought: how adorable and easy! Well, not that adorable or easy in reality. Can you see the bunny? Don't lie; it's okay -- I gave my kids unlimited guesses and they never got it. I guess I should have drawn a face in front so you can tell it's sitting there with two front paws and long ears laid against its back. I even made hind legs and a cottontail! I should have put a carrot in its paws as well. Now that would have been cute! He sits in his Sistema multicompartmental box with some broccoli, carrots, clementine, grapes, strawberries, and a lone Okinawan sweet potato star. Hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend!
TinySprite asked for a Mama and Baby chicks bento, so here they are! I'm not expert with the egg white zigzag cut, especially when the yolk is so close. I'm told if you want the yolk to be perfectly centered, you must constantly roll the egg during boiling. Um, okay; that's why mine will have to be off-centered. The trick is to use a small blade and work with a light touch, but you can see that I punctured the yolk a few times. No matter, TS was still thrilled to see this duo! I'm so happy I've been able to use my supercute wings picks so much this past week. Here, the mama is flapping her wings in happiness over her hatchling chick's appearance. Aww! There's also miso butterfish (method and recipe here), roasted kabocha (tossed with parmesan) and brussels sprouts. Yes, I've taken to tossing all kinds of vegetables with parmesan, and you know what? It suddenly makes them a lot more desirable to the kiddos. The rest of the bento contains ripe strawberries, blueberries and grapes. That's it for the Easter bento at our house for this year. Hope you all enjoy a wonderful weekend. Happy Easter and Happy Spring!
More bunnies, and more! This one is made from a hen egg, with cheese ears, nori face and spaghetti whiskers. He is smiling because he's got a garden of carrots waiting for him at lunch. They lie atop a pulled barbeque chicken burrito wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, surrounded by broccoli, peapods, and radishes. The sweet side contains strawberries and grapes. There's that little chick again, trying to get into the bento. Sorry lil' guy!
Continuing on with the bunny theme, I've made a cheese bunny for TinySprite to top her DIY mini-sandwiches. I made a crockpot of slow-cooked barbeque pulled chicken, which the kids like because it's sweet. Instead of premaking the sandwiches, I decided to keep the filling separate so that the bread wouldn't get soggy. I did prepack the bread (whole wheat mini-sandwich thins) with baby spinach greens. She can use her fork to scoop the chicken into the bread (or she could eat everything separately, as my boy has been known to do) when she's ready to eat. There's a gigantic strawberry, some grapes and some blueberries, peapods and carrots to round out this bento. And of course, the cheese bunny with her nori face and Okinawan sweet potato flower. All packed in our new-ish Chococat box. I'm so happy with the way it all fit into this one. ^_^
Did I use this panda box for mapo tofu last time? It just goes so well. I love the recipe, but I have been trying to bridge the gap between the spicy-eaters and the nonspicy-eaters, and this time I mixed some of the spicy batch with the nonspicy batch for the kids' bentos. My girl would have none of it, but my boy actually ate the full spice version (over lots and lots of rice) this time! He probably drank a gallon of water with it, but still! I consider it a victory. The top tier contains some cooling grapes, strawberries, carrots, broccoli, and a little quail egg "Easter chick" -- wearing an Easter hat to boot! It's the week before Easter Sunday, so I thought I'd put a few spring characters in there. Did the tiny fluffy chick want to go along with his buddy?
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 8yo (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 ^-^!