Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gluten-Free Adventures: Lemon Coconut Bread

Remember my gluten-free banana bread? While that one still reigns as my biggest triumph in GF baking, this one isn't bad. I was looking for a quick sweet bread to make using the last of the Meyer lemons, and I came across this recipe in the book "125 Best Gluten-Free Recipes", by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt. I got the clafoutis recipe from this book as well, and even though they seem to tout a certain brand of GF flour mix (which I didn't buy and which I successfully substituted with my own mixture), I'm pretty happy with the way these two recipes came out. This one has a bright lemony flavor, and if you like coconut, there's a nice texture from the shredded coconut flakes as well. Although it's a short loaf, I found the density to be nice and moist, and the bread held together well (there is xanthan gum in this recipe). A nice bread, all around. If you like lemon and blueberries, you might want to check out the lemon blueberry bread I made here. It was delicious as well.

Lemon Coconut Bread (from 125 Best Gluten-Free Recipes, by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt)

1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 T baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 T lemon zest
3/4 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice


1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients together in a medium bowl. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients. Spoon into greased loaf pan, let stand 30 minutes. Bake at 350F for 60 minutes. Poke holes in the hot loaf with a skewer as soon as it comes out. Spoon glaze over hot loaf. Let cool in pan 30 minutes before removing loaf, and remove to wire rack.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cheesy Stuffed Tomato Bento

I sent TinySprite to summer school with this stuffed tomato duo nestled in a lettuce nest aside some crunchy fresh carrots. The tomatoes were halved, hollowed, and filled with a mixture of cottage cheese, parmesan, rice, chopped spinach, minced garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper. You could add bacon or prosciutto to the mix if you like. I topped with cheddar and melted it just a little under the broiler, but these are good without any cooking at all. Plus they are very refreshing on a hot summer day. I made these for #twittercheeseparty, July edition, but they are great for bento too. The other side holds a little cup of blueberries, some fresh corn off the cob, white peaches, raspberries, and a watermelon ball caterpillar. Happy Summer!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Carnitas EcoLunchBox Bento

MisterMan's bento is packed in the two-tier EcoLunchBox today: he gets leftovers from dinner out, which means super quick bentomaking. Lower tier contains carnitas, Mexican rice, corn, broccoli and Okinawan sweet potato star shapes. Upper tier contains a small box of yogurt topped with blueberries, raspberries, sunflower seeds and wheat germ, plus a selection of strawberry, cherries, peach pie donut peach, and lychee. I love the way I can fit a whole lot of food (lunch and snacks) in this double box. And that's it for the week. Happy weekend friends!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gluten-Free Adventures: Cherry Clafoutis

This summer we were gifted with the biggest, juiciest, sweetest cherries ever. While my kids are perfectly content to suck them down as is, I thought it would be nice to make something special with them. Cherry clafoutis is a French baked dessert of cherries in an eggy batter. Ooooohhhh. And, there are gluten-free versions. Hello? I tried two recipes.
This first one is from the book "125 Best Gluten-Free Recipes" by Washburn and Butt. It was my first clafoutis, and I thought it was pretty good. It's a wrinkly and lumpy looking dessert, if you've never seen it before, and I had to google pictures of it to make sure mine looked right. This one turned out more on the pancake-y, bread-y side. I won't post the recipe here in the interest of space, but I've made other desserts from these authors and I think the book is worth looking at.

Then I tried another version, by the Gluten-Free Goddess, who based her recipe on adaptation of Julia Child's recipe by Cooking with Amy. This one varied quite a bit from Julia Child's basic cherries-eggs-flour-sugar-milk version, especially with the extra egg. But oh, man, it was good. It's basically a cherry egg pie. I mean look at it. It's yellow and custardy, almost like a flan. I'll pass along the recipe for this one, since it's a bit more involved with the coconut flour and maple syrup, but those give a lot of extra flavor. This is not a traditional clafoutis, I think, but it sure is worth making, if you're looking for a crowd-pleasing, easy-bake, gluten-free summertime dessert.
Gluten-Free Cherry Clafoutis
(from Gluten-Free Goddess -- it's also dairy-free and refined sugar-free)


1 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk or coconut milk
4 organic free-range eggs
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour or sorghum flour
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups fresh cherries, pitted


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Using your favorite vegan butter, grease the bottom and sides of an 8x12-inch oval gratin baking dish. Set aside. (I used regular butter, and a regular pie plate)

Using a blender or Vita-Mix, whip the almond milk, eggs, maple syrup, coconut flour, brown rice flour, vanilla extract, and sea salt till smooth and frothy.

Pour roughly half an inch of batter into the buttered gratin dish and bake it in the oven until it is lightly set- just a few minutes. Take the baking dish out of the oven and add the cherries in an even layer. Pour on the remaining batter.

Return the dish to the oven and bake for about 50 to 55 minutes, until slightly golden around the edges, and set in the center.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Salmon in a Forest Bento

Salmon Forest Bento by sherimiya ♥
Salmon Forest Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
Another TinySprite bento: this one comprised of our weekly standard salmon and rice. I used cajun spices which I mostly rubbed off of TS's portion. It fit nicely into the curve of this box, which is why I chose it. I packed furikake rice on the side, and topped with a broccoli tree, sweet potato flower shapes, and a mushroom-shaped radish. Fruit sides include: homegrown sunsugar cherry tomato, peach pie donut peach, blueberries, baby white homegrown peach, and dark red cherries. One of my favorite go-to, easy-make bento for a carefree summer day. Don't you just love those? ^_^

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese Bento

Yes, it's the peak of summer and I made mac and cheese. It's TinySprite's favorite, and she's been asking for it, so how could I refuse? She ate two bowls for dinner, and requested another serving for lunch, packed in her Hello Kitty thermal jar. So here it is: my special version of ka-broc-mac and cheese. There's a side box of summer-ripe cherries, homegrown sunsugar orange cherry tomatoes, a homegrown yellow pear tomato, a cup o'blueberries, and a sweet lil' lychee. See how Korilakkuma looks like she's hugging it? That's just exactly how I feel about lychee too. ^_^

I've posted my ka-broc-cheese recipe before (here) but this time I've made it wheat-free and soy-free. The only changes are a substitution of brown rice flour in place of the whole wheat flour for making the roux, and the omission of the spicy soyrizo. Actually, I made this batch in parts, because I happen to love the soyrizo in here, so I just kept it separate to mix in later. I also had to make separate kinds of pasta (quinoa elbows for the gluten-free version and whole wheat elbows for everyone else). It was a bit complicated, but totally worth it. If you don't have any issues with wheat or soy, I would keep to the original recipe; it works and tastes just as good as this one. I know, I know, it is totally untraditional, and the cheese isn't smooth and creamy with everything I've thrown in. But it is substantial, and it fills you up, and you don't even have to worry about a side salad or something. Cuz the veggies are already IN THERE. Woot!

Wheat and Soy Free Mac and Ka-Broc-Cheese Method/Recipe

Cook 8oz (or more if you like) quinoa (or corn) elbow macaroni, 10-12 minutes or until just al dente. Drain.
Steam or microwave 5 slices kabocha (or more) and one small head of broccoli until softened.
Grate the kabocha and mince the broccoli.
Melt 3T butter in a saucepan over medium low heat.
Whisk in 3T brown rice flour, 1tsp dry mustard, a few pinches of pepper, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper until smooth, a few minutes.
Add 2 cups milk.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 6-8 minutes, until milk comes to a boil.
Add: 2C (or 3C, or more) shredded cheddar, parmesan, or whatever cheese you happen to like. Stir to incorporate.
Add the grated kabocha and the minced broccoli. Stir.
Add more cheese if you like it cheesier.
Add pasta, stir to completely incorporate.
Is it more cheddar on top of my lovely creamy cheesy sauce? 
No.... muahahaha!!
It's shredded kabocha. Really.

Look: you can barely tell it's in there.
I'm serious. The cheesalicious flavor overpowers the kabocha.

Yeah, that's a lot of broccoli.

Okay, it's kind of lumpy now. 
If you don't like it, go ahead- add more cheese.
Go on, it's okay. It's cheese! It's all good.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Chicken and Rice Lunchbots Trio Bento

This is the first time I packed TinySprite's bento in the Lunchbot Trio, I think. It doesn't look too big because the separate sections keep things compact. There's furikake rice and shoyu chicken in one section, carrots, broccoli, corn and strawberries in another, and some cherries, blueberries and a soft ripe apricot in the last part. A few cute picks make it nice and girlish, in case she tried insisting it's a boy's box. Looks like bunnies galore in this photo, doesn't it? ^_^

Monday, July 16, 2012

Red Drink!

Red Drink! by sherimiya ♥
Red Drink!, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
You've heard all the buzz about green drinks, right? Well, green schmeen. Sure green is great (and here's my go-to green drink recipe), but you can make a delicious, healthy, refreshing drink of just about any color you desire. Here's one of my favorites: Red Drink! Actually it might be more of a hot pink drink, now that I look at it. Doesn't it look gorgeous? You might even be able to get your kids to suck it down; I know mine do. That beautiful scarlet hue is mainly due to beets. That's right, you heard me: beets! Raw beets are a good source of vitamin C, folate, and iron, and have a natural sweetness that make them a good base for a vegetable juice. Did you know that? I'll give you my recipe, but really you can alter the amounts and kinds of fruit however you choose. That's what I do. The intense red color comes from the raw red beet and red cabbage. And maybe from the berries too.
Sheri's Red Hot Pink Drink

1C almond milk
handful of red cabbage

[blend these ingredients first, to get better liquification]

1 small raw beet (or 1/2 medium beet), peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks (I chop it because I'm using a regular Oster blender. If you have a superblender then feel free to toss it in whole)
1 celery stalk
1 apple, peeled
1 small orange, peeled
1 banana
1C strawberries (or raspberries, or cherries, or other red fruit)
sunflower seeds

I blend the remaining ingredients in batches, since (as I said), I don't want to blow my blender's motor out.
This smoothie tastes fresh, sweet, yet vegetal. Trust me; it's good. Oh, and just a tip: don't wear white while you're making this one. Bottoms up!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hello Kitty Onigiri Bento!

This bento is one I made for myself, and it was also meant to be my entry for the annual Bento & Co contest. The theme was onigiri, so I made two Hello Kitty mini-onigiri using my mold. I decorated their faces with nori, corn, and radish bows. I think this is the first time I've used this mini-onigiri mold, which was a gift from a dear friend. It's so cute! I added some oven-baked mochiko chicken pieces to the side, and then squeezed in some sweet fresh steamed corn off the cob, edamame, broccoli, carrots, and grape tomatoes. The second tier contains cherries, a homegrown apricot, raspberries, white peach, strawberries, blueberries and a few slices of steamed Okinawan sweet potato. I think I represented just about all the rainbow colors in this one! I packed it all inside my favorite stainless steel boxes. Each comes with its own gasketed lid, which don't have latches but which will stay leaktight if bound with elastic. You can use only one oblong box if you like, or stack two together and bind them with one larger band, which is what I did. There were 237 entries to the contest this year, and sadly I didn't make the final 10. But you can click over to see the ones that did, and cast a vote for the one you like the best (you have until Monday, July 16th). There are some unbelievably beautiful bento crafted by folks from all over the world; I was amazed and so inspired! Contests like these just go to show you how widespread the bento culture has become, and it's heartwarming to see all the healthy, delicious bento created by people influenced by this meal tradition from Japan. Very cool^_^

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sausage Arugula Pasta Bento

Now that the kids are getting older and their appetites are getting bigger, I find myself reaching for the more spacious bento boxes more frequently these days. My preschooler can still use the cute little one tiered character boxes, but probably not for much longer. And my almost-4th-grader definitely needs more food. This summer he's been very active, with various enrichment programs such as cooking, chess, mad science, and sports. He can eat a lot. I found this nice-looking two-tiered box today and thought it would be perfect for him in the coming months. It supposedly holds over 1000ml, but I find that the containers themselves take up space and there isn't a need to pack super tightly. This one has a snug-fitting upper divided tier that sits deep into the main compartment. Thus, I have to be careful not to pack the bottom too high. I like the gasket in the lid and the two double latches, as well as the transparent nature of this Clic-Tite box, made by a company called Novo. Here I've packed a quick-cook meal of thin whole wheat spagetti, wilted arugula and spinach, and pan-fried chicken sausage to layer in the bottom on a lettuce leaf. The top holds a silicone cup of yogurt with blueberries and sunflower seeds, another of steamed corn off the cob, carrots, cherries, strawberries, lychee, Okinawan sweet potato and regular sweet potato.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bolognese Panda Bento

Bolognese Panda Bento by sherimiya ♥
Bolognese Panda Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
Who says gluten-free has to be boring? Here's a bento for TinySprite I whipped up quickly using leftovers from dinner: pasta bolognese (naturally gluten-free) tossed with brown rice tube pasta, topped with romano and parmesan, and oregano. She's a meat lover, this girl, and meals like this are very satisfying for her. I'm happy to be able to pack it in her favorite panda bento bowl. She had previously asked to "always use this box please" - so I'm trying. The upper tier contains some super sweet dark cherries, a couple of pristine white lychee, Okinawan sweet potato flower shapes, a baby homegrown white peach, a homegrown apricot, some black splendor plums, and fresh corn off the cob.

Bolognese Sauce (from Real Simple)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup whole milk
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon red pepper (I omitted)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I omitted)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, then add the beef and cook until brown. Add the wine and the remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes. Serve with cooked pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Harry Potter Field Trip Bento

It's another field trip bento, which means I hadn't posted a bento since a week ago. Since my 8 year old is currently obsessed with Harry Potter, I figured I should try to attempt a bento he'd really like. Unfortunately, I haven't read any of the books, so I guess I don't really "know" the character. I let him try to guess who this sandwich is supposed to be, and he gamely tried to humor me ("give me a few minutes, I can figure it out!"). He didn't, of course, and when I told him, the first thing he blurted out was "where's his scar?" Okay, I didn't know about the scar, so I ad-libbed quickly. "His hair is covering it up?" "Oh, okay. That's right, sometimes it's covered." Whereupon he lifted up the hair to look for it. Not finding it, he then made his own lightning bolt with carrot slivers to put under there. There's a couple of turkey cheese spinach sandwich thins, a red and yellow capsicum scarf, broccoli, plum (underneath), baby homegrown peaches, cherry, strawberry, and carrot. I used red cabbage, Okinawan sweet potato, carrot and turkey for his face. And why didn't I finish the glasses? I think I have to do a better one. And maybe I should read the book too. Have fun at your pool party field trip MisterMan!

Monday, July 2, 2012

4th of July Field Trip Bento

I couldn't let this holiday go by without a theme bento, and it's even a field trip bento at that -- so I couldn't use my star or flag picks (or anything nondisposable). So I settled for as many stars as I could fit in this recycled plastic strawberry package. I hope he gets the theme I was going for! There's a turkey spinach cheese rollup in a whole wheat tortilla, a quail egg with a star cutout that cracked (darn!), some Okinawan sweet potato stars, carrots, broccoli, steamed corn on the cob, red pepper stars, radish, cherries, strawberries and blueberries. I wrapped it all up in wax paper, snapped the box closed, and packed it with a rubber band around it to prevent accidental opening due to excessive swingage. He's going to the Tech Museum for a day of science fun. Then, we've got the 4th off -- yippee! How are you celebrating? Hope you enjoy a wonderful 4th of July/Independence Day!