Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Curry with Carrot Jack Bento

The cooler days call for warmer foods, so the last Halloween bento is a curry bento decorated with a carrot (freehand cut) jack-o-lantern. I used the method and recipe here. I used TinySprite's favorite panda bowl again, with the upper tier stocked with colorful corn, strawberries and grapes. I also packed a cup of house-pickled cabbage and cucumbers. I'm slowly getting my kids used to the pickled flavors we adults like so much; yay! They're even eating the sauerkraut I fermented at home in all its tangy glory. Score! I'm typing up this post while running to the door to appease the hundreds of costumed candymongers that are beseiging me. Laters!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Black Bean Burger Cheddar Jack Bento

Counting down the final hours before Halloween... so I guess I can fit in at least a couple more. This one has two black bean / black rice burger patties on lettuce (protein style) with a melted cheddar jack-o-lantern on top. I used the method I described here, based on the original garbanzo bean recipe I used here. I put some ketchup in the little green container, and added some blackberries, corn, carrots and a strawberry to round out the meal. If you haven't entered to win an EcoLunchboxes bento set here yet, you can take a look at the giveaway post here. You have until the stroke of midnight tomorrow.... oooo.... before I close the comment entries. I just read through the comments, and some of you have some clever ideas on how to reuse and recycle; I'm impressed! Enjoy your Halloween eve!

Monday, October 29, 2012

SF Giants World Series 2012 Champions EcoLunchbox Bento!

Did you watch it? Even if you weren't a San Francisco Giants fan before, it's hard not to admire these guys for the fantastic effort they made in this series, where they swept the Detroit Tigers in 4 games. It was very exciting. [They won two years ago, too, and I made a bento then too (here).] I made a little celebratory bento for TinySprite: mixed red rice sprinkled with furikake, with shoyu chicken, and a boiled egg GIANTS baseball, steamed broccoli, carrots, and a little silicone cup of blackberries. The team colors are orange and black, which is very fitting for this time of year, isnt' it? The most tedious part of this bento was the nori letters, by FAR. This is why I rarely cut nori; I have little patience for it, and the pieces (letters) all end up different sizes. But you get the picture! Yay for the home team! Packed in my super cool EcoLunchboxes Solo Cube. Do you like it? Check out my giveaway in this post here: you can enter for a chance to win an EcoLunchboxes Solo Cube (plus an ECODipper) of your very own, just by sharing your green ideas with us all. I'm loving all the awesome ways you are all making an effort to go green!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Creepy Egg Skull and Rolls plus EcoLunchbox GIVEAWAY!

Let's keep going with the creepy skulls, shall we? This one is crafted from a hard-boiled quail egg, which is naturally skullish -- all you need to do is pinch the cheeks in a little and add some nori details. I made some turkey dog "sushi" rolls using black rice, and decorated the ends with freecut nori designs: bats and vampire faces. There are also some steamed broccoli and a little jack-o-pepper. I packed this bento for TinySprite in another stainless steel EcoLunchbox: this one is called the Solo Cube, and it's just the perfect size for my kindergartner. I packed this box along with the EcoDipper, containing some sliced peaches and berries. This size meal isn't too overwhelming for her, and she has no problem sliding off these lids. They stay on pretty well, but I secure both with elastic bands, just in case. I like the versatility that these two different shapes and sizes offer; you could fit a sandwich thin in the Cube, or some sausage skewers, some meatballs and pasta, or a chicken salad. The round Dipper is just right for a handful of nuts, trail mix, crackers, berries, or melon balls. I was so pleased with this duo that I mentioned it to the folks at EcoLunchboxes and they thought it would be a great idea to offer these two as a set to one of you, my bento-making readers! I know you'll love these as much as I do. They're well-made and look like they're built to stand up to years of daily use. If your child outgrows them, you can always use them for an afterschool or recess snack.

My kids have been taking bento to school their whole lives and I was amused recently to find my daughter bringing home disposable items (from a field trip) because she's so used to re-using. 

If you're interested in trying out the EcoLunchbox Solo Cube and the EcoDipper, please leave me a comment below telling me whether you've made any efforts lately to be more "green", and include your email address so that I can contact you. I'll leave it open until midnight on Halloween night (October 31, 2012, Pacific time). U.S. only please. Thanks a lot for your interest!

For more info, see EcoLunchboxes.

Ecolunchbox provided the items I used to pack this bento today, but I received no other compensation, and the opinions I expressed are mine.

Added to What's For Lunch.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Skull Onigiri Chili EcoLunchbox Bento

Are you getting into the Halloween spirit yet? I'm starting to... slowly! I figured it's time to start getting spooky so today I made a skull onigiri to go with the vegetarian chili (chock full of zucchini, corn, tomatoes, onion, carrots, and kabocha). I lay the chili on a lettuce leaf and put the skull on top. I made it kind of chunky so that there wouldn't be too much sauce to drip all over everything. I usually pack chili in a thermal jar, but I really wanted to use this cool new stainless steel Solo Rectangle box I got from EcoLunchbox. It's on the bigger side, simple and sturdy. I used a silicone cup, and these fit perfectly. They would be ideal for separating foods you want to keep apart. Besides the chili, I put in some cucumbers, a sprig of broccoli, and a mini red pepper. I put some homemade pickled cabbage, lotus root and cucumber in the cup. The lid to this box fits snugly, though not watertight, and I added an elastic band for extra insurance. Because I wanted to keep the fruit separate in case the chili moved around, I used an EcoDipper, a round lidded stainless steel half cup size container. Again, the lid fits snugly but I wouldn't use it to pack anything watery. It's perfect for a handful of fruit, though. This combo worked out very well for MisterMan. He swung his bag around, but since the silicone cup reaches the top of the box, the pickled foods stayed segregated. Although these boxes aren't leakproof, they are easy to use and should not pose a problem for your child to open and close. Having been a longtime user of Ecolunchbox products, when the company asked me to try out these newer products I didn't hesitate. I'm happy to share my experience with you, so you can feel confident before you decide to give these items a try. I've been packing bento for both a girl and a boy for almost a decade (wow!), and I have a good idea about what works and what doesn't. I have more to share tomorrow, along with a giveaway! I hope you stop by!

Ecolunchbox provided the items I used to pack this bento today, but I received no other compensation, and the opinions I expressed are mine.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Egg Salad Pita with Cheddar Jack Bento

Okay, I only have about a week left for Halloween bento so I better get moving. Today I made a quick no-cook bento for MisterMan using a sandwich round pita. Have you seen these? They are pocket sandwich rounds which are perforated along their diameter so that you can tear them neatly in half to have two pita pockets. How convenient! I lined this one with lettuce and filled with a few scoops of egg salad. A slab of cheddar carved with a small paring knife into a jack-o-lantern face adds the Halloween charm. Note: if you use a slice of processed cheese, you could do the carving MUCH more easily. But we don't eat prepackaged cheese slices around here. Only the real, extra sharp deal! So he's a little messy, and cracked on the edge, but that just adds to his character. There is a cup of corn off the cob, another of homemade pickled cabbage, a sprig of steamed broccoli, a couple of strawberries (it's not strawberry season anymore, and I really need to stop buying these), and a bunch of lil' grapes.

By the way.... I have a cool surprise coming up soon, and there may be something in it for YOU! Stay tuned!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Jack-O-Pepper Field Trip Bento

Here's a quickie, and my first Halloween bento of the year. It makes use of the very handy mini sweet pepper as a carvable cutie. I posted a tutorial here. All you need is a smallish, sharp knife and some steady hands. The rest of the bento is composed of TinySprite's favorite summer rolls (a nice finger food that requires no disposable utensils on the road) -- these contain pickled cabbage, lettuce, and boiled chicken. There're also some strawberries, carrots and broccoli, and a little recycled fruit cup container of grapes (not olives). Funnily enough, she actually brought that home because she wanted me to use it again. ^_^

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Balsamic Vinegar Sesame Chicken Lunchbots Bento

Chicken and rice, chicken and rice... la la la la laaaa... Is there any more that needs to be said? Well, all right; I'll say a little more. This is the balsamic vinegar sesame recipe I got from Maki at Just Bento, except I used a shoyu substitute and kept it sweeter and less vinegary. I made it before here. It gets divided treatment in this Lunchbots Trio, in a bed of lettuce by itself, next to a cup of furikake rice, homegrown cherry sunsugar tomatoes, and steamed Okinawan sweet potatoes. Peaches and berries round out this plain jane basic lunch bento. I've resolved to start with the Halloween bento next week. For sure I'll be able to get in at least a week of spooky scary creepy bento! Or at least a few cute jack-o-lantern ones. Those are my favorite!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Penne Pasta Bolognese Bento

Last time I made bolognese (here) I showed you TinySprite's bento. This time I'll show you MisterMan's version. It's the same, except he gets regular wheat pasta; this penne is made with tomato and carrot puree so it looks orange. I lay the pasta on a bed of lettuce, then spoon the sauce over, and top with parmesan and a few steamed Okinawan sweet potato cut into star shapes. In the upper tier of this cool EcoLunchBox he gets Greek yogurt with pumpkin seeds and wheat germ, and the usual fruit and veggies to the side (carrots, broccoli, strawberries and grapes).

Monday, October 15, 2012

Salmon and Bunny Triplets Bento

Our semi-weekly grilled salmon teriyaki over roasted diced garlic potatoes fits nicely in the magic round bento box ...and I can pass it along from MisterMan to TinySprite now. A single sprig of steamed broccoli, a tiny cup of corn off the cob, and a couple of carrots round out the vegetable section. Strawberries and grapes fill out the rest, and a trio of bunny-shaped Okinawan sweet potato slices adds a shot of vibrant violet. I like the deep sections of this box for my girl, because it's much easier for her to scoop out the food. Do you see the baby pumpkins? I'm trying to get into the fall mood over here, but the summery weather isn't helping. I'm feeling more in the ice cream mood lately... is it cooling down in your part of the world?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tacorice Bento Bowl

Tacorice Bento Bowl by sherimiya ♥
Tacorice Bento Bowl, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
You know that tacorice is convenient for bento (donburi rice bowl-type bento), is easy to make, easy to eat, and delicious, but did you know it's also a great gluten-free tortilla-less version (in case you're concerned about that)? Yes, it's true. For this bento I put a green lettuce leaf in the bottom, followed by a scoop of rice (it happened to be black rice, but you can use white or brown rice as well), then topped with taco-seasoned ground meat of your choice, shredded cheese, chopped onion, tomatoes, and cilantro. You can also add sour cream and sliced avocado if you so desire. I love this bowl type of bento; if I were making my own bento, I'd definitely make myself this type of bento very often. The cool thing about this apple bowl is that it comes with a top tier that sits loosely over the bottom section. I arranged some grapes and plum wedges in there, and screwed the lid on. It's not a watertight box, but that's not essential for this kind of food. We're closing out the week, and I have yet to make a Halloween bento...ooops! Next week. I think. ^_^

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Anpanman Portobello Pizza Bento

Anpanman Pizza Bento by sherimiya ♥
Anpanman Pizza Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
We made portobello pizzas again (see my method here), and I've found that it's best to scrape out as much of the gills as you can, use a minimum amount of cheese (just enough to "glue" the toppings on but not enough to get all gooey), and leave the vegetables just a bit tender (not super grilled). Of course, these pizzas are best straight out of the oven, but the kids beg to take them to school. Whenever I see a round food now, I think of Anpanman. And I had just the round things to make his nose and cheeks (pepperoni minis). I used ham to make his eyes, eyebrows and mouth (and nori for his eyeballs). If I had waited and put the pepperonis on after (or cut smaller circles) they might have looked rounder. And you might have recognized him. But whatever! I rarely use this flip-top box, but it fits the food just too well today. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chili Thermal Bento

Chili Thermal Bento by sherimiya ♥
Chili Thermal Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
Oh man, this looks like a fall / winter bento. But chili is such a great one-pot meal that I can't resist making it throughout the year. Toss in all the vegetables you can think of, simmer in a tomato-based broth with beans and sausage, and that's it. Even gets better the next day. Can't beat that! I pack thermal bento in the morning right before the kids leave for school. They should stay hot for at least 4-5 hours. I pack the fruit selection in a stainless steel box to go alongside, and I don't have to worry whether they're getting their daily servings of vegetation. Simple ^_^

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mochiko Chicken Slender Bento

How is it Monday already? I don't think I sat down at all today until just now. Too much weekend excess, I think -- how about you? Well, here's a bento to get the kids going: their favorite mochiko chicken (oven roasted version). Just stick a few piece in a bento box along with a smattering of extras, and that's pretty much a wrap. Just how I like a Monday to go! I can't believe we still had a pluot left; those Flavor Kings were my favorite summer eats this year, and man do I miss them already. We have some plums on the counter now, but they're just not the same. This box is one tier of a double stainless box set I got from Bento & Co, and it's just the right size for TinySprite. I like how the broccoli, carrots and Okinawan sweet potato squeeze in there to keep everything snugly in place. I secure the lid with an elastic felt band and she is good to go!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Quinoa-Crusted Salmon Bento

I heard from a nutritionist on twitter about this method of gluten-free breading -- using cooked quinoa. What? That's what I thought too. I asked her to clarify and she said to use cooked quinoa just like panko. Hmm, okay. I decided to try making a quinoa crust on salmon for a change of pace. The quinoa didn't stick on by itself (I tried) so I dipped the fish in egg first, then in the quinoa, then shallow-fried in a pan. I used lemon and garlic to flavor it. I thought it tasted all right; nothing that spectacular. Not sure I'd try it again. The rest of this simple bento contains green beans, a little tulip shaped "flower", grapes, strawberries, and among the last of the homegrown cherry tomatoes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beet Hash and Egg Bento

Beet Hash and Egg Bento by sherimiya ♥
Beet Hash and Egg Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
Today I tried something new, since my kids love taters so much: beet hash. It's just diced potatoes and onions, but with diced beets tossed into the mix. I'm telling ya; they couldn't really taste a difference. Or if they did, they didn't care too much. They obviously saw them in there, and I specifically asked MisterMan (since he doesn't care for beets) whether he knew they were beets, and he said "Of course! I know they're beets! But it's okay, I don't mind them when they're mixed in with other stuff." Score! I lay the hash on a bed of spinach and topped with a hard-boiled egg. It's kind of a breakfast-y lunch bento again, isn't it? The top tier of the tiffin holds broccoli, carrots, corn, grapes and white peach. We'll be eating this again for sure.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Summer Rolls Bento, part 3.

We just came off a long 3-day weekend due to a teachers work day, and it's a little tough to get back into bentomaking and blogging again. And did I mention the whole weekend was the most gorgeous, summery, sparkling weekend we've had all year?! That's right; we hit our year's high temperature yesterday. The bay area is notorious for cool summers and late warming, so this is pretty typical. While everyone else is planning pumpkin soups and pot roasts, we're thinking refreshing salads and ice teas. So here's today's no-cook bento: the ever-popular summer rolls in rice paper wraps, filled with lettuce, pickled carrots and cucumbers, deli nitrate-free ham and salami. Yeah, I know it sounds weird. But the kiddos cannot get enough. Plus, the rice wraps stay closed so well (compared to tortillas) that they're hard to beat mess-free fun finger foods. How can you argue with that? Two little Okinawan sweet potato lovebirds perch upon a broccoli branch above a radish heart. Awwwwww. Summery peaches and berries complete the meal. I wonder if they'll go for summer rolls all week?
Added to What's For Lunch