One week until Christmas! Here is my last Christmas themed bento for the year. It's another snowman, this time made with a nori- and carrot-decorated quail egg. A little blue hat, and there's a happy friend waiting to enjoy lunchtime with TinySprite! I used my EcoLunchbox Solo Cube with 4 silicone cups containing sliced bratwurst sausages, sauteed shredded brussels sprouts topped with parmesan and garlic powder, Greek yogurt with homemade granola and a perfectly sized satsuma mandarin. I don't normally pack yogurt without a lid, but the layer of granola (Alton Brown's recipe) helps keep it in place. I like how everything fits in here snugly, and makes a colorful, festive holiday bento. Merry Christmas, friends!
This is TinySprite's version of the comfort chicken and rice I made yesterday. I always pull her meat off the bone to save her lunchmates the sight of messy carnage. Plus, I can get more meat in the bento this way. In one section there's chicken and broccoli; in the next a little two-ball onigiri snowman with nori detail and a steamed Okinawan sweet potato hat, some carrots; and finally a baby satsuma and a few blackberries. She also has a class snack party, so I don't expect her appetite to be all that big. I can tell my little girl is growing up when I look at her big brother's bento boxes and think: it may be time for her to use this one now. Yep, he has used this worn old three-sectioned box for years. It has kept all its pieces intact, and the latches, gasket and clear lid are all in great shape. What a workhorse! Love this one.
The nights around here are getting pretty chilly -- down in the 30s -- calling for some comfort food to warm up the bones during the day. I made a big pot of Vietnamese soy chicken drumsticks (method and recipe here). Even though I grew up with shoyu chicken, and the Hawaiian version was a childhood favorite of mine, I really love the distinct taste of this version. I think it might be the fish sauce that gives it that extra flavor punch. Or maybe it's the black pepper. In any case, I'm hooked. I made this batch on the stovetop, and it doesn't take more than an hour to get nice and fall-off-the-bone tender. I packed some in the apple box atop some furikake rice and some broccoli steamed in the same pot. Chicken and rice. It's delicious hot, cold, room temperature, whatever. You know what I mean? The top layer holds a satsuma mandarin, the ever-present sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers, a smattering of blackberries, and a shoyu-dyed quail egg Rudolph. It's Christmas, after all!
Yeah, okay, maybe it's just a broccoli tree like all the other broccoli trees. But this one has a star on top! And star ornaments on the branches! Can we just call it a Christmas tree bento? I hope she'll go for it! Besides the festive "Christmas tree" there is my ever-present, favorite satsuma mandarin, a few blackberries, a lone grape tomato, and the dwindling cup of home-pickled cucumbers. I have another six pickles to go, so this exact same cup will be present in several more upcoming bento boxes. Just to warn you. There isn't anything in the thermal food jar yet, which is why I'm not showing you the interior, but I am planning to pack the kale-white bean-chicken sausage-vegetable soup that we had for dinner. It's a typical winter warming bento, which is so nice when the weather is cold, isn't it?
Only two weeks to go until Christmas, and I'm happy to present my first Christmas themed bento for the year! Heh. Oops. I should look to my past Christmas bento flickrset for inspiration, I think. Anyway, this one boasts a reindeer-shaped calzone, which became Rudolph with the addition of a red button nose pick. All I did was glue on some nori eyes (with honey) and I was done. Woo! There are a couple of pizza slices underneath Rudolph, packed in one half of my new Sistema Bakery bento box. The box says that the volume of this BPA-free divided box is 630ml, which might surprise you. The tight-fitting (leakproof) lid is domed, allowing extra space for bulky food items. Plus, it costs less than $7~ I love this box! The other side was just right to fit a little satsuma mandarin, a handful of blackberries, a grape tomato and a cup of pickled cucumbers. Toss this box into the lunchtote, and you don't need to worry about anything. TinySprite can see exactly what she has for lunch, and she made sure there wasn't anything left to bring home. ^_^
Let's hear it for breakfast for lunch! Actually, what happened is that I didn't have quite enough salmon to go around, so I decided to supplement the bento with tamagoyaki (rolled with chopped spinach and scallions) and nitrite-free gluten-free maple sausages. This sleek bento is for TinySprite, and includes the savory treats I just mentioned, plus a little grape tomato, a sectioned satsuma mandarin, a little steamed broccoli tucked into the free space, and some Okinawan sweet potato butterfly shapes. I've discovered that a very small sampling of each food item doesn't seem too overwhelming, and she's more likely to eat it all. One tier of this double stainless steel bento set serves her kindergarten appetite perfectly. She hasn't started using "real" chopsticks yet, but she's pretty close. I got this pair for her to practice, forgetting that she's a lefty and this kind of practice pair is sided! Hmm. I took it apart and put it back together in what I thought might be a backwards way, but I tried it and it didn't really work. I gave it to her anyway, and she was THRILLED. Didn't even notice that the thumb pad and finger indent were off. And get this: she actually uses it pretty well. Go figure. Haha! Whatever, right? ^_^
Have you eaten black rice? Also known as Forbidden Rice, it's received press lately for its high levels of antioxidants, on a par with blueberries. It has a nice, mild flavor, and a pleasing (to me) purplish color that is retained after cooking. I've used it to make jook before (see my method here), and this time I added sliced lup cheong (Chinese sausage), celery and broccoli stalks. You can also add chicken, mushrooms, fish, or whatever else you'd like. It's an easy meal to make: I used a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 8 cups of water (or broth). Simmer about an hour to 90 minutes, adding the rest of the ingredients for the last 30 minutes or so. I scattered chopping green onion on this serving packed in my Stanley thermal food jar, but you can also add cilantro, ginger, pepper, chili oil, even shoyu as your taste dictates. It's another kind of comfort food that's especially satisfying on these cold wintry days. I sent along a side box containing a satsuma mandarin, some grape tomatoes, and the ever-present mini-cups of home-pickled cucumbers and fermented sauerkraut. Simple and fast, yet hearty. I had some for lunch myself, too. ^_^
I felt like using the cute LunchBot Quad today because the divided sections are so handy it almost fills itself. I simply grilled some chicken, sliced into bite-size pieces, lay them in one section side by side, and sprinkled with sodium-free, MSG-free furikake. Next, I cut some garlic-roasted baby asparagus for the next section, and added a couple of grape tomatoes and a flower-shaped steamed Okinawan sweet potato. A third section got tiny silicone cups of homemade sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers (and a carrot), and in the last section I squeezed some watermelon cubes and a peeled satsuma mandarin. See what I mean? You've seen all these components in my bento before; some of them happen to be stocked regularly in my fridge for an easy go-to. TinySprite's kindergarten appetite is fairly small, so a few items of each food group will just about fill her up. The Quad is ideal for this purpose; love it!
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 ^-^!