I squeezed in one last Easter theme bento: a little chickie atop a soba nest. Actually, this is a hen's egg, so it's a pretty big chick, but all the better to see his little face. Quail eggs are easier to cut, but I managed to get the "eggshell" off this one pretty much intact after a lot of finagling. The containers hold soba tsuyu and furikake for TinySprite to add to her soba at lunchtime. The LunchBots Clicks is perfect for this because it's totally leakproof; if she doesn't finish it all, it won't spill out into her lunch tote afterwards. The EcoLunchBoxes Ecodipper was a nice-sized accompaniment to hold her strawberry, Moloka'i Okinawan sweet potato, house-pickled cucumbers and carrots. I won't see you until next week, so enjoy your weekends! Happy Easter, happy Passover, or happy egg hunting!
Today's bento is deconstructed fish tacos in the LunchBots Trio. I've packed fish tacos like this before (here and here and here and here), because there's no good way to pack fish and salsa inside a tortilla without everything getting soggy and falling apart. In fact, I'd rather just omit the tortilla altogether, but the kids love their bready carbs, so I added two bunny shaped tortilla pieces in this one to appease them (and make it count as an Easter bento as well. Score!). I put the fried snapper on a bed of spinach in one compartment, with the cabbage tomato onion orange pepper slaw next to it. The last section holds strawberries, sliced steamed Okinawan sweet potato, and carrots. In case you didn't notice the Easterness right away, the little chickies should give it away. Happy Easter! ^__^
Seeing as it'll be Easter in a few days, I thought I'd make an Easter bento for my little ones. This one is for TinySprite, who asked for her ma po tofu in her favorite panda bowl, so of course I obliged. I scooped it over black rice, and topped with sliced green onion, a tofu rabbit (cut with my nice metal cutter from the same shop as the one I got my dragon, goldfish, double flower, butterfly and bird cutters). I even gave him a carrot with cilantro greens to keep him happy.
The top tier of her bowl contains tomatoes, Moloka'i Okinawan sweet potatoes, carrot, broccoli, blackberries and strawberry. I brought these sweet potatoes back with me from Hawaii, where I saw this red-skinned purple-fleshed variety for the first time. Usually the Okinawan sweet potatoes have a whitish outer skin but this type, supposedly grown only on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i, are distinguished not only by their red skin but their creamier flesh, as seen here. Too bad I can't find them in California. We'll be enjoying my stash for a few more days while they last, though!
Field trip day! That means a finger-friendly bento packed in a disposable container for TinySprite to take to the zoo with her. The girl loves hot dogs, and I was all set to pack her dogs in rice or something, but then I saw these Sandwich Thins Hot Dog Buns. Or Hot Dog Sandwich Thins; I forgot exactly how they're marketed. All I know is that they were so cute I had to have them, and then I had to make a Domo face on top. Are you with me? Yes, there's a nitrite-free dog inside this "bun", which I decorated with blueberry eyes (stuck on with rice sticks), mozzarella teeth and a red pepper mouth. To simplify things, I used a cheese rectangle for the teeth and then just cut zigzags on two sides of a piece of red bell pepper. This way I can avoid cutting out eight separate triangle teeth. Am I a shortcutting genius or what? Inside this recycled strawberry box I also packed a small bunch of grapes, black- and strawberries, a tiny mandarin, and a couple pieces of Okinawan sweet potato. I wrapped everything in some wax paper before sealing the box closed. And look: Domo can see out the window. Yay!
We're baaaa-aaack! Did you notice a dearth of bento over here on this little page of the internets? We were on Spring Break last week. Anyone else? Yeah, it seemed a bit early to us too. But we did enjoy some time off to play and have some fun in the sun. We went to the beach, scarfed down the requisite shave ice and malasadas, and generally warmed up our winterized (well, California winterized) bodies. After a nice relaxing week, we're ready to get back into the bento habit! Actually, this one was from before the break: an egg salad on whole wheat sandwich thin with baby spinach. Couple of carrots, the usual pickled condiments, and a few berries make up the rest of the lunch. Happy Meal!
Okay, this photo was not taken by me (thanks and photo credit to Steve Anderson), but we saw some humpbacks breaching just like this, from shore. It was spectacular! And very "Life of Pi"-like: we also saw fish leaping over the waves and slow-floating turtles poking their heads up for a look around while they fed on coral reefs. There was even a report of a first ever shark sighting in the Ko'Olina swimming lagoons, but luckily we missed that.
Here's my contribution to St. Patty's Day, since it falls on Sunday and this will be our last bento before then. A four-leaf clover! Can we call it a shamrock if it has more than three leaves? My pepper happened to be four-lobed, so this is the shape we're going with. I fried a beaten egg inside the pepper ring, and then sprinkled some chopped spinach on top. It sits atop a bed of fried rice mixed with ham, edamame, egg and shoyu. I make sure to cook the pepper ring egg thoroughly, as it's not safe to pack uncooked egg for extended periods at warm temps. Alongside the lucky rice: cantaloupe chunks, and pickled cucumbers and onions. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Happy Pi (π) Day! Tomorrow is 3-14. Pi is the Greek symbol used to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, which is approximately 3.14159. To celebrate, I topped MisterMan's chili LunchBots thermal bowl with a handcut tortilla pi. Too bad it started curling up, but you get the idea. I made this chili with the usual goodies, including ground turkey, black beans, barley, zucchini, carrots, celery and tomatoes. The side box holds the other usuals: grapes, strawberry, mandarin and pickled cukes. I also made a blackberry pie to celebrate; or should I say blackberry pi?
The dual compartment leakproof Sistema click box makes this ordinary bento stand out: with TinySprite's favorite shoyu chicken and furikake rice (with broccoli and tomatoes) on one side, and pickled cukes + red onions, strawberry and grapes on the other. Don't let the compact nature of this box fool you; it actually holds 630ml. If I were in the habit of taking bento with me, I think I would love to tote this one around. In addition to providing a bit of separation, it also allows visual appreciation through the translucent top and sides. Cute, right? If they ever come out with a 3- or 4-compartment box, you know I'll be all over it too. ^__^
I usually pack the kids' favorite keema curry (see the Just One Cookbook method and recipe I use here) in a thermal food jar, but lately my daughter hasn't been finishing her meals in that container. Is she getting bored of the presentation? Let's try packing lunch in a different container, with a fun radish mousie and "swiss cheese" as a dining companion! Doesn't that make the bento more appealing? The LunchBots Clicks are leakproof, making them ideal for soupy, saucy kinds of foods. The lids are translucent, so you can see what's coming up for lunch too -- a little touch I like a lot. The matching side box, a bit shallower, holds pickled cucumbers and red onions, along with a variety of berries. Just the right size for my kindergartner. P.S. She gobbled it all up. ^__^
Sometimes you don't really have a complete meal in mind, and sometimes it seems the separate components might go over better separately. It's weird, but TinySprite eats pasta like this. Just plain. Sometimes she puts grated cheese on top, then proceeds to eat the grated cheese, leaving the plain pasta for later. If I mix everything together, she'll still eat them all separately. Come to think of it, MisterMan does that too. If I ask whether plain pasta doesn't seem kind of well, plain, they look at me incredulously. Same with oatmeal. They'll eat all the toppings (berries, nuts, raisins) first, and then eat the plain oatmeal afterwards. Sure it's steel cut oats, which are the BEST OATS EVER, and I myself eat it plain with just a drizzle of honey, but still. Whatever. So here are the components for sausage chard pasta, all separated in the distinct sections of the awesome LunchBot Quad. The ever-present pickled cukes and onions, carrots (which came back because I forgot she currently has two loose teeth), fanned-out strawberry and grapes. She loved this selection, by the way. Woo hoo!
I haven't used the magic round bento in a long while, and just realized it's probably too small for MisterMan now. But I think it might be appropriate for TinySprite now? The nice thing about this bento is that you don't really have to fill up each section to the top; most things will pretty much stay in their own compartment. It does look like I filled them up today though, doesn't it? Actually she got a piece of mustard roasted salmon (cut in two), some roasted baby potatoes, and roasted shredded brussels sprouts (yep, all in the same pan). Her typical pickled veggies fit in a second wedge, and the third holds a scattering of berries and mandarin segments. Well, that was easy! I really must start using this box more frequently again.
This one is called Chicken and Hominy Chili, but it's not really a chili; to me it's more like chicken soup. However, for this bento I served it over rice and omitted most of the liquid. So I guess it turned out to be more like chili after all. The flavor is a bit mild for my taste, but the kids seemed to like it, and it's a nice change from the tomato-based chili that we usually make. Along with the cilantro and onion-topped chili bowl, this bento contains: satsuma mandarin, a variety of berries, and home-pickled cucumbers and red onions. Both kids are huge fans of the pickled veggies. I have still to try pickling carrots, cauliflower and peppers.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Chicken and Hominy Chili Bowl (from Family Circle)
6 large bone-in, skinless chicken thighs 1 tsp salt 1 tsp cumin 1/2 tsp black pepper 1/2 tsp dried oregano 1 onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, chopped 1 stalk celery, chopped 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (I omitted) 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped (I used red) 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth 15 oz. hominy, drained and rinsed 2 T cornmeal 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, plus more for serving Tortilla chips and sour cream (optional)
Place chicken in slow cooker and season with salt, cumin, black pepper and oregano. Scatter onion, garlic, celery, jalapeno and green pepper over chicken. Pour broth over top. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir in hominy and cornmeal. Add more spices to taste if needed. Cook on high for 15 minutes. Stir in cilantro, top with tortilla chips, sour cream and more chopped cilantro to serve.
Look at the cute bento picks. So so adorable! I had to make a bento to match them, so this one is for my TinySprite. I made ebi fry (fried shrimp), octodogs, hard-boiled egg, steamed broccoli, tomato and strawberry. My girl loves ebi fry. I mean she LOVES it. I don't usually deep fry at home because I don't like to deal with the cleanup or the splattering oil. But it's totally worth it for this super crispy crunchy ebi fry. I used the recipe and method I found at Just One Cookbook, which calls for double dredging of the shrimp before panko. I think this results in the extra crispiness. When you make this, you should make a lot because the kids will end up grabbing them by the fistful and chowing down. I had them pack their own bento so they would be sure to save some for tomorrow! Delicious!
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 ^-^!