Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sticky Rice Bento

Sticky Rice Bento by sherimiya ♥
Sticky Rice Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
This bento contains sticky rice, one of my favorite one-pot meals (my basic method is here). For this batch I used regular white glutinous (sweet) rice, and mixed with Japanese brown rice. I presoaked for a few hours before cooking, and about 15 minutes before the end of the cycle I added sliced lup cheong, shiitake mushrooms, and shredded baby choy. You can add other ingredients if you like. I've made it with cubed kabocha, which resulted in a nice colorful batch. You can also add in chopped green onion after the rice is finished cooking, which is what I did here. I packed it inside a lettuce leaf, alongside some carved carrots and a piece of corn on the cob, which I decorated with Okinawan sweet potato hearts. The fruit square contains yellow peach, strawberry and blackberry. The last square has yogurt topped with chopped fresh pineapple, sunflower seeds and wheat germ. If I pack yogurt, I try to overlay it with fruit to keep it contained as much as possible. It's actually Greek yogurt, so it's not very runny. I also usually tell MisterMan when there's yogurt in his bento, so he can try to minimize the amount of swinging around he does with it >.<

Finally, remember the Bento & Co contest to "Make a Bento for Someone You Love"? There were 223 entries, from France, USA, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland, England, Norway, Morocco, and Japan. I wanted to thank all of you for voting and supporting my entry. I didn't win the grand prize trip to Kyoto, but I did place high enough in the final 20 to receive a generous gift certificate to Bento & Co! So, thank you very much, bento friends! ^_^

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pikachu Bao Bento

Pikachu Bao Bento by sherimiya ♥
Pikachu Bao Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
We haven't had a char siu bao bento in awhile so, here's one for July. I made Pikachu using a bao and a hot dog bao cut in half for ears. I added ear and eye details with Okinawan sweet potato, radish for cheeks, purple carrot for nose and mouth, and hot dog for tongue. Okay, the ears aren't as pointy as they should be. I had to tell MisterMan what it was supposed to be, and he said "Oh, Pichu? It looks more like Pichu." All right then. If you don't know (and I didn't), Pichu is the pre-evolved version of Pikachu. I guess that's appropriate! He also gets a donut nectarine (not very sweet), steamed broccoli, cherry tomato, carrots and cherries. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gyoza Field Trip Bento

Gyoza Field Trip Bento by sherimiya ♥
Gyoza Field Trip Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
It's Tuesday and you know what that means -- field trip day for MisterMan! Today they went to the Lawrence Hall of Science to learn about dinosaurs and fossils and shark teeth. Last week we had wontons. What's another good finger food that packs up neatly and easily, doesn't spill or get squashed, and tastes good at room temp? Gyoza! For these I used ground turkey, since that was what I had, but ground pork is traditionally used. I added a variety of other non-traditional ingredients too, like baby choy and soft tofu. I also added grated ginger, garlic, green onion, shoyu, and sesame oil to the mix. I only had medium thick skins, which are easier to work with (especially if you have kids helping you, since they don't tear as easily), but I like the thinner skins better. They make for a more delicate texture. I took some shots of my half-finished batch before cooking. Just for fun.
To cook the gyoza, I pan-fried in a little oil over medium high heat to brown the bottoms, then added water and covered to steam-cook the rest of the way and get the tops soft. The rest of his bento includes the usual summer fare: corn on the cob (under the strawberry), grapes, lychee, steamed broccoli, Okinawan sweet potato flower shapes, and sliced Sweet Peach Pie donut peaches underneath. I didn't find this batch very sweet. Do you like donut peaches? Maybe it's just the harvest available in our area, but I haven't had any super sweet ones yet. I prefer the regular variety. I packed everything up in a lettuce leaf and wax paper, into a disposable strawberry basket container, and he was good to go!
TinySprite got a similar, smaller, non-field-trip gyoza bento, which I packed in her two tier pink oval box. I love this box; it's lightweight, compact, easy to open and close, and just right for a smaller appetite. It used to have a removable divider in the top tier, but I lost it. However, it still works well for keeping the sweet in a separate section from the savory items. And it looks quite pretty too, I think. Happy Tuesday!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Deconstructed Salmon Sandwich Bento

This bento is a do-it-yourself sandwich, featuring butteryaki salmon (see my method here), some wild greens, a few slices of buckwheat bread and provolone cheese. The components all fit nicely inside the separated section of this dual lunch box by Sistema. I wrapped the bread inside wax paper to keep it separate from the rest of the ingredients, and decorated with a triplet of provolone bunnies and a mushroom-cut radish. The other section is divided, and allowed me to fit quite a bit of extras: corn on the cob, broccoli, carrots, Okinawan sweet potato flowers and tomatoes on one side; and lychees, strawberries, superdark plums and blackberries on the other. The plums were so juicy I had to drain them off before packing them in! MisterMan loves these deconstructed bentos, and he gets a lot of attention during lunchtime while he assembles his lunch. A bright cheery summertime bento for my boy ^_^

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mapo Tofu Kitty Bento

Mapo Tofu Kitty Bento by sherimiya ♥
Mapo Tofu Kitty Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
Both kids get mapo tofu bentos today. I halved the batch so that the kids' version would be bland -- er, mild -- and the adults' version would be red hot and spicy! I didn't add any chili bean sauce to theirs, and I placed it in a lettuce cup for neatness and appearance. MisterMan ate the lettuce and all, as I expected, as well as the kitty quail egg, steamed corn, Okinawan sweet potato, carrots, strawberries and blackberries.
TinySprite finished all her bento today; yay! She only left the lettuce but ate all the mapo tofu, peaches, Okinawan sweet potato stars, broccoli, carrot and strawberries. I packed her bento in the Paperchase Daytrippers box, which comes with matching utensils in the upper tier and snaps tightly closed with the cute girls design on the lid. It's the first time I've given her such a "big" box, and was concerned that she wouldn't get around to finishing it again, but the novelty and cuteness won her over, I guess. Super happy about that!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Purple Flowers Bento

Purple Flowers Bento by sherimiya ♥
Purple Flowers Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
Another pair of bento today again: shoyu chicken for both kids - with assorted corn, Okinawan sweet potato, carrots and fruit. I carved flower shapes out of purple carrots in MisterMan's bento; aren't they pretty? He also gets the dark red (almost black) plums that are loaded with juice and super sweet; I think they're called Flavor Rosa. I can't give them to TinySprite or I'll see evidence of them all down the front of her shirt. Instead she gets cherries, which she can eat pretty neatly. They also both get a grape tomato.
Unfortunately, she didn't eat much of this bento; most of the chicken came home. When dinnertime rolled around, she was starving! I'm really hoping she'll get into the practice of actually eating lunch soon. I think she's excited with the new schedule and friends; she'll probably settle down into the routine in the coming weeks. We'll see! ^_^

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wonton Field Trip Bento

Field Trip Wonton Bento by sherimiya ♥
Field Trip Wonton Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
MisterMan had a field trip today (they went swimming!), so I made wontons, which are fabulous for field trips for several reasons. They pack up easily, they are perfect finger food, and they taste great at room temp. If your kids prefer dipping sauce, you could send some along in a sealed condiment cup, but my kids love to eat them as is. I packed as many as I could fit into my go-to disposable field trip snap-lock recycled strawberry container, which I first lined with wax paper and lettuce. There was also room for a piece of corn on the cob, a tiny red apple, carrots, a bunch of grapes (beneath) and a luscious red strawberry. I put a little penguin on the corn too, for fun. This Okinawan sweet potato turned a mottled tie-dye purple color; kind of interesting for a change. I find that the bigger ones are more variegated in color, maybe because it takes longer to cook them evenly all the way through? That's my guess. Still delicious though! I cook them every day because everyone loves them so much; we eat a lot!
TinySprite got a similar one too, but a little smaller in size. She has adjusted well to her new school, and appears to have to same lunchtime issue here too -- eating too er, slowly. She finished everything in this one except two carrots though, so I'm happy about that.
If you've voted for my bento at the Bento & Co FB site "Make a Bento For Someone You Love" Contest, thank you! I always appreciate your readership, your encouraging comments and insightful questions. It's what makes bento such a wonderfully unifying community activity. I'm so glad I started this blog almost two years ago -- just because of all the fantastic friendships and connections I've made here. So... thank you!
Added these bento to What's For Lunch!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mahimahi Summer Bento

Mahimahi Bento by sherimiya ♥
Mahimahi Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
I found a nice mahimahi filet today so decided to do the furikake mahi mahi that is so popular in plate lunch in Hawaii. It's so easy; the way I do it is 3 steps max: squirt with kewpie mayo, sprinkle with furikake, then carefully pan fry both sides. I added three tiny fish shapes cut from radish, with sesame seed eyes, and a grape tomato for color. The next compartment has bicolor corn on the cob, bicolor Okinawan sweet potato star shapes, and purple and orange carrots. For fruit he has lychee (yummmmmy!), sweet yellow peach, and cherries. Everything fits just right in this cute and practical Lunchbot.

Some exciting news about my bento from last week: it reached the final 20 in a contest sponsored by Bento & Co: "A Bento For Someone You Love"! There's a vote going on at the company's Facebook page to determine the final winner -- the grand prize being a trip to Kyoto. If you have a chance, I would appreciate a vote from you, my wonderful readers! The site is here: Bento & Co. You have to "like" the page first, then click on the purple "Participer" button, then scroll through the entries. They're not labeled, but mine is currently on page 3 and looks like this:

Thanks very much for your help! I'll let you know the results :D

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Somen Salad of Love Bento

Note: I entered this bento in Bento & Co's contest to "Make a Bento For Someone You Love". It placed within the top 20 finalists, and won a gift certificate to the Bento & Co store!

Today's bento consists of what I think of as quintessential summer food: somen salad. Here are some other ways I've packed somen salad in bento: here and here. Have you had it? In Hawaii we eat it a lot when the weather is hot and humid. My dad had a method of making the somen noodles. These noodles are very thin, so you must not overcook them or they'll become mushy and sticky. As soon as they're done you have to cool them down to stop all further cooking. During this cooling step, my dad always pulled single serving size bundles of somen out of the basket and twirled each into a kind of little nest, keeping each bundle separate from the others. When they've cooled to room temperature, he stored the bundles next to each other in an airtight container in the refrigerator, with a paper towel just under the lid to absorb any condensed moisture. Then, when you're ready to make your salad, you can quickly and easily pull out as many servings as you need. Ta-daa! For today's salad, I used non-traditional toppings along with some of the usual: julienned omelet, ham, carrot and lettuce, grated purple carrot, and fresh corn off the cob. I arranged them atop the somen in a pleasing rainbow array. I chose the round tiffin because I like the way the ingredients look in a circular pattern. Plus, the stainless steel serves to keep everything cool. The top tier fits on top and is just deep enough to accomodate a variety of summer fruit: strawberries, cherries, lychee, black- and raspberries, and sliced yellow peach. The tiny blue container contains dressing for the salad. I almost forgot about the heart radish in the center; something needed to go there. Just now, as I was typing this, MisterMan walked over and looked at the picture of this bento he ate today. Immediately he said "Oh, I liked this one! I especially liked the radish heart because it reminded me how much I love you." ^_^

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Colorful Bento Of Hearts

Colorful Bento Of Hearts by sherimiya ♥
Colorful Bento Of Hearts, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
This is a bento I made for MisterMan. It contains shoyu chicken in a lettuce cup, carved carrots, steamed broccoli, corn on the cob, and Okinawan sweet potato heart cutouts. I anchored the purple hearts with rice sticks stuck into the corn. The fruit side has a selection of strawberry, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, mango and lychee. All the delicious fruit of summer! And since I'm still on the stainless steel kick, I've packed everything in this cool latched divided lunchbox (one of my favorites). All the foods I've used are ones that taste good cool or at room temp, making it a refreshing midday meal on a warm day. I like the way the metal stays cool in his insulated tote, keeping the food inside crisp and appetizing. This bento includes all the colors of the rainbow, with a balanced variety of protein and vegetation. It's an easy feat with the rich bounty of summer; have you packed a rainbow in your bento lately?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Roadtrip Triple Bento

Roadtrip Triple Bento by sherimiya ♥
Roadtrip Triple Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
I used my three tier stainless steel stacked tiffin bento set (looks like this all packed up) for a roadtrip snack for my kids on our recent drive down to L.A. over the long July 4th weekend. Each kid got similar stuff: homemade potato salad, dough wrapped hot dogs (pigs in the blanket), Okinawan sweet potato, corn on the cob for my boy, carrots, broccoli and strawberries. They shared the fruit tier: super sweet yellow peach slices, black grapes, de-seeded lychees and more strawberries. I chilled the tiffins until the last moment before packing up the car, and by a few hours into the drive they were ready to eat. It was very refreshing to enjoy cool bentos during that hot (90F temps) trip. I didn't use any ice packs but they really stayed cool very well. I highly recommend packing this kind of bento if you'll be traveling somewhere warm this summer. Now I'm wishing I had the 4-tier...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth Of July Bento

Fourth Of July Bento by sherimiya ♥
Fourth Of July Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
I made this Fourth of July Bento for MisterMan last week since he didn't have school today, but I'll post it today, since we're finally back home after a long weekend road trip without wifi. He got All-American pigs in a blanket, steamed corn on the cob (with a grape and strawberry face), broccoli & carrots, homemade potato salad (with radish starburst and "4th" cutouts), an Okinawan sweet potato mitt with halved hard-boiled quail egg & nori "baseball", and an all-fruit American flag made from blackberries, strawberries and lychee! Oh, and I also made celery firecrackers for fun. Is that American enough of a 4th of July bento? Hope all my US friends had a wonderful celebration and an enjoyable long weekend. Ready to get back into the summer routine? At least it's a short week for us! ^_^
Added to What's For Lunch!