Monday, December 19, 2011

The Nutcracker Suite Bento

We're all done with the school bento for the year, but there is one more Christmas snack bento that I made for TinySprite to celebrate her ballet performance in her company's Nutcracker Suite ballet production. Here's a minute or so of their performance, if you're curious to take a look. For her bento, I made a little sandwich decorated with a Nutcracker and a Little Fairy (or Sugar Plum Fairy), with a few carrots, tomatoes and broccoli snuggled in there as well.
She's still in pre-ballet (as she is only 4 years old still), but she really, really enjoyed dancing the Little Fairy role again this year. And she has matured and become more graceful this year. (Okay, okay... but you should have seen her last year to appreciate that statement :) I don't dance ballet, so I'm not sure where she gets her passion for the art, but she loves this show a lot. She can watch it endlessly, and she knows all the dances, which she will perform whenever she hears the music. And I've had to watch and listen to it so many times that I think I can dance them all myself too! (Just kidding) ^_^
Thank you to Maki of Just Bento, for adding my quail egg snowman bento to her yearly Christmas bento roundup. If you're in the mood to see some creative and festive bento ideas, do take a look!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lil' Quail Egg Snowman Bento

Quail Egg Snowman Bento by sherimiya ♥
Quail Egg Snowman Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
The last two quail eggs in the batch have become TinySprite's winter school term's last snowman bento! Yep, I did make an inordinate number of snowmen bento this season. MisterMan doesn't get a bento because his class is having a Christmas luncheon. I made inarizushi for his class, and I'm hoping the kids like them. As for my girl, she also gets chicken, one of the inarizushi, Okinawan sweet potatoes, crabapple, carrots, oranges and blackberries along with her happy snowman. The Christmas themed bento have been a lot of fun to make this year. Hope you had a chance to make something fun and festive in your lunchboxes too. ^_^

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ninja Snowman Snack Bento

This one is a snack bento for TinySprite, to keep her busy after school while her brother finishes his homework. He has a biography due, and he's chosen Leonardo da Vinci. What an interesting person! But back to the bento. I squeezed a chicken egg into a snowman shape and decorated it with nori as a ninja. He's wearing a red pepper and cheese Santa hat for the occasion, but I bet he's not too happy about it. The rest of the bento contains carrots, edamame, cucumbers, Okinawan sweet potatoes, orange chunks, a blackberry and a crabapple. It should be just enough to keep her occupied (and quiet) for a half hour or so. ^_^

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa Pucca Portuguese Bean Soup Bento

Since we're on a roll with the thermal bento food, why not continue with Portuguese bean soup? I was reminded of this Hawaii cold weather staple by a twitter pal who tweeted a photo of her pot simmering away. I get lots of meal ideas on twitter: foodie folks are always posting recipes and photos - just a quick scan through my stream brings up a whole bunch of options. One of the best things I love about twitter. This recipe is adapted from Sam Choy, except with lots of extra added veggies and stuff. Here's my version (method and recipe here).
I used kale, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, celery, onions, potatoes, lentils and kidney beans. There is Portuguese sausage too, of course, but the best part of the soup is the addition of ham hocks to the soup base; it adds a delicious smoky salty flavor. Along with the thermal jar of soup, I packed a side box with orange slices, broccoli and grapes, plus a little Pucca dressed for winter in her santa suit. Her face is a quail egg, her dress is red pepper, the trim is radish with a cabbage ruffle hem. Her hair is blackberries and her features are nori and sriracha. ^_^

Monday, December 12, 2011

Heat Miser and Hermey Mac 'N Cheese Bento

Okay, I'm almost too embarrassed to tell you about the mixed-up bento today. Almost. But it's done, and I didn't even think about checking the facts until afterwards. So confident was I! Anyway, I woke up wanting to make Mayor Burgermeister Meisterburger (remember him?) from the animated Christmas TV Special Santa Claus is Comin' To Town. It's a great one, right? But then I remembered the Heat Miser, and started singing his awesome song. You know the one: "Friends call me Heat Miser, whatever I touch - starts to melt in my clutch! I'm too much!" So then I decided to make him. But then I remembered the little misfit elf dentist-wannabe from the Island of Misfit Toys, and.... I think you may be starting to get the picture that I have TOTALLY mixed up all the stop-action Christmas TV Specials. But did that stop me? Noooooo. Never mind that Heat Miser was from The Year Without A Santa Claus, and Hermey the elf was from Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. They are both going in my bento; so there! Luckily the Mac and Cheese is a definite hit. I made it the way I did last month (in this bento), mixing in broccoli and diced kabocha to boost the nutrition. I also crumbled in some soyrizo, which is a chorizo soy substitute which adds spice and flavor. Super good. I packed it in my cute apple-shaped bento bowl, with the top tier holding the grapes, grapfruit, carrot, broccoli, and two quail egg Christmas characters who have NEVER ACTUALLY MET before this very day in MisterMan's bento. Pretty incredible day for them, I'd say. Wonder what they'd talk about? ^_^

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Oops! Santa Bento

Oops! Santa Bento by sherimiya ♥
Oops! Santa Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
Today I packed cheesy enchilada casserole topped with cheesy snowflakes. I don't have a mini snowflake cutter; can you believe it? But since no two snowflakes are alike, I took some liberties and just created some using the flower and star cutters I already had. Looks like Santa is heading into the snow-covered chimney! I saw this idea as a cupcake somewhere, and decided to make a bento version. The snow is cottage cheese, Santa's pants are apples, and his boots are grapes. I held them together with dried spaghetti, which will soften by lunchtime. In order to close this Lunchbot box, I moved the silicone cup to the center between the orange slices. Ho ho ho! I hope he makes it okay! ^_^

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jack Skellington Chicken Bento

Today's menu is tebasaki (grilled - or in my case broiled - chicken wings with sea salt). See the method and recipe I used here. When I make it, I always have to make several pounds (yes, you read that right) because I tend to snack while cooking. To monitor quality, of course. I sprinkle mine liberally with shichimi togarashi (Japanese red pepper mix), which makes it totally addicting. Even though the kids eat theirs plain, they are very tasty just with the sea salt. They can eat 10 or more wings each, and I packed their bento as full as I could, while still including pan-fried garlic kabocha, tomatoes, and Okinawan sweet potato. The fruit cup contains grapes and grapefruit, and a quail egg Jack Skellington wearing a mini sweet red pepper and radish santa hat. I was going to make Sally too, but after cutting out all those tiny features for Jack, I was done! I'm really not one for itty bitty nori cutting. She would have been very cool-looking though, so I'll have to make her another time for sure :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hello Kitty Santa Curry Bento

It's time for curry again, with the nighttime temperatures dipping into near-freezing range these past few nights. You'll probably be seeing quite a bit of the thermal bento jars on this site over the next few months. Like last time (see this bento here) I used a ton of vegetables, but I also used ground pork, which made it very substantial. This batch contains onions, celery, carrots, sweet mini peppers, potatoes, and broccoli. I packed (and served it at dinner) over hot brown rice mixed with pearl barley. This combo results in a chewy rice batch that I really like. The little side car contains oranges, grapes, broccoli, Okinawan sweet potato flower shapes, and a little quail egg Hello Kitty santa with a strawberry hat and suit. Aww! ^_^

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Tree Salmon Bento

So here it is, two more weeks left of school (and school bento), and I'm running out of new ideas for Christmas themed bento. Luckily, my friend karaimame posted a Christmas bento that is so cute, it begs to be stolen imitated. It's a broccoli Christmas tree. I remember I made one a couple years ago (see this bento), and now that I peek at that one I see that last time I used the tree trunk pick and made the ornaments look like strings of lights (much cuter). Sigh. Maybe I used up all my festive idea brain cells on Halloween this year. Anyway, this bento contains crispy butter shoyu salmon, which means I pan-fried it with butter, then drizzled shoyu after I turned the heat off. Super good. Besides the tree with colorful pepper ornament cutouts, I've got baby grape tomatoes, Okinawan sweet potato stars, carrots, crabapple, strawberry, orange and grapes.

Today I met with TinySprite's preschool teachers to go over her first semester progress. Everything was as I expected until I asked whether she was well-behaved and polite. Well.... perhaps sometimes during circle time when they are asked to share, she'll burst into song... and sing a verse or two, and on, and on, and on. Maybe she could sing a little less. (Sheepish looks from teachers). What?! I guess I should be happy she's not busting out the dance moves too. Wait, I forgot to ask about that...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mabo Tofu Snowman Bento

Mabo Tofu Snowman Bento by sherimiya ♥
Mabo Tofu Snowman Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
Today's mabo tofu elicited this comment from MisterMan: It's not REALLY mabo tofu because it's not spicy. Wellll, technically I suppose that's true. But the adult batch is certainly spicy! I always split the batch into two so that the kids can eat the bland half while the adults can enjoy the red spicy chiliness of authentic mabo tofu. We love it hot hot hot! Woot! I also made their version kind of dry so that it's more bento-friendly. I layered it over rice in a lettuce leaf before adding a tofu snowman on top. I used oval cutters to make the body, cut the hat free-hand from Okinawan sweet potato (and yellow carrot), cut purple carrot buttons, orange carrot nose, and nori eyes and mouth. The hands are those handy bone picks again. Told you these were versatile. Other side contains grapes, raspberries, strawberry, carrots, broccoli and baby crabapple.

Oh, and in other news, I was just notified by Stuart Reb Donald (Wannabe TV Chef) himself that I was awarded the 2011 WTVC Food Blog Best Niche Site Award. Wow, thanks Stuart! Will wear the badge proudly! Check out his site for interviews and commentary on all kinds of food-related TV and celebrity news and shows. Happy December friends! ^_^