Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sticky Rice Panda Bento

I made sticky rice today, which I love to do on extra busy days because all I do is throw everything into the Zojirushi and walk away. This batch is made with half white half brown glutinous (sticky rice) which I presoaked overnight to make sure it got nice and soft. About midway through cooking I tossed in finely chopped baby bok choy, sliced shiitake mushrooms, sliced lup cheong, and cubed kabocha. Yes, the kabocha goes really well in this dish! You won't hear any complaints about it. I guarantee it. After cooking, sprinkle some green onions on top for a fresh look. The top tier of the cute panda box holds strawberries, grapes, and persimmon from a neighbor's tree. I know you are excited to hear about the winner of the ECOlunchboxes Tri Bento -- the winner has been chosen! I'm waiting to hear back from her, and if I don't get response (or if she is located outside the U.S.), I'll have to pick another. Check your email! Maybe it's YOU! Stay tuned!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gyoza in the ECOlunchbox Tri Bento and LAST DAY TO ENTER GIVEAWAY!

Yes, I'm still having fun with this ECOlunchboxes Tri Bento! I made gyoza for dinner, which turns out to be a perfect option for next-day bento lunch because gyoza is so much fun for kids to eat! It packs well and can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature. I packed as many as could fit in the lowest round (I think 8), which allowed me to keep the veggies separate in the next round (pickled cukes, tomatoes, and steamed purple sweet potato), and fruit in the top (grapes, mandarin and strawberry). I love the separateness, and I bet your kids will dig it too. Everything snaps together tightly with two simple pressure latches. The stainless steel is sturdy and I am impressed with how it's holding up to the extended use I've made of it in the past month or so.

If you'd like to enter for a chance to win a Tri Bento just like this one, courtesy of the generous folks at ECOlunchboxes, all you have to do is leave me a blog comment below, telling me what you'd pack in your Tri! (if you've commented on one of the other giveaway blog posts in the past week, that's fine).
Then, click the Rafflecopter entry to leave your name and email. U.S. only please. This is the last 24 hours to enter; contest ends Tuesday at midnight PST!
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Herby Chicken and Potatoes ECOlunchbox Tri Bento (Giveaway still going on!)

Yes, it's the ever-popular herby chicken and potatoes! I think the kids prefer it over the traditional local-style shoyu chicken and rice. Aww. The ECOlunchbox Tri bento serves the purpose well here: I put the chicken pieces in the bottom along with some steamed broccoli, then the potatoes and roasted tomatoes in the next tier, followed by the fruit section containing sliced peach (where did I find a peach? I don't even remember), strawberries and little strawberry guavas given to us by a friend. Are you interested in winning a Tri Bento for your very own self? All you need to do is log an entry into the giveaway, and I'll try to pick your name! U.S only please. Thanks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Added to What's For Lunch.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Duck Fried Rice Bento and an ECOlunchbox Tri Bento GIVEAWAY!

I have some exciting news (well, for me): I got a brand new bento box set, and it's a very cool one!
It's called Tri Bento and it's made by ECOlunchbox.

This tiffin-style set is made of high-quality, food-grade stainless steel and features three interlocking round tiers that fit one on top of another. They all clip together with two latches that are easy to fasten. When the set is clipped together, it stays together tightly with no chance of accidentally opening. There are no gaskets, so I wouldn't recommend sauces or liquids, but I have not experienced any leakage during the past month I've been using this set with "dryish" foods like the bento I show above.

I packed duck fried rice for MisterMan in the lower tier: rice, with a fried egg mixed in, and sliced chopped roast duck, steamed bok choy, and chopped scallions. The middle tier holds some steamed purple sweet potato, corn off the cob, and a few grape tomatoes. The top tier contains sliced Asian pear, cara cara oranges, a strawberry and some grapes.

The three tiers look identical at first, but they must fit together in a specific way. The one with latches must go on the bottom, obviously. The middle one doesn't have an indented rim for the lid like the top one does, which you (or your child) will realize once you try to put the lid on. It's not hard to figure out. I love this set, and I think it will be able to take a bit of abuse from a lunch-swinging kid (a bonus in this house). Each layer holds about 1 1/2 cups for a total capacity of about 4 3/4 cups of food. Because it's such a large set, it would be well-suited for an older child with a bigger appetite, or an adult, or to separate snacks from lunch.

In sum, I recommend this bento set very highly. It is composed of the same sturdy stainless steel as the other ECOlunchbox sets I own (Three-In-One, Oval, Solo Cube, Solo Rectangle, and ECOdippers), resistant to dents and scratches, and strong enough to withstand everyday use. The set fits in our lunch totes easily, but the company also sells beautiful bags designed specifically for the round tiffin.

And now for the exciting news for YOU! ECOlunchbox is giving away a Tri Bento set just like this one to one of my Happy Little Bento readers! Yay! All you have to do is enter my giveaway below and leave a comment telling me what you'd like to pack in your very first Tri Bento. I would love to get some ideas from you! Restricted to U.S. only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: ECOlunchbox provided me with a Tri Bento to review. I was not compensated and the opinions I expressed are my own. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mac and Cheese, Broccoli, Kabocha and Soyrizo Bento

With the cooler weather upon us, I'm thinking about warm foods. And that means more thermal bento. Today I made TinySprite's absolute favorite food of all time: mac and cheese. I used whole wheat elbow macaroni, with cheddar cheese, grated kabocha, ,minced broccoli, and crumbled soyrizo. Oh so good. There's a smiling mozzarella cloud there to greet her at lunchtime when she opens up her Thermos Hello Kitty thermal food jar. The side container holds the reds: sugar plum, tomatoes, and strawberries. Stay tuned next week for an exciting new product I'm reviewing, and a giveaway to boot!
Added to What's For Lunch.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Char Siu Fried Rice Panda Donburi Bento Bowl

Welcome to November! The passing of Halloween signifies the beginning of the hectic holidays which seem to take over the next two months. Are you ready? We are starting the month with a rice bowl. This one contains sliced deli char siu atop homemade fried red rice with egg and shiitake mushrooms, steamed baby bok choy, and sprinkled with scallions. TinySprite loves this kind of donburi, and it's easy to pack in her little cute panda bento bowl. The top tier holds a few strawberries, and assorted pickled veggies, including baby orange bell peppers. I'm hoping I can sail as easily through the rest of the season...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Spooky Skull Cheese and Chili Halloween LunchBots Bento

It's heeeere! Halloween is today! For the final theme bento, I send the kids to school with thermal food jars of homemade chili (Thermos Funtainer brand for TinySprite, and LunchBots Thermal food jar for MisterMan). I decorated his with a mozzarella cheese and nori skull, and hers with a tiny baby bell pepper jack-o-lantern. The side boxes contain a variation of strawberries, grapes, plums and steamed purple sweet potato. With the weather getting cooler, they're welcoming the thermal bento more and more these days. Are you planning to go out trick-or-treating tonight? Have a great time, all you goblins and ghouls! Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jack Skellington and Salmon LunchBots Halloween Bento

One more day until Halloween! Can you stand it? I don't usually pack rice for my kiddos, but I made an exception here so that I could fashion a creepy Jack Skellington riceball for TinySprite! The Lunchbot Quad also allows me to keep the salmon and brussels sprouts separate from the roast potatoes and carrots, and the teeny baby strawberries in their own little corner. Happy Halloween Eve!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jack-o-Pepper Egg Salad Halloween Bento

For TinySprite I made egg salad, but instead of a pocket sandwich (which I usually do with this type of filling so that it doesn't fall all over the place) I packed it inside a carved orange bell pepper. I found a pepper that looked pretty pumpkin-like, but was so much easier to carve than a real pumpkin! (Although this is a regulation sized bell pepper, you might like to view my tutorial on carving a mini bell pepper here) I lined it with a spinach leaf to keep the filling from oozing out of the eyes and mouth. I didn't send along the top (although it might have been handy for ensuring safe travels). Along with the jack-o-pepper egg salad, I sent a cup of pickled veggies, some grape tomatoes, strawberries and cantaloupe. Happy Halloween week!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Frankenstein Sandwich LunchBots Bento

I made TinySprite a couple of mini ham and cheese sandwiches on sandwich thin rectangle breads. And what to do with brown sandwich rectangles? Well, besides the obvious: Domokun. That's right; Frankenstein! I decorated his face with olives (for eyes, ears and scar) and cucumber (for hair). Oh yeah, she'll love it. There's also some plum, pickled stuff, strawberries and grapes. All packed into the LunchBots Trio. Done!
Added to What's For Lunch.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Eyeball Pizza and Mummy Dog Halloween EcoLunchBox Bento

Eyeball pizza is made with strategically cut red bell pepper for veins, pepperoni and olive um, eyeball, on a mozzarella whole wheat pizza. And just for the fun of it, I wrapped a turkey dog in some dough too, because I knew TinySprite would love that. I even shredded the mummy wrapping (okay, not on purpose). The rest of the EcoLunchBox Solo Rectangle holds a little cup of pickled cucumbers and another one of grapes and a strawberry. Halloween continues!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Jack o'cheese Pasta EcoLunchbox Halloween Bento

Remember I went through a big jack o'lantern phase at Halloween a few years back? (Check them all out here if you like) Wow, that was weird, wasn't it? I did discover plenty of ways to cut a jack-o-lantern out of food, though. This is my first jack this season, and it's an easy cheddar cutout. I used a squash/gourd cutter that makes these jacks look a little like skulls (to me). So maybe they aren't the *cutest* jacks, but lets see what TinySprite thinks. The rest of this meatless Monday bento includes rotini pasta with zucchini and mushrooms, plus a bonus broccoli sprig. This fit into the EcoLunchBox Solo Cube perfectly. I sent along an EcoDipper to hold the sliced Asian pear and cute sugar plum. A perfectly sized Halloween lunch for my 1st grader.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Duck Fried Rice Ghost Halloween Bento Bowl

TinySprite gets roast duck (from the Chinese deli) fried rice with egg, choy, and green onions in her panda donburi bowl. She loves fried rice so much; why don't I make it more often? The top tier holds some baby strawberries, a smattering of grapes, and some Asian pear sliced into ghost shapes. The little musical picks celebrate her joining choir this quarter, which she has wanted to do since last year. Yay!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bat in the Curry Halloween LunchBot Thermal Bento

I made keema curry (see the recipe and method I used here). I tried to make a black rice spider, but the thought of forming eight rice legs just didn't thrill me. So a bat it is! I put the usual stuff in the curry (potatoes, onions, carrots, celery) and I also added cubed red kuri squash, packing it all into the Lunchbots Thermal Jar. I think it goes well nicely with the flavors. The side box holds sliced sugar plums, grapes and a strawberry.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tortilla Spiders Halloween LunchBots Bento

Today's bento is one you've seen several times before, because it's a fun way to present fish: deconstructed fish tacos. The cod is pan fried in lemon pepper and served with a cabbage slaw tossed with red onion, tomato, and orange. Instead of the usual tortillas I cut little bunny shapes and layered them to make cute spiders. Yes, I know they look as though they only have 4 legs each. That's because you didn't notice the other 4 legs located precisely behind the 4 which are visible. Trust me, they're there. The last compartment holds a handful of grapes and some sliced strawberries. The LunchBot Trio is ideal for this lunch because there aren't any saucy or gravy parts to worry about. I love it!
Added to What's For Lunch.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Spider Egg Halloween LunchBots Clicks Bento

No-cook bento alert! Actually, this bento contains leftover soy chicken (stripped off the drumsticks), black rice, and steamed broccoli from a couple days ago. I added a hard-boiled egg for extra protein, and little rice sticks make a white spider. What do you mean you don't see a spider? Trust me! A happy face means: non-spooky! The smaller LunchBots Clicks box holds sliced nectarines, grapes, strawberries, and steamed purple sweet potato. We're still keeping up the spidery Halloween theme. How much longer can I go? Let's see...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Halloween Spidery Rollups Bento

Halloween Spider bento number 2: This one is for TinySprite again. I used the divided 4-compartment plastic tupperware-like container. I made tortilla ham spinach cheese rollups and cut them to fit in one section. There are strawberries and grapes next to those, a cup of pickled cucumbers, sliced white peaches, corn-off-the-cob, and a purple sweet potato spider. She loves this kind of lunch! It doesn't involve any cooking at all, so it works for me too. Yay!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Halloween Spider Calzone Bento

It's October people! And you know what that means... Halloween is just around the corner! I've always found Halloween bento to be the most fun to make. I have more from this holiday than any other (even Christmas) for some reason. And why not, when there's so much you can do with the theme. Let's start with a spider. You can make a cute spider, did you know that? The calzone contains the usual: cheese, pepperoni, spinach and mushroom. I put TinySprite's in a box with some homegrown lettuce, and added some sliced nectarine, grapes and strawberries on the side (so he doesn't get soggy). MisterMan got his in the compartmentalized Sistema box, which works equally as well for this kind of food. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Enchilada Soup LunchBot Thermal Bento for Fall!

Everyone is talking about the upcoming fall weather, and I'm starting to get excited about fall soups. So even though it's not exactly cold yet, we're having chicken enchilada soup (see the recipe and method I used here). As usual, I added a lot of nontraditional extras such as zucchini, carrots, corn, celery, and leeks. It was good (if a tad bit spicy). I served TinySprite's portion over rice, and she ate hers without too much complaint over the heat. I get to use the LunchBots Thermal food jar for this bento, and packed it along with a side container of white peach, grapes and strawberry. Happy Fall!
Added to What's For Lunch.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ma Po Tofu Bento Bowl

Ma Po Tofu Bento Bowl by sherimiya ♥
Ma Po Tofu Bento Bowl, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
My "dry" ma po is perfect for bento because it minimizes leakage in bento format. I served over rice in the cute apple bento bowl, and you can top with chopped green onion or cilantro. Since my version is almost chili-free, I add spicy chili sauce after the fact into my own bowl. The top tier contains chunks of super sweet cantaloupe and scattered strawberries because we're kind of low on fruit these days. The kids gobbled so much down there wasn't any leftover at all for my next day lunch. Aww!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Herby Chicken LunchBot Bento

When I need an easy standby, and we already had shoyu chicken, this one usually fills the bill. TinySprite especially loves this chicken. It's broiled with olive oil and a toss of Provencal herbs, and mixed in the pan with halved baby potatoes. It's a one dish meal, and there's always extra for bento. I steam some broccoli alongside so the kids can wipe the plates with it. There's also steamed corn off the cob, the usual pickled cucumbers, cubed nectarines and grapes. All packed in the LunchBot Trio. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Another Salmon Bento

Another Salmon Bento by sherimiya ♥
Another Salmon Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
Wild Alaskan salmon for lunch bento today: I like to pack this omega-3 rich fish for the kiddos about once a week or so. Today I served it over homegrown lettuce so they can eat it like a wrap, topped with shaved manchego and halved baby tomatoes. There's also a little cup of steamed corn and a pretty little radish. Plums, grapes and a strawberry round out this healthy and simple bento.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Samosas Bento

Samosas Bento by sherimiya ♥
Samosas Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
I made samosas, for only the second time, and I think they came out kind of okay. I took a few liberties with the recipe, which I can't remember the source of (it was from a cookbook that I borrowed from the library, and I forgot to note the title). I put the recipe below. If I can find the book again, I'll add the proper reference~! Anyway, I used leftover wonton wrappers, and served with cilantro chutney. GOOD. For the kiddie bento, I packed some samosas in a homegrown lettuce lined compartment (I used EcoLunchBox Three-In-One), with a couple of grape tomatoes. On the other tier I added cubed cantaloupe, grapes, strawberry, corn off the cob, pickled cucumbers and red onions. Done! And Success!

Curried Vegetable Lentil Samosas

1 1/4 cup mashed cooked peeled baking potatoes
1/4 cup cooked yellow lentils
1T minced fresh mint (I actually omitted this)
1t Madras curry powder
1t butter, softened
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 t ground cumin
1/2 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed
10 egg roll wrappers (I used wonton wrappers and I think it worked fine)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
cooking spray

Combine potatoes, lentils, mint, curry powder, butter, salt, and cumin. Gently fold in peas. Spoon into wrappers. Fold into triangles. Coat with cooking spray and fy in skillet 1 minute each side. Drain on paper towels and serve with chutney.

For Chutney:

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2T fresh lemon juice
1T water
1/4 t kosher salt
1/8 t sugar
1 serrano chile, coarsely chopped (I omitted this)
1/2 inch chopped fresh ginger

Process in blender until smooth. Set aside.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sticky Rice Ono Bento Bowl

Sticky Rice Bento Bowl by sherimiya ♥
Sticky Rice Bento Bowl, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
I love the sticky rice bento. Well, I love sticky rice (see my method and recipe here) for dinner first of all, because it's super quick and easy. Chop everything up and toss it into the rice cooker about 15 minutes before the rice is done. This batch has half brown and half white sweet mochi rice, and I added lup cheong, char siu, shiitake mushroom, baby bok choy, onions, and then sprinkled chopped scallion on top after. I have also added fried garlic or cubed kabocha squash before as well. I packed MisterMan's bento in the cute apple bowl, with the top tier holding an artful (to me) arrangement of plums, grapes, and pickled cucumbers, onions, carrots and daikon. Our bento these days often look like this, with no special touches other than the colorful naturalness of the variety of ingredients. MisterMan has been making his (and his sister's) bento recently, and I think his work is starting to look just like mine. So proud \(^__^)/

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Totoro Calzone Bento

Totoro Calzone Bento by sherimiya ♥
Totoro Calzone Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
RAWR! It's Totoro! Yeah, I know it looks weird. But really, it is Totoro. You may have to just take my word for it. It's a nitrite-free pepperoni/mushroom/cheese calzone made with whole wheat dough. And I was pleased that the ears stayed on this time instead of snapping off. Woo! I put some tufts of garden lettuce around him to make him feel at home, and his face is made of mushroom and nori (stuck on with rice sticks). The other side of this cool divided Sistema - like box holds cantaloupe, grapes, plum, and pickled stuff. One more day and the weekend's here! \(^__^)/

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rilakkuma Bear Burger Bento

Bear Burger Bento by sherimiya ♥
Bear Burger Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
I should have shown you the turkey burgers I made! They're in there, I promise. I mixed in shredded zucchini and carrot along with ground turkey, onion, garlic, pepper, and... Worcestershire sauce! And ketchup. It came out pretty good, I think. I melted cheddar on them and then laid them on whole wheat sandwich thins with garden lettuce. Of course I had to make Rilakkuma's face on there. His ears are roasted sweet potato (I also made sweet potato fries along with dinner), and his face is made of white cheddar and nori. On the side, MisterMan has sliced pluots, garden orange sunsugar tomatoes, and grapes. And a little Rilakkuma fork. Awwws!
Added to What's For Lunch.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chinese Leftovers Bento

Chinese Leftovers Bento by sherimiya ♥
Chinese Leftovers Bento, a photo by sherimiya ♥ on Flickr.
This is a true no-cook bento; gotta love those Chinese takeout leftovers, right? We had a lot of food left from feeding the babysitter the night before, so in they went to the round stainless lidded bowls from Daiso: there's chow mein, sauteed green beans, eggplant, shrimp, chicken and more. I added some three bean salad and sliced up a half plum, then filled in the rest of the space with a few grapes, and I was done! Which was great, since it ended up being thrown all together at quite a late hour. But please say you can't tell?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Shoyu Chicken Magic Round Bento

You know how you had a favorite dinner when you were a kid? Mine was shoyu chicken. If my mom ever asked what I wanted for dinner, that's what I requested. To this day I still think of shoyu chicken and rice as my ultimate comfort food. My kids like it too, but I omit the rice since they're not big fans of plain rice. They are happy to have steamed broccoli with this meal, to dunk in the shoyu sauce. To the Magic Round Bento I've also added corn off the cob, carrot, strawberry and cubed (unsweet) honeydew melon. This box is so called because all food looks good in a round arrangement. Try it yourself and see!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Salmon, Potatoes and Asparagus LunchBots Bento

I haven't used the LunchBots Clicks in awhile, and I really should because I love them. Not only are they stainless steel, but they come with leak-proof translucent lids. You can see what's inside and there's no chance of anything dripping out. How awsome is that? And they are the perfect size for the kids' lunch bento. Here I've packed TinySprite's omega-3-rich salmon furikake in one box, alongside some roasted baby potatoes sprinkled with garlic powder and pencil asparagus. The other (slightly shallower) box contains sliced peaches, pickled cucumbers and pickled red onions. I think this bento is just about the right amount for my chatty girl. She can manage to get everything eaten and still have time to run around outside with her little pals before settling down for the afternoon session of 1st grade. Did your kids settle back into the routine without problems? I think my girl is having a bit of trouble remembering what it means to sit still and be *quiet* during class time >.<

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sausage Rotini Pasta Mushroom Bento

Okay, okay. We might have had a bento *very* similar to this one about two weeks ago. Like about when school first started. But who's keeping track? I'm still gearing up to this whole bento-every-day thing. Plus, this one is just so easy to throw together. And they like it! This time I sliced some chicken spinach feta sausages (nitrite free) and pan-fried them with some garden kale and baby bella mushrooms. Tossed them all together with rainbow rotini pasta. And that's it for the main compartment. The side contains: three bean salad, strawberry, and plum wedges. It's only the second day of the week and yet it's also mid-week. Gotta love these holidays!
Added to What's For Lunch.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Gyoza EcoLunchBox Solo Bento

It's gyoza day! This is always a hit with the kids, guaranteed. And I know traditionally you don't add extra minced choy or spinach, but in my house you do! And you don't even hear any complaints about it because gyoza is so much fun to eat! I used a mixture of ground pork and turkey, and also added green onion, shoyu and sesame oil. You can send along a little container of dipping sauce (or not). I packed these in our EcoLunchBox Solo Cube atop a few garden lettuce leaves and golden (and cherry) tomatoes. The little side Dipper holds just the right amount of sliced nectarines, grapes, and a strawberry. Yummy!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Curry LunchBot Thermal Bento

Oh yeah, you've seen this one before too. It's the standard keema curry that I always make (recipe here), only this time I added chopped broccoli and yellow cauliflower. You know me. I'll add whatever kind of vegetation I happen to have in the fridge. If you think your kids will balk at the extra cruciferousness, then you can mince it fine, but my kids don't seem to care too much. It makes the curry a little bulky, so I make extra sauce to compensate. Serve over steaming rice for best effect! I packed the curry in our LunchBot thermal food jar for MisterMan, and sent along a side box of the usual: pickled cucumbers, red onions, carrots and daikon; grapes and strawberry, sliced peaches. Yeah, they ate this on a hot summer day, but imagine how comforting it would be on a cold fall day? Not me -- I refuse to think about fall just yet -- we just finished our 1st week of school and I'm still enjoying summer in my mind! ^_^

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pork in Lettuce Wrap Bento

I made a Vietnamese style marinade using fish sauce, brown sugar and rice wine vinegar using a recipe from Bon Appétit. And instead of pork chops I used thin cut pork loin, for kiddie-friendly eating. I did a pan sear, and served in home grown "baby lettuce" leaves alongside pickled carrots and daikon, and cucumbers. There's also a baby cherry tomato in there for color. Before I left for a 2 week vacation this past summer, I had placed a little planter of baby lettuce sprouts into my fig pot. When I got back, the lettuce had taken over and grown to an immense size. So now we have lots of salad in our future! The rest of this bento contains super juicy and sweet late-season pluots, grapes and cherries. A tasty bento lunch for the kiddos!
Added to What's For Lunch.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Deconstructed Fish Tacos LunchBot Quad Bento

We've done the deconstructed fish taco many times before. This one is pan-fried snapper seasoned with lemon pepper. I packed it with cheesy tortilla strips, homemade tartar sauce (in container; just yogurt with sweet relish), a cabbage tomato onion green onion salad, and a selection of cherries and strawberry. I find that presenting the food like this, in the LunchBot Quad, works better than actual fish tacos because she's still at the stage where everything always falls out of the tortilla, causing quite a bit of frustration. Here she eats everything individually, without incident (or tears). Yay!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Breakfast For Lunch Bento Pt. 4

We do like our breakfast for lunch. Especially when it's such an easy one to pack! This is just a section of an enormous 6-egg omelet that we had made for brunch. It was such a good one: packed with nitrite-free chicken sausage, mushroom, spinach, onion, tomato and peppers. Sprinkled with a little cheese and chopped green onion and cilantro, it should be a hearty lunch bento for the little girl. She herself packed the sides: a smattering of berries, carrots, and pickled cukes. And a few cheery friends to welcome her at lunchtime. Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Salmon LunchBots Brainfood Bento

Second bento of the school year, and I fell back on another easy one. Salmon! I like to prepare salmon about once a week because I think it's good "brain food" for the kids, packed with healthy omega-3s and all. I usually pan fy the fish in butter or olive oil, and just after I turn off the heat, drizzle shoyu around the pan. I served TinySprite's helping over roasted garlic potatoes and kale chips (I didn't pack the kale chips because they get soggy overnight. If your kids don't mind, you can pack them in the bento too. They're very tasty!). She also gets a cabbage carrot daikon slaw with vinegar dressing and topped with halved cherry tomatoes. Her fruit treat includes green and purple grapes, and super sweet cantaloupe. This time we used the LunchBots Trio. I made this one myself, since the kids were at an afternoon activity until late, but it only took me a few minutes to do. Thank goodness it's a short week. I'm already ready for the weekend; how about you?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Day of School LunchBots Bento!

Hi there everyone!! We're back from summer vacation and all ready to tackle another school year. MisterMan is in 5th grade, and TinySprite is now in 1st grade. Over the summer, MisterMan had been preparing bento for himself and his sister for their summer programs. Today, I put out the empty bento boxes and guess what? TinySprite asked if she could put the food inside. She arranged the fruit and veggie side sections for both of them, and her brother did the rest. With all this teamwork, maybe I can retire as head blogger at Happy Little Bento and turn the reins over to the kiddos! I wonder when he can start cooking dinner for us...? I made a quick and easy dinner for us, consisting of colorful veggie pasta, pan-fried nitrite-free chicken sausage, and steamed corn. They added shredded cheese and spinach toppings. The other side holds two color grapes, cherries, tomatoes, and pickled baby cucumbers. All packed up in the LunchBots Duo. I got so much mileage out of this box over the summer; I think my boy took it every single day. He can fill it easily, there are only two pieces to keep track of, no latches to break, and after school he even washes it for the next day's use. I sure got spoiled this summer. Let's see how this coming school year shapes up!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Mid-Summer Bento: Tebasaki in EcoLunchBox!

Helloooooo out there! Is anybody still out there? Or are you all on the beach, kicking back and letting the kids live out their summertime dreams? If you're like us, you've been milking every minute from this long-awaited summer. We took off the very day after the kindergarten graduation ceremony back in May. Literally. Of course, after all the fun at Legoland, Disney, museums, beach, camping, county fairs, concerts, and poolside, the kids still have to eat. But guess what? MisterMan has been picking up the ball and making bento for himself and his sister throughout their summer programs. Score! Me -- since I've been on bento hiatus I haven't even booted up the laptop much less brought out the camera setup to take any photos. But I have been taking phone pics of his creations, and I really want to show you a sample of his handiwork. You know, later.
So yes, I've been enjoying my summer too, bento-wise. However, I did manage to make their bento today, just because I kind of missed it. This simple bento contains tebasaki (crispy chicken drumettes and wings, see the method and recipe I use here); vinegary two-color cabbage slaw; fresh corn-off-the-cob; pickled cukes, carrots, daikon and red onion; cherries; and cantaloupe. All packed up in the very practical and stylish Ecolunchbox Three-in-One. I think I did okay! This is my token mid-summer bento contribution, to keep my chops fresh. Hope you are all having a blast this summer so far! We've still got half the rest of summer yet to go, so see you out there! \(^__^)/

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Beet Kohlrabi Latkes Bento

Kohlrabi: never heard of it? Me neither, but I saw other people buying it at the market so I thought, why not? Latkes I've never made either, but it seemed pretty straightforward. The recipe called for coarsely grated kohlrabi, beet, and onion mixed with a beaten egg and 2 tablespoons of flour, to be formed into round shapes and fried 4-6 minutes on each side. I added grated zucchini and some cheese, because that's how I roll. I had to squeeze quite a bit of liquid from the ingredients before forming the patties, which ended up holding together very loosely. I'm not sure if that's the way regular potato latkes look or not. I was kind of expecting a more "burger-y" type of patty, similar to the beet patties I made here. The recipe also recommended serving with a horseradish sauce, which sounds great, but I had mine with chimichurri (this stuff is very versatile!). I sprinkled some green onion on TinySprite's two patties, which I packed into the divided container along with a homegrown mesclun microgreens salad topped with shaved iberico and yellow tomatoes, some marinated mini peppers, and a selection of white peach, blueberries and a super ripe dark orange apricot.

Seeing as tomorrow is the last day of school, I made shoyu hot dogs (by request) for the kids to share at their snack party. Can't believe the year is all over and we have the long hot summer ahead of us at last! I don't know who is more excited: me or them! Counting down the hours starting now...
Added to What's For Lunch.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Portobello Ecolunchbox Bento

Welcome back from a long Memorial Day weekend! Since we did a lot of grilling over the weekend, I decided to have a meatless Tuesday bento today. I broiled portobello mushrooms with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then garnished with green onion, cilantro, and various other herbs from the garden. I personally had mine with chimichurri, with which I am currently obsessed. It's a very intense and aromatic dressing/sauce, and I use garlic and sherry vinegar to give it even more bite. I like it with meat, pork, even just with bread or pasta, like pesto. MisterMan has sliced portobellos with savoy cabbage - carrot - daikon - sesame slaw, watermelon, corn, peapods, tomatoes, Okinawan sweet potato, blueberries and apricot. All packed in the 3-in-1 Ecolunchbox set. Super refreshing to kick off this brand-new SHORT week. The last week of school for us!
Added to What's For Lunch.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Chimichurri Pork LunchBots Bento

I packed TinySprite's bento with pan-fried peppery thin cut pork chops on shredded cabbage, topped with a chimichurri sauce (parsley, cilantro, shallot, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, pepper, sherry vinegar). This version is a bit on the spicy side, so there's just a very little bit for flavor. She also gets sesame-marinated mini bell peppers, pickled cucumbers, carrots and daikon. The last section of the very practical LunchBots Trio holds strawberry, a quartered donut peach, and cherries. And that's it for the week!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Chicken and Broccoli with Beet Slaw Bento

I haven't posted a MisterMan bento for awhile, so here's today's: Vietnamese soy chicken with steamed broccoli, a raw beet-carrot-onion-daikon vinegary slaw, and a selection of fruit (peach, strawberries, blueberries). It does look a bit ordinary, doesn't it? Actually, I haven't been posting his bento because he's been making his own, by himself, a couple of times a week. He decides what and how much he wants, and he likes to show me the finished result. I've taken phone shots of his creations, and I really should post them for posterity. Maybe I'll show you a few of his bento sometime!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Salmon, Tomato Relish, and Slaw Bento

Today I made TinySprite a compartmentalized bento, so I could give her a little bit of several different things. I find that she's more likely to finish everything if there isn't too much of it. She gets a piece of king salmon, pan-fried in olive oil, pepper, and parsley, served beside a red cabbage/savoy cabbage/carrot/onion slaw. Since she loves pasta, I also gave her some tricolor rotini topped with cherry tomato/shallot/garlic "relish" and shaved parmesan. I squeezed some cherries, blueberries and a halved strawberry in the rest of the sections, along with a couple of pickled cucumbers. The four dividers keep everything separate, and since there's no sauce in this bento either, there shouldn't be any crossover leakage. Hope she enjoys this one!
Added to What's For Lunch.