Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review: Smart Planet Home Glass Divided Bento Box!

Hello Bento friends!

Summer arrived a month and a half ago and instead of the lazy relaxing endless long days lounging at the pool and tennis club that I had envisioned, it seems like we have been going nonstop just as busy as before. Is it just me, or has summer vacation become super busy for you too?

Luckily, there's always time for bento! The good folks at Smart Planet Home have been kind enough to provide me with another cool lunch box that they thought I might like. You may remember I reviewed another box for them previously (check out my Ultrathin Saladbook review here). 

This one is called Pure Glass Bento Meal Container. It retails for $12.99 and is microwave-, dishwasher-, and oven-safe (glass box only, not lid).

This one was intriguing to me because it is made of glass! If you're like many people these days, you may be conscious of the possibility that the plastic containers you're using are not good for food storage. Some might break, leak, stain, or leach chemicals.

The other cool thing about this box is that it is divided! Have you seen a divided glass box before? I don't think Lock & Lock has one available, and I have several from that company. Smart Planet Home has up to now mainly offered plastic boxes with all kinds of extra qualities like collapsibility, the option to reheat, meal planning kits, etc. 

So I was surprised to learn of this newest product. The final selling point is that the box comes with a leakproof lid, which locks with 4 latches and a silicone gasket. The box is heavyweight glass, which I assume is meant to safeguard against breakage by dropping, but it may be too heavy for young children to manage. In addition, at least for me and my fairly new unit, the latching mechanism was quite tight at first and almost too difficult to click on. It took some elbow grease to get the last one latched. Over time, it seemed to become easier to click locked. My 14 year old was able to do it without trouble.

Once it's on, the box is completely watertight. I packed a juicy fruit salad and a fresh green salad to go to one of my dreamy summery destinations, and there was no leaking of anything. Nice! It's on the large side (this one is advertised to have a volume of 52.8 oz or 1561 ml) so it would be ideal for a picnic bento or to bring snacks to share! The glass is sturdy and won't warp in the hot sun like some plastic boxes. The company offers more glass containers in different shapes, including an even larger divided glass bento box. You can check them out at their website. 

Have fun this summer and don't forget to pack bento! 😊❤🍱

Monday, June 5, 2017

Happy Little Bento PBS TV Show "Lucky Chow" Episode now streaming on YouTube!

Hello Bento Friends! The show I told you about has aired this past month on PBS stations across the U.S. and now is viewable on YouTube, in case you missed it in your area. Click below to check it out! Happy Little Bento is featured on the program "Lucky Chow" Season 2 Episode 1: Trending Japanese. We appear at 8:25 - 15:00.
Thanks for taking a look! Happy bentomaking!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

PBS TV show Lucky Chow Season 2 Episode 1 preview trailer

Here is the new Season 2 Episode 1 preview trailer for the PBS TV show Lucky Chow, which will feature the Happy Little Bento family (well, 3/4 of us; me, MisterMan, and TinySprite). If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area you can catch the full episode this coming Saturday, May 13, 2017 at 9:30am on KQED. Hope you get a chance to check it out, and if you do, let me know what you think! Thanks! For other areas, please check your local PBS station listing: The show is called Lucky Chow and this is the first episode of season 2, called Japan: Food As Fetish:)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Happy Boys' Day Bento

Growing up in Hawaii, we called it Boys' Day - Tango no Sekku - (Girls' Day is in March) but it has evolved to Children's Day - Kodomo no Hi - since then. However, since I made one for TinySprite on Girls' Day, I'm making one for MisterMan now. His features a boy with a koi that symbolizes strength and determination as it swims upstream. πŸ‘¦πŸ»πŸŽ

In the bento: meatloaf, mixed grain rice, asparagus, carrots, raspberries, cara cara oranges, apple and cheese. Happy Boys' Day!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

BB-8 Bento

Happy Star Wars Day, or May the 4th Be With You!
A little light bento for TinySprite includes her current favorite polenta made with cornmeal, corn grits, and millet; steamed Okinawan sweet potato, little quail egg BB8, tomato, pickled cucumbers, lotus root, daikon and carrot; raspberries and mandarin.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Chef Bento Noodle Contest Results

Wow - so exciting and incredible to place first in the final 10 (of 172 worldwide entries) at the Bento & Co contest! Thank you, friends, for voting for my bento! I really am appreciative and honored! 😘❤🍱

Monday, April 24, 2017

Chef Bento Noodle Contest by Bento & Co

Hello Bento Friends!

Bento & Co held a contest this past week for a Noodle Theme Bento. The contest is open to any and all, and it's a fun way to challenge yourself into making a bento using the ingredient or element called for. The company holds a similar contest every year with different themes, and I decided to enter this year (I also participated in a past contest here).

I was pleased and honored to have been selected as one of the ten finalists! πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–
You can see the other nine finalists in the collage above; they are beautiful! The ultimate ranking of the 10 bento will be determined by public vote, meaning people like you! If you are so inclined, please click over to the Bento & Co website to view the entries in closeup, and cast your vote for your favorite. Voting is open until Wednesday! If you vote for me, thank you! πŸ˜˜πŸ’•

While you're there, you can check out the super cute and practical bento and kitchen items offered in the shop. I love the quality and selection of the goods offered by this Kyoto-based company!

In case you were wondering, my entry is this one (top middle in the collage): Soba Totoro Bento! 
Hope you are enjoying a wonderful week so far! 😊❤🍱

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Anpanman Turkey Burger PlanetBox Bento

Round sandwich thin in the square section. It works! And the PlanetBox Rover smushes it down just enough so Anpanman's face doesn't move around. Score! Turkey burger with melty Swiss, romaine lettuce, and varied tomato and Okinawan sweet potato decoration, An ombre selection of blood orange segments, a little cup of cottage cheese with sunflower seeds and granola, carrots, asparagus, and pickled lotus root. Oh and a tiny cup of arare (rice crackers). Happy Bento!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Lucky Chow Sizzle Reel Season 2 Preview

Hi Bento Friends!
Remember the time last summer when a film crew came over and filmed a bento segment with Happy Little Bento family? I blogged about the experience here.

It turns out they spent the rest of the year editing our shoot for a very interesting and varied Japanese food and cooking episode. Our bentomaking piece will be part of an upcoming episode in the second season of the PBS TV show Lucky Chow, which focuses on food and culture stories.

Here above (click on embedded video or link here) is the trailer preview for the season if you'd like to take a look. We show up at 1:23 for a few seconds (don't blink or you'll miss us)! It will air here in the bay area next month on our local PBS station KQED; you can check your local PBS listings for the scheduled airing dates in your area. :D

Thursday, March 16, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Pot o' Gold Bento!

Happy St. Paddy's Day!  Today TinySprite gets a rainbow's end pot o' gold made from a piece of green pepper filled with egg salad and cheddar cheese coins. There are stars cut from steamed Okinawan sweet potato, red grapes, tomatoes, and mandarin cuties. Hope it's a lucky day for you!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Soba Salad Bento

Hello! I know it's the middle of March, but it has been feeling like summer these past few days in the Bay Area. It was too hot in the kitchen to cook, believe it or not, so I decided to make a fresh cool salad for dinner. And tomorrow's lunch as well! Soba salad is convenient because everyone can use whatever toppings they choose: this one has snap peas, tomatoes, ham, egg, shiitake mushrooms, sesame seeds and green onion. The tsuyu goes into a separate small container on the side, but if you have a leakproof lunchbox you can drizzle it right on top ahead of time (or just omit it if desired). You can also sprinkle furikake as well. I hope this weather means the worst of the rainy winter season is over!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Won Ton Bowl Bento

Another bowl type bento today; this time in an actual round bowl. I really like this apple-shaped two tier metal container. It's cute and handy and just right for meals like this. I lay some soba noodles on the bottom, added shredded romaine lettuce, cilantro and green onions, then topped with as many won tons as would fit. You can drizzle a little shoyu, chili oil, and black vinegar, or use a separate condiment bottle for that. I have a current obsession with scallion ginger sauce so I ate mine with that - SO good. One day I'll share that with you but that's for another day. Since there aren't too many fruit in season right now, I cut some red grapefruit. You might think it sounds tart and sour but they are actually quite sweet! I know some folks sprinkle sugar on top but trust me, you don't need to. If it's not sweet enough for you, maybe toss in some oranges (or squeeze some juice over). I hope you try it!

Won Ton Filling

1 lb ground meat (I used turkey but pork is traditional)
1 scallion, chopped
1 t grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T shoyu
1/2 T cornstarch
1 egg

Mix all together and fill dumpling skins. You can change the amounts of the ingredients to suit your taste. Drop in boiling water and when they float to the surface, wait 30 more seconds and lift out gently. Serve with soup, noodles, or just as is.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Chicken Rice Salad Bowl

Welcome to my current favorite kind of lunch: the protein bowl! I like it because it's very simple to make and the only rules are that you should use as many different varieties and colors of fresh and minimally processed foods as you can. I like to use a whole grain carb base like rice or pasta, salad greens, cruciferous vegetables, fruit, and protein.
There are tons of cookbooks offering great ideas for protein bowls, and I got the idea for this bento from Bowls of Plenty by Carolynn Carreno.

Vietnamese Bowl with Sweet and Tangy Vinaigrette

1/4 C rice vinegar
1/4 C sesame oil
2 T soy sauce
2 T honey
1 lb. skinless chicken breasts, thin

Marinate chicken for 2 hours, then cook chicken until caramelized, 3 minutes, then turn and cook 5 minutes more or until juices run clear. Rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Lay over rice, add shredded cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables of choice (I used brussels sprouts and grapefruit segments). Serve with vinaigrette.

Sweet and Tangy Vinaigrette:
1/2 C canola oil (or other neutral flavored oil)
1/2 C rice vinegar (I also added ume vinegar)
3 inch fresh ginger, grated
3 T lime juice
1 T honey
2 garlic cloves, minced

For this Ecolunchbox Solo Cube I used chicken marinated in this vinegar shoyu sauce and then pan fried in a skillet. You can use other kinds of protein too, such as shrimp, beef, or even tofu. I made a mixed rice composed of brown rice, red rice, barley, black rice, and quinoa. I also added a tossed salad of shredded cabbage, grated carrot, and grapefruit segments. You can pack along this fresh citrusy gingery vinaigrette in a separate container to drizzle at lunchtime. Pan roasted brussels sprouts and halved grape tomatoes round out this square bento. So good, and good for you too! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Happy Girls' Day Bento!

In Japan, Girls' Day (Hinamatsuri, ι››η₯­γ‚Š) is celebrated on March 3. On this day we wish for the health, success, and happiness of girls. My TinySprite is 10 years old, but not too old to enjoy a sweet token of my love for her. I hope she likes her Hello Kitty bento treat. Happy Girls' Day!

In this bento: hard boiled egg, radish, carrot, blood orange, snap peas, wild blueberries, mandarin orange.