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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree!

The tree idea is one from a Twitter friend who goes by HapaBento. If you tweet, you may want to look her up, her bentos always look great. The tree is made with sliced snowpeas with an omelette star and present and red pickled ginger for decorations and the ribbon. I hope that it makes it to school intact. All of her friends loved the snowman I made and told her she was evil for eating the head first! So funny.  The rest are all the usual suspects except that they are a different breed of sorts. The carrot sticks which may look burned on camera are actually a deep purple on the outside and orange on the inside. The Christmas tree balls are cut from a watermelon radish which is this lovely bright pink inside (and are huge). The meatballs were simmered in some teriyaki sauce. The only thing I forgot was a bottle of soy.

HapaBento's came out much nicer! Mine is sort of abstract, ya, that is it, abstract. I almost didn't mention that we also got this humongous head of cabbage in our produce box. The family has had issues with cabbage ever since my cabbage soup diet fiasco, so I am not sure what to do with it all. Some made it to the bento as coleslaw. There is some sesame seeds in there too, but the picture sucks, as per usual. Maybe I will do a nice sweet and sour cabbage or something. Oh, and this is the last one I will be making until January 2nd when Pippy's school comes back into session. I sort of welcome the break to regroup and maybe think of something new and interesting for her lunches.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dazed and Confused

I totally forgot to post Pippy's bento today! I did take pictures, but with all the stress over exams (or rather one particular exam) I didn't post it. I made a little potato salad with some sliced mini zucchini in there and some spinach soaked in a little soy and mirin. I can get her to eat almost anything with soy and mirin, let us hope that it holds true today!

I tried to take a picture that would show off the pickled daikon candy-canes, but they are hard to see. There is the potato salad, which is really easy to make first thing in the morning, the spinach and some cut up chicken cutlet. The container on the side is filled with fruit and vegetable sauce. I love the container. I got a bunch for a dollar at the Family Dollar down the street. I am not terribly confident that they seal well though, so I wrapped elastic around it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Well, it isn't the most decorative snowman in the world, and they aren't onigiri since I was using leftover rice. The only nori on it are the eyes because Pippy doesn't like nori. The nose is a carrot though! I also made this crab stick salad, but I am a little worried that the sesame oil may be a little strong for her tastes.

The buttons are made with some bacon sprinkles. After declaring last week that she had enough eggs, she requested them again for today. So, there is the crab salad, a two egg rolled omelet with baby spinach and at the top are some leftover roast potatoes and yellow bell pepper which were seasoned with a balsamic glaze. She love roasted potatoes. I even snuck a red and white beet in there, let us see if she eats it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Crab Sticks

 Today I used crabsticks for the first time. I figure that she should try them plain before I use them as a salad or anything. I got these at Ebisuya in Medford. Imagine my surprise when I found that they were individually wrapped! Now I have to use it all up quickly because I didn't realize that I could have separated them while they were frozen. Live and learn.

I have to do a holiday themed bento soon though. I meant to make the crabstick candy canes like one of my twitter friends did (I am sorry, I forgot who) because despite her not thinking they came out good, I thought they looked awesome. Sadly, but crab sticks were too small. Maybe I will sneak out after finals and pick up some provolone cheese to cut out a snow man or something.

This lunch box works well for layering because it is deep. Under all this is a good layer of rice. On top there are snowpeas, crabsticks, a mini blueberry muffin, frozen mango, nicely browned potstickers and a bottle of soy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spamity Spam

Yesterday my husband didn't have to be at work until later in the morning so he let me sleep and made Paige her lunch. She had some of a bologna and cheese sub sandwich and some fruit to round it out a bit. Needless to say, there are not pictures.

Today I decided to try some pan fried teriyaki Spam. The Spam got nice and golden and then sticky in the sauce. I am not a Spam type of person, but Pippy has liked it in the past. I also deep fried some acorn squash. I have seen people do it and I thought that I would give it a try since my oil from earlier in the week was filtered and good to go.

The Spam is the glistening stuff on the lower left. I threw a little pick in there for interest and in case she has trouble with the chopsticks, though I doubt she will, she is very dexterous with those things. I put them on a bed of mixed greens so that the bottom of the box wouldn't show through, maybe she will eat it? On the lower right I cut some baby zucchini in halves, added the fried squash and stuck some carrot in there. The tool I use for the carrots to make them a little thinner than a julienne is terrific. Very easy slicing. On top of that is a pickled daikon gingerbread boy. There are more on top of the rice along with some pickled ginger for interest.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Surprisingly Simple

First, Paige did not like the rice yesterday. Funny, the kid will eat ketchup on anything but rice. So, that is one recipe off the list. She has a surprising small list if you take into account all the variations on similar ingredients.

Today I planned to get up early and make tempura for her bento. I figured that it would take a while fixing the vegetables and heating up the oil. Well, I didn't get up until 6:15 so I thought my plans were shattered. Then I thought that I may as well give it a go and I did. It worked out nicely. The baby zucchinis were sliced thin, some julienne red bell peppers and shaved carrots went into the fryer. The carrots were shaved using a vegetable peeler and after tasting them I have to say they came out the yummiest. I love cooked zucchini, but a few of them got a bit soggy while cooling, so I had to cherry pick the ones that were crispy, though I am a bit worried that the moisture content may cause some problems.

The curry sesame seeds on the rice were supposed to be in the shape of a mitten, but that didn't work out as well as I hoped. I think that the next time I pack something round I will put it on a bed of lettuce or spinach. I don't like the look of the bottom of the box showing. Those are freezer meatballs simmered in BBQ sauce. On the other side is the tempura vegetables, a container for more BBQ sauce and some dried cranberries.
Tempura batter is easy. 1 cup of ice water, 1 cup of flour and an egg. Mix well and dip whatever you want into it and deep fry it. You can also use the bits of tempura batter in octopus balls at a later time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Deep Fried Love

The star of the show are the shiu mai which I deep fried instead of steam, though that will give a nice flavor and texture. It is just that I have never deep fried in the morning before. Tomorrow I may try tempura since I have the oil out of the bottle already, might as well use it up.

What should be front and center ended up a little messy. I got the recipe and display idea from Kawaii Bento (For the record, that link is from my Amazon Associate account). Either my pan was just a bit too small or there was too much rice to put in it, so it tore a bit. I still like the bright red rice poking out from under the omelet though, very nice.

Looks a little washed out, behold my crappy photography lack of skill. Trust me though, there is red under that omelet and in real life it shows. Along with that and the dumplings I put some raw snowpeas and some wedges of a clementine there. Around the dumplings to fill in a bit is frozen corn. I probably should have used something more colorful though, like red bell pepper. Ah well, live and learn.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Clementines Are Here!

I finally purchased my first box of clementines. My kids adore them because they are sweet and so easy to peel. I go through them like crazy this time of year. Pippy wanted me to do something decorative with a clementine, like a flower, so I gave it my best. I also turned a hot dog into a couple of tulips. Because the clementine is too big for her two tier boxes, I used the eco lunch box that is stainless steel.

Hmm, the picture came out pretty nice today. The hot dog tulips ended up with pickled ginger in the center rather than the sesame seeds  you see here. They just didn't show up as well as I would have liked. I cooked some sweet potato and added raisins and a sprinkle of sugar while they were hot. Squished in there is also a small cup of edamame beans. She usually doesn't go for them, but I stirred a little soy and mirin in which seems to help her like vegetable.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lots of Cookin'

Yesterdays bento was a big hit with Pippy. She told me that it was a perfect bento and that I packed it just right. No shifting, no mixing of flavors. Needless to say, it is encouraging. While I covet the Charaben and other cute bentos, I am more than happy to have a less cute bento that she wants to eat.

As the title suggests, it does require some morning cooking. This morning I cooked another rolled omelet at Pippy's request, some winter squash and apples. Nothing green today, but in the winter greens aren't really in season anyhow. Maybe we will get something in our next produce box, but I am not holding my breath. I get produce from a business called Boston Organics. I had to cut back on our deliveries due to low funds, but I get organic produce, much of it sources fairly locally, delivered to my door. I used to have it every week, but I cut back to every other week until we can afford more. I haven't had a delivery in about a month due to the holiday (I suspended delivery for Thanksgiving), so I am working with very little. Also, she is pretty picky about what she eats, hence the title of this blog.

I put some red pepper on the rice to add color. She prefers just plain white rice or fried rice. She doesn't like any of the rice sprinkles that are out there because they are too fishy. On the right I made a batch of apples with a touch of sugar and the barest sprinkle of salt because salt does lovely things to apples, and then cooked it in the microwave for about 2 1/2 minutes. There are also some cooked acorn squash that was tossed with a bit of soy. We had chicken cutlets last night, so I sliced one up for her bento and then there is the rolled omelet with some cheese in it. That was difficult to make as the cheese is heavy and that made the egg very fragile. It isn't a perfect shape, but I did manage to contain the cheese. Can I just say that I love cooking for bento with my cooking chopsticks?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Well Packed Bento

Given my penchant for sleeping past my alarm and not planning ahead, my bentos are generally a little sparse or have too much of one thing in there taking up space. This is my attempt at making my bento a little more, well, bentoey. I tried to stuff as much as I could in there using some tips from my Kawaii book. There are no characters of designs in this one, but I am hoping that it is good looking enough for my child to want to eat it.

I cooked the fried rice the way it was suggested on a few sites, by cooking the egg first. One thing that I noticed by doing this is that there wasn't such a crust on the pan when I was finished. This fried rice is chock full of vegetables, including: red and yellow bell peppers, corn (which isn't really a vegetable, don't get me started) and peas (also not a vegetable technically). In the larger container is a cup of potato salad that I made this morning. It has potatoes, mayonnaise and some of the bell pepper. I needed a little more height for the apples, but I couldn't find anything that would fit right. Squished in there is a cup with corn and peas from the freezer and then a rolled omelet for which I only used one egg because I used another in the friend rice. In the rolled omelet the peas and corn are also there. It is a sweet omelet using mirin in the mix.

There isn't a lot of variety, but I did use the same ingredients differently through out. I am finally getting a produce box in on Friday, so maybe there will be something green in there for us. I was going to use sweet potato, but sadly it had gone bad.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More Leftovers

We had teriyaki meatballs with rice last night, so today Pippy had more of the same in her lunch. I just can't see allowing food to languish in the refrigerator before being thrown out. Wasting food is not my thing. I also made her a vegetable medley of cauliflower and red and orange bell pepper which were doused with soy and mirin at the end. 

The only thing about round food items is that it is difficult to pack everything tightly. In addition to the foods I mentioned, I stuffed some dried fruit in there to help it not shift. I also packed a large sized bottle of fruit and vegetable sauce.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Finger Foods

Last night we had an appetizer night. Oddly, we also had leftovers so that is what is in the bento today. Not my best work but far better then the killer Teddy Ruskin that I did on Friday.

Underneath there are a couple of mozzarella sticks and on top of that are mini chicken tacos. I simply sliced up some yellow bell pepper and cucumbers and stuck a few pieces of dried fruit in the corner.  She also had some rice with soy sauce on the side.

I wasn't sure if I was going to post this next one. It is pretty awful. What I was trying to do was mix the food color pens together to make brown. This did not work out well at all.

The sliced fish fillet (which she actually ate) was a leftover and underneath there is a stir fried mix of green beans, cut up heirloom tiny tomatoes with soy sauce. She ate that too! Of course she ate the apple. This was my first try on this particular cut, which turned out rather well. Over on the side is my Frankenstein bear egg. She didn't eat that. First, eggs smell bad to her (she gets embarrassed) and second, well, could you eat that face?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


It is very hard to be inspired when your gut is in a knot over an oral presentation in Spanish and you really suck at Spanish. Still, the child needed to eat, so I asked her opinion last night and she said that she wanted a rolled omelette. With that as a starting point there of course is rice and I made little tomato containers filled with shredded mozzarella cheese which I gleaned from Kawaii Bento Boxes (which is terribly handy to get the creativity flowing).

I tried to make the heart-shapes for the omelette as is shown in the book, but the roll wasn't round enough to make it work right. Still, a nice excuse for using the jewel picks. There is also some cucumbers cut on the bias and turned to make an interesting shape, some "baby" carrots sliced in half, a red tomato and two yellow tomatoes with the cheese stuffing. On the lid there is a strawberry filled marshmallow that we got at Ebisuya.