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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Bento

Sometimes you just don't have time to plan for a bento. It happens to me all the time. The trick is to look in your refrigerator and cabinets and put something together. For some that isn't easy, but just think about it this way, you need carbs, vegetables and protein. Additionally, if you have room, some fruit or a small desert.

Today I looked in my refrigerator and found some leftover honey mustard chicken from Whole Paycheck, broccoli, carrots, mayo, hoisin sauce and in the freezer some leftover rice. Once you have things isolated it is pretty easy to put things together.

Today we have broccoli florets with chicken in hoisin sauce, broccoli coleslaw (click the link for the recipe) and rice. If I had time I would have decorated the rice with something.

Broccoli Coleslaw

This is a very simple recipe that calls for broccoli stems and carrots

1 broccoli stem, peeled
1/2 carrot, peeled
2 tsp mayo

I have a great little doohickey that looks like a vegetable peeler but makes "julienne" vegetables. You can always use the big holes on your grater or the attachment for a food processor. Also, this is a recipe for 1, you can adjust for more.

Grate broccoli stem and carrots.
Sprinkle with a little salt
Mix in mayo

Done. If you have people who like flavorings, some dill weed or seed would compliment this nicely.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Not a Green Thing In Sight

I got this new kitchen utensil that is supposed to make julienne. What I get is considerable smaller than a julienne, but makes a cute little nest out of vegetables. Since it was my first time working with it, I used carrots, but I think in the future I will use it on peeled broccoli stalks. I often pack broccoli, but it is hardly ever eaten.

As far as this meal goes, you will see that it is lacking greenery. I try to get some in, but sometimes you just have to let it go. Okay, a lot of the times. Still, there are vegetables in the dumplings and the carrots may actually get eaten. She isn't a big fan of carrots generally, but I keep trying since we always have them in abundance in this house.

There are a number of good bento sites out there, Just Bento being one of them. Just Bento focuses on the health benefits of bento, which is really good. The problem is, my daughter doesn't find most of the recipes appealing, even though I do. What I try to do is occasionally pack something that I know she won't like. Sure, she may not always try it, but sometimes she does and I have a new dish I can pack. I didn't do this today though, except for continuing to try carrots on her in a different form.

On the top are "julienned" carrots, two meat and vegetable dumplings, a soy sauce bottle and two "bunny" apples, which I botched. On the bottom is the rice with some decorative strands of pickled ginger. I swear I don't always use rice, but I do use it often, which is why I got myself a cheap rice maker a while back. Extras can either be frozen for future use, or kept in the fridge for up to 3 days to be used in fried rice.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Fried Rice

Serves one

Oil to lightly coat the bottom of a skillet
1 small handful of chopped cooked meat of some sort or tofu or any other protein you like.
1/2 cup of day old rice from the fridge. It will dry a little in the refrigerator but not in the freezer.

Choose your vegetable

Peas (legume)
Corn (grain)
Carrots
Celery
Scallions
or anything else you have leftover like broccoli.

Several dashes of mirin
Several dashes of soy sauce
1 egg.

1. Heat oil in pan. Add rice and chop up (we use sticky rice in this house, so it tends to clump more). Add in chopped meat or alternative. If you are using a raw vegetable, be sure that it is cut small and put it in the pan right away to give it more cooking time.
2. Add mirin and soy and stir well
3. Scramble egg. Push all ingredients to the sides of the pan and pour in the egg. Cook until still a little underdone, and stir into the rest of the ingredients. The ambient temperature will cook the eggs through.
4. If using for bento, allow to cool before packing or allow the packed meal sit without a cover until cool.

I find I can sneak in a few things that Paige will not eat if I do it in this way.

That Girl and her Rice

Seriously, if she just had rice and a little soy to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner she would, at least for now. It should come to no surprise then that when I asked what she wanted for lunch she requested chicken fried rice and chicken filled onigiri. Since I was tired and we had some rice and chicken leftovers, I acquiesced to her request. While this lunch isn't as balanced as I like it to be I did get some peas (not a vegetable, but at least a legume) and grapes in there too, so I don't feel entirely guilty.

On the top tier are cylindrical onigiri stuffed with chopped chicken in what the Japanese call "fruit and vegetable sauce" I could not read the characters to verify. I put some grapes in between them for color. On the bottom is chicken fried rice with peas. There is no egg in this because we ran out. I will post the very easy recipe on here at a later time **posted-link above**. Oh! we can't forget, there is a little bottle of soy in there too.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

What a way to start

Today we got up late, and since my bento plans called for cooking, we scrapped it and she is eating school lunch. The only thing she will eat there is the soup and crackers. They offer fruit, but Paige insists that they are overripe. This is why I make bento.

As to why I couldn't have just gone ahead and cooked up the bento, this is because you not only have to cook components, they need to be cooked in the AM sometimes, but always need to cool before putting together the bento so that the other stuff doesn't get steamed.

For tomorrow there will be fried rice and onigiri which are rice balls, in this case stuffed with chopped up bits of chicken with a sauce. There is a name for it, but I can't for the life of me remember it.

Here is what one of her bento boxes look like. This is an "official" bento box, but you can use other containers too. I got this one from Jlist which is a Japanese mail order. Their shipping rates are very reasonable since they are in Japan.

This is a typical bento box you will find on the web. They come in other shapes too, but this type is most prevalent. On the top there is a cover for the whole thing, next is the big container which usually contains the food that goes with the rice plus a small dessert or something sweet. The bottom most container is shallower and is used for rice (usually). This set also comes with chopsticks. The black parts are the sealable covers. Even though this box comes with a carry container for all of this, I like to use a fat rubber band to make sure that the pieces stay together.