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Friday, May 28, 2010

Leftover Lunch


Today's bento is brought to you by last nights dinner. We had chicken teriyaki last night, so I packed that for her lunch since we are running low on food stuffs, and pretty much out of anything she will actually eat. I do not expect her to eat it all today, but I am sure that at least the rice and orange will get eaten. Fortunately my produce box will be in today, and hopefully I can do a little grocery shopping today or tomorrow. The weather is lovely, so I may do some baking today for the next week.

On the top is rice, with an umeboshi (pickled plum) that has been pitted and placed in the middle. On the bottom is a tangelo that has been segmented for easy eating and a cup with the teriyaki in it. There is also another jello shooter and tucked in the front a bottle with some of the teriyaki sauce in it to flavor the rice a bit.

I have taken to making batches of rice during the day now that I am home. Also, I learned that even if your rice says not to rinse it, rinse it anyway. Short grained rice is meant to be sticky, but not pasty. It takes a little extra time, but it is worth it. Now, if I could only find my 1/4 cup measure...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Boxed Love

No, you will not find fun little cut outs in this bento. I really should do a "cute" one soon though. I just need to get some extra vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes since my vegetable box isn't coming with those now that it is spring. My local grocer also has mini corns, which are adorable.
This bento is uninspired to be honest. The girl child wanted fried rice, so that is what I made. She did not ask for broccoli, but that is just tough toenails. I hope that she eats it. I reached for my last apricot since she says the one yesterday got ketchup on it from the scrambled eggs, but the last one was too soft to cut in half and her bento can't handle it whole, though that would have been awesome. Maybe I will make or at least prep her bento for tomorrow tonight. We will see.


On the top is a fried rice with green onions, cut up snow peas, green pepper, peas and egg for protein. On the bottom are blanched broccoli, a little Japanese jello shooter, some dried mixed fruit to fill in a little and an apple bunny. Not the best, but I am getting better at it. I plan to start working on my knife skills soon. I can chop like no one's business, but I am going to have to practice the detail stuff.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

As Promised


Today's Bento is a breakfast for lunch meal. After our family "breakfast" I froze some mini pancakes, so we had that on hand. When I had a little money I bought a big package of precooked bacon, though you could always use bacon bits in the egg rather than a slice on the side. For the syrup you can really use anything. Jams would work well here as well as honey or really anything you like. I am using the small bento box because sweet pea hasn't given my her box from Monday. Ya, I am not looking forward to it. The weather has been hot and muggy, so I am hoping no mold because you just can't get that smell/taste out of plastic.

Picture: Scrambled egg with a touch of soy and some ketchup on top. No, it isn't gross. there are two frozen strawberries and a whole apricot cut in half and pitted along with a pretty container with syrup in it. Next to that are the pre made pancakes with a slice of bacon cooked crispy and folded to fit next to them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Zucchini?

I have no bento to share today. We found Paige with a fever last night, and the current rules are that she needs to be without a fever for 24 hours before going back to school, so I didn't bother making a bento for her. She still had her appetite last night though, even though she was all plugged up (sick AND allergies, poor kid). There is a reason I am mentioning this because I learned something at dinner last night.
First of all, we had twice baked potatoes for dinner. These are not the most nutritious items in the world, but everyone loves them so I make them occasionally. Also with dinner was fried zucchini. Now, no one in my family likes cooked zucchini, but Catherine does like it raw. Paige hates it when she thinks I am trying to trick her into believing they are cucumbers. I remember my mother doing that to me with food, one time liver was "steak".. ewww, so I would never do that.
The important part of dinner, besides Pippy eating an entire potato and asked for more, is that both girls tried the zucchini and said "not bad". This is as good as it gets. Other than zucchini bread, this is the only other way I have discovered they will eat it. We get a lot in our organic deliveries, so anyway to get them to eat it so that there isn't any waste pleases me greatly. While I didn't get a cheer, they will eat it, so I am happy. Now to figure out a way to keep it crispy in a bento box.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Stocking up

One convenience food that we get is dumplings. The pot sticker kind. We found some vegetable ones that Paige liked, so we are using those, though I wonder if that was a good idea since she doesn't usually like meat and won't eat protein alternatives except for fried tofu. Today's lunch included the last of the pork ones though, since I really hate wasting food.
We had a breakfast for dinner last night, so when I had made enough pancakes I made tablespoon sized ones and froze them individually for a bento meal. You should see one this week sometime. Being on a tight budget, it is a good idea to take leftovers in bento sized amounts and freeze them for future lunches. Meatballs (made small) are an excellent stock up too, and you can use a sweet and sour sauce, tomato sauce or BBQ, or really anything that suits your fancy. I also freeze my chicken (that I purchase when on sale) in separate pieces then throw it in a bag. That way I can take out just one breast at a time. A bento can't hold an entire breast though, so be ready to use it in different ways for a couple of days.
I do rely almost exclusively on Boston Organics for my produce, so I have to work around that. I do buy a thing or two at the grocery, like this week I got plantains and apricots, but most of it comes in my much anticipated 29 dollar box.


This one has the dumplings which are a nice crispy brown on the bottom and were cooled before putting them in. Under the dumplings is a bed of organic Asian salad, which probably won't get eaten, but one can hope. Because I really stuffed those dumplings in, there are two soy bottles filled with dumpling sauce. On the bottom are a few "baby" carrots, snow peas and a cut up tangelo.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tea Time!

This one is a Pippy Special, only because I know that she will actually eat it. She has been in Alice in Wonderland mode, so anything that has to do with tea parties she is all about it. Her sister actually gave me the recipe for the flavored mayonnaise, and it was a breeze to put together.
Today was a school lunch day though. I would have had to get up much earlier than usual to get stuff done, and I was too lazy to do that.


The bread is whole wheat with the crusts cut off. Spread on them is a mayonnaise concoction of mayonnaise, paprika and dried oregano. To put in the sandwich is the abundance of thinly sliced cucumber and some mini carrots. Not the most balance meal ever, but there are veggies!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sodium Question

Someone who I respect mentioned that there is a lot of soy in my bentos which has a lot of sodium in it. It you are watching your salt for a medical reason I would definitely advise against using a lot of products with soy sauce in it.
I don't actually use a lot of soy, even though it is mentioned a lot. The soy bottle that sometimes gets pack is pretty small and she always comes home with some still in there. In foods like fried rice or other foods that I stir fry with some, I usually only use a few dashes.
The jury is still out as to whether sodium is bad for you. There have been no repeatable tests that can claim that sodium is bad for a healthy person. According to my nutrition professor there isn't any studies that can confidently say that it is even bad for folks with high blood pressure.
That aside, I still try to not use a lot of salt. The rice is made without salt and I don't add any salt to the bentos. Still, it is a far assessment that there is a lot of sodium in soy, and I can see where one would worry at that. I don't use it because it is Asian, I use it because Paige likes it and it can help her to eat things she wouldn't necessarily eat otherwise.

Today is a 2fer, since there is a box that I didn't post. It is not original, though each time I make fried rice it is a little different. That is why I took so long to post it. First I will post today's.

On the top there is a side of yellow squash and snow peas cut thin, then stir fried quickly in the basic soy/mirin concoction that Paige seems to like. I only use two dashes of soy. Then there are mini meatballs. I got these at Trader Joe's in the frozen aisle. These are made of turkey, and I cooked them in a little BBQ sauce (Paige's favorite!). Next to that is some peeled and sectioned oranges. All the fruit and vegetables come from Boston Organics which is a very reasonably priced organic fruit and vegetable delivery service. Everything is organic and sourced as close to home as possible while still maintaining some variety. On the bottom are flower shaped onigiri surrounded by dried cranberries (a Boston Organics add on) and roasted almonds.
Here is some fried rice on the top, no egg because there is ground turkey in it leftover from tacos the night before. It is garnished with green onion. We have a lot of citrus in this house because, and I love them dearly, they are not easy to eat, they require peeling and such. On the right is a half a cored peach with a cherry in the middle and green onion cut outs for the eyes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Noodles!

I asked Ms. Paige what she wanted for lunch as I always do. She rarely has a lot of input, but last night she said that she wanted Udon noodles with sauce and, wait for it, snowpeas! Oh glorious day!! She will usually eat them, but I wasn't really sure if she liked them or not. I wish that I had spinach for the rolled egg omelet, it looks so much prettier that way and Paige doesn't mind it at all. Next week I have asparagus coming in my produce box, so I will try some raw in her box since she leans towards raw vegetables.

This is Udon, which is whole wheat pasta with snow peas and cooked in a hoisin sauce. Hopefully the noodles won't stick together.


Here is the rolled omelet. Just scrambled egg with soy and mirin mixed in, then you roll it in layers as you cook it a little at a time. The last of the berries made it in the box and a container on the side with ketchup in it for the omelet. Don't knock it 'til you try in!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mmmmm, Bacon

Pippy likes bacon if it is cooked to death, so I try to have real bacon bits on hand. Not the most nutritious thing in the world, but it helps to flavor things and at least gets a little protein into her diet. Today's bento is actually pretty well balanced, assuming she eats the pea shoots. Hopefully they will be exotic enough for her to give them a try. I probably should have packed some dressing for it.

The top has onigiri stuffed with some sweet and salty bacon that I cooked up first thing. It is just crispy bacon (get rid of the fat if you are cooking real bacon) cooked with mirin, soy and a little sugar that is cooking until all the liquid is cooked into the bacon then, to make the surface less sticky I covered them with black sesame seeds. On the bottom are fruit kabobs of mango, raspberries and blackberries. They must have been really fresh when I bought them because it has been over a week and they are still really good. On the bottom is a bed of pea shoots.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pot Stickers

My child doesn't like pork (unless it is bacon or ham) but she will eat it if it is stuffed in a noodle, hence the pot stickers. Pot stickers also have vegetables in them, but even though she normally shuns pork, she doesn't want the vegetable only ones. I really love that child. So, this type of lunch will show up a lot. I will not always take pictures unless it is particularly pretty though. I also didn't take a picture of the rice. It is there, we all know it, that is enough.

The pot stickers are pork and vegetable and I blanched some broccoli because that makes them really green and pretty and put some dumpling sauce in there.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tuna Problems

According to my child, the tuna spilled some juice in her lunch bag. I find this odd since the covers were put on tight and there was an elastic holding it all together. Of course this means no more tuna in her lunch. She won't even try hard boiled eggs because she didn't like the smell of the one that her classmate brought in for lunch. So, two more proteins out the window.
Tomorrow I will get up early and cook her some potstickers which, aside from rice, is her favorite lunch. Fortunately, there are vegetables in there, though I wish I could have room for more. Despite her hating anything pork related other than bacon, I find it odd that she likes ground pork in her dumplings. I don't think that I will ever figure her out. Oh, I know! I will blanch some broccoli florets and push them between the potstickers. That should do.
Today I got up late accidentally on purpose, so we scrounged some change and she is having soup today.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tuna Sandwich? No way!

Okay, this isn't very imaginative. If I had my druthers there would be a pretty cherry tomato that was cut into a flower or something, but the kid doesn't like tomatoes. That doesn't mean she won't find them in there occasionally, but the rest of the family (besides me) feel the same way about that red fruit. Go figure. I was going to put crackers in there too, but found that the Lay's Ruffles worked out better and they are tough enough to scoop with.


We still have quite a bit of cantaloupe left from the other day, so I am using that up. Next to that is tuna in a bed of green leaf lettuce with a sliced pickle on top. The tuna is very simple, just some chopped onion and chopped apple mixed with mayonnaise (real, not dressing). I have found that I like tuna canned in oil better and the Trader Joe's in olive oil was very good. On the bottom are the chips for scooping up the tuna with.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Easy Does It

The boil water order is over and we are none the worse for wear. I suppose I will keep using the boiled water until it is gone though, I hate wasting water. You can imagine how I felt about flushing the lines and emptying my hot water heater.




Despite this, I woke up not knowing that our water is safe now so I tried to use only a few things for Paige's lunch, just a knife, small fry pan and a plate. The plate is because I woke up late and needed to cool down her rice. The way to do it is to spread it out on a platter, and if you are in a real hurry, put it in the freezer for a few minutes.

The top is a fried rice with carrots, snow peas, red pepper and an egg mixed with a little tamari and some mirin to sweeten it up a bit. Below is a jello shooter with cantaloupe and raspberries.


It occurred to me that I have never posted a picture of what this type of bento looks like all ready to go. It is a simple design, but it doesn't seal itself well if you over stuff it. That is why, in addition to the cute bag that comes with it, I use a thick rubber band to hold it closed. There are also bands made especially for this if you are in the market you might want to pick one up. When I get the money I will be picking up a couple new ones.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Interesting Day

Today is day 2 1/2 for the boil water order around here. It is expected that we will have a least a few more days of it as the water is purged and tested. The only real issue for us is that the house is getting even hotter and more humid than it is outside, which is pretty bad. That brings me to the bento today. I needed it to be easy to make and require few dishes since they all need to be sanitized in bleach water after washing, which is  a pain in the rear.  I asked Paige what she would like of course, to give me ideas and she was mostly into the raspberries I bought and of course, sticky rice. The only thing that needed cooking, and we have a rice cooker so no problems there.

The top section is a mixture of cantaloupe, raspberries, blackberries, orange segments and apple. Below that is rice mixed with....Real Bacon Bits. Yep, her two favorite things, bacon and rice. The bits are rendered of most of the fat. We used it in our corn chowder last night and Paige mentioned that she liked it. What is really great is that I didn't have to use a pan and don't have a sauce bottle to clean.