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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Paige's Creation

As some of you know, we have been having some money problems. This means that Paige is going to start getting free lunch at school. It kills me to have her eating that garbage, but it is free and for a little while, necessary. Still, she needs lunch until it comes through, so today she made a bento for herself. The rice is supposed to have a bear and a rabbit in sesame seeds, the stenciling can be a problem though, but I can see them, can you? Her carrots have a little dressing on them and more sesame seeds, otherwise there are octodogs and pineapple. I am just happy she remembered a veggie!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


My alarm didn't go off, again. I didn't wake until 7:00 am and Paige had to leave in just a few minutes so I didn't have time to take a picture of the actual bento. I did put some more together though for some photos.

Last night I simmered the tofu skins in chicken broth (I had no dashi) soy, mirin and saki. I found the skins in the freezer from last year, and the rest I had left over from the year before. They were stuffed with fresh sushi rice that my husband kindly started when he got up in the morning. We just rinse it and set it up the night before so it is just a matter of plugging it in and flipping the switch. Still, I am grateful that he remembers in the morning fog.
I also made a variation of one of the Just Bento recipes. Thinly sliced cucumbers with shaved carrots that had some lemon rind, juice and sea salt. The other side was also from the cookbook and was some green beans that I have for dinner that were lightly steamed then tossed with a touch of light miso and butter.

This is going to be a trying time for us as we are having money problems like so many others. Buying things specifically for bento is not going to be happening very often as I try to conform our dinner foods into something different for her bento.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Day of High School

I realize that some may be surprised that I am making bento for my 15 year old. This year I will be trying to make them the night before more often though as I have school later on and need my sleep. Today both me and my eldest got up with her. Catherine made her some cinnamon roll pancakes for breakfast (yep, all carbs) and I got her bento together. Paige picked out the box to use, so while it seems quite small it was her choice. From now on Paige will be responsible for putting rice in her bento in the morning.

 Noticing a bit of a color theme? The only thing she asked for was the egg and rice, so I tried to pretty it up with some cut baby carrots arranged like a flower and a rabbit apple. I am not sure how artistic her future bentos will be, but I tried to make her first one of the year at least a little cute, or as Paige would say "Kawaii desu ne".  Okay, definitely not that cute!

Friday, June 17, 2011


Today I am trying a little something different. We do have a nice large compartment filled with a vegetable stir fry made with carrots, red bell pepper, snow peas and purple cauliflower but I also made these asparagus rolled with very thinly sliced pork. Around that there are strawberries and raspberries that are almost to the not so good stage, but they do have one more use in them.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Back to Basics

Okay, maybe not exactly basic, but there are carrots in one of them again! The first bento is made up of pot stickers, carrot sticks, snow peas, fresh pineapple and those shrimp and chicken Chinese dumplings.
The second one is a sandwich since she is going to the beach today with her school. Peanut butter and jelly (as per her request), snow peas and grape tomatoes and homemade sweet potato chips and there are pea shoots to stabilize the sandwich.
Almost forgot to mention, the picnic bento went over well and Paige said that there wasn't enough food. Only some rice left over.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Picnic Bento and Two More Days

Okay, lots of bento going on today. It isn't that I have not had the time, I have just been lazy. I am going to post the picnic bento first because I am pretty proud of it. I used a two tier tiffin which is supposed to be one lunch, but this should feed three, maybe four kids.

On the bottom is the deeper tin, so half is filled with rice divided with lettuce with apple rabbits and a checkerboard apple, two donut peaches and tangelo segments. On the top I made a rolled omelet, a pork bun, some cheese sandwich triangles and a cup with fresh pineapple in it. All of the fruit came from Wilson's Farm which I would highly suggest anyone in Massachusetts to check out. Beautiful fresh produce everywhere, plus plants. There are also take out packages of mustard (for the cheese sandwiches) and soy for the rice. I am posting the pictures, but keep scrolling down as I have two more bentos to show you all.
It is also important to note that Paige helped a lot putting this together, even getting up 45 minutes earlier.

The next one was yesterday's. It isn't really very special, but I did give some frozen, cooked shrimp a try which she actually ate! Go team! It is very difficult to get seafood in her. She also had half a plum, fresh pineapple (again from Wilson's, but the pineapple was obviously not local here in Boston), some grape tomatoes (also from Wilson's) which she did not eat, no surprise, and her rice. (more below this one too)

This one was done the other day. I switched out the rice for some French couscous that we got at Hannaford's bulk bins, made with vegetable stock and some dried cranberries. For the rest, I rubbed some soy into a little bit of chicken and fried that up, she has a cup with cucumbers (not local) and grape tomatoes (Wilson's). She also had some nice raspberries which I am not sure are local because it is a little early in the season.

This is Paige in her sister's Naruto jacket, the first piece of cosplay she ever got. Paige is thrilled that it was cool enough to wear it for her field trip today to the Franklin Zoo. I took pictures because she actually let me, which is a miracle.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fresh Pineapple!

Today is more potstickers, just another bentos worth now left in my freezer. With that she has purple cauliflower from Wilson's Farm and fresh pineapple purchased there too, though since I live in New England it certainly wasn't grown there. I was going to squish some raspberries in there, but they are just too fragile and the box was pretty full.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Two Days Posting

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday's bento, so here it is along with today's. Yesterday we had fried rice. I normally toss a scrambled egg into the rice at the end of cooking, but lately I have mostly cooked the scrambled egg before tossing it in. She seems to like it better that way and it really doesn't take any extra work. We were a little low on extras, so she has a large strawberry, a couple of apple bunnies and a cup of apple and flax seed granola. The strawberry was a standard one from a grocery, but the pink lady was organic and fairly local. The granola was organic.

For today I made Paige her rice as per usual, but heated up a little teriyaki to pour on the top. She has three teriyaki meatballs from Trader Joe's, some really pretty different colored cauliflower, strawberries and raspberries all from Wilson's farm, all organically grown.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pretty If Not Original

Yesterday I sent Paige to school with some leftover chicken and pasta salad. Oddly, even though it was in a regular, seal-able, plastic container it still fell apart in her back. It is so odd because the bento boxes rarely seal very well and are often only held together by an elastic band. Maybe I should have posted it, as it was a very pretty salad, but I didn't do anything to make it more bento-like.

Today's is better. Hubby made her rice as usual, and I sprinkled it with curry sesame seeds to make it look a little different than just plain rice. She also wanted the rolled omelet again. She really loves those. I make them with a splash of soy and some mirin. The mixture will look a little gross and dark, but it does go yellow once it is cooked. I also had some more mozzarella  which I tossed with some basil, which I know that she really loves. To fill out the space and get a little more fruit and veg in there, I adds a few snow peas and a nice ripe strawberry.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Today I pulled out the frozen ground beef soboro out of the freezer. I have another couple of bag, so it will make more appearances. I also made some egg soboro (both recipes are in "Just Bento") to go with it, cut up some carrots and a plum and put in some snow peas and of course rice on the bottom of it all. I do wish that my pictures weren't so fuzzy. It recently started happening all the time. I tried noise reduction and sharpen and that just seems to make them worse, so I apologize again for my lack of photography talent.

Lately I have been doing a lot of repeats, particularly with the potstickers because we had a lot of them in the freezer with different fillings. She is still not sick of them! I am hoping to make a few decorative ones before school ends since I have more time with the semester over. 

In school news I got two A's and two B+'s, so I am on the Dean's list again, Whee! This is so much better than when I was doing horribly in Spanish 101. Finally back on track. The Fall with be my last semester as an undergrad, then I look for work and see if I can get into a Masters program.

Monday, May 23, 2011

It Has Been a While

I haven't posted in a while because my bentos have been pretty lackluster. Mostly she has been eating potstickers as I endeavor to get rid of all the bits of bento stuff still in my freezer. Recently though, she told me that she loves, loves, loves fresh mozzarella with basil, so when I was at Trader Joe's I picked some up as a treat for her.
Today she has her rice, some dumplings (shrimp and pork)**edit** Actually the dumplings are Chicken Shu Mai from Trader Joe's, slices of red bell pepper, mozzarella with basil chiffon and a half of a plum that we also got at Trader Joe's. I put it in this one level container to hold all the dumplings as there were not enough left for two bentos. It also gives me a little head room. she also has a bottle of homemade teriyaki sauce for dipping and putting on her rice.
This is the first time I tried steaming something with the rice in the cooker and they came out perfect. Not bad for a 20 dollar machine.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Starting To Run Low

Ingredients for original bentos are running low right about now. I just used the last of our eggs, and while I have a ton of carrots and lettuce, there isn't a lot of anything else right now. I am going to do a fresh mozzarella and basil one as soon as I can get to the store.

Today I used my purple panda box courtesy of bentofabulous . It is filled with sweet tamogoyaki , carrot and radish flowers along with some pickled vegetables and pickled daikon radish. Her rice is topped with the leftover shreds of the omelet.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fried Rice Again

The great thing about fried rice is that is uses up so many things in the refrigerator. Today's has onions, zucchini, carrots and sugar snap peas with egg. I also sliced some cucumbers and sectioned a nice tangelo from our Boston Organics box. I wanted to use the purple panda box that I won, but I can't find it anywhere. Maybe Paige knows where it went. Last time she didn't even know that there was zucchini is there! (She doesn't like it very much)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Caterpillars and Social Commentary

First the good news, Osama is no longer a threat. I can't say that I am happy he is dead. That is the easy way out in my opinion, and will also anger his followers. I can say that I am happy he is gone, and I hope that means we will get out of the Middle East sometimes soon.

In other news, this week is another "make do" week. We still haven't found decent tenants for the apartment, so we have to find a way to afford the mortgage for another month. That plus the carpet hasn't been put in yet. On that vein, I will try to make the old standbys at least a little interesting.

Today I made a caterpillar out of round onigiri and cucumber skins for the eyes and spots. I also sprinkled on some white sesame seeds, but that is hard to see on the camera. I thought it would make it look a little fuzzy, like a real caterpillar. For the stuff that goes with the rice, we have the teriyaki meatballs, sugar snap peas and one of those frozen blueberry muffins that I thought we finished up. The whole thing took about 20 minutes, and that included the my making homemade teriyaki sauce for her rice and meatballs. My husband starts the rice for me as soon as he gets up, so it was all ready for me to go to work. Sadly, I don't have a lot of fillers in the house right now, I will have to do an inventory to see if I can find some, but this should stay in place okay.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Very, very tired

I owe you good folks two bentos today since I did not upload yesterday's bento. I also got my shipment of bento boxes that I got from a drawing at Bentofabulous a while back, so there is a picture of that also.

Yesterday's bento was as Paige's request. We had some little weenies from H-mart I believe that were frozen and hadn't been used yet because I foolishly didn't freeze them in portions. So, with her rice she has two octodogs and two crabs, both with peppercorn eyes. There is rice of course and hoisin sauce, also at her request. In the containers are watermelon balls (even small watermelons yield a lot of fruit!) and pickled vegetables. She said that she ate the whole thing, but since she washed out her own container we will never know for sure.

The next box is for today and it was thrown together at the last minute due to my incessant sleeping. I had some fried onigiri in the freezer from Trader Joe's along with a few vegetable croquettes. I sliced up some fried tofu, which she loves and cut off a strip to make it brown and white for contrast. Of course there is still melon left, so in it went along with some frozen peas.

And finally by new collection of boxes. She also sent me some very pretty teaspoons, but I didn't get them into the picture. Yesterdays lunch used the pink on and I can't wait to try the purple one! I think that the lock and lock would be great on sandwich days to bring extra stuff along to fill her up.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fun Tamagoyaki

Today's bento is brought to you with some sadness. I young student that I go to class with died suddenly last night. I have decided to go to school anyway, but both her and her family are in my thoughts.

I used the egg white trick with the tamagoyaki but dyed the whites red for a contrast. I put them on a bed of lettuce and added some cross cut cucumbers and a grape tomato. Her rice is made with a roll form and sprinkled with black sesame and plum sesame seeds.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday Quickie

Okay, not so quick. It took me about 20 minutes to cook and cool this bento. There is fried rice made with carrots, zucchini (sshhh, don't tell, she ate is ALL), egg, soy sauce and mirin. In the other compartment was fried tofu (which she says she could eat like and ice cream cone), watermelon balls and sugar snap peas. The verdict came in this afternoon when she returned an empty box. Love it when healthy meets "I loved it Mom".

Monday, April 25, 2011

Good Holidays to All Who Celebrate!

Paige had vacation all last week, so there were no bentos to post. She mostly lived off of mac and cheese and canned spaghetti and tomato soup. These were the things that were easy for her to make while I was at school. Because of gas prices, Pippy will be biking to school from now on to save money. When I explained the situation to her she was more than accommodating. I have great kids and don't think that I am not thankful of that every day.
This week I will be featuring bento made out of things at hand. I did buy some cucumber and grape tomatoes, but otherwise these are all things that you would find in my refrigerator after not doing shopping for the week. Since Pete is getting paid biweekly now, we try to shop for two weeks outside of little necessities like milk and eggs.
Today I tried to make an attempt at Charaben, well, maybe that isn't the word since they aren't actually characters from anywhere. Her two rice balls were shaped by hand with salted water to keep them from sticking. One of them is a chick with eyes made from cucumber peel (I forgot who suggested this, but THANK YOU, and a beak made of carrots. The other is a little girl with bangs made of soy wrapper and the eyes and mouth made with the cucumber peel. There are also three meat patties, balled watermelon and a cucumber and carrot salad made with Ponzu dressing. On the side is a small container of bulldog sauce. I took a picture of the container because it is new. We got two of them from a local Japanese store called Ebisuya. I shouldn't have spent the money, but they were just too adorable for words.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No Veggies, Bad Mommy

Today was made for a quick bento. This one took me all of five minutes to make. There are an assortment of lunch meats cut decoratively, two slices of whole grain bread with the crusts removed and some wedges of orange. I thought about putting some carrots in there but there wasn't any room. I also didn't put condiments because she tends to not eat them.
Another exam today, whoopee!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Girl Likes Her Omelets

Today Paige and I decided on the rolled omelet for the protein. I filled it out with some potato salad I threw together this morning and pickled burdock root and an ominous sounding pink pickle that was referred too simply as "vegetable pickle", but hey, it is pink! Tomatoes are no longer on the menu. First because Paige doesn't really like them and second because they are over 4 dollars a pint. We can live without the pretty red unless I can afford red peppers which are pretty expensive too. I guess that this is turning into a budget bento blog too!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Put On a Happy Face

The apartment drama lives on. I was upstairs painting walls for a few hours after studying my buns off for two "midterms" at school. Catherine and I painted three rooms and half a bath. The orange room still needs more paint to cover it. Orange, really? Two coats of primer and two coats of paint. Yeah, it is unlikely that they will be getting much of a deposit back.

So, today it is study, study, study and hopefully finishing up the bulk of the painting so we can get the carpet folks in to take measurements and give us an estimate. A really sweet family looked at it today, but the mother didn't seem impressed because of the lack of closets. They tried to bargain on the price, but the price is already a bargain. I think that it may be a cultural thing because we rent at a very low price. And they wanted heat included, LOL, at that price? Nope, isn't happening.

Anyway, here is her bento for today. She has teriyaki meatballs, baby carrots split, some stir fried black beans and a sweet salad with cucumbers and radish. She wanted melon, but didn't put it away last night. The onigiri have been colored up a bit with different sesame seeds and a little furikaki, but I don't think she will like it. Whoops. The purple just looked so nice! I also peeled some circles out of two radishes. I am not quite ready for making mushrooms, but they still look pretty.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Two Days of Bentos

Because yesterday was a Thursday, which meant that I had very little morning time to post the bento, and by the time I get home on Tuesdays and Thursdays I just want to pass out, I am posting Thursday's bento today. As an extra surprise, Paige made two bentos of her own today for her and a friend so I could sleep in. She also took pictures!

The bento I made her yesterday was very simple (see above). Her protein was a rolled omelette with the nice white layer. I forget which marvelous lady on twitter showed me this technique, but I love it. I have posted the attribution on another entry though. Also there were raw snowpeas (which she loves) and strawberries. I dressed up her rice with some plum sesame seeds.

Paige took a more decorative approach. Her carrots were cut into hearts and my frugal sweetie used the outside of the cut outs also. Last night we made some fried tofu to put in there on which she put some kind of sauce that I had in the refrigerator and sesame seeds. She included a strawberry and a slice of orange. Paige also made some nori cut outs for her friends rice but she doesn't like nori so it isn't on hers. Both containers of rice had sesame seeds on them.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Too Busy!

Somehow, in the next couple of weeks we have to wash and paint all the walls, find time to have someone come in and re-carpet, find a good time for the appliance repair guy, study for two major exams, write a couple of papers, go to a school meeting for Paige, go to my appointment with Karen and then get my mammogram. I hardly have time for this entry. Things are crazy, and I just hope that we can get the place painted this weekend. Pete still hasn't called the carpet people. Ahhhh! These are the days I wish I did crack, LOL.

Yesterdays bento was not put up due to a long school day. She had teriyaki meatballs from Trader Joe's, a purple cabbage with green onion "pickle" and curried cauliflower. The cauliflower was actually this pretty orange, but it doesn't come through on the picture.
Today's bento may not be eaten today as Paige is staying home. There are Shu Maui dumplings, also from Trader Joe's nestled in some green leaf lettuce with was locally sourced through my produce people, Boston Organics, "baby" carrots from the grocery and a couple of strawberries that my daughter bought which are organic, but due to me being in New England, they were definitely shipped in. Oh how I miss the really good strawberries, small and so sweet. Oh, and there is a bottle of a tangy soy sauce for the dumplings and the rice.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Soup Day

Today Paige is going to school with a thermos of hot tomato soup along with her bento box. In the box there is no protein, which I try to avoid, but sometimes things happen. In her little take along container are goldfish crackers and around that are apples, a couple decorative so the lunch wouldn't seem too plain and red grapes.
We are currently in the throes of trying to find new tenants for upstairs. With my husband working and me going to school or studying all the time, it is very hard to fit in cleaning up the mess the old tenants left behind. I guess that relates to bento because I really don't have a lot of time or energy to be thinking of new things to do.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Okay, today's meal is not exactly nutritious, but I was running out of ideas and food. I am hoping to do a bento food run this weekend in between studying and showing the apartment and prepping the apartment for paint and arranging to have a flooring person and an appliance repair guy to come in. Fun! I did make a run in the sleet to the store this morning, but I hadn't planned any bentos, and quite honestly, the store didn't have anything I would normally use except for a few things like broccoli and tofu.
I guess this is all self explanatory. I used the ecolunchbox for this one because it is deep. A few of the chips got crushed anyway, but it should be fine.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Running Behind Again

I had a rough plan for this bento, but didn't work it out until I woke up half and hour late at 5:30. Suffice it to say, there is only one cooked from scratch dish. I also reheated some meatballs from a bag we got at Costco a while back, sliced up some apple (I love pink ladies as they don't brown very fast) and some frozen vegetables. I must apologize in advance for the crappy picture quality, I only took one picture because of time constraints.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sweet and Sour Tofu

Well, yesterday's bento was a bust. She didn't touch the crab salad or the edamame and only ate half her noodles, though she did eat a couple shrimp. So, no more crab-stick for her, but I may add edamame off and on to see if she ends up liking it.
Today's bento is pretty straight forward. I tossed some cubed and drained tofu with some sweet and sour (bottled) sauce after sauteing to get them nice and brown. I also shredded some purple cabbage and carrots and doused it with some sushi vinegar. She also has cucumbers and grapes. On the very top I added some Flipsides (TM) for something crunchy.
I tried to make a blue egg sheet but it was too thin and flimsy to use. Maybe next time!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

Last night I had this plan for bento this morning that didn't come out the way I had hoped. Today is a seafood day, but I didn't plan on enough food to fill up the rest of the boxes. I also made one for Catherine, so there wasn't a lot of noodles either. Today we have shrimp sauteed in a little garlic and lemon, crab-stick salad, mangoes and edamame. The udon noodles are tossed with a little ponzu and mirin. One of these were going to be mine, but I decided instead to leave it for the eldest so she will have something to eat in school.
If you are thinking about doing bento, or have already started you may want to look at this auction: Bento4Japan. 100% of the proceeds (everything but shipping) goes to a charity in Japan to help them through this terrible time. I just got the auctions I won and couldn't be happier.

Also, take a look at one of the others I got:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Friday and Monday Bentos

I forgot to post Friday's bento, so here it is today. I thawed out the ground beef soboro and laid that on top of the rice. On the side is some uncooked baby spinach (which she likes), grape tomatoes (that she doesn't like) and broccoli and grapes which she likes well enough. It was very simple and took me about 10 minutes or less to put it together minus the cooling time.

Darned blogger wanted to make this text centered. Well I showed them with my HTML Fu. This next one is today's lunch. Again, this is pretty speedy. She has rice which is separated by green leaf lettuce, a tamagoyaki made with soy and mirin, snow peas and grapes. I expect an empty box if she is given enough time to actually eat.

A little rant about her cafeteria. She has eaten lunch there exactly twice all year. I paid for one meal and Pippy said that she put one on credit during my break because she didn't want to be bothered to make a lunch. Now they are saying that I owe them 6 dollars. This has been happening for the last three years and I can't seem to get them to believe that they are making a mistake. I am having the same problem with the library. She owes money on a book she never took out. They say she took it out when she was five, but I would have known and she refused to take out a book at that age. I love computers and all, but I have issue with the folks who like to mess them up.