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Monday, January 31, 2011

Easy Going Monday

Today's bento has a few different elements. It was pretty simple and took about 20 minutes to cook everything and set it up. In the big tier there are udon noodles that I tossed in some sesame oil (to prevent sticking), soy, mirin and a little hot sauce. Pippy confided in me that she is not opposed to a little bit of spiciness in her food. On the other tier are some shrimp and pork dumplings that I steamed in the microwave using my microwave steamer. There is also some burdock root salad that I got from Ebisuya that is in the next town over. I love that place as I am always finding new things as I explore Japanese cooking. There is also some pickled radishes, also from Ebisuya.
I also noticed that I haven't shown off Pippy's new rabbit bento box that we got at Ohayobento along with a lamb box, some fruit picks and some super cute flower silicon cups that I can't wait to use. I wrapped it all with a cloth from my Ecolunchbox which Pippy doesn't really like but I adore. It is perfect for me as long as I pack it tightly.
Pippy and I picked out some fabric to make more clothes for wrapping the bento in. Only two of her boxes comes with bags. I also need to get some wide elastic because she has a couple that don't have them. Right now we are using one from another box. Hopefully I will get some time to make the clothes soon. I just need to decide whether to hand stick them in the traditional running stitch way, or cave and use my daughter's sewing machine.



Friday, January 28, 2011

New Bento Box

My children say I have a bento problem. They are probably right, but how can I resist the squeal of Pippy when she sees one she really likes? That and I did need a couple more big silicon cups.

Today's bento is a combination of two I found in different books. The rice and candied sweet potatoes were from Kawaii Bento Boxes and The Just Bento Cookbook. The layout is from Kawaii Bento, but I think I would have done something similar as it is fairly regular. I also made the sauce on top of the tofu nuggets from that book. From the Just Bento book, I made the tofu nuggets. I messed them up though. I didn't cook the green onion and ginger first so they have a strong flavor, though I am not sure why they didn't hold together very well.  Still, they should taste good, especially with the glaze. The scrambled egg with vegetables also came from Kawaii Bento Boxes.

I really don't like that there are bare spaces, but I didn't have anything that would fill them nicely, at least not at 6 in the morning. I made the tofu nuggets last night rather than this morning to cut down on my work time, plus the rice is from Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Little Rushed

For some reason my alarm clock decided not to wake me up this morning. I rechecked everything and I had all the right buttons pushed, but it didn't want to work. So, my best laid plans hit a snafu. I decided to do at least some of it, which included fried tofu. Imagine my surprise when I opened the tofu container and found it already diced! Someone must love me. So, she got some fried tofu with a little soy mixed in but not too much because we both like our tofu crispy. I also blanched some broccoli florets and interspersed them with grape tomatoes like I saw in the The Just Bento Cookbook.  Then I sliced some kiwi because it is Pippy's new favorite food, at least for now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Two Bentos

Today is my long day at school, so I made a bento for myself too. They are both completely different because we only have one thermos and Pippy wanted soup today. Sadly, it is not homemade. I only took a picture of her sandwich box though, which has a bologna and cheese sandwich, crusts removed and a whole kiwi. Yes, it is lacking in the vegetable department, but the soup has some such as it is. I didn't take a picture of the thermos because, well, it is a thermos.

My bento has vanilla yogurt from Weight Watchers which is much sweeter than I expected. In the smaller container I have some apple granola and around that some blueberries and two Hob Nob cookies that we got at Union Jack on RTE 1. I love those little specialty stores.



Monday, January 24, 2011

Onigiri Bento

Today Pippy wanted an onigiri bento, with stuffed onigiri. Last night I thawed a couple chicken tenderloins that I had flash frozen individually so I could just take out what I need. I have to say, these tenderloins are perfect for bento. I took out two, but really only needed one. Then I sliced up some mini bell peppers, stir fried that, took it out of the pan and stir fried the chicken. I added some hoisin sauce and let it simmer a bit. Then I took out some of the chicken and added the bell pepper to the rest. I chopped up the chicken I removed very small and used it to stuff the onigiri this morning. Last night I also cut some carrots and watermelon radish into flowers (I couldn't find my mine heart cutter! So sad.) for one side and filled the other cup with frozen mango. This morning I just stuffed the onigiri using freezer stashed rice, wrapped them with some sesame seed soy paper and make the rabbit. In the small section you will also see my horrible attempt at a radish flower. I think I may try a mushroom next time.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Snow Day!

Last night I made pigs in a blanket and potato salad to make it easier in the morning to make bento. I had the whole thing packed up and looking really good if I do say so myself. Then my husband walked into the room very early and said "school is cancelled". Now I adore a good snow day, but my bento! Okay, I admit it, I love it when Pippy comes home and tells me her friends reactions to her lunches. I am weak.

So, today there are some pigs in a blanket that I made with the last of the mini dogs that I had to thaw for the octodogs yesterday and some crescent roll dough that hadn't expired but had been in the refrigerator for a while. Then I made a Japanese style potato salad with salted and drained English cucumbers, potato, sliced mini red bell pepper and Kewpie mayo.  Also in there are some blueberries and seaweed salad to fill it out with some grape tomatoes for color.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Octodogs and Starfish

I didn't think that this one would have a theme until I saw the octodogs against the starfruit. I hope that the fruit is ripe enough to eat. I had to use a paring knife on the edges because they were turning a bit brown. On the side is fried winter squash of unknown origin. In the little container is some chopped up pickled burdock root. I felt that added some nice color. Of course there is rice in the container I don't have a picture of. Served with some soy and she should like the lunch. Now, what to do with the rest of the mini hot dogs? I wish they sold them fresh were I got them from, so I could freeze them individually, but alas, they did not.

Oddly, the pictures I took without the flash were brighter than this one. I will get the hang of this camera if it kills me! I do have a rudimentary photo editing software, so that is why it is neatly cropped.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It Must Be Bunnies!

Pippy's bunny bento box came in yesterday! I ordered it on the 5th, so it has been a long wait. This is the first time I ever heard her squeal about a lunch box. It took me forever to find it for sale, but I found it at CasaBento and it was on sale. This was good because I really shouldn't have spent the money that I did. This is the first time I ever packed a shaped bento, so bear with me.

In the small container is some fried rice sans egg because that is found in the larger section. On top of that I tried to craft a rabbit with provolone and nori. I was supposed to have bologna for this, but it disappeared in the refrigerator of doom. Yes, he looks quite maniacal. In the bigger section there is tamagoyaki, but I didn't flavor it because I forgot. Still, it is yummy. There are also three mini egg rolls that I baked last night and some broccoflower. Can you see the tiny bell peppers? Absolutely adorable. I will probably stuff them for another bento this week, but today they add some red to the box and Pippy likes them.

Fried rice with Thai peppers (which were not hot), carrots, onions, garlic and peas flavored with soy and mirin.

Scary huh? How on earth can you cut nori with a straw? I had a metal one and I couldn't do it.

The main attraction. As you can see I need a lot of practice to learn to pack this shape properly.

All ready to go, isn't it adorable?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Easing Back to School

It is a mess out there and it is just snow. I am not looking forward to the change over to rain at all. The 10 both way drive to drop off Pippy took me 40 minutes today. I don't mind being cautious, but that was ridiculous.
Today's bento isn't fancy and doesn't use any interesting dishes besides giving her a serving of seaweed salad procured at Ebisuya for her to try. She probably will not eat the tomatoes, but they are pretty! Otherwise it is a standard pot sticker bento today.
I was also having trouble with the focus on the camera today. No matter what I tried the picture came out fuzzy, so it is back to the manual for me to see what I did wrong. Following the bent is a weird picture. It was the last photo I attempted for the bento, but it did not come out that way. If all of my pictures came out that way, I would have assumed it was the camera, but it was just this one shot out of seven. Weird.


On a note, I changed nothing on the camera before taking this shot. It was the same settings that I used for the last three photos. Weird.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pizza!

Last night I made pizza. I didn't have a chance to take a picture because it was gobbled up pretty quickly. There were two slices left which would have been for my eldest had she been home. I took one of the slices and cut it to fit the lock n lock box that I generally use for sandwiches. In the  two other containers there is a simple salad of green leaf lettuce, cucumbers, a grape tomato and some carrots cut into flowers. In the other I mixed some sliced up frozen mango and some blueberries.


Pippy had the last two days off from school because of the storm. She also doesn't have school on Monday, so this has been a great week for her.  The storm was not too bad, but the heavy snow stuck to the trees and wires making them dangerous in the wind. I have a feeling that it isn't going to get better anytime soon as the forecast is for below freezing temps for at least a few days and possibly more snow.

This is a picture of about half way through the storm. That fence is about six feet tall normally. Whee!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Inarizushi

Last night I made some homemade pickled cucumbers to sit overnight in the refrigerator. Then I boiled and simmered aburaage in a nice soy and sugar sauce for the inarizushi. This morning was relatively simple, although my dear hubby forgot to turn on the rice when he woke up. We have rice in the freezer, but I was guessing that fresh is better for sushi rice and also I had more than one serving of the aburaage. Because there was so much I made a bento for the older child too. This morning went pretty smoothly after that. I made the sushi rice, adding bottled sushi seasoning and fanning at it while stirring it around a bit. Then I turned down the edges of half of the aburaage. After, I made little sushi rice balls and stuffed them in. I didn't roll down the ones for my eldest because the box I used had high sides. I also sliced some sweet potato very thinly with a vegetable peeler and deep fried them. Since there was still room in Pippy's box I added some blueberries as a filler.
The pictures are coming out horrible lately. I can't seem to turn off the flash on my camera and it washes everything out. Still, here they are.




Should I make a "light box"? Maybe with black sides to eliminate the glare? I am at a loss. **Edit: I figured out how to turn off the flash. Pippy is at school with her lunch, but Catherine's bento is still here, so here is a better picture of it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chicken Cutlets

The reason that you have been seeing a lot of chicken cutlets in Pippy's meals is because we got a big bag of them at Costco and I am trying to use them up. Well that and until yesterday we didn't have a lot of meat available. I do have fish sausage, but I am scared to try it and I won't pack it in her lunch until I have tasted it. Anyone out there that can tell me whether it is really fishy or not?
Her cutlet was simmered in hoisin sauce today and besides the rice, everything else is as nature made it. Yes, I was lazy. I can't even blame getting up late. I have to go over my bento books again to find some inspiration, but after well over 200 boxes, things are starting to get a little stale. There is no picture today because even though I took a few, they are all washed out, even when I tried using a back ground. I am not sure why. The rice always glares a bit, but this time everything but the blueberries were white in the picture. She also had some slices of orange bell pepper, pineapple and some red pickled ginger on top of her rice with a bottle of soy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Leftover Day

Last night, while asking Pippy what she wanted for lunch, we realized that we had bits of leftovers in the refrigerator. I was a little leery about the penne and sauce, but she said that she liked it, even when it isn't hot, so that was the main part of the meal. Last night we had appetizers for dinner, so an egg roll and two mozzarella sticks went in along with a bit sized cannoli. To fill in the gap a little I put a silicon cupcake liner filled with frozen mango.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I Need Some New Material

Last night I asked Pippy what she wanted for lunch, which has become something of a ritual before getting ready for bed. At first she didn't know, but then she said "Onigiri with chicken teriyaki in it".  We compromised, she got onigiri with chicken teriyaki on the side. The reasoning is that we simply don't have a lot of things to fill in the gaps with and I wanted to have a sturdy lunch for her that would put up with her backpack.
So, last night I cooked one chicken thigh in teriyaki sauce for her lunch. I know, I could have done a whole meals worth and saved it for dinner. Well, I didn't have a lot of time, so I just did the one. I have got to put more energy into making several little bits to go with her lunch.

The onigiri is surrounded by shredded carrot. I have this nifty tool that does a thick shred (or thin julienne, depending on your view) and it makes shredded vegetables easy. The chicken teriyaki is plain to see, I tore it up so that it would fit. In the center is a salad made of red bell peppers and rainbow radishes with some store bought Asian style dressing from Trader Joe's. After that I cut and English cucumber on a rotating bias to add some interest.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

She Loves Her Eggs

Pippy loves her eggs. Seriously. She told me a few weeks ago that she wanted to take a break from them, but the next day asked for them again. I wish she felt the same for boiled eggs as I have a few molds that I like to use. Rice is also a passion of hers. I try to give her noodles sometimes but they are usually met with "They are good, but...". I love that kid. I am also finding that it is getting harder to fit all the different types of food in one box lately. Don't get me wrong, these boxes are the right size for her, especially with such a fleeting lunch time, but I like to add something sweet and this usually goes by the wayside in favor of vegetables.

Kind of blah looking, but this is what she wanted. I used a green leaf lettuce as baran to separate the rice from the rest of it. The rolled omelette got a little spinach in there, but it just wasn't rolling right for me today. That could be because I had the heat really low and it may need that crust to keep it together. Live and learn. In the pink cup is a Japanese potato salad and squished in the blue cup is the last of the baby spinach cooked in a little soy sauce. We had packets of soy left over from our New Year Chinese take out, so those went in the cloth along with some chopsticks.

P.S. I REALLY want to find the bunny shaped bento for her. It was the first time I heard her squee over a bento box (other than a filled one of course).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Star of the Day

This was a simple meal, but required quite a bit of cooking. I used stars because it is a little early for Valentine hearts. We start our holidays way too early sometimes. Pippy should like this because of the fried rice and I am hoping that the squash has enough crispiness to it so that she eats it. I also have to get on her to clean out her boxes. She still hasn't done the one from yesterday. Apparently she hasn't learned her lesson from the moldy bento that required us to throw the box out.

The squash has some blackened bits, but she claims that she likes them that way. Also on the top is a mini blueberry muffin, some rainbow radishes cut into star shapes and leftover chicken cutlet. On the bottom is stir fried rice with carrots and red bell peppers and it is covered by an egg omelet of sorts. It is hard to see, but I placed the cut outs from the stars on either side. While this is a texturally interesting meal, I wish I had some greens in it. Even if I had some (I may have some spinach squirrelled away) there wasn't any room for it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to School!

Today I am easing into the bento making. I put a little thought into it, don't get me wrong, but it is pretty standard fare. I didn't even salt the cabbage first. Still, it is pretty and has the things that Pippy likes the most in it, those things chiefly being meatballs and rice. She has found a new love that we share though, Daifuku. I love these things. The mochi is so interesting and the white bean filling is to die for! Love, love, love. I am so glad that we went to Ebisuya this weekend. I also got some fish sausage to try and picked up some aburaage. Apparently I was making the inarizushi wrong. I didn't know I had to cook the aburaage first. Live and learn. The kids liked it the easy way, but I would prefer to get rid of some of the oil.

This is my first post with the camera that a friend gave me. It has way more storage space which I love and now that the pictures are on the computer they are pretty good quality. There goes my excuse for bad photos. Today I made meatballs cooked in Bulldog sauce, there is a daifuku, edamame beans and a coleslaw with too much sesame seeds. I meant to take the little top off but instead removed the big one and poured it over the coleslaw. Thankfully it was before the mayonnaise, so I could get most of it off. There is a new ume on the rice. It is extremely salty and I can't remove the pit so we will see how that goes over. I sufficiently warned the child about it.