Yes, it's another Hello Kitty bento... but I'm just so excited to be making cute girly bento now for a change! I hope you can bear with me. I'm sure the novelty will wear off sometime soon; after all, I can't possibly think of many more HK ideas. Luckily there are lots of other girly characters we can try. This one looks kind of strange because the steamed chicken bao is pinched on top and there are onions or something on top as well. She looks like she was playing outside and needs a bath soon, hehe! You can use a bao to make her yourself -- it's really very easy and quick. All I did was cut some radish ears, a strawberry flower, grape eyes, yellow pepper nose and then added spaghetti whiskers. Voila, you're done! On the side I added some kiwi flowers, sliced peaches and cherries. I also get to use my Hello Kitty fork that is embossed with her image and name (there's a matching spoon too). Yay!
Here's the next installment of kawaii quail egg bento: baby Hello Kitty! I just happened to have been given the perfect red bow by a super-sweet bento pal, and so what else could I do? It's obviously Hello Kitty's bow! The quail egg has cheese stick ears, rice stick whiskers, nori eyes and a mustard nose. The rest of TinySprite's snack consists of cherries, white nectarine slices, steamed broccoli, carrots, grapes and salami. These little bento snacks are a lot of fun to make! I think I can get used to this. ^_^
Well, it turns out that MisterMan's Summer Adventures program received a grant this year, thus enabling them to provide breakfast, lunch and snacks for the kids all the rest of the summer! In this age of budget cutbacks, it's kind of nice to see the kids get some benefit for a change. Of course, my boy is more than happy to enjoy eating with his pals at the pizza and fruit table. He even forgoes breakfast at home so he can have a bagel and banana over there. How funny. So where does that leave me? No bento in summer? *sob* Well, let's not forget about TinySprite! She's still home with me, and when she starts preschool I'll be providing lunch for her there too -- so no worries.
Today I made her a My Melody pork & veggie bao to go in her matching bento box. I've had this box awhile but don't usually use it since it's so deep. It's perfect for this bun though. To the steamed bao I added ears cut from nitrite-free ham, grape eyes, yellow pepper nose and nori mouth. I made a couple of carrot flowers for her ear as well. The other section is just right for grapes, strawberries and yellow tomatoes. The cover has two side latches and is decorated with My Melody's face; it also comes with a lid that holds a matching spoon. So cute. I haven't posted girly bento in awhile, have I? This might be a fun change for me too! ^_^
Can you see Carl Fredricksen and Russell? And their tomato balloons? I showed it to MisterMan and he said right away "Oooh, I know him -- he's the young Wilderness Explorer!" So I guess I did ok :) There's also some salmon, broccoli, lettuce baran, and carrot flowers. Underneath is also a layer of very cool rice: I made white + black quinoa and it came out pretty neat-looking. Fruit side includes cherries, white nectarine, homegrown apricot and blueberries.
Wonder what else I can do with quail eggs?
They've sure been a lot of fun to play with this summer!
We watched Ponyo yesterday, such a sweet and funny film by Studio Ghibli. It really spoke to me, as so much of it centers around the sea. Have you seen it? I especially loved the scenes where Ponyo is running on the giant fish to find Sosuke. She's so joyful you can't help but smile. Something else I noticed is that Ponyo kind of reminds me of TinySprite, in her very um.. high-energy way. Like when they're on the boat and Sosuke is trying to start it while Ponyo is bouncing and chatting non-stop (Is it hot? It's hot isn't it? Are you starting it? Is it starting? It's starting! Yay! Is it working? It's working!)
Today's bento is a tribute to Ponyo using one of my field trip favorites, the char siu bao. I cut her hair and fins from sweet pepper, and tucked some broccoli in the fishbowl as well. Her eyes are blueberries and her nose and mouth are nori stuck on with honey. I should have taken a picture of the (recycled) bowl with the clear lid on, since it kind of looked like a bubble or jellyfish. So cute. The other (recycled blueberry) box contains the fruit: strawberries, grapes, cherries and homegrown apricot. Yes, it's field trip day! They're going to the Lawrence Hall of Science. Have fun, MisterMan!
Quick-baked chicken bites get packed in a lettuce leaf wrap next to some steamed broccoli, tiny heirloom cherry tomatoes and a sleeping quail egg kitty. I tried to make a gray kitty using blueberry juice for fun. I should have let it sit longer in the dye but I ran out of patience. I added nori facial details, radish ears, rice stick whiskers and tail, and a teeny spot of sriracha for cheeks. This is a single quail egg cut in half. I was happy to find a curly tail; isn't it cute? Fruit tier has white nectarine, blueberries, homegrown apricot and lychee. You may be asking, is this box new? Nope; I've had this urara box for a long time just sitting in my cabinet. I also have the onigiri snack set too (and the matching fork, come to think of it). I really don't know why I never used it, but I'm using it today because I just got a new insulated tote bag for my boy, and it's tall and narrow. The stainless and 3-sectioned bento boxes I usually use won't fit in it, so I find I'm having to dig these two tier boxes out and give them a try. What do you think?
Today's bento contains more ravioli; this time tomato-basil-spinach whole wheat ravioli. Instead of using the ravioli for a face, I added an egg decorated as Pikachu. For some reason my beet didn't stain the hen's egg as well as it did the quail egg from the Kiiroitori bento; not sure why. After dyeing the egg yellow, I cut two ears and added nori detail for ear tips, eyes and nose. His cheeks are imitation crab and his mouth is salami. I poked a few roasted asparagus in the gaps to keep his ears in place as well. The fruit side has lychee, homegrown apricot and dark red super sweet plums. These were so juicy they were practically liquid when I cut them. Of course, I can't remember the variety since I bought a whole bunch of different ones from a bunch of different farmers' markets last week. I packed everything in the cute Pokemon bento box I got at Ichiban Kan. It's kind of small, but the small size means things are packed more closely together and hopefully stay in place somewhat. When MisterMan got home he told me one of the visiting dads, Mr. L, took a picture of this bento to show Mrs. L. Hope she liked it. Hehe! ^_^
Green striped ravioli? Had to make something out of that, but what? I used a halved quail egg and nori dots for eyes and a red capsicum for tongue, and was hoping it would look like a toothy crocodile. But TinySprite said "Frog!" so... you decide. I squeezed in some carrot flowers and would have added fluffy broccoli on top of his head, but I was out of that veggie. Fruit section has sugar plum quarters, a single strawberry cherry, lychee and black grapes. A quick and easy bento during what is turning out to be a non-cooking summer. ^^
Can you guess what day it is? That's right: field trip! They're going to visit a working farm with tractors and everything. I packed another recycled strawberry tub for him, with the standard field trip fare -- sandwich, veggies and fruits.
But this burger is even more awesome than yesterday's. I used the same burger mix and stuffed today's burger with cheese and salami, then pan-fried. The cheese oozed out the side and got all crispy and golden around the edge of the burger, and the parts of the salami that stuck out got crispy-fried too. Yum. And remember, he still gets the carrot and broccoli bits in the turkey burger too. Super score. I lay some dandelion greens in the whole wheat bun and placed the patty on top. I found these little buns and thought they would make a cute Rilakkuma. I used Susan's idea for raisin eyes and nose (but I later pb'd them on), and added a radish muzzle and nori mouth. His ears are salami rounds. And Kiiroitori is there too, to make sure he doesn't fall asleep. I dyed a hard-boiled quail egg with golden beet juice, and it turned a super dark shade of yellow. I love it, especially since it's totally natural! Facial details and feet are nori and carrot. I used grass baran to keep the fruit and veggies separate from the bread. Along with carrot sticks and romanesco, I tossed in a bunch of strawberry cherries, a half plum and a homegrown apricot.
Around here the summerlike weather doesn't kick in until around lunchtime, so by the time dinner comes around we're feeling in the outdoor mode. We made sliders, or rather super turkey mini-burgers that I "improved" with all kinds of secret stuff! You can do the same. Use your favorite burger recipe -- mine uses turkey (or chicken), an egg, a splash of Worchestershire, crushed garlic, minced onion, a half cup of rolled oats -- and I mixed in finely grated carrot and not-so-finely chopped broccoli. Yes, broccoli! You can see the bits in the patties here if you look closely. I like chunky burgers, and the tiny broccoli pieces cook up nicely while the patties are frying or grilling. You can add any kind of veggies you like; whatever you have available in your fridge. If you serve with homemade barbeque sauce (ketchup, maple syrup, mustard powder, celery seeds, lemon juice to taste) your kids won't even notice. So good.
I put the patties on a lettuce leaf so he can tear and eat them in lettuce wraps (Protein Style), and I added a cherry tomato and yellow bell pepper butterfly along with carrot flowers. Fruit side has black grapes, a half plum, a half peach and a couple of lychee. Oh, and a bunch of forest friends, since otherwise it's a pretty dull-looking bento. Yay!
I'm on a "roll"! Get it? No sushi or kimbap today, but whole wheat bread rollups. These eight mini rollups resulted from two slices of bread, flattened with a glass jar (or rolling pin, but mine wasn't handy), then smeared with cream cheese, layered with arugula, capers, and smoked salmon, then rolled up tightly and sliced. Like sushi, hehe! I even gave him a pair of chopsticks to eat them with, for fun. To fill in the gaps I stuck steamed yellow cauliflower and romanesco. Also broccoli, strawberry cherries and yes, homegrown apricot. Another fresh summery bento, to go!
I have been thinking about pancake sandwiches ever since I saw the picture of one in Yum-Yum Bento Box cookbook that I referred to in my mouse post. Well, I didn't get around to making a real sandwich because I wanted to try adding vegetables to the batter in order to improve the nutritious quality of these pancakes, and by then the little girl was too impatient to wait for a sandwich. I used beet juice and grated zucchini to this batch and I was hoping it would turn red so I could cut them into cute heart shapes, but I think I need to use a lot more beets for that to happen. The zucchini bits made the batter less than smooth, so the reverse of the pancakes turned out kind of lumpy as well. At least one side looks pretty good, and it's cool that she's getting a whole grated zucchini and a baby beet (for the entire batch -- which made about 12 pancakes) along with her lunch! I used a silicone flower shape to pour the batter in, and it works a lot better than metal shapes (in my experience). You don't even have to spray the silicone at all; it just pulls away cleanly as soon as the pancake is cooked on the bottom. For my 3 year old, I smeared cream cheese between two pancakes and added a chocolate chip face. She also got a little cup of edamame, a homegrown apricot, some sweet cherries and a lychee. All packed up in our new Hello Kitty bento box that I got in Little Tokyo over the 4th of July weekend. So cute.
I am often influenced by food tweets on twitter, and yesterday everyone seemed to be having Korean food. I saw a pic of kimbap go by, and clicked to find a recipe for making shoyu tuna kimbap. Well, I didn't have tuna but I did have sardines. Could I substitute? Before you go "eww", I have to say, it came out really good! I adapted a recipe by Maangchi I found here.
Make seasoned tuna flakes
1.Open a can of tuna and remove the oil or water. Put it on a heated pan and drizzle some sesame oil over it. Toss it and cook it for 2 minutes.
2.Add 1 tbs of soy sauce, ½ tbs of sugar, 1 clove of minced garlic, and 1 ts of ground black pepper.
3.Keep stirring for another 3 minutes.
4.Turn off the heat and add 1 chopped green onion, 2 ts of sesame oil and 1 tbs of toasted sesame seeds.
I also realized I didn't have avocados or pickled radish, but I did have cucumber and crab stick. After cooking the shoyu sardines, it smelled so good I ate some straight out of the pan. Yum. Even better rolled up. I put almost the entire roll in his bento, two-deep. This stainless steel bento is deep enough to accomodate pretty tall food. I separated the kimbap from the fruit with a piece of green leaf lettuce and placed a bunch of Rainier cherries, a lychee and a half homegrown apricot on the side. There is shoyu in the yellow container. I used a dipping container instead of a squirt bottle so that he wouldn't have to squirt the shoyu all over the rest of the food. So good, quick and easy!
Can you tell by now this is field trip day? I have lots more recycled containers for the rest of the summer too. I was going to make him a pizza bento, but while I was at the deli I saw this hot dog bun. If I tilted it on end you would see the hot dog baked inside the fluffy bun. Remember in elementary school we had something similar called Pig in the Blanket? On the side, separated by wax paper, I added the veggies: steamed broccoli, yellow cauliflower and romanesco, and raw carrot flowers. In the little (recycled fruit sauce) cup I tossed in the fruits: strawberry cherries (which I think are just Rainier cherry variety), homegrown apricot, grapes and a little lychee. I left his "hat" on for fun. Usually I like to put a leaf pick in the lychee, but I'm not using any accessories that I want to keep, since they probably wouldn't make it back home on the bus.
When I was looking at the plain bun, it seemed a little boring, but nothing was coming to me. So I decided it would be a good opportunity to open up my Yum-Yum Bento Box cookbook and find some inspiration. That's where I saw this cute little mousie! He is made of boiled quail egg, with radish ears, nori facial details and rice stick whiskers and tail. The tail has a double use as an anchoring tool; I poked it all the way down into the bun to keep him stabilized. He still looked a bit lonely, so I added a piece of egg disguised as swiss cheese. I made the holes using a coffee straw.
If you think this idea is cute, wait till you see the rest of the book.
Yum-Yum Bento Box, by Pikko of Adventures in Bentomaking and Maki of cuteobento is filled with full-color full-page photos of cute bento creations, each accompanied by another full page of description, instruction, recipe and helpful tips. I found it very useful for getting ideas for cute charaben. Even if you don't make the entire example, there are tips for using just one of the characters, like I did here. In the book, the mouse is sitting on top of a cute pancake sandwich. I personally love pancake sandwiches so I am definitely going to make this too.
In the back there are a few pages of recipes for snacks and my personal favorite, tips for using natural coloring agents.
My absolute favorite character in this book is the walruses. It is just so adorably creative to use a tiny rice ball for their muzzle, and the mushroom nose is perfect!
At $16.95 in softcover, it's a reasonable and practical addition to any bentomaker's library. Even if you're not skilled at charaben, like me, you will find these characters easily doable and a fun addition to your everyday bento!
More warm weather is on the way here, and I thought sushi would be a nice way for MisterMan to have lunch. I made a white & brown sushi rice mix with quinoa, and made a roll using steamed carrot and asparagus. For added protein I also made some tamagoyaki, which I decorated with nori faces and cute picks. The hat and heart picks are both part of gifts from thoughtful bento pals, and I guess they know how much of an accessory fanatic I am because I am SO excited to add them to my collection!! I wanted to add more yellow heart picks all over to suggest a lion's mane, but I restrained myself. I tossed in a few extra asparagus pieces since there was room on the sushi side, and on the other side I placed bright red "strawberry" cherries, some lychee and some homegrown sweet Blenhein apricots. I put shoyu for sushi in the bottle.
Isn't this a unique bento box? It is actually a sushi container, made especially to carry two makizushi rolls. There is a narrow slot in the center to hold a pair of chopsticks, and a separate section I assume for shoyu (or maybe pickled ginger). It's so cool I could barely stand it. I got this one and a single one (half the size, holds only one roll). The lid is domed too, to accomodate the roll. Told you = too cool!
This 4th of July bento was meant to be a star-themed snack for TinySprite. In the upper left section she gets cottage cheese with a red plum and kiwi star encircled by blueberries; the lower left has two small corn cobs, halved grapes and more kiwi stars; upper right has taro bread nutella star-shaped mini sandwiches with a strawberry and celebratory star picks; and the lower right has a fruit bar with carrot cutouts wishing her and you a Happy 4th of July!
For MisterMan's field trip today he had to bring a fully disposable bento lunch, so I turned to my favorite (recycled) strawberry pack. If you buy strawberries in boxes like this one, with a snap-close lid, you might find it useful to save them for similar occasions. They nest together pretty well and store neatly. I made a roasted red pepper and cheddar melt sandwich on bread so brown and rectangular it spoke a clear message to me: Domokun! So of course I had to comply. All I had to add was red capsicum mouth with radish teeth and halved grape eyes. RAWR!
I also added a ripe strawberry, some carrots and broccoli, and baby dills wrapped in ham. A few dark red cherries helped fill up the rest of the space, making sure everything stayed packed in pretty tightly. I stuck to mainly "dry" extras to avoid soggifying the sandwich. Everything got wrapped in wax paper before snapping shut the lid. So you see I was able to get away with really simple bento lunches this week. Something about summer makes me want to spend as little time as possible laboring over a hot stove, and this way the bento is nearly all utensil-free and kid-friendly. Happy long weekend friends!
I am a former research scientist turned stay-at-home-mom of 2 who got started with bento in an effort to help my kids learn that eating healthy and nutritious foods can be fun and cute. I make a bento lunch for my 13yo (8th grader) son & my 9yo (4th grader) daughter every school day, and post the pictures on my sherimiya ♥ flickr photostream. Here in this blog is where I describe each bento, and you'll also get a peek inside our family adventures. Thanks for taking a look, and please let me know what you think ^-^!