Thursday, December 28, 2006

Last Day of PG

2 Oranges, a Vegan apple cinnamon swirl loaf, real-honest-to-goodness-delicious Almond Burfi!! A golden 'snowflake' and single blueberry garnish on the burfi diamonds.

The vegan cinnamon swirl loaf takes a pound cake recipe, 1 apple peeled and chopped into small cubes, cinnamon-sugar mix with tons of butter cut into it, soy flour and water paste to replace the eggs. This stuff is really wonderful. It isn't finger food, though, it's incredibly sticky and is amazingly difficult to get out of a toddler's hair.

After having tried making Burfi many times for almost 3 years now and having failed each attempt I finally decided that maybe it was the cookbook that was the problem and not me! So I went online to find a recipe and the one that I chose was not only easy but addictive. It's from

PG Day 4

Limes, mangoes, cashews and strawberry flavored Konnyaku jellies! I added a blueberry to some of the jellies and a drop of food coloring to different parts of the mix for color. They came out very neat, but a little hard to eat. Maybe I cooked the mix a little too long before pouring into the moulds? They were tough to take a bit out of and wanted to stay a single unit. How beautiful they were, though!!

A note about storing the jellies: keeping them in a container in the fridge seems to not be a good storage method, they kind of melted.

More Pancha Ganapati

Apple turnovers with red sugar on top and a circle of slivered almonds, basmati rice with sultanas and cinnamon sticks, two apples. The turnovers I had already made some days before and were being put into the oven frozen. My normal method of finishing them didn't work because as I poured on the melted butter it immediately froze and the sugar would roll right off. I had to pour butter and shake sugar at the exact same time for it to work. The rice and everything else was made into Apple Pulao later in the evening. I'd never made or eaten apple pulao before but wow was it delicious. Rice pudding with apples, raisins, almonds, cinnamon, sugar and cardamom...Yum!!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Lights viewing Bentos

We were planning on going to view some holiday lights this evening so I was looking forward to making dessert bentos for us. But as the day wore on it became obvious that my husband and daughter were too sick to go out. So...what better than a dessert bento to cure the horrible icky funk of the dreaded cold? In other words, I had the idea for the bentos and I couldn't bear not making them!
Cashews, miniature brownies, Shagapare, mistake fudge and sesame snaps wrapped in aluminum foil to keep them from sticking to everything. Since we weren't actually going anywhere I didn't try to make things fit with a lid on.

Pancha Ganapati sweets continued

A bowl of blueberries, a bowl of uncooked rice with sultana decoration, cashews and something I am choosing to call "mistake fudge". The fudge was originally supposed to be Almond Burfi. I have never been able to make Burfi and this time was no exception. It came out gooey and refused to set. It tasted wonderful but the only way to eat it was with a fork. Determined not to let the yummy goodness go to waste I decided to experiment further and put it in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. It came out as wonderful bars of almond fudge-like substance. They are easy to pick up and eat and incredibly addictive.

Pancha Ganapati sweets

The diamond shaped sweets are an Indian dessert called Shagarpare. I had never tried them before or even heard of them but the recipe was in the "1000 Indian recipes" book and I wanted to try something new. I have absolutely no idea if they came out anything like what they are supposed to be, but the did come out very yummy! They are a bit like someone used a steamroller to flatten out donuts. The dough is rolled and cut to shape then deep fried after which the pieces are rolled in sugar syrup and left to cool. I went a step further with my experiment and put some food coloring in the syrup which looks a little wierd in the finished product but makes it look a lot more interesting on the plate :)

On the right is a plate of Sesame snaps, one of my all time favorite candies. It reminds me a bit of peanut brittle. Again the original recipe came out of the "1000 indian recipes" book but I modified it just a tad by lessening the amount of sesame seeds to sugar ratio. I love the taste of more sesame seeds, but it's much harder to cut the snaps when they are thicker with the sesame seeds.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gyoza accepted! (LCE #15)

Grapes and blueberries, 2 piles of Maruchan Teriyaki Yakisoba, corn in star container, 2 miniature veggie Gyoza, 2 triangle onigiri with carrot slices on top, 1 star onigiri with Mrs. Dash 'Furikake'.

The results of my first try at making gyoza were yummy! Even A-chan liked them which is about as amazing as it can get. A million thanks to where I found the 'making gyoza tutorial' which gave me the courage to try it! It was much easier than I was expecting to do the pleats. I made a batch of regular ones for myself and my husband, then a batch of miniatures for A-chan. They were frozen and then cooked as per Cookingcute's instructions straight from the freezer. I used a few different ingredients than she had in her recipe so I was a bit nervous before the first bite, but we all agreed that they were delish!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

LCE #14

Grilled cheese hearts, cheese letters on veg pepperoni backgrounds, tomato soup. Sides of carrot & pickle flower, strawberry slices. The pepperoni was rejected but everything else got eaten including the carrots! The soup and strawberries were a shoe-in of course, they are very much favorites :)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Picnic Bentos

We were planning to go visit friends in South Carolina today but they had to cancel at the last minute. So we decided to go to the Botanical Gardens for a picnic instead. I already had the Forfar Bridies made up and in the freezer, it just took 15 minutes to cook them. Mine are vegetarian renditions of the old scottish favorite, with Morningstar Farms crumbles in place of beef. They are a family favorite, even A-chan eats them without balking! Luckily she doesn't like the HP sauce so there was more for me who can't get enough of the stuff.

The adult bridies were cut to look like kitty faces but they didn't come out quite right. They also didn't really fit into the bentos and had to have corners pinched off to get the tops on. I love how A-chan's smiley face bridies ended up, so cute!
We also had tomato parmesan pasta, blueberries and strawberries, grape tomatoes & green bell pepper garnishes.

Forfar Bridies? What? They are old scottish pastry meat pies typically made in half-moon shapes. The ingredients are beef, onions, beef broth and ground mustard. My version has soy crumbles, onions, mushroom broth, garlic and ground mustard.

HP sauce?Huh? It is a fantastic sauce a little bit like A-1 but much thicker and richer. It has dates and tamarind in it and anything with tamarind in is yummy! I don't know what most people eat it with...bridies and HP sauce are forever married in my mind. I fell in love with the combination at Scottish Highland Games as a kid and now it's quite stuck that way :)

Saturday Gaming Bento

A quick bento for my husband to take to his Saturday-once-in-a-blue-moon game with all his guy friends. Actually a healthy lunch on a game day, woot! I used to make peanut butter sandwiches and he'd have cookies and chips. So...he still had cookies and chips, but at least he had some healthy stuff beforehand.

Top tier: Strawberry, blueberries, babybel cheese (we're addicted to that stuff, can't you tell?), Maruchan's Teriyaki Yakisoba with carrot flower.

Lower tier: Buttered jasmine rice with green peas and sesame carrots.

He seemed to like it pretty well, though he did take my soy sauce with him which made it impossible for me to cook my gyoza later. We will soon be getting some bento soy sauce bottles so that this tragedy can never happen again.

LCE #13

Shooting Star, weee hooo :) Morningstar Farms Chik patty with cheese star & carrot star in the center. Mashed potatoes with green peas make up the tail.

Sides of blueberries & a strawberry, pickles and cut-out star carrot.

A-chan loved the mashed potatoes and actually ate the peas. (it's always been strange that she would eat champ which is potatoes & peas & onions but never eat peas on their own. If I mix them with mashed potatoes they suddenly become yummy.) I managed to bribe her into eating the carrots by giving her extra blueberries after each bite of carrot. Again, I'm figuring that anything is better than nothing :)

Friday, December 15, 2006

LCE #12

It's not exactly a bento, I know. I really enjoy decorating my daughter's high chair tray for lunches though. And it's a great practice arena for bento making because I need to try things on a large scale before trying them in tiny bento boxes!

A very simple lunch today, but an old favorite. Pickles and a tomato heart, spaghetti noodles with a tomato flower, babybel cheese flowers with grape centers, tomato soup, grapes.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Holiday Shopping Snack Bento

A small snack for A-chan during our holiday shopping excursion. We were planning to stop at a restaurant and have dinner, but they never bring food out soon enough for an impatient toddler. The waitress seemed a bit surprised that we brought her a snack :)
Dried fruit, pretzels & 3 baby tomatoes. The bribe of the day (m&ms) was hidden inside the elephant container.

LCE #11

The first try at Hello Kitty decorations!

From left to right: Blueberries, Mashed potato mountain with peas and 1 carrot, Morningstar Farms Chik patty, tomato heart open faced sandwiches.

Hello Kitty: cheese, nori eyes and whiskers, veg pepperoni nose and bow, surrounded by a ring of ketchup (I really need a squeeze bottle!)

Having just a very small portion of veggies really did the trick! A-chan ate the carrot first thing and though she didn't eat all the peas, she did eat two big bites of them. I figure anything is better than nothing! The Hello Kitty was a big h
it and so were the tomato hearts.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A day out

It seems like all other bento enthusiasts have their bentos during the week for work or school, but we always have them on the weekends. Here is a huge pic of bentos for the whole family for a day out of town with friends. It's a bit dated cause I've been lazy about getting it up...

For descriptions of the food please visit my flickr pages:
Mata bento:
Dada bento:
A-chan bento:

Temple and monk

A growing collection of film cannisters was invading my kitchen workspace so I finally decided to get some of them developed. I was amazed to find 2 rolls of film from our Thailand trip (in Feb!) that hadn't been remembered. After looking at them I obviously got inspired/crazy at lunchtime...

Temple of veg hotdogs with ketchup walls & pickle steps.

Pickle palm trees and grape "coconuts", mac 'n' cheese beach.

Monk of babybel cheese cut interestingly, robes of Lay's cheese & sourcream potato chips.

Elephant container hides leftover cheese bits from the monk, potato chip body and veg hotdog tail.

A-chan really enjoyed this one! She quickly ate up the beach, trees and steps but didn't want to "break the house" so I had to give her bites of the hotdog :) The elephant was very much a hit.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fried Rice Experiment Bentos

Game night Bentos!
Not eating eggs (in an overt form) has cut quite a few old favorite recipes out of my repetoire, so I've been lately working on making reasonable substitutes. Of course they are reasonable subs if you keep in mind that we've been vegetarian for nigh on ten years now and can't remember how real eggs taste. :) I have conquered the eggless omelette version 1 and decided last night to expand that into fried rice which we haven't had in gah! so many years. It came out pretty darn tasty! Even my husband liked it and he wasn't a fan of fried rice to begin with. I paired it up with Maruchan's instant Teriyaki Yakisoba for an easy to prepare meal during a gaming night. (What better time to experiment with food that may or may not come out edible than when you've been pigging out on cakes, donuts, chips and chocolates all day?)
Egz for Fried Rice version 1.0
1/2 pkg silken tofu
1/4 cup cold water
1 dash turmeric
1 dash garlic
1 dash ginger
1 dash parsley
4 TB all purpose flour
some oil
  1. Beat silken tofu with a fork in a bowl, add water and spices.
  2. Mix in flour bit by bit.
  3. Heat a some oil in a hot pan and pour in half of the mixture. Let sit to cook for several minutes, checking for browning/burning on the bottom. (be careful with utensils getting stuff stuck to them, it's very clingy until fully cooked.)
  4. Put in the rice and veg and stir all together. Cook fried rice as usual. (the tofu mixture seemed to be absorbed into the rice a lot, you couldn't see it in there as an individual ingredient at all.)
  5. When rice is done take it out and let is cool for a moment while cooking the rest of the Tofu mixture.
  6. Heat a goodly amount of oil in the pan then pour in the other half of the mix. Spread into a thin layer. (It was easy to get holes in the layer, but I didn't think it mattered since it was going to be mixed with the rice.) Let it "fry" until it seems a solid mass and can be turned. Turn and cook until getting a bit brown.
  7. Remove from pan and tear or chop into bits, add bits to rice.

Note: My fried rice has peas, onions, carrots, & tons of soy sauce in it. Any other ideas for veggies to put into fried rice?

Friday, December 8, 2006


A-chan has been picky about eating rice lately (she normally loves it and used to eat tons of it!) so I needed a way to get her excited about having rice for lunch.

She provided inspiration herself by asking me to read her snowman book and I went Aha! A snowman would be easy to make, right? It was, believe it or not. And she loved the pickle scarf very much.

Snowman: 1/2 cup rice & 1/4 cup rice, veg pepperoni hat & mouth, carrot nose (woot!) and buttons, pickle eyes, scarf and buttons. Nori arms.

Tic tac toe board: Nori strips with marinated tofu squares and flowers.

Sides: apple bunnies and squares, green peas.

The fact that she did eat most of it (no peas got eaten, she tried the nori but spat it out) was almost as good as the fun I had making it. Do you remember being told not to play with your food as a child? Now I do it all the time. I guess I'll have to stop telling A-chan not to play with her food...

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Lunches again

Yay! The fishy did it :) My daughter actually ate the whole sandwich. (In pieces, bit by bit, but all of it) Soy turkey and cheese fishy, green pea bubbles. Apple underwater plant thingies. Mac 'n' cheese.

Soy turkey, cheese and bread roll with little green pick. (wow, that got eaten too!) Green animal picks with 2 black olives each.

Green peas on the side were distributed into the mac n cheese and then back out again. Total eaten: zero.

Silly face inspired by the remarkable pickle that was just perfect for a smiling mouth. Spaghetti noodle hair & cheese slices for eyes. Small piles of grated parmesan for cheeks, tiny bit of veg pepperoni for a nose. Accompanied by blueberries, tomato soup and more pickles.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Birthday Strawberries

Strawberries & more mochi/daifuku!
This platter was to go with the Caterpillar one to have instead of cake. Not shown are little cups of cool whip for people to dip the fruit into and then into a colorful sugar mix. That was awesomely delicious. My nori decorations All of the foreign treats were a big hit with my family who are notorious for not trying anything new. However, my aunt did keep referring to them as UFOs. A-chan ate about 6 or 7 of them all by herself and just as many strawberries. The best thing about having these instead of cake is that there were none left over! I bought according to the number of guests and they all got eaten. We weren't forced (haha) to eat leftover cake for several days.

Birthday Caterpillars

Caterpillars for A-chan's birthday!
Instead of a cake we had orange, melon & strawberry daifuku (I have no idea what the plural is for daifuku...). Strawberry mochi are my daughter's absolute favorite sweet (which inspired her blog
They rest upon a bed of dried coconut shreds, have nori faces, green bean legs and green bean antennae. Inside the Totoro bento box is blueberries with sugar & colored sugar crystals to dip them into after they've been dipped in cool whip, yum!!

More lunchtime experiments

Not very interesting, but better than nothing: spaghetti noodles with grated parmesan and tomato flower. Cheese cut-outs of leaves and acorns. Blueberries. Tomato soup with grated parmesan sprinkled on. Pickles and baby tomatoes.

Mac & cheese (with broccoli bits mixed in) cat face with peas for eyes and nose and inner ears. Veggie dog whiskers. Tomato flower with peas in the center, veggie dog stem and leaves. blueberries and pretzels. The CAT is ketchup. Luckily A-chan loved the ketchup spelling the word, but the peas from the kitty face all ended up with the other peas in the tomato flower, uneaten.

Lunchtime experiments at cuteness

A rice "flower" with babybel center and green pea leaves. Teriyaki noodles with tomato flowers. Dried bananas and strawberries. (I put the cheese on the rice before it was cool and the cheese melted into it. Interesting but ultimately a bad idea)

Babybel bunny with nori face and soy nugget ears. (and ketchup on the ears) Dried bananas and apples. Garlic bagel toast "flower" with blueberry center, sweet midget pickle stem and leaves. Garlic mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Experimental Scariness

Tonight's dinner was one of those 'do over' moments. I should have just quit when I found out that the green beans were rotten. (i'd let them sit for too long, darn it!) But no, I forged ahead. Even when I realized that I had no flour. I just went ahead and scraped things together, lol.

Sweet and Sour cauliflower: boiled cauliflower battered in a mixture of silken tofu, water, bread crumbs and rice farina then deep fried. Sweet and sour sauce mixed with water, huge amounts of sugar & soy sauce. grew in flavor as it was eaten. The batter turned out nice and crunchy.

Marinated Tofu: was originally going to be part of the sweet and sour dish but I didn't have enough batter or sauce. Marinated with onion slices in soy sauce, classic stir fry sauce and teriyaki sauce mixture then sauteed. Yummy!

Noodle Thing: Tomorrow is grocery day so I was limited in what I had to work with in order to replace the sesame green beans that we were going to have. Spaghetti noodles, onion slices & carrot slices pan fried in sesame oil, soy sauce and eggless omelette mixture (silken tofu, water, bread crumbs, spices). Edible.

I don't think my kitchen will recover quickly. Just about every clean dish I had was used in the making of this experiment. :)