Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Day Bento

Since my extended family and I do not see eye to eye on holiday foodstuffs in any way, it was decided this year that we would have our own Christmas meal on the road to their house...

This was a lovely snack to eat in the car and satisfied my husband, myself and my toddler!

Radiatore Pomodore pasta with sage infused cheese bits, baby tomatoes on wreath and x-mas tree stickered toothpicks, croissant with hot mustard, soy bologna, cheddar cheese and lettuce, rolled soy bologna slices, blueberries and three diamonds of almond burfi.

The Santa cookies in the background were inspired by something that I saw on a while back. Unfortumately they seem to have disappeared from the site cause I've looked for them and can't find them!! But I know that's where I saw them.... anyway, they have sugar cookie bases, ice cream cone bodies with icing decorations and sugar star buttons. Inside was a mixture of m&ms, cashews and sultanas.

Holiday Fun Bentos

Top tier: 4 Miniature potato and cheese pierogies, red grapes, steamed broccoli, round tofu bite with nori face, mozzarella scarf and red pepper hat, lemon twist with Gujarati-style Kichdi underneath.

Bottom tier: More kichdi, snap pea christmas tree with mozzarella and sugar dot decorations, more broccoli, a Huge cherry tomato, veggie dog octopus.

Top tier: Cherry tomatoes on the vine, steamed broccoli, lemon slice, miniature pierogies, tofu bite mouse with mozzarella eyes, veggie dog ears and nori whiskers.

Bottom tier: Gujarati Kichdi, snap pea wreath with veggie dog and lemon zest decorations, red pepper bow.

Huge cherry tomato, lemon slice, mini pierogies, mozzarella stars, steamed broccoli, Kichdi, tofu bite lion with veggie dog mane and ears, nori face.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Morrocan Feast Bentos

All bentos: Couscous and morrocan veggie stew in one tier & morrocan marinated tofu triangles, morrocan spice tofu bites wrapped with carrot strings, & baby tomatoes in second tier. (except for my daughter's bento which is all in one tier)

The Morrocan stew included carrots, onions, zucchini and raisins, yum! The tofu bites were a complete spur of the moment experiment involving extra firm tofu, silken tofu, flour, water, carrots, onions & spices made into a really thick batter then rolled in Panko and shallow fried. They were excellent! All three of us liked them a whole lot, so it's a perfect score experiment :)

My daughter's bento is one that we picked up on our trip to India. I found it in a large bin at the RelianceFresh supermarket which was labeled 'lunch box' so I grabbed two. Later I realized that the bags they were wrapped in were labeled as 'pencil box', but decided to use them as bentos anyway. They work really well and my daughter loves them. Even have a perfect place for utensils or pocky on top just like many bento boxes do!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dating from October

These bentos and lunches were all made in October, but I was soooo busy that I never had a chance to post them. So here they are, extremely late (particularly embarrassing is the Halloween theme...) but not totally forgotten. Now that we're back from vacation and starting to get back into our routines again I'm hoping to go back to more regular postings :)

Grilled cheese flower: half swiss & half cheddar, cucumber stem & leaf, pineapple & grape 'hula' dancers, tomato soup with grated parmesan, wheat thins.

Two star onigiri, two corn croquettes, two cherry tomatoes stuffed with steamed broccoli, one two-potato gyoza, all on a bed of lettuce. Carrot and nori jack'o'lantern.

Thai two-potato mixture filled onigiri, storebought veggie gyoza, carrot and nori jack'o'lantern.
Corn croquettes, steamed broccoli, cherry tomato, star crunch yummy cracker thingies.
Thai two-potato mixture filled onigiri, carrot and nori jack'o'lantern, veggie gyoza, cherry tomato, corn croquettes. Maple leaf sweet bean cakes, black berries.

Jasmine rice with carrot flower and black sesame seeds, Japanese wheat cake on the side. Udon noodles with carrot ribbon, more black sesame seeds and steamed broccoli.

Same as above, pretty much, lol. Except the cake had lychee flavor gummy-stuff inside if I remember correctly. At this point we were only a few days away from vacation and the cupboards were depleted of interesting foods so these bentos aren't very colorful.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

On Vacation

We're going on vacation for the next 18 days, so no bentos until we get back! But maybe I'll pick up some more inspirations during our adventures :D

Take care and see you when we return!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hanging around

Inspired by, my bento has:
top tier: somen noodle & veggie stirfry, broccoli bite, steamed broccoli, carrot flower, Korean rice snacks which are a little hot and spicy, very crunchy & oh so yum!
bottom tier: Jasmine rice with tree branch of somen noodle cake & carrot acorns. Swiss cheese & nori faces, cucumber wind streaks.

In the Koala bento: Korean rice snacks, somen noodle & veg stirfry, jasmine rice, steamed broccoli & carrot heart nose, babybel cheese bear that didn't come out very well.

Top tier: Jasmine rice & carrot oak leaves, broccoli bites, steamed broccoli, babybel cheese bear.
Bottom tier: somen noodle & veggie stirfry, steamed broccoli

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fall Udon

Onigiri girl with nori eyes and mouth, pea nose, cucumber hair and carrot bow. Yummy Udon noodles spinkled with black sesame seeds, carrot and pickled radish ginko leaves, grapes and a japanese gummy.

Two triangle onigiri with carrot hearts, cucumber slices and japanese bamboo shaped treat with sweet bean filling. Udon noodles with sesame seeds, skewer of grapes.

Top tier: Plain onigiri sprinkled with black sesame seeds, udon noodles with carrot maple leaves and cucumber decoration, grapes.
Bottom tier: Korean star snacks in cute single serving package with smiley face and hat, japanese wheat treat, cucumber slices and carrot heart, wheat thin crackers, grapes on a skewer and babybel cheese.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Caterpillar in the grass

I hadn't done a caterpillar lunch in a long time, is one on a background of mashed potatoes, made with cheese and pickles, spring onion grass and sugar dot flowers. 2 triangle peanut butter and strawberry sandwiches, apple bunnies and some apple-bunny building block toys. The sandwiches were the only thing that didn't get eaten. My girl just doesn't like them, lol.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pretty Rabbit

Do you often have leftover hot dog buns? I hate it when I always have two leftover in every package! This is one of my solutions: rabbit ears! (Another solution is to crumble them up for breadcrumbs in meatballs, etc. I usually will freeze the crumbled buns until I need them.)

Rabbit: Half a morning star farms chik patty sandwich with tonkatsu sauce. Swiss cheese & nori eyes, swiss cheese teeth, pickled ginger nose, two hot dog buns for ears with swiss cheese details. Green pepper & tomato bow.

Underneath the ears is a lot of broccoli mac'n'cheese, some sweet pickles and a large cherry tomato is in the corner.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Boring Bentos

Top tier: Rice ball with 2-potato filling, string cheese, teriyaki tofu with onions, szechuan sauce in little bottle, mayo dip in the yellow container.

Bottom tier: 2 broccoli bites, 2-potato gyoza, sweet chili garlic sauce in green dog container.
Top tier: teriyaki tofu & onions, string cheese, broccoli bites with mayo dip in the orange kitty container
Bottom tier: rice ball with 2-potato filling, 2-potato gyoza and three little bottles of soy sauce.
I wasn't feeling very well and the boring bentos really reflect that. But they were eaten in the botanical gardens on a nice and sunny afternoon that made me feel a lot better :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Lunch Cuteness Experiment #44

Jasmine rice with butterfly cookie cutter full of green peas, marinated and stir fried tofu, cheddar cheese butterflies, pineapple pieces with grape halves & sugar dots in the center.

It was a lunch that was well received by a hungry toddler and apparently fun to lift off the cookie cutter and watch the peas roll all over the rice!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blue Bear of Happiness

A really quick and simple bento lunch for my toddler. It was a day where she didn't seem to want to eat anything, but the special power of a bento fixed everything! She ate everything in this box, starting with the extra fun of dipping the chik nuggets into the Blue bear's ketchup stash.

Left to right: Cheese & spinach tortellini with tomato cream sauce and grated parmesan, string cheese swirls, sweet pickles, Morningstar Farms Chik nuggets, Blue bear of ketchup goodness.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Yay AWA!!!

AWA was awesome!!!

We had such a great time, and we didn't want to come home. I even found a couple of new bento boxes which I've never seen for sale at an anime convention before! Our Saturday lunch was packed in them and we ate on the floor in the lobby of the Waverly hotel, much more convenient than standing through the lines for the restaurants or going back to our room. We could watch all the cosplayers go by as we munched.

I was sooo nervous about the Bento panel, but it went really well and I still can't believe how many people there were! Thank you very much to all of those who came to the panel, I can't tell you how much I appreciated it. I hope that everyone enjoyed it and maybe got a little inspired to try making bentos. I'm so sorry that I didn't have enough handouts, I honestly thought there wouldn't be many people especially since it was on Sunday so I only made 20 copies. (My husband kept telling me to make more copies but I wouldn't listen.)

Here is a link to the handout, though there isn't all that much information on it. The best thing to do is just get into searching all over and see what all you can find, there is a ton of bento information out there! I will be happy to answer any questions if you want to email me ( and help find answers if I don't know them.


That was one fantastic thing about the bento panel, how many people offered information and tips. Thank you, thank you to everyone who participated and helped answer some of the questions that I couldn't. I learned a lot, too!

These are the two new bentos that I bought in the dealers kawaii! :D I didn't have all that much to pack for bentos since I wasn't expecting to have bentos to use (I had all of my bento gear packed away in a seperate bag in the car for the panel, so close and yet so far away) so they aren't very pretty.

Petite Happy top tier: Peanut butter and jelly rolls, mini oreos and a lychee-coconut jelly.

Petite Happy bottom tier: Garlic and Herb mashed potatoes.

Nontan box: Sundried tomato, basil and parmesan Wheat thin crackers, babybel Gouda, a baby banana

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hand made triangles!

My daughter's bento features heart shaped onigiri from a mold while my husband's and my bentos have hand made triangle ones. I normally don't take the time to make triangle onigiri but just do quick spheres instead, but I think these turned out pretty well.

Left to right: Steamed broccoli, onigiri with origami paper faces, little bottle of soy sauce, baby tomatoes on toothpicks with cute stickers, fuji apple with flower cutout, Morningstar Farms chik nuggets, raw carrot circles, a couple of 'two - potato' gyoza.

Top tier: Triangle onigiri with lemon slice, 'two-potato' gyoza and steamed broccoli.

Bottom tier: Raw carrot circles, baby tomatoes, triangle onigiri with lemon slice, steamed broccoli, Morningstar Farms chik nuggets, little bottle of soy sauce, lemon slice curl for extra color.

Top tier: Morningstar Farms Buffalo Wings (Yay, I get hot stuff, yay!), Fuji apple bunnies, two small triangle onigiri with raw carrot flower decorations. Little bottles: white cap holds soy sauce, red cap holds hot sauce. Hello Kitty tin holds m&ms for my daughter - it's hidden in my bento to be a surprise.

Bottom tier: Steamed broccoli seperated with raw carrot circles, 'two-potato' gyoza and baby tomatoes.

Little bottles: The sauce bottles come with different colored caps, which is very nice! My family knows that the red caps mean hot sauce and never get them mixed up. They are very small so they fit well in the bentos, but they hold a lot more sauce than you'd expect. In order to fill them I pour the sauce that I want into a bowl, squeeze the air out of the little bottle and submerge it in the sauce, let go and the sauce will flow into the bottle. To get it all the way full I do this about 3 times, making sure not to squeeze too hard once some sauce is already in the bottle. (These things make great squirters, be careful!) It's a very messy method and you need to wash the outside of the bottle, not to mention your fingers afterward. I'm sure there must be a better way, but I don't know of one yet.

I try to remember to fill the bottles when I'm also doing some sort of cooking that requires that particular sauce. That way I can just pour the sauce from the bowl into my cooking and not worry about just wasting it or trying to get it back into the sauce's bottle.

Snack Bentos to Share

These tidbits were for a Bellydance Mamas get together. It's not a very spectacular presentation, but taste of the gyoza made up for it! The gyoza were handmade with store bought wonton wrappers. They are 'Two Potato Pot Stickers' from the "Real Vegetarian Thai" cookbook which is one of my favorites! The recipe made a huge amount of filling so I got tons of gyoza out of it which were put in my freezer for quick cooking later, and I still had about half the mix leftover which I used to fill onigiri. The pink toddler bowl in the center contains the sweet hot garlic dipping sauce for the gyoza, another recipe from the same cookbook. The decorative green onion fans give a little bit of color (and were very tasty when dipped into the sauce too!).

In the other bento were uninspired mixed nuts & chex mix.

Green onion fans: Take green onions and cut about a 1.5 - 2 inch section just above the onion bulb. Slice it into lots of thin ribbons from 1/4 of one end all the way through the other end. I use a very large needle to make my slices, by poking it into the onion and pulling it away from the end where I'm holding the onion. It's very quick and easy. The onions will now resemble slightly crazed paint brushes. Put them into a bowl with cold water and a couple of ice cubes until they curl up and fan out. I believe I left these in the water for about 40 minutes, but I'm not altogether certain.


Pirates be lots of fun and an easy bento for the male persuasion. My husband and several of our friends play a game called 'Pirates' which is a card game where you punch out pieces of ships, build the 3-D models of ships and then play a game with them. It's way cool. One of them gave me a duplicate ship and this is what I decided to do with it. An awesome bento accessory, it's even washable with a sponge.

Top tier: Fried rice, half a cherry tomato, steamed broccoli, veggie sausage rolls, pirate ship.

Bottom tier: Fried rice onigiri pirate with nori details, steamed broccoli, french fries, veggie gyoza (store bought), carrot flower, eggless omelette rolled-up.

The pirate was really easy to do. I took dried nori sheets (bought from Walmart, can you believe that?) and cut the bandana, eye patch, eyebrow, pupil and mouth out with scissors. The white of the eye was done with swiss cheese - I just punched a drinking straw into the cheese and got a perfect small circle! That is a tip from one of my favorite bento books, written by the author of

I glued the cheese onto the rice ball with some honey, them did the same for the eyebrow and mouth. The larger pieces of nori didn't need any help as they adhered to the rice very well on their own. The eyepatch first and then the bandana covering its end.

From left to right: Veggie sausage rolls, french fries, veggie gyoza, carrot flower, steamed broccoli, eggless omelette roll-up, tomato half, fried rice.

Veggie sausage rolls, veggie gyoza, eggless omelette roll-up, steamed broccoli, fried rice, carrot flower, tomato wedge. My bento includes two gold coins from the pirates game which ended up in my possession through possibly nefarious means.

My veggie sausage rolls are made with the biscuit crust from my scottish flatpie recipe and morningstar farm's sausage links. The key to keeping the sausage links from getting to dried out is to boil them in vegetable stock straight out of the freezer. Then immediately encase them in the crust once they are cooked through. That way they don't mummify when baked in the oven!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A more traditional bento

Carrot hearts over jasmine rice, sauteed marinated tofu sticks, a cherry tomato half, sweet peas and 3 large carrot coins. A plastic toothpick carries a Hello Kitty sticker mascot.

I received some new bento books in the mail a while back and wanted to try something a little more traditional. (This bento was actually from around Aug. 2nd...I've been feeling really horrible this summer and haven't gotten much posting done on anything. I apologize for the lateness! There are a few more to catch up and then on to recent bentos.)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Monkey faces & sausage skewers

I haven't been feeling good lately, so everything has gotten behind. The following few bento posts are actually from a couple of weeks ago but I didn't feel up to posting. With these three I really wanted to have some fun and be creative.

Top tier: Vegetarian spaghetti, black olives, grapes, strawberries, Zoo Land crackers by Meiji.
Bottom tier: Boca bratwurst circles on bamboo skewers with swiss cheese stars, broccoli, carrots, Morningstar farms broccoli bite, potato and onion pierogies. Spaghetti cups inspired by Biggie, though I didn't freeze them as they were just leftovers from the night before. The next bento has exactly the same stuff in the same tiers...

I was concentrating on this one for some creativity and cuteness. I'm still not quite sure how I feel it came out. In any case, the monkey faces were inspired by Jason and Amanda on

Monkey faces: Morningstar Farms broccoli bites, swiss cheese & black olive details, pink sugar dot cheeks.

Other stuff: Boca Bratwurst circles on bamboo skewer with swiss cheese stars, strawberries, broccoli, potato and onion pierogie.

Stuff I learned:

I really need to remember not to close up the bentos before everything is cooled off! The crackers all got soggy and the cheese stars melted, lol.

Pierogies make excellent bento food!

I can actually change my husband's mind about food: he has rescinded his 'ew, I hate boca bratwurst' comments in favor of a new view where Boca bratwurst is recommended with swiss cheese.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Lunch Cuteness Experiment #I've lost count...

This is the first LCE that my daughter has helped with! She chose the strawberries and where to put them then sprinkled on the black sesame seeds. She was soooo proud of herself! Another boring lunch made more fun. (You may have noticed that we have the rice-peas-carrots combo rather often...)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Smiley Heart Bento

Left to right: Broccoli mac n cheese, swiss cheese hearts with origami paper face, elephant skewer with peas. Vegetarian hot dog flowers with pea centers, blueberries, baby tomato. The green doggie holds ketchup.

I have to say that I am still disappointed with the way the vegetarian hot dogs do for flowers and octopi. They just never seem to come out right. But maybe it's me? Or maybe I should try a different brand?

Flatpie Wedge Bentos

Toddler bowl: Mayo dip for the broccoli bites and carrots.
Bento: Carrot flowers with a baby bok choy leaf for a backdrop. Baby tomatoes, Scottish flatpie wedge, steamed broccoli, blueberries, broccoli bite, blue bear with half ketchup, half spicy mustard.

Top tier: Steamed broccoli, baby tomatoes, broccoli bites, Morningstar Farms Parmesan Chik Patty with swiss cheese shooting star, yellow elephant with half ketchup and half spicy mustard.

Bottom tier: Carrot flowers on a baby bok choy leaf back drop, scottish flatpie wedge, more broccoli bites, blueberries on a stick.

Top tier: 2 scottish flatpie wedges, steamed broccoli, broccoli bites, baby tomatoes.
Bottom tier: carrot flowers, MF parmesan chik patty halves, Taiyaki cookies, blueberries on a stick.

Scottish Flatpie is essentially a biscuit crust with layers of potato and onion slices. This version is a slightly non-scottish version with shredded cheese melted on top (found in one of my fav cookbooks: Biscuits & Scones by Elizabeth Alston). To be vegetarian friendly I use veggie stock instead of chicken stock, I also added some garlic and basil. It's sooo yummy! It's perfect hot from the oven or cold in a bento and it's easy to make one big pie or lots of little ones.

Sticks & Stickers: These are plastic toothpicks between 2 stickers. They are re-usable since the stickers will come off easily (too easily if you ask my daughter)! I've had all these really cute stickers sitting around for ever. Occassionally I just throw one in a bento to liven things up for my toddler, but I wanted to do something a bit more decorative.

The Shooting Star Chik patty needed to be lifted up off the bottom of the bento or it got lost in all the taller food. Solution - a star shaped cookie cutter as a platform underneath. (The star one was the only one that fit under it perfectly.) It created a nice area around the patty to put the other food without covering it up!

Taiyaki cookies: I got these from If you've ever seen Azumanga Daioh you'll be familiar with Taiyaki pastries (think Chiyo-chan eating them in her penguin mascot costume, so cute!). When I saw them at Jbox I had to have some, but had no idea what to expect. They were actually a do-it-yourself kit with a packet of chocolate sauce and some chocolate crunch sprinkles and lots of little fishie cookies. This is fun and somewhat messy, lol. They held together really well and didn't even melt in the summer heat and they were very yum!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Missing Fruit

Here, at long last, is the fruit bento that went with the teddy bear whipped cream and sugar bento! Strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are arranged much more prettily than I had planned. I was running short on patience and on time that day and originally determined to just throw the food into the boxes and run. But when it came time to do it....I couldn't stop myself from trying to make it pretty!
On the bottom tier is a huge bunch of mini pita breads, some tomatoes and the Mei tin filled with black olive hummus, yum!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bear Stack Bento

It isn't truly a bento, but it works like one perfectly! Supposedly it's another thing for restaurants to use for kids' servings just like the Koala tray/box. But I only know that because I bought it from a Restaurant supply store, lol. The only drawback was the lack of a lock or closure system of any kind. A tightly wrapped kitchen towel furoshiki did the trick, though.

Here is the secret to toddler & parent happy snacking all in one. This is my standard 'going-to-a-party-with-children' offering. Whipped cream on the bottom, red sugar in one bowl and green in the other.

It is meant to be served with fruit like strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, things that can be easily dipped into the whipped cream and then into the sugar for a lovely snack bite. The fruit roll-ups flowers were really sweet cause the sugar stuck to the bottom of them! The whipped cream did a similar trick with the bottom of the next tier when I put too much in at once.

I served the same thing at A-chan's birthday last year and the kids were more interested in dipping the fruit than in eating the other sweets!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Balloons Bento

This is the first time that I had an excuse to use my new picnic bento - a humongous 3-tier box that I bought to make a full family picnic easier to pack and to carry. I wasn't expecting it to be quite so big and I had some trouble finding enough food to fill it up! But I absolutely love the huge expanse of rice for making pictures on, and the ease of carrying just one bento instead of three while we hike out to a good picnic spot.

Summer Soba noodles with cucumber, carrot and onion cubes, black sesame seeds & a cherry tomato flower, sauce on the side in little bottles. (Recipe here )

Steamed baby corn, bunches of grapes, carrot flowers, steamed broccoli, mangosteen in the blue cup (canned but yummy), bamboo skewers of baby corn flowers and black olives, more steamed broccoli, Parmesan not-chicken strips, lemon slices, cherry tomato.

Jasmine rice canvas with cheese bunny (she kind of melted a bit cause I put her in before the rice was fully cooled - I'll know better next time!) with origami face and sugar star hairbow, soba noodle balloon strings, lemon peel balloon, tomato peel balloon, cucumber balloon.

Here is the box all wrapped up and ready to go. It did not come with anything to close it so I used an old Kumihimo cord that I had made a while back. It's only a cotton one and not a proper silk cord, but it worked very well to hold the box closed and made it easy to carry.