Friday, April 27, 2007

Daring to be different Bentos

Normally I fix the same thing for all three of us because it is so much easier than cooking seperate dishes, especially for bento meals. However, while my daughter and I are spicy food fanatics my husband is a mild loving guy. Every once in a while I cook up two batches of stir fry at the same time and make one nice and hot while the other is mild and calm. I then freeze them in single serving size containers and whenever I'm hankering for a hot thai curry I can pop them out and quickly serve up a meal that suits all of us. This was one of those times!
Top tier: Stirfry with marinated tofu, alphabet french fries that spelled out JOY, baby tomatoes and peas on skewers, one red bean mochi with yellow star sprinkles.

Bottom tier: Thai sticky rice with carrot sun and fruit by the foot flowers.

Left: Thai sticky rice with Spicy thai tofu checkerboard & green peas.
Right: Thai Green Curry, Extra Hot!!! Tiny carrot flowers.

Top tier: Mild asparagus stir fry with marinated tofu, baby tomatoes & green peas.
Bottom tier: thai sticky rice, carrot flowers & snap pea leaves with black sesame seeds.

LCE #39

How many ways can one make a boring lunch fun to eat? This is pretty much one of our staple lunches and it can be seen many times in this blog :) Rice, peas, sesame carrots. Sometimes with tofu, sometimes with corn croquettes, sometimes with corn. Luckily it is a favorite meal for my toddler, but it is still boring. So making it into a flower made it a fun lunch!

Left to right: Grapes with Envirokidz Cheetah Chomps Cereal, flower of thai sticky rice, peas, sesame carrots and 1 corn croquette. As always there was soy sauce and hot sauce on the side!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Super H Mart Loot, Part 1

This luscious looking tray of mixed cakes was what I was truly looking for when I went to this store. I had seen the maple leaf one in pkceres' bento pics on and had to try it! They did have a tray that was completely full of maple leaf cakes, but I thought the assortment looked like more fun. I have absolutely no idea what to call any of them and I can only guess at what's inside them, even after tasting each one!
#1 - I think it was a white bean filling in a soft cake outer. Very good.
#2 - These were my favorite. Sweet red bean filling in an outer layer that reminded me strongly of ice cream cones. Yum!
#3 - Sweet potato-ish filling in a dense cake outer. My toddler's favorite.
#4 - White bean filling in a dense yellow cake. Not as good as the other, in my opinion :)
#5 - Soft white cake with sweet red bean filling inside. My husband's pick.
I would so buy these again when we go back. Which hopefully will be a while because my diet is really suffering right now!

The octagonal Pizza Snack wasn't a big hit with my family, which is surprising considering how much they (okay, we) love pizza. They are kind of like a puffed chip, a puffy cheeto for example, in texture and not as crunchy as chips or crackers. The flavor was very subtle and was different for each of us. My husband thought it tasted like how he thought fried pig's ears would taste, not a high recommendation in this vegetarian family, lol. My daughter wasn't so pleased with them either, though she ate more than her father did. I, on the other hand, thought they tasted of parmesan cheese, tomato sauce and basil - just very lightly. My final opinion was that they were edible but I don't know if I would buy them again.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

LCE #38

I didn't have much to work with in the way of cuteness for this lunch, so I made it educational instead! A-chan didn't seem to mind and she enjoyed counting the stars and wheel spokes and reading the word so I still consider it a success.
Left to right: strawberries & grapes, pasta salad, cheese stars, soy hot dog strips, terra exotic chips (candy beet, purple potato & something else that I can't remember right now.).
I read somewhere when I first began feeding A-chan solid food that hotdogs were the most dangerous of all foods for toddlers because of the way they are shaped. When a toddler bites off a round of hotdog it is perfectly sized and shaped to block the airway if they mistakenly inhale. So I began to cut all hot dogs into strips to avoid any mishap. She seems to like the ability to dip them into sauces just like french fries so all is happy. It will be fun to start doing other things with them once she gets older, though!

One Cute Kitty Bento

This was my husband's bento lunch for a day away from us (this happens extremely rarely...) and since I felt sorry for him having to go have fun all day, I wanted to make him an extra special bento! :D

Top tier: Strawberry & lychees, sand: peanut butter, honey & blackberry jam, broccoli
Bottom tier: Fiori pasta with feta & baby tomatoes, sand: peanut butter, honey & blackberry jam, kitty: cheese, origami paper eyes & fruit by the foot ball of yarn, broccoli bites and tomato half, snap pea snacks.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Middle of the week & in a hurry bentos

More bridies, w00t! This time I made mine and my husband's really huge by mistake ( I couldn't find my normal pastry cutter for bridies and used a bowl which was too big instead) but they came out just fine. A-chan's bridies had a little bit too much liquid in the filling and didn't come out very pretty.
We also had steamed broccoli, creamy garlic pasta shells, little containers of HP sauce for the bridies & we each had a mystery cake from our shopping spree at Super H mart. They were sooo yummy, but I'm saving info about them for another post.
It was very quick and easy to put these bentos together: already made and frozen bridies were popped from the freezer straight into the oven for 15 minutes then put into the boxes, pasta cooked on the stovetop and ready to go while I cooked lunch earlier. 5 minutes of steaming the broccoli and it was all done!

LCE #37

A kind-of cute lunch in my opinion, but A-chan seemed delighted with it. She giggled when it was put before her which was such a wonderful sound :)
From left to right: pineapple chunks, grilled cheese star with origami paper face, flower bread cutouts with cheese slices on top, cheddar broccoli twists for hair, cheese & pickle eyes, pickle mouth and strawberry decorations for her hair, more pickles and a few pretzels.

LCE #36

From left to right: pineapple & black olives, grilled teddy bear sandwich with cheese & soy turkey & hot mustard, tomato soup, pizza snack chips from Super H Mart.
The teddy bear details: eyes & nose are sugardots, mouth and ears are origami paper cutouts, bow is fruit by the foot.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Super H Mart!

We had a grand adventure in Super H Mart this past weekend. It had already been a very long day getting up early to go to the Ren faire and we got to the Mart around 7, totally exhausted and drenched from the rain. I was determined to go, though! First impressions were pretty much bewilderment - not because the store was all that different, but because I didn't know what I wanted, we were just there to browse.

The veggies and fruits I skipped and we went straight for the drygoods aisles. A-chan was being very silly and kept running around us in circles singing silly songs or dancing in the center of the aisles. Distraction-o-matic at her best! But we managed to find some very neat things and lots and lots of things that I want to try later. (A whole bag of red chili powder. Not a tiny little plastic tube - a huge bag!!!!!!)

Most of the things that we picked up were sweets (mochi, yay, mochi) but we also got some pizza chips, miso soup mix that A-chan picked up accidentally, and some Hello Kitty veggie furikake which is sooo awesome because I've never even tried regular furikake since it has seaweed.

The only complaint that I have about the store is how much shoplifting seemed to have been happening. Most of the small things like pocky boxes were opened and pilfered - including the one we bought which we forgot to check since we were in a hurry at that point. Out of the box of pocky only one packet was actually left. That was pretty disappointing! Of course, we don't normally shop at large stores in the city and have no idea if this behaviour was widespread in the area or just confined to Super H Mart. It's definately something to keep an eye out for, though.

In the next few days I will post pics of the loot and some descriptions of the treats and what they taste like :)

Zoo Trip Bentos

This sweet caterpillar (or 'po' as A-chan used to call them not so long ago...) was inspired by bentos on the Bento & Babies blog!

I wanted to have something light but also that A-chan would really eat: couscous! I had intended to have some morrocan marinated tofu and veggies to go with it, but the tofu refused to thaw in time and I added the pasta salad instead.
We each had some couscous (roasted garlic & olive oil flavor), cucumber and carrot slices, pasta salad, broccoli bites with mayo dip, lentil pate made by a friend, kiwi, pineapple and blueberries, french fries and one black olive.

A snack bento for later in the evening just in case A-chan didn't like our choice of restaurants. Pretzels, blueberries, black olives and a fruit by the foot rose.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sandwich Bentos

Top tier: Pasta salad face with homemade garlic crouton eyebrows, baby tomato eyes and nose, string cheese mouth.

Bottom tier: Soy turkey and cheese mini-sandwiches with baby tomato and grape halves surround, carrot flower.
Top tier: Pasta salad with homemade garlic crouton maple leaf & carrot flower.
Bottom tier: Soy turkey and cheese sandwich halves with baby tomatoes and grapes, cheese coins.

A special doggie bento for A-chan. Yet another attempt at getting her to try a sandwich. She ate everything else including the decorations but didn't touch the sandwich itself, lol.
Top tier: Pasta salad with homemade garlic crouton flowers, carrot flower.
Bottom tier: Doggie sandwich: soy turkey and cheese inside, morningstar farms chik nugget ears and snout, baby tomato half nose, cheese coin and nori eyes. 2 french fries, baby tomato halves, grape halves, grape and pineapple 'hula dancer' skewers.

I thought that making sandwiches was a great idea and that it would be a huge time saver - what's easier than making sandwiches, right? I was so wrong. It was very difficult (for me at least) to cut the sandwiches to the right size to fit into the boxes. The preparations seemed to take a whole bunch longer then my normal wed. night bento. Oh well :)

LCE #35

A mostly plain lunch, yet another attempt at getting A-chan to eat sandwiches of some kind. (It did not work)

Left to right: apple half with inset cheese flower, grape halves, vegetarian vegetable soup, sandwich towers of: bread, soy turkey slices, cheese slices and baby tomato halves. Not able to be seen were several sweet midget pickles, two pieces garlic bagel toast and a baby bel cheese round.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Spring Rice Balls Bentos

Since we do not eat eggs Easter is a bit of a conundrum in terms of easter eggs. This year I decided to try experimenting with colored rice balls in preparation for future years when my toddler is old enough to be interested in such things. They are extremely easy to make and I think she would have fun forming the balls and maybe mixing the colors together to make her own creations. The hiding part we will have to skip, I think...

I made 3 batches of rice with a different food coloring added to the water and swirled around a bit just before I turned on the cooker. I was surprised at how well the sticky thai rice took the colors!

I also experimented with some corn croquettes by replacing the egg in the batter with silken tofu. It worked beautifully and they were very tasty. (The second batch was much better cause I remembered to put salt in them...) I will put up the recipe sometime soon!

We all had a pink, yellow and blue rice ball, though A-chan's were miniatures which were so cute! Carrot ribbons added even more color. There were also vegetarian eggrolls, Morningstar Farms Chik Nuggets with Ketchup, baby tomatoes and corn croquettes in the silicone cups.

The Beach (LCE #34)

My daughter was asking to go to the beach after watching one of her favorite anime series (Strawberry Marshmallow) in which the characters spend a day at the beach. This was the best I could come up with in a time crunch :) She seemed to like it okay.
From left to right: Sesame carrots, rice beach and clouds, fruit by the foot umbrella and beach towel, cheese and fruit by the foot beachball, blueberry 'water', carrot sun, marinate and stir fried tofu.
I'm really loving how versatile the fruit by the foot stuff is. I can cut it into almost any shape and use it for great decorations. The only problem is that when it comes in contact with moisture of any sort it tends to melt rather rapidly.