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.)