Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Yummy Tofu Soboro

I love doing these color striped bentos. They are easy, yummy and so lovely to look at! This one features corn kernals, tofu soboro and green peas packed in tidy lines on top of Jasmine rice. The tofu soboro is very simple to make. It only takes a few minutes to sautee extra firm tofu in sesame oil, adding soy sauce, mirin and a tiny bit of sugar after tofu is mostly dry. Soboro is basically a meat (or tofu) furikake - something to mix with rice or sprinkle on top of rice.

In the bento: Corn, tofu soboro and green peas hiding Jasmine rice, raspberries, baby carrots, steamed broccoli and provolone cheese butterflies.

As part of our grocery store challenge I was supposed to cook Kale for A-chan this week. However, it just hasn't happened and tomorrow we're leaving for DragonCon! But I am still using the Kale in the bento, just as a divider instead of a food. The color and texture of the kale leaves are wonderful in the bento, I enjoyed using it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Panda Onigiri

Did you know that you can make rice balls ahead of time and freeze them? You can! It's one of my favorite ways to shorten bento prep time in the mornings. This morning I took these two out of the freezer, sprinkled a bit of water on them and popped them in the microwave for one minute. It only took a moment to put on the nori once they were in the bento.

In the bento: Two panda onigiri, an orange slice, a cherry, grapes on panda picks, black olives in a cup, babybel cheese and tiny carrot stars.

There is a small pink puppy soy sauce bottle on the side. Luckily it's relatively flat and fits inside the lid of the bento, as does the small fork!

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's a Hello Kitty Day

It's definitely a day for the freezer stash and one of our favorite characters. Nobody wanted to get out of bed this morning :)

In the bento: Miniature pancakes with strawberry icing Hello Kitty, steamed broccoli, veggie sausage links with musical picks, pluot slices, and orange wedges.

The veggie sausage, pancakes and broccoli were all from the freezer and warmed up nicely in just a few minutes. The fruit was sliced while everything else was warming. I already had a small cone of the strawberry icing in the fridge. The thing that took the longest this morning was taking the photo!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chubby Puppies

When I was making the onigiri this morning I hadn't realized just how big they were til I put them in the box. They are huge! I used the same design that A-chan and I had put together for one of my birthday onigiri. The puppies are cute but really need more color. I tried to make brown egg sheets (colored with soy sauce) but they came out a lot paler than I expected. I'll try again another time, though!

In the bento: Two puppy onigiri with eggsheet and nori details, a frozen cherry, two orange slices, a babybel cheese, a container of sugar snap peas, two veggie hot dogs with corn in the centers.

The sugar snap peas are the challenge that A-chan set for me at the grocery store a few days ago. I simmered them in a mixture of water, soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar. She will eat them for lunch and tell me if I did a good job or not. I can't wait to find out the verdict! Next week she has challenged me to cook Kale :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh Burger Man!

There was a lovely hint of fall in the air this morning! The cool weather will be so very welcome after the incredibly hot summer. In the meantime we are still enjoying the summer tomatoes, yum! Today's bento features a Tsukune Burger Man. He is totally not a traditional Tsukune, being neither made from chicken or actually made of any meat at all. (Can I still call it Tsukune?) I altered a tsukune patty recipe by using Morningstar Farms crumbles.

In the bento: Kraft mac'n'cheese, a huge cherry tomato, grapes on a star pick, pluot slices, steamed broccoli, a carrot flower stick, a tsukune burger with a halo of bread.

The completely huge cherry tomatoes are not only beautiful but delicious! And in order to prevent lunchtime eye injuries I have taken to cutting them in half - still lovely but less likely to squirt across the table while being bitten into :)

Burger Man's face is mayo with sugar dots for cheeks. On the side is a small yellow container filled with ketchup.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Lot of Hearts

"That's a lot of hearts!" A-chan declared as she viewed her bento this morning. I agree. Maybe
too many, I'm not sure. One thing I relearned this morning is that round green peas do not easily hold a heart shape.

In the bento: Garlic and basil couscous with green pea heart and carrot hearts, black olives with a cute panda pick, baby corn spears, soy sauce sauteed tofu heart, diamond cut apple, and a container full of mango.

The tofu heart was cut out of a block of extra firm tofu with a Wilton's miniature cookie cutter. The heart and the leftover weirdly shaped pieces from the cut-out were then lightly sauteed in sesame oil and a bit of soy sauce was added at the last minute. The weird leftover pieces are hidden underneath the heart.

At the grocery store today I asked A-chan to find a green vegetable that she didn't think I knew how to cook. She was to challenge me to cook something new for a bento. In order to find out if I did a good job cooking her challenge she has to eat it. She chose sugar snap peas for this week and wants me to try Kale next week. I love it!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Smiling Bridie

Whew! We survived the first week of school with only a few minor things going wrong. And we somehow lived a whole week without eating any broccoli. This travesty occurred because I went to the store without a list. But it has been rectified this week and A-chan was rejoicing to see broccoli in her bento this morning.

In the bento: Two miniature Scottish Forfar Bridies (vegetarian versions), pluot slices, steamed broccoli, one cherry, carrot hearts and a cherry tomato cut into fourths.

My birthday was this weekend and A-chan helped me make an extra special birthday lunch! She was so sweet :) Here are the cute onigiri that she made and decorated.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Playful Kitty

The kitty caught a spaghetti string. Naughty kitty! A really simple bento today that I hope will be perfect and counteract the disaster of yesterday. The cute penguins in the top tier yesterday ended up on the floor of school :( Today I tried to make her bento extra easy and used a box that A-chan was extremely familiar with so that she wouldn't have any trouble opening it. Keeping my fingers crossed!

In the bento: Vegetarian spaghetti with a lovely black olive on top, a container of mango chunks, a container of green peas, two picks of black olives, one pick of corn and a cute kitty of provolone cheese.

For my spaghetti I took my grandmother's recipe (which was hard won and learned many years ago) and just switched the ground beef that she used for Morningstar Farms crumbles. It's now a family favorite and my mother likes the veggie recipe so much that she learned to make it from me!

The little kitty face I drew out on paper then cut out. The paper shape was then put onto the cheese and I used a sharp knife to cut around it. The details are nori and sesame seeds with soy turkey for the ears.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Can it really be...Penguins!

When I was getting ready to sleep last night I suddenly realized that I needed to make penguins in the morning. But I had no clue how to do penguins in a bento - so I went searching for inspiration. I found it in LuckySundae's amazing bentos! Mine are a little bit clumsy, lol. A-chan was able to recognize them as penguins and that's all that matters :)

In the bento: The blue tier has cherries, a babybel cheese, baby carrots, a container of pluot chunks, three veggie hot dog flowers with corn centers, two picks of edamame and a corn croquette. The white tier holds two huge penguin onigiri and a ton of lettuce.

The penguins have nori, provolone cheese and carrot details. Two tiny little hot dog and corn flowers help distract from all that lettuce!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


A-chan is absolutely thrilled that some of her class pets this year are turtles. In honor of this she asked me to create a bento for today that had a turtle. She is really getting into this whole asking for bento designs! So here is a rendition of my 'turtle sandwich'. And speaking of thrilled - the potato hash that I created for dinner last night was so loved by A-chan that she requested more for her bento today. Whoa. It's pretty hard to make a potato dish that she will eat these days.

In the bento: Peanut butter and sugar sprinkle sandwich with nori and soy turkey turtle on top, potato hash, grapes, cherry tomato and a baby carrot.

The nori of the turtle shell began to curl up as soon as I started putting the soy turkey on. But I decided that I liked the textured look of it and left it that way :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Double Bunnies

A-chan asked for Bunnies in today's bento. She didn't specify more than that so I took the easy road and made simple cheese cutouts. This box has lids which fit down inside a bit - something that typically throws me for a loop. I'm continually over-filling these types of bento boxes and then the lids won't fit on. Today I was very careful and made sure to leave room for the lids!

In the bento: The bunny tier is full of miniature pancakes (all from the freezer) nestled in lettuce with provolone cheese bunnies and heart. The non-bunny tier is filled with cherries, lemon slices, pluot slices, carrot flowers, baby corn slices, soy sausage links and green peas.

Sugar sprinkles got stuck to the cheese for the bunnies' eyes and to decorate the heart. Their fluffy tails are cauliflower. Inside the monkey container is strawberry icing to eat with the pancakes.

Monday, August 15, 2011


A happy Mokona is going to school with A-chan today. She was a little nervous so I wanted to make her a special charaben. Ah, the magic of the bento! The sight of this one helped turn off the nervous tears and got a sweet smile started instead. For the first day of school A-chan requested fried tofu and a number 1 somewhere in the bento. I remembered the tofu, but forgot about the 1. She reminded me at breakfast and I rectified my mistake with some hasty free-hand cutting.

I can't wait to hear about her adventures today. Almost all of the children that go to her Tae Kwon Do studio are in her class this year!

In the bento: Jasmine rice with furikake, provolone cheese mokona, fried tofu, baby corn spears, blackberries, grapes, a cherry tomato and three baby carrots. Not shown is the soy sauce bottle that somehow never seems to fit :)

The furikake is a mixture of sea salt, toasted sesame seeds and tarragon. It's a very simple flavor to go on the rice and A-chan has liked it a lot in the past.

Mokona's body was cut from provolone cheese slices using an egg shaped cookie cutter for the main body and the baseball bat shape from another cutter for both the feet and the ears. The face was punched from nori, with a sugar dot for the forehead and tiny smudges of sriracha for the cheeks. It was all 'glued' together with a bit of mayo. I first assembled Mokona on a plate while the rice cooled off in the bento box. Once the rice was cool to the touch on the bottom of the box I transferred Mokona on top.
Woohoo, the first day of school photo! We managed to only be three minutes late despite the fact that school started half an hour earlier this year. I believe the reason we were late had to do with the fact that we stopped to snap a photo of her new dress for the first day of school and our cat Purrpurr just had to 'help'.