Monday, December 19, 2011

Ornamental Fruit

Wow.  The last few days have been crazy busy!  Here is A-chan's Pizza friday bento.  The bento only has fruit to eat alongside the pizza.  Are you ready for the holidays?  We are having so much fun with parties and decorating and cookies and craziness!

In the bento: A clementine ornament, an apple ornament, some blackberry ornaments, pomegranate seeds, pink egg sheet flower and some steamed zucchini slices.

Notice how I snuck some veggies in there?  Yeah, I'm sneaky like that.  The ornament designs on the clementine were cut with an exacto knife while the apple stripes and zucchini stripes were cut with a paring knife.  I was delighted to find a way to use all of these picks!  For some reason I have a difficult time figuring out uses for them.

I hope that you are all having a wonderful time!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Snowman Sammies

What do you do with leftover Japanese curry when you've run out of rice?  Make curry sammies!  One of the most intriguing food items that I've seen in Anime is 'curry bread' or 'curry pan'.  Now, I have no idea if this is anything like real curry bread, but I decided to make my own version.  I spooned some curry sauce onto a slice of bread,  making sure that at least one piece of each type of veggie was included.  After placing a second slice on top, I used a plastic cup to cut out the sammie and seal the edges at the same time.  All the leftover bread pieces got saved into an airtight container to be used in the fake greek meatballs I'm making for dinner tonight.  I love it when things work out that way!

It was extremely difficult to get the smaller snowman to look jolly instead of sinister.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe because he is peeking over the tomato?  He still has a crazed look about him, but I think the pink cheeks helped.

In the bento: Two curry sammies, a huge cherry tomato, carrot sticks, steamed broccoli, blackberries and pomegranate seeds.

The snowmen faces were made from nori and provolone cheese.   I cut small slits into the bread  to stick in the cute carrot triangles noses.  The psychopath snowman has pink cheeks cut from leftover pink egg sheet. All of the facial features were 'glued' onto the bread by small amounts of mayo.

I love their hats!  They were cut from large pieces of zucchini, with thin slices of zucchini flesh for the dapper bands.  To make them more festive I added tiny pieces of steamed broccoli and a pomegranate seed to each.  I used a dried spaghetti noodle stuck through the bottom to attach them by then sticking the other end of the noodle into the sandwich.

A small confession - I got into trouble with this bento.  The hats were huge!  There was absolutely no way that the lid could fit onto the box.  I had to take the hats off and stick them inside the bento in another location.  A-chan was very understanding and said that she was fine sticking them back onto the snowmen herself at lunchtime.  Whew!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Stamps

Cheese ravioli is one of the most versatile pastas.  It can transform into so many things or look elegant without any interference.  Most people, myself included, prefer to eat them with a sauce.  Luckily my daughter is happy to eat them plain or with a little Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top which makes them perfect for decorating her bentos.  With so many Christmas letters, cards and packages going everywhere, I thought some Christmassy stamps would be fun to make and eat!

In the bento: Cheese ravioli, rice with black sesame seeds, fried tofu, carrot and nori stars, blackberries, and a huge cherry tomato.

The Christmas tree is zucchini with tiny strips of zucchini flesh for the garland.  Pink egg sheet left over from yesterday was used for a couple of ornaments and carrot for the others.  I cut the star from a slice of American cheese.  I used zucchini again for the holly leaves and cut berries out of tomato peel.

In the background is one of the cloth napkins that A-chan takes to school with her bento every day.  This one she decorated for Thanksgiving.  It was an easy and very economical way to get her (and me) excited about the holiday.  Please see my new blog for pretty pictures!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Oh baby it's cold outside! Our glove box is in full working mode with the frigid temperatures that have come to our area.  Since mittens are weighing heavily in A-chan's mind these days I thought I'd include an edible pair in a bento.

  I was feeling a bit better this morning so it seemed like a great time to try to perfect the art of corn cutting.  Perhaps I have been intimidated by my failures in the past, but the thought of trying to cut corn on the cob into smaller sizes to fit in a bento seems an impossible task.  Today there was a revelation.  I forgot to cook the corn the night before and ended up in a tight spot this morning.  Instead of giving up I tried microwaving.  Ta Dah!  It was so easy to cut right through. It didn't squish, deform or break the knife.   Wow, I wish I'd tried that a long time ago!

In the bento: Couscous with mittens, tofu and zucchini stirfry on top of a bread container, microwaved corn on the cob slice (yahoo!), cherry tomato and blackberries.

The mittens were cut from a pink egg sheet and provolone cheese with nori hearts and ties.  I cut them free form with scissors which explains why they are a little bit different from one another.

Here is A-chan working on the batch of snowman cookies that we made last night.  She is getting the hang of the piping bag!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sick Mama bentos

Sometimes you just slog food in the direction of a bento box and hope that it lands at least 90% inside the box.  Yesterday was one of those days.  Today was a little better.  Since I was feeling bad I needed things to be simple, easy and above all fast.  I have said this a lot, I know...but thank goodness for the freezer stash!  It really helped to not have to think but just take what I had in the freezer and make a bento with it.

In today's bento (top): Couscous with green peas, veggie hot dog flowers with corn centers, carrot hearts, steamed broccoli, a strawberry and a small bunch of grapes.

In yesterday's bento (below): A slice of flatpie, veggie hotdogs, black olives, strawberry halves, steamed broccoli, pomegranate seeds, grape halves.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rudolph's Getting Ready!

Rudolph is primping for his big day, putting on his new collar with the huge bow.  He's counting down the days until Christmas and so are we.  A-chan was so inspired by our Advent Calendar this year that she asked Santa to bring her some mittens.  I managed to talk her out of the automatic snowball throwing machine she also wanted, whew!

In the bento: Cheese sandwich with rudolph on top, steamed broccoli, soy sauce tofu, a huge strawberry, two picks with carrot flowers and black olives, a couple of tiny slivers of mango.

Rudolph was cut from soy turkey with my food scissors.  The soy turkey that I like to use for sandwiches comes in very thin slices so I used three layers to make him more substantial.  His eye and antlers were cut from provolone cheese and his beautiful red nose was the end of a strawberry.  The handsome collar was cut from nori and has a pasta bow with a strawberry slice, provolone circle and a nori heart for festive decoration.

Cooking all took place in one pot - first boiling the pasta.  I cooked three pieces of bowtie pasta just in case something untoward happened and I needed backups.  Once the pasta was done I removed them with chopsticks and then cooked the broccoli with the still hot water.  After the broccoli was ready I poured out the water and replaced it with sesame oil to cook the tofu.  It took about 15 minutes total cooking time, during which I was making the sammie and reindeer.  I could have cut down on the cooking time and used two pots (one for veggies, one for tofu) but I was focusing on tidier cooking this morning.

What do you think of the labels, etc. that I've been putting on some bento pictures?  Other bento makers have caught my eye with labels and decor on their bento pictures, like Lia Chen at Bentolicious whose are always gorgeous.  I wanted to give it a try.  It's fun and I've enjoyed doing it but I'm not sure if I should keep it up. I need opinions from you guys!  Is it okay or ickle?

This post is linked up at Today's Creative Blog.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Snow Lady

Rush here, rush there, rush everywhere!  It seems like there isn't enough time to get everything done today.  We have three sick cats so I'm spending a good bit of today at the Vet's office.  Luckily this bento was really fast and easy to make, not requiring much brain power.  Which was good because I forgot to turn on the coffee maker this morning.  A snowman is always a must for winter bentos.  I realized after I had gotten the body into the box that there wasn't enough room for a hat.  So it became a snowlady instead.

In the bento: Three onigiri for the snowlady, veggie hotdogs, mango chunks, carrot flowers, steamed broccoli and a strawberry.

The Snowlady's buttons are pomegranate seeds.  Her eyes and mouth are nori but her nose is carrot and her cheeks were cut from veggie hotdog.  She has a bit of nori hair and a carrot bow.  The scarf was cut from spring onion which made a wonderfully frayed end when cut lengthwise with kitchen scissors.

A few tiny snowflakes were punched from a mamenori sheet.  I didn't have any natural color mamenori left so I had to use the orange.

Here is A-chan holding her kitten and a sneak peek of the Christmas tree.  The kitten is already getting big. I love this pic with her tongue sticking out!  We're still working on Holiday decorating.  I don't think we'll have any time for it today but hopefully tomorrow will see all the boxes emptied and Christmas cheer spread around the house.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fluffy Pinkness

Today's bento is brought to you by the fluffy goodness of pink.  A Hello Kitty bento most definitely needed a fluffy pink background.  Fortunately one was provided for me in the form of A-chan's new fluffy pink skirt which was left on my kitchen counter for no fathomable reason.  Since it made such a nice backdrop I can't be too upset about it.  I am still left wondering why the kitchen counter?

In the bento:  Morningstar Farms Chik nuggets, carrot flower with a corn center, spring onion, Hello Kitty onigiri, corn filled picks, a piece of apple, steamed broccoli, more carrot flowers and some halved grapes.

Hello Kitty's nose was made from a piece of corn since I happened to have some left over after filling the two toothpicks, but the rest of her face was punched from nori.  Her bow was cut from apple peel.  The small carrot flower got the last leftover corn kernel.  I used a small cutter to make a hole in the center of the flower and gently pushed the end of the kernel into the space.  Now I wish that I'd had enough corn to do the same with the larger flowers!

On the side A-chan had a soy sauce bottle and a small container of ketchup.  These are usually constant companions to her bentos but are never shown because I forget to put them in.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Beary Christmas

This bear is ready for Christmas with his festive hat and bowtie.  We've just begun to get ready.  It's only the first of December but I already feel like we're behind.  I'm not worried, we'll start catching up quickly this weekend.  I had to finish this year's advent calendar on time for today before any other decorating could occur!

In the bento: Vegetarian spaghetti, black olives, steamed broccoli, a miniature corn croquette, carrot and provolone hearts, grapes, apple slices and a cute bear.

The bear was made in two layers: a provolone cheese layer topped by a soy turkey layer.  I used a Hello Kitty bow cutter to make the ear shape in the turkey layer so that the cheese could show from beneath.  His muzzle is provolone cheese, facial features are nori and his bowtie was cut from apple peel.  To make his cheeks I dipped the end of a toothpick into sriracha sauce and dotted it onto the soy turkey.  The festive hat was cut from tomato peel and provolone cheese.  There is a second layer of provolone behind the hat to help it stay in place.

I love this spaghetti recipe!  It's so good that A-chan didn't bat an eye at having it for lunch today even though we'd eaten it for dinner last night.  And I would love to share the recipe with you guys.  But I feel strange posting recipes on a bento blog, even though they can be used in a bento.  I'm a habitual compartmentalizer.  Everything must go in it's own box.  A-chan's toybox with everything all jumbled in drives me nuts.  So...I created another blog where I can do all the posts that I want to do that aren't necessarily bento related.  Recipes can have their own box now!  And I can post them all, mwahahaha!  With maybe some crafts and other miscellaneous stuff as well.  Starting it off with a bang - this year's Advent Calendar.