Tuesday, December 18, 2012


OMG, it's only a week away! How many bento items are on your list to Santa?  I've asked the big guy for quite a lot of bento gear.   Christmas is very different for us this year and A-chan is having a rough time.  We're trying to do our best to be jolly and enjoy the season and that includes making Holiday bentos.  I love using red bell pepper in holiday bentos.  It's the only time of year that A-chan will accept them in her lunches.  Note that she doesn't actually eat them - she just allows me to put them in to make Santa hats.  And in the background is part of the Advent Calendar that I made for her this year:  cupcakes!

In the bento: Lots of rice, eggsheet, veggie hot dog, red bell pepper, lemon, black olives, steamed broccoli and raspberries.

Santa's face is made with pink eggsheet with nori for the eyes and nose.  There are hotdog slices for his cute cheeks and a huge piece of bell pepper for his hat with some lemon peel and nori for the bells. I am delighted to have found some liquid food coloring recently.  It gives a much more even color to eggsheets than the gel food coloring.  The pink turned out very nicely!  I wish now that I there was more definition between Santa's hat and his hair.

The amazing Karaimame of Acquiring Taste inspired me to start doing creative advent calendars a couple of years ago.  (Hers are incredible!)  This year I decided on a cupcake theme.  There just happened to be a mini cupcake stand in my cabinet that had never been used.   I wanted to do something with it.  Getting tiny gifts that would fit inside the miniature cupcakes was an extra challenge.  Making it was so much fun and it's very cute sitting on our kitchen counter.  The cats thought it was a great game to knock the cupcakes off the stand so in the end I taped them all on.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

X-mas Presents

Are you ready for Christmas?  We're 75% there.  I'm pleased to report that our three kittens (five months old) have been ignoring the Christmas tree completely.  We were convinced that it was going to be climbed/knocked over/otherwise devastated within minutes of putting it up.  But with that worry out of the way I can concentrate on Finals (ugh) and Holiday bentos, yay!

In the bento: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich balls, frozen raspberries, a checkered apple, carrot stars, steamed edamame, half of a steamed Japanese sweet potato, cucumber holly leaves and pomegranate seeds.

The sammies were created using Lia Chen's technique which she posted a tutorial about and for which I am very thankful!  Each present has three eggsheet strips: two wrapped around and one for the bows.  I pinned them onto the sammies with small pieces of uncooked somen noodle, one piece in the back for the wraps and one for the bows in the front.  The cucumber holly leaves were cut with my exacto knife.

I hope that you guys are having a great December!  Good luck to everyone struggling with Finals like me :D

Monday, December 3, 2012

Frozen T-day Leftovers Bento

Getting into the swing of Christmas with Thanksgiving leftovers.  Cinnamoroll is made from a veggie sausage roll that was leftover on T-day and frozen for use in bentos.  There is also sweet potato casserole and corn on the cob that were frozen.  I love using pomegranate for holly berries.  It's one of my favorite things about Pomegranate besides the yum factor.

In the bento: Veggie sausage roll, carrot slices, cucumber slices and holly leaves, pomegranate seeds, sweet potato casserole, a checkered apple, carrot flowers and corn on the cob.

Cinnamoroll's ears were cut from Provolone cheese.  Her eyes and mouth were nori and her checks were cut from pieces of gari.

Underneath the bento is one of the cloth napkins that we tie dyed for Thanksgiving dinner.  (It's a tradition to make cloth napkins for T-day every year!)  There are also some chestnuts on the side.  I haven't been brave enough to try and cook them yet, so for now they are just being decorative.  The lady at the grocery store was scandalized that I only bought 3 of them.  She gave me a good ten minute lecture on how to cook them and made me promise to buy more next time.  (Apparently they take a loooong time to cook and it's a waste of effort to only cook 3.  Now I know!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Yakisoba is Yummy!

Once again I deceived myself into believing that I would have a smidgen of free time during the Thanksgiving break.  Wrong!  On the plus side it was a fabulously fun week.  These bentos were eaten at Zoo Atlanta while we sat and watched the Gorillas have a snack.  I kept them plain and without characters since I would be carrying them through the zoo for a few hours before lunchtime.  This turned out to be a great plan since I got very excited about the Red Panda who was incredibly adorable.  There apparently was some jumping and squeeeing that could potentially have destroyed any characters.

After lunch I was excited to talk about bentos to the Japan Society of Georgia Perimeter College, woot! I really, really love to talk about bentos.  This was the second time that I had trouble remembering the name of a Japanese recipe, though.  It was Tsukune!  Next time I'm going to have it tattooed on my hand, I swear.  Thank you guys so much, I loved it and enjoyed meeting you all!

In the bentos:  Yaki soba noodles with sauteed tofu, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots was the main part for both of us.  A-chan had an apple bunny, baby corn and some black olives on picks.  I had the apple pieces that were cut off to make the bunny and some cucumber slices.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Failed Octopi

These guys were supposed to be Octopi.  They were great Octopi.  Until I put them in the box and then they became mountains?  Octopi are all about the legs apparently and if you can't see the legs...well, you know.   Oh well.  They were still fun to make and A-chan enjoyed eating them so they are still a success, right?

In the bento: Inari zushi, steamed broccoli, blackberries, baby tomatoes, mashed kabocha and veggie hot dogs. On the side is a container of ketchup for the hot dogs.

The Inari zushi mountains/octopi have hot dog cheeks, nori eyes and mouths with sesame seeds liven up their expressions.  On the inside of the inari was rice mixed with furikake.

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, November 12, 2012

What do you mean it's Monday?

I love how expressive faces can be on bento characters.  This rabbit's face expresses exactly how I feel.  How can it be Monday again already?  I will conquer the Monday, mwahahaha!  A-chan made sure to notify me that the ears would get squished when I put on the lid, but I laid them flat on top of the veggies and fruit to fix that problem.

In the bento:  Cheese sandwich, strawberries, kiwi, blackberries, corn on the cob, steamed broccoli steamed cauliflower and carrot bunnies.

The bunny's ears were cut from the heel of the bread and provolone cheese.  His mouth is another piece of bread cut in a circle with an x of nori on top.  It is held to the sandwich underneath with a pink pick. The white parts of the eyes were cut from (you guessed it) provolone cheese.  The green parts are zucchini peel and of course the black is nori!  The little carrot bunnies have mouths cut from tiny slivers of zucchini peel.

I'm experimenting with using more veggies to decorate with instead of nori.  It helps to use up some of the scraps that are created from making the charaben, so it feels better to me.  Plus it adds more color which is always a good thing!  The zucchini bits used in this bento were saved from the scraps that I cut out from another bento.  They were saved in an airtight container in the fridge.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Birthday Bento

Tomorrow is my little girl's Eighth birthday.   The first week of her life was in the hospital and the second week was in a hotel because I couldn't climb the stairs to get into our house because I had a broken ankle and a c-section!  She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.  She still is and I am so very lucky to have her in my life.

Today was pizza day at school so I made her a fruit bento to go with it.  It needed to be simple because I had a huge job ahead of me in order to make her class cupcakes.  Apparently she'd been telling everyone at school that her cupcakes would be 'amazing', lol.  I hope that they lived up to the expectations!

In the bento: Orange slices, kiwi slices, an apple circle with a wobbly 8 cut out, pear chunks and blackberries.

Here is a shot of the school cupcakes.  They were red velvet cupcakes inside jack o'lanterns carved from oranges with almond-butter frosting and chocolate stems.  I made a huge mess of the kitchen making all 36 of them!  The extra special bonus was the 3 liters of fresh squeezed orange juice that came from making the lanterns.

The idea for these came from something I'd seen when trying to find heart healthy Halloween foods for  the Cardiac Rehab program that I'm volunteering for this semester.  The original was a jack'o'lantern fruit cup.  My decision to change it into cupcakes might have inadvertently created the messiest cupcakes known to humanity.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Beware the Vampires

Beware, beware the vampire pair
who are dread and dire.
For both be filled
with the desire
to feed on necks so fair.

Spelling homework can stick in a parent's head, that's for sure.  Especially when the spelling words rhyme so nicely.  These vampire onigiri were a tribute to the Dacula High School Anime Club.  Thank you so much for inviting me to do a demo!  I had a great time and enjoyed meeting all of you.  

In the bento: Two vampire onigiri, steamed edamame in their pods, a carrot jack o'lantern, blackberries, a baby tomato, fried tofu and simmered kabocha.

The small ends of baby tomatoes were cut off to make the Vampire's eyes and were stuck onto the rice balls with tiny pieces of uncooked somen noodle.  I used scissors to cut the nori into shape and used leftover bits of carrot from the jack o'lantern for the Vampire noses.  White egg sheet made the background for my lovely bat which was cut from nori.  A couple of bone shaped picks liven up the veggies.

On Nov. 3rd I will be vending at the Athens Montessori Fall Festival!  A-chan might possibly be more excited than I am, but it's got to be a close tie.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Totoro for Fall

Autumn always makes me think of Totoro.  I'm not exactly sure why since the movie is all about spring and summer, but that's the strange association my mind has made.  It's got to be the acorns.  This time of year we have beautiful, huge acorns all over the yard.  In another week we will be walking on a carpet of acorns to get to the car every morning.  Acorns = Totoro!

This cute little guy was not my idea, though.  It was inspired by Anna the Red and her Totoro inari zushi tutorial.  I am quite a bit jealous of her mad bento skillz!  My favorite of her Totoros were the ones with the green ears. Since I didn't have any green beans I improvised with edamame shells instead.   Also, I forgot the whiskers but didn't realize it until I put up the link a moment ago, lol.

In the bento: One Totoro inari zushi, a couple of plain inari zushi, carrot leaves, baby corn spears, steamed broccoli, steamed edamame, a cherry tomato, blackberries, a piece of apple and some soot sprites.

A fit of bentoing madness overcame me as I contemplated what to do with the slice of apple.  The decision to cut letters into it with my exacto knife was crazy!  Those letters took more time than anything else in this bento.  I think they turned out pretty well, though,  and was very pleased with them.  Exacto Knife is good.  Good exacto knife.

The soot sprites were made from provolone cheese and nori.  The nori was cut into a circle and then randomly trimmed with scissors to get the 'poof' effect.  The eyes were smaller cheese circles and smaller nori circles.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Colors

We noticed our first bit of Autumn color in the yard today.  Hurray for Fall!  This bento doesn't have anything to do with Fall.  In fact, it was made about two weeks ago.  However, it does have very happy onigiri in it.  And it has plenty of our new favorite food - edamame. It keeps ending up in all kinds of new recipes.  One might say that I have a crush on edamame, in fact.

In the bento: Two plain onigiri with happy faces and edamame decoration, baby tomatoes, nectarine slices, steamed broccoli and a container of stirfry that includes tofu, baby corn, carrots and edamame.

The onigiri eyes were punched out of nori but the smiles were hand cut with scissors.  Their cheeks were strawberry jam applied with a toothpick.  Tiny pieces of uncooked somen noodles help to attach the edamame to the onigiri.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Double Bentos!

Halloween, Halloween, Halloween is coming!  We got all of our Halloween decorations up over the last two days so I decided it was time to start Halloween bentos too.  I'm very late with them this year, but that's okay, right?  These were Tuesday's lunches.  Yes, I got to take a bento to school and I was very happy :)  The current Sonography students need volunteers to practice their skills on so I signed up.  It's incredibly cool and I've gotten some very interesting compliments.  Apparently I have a beautiful Aorta and Spleen.  My left kidney, however, is extremely uncooperative.

In the bento:   Sauteed tofu with garlic sauce, pear chunks, baby tomato, steamed broccoli, soba noodles and carrots.  Both bentos have pretty much the same ingredients.  The only differences are the apple in mine and that A-chan wanted her Soba noodles plain instead of with sauce.   The apple wouldn't fit in A-chan's bento so she ate it with breakfast.

The Jack O'lantern was cut out of carrot with a Wilton's miniature cookie cutter.  The face was cut out using my beloved exacto knife.  His stem was cut from part of A-chan's broccoli.

My soba noodle sauce was 1 TB soy sauce, 1 tsp. Mirin, 1/2 tsp. sugar and 1/4 tsp sesame oil.  They were all whisked together and heated in a sauce pan for 1 minute before adding the cooked and drained noodles.  I continued cooking for a few minutes until the sauce had reduced and was coating all of the soba.  

I had forgotten how much A-chan likes Soba noodles.  She came home from school saying I hadn't given her enough and could she have more soba for snack, please?  Love it!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Time just keeps slipping away

I have way too much fun with miniature pancakes.  You can do so much with them!  I'm way behind in my posts so I think this bento was from two weeks ago.  It is a good example of a Speedy Gonzales bento - under ten minutes not including the preheating of the oven.  While I wish that I had a small toaster oven for mornings like this one, I have no idea where it would fit in my kitchen.  Oh well, it's a dream for the future.

In the bento: Miniature pancakes, Morningstar Farms soy sausage links, edamame on a pick, carrot flowers and strawberry halves.  Hidden behind/underneath the bunny pancakes are more pancakes and more edamame.

The Bunny faces were made with nori and sesame seeds for the eyes (secured to the pancakes with a tiny bit of icing), pink icing and half of an edamame for the noses.  Small bits of uncooked somen noodles help secure the ears to the rest of the pancake.  The carrot flowers were decorated with mustard seeds.

I can hardly believe it's only been a week since Anime Weekend Atlanta!  It was a wonderful weekend and I'm so grateful that we got to go.  A-chan's favorite part was getting to cosplay.  Most of my favorite parts were the panels, although the Trigun manga that I found at the Super Happy Fun Sell was  probably the highlight.  (Huge Trigun fan, yep!  I have a crush on Vash.)

A-chan and I at AWA.  She was so cute with her angel wings! I wasn't very cute but I was wearing my favorite Purple Butterfly covered michiyuki with a matching butterfly hair stick.  I'm addicted to hair jewelry.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

JapanFest DayTwo

I can hardly believe how quickly this week has gone by.  On Monday my face was sore from smiling so much over the weekend!  Tuesday was entirely taken up with tests at school.  Today there were more tests but they were outweighed by the beautiful blue skies and clear weather.  Now that my exams are over I am able to finish up my posts about the wonderfulness of JapanFest!  Everyone loved seeing A-chan's lunch so much on Saturday that I decided to make a bento just for display on Sunday. People's reactions to seeing the bentos in person were so sweet and it made me very happy.

In the bento: Two plain onigiri, an apple bunny, blackberries, edamame on a pick, tofu karaage, carrot stars and almost invisible in the back were steamed broccoli and tiny tomato halves.

The onigiri were very quickly formed with the use of a triangular rice mold.  Their eyes were punched out of nori with a face shaped puncher, but the mouths were cut with scissors.  I used the end of a toothpick to apply sriracha sauce to make the cheeks.

In addition to the display bento we each had lunch bentos.  On Sunday A-chan's asthma was under control so she got to come along, yay!  Her bento had the same contents as the display with the addition of some kiwi slices.  Mine had Japanese curry instead of onigiri.

We had a fantastic time.  One of her favorite things was seeing all the Koi.  She also loved the games in the ginza.

A-chan in her new Yukata and me in my Aunt Takiko's Michiyuki. Her Yukata and face paint matched!

Playing games.  This one was the ring-toss.

The consolation prize for the ring toss was cotton candy. She loves cotton candy!

Monday, September 17, 2012

JapanFest Day One

JapanFest was incredible.  A-chan and I had a great time!  I am extremely grateful to my two helpers, Andy and Lucci, without whom I would have been lost.  To everyone who came to the presentation or stopped by the booth, thank you.  It was lovely to meet all of you and get to spend time chatting with so many wonderfully nice people!  I'm going to break up my post about JapanFest into two parts because otherwise it would be way too long.  At the bottom of the post are a few pics from the first day.

On Saturday I had made A-chan a bento but her allergies had aggravated her asthma and she had to stay home with her grandma.  She didn't get to eat the bento but  I got to display her lunch at the booth instead which was very cool.  Since I had made a white bear during the week I decided to make a brown bear for her to eat at the event.

In the bento: Fried rice onigiri bear, baby tomato on a panda pick, steamed cauliflower and broccoli, veggie hot dogs, baby corn spear, a strawberry, a carrot flower and some blackberries in a silicon container with a tiger pick.

To make the teddy bear I took a small portion of fried rice without veggies and made lots of little onigiri.  Since the fried rice is a little oily I used saran wrap to form the onigiri and keep the oil from getting on my hands.  His features were cut from provolone cheese and nori, stuck to his body with a tiny bit of mayo.  The nose was a pick stuck through the cheese and into the rice ball.  The vegetarian hot dogs were cooked before cutting the heart shapes with a tiny heart cutter.

The white teddy bear was awfully cute but I think that I prefer this one.  Which one do you like better?

Part of the ginza.  This booth sold yummy adzuki ice cream , dango and mochi!

I'm not sure what this structure is called.  Our booth was right across from it 

Japanese Archery!  So awesome. I got to handle a bow and practice drawing it. How I wish that I lived in Atlanta so that I could take lessons!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sweet Teddy Bear

We are in full swing getting ready for JapanFest tomorrow!  It is going to be so much fun and I am so excited.  And I even managed to fit the table in the car all by myself.  Go me!  To celebrate the upcoming fun  I made this cute onigiri teddy bear.  Nothing says happy like a smiling teddy bear, right?
Both of us are hoping to purchase some of our favorite Japanese sweets tomorrow: Mochi for A-chan and Dango for me.  I'm particularly looking forward to the Archery demonstrations as well.

In the bento: Lots of onigiri, carrot flowers, steamed broccoli, chickpeas, nectarine slices, frozen blueberries, strawberries and baby corn.

To make the body of the teddy I mixed scrambled tofu into the rice before making the onigiri.  Then I added two whole cloves for the buttons, making sure that A-chan knew to remove them before eating the onigiri.  The head and paws are just plain rice.  The facial features were cut from soy turkey slices, provolone cheese and nori with a few black sesame seeds for cute eyelashes.  Her cheeks were painted on with strawberry jam.  The jam might be a little weird but it seemed like a good idea at 6 am, as though jam is somehow cuter than sriracha!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sleeping Pandas

A-chan had asked for panda onigiri.  I had inari that I needed to use before they went bad.  We compromised and gave each little panda onigiri their own inari bed.  I wasn't sure how they would turn out, but I think that they are absolutely adorable!  This bento has way too much orange in it - I didn't notice how many carrots were there until looking at the pictures.  That's okay, A-chan loves carrots!

In the bento: Panda inari zushi/onigiri, steamed broccoli, carrot flowers, an apple bunny, baby corn, a pick of edamame,  a container of sesame carrots and two nectarine slices.

The inari skins were lightly boiled in a mixture of water, soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar for several minutes and then dried. I folded the tops of the opening inside and pushed the onigiri halfway into the inari pockets.  Then I added the nori, sesame seed and sugar dot details.

I use mustard seeds in cooking quite a bit, particularly Indian food.  It just occurred to me recently that they would make fantastic bento decorative touches!  I like how they look on these carrot flowers and loved the fact that they were easy to put in place and didn't require as much fiddling as sesame seeds.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stamped Sammie Rolls

Hello Wednesday!  I'm glad to finally have time to post this week.  How does school become so utterly time-consuming?  Yesterday I was a volunteer model for the ultrasound students at my college.  They told me that I had a beautiful Aorta, how cool is that!

In the bento:  Two peanut butter roll sammies, Morningstar Farms sausage links, baby corn, steamed broccoli, a cherry, strawberry halves, three baby carrot flowers, some edamame pods and lemon wedges.

The sandwich rolls are fairly dense.  I took slices of bread and cut off the crusts before flattening them with a rolling pen.  Then added the peanut butter and sugar sprinkles before rolling them.  Each one has two slices of bread rolled up in order to make them substantial enough for the Hello Kitty stamp.  They were then wrapped in saran wrap and tied at the ends with large ribbons.  Getting the ribbon ends to fit into the bento enough to get the lid closed was quite the challenge!

I hope that everyone is having a great week!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fruit Friday

It is that time of year again.  The school pizza rant is here!  Today is the first day of school pizza on Friday for A-chan and it made me grumble and grump all morning.  I despise it.  I loathe it.  Why am I so upset by it?  That's a good question and one that I have tried to solve for myself today.  Partly because it undermines everything that I am attempting to teach my child about good nutrition.  Another factor is that I hate having to scrounge around to find exact change to put in the envelope in a society where cash is fast becoming obsolete. There is a part of me that is acting like a 5 year old who's toy just got taken away because it's a morning where I don't get to make a proper bento.

But it goes deeper than that.  It's almost as if this one thing usurps every ideal that I am trying to instill in our family  - not just good nutrition but also less waste (they are served on paper plates) and the evils of peer pressure.  I know that the reason for Friday pizza is a good one - they are raising money for the class.  And I absolutely love everything about my daughter's school except for this one thing.  It seems extremely petty to be so upset about it, honestly.  But at the same time it seems as if the school is trampling on all the hard work that parents do.  I know that I am overreacting.  By the end of autumn I will be excited about making fruit-only bentos again.  Today, however, I am going to revel in my grumpiness.

In the bento: Strawberries, peach slices and a huge bunch of tiny champagne grapes.

A-chan was happy about having Fruit Friday bentos to go with her pizza again.  When we went to the store to purchase fruit for the week she desperately wanted to try these itty bitty grapes for Friday.  I love it when she wants to try new foods!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hot Dog Lions

I remember when A-chan was about three years old and I was delighted with the use of hot dogs that could be cut up in clever ways for bentos.  They looked so appetizing and fun that I couldn't wait until she was old enough that it was safe to give her hot dogs that weren't cut into minuscule pieces.  This style of hot dog use was one of my favorites to look at.  I was in a big hurry so my cuts are very messy and not nearly as pretty as I would have liked, but I'm still happy with the hot dog love!

In the bento: Two tiny peanut butter circle lion sammies surrounded by hot dog manes.  Boiled edamame, baby carrots, baby corn, grapes and a large cherry tomato cut in half.

The lion faces were punched from nori and secured to the bread with a tiny dab of peanut butter on the back which was applied with the tip of a toothpick.  The hot dogs were cooked then sliced almost all the way through, then secured in a circle with small pieces of uncooked soba noodle.  In the background is the container that I filled with ketchup for dipping hot dogs in.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

After DragonCon Bento

It was the morning after DragonCon and few groceries were in the house.  The worst bento transgression was about to occur for we had no fruit!  It pained me greatly but still I labored to put one together, swearing to shop just as soon as I could.   Instead of lettuce to line and to cushion I cut apart muffin cups and used them where needed.  What a wonderful time we had at that pinnacle of Conventions, meeting lots of great people hither and yon.  Much thanks to all those who attended my classes, I had a fantastic time and I hope that you did as well!

In the bento:  Peanut butter and sugar sprinkle sandwiches, steamed broccoli, baby tomatoes on Kappa picks, baby carrots, cheddar cheese chunks and the tiny chick container of frozen blueberries which was all the fruit I could find.

It was a fantastic convention and we loved every minute and we can't wait for next year!  We dressed up in several different costumes.  Here are a couple of pics of our matching Victorian outfits.

 It's always a difficult transition to come home after an amazing event and I made the mistake of forgetting to stop for groceries.  Luckily we had enough food on hand to make a bento but I was a little nervous for a while this morning.  In the background is A-chan's snack container filled with the last few Cheetos that we had left over from our junk food stash in the hotel room.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Little Kittens

Today's bento is in honor of the three little kittens that are currently running our household.  They will be five weeks old tomorrow and have started learning how to cause mayhem and chaos this week.  Of course, they are the cutest things EVER!  Somehow it has been impossible for me to get a good picture of them, so here they are in inari zushi form.

In the bento: Three inari kittens, baby corn, carrot star, lemon slice, steamed broccoli (hidden behind the carrot star), a cherry, a checkered apple, half of a cherry tomato and a few green beans.

The kitten faces are made with white egg sheet and nori.  The whites of the eyes were 'glued' onto the inari skins with a tiny bit of mayo which was applied with a toothpick.  I squeezed the corners of the rectangular inari skins to make them resemble kitty ears.

Here is a picture of the kittens nursing on a very frazzled mama cat, lol.  A-chan and I have a difference of opinion in names.  She had already given them names five minutes after they were born.  The one on the left is Stripey according to the 7 year old, while I prefer Jewel.  The middle kitten is Cloudy or Quartz.  The black one is either called Brownie by A-chan or Onyx by me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Quick Noodle Bento

This bento represents a victory for edamame consumption!  A-chan will eat edamame as long as I leave them in the pods so that she can pull them out herself.  If I remove them from the pods or, heaven forbid, purchase them already shelled she will turn up her nose in scorn.  I have finally realized this and voila - she's eating them like candy.

Using dividers and containers add cuteness to a bento with lightning fast timing.  This is a wonderful thing on those crazy busy mornings when everything needs to happen at once and kittens are scrambling underfoot to add some adventure.  I love the pig container, it's just so cute!  You can close it for holding things that are a little juicy but I prefer to have it open so it's possible to see what's inside.

In the bento:  Plain macaroni noodles, a parsley leaf, baby carrots, boiled edamame, baby corn in the piggy container, strawberries and a slice of lemon.  On the side is a container of grated parmesan cheese to sprinkle over the noodles.

The container for the parmesan is a re-purposed sugar sprinkle container.  They come in packs of 6 at the grocery store with different colored sugar inside for making cookies and topping cupcakes.  Once they are empty I wash them and fill them with salt or parmesan or furikake for use with bentos.  The parmesan container is topped off regularly and stored in the fridge so that it is ready at a moment's notice.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Froggy Faces

One of my absolute favorite things about bento tools is how a single basic shape can be transformed into so many different things.  Take the frog onigiri above, for example.  They were made with a teddy bear onigiri mold.  I've used the same mold to make bears, pandas, racoons, frogs and a few other things.  The tools certainly aren't necessary for bento making, but they can be so much fun and open up new realms of creative thinking!

In the bento: Two frog onigiri, cherries, fried tofu, carrot flowers, a huge cherry tomato and steamed broccoli.

Green food coloring was added to the water before I cooked the rice which gave a lovely light green hue.  The eyes were cut from white egg sheet and nori.  Their noses were black sesame seeds and the mouths cut from nori with scissors.  The carrot flowers are the best thing about this bento, in my opinion, because I just learned how to do it!  I love them!  Learning how to cut the flowers this way was part of what I did on my birthday.  A-chan gave a gratifying gasp of amazement when she saw them.

Have a Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, August 24, 2012


The Snail of Destiny!  Not really, it just sounded good.  I promised A-chan a snail bento after our last trip to the Botanical Gardens where she picked up a leaf to find two tiny snails attached to the underside.  We were both delighted and fascinated with them and watched them for a long time.

In the bento: A cheese sandwich, baby corn, carrot flowers, a cherry, an apple bunny and steamed broccoli.

The Snail was made from three egg sheets:  one white, one grey and one brown.  The grey color was achieved with the addition of cherry juice to the egg mixture before cooking.  I was trying to get a nice light pink color and was greatly disappointed that it turned grey instead.  The brown egg sheet turned out fabulous with the addition of cocoa powder to the egg mix.  I must admit that I have not actually tasted the chocolate egg sheet yet.  Eventually I will wrap my brain around the concept and try it but for now I'm just using it for decorative purposes.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Birthday Treat and Review

Ahhh, the beauty of lunch is mine!  I bought myself a 'Bento Colors' box from Bento & Co. for my birthday. I might not have needed an excuse to buy a new bento box but a birthday is a good one.  For a long time I have passionately wanted one of these sleek boxes but kept putting it off because I didn't make many bento lunches for myself.  That's changing with my new schedule and going back to school!

At first I wasn't sure what to do with three entire tiers.  Filling three tiers required a new way of planning.  In actuality it wasn't difficult at all and I was amazed at how much food fit into this box even though it is relatively skinny.  The tier on the far right is deeper than the other two.  I was delighted to be able to fit the huge cherry tomato in without having to cut it and it fit absolutely perfectly into the rounded end.  The lids were a bit different from any of my other bento boxes, but I was very happy with the way that they fit and I felt that they made a good, solid seal.

In the bento:  The left tier held Fuji apple slices, steamed broccoli, steamed edamame, two cherry halves, two tiny homemade vegetarian meatballs and a lemon wedge.  The middle tier is stuffed with rice and topped with a sprinkling of homemade furikake.  The right tier had a huge cherry tomato, potato salad with edamame and mustard seeds, steamed squash and two carrot flowers on a bed of purple cabbage.

Purple is my favorite color.  You'd be surprised at how difficult it is to find purple bento boxes!  Now you know why I coveted this one...   The three boxes slide into the outer case very easily with guides on the inside to help.  It also closes completely with little effort and fit into almost all of my bento bags.  (Yes, I had to try it in all of them, just to see.)  Opening it is also pretty easy although I had to use the thumb of my left hand on one side and the right hand on the other.  My hands simply were not large enough to grasp the end and remove it in one fell swoop.

Overall I am just as delighted with the 'Bento Colors' box as I had hoped to be.  While having an extra tier was intimidating at first, I have since fallen head over heels for the extra space.  I loved carrying it and found that I didn't obsess about it falling over like I have done with other boxes.  The elegant case is just perfect and beautifully streamlined.  The only drawback was that my camera didn't want to take a good picture of the case - it was simply too reflective!  I had to put the elephant in front to give the camera something to focus on in order to get a relatively decent picture.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Butterflies and Tulips

Yesterday was my birthday.  It was a wonderful day and I enjoyed every moment!  My birthday present to myself was a new bento box from Bento & Co. which I can't wait to try out.  Expect an excited post with a review tomorrow.  This bento was quick and easy to put together except for the black sesame seeds which were not nearly as simple as I expected.

In the bento:  Rice with egg sheet butterflies and carrot tulips, a container of sauteed tofu, sesame carrots, pomegranates, blueberries, grapes, and plums.

The small flowers were cut from egg sheet and plum peel and the leaves were cut from spinach with scissors.  Since I've also been going to school I have been making bentos for myself.  Here is my first umeboshi bento!

In the bento: Rice, homemade vegetarian meatballs with carrot stars, clementine wedge, steamed green beans, Japanese sweet potato slices, grapes and a container of squash and green peas.  Instead of my usual lettuce baran I used folded over spinach leaves.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Curry with Chickens

Wow, it's already Friday!  I can't believe that the first week of school is over already.  Here are some cute chicks to usher in the weekend with my fav recipe - Curry rice.  It no longer phases A-chan when I add things to the basic curry recipe.  This time I went back to spinach, chopping it very fine in an attempt to get it past the 7 year old radar.  When we ate the first meal of the batch (one batch will usually make 3-4 meals for us) she took a few bites before challenging me on the green stuff.  "It's spinach," I said.  She proceeded to eat the rest with no comments.  Can I consider that a spinach victory?

In the bento: Vegetarian curry with two onigiri on top, egg sheet chicks, grapes, plum, steamed green beans and a carrot butterfly.

The egg sheet ovals for the chicks were cut with scissors and placed onto the onigiri with a little bit of curry gravy to hold them in place.  Their beaks were cut from carrots and the cheeks were sriracha dabbed on with the end of a toothpick.  The little flowers are egg sheet with red sugar dots in the center and they have leaves of fresh parsley.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Boy 'n' Girl Bento

Pierogies are easy to make into fun bento pals.  These are potato and onion pierogies that were first boiled and then pan fried in a little bit of butter, yum!  I'm not very happy with how the clementine turned out.  The idea was to provide a start for A-chan to peel it herself.  My exacto knife met with a horrible rusty end over the summer though, so I had to try and cut the peel design with a regular knife.  Hmm.  Yeah, need a new exacto knife asap!

In the bento:  Two pierogies, green peas on picks, steamed broccoli, tiny clementine, pomegranate seeds and blueberries, veggie hot dogs.

This is definitely The Week of the Egg Sheet!  The boy and girl have hair cut from egg sheets, including the flowers on her ponytails.  Their faces were punched from nori.  I love how the veggie hot dogs look!  After they were cooked, I used a tiny heart shaped cutter for the centers and while it was still in place used a knife to cut around it to create the vertical slices.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lyin' Around

The school year is off to a fantastic start!  A-chan loves her school and teachers.  She came home full of energy and eagerness,  though she was sad about a friend who had moved away.  I can't wait to find out what she learns today.  It is tempting to throw responsibility out the window and enjoy these first carefree days of the house being empty with movie watching, book reading and doughnuts.  I'm resisting it so far...

This cheery lion was from my freezer stash which made the early morning prep very easy!  He was popped into the oven to cook for 15 minutes while I cut out the facial details and arranged the rest of the bento.  Before putting the eyes, etc. on the flatpie I let it cool down because unintentionally melted cheese is just embarrassing.

In the bento: Potato and onion flatpie, strawberries, carrot sticks, blackberries and sauteed zucchini with black sesame seeds.

Provolone cheese was cut out with shape cutters for the white parts of the face and ears.  Cheddar cheese hearts were 'glued' on with a tiny bit of mayo.  My lion face nori punch was perfect for the size of this cute guy and I added a few dots using a tiny dot punch.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Giraffes are Cool

Hi there, world!  It feels like forever since I last had time to post.  Summer was crazy busy and tons of fun with adventures, lots of travel, lots of camps, kittens and my first semester back in school.  For A-chan's first day as a second grader she requested a Giraffe bento.  (One of her favorite summer memories was getting to feed a giraffe at Zoo Atlanta.)  Since I spent part of the summer practicing to perfect egg sheets, I was delighted to be able to use some in the first bento of the new school year!

In the bento: Two onigiri covered with egg sheet, grapes, cheddar cheese blocks, Morningstar Farms soy sausage links, steamed broccoli, pomegranate seeds and clementine wedges.

Mr. Giraffe has soy turkey for his spots, white eggsheet and nori facial details, black sesame seeds for his nose and soba noodles with corn kernals for antennae.  The large egg sheets for Mr. Giraffe were loosely  wrapped over the onigiri and held in place with the food that was packed around him.  The little hearts are cut from white egg sheet with nori hearts on top.

Though bentos were being made during the summer, most of the pictures have been ruminating on my computer without being posted.  I was extremely lax about anything online while I focused on studying for school. While I enjoyed my classes immensely I was unprepared for the wild amount of work necessary
in a summer session.  I can't wait to get back into the routine of bento making and I'm looking forward to catching up on everything and reconnecting with everyone!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Polar Bear

What does a Polar Bear do on Summer vacation?  I think he would go to Antarctica for vacation.  Until we got our air conditioner repaired yesterday I was starting to day dream about traveling there myself!  This is another tightly packed summer camp bento, but I wanted it to be a little cuter since it was for the last day of camp.

In the bento: Rice, sesame carrots, grapes, cherry tomato halves, steamed broccoli, soy sauce tofu and peach slices.

The Happy Bear's features were punched from nori.  His snout (or should that be muzzle) is an oval of provolone cheese with nori on top.  He also has tiny circles of gari for cheeks.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fried Rice for Camp

Have you ever looked at a word, one that is very familiar, and been totally convinced that you'd spelled it incorrectly?  The word 'summer' went all wonky on me this morning.  It just looked wrong!  Ah, well.  I would attribute it to heat stroke except that it hasn't been very hot at all.

In the bento: Veggie fried rice, a huge cherry tomato, peach slices, grapes, pickled cucumber slices and black olives.

This bento is another one from last week's summer camp which A-chan absolutely adored.  Again, I kept it very simple.  The fried rice has green peas, roughly cut carrots, onions and scrambled tofu mixed into it. I put a little too much soy sauce in the rice as I fried it, so it ended up more brown than normal.  It seemed overkill to put in a soy sauce bottle with her bento, lol.

Monday, June 11, 2012

First Day of Summer Camp

Happy Summer!  We had a great time being lazy and catching up with friends for our first week of summer break.  This week is A-chan's first summer camp of the year at a nearby Nature Center.  Since I was pretty sure that lunches would be jumbled around at camp, I packed her bento very tightly with extra lettuce and kept the cuteness to a minimum.

In the bento: Two miniature homemade vegetarian hamburgers, lemon slices, carrot flowers, two onigiri, steamed broccoli, a cherry tomato and two picks of cheddar cheese.  On the side is a container of ketchup for the hamburgers.

This was an extremely quick bento to put together.  I already had rice made and waiting in the fridge to be microwaved and made into onigiri.  The triangular mold made it easy and speedy.  The mix for the hamburgers was also waiting in the fridge - I formed them into patties and cooked them in a small pan with a tiny bit of sesame oil.