Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Love Bunny

I have decided that the exacto knife is the bento maker's Sonic Screwdriver.  That thing is awesome!  This morning instead of playing it safe and cutting hearts in the apple as usual, I took the adventurous route and used the exacto knife to cut the heart shapes instead. Eureka!  Clean edges and no bruising means that the perfect apple carving tool is finally within my grasp.  *Insert sinister laugh here*

In the bento: Miniature pancakes, a container of feta, carrot hearts, Morningstar Farms sausage links, apple, sugar snap peas, a lemon wedge, and blackberries. The little monkey container has strawberry icing inside.

The bunny face was made with nori, carrot, and provolone cheese with strawberry jelly for the cheeks.  The pancakes are part of my freezer stash - Frozen miniature Eggo pancakes.  They are easy to cook on early mornings but I still wish that I could make homemade pancakes.  One day I will learn, but for now I won't try my hand at burning more.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pastitsio Bento

Ahhh, Monday.  The sun is shining but it is as cold as all get out!  I've never been exactly sure what that phrase meant.  My grandparents used it a lot as I was growing up and it is now part of my brain function whether I understand it or not.  Might as well use it, right?  Today's bento of leftover vegetarian Pastitsio is perfect for this weather and it's all for me.  Happy Meatless Monday!

The package of sesame leaves that I picked up last night is the excuse for making myself a bento today.  They looked so pretty and it's been a long time since I've done anything experimental food-wise.  These are actually Perilla leaves which are related to Basil and Mint, but are often marketed under the name Sesame leaves.  Since I'm allergic to Mint, today's experiment is very cautious.  If I have no reactions today I will be more adventurous later in the week.  I love how the leaf looks in the bento - can't wait to actually try tasting it!

A-chan chose Starfruit as her food experiment.  So far she hasn't liked it, but I am so proud of her for trying it!  And since she doesn't like it that just means more for me...

In the bento:  Vegetarian Pastitsio, Perilla leaf, an almond, baby carrots, a huge cherry tomato, blackberries, steamed broccoli, a slice of starfruit and an orange slice.

Pastitsio is a Greek meat and pasta casserole.  I adapted a recipe to be made with Morningstar Farms recipe crumbles.  The recipe is posted on my other blog so if you're interested, go check it out.  It makes a huge amount!  (And you can substitute real meat for the fake meat if you happen to be a carnivore.  Just sayin')

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Onigiri

After all the hearts yesterday I decided to do a bento classic for today and made happy onigiri because it's Friday!  This weekend is going to be pretty busy with A-chan's Taekwondo sparring camp and me going to dance rehearsals for a show in Feb.  I'm making our plans into excuses to make weekend bentos.

In the bento: Two round and happy onigiri, orange slices, a container of blueberries with a pink hedgehog pick, a baby tomato and a bread 'bowl' filled with tofu, carrot and broccoli stirfry.

The onigiri faces were punched out of nori except for the cheeks which were cut from gari.  The pretty bow was painstakingly cut from lemon peel and orange peel using the exacto knife, which was more difficult than I expected.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Heart-full bento

This bento turned out to have a theme, though I didn't know it until I was taking the picture.  Hmm.  I guess it's almost Valentine's Day!  Oh boy, we get to make chocolates!  A-chan is already gushing about the chocolate making tradition and has started counting down the days.  I was informed this morning at breakfast that there are only 19 days til Valentine's.

In the bento: A heart shaped container filled with chickpeas and feta, steamed broccoli, baby carrots, two bamboo picks with veggie hot dog slices and provolone cheese hearts, a lemon slice, two potato and cheese pierogies, pear slices, blueberries and a tiny tomato on a heart pick.

I find it difficult to make the heart shaped container fit into my bentos so it usually sits unused in my bento gear box.  However, this bento was designed around it!  It was the first thing to go in and I worked everything else around it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Favorite Things

There are very few bentos where I don't use a container of some kind.  They are so useful! I love them for fruit, stirfry and cheese.  Today I used my absolute favorite container to pack black eyed peas.  The peas are a bit juicy and this container with its lid is perfect for things that might lead to a sloppy messy bento disaster otherwise.

In the bento: The smaller tier holds plain spaghetti noodles, a tomato flower and pear leaf.  The larger tier contains the panda with black eyed peas, Morningstar Farms chik nuggets, carrot flowers, steamed broccoli, orange slices and panda picks with blueberries.

Not shown are a small bottle full of grated Parmesan cheese, a container of ketchup and a soy sauce bottle.

Here is my new fun thing!  I'm calling it the Bento Treasures link-up.  I want to know what container is your favorite.  Link -up to a picture of a bento with your favorite container in use.  It can be one of your bentos, it can be one of my bentos.  It can be someone else's bento (as long as there is proper attribution, of course).  If you don't make bentos or don't own any containers yet, show me a container that you'd like to have.   I'll have a new theme for the next four weeks.  Let's find out more about our bento obsession!  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Where is the Sun?

A children's book inspired today's bento.  'How the Sun was Brought Back to the Sky' by Mirra Ginsburg was published in 1975, the year I was born.  We found our copy at Mr. Reed's Odds and Ends Antique store.  It's pretty much out in the middle of nowhere and filled with all kinds of things.  I like to describe it as a giant treasure trove.  In this sweet book some intrepid chicks decide that the sun has been gone for too long and go on an adventure to find it.  My thoughts on getting out of bed this morning mirrored theirs.  It's been raining for days and days - I need some sunshine!

In the bento: Tofu kaarage, blueberries, a tiny tomato, steamed broccoli, navel orange slices, rice with furikake, eggsheet chicks and flowers.

The tofu kaarage is adapted from a recipe for Chicken Kaarage on Just Hungry. My camera seemed to love the tofu as much as I do - every shot that I took this morning was focused on the tofu instead of the chicks! The furikake is one that I made from toasted sesame seeds, sea salt and tarragon.  And I even managed to have enough space for one of the new soy sauce bottles that I got at Christmas!

This post is my 400th bento post!  That is a lot of bentos :D   A while back I noticed that this big number was coming up and gave a lot of thought to a way to celebrate.  What I want is to start doing a link-up that focuses on our favorite things about bentos.  There are a lot of other bento peeps out there that I would love to know more about - what are your bento treasures?  Unfortunately I'm not feeling very good today so I'm going to start this whole new adventure tomorrow when I'm certain that I can be more coherent.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Lion of a Pancake

In the jungle even a pancake can roar.  If it were so inclined.  I'm thinking that this cute little guy wouldn't roar, though.  He might just run around saying 'nyan' all day.  Continuing with this week's interesting bento moments - I learned this morning that an upside down heart shape at the end of a tail does not make a shape that is recommended for a child's bento.  Luckily I realized that in time to replace it with a flower shape. I'm sure you guys could work that out for yourselves, but I'm in the sharing mood.

In the bento: Grapes with two cute lion picks, flowered carrot sticks, veggie sausage links, nectarine chunks, and miniature pancakes.

Mr. Lion was made using the two cutting tools at the top left. I cut his mane, muzzle and tail fluff out of provolone cheese.  And of course the other facial features were punched from nori.  Since the pancakes were going to be eaten with icing, I decided to 'glue' on the face without using mayo which I thought might spoil the taste.  Instead I painted each piece of cheese and nori with a tiny bit of strawberry jelly using the sharp end of a toothpick.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Just a little flower

Coffee is one of the most wonderful things that has ever existed.  It is purely by the power of coffee that I managed to pull myself together to make a bento today.  Have I mentioned before that this is one of my favorite bento boxes?  I'm sure it's not a big surprise since I seem to use it a lot!  I love the half-size container and the fact that the lid has a little extra vertical room for decorations.

In the bento: Rice with a carrot and pea flower, corn kernals on picks, steamed broccoli, sauteed tofu, a baby carrot, pear slices and nectarine slices.

Originally the little elephant pick was stuck into the top piece of tofu.  However, it looked too much like the elephant was being sucked into a tar pit or something and I couldn't stand it.  So I moved it and tried to disguise the original placement with black sesame seeds.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Over the school break for MLK Day I decided to do some egg sheet practice.  I wasn't sure what I was going to use all of the egg sheets that I made for exactly, so I wrapped them up in cling wrap and stored them in the fridge until inspiration struck.  I think I'm getting better at making them!  Although I'm still not sure why my egg sheets are always so shiny in pictures, lol.

One of A-chan's favorite manga is Card Captor Sakura so I decided to make Kero-chan for her.

In the bento: Cheese and soy turkey sandwich, egg sheet kero-chan, steamed broccoli, baby carrots, baby corn, grapes and plum slices.

I used scissors to cut the crust off the bread slices.  Most of the time when I try to cut bread with a knife I end up with a much smaller piece of bread and a lot of crumbs.  Instead of using scissors to cut the egg sheets, this time I utilized my handy dandy exacto knife which was way more fun.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mama's Bento

There wasn't a need for a bento today.  A-chan was home from school yesterday and today for MLK.  So I made up an excuse to make a bento for myself.  It got eaten at home and satisfied a creative need.  As a bonus I made myself some quick pickles which I adore!

In the bento: Two lozenge shaped onigiri with nori wraps and eggsheet flowers, quick cucumber pickles, leftover Mongolian suegai from the Chinese restaurant, Moro orange slices, a small bunch of tiny grapes and a couple of chunks of Dubliner cheese.

The onigiri weren't quite large enough to stretch to both sides of the box so I placed them inside a large lettuce leaf to hold them in place and add to the prettiness.  The eggsheet flowers were held onto the nori with sriracha as 'glue' and sriracha dots grace the middles of the flowers as well.

We ate at local Chinese restaurant the other night where I got one of my fav dishes - Mongolian suegai.  Yum! There wasn't a lot of it leftover so I had the perfect amount for a bento.  It was a delicious lunch and a quick bento.

I had promised a while back to write up my vegetarian Spaghetti recipe that has been seen in several bentos here and there.  Technically it's my grandmother's recipe that I hijacked into going vegetarian.  But the recipe is now up on my other blog!  Woohoo!  Here is the link: http://incaseofasparagus.blogspot.com/2012/01/make-spaghetti-vegetarian-style.html

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hug Me!

What is your opinion on kissing frogs?  Mine tends to be along the lines of 'Ewwwww'!  But I'm okay with hugging one.  Anyway...

It's Friday!  The happy Friday dance commenced a little later than normal this morning.  Ahhh, lovely Friday.  I am so looking forward to the weekend.  Not only am I planning to put away the Christmas decorations, there is going to be a huge cleaning spree!

In the bento: Vegetarian spaghetti, picks of black olives, a lemon slice, nectarine chunks, baby corn, a strawberry balloon, cucumber froggie and cheese letters.

The tiny letters were made with my brand new letter cutters that I got at IchibanCon.  Aren't they cute?  I'm loving them!  The frog face was cut from cucumber peel using a frog/teddy bear face cutter.  His body was cut with a knife but the arms were left over from the face cutting.  The eyes and mouth were cut from provolone and his nose is sesame seeds.

Here is a link to my vegetarian spaghetti recipe (on my other blog): http://incaseofasparagus.blogspot.com/2012/01/make-spaghetti-vegetarian-style.html

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Panda Sammie Cuteness

Today is going to be a blast from the past!  I'm going to resurrect some ancient primitive technology skills to demo for A-chan's class. We're talking way back. Only a few of the artifacts that were created in our days of primitive skills glory will get to shine today.  The ones I'm most proud of were the bone needle, awl and pins that I carved with flint tools that I knapped myself - it was so cool.  The part that A-chan is looking forward to the most is the atlatl demonstration.  That's the one I'm nervous about.  While my husband is a spear throwing genius, my skills in that area generally lead to embarrassment.  But the kids will still enjoy it and get to learn about ancient techniques to go along with their early human class arc.  What does this have to do with a panda sandwich in a bento?  Um...nothing...I'm just totally excited!

In the bento: Panda sandwich filled with cheese and mayo, nectarine slices, steamed broccoli, baby tomatoes with musical picks, lemon slices, a flowery container of tofu, baby corn and carrot stirfry, cheese stars.

The panda's features were cut with a nori punch and glued to the bread with tiny amounts of mayo that I applied with a toothpick.  The same technique was used to place the sesame seeds for the eyes.  The veggies and tofu were quick stir fried with with ginger, garlic and soy sauce.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Butterfly on a Pancake

I love doing Henna.  And I love that it can translate into decorating food!  When A-chan asked me to combine miniature pancakes with butterflies I was thrilled and jumped on the opportunity to put one of my favorite henna designs in her lunch.

In the bento: The large tier holds a mini muffin cup of tiny grapes, two slices of fuji apple, miniature pancakes , one carrot flower and one cheese flower.  The small tier has three waffle fries, a carrot butterfly, a tomato on a plaid pick, three veggie sausage links, steamed broccoli and more cheese flowers.

To draw the butterfly I made a henna cone which is basically a tiny version of an icing bag.  I filled it with strawberry flavored icing and piped out the design.  In the background is a tiny monkey container that is filled with more icing to be spread on the rest of the pancakes.  It is honestly very small and doesn't have room for much icing, but it makes her happy and is much less messy than syrup or honey!

The sausage links were originally two links that I cut in half.  For some reason I always tend to group things like the sausage links in threes.  I'm not sure why.  But I am always happy to eat the leftover portion for my breakfast.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Curry is Yummy!

Coming home from a trip to find that I had large amounts of Japanese curry already made and waiting in the freezer brought forth feelings akin to winning the lottery.  This stuff is a perfect foil to the rainy, dreary weather that is plaguing us this week.  Add to that the fact that it freezes well and was awesomely easy to reheat and you know why I'm in love with this dish!

In the bento: Japanese curry and rice, chunks of pear in a container, baby corn spears and a cherry tomato.

The curry contains onion, carrot, potato and tofu.  There is a small layer of rice underneath the curry sauce in addition to the sidewall of rice to keep the curry contained.  A carrot flower with black sesame seeds and snap pea leaves gives the curry a little pizzazz.  I am always amazed at what the black sesame seeds do to carrots - the orange color suddenly pops!  The panda pick just adds a tiny bit of cuteness :)

Here is a link to my Japanese Curry recipe.  It's very simple and totally incredible.  (I think everyone should try it!)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bearly Corndogs

IchibanCon was amazing!  We had a wonderful time meeting new people and enjoying the ...well, everything! Everyone was incredibly friendly.  The hallway decorations were way cool.  I loved the panels that I got to go see and desperately wished that I had been able to get to more of them.  I'm hoping that I get to go back next year :)  And we even got home safely despite getting lost in Greenville, SC in a vain search for a Thai restaurant.  (That was an adventure...)

While I usually try to pack A-chan's bentos with more healthy food than junk food, sometimes I just can't help slipping in some good old fashioned corndogs.  These, however, are better than regular corn dogs.  They are miniature vegetarian corndogs with no sticks!  It can't get better than that!

In the bento: Three miniature corndog bears, a cherry tomato, steamed broccoli, checkerboard apple, two potato and onion pierogies, carrot flowers and two plaid picks for fun.

The corndogs took only 60 secs to microwave to perfection.  The pierogies took longer since they had to be boiled and then pan fried in butter, but they were still under the ten minute mark.

The bear faces and ears were cut from provolone cheese (surprise, surprise, lol) and nori.  Tiny pieces of uncooked somen noodles were stuck halfway through the ears and half into the dogs.  Ketchup was applied with the blunt end of a toothpick to create cheeks.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Simple ravioli bento

There are days when I just can't help but smile.  Today is beautiful!  Bright sunshine, blue skies, temperatures are back to levels that are not crazy cold.  2012 is starting out as a wonderful year.  A-chan and I are heading to IchibanCon in Charlotte, NC tomorrow.  It's our first event of the year and we can't wait!

In the bento: Four cheese ravioli with red peppers and feta, Morningstar Farms veggie link sausages, clementine pieces, steamed broccoli, apple bunny and a tiny wedge of lemon.

This bento is very simple, but very filling!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lila's Gift

Hi Y'all!  Happy New Year!  Long time no see - how ya been?  The holidays were fantastic and fun, but I feel a bit like I've been trampled by an elephant.  Slogging through molasses somewhat towards the direction of the normal groove, I am finally doing the first bento post of the year!  I am so excited, I can't wait to see what bentos everyone comes up with in the new year!

Technically this is a bento from last year.  One of my dance students asked me to buy a bento box and fill it with food as a Christmas gift for her boss.  She wanted to try and inspire her boss to eat healthier lunches in the new year, which I thought was a sweet gift idea.  This cute box with matching fork and case came from Ohayo Bento's store.  It is filled with easy to make things that I consider to be classic bento foods.

In the bento: Sugar snap peas, carrot flowers, cauliflower, vegetable gyoza, clementine pieces, cherries, vegetable fried rice with nori on top and cherry tomato halves.

The three color vegetables is one of the most recognizable bento dishes.  I can't count the number of bento books that I've seen it in, not to mention the tons of bento posts out there on blogs and flickr!  It is usually cauliflower, zucchini and carrots.  I substituted the snap peas for the zucchini because I wanted their texture. The veggie gyoza were store bought and were cooked straight from the freezer.  First they were browned in a bit of olive oil and then I finished them up by steaming with a small amount of water.