Friday, March 30, 2012

Good Morning Piggy!

Here is another sweet potato bao bento.  The cute piggy is to make up for the fact that A-chan isn't getting school pizza this Friday.  My sacrificial offering (this one was supposed to be my bao) seemed to be accepted with much pleasure.

In the bento: Sweet potato bao, carrot flowers, blackberries, veggie hot dogs, apple chunks and steamed broccoli.

The piggy face was made with pink egg sheet, provolone cheese and nori.  All the pieces were 'glued' on by a tiny bit of mayo.  The tiny little cheeks were the cutouts from the nose - I didn't want to waste them!  The flowers on the apple chunks are provolone cheese with more tiny egg sheet cutouts for the centers.

I'm not sure why but bentos that contain pink egg sheet never show the real color in the picture.  One day I hope to get a perfect pink bento picture!  If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears.

The last time I posted a sweet potato bao bento I was asked for a picture of the package.  I thought it might be a good idea to post it for everyone to see - it's much easier to identify in the store if you know what you're looking for!  To cook this bao I put it into a microwaveable bowl from the freezer, covered it with plastic wrap and microwaved it for 50 seconds.  Beware cooking it for too long because it will turn into a pink rock.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hot Dog Ballerinas

For child-size mouths eating a hot dog in a bun can be a challenge.  Cutting them into hot dog and bun rounds is one of my favorite ways of making it a little easier.  Instead of applying ketchup liberally to the bun like I normally would, there is instead a dipping container.  I gave them cute little faces out of nori but didn't try to make them look like anything in particular.  A-chan dubbed them ballerinas and pointed out how the bun parts looked like raised arms.  I loved it!

In the bento: Vegetarian hot dog and bun rounds, a halved cherry tomato, an orange wedge, blackberries, steamed broccoli, corn on the cob and cheddar cubes on musical picks.

The entire hot dog would not fit into the bento without getting smooshed so the remainder became part of my lunch.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One owl, two owls, hoot hoot hoot!

It's a beautiful day with bright blue skies and amazing sunshine.  I learned with this bento that owls are not as easy to make as I expected.  In fact, the idea of 'owl' in my head does not resemble the real thing very much.  That's okay because these guys will be very tasty no matter what they look like...or don't look like!

In the bento: Two inari zushi owls, a mashed kabocha ball, steamed broccoli, corn on the cob, orange slices, apple slices and provolone cheese flowers.

The owls were made from provolone cheese, nori and carrots.  I used a leaf shaped cutter for the wings which would have been better if it had been just a smidge smaller. A-chan reminded me that owls have ears so I remedied the lack with more provolone cheese hastily cut out and attached.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Nose Knows

Sometimes having a big nose is a big asset, especially for this guy whose nose is so cute!  A-chan asked for an onigiri for lunch today and I was delighted to oblige.  Actually, she first requested fried tofu but was denied and then decided on onigiri.  Moms have to make these tough decisions for the good health and well being of our children.  I told her she would understand in 20 years, but I don't think she believed me.

In the bento: Bunny onigiri, baby carrots, apple slices and a pick of green peas in the main compartment.  The smaller compartment contains steamed broccoli, an apple bunny, a pick with green peas and carrot slices, orange slices.  

The bunny's face is made from soy bologna, nori, and pickled ginger.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Funny Bao

One of our favorite things to buy at Super H mart are sweet potato bao.  We buy them frozen and save them for treats and fun bentos.  The outside is a mix of pink and purple and is so soft when they are steamed, just perfection!  Spring is here, the sun is shining, birds are tweeting up a storm outside so today is a perfect day for a little sweet potato treat.

In the bento: Sweet potato bao, steamed broccoli, half a cherry tomato, tofu and edamame on a pick, blueberries and orange slices.

Taking inspiration from Sherimiya's bao creativity, I cut the ears from the top layer of the bao using an exacto knife.  It wasn't as easy as I'd thought it would be!  The eyes, nose and mouth are provolone and nori, the cheeks are soy bologna.  Simple, tasty and fun :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Friend Hello Kitty

It is possible to make a bento using only one hand.  Barely.  With a bunch of cheating. Using my left hand for things has been an adventure today!  If anyone ever tells you thumbs are over rated, don't believe them.  Since I am impaired I fell back on my favorite bento character to decorate A-chan's lunch today.

In the bento: Two cheese sandwiches, steamed broccoli, apple heart, blueberries on a pick, veggie hot dog, baby carrots and a cherry tomato.

Hello Kitty is made from provolone cheese, nori and a veggie hot dog bow.  The tools make it very easy to create Hello Kitty and I love the way she makes A-chan smile.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Singing Friends

Wow ~ this morning was tough!  Spring break was wonderful but the return to reality is just so...realistic.  Today's bento was very simple to make and nice for my poor muddled sleepy brain to figure out because I'd  remembered to plan the night before, yay me!

In the bento:  Three inari zushi, a cherry tomato, two picks with blueberries, kabocha, steamed broccoli, strawberries and orange slices.

In the past I've recommended cooking the kabocha and the inari skins in the same pot because they are both very yummy using the same ingredients.  However, I can't recall if I've said which order to cook them in.  Definitely cook the kabocha first and then add the inari after the kabocha pieces are removed.  This morning's mixture was my favorite flavorings: water, soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar.

The middle inari has cooked kabocha mashed and mixed into the rice.  I think it tasted divine and hope that A-chan thinks the same.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sumatran Tiger

A-chan and I love the zoo.  We could both sit around and watch the animals for hours.  A lot of our favorites are the big cats.  Sometimes we watch them with fascination and compare their actions to those of our house cats whose antics are an endless source of entertainment.  The Sumatran Tigers are high on my list of personal favorites and when I decided to challenge myself to a complicated bento, it was with the tigers in mind.

This is my first attempt at an 'art' bento and although there are several flaws, I'm very happy with the results! At two hours, this is the most time consuming bento I've made.  And I learned a lot doing it - things that will make it faster next time and a huge amount about the tigers themselves.  Despite my admiration for the big cuties, I couldn't say that I appreciated their stripes and facial designs the way I do now.

In the bento:  Rice, egg sheets, radish sprouts, a halved strawberry, steamed edamame, fried tofu, baby corn and black plum slices.

The tiger's face was made with layers of orange egg sheet, white egg sheet, soy bologna and nori.  His eyes are one layer of white egg sheet, a second layer of nori, a layer of bologna, a green iris cut from edamame, nori pupils and white egg sheet highlights.  I stuck short pieces of uncooked somen noodles into the egg sheets for the whiskers.  Originally I had planned to put lovely green grass around and behind the tiger but I got lazy and stuck a few radish sprout tops on instead.

We were staying home today with no need for a bento.  After it was finished came the inevitable question, "Who gets to eat that bento, mommy?"  Before we came to blows over it, I bribed her with a pbj and claimed the bento for myself.  I promised to make her one with whichever animal she chooses after our next visit to Zoo Atlanta.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hot dog mouse

The cute little mouse hiding in this bento was inspired by Maki Ogawa at Cute Obento.  Her amazingly cute hot dog and sausage characters have been making me oooh and aaah for years!  I haven't been able to come close to creating the cuteness that she does, but her tutorials and creative ideas keep me trying.

In the bento: Vegetarian hot dog mouse, cherry tomato halves, grapes on heart picks, steamed broccoli, vegetable fried rice with baby corn, green peas, carrots, onion, scrambled tofu and shitake mushrooms.

Half of a hot dog makes the mouse.  There is a wedge cut out to allow room for his ears which are just hot dog slices with provolone cheese centers.  His mouth is a provolone cheese heart with a tiny pink sugar dot for a nose.  He has a little tail but I don't know if it's really visible against the tomato.

We're off to the Georgia Aquarium for today's adventure.  I'm looking forward to it, especially spending some time watching the Beluga whales which are my favorite!  A-chan is excited about petting the sharks and rays, she thinks she's tall enough to reach into the petting tank now.  (I sure hope so!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Yaki Udon at the Zoo

You guys get to see a lot of A-chan's bentos.  So for our Zoo trip day I was selfish and only took a picture of my bento.  It's not as pretty as most of hers, but still very appetizing!  Since it's Spring Break our schedule has been completely skewed so this bento was limited by the fact that I hadn't gone grocery shopping and we were out of almost everything.  But I want you to ignore the fact that there is nothing red in this bento and focus on the red flower of the bamboo pick.  Pretty red flower.

We had a great time at Zoo Atlanta, taking it slow and moseying around to see all the animals.  A-chan made a new friend while we were there, a little girl who was a year older and was very sweet. They hit it off and spent the afternoon conquering the zoo together.  I foiled the goats at the petting zoo by wearing my hair up so they couldn't eat any this time.  I know they were disappointed!

In the bento:  Yaki udon with broccoli, carrots and onions, pan sauteed tofu with black sesame seeds, a bit of cucumber, a checkered apple, a pick with grapes, a carrot flower and cucumber peel leaf.  More carrot pieces and grapes were hidden underneath the carrot flower and huge chunk of apple.

I planned to carry our bentos with me during the day to avoid the long walk back out to the car.  The yaki udon would hold up well to being carried and shifted around, I thought.  It did!  A-chan had fun trying to eat the long noodles as I had forgotten to cut hers before packing up.

Bento at Zoo Atlanta! on Twitpic

It was a chilly day with overcast skies.  Happily the rain that had threatened all day held off until after we left the zoo!  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Break!

This week is Spring Break for A-chan and my schedule is way out of whack!  But it's going to be a great week filled with fun and adventure.  Plus the sun is finally shining again and we're watching bumble bees fly around the yard.  The kitten is convinced that she can catch one!

These are the same bento.  I decided to take a 'before' picture and another after the cute faces were added. Which one do you like better?  Personally I prefer the top picture, it's more elegant.  A-chan prefers the bottom, of course!

In the bento: Rice with black sesame seeds, half of a cherry tomato, fried tofu, baby corn, baby carrots, a cucumber rose and some grapes.

The happy faces were cut from provolone cheese, the hair cut from nori, the eyes from cucumber peel and the mouths from grape peel.  It's always fun to experiment with new materials for decoration!

I hope that everyone is having a fantastic week!  I'll post about our zoo trip tomorrow :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sweet Koala

A-chan was reminding me this past week that it's been a while since I've made a koala bento.  I guessed that meant she'd like to have one sometime soon and happily obliged.  She gets off early from school today and I'm hoping that the sunshine sticks around so that we can go walking in the botanical gardens.  Since we'll be 2 hours earlier than normal we can do one of the long forest trails, yay!

In the bento:  Miniature pancakes, grapes, steamed broccoli, apple bunny, baby corn spears, a container of colby jack shredded cheese, and 3 Morningstar Farms Bacon slices cut to fit in the box.

The Koala's face was punched from nori and 'glued' onto the pancake with cake icing.  More of the strawberry flavored icing was painted on to make the cheeks.  The furry part of the ears was cut from provolone cheese.  The little flowers are all cut from carrot with sugar dots for centers.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Girl Scouts Bento

A friend of mine who is a Girl Scout troupe leader here in town asked me to come and talk about bentos at their meeting last night.  The girls are doing world studies and this week's theme was Japan.  I took along a lot of show and tell items including this bento.  It was a lot of fun!  The girls were a lot more interested than I initially thought they would be.  They made fantastic observations and had great questions for me.  We used the cling film method of onigiri making to let each of the girls make their own.  Most made ball shapes but some made hearts.  I took along some nori punches and nori sheets so that they could each decorate their onigiri with faces.

In the bento: Two onigiri with cucumber decoration, carrot ribbons, grapes, a corn croquette, a cherry tomato, two cucumber slices and two veggie hot dog flowers with green pea centers.

The 100 year celebration logo was carved out of cucumber with an exacto knife.  It's a bit rough around the edges but I'm pretty proud of it for a free-hand cutting that I've never done before!  It's held onto the onigiri with a tiny bit of uncooked somen noodle - one end poked into the cucumber and the other into the rice.  The numbers were cut from provolone cheese and the letters cut from more cucumber peel with my letter cutters.  This bento also features a soy sauce bottle that it actually inside the box!  The cute little pink rabbit bottle is from a set that was in my Christmas stocking.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I can't believe that it's already time for spring break!  I'm planning what A-chan and I are going to do next week.  In the meantime I'm delving into the world of statistics and physics - a true adventure.  This bento was rather random, a collection of leftover items that I pulled from the fridge without a plan in mind.  It seemed to work out okay, though that might be attributed to the implied theme imparted by the use of Pokemon picks.

In the bento: Two potato and onion pierogies, steamed broccoli, vegetarian hot dog pieces, green peas, nectarine slices, orange wedges, provolone cheese stars and a half slice of corn on the cob.

On the side I managed to photograph the elusive ketchup cup in action.  I rarely remember to put the accessories we use daily into the pictures that I take.  I'm not sure how this one happened.  It is filled not quite to the top with ketchup to dip the hotdog pieces into.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What's with the stuff on my noodles?

Normally I buy grated parmesan.  Sometimes I purchase a block of parmesan and grate it myself.  Shaved parmesan is new.  To me it's exciting.  To A-chan it's a change worthy of gasps and cries of alarm.  "What's that stuff?  That stuff on my noodles?"  There was a noticeable undercurrent of disgust in her quavering voice.  I patiently explained that it was parmesan cheese, just like we normally put on noodles. She wasn't convinced.  We compromised with a 'try it at lunch and see'.

In the bento: Spaghetti noodles, shaved parmesan, nectarine chunks, steamed broccoli, cara cara orange slices, baby corn spears, and a colossal black olive.

I've started getting back into a morning yoga routine. I'm finding that it's a great time to do some prep cooking - these noodles were boiling while I was stretching which makes for great time management!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Puppy Inari

I think that A-chan might be out growing this bento box.  She complained that there wasn't enough food in it!  What am I going to do when I can't use my favorite box any longer?  I'm sure that I will find another favorite, but darn it I love this one.

In the bento: Besides the inari there is a container filled with nectarine chunks, steamed broccoli and cara cara orange wedges.  There are also a couple of provolone cheese flowers.

I absolutely love finding new ways to decorate inari zushi and these two cute little doggies were easy to make!  I simmered three inari skins in water, soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar for 4 minutes, then dried them off and filled two of them with sushi rice.  The third got cut up to make the doggies' ears using my handy dandy food scissors.  The faces were cut from nori and the pupil highlights from provolone cheese.  Voila - puppy inari zushi!