Monday, May 21, 2012

Acorn Sammies

Whew!  I am so happy to be back to posting.  My sickness is finally over and I am human again with only a little bit of coughing and no fever :)  Last week was rough.  This week is exciting though - today is my first day of school!  And we're going to San Jose, CA later in the week.  I would love suggestions about things to do while we're out that way.

In the bento: Acorn sandwiches filled with peanut butter and sugar sprinkles, blueberries on picks, an apple bunny, corn on the cob, steamed broccoli and a container of carrot hearts.

The acorn sammies were cut with a Wilton cookie cutter.  Their cute caps were cut from the heel of the loaf and I used scissors to shape them to the right size. My carrot peeler was dirty this morning (I have a huge backlog of cleaning to attend to from being sick all last week) so I cut slices without peeling the carrot and then used a tiny heart shaped cutter to cut from the centers.  The rest of the carrot got scooped up to go into the compost, peel and all.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Elephant Twins

This bento started off with the bowl of aluminum foil.  I used a large sheet doubled over and crumpled on the top edge to give it a lot of support.  The tiny cheese ravioli were boiled, drained and added into the foil bowl with layers of garlic tomato sauce and grated parmesan cheese. Then the bowl was put into the oven for 8 minutes as a finishing touch.  The coolest part was not having to get a pan dirty - the foil bowl was the pan!

In the bento: Tiny cheese ravioli bake, steamed broccoli, baby corn, orange slices and chunks of black plum.

The cute little elephants were cut from soy turkey slices using a Wilton cookie cutter.  The blankets on their back were cut from pear peel and tiny bits of baby corn.  Also they have nori eyes and more of the garlic tomato sauce for cheeks.

My cooking motto is: Use what's at hand.  After finding out that the can of tomato puree I thought I had was either a myth or invisible, I grabbed a can of tomato soup to use instead.  With a little cornstarch to thicken it and tons of garlic and basil to make it yummy, I ended up being proud of my unexpected cooking experiment.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dressed Up Sammies

One of the most fun ways to eat carrots is slurping up carrot ribbons.  They are still a bit crisp but also long and curly.  I use the carrot peeler that my Mom had in her kitchen when I was growing up.  Every time I do, I give a little sigh of thanks that she gave it to me.  It's one of my all time favorite kitchen tools and if it were ever lost I would be desolate.

In the bento: Carrot ribbons in a silicone container, steamed broccoli, half a cherry tomato, corn on the cob, grapes and pear slices are in one tier. The top tier has two soy turkey and cheese sammies and the other half of the cherry tomato.

The sammies are pretty basic but a provolone cheese flower and green onion wrapping makes them dressy and elegant.  The green onions were plopped into boiling water for 3 minutes, drained and dried before being cut in two lengthwise and knotted around the sandwiches.  The boiling made them pliable and shiny at the same time!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Have you ever typed or written a word and had it look completely wrong even though you're sure you know how to spell it?  That happened with 'Caterpillar' today.  This cute guy was inspired by a caterpillar in the Yum-Yum Bento Box book.  It was just so cute!  Plus, A-chan is obsessed with caterpillars right now.  She has to stop and pet them and save them if they are in danger of being trod upon.

In the bento: Four plain rice balls, fried tofu, grapes, a cherry tomato, checkerboard cucumber slices, a tiny lemon wedge, an orange slice, and baby corn flowers.

For the caterpillar's face I used nori for the eyes and mouth, lemon peel for the nose and gari (pickled ginger) for the cheeks.  White sesame seeds help decorate the eyes and black sesame seeds decorate the body.  The baby corn flowers have cucumber peel leaves and orange peel centers.

I should have remembered to cut the cherry tomato in two in order to avoid potential eye injuries, but I totally forgot!  I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed.

Monday, May 7, 2012

It's Monday

Today is another case of the Monday blahs.  Although I think it was because of the lack of groceries than the Monday.  Whatever the reason, I had no theme and no charaben in mind this morning.  It still has all the important ingredients, like food.  Food is important.  It has carbs and protein, veggies and fruit.  It also has my favorite homemade furikake sprinkled over the rice!  In fact, I'm very tempted to make a clone of this bento for my lunch today.

In the bento:  Rice with tarragon, salt and toasted sesame seed furikake, a silicone container of shredded cheese, halved cherry tomato, baby corn spears, grapes, tiny orange wedges, steamed broccoli and three pieces of soy sauce tofu.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Two Toads Came to Dinner

This week I am exploring the decorative uses of daikon radish.  These fabulous stand-up eyes are thick slices of radish, aren't they cool?  So far A-chan isn't convinced that radishes are food, but one day I will get her to concede.  In the meantime we are both loving the new uses I'm finding for them and I'm enjoying A-chan's leftover radish pickles!

In the bento: A Morningstar Farms Chik Patty sandwich with mayo, cheese, curly lettuce and radish eyes.  There is also half of a cherry tomato, two orange slices and two small pieces of baby corn.

The toad's noses are black sesame seeds.  The mouth and pupils are nori, affixed by small amounts of mayo.  I sacrificed the other half of the tomato to cut peel for the toad's cheeks.  This was one of our rare dinner bentos, meant to be eaten in the car on the way to dance class.  Yum!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

South Korean Flag

Today we are getting ready to travel!  Our first weekend adventure this month will be in Charlotte, NC for a Tae Kwon Do tournament!  In honor of all the practice and hard work that A-chan has been doing I made a South Korean flag bento for her.  The South Korean flag is synonymous with Tae Kwon do in the US, showing up everywhere in the sport.  Many people, including myself until recently, don't realize the significance and meaning behind the symbolism.  It's fascinating - check it out on Wikipedia!

My flag is a pastel version.  I'm having trouble getting true reds and blues in my egg sheets.  But since A-chan still recognized it, I'm okay with the pretty pastel colors.

In the bento: Japanese curry and rice, raspberries, steamed broccoli, baby corn, grapes and a daikon radish flower with a cucumber leaf.

The flag is made from egg sheets and nori.  The background was cut with scissors while the center symbol was cut with a circular shaped cutter and an exacto knife.  The egg sheets made the nori start to curl up so the trigrams aren't even.  I also used the exacto knife to do a bit of radish carving to make the inner part of the flower before embellishing it with sugar sprinkles.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bear with a Bow Tie

Today's bento has several of my favorite Southern staple foods, though not all can make an appearance in a bento.  Gravy, in particular, is not suited for bento lunches.  A-chan's first words upon seeing the bento this morning were, "The bear and the raspberry are going to get squished."  Yes, she has definitely started catching onto my bento packing problems!  Luckily I was able to rearrange things a bit so that neither the bear or the berry got 'squished' when I put the lid on.  It was a near thing, though.

In the bento: A raspberry, a roll, two Morningstar Farms chik nuggets, grapes on a pick, corn on the cob, steamed broccoli, orange slices, a container of black eyed peas and pan-fried potato stars and bear.

Mr. Bear was cut from a slice of raw potato, as were the stars.  They were then pan fried with a tiny bit of olive oil.  Once they cooled I was able to put the nori and cheese facial details, ketchup cheeks and dapper cucumber bow tie on Mr. Bear.  In the background is a container of ketchup to go with the chik nuggets.  Not shown was another container with a little bit of spreadable butter to go on the roll.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lunchtime Friends

The tiny onigiri cube army is coming!  Run for your lives.  Call the Dr.  Get out the soy sauce!  This morning would have been so much easier if I had remembered to make the onigiri last night.  Alas, I made them this morning instead which made the bento take longer to pack.  And when I had decided on today's menu I hadn't taken into account that it took 12 cubes to fill in the box.  I was thinking 6.  Oh well, what's a Tuesday for if not adventure?

In the bento: 12 cube onigiri minis, corn on the cob, a date, raspberries, orange slices, grapes, veggie and tofu stirfry and cheese flowers.

The stifry has broccoli, carrots, tofu, green peas and baby spinach.  There are two onigiri bears, two doggies and two kitties.  They were formed with the help of an onigiri mould which makes 3 at a time.  Their faces were punched or cut from nori and applied with the help of tweezers.  My favorites are the kitties, of course!