Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  Samhain Sona!  Today started out with a beautiful sunrise and warm temperatures. I've got my fingers crossed that it will be a temperate night for Trick or Treating.  This is my first time trying to make a witch onigiri.  I think she is cute.  The hat was more difficult than expected and I ended up rushing through bits so that we could leave early for school.  Part of the difficulty was the bandaged finger that I was using very gingerly this morning.  As we started carving Jack'o'lanterns last night I made a long speech about knife safety to A-chan and then immediately stabbed myself in the finger while cutting my pumpkin.  After my impromptu demonstration of what not to do A-chan was very careful indeed!

In the bento: Onigiri witch and hat, grapes, a few blueberries, carrot stars and turnip stars, steamed broccoli, fried tofu, a checkered apple, sauteed squash and a carrot jack'o'lantern.

The Witch has a very thick egg sheet for hair.  It is pinned in place around the backside of the onigiri with uncooked soba noodles.  The main part of the hat was an onigiri wrapped in nori.  The hat brim was a large sheet of provolone cheese that was covered in nori and pinned in place with more soba noodles.  I used blue egg sheet for the hat's decoration along with some little stars.

I can't wait to steal some of A-chan's candy tonight once she's asleep.  I wish everyone a safe and fun Halloween night!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mummies and Spiders

Oh my goodness, tomorrow is Halloween!  What is your favorite candy?  Skittles are my guilty pleasure.  A-chan is totally ready to go trick or treating.  She wants me to join her in the candy gathering extravaganza and so far doesn't believe that I'm too old to trick or treat.  Since I haven't had a chance to post a lot of Halloween bentos, I'm putting up two at once today.

In the Mummy bento: Rice, a cherry tomato, grapes, sauteed squash, checkered apple, carrot hearts, teriyaki tofu and vegetables.

The Mummies were so much fun to make.  Wrapping and layering the provolone cheese over the nori was pretty cool.  The hearts were cut from apple peel and the line of black sesame seeds were placed meticulously with out kitty cat thief looking on in fascination.  Luckily I have learned some tricks to keep Stripey the kitty thief from stealing broccoli out of the bentos in the morning!

One of the challenges of the new school year is that one of A-chan's schoolmates has a very bad peanut allergy and no peanuts are allowed in their lunches.  Being a mom whose child has food allergies, I am happy to see the school enforcing this.  It does make for some changes in my routine.  I had gotten used to having a peanut butter and jelly sammie as a backup for busy days or morning when I wasn't feeling good.   Different sandwich choices are fun and strange all at once.  Inside these spider sammies is a lovely chopped cheese and mayo mixture.  Unfortunately A-chan doesn't appreciate pimento cheese sandwiches yet, to my chagrin.

In the Spider bento:  Two cheese and mayo sandwich balls, cucumber spider webs, orange slices, strawberries and steamed broccoli.

A-chan's favorite thing about this bento were the spider's huge eyes.  They were cut from provolone cheese and nori.  The spiders' legs were fried spaghetti noodles.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monster High Bento

A-chan's 9th birthday was this past weekend.  I can't believe she's 9!  How did she suddenly become so grown up?  Her birthday party theme was Monster High which she loves.  She's also dressing up as a Monster High character for Halloween.  So we went all out with Monster High everything, including a bento.  My girl even made her own birthday cake this year (with a little help from a great friend) which was, of course, a Monster High cake.  I am so proud of her.

In the bento: Rice, veggie hotdogs, steamed broccoli, baby corn, grapes and a strawberry.

The Skullette was cut from nori, provolone cheese and pink egg sheet.  The letters were cut from American cheese.  I wanted to do a more complicated birthday bento, but kept it simple so that I could also work on making her school birthday treat.

For her school party this year she decided on a healthier approach to treats instead of cupcakes.  I absolutely loved doing the rainbow fruit skewers!  Not only was it fun but man was it easier than making 32 cupcakes.

She did a great job with her cake!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Kitty and Jack'o'lantern

A-chan loves cute kitties in her lunches.  And I love making them!  It's a perfect combination.   I tried to do something new with the Jack'o'lantern in this bento.  I have now learned to try new things at times that are not busy mornings!  Ahem.

In the bento: Rice underlaying the Jack'o'lantern and kitty, green onions, apple star, carrot star, miso crusted tofu, steamed broccoli, pineapple chunks and a cheese ghost.

The Jack'o'lantern was cut from three layers of orange eggsheet.  The new thing is that they were cut all at the same time in an attempt to make the 3d layering a little easier.  I'm sure it will get easier with practice.  The kitty has two layers - one of cheese and one of nori.  The kitty is sandwiched between the lowest pumpkin layer and the top two pumpkin layers.  My favorite parts of the Jack'o'lantern are the teeth (they are so adorable) and the kitty's hat.  I used a leftover piece of broccoli stem for the pumpkin stem.  The apple star was an ambitious project as well and though it looks great - it didn't fit once I put on the lid.  Not so much a big surprise, lol.  I ended up rearranging a few things to get the star laying down, whew!

In other news, we had a fabulous time at the Stone Mountain Highland Games this past weekend!  Doesn't A-chan look cute in her Highland dance outfit?  At 8 am it was pretty darn cold out there so she didn't want to take off her gloves for the picture and who can blame her.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Highland Dance

This weekend is A-chan's first Scottish Highland Dance competition.  She's both excited and nervous.  I'm totally exuberant!  The Highland Games are always fun.  I mean what's not fun about bagpipes, kilts and lovely, yummy scones?  Plus it's an excuse to make Scottish Forfar Bridies for our bento lunches during the weekend.  Ghillies (Highland dance shoes) are one of the main icons of the Scottish dancer so I decided to make this bento to cheer A-chan on.  I wish that I'd made them a wee bit smaller, but otherwise I love how they turned out!  You can see bits of our clan tartan and badge in the background.  And of course I had to include a couple of plaid picks for the occasion.

In the bento:  Veggie fried rice, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, steamed broccoli and carrot flowers.

The ghillies were cut from white egg sheets.  Nori designs were cut out with scissors and then were applied directly to the egg sheet.  See all those strangely cut pieces of carrot in the fried rice?  That's what I do with the bits of veggies left over from cutting out flowers, etc.  They get frozen and then used in fried rice and soups.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dango? Why yes, thanks!

Do you have a favorite food that  you don't get to eat often?  Mine is dango!  It is definitely a special treat and only happens about twice a year.  Whenever I'm in San Francisco I stop by the Japanese Tea Gardens and grab some tea and dango.  I suppose that I could learn to make it at home, but I love having dango as a rare thing.  That way it's something to look forward to for a month or so before a trip.

This dango bento just tickles me.  One of my favorites paired with one of A-chan's.  She adores soba.  I like soba noodles, too.  Just not as much as she does.  Anyway, it was a lot of fun to make and a lot of fun for her to eat!

In the bento:  Rice ball dango, soba noodles, carrot stars, steamed broccoli, crisp fried tofu and plum slices.

The dango rice balls were made by cooking three pots of rice - one plain, one with red food coloring and another with green.  You might think making three colored batches of rice is crazy, but it actually is a greatly efficient way of filling up my freezer.  It usually happens over a weekend and when each batch is done they are immediately made into onigiri and frozen to make morning bentos so much easier.  But back to the bento deets...the faces were made from nori using two different punches, with sesame seeds added to the eyes and sriracha sauce for the cheeks.  A piece of fried soba noodle makes the stick of the dango.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cheerful Jack o'Lanterns

Thank goodness fall is here!  Cooler weather, falling leaves, acorns and pumpkins are some of my favorite things.  We were a bit late with the Halloween decorating this year, finally getting it done this past weekend.  And I've been behind in making Halloween themed bentos too.  I spent the last two weeks without my computer again (can you say 'torture'?) and so I've missed two whole weeks putting up photos of my favorite holiday lunches.   To make up for that, I'm posting this horrible Jack'o'lantern pancake bento even though the edges of the face cut-outs are so awful and ragged looking.

When you are using exacto knives to cut food it's necessary to replace the blades every so often as they tend to go dull very quickly, not being made for slicing through things like pancakes and egg sheet every day.  Mine obviously needed replacing but I keep forgetting to go and buy a new set of replacement blades.  Today's bento is a very strong reminder for me to go shopping!

In the bento:  Miniature pancakes with cake icing, cucumber slices, carrots, cheese slices, french fries, dragonfruit, raspberries and blueberries.

The pancakes were frozen and took only 5 minutes to cook.  I cut out the facial features with my way too dull exacto knife.  The strawberry flavored cake icing was spread in a thin layer between the pancakes to make them sweet and make the faces pop at the same time.  Some thin slices of green onion helped them look like proper Jack'o'lanterns with stems and a couple of candy-themed picks finished it off.  The raspberries were fresh but the blueberries were frozen and popped into the bento just a moment before I snapped the picture.