Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Minecraft Christmas

I'm going to be honest with you.  It's a difficult proposition to take a pretty picture of a pig.  Especially a Minecraft pig which is blocky and awkward and has eyes pointing in opposite directions.  But the strawberries in this picture are beautiful which totally makes up for the pig.  As you might be guessing, my daughter is in love with Minecraft.  One might even say that she is obsessed.  So I'm trying to accommodate this new found love with some charabens to match, which ought to be fairly easy considering that they are all square shapes.  I'm finding it to not be quite as easy as I'd thought!

In the bento:  Sushi rice, strawberries, asian pear, carrot flowers, soy-turkey flower, and cucumber slices.

The pig was made of pink colored egg sheet, soy turkey, nori and raw turnip slices.  His santa hat was made from half of a strawberry and a raw turnip.

Monday, December 8, 2014

It's Holiday Time!

The holidays are here again!  We are a little slower getting into the holiday spirit this year than usual.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?  Bento-wise we've been going strong.  This time of year is so much fun for character bentos with a virtual plethora of Santa-related food stuffs.  I love having an excuse to buy lots of red bell peppers.  

In the bento:  Lots of rice, red pepper, blackberries, kiwi slices, clementine slices, and some fried tofu nuggets.

Santa is made from rice, egg sheet face with nori and sugar dot details, red pepper for his hat with cucumber leaves and orange peel holly berries.  The little snowflakes are nori on top of provolone cheese circles.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sweet Kitten

I love how this bento turned out!  So kawaii that I can't stand it.  One thing that I want everyone to know - practice is the key to cuteness.  After years of making onigiri kitties, I think I might have hit on the penultimate cute one.  Or ... maybe I'm biased.  Either way, the more you make bentos the more awesome they will get, I promise.  My girl's birthday is coming up soon and I'm already beginning to dread the day when she grows up so much that she doesn't want cute things in her lunches.  What will I do?  I'll have to start making them for me.

In the bento: Two onigiri with a bed of rice and black sesame seeds underneath, blackberries, steamed broccoli, cherry tomato, checkered apple, teriyaki tofu, lemon slice and carrot hearts.

The kitty's eyes and nose were uncooked black soy beans and his tail and other details were made with provolone cheese.  His whiskers were cut from nori.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Because it's time for Fall

There is a definite chill in the air which means that it's time for Pumpkin flavored everything, warm socks and the 'poing' sound of acorns pelting the car roof.  After so many years of making bento lunches some trends have shown up.  Fall = Totoro.  It has now become an official household tradition that the first fall bento includes Totoro.

In the bento: Totoro onigiri with black sesame seeds, black olives, strawberries, corn on the cob, clementine slices, a huge carrot leaf, steamed edamame and vegetarian hotdogs.

Totoro has black sesame seeds mixed in with the rice for a grayish color.  His belly and eyes are of provolone cheese and nori, but his nose was cut from a black olive.  The ears were made separately and are affixed to his head with uncooked udon noodles.  A-chan said that she though he looked more like a bunny than Totoro, but he was still cute so it's okay.

There was a lot of hidden food in this bento.  To get the corn perfect looking I cut off a ragged end but put it underneath Totoro to angle him up a little.  Another strawberry and clementine slice were underneath the fruit and more steamed edamame were crammed around under the black olive soot sprites.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lions and a Tiger

This bento represents another win in the freezer stash column.  These vegetarian tsukune patties were part of a huge batch that I made over the weekend, most of which were frozen for future bento consumption.  I microwaved them for 30 seconds before pan sauteeing them for a lovely brown color.  Freezer stash is the only way to go for easy morning bento prep!

In the bento: Plain sushi rice with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds, veggie tsukune patties, a clementine, steamed edamame, a checkered apple and a cone of pomegranate seeds.

The lion's manes were cut from egg sheet.  To get a bit of color difference I used one side of egg sheet for the top lion and the opposite side for the bottom.   One side of egg sheet generally is lighter than the other.  I reversed that color for the ears so that they would stand out a little more.  Their faces are made from provolone and nori.  I've been having fun playing around with ways to decorate all the clementines that came in the huge bag I bought.  The tiger's ears were just one cut with my kitchen scissors and then a gentle pull to get them to stand up.  I 'glued' on the nori stripes and face with a tiny bit of mayo.  More steamed edamame were hidden under the apple.

Friday, September 19, 2014


As one might surmise from the picture above, my girl and I are very enthusiastic about our Scottish roots and Scottish culture.  This was her lunch yesterday as we watched the vote for independence unfold.  I bet you can't tell which side we were cheering for, eh?  Hehe.  Anyway, it was a fun lunch to make!  And I have to admit that sheep faces are not as easy as I had thought.  It took me three tries to make one that I was happy with.

In the bento:  Underneath the Saltire flag is a PB and sugar sprinkle sandwich, there are three small Forfar bridies (two are hidden behind the sheep), a couple of Tofurky and cream cheese rolls, a checkered apple, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, a tiny cherry tomato and some mandarin orange slices.

The flag was made from blue egg sheet and provolone cheese.  It was probably the easiest thing I've ever made with egg sheet!  The sheep and his opinion were also cut from provolone, but his face was hand cut with scissors from a sheet of nori.  Lots of lettuce cushions everything and makes sure that the flavors don't mix.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ever After High Bento

I'm sure that if you have a daughter then I'm sure Ever After High has made an impact on your life just as it has on mine.  Books, episodes, shirts, skirts, dolls - you name it and A-chan is head over heels in love with it.  Since there is an emphasis on mega-detail within the series I decided to keep things simple for my first try at a EAH themed bento and just do the black and white logo.  I love how it turned out!

In the bento: Jasmine rice with homemade furikake (tarragon, roasted sesame seeds, salt and garlic), carrot hearts and key, blackberries, steamed broccoli, fried tofu, an apple bunny and some radish slices.

The logo was cut from provolone cheese and nori using an exacto knife.  Nori and my exacto knife don't get along as well as I'd like so there are some rough edges.  Since this wasn't going to be a large and complex character I did not flatten down the rice but left it fluffy instead.

One of the things that I don't talk about much in terms of bento-making is that I use a lot of what I term 'booster seats'.  These are never seen because they are hidden underneath the food and lifts bits up so that they are able to be seen on the same level as everything else.  For example in this bento there are extra apple pieces underneath the apple bunny and another blackberry hidden beneath the two that you can see.

Friday, September 12, 2014


I was asked for a Natsu bento which continues A-chan's Fairytail theme.  I chose to do a silly version of Natsu just before he goes off to destroy a town.  The one thing that was absolutely necessary according to the request was that his scarf is part of the bento.  His hair turned out a little darker than I'd intended, oops!

In the bento: Cheese sandwich with Natsu on top, baby corn, black pluot slices, pomegranate seeds, steamed broccoli, roasted cauliflower, black eyed peas, carrot and egg sheet stars and a cherry tomato.

Natsu is made completely out of egg sheet and nori.  His huge grin was fun to make!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tonkatsu kitties

How do I describe tonkatsu?  Crispy deep fried bundles of joy.  Tonkatsu is wonderful by itself but pair it up with the gastronomic delight that is tonkatsu sauce and you have one of my ultimate top comfort foods.  Normally tonkatsu would be pork cutlets breaded with panko crumbs and deep fried.  My vegetarian version of this is extra firm tofu that has been frozen, thawed and breaded in panko before being deep fried to a crunchy golden brown.  The process of freezing the tofu gives it a much different texture that is perfect for this kind of dish.

This tonkatsu bento is also an example of my stunningly brilliant freezer stash plan.  Over the weekend we had tonkatsu for dinner and the leftovers promptly went back into the freezer for easy reheating bento-style.  I popped them straight from the freezer into the oven for about 12 minutes before cutting into slices for the bento.   Reheating in the oven thaws out the tofu and dries it a little bit (freezing tofu always creates extra water that needs to be either squeezed or baked out) and makes the panko nice and crisp at the same time.  

The only problem with our love of tonkatsu is that A-chan is now old enough to eat way more of my tonkatsu sauce than I would like.  But that's okay because I taught her how to make it this morning.  She can now make more whenever she runs out.  Or I run out, whichever...

In the bento: Basmati rice, tofu tonkatsu, pomegranate seeds, baby corn, checkered cucumber slices, black pluot chunks and a carrot flower.

The little kitties were made from provolone cheese and yellow egg sheet.  Their faces were punched out of nori and glued on with a tiny bit of mayo.

Not shown: the huge container of tonkatsu sauce that A-chan took with her this morning.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sad Soba Puppy

Sometimes sad can be cute.   This puppy certainly qualifies according to A-chan.  She liked it and enjoyed eating it but to me this bento is not colorful enough!  That happens sometimes, especially when one is getting ready to go to the grocery store and is running out of ingredients and leftovers.   In fact, I was out of eggs to make egg sheets and I had no provolone cheese.  His eyes and muzzle were cut from slices of uncooked zucchini which was the only thing I had that was white.

In the bento: Soba noodles, Morningstar farms chik'n patties, zucchini, carrot butterflies, steamed green beans, a strawberry and some nectarine slices.

Puppy's ears were cut from a chik'n patty, his eyes and nose are carrot and some tiny nori circles were stuck on with some mayo for decoration.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


I've been playing around with filled onigiri lately.  What I have been told about rice balls is that if they are plain they are technically called musubi and if they have flavorings or fillings they are onigiri.  (If this is not correct, please let me know!)  I tend to use onigiri to describe rice balls all the time.  Filling rice balls is fun!  It can sometimes be a messy game, but practice is your friend.  So is cling wrap.  When A-chan was much smaller I rarely used fillings in onigiri because it was harder for her to eat and she abhorred getting messy at school.  Now that she is older it happens much more often which makes me very happy.

In the bento:  Kitty onigiri with teriyaki tofu filling, lemon slice, sesame carrots in a toasted bread bowl, steamed broccoli, blackberries and a checkered apple slice.

The kitty is composed of two large onigiri for head and body and two small onigiri for the paws.  The smaller rice balls are plain and have black sesame seeds for claws.  The larger onigiri both have filling.  Her face is decorated with black sesame seeds, nori, white egg sheet and pink egg sheet.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Little Bunnies

We are getting back into the swing of things!  Bento prep is vastly less complicated when I plan the night before.  I review what I want to make - both recipes and characters - and check to make sure I have the ingredients.  Being surprised in the morning by not having any egg sheets made is less fun than one might expect.  While I can make emergency egg sheets in the morning, I really prefer not to!

In the bento: Two cute rolled sandwiches, raspberries, blackberries, tiny carrot strips, sweet corn on the cob, potato salad and steamed broccoli.

The sammies have shredded cheese and mayo inside and are held together with toothpicks.  Even though the toothpicks were pretty obvious, A-chan was warned about them as we drove on the way to school.  The ears and mouths were cut from egg sheets and the other details from nori.

A-chan is enjoying her new dessert-themed picks that we purchased in San Francisco this summer.  They are cute and handy so I'm loving them too.

Friday, August 22, 2014


It's time to go back to school again.  And that means bentos every day!  We had a lovely summer with lots of travel but not many chances to play with food.   I'm very excited about all the bentos that will be created this school year.  A-chan requested a complicated charaben for the first day of school.  Surprise, surprise - it's another Fairytail bento.  It took six different egg sheets to make Lucy.  My bento skills got a little rusty over the summer so there isn't as much detail as I would prefer.

In the bento: Sushi rice with egg sheet and nori character, carrot flowers, corn on the cob, a cherry tomato, steamed broccoli, fried tofu, raspberries and blackberries.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fairytail Bento

Two bento posts in two weeks?  Yes, it's true!  This bento is a rendition of the main symbol from one of our new favorite animes, Fairytail.  It's a lot of fun to watch with outrageous characters and tons of destruction.   I had originally tried to make the Fairytail symbol with nori but my dull exacto knife was not very cooperative.  Switching to provolone cheese on top of a piece of nori was the only way that I could get the symbol to work and I'm happy that it finally coalesced.  (Egg sheets would have been better, but I was totally out of eggs.)  A-chan was delighted.

In the bento:  A cheese sandwich with nori and provolone cheese symbol on top and carrot letters, Morningstar Farms chik nuggets, strawberries, checkered cucumber and carrot stars.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Butterfly Lunch

Just a quick post to prove that I'm alive and still making bentos.  School is eating up all my time with essays, tests and homework.  Bentos are getting made like normal.  Photo processing obviously isn't, lol.  A tiny bit of beauty can make a tough day so much better.

In the bento:  The bottom tier holds rice with black sesame seeds, a carrot flower with mustard seed detail, edamame pod leaves, a cheese and nori butterfly.  The top tier contains a checkered apple, fried tofu, steamed broccoli, steamed edamame, a cherry tomato, blackberries, orange slices and oven roasted potatoes.

I love the stark color difference between the rice and the sesame seeds (and they are tasty).  This has become my favorite way to eat rice!  Hopefully I'll be able to post more soon.