Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Totoro Char Siu Bao Bento!

Totoro! I was thinking about him this past week because we happened to find the My Neighbor Totoro picture book in the library. It's a little jarring to read the story and descriptives since watching the film is more of a stream of flowing imagery washing over your senses. But it is fun to look closely at the detailed illustrations. In the scene where the sisters are eating cucumbers fresh from the garden, you can see the chewed-up bits of vegetable in Mei's open mouth while she's talking about bringing corn to her mother. Anyway, here is my tribute to everyone's favorite "cross between a bear and a raccoon and an owl." Have a magical adventure today!

Also in the ECOlunchbox Solo Rectangle: grapes, cucumbers, carrots, strawberry, lettuce. Details made from fishcake, nori, soba.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Salmon and Pickles Onigirazu Bento

On a roll with the black rice over here. Why not salmon and pickles onigirazu? First thing I learned from this one is to use more filling next time. D'oh! Besides more salmon I might also add more pickled red onion and pickled cucumber filling (can barely see it here), and maybe add daikon, some kind of sprouts and avocado too. Although you can simply make it freehand, I used a "mold" for this one, which was basically just a box that you fill, then invert onto a sheet of nori before folding. I found it to be awkward and unwieldy to use. I would prefer an open-ended mold that you place directly on the nori, like the ones you see for spam musubi and maki rolls. Also, this one I had to cut into three pieces to fit in the box, so the middle piece might fall apart while eating if it's not wrapped tightly enough. MisterMan ate this one and he gave it a thumbs-up, but stay tuned for my next attempt! I hope to improve my technique😊

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pork Veggie Rice Noodle Makizushi Bento

I made Vietnamese style pork chops and instead of packing them in lettuce wraps, which is how we ate them for dinner and how I usually pack them (which makes for a great bento, by the way), I decided to make more makizushi rolls for the kiddos. I've never put rice noodles in sushi before, but I guess it worked out all right!

I like how the black rice contrasts with the rice noodles (and the white pork). I included nuoc cham dipping sauce too, as well as pickled red onion and watermelon. The roll includes: black rice, romaine lettuce, pork chop slices, pickled carrots and daikon. Everything is packed in a stainless steel container with a leakproof clicktight lid, and an Eco Dipper container for the fruit. Perfect!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mediterranean Life Without Plastic Bento

There's actually a theme to this bento, kind of, instead of just a hodgepodge of miscellaneous foods, for a change! It's also vegetarian. I was going to make a bento grain bowl, but then I realized I could use one of the dividers in this Life Without Plastic container to keep the fruit separate. So now it's a ¾ bento bowl. The cauliflowerettes and purple carrots are roasted with olive oil and whole garlic cloves over lentils and quinoa topped with halved cherry tomatoes; cumin-spiced crispy chickpeas; and a beet-yogurt romaine salad. The kids like these beets because of the vinegary honey yogurt sauce. Also, I told MisterMan that beets are a natural stamina booster, so he asks for it on P.E. days now!

The cut fruit are a variety of orange-fleshed honeydew called Golden Dewlicious. It's pretty good but not as sweet as cantaloupe. I think the summer season for melons might be drawing to a close pretty soon. We'll have to take advantage of the last remaining fruit while we can. So sad! Has Fall arrived yet where you are?

Crispy Spiced Chickpeas
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
Toss chickpeas with olive oil and spread in skillet (you can also roast in oven instead),
Fry (or roast) over medium heat until crispy, about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with spices to coat all chickpeas.
Experiment with your favorite flavors, such as garlic powder, curry powder, cayenne pepper, Chinese five spice, Japanese togarashi - anything you like!

Beet Yogurt Salad
  • 3/4 pound beets (2 large or 8 small), trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
Wash and dry beets, place in foil wrapper, and roast at 450F until fork tender, about 45 minutes, depending on size. When cool, rub off skins and slice into half rounds or smaller. Whisk together oil, vinegar, yogurt, honey, salt and pepper. Mix in beets - they turn the dressing a pretty shade of pink! Eat as is or atop salad greens of your choice.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Chicken Teriyaki Onigirazu and Makizushi Bento

Hi friends! This is my first attempt at onigirazu. Onigirazu is like a rice ball (onigiri) except it is square in shape and flatter, like a sandwich. In this way, you can have more fillings than inside a round or triangular ball. Onigirazu molds exist, just as they do for regular onigiri, but I didn't have a mold so I freehanded it - placing rice, chicken teriyaki, lightly sauteed asparagus, then more rice on a nori sheet. Then I folded it, wrapped in wax paper, and cut in half so it would fit nicely inside the Eshly Deli Box. I filled out the rest of the box with purple carrot flowers, tomato, broccoli, and a melon sampler. Have you been eating as much melon as we have? It has been a great summer for sweet watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe!

I thought it came out pretty well, and MisterMan seemed to like it. There are lots of possibilities for fillings, and it is a good way to use up refrigerator leftovers easily (ham and egg, tuna salad, tomato bacon lettuce, smoked salmon cream cheese, steak, hamburger, whatever!).

I decided to make TinySprite's chicken and asparagus inside a makisushi roll. I thought it might be easier (and more fun) for her to eat this way. And they fit nicely inside the LunchBots Clicks box, alongside some Dapple Dandy pluots and a sweet strawberry. This stainless steel box comes in a couple sizes and is great because not only does it have a leakproof lid but the lid is translucent so you can see what's for lunch! I love that effect a lot. So there we have a couple of nice cool bento for a warm summer day! Hope you are all enjoying your last bit of summer!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tacorice Bowl Bento

Tacorice is perfect for bento, especially if you have a bowl-type bento container, which we happen to have shown here. If you don't, a regular box will suffice as well, of course. I like this apple-shaped box because it has a separate top layer where we can put fruit and extras. The lid screws on to the bottom and has an attached handle. It's not super secure (or watertight) so I always remind the kids to support the bottom when they carry it around. It hasn't spilled yet.

Over rice: ground beef with taco seasoning, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheddar, cilantro. You can also add avocado and salsa of choice; even tortilla strips or chips. Top layer: mandarin orange, blueberries, and steamed Okinawan sweet potato. Ultraman fork😊

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Oyakodon Ecolunchboxes Tri Bento

Oyako donburi is one of my favorite comfort meals. It consists of chicken and egg simmered together in a shoyu-mirin-sugar sauce with onions before adding to a bowl of rice with scallions. I added mushrooms and sliced red bell pepper to mine. Also, I cooked the egg completely instead of leaving it slightly runny since it will be packed into bento and stored at room temperature before eating. It may not be very photogenic, but trust me - it's delicious! I like this one-bowl type of meal because it's quick and easy, and it's a hit with the kids too. I put shichimi togarashi on mine, but they like furikake on theirs. Packed on the bottom layer of this Ecolunchboxes Tri Bento, I put some hapa rice (half white half brown) and scooped some chicken egg mixture over, topping with cilantro and chopped green onion, I put a romaine lettuce pickled baby cucumber fresh corn tomato salad in the middle with vinegar dressing and cracked black pepper, and super sweet fresh cut cantaloupe on the top. I asked MisterMan what he thought of this bento and he said "very good because there's lots of food inside!" Okay then. ^_^