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1.6.2011 Bento – Checkerboard Apple

24 Jan

Checkers Anyone?

Here is a simple bento made mostly with leftovers.  Not really a co-hesive meal, but little O ate it all up!  I cut some leftover pizza into flowers and placed them on top of a bed of sushi rice that I pushed into the bottom of the larger divided container. (Now one thing that would have been really cute would be cutting the pizza into disks instead of flowers, so they looked like mini pizzas or checkers.)

I was interested in decorating the apple somehow, but wanted to do something besides apple bunnies. I found some inspiration and instructions on Just Bento all about cutting apples.   Apple Bunnies and More: Decorative Apple Cutting Techniques (Note that you need a GOOD, SHARP paring knife.  )

Ingredient List: checkerboard apple, blueberries (under the apple), leftover sushi rice (under the pizza flowers), leftover pizza flowers, sugar snap peas, and leftover corn

Tools: divided bento box, small silicone cup dividers, Japanese stainless vegetable cutters, Wüshof paring knife

1.3.2011 – Apple Bunny

13 Jan

Apple Bunny Bento

This was a fun lunch that O and I worked on together.  She cutout the cheese shapes with the Japanese Stainless Steel Vegetable Cutters that I got for a Very Bento Christmas. O loves to help with just about anything we are doing and  I try to let her help as much as possible.  She always seems to eat better when I incorporate her in my Bento.

The apple bunny isn’t difficult to make if you have a good paring knife.  I used another method for this apple bunny where the ears lay down, but it somehow turned out looking like a scarab beetle.  Next time I will use the tutorial I found at Lunch in a Box… http://lunchinabox.net/2007/12/13/how-to-make-apple-rabbits/

Ingredient List: blueberries (under the apple bunny), apple bunny, star shaped rice cake, small leftover egg roll, leftover teriyaki chicken, corn, sugar snap peas, and co-jack cheese cutouts

Tools: divided Tupperware container, small and large silicone cup dividers, Japanese stainless vegetable cutters, Wüshof paring knife, rice mold

1.2.2011 – Tomato & Corn Flowers and Cookie Cutter Duck

10 Jan

Try New Things Ducky

One of the things that I learned in probably 3rd grade, and then all over again from another Bento site was the the bigger variety of color in your meal, the more healthy and nutritious.  Bento sites and books seem to “preach” this idea quite a bit, and I am a believer.

I was going for color with this particular bento.  It gave me the gentle nudge I needed to include a veggie my kiddo doesn’t normally eat (tomatoes) and use one of the items from my Christmas bento haul… the small candy eye.

I also always try to incorporate a variety of textures.  O recently saw a Sesame Street “Word on the Street” Podcast… the word was crunchy.  We have been talking about what is crunchy, so I included a couple of crunchy things (pita chips and sugar snap peas) so we could have a conversation about the crunchy things in her lunch.

I got the idea for the tomato and corn flower from another bento site. (Would love to give out credit here, but I simply can’t find the site that I saw this technique.) You simply remove the “goo” from a cherry tomato half and full the resulting 4 chambers with corn.  She loves corn, so I thought it might entice her to try the tomato.  She didn’t end up eating the tomato, but enjoyed pulling out the corn from its “holder.”  I will make them again and hopefully she will try the tomato one of these days.

Ingredient List: hummus, pita chips, cream cheese and turkey sandwich, candy eye, blueberries, sugar snap peas, tomato and corn flowers, cheese cubes

Tools: divided bento box, small silicone cup divider, large metal duck cookie cutter

12.15.2010 Bento – Flower Power

6 Jan

12.15.2010 Bento - Tidy Flower Power

I am going to post a few more recently prepared bento until I “catch up” to current Bento of the Day…

Probably not the best packed or healthy bento I have ever made, but super quick and fun to make.  I really like to use leftovers because it (usually) means at least part of the lunch is home cooked.

This particular bento was made from leftovers from a local burger joint that we enjoy from time to time.  My girl rarely eats all of her food when we go out, so we save everything that I think I can cut a shape from.  Makes it a little easier to justify buying her her own o-friendly* meal when both of us grownups are wanting far-out foods.  I simply took the burger and punched 3 flowers out and arranged them with ‘tater tots to stabilize the burger flowers and catchup.

*Let me clarify that the kid eats a pretty wide variety of food – partly inborn, partly because of constant exposure, and partly because of Bento – especially where veggies are concerned.  She usually just eats whatever we are having… which makes it even easier to pack her lunches.

Tips:

  • Quickly use flat-ish leftovers like sandwiches, pizza, hamburgers, etc. by simply cutting shapes with small cookie cutters.
  • To keep things speedy, I prep veggies or simply buy ready-to-eat veggies. I wash and prep them as soon as I get them home so that when I am packing a lunch, I am not also having to deal with prepping veggies.  I do the same with fruit.
  • I buy 3 or 4 different veggies and 2 or 3 different fruits and use them in different combination throughout the week to reduce waste (use it all up), encourage me to use seasonal produce, and to take some of the guesswork (and time) out of packing the bento.

Ingredient List: pre-cut carrot chips, sugar snap peas, blueberries, leftover hamburger flowers, leftover ‘tater tots, catchup

Tools: divided Tupperware container, small silicone cup dividers, small plastic flower cookie cutter

Bentos B4 the Blog, part 4 of 4

6 Jan

Here is the last two of a few of the bento that I made and photographed before setting up this blog…

Breakfast and Lunch (August 11, 2010)

Leftovers

Handy breakfast

My kiddo will rarely eat breakfast at home, she’s just not hungry.  (Now in the car when we are about 10 minutes away it another story!)  I usually pack her something for breakfast and lunch.  Sometimes I am even industrious enough to make two bento, although with this particular breakfast I use the term more loosely than ever.  Mostly, the breakfast was just a conglomeration of what I had on hand.  At this point I was finally getting faster and had figured out that it was much nicer to do them at night after the wild one had gone to bed that in all the commotion of our morning.

Breakfast Ingredient List:  blueberry muffin, raspberries, toasted coconut covered goat cheese balls

Lunch Ingredient List:  gummy letters, carrots, leftover pan fried talapia, catchup, leftover mashed potatoes, grapes

Tools:  divided Tupperware and a snap-top container, small silicone cup dividers, Wüstof paring knife

Learn:  nothing much except how to put them together faster and pack tighter

Bentos B4 the Blog, part 3 of 4

5 Jan

Here is the third and fourth of a few of the bento that I made prior to the blog…

A REAL Bento Box

In a REAL Bento Box (August 8, 2010)

Not that my other containers weren’t working, but I got obsessed with buying a real bento box.  Because I wanted to lay hands on one before I bought it, I scoured the internet looking for a clue that might lead me to a local store… nada.  I looked at various “fancy” grocery stores… nada.  I literally drove myself nuts looking for one.  Then I found H-Mart, the mother of all asian markets in a suburb of the DFW metroplex. (cue the Angels singing)

That place is CRAZY and I got to go shopping by myself, a very rare occurrence.  I think I spent 3 hours in that store, but that is another post altogether!

So, I packed my first lunch into a REAL bento box! This doesn’t actually happen to be the one I packed… I think I bought it in May of 2010, but this picture was the first one I took with the new box.

Ingredient List:  spinach lasagna, grapes, pretzel fish, cheese sticks, raw green beans, carrots

Tools:  a REAL divided bento box, large and small silicone cup dividers, Wüstof paring knife

Learn:

  • The Good: getting better at packing
  • The Bad: could have filled in spaces a bit better
  • The Ugly: pretzel fish probably need to be sealed so that they don’t get stale

Breakfast Bento

Breakfast bento

I also made a breakfast bento for the first time… in a REAL bento box.  Still could have packed better, but I got to use two of my NYC Japanese grocery acquisitions – a very cute, small forest creature bento box and a fancy sauce bottle. (The whole NYC Japanese grocery experience is definitely another post.)

Ingredient List:  pancakes, raspberries, syrup

Tools:  small bento box, small silicone cup divider, sauce container

Bentos B4 the Blog, part 2 of 4

5 Jan

Here is the second of a few of the bento made way before this blog…

First grownup bento

The First Grownup Bento (April 6, 2010)

I hate carrying lots of stuff with me to work, so I decided to give it a try for myself in a container I could cram in my bag without my lunch suffering the consequences.  I used an undivided click-top container that we already had on hand and still use it from time to time.  This bento included my first bento-specific purchase – silicone baking cups.  Although I have bought more shapes and sizes of cups, they are my “go-to” divider in almost every box. Although I was getting better at filling spaces, I certainly still had some things to learn about packing.

Ingredient List:  spinach quiche, strawberry, cup of grapes, dressing, field greens, bell pepper slices

Tools:  a snap-top container, silicone cup divider, small metal cup, Wüstof paring knife

Learn:

  • The Good: a very yummy lunch with good variety
  • The Bad: poorly packed
  • The Ugly: using the metal cup for the dressing was an awful idea, it spilled and the dressing tasted funny