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

Scotland!


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

Natsu!


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.