Hello from Totoro! Yup, it's another Totoro bento. It may be true that we are in the midst of Fall, but we are still digging the cold noodle bento these days. This one is a soba salad, with chopped romaine, shredded carrot, fishcake (kamaboko), nori, grape tomatoes, and steamed Okinawan sweet potato soot sprites. I poured tsuyu directly on the noodles because the lid is gasketed and advertised to be leakproof. Spoiler: it didn't leak! This is a new lunchbox called SaladBook by Smart Planet. It's only the first time we've used it so we'll reserve judgement until we use it again. Stay tuned!
Today I made another recipe from the Lucky Rice Cookbook that I received earlier this past summer. Last time I made garlic smashed cucumbers and it was a perfect side addition to our bento repertoire. I was intrigued by the Pastrami Egg Rolls because I am a huge fan of pastrami and this seemed like a fun way to use it in bento. There wasn't a picture of these in the cookbook so I'm not sure exactly how the author meant for them to look, but I laid the pastrami strips inside the wrapper neatly in a couple different ways.
I also made a vegetarian filling since I was going to be deep-frying anyway, and it seems more balanced to add at least some vegetables. I preferred the vegetarian rolls, maybe because I ended up packing way more filling in those. But not surprisingly the kids really liked the salty cured pastrami and sauerkraut ones; I also added strips of swiss cheese in the pastrami ones (although this wasn't asked for in the original recipe).
There are two issues with egg rolls in bento: 1) egg rolls are best eaten freshly made, when they are maximally crispy and 2) now I remember why I don't like deep frying. The second reason isn't really a bento problem, it's mostly a personal dislike of spattering hot oil (and then cleaning up the mess after). The recipe, however, is a good one if you happen to like pastrami and sauerkraut. It might be even better with thinner sliced meat packed more fully, but ours was very delicious as well. Hope you can try it and see for yourself soon!
I used a different recipe for teriyaki chicken - this one uses crushed pineapple, honey, shoyu, garlic, and ginger, and involved marinating the chicken pieces before oven baking. I'm not a fan of cooked pineapple in sauces but the kids liked it a lot. I guess because of the added sweetness in the flavor. Also packed in our LunchBots Quad: sweet cantaloupe, steamed Okinawan Sweet Potato, fresh corn, grape tomatoes, rice with furikake.
1. To make the teriyaki sauce, place the crushed pineapple, soy sauce, honey, ginger and garlic a bowl, whisk to combine. Pour half of the teriyaki sauce in a resealable plastic bag and reserve the other half. Place the chicken breasts in the resealable bag, close and give it a good massage to coat with the marinade. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to overnight.
2. When ready to cook, turn on the broiler and place the rack in the middle position. Place the marinated chicken breasts on a foil-lined baking sheet and spoon some of the chunky pineapple/ginger from the marinade on top of the breast. It will help keep the chicken moist. Broil for 8 to 10 minutes on each side, for a total of 16-20 minutes. Discard any remaining marinade in the bag.
3. While the chicken is broiling, heat the reserved teriyaki sauce (that you had previously set aside in step 1) in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes or until thickened slightly.
4. When chicken is done, Slice the chicken, pour the teriyaki sauce over top and serve immediately.
Working on improving my onigirazu technique; today I made oven-baked chicken katsu. There are lots of recipes out there describing this method - basically instead of deep-frying the panko-breaded chicken cutlets, you bake them in a 400F oven for 30 minutes or so. The key is to toast the panko on a frying pan first so that it turns a nice brown color, like how it would look if you had actually deep-fried the chicken. You really can't compare oven baked chicken katsu with real deep-fried chicken katsu, but I thought it came out okay. It will never be as crispy as deep-fried, but it definitely is less oily. And there is very little cleanup involved. I like that!
For this onigirazu I didn't use a mold; I simply placed some rice in the middle of a sheet of nori, then layered with shredded cabbage, a few slices of chicken katsu, a squirt of tonkatsu sauce, more rice, then folded up the four corners and cut in half. I like how it looks, but I can still add more filling. Next time that's what I'll do. Also, I'll fold a little more tightly. The learning experience continues. Also inside our LunchBot Clicks: strawberries, orange cherry tomato, steamed broccoli.
Totoro got me thinking about Pokemon, and especially Pikachu. I don't think I'vemadeone in a long time, so here's a snack bento with a Pikachu cut from a turmeric hard-boiled egg. I sliced the egg in half lengthwise so I could use the other half for ears, tail, hands and feet. I used nori for detail, and apple peel for his cheeks. Also in our Lunchbot Clicks: black rice, carrots, lettuce, and plum.
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!
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😊
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!
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.
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!
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😊
I am a former research scientist turned stay-at-home-mom of 2 who got started with bento in an effort to help my kids learn that eating healthy and nutritious foods can be fun and cute. I make a bento lunch for my 13yo (8th grader) son & my 9yo (4th grader) daughter every school day, and post the pictures on my sherimiya ♥ flickr photostream. Here in this blog is where I describe each bento, and you'll also get a peek inside our family adventures. Thanks for taking a look, and please let me know what you think ^-^!