Monday, January 31, 2011

Tare Panda

Oh, I just love Tare Panda! I'm starting to look more like him, since I have been sleep deprived!

Last night, I was surfing the internet when I came across a really cute image of Tare Panda. It would be fun to include him in the boys' bento, I thought. Just half a face, as the Panda seemed to be hiding behind something. It would be good for me as less details to be included amidst the morning rush .....

The product this morning .... seemed like one eye is missing, hahaha!
I need to improve on my rice shaping skills, as well as paying more attention to the details. The original plan was to have the panda peeking out from behind the baby corn. Oh well, my first attempt ... didn't quite make it. More room for improvement =)

In the bento ... Baked baby corn, pan-fried "Hanbagu", some florets of broccoli and few slices of carrots. The extra meat balls were packed into Hubby Dear's lunchbox.

I managed to squeeze in some time to do a hard-boiled egg for him to include in the lunchbox. How about the vegetables? He likes long beans but not the kids, so I quickly stir fry some beans with minced garlic in a little oyster sauce.

There you go ... the beans in the middle of the rice! He can mix it up and the rice will be more tasty then! Time to think about what to pack for tomorrow's lunch! Hmm ... maybe a Dinosaur, since Darling son YW is going on a field trip to the Geology Museum tomorrow ....

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bunnies and The Magician's Hat

I'm the Magician's rabbit, and I'm happy to be with my friends again!
Don't tell the Magician that I'm here! I stole his hat so that I could visit my friends. Can you see the Magician's Hat?

When I showed Hubby dear the caption and the photo, he asked "Where is the hat?". Erh ... ok, it's camouflaged by the lettuce leaves. So, I uploaded another photo. Can you see the Hat now?

I was exhausted and sleep deprived, after having stayed up the night, looking after Darling son KW who was down with a fever and stayed home yesterday. After a day of rest at home, he could finally go back to school. But he was still coughing badly. I wanted to prepare something light for school lunch, and so settled on Japanese fishcake. Since I had no time to do my "homework", I recycled old ideas, and gave it a different look.

Don't you think the rabbits look very festive? I'm sure the kids will be happy to have it as a side dish for reunion dinner on Chinese New Year's eve =)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Where are you, Totoro?

Are you looking for me? I'm not quite the perfect Totoro. My ears are too long, and my body ... too short. The proportions are not quite right. But like my friends, the Makkuro Kurosuke, I'm edible =)

Someone stole my whiskers ... I feel strange without them ....

Here's the full view of the lunchbox. It's a 45oml Lock&Lock box.
The boys don't eat that much rice for lunch, since they have only 30 minutes for lunch in school. It was kind of challenging to make this mini Totoro, using about 3 tablepsoon of rice.

I had wanted to do a rice Totoro, after making the Makkuro Kurosuke yesterday. I was toying with the idea of using nori mixing with rice, instead of grounded black sesame seeds. The nori had to be cut to very tiny pieces, so that the rice would look like it had been "dusted". Being sleep-deprived, and needing something exciting to fuel my energy for the day, I decided to make Totoro! Why not, since it was only ONE Totoro that I was going to make. Why only one? Because it was Darling son KW's turn to be down with a fever last night. He would be staying home today, and having his "special" lunch.

Lesson learnt ... I'm a rookie in making bentos, and I need to do my homework. The proportions will be right, and I will definitely remember to put in those whiskers the next time! No wonder the rice Totoro looked kind of strange =p Check out AnnaTheRed Bento Factory's "How To" make a rice Totoro!

This toy was brought home by Darling son KW. His artwork from school. They watched "My Neighbor Totoro", and made this toy. He had fun stitching, after stuffing the toy with polyfill.

This green fellow even has a Birth Certificate.
His name is ... BOB!
Isn't it cool?!

And that's lunch for hubby dear! Eat more vegetables, they are good for you!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meet the Makkuro Kurosuke!

Meet the Makkuro Kurosuke! I'm in love with these sooty little fellows!
I love the way they disappear in a flash in My Neighbor Totoro, and the way they work in the boiler room in Spirited Away =) And those big blinking eyes ... No wonder Satsuki and Mei shouted "Makkuro Kurosuke, come out! Or we'll poke your eyeballs out!".

In the lunchbox ... Rice balls, seasoned with a little sushi vinegar and covered with lots of shredded nori, chicken karagge, cauliflower and carrots. The blinking eyes were made from cheese and nori. I will definitely make them BIGGER the next time!

Preparing the chicken karagge didn't take up too much time. It was covering the rice balls with shredded nori that took up a bit more time than expected. It was kind of messy, but the boys were happy to see these sooty fellows in their lunch box. Thanks Anna, from AnnaTheRed, once again, for showing the "How To" in your very informative and creative blog! I'm in love your Totoro Bentos!

The first thing Darling son KW asked when he saw these sooty fellows was "Are they from Totoro?". And his next question was ...... "Are we getting Totoro tomorrow?". Hmm, will have to think about that while the boys are at school ....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mushroom Twins

Meet the mushroom twins. They are made from cheese and ham. I love eating mushrooms, but my boys don't. But I'm sure the boys are happy with the big mushroom in their lunch box today =)

In today's lunch box .... Egg and ham roll, broccoli, strawberry, rice, and of course, the big mushroom, made using ham and cheese!

The boys were coughing badly yesterday, and Darling son KW was starting to develop a sore throat. I was not keen to bake or fry any meat this morning, and so opted for ham. My good excuse for doing less work. But I did prepare an egg sheet, to go with the ham, and made them into a roll.

My boys love egg omelette, and I usually use three eggs to make the omelette for the family. It is impossible to roll the thick omelette without breaking it, and visually, it is not pleasing, with all the brown spots on the omelette. Thus, I have always wonder how to do a thin egg sheet that can be rolled. When I came to Anna's blog, AnnaTheRed Bento Factory, it was only then I realised I needed to add 1 tablespoon of water and 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch to one egg before frying! I tried, and I got a nice round egg sheet this morning. Thanks, Anna, for sharing the "How To" in your blog! Great instructions for rookies like me =)

After sending the boys to school this morning, I checked my emails, and read Maki's post in Just Bento. Quote from her blog post .... "It may sound corny, but to me a bento box is about giving a bit of love to someone too. ".

How true! However much I try to duplicate my mom's dish, the taste is not the same. My conclusion is that, the difference in taste lies with the extra ingredient she puts in ..... giving a bit of love to the ones she is cooking for. And this is the extra ingredient I put into the boys' lunch boxes every morning =)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Two Hungry Caterpillars

Let me introduce myself. I'm one hungry caterpillar, and I like strawberries!

Meet my elder brother ... he's another hungry caterpillar!
And, we both like strawberries!

Lunch for the boys today is a caterpillar-themed bento. Why caterpillar? Because, I realised that when you put together a row of broccoli, they looked like the body of a caterpillar! And a round piece of carrot worked well for the face. So all I needed to do in the morning, was to prepare the eyes, and cut the triangular legs. With a small triangular cutter, it was a breeze preparing the twelve legs of the caterpillar. Pan-frying the bite-size char siew chicken thigh pieces didn't take up too much time either.

The boys requested for strawberries in their lunchbox, and I was more than happy to oblige. We bought a big box of strawberries from Costco. Not only was it a huge box of strawberries, the strawberries were big too! Don't you think the huge one look like a clam?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bunnies Everywhere!

When I saw these bunnies, made from fishcake, at AnnaTheRed's Bento Factory, I knew I had to make them, some day, for the kids' school lunch! The boys like fishcake, and these bunnies look real cute and easy to make.

Darling son YW's fever had gone down, but he would be staying home to rest today. Since I happened to have a tube of these Japanese fishcake sitting in my fridge, and the little fellow needed something light for lunch, I decided to borrow Anna's great idea and make bunnies for both the boys for their lunch!

I didn't have any black sesame seeds for the eyes. Tiny pieces of triangular cutout from a sheet of nori were used instead. These bunnies were put into a pan of boiling water, to get a "quick bath", before cooling and packing into KW's lunchbox for school. Besides the usual broccoli florets and carrots, there's also bacon wrapped asparagus. The little fellow staying home with me, would be having penne, long beans and fishcake bunnies for lunch.

Two more weeks to Chinese New Year. Looks like I'm all ready to welcome the Year of the Rabbit!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Meet the Minion!

Meet the Minion, from Despicable Me!

These little fellows are busy working for Gru, building this and that ... so they need tools!

Minion and tools ... they make a good bento lunch for boys =) Plus, it is not difficult to put together the Minion. Simple tools like straws and piping tip, or any circular objects you can find in your home for cutting circles of two different sizes. Cheese slices ... Cheddar and Swiss, two colours, for the eyes.

Darling son KW will be bringing this Minon, Despicable Me lunch to school. In the lunch box, he got a rice ball, shaped like Minion's head and hidden under Minion, blanched broccoli florets, and pan-fried chicken. How about Darling son YW? He had a terrible sore throat last night. I thought I should let him bring something light for lunch ... blanched snow peas, prawns cooked in salted water, and rice. So two different sets of lunch for school.

Midway through lunch preparation, I noticed that Darling son YW was not his usual self. He looked tired and his face was very red. A mother's instinct, I would say, and I quickly took his temperature. He was having a high fever of 102F/38.8C! So the boy would be staying home today! He could still have prawns and snow peas for lunch, with rice in a bowl of miso soup.

Hubby dear was one lucky guy today! He's got a combination of both meals!

The medication did bring Darling son YW's fever down, but after lunch, it went up again to 102F/39C. I hope he will get well soon, after a day or two of rest. So for now, I will be preparing two sets of meals, till the little boy recovers!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Under the Sea

Under the sea .... do you want to do a Mexican Dance with me?

Monday was a federal holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
It was a long, busy weekend for me. Half the time, I was in the kitchen, preparing, cooking and washing. By Monday evening, I was exhausted. I did not do my "Lunch" homework, and all I had in the fridge, ready for cooking the next morning, was a pack of mini sausages!

And so the boys asked during dinner, "What are we having for school lunch tomorrow?".

Erh ... "Sausages?" ... "Yeah!".
Junk food never fail to please the kids. Sigh.
And so, I convinced myself, just for one day, I would let them bring sausages to school.

The legs of the sausages were cut on Monday night, so that I would not be in such a rush the next morning. In the morning, get a pan of water to boil, and put the sausage octopuses (or octopi, octopodes) in to cook.

As the sausages swam in the pan, I started work on the eyes, and mouths. Like I said, I was not prepared. I only realised I had 8 sets of eyes and mouths to work on after cutting the first small circle from a slice of cheese! It was also difficult to get the eyes to stick onto the sausages. I used a little mayo in the end.

The rice was mixed with the leftover chicken floss from last night's dinner. I placed one octopus on a broccoli floret, and put it into the box, hoping that the legs would stretch out. It took a while for me to place the four "creatures" into the lunchbox, together with the broccoli florets. The legs didn't stretch out much, as you could see from the photo. They were buried under the florets of broccoli. I put in a Sombrero hat for the last octopus, and we were ready to go!

Are you ready to dance, Mr Octopus?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rice Balls and More!

There are days when I feel lazy, and want something that is easy to prepare and to eat for either lunch or dinner. Something light, something that can be eaten in a short time.

Since I had a pack of smoked salmon sitting in the fridge, why not use it for rice balls? These little rice balls, topped with small thin slices of smoked salmon, would make a lovely lunch item. And they are not difficult to make at all!

First, seasoned your rice with some sushi rice vinegar.
Cut the smoked salmon into slices.
Place the slice of smoked salmon onto a big sheet of cling wrap.
Top the salmon with some rice.
Pull the ends of the wrap together and twist!
Shape the rice, remove the wrap and done!

I had a really small pack of smoked salmon, and managed to make only 9 rice balls. Only 8 in the photograph? I ate one before taking the photograph ... food tasting =p

That's definitely not enough for everyone. And what about the vegetables?

I stir fried a packet of shitake mushrooms with some olive oil, garlic and vegetarian oyster sauce (less salty than the actual oyster sauce). Using my triangular rice mould, I made four onigiri. I didn't do a good job, as some of the fillings were falling out, and the wrong way too! The rice should wrapped the fillings, so I should not see the fillings =p Will not make the same mistake twice!

In order to use up the leftover SPAM from another meal, I decided to make Musubi! And to complete the meal, a bowl of miso soup with some silken tofu thrown in!

We each had two rice balls, an onigiri, a musubi and a bowl of soup! I was stuffed that afternoon =)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pan Fried Chicken Donburi

This recipe is adapted from Kentaro Kobayashi's Easy Japanese Cooking, Donburi Mania. I love his cookbooks. The recipes are simple, and yet yield delicious meals!

Strictly speaking, mine is not served as a Donburi. My rice is not placed in a bowl, as the kids will probably spill the rice all over while trying to scoop the rice under the meat. A plate will be more convenient for them, and less mess for me =)

For this meal, I omitted the Japanese sweet peppers. Instead, I use the recipe for cooking the chicken thighs.

2 pcs Chicken thighs, bonelss and skin on, approximately 400g
salt and pepper
roasted seaweed

Mixture A
2 tbsp Water
1 tbsp miso
1 tbsp mirin
1/2 tbps Soy Sauce

  • Remove fat from chicken and poke several holes in skin with a knife tip. Make slicing cuts into skinless side, about 1 cm apart for more even cooking.
  • Heat pan and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
  • Place chicken thighs in pan, skin side down.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover and cook on medium heat.
  • Once browned, turn chicken thighs over.
  • Cover again and cook slowly on medium heat.
  • Remove excess juices and oil from pan with a paper towel while cooking.
  • Once chicken is cooked through, turn skin side down once more.
  • Pour in 1/2 tablespoon oil around the edge of pan.
  • Cook on high heat until the skin is crispy.
  • Remove excess fat and juices again.
  • Pour in mixture A.
  • Coat both sides well.
  • Cut chicken into bite-size pieces.
  • Serve rice in bowls and cover with shredded pieces of roasted seaweed.
  • Top with the bite-size chicken pieces.

I like the taste of mixture A on the chicken. For bento use, I would probably cut the chicken thighs into bite size pieces before cooking, with the skin removed. Smaller pieces cook faster than a bigger piece, although the rich flavor keeps better in a chicken thigh cooked as a whole. Pan frying these smaller pieces will take a shorter time, and mixture A can be added towards to the end, when the pieces of chicken are cooked through.

I look forward to cooking it for my bento next week =)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Caterpillar Sushi

The boys requested to bring sushi as lunch.
I was not too keen as it meant that they would really have a COLD lunch. However, I did not want to disappoint them either. Hence, a sushi meal with SPAM and cheese, and some broccoli.

The caterpillar was finding it hard to wriggle its way through the broccoli!

The next time I pack sushi as lunch, I will chop the broccoli up into small pieces, and mix it with the rice and sushi vinegar. For each bite, the boys will have eaten rice, meat, cheese and some vegetables! There will a little space left to tuck in a cherry tomato or some grapes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Miffy The Rabbit

Miffy says "Hi, are you ready for the Year of the Rabbit?"

In today's lunchbox ... Broccoli, Carrot Rounds, some corn kernels, and baked Char Siew Chicken Thigh Fillet. The chicken fillets were marinated last evening, and left in the fridge overnight. I took them out this morning, send them into the oven to bake at 375 for about 30 minutes, or till cooked thoroughly. While the chicken fillets were baking in the oven, I started work on Miffy.

  • Use a Miffy cookie cutter, or any bunny cookie cutter.
  • Place the cookie cutter on a slice of cheese.
  • Then, placed the cut out cheese onto a sheet of nori.
  • Follow the outline of the cheese, cut the nori.
  • Using two very thin strips of nori, form a cross. That's the mouth.
  • Cut the eyes using a scissors, or a nori punch.

Ok, my Miffy didn't quite look like Miffy, because of the eyes.
The circles from my nori punch were too big for the bunny. It was very difficult to cut or trim the circles. So I used another nori punch with curved eyes. It was easier to trim these curvy eyes. Hmmm, it's time I pay a visit the craft shop, to get a scrapbooking circle punch! They have a variety of punches, with circles of different diameters!

Rabbits like carrots!
I put three carrot rounds through a leaf pick.
There, a happy Miffy with her carrot stick!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's ... SHAUN, the Sheep!

It's Shaun, the sheep! And with him, the Naughty Pig!

My boys are so familiar with this sheep.
They love watching the animated series, Shaun, The Sheep. Their Art teacher in school had a unit on Shaun last year. They watched the video, and then went about drawing and crafting the sheep. I asked my boys if they could draw Shaun ... "Oh, that's so easy!" came their reply.

Last night, I was thinking of how I could include some ham into their lunch, without making a ham flower, when I chanced upon SusanYuen's blog. What a lovely blog! And there was a post on "How to Make Shaun the Sheep and The Naughty Pig". Just what I needed! To use the slice of ham for the Pig! Yeah!

So last night, I draw the Pig and Sheep on a piece of parchment paper, and cut out the templates. This morning, after sending in the trays of vegetable spring rolls and bacon wrapped asparagus into the oven to bake, I started work on Shaun.

He was fairly easy to put together!

  • Put two small pieces of nori together.
  • Cut the shape of shaun's head using the templates.
  • Separate the two nori heads, and place them on a slice of cheese.
  • Using a small knife, cut the cheese with the nori on it.
  • There, you get Shaun's head ... nori on cheese.
  • Next, place the cloud-like template on a small piece of cheese.
  • Cut the cheese, following the template.
  • You get the fluffy top on Shaun's head.
  • Place it on the nori.
  • Proceed to do the eyes.
  • Using a straw, cut out four circles (for two shauns) from a piece of cheese.
  • Using a nori punch or scissors, cut another four smaller circles using a sheet of nori.
  • Place the nori circles on the cheese circles. Eyes, done!

Place the head on a bed of cauliflower, and you get Shaun, head and body!

The Naughty Pig was a challenging one to deal with!

The slice of ham was fairly thin, and I thought I could cut two pigs at one go! Wrong! While trying to slice through the second piece, I almost broke the arm of the first pig! I had no choice but to cut one pig at a time, and very carefully too, as one arm was dangling from the first pig. With limited time, I wouldn't want to have to cut a third pig! Since I do not have an oval cutter, I had to use a scissors to cut out the snout. I use a smaller straw to cut two circles on the ham snout. I ended up with a not-so-oval, but quite a rectangular snout.

Did you hear the pig scream?
Did he say "Leave me alone!", or did you hear "EAT ME!"?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Promise. Echo-Echo.

I promised my little boy yesterday, that I would include Echo-Echo from Ben 10 Alien Force in his lunch today. He was really looking forward to it! I did my homework yesterday and came up with a sketch and template of Echo-Echo.

As usual, with the mad rush in the morning, I realised (again!) that I didn't have time to include the details, despite planning for it! The thin strips of nori were already cut, but I just didn't have the time (and stable hands) to put them on the figures. I was lucky to be able to include the eyes, cut from a leaf of lettuce, and the Ben 10 logo. Upon see his lunchbox, the little one said "Echo-Echo!". It's a "Pass", from my little teacher, for my assignment, I suppose?

The boys got an extra side dish for their lunch, apart from the usual meat and vegetable .... bacon wrapped asparagus!

I baked these bacon wrapped asparagus last night, to test if the boys like it. You don't want to include a new dish, only to have them bring home to you after school, untouched. Bacon is not exactly a healthy choice of food, but as long as we consume it in moderation, it works just fine. Another vegetable included in their diet, especially for Darling son KW, who requested that I "cut off the green part sticking out". He didn't mind popping the hidden asparagus into his mouth, since I cut the spear of asparagus into smaller chunks.

4 spears of Asparagus
2 slices of Bacon

  • Half the slice of bacon lengthwise.
  • From a slice of bacon, you now get two thin slices.
  • Remove tough end of asparagus.
  • Wash and pat dry the asparagus.
  • Wrap the half-sliced of bacon around the spear of asparagus.
  • Put the bacon wrapped asparagus in a lined tray.
  • Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes.
  • You may want to turn the spear of asparagus half way through cooking.

I didn't add any salt or pepper. The asparagus was soft and well seasoned by the saltiness from the slightly crispy bacon. While the bacon was sizzling away in the oven, I pan fried the chicken thigh chunks.

These chicken thigh chunks were cut and marinated with Shaoxing Wine, and left in the fridge overnight. I coated the chunks with some cornstarch and salt, and pan fried them with some olive oil. Since they were bite size chunks, they cooked faster than when you fried a whole chicken thigh.

Oily bacon and oily spears of asparagus, with panfried chicken ... unhealthy? I added more vegetables - orange cauliflower. Scoop some rice into the lunchbox and that completes the meal. This is the lunchbox for hubby dear. No Echo-Echo for him =p

Three lunchboxes in one morning. It is no wonder the kitchen was in a terrible mess after packing the lunchboxes. Let's hope the boys, big and little, come home later with an empty lunchbox.

Related Posts with Thumbnails