Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Busy Bumblebee: #39

Today is sweetPea's last day as a kindergartener. Since they're doing a Walk-A-Thon for a good portion of the day, I wanted her to have lots of goodies to give her energy. I packed a busy bumblebee made from provolone, cheddar and nori. She also has honey roasted chickpeas, strawberries, blackberries, and a Clementine flower. I packed milk separately.

My bento making will slow down for the summer, but it won't stop. We have lots of adventures planned and I'm sure we'll need lots of snacks and food to take along.

Butterflies: #38

I think this one was from Monday. She had provolone and cheddar butterflies, roasted chickpeas, a Clementine & blackberry flower, and a strawberry. I told her to use the spinach tortilla to wrap up the cheese, but she just ate the cheese off the top and left the tortilla.

Hungry Caterpillar: #37

I'm a little behind in posting. This was from last week. She had a hungry caterpillar made from provolone cheese and a spinach tortilla, Honey Roasted Chickpeas, blackberries, and a Carrot Apple Coconut muffin. I also sent milk. She ate it all except for the lettuce. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Another Simple Bento: #36

This is another example of how a simple lunch can be prepared quickly and still look lovely. In the box are a provolone cheese sandwich on a croissant, sliced kiwis, Coconut Apple Carrot mini muffins, and some crunchy Honey Roasted Chickpeas. I added a chive flower just to make it pretty. I think sweetPea will appreciate that surprise at lunchtime.

I got the idea of adding a little flower from the BentoBird blog. Her bentos are very elegant and lovely. They're not charaben and seem to be geared more for an adult, but I think I'd love to sit down to a lunch as beautiful as hers. (Yes, I have bento envy. Leave me alone.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Simple Bento: #35

Have you noticed that the day after I make a more complicated bento, I tend to make a really easy one? That's no accident. I try to spread out the charaben so I don't get burned out making them. However, simple doesn't have to mean boring or non-tasty. This lunch is a good example of a delicious, nutritious box that was a snap to assemble.

I've been following a food blog called for the last few months. She does more typical blogs, but she also posts videos of her making food with her kids. These aren't amateur-looking videos either. Someone has obviously put some time and energy into making these look really nice. That's neither here nor there. The really cool part is that sweetPea watched the video on Avocado Herb Dip with me.

Pea has gotten a lot more adventurous in her eating lately (yay bento!), but she's still pretty dependent on ranch dressing for her veggies. I'm not as fond of that idea as she is. I've tried to interest her in guacamole or any kind of avocado-based dish for a while, but she turns it down. Last night I was preparing an avocado for dinner. She said, "Oh! Are you making that dip we saw?" Actually I hadn't planned on it, but hearing her enthusiasm I figured we'd give it a try. She was so excited! She ran outside and cut the herbs herself. She chose cilantro and chives. We put everything into the food processor, and voila! She ate dip for dinner with carrots, broccoli and corn chips. I was happy to have her do it.

So today's lunch includes Avocado Herb Dip with carrots and broccoli, strawberries and blackberries, and a Carrot Apple Coconut Muffin.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Derby Winner: #34

We had a fabulous Derby Day with friends. In case you missed it, Plum Pretty won the Oaks race and Animal Kingdom won the Derby. None of us had picked that horse. In fact, I think Pea's horse came in 10th and mine came in 9th. Not that we bet, it's just fun to choose a horse to cheer for as they run down the finish line. 

So today's bento is in honor of Animal Kingdom. On the bottom is brown basmati rice with a nori horse head. The blanket of roses is made from strawberries and a little bit of lettuce. The eye and nose are bits of provolone. On top is a salad made from lettuce, red bell peppers, jicama, and a radish rose. sweetPea designed that part - it's supposed to represent the crowd watching from the stands. 

She wanted me to make an entire horse running, but I was afraid the nori would be too fiddly to cut that kind of detail. The horse head was much easier than I thought so maybe next time I'll be more brave. 

Bento Dinner: #33

Lots of bonus bentos today. These are from last Thursday. I didn't realize until Wednesday afternoon that sweetPea was off school on Thursday. So instead of making bentos for lunch, we had them for dinner before the annual Derby parade. In the top is a cheese croissant sandwich with a cheese "horse" on top. (It was in a Noah's ark cookie cutter set. I'm not actually sure what it's supposed to be.) On the bottom are kiwi slices, cucumber slices, and radish roses. 

It was a brilliant idea to take lots of food. The parade starts at 5:00 and doesn't end until around 7pm. So if you don't have anything to eat, you end up with whiny kids and cranky parents. Various vendors sell food at the parade, but it's usually kind of gross looking and it's cost prohibitive. For example, one small bottled water cost $4. 

My husband's bento contains Amazing Crunchy Tofu Salad, an egg salad sandwich on a croissant, some almonds, and a radish rose.

My bento contains an egg salad sandwich on a croissant, the same salad, and a radish rose. 

The bentos we have are a little small for adults, but I also brought along baggies filled with popcorn I popped at home and some delicious Strawberry Coffee Cake. We also brought along our own water and Pea had some milk. I also packed the dressing for the salads separately.

The Verdict: It was fabulous being able to eat a real meal. We packed in our own chairs and found a nice spot to watch the parade that was partially shaded and partly sunny. The salad is really really good. Even if you don't care much for tofu, you should try it. sweetPea has turned down tofu many times, but said that if I make it that way every time she'll happily eat it. I didn't include it in her bento because she doesn't like it cold. The salad I included in the bentos was leftover from the previous night's dinner. sweetPea also thought the radishes I put in her lunch were too spicy. She likes the watermelon radishes a lot better. I have some growing in my garden, so hopefully our supply will be replenished soon.

We went to the parade with some friends. The girls had a fantastic time. This was the first time Pea has gone to the parade and walked the whole way. We usually take her in the stroller, but at 5 1/2 she's a little old for that now. I was afraid she'd whine and complain all the way back to the car, but she and her friend skipped and ran ahead the whole way. Maybe it was partially due to the good food she got to fill her up? :)

Here's a picture of the girls dancing around during the parade. sweetPea is on the right in the butterfly dress. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fleur-de-Lis: #32

In the left-hand side of the box are a polenta fleur-de-lis fried in butter, some of this season's first radishes, and cucumbers. On the right are strawberry and kiwi slices.  

The fleu-de-lis the Official Seal of the City of Louisville. It is ubiquitous in the area. You'll find it on t-shirts and hats, on business logos, and even as the name of a cafe. The winner of The Oaks race has a garland of lilies placed over her shoulders. And now it's in a bento. It actually came apart a bit when I fried it, but I'll be honest - I didn't feel like taking the time to cut out another one.  

Strawberries and kiwi are sweetPeas favorite fruits at the moment so in they go. I like to buy local, fresh produce, but this time of the year it's still difficult to find too much of that. Lots of greens are in, chives, even asparagus. Sure, I could send her with a salad every. single. day, but I think she'd balk at that fairly quickly. And unfortunately she's jut not a big asparagus fan, but she was super happy to see the radishes. You'd think they'd be too spicy for a kid, but these are fairly mild and she loves the crunchy spiciness of radishes. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Steamboat Race: #31

Another one I'm kind of "eh" about. I think it's the weather. It's so gray, rainy, and dreary here it's affecting my energy level. I used the boat from the Noah's Ark cookie cutter set I bought a while back to make the boats. It's been raining so much here I should've just used it to make an ark. In fact, the Great Steamboat Race has been postponed until sometime this summer due to flooding. :(

On the bottom is a rice river with two little cheese boats. The steamboat also has a carrot paddlewheel and provolone smoke coming out the stack. The top portion has strawberries, kiwi, and more cheese.

The Verdict: She left the cheese in the top section and about half of the rice. She said cheese gets "slimey" after a while so she'll only eat the shapes. I also noticed that the smoke is going the wrong direction. The paddlewheel is in the back pushing the boat, so the smoke should be streaming in the other directions. Oh, well. Maybe it's a strong wind?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Balloon Race: #30

It's Derby week here in Louisville, KY. There are lots of races and celebrations leading up to the Big race on Saturday. One of those was the Balloon Race, which took place last Saturday morning.

This poor bento did not turn out at. all. the way I planned. It was truly a comedy of errors. First, I was trying to color the rice blue like I did in The Lorax bento. With that bento, I stirred in the coloring after the rice was finished. I had to kind of re-cook the rice because it was a little runny. I thought maybe I was supposed to cook the rice in the cabbage juice so I wouldn't have to recook it. Bad, bad, bad idea. Parts of it turned out blueish, but mostly it was a weird sickly greenish-yellowish-brownish color. But it tasted fine, so in it went. I guess we can pretend it was a cloudy, smoggy day. Actually, the day of the Balloon Race was the nicest most beautiful day we've had in a long time. Today it's back to rain.

Then I thought I'd make some balloons using jicama since sweetPea just looooves jicama. It's also a really nice white addition to a bento box. Well. The jicama we bought was rotten and black inside. Unfortunately it was the best of the bunch at the grocery store, so I had to make do. I used a beet slice and cucumber slices to attempt to make stripes in one balloon. The other one is just cucumber. The sun and the baskets under the balloons are cheddar cheese. The treetops are broccoli. It's also not the most well-rounded nutritionally. I'll have to do better tomorrow.

The Verdict: She ate all the cheese, all veggies except the broccoli, and about half the rice. She said she was too full for the rest.

Ladybugs on a Log: #29

I'm a little behind - this is last Friday's lunch. It doesn't look like much, but sweetPea really enjoyed it. On the left is brown basmati rice with coconut milk. On the right are celery sticks filled with strawberry cream cheese and topped with Craisins, from a recipe called Ladybugs on a Log. Also included is a sliced kiwi.

I didn't have any strawberry cream cheese like they used in the recipe so I kind of made our own. It was surprisingly good. All I did was chop up a strawberry and mix it in to plain cream cheese. I also added a little real maple syrup for sweetness. It was hard to mush in and came out kind of lumpy, but it was super tasty. sweetPea ate every bite of her bento.