Archive for the 'bento' Category
Because I’m not my son’s personal short-order cook, I love to use dinner leftovers in our bento lunches to minimize prep time. But eating the exact same thing for multiple meals can get boring pretty quickly, so finding new ways to quickly transform leftovers into different dishes is always welcome. Today I’ve got a simple Leftover Remake recipe for pan-fried risotto cakes.
With these lunches, I took cold zucchini risotto left over from dinner the night before, and made it into little pan-fried risotto cakes that my five-year-old ate as finger food. They’re reminiscent of Sicilian arancini (deep-fried rice balls stuffed with cheese, meat, or vegetables), but I improvised as I didn’t have a good melting cheese on hand.
Contents of kindergartener bento lunch: Pan-fried zucchini (courgette) risotto cakes (recipe below), teriyaki & pineapple chicken meatballs (my favorite, Aidells brand), red grapes, and steamed broccoli with onion-based salad dressing. For dinner, I’d made the zucchini risotto from a recipe in Marcella Hazan’s classic cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.
Morning prep time: 22 minutes for the two bentos, including cooling time for the risotto cakes, meatballs and broccoli. In the morning I formed and pan-fried the risotto cakes from leftover risotto, microwaved the frozen meatballs, and steamed the broccoli in my microwave mini-steamer. (Click for full lunch details, an adult variation on this lunch with additional fruit & veggies, and a basic recipe for the risotto cakes.) Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on March 24th, 2010 tagged bento, for kids, leftover remake, meat, phyllo or pancake or other, recipe, rice | 121 Comments »
Once a year, volunteer language teachers come from Japan to help out at my son’s school, and do a month’s homestay with families from the school. Part of the homestay deal is that the host family is to pack the teacher a daily lunch to eat at school. So that means that I’m back to making adult and child versions of the same lunch while “A-sensei” is with us — I’m finding it stimulating.
It was initially a little weird to be making bentos for a Japanese person. (You know, will she like our food? I don’t want them to look so thrown-together that the other senseis at school wind up gossiping about it.) But we’ve gotten used to each other over the past couple weeks, so I’m less self-conscious now and am learning her food likes and dislikes. The result? I’ve slipped back into my regular old speed bento habits for both lunches.
For this meal I fell back on pasta frittata, a simple egg dish that incorporates leftover spaghetti from the night before. Now whenever I make pasta I just go ahead and make extra, knowing that leftovers will get remade into breakfast or lunch the next day.
Contents of adult bento lunch: Pasta frittata made with leftover spaghetti, shrimp & tomato sauce (see the full pasta frittata tutorial). Sauteed orange bell pepper with garlic & soy sauce, and green grapes.
Morning prep time: 20 minutes for the two bentos, using leftover pasta for the frittata and including prep/cooling time for the frittata and peppers. Thoroughly cooling all foods before closing them up inside a bento box reduces the amount of condensation inside of the box, improving food safety and making it easier to remove the lid of the bento box. (Click for lunch details and a kid-sized version of the same lunch.) Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on March 8th, 2010 tagged bento, eggs, fish or seafood, for kids, leftover remake, pasta or noodles | 21 Comments »
May I just say that kindergarten bentos have been kicking my butt this year? Bug’s new school starts super-early, and I’m NOT a morning person. Most mornings I’m thankful for every time-saving trick I can find, and I’m guilty of not taking many pictures as we rush out the door.
It’s been getting a little better lately, though. We’re hosting a homestay language teacher for a month, which has prompted me to get on top of our crazy morning routine (and declutter the house!).
Morning prep time: 13 minutes, using a leftover dumpling and bulgogi from an earlier meal. In the morning I briefly steamed the broccoli and re-steamed the dumpling (to re-soften the dough wrapper) in my microwave mini steamer, then sauteed the pre-cut mushrooms. (I got a bag of cut mushrooms as sample at a food event, but I usually cut my own mushrooms with a knife or hard-boiled egg slicer.) I let the mushrooms and broccoli drain and cool in a sieve set over a bowl for a few minutes to prevent condensation inside the box once it was closed up (which also improves the food safety of a packed lunch). Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on March 1st, 2010 tagged bento, dumplings or buns, equipment, meat, onigiri or sushi, poultry | 39 Comments »
The holidays are a time for giving, and in the food blog world that’s come to mean the Menu For Hope food blog annual fundraising campaign, now in its 6th year. Started by Pim of Chez Pim, Menu for Hope raises money for the United Nations World Food Programme, the world’s largest food aid agency (it raised over US$250,000 over the last three years for the program!). Specifically, this year’s donations will go to the WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P), a new initiative that helps smallholder and low-income farmers supply food to WFP’s global operations, improving farming practices and putting more cash into their pockets.
In Menu for Hope, food bloggers around the world offer a variety of food-related items for the online raffle. Every US$10 you donate earns you one “ticket” to bid on an item of your choice. At the end of the campaign, tickets are drawn and results are announced on Chez Pim on Monday, January 18, 2010.
A full list of bid items is will be posted at Chez Pim, and the Western U.S. regional prizes will be shown at Gluten-Free Girl. A mere US$10 gives you a shot at some pretty cool food-related prizes! Check them all out and see what appeals to you.
I’m happy to offer another bento kit for bidding this year, with products courtesy of Skater Company, Japan’s largest manufacturer of bento boxes, and ZESPRI, the New Zealand kiwifruit company. I’ll also give each of the winners a personal tour of San Francisco’s Japantown if you’re in town (details below).
- “Winnie the Pooh Goes Bananas” Bento Box Kit and tour of San Francisco’s Japantown, by Biggie (me).
Pack adorable lunches with unusual Winnie the Pooh food shaping tools and a banana-themed “Putifresh” bento set. The yellow bento set includes a watertight bento box, two matching bags, chopsticks, elastic bento belt and a Zespri “spife” (spoon/knife combo) for packing whole kiwifruit. The tools include a boiled egg shaper, sandwich cutter, onigiri rice ball shaper, vegetable cutter, pancake ring and silicone food cups, all shaped like Winnie the Pooh. The Pooh-themed tools are high quality, direct from the Skater Company in Japan. Make lunch as tasty as your own pot of honey! (prize code UW20)
Published by Biggie on December 14th, 2009 tagged SF Bay Area local, admin, bento, giveaway, shopping | 16 Comments »
While watching Shimajiro, a popular Japanese cartoon of a tiger cub that teaches kids little songs, manners and safety, I stumbled across an uncommon variation of the classic Bento Box Song (”Obento Bako no Uta”) that features more Western food — sandwiches! It’s kind of a chant with hand motions referencing food words that sound similar to numbers in Japanese. It’s less of a counting exercise than the original, but fun nonetheless. I also dug up a comedy show riff on the bento box song that Japanese speakers may get a kick out of — the Osaka comedienne in the video clip takes issue with the vagueness of the original lyrics and makes up new ones after bullying her fellow singers.
I don’t want to infringe on the Shimajiro copyright, so I made a quick YouTube video of me singing the song and doing the associated hand motions (what was I thinking? Thanks to my Twitter followers for humoring me!). Full lyrics and an English translation follow. While I was at it, I made a little video for the original Bento Box Song to show the hand motions, and added it to the old post.