Archive for the 'dumplings or buns' Category
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 »
A big thanks to everyone who’s voted for Lunch in a Box so far in the Food Blog Awards (Best Theme). We’re making a good showing, but are currently in second place behind Karina’s gluten-free blog. If you’d like to cast your vote for bentos and packed lunches, the poll is open until 8pm Eastern on Saturday, January 24, 2009.
Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Vegetable gyoza with dipping sauce, blueberries, tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled egg, see my tutorial), and sauteed asparagus and red bell peppers with vinaigrette dressing.
Morning prep time: 13 minutes, using leftover tamagoyaki and frozen dumplings. In the morning I quickly boiled the dumplings with help from my electric kettle, and sauteed the vegetables while the dumplings were cooking. (Read on for full lunch details, information on the Lightning McQueen nesting/stacking bento boxes, and an additional preschooler bento.)
Published by Biggie on January 22nd, 2009 tagged bento, dumplings or buns, eggs, for kids, lactose free, meat, phyllo or pancake or other | 14 Comments »
Last Friday I drove to Sacramento to do a TV segment about American-style bento on the local Fox40 morning news. I brought two big bags full of bento boxes, three packed bento lunches, thermal lunch jars, bags, and accessories, with an electric kettle to make molded eggs and an apple to make some quick apple rabbits on air.
I came prepared to cook and assemble an actual bento lunch live, but breaking news about Hurricane Ike shortened the time available and killed some other segments. Hey, at least I survived and got on the air! The original live spot was a little longer, but was edited down to 3.5 minutes for the website. In other news, there’s a lengthy interview with me up at the Food Interviews blog; have a look if you’re curious and check out some of the other interesting food interviews.
My three-year-old was a little puzzled as to why I was making four bentos the night before the TV shoot, and kept asking me which one was his lunch. He was just fine with his normal speed bento until he saw the super-cute Japanese food art lunch that I made to illustrate the other end of the bento spectrum, and made me promise to save that one for him to eat after preschool. I kept it on ice in an insulated lunch bag to make sure it survived the day, only taking it out briefly for the actual filming. Here it is, setting the bar too high for normal rushed parents (sorry!). I showed it live on-air, but it was edited out of the online segment.
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Contents of preschooler bento lunch for TV: Rice balls shaped like an elephant, fish, and bird (flavored with green hana-ebi fish powder, pink sakura denbu sweet fish powder, and salmon furikake rice sprinkles, decorated with cheese and nori seaweed). Mini cocktail sausages, a hard-boiled quail egg molded to look like a bird, edamame skewers, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, edamame shumai dumpling and dipping sauce. (Click on any photo for a larger view.)
Prep time: 45 minutes, WAY too long for a speed bento (contrast this with Bug’s actual lunch, below). I used frozen rice and shumai to speed up the process, but this was still too time-consuming for a regular weekday lunch. Honestly, it was a little irritating to make as I don’t usually spend this much time on a single lunch. (Read on for three more Western lunches and more about the TV shoot.)
Published by Biggie on September 17th, 2008 tagged bento, decorative, dumplings or buns, eggs, for kids, meat, onigiri or sushi, phyllo or pancake or other, rice, sandwich case, sandwich or wrap | 53 Comments »
A little food presentation game that I play sometimes is to buy a fruit or vegetable in an unusual color, and pack it next to a contrasting item in a bento lunch. I’ve done this with orange cauliflower and broccoli, gold kiwi and blueberries, purple potatoes and peas, and today with golden and red raspberries. My three-year-old son and I spotted the golden raspberries in the market the other week, and couldn’t resist picking some up to taste side-by-side with regular red raspberries. Bug and I tried out both kinds together, and found the golden raspberries to be slightly more tart than the red, but not unpleasantly so. It was a nice, subtle flavor contrast with the same texture as the red version. Explore your markets with an eye open for unusual colors; they can add natural fun to a lunch!
I find that Bug enjoys these little food experiments that we do together — it’s okay if he doesn’t like something, but I want him to think about why he doesn’t like it and try to explain it to me. He’s now able to explain if it’s the taste, texture or smell of something that bothers him, which in turn helps me formulate new approaches to incorporating a variety of foods into his diet. He’s not a picky eater, though, so the battle is half won already. (Knock on wood!)
Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Steamed broccoli with Goddess dressing, spinach and cheese spanakopita triangles (frozen from Costco, reviewed earlier), dried apricots, red and golden raspberries (Driscoll’s brand, but the exact variety wasn’t indicated), cheese triangle, dried blueberries and Rainier cherries.
Morning prep time: 17 minutes, mostly inactive prep time waiting for the frozen spanakopita to cook in the convection toaster oven and cool down on a little cooling rack afterwards so it didn’t turn soggy in the box. I turned on the toaster oven’s convection function to further speed up the bake time as convection is more even and slightly faster than conventional baking, and the toaster oven is more energy-efficient than our wall ovens. (Read on for packing details and an elephant rice ball lunch.)
Published by Biggie on August 11th, 2008 tagged bento, dumplings or buns, for kids, onigiri or sushi, phyllo or pancake or other, rice, vegetarian | 22 Comments »
You don’t have to have gourmet leftovers on hand for a quick but satisfying bento lunch. Here’s a simple vegetarian lunch that I threw together from frozen foods and pantry staples.
Contents of preschooler lunch: Rectangular Korean vegetarian dumplings (pan-fried mandu, like potstickers with a crispy bottom and soft steamed top) and dipping sauce, edamame, strawberry and a shelf-stable mini pudding cup (Kiku Petit Pudding, like a little flan or creme caramel, found here online and in Cost Plus World Market’s retail stores in the U.S.). The pudding cups can be frozen and used as edible ice packs in bento lunches for maximum packed lunch food safety. I like the Assi brand “Cooked Vegetable Dumplings” (calorie info here) that I picked up at Kukje, a large local Korean market (store info at my list of favorite SF Bay Area ethnic markets). They cook and cool quickly because they’re flat and thin, and you get maximum crispy surface area on the bottom. Perfect on mornings when I don’t have nice leftovers ready to go in the fridge.
Morning prep time: 12 minutes, using frozen dumplings and edamame. In the morning I pan-fried & steamed the frozen, store-bought dumplings in a mini frying pan, and lightly simmered the edamame in the hot pan afterwards while the dumplings cooled on a mini cooling rack. I also use the mini cooling rack and pan in my convection toaster oven for fast meal prep; they were only US$1.50 per piece at Daiso (Japanese dollar store with branches internationally, additional store info at my San Francisco Bay Area shopping guide to bento gear). (Full details here with speed packing info.)