Archive for the 'potatoes' Category
In a break from my usual “speed bento” lunches that only take about ten minutes to pack, the other week I made more of an effort for Valentine’s Day and packed a special lunch for my four-year-old son to take to preschool. You can see his whole classroom’s Valentine bentos lunches here if you’re curious. (If you’ve got any special Valentine’s lunches of your own, today Feb. 23rd is the last day for entries in this month’s Valentine bento contest with a chance at winning a bento box prize.)
It took me a while to post this as Bug & I were in a car accident last week where we were badly rear-ended, and I’ve been a little discombobulated and tied up with all the post-crash red tape. Thankfully both Bug and I were able to walk away from the wreck, but our car may be totaled (jury’s still out). If you’d like to see a photo of our smashed-up car, I posted one on the forum with some details.
Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Heart-shaped onigiri rice balls filled with Gohan Desu Yo! seasoned seaweed paste (colored with red or green hana-ebi shrimp powder, decorated with nori seaweed and mamenori soy wrappers described below), blueberries, steamed zucchini with Korean barbecue sauce, and chicken from a homemade Indian curry (lal shorve vala murgh).
Morning prep time: 30 minutes, WAY longer than my usual speed bento, but fine for a special occasion Valentine’s Day lunch. My shortcuts were leftover curry, frozen rice, and a heart-shaped molds for the rice balls. In the morning I assembled the rice balls and made the zucchini in my microwave mini steamer. (Read on for decoration and equipment notes, a review of Uncooked Roti-Chapati Indian flatbread dough from Costco, and an additional preschooler lunch…)
Published by Biggie on February 23rd, 2009 tagged bento, curry, decorative, equipment, for kids, onigiri or sushi, phyllo or pancake or other, potatoes, poultry, review, rice | 17 Comments »
Over the holidays, we moved our huge cat perch into my four-year-old’s playroom to make room for the Christmas tree. Our cats Moose and Squirrel love it, but moving it out from the wall led to a mysterious mishap when Bug reported that Moose “pushed it over with his head” when I was in the next room.
Sounds like Bugs Bunny physics to me, but Moose isn’t talking. The cat perch wound up hitting Bug on the cheek on the way down and caused a cut on the inside of his mouth. The pediatrician recommended giving him soft foods that weren’t too salty, cut small enough so that he didn’t have to open his mouth wide to eat (no hamburgers). So I packed him a soft lunch with a deconstructed sandwich to eat while things healed.
Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Whole wheat bread, chicken salad, simmered kabocha squash (kabocha nimono, recipe here), and cherry tomatoes. When I served this same kabocha at dinner the night before, Bug said he didn’t like the kabocha he tried before at a monthly school lunch and didn’t want any. But after I asked him to try a bite of mine and tell me if it was the same or different from what he’d had at school, he changed his mind and asked for a portion of his own.
We didn’t manage to isolate what was different about the kabocha at dinner that made it okay for him. I wonder if it was the temperature — maybe he prefers it warm. He does respond well to approaching food tastings as an experiment, though. You know, “I’m not going to make you eat it, but can you figure out what aspect you don’t like? Is it the taste, smell, texture or appearance?” Kids are funny, but at least he’s not a very picky eater!
Morning prep time: 5 minutes using chicken salad from Costco and leftover kabocha (my recipe here). In the morning I trimmed the crusts off the bread and filled the box. Done! Super speedy. (Read on for packing details and the verdict.) Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on December 30th, 2008 tagged bento, for kids, potatoes, sandwich or wrap | 22 Comments »
Croquettes are a cross-cultural tool for breathing new life into leftovers, perfect for any mashed potatoes that survive Thanksgiving dinner. There are versions of these breaded, fried balls of leftover potatoes or meat found around the world: bitterballen and kroket in the Netherlands, korokke in Japan, alu-tikki in India, and the list goes on. I demonstrated this recipe today on Fox40 live TV news in Sacramento for a segment on Creative Ideas for Thanksgiving Dinner Leftovers, and will post a link to the video once it’s up.
(UPDATE: The video links for the Fox40 “Creative Ideas for Thanksgiving Dinner Leftovers” are up; click for the first TV segment with turkey mole enchiladas, and the second TV segment with the croquettes and ways to repurpose leftover cranberry sauce.)
The basics are simple, and can be tweaked with whatever leftovers and seasonings you have on hand. Take some cold mashed potatoes, add vegetables or proteins, flavor, form into shapes, roll in bread crumbs, and fry. I chose to add leftover turkey and curry powder, and served them with a trio of dipping sauces: stone ground mustard, tonkatsu sauce, and leftover cranberry sauce. (Read on for the full recipe.)
Published by Biggie on November 25th, 2008 tagged curry, leftover remake, phyllo or pancake or other, potatoes, poultry, recipe | 30 Comments »
(ADDENDUM: Please accept my apologies for the downtime Lunch in a Box has been experiencing lately. My hosting company has had an unprecedented number of issues lately, and I will be switching providers shortly.)
I’ve seen fun little aluminum bento boxes for children in stores from time to time, but have always been puzzled by their lack of watertight lids. Why use metal boxes that leak? I asked the moms at Bug’s Japanese immersion preschool and searched through my Japanese-language bento cookbooks to find some answers.
In Japan, evidently preschools have special ovens to warm up the children’s metal boxes in the winter, but because most of the cute aluminum boxes lack watertight seals, Japanese parents have had to get creative with how they pack lunches in them. Benefits of metal boxes include being able to cook food directly in the box (when using an oven-safe container, also true of tempered glass boxes), the absence of health concerns associated with packing food in plastic, and lighter weight than glass boxes. Drawbacks include not being able to microwave metal containers and potential leaking caused by the loose, non-secure lid.
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Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Mini Shepherd’s pie (seasoned ground beef with vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes and melted Cheddar cheese; simple web recipe here), and a side dish container with a black Mission fig, Concord grapes, and different colored cherry tomatoes.
Speed Tip: When you’re making dinner, make a little extra that can be saved and eaten for lunch (either as is or as a Leftover Remake). The Shepherd’s pie didn’t take extra time when cooking — I just separated out a little, assembled in lunch-friendly containers, and threw them into the fridge for later.
Morning prep time: 8 minutes, using pre-made Shepherd’s pie from dinner earlier in the week. In the morning I grated some cheese and ran it briefly under the broiler in my convection toaster oven to melt the cheese. I let it cool before putting the plastic lid on top. (Read on for details, tips for using metal bento boxes, sample pages from Japanese bento cookbooks, and additional lunches.)
Published by Biggie on October 6th, 2008 tagged bento, curry, decorative, equipment, for kids, glutenfree, meat, onigiri or sushi, potatoes, rice, tips | 16 Comments »
Looking back, I realize I haven’t been packing as many adult bento lunches lately as I’ve been focusing on cranking out Bug’s daily preschool meals in time to run out the door. Over the past month I’ve gotten more comfortable with our new morning routine, though, so I think I’m about ready to restart making my lunches in conjunction with his. Today we have a backlog of three of my three-year-old’s lunches; stay tuned for more of the mother/son lunches, the variations adjusting for different appetites and cuteness levels.
Contents of Wednesday preschooler lunch: Mac and cheese with grilled red peppers and green onions, wasabi and green onion smashed potatoes, grilled mushrooms, pineapple sausage, and sliced persimmon. This meal is too carb-heavy for my liking, but there you go.
Morning prep time: 7 minutes, using all leftovers except sausage and persimmons. A friend had left some mac and cheese at our house from feeding her one-year-old, so I nuked this with a splash of water to restore texture, chopped some leftover grilled peppers and green onions (scallions), and packed. I sliced and heated the sausage through in the microwave for maximum food safety.
Packing: I used a plastic food divider to separate the savory sausage and mushrooms from the sweet persimmon slices. (You can also use edible food dividers, or wash and reuse the plastic food dividers.) The lunch is packed in a 360ml Disney Cars bento box, which in turn went into an insulated Shinkansen lunch bag with a wide base designed to carry bento boxes flat, not tipped over on the side. I got the lunch bag at the Sanrio store in Stonestown Mall in San Francisco for US$15. (Click any photo for a larger view.)
Verdict: Good over time. Bug left a third of the mac & cheese, and half of the mashed potatoes. I guessed his body knew when to stop on the carbs!!!
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Contents of Thursday preschooler lunch: Pork tamale with husk removed, slice of crisp Fuyu persimmon, and apple wedges. No vegetables, though — I fell short.
Morning prep time: 6 minutes. I used frozen tamales, so was able to cook one quickly in a microwave steamer and slice the fruit in the morning.
Packing: To make the tamale as easy to eat as possible and avoid lunchtime frustration at preschool, I removed the corn husk wrapper before packing and cut up the tamale in the box. At home Bug usually likes some crema or yogurt with his tamale, but because his preschool has an allergy policy ruling out liquid dairy (milk, yogurt, etc.) I skipped the sauce altogether. While Bug is unimpressed with persimmon when it’s cut into wedges, for some reason he’ll eat it up when it’s cut crosswise like this to showcase the inside pattern (go figure!). I dipped the apple wedges in lemon juice mixed with Splenda before packing to keep the fruit from browning, and perched the persimmon slice on top. The lunch is packed in one 350ml tier of a Lock & Lock lunch set, and a 150ml Anpanman side dish container.
Verdict: Thumbs up. Bug ate everything but a couple of apple wedges at preschool, then downed the apples at a playground afterwards as a snack.
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Contents of Friday preschooler lunch: Chicken drumstick, frozen spaghetti cup, grilled mushrooms and red bell peppers, grape tomatoes, and green beans with vinaigrette.
Morning prep time: 9 minutes, using leftover roast chicken from Costco, frozen pasta from my emergency freezer stash, and leftover mushrooms/peppers. In the morning I made one dish in the mini microwave steamer: the green beans.
Packing: I wrapped the end of the drumstick in decorative aluminum foil to make a clean â€œhandleâ€, and used a little cow-shaped reusable plastic food cup (from Daiso) for the mushrooms/peppers. A reusable silicone baking cup squished into the remaining available space to held the green beans, and I plugged the gap with little tomatoes to keep the lunch stable during transport. Lunch packed in a 470ml Afternoon Tea box without the removable divider, to accommodate the drumstick.
Verdict: Too much food, and Bug burned out on the mushrooms and bell peppers that keep reappearing in his lunches. He demolished the chicken, green beans and most of the spaghetti, but left the mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes. If I were to redo this lunch, I could have done a leftover remake with the mushrooms and peppers by putting them into a mini gratin, mini frittata, fried rice, mashed potato or squash. Having at least one big divider in the box would have helped contain leftovers for after-school snacking, though — his leftovers slid all over the inside of the box, making them unappetizing.
- Allergy restrictions in the school lunchroom
- Preventing fruit from browning
- Need for speed: A mommyâ€™s lunch manifesto
- Choosing the right size bento box
- Biggieâ€™s list of top speed tips, tutorials and equipment reviews