Archive for the 'for kids' 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 | 122 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 »
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.
Published by Biggie on November 16th, 2009 tagged admin, bento, for kids | 26 Comments »
Making inside-out sushi rolls doesn’t have to be all that involved if you’ve got the basic materials and some plastic wrap on hand. Serve plain or decorated like fish to thrill your child (or your inner child), like I did with Bug’s bento lunch for Children’s Day. You can speed this up by using frozen fried shrimp and frozen rice, but a step-by-step recipe for making inside-out shrimp sushi rolls from scratch follows below.
Published by Biggie on November 9th, 2009 tagged decorative, fish or seafood, for kids, onigiri or sushi, recipe | 24 Comments »
There aren’t many bento cookbooks written in English, so of course I’m curious when a new one comes out. I’m a big fan of Japanese-language cookbooks for their glanceable step-by-step photos and intuitive graphic presentation of complex material. Kawaii Bento Boxes: Cute and Convenient Japanese Meals on the Go, newly published by Japan Publications Trading’s Boutique-Sha, really captures the essence of fun, kids-oriented Japanese bento cookbooks.
As I was leafing through it, though, something started to seem oddly familiar. A quick browse through my kitchen bookshelf revealed why I was experiencing deja vu: it’s a straight translation of the same publisher’s Japanese-language cookbook Ichinenju Yakudatsu Tsuen Obento: Daisukina Kondate ga Ippai: (“Children’s Bentos that are Helpful Year-round: Lots of Favorite Menus”), with identical photos, layout, and text.
Now, there are both good and bad aspects to a straight translation of a bento cookbook written for the Japanese market. It’s extremely well suited for bento enthusiasts or Japanophiles already familiar with Japanese food, but may miss the mark for others… Read the rest of this entry »