Friday, January 30, 2009

Snow & Ice

Woohoo! A bento for me! I made this to enjoy myself while watching Lost (on dvr), and I also entered it in the Adventures In Bentomaking 200K contest.


AJ's snack: cold
tofu; animal cookies;
soba noodles; cucumber
slices; grapes.

Ryan's lunch: soba noodles; cucumber slices; animal cookies; blanched spinach; vegetable dumplings; dropper of soy sauce; cold tofu w/scallion.

At home I threw together
a muffin tin dinner: pickles,
carrots, spoonfuls of peanut
butter, mini pitas, edamame,
cherry tomatoes, almonds,
cucumber slices, grapes, apple
slices, whole wheat bagel
pieces, clementine segments,
and snow peas.

Ryan's lunch: soy cheese; veggie crackers; black sesame crackers; a fresh apricot; mini banana blueberry muffin; mini pumpkin muffin; broccoli; grapes; almonds, peanuts & cashews.

AJ's snack: broccoli;
mini banana blueberry
muffin; black sesame
crackers; grapes.

Nate's lunch: chinese red
bean paste cookie; black
sesame crackers; mini
banana blueberry muffin;
grapes; broccoli; Nate's
meatless meatball.

Snow day for everyone, except my husband who walked to work by himself. Snow & freezing rain kept us inside for the day.

Nate loves playing
with his toy planes.

I could probably eat our
entire 8 pound parnsip share
this baked parsnip
"chips" dipped in my chili
chreez sauce. The boys
all loved them too.

Ryan hung a sign in
the dining room
proclaiming "Welcom
to Mamas Yumey

Nate's lunch: forelle pear; broccoli; grapes; mini pitas w/edamame hummus & cucumber; animal cookies; mini pumpkin muffin; carrot sticks.

AJ's snack: flat
pretzels; forelle
pear; grapes;
mini pitas w/
edamame hummus
& cucumber.

For edamame hummus,
sub 1 cup cooked edamame
for 1/2 the chickpeas in
my hummus recipe.

Ryan's school had another snow day due to the icy sidewalks.

over a
bed of
Good Dog bites; broccoli pompom; soy cheese XLIII. There is also a side of 2 white & dark chocolate chip cookies.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Salad Resolutions

I am not a big salad eater (yeah, I know most omnis think vegans eat nothing but rabbit food), at least not the traditional house salad served aside so many entrees in the average restaurant. But if you're trying to boost your greens consumption or increase your raw food intake, a salad is probably a familiar start.
So here are a few I do enjoy...

The first is my take on a
favourite of both myself &
my husband. A caribbean
fusion restaurant named
Ortanique located in the
Paris hotel & casino in Las
Vegas recently closed, much
to our dismay. The restaurant
had become one of our
destination locations strictly because of a simple salad, so that's saying something!!

Tropical Salad a la Ortanique

a few cups fresh mesclun (baby salad greens)
1/2 of a ripe mango, julienned
1 heart of palm (I use the jarred variety), julienned (easy to do as they act like string cheese)
candied pecans or walnuts (you can buy them at stores like Trader Joes, or make your own by toasted nuts in a dry pan, then adding a little sugar to carmelize, but don't let them burn!)
1-2 tsp. citrus-infused grapeseed oil

Pile a plate with greens, top with remaining ingredients in a visually appealing fashion, drizzling the oil over everything at the end.

Chunky Guac Salad

1/8-1/4 of a red onion
1 T. lime juice
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe tomato
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
a pinch of salt

Slice the red onion into a wedges and separate pieces. Drizzle with lime juice. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
Slice avocado & tomato. Toss with onion & lime juice.
Top with cilantro and a pinch of salt.

(If you don't care for raw onion, feel free to roast it tossed in olive oil first, or you might prefer a smaller amount of very thinly sliced onion instead.)

Roasted Vegetable Salad

1 head broccoli
2 cups large button
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/8-1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 cups salad greens
1-2 T. balsamic vinegar
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Wash broccoli & cut into bite-size florets.
Brush or wash mushrooms & cut into quarters.
Wash cherry tomatoes.
Place all 3 vegetables on a baking sheet and drizzle/toss with olive oil. Bake in a 400F oven until broccoli begins to brown and tomatoes burst, 10-20 minutes.
Place greens in a large salad bowl. Top with warm roasted vegetables & drizzle with balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper.

This next salad I ordered in
a Korean BBQ restaurant
in Tokyo...I mean, what else
is a vegetarian to do with a
bunch of omnis in a BBQ
joint? As it turns out, there
was also a large selection of
mushrooms brought to me
to grill adjacent to my meat-
eating friends...I kept my shrooms well away from their steak & pork though. The original salad was made with only baby spinach, but I make it often with a variety of fresh greens from our CSA share...

Korean Cold Tofu Salad

2 cups baby greens
1-2 slices firm cold tofu, cubed (the asceptic pack kind)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1-2 scallions (green onions), sliced
1 T. soy sauce

Plate the greens, top with remaining ingredients.

Friday, January 23, 2009

short cuts

First I'll brag about my
cool husband this week...
While in SoCal on business
he stopped at Ichiban Kan
and did a bit of shopping
for me.

I sent him with a printout
of my online shopping cart,
but much of what is online
is not stocked at their
smaller retail stores

But that didn't stop him!

He thought everything
looked too cute to pass
up (most items are only
$1.50) so he kind of
went nuts. His suitcase
was jam packed for his
flight home

If you're in the U.S., you can
buy most everything here at
Ichiban Kan online.

Now I have to go clear out
another kitchen cabinet to
devote to bento gear. Oy.

While my husband was
enjoying the warm CA
weather, we were hit with
a few feet of snow & sub-
zero temps.

Ryan tried to help Nate
outside to play, but it
was just too deep.

He took off his mittens
and finally sat down,
stuck, and had to be
rescued. I eventually made
a few paths, but he had
had enough.

Since my husband was
away for most of the week
in CA & IN, I thought it
would be an opportune time
to discuss bento shortcuts!

I do not employ outside
help to care for our kids,
so I have to be prepared
to put together healthy
lunches regardless of my
often solo parenting status,
the weather, or a crabby

Places like Whole Foods with
their antipasto, salad, & hot
bars are invaluable. I don't
buy a lot of anything, but
instead choose a few of the
smallest containers and add
just a few bites of this & that.

Sesame tofu & various pre-
made salads are the boys'
favourites. Easy peasy!

Ryan's school rescheduled lunchtime and broadcast the Presidential inauguration in the classrooms.
Ryan's lunch: orzo w/pinenuts & herbs (& "Obama" written in nori); edamame; bell pepper strips; cherry tomatoes; black olives; grapes; blueberries; vegetable dumplings w/a bottle of soy sauce; green beans; sesame tofu.

Nate's lunch: bell pepper
strips; cherry tomatoes;
black olives; grapes; blue-
berries; edamame; green
beans; sesame tofu.

AJ's snack: edamame;
green beans; grapes;
sesame tofu.

Let's play "Spy the Baby"!
Maia has been on the move
lately. She was on the
pillow when I left to
start water boiling in the
kitchen...but 2 minutes
later she was playing with
her brothers' Lego manuals
across the room.

Oooh, my husband was
home 2 days this week...
husband's lunch: two
clementines; grapes &
blueberries; salad w/
chicken-free nugget
pieces & roasted red
pepper vinaigrette.

My first attempt at a penguin didn't go so well...but by the second one below I had figured it out. Tip: use a piece of raw angel hair pasta to hold the hot dog piece onto the rice ball.
Ryan's lunch: cucumber "fish" shapes; rice ball penguin; cinnamon letter cookies; a pickle; carrots; grapes; sesame tofu.

AJ's snack: rice ball
penguin; a pickle; a
carrot; a grape; sesame
tofu; a cucumber "fish".

I had to post this dinner
because the boys and
my husband all raved
about it and went back
for seconds...

Quick Chili Mac & Chreez

1 lb. box pasta
1 recipe chili chreez sauce
1 can chili (I used Amy's
medium, or make your own)
1 medium can diced tomatoes
(drained--I save the liquid
to use in soup later)
1 medium can beans (kidney,
pinto, or black beans)
1/2 cup grated soy cheese (optional)
1/2 cup fried onions

Cook pasta al dente and drain. While pasta is cooking, make chreez sauce. Mix cooked pasta with chreez sauce. Spread into casserole dish (I use a 9"x13" glass baking dish).
In a large bowl mix chili, beans, & tomatoes. Layer on top of pasta.
Add shredded soy cheese (if using).
Cover and bake in a 350F oven for 25 minutes.
Uncover, add fried onions, bake another 5 minutes.

Chili Chreez Sauce

1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup flour
1 T. cornstarch
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 cups water
1 tsp. mustard
1-2 tsp. chili oil

In a saucepan, mix first 6 (dry) ingredients. Add water and cook over med-high heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens.
Remove from heat and add mustard & chili oil.

This sauce is also GREAT with nachos!

Ryan's lunch: Italian pasta salad (recipe in index); cucumber slices; grapes; chicken-free nuggets; "2 of hearts" creme cheez & raspberry jam sandwich.

AJ & Nate had
smaller versions of
what Ryan had.

Maia is trying a few more
foods--avocado, grapes,
oatmeal w/coconut milk &
rice milk--but her favourite
is still chewing off bits of a

I've seen people draw all sorts of things on clementines on Japanese bento websites. I thought Ryan would enjoy this one...
Ryan's lunch: a "Pikachu" clementine; blanched spinach; smoked Tofurky & soy cheese rolls; mini pumpkin muffin; a pickle; onigiri triangle; grapes.

Friday, January 16, 2009

First Food!

First a leftover from friday...I think I'm finally figuring out this new camera, sigh.
Ryan's lunch: julienne sesame salad over udon noodles; green beans; peanuts; carrots; mini creme cheese & jam sandwiches.

Saturday was AJ's 5th
birthday party.
He asked for a chocolate
cake with chocolate
frosting & chocolate
chips!!! It's a good thing
most of it got eaten at the
party because chocolate
cake is my favourite!
His party was at the
Discovery Children's
in Acton.
I just couldn't face
a party of 10 boys
at our house in the

Here's Maia waiting patiently in the car for everything to be loaded for the ride home again.

Sunday I took Maia's
"day before 6 months"
photos. I have photos
of all the kids at this
age in black & white
in our bedroom.

She loved playing with
toys on the bed. She
also loves the flower
rattle that I had when
I was a baby.

Ryan's lunch: leftover burrito & guacamole from Acapulcos (from AJ's birthday dinner on sunday); broccoli; honeydew melon.

AJ had his first turn
the class bear "Coop
Bear" from preschool.
He was very happy to
dress him in his pjs &
introduce him to his
giraffe at bedtime.


I later
not to
try of
though I'd told him I'd wait until he was home.
AJ's snack (in his new Mario bento): mushroom pizza; mini pumpkin muffin; honeydew melon; Simply Booty.
a pickle;
a carrot;
& onion

I steamed part of our last butternut squash from the farm for Maia's first taste of food...

"So where are the toys?"

"What's this stuff?"

"Um, I don't know about this."

"You want it, help yourself."

"Please take this stuff away!"

Apparently gnawing on a
banana is right up her
alley though. Sigh.

And for those of you
without kids...banana
comes out the other end
looking like little red/brown
worms in the beginning...


peas &
AJ's snack: Tings;
creme cheese & jam
snowflake sandwich;
grapes; carrots;
honeydew melon.

Ryan's lunch: mini banana blueberry muffin; carrots; rice triangle; grapes; cucumber salad; peanuts.


muffin; mini pumpkin miso muffin; grapes; cucumber salad.

Here's my version of cucumber salad that the boys all ask for:

Cucumber Salad

2-3 large cucumbers (I prefer the long thin english variety, or fresh from the farm, because there's no wax coating)
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. rice vinegar
1 tsp. grated ginger
1/2 tsp. mirin or agave nectar

Slice cucumbers thinly (I like to use a mandoline). Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over cucumbers.

Ryan's lunch: spicy baked tofu over rice (with a snow pea garnish); yellow mini gel cup; carrots; mango slices; broccoli.

The boys go bonkers for my spicy baked tofu...feel free to double the amount of tofu & increase the sauce by 50% if you're serving a table full of tofu hounds!

Spicy Baked Tofu

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 scallions, chopped
2 tsp. grated ginger
1/2 tsp. hot sauce (I make my own from fresh hot peppers in the summer, but bottled will do)
3 T. soy sauce
2 T. cooking sherry
2 T. rice vinegar
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 T. sesame oil
1 tsp. chili oil (optional)
1 package water-packed tofu

Prehear oven to 400 degrees.
Mix all but the tofu in a glass baking dish.
Cube tofu into small bite-sized pieces. Toss together with the sauce.
Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.