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.


River (Wing-It Vegan) said...

Your husband really is so cool! So many cute goodies!

Poor Nate stuck in the snow! And Maia is becoming quite the explorer! Your kids are so adorable.

The rice ball penguin is too cute!!

Anonymous said...

I was thrilled to death that you supplied the site address for Ichiban Kan. I've never seen it before. I went crazy and bought a bunch of bentos and bento goodies. I can't wait to get them.

veganf said...

Melissa - Welcome to the drak side, muwahahaha! LOL. Seriously, IK is addictive for husband is apparently susceptible!

Anonymous said...

I sent my mother to Ichiban Kan in San Mateo this past weekend and she said she didn't see any of the bento boxes. Good grief.
I wish they sold giftcards so she could just send me one. hahah.
I'm in dire need of more clickables!

veganf said...

Liz - That's crazy! Did she ask someone? They were more than happy to help out my husband at the El Cerrito location.

half pint pixie said...

Oh my goodness, so much bento loveliness! And as always, your lunches are amazing!