Saturday, August 24, 2013

Domo Bento

This isn't my best Domo ever, but I had a picture of it, so here it is.  My daughter took this to school last week.  If you don't know Domo, you can google him.  Domo is everywhere!  In this case on a bed of peas- with carrot flowers (white and orange).  Domo is made of sushi rice infused with beet juice (you can't taste the beet flavor- it's just enough to color the rice.  I literally take one of the small packets of organic beets you find in the refrigerated section (you can get them in a multipack at Costco or in a single at Trader Joes) and add the juice from one packet to the rice (and then I cut the beets up and use them for bentos too!).  Domo's mouth and eyes are nori (used a hole punch for the eyes- I have one I use only for food), and I cut the teeth with a small knife- which is why Domo looks like he does not brush and floss.  Domo is easy to shape with your hands- he's just a rectangle body, and 2 cylinder arms.

Tea Infused Cooking

I admit it, this is partly an excuse to get rid of too much tea (how did I think I was going to drink all those boxes of amazing tea fast enough?).  But it's also a way to get amazing flavor in to just about anything that has liquid added to it.  For my chocolate mint cookies (for example), I'm now using mint tea infused water.  When I make curry in the crockpot, I'm infusing the chicken stock infused with chai!  It's so good.  You really must try it!  For my scones, I'm infusing milk with all sorts of flavors.  My lemon scones I mixed with earl gray infusion.  My orange scones I infused with an orange tea.  I used Chai with a spice scone.  And I used my rose tea with some plain scones, which I then sugared with rose sugar.  Yummy.

You can do this tea trick with everything from desserts to gratins.  Don't be shy about experimenting and blend the teas!  I found when I visited a restaurant up North, they blended 3 Choice Organic teas for an amazing drink!  So I've started blending teas together.  First I try them myself, in a teacup, to see if I like the paired flavors, and then I start using them in food.  Please let me know if you find some amazing taste combination!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rice Balls, Veggies and Fruit- and Cake!

So I'm still using my pink sushi rice.  I used a packet of Costco organic beets (precooked) and I put all the juice in some sushi rice to get that pretty pink color.  I have some powdered beet I use for color as well, but why waste beet juice?  The rice was rolled in to balls, and put in the corners, and covered with  a carrot circle that I had cut a flower out of- you can see one of the carrot flowers in the center of the bento on the left.  Also in this compartment, white carrot matchsticks, olives, and carrot slices.  Just blueberries and raspberries in the compartment on the right.  I'm also taking a slice of homemade pineapple upside down cake, for which I am including the recipe.

This is a super easy recipe, and I made it yesterday, and left it in a cooling oven, so it's very firm.  I sliced it up and put it in baggies for our lunches.

All you need for this is 1 box of yellow or white cake mix (I use Naturally Nora Organic Mix), a can of pineapple slices, maraschino cherries, the saved juice from the can of pineapple, butter (1/4 cup), and brown sugar (1 cup) packed.

Mix cake mix but instead of whatever liquid is called for, use the pineapple liquid, and then add the other, recipe liquid, to make the amount called for on the box.  In my case, I added about 1/4 cup of milk to the pineapple juice to make a total of 1 cup.  Arrange fruit in bottom of pan-  13 by 9, or 12 by 12 pan- I used 12 by 12.  pour melted butter over fruit.  Sprinkle entire pan with 1 cup of brown sugar.  Then simply pour cake mix over fruit and sugar, and bake at 350 until the cake is a golden brown.  Then, because I wanted a more solid cake, I turned the heat off and let the cake cool in the oven for about 8 hours.  You COULD eat the cake immediately, and that would be nice too :-)  I find it easier to unmold if you let it sit longer.  Make sure to go around the sides with a think spatula, freeing the cake from the sides of the pan.  Then invert onto a large plate.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Say It With Lunch

Just wanted to send an extra special lunch, so I used a heart shaped egg, some sushi rice turned pink with beet juice, a flower cut out of a slice of beet, and some nori letters cut with scissors.

This was so easy, but I think it makes a sweet treat to send in a lunch box.  I also sent an apple, some crackers and cheese, and some nuts.

Obviously you can say anything you want - but I'd keep the message short :-)  I bought a package of the little bento picks on Amazon- see the url at the bottom of the page.  The container is a Fit N Fresh.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bentos for the First Day of School!!! Pandas and Onigiri and Eggs- Oh My!

The first day of school looms upon us.  Last night I made onigiri- in triangle shapes, and put eyes on the ones for my daughter, and stripes on the ones for me and my son.  I forgot to buy nori sheets for sushi, but I had seaweed snacks, so I just cut the eyes and smiles and stripes out of the seaweed snacks (sea salt and teriyaki flavor, from Costco).  The stripes I cut with scissors, and the faces with the punch tool I have put at the bottom of the page.  Also at the bottom of the page is a recipe for really good sushi rice.  I like this recipe better than the one I used before.  Yummy.

I bought a radicchio to use the leaves to hold rice and salads. I like these and other edible "cups".  So I  use the smaller leaves for tofu curry salad, golden beat salad, and I use olives and carrot sticks as dividers and to fill out the bento so it doesn't move around as it's taken to school or work.  Movement is your enemy- so you want every nook and cranny to be filled with some sort of food.  Buy little appetizer pickles,olives, mushrooms and hot mix to do just this.  And when you have carrots and radishes and celery, keep slices and toothpick sized cuts in baggies in the fridge- so you don't have to do your cutting every day.

The eggs I hardboiled and chilled overnight in egg shapers (see below).

I took the leftover sushi rice and colored it with beet juice, because I'll use that red rice in bentos and sushi rolls later in the week :-)  I know you'll want to stick around to see that.
Tomorrow is the first day of school, so I've made bentos for everyone :-)  And here they are!
This shows two Fit N Fresh boxes for my son and daughter.  These boxes have ice in the lid.  On the left hand side (above) you'll see two onigiri with stripes, and two radicchio leaves, one with curry salad and one with sliced carrots, along with some black olives filling space.  In the box on the right side are two onigiri with faces, and an egg shaped like a fish, and some sliced carrots, in radicchio leaves.  Links are at the bottom to a great sushi recipe,sushi cutters, egg shapers and the various bentos.
 Above see a close up of the shaped egg and the onigiri.
 Here's my panda bento.  I'm taking this one.
 Above see my delicious lunch.  In the lower compartment of the bento I've put a salad of golden beets, some olives and some slices of cheese.  In the compartment with the lid I've got a shaped egg (vroom vroom- it's a car)- notice the carrot pieces that make the windows and the wheels- I've "glued" them on with blue cheese dressing.  I've also got sliced purple carrots and curry salad.  My onigiri wouldn't fit in here, so I'm taking it separately.  Good thing I've got a fridge in my class.
 This is how the bento looks once the cover is on- and the blue thing is the egg shaper.  You hard boil the egg and then chill it in the shaper.
Here's a close up of my shaped egg :-)

Here's the sushi recipe:

Here's the bentos and the Fit N Fresh:

Here's the panda:

Here's the black cat:

Here's the egg shaper:

Here's the seaweed cutter: