Very useful cookie cutters

April 15th, 2009

I bought a set of three cookie cutters last weekend.  The set costs USD2.49 for three shapes: circle, star and heart.  And I have been using these to jazz up meals for my picky eater ever since. 

I asked him if he would like to have a star sandwich and his face lit up in amazement.  I brought out the bread and butter, spread the butter on the bread and taught him how to cut the star shape out.  He finished the entire STAR!  I’ve even used these cookie cutters to place steamed rice in, just so it creates the shapes for fun.  Sure helps a lot with eating the rice! 🙂

Yesterday I even ventured so far as to try making a happy face rice with the circle cookie cutter, and some cut up nori.  These cookie cutters sure are essential items in any bento packer’s collection!

Toddlers & Kids, Tools & Equipment

Pasta, Franks and Chicken Fries Bento

April 7th, 2009


I bought some fancy-shaped pasta yesterday and thought it would be cool to incorporate that element into Ethan’s dinner bento.  So his bento yesterday evening was a simple sausage and pasta salad with Mickey & Friends pasta shapes, slices of chicken franks/sausages and some broccoli.  I also offered some chicken fries (frozen cooked ones which I baked in the oven for about 15 minutes or so) served with ranch dressing.

Ethan immediately ate the franks (he loves them), but only ate ONE Mickey-shaped pasta, after Daddy and Mommy each had one too.  He did not even touch the chicken fries, but tasted the ranch dressing a little.  He made a face though. LOL

I am now on the lookout for alphabet chicken nuggets, so if anyone knows where I can find these, please let me know 🙂

Toddlers & Kids , , , ,

Earth Day Bento giveaway!

April 7th, 2009

Apart from honing creativity in the process of creating meals that are pleasing to the eye and to the palate, bento-ing is also a step towards a greener earth, if we think of it that way.  You see, by packing meals in containers and bringing them to work or daycare, we are reusing these containers, and not just eating and throwing away plastic containers like the ones being sold at takeout restaurants and diners.

Isn’t that a comforting thought?

Well, being a bento enthusiast has certainly made me look at items around the house in a different light, and I find myself thinking of how to make use of an existing household item to create a pretty piece of decorative edible item for a bento.  That being said, my love for bento-ing does not stop me from yearning for additional bento products and tools.  It’s an addiction really!

And so, I am always GLAD when I stumble on fabulous giveaways for bento items.  I do so hope I will be able to organize one soon on my own 🙂

Anyway, this is one of the cool giveaways I just entered.  Mission: Vegan is organizing this April Giveaway in conjunction with Earth Day (April 22nd) and what I like about this giveaway is that every entrant has to think about what he/she will do for Mother Earth (by answering a simple question to be eligible for an entry).  There are also TWO winners instead of just one, and check out these fantastic prize packs!

Prize Pack #1

Prize Pack #2

All photos credited to Mission: Vegan

General, Tools & Equipment

Chicken Dippers Bento

April 5th, 2009


I decided to introduce something unique to my son for his bento dinner meal last Friday.  I had just bought some fresh chicken breast fillet from the supermarket that afternoon, so I decided to try out this simple Chicken Dippers recipe from Chef Michael Smith.  I didn’t have any corn meal, so I used Quaker oats instead. 

Curiosity got the better of me and I just had to try one of the chicken dippers after they were baked and they actually tasted quite good.  I had wanted to serve the dippers with ranch dressing, but since I did not have any available, I served them with good ol’ mayo instead.

For carbs, there was some steamed rice, and for vegetables, I put some steamed broccoli and sliced carrots.

Unfortunately, Ethan didn’t want any of the chicken dippers 🙁 and only had the rice with some gravy.  Does anyone have any other ideas how to make my boy eat some protein?

Toddlers & Kids , , , ,

Car Bento for the Picky Eater

April 2nd, 2009

My son Ethan is an extremely picky eater.  He doesn’t like meat, vegetables, fruits…he only likes rice with soy sauce or gravy.  I have had to sneak in pieces of meat just to make him eat some, but most of the time, he would insist on inspecting the food before putting it in his mouth.

It is my fervent hope that creating nice-to-look-at bentos for his meals would entice him to try new foods, and hopefully make him eat more nutritiously.

So yesterday evening, I decided to make him a nice bento dinner.  I frankly don’t have any tools to create cutesy shapes for kids so I had to create something from what little items I had.  So I whipped up this simple car bento (made from steamed rice) in about 30 minutes (took a little bit longer because I had to mould the car into shape without the use of a car mould!).  The wheels of the car are decorated with cheese slices and boiled carrot slices, whilst the windows are made from steamed minced pork and egg, which my Mom made.

I added some grapes with food picks to make it interesting, and I put some soy sauce in a mini bottle so my boy could have some fun pouring it over his rice. 

I used a Donald Duck bento box and Ethan was just so excited when he saw it!  He wanted to open it right away!


The first thing he did was to put one grape in his mouth!  But he did not eat it though – he merely played with it…

However, he enjoyed pouring the sauce on his rice, and although he still picked out the meat and did not touch the cheese and carrots, he at least finished most of the rice.  He was very distracted by the Donald Duck box though…do you think I should use something less distracting the next time?

Toddlers & Kids , , , ,

A great find and an awesome giveaway!

April 1st, 2009

I stumbled on a gem of a bento blog today.  It’s called Maisie Eats Bento, and it has all these really cool and simple bentos made for a picky toddler.

Wow…that is so ironic, because I just decided today that I would start making my son’s meals a little more eye-pleasing for him in an effort to entice him to eat more nutritious food.  My three-year-old boy is a fussy little eater too, and so picky when it comes to food.

Anyway, I don’t have that many tools for making his food interesting.  Not yet anyway…so I would have to make do with whatever I have and squeeze whatever creative juices my brain can produce.

However, discovering Maisie Eats Bento has never been more timely, because to celebrate the 100th bento on that blog, Lisa (the writer) is running a mega-awesome giveaway for a little starter kit for bento packing.  Check out the prize with all its goodies:

Photo credits

Mouth-watering, innit? 🙂

I’ve entered my name in the random prize drawing – so if you haven’t and are itching to win, hurry on and do so before the giveaway closes on Sunday, April 5 2009 at midnight Eastern Standard Time.

General, Toddlers & Kids, Tools & Equipment

I’m yearning for a Kids Konserve lunch kit!

March 27th, 2009

I truly apologize for the lack of posts of late.  I have been keeping myself busy with my newborn baby girl, and since my Mom has been doing most of the cooking nowadays, I have not had a decent chance to pack many bento lunches.

Nevertheless, whenever I get the chance, I still am reading about and drooling over bentos packed by other bento enthusiasts around the world.  Oh, and of course I am taking mental notes!

One of the things that I have been concerned with (and still am) about bento packing is the usage of plastic containers.  The truth is, if the container is made of polycarbonate, it’s not BPA-free, hence not that safe if you put really hot stuff in them.  One solution is to use glass containers (like Pyrex), but those aren’t really kid-friendly.

I have been toying over the idea of investing in some stainless steel containers, because I think they look very good, they are easy to clean and PLUS they are kid-friendly too.  So when I read the review of the Kids Konserve metal lunch kit over at Lunch in a Box, I knew I had to have one of these sets!… or rather I would want one of these for my kids…or even for myself!

Photo credits

First of all, the kit doesn’t only look asethetically pleasing (LOVE the green against the silver!), it’s fully functional too!  I am not too intrigued by the cloth carrying bag though…it looks a little bit too flimsy from the picture, but I might change my mind when I see it.

In any case, what’s important is the kit components are BPA-free, including the green lids, and that IS saying a lot, if you’re concerned about health issues.

The whole set retails for USD40 from Kids Konserve, which I feel is quite expensive, but seeing that it is stainless steel after all, I am weighing the pros and cons of getting one.  Meanwhile I am hoping and praying that I will win the set from the giveaway run by Lunch in a Box right now.  That would absolutely solve my problem, wouldn’t you think so?

General, Toddlers & Kids, Tools & Equipment

Chicken Satay Bento

February 18th, 2009

Inspired by what looked like incredibly mouth-watering bentos to me in Bento Delights’ Uniquely Malaysian Bento and Hijack Queen’s Skewed Turmeric Chicken bento, I finally took matters into my own hands and tried making my very own chicken satay!

Chicken Satay Marinade

  • Turmeric powder
  • Honey garlic dip (I got these from Safeway, and I used it because I didn’t have any honey on me)
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • A little bit of crushed black peppercorns

Originally, I had intended to use chicken thigh fillets, but they weren’t available in the supermarket yesterday, so I removed the skin from the chicken drumsticks that I had and cut out the drumstick meat instead.  I saved the drumstick bones to make herbal soup 🙂

I mixed the marinade with the chicken fillet and fixed them onto bamboo skewers before putting them into a Pyrex container in the fridge to sit for at least 6 hours.  Then I baked them in the oven at 350ºF till done, turning them over once.  I suppose if you have a grill function, it is best that you use that to grill the satay.

The satay sticks were then placed atop steamed rice in bottom compartment of the bento.  The top compartment held chunks of onions and cucumbers (Malaysian satay style) and a small container of satay sauce, which I managed to buy ready from the stores, thanks to Lee Kum Kee.  (I ought to try making the peanut sauce myself too, one of these days)

I added a hard-boiled egg for added color and to fill up my hubby’s tummy.  Looks delicious, no?

Adults , ,

Ginger Soy Sauce Chicken Bento

February 17th, 2009

It had been some time since I cooked with ginger, so yesterday I thought I would experiment with a simple dish; something my hubby and I love: ginger soy sauce chicken.  I did not have a recipe, but I thought I would try a concoction I had in mind.  I marinaded the chicken pieces with soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, crushed black peppercorns and some of the all-purpose marinade with herbs I had recently bought.  I added in some sliced white button mushrooms and slices of young ginger.

I was out the whole day and only started cooking at about 6:00p.m. 🙂

First I heated up some vegetable oil in a saucepan and sautéed the marinaded chicken.  I added some water and a little bit of chicken base, and simmered it for about 20 minutes while waiting for the rice to cook. 

The result was a truly satisfying dish, cooked in no time at all!  🙂

I put aside a portion for hubby’s bento today.  Added in a hard-boiled egg on a bed of steamed lady’s fingers.  The little orange container holds some sambal belacan we brought from Malaysia. 🙂

Adults , ,

Cheeseburger Bento

February 2nd, 2009

I decided to be creative and came up with homemade cheeseburgers over the weekend. I loosely followed Chef Michael Smith’s recipe for Cheddar Cheese Burgers, and with 1lb of organic beef, I managed to make 6 not-too-large burger patties.

We had burgers for our meals on Sunday, and today, hubby had a Cheeseburger bento for lunch.  In the morning, I put a little bit of butter in the sesame seed buns, took the burger patty from the fridge, and placed it in between the buns.  Then I microwaved them for about 16 seconds.  Next, I placed a slice of cheese, a slice of tomato, some lettuce leaves and some mayo in betwee.  I secured the cheeseburger with a foodpick, added a packet of tomato ketchup and there…I had lunch prepared!

Instead of fries, I threw in some Ranch-flavored chips, and I also added some grapes for dessert. 

I asked my hubby if he wanted a double cheeseburger (2 meat patties), but he said I could have the other one, so I had the same thing for my lunch today 🙂

Making burgers at home might seem like a great idea, but it isn’t completely so.  I didn’t use a grill, so I panfried the burger patties, which resulted in my whole stove and kitchen becoming rather oily.  And I certainly didn’t like that.  The next time I make burger patties, I’d bring them to a barbecue for outdoor grilling instead!

Adults , ,