Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rudolph the red-nosed onigiri

Inspired by all of the WAY adorable Reindeer onigiri I've been spotting in the blogosphere, and also a tad big inspired by my snazzy new rice cooker and it's cool timer feature (which allows me to set it and forget it and wake up to a fresh batch of rice!  Mmmm!), I whipped up a brown rice Rudolph lunch for A today.

My Rudolph doesn't hold a candle to some of the amazing works of art I've been seeing, but I think he turned out alright anyway.  I realized today (too late) that I don't have one of those cool bear shaped onigiri molds.  I really should invest in one!  I think the heart turned out alright, though, with some strategically placed nori, bone picks, and a red M&M.  ;)

Rudolph is accompanied by carrot sticks, a mikan, some edamame, a boiled hot dog and a strawberry jelly.  One more bento this week and A will be off school for the holiday!

Bento Lunch

Monday, December 13, 2010

PBJ-ingerbread Man... And Zojirushi!

A's lunch today was a hodge podge - seems those are my favorite style since I make them most often!  She enjoyed it though, and I was happy to be able to include so much fresh produce - I made it to the commissary on time!

Marshmall-snow man, pink chocolate star, apples, mikan, and pineapple jelly

Went out last night without the kids to take care of some Santa business and while I was perusing, I discovered that they put my long-coveted Zojirushi rice cooker on sale for $20 off the normal price.  I got some birthday money from a couple of family members so I indulged.  I am SO excited!  I made my very first batch of rice in it this afternoon and I've got to tell you, the texture of this rice is amazing!  It's like infinitely better than any white rice I've ever made on the stove top.  For dinner, we're having rice.  (Ok, and pork tenderloin.)  For dessert, I am going to have rice with milk and sugar.  Mwahahaha.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This Week in Bento...

Meatball/Onigiri Santa
The Christmas season is in full swing in Okinawa - whatever that means.  This morning our temperatures were in the low 60s and I was FREEZING in my sweater!  That's how you know you've arrived in Okinawa - you start responding ridiculously to the weather.  60-65º weather should not make me shiver! I'm from a significantly colder climate than this.  Ridiculous.

Anyways, last week my husband had Friday off and with all the commotion, I didn't get A up for school.  So I made her bento for her to eat at home for lunch.  She had a meatball santa onigiri with a strawberry/mini-marshmallow hat, steamed broccoli and a reindeer marshmallow Peep.  Santa's details are nori and ketchup.  It's fortunate that she wound up eating this lunch at home because the lid wouldn't fit over Santa's hat.  I went a little bit overboard, apparently.

Santa and his elf onigiri
This is today's bento.  It's a Santa onigiri and an elf onigiri with hot dog "snowflakes", steamed broccoli, holiday marshmallows, cheese, and diced fruit.  I got the inspiration for Santa from Sonoma Bento (hers is WAY cuter!!) but I used a fruit roll up for his hat.  Looking at her bento makes me realize I should have made his cheese hat pom pom a lot bigger.  Oh well.  Santa's elf is wearing a smooth egg sheet hat (my first attempt at this technique!) and both onigiri are filled with minced teriyaki chicken.

Bento Lunch

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Frosty the Snowlunch

Excuse the photos for the lame lighting.  The light over my dining room table burnt out and there is almost no natural lighting early in the morning when I bento.  This lunch had to get photographed in a less preferable spot.

It's frosty!
I'm pretty pleased with this but I admit it's probably because I'm anal and ridiculous and I love that I have a purpose to bento again (Christmas).  Plus, he's kind of cute, and my husband helped me make the scarf which just completely makes me happy.  He's so awesome sometimes! hehehe

Onigiri snowman with hot dog arms, apple peel scarf, nori coal lumps, carrot nose and Reese's PB cup hat.

Hotdog "SNOW" with hearts, diced apple, Co-Jack snowflake, and edamame

This was fun.  :)  I don't even care that he's not perfect (I REALLY wanted to use a crab stick for his scarf but since I'm still on the tail end of this cold I didn't get out to the Japanese grocery store to buy any) or that he should have been in a box that wasn't white.  Snow in Okinawa is wishful thinking, at best, but it's fun to be doing themed boxes again.  :)

Bento Lunch

Fried Rice Bento

This bento is from...  like...  two weeks ago.  I know, I know.  I'm wayyy behind over here!  We had a camping trip the weekend before last and everybody got sick.  I think A actually brought the cootie home the week before that and we just made it worse with the weekend away.  Regardless, it did not make for a good time for me the week of Thanksgiving.  I managed to get all of my Thanksgiving cooking done (on time!) and it was a success but I was completely burned out and A missed a lot of school.  At any rate, this is the one bento that I missed out on documenting in between...  Uh...  Whatever I posted last and today.

Babybel cheese with a butterfly cut-out, edamame, diced fruit, spiced pretzels, hot dog mums, and fried rice (with egg, veggies, green onions and sesame seeds)...

This panda pick...  I loved him!  Somebody stole him from her bento though and he didn't come back home.  :(

This box was a hit and she was so excited to inform me that she'd eaten the whole thing.  Well, except for the cheese, which she shared with her friend.  :)

I haven't done Muffin Tin Monday or anything fun with the kids (aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas decorating) in what seems like forever!  Finally, though, I feel like I am on the upswing with this cold.  Thank goodness.  Being sick is the worst!

I'm out of my bento funk now, too, (I think...  I hope!!) since I can start making Christmas bentos.  I made the first one of the year today and it was pretty fun.  I'll post it tomorrow.

Bento Lunch

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Catching Up

Man-oh-man! I have been way overwhelmed this past week by kids, holidays, sick days, laundry, housekeeping, going on a tour, preparing for the upcoming Marine Corps Ball, my husband working ridiculous hours, parties, a friend leaving the island for a visit back to the states, etc, etc, etc! I can't seem to get enough rest in between it all.

I have, however, been bento-ing when appropriate. They're nothing super exciting or special, and I have to admit I am going through Halloween bento withdrawals. I'd love to do some awesome autumn themed boxes but fall in Okinawa definitely leaves something to be desired and so I've been just kind of skating by with A's lunches.

Last Tuesday, she requested leftovers for lunch, which was fine with me. It did make for a very "grown up" looking lunch, though.

Dinner roll (which I had to try out a few new ¥100 tools on and carved a face into), banana, strawberry jelly, skelly-man, corn, and on the bottom tier is peanut butter noodles and grilled shrimp.  She loves seafood!

This morning's bento was even more boring, but will hopefully be a hit anyway.

Pizza sandwich, two fruit gels, mixed tropical fruits, celery with peanut butter and carrot sticks.
Oh well.  Hopefully I get out of my "I miss Halloween" funk soon and interested in making more exciting lunches again.  And by the way, A does have more than one bento box, in case you wondered.  She has a TON of them!  But the box I use for most of her lunches (two tiered, white and it has Hello Kitty on top) is the only one she LOVES and she makes a point to request it every time.  She is so weird.  :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars

We had a really awesome Halloween.  It was a blast!  We all dressed up and went trick-or-treating and our costumes were quite the hit.  I am so fortunate to have a really cool husband who not only humors my ridiculous requests but also enjoys participating and isn't completely mortified to walk all over the base wearing a snug green jumpsuit.  What a guy!!

When our girls had filled up their question mark blocks, we headed home where I'd left dinner in the oven.  Dinner in a Pumpkin (minus the green onions - due to the typhoon, we're having a green onion shortage at the commissary) was a bigger hit with the adults than the kids, but still a hit regardless.  I threw together dessert in a flash and put it in the oven while we picked through candies, ate dinner out of a pumpkin, and greeted the later batch of trick-or-treaters.

Dessert, though, is what I REALLY want to talk about.  Oh.  My.  Heavenly.

When I found this recipe on GourmetMomOnTheGo.com and tried it out, I knew I had found something special.  I tasted it and the only word that came to mind was, "Magical."  That sounds ridiculous, I know, but try it and you'll understand.  As my tastebuds exploded into sugary, creamy bliss, I recall thinking that this could be SUCH a versatile recipe.  And it was the first recipe that came to mind when I was thinking about desserts for Halloween.

So, I "Autumned" it up a little bit.  And wow, was it GOOD!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars


  • 2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Roll Creations seamless dough
  • 2 8-oz packages cream cheese (I use Neufchâtel), softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup solid pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice - I actually use Pampered Chef's "Cinnamon Plus blend" - LOVE that stuff!)
For the topping:
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.  Spray a 13x9" pan with cooking spray, and press one package into the bottom of the pan.
  2. With a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla, pumpkin, and 1 tsp cinnamon until smooth.  Spread this mixture over the top of the crescent roll dough.
  3. Unroll the second can of dough and spread it over the top of the cream cheese mixture.
  4. Combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the crescent dough.
  5. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool before cutting and serving - the cream cheese mixture will be ultra melty and gooey and a big mess if you are too impatient like I am!

I shared this post at MySweetCreations for Sweet Sunday.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Frank and Spiders

A's final Halloween bento (I think) today.  I sent her with hot dog spiders, pumpkin seeds, edamame, ghostmallows, a Frankenkiwi (I stole this idea from here - but hers was way cuter!) with apple neck bolts and carrot sticks.

We stayed up late last night putting together Halloween goodies for A's Yochien party (which got moved to Monday, I found out today, due to the typhoon...).

Darn it!  Three days early with the goodies.  Oh well, her sensei still seemed pretty happy about it and I'm thankful to not have to make treats over the weekend.  :)

Nightmare Bento

Since the movie first came out in theaters, The Nightmare Before Christmas has been my all-time favorite movie.  I love Tim Burton, I love Danny Elfman, and I love love LOVE Jack Skellington.

Yesterday, since we were in Typhoon Chaba and not doing much else, I made A a Nightmare Bento, complete with Jack Skellington and Zero.  She loved it and ate every last bit.

C's bento was more snacky and made up of ghostly goodies.

I think we're down to just one final Halloween bento.  Can't believe it's about to pass us by!

Bento Lunch

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I have stumbled across so many cute and awesome Halloween goodies this year that I've been overwhelmed and admittedly at times a bit in over my head.  And now we're only four days out from Halloween and trick-or-treating and I am realizing that I haven't even finished up the kids' costumes yet!  Yikes!

But today we caught a little break.  Okinawa is currently under Typhoon Chaba - a category 4 storm which is blowing like crazy and keeping us all indoors.  This has given me some time to hang out with the kids, finish up some of my treat-making (and brainstorm the treat-making yet to come), and make another extra pair of Halloween bentos.

Last night I was up late icing my Skellie-Men cookies.  I am SO thrilled with how they turned out.  When I got the first little man iced I literally squealed and ran to show him to my husband.  Today I have a tray full of Skellie-Men, ghosts, skulls, and Skellie-Bats.  I still have half a batch of dough in the fridge that I'm planning to make pumpkins out of, but we're all about baby steps here.  Plus, I keep adding more projects to my list, so I am kind of having a hard time keeping up with...  myself.

Anyways, these cookies are pretty much the coolest thing I've ever made, I think.  ;)

Skellie-Men Cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup margarine, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs.  Gradually stir in the sifted ingredients to form a soft dough.  Divide the dough into two pieces, flatten and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least two hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 375º F.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8" thickness.  (I dusted the top of the dough and the rolling pin with cocoa powder before rolling it out.)  Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.  (We used a mini gingerbread man, mini bat, mini ghost and mini skull.)  This dough is sticky so be sure to add more flour and/or cocoa powder to the rolling surface as neded.  Place the cookies 1 1/2" apart on cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven (for mini cutters, 8 minutes was plenty to produce a crisp cookie).  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for five minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
  4. Ice as desired.  I used CakeMate's Easy Squeeze bags and tips.

I shared this post at MySweetCreations for Sweet Sunday.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Today is A's last "full bento" day before Halloween.  On Friday I'll pack her bento but it won't be carb-heavy since she'll have not only bread and milk but also Halloween treats for the Yochien party.  Friday's bento will be small.

I was so excited for this bento, I've been planning it for several days.  I am so happy with how it turned out.

Tamagoyaki Pumpkins
Edamame rice Frankenstein
Bottom tier:  Mini peanut butter cupcake, sliced carrots, roasted spiced pumpkin seeds and grapes.
So, for the tamagoyaki pumpkins, I used this recipe - to which I added some red and yellow food coloring - and before rolling it up, I added a little sprinkle of shredded Colby Jack - just to help it stick and make it a little more orange.  I fastened them in their round-ish shapes with leaf picks and added nori details for their faces.  They share a space with some boiled hot dog mums.

Frankenstein is made of edamame rice - I don't have a mortar and pestle here in Okinawa (though as with most of my kitchen gadgets, I do have a nice one in storage in the states!) so I added a little bit of the water I cooked the beans in and blended them up them in my Magic Bullet before I combined them with the rice.  All of Frank's details are nori, and his neck bolts are a couple of little slices of boiled hot dog.

Bento Lunch

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Breakfast MTM

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

I am so sad that it's Halloween week!  I mean, I'm excited - Halloween is pretty much my favorite holiday - but I'm sad because I've got to cram in all of my last Halloween foods now or else hold on to them for a whole YEAR!  :(

On the bright side, though, we've been enjoying Halloween nom-noms.  Today's Muffin Tin Monday theme was Halloween.  I'm all over that!  This was kind of a last-minute thrown together hodge podge of foods since I had forgotten about MTM till last night and had little time to brainstorm, but I like how it turned out and the kids really seemed to enjoy it, too.

"Moldy" scrambled eggs, spider eggs (Kix), homemade pancake syrup (for dipping the pancake below)
Ham and cheese ghost, cob-webbed fruit salad (with coconut cobwebs), pumpkin shaped pumpkin pancake

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Swamp Thing

Like I mentioned before...  I am running out of Halloween bento days!  So I fixed the girls a lunch I had been eyeballing for weeks this afternoon:  Swamp Creatures!

These were like beyond a major hit.  It may have been because I used this REALLY delicious macaroni and cheese recipe (because I was out of Kraft Mac-n-Cheese, that is!), or maybe my kids really just enjoyed the cool swamp thing theme.  Either way, success is success.  We enjoyed this.  (Even though they weren't as cute as the originals!

A's "Swamp Thing" bento
C's "Swamp Thing"
Included in these bentos were swamp creatures, grapes, corn, strawberry and mini fruit jelly.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Yummy mummies - part 2

More mummies for lunch.  I brainstorm A's lunches the night before so that I won't have to use my brain too heavily in the wee hours of the morning.  I don't work super well before dawn.

Anyways my brainstorm for today's bento got a little out of control.  I have so few bento days remaining before Halloween but so many yummy ideas I want to try out before it passes!  Poor A has had some intimidating lunches as a result.  Today's had way too much food in it (especially for a rainy day when she wasn't able to run and play outside before she ate...  which also happened to be a "bread and milk" day!), but she did enjoy it anyway.  I have a feeling we'll have a bento picnic this weekend so that I can have another extra bento day.  :)

On the right side of her box, she had hot dog mummies made with half cheese dogs and strips of crescent roll dough.  A's not big on condiments so I just poked "eyes" into the dogs before I baked them.  They didn't turn out super defined but A got the point anyway.  She loves the Monster Halloween Backyardigans, so she knows a "mummy king" when she sees one!  The mummies were propped up on a few roasted chickpeas so as to fill in some of the extra space.

The "clutter side"of her bento contained a mish-mash of Halloween themed treats.  I made mini peanut butter cupcakes last night and iced them with chocolate frosting and a candy corn. There's also a couple of Jacarrot-o-Lanterns, a Boo-berry, some kiwi, ghost marshmallows, grape witches and broomsticks.  Uh, can we say excessive?!  LOL!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Candy Corn

I love fall.  Have I said that before?  It's true.  I really really do.  But fall hits in a really sneaky, roundabout way here in Okinawa.  We get these hot, sunshiney, summery days peppered in with a bunch of gloom and rain.  So the general "feeling" around here changes in a really back-and-forth sort of way.  You never can be sure if it's going to start getting cold, (until about January when you get a whole 5-6 weeks to dust off your sweaters and coats before the heat starts in again!) or if it's just another meteorological tease.

So I'm still not completely sure if any of us are actually sick, but I kept A home from school again today.  M has been working really late hours (like, he doesn't head home till 1:45AM...  And then is expected back at work by 7:30AM), so I've been having some late nights.  A has a dry cough, C has a really runny nose, and I have a sore throat that won't quit.  It's so much fun in my house, let me tell you!

Anyways, I figured I'm running short on Halloween bento days, so took the opportunity to make one for A's lunch today.

A's bento:  Candy corn onigiri, cheese dogs,  boogly-eyed strawberry, candy corn, grapes and flip-sides crackers (underneath the berry and the candy)

C's bento:  Same as A's, but smaller.  :)
I sat A down with her bento and she picked up a candy corn and said, "What's this?"  I hadn't even considered that she'd never eaten candy corn before!  No matter though, she loved them and onigiri is always a hit with her.

As an aside, I was playing in the kitchen last night while I waited to hear an ETA from M.  Can't wait to put a couple of these in A's lunch!

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