A Comfort Food Bento

Good Morning!

DH played paint ball with his students yesterday.  He came home tired and covered in paint.  It was too funny to see what his students had done to him.  Tales of battle and acts of valor made dinner quite fun last night.  I was glad to be able to send him to school today with a comforting bento that will fill him up and help him to forget those sore muscles.  I am sure he's going to be uncomfortable today.

My youngest daughter helped me to make this bento and is very proud to be helping take care of daddy.  She was so excited to be able to assemble the lunch and even more excited to know I was posting pictures online.


Layer 1: Cucumber and tomato salad with homemade vinaigrette, Greek yogurt and blackberries, blueberries, and some raspberries, a single chocolate covered strawberry, and two fruit candies from Perugina.  Yummy!


Layer 2: This is the comfort food section of the bento.  It doesn't look like much but it is a rich, warming meal.  There is creamed spinach with 3 types of cheese in it, turkey meatloaf stuffed with goat cheese, and potato topped with butter and herbes de Provence.

I can't take credit for this meatloaf recipe.  It was supposed to be a stuffed burger but it was really moist.  My fix was to turn it into a meatloaf.  Here it is: Stuffed Turkey Burgers.  It came from a site I absolutely love: Once A Month Meals.  This site has menus for freezer cooking.  It is a great resource for bento stash items that I can keep in the freezer and pull out as needed.  I also love their menu planning system and have been known to cook ahead meals, especially when I know life is about to get really busy.  They even have baby and toddler menus - a wonderful thing.


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Ramen Noodle Upgrades

I saw this article online and thought I should share.  It's about ways to dress up Ramen.  There are some neat ideas.

Enjoy!  Ramen Hacks

Do you have any new and interesting ways to use ramen?

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A Bento on the Lighter Side

Dear Friends,

It has been quite some time since I've posted and with good reason.  Four kids will keep ya hoppin'.  But, I really wouldn't have it any other way.  DH is back to teaching after a lovely, lazy summer replete with 5 weeks on the Cote d'Azure.  OK it was only 4 weeks in France; one week was spent in Tuscany in a lovely villa.  The trip was wonderful and the food . . .  AMAZING!  (Did I mention that my mom's a French chef?) Needless to say, we overindulged a little bit.  So, to send DH back to school, I've tried to make meals a little lighter.  He doesn't mind and it is a bit healthier.  So, here is a lighter bento with just a little indulgence.


Layer 1: Ham roll-ups (I was going to alternate ham and turkey but DH wanted just ham).  They have an herbed Neufch√Ętel cheese in the middle.  There are almonds, stawberries, Greek yogurt, and a special indulgence: some of the candies we bought in Perugia (in the Perugina factory - as yummy and fun a diversion as it sounds BTW).


Layer 2: A simple spinach salad with carrots and tomato slices.  There's homemade vinaigrette in the little bottle.

Fun tip:  I love the Magic Bullet.  I know, it's a cheesy infomercial product . . .   But the thing is a real work horse and can make food on a small scale.  That makes it perfect for bentos.  Homemade vinaigrette is super easy with it.  Most people just swirl together oil and vinegar with some herbs and call it good.

That's not the way my mom taught me to make a vinaigrette.  She always puts a teaspoon or so of mustard in a bowl.  Then she adds red wine vinegar and oil in a 1:3 ratio.  You start with the vinegar and whisk constantly while adding oil in a small drizzle until it's all fluffy and creamy.  Now, this takes a fair bit of stirring and I've got better things to do.  So, I put the mustard and vinegar in my magic bullet and add about 1/3 to 1/2 of the oil I want to use.  Run the magic bullet.  Then open it up and add some more oil.  Repeat until all the oil is incorporated.  What you'll get is the thickest, creamiest vinaigrette you've ever seen. Add salt, pepper, and any herbs you like. You might need to add a fair bit of water to thin it enough to pour.

The baby bullet has a blender attachment that makes this even easier, but I've packed up my baby bullet and put it away (our little guy is eating normal food - time flies by so quickly!).  The magic bullet is on the counter . . .  Setting up the baby bullet takes time I don't always have. (Yes, I'm that lazy.)

Just a thought folks:  A bottle of salad dressing is at the very least around $2.  The ones I like run $3.50 - $4.  Making your own costs almost nothing by comparison.  You have a teaspoon or so of Dijon mustard (cost maybe $0.10), a little red wine vinegar (I make my own with leftover red wine we're not going to drink, but even if you bought it, it wouldn't cost much - maybe $0.25), and some oil (I use canola and that's pretty cheap so $0.30 max for the amount used).  The salt, pepper, and herbs are hardly worth mentioning.  So, at the most you've spent $0.65 for enough salad dressing to last my house of 6 two weeks (and we eat a lot of salad).  Even better: these ingredients are things I usually keep in the house anyway.  I don't really spend anything "extra" on this the way I do when I buy salad dressing.

Economical and easy!  How often do those two combine?  Did I mention it's tasty too?

Hope you have a lovely day!

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A Picnic Bento

It is summer and that means lovely days filled with sunshine and my whole family (including DH) around me.  I'm not making bento as frequently because we are grilling outdoors.  But we are planning on taking the kids to Rocky Mountain National Park for an outing.  I decided that we needed bentos for the voyage and spent some time playing today.  As hot as the weather is, it is a real pleasure to stay inside with my bento supplies.  



I made a fake sushi roll.  It is not my greatest work but I learned a lot.  They are a light pink color because the only vinegar I had handy was red wine vinegar.  I put asparagus in the center and really could have put more into it.  Next are chicken wing pieces baked with salt, pepper, and garlic.  There are mini peppers, strawberries, tomatoes cut into flowers, and cucumber pieces that are meant to go into a vinaigrette in the little cup. There is also half a hard boiled egg.  I've added chive blossoms (fully edible) for a little onion flavor and purple color.  The cup holds some imitation crab meat.  On the far right is a tiny bamboo fork.

The coolest part of this bento is that it is 90% disposable.  At the end of the day, we will take home 5 silicone cups and 5 dressing cups.  The rest can go in the trash. Now, normally, that isn't a good thing, but I have wanted to find a good container for DH to use for field trips and so that I can pack lunches for our family outings where it is not as easy to tote around lunch boxes.  A baby requires enough gear that simplifying lunch is important.  Well, simplifying is a relative term here.  :0)

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