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Hinamatsuri Bento (320 and 321)

Yesterday on the way home I was wondering what we should get for Baby Girl since today is Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day). After a bit, it dawned on me that I have the ability to give her a great gift… a bento to take to school! A lot of people assume that I make all my lunches here for the kids, but in reality I make these lunches for myself. My kids’ preschool tuition includes lunch, so it doesn’t really make much sense for me to send them to school with food. I consider what I do here for myself good practice for when they get to elementary school, when it would make more sense. Anyway, this is the first lunch I’ve ever made her for school.

Hina Matsuri Bento 2

I used this bento to wake her up this morning, which normally requires a unique combination of tickle torture, threats of picking ugly clothes to wear, and licorice bribes, depending on how desperate I am. Things went much smoothly this morning with a quick whisper of, “Baby Girl, wake up. I made you a bento to take to school for Girl’s Day.” (Emphasis on for Girl’s Day so that I’m not asked every day from today, “Where is my bento?”)

I put some leftover mochiko chicken in here, which I’d had in a bag in the freezer. Aaand I just remembered I forgot to post my Pork Tofu recipe yesterday… I’ll try to remember tonight.

Hina Matsuri Bento 1

For the first step, I added some green leaf lettuce. It was rather out of control, so I had to give it a good talking to before it calmed down. I have an onigiri mold for a little boy’s face, so I used that and added these little nori strips that I bought. You can easily just cut your own strips or use soy paper for different colored hair.

In step three, I add pieces of mochiko chicken that I cut into nice bite size pieces. Next to the onigiri, I added a Hello Kitty food cup and then put the leftover potato scraps from cutting out potato flowers. I used a thin straw to cut the hole in the middle. A good way to make use of these straws is to just cut off a small piece to punch your food. Then you can just keep cutting off pieces from the straw, theoretically extending the life of the box of straws to the END OF TIME!!! Muahahaha…

Okay, maybe not that long, but it sure is better than throwing away a whole straw after you use it. Next, I added an apple bunny and then tucked in some cutie tangerine slices.

For final touches, I added some fresh nori strips so that her hair looked longer, tucked some little scraps of lettuce into the sides to hide some holes, and put three flower picks into the chicken. She was so happy to see it that we had to coach her all the way to school to ensure that she shouldn’t gloat about having a special lunch, lest she make others jealous. Then as if on cue, when she asked to hold it, Buddy makes Ultimate Sad Face at me and says, “Where’s my bento?” We let him hold it all the rest of the way and he seemed happy with that, but it looks like I’ll be making him one when Boy’s Day comes around.

This was really fun to make, so I’m actually looking forward to making her lunches when she hits kindergarten. I just wonder how much of this she’ll really eat… She’s probably starting lunch in about 10 minutes. Her teacher seemed confused when I gave it to her, asking if it was for lunch. lol They better not forget it in the fridge!

I have a bento for myself today too. I sketched both of these out last night while watching Heroes.

Cordon Bleu Meatball Bento

We made this for dinner on Saturday and amazingly enough, Baby Girl did a lot of the work. I found a recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu Bites on All Recipes and decided to try it out for potential bento food. It didn’t sound like it was all that great as is, so I tried tweaking it a bit by breading it with panko before frying. The process was rather complicated: a cube of Swiss cheese went into the middle, then meat mixture to form a ball around the cube, then a roll in flour, then egg wash, then panko. Baby Girl wanted to try it so much that finally I gave in. Hers came out pretty nice!

Then Buddy wanted to try, so I let him do two. Then he grabbed my shirt with his grubby, eggy panko hands and I sent him off to the bathroom. Baby Girl stayed to help roll and though she kept confirming every single step for every single meatball (“Cheese first? Meat next? Now flour? Now egg? Now panko?”) she was so good at it that I was able to leave her alone to work while I fried the first batch. Her meatballs came out nice and round. I had found the most interesting thing at Foodland, Italian Panko by Progresso but I ended up not trying it this time around though. I wasn’t sure how it would taste.

As if that wasn’t enough to blow my mind, she insisted on helping me wash the dishes. So… I take back every comment in the past where I refer to her as a little terror or monster. She’s the best. A little chef and not even 5 years old! *beam*

It tasted okay, but definitely could have used more seasoning, so I still have some tweaking to do. I think if I had been able to find parmesan bread crumbs (I used garlic and herb), had seasoned it with salt and pepper, and had remembered to top them with the grated parmesan cheese I bought, this would have tasted awesome. I’ll try it again in a couple of weeks.

I had a bentorial for my bento, but I forgot one step, so I figured nevermind. I added lettuce first, then the onigiri, the meatballs, the sauce container with kewpie mayo for my green beans, the green beans, and then the tangerine slice. Before taking the picture I added a small piece of parsley and the pink furikake. I’ll eat the lettuce as a small salad too.

Happy Girl’s Day!!

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  • Very cute.. what a nice mommy! 🙂 Happy Girls’ Day!

  • epynephrin

    In addition to those being amazingly cute, the Cordon Bleu bites sound amazing.

    Heroes, Lost, Fringe. You have also got excellent taste in TV!

  • cute! Happy Girls’ Day!

  • Samantha

    Aw, the Girl’s Day bento for your little girl is so cute. I wish that holiday was celebrated nationally here. Maybe when I have kids, I’ll celebrate Girl’s and Boy’s days with them as a family tradition. I have no Asian blood, but it just seems like a nice thing to celebrate.

    The cordon bleu bites look tasty! I would make some myself, but I’m crazy afraid of touching raw meat. I’m not a vegetarian or anything, it just grosses me out. ^^; Then again, ground meat isn’t as scary as a slab of chicken, so maybe I can take that as a baby step into cooking with meat.

    Oh, and I have a question. (Sorry if it sounds foolish, I just don’t know.) When you cut your tangerines and put slices into a bento, what do you do with the rest of the fruit? Do you refrigerate it? I’m always worried about what to do with scraps and leftovers of everything. x.x

  • Happy Girl’s Day to you all! 😀

    Samantha: I just ate the leftovers. 🙂 It’s a teeny one, so whatever was left I just popped in my mouth and threw the rind in my garden for composting. If not, I usually put it in a bag to use later or take it to work and eat as a snack.

  • Kim

    I saw the same Italian Panko at my supermarket in Florida too. The first thing I thought was “That’s funny. Italian Japanese bread crumbs. Hmm….”

  • Samba

    If I want parmesan panko I just make a mixture of about 1/3 grated (hard) parmesan and 2/3 panko. It tastes great especially for breading chicken breast strips for picky eaters.

  • Ellie

    Then you can just keep cutting off pieces from the straw, theoretically extending the life of the box of straws to the END OF TIME!!!

    This cracked me up! I suddenly burst out laughing in my silent office and my colleagues thought I was nuts LOL

  • Thanks for the tip Samba, I’ll have to try that next time!

    Ellie: Haha, glad someone appreciates my weird sense of humor!

  • mcogdill

    Oooh those Chicken Cordon Blue Bites–checked the recipe and it looks like something my kid is not allergic to. Have you noticed that all the furikake (spelling?) with a Japanese label is made in China? With all the Chinese food scares, does that freak you out or no. It gives me a bit of pause to eat it.

  • Shawna

    What a great mommy. My husband let me sleep in for Girl’s Day, so my little girl went to school with just a sandwich. But truthfully, i really hadn’t thought to plan a special gir’s day bento. But I will try making the little girl. I have that mold, but didn’t know what to do for the hair. I like it like that.

  • How much longer until your kindergarten lunch-packing career begins?

  • Your bentos are always so beautiful. What a lucky girl!

  • Amy

    You inspired me to try making these yesterday. I added Italian seasoning, parmesan, salt, and pepper to the chicken mixture; and I used your method for breading with panko. Ground chicken only came in one-pound packages at my supermarket, so I estimated the recipe for that amount. I ended up with 32 meatballs.

    I served them with marinara sauce for dipping, which helped the flavor a lot. Leftovers for today’s lunch bento tasted way better than last night’s fresh ones. Go figure.

    I think if I made them again, I would use regular bread crumbs and skip the deep frying and bake them instead.

    Thanks for the idea!