Friday, February 25, 2011

The super cheap way to shape rice

This adorable lunch box is filled with some simple leftovers from my stir-fry and rice dinner. I had to add a touch of fun to it, though, so I used a simple cookie cutter to make a heart-shaped rice patty. This method can be used with lots of different cookie cutters, so give it a try!

Start with your simple cookie cutter. I used my el cheapo ones that are easy for little ones to use with ease. Just place it on your plate after your spritz it lightly with some cooking spray.

Fill it with rice. Since it's sticky rice, sometimes it helps to slide the spoon off the inside of the cutter to make the rice stay inside, and not on the spoon. Pat it down to make it firm.

This lovely heart rice patty is what you end up with once the cutter is removed. Sah-weet! Gently lift it from the plate and place it in your dish.

Once you've done that, you just add the stir-fry to the outsides of the dish and you are ready to go. With bento's, be sure that the food is flush with the top of the box (or simple tupperware works well, too). This prevents it from moving when it's moved. I had to add a thin layer of stir-fry to the bottom of the dish before I put the rice in so that it was flush.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's fun to play with your food!

I love being able to cook for my family, but I do get tired of doing it on a constant basis. And while it may be more convenient for me to just pop a pizza into my oven and call it dinner, I am trying to get my family off of packaged food and more into food made from scratch, and less processed foods as well. I am trying to stay as close to the outer isles of the grocery store as possible. Yeah, I am all for cooking things from scratch, but um, I am going to use premade bread, pasta, and cereals. Oh, and tomato paste and juice. Because hey, I have to draw the line somewhere!

Color is important now that I am trying to eat healthy. The more color I have in every meal, the better it is for us. And of course, you have to add portion control to the mix to really kick it into gear. Add a touch of cuteness and you've got bento boxes! These little lunch boxes are from Japan. I've actually gotten a few here in Germany. One was a toy in the McDonald's happy meal and one I found at Rofu Kinderland...the toy store! There are many cool gadgets you can get to make your food cute, which I do for my daughter and sometimes for myself. My cousin sent me some rice molds that work beautifully with sticky rice. I use Nishiki rice. I think that's what it's called, anyway.

Isn't this puppy adorable?! I made his face with some carrot bits and a little red pepper from the stir-fry in the lunch. Yum! I divided the sweet apples from the main dish with some curly lettuce. Not that I expect my daughter to eat the lettuce! Here's how I made the puppy rice:

First, prep the mold with a quick spray of nonstick spray on the inside of the container and under the face of the pup.

Next, assemble the pieces. The face needs to be down, and at the bottom so you can fill it up with the rice. Fill the cup with rice, gently pushing it in to avoid air bubbles.

Next, put your rice mold right side up onto a plate.
Then, add a little pressure to the face, and squish the rice down as far as it will go. This packs it tight, and makes the shape sturdy. Be sure to keep the outside firmly on the plate surface or the rice could push out underneath it.

Slip off the outer cover to reveal the rice stacked neatly with the puppy face attached.
Now carefully remove the plastic "mask" and voila! your puppy rice is ready to be decked with a cute face! I used veggies to make mine, but you can cut out little pieces of cheese and lots of other fun options.
I put the puppy rice into my box first, and then added the stir-fry to the edges to pack it all tightly.