As excited as Mom may be for the first day of school, chances are tots are a mixed bag of eager anticipation and nerves. Before posing them for their annual back-to-school photo, pack them a lunch that reminds them that Mom's thinking about them throughout the day. Lunch box notes are great throughout the year, but it's easy to add a special touch to that very first lunch of the year. We've rounded up nine fun ways to surprise them when they open their lunch sack on that very first day. Check them out!
Common in Japanese cuisine, bento boxes consist of divided sections of vegetables, protein, and grains that are carefully arranged in an attractive way to amplify the allure of even the most simple food preparations. They make a tidy take-to-work lunch, too. This Japanese salad, organized in bento fashion, is a fresh take on a fast, easy, and portable lunch option.
The matcha dressing, which draws the flavors of the raw vegetables and tofu together, makes this salad truly memorable. Inspired by a Republic of Tea employee who experimented with The Republic of Tea U-Matcha ($18) in a salad dressing recipe, it was loved so much that the company decided to print the recipe on a pamphlet, which is included in each canister of the tea. I used U-Matcha Yuzu, a citrus-scented matcha green tea, to heighten the fresh, zingy tang of the dressing; however, regular matcha works well in this recipe too.
U-Matcha plays off of the Japanese term umami, the word used to describe the savory flavor in food. Even though matcha in tea form tastes grassy and earthy, when used in recipes like this salad dressing, it bursts with a flavor that is subtly fishy and sea-like (in a good way!).
The sweet carrots, spicy daikon, creamy avocado, tart cabbage, and crumbly tofu combine with the matcha dressing for a color- and flavor-rich salad that engages all the senses of the palate. Prep all the ingredients first, and place them in separate bowls or plastic containers to make it easier and faster to arrange the salad. Bonus: it's a cinch to store any leftovers for another day. Learn how to whisk a batch of matcha dressing for your next bento salad.
- Easily transport cupcakes in an empty egg carton.
- Easily transport cupcakes in an empty egg carton. — Shelterrific
- Learn how to purchase cheese from a cheese monger. — Chow
- Iron Chef America is being turned into a Wii video game complete with a digital Mario Batali, Masaharu Morimoto, and Alton Brown. — Serious Eats
- Don't these creative pop up placemats make you want to host a dinner party?! — The Kitchn
- In need of a cute break? Check out this adorable owl bento. — Slashfood
- Wine Spectator was the victim of a scam that calls into question the magazine's ability to rate a restaurant's wine list. — The Epi-Log
- Adam Roberts, better known as the Amateur Gourmet, has launched a second website, Food Songs, devoted to songs about food. — The Amateur Gourmet
- If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, this double-sided timer will make your life a lot easier. — Baking Bites
- An insider's look at one elementary school's lunch menu is grossly disturbing. — CitizenSugar
If you're wondering if bento lunches are right for you, check out these great reasons for making bento lunches. Save money and lose weight? Sign me up! — Just Bento
This week's bento comes from Flickr user pantherathecat. I wanted to highlight it because I love its simplicity. For those that think they can't create bentos, this box really says you can. It's a simple layer of leftover beans and rice topped with leaf and acorn shaped slices of Colby-jack cheese. I hope you find inspiration in this lunch!
This week's bento comes from Makiko Itoh of Just Bento. Although she already runs Just Hungry, she's started a new site dedicated to bento. So far she's had a few how-tos, bento under 20 minutes, and a bunch of other great info including this guide to onigiri rice ball shapes. Be sure to check it out. Who knows, maybe you'll create your own bentos sooner than you think!
Imagine you're driving along the expressway with your pooch, and you decide to stop for a snack at a service area. If you happen to be in Japan, you can now get a bento box for yourself... and your pup. "Dora Bento Pochi" are gourmet boxed meals for dogs available at eight different service stops in the Tokyo area.
The East Nippon Expressway Co. has produced bento boxes in the past, but this is the first time they have created anything expressly for dogs and, by my account, the first, fresh canine cuisine to be sold at rest stops anywhere.
So, what's in the box? With no preservatives or additives, you'll find prime chicken breast, unpolished-rice based bread, vegetable soups, seasoning, and a rice cracker for dessert. Better yet, the lid can be turned over to serve as a water dish.
What do you think?