Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bento for Baby 48: Yogurt Waffle and Moroccan Chickpeas with Couscous

Baby Girls bento today is pretty much all leftovers.  For her morning snack I pulled a leftover cornmeal waffle quarter from the freezer and  put some frozen blue berries in the white silicone cup. I also included a sun butter oatmeal ball.  Her lunch was leftovers from dinner the night before - a Moroccan flavored chickpea and vegetable tagine with some dried apricots.  We had it with some whole wheat couscous cooked in vegetable stock.  Baby Girl absolutely loved this dish, she even ate the carrots, which she has been avoiding lately.  I combined a few different recipes to suit what I had on hand, so I'll try and type up the recipe when I have the chance.  With her two little cups of leftovers I also included a couple slices of Gala apple.

Supplies similar to those used in this bento:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bento for Baby 47: Zucchini Apricot Muffin and Tuna White Bean Salad

I packed Baby Girl one of her favorite zucchini and apricot muffins from the freezer for morning snack on this day, along with half a banana.  For lunch I gave her some tuna and white bean salad that we had for dinner the previous night.  This salad was made with oil packed yellow fin tuna, some navy beans that I had cooked that afternoon, onions, chopped artichoke hearts, a few finely chopped Kalamata olives, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  I included half of a whole wheat pita cut into wedges for her to eat with the salad. She also had a slice of Gala apple and some slices of English cucumber cut into fun shapes to encourage her to eat them!  This was packed into my favorite little two layer tiffin box from World Market. One of the greatest things about this box is that it is the perfect depth to use silicone cupcake liners to contain food - the cups go all the way to the top of the container so messy things like tuna salad won't spill on your apple slices!

Supplies similar to those used in this bento:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bento for Baby 46: Banana Bread and Pasta Carbonara

Baby Girl had some more leftovers to start off her week of bentos.  I made some pasta carbonara for dinner the night before using fresh farm eggs and summer squash from our CSA and whole wheat rotini.  We love pasta carbonara. It's not the lightest dish, but it is a crowd pleaser that can be made in less than half an hour.  After being at the beach all afternoon I needed a quick dinner before Baby Girl crashed!  After trying a few recipes over the years, this recipe from Gourmet Magazine is my favorite backbone to work from.  I use nice uncured bacon from Earth Fare in place of pancetta, and I often add squash or peas to the mix.  If it's peas, I add frozen peas to the onions right before the wine and let them simmer with the onions.  If it's squash, I slice it thinly then add it right after the onions have softened and saute it for a bit before adding the wine.  Sometimes we get squash blossoms with the CSA and I'll throw those in too.  They're best lightly cooked so I'll cut them into strips and mix them into the hot onion/wine mixture before combining everything.  They add a lovely floral flavor to the dish.  I love this dish with the classic spaghetti, but larger pasta shapes are easier for Baby Girl to eat, and the final stirring to cook the egg into a lovely creamy sauce is a lot easier with shapes than spaghetti.  It's an arm work out with spaghetti.  I make this in my enameled cast iron pot, which retains a lot of heat, alleviating any worries I have about uncooked eggs.  I often move the pot back to the still-warm burner if the sauce looks a little thin.  Be careful not to scramble the egg, though!

Anywhoo, back to the bento. . .I put some pasta for Baby Girl into a 4 ounce glass canning jar so it could be warmed in the microwave.  I packed the rest of her food for the day in the medium sized container from the Kids Konserve Nesting Trio.  For morning snack and the rest of her lunch she had a slice of whole wheat banana bread from the freezer, two sunbutter oatmeal balls, half of a spinach cake from the freezer (she ate the other half with dinner the night before), some sugar snap peas and a strawberry.

Items used to pack this bento:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Bento for Baby 45: Blueberry Muffin and Butternut Squash Pasta

My husband made a lovely whole wheat pasta dish with grated butternut squash for dinner the night before, so Baby Girl had some of the leftovers for lunch the next day.  (I'd post a link, but I don't know what recipe he used. . .) I packed the pasta into a 4 ounce glass canning jar so that it could be reheated in the microwave.  I packed the rest of her food for the day in the top section of my favorite tiffin box.  For morning snack and lunch Baby Girl had a multigrain blueberry muffin from the freezer, one sun butter oatmeal ball, a couple organic strawberries, some organic green beans and a few cubes of aged gouda.

Similar items to those used in this bento:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bento for Baby 44: Zucchini Apricot Muffin with Black Beans and Butternut Squash Polenta

Here's a quick little bento mostly made up of leftovers.  For morning snack I gave Baby Girl a zucchini and apricot muffin from the freezer and a couple of strawberries.  Lunch was some black beans topped with crumbled feta in the red silicone cup.  We ate the black beans the night before for dinner as part of some huevos rancheros.  She also got some leftover butternut squash polenta from our dinner a couple nights before.  I spread the leftover polenta in a small baking dish and baked it for ~20 minutes or so at 350 degrees.  I then let it cool completely in the fridge and then cut it with a fluted biscuit cutter.  It didn't turn out as firm as I had hoped.  If I do this again, I will cut the shapes and then bake them on a sheet tray until crispy on the outside.  I rounded out Baby Girl's lunch with a sun butter oatmeal ball and some cucumber slices - I cut the top two into flower shapes to encourage her to try them.  

The butternut squash polenta comes from a yummy recipe from the New York Times.  It is an easy weeknight dinner that we have made a few times.  The butternut squash disappears into the polenta, and gives it a nice slightly sweet, earthy flavor.  Baby Girl has been turning her nose up at squash lately, but will happily eat this polenta, so this is a nice way to diversify her diet a bit.

Items used to pack this bento:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bento for Baby 43: Strawberry Tortilla Rolls and Quinoa Cake

I combined the food for Baby Girl's morning snack and lunch into a single box again on this day.  She is, of course, free to eat whichever items she prefers for each meal, but I intended the food on the right to be for morning snack and the rest for lunch.  Morning snack is made up of strawberry tortilla rolls, or cream cheese and strawberry slices on a whole wheat tortilla, and half a banana.   For lunch I packed her a quinoa cake and a couple mini whole wheat biscuits from the freezer, along with some sugar snap peas and a mix of sunflower seeds, almond slivers and cut up dried apricots in the red silicone cup.  This lunch was well received, and most things were eaten, but I tried a few of the nuts that came home and they had a bit of a banana flavor. . .I probably shouldn't include a banana for morning snack when I pack food for the whole day into one box.

Items used to pack this bento:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bento for Baby 42: Yogurt and Pancakes with Apple Sandwich and Spinach Cake

To start off the week Baby Girl had some old favorites for morning snack and some new-to-her foods for lunch.  Breakfast consisted of some plain whole milk Greek yogurt in the green silicone cup, a couple of Dan's Awesome Pancakes from the freezer and a huge strawberry.  I tried out a new recipe over the weekend for spinach cakes, which Baby Girl surprisingly, and thankfully, loved, so I included one for her lunch. She also had an apple sandwich with peanut butter for the first time in a bento.  When I first saw apple sandwiches on various lunch and bento sites, I thought they were just a cutesy little gimmick that seemed too fussy for me.  Apple wedges with peanut butter on top are favorite snack of mine, and I have shared them with Baby Girl since she could eat solids.  But, she often couldn't really get a good bite of apple off the large wedge, or she just ate the peanut butter off of the top, so I decided to try this apple sandwich thing last week for a snack.  Well, the flat slices turn out to be a perfect shape and size for tiny toddler hands, and she is able to get a bit of apple and and a bit of peanut butter in the one bite in this form.  So I am now fully on board with the cute little apple sandwich.  I also packed a sun butter oatmeal ball, another halved strawberry and some cubes of aged gouda to round out her lunch.  My little girl has taken after her parents and is a bit of a cheese snob, she will turn her nose up at cheddar if she knows there's some fancy cheese in the fridge.  This was packed into my favorite little two-layer tiffin box.

Supplies similar to those used in this bento:

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bento for Baby Recipe: Spinach Cakes

These spinach cakes are based on a recipe I found from Eating Well Magazine/Website.   The original recipe calls for fresh spinach, but I had frozen spinach, so I adapted the recipe for what I had on hand.  I also added some nutmeg, because nutmeg with spinach and ricotta is a classic Italian flavor combination.  The cakes turned out rather tasty.  I wasn't particularly optimistic that Baby Girl would gladly eat so much straight spinach, but after coaxing her to take a small taste the first time, she has happily devoured them in bentos and at home. They make a nice side dish for parents, too. They freeze really well and taste great warm or at room temperature - perfect for bentos!  


12 ounces frozen spinach
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
1 clove garlic, finely grated with a Microplane
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 400°F. 
Defrost frozen spinach.  Place in a tea towel and tightly twist the ends to to squeeze out all excess moisture. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, garlic, nutmeg, salt and pepper; stir to combine.
Coat 14 cups of a mini muffin pan with olive oil. Divide the spinach mixture among the 14 cups.
Bake the spinach cakes until set, about 20 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto a cooling rack.  Serve immediately or put into a ziplock bag to store in the freezer for future use.  

Bento for Baby 41: Cornmeal Waffle and Hoppin' John

Dan made some lovely cornmeal waffles that have a really nice crunchy exterior for breakfast over the weekend.  Lucky for Baby Girl, there were a few extras that we cut into quarters and popped in the freezer for future bentos.  So here we are a few days later, and she has one for her morning snack, along with a some organic Gala apple slices.  We got another nice batch of field peas with our CSA this week, so we had some more yummy Hoppin' John for dinner.  Baby Girl had some of the leftovers for lunch in the red silicone cup.  I continued in my quest to get her to eat raw carrots by packing some crinkle cut yellow and orange carrots in the blue silicone cup, along with some frozen peas. Surrounding the two cups are some cut red grapes.  Everything was nicely contained in my favorite small two layer green tiffin.

Supplies similar to those used in this bento:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bento for Baby 40: Whole Wheat Biscuits and Pizza Palmiers

I was in a rush on this morning, so I packed this bento in a few short minutes using pre-made goodies pulled from the freezer combined with some fresh fruits and veggies.  For morning snack Baby Girl had a couple mini whole wheat biscuits from the freezer with little cream cheese and low sugar raspberry conserves and half a pear. The biscuits are from a quick and easy recipe on the 100 Days of Real Food blog.  For lunch I packed three pizza palmiers from the freezer, two with spinach and ricotta filling, and one with broccoli, pesto and ricotta filling, a few cubes of organic cheddar cheese, some cut red grapes in the red silicone cup and a couple cucumber sticks.   Everything fit nicely into my favorite little green tiffin box.

Supplies similar to those used in this bento:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bento for Baby 39: Zucchini Apricot Muffin and Rice Noodle Salad

Hmmm, just like yesterday, this bento isn't the most cute and colorful.  Oh well.  I packed all her food together in the U Konserve Rectangle, but I intended the food on the right to be for breakfast/morning snack and everything else for lunch.  For breakfast Baby Girl had a zucchini and apricot muffin from the freezer and half a banana.  For lunch I made a salad of rice noodles with grated carrots and edamame and dressed with homemade peanut sauce.  I made some spring rolls for dinner the previous night and Baby Girl was CRAZY for them, especially the tofu, rice noodles and peanut dipping sauce.  I thought she would love having some of those ingredients for her lunch, but she didn't touch the salad for some reason.  I also packed her some pear slices and a couple celery sticks with peanut butter.  The salad was packed in the smallest container from the Kids Konserve Nesting Trio, which fits nicely inside the larger container.  

Items used to pack this bento:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bento for Baby 38: Banana Bread with Cream Cheese and Grilled Vegetable Quesadilla

Well, today's bento is a bit blah looking. . .I know I don't typically make cutesy bentos, but this bento is a bit drab.  But I guess none of that matters if it pleases Baby Girl's palate, right?  And I think I did succeed on that front, at least partially.  She didn't eat everything, but she did eat some new things and I consider that a success.

So, here are the details on the food for this day:  For breakfast she had some whole wheat banana bread with no added sugar made into a little sandwich with some organic full fat cream cheese.  She also had half a pear cut into wedges.  Lunch was made up of some cut red grapes in the green silicone cup, some organic mixed vegetables in the white silicone cup, and a quesadilla of grilled vegetables and provolone cheese. The quesadilla is a variation on our dinner from the night before - grilled vegetable sandwich. We eat this every few weeks during the summer using the bounty of squash and eggplant we get from our CSA share.  It is one of our favorite summer meals.  Unfortunately, it turns out a bit big for a baby to eat. . .This picture was take a year ago, but the scale of the sandwich is still too large for a toddler mouth and hands.  I used to be able to just give her a few pieces of grilled vegetables, but unfortunately she will no longer happily eat the vegetables alone.  So this time I finely diced a mix of the grilled zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and roasted red pepper and made a quesadilla on a 100% whole grain tortilla from Trader Joe's with the same sharp aged provolone I used in our sandwich.  She happily ate half of it for dinner and the two pieces I put into her bento the next day.

Supplies similar to those used in this bento:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bento for Baby 37: Zucchini Apricot Muffin and Banana Bread Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Baby Girl had a zucchini apricot muffin from the freezer with some organic strawberries for breakfast/morning snack on this day.  For lunch I made her a couple of sandwiches on whole wheat banana bread with organic freshly ground peanut butter and sliced bananas.  I also included some sugar snap peas and a few crinkle cut carrot slices.  This was a vain attempt to induce Baby Girl to try some carrot. Unfortunately she wasn't convinced.  We seem to be going through an 18 month regression, which has been limiting the number of things she's been eating lately.   To round out her lunch she also had a bit of trail mix - a combination of roasted unsalted sunflower seeds, raw walnuts and unsweetened dried apricots.   Everything was packed into the small and medium Kids Konserve Nesting Trio Stainless Steel Containers with Leak-Proof Lids. All in all, this lunch didn't go over very well, mostly because Baby Girl came down with something and came home early with a fever.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bento for Baby 36: Pancakes and Avocado White Bean Tortilla Rolls

Baby Girl again enjoyed some of her Papa's Awesome Pancakes from the freezer, along with some organic blueberries and strawberries, for her morning snack on this day.  For lunch I made her some whole wheat tortilla rolls with grated cheddar and great northern white beans.  To have with her tortilla rolls I packed some frozen peas and edamame in the blue silicone cup and half an organic pear. Everything was packed together in the U Konserve 33-Ounce Rectangle Stainless Steel Container.  This container is currently available for a great price on Zulily, along with a few other Kids Konserve/U Konserve Containers. The Kids Konserve Nesting Trio that I use very often is also available for $10 off its normal list price.

These tortilla rolls were much more successful than my previous attempt a few months ago, this time Baby Girl ate every single bit. I think the last time I tried to make similar rolls they were a bit too dry and the avocado oxidized to an unappetizing brown.  To solve both these problems I mashed up the avocodo with a bit of greek yogurt, along with a tiny bit of fresh lime juice and salt and pepper.  I spread this mixture all over a 100% whole wheat torilla from Trader Joe's, spreading it a bit more thickly on the bottom half.  I then put a couple tablespoons of white beans along the center and finely grated some cheddar cheese all over the bottom half.  I rolled the tortilla tightly from the bottom and let it sit, wrapped in foil, in the fridge over night.  When I trimmed the ends off the roll the next morning the roll had set up nicely and held together well and the avocado/yogurt mix was still a pleasing bright green.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bento for Baby 35: Blueberry Muffin and Lentil Salad

In her bento on this lovely day Baby Girl had a mixed grain and blueberry muffin from the freezer for breakfast/morning snack.  She also had one sun butter oatmeal ball and some organic strawberries. For lunch she had some roasted vegetable and lentil salad that I made for dinner the night before. With the salad I packed some sugar snap peas, half an organic pear and two small pieces of homemade whole wheat bread.  My husband, Dan, has been making all the bread we eat at home for the past few years using the recipes from the excellent cookbook, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking.  Papa's bread is one of Baby Girl's favorite things.  I'm pretty fond of it myself.

I made the lentil salad by tossing some french lentils with some roasted beets, butternut squash and figs.  I dressed the salad with nice balsamic vinegar and olive oil and topped it with some organic feta and toasted walnuts.  For dinner we ate it on a bed of lightly dressed arugula.  For a quick dinner that I made up on the fly, it turned out pretty tasty, and rather beautiful, as well.  Baby Girl enjoyed the lentils, cheese and walnuts, but was skeptical of the roasted vegetables and fruit.  It has been difficult getting her eat many vegetables that are mixed with other foods recently, but I keep trying!  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bento for Baby 34: Banana Bread and Zucchini and Rice Crostata

I made some whole wheat banana bread with no added sugar over the weekend, so Baby Girl had some for her breakfast/morning snack on this day.  I usually make cream cheese sandwiches with banana bread, but decided to try a little peanut butter instead.  Why have I never done this before?  It is so delicious! With her peanut butter and banana bread sandwich, Baby Girl also had some organic strawberries.  For her lunch, I pulled a piece of zucchini and rice crostata from the freezer.   I also included some frozen peas and some blueberries and strawberries in the silicone cups.  This was all packed in my favorite small green tiffin from World Market.

Supplies similar to those used in this lunch: