July 30, 2012: Edamame veggie ‘fried’ rice picnic bento

I’m leaving my husband home alone for three days/two nights and going on a mini road trip with my youngest.  It’s going to be fun – theme park/water park, hotel with a pool and private beach, and The Hunger Games on audio to listen to.

Being that it’s summer, and we don’t have Dad around to beg and plead for fast food, I’m hoping we can pick a spot to enjoy an al fresco bento experience.  I also want the road trip snack-in-the-car experience so the lunches are quite light.

Do I need to explore another pbj bento?  Nope, except to say that a certain someone ate sprouted grain bread the other day (he picked it out), so I’m hoping the one-off will become a trend!

‘Fried’ rice:

  • I gently sauteed an onion, a large carrot, and 2 ribs of celery in about 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil with a little salt (helps draw the moisture out of the veggies, a little is good) over medium-low until softened.
  • I then added about 3/4 cup shelled frozen edamame, and about 2 cups shredded cabbage until they’d had a chance to soften- only somewhat – I like these to keep their ‘bite’.
  • Finally, I simply stirred in (about 1.5 cups dry measurement) cooked brown/mahogany rice (managed to finish one bag of each lurking in the pantry!) and mixed it all together.  This keeps the fat content to a minimum, while still enjoying the deliciousness that is fried rice.  I like to cook the rice, fluff when done, put the lid back on, and leave it for an hour before frying rice, or…. leftover cooked rice is perfect for the job.
  • Soy sauce to taste right before eating.  I love the stuff, so for me, that’s quite a bit!

This makes a lot of ‘fried’ rice, enough for 2 hungry people’s dinners (I had a tamogoyaki, husband will have some sauteed chicken when he gets home), and the basis for 2 bentos.  It’s about 1/2 vegetables by volume, so definitely an improvement over takeout/food court Chinese fried rice (although they can be delicious when fresh, too!).

Smaller tier has a dried mango/cherry blend, and raw almonds.  Yummy!

Yummy in a Bento: Vegan chocolate cupcakes

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Makes around 24 cupcakes, depending on how you scoop (everyone has a different method of getting batter into cupcake liners).

Line your cupcake pans with liners and preheat the oven to 350′.  Gather all the ingredients so they’re on hand and you don’t skip one accidentally.  Even cupcake goddesses have fallen prey to such horrors.

Vegan chocolate cupcakes

Mix together, in a large mixing bowl or kitchenaid (kitchenaid loooooove!):

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • a pinch (1/8 tsp) salt
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar

In a smaller bowl, mix together:

  • 3/4 cup chocolate soy milk (I haven’t tried this with other non-dairy milks, as soy behaves nicely like dairy milk in baking but I’m sure it could be done).  Use plain or vanilla soy milk if that’s what you have on hand.
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cups canola or other neutral-tasting oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until just after the lumps have gone (overstirring will toughen the cupcakes, understirring will leave them too light and crumbly).

Scoop/spoon/pour (however you do it) the batter into the pan and bake for 18-23 minutes or so, depending on your oven.  They’re done when they spring back to the touch.  A common mistake is overbaking – be careful 🙂

Vegan Chocolate Icing

Place the following in either your kitchenaid bowl or mixing bowl:

  • 1 cup/ 1/2 a 500mL container Earth Balance vegan margarine (trust me on this one – this is a) the best vegan margarine I’ve found and b) not even remotely squicky like memories of margarine from my 1970’s/80’s childhood.  I have had this margarine on toast and actually enjoyed it).  Canadians: I have tried this with becel vegan, but it’s far too soft.

Whip the Earth Balance on high speed until it’s fluffy.

Add in:

  • 4 oz of melted and cooled dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

and beat a bit more.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add about a cup at a time of:

  • icing sugar, to equal 3-4 cups total.

I can’t really tell you how much exactly to use, as each batch seems to take it up at a different rate.  When I’ve tried to actually calculate and use the same amount again, it’s not ever worked the same.  If the icing stiffens up too much, add a tablespoon of a non-dairy milk of choice (chocolate soy works nicely).

Ice COOLED cupcakes.  Seriously, sit down, make a coffee, and leisurely drink the coffee between pulling cupcakes out of the oven and icing them.  Warm cupcakes will result in the icing sliding right off them.  Not cool.  I used a Wilton 1M tip and started from the centre, working out in a spiral.

These sprinkles were vegan.  Yay!

If you are not vegan, absolutely feel free to use butter and/or dairy milk in these recipes.  However, Earth Balance and butter behave slightly differently than each other.  Use Earth Balance straight from the fridge, but butter at just below room temperature.

July 23, 2012: Toasted sandwich goodness

This is cheating.  I couldn’t get the lids on either tier if I tried.  I could fit it all into my 1-tier bent box, but  I am not entirely sure how a toasted sarnie would survive after even a morning in a bento, let alone an overnight in the fridge.

Soy ‘turkey?’ (either way, salty and processed and entirely what I was craving on a hot day – hmmm…), cheese, boursin, and tomato on sprouted grain bread, cucumber slices, and grapes.  Deelish.

Cupcake Friday!

“Spaghetti and meatballs” cupcakes.  Red velvet base, vanilla buttercream pasta, with raspberry jam marinara sauce, and Malteser candy meatballs.  These were birthday cupcakes for one of my favourite Geminis!  Are they an entree or a dessert?  Cupcake on!

July 19, 2012: PBJ (again) for my son

Another snacky PBJ bento for my son.  This time, I’m seeing how he does with a light rye bread.  He has happily eaten it before, so I’m pretty confident.  No other new foods here – just edamame, raisins, carrot, pepper, and a few pieces of a Clif chocolate chip bar.

I managed to round up almost all my panda/bear accessories here – I am quite fond of the ninja panda behind the sandwich.

Speaking of bento accessories, some new ones arrived yesterday!  Seeing them drying for some reason made me really happy this morning (please ignore psycho paring knife):

July 16, 2012: Pan-fried ravioli

I feel as though I’ve neglected this little internet space, so I posted a little about feeding my son (which has its challenges) and now I’m posting about feeding me, which is far easier.

I took ravioli from the fridge (how come they don’t have vegan ravioli in the grocery store? That would be cool) and pan-fried them, covered, in a little olive oil until crispy on both sides – takes about 2-3 minutes per side.  I paired them with a black bean ‘meat’ ball covered in a pretty swirl of sriracha.

Salad was a very simple handful of posh lettuce, a couple halved strawberries and dressing in the piggy.  I’m not sure how well fried ravioli would hold up in a bento after an overnight in the fridge – my feelings are that they could soften a little and be chewily delicious, or they’ll dry out.  Not sure which.