Sunday, April 22, 2012

Yakisoba - Easy Dinner for Less Than $10 a Meal

We're big on finding cost-effective meals that everyone likes - which is tough, when everyone has very different food preferences! One of the meals we've come to use as a staple is Yakisoba. Noodles, veggies, meat, and sauce - all pretty much customizable to your specific tastes.


Here's our standard ingredient list:
  • Yakisoba noodles (Costco has a 2-meal pack in the cheese area for about $5.50)
  • Chicken thighs (again at Costco for about $2.20/lb) or other meat - leftover is fine
  • Carrots (4-5)
  • Cabbage (1/2 a head)
  • Onion (1)
  • Yakisoba sauce: can be teriyaki sauce, stir fry sauce, or - my favorite - Yoshida's Original Sweet and Savory Sauce (also available at Costco; I don't recall the price, but a container lasts us for several many meals)
  • A LARGE wok or frying pan and a LARGE bowl!
You can use whatever meats and vegetables you like, cut up however you like. We often use sliced bell peppers, broccoli, celery - you name it, it's game! Basically, the process is such:
  • Prepare meat, tofu or seafood. I typically use whatever I have leftover or bake some chicken thighs ahead of time, then cube and set to marinate in a small amount of teriyaki sauce. 
  • Stir-fry your vegetables. Feel free to use seasonings or not (I typically add garlic and ginger to the oil before adding veggies). Set aside in a large bowl once cooked to crisp tenderness.
  • Stir-fry the meat to heat through (or cook if starting from raw). Add to veggies in bowl and mix until evenly distributed.
  • Cook yakisoba noodles according to directions, adding a small amount of your chosen sauce for flavor as it cooks.
  • Once noodles are cooked or heated through, add the veggie and meat mixture in, turn heat down to low, and cook just until everything is warmed through.
... That's it! With a reasonable amount of veggies and meat added, this feeds 4 growing children and 2 adults fairly well, though typically without any leftovers. If you do have leftovers, I highly recommend picking up some hoagie buns and making Yakisoba Sandwiches. It sounds freakishly bizarre, but trust me (and our teenage daugher) - they are REALLY good for lunch the next day.

Have fun, and enjoy!!  :D

Monday, February 27, 2012

Onigiri - Easy, Healthy Lunch or Snack for Kids

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Onigiri (rice balls) are probably one of my kids' favorite lunch or snack foods, and definitely one of the easiest to make! I usually use whatever rice is leftover from dinner, add a little sushi vinegar, and voila - rice for onigiri. :)

Besides the rice, you can use whatever filling you like (if you want any filling at all) - many people use a little tuna or smoked salmon mixed with mayonnaise, or some dried fish flakes (bonito) mixed with a little soy sauce, chopped sour plum (umeboshi)... the possibilities are endless.

Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App
Making onigiri is deceptively simple. I use a sandwich-sized ziploc baggie and put a little rice in one of the corners and squish it down, making an indentation in the center. Put whatever fillings you like in the indentation, add some more rice over the top, and squish that onto the already squished rice. That's it! You now have totally kawaii little balls of goodness for your munchkins to munch on! I often make a simple bento with onigiri, sliced veggies and fruits, and some leftover meat (teriyaki chicken or what have you) - both healthy and ridiculously easy, and the kids all love them.

As a side note, these do NOT refrigerate well - though you can freeze them. I have heard that microwaving a frozen onigiri for a minute or so makes them warm and tasty, though I have not tried this yet. If you have experience freezing onigiri, please let us know - busy moms love freezer food!  LOL

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kawaii Bento Penguins for Lunch or Party

OMG! One of my friends at work brought these for our holiday potluck; they are SUPER easy to make and pretty much the cutest things ever. Plus they taste good, even for picky eaters.

Kawaii bento penguins


  • Olives
  • Carrots
  • Cream Cheese
  • Toothpicks

… Pretty straightforward: Slice the carrot(s); cut a “V” out of them. Cut a wedge out of half of the olives; stuff this with cream cheese. In the other half of the olives, place the small carrot wedge so that it is sticking out like a beak. Assemble as shown – large carrot slice on bottom, cream-cheese-filled-olive endwise, olive head with beak skewered through the middle – and voila! You have the most unbelievable cute and totally yummy little winter bento additions or hors d’oeuvres you have ever seen, and even the kids will eat them.  (A big thanks to Christine Duval for the inspiration!!)


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cute and (sort of) Healthy Bento Treats!

Alright. Because I seem to be lacking in creativity and free time this week, here is a link to a nifty little treat that I found for your bento! Super cute, super easy, and - as an added bonus - even mostly healthy! And hey, strawberries are high in Vitamin C. Very important for boosting the immune system this time of year. ;)

So, go check out these Delectable, Simple, and Adorable Santa Hats!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Meat Buns - Bento or Mennonite, these are awesome.

In nearly all of the anime shows our family watches, bento lunches are a huge part of the interaction between characters. One of the most intriguing foods to me (besides yakisoba sandwiches, which I have yet to try) were the meat buns - so I went ahead and made them for dinner last night! Granted, the recipe was from a Mennonite blog and the "real" name for them is "Meat Perishky", but still.

These are from the original blogger's page, but mine really did turn out like this!
I used the dough recipe from the site and BBQ pulled pork for the filling, and out of the 5 dozen or so buns the recipe made, there were maybe a dozen and a half left this morning! ALL of the kids - and my husband - loved them, which is essentially unheard of. Most of us had them for breakfast this morning as well, and took them in our lunches, too - which is kind of the point, right?  :)  A bit time-consuming but VERY easy to do, and we are looking forward to experimenting with fillings (think homemade Hot Pockets). Even better - they freeze beautifully!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness

... There's a fellow I pass on the way in to work every morning, between the bus depot and my office. He's a scrappy little guy named Roy who works the graveyard shift somewhere in Woodburn, a town about 20 minutes away from here, and we know each other only in passing - a smile, a "Good morning!". I often see him carrying two coffees that he picks up at McDonald's as he is walking in to the downtown bus depot from the commuter bus dropoff - one for himself, and one for the bus driver.

This morning, he stopped and handed me this, simply saying, "I got this for you today," with a smile. No reason. Just knew he'd see me, and picked up a little something extra. I gave him a hug in return.  :)

... It is amazing how just that one little gesture made such a huge impact on my world. It only cost him $1 and a few moments of his time, but who does that sort of thing any more?? And why don't people do it more often?!?

My day was going fine before that, just following my normal routines, feeling a little blah - but just that one tiny thing made me stop completely in my tracks and re-evaluate a few things. Like, why don't I do things like that? Is it really such a hassle for me to stop and think of the people in my world - and do just a tiny little something to brighten up their day?

Thank you, Roy, for reminding me of what's really important - and how the smallest of gestures can make such a huge impact on another person's world.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A day of summer

<p>This has been "The Summer That Wasn't" here in Oregon; 60 degrees seems to be an average high! In addition, we have been spending every waking moment unpacking and putting our new house together. It is beyond wonderful, but a lot of work! </p>
<p>So, upon leaving an absolutely crazy day at work, I step outside to a beautifully warm and sunny day, flowers everywhere, and dragonflies and butterflies zipping and fluttering around. It felt like summer for a day. :-)

I hope that whatever craziness or gloom may currently exist in your world, you are able to pause for a few moments and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you - this is truly am incredible world that we are part of.

Mitakuye oyasin!