I wanted to make one of the super cute bento boxes (bento are Japanese style lunches) I see on the internet. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the bento box I bought a few years ago so I used regular tupperware. it still turned out pretty cute though, so that's a plus. :)
This dish is gluten free but, allergy-wise contains almond flour and strawberries. :/
of course, you could always not make the chocolate dipped strawberry hearts and then it only has almond flour. ;D
This is my first instructable so please give me some leeway if it's a tad confusing or if my words seem choppy. ;)
I based my recipe for the turkey meatballs off the recipe I found here http://thebettyrocker.com/paleo-turkey-meatballs-gluten-free/
and I got the sweet and sour sauce recipe from here http://www.glutenfreeforjen.com/2012/06/sweet-sour-sauce.html
Step 1: Ingredients for the Napping Bear
For the bear part of the lunch you will need
- 1 pound of ground turkey
- 1/2 cup of almond flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 of a sweet onion
- 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, depending on their size
- Lettuce (for garnishment)
I was going to add about three sweet mini peppers but completely spaced and the meatballs ended up a little bland, I encourage you to try it with the peppers, but this way is fine too, just not as delicious as it could have been. ;)
Step 2: Making the Napping Bear
Preheat the oven to 350 F
So you start by chopping up the onion and garlic (and peppers if you had enough sense to remember them ;p)
I usually chop onions smaller than I did this time, but my eyes were being more sensitive to them than usual so I stopped earlier than I would have liked. It didn't effect the taste, you can just plainly see the onions in the meatball and I would have preferred them to be more subtle since the meatball is for both taste and for show.
Put the now diced vegetables, the turkey, and the flour into a medium sized mixing bowl. Beat the eggs in a separate container and add them to the bowl as well. Mix everything together. Now you need to shape the meatballs.
Keeping The size of my container in mind, roll the two ears, feet, head, and body. All of them should be rounded except for the body. It's the biggest part and you want to be sure it cooks through so make it more flat on the bottom. :)
You're gonna want to watch them as they cook since the different sizes will finish cooking at different times.For me, he ears and feet finished about fifteen minutes in, and the head and body were done about ten minutes after that.
When the meatballs are done, take them out and arrange them in their container. I used lettuce for the bear's bed so it didn't look like he was laying on the hard plastic.
Ideally you will attach all of the bear's limbs together with toothpicks to keep them from rolling around in the container as you go to work or school, I was out of toothpicks at the time so unable to demonstrate it to you, but you would simply take a half of a toothpick and stick it in the body section where you want the head, or foot, to be. then you would put the head or limb onto the end of the toothpick and push it onto the body until you can no longer see the toothpick. You would do the same for attaching the ears to the head and, in a bit, the face to the head.
Step 3: The Snuggly Sauce Blanket
For the bear's blanket you will need
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 3/4 cup sugar
- the juice from 1 8 oz can of pineapple
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 drops red food coloring (optional)
throw everything in a sauce pan and heat it until boiling, stirring along the way. Once it has started boiling, turn off the heat and continue stirring until the sauce gets thick, then pour it onto the lower half of the bear.
The instructions I read said to put in two drops of red food coloring, which made this weird pinky color I didn't like very much so I took on an all or nothing mentality and squirted a ton of food coloring into the sauce which gave it the deep red color it had when I poured it, but I encourage you to try whatever color you wish, or go with no color if that's what you'd prefer.
There is going to be leftover meatball mix and sauce, you could make a few more bears, at least two more, or you could turn the leftovers into regular meatballs and eat them with the sauce for dinner. :)
Step 4: The Bear's Face
His face is easy enough to do, and if you feel you'd like to use other ingredients that would also give him a cute face, feel free. :)
You will need
- 1 thin slice of cheese
Take the cheese and carve out three round bits, two smaller ones for the eyes, and a larger one for the mouth. then carve the nose out of the larger piece and you're done. attach them to the bear's face with toothpicks so the don't fall off.
Side note - I ended up not liking just circles for the eyes, and instead, cut out two circles, and then cut semi-circles out of those to give the eyes a more sleeping look. :)
Step 5: The Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Hearts
For the hearts you need
- 4 washed strawberries
- 1 cup of chocolate (I used 60%)
- 1 tablespoon of oil (I used canola oil)
To give the strawberries their heart shape, you will need to start by cutting of the stem by slicing downwards at an angle from two sides of it and removing a v-like chunk, along with the leaves, from the berry. After that you need to round the top part of the berry near where the stem used to be to give it that heart shape. Then, you simply cut a bit off of the front and back of each of the berries so they can lie flat. Now they are ready for dipping.
If you have a double boiler, this is the part where you pull that out. If you, like me, do not have one, simply fill a pan half way with water and put a metal bowl that wont fall into the pan on top. heat the pan/boiler on medium and put the chocolate and oil in the bowl/boiler stir until the chocolate is melted through, and then dip the strawberries in it.
Leave the strawberries on a plate in the fridge to harden and then arrange them in the container you have for them.
Step 6: The Apple Flower
The apple flower took a bit of trial and error for me so don't feel bad if you don't get it on the first go. Buy several apples and don't beat yourself up if it doesn't turn out exactly as planned. I was originally going to try to make a rose out of the peel of an apple but that proved impossible for me so I decided to try carving one out of an apple chunk.
You will need
- Apples, again, buy spares
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups water
I started by skinning the apple, since I was planning to make a flower out of the peel, but you don't actually have to peel it. Actually, I think it would look kind of cool if you could keep the peel on the tips of the petals. You don't have to though. :)
So, after peeling it, I cut off a chunk of the side just far enough from the middle that I didn't get any seeds with it. then I rounded the chunk. After that I laid it on the cutting board and cut at an angle towards the cutting board so the top of the apple chunk was bigger than the part resting on the board.
At this point I soaked it in lemon water for a bit. I mixed the lemon juice and water together in a bowl and let the apple soaking it for about half a minute. The lemon Juice keeps the apple from turning brown as well as gives the apple a slight lemon flavor on the outside which makes it taste great.
Take the Apple out of the lemon juice and cut a small slit out of the middle. Cut more slits out going bigger as you get farther from the center and closer to the edge. Once you have made all of the slits you need, deepen them. You don't really have to deepen the cuts if your worried about hurting your creation. My flower looked fine before I made the petals more obvious and a few petals fell off during my petal deepening which caused it to go from looking like a rose, to looking like a generic flower, but I really liked how it turned out when I paid a bit more attention to the shape the petals were taking.
Once the shape of the flower is done, add honey to all of the cracks you cut. this gives the apple a darker shading in those areas which helps it look more like a flower, and also soaks the honey flavor into the apple and makes it taste delicious.
Once you are done, place the apple into the container you provided for it. I added a small bit of lettuce to make it look like the flower was growing leaves which made it that much more pretty. :)
Step 7: Completed Lunch of Cuteness
Step 8: Taking the Lunch With You
As you may have realized, carrying your lunch to work or school with the sauce on it can get messy, you're not going to want to tip or shake your lunch too much, and this can be a very difficult task if you planned on throwing it in a bag and carrying it with you, so I figured I'd tell you how to wrap up and carry your lunch as well. :)
Start by stacking your containers on top of each other. Then center a medium to large sized handkerchief underneath the stack. grab opposite ends of the handkerchief and bring them together at the top, tie them in a half knot. Take the two remaining ends and do the same. You now have four little ends sticking up at the top. grab two of the ends in each hand and tie them into one more half knot. this should efficiently secure your lunch. If you're like me and tied it crooked the first time, take some time to straighten it out so the knot is on the very top of the stack. Once everything is in place, you can carry the package by the knot on top and everything will stay upright and spill free. :)