I read the recipe for the Japanese Milk Bun Pandas over at Bento Monsters, and fell in love with the idea. Now, we’re gluten-free, so I knew I couldn’t follow the recipe as printed. However, I have several different dough recipes, and I tried to think of the one that gives me workable dough. Most GF dough recipes are much more like a batter than a bread dough. I ended up using my pizza crust recipe, but using just white rice and cornstarch as flours, no seasonings, and adding 6 TBS extra corn starch to make the dough more workable. If I’m going to do this again, though I want to use the Chebe bread dough or breadstick mix, as that’s the most malleable gluten-free dough I’ve ever used.
I used orange and black food coloring to add details, and ended up making G1 some pandas, G2 some penguins, and G3 some white tigers. I’ll admit that you have to use your imagination a bit, but I tried. They toasted up a bit, and the orange turned brown, but it was good for a first attempt.
To perk up their lunches a bit more I used food coloring and food safe markers to make a panda, 2 penguins, and a white tiger out of cheese. I’m not expecting them to eat them, as that’s a lot of food coloring on one piece of cheese, but it looks cute in their lunches. I also used some black & white paper to take lunch pictures against.
G1 has leftover lasagna in her Thermos. The first time I put leftover lasagna in her Thermos she was confused that I hadn’t put tofu or a spoon in her lunch – she thought the Thermos was filled with tomato soup and that I had been an eejit that morning. She was happy to find the lasagna, though – much more loved than even tomato soup! In her Snoopy bento box I put in some “orange smiles”, or sliced oranges, complete with a couple different panda food picks. I packed mini silicone cups with a Hershey’s nugget and the painted panda cheese. The baked panda bun is all by its lonesome, and was packed in a separate Lock & Lock container.
G3 has a lunch as close to being white tiger focused as I could. I’ve yet to find any food picks focused on white tigers, but I have the two I made, plus a couple of lions. In her Thermos is some chicken and rice soup. In her Snoopy bento box I packed one mini silicone cup with a Hershey’s nugget and another with a painted cheese white tiger. In a silicone heart cup I added two gluten-free Joe Joes Oreos. Usually her sweet and fruit are packed together (one for snack, one for lunch), but things keep seeping juice into the treats, so I gave up. She has a Target container with sliced oranges and lion food picks, plus a Laptop Lunch Bento Buddies with pineapple and a heart mini fork. She also has a white tiger bun that I put in its own container.
G2′s lunch is all penguins in her Easy Lunchbox. Packed into silicone heart cups she has diamond-shaped MOMables-inspired gf crackers and a blue penguin food pick, plus some Havarti with dill cheese cut into the shape of penguins using a penguin vegetable cutter. In the small section are two gf Joe Joes Oreos, in the larger section is a peeled satsuma. Both of those have homemade food picks using Happy Feet stickers. In her Snoopy bento box I packed her penguin bun and, in a mini silicone cup, a Hershey’s nugget.
Overall, while I’m not up to the level of Bento Monsters, I’m rather proud of myself. The buns are cute, and they look tasty. I’m looking forward to seeing how they taste!
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