A little self-indulgence (Bento #285)

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I really didn’t want to go to work today. Really, really didn’t want to go. Everybody has those days every now and then and today was mine. To top it off, I hadn’t made myself anything for lunch and would have to eat on campus. Bleh. So, to make my day better, I took some time this morning and created a wonderfully self-indulgent bento. Going to work is suddenly starting to look a little brighter.

In the bento: sakura rice (rice mixed with preserved cherry blossoms), cucumbers, salami, zucchini ribbons, tomatoes, a radish, carrots, celery, nectarine slices, and dry roasted almonds. I packed it in my Lunchbots Eco and it’s a ton of food. This is actually two and half meals, lol. The nectarine slices and almonds are for breakfast and I’m saving the carrots, celery, and half of the salami for an afternoon snack.

Added to What’s for Lunch Wednesday!

Happy Bento-ing!

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Spicy ginger beef skewers (Bento #284)

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Well, we got lucky again and Tropical Storm Isaac shifted away from Tampa. Even though we aren’t getting the brunt of it, we’re still getting a ton of rain. I like rainy days, but they sure wreak havoc with taking bento photos. In a, very brief, moment of sunlight I ran outside to snap this pic. So, please excuse my crazy looking hand, it was still raining, lol!

I’m trying my best to keep Hubs’ bentos low-carb. Even though this one has a lot of fruit I think he’ll like it. In the bento: a no-lettuce salad, spicy ginger beef skewers, an egg, salami, nectarine slices, and some grapes.

In totally unrelated news, I got a sudden desire to make some cute amigurumi, or crochet, animals. The thing is, I didn’t know how to crochet. Haha! I went out, bought some yarn, taught myself how to crochet, and made a little bunny rabbit. Awwwwww.

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I used this pattern from All About Ami. There are a ton of mistakes, lol, but I’m getting better. Right now I’m working on a Totoro then making some gifts for friends. Have you ever made any amigurumi? What is your favorite craft?

Happy Bento-ing!

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Low-carb salad bento (Bento #283)

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My dear sweet husband has presented me with quite a challenge this year. He requested that I make his bentos low-carb. Not zero-carb, but he doesn’t want rice and bread every day. It’s a lot harder making bentos this way, for me at least, because I find myself out of ideas for things to keep him full. I’m going to have to get quite creative here soon, lol.

This bento wasn’t too bad because of the salad. I think using these peppery and nutty greens are a little more satisfying to eat than the standard romaine lettuce, so I’ll probably be relying on them a lot. Along with the salad he has leftover beef stir-fry, pluot and plum wedges, grapes, a hard boiled egg, and a mini-Babybel cheese.

I’m looking forward to seeing how well I can keep up with this challenge. If you have any low-carb bento ideas, I can use all the help I can get!

Happy Bento-ing!

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Sakura onigiri (Bento #282)

This last spring I became a little obsessed with sakura (cherry blossoms). I was looking at everything sakura related on the internet. From papers, to cell phone charms, to photos, to food! My sakura viewing quickly turned into an obsession with pickled sakura leaves and blossoms. I wanted them so bad. I had to have some!

Makiko Itoh didn’t make my obsession any easier to bear with her article on sakura either. It’s a wonderful piece, you should go read it, and it only fueled my sakura dreams.

Guess what? I finally, after months, got so lucky and Shirley of Little Miss Onigiri posted a Facebook link to Anything From Japan and they sell both the leaves and blossoms. This was my first time ordering from them and I was very impressed with how quickly my package arrived. Everything was exactly as stated and arrived in perfect condition!

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My first foray into the world of eating sakura had to be a bento. ^_^ Hellllllloooooo sakura ongiri! Both onigiri are wrapped with a preserved sakura leaf and topped with a preserved sakura blossom. Oh my. I’m in love. The blossoms are packed in salt, so the flavor is quite intense (you can rinse some of the salt of if you want, but I like it) and they taste like a cherry blossom crossed with an umeboshi (pickled plum) because they are pickled in ume vinegar. I am in salty/sour heaven right now!

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Along with the onigiri, the bento has beef stir fry, a simple salad, and plum and pluot wedges.

Have you had preserved sakura before? Or sakura mochi? What is your favorite sakura dish? I’m also thinking of making a salad dressing with them, do you know of any recipes?

Happy Bento-ing!

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Quinoa bento and whoopie pies (Bento #281)

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I really need to cook quinoa more often, I love this stuff! This batch has white, black, and red quinoa and I cooked it in the rice cooker with a bit of Vegeta for seasoning. It’s topped it off with some bulgogi marinated beef with onions, carrots, and asparagus stems.

After cutting the carrots into sakura shapes and cutting the asparagus to fit in the box, I chopped up the stems and cut-out leftovers and added them to the beef. It worked out perfectly so that I didn’t waste any food. The rest of the bento is just cherries, tomatoes, cucumber, and a hard boiled egg.

Other than making a bento, the majority of my Sunday afternoon was spent making chocolate toffee whoopie pies. The cookies are chocolate and the filling is toffee buttercream.

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Oh my! This might be the best dessert I’ve ever made! The cookie turned out moist and chewy like the cookies on an ice cream sandwich. And, I discovered that if you mix fresh homemade buttercream with soft gooey toffee, it turns into something magical. Heart stopping, knee weakening, unbelievably magical.

I used this whoopie pie recipe for the cookie part (minus the mint, these were just plain chocolate). I chose it because it didn’t call for shortening, which I didn’t have. The filling was made with a simple vanilla buttercream (butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla, and a dash of milk) mixed with toffee. I cheated on the toffee and made use of the handy sweetened condensed milk trick. Did you know that if you boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for 3 hours it turns into toffee? Yeah, it’s a total cheat but it tastes great!

I’m off to eat some whoopies!

Happy Bento-ing!

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A little bit of everything (Bento #280)

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This bento has a little bit of everything: barley, mac ‘n cheese, plum, chicken sausages, ham and chipotle cheddar rolls, and zucchini pasta. Phew! That’s a lot of food! I haven’t used my Lunchbots Eco in a while and I forgot how big it was. I almost didn’t have enough stuff to fill it up.

Hubs’ daughter is heading back home today, so last night I thought I’d treat her to her favorite blue box of mac ‘n cheese. My intellectual side kept screaming “Noooooo! Stop! Don’t eat it!” but the kid in me kept on munching. It even made it into the bento! Sometimes I have no self control.

On the healthier side of things, I made some delicious zucchini! I cut it into tiny little strips and just barely boiled it to make it more flexible. Then tossed it with onions, garlic, and tomatoes that had been sauteing in olive oil. Topped it with some fresh basil, parmesan cheese, and a ton of fresh cracked pepper and it was good. Real good!

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I had seen a tweet about zucchini pasta and just winged it when I got home. Luckily it turned out really nice. I think this is my new favorite zucchini recipe. You should try it!

Today is the last day of the Back to School Bento Sale!!! Prices will go back to normal tomorrow.

Happy Bento-ing!

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Pork roast and summer sunsets (Bento #279)

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After having dinner at my Mom’s house last night we went out back for some swimming and sunset watching. The swimming was good, my Husband’s daughter is in town and she showed us a bunch of tricks in the pool, but we weren’t fortunate enough to have a pretty sunset. But still, sitting out there on the dock, with a cup of hot coffee, looking out over the water is pretty awesome with or without a sunset.

This morning I scrambled to throw together some leftovers from our dinner last night to make myself a bento for work. The pork tenderloin and barley just had to be thrown in the Steeltainer box, making my life a lot easier. The only cooking I did was to boil the zucchini ribbons and carrot slices. I was even too lazy to get out the mandolin so I made the zucchini ribbons with my vegetable peeler. Works like a charm! Then I filled in the rest of the box with sliced cucumber and peaches.

After I went outside to take the picture I realized that I got my sunset after all. My weather beaten back porch could pose for an old dock any day. Combine that with the sunset colors of the peaches and carrots and I’d swear that those zucchini ribbons are really a palm tree swaying in the breeze.

On a less fanciful note, the Steeltainer snack bento giveaway is over. The winner has been contacted by email, as soon as I hear back from her I’ll make the official announcement. If you would still like to get your hands on a Steeltainer bento I’ve uploaded 4 different versions of Steeltainers to the bento store! There’s even a cute little round one! The Back to School sale is up through Aug 10th, 2012 so the new Steeltainers are 10% off.

Happy Bento-ing!

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