Jun Foodie Penpals reveal

Our house is still in complete disarray. It always seems like you have to make a giant mess before you can move anything around, lol. Most of our free time is being spent organizing, cleaning, moving, changing, etc. so when this Foodie Penpals box came in it was like mini vacation.

Foodie Penpals is a monthly program organized by Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean. You get paired with food lovers from all across the country and exchange foodie gifts. I’ve been participating for 3 months now, and I still love it!

This month I was being sent a FPP box from Andie of Sea Salt N’ Pepa. That is the coolest blog name I’ve ever seen! I asked her for foods that were popular in her neck of the woods and she sent me some southern New Jersey favorites!

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This box was a lot of fun for me. I’ve never had anything in this box before! First of all, when I saw the coconut water I squeeled... just a little, but yes there was a sqeeee. There were also these unbelievable dried strawberries. They’re like the most amazing strawberry gummies you’ve ever had!

I already ate the cashew butter on some crackers as a snack, but I’m holding on to the walnut butter for something sweet.

Speaking of sweet, Andie also sent a box of Tastykake butterscotch krimpets. Have I ever told you that my cat has a sweet tooth? Well, I was eating one of these krimpets and she tried to steal it from me! Crazy kitten!

I have to admit, I haven’t tried the pork roll yet. I’m a little scared because it says to keep it refrigerated and the box was sitting in front of the house for a couple of hours in the FL sun waiting for me to get home.... I put them in the fridge immediately but I’m not sure if they’ll still be OK. This weekend I’ll venture in there and see if they smell funny :) In the meantime, I’m going to keep my eyes open for them at the store and pick up a pack if I find them.

I sent my FPP box to Brooke from The Well Nourished Traveler. Her blog is so much fun to read, go check her out!

Have a great weekend!

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The lazy cook: ham sammy bento (Bento #271)

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I admit it, I’ve been a lazy cook since summer started. I’ve even only managed about one bento a week! Well, I’m ready to get back in the kitchen and eating my own homemade food. The problem is that I don’t have any groceries, lol. This bento is the very last of most of my produce. Luckily we always seem to have sandwich fixings or we’d be going hungry!

In the bento: ham, cheddar, and greens sandwich, tomato and cheese salad, soy beans, cherries, raw sugar snaps, and carrot sticks.

Even though I have been lazy in the kitchen, Hubs and I have been crazy busy! On top of all of our regular work we are rearranging and spring cleaning the entire house! We’re moving Hubs’ desk and books out of the “office” room and I get to take the whole room as a craft studio! I’m so excited! It wasn’t even my idea, it was all Hubs’ idea! I knew I married the right guy :)

Right now my room is a giant mess because everything is being moved around. Once it’s all finished I’ll share some photos. I’ve never had my own craft room before so I’m beside myself with excitement!

In the meantime.... anybody want to come over and cook for me ;)

Happy Bento-ing!

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Korean BBQ leftovers (Bento #270)

Yesterday was Doug and I’s two year wedding anniversary! I can’t believe it has been two years, time goes by so fast. I was lucky enough to marry a guy who is always willing to try new foods and for our anniversary dinner we went out for our very first Korean BBQ. Oh my heaven! I fell in love all over again... with both Doug and the food, haha!

As I said, this was our first Korean BBQ experience and it was our first time eating at Rice Restaurant and Lounge here in Tampa. We had so much fun trying all of the different side dishes and sauces. They gave us 10 different banchan, side dishes, to try with our rice and meat. Just look at all that food!

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Along with the banchan we were each given a bowl of rice, 2 different dipping sauces, a plate full of lettuce leaves for making wraps, and a bowl of soup. She even gave us different soups so we could pass them back and forth. I was in “new taste” heaven!

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For the meats we chose pork belly and beef galbi. Both were fantastic! We must have tried every combination of meat, sauce, and vegetable. One of the best parts about the whole experience was our waitress. She was truly a gem. We never felt uncomfortable asking what things were and she helped us choose interesting combinations of flavors and was always available with a story and quick with a joke to make us laugh. It felt more like dining at her house than being in the middle of a restaurant. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

To top it all off we were each given a cup of cold sweet rice tea for dessert.

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There was so much food so, of course, we took home some leftovers. Most of the banchan were gone (the kimchee was the first to go, it was so good) but we had enough leftover pork belly, a few pickled vegetables, sweet black beans, and marinated hot peppers to make a bento for lunch today.

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I have fallen in love with Korean BBQ! I can’t wait to get the chance to go back to Rice. In the meantime I’m going to try to expand my culinary skills to include some of the wonderful Korean foods we’ve been lucky enough to try.

What is your favorite Korean dish?

Happy Bento-ing!

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Simple baked chicken and brown rice (Bento #269)

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The weather here has been dull, grey, and rainy for two weeks straight. Combine that with Hubs being out of school for the summer and my bento making has nose-dived, lol. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break but I miss bentos. Since I knew that I didn’t need one for lunch today, Hubs and I are going out to lunch together, I made this one for dinner.

It’s about as simple as it gets: baked chicken, carrots, brown rice, yellow tomatoes, raspberries, lychees, and a mini Babybell cheese.

I’ve been quite busy the last few days getting paperwork together for my qualifying exam on Monday. Yay! It’s nothing hard and there aren’t any tests but my PhD committee has to sit down and go over all of my coursework and my Master’s thesis to make sure I’ve done everything. My worst fear is having to take another class, lol. I haven’t taken a class in four years... I’m not sure I remember how! :)

Have a great weekend and Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Bento-ing!

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Spicy vegetable somen (Bento #268)

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I needed a quick and easy lunch today. Whenever I want something filling, delicious, and simple I tend to go for a vegee pasta. This time I changed it up a bit and made it nice and spicy! I sauteed the vegees until almost done, then added the cooked somen and my spicy sauce. The sauce is just a mixture of 1 part Sriracha, 1 part honey, and 2 parts temari or soy sauce. It can’t get much easier than that! I never measure the ingredients either, just guesstimate until it tastes good. :)

The rest of the lunch was soy beans, raspberries, yellow grape tomatoes, and a slice of beautiful flower kamaboko. I felt like I’d struck gold when I found that kamaboko in the market, it’s so pretty.

I really wanted to use my takoyaki pan yesterday. The problem was that I also really, really, really wanted buffalo chicken. I’ve been craving buffalo chicken lately. I finally figured there was only one way to both solve my craving for buffalo chicken and satisfy my desire to use my takoyaki pan...

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I made buffalo chicken bites! Woo-hoo! I made a basic takoyaki batter (flour, water, eggs, salt) but left out the dashi and replaced 1/2 cup of the water with buffalo sauce. In each bite is a piece of popcorn chicken and they’re covered with extra buffalo sauce, blue cheese dressing, and fresh blue cheese crumbles.

Next up in the takoyaki pan? Breakfast bites! I’m going to make pancake bites stuffed with sausages and drizzle them with maple syrup. Mmmmmmmmm.

Happy Bento-ing!

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Spaghetti love (Bento #267)

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Oh, forget the spaghetti, do you see what else is in there??? Lychees!! Yay! Lychee season has finally hit Florida! I’m only a little excited. Tee-hee-hee. There are actually 2 lychees but the second one is underneath. Not only do we have lychee but I also found some gorgeous cherries and blueberries. I love this time of year.

After all this fruit, everything else seems boring in comparison, lol. The salad has cucumber, tomato, black olives, and palm hearts and the ham is rolled with raw spinach leaves and pickle spears.

Happy Bento-ing!

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Takoyaki!!!!

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Takoyaki! Takoyaki! Takoyaki!

Takoyaki is one of those Japanese foods that’s impossible for me to find locally. When I say impossible, I mean impossible. It just doesn’t exist here. Sigh. I began to get a little obsessed with takoyaki. I watched dozens of takoyaki videos on Youtube, searched for takoyaki makers online, read countless recipes, etc.

Finally, when my birthday came around I ordered myself an electric takoyaki maker! I ordered the takoyaki maker from Jlist and ran to the mailbox every day in anticipation. Then... it came! I also ordered 2 bags of takoyaki mix. I know, everything tastes better homemade but since I haven’t had the real thing before, I figured the mix would be pretty close. After trying the mix, I’ll venture out on my own.

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Unfortunately I couldn’t find any octopus, so I had to substitute with shrimp pieces. I also used green onions, chopped ginger, and rice krispies for the filling. Just FYI, one bag of mix made 2 batches of 18 takoyaki.

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I was afraid that they would be hard to make, but I think all of that obsessive video watching paid off, because it actually wasn’t hard to do. Videos always cut out the boring parts so I was a little surprised at how long they took to cook. I rushed through adding the fillings in the first batch because I was so afraid they would burn. In reality, you have tons of time and there’s no need to rush.

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I tried to keep the toppings as authentic as possible too. I drizzled them with Bull Dog sauce, mayo, katsuobushi, and shredded nori. I haven’t had the chance to put them in a bento yet, but don’t worry, it’s coming!

So, how did they turn out??? Great! The outside was nice and brown and crispy and I could taste all of the fillings. They’re actually quite chewy. A good bit chewier than I was expecting. They almost have the texture of butter mochi.

I also learned a lot from my first batch. Most importantly, make sure the shrimp is dry, dry, dry! Lol! They were too moist on the inside from all of the liquid the shrimp gave off. I’d also like more green onions and crispy bits in the batter. I can’t wait for my next batch! I’m thinking of also making a non-seafood version and using spicy chorizo sausage bits.

Happy Bento-ing!

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