Instant ramen hack (Bento #294)

9_27_12

I like to keep a couple of packs of instant ramen in the house. It isn’t the most nutritious thing in the world, but it works in a pinch. I once tried to transport some ramen soup in a thermal container. Haha! By the time lunch came around, the noodles had sucked up all of the liquid and completely disentegrated. I was left with a salty carb-blob. Not pretty.

To use instant ramen in a bento you have to be a little creative. This time, while the noodles were cooking, I sauteed some brussels sprouts, onions, corn, carrots, and a chopped up kung pao chile. When the noodles were done I tossed them in the pan with the vegees, added a few spoonfuls of the noodle cooking liquid, and the flavor packet. And there you have it. Some spicy vegee ramen.

I packed the pasta in the large Steeltainer bento and then packed an afternoon snack of orange slices, cucumbers, and a Babybel cheese in the Steeltainer snack bento.

Happy Bento-ing!

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It's apple bunny season (Bento #293)

9_25_12

It’s apple bunny season! Well, almost. The grocery stores around here are starting to put out this years crop of fresh apples. I haven’t gotten my hands on a honey crisp yet, but it’s coming. I love adding apples to bentos because they’re so versatile. You can carve just about anything into the skin of an apple and it looks good.

For today’s bento I decided to make a few apple bunnies to go along with the last of my sticky rice, cucumber slices, sesame carrots, and pickles.

Happy Bento-ing!

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Pork chops and pickles (Bento #292)

9_24_12

I have to make a confession. I love vinegar. I mean, really love vinegar. All types of vinegar. I also love excuses for eating a lot of vinegar, such as french fries dripping with malt vinegar... and pickles. Ohhhh pickles! My husband always yells at me for drinking the pickle juice before the pickles have been eaten and they get all dried out. Anyway, the point of this story is to say that I made pickles! I really need to make them more often because I love them!

This batch of pickles has cucumber, daikon radish, and carrot slices. I marinated them in a combination of seasoned rice vinegar (love this stuff) and ume vinegar. Ume vinegar is the leftover super salty vinegar from making umeboshi (pickled plums). I also added some preserved sakura (the pink thing on the cucumber in the photo) to give a little bit of extra flavor. Thank goodness I made a big batch because I can’t stop eating them!

Hubs isn’t the biggest pickle fan so I only put a small cup of them in his bento. The rest of the bento has bok choy, sticky rice, pork chop, grapes, a monster cheese, a cracked egg, and plum slices.

The sticky rice was a combination of Sheri’s recipe on Happy Little Bento and this Ochikeron cooking video. My version has brown beech mushrooms, carrots, corn, and onions and the rice cooking liquid has temari and mirin in place of some of the water. If you haven’t made Sheri’s sticky rice or any of the flavored steamed rice dishes from Ochikeron, you should! It’s a wonderful dish!

Happy Bento-ing!

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Mini egg salad sandwiches (Bento #291)

9_18_12

I’ve been seeing a lot of sandwich bentos floating around the internet lately and it gave me a horrible craving for egg salad sandwiches. Eggs and I have a love/hate relationship. Typically I’m not a huge fan, but every now and then I get a craving and go all egg-crazy for a day. Yeah, it was one of those days.

I’ve been a bit sick for the last few days and I’m using it as an excuse for not having any pretty decorations in this bento... and the last one really. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! In the bento: mini egg salad sandwiches, zucchini spears, sprouts, and nectarine and orange slices.

Happy Bento-ing!

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BBQ and a salad (Bento #290)

9_17_12

Mmmmmmm BBQ! We had a ton of BBQ left over from a family birthday party this weekend. I’ve had so much BBQ I think I’m going to pop! To counteract of the heavy meaty-ness, I packed Hubs a big salad in the bottom tier of this bento. The rest has BBQ chicken, potato salad, and some grapes and cherries. I know it isn’t low-carb, but why let good potato salad go to waste? ^_^

There were some cool updates to the bento store today including some new 3-tier bento boxes, a stainless steel bento sale, and some new cutters and sauce containers.

Happy Bento-ing!

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Quick pan cooked chicken (Bento #289)

9_13_12

Last night’s dinner was really simple. The potatoes were leftovers, the broccoli only had to be steamed, and the chicken was easily cooked in a pan with a bit of olive oil, garlic, and onions. The rest of the bento was just as easy: white peaches, a cherry, cucumber slices, carrots, and tomato slices. Simple and quick, just the way I like it.

Our food has to be simple these days because I have so many different things going on. On top of all of all the normal things like work, cleaning the house, etc. I’m also helping to organize a student run scientific conference on campus, giving a bento demo to the Japanese Club at my university, and dealing with termites..... again!

When I say bento demo, what I really mean is that a group of 40 students will be making their own bentos! Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had to figure out how to prep for that many people to make their own bentos... yeah... not as easy as it sounds. I’ve finally found some clamshell style takeout containers that they’ll use for the box.

The fun part is that everybody will be able to make their own octo-dog bento and we’re going to have a little deco-ben contest for a bento starter kit prize. The not-so-fun part is that it’s impossible for 40 people to be able to cook anything...... all they’ll be able to do is assemble and decorate. So, that means, before I even go I have to do the grocery shopping, make 80 octo-dogs (I must be masochistic), 40 hard boiled eggs (cooked and peeled), 40 onigiri (if I decide I have the motivation and/or time, hahahaha....), slice a bunch cucumbers, slice a ton of fat carrots, wash a ton of cherry tomatoes, grapes, etc., and organize all of the food to be transported. Once I get there I’ll have help setting up so that won’t be so bad. I’ll be sure to take lots of pics!

Anyway, if you feel like sending some “extra time” vibes my way, I’d greatly appreciate it! :)

Happy Bento-ing!

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Two for Tuesday (Bento #288)

9_11_12

Usually if I make a bento, for either myself or the Hubs, the other gets stuck with an ugly mess of random leftovers in a box. But, yesterday I had the energy and the motivation to make nice looking lunches for the both of us. Hubs has the larger Lunchbots Eco on the left and mine is the smaller Steeltainer bento on the right. They’re packed with mostly leftovers, as per usual: beef kabobs, vegee kabobs, corn on the cob, and homemade potato salad. Then I added some fruit and cucumbers to freshen it up a bit.

Now that the weather is starting to cool off I’m looking forward to grilling more. I dearly love grilled kielbasa. I mean, LOVE grilled kielbasa. What are your favorite grilled foods?

Added to What’s for Lunch Wednesday!

Happy Bento-ing!

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Low-carb and full of color (Bento #287)

9_5_12

I’m doing my best to put all of this kale to work, lol. Thank you all so much for the fantastic kale ideas and recipes. Today’s bento has kale sauteed with shimeji (brown beech) mushrooms, onions, and garlic. I love the look of these mushrooms! The rest of the bento (packed in my Steeltainer) contains an array of different colors and flavors: ham and swiss rolls, cucumber, kiwi, tomatoes, a radish, green beans, and blackberries.

Even though it’s still as hot as the surface of the sun... it smelled like fall yesterday morning. I love it when all of sudden, bam, it’s fall! My husband claims he can’t smell fall, and he calls me crazy, lol. Can you smell the change in the seasons? I know I can’t be the only one!

Happy Bento-ing!

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Just a tiny bit of pasta (Bento #286)

9_3_12

I know Hubs wants low-carb, but it’s just a tiny bit of pasta, lol! It was really good too so it’s worth a little cheat. I tossed the pasta with sauteed onions, chorizo sausage, tomatoes, and garlic. Everything in moderation right? The rest of the bento (packed in my Lunchbots Uno) is pretty healthy though: seared zucchini, spicy baked chicken breast, hard boiled egg, cucumber, and some grapes.

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I went to the farmer’s market this weekend and picked up the last bag of kale. I swear, this bag is big enough to feed an army! Last night we had a giant pan of sauteed kale and onions, and I barely made a dent. I think I’m going to do some kale with mushrooms for my bento tomorrow and one of these days I hope to try my hand at kale chips. Do you have any favorite kale recipes? I could use some inspiration!

I’m really excited right now because my first tomatoes are starting to ripen! They’re so bright, they look like they’re lit from within, that photo isn’t a camera trick, that’s what they really look like. I swear, I go outside and check on them like 5 times a day. It’s a little rough on tomatoes in the FL heat, but so far they’re surviving!

Happy Bento-ing!

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