pasta

Kale and mushroom pasta with black truffle salt (Bento #372)

8_4_14


Hello again! I am trying my best to get organized and back in the swing of life. But, truth be told, half of my house is still in boxes. There is still more painting to do, tons of boxes to unpack, and I have plywood for kitchen counters, lol! It is moving slowly but at least moving forward. Making this bento really picked my spirits up and gave me a day of feeling like me again. :)

In the bento: pasta with kale, mushrooms, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and flavored with some amazing black truffle sea salt. On the side I have cucumber slices, an organic apricot, some Wish Farms blueberries (the best!!), and a pack of awesome Oloves.

Happy Bento-ing!

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A simple lunch: Round 2 (Bento #364)

11_14_13


Another super simple lunch to keep me working today. The pasta has a dried Italian salami that I sautéed with onions, garlic,and tomatoes. It completely changes the texture of the salami because the fat melts out of it and the flavor gets amped up 10-fold. This one was really peppery so it went well with the sweet onions and sharp salty parmesan crumbles.

In the bento: pasta, broccoli, a sweet potato flower, and an apple wedge.

Here is a link for the cutter used to make the flower and a video of how it’s done.

Added to What’s for Lunch Wednesday!

Happy Bento-ing!

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Vegetable pasta with grilled halloumi (Bento #361)

11_4_13


Have you ever had halloumi? It’s a Greek cheese that has a super high melting temperature. Because of the high melting point, you can grill or fry it without it losing shape, melting, or separating and getting oily. It tastes like salt, lol. The flavor is really mild, but it’s quite salty (at least the brand I have is super salty). I had wanted to try it for a long time and my awesome mom found some for me! Thanks mom!

In the bento: vegetable pasta (onion, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, corn, and zucchini) topped with halloumi that was grilled in a pan with a little olive oil, a side of raspberries and grapes, and slices of raw zucchini and yellow squash.

I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween!

Happy Bento-ing!

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Chicken pasta bento and giveaway winner!! (Bento #360)

10_30_13


So, what do you do when your bento is a flop? When it doesn’t live up to your expectations? To post or not to post, that is the question! My intentions this morning were to make a Halloween bento with creepy frog eyes for dessert. The frog eyes are actually green and black tea tapioca pearls. And, they turned out fine, but the rest of the bento just lacks pizazz. It’s boring. I tried cutting cheese into pumpkins, cats, etc. but none of it worked right. Sigh. I almost didn’t post this post this photo, but I thought it might be nice to see the mess-ups every now and then. It would have been a fine bento if the rest was Halloween themed, or I replaced the frog eyes with something not so gross looking, lol. But in the end, this is how it stands, in all of it’s *ahem* glory.

But on the bright side, the bento giveaway os over and a winner has been chosen!!! Check your emails Priscilla F.! If I can’t get in touch with the winner, I will pick another one in a couple of days.

Happy Bento-ing!

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Skulls and crossbones: Halloween bento (Bento #358)

10_15_13


It’s that time of year! I love Halloween! I haven’t had the chance to make a Halloween bento in a few years. So, this year, I was determined to make one. I had these small blocks of parmigiano reggiano cheese from Il Villagio and thought that they would make perfect skulls. I took one of the snack blocks, cut it in half and carved a skull out of each half. Then used the trimmings to make the bones. They’re perfect on top of some ‘blood and guts’. :)

In the bento: spaghetti with parmesan skulls, cucumbers, artichoke dip, and a vampire mouth made out of apple slices, peanut butter, and almond slivers. I also sent along some pita chips for the dip.

Happy Bento-ing!

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Super fruity bento (Bento #350)

9_3_13


I’m still catching up on all of the fruit I missed over the summer. I almost added grapes to this bento too but I couldn’t find room. Haha! In the bento: sautéed vegee pasta with shaved parmesan, a cup full of raspberries, soybeans, broccoli, and dragon fruit. The pasta is separated from the rest of the goodies using these kawaii reusable silicone baran.

Today’s random Japan photo is a view of the moat surrounding Matsumoto Castle. Matsumoto Castle is also called the crow castle because of all of the black on the exterior. When we were there, the city of Matsumoto had begun a restoration project on the moat. Over the years layers of sediment have built up to the point that the water in the moat is only a couple of feet deep. After the project is finished, the moat should be a few meters in depth.

Matsumoto Castle mote


Happy Bento-ing!

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Back home batch of spaghetti (Bento #348)

I made it back home! I’ve got most of my things unpacked and organized and I’m trying to settle back into my normal routine. It was weird being home for the first few days. I got so used to being in Japan, that being here almost felt temporary. It’s nice to be home. But I’m also ready to go back to Japan! Lol!

This summer was an amazing adventure. I have thousands of photos to sort through! It will take a long time for me to catch up blogging about all of the places we went.

I’ve been binge eating all of the foods that I didn’t eat in Japan: tacos, chips and salsa, fruit, big salads, and spaghetti. It’s also nice to be back in a real kitchen! I’ll never again complain that my kitchen is too small, lol. My apartment in Tokyo had a one burner stove, no counter top, and I was taller than the refrigerator. It was convenient for a temporary place, but not really easy to cook in. But now that I have the room I can get back to cooking on a regular basis and making bentos again.

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I picked up this cute rabbit bento in Omiya and brought it back as a souvenir. I usually don’t use 2-tier bentos that much, but it was too cute to pass up. The bottom tier has spaghetti with shaved parmesan and the top tier has peach slices, carrots, blueberries, raspberries, and broccoli.

Happy Bento-ing!

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Baked cheesy pasta bento (Bento #346)

6_3_13


We had spaghetti last night for dinner so of course we are having it for lunch as well. Instead of just throwing it in a box and trying to make it look good, I decided to chop up the noodles and make a baked cheesy pasta. I mixed in shredded cheddar and shaved parmesan, threw some extra cheese on top, and baked it in a small Pyrex bowl. I have fallen in love with using Pyrex dishes for my bentos because they can go in the oven, microwave, fridge, everything. Super convenient. Along with the pasta I packed a snack sized Steeltainer with a simple arugula salad, cherries, a lychee, and a delicious strawberry mochi for dessert.

My family threw a ‘going away party’ for me this past weekend and the strawberry mochi were part of a gift bag full of airplane snacks from my sister. But, I couldn’t help myself and opened them up early :)

My trip to Japan is approaching fast! I’m leaving a week from today and I’m running around like a crazy person tying up loose ends. I’m so excited to go! I’ve always dreamed of going to Japan. It’s going to be an amazing experience to get to live there for an entire summer. I’ll be blogging, instagraming, and videoing the whole trip. I hope you’ll come along for the ride :)

Happy Bento-ing!

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Vidalia onion pasta bento (Bento #343)

5_15_13


I now have less than a month before I leave for Japan! I’m excited to go but I’m also a little nervous about the flight and working with new people. I’ve been extremely busy getting everything prepared, filling out a bunch of paperwork, getting a place to stay, trying to communicate with my host professor, getting the house and bills ready, making sure the cat is taken care of, trying to get my papers published before I leave, finishing up last minute research, etc. Needless to say, I’ve been a bit stressed the last couple of weeks.

I forced myself to stop all of the millions of errands and chores and take the time to make a nice lunch. I have a fridge full of vegetables that I haven’t had the time to cook or eat. And all of this stress, anxiety, and take-out food is taking a toll on my body. :(

The grocery store had a ton of Vidalia onions and they are so sweet! I made this pasta full of sautéed Vidalia onions, garlic, broccoli, carrots, and tomatoes. I could’ve just eaten the sautéed onions plain, lol. The rest of the bento has an arugula and pineapple salad (thanks for the idea Mom ^_^) separated from the pasta by a row of cucumbers.

Here’s to the rest of the week being easy and stress free! :)

Happy Bento-ing!

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Sweet blueberry salad and leftover pasta (Bento #321)

1_31_13

OK, I have to admit... I’m not sure this is even remotely special enough to be called a bento. But hey, it makes me happy and full, so a bento it is! -_^ Along with the blueberry salad I packed some leftover chicken and mushroom pasta from lunch with my mom yesterday. Sometimes, you just have to throw something in a box, right?

Happy Bento-ing!

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Browned butter and parmesan pasta (Bento #316)

1_9_13

I woke up this morning realizing that I had nothing for lunch. No leftovers, no sandwich fixings, nothing. The only thing I could find to cook was some pasta and of course I had nothing to go with it...

Until I remembered the awesome parmesan cheese I had stashed in the fridge :) I tossed the noodles with browned butter, onions, garlic, and a ton of parmesan and cracked pepper. It’s simple, unbelievably delicious, decadent, and extremely bad for me.... lol. To counteract all of that buttery, cheesey, carby goodness I filled the rest of the box with fruits (blood orange, cherries, strawberries), vegees (broccoli, sugar snaps, daikon radish), and some more homemade pickles.

Happy Bento-ing!

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Baked lobster macaroni and cheese (Bento #313)

12_17_12

My parents found a giant box waiting for them at work the other day. Guess what was in it????? Lobsters! They were a Christmas gift from a friend who is in the lobster business. How cool is that?!?! Anyway, they sent a ton of lobsters (the box was 50 pounds!) and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a couple of them. Instead of just eating them plain, I decided to make some baked lobster macaroni and cheese with onions, broccoli, and a little carrot thrown in. Yum!

I didn’t have time to go to the grocery store yesterday, so the rest of the bento is full of whatever I could find in the fridge: palm hearts, green olives, tomatoes, home-grown sprouts, salami, cheddar cheese, zucchini, a radish, and my last lady apple.

Happy Bento-ing!

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The 'S' bento... (Bento #310)

12_5_12

I was about to name this bento the “Super Simple Salad and Spaghetti” bento. But, I figured that the “S” bento would be a little easier to read. Honestly, it doesn’t get much easier than this. The spaghetti is leftover from dinner last night, and all the salad required was chopping some cucumber and tomato. The sakura (see, another ‘S’) were punched from sharp cheddar cheese. This lunch was ready to go in less than 5 minutes. Yay!

I decided a few months ago, that the Bento Store was in need of a serious makeover! Well, I finally found a solution that I love and I’m working hard at transferring all of the data over and making it look pretty. But, once it’s done it’ll be awesome! I’ll finally be able to implement coupon codes (gasp, shock, awe!!!), it has automatic inventory tracking (yipeeeeee!), and it should be a lot more user friendly and easier to navigate (yaaaayyy!!!). It will probably take me another week or two to get it a sorted out, but I’m excited!

In the meantime...

Happy Bento-ing!

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Tuna and macaroni salad (Bento #309)

11_30_12

This is going to be a ridiculously speedy post. Why? Because I’m off to the land where dreams come true! Tonight me, my mom, my aunt, and my cousin are doing our annual girls weekend at Disney and going to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! I’m only a little bit excited, hahahaha!

So, quick and dirty... my bento for today (I had to work this morning... :( boo, hiss, boo) has tuna macaroni salad, blackberries, tomato, black olives, celery, asparagus, cheese, cucumber, and a seckel pear.

If you’d like to, tell me your wish and I’ll drop a penny in the water at It’s a Small World and make the wish for you! My wish from last year hasn’t come true yet....... but I’m going to wish for it again and I know it’ll come true someday. :)

Happy Bento-ing!

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A Night in Tokyo (Bento #304)

11_8_12

Here is one of the other bentos I made for A Night in Tokyo. You can see the ginger chicken bento here if you missed it. This bento was really simple with a vegetable somen, apple bunnies, snow peas, broccoli, carrots, and a Babybel cheese.

A Night in Tokyo is an amazing event hosted by the Japanese Club at USF (University of South Florida). The club let me set up a booth on bento boxes and a lot of people stopped by to see all of the cute stuff I brought. I had 3 pre-made bentos and a bunch of supplies and boxes to look at.

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A Night in Tokyo was a really cool event. If you ever have the opportunity to go, you should! They went the extra mile to make the entire room special. Even the doorways!! At the beginning of the event, I’m pretty sure I heard them say that they had 1000 cranes and 1000 lucky star origami!

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There were different booths set up around the room, including an amazing selection of Kimono.

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But, the highlight of the night was the performances. The night started with a bang thanks to Tampa Taiko! They drummed for over 30 minutes for us... and it was awesome! I took a little video and put it below. It doesn’t come close to doing them justice.



There was also a demonstation by the Aikido club, a 100 years of Japanese Fashion show (they had everything from kimono to Lolita!), a traditional singing performance, a modern J-Pop singer, a traditional Japanese dance, and a modern J-Pop dance. Unfortunately it was too dark for me to get good pictures of the other performances.

Happy Bento-ing!

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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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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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Spicy vegetable somen (Bento #268)

6_11_12

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...

buffalo bites

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)

6_5_12

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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May Foodie Penpals and a quinoa pasta bento (Bento #266)

It’s time to finally get to reveal the amazing Foodie Penpals package I received this month! This is my second month participating in FPP and I’m loving it. Each month you get paired up with wonderful foodies and exchange foodie gift boxes. What could be better? If you want to participate next month, you need to sign up by June 4th.

This month I was unbelievably lucky to be sent a box from Sylvia from Frolic Through Life. She said that she loves quinoa and wanted to do a quinoa themed box. Oh my heaven! She didn’t just send me quinoa. She sent me four fantastic foods made with quinoa! I had no idea these items even existed.

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I mean, wow! Where do I start? Hubs and I immediately ripped into the quinoa clusters. They’re fabulous! The chocolate didn’t last long either, lol! The thin cakes tasted a lot like plain rice cakes. I ate them with the nut butters as afternoon snacks. Everything in this box was good. I was spoiled!

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I’m definitely going to be getting more of these great quinoa products. This is why I love FPP!

I was so excited to try the pasta that I made it the same night my package came. Patience? What patience? I don’t even know what that word means. ;) While the quinoa pasta was cooking I sauteed onions, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, and snow peas. Once it was all finished, I tossed it all together with fresh cracked pepper.

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The pasta has the texture of the whole wheat pastas I’ve tried and it was good! I dearly love vegee pasta and this hit the spot. For lunch the next day I packed it with a grilled pork chop, Korean melon slices, cheese, and a kiwi and blueberry fruit salad. Looking at this picture makes me wish I still had some.

If you’re interested, hop on over to Carrie at Family Fitness Food to see what I sent her.

Happy Bento-ing!

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Happy Friday bento! (Bento #245)



This is a super quick bento that I put together for Hubs. It has whole wheat shell pasta with tomato sauce, a cucumber, jicama, and tomato salad, grapefruit, an egg, and a few slices of purple sweet potato.

This has a to be a super short post, so have a great weekend!!!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Miso vegee pasta (Bento #236)



I’ve been trying to stay away from pasta lately but I was in dire need of some comfort food. We lost a dear family pet this week. My bird Pretty Bird passed away after being my friend for 24 years. The last few days have been hard, to say the least.

I’ve made vegee pasta a few times but this is the first time that I added a miso sauce to it. My vegee pasta will never be the same. Right before serving I tossed it with a sauce made from miso paste, mirin, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and a touch of sesame oil. Oh my deliciousness!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Sometimes, you just need some stripes (Bento #221)



Before I started making this bento I knew I wanted stripes and strips all over the place. Sometimes you just need some stripes! I have striped zucchini slices, a striped Babybel cheese, strips of carrot, strips of pork chops, and the pasta is penne so I’m counting that as stripes too.

This has to be a short post because I need to get back to work. I hope everyone is having a great week!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Simple vegee pasta bento (Bento #215)



My vegetable stash is a bunch of odds and ends right now. There wasn’t quite enough of any one thing so I threw it all together and made a simple vegetable pasta. I sauteed carrots and onions in a little butter and seasoned it with Vegeta. Once the carrots were mostly cooked I threw in the zucchini for a minute or two, then threw in the pasta. At the last minute I tossed it with some baby spinach leaves and enoki mushrooms. Once again, it seems that the simplest things are the most delicious.

For lunch, I packed Hubs the pasta with a chopped up tomato (his request), apple chunks, grilled sausage, edamame, raw zucchini slices, and a few enoki stems.

Happy Bento-ing!
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Spaghetti Napolitan (Bento #198)



Shirley from Lovely Lanvin posted a recipe for a Japanese pasta dish called Spaghetti Napolitan. It looked simple enough to make and the flavor combinations intrigued me enough to give it a try. I have to say it was pretty good. It’s definitely a nice break from regular spaghetti. Give Shirley’s recipe a try, you won’t be disappointed.

When I made Hubs’ bento he asked for extra ham on the top which is why you can’t see very many noodles. I promise they’re in there. The Napolitan turned out to be quite rich so I paired it with crisp cucumbers and carrots and some nice fresh mango and a cherry all packed in the Lunchbots Eco.

Happy Bento-ing!
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Curry love (Bento #195)



Happy Friday!

I decided to make some curry for dinner last night because I had the sauce and it was easy. What I didn’t realize was that I was craving it! As soon as the sauce started getting fragrant I was starving for it! Wow! I almost couldn’t wait for it to finish.

Hubs isn’t the biggest rice fan so I made some spaghetti noodles to eat it with. For lunch I packed the pasta, curry, cherries, sweet pepper slices, sugar snaps, and a fruit cup with plum and dragon fruit pieces.

Happy Bento-ing!
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Ramen on the run (Bento #191)



Sometimes you just have to grab some lunch and run. I had a little time this morning but not enough to really cook anything and I used up all of the sandwich fixings making Hubs’ bento last night. I figured I could fill my belly with a little instant ramen, veg, and fruit so that’s what I did.

The box contains: beef ramen with green onion, a slice of fish cake, zucchini slices, grapes, mango, a raspberry, and a little tomato.

I once tried making ramen and transporting it in thermal jar. Once lunchtime came around the noodles had gobbled up all the soup and I was left with a carb loaded mush. So, to take ramen with me I cook the noodles and pour out most of the cooking water, leaving just enough to dissolve the packet. After swishing the noodles around for a bit and picking them out they’ve picked up just enough flavor.

Even though it is instant ramen, and a lot of carbs, it’s still better (and cheaper) than most of the fast food joints on campus. :)

Happy Bento-ing!
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Super fruity (Bento #168)



I know, I know, this isn’t really a balanced lunch. But what can I say? The fruit this time of year is so good. Plus, I still need to make up for the lack of fruit in the winter.

For dinner last night I made some chicken with a mushroom/red wine sauce so that is the bulk of the non-fruit part of today’s bento. The rest is pretty self-explanatory, except maybe the little red Babybel cheese.

Hubs doesn’t need a bento for the rest of the summer! Yay!!!! Now they’re all mine!!!! Mwuahahahaha! Poor old Hubby is going to have to fend for himself. He’ll survive... I think.

Happy Bento-ing!
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Time flies (Bento #162)



Is May almost over already? It feels like it just started! Pretty soon Hubs’ school will be out and I won’t need to make him bentos for the summer. That means I get the whole summer for “me” bentos!! I’m trying to use it as an excuse to want to go to work, lol.

For today’s lunch I made Hubs a pasta salad with broccoli, bacon, and onions and packed it with celery, rolled up salami, an egg, tomatoes, and some green olives.

Happy Bento-ing!
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Kitchen sink spaghetti bento and the giveaway winner! (Bento #160)



I’ve been on a weird spaghetti kick lately. I used to only make spaghetti with ground beef but over the last couple of weeks we’ve had it with all kinds of different things. Honestly, I think it is a lack of “cooking energy”, spaghetti is just so easy to make. Today’s version turned out really good though. Hubs said it tasted like a gourmet restaurant, to which I asked if he’d ever actually eaten at a gourmet restaurant. ^_^

To make this one I chopped up some chicken breast into bite sized pieces, seasoned with garlic and italian herbs, browned it in the pan, added the sauce, and let it cook for a bit to make sure the chicken was cooked. Then I added a can of drained and sliced palm hearts and about half a cup of toasted almond slices. I let it simmer for another 15 minutes and served it with some amazing parmesan.

So, the best part about this bento, ... what? You don’t want to hear any more about the bento? Why not? Oh! That’s right! I have to announce the giveaway winner!!! I was blown away with how excited everyone was about this giveaway. Thank you all for participating!



Congratulations Ecumeg!!!

“I "liked" you on fb...megan smith!  I have been looking and wanting to start doing some bento lunches.  My hubby takes his lunch most days, so I wanna do something different and fun for him!  Plus we have 2 children, so always looking for new and fun things to do with/for them!  Oh and I follow your blog:)“   

I will ship out your goodies as soon as I get your mailing address. :)

So, what did she win?



Only the most awesome giveaway ever! ^_^ Lol! Congratulations Ecumeg, I hope you enjoy your new bento supplies!

If you would like a copy of the list of entries or of the original PDF of the random.org page just email me and I will be happy to send them to you!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Mama cat (Bento #158)



There are a lot of stray and feral cats in our neighborhood, most all of them have been fixed and released, and we keep a bowl of cat food by the door for them. A couple of them are friendly and you love on them but most will run if you get too close. Then there’s Mama Cat. The woman who traps and gets them fixed said she was the hardest one to catch. I don’t doubt it.

Mama Cat rules the roost. She doesn’t care who you are or why you’re here. Humans are so beneath her. She won’t let anyone get close to her but she never runs away, she just saunters away annoyed and waits for you to leave.

Over the last couple of years we’ve formed a relationship with her. She’ll follow us to the mailbox and back, she lets us know when the food dish is empty by staring in the window, and she lets us get about 5 feet from her before she starts to walk away. Trust me, 5 feet is close for Mama Cat.

So last night I went to go out back to take these photos and guess who was on the back porch taking a bath? I didn’t want to bother her so I stayed as close to the door as possible and took my photos. She sat there the whole time and just watched me. I’m sure she thinks I’m nuts.

The bento isn’t much to look at, but it will be delicious! For dinner I made spaghetti with pumpkin and toasted almonds. It was wonderful! It needed a little fresh parmesan, but other than that, it was really good.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!!!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Chicken/tofu teriyaki patties (Bento #154)



Yesterday Izumi posted a recipe for these patties over at Soul Soup Soap and they looked delicious! If you haven’t checked out her blog before... you are missing out! Anyway, I had a block of tofu in the fridge and as soon as I saw the recipe I wanted to make them.

I did a couple of things differently. I used ground chicken and mixed it with fork scrambled tofu, added scallions, and added a bit of Better than Bouillon chicken. They were so good! The tofu kept the texture nice and prevented them from getting dried out. Go check out her recipe and try them for yourself. :)

The rest of the bento was very basic. I made some quick freezer vegee pasta (frozen mixed vegees sauteed in a little butter then tossed with the cooked pasta and a little Better than Bouillon Vegetable) and packed it all with pineapple, peas, and carrots.

I have to admit, when I find a new ingredient I tend to obsess a little.... OK a lot! You’ll have to forgive me because right now my newest obsession is Better than Bouillon. I find myself adding it to almost everything to kick the flavor up. So far I’ve only tried chicken and vegetable but I’m going to try the others soon. Yum!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Speed queen (Bento #153)



Today calls for a super-speedy bento and a super-speedy post! I boiled some sweet potato pasta and I’m eating it with a pickled plum, tomatoes, and avocados. Then for dessert I have mango and kiwi slices.

Don’t forget about the giveaway coming up :) It’ll open on the 16th in honor of my first awful bento, lol! Until then...

Happy Bento-ing!
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Go Bolts!! (Bento #144)



I wanted yakisoba so bad today and all I had was somen, but I made it anyway. ^_^ Along with the noodles I packed an egg, seaweed salad, pickled plum, tomatoes, melon, and some frog eye salad.

Frog eye salad isn’t made from frog eyes, awww shucks, but from little teeny tiny pastas called acini di pepe. My mom made it so I’m not totally sure what all goes in it but it’s sweet and I know it has mandarin orange slices, coconut, and pineapple. Yum!

Last night Hubs, myself, and a friend went to see the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs! I really don’t know a lot about hockey, I’m much better at football, but it was still a lot of fun. The stadium was packed and I spent the whole night making tons of noise with my thunder clapper. Those things are louder than you’d think! We won 4-2 and I say it was all because of my extra noise, lol. We have to win the next game in Pittsburgh to go the next round of finals. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

It’s been hard getting motivated to be back to work today after the 3-day weekend. I just want to play! Hope you all had a great weekend too!

Added to What’s For Lunch Wednesday!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Meatballs and gravy (Bento #135)



Aahhhh meatballs and gravy over pasta. A classic! I used panko instead of regular breadcrumbs in the meatballs and added finely chopped broccoli. They were delicious! The texture, which I’m attributing to the panko, was so smooth and tender. Yum!

The rest of the bento has the basics: snow peas, tomatoes, mango, cucumber, and little bok choy. It’s all packed up in the Lunchbots Duo.

There’s a new sale going on in the store. The tamagoyaki pans are 10% off!

Happy Bento-ing!
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His and hers pink bentos (Bento #130)



Hubs and I have matching bentos today. Awww how sweet! I packed them in the long black 1-tier bentos we have in the store.

Of course, it’s made out of leftovers. Since it’s the end of the week I wanted to clean out the fridge a little so I made pasta topped with a smorgasbord of vegees. I sauteed onions, garbonzo beans, and chopped carrots in a little bit of butter to get them cooked. Then I added corn, a chopped plum tomato, cilantro, and squeezed a lemon in it. It needed a little more sauce so I added some chicken broth, let it simmer and then ever so slightly thickened it with a little corn starch. After I took it off the heat I added some chopped up beets, hence the pink color.

I was actually really impressed with how good this tasted. The lemon really added a lot flavor, but it wasn’t sour at all. Yum! When I plated it I topped it with a slice of tomatillo.

It is still the month of March so all profits from the Ohayo Bento store will be donated to the Red Cross for disaster relief in Japan! If you want to have more of an impact, but still get sweet bento goodies, check out the Bento4Japan Ebay charity auctions! We can all make a difference!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Super orange snack bento (Bento #125)



There are so many wonderful Bento4Japan charity auctions running right now. If you haven’t looked at them yet, I urge you to do so! This way, not only can you donate money to disaster relief efforts in Japan, but you will also get amazing bento supplies in the process! This is the link to the Bento4Japan headquarters. From here you can find all of the bento-centric ways of donating to Japan and get a list of verified sellers.

Today’s bento is just a 2 minute snack box. The coleslaw and pasta were leftovers so all I had to do was cut the fruit. The oranges we have right now are amazingly sweet! I could eat 5 a day! Lol!

I’d also like to announce price drops on the 4 round small silicon cups from $3.00 to $2.75 and the popular 3-layer cherry blossom bento will be back in stock Monday at a lower price of $5.00 (used to be $5.50), you can order it now but it won’t ship out to you until Tuesday March 22nd. We are also getting some exciting new items in on Monday including tamagoyaki pans!!!! Don’t forget that 100% of the profits from the Ohayo Bento store for the month of March will be donated to the Red Cross!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Yaki-spaghetti bento (Bento #124)



First off, I want to say how amazed I am at how well the #bento4Japan charity auctions are going! We have raised so much money for disaster relief in Japan. I feel so proud to be able to contribute. It’s not too late for you to contribute either! This link will take you to the #bento4Japan ebay auctions.

Today’s bento is for me ^_^ which is probably obvious to some of you due to the massive amount of carbs and lack of meat, lol! We had spaghetti the other day and I wanted to use the leftover thin spaghetti noodles, but I didn’t want spaghetti again. So, I made yaki-spaghetti!

The rest of the bento has coleslaw, strawberries, apples, green olives, and carrots.

I added this bento to What’s for Lunch Wednesday!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Boneless wings (Bento #112)

Lately I’ve been trying to incorporate more spice into my cooking. Hubs and I both love spicy food. Well, hubs likes food so spicy it burns through the fork. The spicy chili tofu from last week came out great so I’ve been wanting to try spicy again.

I saw a beautiful Japanese bento the other day that had, what looked like, boneless buffalo wings. Ever since, I’ve had a huge craving for them so I decided to make some for dinner last night. All I had was frozen chicken breasts so I defrosted, cut them up, salt and peppered, then dredged them in corn starch and fried them in a pan.



I didn’t actually have any buffalo sauce, and to be honest, I didn’t really want the traditional heavily vinegar-ed sauce. I wanted something a little more special. Something with tons of flavor and good amount of heat. So I made my own. Lets just say that hubs actually handed me a piece of paper and told me to write down how I made this sauce, he loved it!



The ingredients for the wing sauce are very similar to the spicy chili tofu, but by playing with the ratios and adding a couple of ingredients, I got a completely different flavor. The basics are Sriracha, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger.

The first special addition is a little bit of a hot sauce called Pyro Mania. Pyro Mania is my favorite hot sauce of all time. It has a great smoky flavor and isn’t so spicy that you can’t use a lot of it at a time.

The second special addition is some super thick and rich coconut milk! The coconut milk completely changed the flavor and heat profile. Without it, the sauce was really good and had an immediate burn and you tasted everything at once. Trying it with the coconut milk, the immediate taste is a buttery slightly coconutty rich flavor. Then you start to taste the peppers and spices. Finally a slow burn creeps up and you get all of the heat.

I was really shocked at how much different the sauce was with the coconut milk. If you make this, try it before and after adding the milk and you’ll understand. If you don’t really like coconut, don’t fret, the flavor doesn’t come through very strong, hubby didn’t even know it was there until I pointed it out. But, the sauce is still good without it.



Naturally, I used out leftovers for today’s bento. The noodles are just pasta tossed with a little bit of tonkatsu sauce for flavor. I also re-purposed the leftover corn. The non-leftover additions are a cute little plum, seaweed salad, and some cucumbers to use as a divider.

Spicy Coconut Wing Sauce

When making this sauce I completely forgot to measure anything. Next time I make it I will update the recipe with the correct amounts, this is just a best guess after the fact.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup Sriracha
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp Pyro Mania or other smoky hot sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup thick coconut milk
1 tbsp butter

1) Add the Sriracha, ketchup, other hot sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and water to a small pot and mix it up. Heat it on medium heat until it begins to bubble then turn the heat down and let it slowly simmer.
2) I let mine simmer for about 10 minutes to bring out the flavors.
3) Add the coconut milk and butter, stir, and let simmer for another 5 minutes.

My sauce thickened very nicely. If it is not as thick as you like you can continue to let it simmer until you get the desired consistency.

I put all of the fried chicken pieces in a large bowl, poured the sauce on top, and tossed to coat.

Added to What’s for Lunch Wednesday!

Happy Bento-ing!
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From dinner to bento (Bento #105)

Please forgive me for the blah-ness of this bento, I was so tired this morning when I threw it together. I didn’t do much of anything but throw leftovers in a box and call it bento, lol!



So, how do you un-creatively go from dinner to bento? Like this! Above we have the bento... and below we have the dinner.



Can I still call it a bento when it is just re-packaged dinner? Hmm, I’m not sure. The bento photo is a little disappointing today, it came out really yellowy, even after a lot of photoshopping the colors just aren’t right. Oh well.

This was my first time making pork tonkatsu and it was wonderful! It reminds me of wiener schnitzel. It’s topped with tonkatsu sauce in the dinner but I put the sauce on the side for lunch so it wouldn’t make the crust soggy. Since it was leftovers the crust was soggy from being in the fridge so I revamped it by putting it under the broiler for a bit.

The pasta was amazing! I just tossed it with a marinated artichoke salad that my mom got me. Yum!

There’s also some miso cabbage in there too.



My snack today is just more of the same but with some soy sauce simmered lotus root.

I had a cool idea for a bento treat this weekend. I’m hoping to do some recipe testing in the next couple of days and write it up. Hopefully there will be some more interesting things to come!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Missing blue and violet (Bento #92)


I almost have every color of the rainbow, just missing blue and violet (if you count the pasta as yellow, lol). This is hubby’s bento for tomorrow, I have the same thing but a smaller version. This is the second time that I packed his lunch in the LunchBots Eco bento (which is on sale right now 10% off!!) and he has almost forbidden me from packing it in anything else! (I think he’s trying to get rid of Hello Kitty bentos!)

Lunch contains some pasta with a cherry tomato, broccoli, carrots, a hard boiled egg, and lemon pepper chicken strips.

I went to the doctor this morning and the most dreaded thing happened ... they weighed me! OK, it’s not that much of a surprise being that they weigh me every time I walk in the door but today, ... today was bad. I have gained another 8 pounds. :( I’ve gone from being about 10 pounds heavier than I’d like, to being almost 20.

So, why am I telling you all of this? I figure that if I don’t get serious about losing the weight and committing to a healthier lifestyle, that includes exercise, then it is only going to get worse. This means my bentos are going to change a little. D and I do eat pretty healthy, I make almost all of our food from scratch and we eat a ton of fruit and veg, but apparently it’s not enough.

I am going to make a conscious effort to make my bentos healthier and with less carbs. I’m going to try to use mostly whole grains and minimal bad fats. To be honest, I don’t think the bentos will actually change that much, but hopefully a few substitutions will make a difference. Any time I do replace something with a healthier option, I’ll definitely make a note of it.

As far as my eating habits go, I’ve noticed that I’m satisfied with a small bento at lunchtime, but then I’m chomping at the bit for food at 3PM and I tend to go for sweets then start snacking as soon as I get home. To attempt to fix this cycle of doom I’m going to try to start packing myself a small lunch bento and a small snack bento full of fruit, veg, and protein.

Phew! Wish me luck, I’m going to need it! Obviously today’s bento doesn’t really count toward the diet, that pasta is evil!

Exciting news!!! I was randomly selected as this month’s B.O.M.B. winner!!!! Yay! If you haven’t entered a B.O.M.B. yet, you definitely should!

Aso, I added a Contact form on the website. Through it you can easily message me or sign up for the Ohayo Bento Store Newsletter! Yay! I’m trying to streamline the site and make everything a little more user friendly and fun, so if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Mixed noodle bento (Bento #91)


Today is my first LunchBots bento! I bought the Uno for me and the Eco for hubby. New bento supplies are always so exciting!

Lunch is a mixture of somen and noodles made from black rice. The black rice noodles color the cooking water so I cooked each batch separately then mixed them together. They each have a different flavor and texture so it should be an interesting combination, plus it looks cool ;)

The rest of the bento is pretty standard fare: cherries, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, an ume, and leftover chicken from Chinese takeout. I also threw in a soy sauce fish this morning but it didn’t make it into the photo.

Added to What’s For Lunch Wednesday!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Ume flower ramen (Bento #80)


Mmmmm, I can’t wait for lunchtime! I made some ramen, without the soup :(, and added an ume (or umeboshi, I don’t know the proper term) and slices of kamaboko to make a little flower. :)

The other tier has a cut up persimmon, a wedge of smoked gouda, some tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, and seaweed salad. I almost can’t imagine lunch without seaweed salad anymore! Lol.

I’ve also completely fallen in love with pickled plums (ume). I’ve always been a huge pickle fan! I like all kinds of pickled vegetables, and yes, I do drink the pickle juice whenever I can get my hands on it :) it’s so good. I even made little pickle juice popsicles once. Lol! They were awesome! Anyway, back to the plums, I found myself craving them at every meal and every time I go in the fridge I stare at them, debating with myself whether or not I should have one.

The first batch of ume I got was a little pricey, I want to say it was $5 for a container of about 8 or 9 plums. So, since I’m quickly running out I went to get more and found a different kind. The new ones came in a different container, are less expensive, and look a little different too. I haven’t tried them yet, I hope they’re good. The one in my bento today is the old kind so I know it will be great! :)

So, now that I have confessed my secret weird pickle obsession, do you have any secret food obsessions? What do you seek in the kitchen when nobody is watching?

Happy Bento-ing!
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Geen tea noodle salad (Bento #75)


These are the coolest noodles ever! They are green tea flavored, I think they’re made with matcha, and they’re tasty! After cooking I rinsed them really good with cold water, added chopped green onion, krab, and a little bit of Newman’s Own Light Lime Vinaigrette dressing to make a yummy cold noodle salad.

The rest of the bento is pretty normal: honeycrisp apple, cucumber, summer squash, and cauliflower.

I feel a little guilty because I didn’t make bentos last night, then I woke up late and just threw together some random food for D to take to work. After he left, I made this bento for myself *teeheehee*. I’m going to try my best to make him one tonight, lol!

Happy Bento-ing!
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#twitterpastaparty #twitterfoodparty


I totally forgot that today was the twitter pasta party and made spaghetti for dinner last night! I spent the whole day thinking about how to repurpose the leftovers and came up with this.

I mixed the noodles with beaten egg, a little milk, and a lot of shaved parmesan and cracked pepper. Then I pan fried them into little patties and used the sauce as a filling. On the side we have some steamed wing beans for greenery. Yum!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Lunch and a snack (Bento #70)


D and I had a great weekend. On Saturday we got to attend the wedding of two of the greatest friends we have ever had. It was such a joy to be able to be there.

I’m looking forward to making a lot of progress at work this week. I have a ton of time with the AFM (atomic force microscope) which is the instrument I use to do my research. The faster I can get it done, the faster I can graduate. Progress was slow over the summer, hopefully I can catch up! Yay for positive attitudes!

I’ve also got to try to catch up on all of my blog reading! I can’t wait to see all of your gorgeous creations!

Anyway, down to business. D’s lunch is mostly leftover spaghetti. We just had spaghetti but he requested it. There is a pasta themed twitter food party today so I’m trying to think of how to repurpose the pasta into something new tonight. He also has granola, broccoli, grapes, cheese, and some pomegranate seeds.

I’m having lunch with a friend today so I didn’t pack a full bento for myself. I did make a snack bento though, just in case, lol. For the snack bento I have a ton of pomegranate seeds, granola, grapes, cheese, and a lychee mochi that I found while grocery shopping yesterday.

I couldn’t resist, so I tried one of the mochi last night. I really love the lychee flavor and the texture of the mochi, but to be honest, it is a little bit too sweet. I actually couldn’t eat the whole thing. I’m going to try it again today though, maybe it was just my mood. :)

Added to What’s for Lunch Wednesday!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Pork roast (Bento #66)


Ahhh, it’s nice to make a bento again. Last week was so hectic that I didn’t make bentos for most of the week.

I presented my research at a conference on campus and won an award! Yay! The awards ceremony was really cool because they gave out the outstanding dissertation awards along with the research excellence awards (I got one of these) and the physics department was the most winning department! Yay for physics!

I’m happy to get back into the normal swing of things because I missed making bentos. I feel like I have been totally neglecting the site. No more neglect though because I should be making lunch all week.

This is tomorrow’s lunch. Even though the stuff in the back doesn’t look pretty, it tastes great! The bulk of the bento is leftover linguini pasta with pork roast and gravy.

The smaller tier has leftover baby mustard greens with sesame seeds, cucumber, a mini-babybel cheese, some dried dates, a couple of hidden green apple slices, grapes, and soy beans.

After I took all of the photos I realized that I didn’t give the babybel a row of bottom teeth! Lol! I always seem to forget something :)

I hope you all had a great weekend!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Spaghetti (Bento #62)


Yup, I love leftovers! Today’s lunch is leftover spaghetti with mozzarella cheese on top. Yum! I’m also taking a white nectarine, carrots, broccoli, brown beech mushrooms, and seaweed salad.

I was playing around with the camera and took a neat close-up pic of the mushrooms. It looks like a miniature fairy world that I want to shrink down and go play in. Lol! These mushrooms have the coolest patterning, I wanted to show it off.


This is day 2 of my quilt fabric backgrounds. I think it would have been better if the box was a contrasting color. I also didn’t make the fabric very visible, I probably should have taken the photo at less of an angle. But, practice makes perfect. Only one more fabric to go! I think on my next fabric outing I’m going to look for solids and prints that have a larger pattern.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Happy Bento-ing!
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Salad and pasta (Bento #56)


This is my first time using kamaboko (the bright pink and white stuff on the left). It is steamed fish cake that comes in a log that you cut slices off of. I haven’t decided if I like it or not, I might have to try it with a few different things first. :)

The main course today is a salad of lettuce, cabbage, carrots, green olives, palm hearts, and pickled ginger. I’m taking mine with ginger dressing but D is having ranch.

The interesting part of today’s lunch is the pasta. I sauteed chicken, onions, and garlic in a little bit of butter and furikake. Once it was cooked I added a whole mess of cherry tomatoes and let it all cook down. To counteract the acidity of the tomato I added a little bit of mirin and threw in some asparagus at the end, poured it over whole grain pasta shells and voila!

It was cool because the ingredients of the pasta screamed italian to me but the seasoning were all Japanese. It turned out pretty good, I think I’m probably going to make it again. I used yasai fumi furikake (vegetable) because I didn’t want it to turn out fishy.

I’m still trying to get used to twitter. Wow, it is information overload! I keep telling myself “It’s not like a blog. I don’t have to read every single post from every single person I follow.” Lol! What an adventure :) If you have a twitter account don’t forget to follow me, I’m @ohayobento (the link is in the sidebar).

Happy Bento-ing!
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