I’m spending my day sitting at my desk working on my dissertation. I don’t need anything fancy for lunch and I couldn’t spend a lot of time on it either. It was so tempting to just make some tuna salad and eat it right out of the bowl, but I forced myself to take the extra 10 minutes to pack it up ‘bento style’ because I knew it would make my lunch so much better.
In the bento: tuna and egg salad on arugula, a tomato flower with yellow squash center, cucumbers, and pita chips. It’s truly a simple lunch, but the little extra touches make it special.
Added to What’s For Lunch Wednesday!
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.
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.
Every now and then I get an unbelievable craving for egg salad. I’m not sure why. I don’t even really like eggs all that much. But, sometimes, I just have to have them! I decided to package my egg salad a little different today, and avoid all of the extra carbs that go along with bread, by putting the egg salad in a hollowed out tomato and decorated it with sunflower sprouts. Pretty cool huh? Tomatoes stuffed with tuna salad and chicken salad are awesome as well.
In the bento: egg salad stuffed tomato, carrots, broccoli, ham sticks, cucumber, apples, and orange slices. I used the pink flower shaped silicone cup to hold the oranges and the green bear and frog silicone baran to keep the ham separated from the broccoli.
Today’s random Japan photo is of a stunningly beautiful tree in Kamakura. If I remember correctly, this tree stood watch near the entrance of Hachimangu Shrine.
It’s really easy to take a leftover sandwich, throw it in a plastic bag, grab a bag of chips, and head off to work. But it’s also pretty easy to take 3 extra minutes and turn that sandwich into a colorful, healthy, appetizing lunch. I cut my sandwich into two pieces and added slices of cucumber, watermelon, a grape tomato, and some leftover sautéed barley with vegetables. So in 3 minutes, I avoided using throwaway plastic, eating unhealthy chips, and added fresh fruits and vegetables. Bentos rock!
In this bento, I used some new products that have just been introduced to the store: flower shaped silicone cups and grass silicone baran. I dearly love using silicone cups because they keep everything perfectly separated. Almost every single bento I make uses them, they are my staple bento supply! Along with the flower shaped ones, we also got in some star and heart shaped silicone cups. I’m also really excited because we have egg molds for the first time ever!! Yay!!
Until next time…
I need a do-over for last week. After spending four days on jury duty and the other three going to a family funeral, I’m ready to forget the whole week even happened and start fresh! To start this Monday off on the right foot, I made a brunch bento with breakfast sausages that I wrapped in a thin omelette (the same way you would make tamagoyaki but with a sausage in the middle). These eggs are super tasty! They’re from my Aunt and Uncle’s chickens :) The rest of the brunch bento is a small grape and pineapple fruit cup, steamed broccoli, and strips of a sweet bell pepper.
This bento features these cute silicone leaf baran and a radish star made using this method.
Here’s to a better week ahead!
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 :)
I’m staying home today to catch up on some cleaning and laundry. Even though I didn’t have to go to work, I still wanted a bento for lunch. Instead of just throwing my leftovers on a plate and heating it up, I dressed it up a bit.
In the bento: pork chop slices, cheddar mashed potatoes, grapes, carrots, tomatoes, and some rainbow chard and chick peas. This was my first time trying rainbow chard. Inspired by Happy Little Bento, I decided to give it a go. And, ….. its good! I sautéed onions and garlic, added the chick peas, sprinkled it with Pav Bhaji masala spices, and threw the chopped chard in at the end. Love it!
In case you missed it, I uploaded a carrot flower cutting video tutorial. For those of you who have already watched it, thank you so much!!!!
When I’m having a really lazy night but don’t feel like ordering out, soboro is the perfect quick meal. Plus, it’s easy to make a big batch so you have enough for lunch the next day. If you haven’t made soboro before here are some good recipes from Just Bento and No Recipes. I don’t really follow a recipe, just toss things in and taste as I go. For this batch I used ground beef, the leftover carrot bits from making the flowers, onion, garlic, soy sauce, mirin, and cracked pepper. I like to make mine a little intense and super flavorful.
In the bento: soboro over rice, carrot flowers sitting on cute silicon leaf baran, strawberries, daikon and carrot pickles, and cucumbers.
I actually filmed the steps to make these carrot flowers yesterday. Now I have to figure out how to get it edited, lol.
I got a new pack of furikake (rice seasoning sprinkles) and couldn’t wait to use it. Then I realized that I’m completely out of my favorite white rice and all I had was brown. I love brown rice, but in this instance it’s just not working. This furikake is so pretty and the brown rice doesn’t even come close to doing it justice. Oh well, it still tastes fabulous!
In my Steeltainer: brown rice with furikake, spicy pickles, half of an egg, cheese, carrot, a homegrown tomato and celery salad, nectarine pieces and blueberries.
Happy New Year! I hope 2013 is a wonderful year for all of you :) It’s nice to be back bento-ing again after the holidays. I had to start the year off with a little bit of an indulgent lunch. Packed in my Steeltainer: rice with green onion and sausage, summer squash, sugar snaps, cherries, strawberries, and some homemade daikon and carrot pickles.
There are still a few days left to save 13% at the bento shop! Use code NEWYEAR13 and it’s good through 1/10/13.
Well, this is it. My last bento for 2012! It has been a crazy year and I’m excited to see what 2013 has in store :)
For the last bento of the year, I really wanted to stick to the basics and my favorites. It’s packed with white rice, a pickled plum, carrots, sauteed portobello mushrooms, apples, broccoli, and snow peas.
I hope you all have a wonderful and safe new year!
BTW, a little birdie may have told me that the New Year’s sale at the bento store is up and running... use code NEWYEAR13 to save 13% through 1/10/13 :)
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.
I have finally convinced my meat-a-saurus husband to go meat-free on Mondays. It’s only one day of the week, but it’s a step! This was our first meatless dinner (which was from last week): sauteed baby portobello mushrooms, spicy red lentils, purple potatoes, apple slices and a tomato. With the dinner, we had a full on salad but he only got a tomato with lunch.
Are you a meat eater? If so do you do meatless Mondays?
The mom of one of my sister’s friends makes the absolute best egg rolls in the known universe. And I was lucky enough get get my hands on a few. I packed this Steeltainer egg roll bento for Hubs and it has the egg rolls, soy sauce, a tangerine and blackberry salad, a cucumber, tomato, and black olive salad, cheese, carrots, celery, a homegrown green bean, and backed prosciutto asparagus rolls.
The Thanksgiving Weekend bento sale was a huge success! Thank you to everyone who participated!
Hubs has the week off for Thanksgiving and I don’t have any microscope time today. Yipee! So I made us some brunch to celebrate a lazy Monday morning together. Our brunch has sausage, eggs with Chinese sausage and mustard sprouts, toast, homemade strawberry kiwi jam that I got from our family reunion, persimmons, pomegranate, and some grapefruit juice.
Are you guys making anything special for Thanksgiving? So far, I’ve only committed to roasted brussels sprouts (and going over to my mom’s early to help cook everything else) but I’m thinking about trying to make some pumpkin whoopie pies... have you guys ever made any? I need to find a good recipe.
What are your favorite Thanksgiving treats?
Also, I’m having a big Black Friday bento sale! Well, actually it’ll be Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Everything in the store will be 10% off and a free gift is shipped with every single purchase! No coupon codes or minimum purchase required. ^_^
We had our annual family reunion last weekend which, for me at least, signifies the official start of the fall season. From here on out the rest of the year is going to be full of events, dinners, holidays, and trips. So to get myself in the mood for fall I wanted to make some ‘fall-ish’ foods.
Today’s bento has pork tenderloin medallions (my moms recipe), stuffing, green beans, a Babybel cheese, cucumbers, and another sweet little seckel pear.
I am so proud of this bento! Not so much for the bento, but for those gorgeous slices of tomato. It’s the first tomato off of one of my tomato plants. I was so excited watching it grow that I would go outside to check on it about 4 times a day. Now that the weather is cooling down, I’m starting to get a lot of blooms in the garden. My cucumbers have actually started producing too! There are 4 baby cucumbers out there just waiting for a bento!
Other than the fantabulous tomato, this Steeltainer bento has Boar’s Head jerk turkey, lettuce, and pickle roll-ups, cucumber slices, yellow squash slices, and a Babybel cheese.
I blame the following photo on my mom. It’s all her fault. She had to go and mention ‘picking up some cupcakes’ if I didn’t have time to make my normal Halloween mummy pops. Yeah. It’s her fault. I woke up this morning wanting cupcakes something fierce. I’ve had a hard time finding really good cupcakes (even in the specialty shops here) lately and have had a craving for weeks.
After tearing apart the kitchen I found just enough ingredients to pull these together. They’re cinnamon cupcakes filled with apple chunks that were simmered in brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Then piped with fresh cinnamon buttercream and topped with more apples. But, what makes them really good is that I strained off the sweet syrup from the apples and brushed the tops of the cakes with it. Oh my heaven!
Over the next month or so I’ll try developing a real recipe for them, because yeah, they are that good.
Simple. Low-carb. Healthy. These are the qualities I’m striving for in Hubs’ lunches this week. I think this one hits the mark, but I am a little concerned about it not being enough food. It has to be enough to keep him from going hungry, but not so much that he’s stuffed. Today he has: ham, lettuce, and pickle rolls, cucumber slices with hummus, a hard boiled egg, a grape, and apple slices.
Packing low-carb isn’t easy, but I’m trying! :) Do you guys have any low-carb staples that are good for bentos?
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.
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.
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! :)
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!
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!
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.
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?
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!
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!
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?
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.
This poor bento seemed doomed from the start, the only decent fresh food I had in the fridge was a giant bag of cherries, lol! Not only did I need to make a bento, but I had to find enough food for dinner. Luckily we had a frozen kielbasa in the freezer so I cooked some brown rice and threw together the last dregs of brussels sprouts, corn, peas, carrots, capers, and bacon together for our vegetable.
Dinner was saved!
The Back to School bento sale is going strong! Sale prices will be valid until at least August 7th!
I love soboro! I love how easy it is, how filling it is, and how tasty it is! Mmmmmmmm soboro. I never follow an exact recipe when making it, but if you’d like one, there’s a great recipe over on Just Bento. Seriously, give it a try, you won’t regret it!
For dinner last night I made the soboro, brussels sprout and bacon hash, brown rice (under the soboro), and spicy green beans with tomatoes. For lunch I just packed up the leftovers and added some grapefruit slices. I also got to pack it in my brand new Steeltainer full size bento box! If you haven’t heard, I’m giving away one of their snack bentos.
August is fast approaching and I’ve been seeing all of the ‘back to school’ gear in the stores. So, I thought I’d do my part and today I launched the Back to School Bento Sale! :) Going back to school shopping with my mom was always one of our favorite pastimes, so much so, that even though I’m well beyond ‘back to school’ age, we still go sometimes! What are your favorite ‘back to school’ memories?
To me, the best part about going on vacation is being excited to get back home again. Nothing beats sleeping in your own bed and being surrounded by your own things. Why is it that no shower in the world is ever as good as the one at home?
After driving all day, neither Hubs nor I wanted to cook. Hello Chinese delivery! For lunch today I packed some leftover vegetable lo-mein, Mongolian beef, a tomato, grapes, a radish, carrots, and asparagus spears.
I’m looking forward to cooking my own dinner tonight! The unfortunate part about Key West is that 80% of the restaurants have basically the same menu. There are only so many blackened fish sandwiches I can take! So, tonight is grilled pork chops, barley with vegetables, asparagus, and a big salad. Yum!
What foods do you miss the most when you’re out of town?
Now that it’s officially summertime here in FL the weather thinks it’s necessary to give us a thunderstorm every afternoon. I normally love thunderstorms, but not when I need to take photos, lol! I did manage to run outside between lightning strikes to show you this ham roll-up snack bento.
In the bento: ham, spinach, and pickle roll-ups, a cherry, tomatoes, white peach slices, and brown rice with an umeboshi.
Notice anything different? Yup, that’s a new bento box! The amazing folks over at Steeltainer sent me a snack sized bento box to try out and review. I’m going to use it for a couple of weeks to see how it holds up before giving my official word. ^_^ So, stay tuned because not only will there be a review but I also have one to give away!