Getting back in the saddle (Bento #373)


I’m trying to get back in the saddle again. It has become so easy to skip making a bento. But lately, I’ve started to get inspired again. I went through some of my old photos and I want to make lunches like that again. Plus, I could really use the push to eat a little healthier. I made this bento in an attempt to get back to my ‘bento roots’ so to speak.

In the bento: rice with umeboshi, sautéed vegetables (brussels sprouts, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and black truffle sea salt), a cup of watermelon and raspberries, and a radish star. Thank goodness for the radish or I wouldn’t have had any decorations! :)

What inspires you to make bentos?

Happy Bento-ing!


Salad and snacks (Bento #368)


What’s the easiest thing to cook in a hotel room? Salad! Lol! Even though the hotel I’m staying at has a small stove, it is really awkward to use and very quickly gets exhausting and frustrating. So, I’ve conceded and most of my made at ‘home’ meals are salads, but I’m trying to keep them interesting using different ingredients. The one in this bento has red, yellow, and orange tomatoes, blueberries, jicama, and a bunch of chia seeds. The rest of the bento will take me through lunch and into afternoon snack time with a mandarin orange, kiwi, smoked gouda, and pretzel crisps.

Still doing iPhone photos, so I’m sorry for the graininess :)

I’m trying to make the most of my time in Colorado and go sightseeing on the weekends, but the weather hasn’t been very good lately. I do post a good bit of photos to Instagram, if you’d like to follow. Plus, I’d love to follow you back!

I’m starting to roll through all of my favorite ‘no-cook’ lunches like salads, sandwiches, finger foods, etc. What are your favorite ‘no-cook’ items to pack for lunch?

Happy Bento-ing!


Vegetable stirfry bento (Bento #366)

Can it be? Can it really be? A new bento?!?! Wow! It has been over a month! I’ve missed making them... and eating them too. I’m super excited about eating this one because of the big pile of umeboshi paste with shiso stuck in the middle of the rice. I was so lucky to find a bottle of it imported from Japan. And, I found it at my local oriental market! They usually don’t stock a lot of Japanese products outside of the really popular stuff (Pocky, Hello Kitty stuff, etc.). I was so excited to find it!

In the bento: mixed vegetable stir-fry, rice with umeboshi paste, cucumbers, and delicious strawberries from Wish Farms.

I love finding Wish Farms’ strawberries in my grocery store because I had the amazing opportunity of going out to one of the strawberry fields, learning about their family run farm, meeting some amazing people, and picking boatloads of fresh strawberries! Whenever I see them in the store it reminds me of that wonderful day and I can’t resist them. :)

Happy Bento-ing!


Vegetable pasta with grilled halloumi (Bento #361)


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!


Dark and stormy Halloween bento (Bento #359)


There’s a cold front moving in today with gray clouds and cooler temperatures. It’s the perfect October and Halloween weather. All I want to do is cozy up on the couch with a thick blanket, a cup of tea, and a scary movie. I wanted to make a dark, stormy, and brooding bento to go along with the weather so I tried to stick with the darkest colors I could find in the kitchen.

In the bento: a jack ‘o lantern mandarin orange (Check out the jack master, Sheri, at Happy Little Bento!!!), a tomato, grapes, asparagus, spinach with soy sauce, rice, and dulse. Dulse is the purple stuff on the top of the rice. It’s a dried seaweed that my mom’s friend introduced her to in Canada. I’d never heard of it before, which is a shame because it’s really good. Nice and salty. Tastes like the ocean. :) I’m almost through the bag she brought home so I’ll have to find a way to buy some here.

Don’t forget to enter the Halloween bento treat giveaway!!! I’m giving away an awesome box of bento loot!

Today’s random Japan photo is one of my favorite photos of the entire trip. Fushimi Inari Taisha is a shrine in Kyoto that is dedicated to Inari, the god of rice. There are fox statues all throughout the complex because it is believed that foxes are Inari’s messengers. Fushimi Inari is most famous for it’s thousands of torii gates covering the trails on the mountain. The gates are amazing and I’ll show you some photos of them later. But, it was actually the foxes (in Japanese: kitsune) that struck a cord with me.


Happy Bento-ing!


Vidalia onion pasta bento (Bento #343)


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!


Couscous and simmered portabello mushrooms (Bento #339)


Have you seen Ochikeron’s videos on Youtube? She’s amazing! Everything she makes looks so delicious and yesterday I saw one on simmered mushrooms and bonito chunks. I only had baby portabellos but I decided to simmer them using her method and they are wonderful.

In the bento: couscous, simmered mushrooms, orange slices, home grown green beans, carrots, celery, and daikon radish flowers.

Happy Bento-ing!


Blueberries, robots, and rice (Bento #330)


What do blueberries, robots, and rice have in common? Well, for me, a lot. I’m going with my husband and his school’s robotics club to their first FIRST Robotics Competition which starts tomorrow! So help me out in rooting for Team 4769 - The Electrodes! This is the first year that my husband’s school has had a robotics club and it has been a lot of work! They only get 6 weeks to design and build their robot for the competition and they have done a fantastic job.

We leave tomorrow, and by the time we get back from the competition, that container of blueberries in the fridge will probably have gone bad. And since we ate up all of our perishables, knowing we would be out of town, rice was the only thing I had in the house to make for lunch. See, blueberries, robots, and rice go together perfectly.

In the bento: rice with furikake, blueberries, a tomato, avocado slices, and carrots.

Happy Robot-ing!


Browned butter and parmesan pasta (Bento #316)


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!


The last bento of 2012 (Bento #314)


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 :)

Happy Bento-ing!


Taming the meat-a-saurus (Bento #311)


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?

Happy Bento-ing!


Instant ramen hack (Bento #294)


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!


It's apple bunny season (Bento #293)


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!


What's in your stash? (Bento #265)


So, what’s in your freezer stash? A good freezer stash is essential for a bento on the go. Whenever I have extra rice, meatballs, patties, etc. I always freeze them in bento sized portions for a day like today. I pulled two Morning Star Farms vegee patties, rice, and soy beans out of the freezer and quickly defrosted them in the microwave. In seconds, half my bento was finished!

I also cut up some strawberries, leftover steamed multi-colored carrots, leftover steamed green beans, and made a cucumber, tomato, and palm heart salad. This bento actually ended up having a bit too much food in it, I couldn’t finish it all!

What do you keep in your freezer stash?

Happy Bento-ing!


Meatless Monday (Bento #237)

I couldn’t stop craving the miso sauce I made for that vegee pasta last week. I wanted to do something a little different with it though, so I used it to coat some pan seared tofu. Hubs has decided that he doesn’t care for the texture of tofu. :( Oh well, I tried.

Along with the tofu we had fried rice and pan seared okra. For lunch I packed the leftovers with some carrots, cheese, cucumbers, a tomato, and a fruit cup. Simple and tasty!

Happy Bento-ing!

Exploring Greece with spanakopita (Bento #205)

I wish I could say that I made this spanakopita (spinach pie) but I didn’t. Hubs and I spent most of the weekend at my parents’ house and the spanakopita is leftovers from last night’s dinner out. The salad is also leftovers and it has romaine lettuce, cucumbers, calamata olives, and huge slices of feta. My mom bought me some beets at the market and I couldn’t resist adding them to the salad.

I was lucky enough to find some more dragon fruit this weekend too! It reminds me so much of a mild kiwi that I thought it would be funny to have the two side-by-side. I know it’s a lot of fruit but I didn’t eat much fruit over the weekend and I have some pretty hearty vegetables waiting for me to cook them this week.

Since it’s officially October I decided to decorate my desk at school for Halloween. I only have a couple of little things so far. I am in dire need of some bats! Hopefully they inspire me to make some Halloween bentos!

Have a great Monday!

Happy Bento-ing!

Green food rocks! (Bento #201)

This week has been crazy busy and I don’t think it’s going to slow down for a while. It seems that everything I need to do happens all at the same time. The good news is that I’m almost finished writing my dissertation proposal! Yay! It’ll probably need to be edited and revised a few times but at least the first draft is almost done.

After Hubs left this morning I decided to make myself some lunch to bring to school. Since I was only cooking for myself I didn’t make any meat. Nor did I pay too much attention to making it a balanced meal (it was 5AM, at that hour I’m excused from making healthy choices, lol) I sauteed some lotus root with mushrooms and seasoned it with a little leftover homemade teriyaki sauce I had in the fridge. The yu choy was steamed and tossed with a little soy sauce and sesame seeds. The rest of the bento was easily thrown together: edamame, kiwi, grapes, and carrots.

Happy Bento-ing!

Welcome home bento (Bento #183)

I cannot believe the summer is almost over. I didn’t finish half of what I wanted, but I had a great time. Hubs and I just got back from a diving trip in the FL Keys. We went on 8 dives! It was truly an adventure and I wish I could do it again. We saw hundreds of fish, numerous coral reefs, tons of jellyfish, and even some remains of wrecked ships. Hubs even got to see a few sharks but I missed them. My favorite part was slowly gliding into a huge school of little fish. If you go slow enough, they actually don’t mind you being there and they swim all around you in a giant group. It’s such a surreal experience, it’s like visiting another planet.

For our last night in th
e Keys we decided to go see an old friend... Kitty! Kitty lives at a great B&B in Key West called the Casablanca. It’s actually on the same block as Hemingway’s house. We knew that Kitty, and her millions of extra toes, would be upset if we stayed anywhere else so we booked a room, picked up some salmon flavored treats, and headed South. After 4 days of diving, it was nice to have a relaxing final night.

I came home a little battered and bruised (thanks to a bunch of jellyfish stings and my fins tearing up my feet) so it’s taking me a little bit of time to get back into the swing of things. We took quite a few underwater pictures but I haven’t had the latest ones developed yet. I hope they turn out!

I couldn’t wait to make a bento so I threw this one together at the last bit of sunlight. I tossed some frozen vegees in the rice as it cooked and packed it with some purple cabbage slaw, soy beans, and cherries.

I hope you all had a wonderful summer! I can’t wait to catch up on everyones bentos!

Happy Bento-ing!

Orange ginger tofu (Bento #169)

I am loving only having to make a bento for myself! I took Sunday afternoon to cook some rice and orange ginger tofu just for my lunches. This tofu is so good. Poor Hubs doesn’t know what he’s missing!

To make the marinade I heated the juice and zest of one orange, chopped ginger, chopped garlic, soy sauce, mirin, and some brown sugar in a small pot to get all the flavors to come out. I marinated the drained and pressed tofu slices in it for about 30 min, took them out and grilled them in a pan, removed the tofu, then strained the marinade into the pan, added some sesame seeds, and let it simmer to thicken up a bit. I strained it because I thought the ginger would get a bit overpowering.

It tastes great to me, but lately my taster hasn’t been right. Ever since I got really sick back in January, foods haven’t been tasting right. So who knows, it could be gross, but to me it’s great, lol!

The rest of the bento is pretty basic: rice with furikake, a pickled plum, cucumbers, grapes, and apple slices.

Happy Bento-ing!

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!

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!

The ultimate salad (Bento #121)

Hubs is a strange creature. He is such a meat-a-saurus most of the time but every now and then he starts craving salads. The other day I packed him a salad and he loved it.

So today, what we have is a big salad bento, the ultimate salad! I packed it in the Lunchbots Eco because it’s the biggest bento I have, and if all hubs has to eat is a salad, it better be a big one.

So, what’s in it? Everything but the kitchen sink: romaine lettuce, green olives, blueberries, purple cabbage, fresh raw green beans, sweet red and yellow peppers, imported Italian parmesan cheese, and potato and egg salad.

Don’t forget about the free birthday bento items with every order until midnight March 4th! Just mention Happy Birthday in the notes to seller.

The next few days are going to be insanely busy. Friday is my birthday and we are having a dinner at my mom’s and Saturday morning my flight to Baltimore leaves at 7AM. Between now and about noon tomorrow I have to do all of my laundry, pack, go shopping, finish my presentation poster, submit the poster to be printed, get my new fancy pants hemmed, finish about 5 hours worth of grading, and run up to school and get scantrons read. Oh yeah, I also wanted to pack myself an in-flight bento!

Phew, what a week!

Happy Bento-ing!

Spicy chili tofu (Bento #107)

The other day hubby and I were pouring hot sauce all over our toasted subs when I realized... we love spicy food but I never cook it! To be honest, I’m not really sure how to cook with hot sauce, I usually use it as a topping. The only spicy food I know how to make is chilli. So I gave myself a challenge and decided that I was going to make some spicy tofu!

I made a dinner that was big enough to have leftovers for bento. The dinner had the spicy chili tofu (recipe(?) below), steamed turnips, snow peas, and sweet potatoes all on a bed of rice with a ball of miso butter.

No, I swear! I didn’t plan this meal around what I could put miso butter on..... I promise!

For the bento I added seaweed salad and apple slices.

I am a total noob at writing recipes, so please, bear with me. ^_^

Spicy Chili Tofu

(I don’t really measure so these numbers are estimates. You can use them as a guideline but make the sauce according to your own tastes.)

1 package of tofu, cubed
1/4 onion, chopped

for the marinade:
1/4 cup sriracha chili sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 chopped garlic clove
1tsp grated ginger

for the glaze:
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp brown sugar
more soy sauce to taste

1) Cube and drain a package of firm tofu. I wrap mine in a super clean kitchen towel to wick out extra moisture.
2) Mix the sauce together in a tupperware container and add tofu. Then add enough water to cover the tofu and mix it up really well. You want all of the tofu submerged to marinate.
3) Let the tofu marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour.
4) Strain the tofu out of the marinade reserving all of the marinade to make the glaze.
5) Heat a pan on medium high heat with a little oil and fry the tofu cubes until they are brown and delicious. Just before they finished cooking I added the onion.
6) Remove the cooked tofu from the pan and pour in all of the reserved marinade. Yes it will hiss and boil, this is a good thing.
7) Let the marinade simmer for about 5 minutes to remove some of the added water.
8) Add the ketchup and brown sugar and let it continue to simmer.
9) The sauce should start thickening pretty good now. Let it simmer until you get the desired thickness. I added a few more dashes of soy sauce at this stage.

When I made my plate I put the tofu cubes on the rice then drizzled the sauce on top.

So, what did hubby think??? “This would be really good..... if it was chicken”. Lol! He loved the sauce, thought it was fantastic! The tofu? Not so much. He just doesn’t care for the texture, he needs something to chew on. Definitely going to try this with chicken!

Happy Bento-ing!