Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bento (158) - Steak and Noodles for Kidlet

Goose actually asks me for bentos every once in a while. I guess all the pain and suffering I went through while he was in Kindergarten paid off ^.^

This was a quick and easy kidlet bento. For the left, I cut several slices of steak and "fanned" them out for display. The white is plain soba noodles, and the piggy is filled with sweet soy broth (for both steak and noodles). Upper right is golden kiwi and grapes. Lower right is cherry tomatoes and pickled garlic (he picked out the garlic and left the tomatoes :P)

Bento (157) - Egg Foo Yong - Why yes, I do make this a lot!

What can I say? It's fast, it's easy, and it's tasty - which is why I make Egg Foo Yong a lot. I ran out of time to decorate the left side :( :( :( (silly work)- which is essentially a mixture of egg, imitation crab, peas, green onions, and nommy nommy sauce over rice. The right side is fruit salad (courtesy of Sams club) and peas - separated by a barrier of lettuce. I scattered carrot flowers over the top, and added a mini-food cup with umeboshi and rabbit pick.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bento (156) - Sad Panda . . . er . . . Happy Panda

This is more panko-encrusted chicken with stir fry vegetables - but I wanted to point out the cute little butterfly I made with one of my new cookie cutters! Squee!

Top left is blueberries topped with cheese cut outs. The flower in the lower right is an umeboshi with a pea sliced in half to make the "leaves."

Bento (155) - Lion Safari

Hello! My apologies for the long delay in um . . . . healthy lunches. Rumors of my fleeing the internet have been greatly exaggerated! I haven't made many bentos lately - and sadly, for whatever reason, I forgot to post the ones I did make. So I have a little catching up to do - and then hopefully it's back to my healthy habits. ::fingers crossed:: The New Year is a good time for that, right?

Top layer is sweet potato/apple salad and tomato/pickled garlic salad. Bottom level is panko-encrusted chicken, rice, and umeboshi.

And a kawaii lion pick! That was mean of me to get all my new toys and not show them off, wasn't it? :P

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bent (154) - Egg Foo Yong and Panda

My long awaited supplies have arrived from J-Box ::squeeeeeeeeee:: and should be making appearances shortly. Today, I packed my new black neko (cat) box (the kitty face is actually a freezable cold pack . . . how adorable is that?!) with egg foo yong (a mixture of egg, soy, sugar, onions, fishcake, peas, and carrots) over rice - and I packed the top with potato salad (left), fruit salad (right), a broccoli divider (if you can't identify the broccoli, I can't help you) with two grapes and an umeboshi (pickled plum) up front.

And a kawaii (cute) panda. Don't forget the panda!!! :P :P :P I also topped the two salads with cheese stars from one of my new cheese punches. Hooray!

Join me in the madness as I contemplate the cuteness! MU HA HA.

Did I mention I can make fried eggs that look like little bears now? ::squeeeeeeeeeee:: (with the yellow bear mold to the far right . . . yes, yes . . . that is for fried eggs . . . or pancakes ^.^).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bento (153) - Checkered Apple

I forgot to mention . . . while making apple flowers, I decided to give myself a little reminder about knife safety. Hahahahahaha . . ha . . . ha. . . . . The good news is: it could have been worse (much worse!). However, I feel obligated to throw out the following safety tip - ALWAYS work with a sharp knife, because if your knife is dull, you tend to apply pressure, and it is far more likely the knife will slip. Of course, I didn't cut myself doing the detail work on the apple flower . . . no . . . I cut myself cutting the apple in half. ::sigh:: It's no more than a papercut - I'm just highly annoyed at myself and grateful it wasn't worse. Thank you thank you thank you to whatever guardian spirit was watching out for my poor little fingertip.

Onwards and downwards! Today's bento was more leftover PF Chang's orange chicken, rice, umeboshi (pickled plum), the utterly nommy tomato/pickled garlic salad (a new favorite!!), and a checkered apple.

Bento (152) - Apple Flower

In trying to get inspired to bento again, I decided to play with apples this week. This lovely apple flower had to be collapsed down for storage, but I was able to spread the leaves before I ate it! Om nom nom!

For the observant - pictures with a white background are taken at work (my cubicle desk is white). Top level is grapes, apple flower, and carrot cutout with tomato/pickled garlic salad. I bought the pickled garlic at the Renaissance Festival - and it is amazingly delicious!! Bottom level is PF Chang's frozen orange chicken, rice and umeboshi (pickled plum).

Bento (151) - Fried Chicken and Penguin Dividers

On further reflection, there is something vaguely disturbing about a happy penguin peeking out from beneath the fried portion of a distant cousin . . . . :P Aside from that little oddity - bottom level is fried chicken over noodles. The kiwi container holds sweet soy broth for the noodles, and a few slices of real kiwi add decoration. I also sprinkled a few corn kernels for color. Top level is sliced avocado with vinegar/salt dipping sauce in the watermelon container and a silicone cupcake holder with kiwi/strawberry and yogurt.

Bento (150) - Ponyo Noodles

Also known as the world's yummiest way to make ramen. Plus - you can make two servings with very few ingredients (you even split the packet of ramen in half!!)

For ponyo noodles I start with ramen noodles (throw away the seasoning packet) and add all the nommy stuff - green onions, boiled egg, carrots (cut into cute star shapes!) any other veggies, some sort of protein (in this case - turkey), soup base, and siracha sauce (I can't remember how to spell it at the moment - and I'm too lazy to go look it up).

Om nom nom!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bento (149) - Leftover Cherries

Today's goal as to use all the leftover cherries before I was forced to throw them out. I am trying to be better about food wastage. I actually really like the contrast between the cherries and the carrot/edamame salad. Fruits and veggies! All together!

Bottom level was beef in sweet soy broth (surprise surprise) with noodles - but I added peas and carrots to the meat side for a little veggie twist. Oddly, the peas actually ended up flavoring the sauce . . . . I think I'll stick to cilantro in the future - but I LOVED what the veggies did in regards to adding color! ^.^

Bento (148) - Community Stuffed Pasta Shells

My favorite part about this dish is that a neighbor made the stuffed pasta shells for a community meeting. Aside from watching old Leave it to Beaver re-runs, I don't think I've ever actually seen someone voluntarily make food for a community meeting :P It was a lovely gesture - and leftovers made for a lovely bento. Thank you, neighbor!!

Aside from the purloined pasta shells, the white spots are pickled garlic (courtesy of the Queen of Garlic at the Renaissance Festival). Bottom level is kiwi/craisin salad, a fishie egg (who, sadly, didn't hold his fishie-ness - must have been too hot still when I put him in the bento :( ), and a scoop of deli-made greek salad.

I can only take credit for one portion of this bento. I boiled the egg! WHEEE!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bento (147) - The Road Less Traveled By

So . . . I've been reading a few of my bento books to try and add a few more delicious lunches to my current routine . . . and I realized I have (sadly) never made soboro (ground beef and eggs over rice). While I was pondering my bento in the shower (don't ask) - I was suddenly hit by inspiration . . . I had little kung pao chicken nuggets that could be statues . . . and I could make a little ground beef road . . . and . . . and . . . VOILA!!!! Freeform bento!!

The pickled plum sun in the upper right-hand corner didn't stand out as much as I would have liked, but overall, I was very pleased with this bento. And I discovered Craisins and rice actually make a fairly interesting combination. Maybe I'll have to try Craisin rice balls . . . .

Bento (146) - Soy Bunny Chaperones

This bento post brought to you direct from the Shoebox - the Interwebs have returned! HOORAY. I also won't mention the LARGE quantity of bento supplies soon to arrive from J-Box in celebration of my new job. Tee hee!!

Today's lunch was leftover P.F. Chang Kung Pao chicken (spruced up with frozen stir-fry veggies). Top level is soy bunnies sitting on top of butter/lemon edamame and potato salad. Center is store-bought mochi. Yellow container holds the kun pao sauce for the chicken nuggets.

As a side note . . . the edamame sauteed in butter with a dash of lemon juice was delicious for dinner - but the butter turned thick and grainy overnight and made for a rather unpleasant texture on the edamame in my bento the next day. Oops. :P Lesson learned - and I thought I'd pass it along so you can benefit from my mistakes ^.^

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bento (145) - Brightening Up Brown Noodles

Did I mention I've become a noodle snob? I can't even eat spaghetti noodles anymore! To change up my sweet soy beef dinner, I changed out the usual white udon noodles for brown soba noodles . . . and then realized that brown meat and brown noodles make for an awfully well - brown - bento :P

It was necessary to add lettuce, corn, edamame, and TWO - yes TWO - kawaii sauce holders to make this bento as bright as I wanted. Top level is edamame/radish rose, kiwi, and potato salad. To make the little flower, I put down two edamame leaves, and a little piece of red pepper (which was already in the potato salad). SCORE!

And for all those wondering about Goose's chicken nugget bento. HE ATE IT!!!

Bento (144) - Bento Surprise - Goose's Request

Goose caught me making my bento yesterday and said: "Mommy - remember when you used to make me lunches? I REALLY want you to make me a lunch . . . please please please?"


Needless to say, I suffered through all the flashbacks of the times I carefully prepared his lunches - only to have him 1) hate the ingredients; 2) forget to eat it; or 3) turn it upside down, shake, and then complain that it was all jumbled up at lunchtime . . . .

And I made him a bento with dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. I tossed in leftover soba noodles and sweet soy broth from dinner, and included two piggies - one with ketchup for the nuggets and one with the sweet soy for the noodles. One chopped up kiwi, a scattering of frozen corn and some pre-cooked edamame - and a dollop of white potato salad to showcase the piggy and VOILA!

It even looks cute with the lid on! Awwww.

Bento (143) - Return of Panko Encrusted Chicken

When I first started bento, each bento took me an average of 40 minutes (and since I was making 3 every morning, I was cooking a good 2 hours!!!) Now, I'm down to one bento, it usually only takes me 15-20 minutes . . . . but since I got used to a few favorite recipes, I sort of fall into the rut of making what I know. Time to go buy a new bento book and EXPERIMENT!!! Muhahahahahah . . .

In the meantime, the top level is the usual panko-encrusted chicken nuggets with rice and pickled plum. Bottom was watermelon (mmmMMMmmmm) with cheddarjack cheese stars and mixed veggies - courtesy of a frozen bag of stir-fry veggies. Sauce container has teriyaki sauce for the chicken nuggets.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bento (142) - Bento my Bento Leftovers

Don't laugh - but I actually bentoed leftovers from a bento lunch I bought on the 16th Street Mall. (You're laughing . . . aren't you?!) Just kidding! About being angry - not the bento. A lovely little restaurant has sprung up next to Jamba Juice - and I'm afraid I can't remember if it is called Obento or just Bento (I know, I know . . . I lose bento points for not paying attention). If anyone needs any further incentive to try them out, they also serve delightful boba teas . . . . MmmmMMMmmmm. For those who are wondering - what is boba? . . . . they're giant blueberry-size tapioca beads added to a smoothie. If you like tapioca - you'll have a new addiction. If you despise tapioca, you probably won't like boba.

Anyhoo . . .

I can take credit for the blueberry/raspberry salad, broccoli/edamame/and carrot star salad, and the pickled plum. The rice and the lovely bulgogi beef both came from Obento - and tasted just as delicious the second day. Om nom nom!!

Bento (141) - Carrot Stars and Cilantro

Today's bento is accompanied by the announcement that the Internets should be returning to my humble home (which I have nicknamed the Shoebox)! HOORAY! More frequent updating opportunities . . . or, at the least, if I don't update - you know I'm just wasting my time surfing Facebook or some such :P

Onto the food!
This week featured edamame and carrot stars, raspberry/blueberry salad, and beef in sweet soy broth accompanied by noodles (with a sauce container of the soy broth). I discovered chopping cilantro and scattering it over the meat makes for a quick way to make the meat more attractive - and didn't require a lot of "arranging." Hooray for cilantro! (If you make bentos for others, be careful with cilantro. In a certain percentage of folks, there is some sort of gene that makes the herb taste like soap - but not me! Hooray!)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bento (140) - Kung Pao Bento

And for my final post in this batch of bentos - I tried the P.F. Chang frozen Kung Pao Chicken bag . . . which also turned out to be delicious. If I had more time, I would have liked to stuff a few more veggies around the baked chicken to add a little color - but this was one of those "oh-my-gosh-I'm-late-and-I-need-to-pack-a-lunch" five-minute bentos. Everything is fairly identifiable - yogurt, craisins, rice, pickled plum, and green giraffe food pick to add a little fun! The yellow sauce container has the kung pao sauce, which was poured over the chicken before eating.

Bento (139) - Restaurant Sandwich Makeover

I ordered a turkey/cranberry sandwich from a local restaurant, and decided to try arranging the leftovers in my bento. I think it turned out quite well! The strawberry/kiwi salad came from my fridge, but the broccoli and other veggies were leftover steamed veggies from the restaurant, provided with the sandwich. Proof that you can bento almost anything - and enjoy the presentation just as much as when someone else first gave it to you!

Bento (138) - Orange Chicken - Take 2

Day 2 of orange chicken - accompanied by squash and zuchinni baked with a little salt/pepper/terragon and oil . . . I highly recommend these. Then I got creative with yogurt and craisins . . . . Bottom tier is the usual boring orange chicken/rice/pickled plum.

Bento (137) - Orange Chicken and Rainbow Mochi

Nothing adds to a batch of frozen P.F. Chang's orange chicken like rainbow mochi. Mmmmmm. Anyhoo - I experimented with a squash salad recipe (upper left), but added a touch too much mayo. It was still absolutely DELICIOUS - if a little whiter than I wanted :P :P :P Will have to try it again with less mayo and more squash (ingredients: cooked squash, salted cucumber slices, chopped boiled egg, and mayo). Bottom level is P.F. Changs orange chicken and rice - with a pickled plum (which I found out - acts as a preservative. COOL!). I tossed in a few whole strawberries and called it good!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bento (136) - Return of the Apple Bunny

It's been forever since I made an apple bunny - and it seemed the perfect way to spruce up my leftover egg foo yong. Pink stuff in the middle is blueberry yogurt sprinkled with craisins (cranberry raisins). Right hand side of the top level is Sams Club pinwheels . . . you can only see the tortilla wrapping and not the pretty stuffing. :P :P :P

Bento (135) - Egg Foo Yong and Checkered Apple

Today's bento is egg foo yong (eggs, onions, artificial crab meat, soy, sugar - and probably something I'm forgetting) over rice . . . . mmmmmmmmm . . . with kale decorations and a fishie container filled with soy sauce. Top level is a checkered apple and a side of edamame topped with a radish flower.

Bento (134) - Gyoza Bunny!

For today's bento, I found half a bag of frozen gyoza (wow - who knew?) in the door to my freezer. I've finally replenished my stock of shelled edamame, and used one of the last two pickled plums to spruce up the rice. Add a grape and kiwi side-salad, and voila! Bento happiness.

Bento (133) - Animal Safari

After I invested in new pretty tupperware (yes - I actually appreciate that they added attractive little swirl patterns to the plastic) - I decided I better get off my heiney and continue my bentos before I lose all my lovely followers :P So to kick off the bento spree . . . we have an animal safari!! Otherwise known as panko encrusted chicken bites, rice, and stir fry veggies. Hooray!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bento (132) - SHEEP!!!! (and Bunnies)

The quail eggs made me do it. I volunteered to bring a veggie side dish to a potluck . . . but the quail eggs were on the bottom shelf of the fridge . . . softly calling. "We want to be sheep!" . . . then one said "I want to be a bunny!!" and before I knew it . . . I had sheep and bunnies instead of broccoli salad (like I had planned).

Bento (131) - Artistic Mochi!

And now for something different . . . . . I had some leftover mochi (of a nommy hazelnut variety), so I cut two in half and ended up with the bizarre tear drop shaped items in the green cupcake holder. To the left is frozen carrots and peas, to the right is kiwi. Bottom level is P.F. Chang's mongolian beef and broccoli (I added the monkey!) and rice with cheese stars. Om nom nom!

Bento (130) - Fun with Lettuce

The long dark silence between posts . . . :P

And now . . presenting food!

This was a simple teriyaki chicken bits and rice (additional teriyaki sauce in the sauce holder), blueberry and commercial jelly salad, and green bean casserole topped with crunchy Funions (crunchy onion flavored bits). Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Bento (129) - Spaghetti Bento

Today's bento was fairly "American" . . . blueberry/strawberry salad, peas and corn, and bottom level is spaghetti around a cupcake holder filled with spaghetti sauce and topped with a cheese flower and random corn/peas.

As a sidenote, I generally drop all my veggies in frozen, and they usually thaw by lunch. Today some of the corn was still covered in ice crystals . . . but it is amazing how much more vivid the colors are at lunch.

I've also become such a noodle snob. I found the spaghetti noodles tough and chewy - despite having cooked them three times longer than my soba or udon noodles. What do we do to our noodles to make them so different?!!! Vitamin supplements?

Bento (128) - Mongolian Beef

Pulling a frozen bag o' P.F. Chang's new line of t.v. dinners and heating it in a saucepan counts as bento, right?! :P :P :P

Top level is carrots/cucumbers cut into flower shapes with a red sauce container filled with ranch. Spinach leave separators and a blueberry/strawberry salad. Bottom is P.F. Chang's mongolian beef and rice, topped with cheese and pea/corn flowers. Red is a radish rose.

Om nom nom!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Bento (127) - Spinach, Strawberry, and Soy Bunny Side Salads

Since I still had an abundance of strawberries and spinach leaves (curses, Sam's Club and you're 2 pound bags of items . . . ) I decided to make spinach, strawberry, and soy bunny side salads to take to a pot-luck. The "sun" is a chicken egg (instead of a quail egg). A few salads had radish roses instead of bunnies - for those not inclined to devour adorable soy bunnies.

Bento (126) - How To Bento

To continue the bento insanity . . . I didn't have time to bento in the morning, so I stuffed a grocery bag with ingredients and took a paring knife to work : ^.^ Then it dawned on me that if I was going to make a bento at work, I might as well photograph the step-by-step for the curious. Admittedly, I had a rough idea of strawberry spinach salad and skewers when I stuffed the bag, but then I had to spread out the ingredients and put some thought into it.

Step 1: Ingredients

We have store-bought fried chicken (they were out of everything else), leftover fried udon noodles, leftover deli pasta, pickled plums, half a cucumber, spinach, strawberries, mozarella cheese, various picks (since I knew I wanted skewers), a sauce container with vinaigrette, and an empty bento box with silicone cupcake holder. Observe the joy of bento!! MU HA HA.

Step 2: Pasta Salad

Stuff cupcake holder with pasta salad. Leave a small depression for pickled plum.

Step 3: Pickled Plum

Wash and dry spinach. Tear off a small piece and use it to cup the pickled plum and to keep the flavor of the plum separate from the pasta salad. Stuff plum and spinach leaf into salad.

Step 4: Spinach Salad

Lay down a bed of spinach leaves. In this case, I loosely "rolled" the leaves which made them look fluffy and left open spaces to stick strawberries in later.

Step 5: Strawberries

Cut strawberries in quarters to make cute little triangles. EAT ANY EXTRA . . . this is very important :P
Make one layer of strawberry tips to cover where the spinach meets the cupcake holder. Stuff strawberries, small point out, in the rolled leaves. Scatter a few extra torn spinach leaves to make the spinach look "leafy."

Step 6: Bed of Noodles.

I knew I would need something to support my skewers, so I laid down a bed of leftover udon noodles. . . though this bento was light on protein, so I probably should have used extra chicken meat instead.

Step 7: Garnish!

Add a few spinach leaves to the noodles to provide a background contrast and keep the skewers separate from the noodles.

Step 8: Sauce Container

Add the sauce container while there is room (since it is rather rigid and non-squishable).

Step 9: Skewers! Cucumber Chunks.

And now for skewer construction. I cut a one inch thick piece of cucumber.

Then skinned four sides to leave some dark green coloring.

And cut it into quarters to make nice thick square chunks.

Step 10: Skewers! Chicken and Cheese!

Once the cucumber was ready, I peeled the skin off the fried chicken and did my best to tear off large skewer size chunks of meat. I also opened the mozarella cheese and rolled it into soft little white balls. (Cheese is slimy. Just sayin'.) If I had thought about it, I would have sprinkled salt on the cucumber and let it set while I did this step. Consider that an optional step 9.5. ^.^

Step 11: Skewers!

Now that all the ingredients were prepared, I created skewers by poking a cute animal skewer through cucumber, chicken, and cheese. The next skewer I did chicken, cucumber, and cheese to switch up the order and make them seem a little different.

Step 12: Places, Everyone!

Once the skewers were made (notice how messy the plate was - skewers tend to require a lot of ingredients since half of them fall apart!), I place them side by side in the bento box, on top of the udon noodle bed.

First skewer:


Step 14: Detail Work

I took a moment to look at the box and decided to add an additional strawberry tip and some mozarella cheese to make a small strawberry flower above the sauce container.

Step 13: Enjoy!

And stared at my lunch for a good five minutes before consuming. OM NOM NOM!!!!!!

Happy bento-ing, All!