kimchi grilled cheese bento

9 06 2010

late last week i received an awesome housewarming gift from one of my sweet bento pals:  a small, detailed, mouse-shaped cutter.  thanks a million, you-know-who, i love it!  and what better way to use a mouse cutter than in a cheese-filled bento?

inside this box is a yummy kimchi grilled cheese sandwich (inspired by the sandwiches we saw being sold by one of the vendors at last weekend’s renegade craft fair!) cut into thirds, topped by beet mice.  in the top section is a piece of panko-fried chicken, some pencil-thin asparagus wrapped in thinly-sliced turkey, a few tomatoes, a piece of steamed broccoli, and the wedge of cheese those mice are looking for!  i made the cheese by cutting a small wedge of parmesan off the block in my fridge, and then topping it with a piece of american out of which i cut holes with a round cutter and a drinking straw.

kimchi grilled cheese

for each sandwich:

  • 2 slices sourdough bread
  • 2 slices american cheese (or another yellow cheese of your choice; cheddar would be great)
  • 2 slices monterey jack cheese (or another white cheese of your choice)
  • 2 tbsp. diced kimchi
  • 1 tbsp. each butter and canola oil
  1. cover your cutting board or work surface with saran wrap or tin foil.  butter one slice of bread and place it on your work surface, butter side down (this is why we covered!).
  2. place a slice of yellow cheese and a slice of white cheese on the bread.  spread your diced kimchi evenly over the surface of the cheese.  place another slice of white and then another slice of yellow.
  3. butter your other slice of bread and place it on top of the stack, butter side up.
  4. in a frying pan, heat your oil and then turn the heat to medium-low.  place the sandwich in the pan, and then cover the top of the pan loosely with tin foil.
  5. place another heavy pan (or whatever comes in handy — i used my teapot) over the tinfoil, thereby weighing the sandwich down.  this encourages even heating and compresses the sandwich so that everything melts together more smoothly and the crust gets crustier.
  6. after 2-3 min. (or however it takes on your stovetop for the bottom side to get crusty golden brown), lift up the weight and the foil, flip your sandwich, and replace the weight and foil.  continue cooking for another 2 min. or until the other side is golden brown too.
  7. rest the sandwich on your cutting board for a few minutes — if you cut right away, all the cheese will ooze out.  but maybe you like it that way!




yum-yum bento box: retro girl bento

3 06 2010

today’s lunch is a re-mix of the adorable “retro girls” bento featured on p. 42 of “yum-yum bento box:  fresh recipes for adorable lunches.”

i actually wanted to use up some scraps from cutting veggies over the past few days, so i opted for an omelet-style bento, as seen in “early-bird omelet” (p. 106) and “sunny-side up” (p. 128).   my omelet is filled with fried rice, which used up all my pea pod, sweet potato, broccoli stem, hot dog and salami bits — i added gochujang and red onion for more flavor.  if you need a basic recipe for fried rice, try this one from one of my previous posts (i added meat this time, but the basic recipe there is vegetarian).

because of the size of my box/omelet, only one retro girl would fit — but she’s super cute!  just like in the book, i used nori eyes with sesame eyelashes, a nori mouth, and a carrot nose, but i replaced the ham cheeks with ones cut from fish sausage.  i also added some cheese-flower and herbal sprig accents, like the decoration for “early-bird omelet” in the book.  totally mixing and matching — dig it?

food-wise, i totally did my own thing, with a veggie meatball (music note pick to keep up the “retro” theme; after all, the book tells me that “cute retro girls love their . . . jukebox music”!), three flower-cut carrots, steamed brussels sprouts and broccoli, a few beet slices, half a strawberry and a cherry, and some pea pods to fill empty spaces.





hot pink bento

27 05 2010

i got this chic black furoshiki as part of my last bento & co. order, and i’ve been waiting to use it because i think it requires an equally chic and “adult” meal. this was my attempt at the required level of sophistication: three ume-furikake onigiris with ooba leaf wrappers, roasted asparagus and brussels sprouts (layered over pan-fried tofu), carved beet flowers, an oribenishiki from minamoto kitchoan, and a couple of blackberry skewers.

i know it’s the wrong season for roasted veg, but i wanted to stick to a limited color palette of hot pink and bright green.

phew, thank goodness tomorrow’s friday. and it’s a long weekend here in the US, too! hope all my bento pals and readers have a good one!

[as seen on love and trash]





bunny bahn mi bento

11 01 2010

most of you probably know how tasty bahn mi sandwiches are, and for those of you who are lucky enough to have a vietnamese sandwich shop in your neighborhood, they are usually pretty cheap and easy to pick up.  because of the convenience factor, i fall back on a bahn mi bento every couple of weeks — it’s a great “fill in” on nights when i don’t cook dinner or don’t make enough to produce bento-able leftovers for the next day.

today, in an effort to showcase the versatility of this lunchbox item, some of my favorite bentoists and i have put together a variety of bahn mi bentos!

my bahn mi bento is geared towards my relatively physically inactive lifestyle (i pretty much sit at a computer all day!).  in order to tailor the lunch to my nutritional requirements, i simply added a lot of fresh fruits and veggies.  the bahn mi already has fresh carrots, cilantro, and cucumber in it, as well as tofu for my protein element.  but because the yummy baguette is a processed carb (it’s plain white, not whole wheat or anything), i do need to be careful not to add other carb elements to the meal. the fruit is even pushing it, because it has so many natural sugars. to keep my body working to process those sugars, i will pace myself over the course of the day, eating part of the fruit section as a mid-morning snack.

the bunny decoration is made from mozzarella and american cheeses, with vegetarian ham and nori accents.  in the bahn mi tier i also have a steamed sweet potato flower, three takuwan-and-beet flowers, some enoki mushrooms, pea pods, and grape tomatoes.  once i eat the sandwich i will probably rip up the lettuce leaves and eat the rest of the veggies mixed with the lettuce as a small salad.

my fruit tier has nashi and plum fans, with a baby orange in a food cup, some strawberries in a food cup, blueberries in another food cup, and grapes and raspberries to fill the gaps.  both sections of this 2-tier ccomotti box are pretty deep, so the food cups are propped up on additional slices of nashi and plum.

for other ideas on how bahn mi sandwiches fit into various lifestyles (with various nutritional needs), please take a look at these other gorgeous bentos:

  • sheri over at happy little bento, who makes lunch for her son and his big appetite, made a bahn mi bento focusing on balanced nutrition for a full and active school day.
  • debra of hapa bento is a vegetarian, and her post discusses enjoying a bahn mi in nutritional moderation.
  • finally, susan over at hawai`i’s bento box cookbook makes lunch for her cutie-pie daughter paige, so she made a bahn mi bento focusing on incorporating veggies into a kid’s diet.

in the comments, i’d love to hear about your favorite bahn mi sandwich shop, or your favorite accompaniments for a bahn mi bento!

and many thanks to debra for coordinating this fun exposé on bahn mi bentos!





“fit for life” bento

6 01 2010

tonight is my contribution to hapa bento’s b.o.m.b. (best of the month bento) project, for which this month’s theme is… ROASTING!

the roasted veg here is really my side dish, but since it’s the b.o.m.b. theme i’ll discuss it first. basically, i kept it simple – asparagus, baby bella mushrooms, grape tomatoes, yellow squash and brussels sprouts roasted in my toaster oven (energy efficient and the perfect size for roasting only enough to feed one) with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, and thyme. thanks again to hapa for hosting this contest on her awesome blog, and for inspiring us all to use this healthy cooking method more often!

roasting aside, the sandwich here is kind of the main event. sometimes when the boyfriend and i are feeling lazy we have “sando night” and pig out on crazy sandwiches stuffed with whatever we want. the boyfriend chose hummus and salami (weird, right?) whereas i chose a concoction from his mom’s yummy sandwich shop (ygnacio cafe in walnut creek, ca – highly recommend if you are ever in the area) that she has dubbed “fit for life.” this magical sammie consists of wheat bread (i like mine toasted), with cream cheese, sprouts, avocado, and sliced black olives. i also added baked lemon-pepper tofu to mine to give it a little bit more protein, and added a pretty accent with some nashi-and-beet blossoms (snow pea “leaves,” sesame seed centers).

fruit sidecar has fanned strawberries, green grapes, the last two slices of starfruit, and a skewer of blueberries (i thought the blue matched the main box nicely).





panda pizza bento

2 11 2009

bento 29

happy november!  (no more halloween bentos, but still plenty of cuteness, hopefully.)

3 mini pizzas (from the freezer section in trader joe’s), with a cheese and nori “panda” face on the top pie (umeboshi cheeks), and a hot dog “flower”  (green pea center).

red plum fan, snow peas, blackberries in a silicone food cup with a yellow beet butterfly, blueberries and cookies in a flower-shaped silicone food cup, and a chocolate leaf (wrapped in copper-colored foil).

[as seen on chow, the chowhound blog]





“chicken” nuggets bento

21 10 2009

bento 23

lucky sundae’s adorable doggie bento inspired me to check out the neat bento character recipes provided on the ajinomoto webpage as part of an ongoing contest.

my bento is copied from this cute chicken bento, except i made mine with trader joe’s soy chicken nuggets.

the chickies’ beaks are yellow beet, eyes and feet are nori, combs are soy pepperoni. the chickies are sitting on rice, which is just one layer on top of a layer of shredded cheese, and beneath that a layer of refried black beans (all leftovers from veggie burritos the other night). the top veggie portion is purple broccoli with a cheese-and-sesame flower, yellow wax beans, “twist” cut yellow squash and cucumber, asparagus, two red grape tomatoes, and maki’s pickled radishes.

[as seen on epicute, micro krill, and lin loves]








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