two bunnies bento

7 09 2010

hey bento friends!  it’s been forever — my bad!  after a long summer “off” (and full of great stuff — an old friend’s lovely wedding, a fun surprise camping trip, a milestone birthday, and our adoption of a new puppy), i’m back to work this week at a brand new job, which also means back to bento.

adjusting to my new work schedule has left me completely exhausted, so just a short post tonight to get me back in the swing of things.  for tomorrow’s lunch, i have two wasabi-salmon onigiri topped with cheese bunnies and trimmed in nori.  i thought i was being clever, and modeled the facial features after what i remembered marshmallow peep bunnies as looking like, but it turns out i forgot their noses — oh well, next time!  (this cutter really is perfect for peep bunnies, so i’m sure you’ll see it again come easter.)  also in this box are champagne grapes, a cute tiny lady apple, some bamboo-shaped baran and carrots cut into a similar shape, steamed broccolini and corn, and two colorful tomatoes with carrot picks.  the bunny and flower-shaped cutters, as well as the carrot picks, were gifts from a sweet bento pal — thanks dear!

i haven’t been as active in the comments sections of all my favorite bento blogs, but i have been quietly enjoying all the fabulous “back to school” bentos — as usual, you bento ladies are full of great decoration tips and healthy, delicious meal ideas for your lucky kids.  thanks for inspiring me, as always; i hope i can “get my act together” and make my “back to work” bentos as fun and appetizing!





fruit and onigiri snack bento

29 06 2010

just a quick one today, as i’m running around preparing for a dinner party tonight (and will be munching while i cook!)…

three small onigiri made with my favorite chunky ume/sesame seed furikake, and wrapped with ooba leaves; three vegetarian chicken tenders and a piece of okra wrapped in vegetarian ham (you’ll be seeing a lot of that until i run out of my okra!), a bit of steamed broccoli with a clown pick, red grapes, and some perfectly plump blueberries…

the blueberries are from a GINORMOUS bucket of blueberries that we got (along with a small carton of precious golden raspberries) as this week’s share of the CSA we joined when we moved to williamsburg.  tonight i’m making blueberry crisp, but i’m in the market for other blueberry recipes (especially bento-friendly ones), so holler if you’ve got ideas!

[as seen on fada moranga]





yum-yum bento box: walruses bento

4 06 2010

today’s lunch is based on the “walruses” bento featured on p. 52 of the book “yum-yum bento box: fresh recipes for adorable lunches.”

again, i tried to faithfully copy the character idea, while substituting ingredients as necessary.  so for instance, in the book, the walruses are brown rice.  my boyfriend isn’t a huge brown rice fan, so i mix our brown rice with white rice… the resulting onigiri is a lighter color, but i think it’s still ok for a walrus!  as another example, i didn’t have the mushroom caps or lentis recommended for the walruses’ noses, so i used edamame beans.  green noses are cute too!  finally, i don’t have a nori punch that makes small enough dots for the walruses’ whisker holes, so i just used sesame seeds, pushed into the rice with the pointy sides down.  the nori eyes, cheese “tusks,” and ketchup cheeks are all just like in the book.

the point is to make do with what you have!  if you use the basic character ideas from the book and put your own spin on them, you are sure to come up with something cute.

the rest of my box contains broccoli with corn kernels (like on p. 32), half a steamed brussels sprout, two cherries and a strawberry, two pieces of vegetarian chicken, some takuwan-and-carrot rosettes, a salami rosette, and pea pods to fill empty spaces.  my brown-and-white rice onigiri are stuffed with umeboshi.  yum!

i hope you have all enjoyed my take this week on various yum-yum bento boxes, and that you’re eager to try your own interpretations of the wonderful characters and recipes from this book… have a wonderful weekend!





yum-yum bento box: little red riding hood bento

2 06 2010

today’s lunch is based on the “little red riding hood” bento featured on p. 70 of the book “yum-yum bento box: fresh recipes for adorable lunches.”

again, i tried to follow the design of the character pretty exactly, but swapped out some of the food items based on my preferences and of course on what i had in my fridge/pantry.

little red riding’s hood and cheeks are made from salami; her hair, eyes, and mouth are made of nori; and just like in the book, her nose is cut from white cheese.  i’ve kept the strawberry section pictured in the book, but didn’t have mint leaves on hand, so i added green grapes for a bit of extra green freshness (and to fill up space).  i copied the ume-vinegar-powder/basket weave onigiri pictured in the book as well, but replaced the japanese veggie salad and tempura with some vegetarian meatballs and a grape tomato.  i replaced the quail egg from the book with a takuwan rosette, and added a few pea pods to fill the final gaps around little red riding hood.

see how easy it is to use the book’s ideas as a spring-board, while substituting your favorite foods?

here’s a closeup of the flower on the hood — i used cheese and salami but swapped out the chervil for cilantro.  that’s an uncooked somen noodle “pinning” the flower down to the hood.





yum-yum bento box: frogs bento

1 06 2010

over the long weekend, i received my long-awaited copy of “yum-yum bento box: fresh recipes for adorable lunches,” by pikko and lucky sundae.

rather than just doing a straight-up review of the book, which i spent a good portion of yesterday browsing, i thought that this week i would post some of pikko and lucky sundae’s bentos, recreated and re-mixed by me.  this is a great way to show how the boxes illustrated in the book are customize-able — you can take the characters from one, and use decorations or side dishes from another, etc., to end up with a creative, colorful and nutritionally balanced meal!

today’s lunch consists of two froggie onigiri, as pictured in the “frogs” bento on p. 26 of the book.  i dyed my rice green with the green salmon furikake from my five-color decoben furikake pack, and added cheese and nori eyes and nori mouths, just like in the book.  however, i replaced the nori nostrils with sesame seeds, and used a smaller mouth that i had already punched out and stored in a zip-loc bag a few weeks ago.

as far as the food, i don’t eat pork (though the pork patties in the book’s picture look perfectly yummy!), so i replaced that protein element with vegetarian chicken tenders.  instead of sesame spinach, i used steamed broccoli, and instead of carrot music notes, i used sliced baby carrots and a music note food pick.  i changed the corn-on-the-cob to a pretty corn-and-pea flower (as seen on p. 73 of the book), and added some salami-wrapped asparagus bundles (like the bundles seen on p. 62) and a hot dog tulip (instructions on p. 65).  for another cute touch, i added a molded quail egg (instructions on p. 117).  finally, i was out of baby tomatoes, so i used cherries for red color, and added some pea pods to fill in empty spaces around the bento.

accompanying me to lunch is a dancing froggie keychain/phone tassel i received in today’s mail from a thoughtful bento pal.  thanks you-know-who, it’s the cutest!


i also want to mention that this is the first chance i’ve had to use my new two-layer tiffin, my prize from the kawaii bento club’s “i love robots” contest (i’ve also got dip for my veggies in a cute yellow striped case that was part of the same prize package).  thanks again to briton for hosting this fun activity and for the generous prize!  if anyone hasn’t been over to kawaii bento club’s HQ on squidoo, surf on over for a wealth of information!





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]





sleepy/grumpy teddy bento and new apartment giveaway!

18 05 2010

well, just as i suspected, catching up on my bento blog reading gave me some new ideas to try… one of the cutest things i saw over the last week was shoppingmum’s “blur teddy” sandwiches.  i decided to give this a try with onigiri.  i used two different sized round cutters instead of a small teddy cutter, and i used vegetarian ham instead of smoked cheese for the snout, but i think i achieved a similarly cute face — thanks for the tips, shoppingmum!

rounding out this box are some fried tofu slices, asparagus spears wrapped in cheese and vegetarian ham, blackberries on a flower pick, steamed broccoli, carrot flowers, tomatoes, jersey-fresh arugula, and a flower-shaped bottle filled with soy-vinegar sauce for the tofu.  do these flower accessories qualify me for this month’s BOMB theme?

– ♥ –

to celebrate having completed the hellish process of moving into my new, more bento-friendly apartment, i’m doing a giveaway!

to enter, just post a link in the comments to your favorite bento post (from your or someone else’s blog, or from bento central or just bento) that you’ve read over the past few weeks (it doesn’t have to be a new post, just something that inspired you or you revisited lately)… i need more ideas to help me get back in my bento groove!

1 entry per person per day, contest ends saturday at midnight EST, winner to be posted sunday.

what’s in the prize package?  i thought you’d never ask!  here’s a picture:

  • 1 two tier blue sheep box with french writing and aqua band, 670ml total
  • 1 v-color white two-tier box
  • 1 clickety click giant onigiri box, 780ml total
  • 1 480ml putifresh “muscat” box with matching fork (this is one of my favorite sizes and shapes, i have the muscat and the banana!)
  • 24 oval-shaped waxed paper okazu cups, sea life themed (tako, turtle, penguin, fish), plus 36 small round paper cups with fruit designs
  • 4 metal flower-shaped cutters (the same kind i used in my carrot flower tutorial)
  • egg and tomato-shaped mayo and ketchup bottles
  • clover and sakura baran
  • large round citrus fruits baran
  • 1 package of assorted bow, crown and top hat picks
  • 1 package of flower and leaf picks
  • 1 package of cute animal onigiri wrappers
  • 1 octo-dog cutter
  • 1 package each ume and shiso furikake
  • 1 purple wrapping cloth (furoshiki)
  • 1 package colored soy paper (not pictured above)

good luck… can’t wait to see what’s been inspiring you all!





kyo bento

20 04 2010

tomorrow’s lunch is the first use of the new kyo bento box i purchased with my gift certificate from bento & co.  it’s one of the most beautiful and refined objects i’ve ever possessed.

i wanted to keep lunch in this box simple and classic, so i hand-molded two onigiri (the rice is mixed with my favorite chunky ume furikake) with shiso leaves, and added some basic garnishes:  two wedges of clementine, two pieces of tamagoyaki cut on an an angle, some pea pods and grape tomatoes, and some pickled cucumber and takuwan in a paper food cup with a carrot flower.  i love how it turned out — i feel like the box would make any food look gorgeous, so i didn’t even have to work at it tonight.

thanks again to bento & co. for the generous prize i received in the spring bento contest!





sweethearts bento

5 04 2010

tomorrow’s lunch is really quite simple, but still sweet:  two lettuce-wrapped, molded onigiri (using leftover brown-and-white rice, in this mold) with purple hearts on top.  the hearts are made from a small amount of the same rice, mixed with my purple shiso powder.  using this concentration of shiso powder makes the rice very tangy and salty, but i won’t eat the hearts in one bite each — i’ll nibble a little bit with each bite of the plain rice.

the rest of the box has a piece of kosher hot dog, some purple potato slices, some clementine wedges, a beautifully ripe strawberry, a fancy-cut quail egg, two takuwan slices, a steamed broccoli floret, and a few pea pods to fill in empty spaces.  the other tier to this box (not pictured) has the rest of the hot dog, more takuwan and broccoli, a piece of cheese, and a piece of kiwi to round out the meal.

this had to be quick and easy, as i’m pretty busy this week looking for a new apartment.  this process, which i always avoid until the last possible second, is extremely stressful but also exciting.  wish me luck!





monkey soboro bento

1 04 2010

i received an unusual request via flickr-mail yesterday: a friendly user (and apparent fan of my photostream) asked if i might be willing to make a monkey bento, in honor of her favorite animal.

well, i have a couple of monkey sauce cases that have been lying around since my west coast bento shopping spree back in november, and i’m always up for a challenge, so i decided to use the monkey on the sauce case as my inspiration, and figured i could achieve the brown with a soboro bento.

my soboro is made of vegetarian faux ground beef. first i made an onigiri in approximately the same shape as the monkey’s inner face, molding pink rice free-form with saran wrap. then i layered some sliced orange bell pepper and scallions in the box, added the onigiri, and spooned in my “ground beef” (which i had sauteed with some cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper). i added radish eyes, nori eyelashes, a red pepper mouth, and a dyed-pasta bow, and voila! i had my monkey (no banana, though). this was my first time trying soboro for a bento, and i wish it had come out a teensy bit neater, but it was fun and i’ll definitely keep trying to perfect this technique!

even though the monkey looks like she’s made of just two ingredients, don’t forget about the veggies layered under there — once i mix it all up (with the hot sauce i stored in the actual monkey sauce case), it will be a tasty and healthy entree. i figured i would want something sweet too, though, so i made a quick side car of kiwi slices, pear flowers, and kumquats.

here’s a close up of the sauce case (available from napa japan):

see the resemblance? ok, i used artistic license to omit the ears and add the eyelashes. i hope my new flickr pal enjoys this one, and i hope you all have a great friday and weekend!








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