eggplant & kale nooch bowl

21 09 2012

as some of you may know, i’ve been attempting to shift to a more plant-based diet.  i’m not ready to commit to being vegan (and not sure if i ever will be!), but i had already pretty much limited my animal-based food intake to fish and dairy, and have now found that further reducing the amount of dairy in my diet gives me less digestive issues and higher energy.  exploring vegan pantry staples has been a fun exercise for me — for example, nutritional yeast (nicknamed “nooch”) is a go-to product, but was totally new to me.  this simple dinner satisfied my craving for earthy, umami flavors and hearty (almost “meaty”) textures, but was entirely plant-based… filling, but surprisingly light.  cooking method after the jump.

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grilled eggplant quinoa salad

30 08 2012

another day, another quinoa salad, right?!  lately i feel like i have been obsessed with quinoa… but in all seriousness, it’s so tasty, and so good for you compared to other rice-y/grain-y options!

a while back, i received a few bottles of chile olive oil because of my participation in an HGEats twitter chat.  although i have significantly reduced the amount of oils i use in my cooking, there is always room for some good “healthy” fat, and i knew i wanted to save these samples for something special.  this past weekend, my parents came over for a combined birthday brunch (my mom’s birthday and mine are just five days apart!), and i whipped up this salad with veg from my CSA share.  it’s TIU-approved and is actually quite versatile — delicious with the veggies still warm from the grill, still delicious chilled in the fridge the next day.  click through for the recipe and olive oil review.

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winter quiche bento

24 01 2012

hi bento pals!  it feels like years since i’ve had time to do a bento post… lots of changes in my life, but the one that’s most relevant to this blog is my diet… in the 1+ year since i got married, i somehow put on more than 15 pounds, and after my last doctor’s visit (during which the weight the scale showed literally alarmed me), it’s time to focus on healthy and balanced eating again. Read the rest of this entry »

happy matryoshka bento

25 04 2011

tonight for dinner i made an awesome pan-seared cod dish, served with shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (recipe below) and a fat slice of oven-roasted beefsteak tomato.

for tomorrow’s lunch, which is my last passover lunch for the year (YAY!), i packed some of the cod beneath a layer of the quinoa salad, topped with a cheese-and-nori matryoshka.  the side portion has steamed broccoli, a fish sausage heart, steamed asparagus, sweet potato “doilies”, pea pods, and a lettuce border.

quinoa has been a controversial grain for those observing passover — because it was not a part of the diet of the jews who fled slavery in egypt, it was never placed on the list of forbidden passover foods, even though it expands like rice and other forbidden grains.  that’s good enough for me, and because quinoa is protein-packed, it’s a nice change from rice.

the basic recipe is simple, and the number of potential add-ins is infinite.  here’s the combo i came up with tonight:

shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (if you can come up with a better name, let me know!)

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 8 medium shitake caps, julienned
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • olive oil to coat a medium skillet
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. shiro miso paste
  • 3 big handfuls of arugula
  • pepper to taste
  1. coat your skillet with olive oil and heat it up.  add the sliced garlic and julienned shitake caps, and sautee until golden.
  2. add the quinoa to the pan and stir until it’s evenly toasted but not burned.  (this is the same process you would use when making risotto and toasting the arborio rice prior to adding liquid.)
  3. in a separate pot, bring 2 cups of water to boil, and then whisk in the miso paste.
  4. add the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to the boiling miso broth, cover and reduce to a low simmer.  allow to cook for 10-15 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed and the individual quinoa grains are plumped.  turn off heat and leave lid on to steam for an additional 2 to 5 minutes.
  5. transfer the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to a mixing bowl, and fold in the arugula.  it will steam/wilt in this process; make sure fold until it’s evenly incorporated.

that’s it!  it’s good hot or cold, and very nutritious.

shikai maki bento

23 05 2010

thank you all for sharing so many wonderful links in your contest entries!  i had a wonderful time this weekend browsing through them — some took me to blogs i already know and love, and some took me to totally new sites i had never even heard of.

tomorrow’s bento has a few sources of inspiration:  one is the luxirare shikai maki bento that brenda posted in the comments, and another is the beautiful work of my good bento pal jenn (bentobird).  i tried to echo the natural elegance that her boxes epitomize, and it seemed fitting to incorporate her style into this meal, since her boxes often include sushi.  for the sushi component, i tried my hand at this interesting square-format sushi (using a handy how-to video on youtube!).  my roll contains shiso rice, kiwi strips, cucumber, and fried tofu… i need some more practice (the kiwi layer, in particular, didn’t hold its structure because the kiwi was so slippery), but i have the general idea and am sure i can improve!

another source of inspiration this week was a long-postponed first trip to minamoto kitchoan, the fine purveyor of gorgeous wagashi (japanese sweets) located on manhattan’s chi-chi 5th avenue.  here is a photo from their display case (these are plastic, but do look just like some of the items they are selling):

alongside tomorrow’s box i have a shobumochi packaged to look like a beautiful iris.  this will cap off my dessert fruit section (kiwi slices, pomegranate seeds, two juicy blackberries and one ripe cherry), which will in turn balance my veggie section (peppery arugula, a tiny sweet red pepper, two asparagus tips, two carved takuwan flowers, and a quail egg). to fill up the empty space in the box, i placed a bottle of soy dressing and a pair of disposable chopsticks (both decorated with washi tape in complementary colors).  the box is packed in a pretty red-patterned furoshiki that i received from another sweet bento friend.

— ♥ —

getting back to the contest… i edited the entry comments in order to number them, and then used the website to generate a random integer from 1 to 95:

the winning entry, number 79, is abby of totoro bento!  congratulations!  please get in touch with your mailing information and i’ll mail your prize package right away.

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!