birthday blackberry ginger cupcakes

29 08 2012

i have two non-bento posts lined up for this week… i hope my regular bento readers don’t mind!

this first post is a review of two new products that i received courtesy samples: wholesome chow vanilla cake mix and tropical traditions coconut oil.  i am happy to say i loved both, and can tell you this only after putting them to good use in a true test… the cupcakes for my own birthday party!  i made a vanilla cupcake with chunks of crystallized ginger, filled with homemade blackberry jam, and topped with vegan cream cheese frosting.  these were a delicious combination of flavors, and while not low-calorie, certainly more healthful than typical store-bought cupcakes which contain processed flours and “bad” fats.

recipe and reviews below!

Read the rest of this entry »





mini apples bento

25 05 2010

HUGE props to sheri of happy little bento for her chili bento yesterday, which featured an adorable two-tone carrot apple in the center of her magic round box.  as i threatened to do in the comments on that post, i absolutely had to replicate that apple design, it was just love at first sight!!  i tried to make my apples just like sheri’s, except that i replaced the orange carrot with veggie ham and the yellow carrot with white cheese.  thanks for the awesome idea sheri, you rule!

the apples are the star of my lunch for tomorrow, and i added leaf picks to make them a bit more three-dimensional.  they’re sitting on top of a thin layer of plain steamed rice, which is smoothed over some pan-fried tofu cutlets (sprinkled with garlic powder for flavor).

the rest of this slender box has blackberries in a paper food cup, two beautiful cherries, a steamed broccoli floret with a few pea pods, and two flower-cut carrots.





kitty sausage bento

24 05 2010

no, not sausage made from a kitty, a piece of sausage made into a kitty…

i guess cats are just what people see when they stare at their food waiting for the characters inside to show themselves?  this happened to pikko recently, with cute results!  in my case, i knew i wanted to use a sausage disc, and the darkish brown color made me think of using light-colored features, which led me to a pink fish sausage nose, white cheese eyes with white sesame eyelashes, a yellow cheese mouth, and pale somen whiskers.

this kitty left her paw print on a quail egg, which is packed with steamed broccoli, my last asparagus tip, takuwan slices, blackberries, a juicy tomato, some peapods, and a sweet potato blossom.  the rice is decorated with some edamame halves and black sesame seeds.  alongside this lunch i have a sakuranbo (cherry jelly), one of yesterday’s purchases at minamoto kitchoan — can’t wait to try it!

UPDATE: i found the place where i got the idea for a paw-print on a quail egg… should have guessed it was the always-genius lucky sundae!





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!





spring bunny bento

22 03 2010

has everyone seen hapa bento’s announcement about this month’s BOMB (“best of the month bento”) theme?  what a fun one!

here’s my contribution… he’s not an easter bunny, just a goofy spring bunny with his own carrot.  he’s made of cheese, cut with a toothpick using a stencil i found online.  i applied some orange soy paper for the patches on his belly and ears.

he’s plopped down on some pesto primavera pasta (also springlike with its fresh and light veggies — recipe below), and will make his way past the carrot baran to the garden patch of sweet mini yellow pepper, grape tomato, strawberry, pea pods, blackberries, and mini plum.  there’s a halved portobello soy burger in there that i’m hoping to beat him to!

here’s a close up of my bunny, and then the recipe…

pesto primavera pasta

  • 1/4 box tricolore fiore pasta
  • 1/4 box tricolore bowtie pasta
  • 2/3 bunch asparagus
  • 1 small zucchini
  • about 20 grape tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp. pesto (i used pre-made from a jar, but here’s a great simple recipe i use when basil is in season and bunches are cheap)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley and grated parmesan for garnish
  1. put a big pot of water on to boil.
  2. while the water is boiling, halve your grape tomatoes and set them aside.  bend a “test stalk” of asparagus to test where it’s pliable and where it’s woody; cut the entire bunch on the line where that stalk breaks.  discard the woody ends, and then cut the remaining stalks on the bias into approximately 2″-long segments.  slice your zucchini into rounds or mezzalunes.
  3. when your water has reached a rolling boil, salt it (about 2 tbsp. kosher salt).  add your bowties first — these are bigger and will take slightly longer to cook than the fiore shape.  after about 2 minutes, add your fiores.  when the pasta is just slightly too all dente, throw your chopped asparagus and zucchini into the pot.   when the pasta is done, turn off the flame and drain the whole pot with a colander.
  4. add the pasta, asparagus and zucchini back into the cooking pot, but keep the flame off.  add your halved tomatoes and your pesto, and mix thoroughly.  season with salt and pepper as desired.
  5. top with a bit of chopped parsley and parmesan cheese.

that’s it!  super, super simple, but also super fresh and springy tasting.  you can substitute other veggies to turn this recipe into a fridge-cleaner-outer, too.

i’m in miami for a business conference tomorrow evening through friday evening, so no bentos for me until next monday.  see you on flickr and twitter, though!





st. patrick’s day bento

16 03 2010

happy st. patrick’s day, bento friends!  like susan, i’m 1/8 irish, so i like to show my (albeit distant) roots with some extra green on this holiday!

my st. patrick’s day lunch is a light one, consisting of two cylindrical, pale green rice onigiri (made in a mold after mixing my rice with some of the green rice powder i received from a sweet pal last week — i know, i know, i’ve been going crazy with the colored rice!  i’m taking a break after this one, haha) in clover-leaf paper food cups, topped with some pre-cut nori in four-leaf-clover shapes.

the rest of the box contains a fancy-cut quail egg atop a steamed broccoli floret, some takuwan slices, baby carrots and pea pods, blackberries, and grape tomatoes on an enamel-and-metal four-leaf-clover skewer i found at my local M2M korean mart.

my grape putifresh box adds to the green theme, and the shamrock hashi (blurry in the backround) are the perfect finishing touch on this holiday meal.

[as seen on food news journal, stdandme]





spring butterfly bento

14 03 2010

tonight’s bento features a handmade cheese, soy paper, and nori butterfly.  the unexpected package i received on thursday also contained a package of these cool colorful soy papers, and over the weekend i had the brainstorm to apply cut-out pieces to white cheese to resemble the colored markings on a butterfly’s wings.  you like?  the white cheese was cut with a toothpick from a template i cut out of paper, and then layered on top of vegetarian ham that i cut with an x-acto knife.

i also used the yummy red shiso meshi i received in the same package to make some lovely purple rice for the butterfly to alight on.  the purple rice is layered over stewed tofu for some extra protein.

the “garden patch” in this box is separated from the rice by two sesame leaves (natural baran for hapa bento’s BOMB theme).  the butterfly is headed for those sweet potato flowers, which are growing out of the broccoli; there are also grape tomatoes, pea pods, blackberries on one of the “hairpin” skewers maki posted on flickr recently, a star-cut radish, and some takuwan strips in a paper food cup, sprinkled with sesame seeds.

did everyone remember to move their clocks forward an hour?  what a bummer to lose an hour of sleep, but at least it’s an official sign that spring is here!

here’s a close-up of my butterfly:

[as seen on craft gossip, stdandme, all about the cute, and thebaffled]

UPDATE:  this bento won the spring bento contest hosted by bento & co. / just bento / french bento!  congratulations to the other members of the top 15 and to all who participated, and many thanks to everyone who voted for me — i truly appreciate your support!  the best prize, though, was the opportunity to see the inspirational ideas in all the other contestants’ fabulous entries, and making some new international bento pals whose work i didn’t know about before.  what a great experience!