carribean tofu bento

12 03 2012

today’s lunch (made yesterday) came together quickly — no recipes involved, just soy boy’s carribean tofu, which is spiced so beautifully as to make a tasty meal with the addition of just nutty brown rice and a few garnishes. this lunch is totally in keeping with the tone it up nutrition plan‘s simple “lean, clean and green” philosophy!

nutritional info below.

Read the rest of this entry »





cucumber maki bento

29 03 2011

tomorrow’s lunch was simple and easy to speed pack — which was perfect, since i went to happy hour with a friend and came home ready for bed!

i have one fairly thick cucumber maki here, rolled with rice that i mixed with shiso powder. in the bamboo box i also have two fat slices of a tamagoyaki that i pre-made the other night. a few citrus segments in the side box and i’m all set for a light and refreshing mid-week lunch. they can’t all be kyaraben!

i may steal mils’ idea for miso-soup-on-the-go to add to this, too… wouldn’t a nice mug of hot miso be great with these chilled maki pieces?





little post, big news

1 11 2010

hey everybody!  my apologies for going off the grid during the past couple of weeks… i was on a crazy wedding diet, and i couldn’t eat delicious bento, so looking at all of your mouth-watering creations became torture for me, and i had to just bow out of the bentosphere for a little while.

i’m back, and i’m a mrs.! woo hoo!  my stomach is still regaining its full capacity after the home stretch of basically starving myself to try to fit into my wedding dress, so i’m still packing fairly small lunches this week.  but it’s so nice to have carbs again!  rice, pizza, noodles, potatoes, yum!

tomorrow’s lunch has two brown rice onigiri mixed with vegetable furikake and topped with takuwan maple leaves, as well as a vine tomato and some mixed fall veggies (eggplant, pumpkin, and mushrooms).  we saw so much beautiful fall foliage on our mini-honeymoon this past weekend, so the maple leaves were inspired by those views.   i hope to be able to post some city hall wedding and hudson valley honeymoon pictures soon!

p.s. HOLY SH!T GO GIANTS!!!!





salmon cakes bento

21 09 2010

another super simple bento for tomorrow’s lunch:  mini salmon cakes (from the frozen section at my organic market), brown rice with lentils and a black-and-white sesame seed stripe, “health salad” (cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, carrots and dill wilted in a light vinegar dressing, almost like a mayonnaise-less coleslaw), a few takuwan flowers, and a cherry tomato.  banana ooyoo and a lady apple for dessert.

tomorrow after work, i’m meeting up with joe mcpherson of zenkimchi, one of my favorite food blogs.  he’s in NYC after giving a presentation on buddhist temple cuisine, and hosting a meet-up for other foodies — we’re gonna grub down in K-town (which means bento-able leftovers, yay!).  if you’re interested in joining us, check out the facebook page and RSVP!

[posted at what’s for lunch wednesday — check it out and add your link!]





new miffy fork bento

28 07 2010

so, i treated myself and ordered a few things from rakuten… i’ve been slowly working them into my bento repertoire.  the new item i’m featuring today is a melamine miffy fork, it’s so adorable, and it’s not even really child sized, so it’s actually comfortable to eat with.

today’s bento has a cheese, radish, and nori miffy, on top of a mixed rice batch from my cuckoo pressure cooker — i used near east’s lentil rice pilaf, as well as some brown nishiki.  some baby cucumber slices also accent the rice, which is separated from the rest of the food by a strawberry-wax-paper divider.  the top section has baked tofu (recipe below), carrot flowers, steamed corn, a tiny yellow tomato and three tiny sweet peppers (from various brooklyn rooftop gardens), and steamed broccolini (which i love because it has a more delicate look than regular broccoli).

yummy baked tofu

  • 1 package firm tofu or tofu “steak” (i like house foods’ garlic-pepper tofu steak)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic or garlic paste
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  1. preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. cut the block of tofu into 4 pieces, cutting the long way.
  3. line a baking sheet or brownie pan with tin foil, and place the 4 tofu pieces on the foil with at least 1″ of free space around all sides of each tofu piece.
  4. in a small sauce pan, bring glaze ingredients (honey, garlic, soy, sesame oil, pepper flakes) to a simmer so that everything combines.
  5. using a basting brush, evenly coat 5 of the 6 sides of each tofu piece (don’t baste the bottom side right now). bake for 8-10 minutes, then re-baste those same 5 sides, and bake for another 8-10 minutes.  if any water has leached out of the tofu, carefully (e.g. with pot-holders) drain that liquid into your sink — we want a dry roast, not a steam!
  6. flip the tofu so that the un-basted side is on top; baste and bake for 8-10 minutes. re-baste and re-bake.
  7. are you getting the picture?  keep basting and turning, until the tofu has been in the oven for a good 60-70 minutes (we’re using a low heat , so don’t worry about the tofu burning).  once all sides are sufficiently glazed (they should be a deep, sticky brown), the tofu is done.  you may want to run the top side (or top and bottom sides) under the broiler for an additional 30-60 seconds, to get the glaze even darker and bubbly-caramelized.
  8. cut into even slices (the inside will still be pale, gradating out to the lovely brown crust), and if you wish, garnish with sesame seeds or chopped scallion.

has anyone noticed that almost all of my recipes involve soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and pepper flakes?  well, i guess i know what i like…

want to see more fab wednesday lunch bentos, or add a link to your own?  check out “what’s for lunch wednesday” at bento lunch!

[as seen on japanistic blog]





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!





jalapeno-fried chicken bento

21 04 2010

a while back i placed a fresh direct order, and the amount of jalapenos that was delivered was waaaay more than what i thought i was ordering!  what’s a girl to do with extra jalapenos that have been lingering in the fridge for almost too long?  how about jalapeno-fried chicken fingers, and a hearty salad topped with jalapeno-citrus dressing!  that’s what i made for dinner (recipes below), and tomorrow’s lunch includes two good-sized chicken pieces.

the rest of the bento has brown rice topped with peas and two cute bears made from two hard boiled egg slices (nori and sesame seed facial details), a beautiful vine-ripe tomato, some steamed broccoli, three butterflies cut from fish sausage, some pea pods and clementine wedges, and some cucumber and takuwan slices.

— ♥ —

jalapeno-fried chicken fingers

  • 1 package boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 package panko (japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika to taste
  • 1 medium-to-large sized jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  1. get yourself a nice, big, and clean workstation, where you can set up three bowls.  put the flour in the first bowl, and mix in your salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika (if you haven’t made spiced dredging flour before, start with about 1/8 teaspoon of each and add more as you like).
  2. in the second bowl, crack and beat the two eggs.  add a few teaspoons of milk or water if needed to thin the egg mixture down.
  3. in the third bowl, toss your diced jalapeno with your panko.  now you have your breading station, and you should line up the three bowls so that the panko/jalapeno mixture is closest to your frying pan.
  4. cut your chicken into approximately uniformly-sized pieces — i like mine longer and thinner (like “fingers”), but you could easily do squatter “nugget” style pieces.
  5. in a large frying pan, heat the oil until you can drop a piece of diced jalapeno in and it bubbles and sizzles.
  6. once the oil has come up to temp, bread the chicken, one piece at a time, by first dredging through the spiced flour, then dipping in the beaten egg, and then rolling through the panko/jalapeno mixture.  i find it works best to use just one hand as your breading hand (just hold the chicken piece in that hand and work it through all three bowls).  that way you have a clean hand left to turn on the faucet when it’s time to wash the messy hand!
  7. once you have about 5 or 6 pieces breaded, gently place them in the oil (if you drop them with too much force, the hot oil will splatter and burn you), and fry until both sides are golden brown (about 2 minutes on the first side and 90 seconds on the second).  i like to blot the fried pieces with a paper towel and then pop them into a 375-degree oven for a few extra minutes, just to make absolutely sure they are cooked through.
  8. you will want to fry the chicken in batches (that’s why i said 5 or 6 pieces for the first go), being careful not to crowd the pan. crowding the pan will result in stuck-together pieces and non-uniform browning.

jalapeno-citrus salad dressing

  • light syrup from a can of mandarin orange slices (if you don’t have a can handy, you can make a simple syrup by combining equal parts water and sugar in a pan and stirring over a low flame until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened — the mandarin flavor is lovely here though, and worth the price of the can)
  • juice from 1.5 limes
  • 3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar (plain white vinegar is fine too)
  • 1 small to medium sized jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 kiwi, skin removed, cut into chunks
  • 4 mint leaves
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. in a food processor, blend about 1/2 cup mandarin (or simple) syrup with the lime juice, vinegar and jalapeno, until the jalapeno is finely ground and gives the syrup a green-speckled, slightly opaque appearance
  2. add the chunked kiwi and mint, and continue blending until thoroughly ground
  3. through the pouring hole on the food processor container, pour a thin stream of olive oil, allowing the food processor blade to emulsify the dressing
  4. season the dressing to your liking

the dressing is super simple, right?  it’s deliciously tangy, and removing the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno makes it just spicy enough to give the dressing a real kick (a bit of an after-burn, actually), but without setting your entire mouth on fire.  i like this dressing over a salad of spinach leaves, chunked avocado, kernels of sweet corn, thinly-sliced red onion, chunked (or grape) tomatoes, and some sliced jalapeno-fried chicken fingers!

speaking of those, here is a picture of the finished product:

enjoy!