confetti rice bento

8 09 2010

tired work nights call for quick, easy meals; it’s no surprise that fried rice is one of my favorites. this batch has everything but the kitchen sink (leftovers from the last few weeks of summer produce): red and yellow peppers, serrano chiles, mushrooms, kosher hot dogs, spanish onion, kimchi, and zucchini, plus freshly-ground black pepper, soy sauce, gochujang, and a bit of sesame oil for flavor. the boyfriend hates peas and carrots, so i added a few of those, plus some takuwan strips, on top (rather than mixing in, which would mean he couldn’t pick them out) — i think the scattered effect looks a bit like festive confetti.

the rest of the box has steamed broccolini, cucumber sticks sprinkled with black sesame seeds, a fried quail egg, and a grape tomato. for dessert, i have a sidecar with green and champagne grapes, plus beautiful early-fall raspberries from my CSA share, garnished with a bit of mint.  that’s it; no fancy decorations this time (save for one pick), just a quick transformation of leftovers into a reasonably appealing lunch for tomorrow.

i need to take ruby on one more walk tonight, and then i’ll probably fall asleep watching the giants game.  g’night bento pals!





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.





more monkeys bento

4 04 2010

friday’s soboro-based bento was a little bit out of my comfort zone as far as bento crafting goes, so i wanted to give it another shot with something more my style.

these monkeys are based on a monkey face i found on google images, and are made from vegetarian ham and cheese (with nori and sesame seed for facial details, as usual).  they’re layered over mixed brown-and-white rice (trying to be healthier!) with peas (i really liked the color and flavor they added to last week’s bunny-eggs bento).

another bento trend i’ve seen a lot of lately is the use of printed wax paper.  akinoichigo-san and shoppingmum use some very stylish newsprint and strawberry papers in their lovely bento boxes, but all i could find at my local japanese market was a plain butcher’s brown and a subtle heart print.  tomorrow’s lunch features the brown, which i think goes nicely with my bamboo spork.

the rest of the bento has purple potato stars, portobello veggie burgers, a fried quail egg, steamed broccoli, a few cherry tomatoes, some flower-cut carrots and a few pea pods.

hope all my bento pals had a wonderful holiday weekend!





snail roll-ups bento

26 01 2010

i normally stick to a pretty vegetable-based diet with a smattering of fish, but tonight i wanted to cook something special for the boyfriend (no reason, just cause i love him!).  he LOVES meat, so i made a fancy chicken roulade stuffed with spinach and smoked brie, served over mushroom-infused brown rice (recipes below).  and the thought of making two separate dinners, and then bentoing after that, was… less than appealing — so you bet your sweet bippy i’m making an exception to my usual no-meat rule and chowing down on the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

i thought the roulade slices kinda looked like snail shells, so i cut snail heads/necks and antennae out of provolone cheese and added nori mouths, sesame seed eyes, and ketchup cheeks.  in the fruit and veggie side of the box i added some bias-cut baby carrot sticks, pea pods, grape tomatoes, blueberries in a heart-shaped silicone cup (a similar set is available for purchase on j-list), one nice strawberry, few cucumber slices and the cutest tiny clementine, plus a few slices of fish sausage hand cut to look like flower-stars (i know these aren’t fruit or veg, but i thought it needed more color, so just work with me).

the box is accessorized by another of my new laser-cut felt doilies, plus a “light my fire” spork.  here’s a close-up of the snail friends, and then after that the recipes!

chicken roulades

  • 1 bag pre-washed spinach
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • a nice-sized wedge of brie (you won’t use the whole thing, but you’ll get to snack on the leftovers!)
  • salt, pepper, and olive oil
  • plain wooden toothpicks (do not eat!)
  1. chop up the bag of spinach.  in a large sautee pan, heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil.  add about 1/3 of the chopped spinach, sprinkling a little bit of water on top to help it steam.  when it’s wilted, add another 1/3 of the bag.  when that’s wilted, add the final 1/3.  salt and pepper to taste.
  2. while the spinach is cooking, place one of the breasts between two sheets of wax paper on top of a cutting board. pound the crap out of it!  you can use a meat mallet or the flat of your hand, but either way you want to do a downward-and-outward motion, basically displacing the thickest (center) part of the breast outwards to the edge so as to create a cutlet with consistent thickness throughout.  it will NOT be regularly shaped around the outside, but if you have approximately consistent thickness, that’s fine.  repeat this process on the second breast.
  3. spread 1/2 of the minced garlic over each pounded-out breast, and apply salt and pepper fairly liberally.  when the spinach is cooled distribute an even layer over each breast.
  4. look at the breasts:  there should be a wider, rounded-ish end, and a narrower, pointed-ish end.  slice some slices off of your wedge of brie, and line them up starting at the narrower end, leaving at least 1 1/2 to 2″ of the wider end cheese-less.  (you need this margin of cheese-less-ness for the chicken to roll up properly.)  once all your cheese is in, carefully roll up the chicken (starting with the narrower, pointy end), securing the roll with toothpicks once it’s rolled up all the way.
  5. brush a thin coat of olive oil on the outside of the breast, and apply salt and pepper to the outside as well.  bake in a pre-heated 375-degree oven (or toaster) for about 20 minutes (your oven may run differently than mine, so make sure that the juice runs clear when you take out one of the toothpicks and press firmly down on the roll), then re-baste with olive oil and stick the rolls under the broiler so that they brown up a bit.
  6. let them cool for at least 5 minutes, and then slice away for cute spirals!

mushroom-infused rice

  • 1.75 cups of brown rice
  • about 2 cups of sliced mushrooms, any kind you like (i used half baby bella and half white button)
  • a generous pinch of kosher salt, plus cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 “pat” (about 3/4 of a tablespoon) of butter
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 cups of water

this isn’t really a “recipe” per se, as my cuckoo does all the work for me.  i just dump all the ingredients into the rice cooker’s bowl, lock it, and set it on the pressure setting for about 35 minutes.  it came out a little al dente, so i might let it cook 5 minutes longer next time.  you’ll need to experiment with your own rice cooker, but cooking the ingredients under pressure together (no matter how much time your cooker requires) really gets the mushroom flavor into every grain.  yum!





tamagoyaki chicks bento

21 01 2010

tomorrow’s lunch has a musubi (yes, another musubi!), this time with brown rice and wasabi-mayo salmon filling.  the box is lined in cabbage, and in the bottom right-hand corner is a piece of the garlic-pepper salmon we had for dinner tonight (pan seared and then finished in the oven).  the “space fillers” in this bento are snow peas, grape tomatoes, a few cherries and raspberries, baby carrots, and a piece of steamed broccoli.

you may have noticed my musubi is decorated with another of my new pre-cut nori shapes — i love these!  i added a few hearts made with a different punch, just to fill up the rest of the musubi’s surface.

for a cute touch, i added two chicks made of tamogayki slices.  these are super easy to do — just use the non-cut side of the tamagoyaki slices (so that the swirl made by the filling doesn’t distract from the chicks’ faces), stick a pick in the top of their head to approximate the cocks’-combs, and add features of your choice (i did nori eyes and carrot beaks made from two different sized triangles each).

i definitely didn’t make this idea up, but i can’t remember where i saw it.  so, hey bentoists out there — if you’re reading this and want to be credited for this idea, please let me know!  i’m happy to update this post to link to your fantastic work!  UPDATE:  i found it!  i have been a fan of lucky sundae’s blog for a while, and i saw this entry months ago.  but then today i noticed it’s also on the cover her upcoming yum yum bento box book with pikko, and seeing the cover triggered my memory.  so thanks for the inspiration, lucky sundae!

here’s a close-up of the chicks’ faces:

the beak on the left one is a little bit jacked up, but maybe he’s just mid-tweet… yeah, that’s the ticket.

anyway, most of the CSS-related funny business i alluded to yesterday has been resolved, thanks to my awesome, life-saving, technology guru friend.  thanks vivi!

you may have already noticed my sweet new foodbuzz and j-list banners, and now i’ve also put together an amazon store filled with bento goodies hand-picked by me (some based on having used and loved, others based on still wanting — hint hint, boyfriend, if you are reading)… anyway, if you’re in the mood to feed your bento addiction, check out some of my selections!





red riding hood bento

21 01 2010

tonight’s bento features a few new goodies i got in the mail today from a bento friend — aren’t those packages the best?!

the entire theme was inspired by the cute red riding hood baran.  love it!!!  to go with her, i made a wolf onigiri (the wolf’s face is ham, with kamaboko ears and nori eyes, eyebrows, nose and whiskers).  the second onigiri has an awesome pre-cut nori shape from a packaged set that i have coveted FOREVER!  my bento pal was kind enough to send it over, yay, thanks again you-know-who!

in the “red riding hood” tier of the box, i have carrot sticks, crinkle-cut cucumber slices, a little bit of pickled carrot, daikon and lotus root salad garnished with cilantro (in a yellow food cup), a few takuwan flowers, half of a vietnamese spring roll, and some cherries.  rounding out the “wolf” tier of the box is some cabbage, and the onigiri are stuffed with tofu and peanut sauce.  before i closed up the box and stuck it in the fridge, i wrapped the onigiri in saran wrap, which will help keep them from drying out, and help keep the wolf’s face stuck on there!

here is a close up of the predator and his prey:

in the next few days i may be implementing some changes to the layout of this blog, to better accommodate the new ad banners.  please be patient if things look a little funky!





nugget bears bento

15 11 2009

bento 41

just a quick and simple little kyaraben tonight, it’s been a long weekend and it’s going to be an even longer week getting a brief out the door by friday…

veggie section:  kiwi slices (with a pinwheel food pick), snow peas, strawberry slices, tamagoyaki slice, red grape tomato, reddish-purple grape, broccoli, purple cauliflower, yellow wax beans, and baby carrots.

main section: more leftover indian food (spinach and mushroom with basmati rice layered over it), with two soy chicken nugget “bears” (nori and cheese eyes/nose, umeboshi ears).