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: 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!





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.





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!





anpanman bento

18 01 2010

tomorrow’s lunch features anpanman, the beloved japanese cartoon character.  i made my anpanman out of a vegetarian “chik’n” patty (i like boca brand’s spicy flavor), with a cherry nose, strawberry slices for cheeks, and nori for the eyes, eyebrows and mouth.

the patty is on top of some rice that i sprinkled with shiso furikake, and filling up the rest of the box is some roasted baby bok choi (made in the toaster again, with just salt, pepper, olive oil, minced garlic and gochu garu), enoki mushrooms, sweet potato hearts (made from two teardrop shapes each), cherries and pea pods.

— ♥ —

i know i usually stick to bento on this blog, but i wanted to do a quick restaurant review since i had the day off from work today (for MLK day) and took the opportunity to eat some dim sum in chinatown with friends.   this time we tried jing fong, which gets mixed reviews food-wise but has the classic ambiance we were looking for:  a huge, bustling banquet hall with tons of carts (as well as a hot buffet).

here are some shots of the hot buffet line:

xxxxx

and here are a few of the goodies we ordered from carts:

from the top:  various dumplings, other savories (stewed tofu, fried tofu with shrimp, and eggplant with pork) and sweet sesame pastries.

overall, the consensus of internet reviewers was pretty spot-on, in that the experience was lively and fun, and the food was ok.

as you can see from the menu card at the left, we stuffed ourselves (with no less than 21 dishes), until we felt like we needed to be rolled away in wheelbarrows!!! it was a fairly good bargain, at only about $16 per person, tax and tip included.  that said, i preferred the food at ping’s (where the eggplant is so divine i featured it in a previous bento). if choosing based on food alone, i wouldn’t necessarily go back to jing fong (after all, there are still many more dim sum places for me to try!).

— ♥ —

finally, i wanted to pass along an award i received from two lovely ladies, lia of my bentolicious, and tata of bonito’s cooking wonderland.  thank you so much lia and tata, i’m honored!

there are no rules to this award, so if i’ve passed it along, please don’t feel obligated to keep passing or to post on it or anything — but i thought it would be a nice chance to give a shout-out to my favorite blogging bentoists.  so, debra (hapa bento), sheri (happy little bento), pikko (adventures in bento making), and susan (hawai`i’s bento box cookbook), plus lia and tata, here’s to you!  i ♥ all of your blogs!





osechi bento

30 12 2009

apologies for my extended absence — i had a terrible cold for the last week or so, and just wasn’t up to bentoing.  luckily the boyfriend nursed me back to health with multiple nights of soup and grilled cheese (my preferred “sick in bed” comfort food meal), and now i’m back in action…

and just in the nick of time!  tomorrow is the last working day before the new year, so i’m bringing a new year’s bento for lunch.  traditional japanese new year’s food is known as osechi-ryōri, and includes sweet black beans (kuromame), a version of tamagoyaki made with fish paste (i used dashi instead), carrots, snow peas, and kamaboko (layered in the top tier with takuwan). i have added tomatoes, cherries, broccoli and blackberries for color and flavor variety, as well as a radish cut to look like a chrysanthemum, or in the spirit of the new year, a bursting firework.  the “2010” (resting on top of three veggie mool mandoo, a korean new year’s tradition) is cut from kamaboko with an xacto knife.

happy new year to all my bento friends!

[as seen on socyberty and lincoln cooking examiner]