falling ginkgo bento

6 10 2010

i recently ordered a ginkgo leaf cutter, after more than a year of admiring its use by fellow bento-makers such as debra of hapa bento and sheri of happy little bento. the funny thing is, as soon as i got it, i realized that you can accomplish the same shape with a plain old round-fluted cutter and an x-acto knife (just cut a fluted round, and then trim away the profile of the stem — that’s how i made the smaller ginkgo leaves here).

anyway, i didn’t want to miss the opportunity to participate in the last week of hapa bento’s “fall theme” BOMB challenge, and i was inspired by sheri’s recent use of orange against black rice.  so i decided to use up my leftover forbidden rice with some simple falling leaves.

there are a number of gingko trees in my neighborhood, and these leaves remind me of my morning walks with ruby, who loves to chase, lick, or chew any leaf in her path!

my gingko leaves are cut from purple potato, sweet potato, and golden beet — all veggies that really feel autumnal to me — and the back portion of this bento has two vegetarian chicken nuggets, a zebra tomato and a red pear tomato, two pea pods, two carrot tamagoyaki slices, and a steamed broccoli floret.

this is the two-tier kyo bento from bento & co; in the other portion i have some leftover chili, which i’ll mix with rice when it’s time to eat lunch tomorrow.

happy fall!

chili corndog bento

5 01 2010

i made yummy vegetarian chili for dinner tonight, so tomorrow’s lunch bento has the chili with some cheese music notes in a food cup (it’s actually an onigiri mold, but it was the right size, so whatever), some asparagus wrapped in cheese and veggie ham, grape tomatoes, snow peas, a little baby orange (or maybe it’s a clementine?), starfruit slices and a trader joe’s vegetarian “corn-doggie.”

the corn-doggie is hard to see from this angle, so here’s another shot:

a corndog doesn’t have exactly the right shape for a dog’s snout, but oh well, i thought it would be cute to make a dog out of a “dog”!  in case you want to try this, here’s how i did it:

  • microwave trader joe’s vegetarian corndog for 1 minute.  let it cool while you do other stuff.
  • once it’s cool to the touch, work the stick out of the dog.  this will leave a hollow tube running through the dog.
  • insert the non-sharp end of a toothpick into the hollow tube on an angle, so that it eventually sticks into one side of the dog.  keep pushing it in until only the sharp point is sticking out (about 1/16 of an inch) of the hole at the end of the dog.
  • skewer one edamame bean to the sharp end of the toothpick, being careful not to poke the end of the pick all the way through (you don’t want to see the point on the outside of the nose!).
  • using a nori punch, cut eyes and mouth of your liking and affix with mayonnaise.
  • using a cutter of your desired shape and size, cut floppy ears and affix with mayonnaise.
  • you could probably be more creative and find something good to use as a tail (or even add legs), but my doggie is a yorkie with a short stubby tail, so i thought the heart pick was a cute thing to stick in this doggie’s butt.

and in case you want to whip up a tasty batch of vegetarian chili, great on these cold winter nights, here is my family recipe:


– 3 cans of beans (i like to use kidney, pinto, and black, but my mom uses like two dark kidney and one light – whatevs)
– 1 huge can of diced or chopped tomatoes (i like the kind that already has herbs in it)
– 1 tiny can tomato paste
– 1 huge or 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
– 5 cloves garlic minced (yeah, it’s a lot)
– 1 bell pepper, chopped (i hate green but yellow, orange or red is ok), chopped
– 1 package fake meat (yves ground round or any other brand of soy crumbles will work; tvp would also work)
– spices to taste:  chili powder, cumin (this is THE KEY), garlic powder, oregano (sounds weird but used a lot in mexico), salt and pepper of course
– random liquids of your choosing:  balasamic, white vinegar, hot sauce (make it up as you go along)
– canola oil (you can use olive instead if you want)

  • sautee your onions and peppers in the oil until the onions are translucent.  add the garlic and sautee until it’s cooked-ish but not darkening too much in color.  add your fake meat and sautee that in there too until everything is pretty well mixed and the meat has absorbed the oil and the liquid from the veggies.  dump your cans of beans in there WITH THE LIQUID (which is super starchy and helps hold the chili together).
  • mix that all together, and then dump your ginormo can of tomatoes in too.  mix that up and then add your spices (this is when i also add a little bit of vinegar and hot sauce. you could add balsamic if you want the chili to be slightly sweeter).
  • bam, it’s pretty much done already!  you should let it simmer for a while (anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes) though, so that the beans start to break down (adding further starch which further thickens everything) and so that the flavors of the spices penetrate everything and meld together.
  • for a “quick” batch of chili you can use a potato masher to break up some of the beans, and the tomato paste to thicken.  you will want to readjust the spices after you add the tomato paste, though, because it adds sugar.
  • i love this topped with chopped raw onions, grated cheese and sour cream, and TONS of frank’s red hot.
  • the bonus factor with this recipe is that it’s ALWAYS better the next day, either cold or reheated.  it also freezes well, so go ahead and make a huge batch (the above recipe is already pretty huge because of the volume of the canned goods, but sometimes i even double that).