mameshiba onigiri bento

28 09 2010

for tomorrow’s lunch, i have two spicy-tofu-stuffed onigiri topped with “mameshiba” (bean dog) faces.  the faces are made from rice colored with green deco-furi, edamame ears, and nori facial features.

the rest of the box has steamed broccolini, two salmon cakes topped with a carved carrot flower, a red and a yellow tomato, two purple potato slices, a piece of takuwan that i twisted like konnyaku, and some fish sausage flowers with corn kernel centers.  for dessert, a decadent, buttery shortbread “petticoat tail” — yum!

what’s your wednesday lunch?  share the specs over at shannon’s blog, bentolunch.net… this month, shannon is making donations to the north texas food bank based on how many lunches are posted; it’s a great cause, so why not join us!





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]





polka dot birdies bento

2 07 2010

i’m still catching up on all the bento blog posts i missed during my break, but one of the things i saw recently that inspired me was this adorable polka-dot bird at e-obento.  too cute, right?  i put my own spin on it by cutting a bird template from paper and tracing two birds out of cheese with a toothpick, and then applying polka dots made from orange and green soy paper, along with little cheese-and-soy-paper wings (cut with my smallest teardrop cutter).

i used my birds as toppers for two tea-sized club sandwiches (“club” only in the sense that they are three layers each of bread, and two of filling) — vegetarian ham, cheese, and mustard on dark pumpernickel bread.  the rest of the box has a steamed broccoli floret, the last (phew!) of my okra, a grape tomato, a piece of steamed corn, two pea pods, and some blueberries on a pick.

for more polka-dot inspiration, check out piewacket, food gal, and oh joy!, as well as etsy, where there are tons of great finds (including this bird headband that served as another model for my sandwich toppers).  wishing you all a wonderful weekend!





“picnic for one” bento

11 06 2010

today, if the weather holds out, i’m planning on taking the dog to the park for lunch.  i’m still exploring my new neighborhood, and the dog is a chubster who needs to walk more, so this is killing two birds with one stone.

i wanted to bring a simple and easy (and mostly recyclable) lunch with me — i’ll still need to worry about bringing the actual box and the little dip container home, but both of those have lids, so any food residue stays pretty self-contained.  the food cup, wax paper “baran” and recycled wood silverware will all go in the appropriate bins.  and the food itself is mostly finger-friendly: summer veggies i can dip and munch with one hand, and tea-sized sammies that are really only two bites each.

the sandwiches are vegetarian ham, cheese, and butter lettuce on sourdough with mustard; i topped them with two flowers stamped into potato bread (actually, leftover potato burger buns from a BBQ last weekend — these work well for impressions because potato bread is sooooooo soft).  the vegetables are ripe grape tomatoes, quick-steamed corn and brussels sprouts, and raw asparagus (there’s ranch dip in the container).  a paper-lined foil cup with grapes, strawberry quarters and a mint garnish, and i’m all set.

wishing all my bento pals a tasty weekend!  i’m in new orleans tomorrow through tuesday, so no bentos from me for a bit, but maybe some beignet pictures on twitter?

[as seen on more design pleaseapartment therapy, and re-nest]





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!





falafel bento

6 10 2009

bento 14

leftovers from last night’s dinner, takeout from tahini. top left: mini bosc pear, golden raspberries, strawberry. top right: spicy corn and carrot salads. bottom left: falafel balls with sweet potato and purple potato flower. bottom right: purple beans, yellow wax beans, heirloom tomato and beet salad.

[as seen on helium’s health and fitness zone]