vintage stamps bento

26 04 2011

a recent trend in wedding stationary is to use a mix of vintage postage stamps for a unique and stylized look. i think this idea is really cute, but it can be cost-prohibitive (some vintage stamps cost up to 10 times their face value!).

inspired by the trend as well as cute bentos by akinoichigo and lucky sundae, and evolving the scottie dog “stamps” bento i made a few weeks ago, i made two vintage postage stamp sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch. each stamp sits atop a sandwich of pumpernickel, vegetarian ham, cheese and mustard. the provolone stamps are topped with fish sausage roses, as well as green pea and nori accents and hand cut 12-cent demarcations.

posted in “what’s for lunch wednesday” — what are you having?





happy matryoshka bento

25 04 2011

tonight for dinner i made an awesome pan-seared cod dish, served with shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (recipe below) and a fat slice of oven-roasted beefsteak tomato.

for tomorrow’s lunch, which is my last passover lunch for the year (YAY!), i packed some of the cod beneath a layer of the quinoa salad, topped with a cheese-and-nori matryoshka.  the side portion has steamed broccoli, a fish sausage heart, steamed asparagus, sweet potato “doilies”, pea pods, and a lettuce border.

quinoa has been a controversial grain for those observing passover — because it was not a part of the diet of the jews who fled slavery in egypt, it was never placed on the list of forbidden passover foods, even though it expands like rice and other forbidden grains.  that’s good enough for me, and because quinoa is protein-packed, it’s a nice change from rice.

the basic recipe is simple, and the number of potential add-ins is infinite.  here’s the combo i came up with tonight:

shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (if you can come up with a better name, let me know!)

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 8 medium shitake caps, julienned
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • olive oil to coat a medium skillet
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. shiro miso paste
  • 3 big handfuls of arugula
  • pepper to taste
  1. coat your skillet with olive oil and heat it up.  add the sliced garlic and julienned shitake caps, and sautee until golden.
  2. add the quinoa to the pan and stir until it’s evenly toasted but not burned.  (this is the same process you would use when making risotto and toasting the arborio rice prior to adding liquid.)
  3. in a separate pot, bring 2 cups of water to boil, and then whisk in the miso paste.
  4. add the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to the boiling miso broth, cover and reduce to a low simmer.  allow to cook for 10-15 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed and the individual quinoa grains are plumped.  turn off heat and leave lid on to steam for an additional 2 to 5 minutes.
  5. transfer the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to a mixing bowl, and fold in the arugula.  it will steam/wilt in this process; make sure fold until it’s evenly incorporated.

that’s it!  it’s good hot or cold, and very nutritious.





twin geese bento

24 04 2011

tomorrow’s lunch has two hanpen geese with egg sheet beaks and feet, nori eyes, and fish sausage cheeks.  they’re sitting on a bed of basmati rice sprinkled with furikake i received in a surprise package from a bento pal — it’s got a combination of sesame seeds, dehydrated green bell pepper, and yuzu, which gives it a very unique, tangy flavor.  i love it!

i punched some little clovers out of fish sausage, and the back portion of this box has steamed sweet potato and broccolini, a takuwan rosette with asparagus leaves, tiny red vine tomatoes, and a cheese flower.  i think i felt like using my goose-shaped cutter because the resulting geese look like they would lay nice fat easter eggs.  did everyone have a nice easter weekend?

don’t forget that the auction for the lovely hand-crafted crane earrings ends in a few hours — all proceeds are to benefit japan relief, so get your bid in while you can!





totoro onigiri bento

13 04 2011

have you seen anna the red’s cool tutorial on inarizushi totoro-making?  she’s full of awesome ideas, and this one might take the cake.  i have never done a totoro before, and even though i didn’t have inari on hand, i was inspired to try my hand at our favorite neighbor.

my totoro is simplified — no arms, lower body, or whiskers.  but hopefully i’ve captured his essence, including his cheshire-like grin and slightly bugged-out eyes.  i mixed rice with ground black sesame to make the grey color of his coat, and added punched nori Vs from my emoticon puncher for his stomach markings.  the white part of his body is stuffed with a vegetarian meatball, left over from yesterday’s lunch.

the rest of tomorrow’s bento has steamed broccoli with fish sausage stars, tamagoyaki rolled with nori and topped with carrot stars, steamed brussels sprout halves, a few pieces of golden-fried tofu, and a nice vine tomato.  a tangerine for dessert, and i’m all set!





april showers bento

6 04 2011

the  past couple weeks have NOT been spring-like here in NYC, with the exception of this past weekend.  today it rained again, and honestly, i’m getting pretty tired of it — i want to break out cute spring skirts and shoes!

tomorrow’s lunch has umbrellas and rain drops as an homage to the current weather system.  my umbrellas are made from carrot (cut with a tiny fondant cutter), and are affixed with somen to two mixed-rice-and-ume onigiri.  the box also contains steamed broccoli, fish sausage “rain drops,” purple potato, cute strawberries, pea pods, and a silicon cup with a kabocha gratin.  i have a sesame-flavored soy milk drink for a sweet accompaniment.

hope you all had a nice wednesday, and are furiously bidding away on the bento4japan auctions, including the adorable shinzi katoh box which i relisted today!





happy snail bento

5 04 2011

tomorrow’s lunch was inspired by a snail bento by the talented lucky sundae – how cute, right?!  i love her work.  my snail is a little bit different, but with the same “shell” — i used white cheese, yellow soy paper, steamed carrot and fish sausage.  i gave my snail little fish sausage cheeks, too!  and my snail is crawling on a sesame leaf.

the base for the snail scene is omurice — a thin egg crepe wrapped around fried rice (i fried mine with kimchi and tofu).  in the back section of the box, i put the last of the leftover broiled salmon, some steamed brussels sprouts, purple cauliflower, romesco, pea pods, takuwan, a plump vine tomato, and a carrot butterfly.

bento4japan european raffle winners have been chosen, but you can still donate, and there are still charity auctions to bid on!





flowered kimbap bento

4 04 2011

i made dinner with my bestie tonight, and then we drank cocktails together on my couch while commenting on a hot episode of intervention… what can i say, i’m a girl of extremely refined tastes!

needless to say, two vodka-cranberries in, i couldn’t be too ambitious in my bento-making.  pre-made kimbap (from yesterday’s grocery run to flushing’s H-mart) to the rescue!  i quickly packed the kimbap slices in my skinny pink bento with some fruits and veggies from the fridge — two halved, steamed brussels sprouts; 4 takuwan slices; some pea pods and bamboo leaves, clementine sections and two mini strawberries — plus vegetarian chicken tenders for protein a few pink fish sausage blossoms for a pretty accent.   done and done!

in other bento news, thanks to help from sheri and mils i was able to add the “like on facebook” bento4japan badge.  are you a fan yet?  the bento4japan auctions are still going strong… i’ve got my eye on a certain newspaper-printed furoshiki, but there are lots of lovely items up for grabs, so head on over to ebay and help us continue raising money for relief in japan!





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!





yum-yum bento box: retro girl bento

3 06 2010

today’s lunch is a re-mix of the adorable “retro girls” bento featured on p. 42 of “yum-yum bento box:  fresh recipes for adorable lunches.”

i actually wanted to use up some scraps from cutting veggies over the past few days, so i opted for an omelet-style bento, as seen in “early-bird omelet” (p. 106) and “sunny-side up” (p. 128).   my omelet is filled with fried rice, which used up all my pea pod, sweet potato, broccoli stem, hot dog and salami bits — i added gochujang and red onion for more flavor.  if you need a basic recipe for fried rice, try this one from one of my previous posts (i added meat this time, but the basic recipe there is vegetarian).

because of the size of my box/omelet, only one retro girl would fit — but she’s super cute!  just like in the book, i used nori eyes with sesame eyelashes, a nori mouth, and a carrot nose, but i replaced the ham cheeks with ones cut from fish sausage.  i also added some cheese-flower and herbal sprig accents, like the decoration for “early-bird omelet” in the book.  totally mixing and matching — dig it?

food-wise, i totally did my own thing, with a veggie meatball (music note pick to keep up the “retro” theme; after all, the book tells me that “cute retro girls love their . . . jukebox music”!), three flower-cut carrots, steamed brussels sprouts and broccoli, a few beet slices, half a strawberry and a cherry, and some pea pods to fill empty spaces.





penguin meatballs bento

26 05 2010

yikes, someone reading only the titles of this week’s posts would think i have a real thing for eating strange animals!

tomorrow’s lunch has vegetarian meatballs made to look like penguins.  i cut the cheese with a toothpick, and then popped them in the microwave for 9 seconds to make it melt down around the round meatball surface.  then i added steamed sweet potato beaks and nori eyes with sesame seed details.

my penguin couple sits atop white rice, which again is applied in a thin layer over more protein (in this case, about 1.5 additional meatballs that were already somewhat mushed and crumbled in the package).  to complete the meal, i have a fish jun (korean pancake), half a hard-boiled quail egg with a nori star, some pea pods, two tomatoes, some kiwi slices, and three blackberries.  my final decorative accent is two sweet potato fish (cut with one of the cool hand-crafted metal cutters) and one fish sausage fish (i cut the details with half of a drinking straw, a trick i learned from one of pikko’s boy’s day bentos).

i’m packing a few of my wooden utensils, which i accented with removable washi tape.