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!

three lil’ bears bento

21 03 2011

i’m baaaaack!  no promises for daily posting, but i feel refreshed and ready to get back on the proverbial bento horse.

tomorrow’s lunch was relatively quick and easy — leftover fried rice from m noodle shop, three mozzarella ball bears with almond ears, cheese muzzles, nori noses and eyes, and ketchup cheeks, some steamed broccolini, a steamed carrot flower, a pretty mini-pepper and another israeli vine tomato.

this sturdy and slender box was a holiday gift from my parents, and is still available on bento & co.  if you’re in the mood for bento shopping, though, why not head over to ebay and run a search for “bento4japan?  the same box (in turquoise) is among the many lovely items being auctioned to raise funds to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami… if you want to help the cause, bid early and bid often!

[as seen on epicute]

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!

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.

flower fried rice (redux!) bento

21 02 2010

i know i did a flower detail on fried rice fairly recently, but for some reason this food and this decorative motif just seem to go together for me.  i think flowers also go particularly well with the round, three-sectioned box, as sheri has proven time and time again.

tomorrow’s lunch consists of leftovers from yesterday morning’s fried rice breakfast (yum, who can say no to fried rice for breakfast?!).  for fresh veggies/fruit, i’ve got grape tomatoes (with leaf food picks), orange and yellow baby carrot sticks, pea pods, broccoli, and blueberries.  and here’s my fried rice recipe, though it’s not really a recipe, since the substitution possibilities are endless (really, just throw together whatever random leftover veggies you have in your fridge, and supplement with ones from your freezer if necessary):

yummy fried rice breakfast goodness (serves two hungry, hungover adults):

  • 1.5 cups leftover rice (should be COLD from the fridge)
  • 1/2 small white onion or about 1/3 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped broccoli or other leftover steamed green vegetables (i added snow peas)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen green vegetables (i used edamame, but peas or carrots are also good options)
  • 4 sliced hot dogs (you could also use soy dogs or fish sausages)
  • 3 tbsp. cooking oil (i use canola)
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 heaping tbsp. gochujang (you could also use sriracha), 1 heaping tbsp. garlic paste or finely minced garlic, and 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 eggs
  1. get a very large saute pan (or even better, a wok) hot and add your cooking oil.  sautee the onion and fresh vegetable (here, broccoli) until cooked through but not browned.  add the frozen vegetable (here, edamame) and continue stirring over high heat until defrosted.
  2. add your meat (here, hot dog slices) and cook everything until slightly browned on edges.
  3. add your rice.  it will be chunky and stuck together from cooling in the fridge, so use the blade of your spatula to break it up and mix it with the vegetables and meat already in the pan.
  4. add your garlic and gochujang (or sriracha).  again, use your spatula to evenly distribute the seasoning throughout the rice, making sure that there no clumps of un-seasoned rice (e.g. big clumps which, if you broke them open, would be pure white inside) remain.
  5. in a small bowl or ramekin, beat two cracked eggs lightly.  you’re really just trying to break the yolks, not make the base of an omelette or anything.  add the egg mixture to the pan and again, using your spatula, evenly distribute, being careful not to let a puddle of eggs burn on the bottom of the mixture.
  6. turn the flame off.  add your soy and sesame (you turn the flame off because you don’t want to burn these, and they don’t really need to cook anyway).  use the spatula to mix everything together one final time.

could that possibly be any easier?  there is no special “technique” here, just adding things in stages and continuing to mix thoroughly.  and like i said, you could substitute almost any of these ingredients, as long as we’re still talking about some kind of rice, mixed with some kind of vegetable and protein.  i love ordering fried rice from thai restaurants because it’s always so buttery and herbal, but i also love making it at home because it’s a great use for odds and ends from my fridge that are about to go bad.

flower fried rice bento

24 01 2010

i had a looooong, busy weekend with very little relaxation/”me” time, so tonight the boyfriend and i ordered from spice thai and i threw together something bright and cheerful with the leftover veggies from the crudités platter i served at today’s book club gathering.

the entree is spicy ginger fried rice and tofu, topped with a vegetarian ham, cucumber, carrot, and fish cake flower (hand cut).  behind my pink lace baran (another score from my trip to ichiban kan in beautiful san francisco — but you can buy your own online at j-list), i have carrot sticks, steamed broccoli (with two little fish sausage flowers, held in place with heart picks), takuwan flowers, red pepper spears, pea pods, grape tomatoes, blackberries and a strawberry.

for props i’m using one of my new laser-cut felt doilies (from artsy athina on etsy) and a cute little clickety-click fork.  speaking of props, i picked out a bunch of fun and cool things in the props section of my amazon store — some of you are just starting to experiment with props (i only started a few weeks ago), and it’s a whole new world of fun bento styling, am i right?  in the comments, i’d love to hear any of your cool new prop ideas…

working late (again) bento

2 12 2009

working late again, getting two motions out the door on two different cases – yikes.

turned to my old stand-by for late nights: vietnamese or thai food, and my box from hapa bento.  this combination always lets me throw things together at the last minute and still have it come out looking nice!

top left:  bean sprouts in a food cup topped with two purple carrot flowers, with four tamagoyaki slices and two halves of a baby roma tomato.  top right:  two asian pear fans, with a food cup of pomegranate seeds, kumquats on a pick, and some cherries (with their real stems left on, for once!).  bottom right:  fried rice with mint leaves and a flower-shaped container of soy sauce for some extra salt (it was kinda bland this time).  bottom left:  sauteed black mushroom with carrot and green onion accents.