flowered meatballs bento

12 04 2011

for dinner tonight, we had a HUGE salad, and i’m bringing leftovers from that to work tomorrow.  because of that, i knew i only needed to pack something small for my actual bento.

the salad didn’t have much in the way of protein, so to compensate,  i took 3 frozen vegetarian “meatballs” (from trader joe’s), popped them in the microwave for 45 seconds until they were mostly defrosted, glazed them with a bit of bulldog sauce, and then topped them with cheese flowers.  i nuked them with the cheese for another 13 seconds so that the flowers melted slightly, and then stuck some peas on.  not a kyaraben, but quick and easy.

the back of this skinny tier has some steamed broccoli and brussels sprout halves, and two fresh mini vine tomatoes.  i guess it’s salad day, because i also packed myself a cute fruit salad cup (grapes and strawberries).  what are you having for lunch this wednesday?





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!





two bunnies bento

7 09 2010

hey bento friends!  it’s been forever — my bad!  after a long summer “off” (and full of great stuff — an old friend’s lovely wedding, a fun surprise camping trip, a milestone birthday, and our adoption of a new puppy), i’m back to work this week at a brand new job, which also means back to bento.

adjusting to my new work schedule has left me completely exhausted, so just a short post tonight to get me back in the swing of things.  for tomorrow’s lunch, i have two wasabi-salmon onigiri topped with cheese bunnies and trimmed in nori.  i thought i was being clever, and modeled the facial features after what i remembered marshmallow peep bunnies as looking like, but it turns out i forgot their noses — oh well, next time!  (this cutter really is perfect for peep bunnies, so i’m sure you’ll see it again come easter.)  also in this box are champagne grapes, a cute tiny lady apple, some bamboo-shaped baran and carrots cut into a similar shape, steamed broccolini and corn, and two colorful tomatoes with carrot picks.  the bunny and flower-shaped cutters, as well as the carrot picks, were gifts from a sweet bento pal — thanks dear!

i haven’t been as active in the comments sections of all my favorite bento blogs, but i have been quietly enjoying all the fabulous “back to school” bentos — as usual, you bento ladies are full of great decoration tips and healthy, delicious meal ideas for your lucky kids.  thanks for inspiring me, as always; i hope i can “get my act together” and make my “back to work” bentos as fun and appetizing!





mushroom ravioli bento

30 06 2010

one thing i love about our new neighborhood is all the old-school italian grocery stores, most of whom sell the freshest mozzarella, and some of whom import delicious fresh pasta.  for today’s lunch, i’m using leftover mushroom ravioli from last night’s dinner party… these were fantastic just boiled, drained, and pan-fried with a little bit of butter, salt, pepper, and thyme.

to decorate my mushroom ravioli, i made mini-mushrooms from vegetarian ham and cheese.  the rest of the box has steamed broccoli, two grape tomatoes, a few pea pods, and a fruit section with clementine wedges, red grapes, and more of my crazy CSA blueberry haul.

the mini mushrooms were super easy to make:  i laid a piece of veggie ham on top of cheese, and used a medium-sized circle cutter to make 5 circles.  then i used the smaller of my two tear-drop-shaped cutters, upside down, to cut away the “negative space” on either side of the mushrooms’ stems.  finally, i took the ham layers off the cheese layers and used a drinking straw to cut the mushrooms’ spots, then carefully replacing the ham on top of the cheese so that the yellow was visible through the holes.

— ♥ —

unrelatedly… remember how i said i was making blueberry crisp last night?  it turned out sooooo yummy that i just had to post my recipe (adapted from 3 or 4 crisp recipes on cooks.com).  this recipe will make five or six little ramekins (which i think are prettier for individual servings at a dinner party), or it will make an 8″x8″ brownie pan (or 9″x9″ with slightly less tall and crispier end results).  and i know thyme is a weird ingredient for a dessert, but i really think it’s a great flavor combo — it’s just herbacious enough to taste unusual, but mild and lemon-y enough to go well with (and not overpower) the fruit.

blueberry-thyme crisp

for the filling/base (the fruit part, whatever you want to call it):

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • zest from half a lemon
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed from the woody stem (discard stems)

for the crispy crumbly top:

  • 1 stick of COLD (i actually used semi-frozen) butter
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup quick-cook oats
  • 1/2 tsp. each cinnamon and ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar

assembly:

    1. preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
    2. in a large mixing bowl, toss the berries with the flour, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and thyme.
    3. butter your ramekins (or brownie pan) and gently dump the blueberries in (too many mashed berries before it starts cooking will make it too wet).  if you are using ramekins, leave about a 1/2″ of room at the top — the cooked crisp will sink as the berries wilt down, but you need to have room to add the topping before baking.  if you’re using a brownie pan, don’t worry, 4 cups of blueberries won’t come up anywhere close to the top of the pan, so you’ll have plenty of room for topping.
    4. in a food processor, add all the topping ingredients and pulse until you have a coarse mixture (e.g., until the little lumps of butter are about the size that the oats were before you started pulsing).
    5. with a spoon, carefully add the topping to the filled ramekins or baking pan.  you want to fully cover the blueberries (although one poking out here and there is fine), but you don’t want a particularly thick layer of topping — it won’t crisp up if it’s too thick, so it’s ok to end up with extra topping (throw it in a zip-loc bag, it freezes fine and you can use it to top a single ramekin in the future).
    6. place your ramekins on a foil-lined baking sheet (they may bubble over a bit), or if you are using a brownie pan go ahead and put a piece of aluminum foil on the baking rack underneath the pan, and bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on your altitude and oven) or until the entire crisp has sunken down, the topping is golden, and you can see blueberry goo around the edges of the pan.
    7. cool them down!  really, i swear, they are too hot to eat right now (i learned the hard way).  when the ramekins are still warm to the touch, top with vanilla ice cream and a few sprigs of thyme.





    fruit and onigiri snack bento

    29 06 2010

    just a quick one today, as i’m running around preparing for a dinner party tonight (and will be munching while i cook!)…

    three small onigiri made with my favorite chunky ume/sesame seed furikake, and wrapped with ooba leaves; three vegetarian chicken tenders and a piece of okra wrapped in vegetarian ham (you’ll be seeing a lot of that until i run out of my okra!), a bit of steamed broccoli with a clown pick, red grapes, and some perfectly plump blueberries…

    the blueberries are from a GINORMOUS bucket of blueberries that we got (along with a small carton of precious golden raspberries) as this week’s share of the CSA we joined when we moved to williamsburg.  tonight i’m making blueberry crisp, but i’m in the market for other blueberry recipes (especially bento-friendly ones), so holler if you’ve got ideas!

    [as seen on fada moranga]





    “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: little red riding hood bento

    2 06 2010

    today’s lunch is based on the “little red riding hood” bento featured on p. 70 of the book “yum-yum bento box: fresh recipes for adorable lunches.”

    again, i tried to follow the design of the character pretty exactly, but swapped out some of the food items based on my preferences and of course on what i had in my fridge/pantry.

    little red riding’s hood and cheeks are made from salami; her hair, eyes, and mouth are made of nori; and just like in the book, her nose is cut from white cheese.  i’ve kept the strawberry section pictured in the book, but didn’t have mint leaves on hand, so i added green grapes for a bit of extra green freshness (and to fill up space).  i copied the ume-vinegar-powder/basket weave onigiri pictured in the book as well, but replaced the japanese veggie salad and tempura with some vegetarian meatballs and a grape tomato.  i replaced the quail egg from the book with a takuwan rosette, and added a few pea pods to fill the final gaps around little red riding hood.

    see how easy it is to use the book’s ideas as a spring-board, while substituting your favorite foods?

    here’s a closeup of the flower on the hood — i used cheese and salami but swapped out the chervil for cilantro.  that’s an uncooked somen noodle “pinning” the flower down to the hood.