monkey soboro bento

1 04 2010

i received an unusual request via flickr-mail yesterday: a friendly user (and apparent fan of my photostream) asked if i might be willing to make a monkey bento, in honor of her favorite animal.

well, i have a couple of monkey sauce cases that have been lying around since my west coast bento shopping spree back in november, and i’m always up for a challenge, so i decided to use the monkey on the sauce case as my inspiration, and figured i could achieve the brown with a soboro bento.

my soboro is made of vegetarian faux ground beef. first i made an onigiri in approximately the same shape as the monkey’s inner face, molding pink rice free-form with saran wrap. then i layered some sliced orange bell pepper and scallions in the box, added the onigiri, and spooned in my “ground beef” (which i had sauteed with some cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper). i added radish eyes, nori eyelashes, a red pepper mouth, and a dyed-pasta bow, and voila! i had my monkey (no banana, though). this was my first time trying soboro for a bento, and i wish it had come out a teensy bit neater, but it was fun and i’ll definitely keep trying to perfect this technique!

even though the monkey looks like she’s made of just two ingredients, don’t forget about the veggies layered under there — once i mix it all up (with the hot sauce i stored in the actual monkey sauce case), it will be a tasty and healthy entree. i figured i would want something sweet too, though, so i made a quick side car of kiwi slices, pear flowers, and kumquats.

here’s a close up of the sauce case (available from napa japan):

see the resemblance? ok, i used artistic license to omit the ears and add the eyelashes. i hope my new flickr pal enjoys this one, and i hope you all have a great friday and weekend!

flower piggy bento

28 03 2010

so nice to be back home with the boyfriend and doggy, catching up on my DVR, and back to bento, too!  miami was great (the conference was academically stimulating and i networked up the wazoo!), but like they say, there’s no place like home.

tomorrow’s lunch is a tofu piggy, dyed in 2 drops of red food coloring and water, and then pan fried with salt, pepper, sesame oil and garlic powder.   i fried up all the scraps from cutting the piggy, too, and those are buried underneath the rice.  this piggy is sniffing a takuwan and red pepper flower with parsley leaves.

my fruit and veggie section, separated by lettuce baran, has takuwan, asparagus, broccoli (with a cheese butterfly), grape tomatoes, pea pods, flower-cut carrots, and two blackberry-and-kumquat skewers.

looking forward to catching up on all the bento blog and flickr entries i missed last week!

go kart bento

15 02 2010

my valentine’s day present to the boyfriend was a trip to grand prix new york, a karting complex for kids and adults in mt. kisco, new york (about an hour away from NYC).  he is a huge formula 1 fan, and karting was a fun treat and a great way to get excited for the upcoming start of the F1 season.

we don’t own a car, so when we take trips like this to the hudson valley we rent a zip car, and since renting a car is pricey, we try to get more bang for our buck by hitting some of the fantastic outer-borough restaurants and supermarkets that we normally would be too lazy to take a long subway ride to.  tonight we visited an H-mart in flushing, queens that was significantly larger than the one in NYC’s K-town, and picked up a few goodies you’ll see in my bentos over the next few days.

this one has some yummy jap chae, topped with a nori-and-cheese go kart — it’s a little, um, abstract!  karts are hard to depict!  i kept the rest of the bento simple, filling in with some pea pods and broccoli, purple carrots (this variety has yellow centers, creating a cool effect when i cut them into sticks like this), tomatoes, kumquats, and blueberries.  at H-mart i also found some cool gummy letters, and used those to spell out the words “CARS” (i wanted to spell out “SPEED,” but didn’t get a “P” in my package!).

a couple pics of the boyfriend karting:

serious fun!  (and isn’t he handsome?!)

hope you all had an amazing long and holiday-filled weekend!  can’t wait to catch up on everything i missed on flickr, twitter, and the blogs…

year of the tiger bento

11 02 2010

i have seen so many wonderful tiger bentos in the past two months — some of my favorites are at mothering corner, hawai`i’s bento box cookbook, just bento, bonito’s cooking wonderland, and happy little bento — but i have been biding my time, brainstorming my own perfect tiger bento for the lunar new year. 

well, best-laid plans aside, this week was pretty busy (what with unpacking from iceland, catching up on work i missed, and various social engagements), and while i did manage to dye my orange rice in advance, the bento didn’t turn out exactly how i sketched it — i think it looks a little disorganized and haphazard (though it is nicely colorful!)  oh well, hopefully i’ll have more time for a better CNY bento in 2011, year of the rabbit!

my tiger cub onigiri is made from rice (2 drops of red food coloring and 2 of yellow – it came out REALLY bright, maybe just one drop of each next time?) with nori stripes and facial features, and kumquat ears.  he’s stuffed with wasabi salmon (tigers eat fish, right?).  the “2010” is made from blue egg sheet layered over cheese and then cut with my x-acto blade.

the rest of the box contains broccoli (underneath the “2010”), purple potato slices (steamed and salted, as the purple potatoes i can get in NYC aren’t sweet-tasting), a veggie croquette fried lightly and cut in half, grape tomatoes, strawberry halves, a clementine in a blue silicone mini-food cup, snow peas, yellow carrot sticks, and a lettuce border.

and i saved my cute japanese tiger candy for this bento, as promised!

wishing all my bento friends a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

[as seen on bentoboxlove]

winged heart bento

9 02 2010

i have seen some beautiful naturally-colored rice this week (two great examples are sheri’s pink heart and mils’ love hearts), but — call me a cheater — this week i will be using good old fashioned food coloring to add some holiday spirit to my bentos.

tomorrow’s lunch has a winged heart onigiri (the strawberry fans look like wings to me — go with it!) seated on a bed of pomegranate seeds (with a tomato heart accent on the front) in the red section.  the yellow section has baby yellow carrot sticks, kumquats, and takuwan flowers.  the green section has two different kinds of veggie dumpling, with a few pea pods.  finally, the blue section has purple potato “chips” (roasted in the oven) and purple carrot discs.

in the center hole is some dipping sauce for the dumplings, the container for which is topped with a cool valentine’s sticker a generous bento pal sent me.  are you digging how i matched the food to the compartments?  that was an idea shared by multiple participants in hapa bento’s last 4-compartment-box giveaway!

[as seen on love and trash]

holiday chef bento

17 12 2009

had soup for dinner tonight, and since i don’t have a mr. (or ms.) bento that seals tightly enough to bring that to work, i used some of my trusty, reliable trader joe’s mini-pizzas for tomorrow’s lunch.

lots of props again tonight.  and i FINALLY remembered to bring home the massive econo-pack of batteries i got on sale at CVS, so i was able to replace the almost-dead batteries in my flash (i use an SB-600)… i think the difference is noticeable, much less need for light editing in picnik.

anywho, back to the food.  three little pizzas, and the top one has some pepper jack (painted with green food coloring) and pom seeds for a “holly” garnish.  my holiday chef is tossing the pizzas (get it?!), and he’s made out of mozzarella and cheddar with nori facial features.  grape tomatoes and baby carrots with my mesclun greens and one romaine leaf (will bring a small container of dressing with me to eat all the veg together as a salad), with pom seeds and kumquat slices in a food cup and two godiva truffles (present from the boyfriend) for dessert.  doily, chenille ribbon, and cool pencil chopsticks from moma for props.

chanukah is almost over, but there’s still that exciting pre-christmas mood at my office!

grand sichuan bento

9 12 2009

no surprise with this week’s crazy work schedule that last night’s dinner was takeout, again.  this time we ordered from grand sichuan – the best chinese food we’ve found so far in NYC, not having any chinese-speaking friends who are willing to show us the secrets of an otherwise pretty-touristy chinatown.

in the main tier: ma po tofu with scallion garnish, orange and yellow carrot sticks, broccoli with sesame seeds, cold sesame noodles with kumquat slices garnish, skewered broad beans, and two strawberries (i cut their tops off, put the cut ends together, and then skewered them).

in the top tier: white rice with a slice of soy-boiled egg, slices of orange grape tomato, and broad bean halves.  black sesame seed garnish.

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.

“brothers and sister” bento

1 12 2009

the top tier of this bento got a little cluttered, as i didn’t sketch in advance.  all i knew was that i wanted to use this new onigiri mold from daiso (makes three mini face-shaped onigiri), and then i kept adding more and more random stuff from the fridge and all of a sudden it was crazy.  oh well, at least i wasn’t drunk this time, haha!

top tier has two brothers and a sister (plain brown rice, too small for filling, nori hair and sesame eyes, cheese bow on the sister’s hair) sitting on top of some spicy korean tofu that’s completely hidden, and, clockwise from top left:  yellow cauliflower with cheese and veggie pepperoni flower, carrot sticks and baby orange tomato, red tomato half, tamagoyaki slices, and two edamame skewers on top of fried veggie dumplings (ajinomoto brand), and more carrot sticks (plus one more red baby tomato half to prop up brother #2’s chin!).

simple dessert tier has:  pomegranate seeds in a heart food cup from daiso, chocolate-covered almonds in a square food cup from daiso, asian pear fan, starfruit slices, kumquat slices and a cherry.

i’m really enjoying all of my new picks and cups from my trip to the west coast — this bento is a daiso bonanza!

bahn mi bento

29 11 2009

tomorrow’s lunch has another bahn mi from nicky’s vietnamese (2nd street between A and B) – the spicy/sweet tofu, carrot, and pepper slices are just outrageously good.  in the sandwich tier i added a purple and yellow carrot skewer.

in the fruit and veggie tier:  star fruit, pomegranate seeds, shimeji mushrooms, kumquat and grape tomato skewer, cherries with leaf picks, pea pods, and another purple and yellow carrot skewer.

this bento is using some of my new accessories from daiso:  the green square silicone cup is part of this set; the orange oval cup is part of this one, and the heart picks come in a pack of 20 similar to this one.

i’ve received tons of great contest entries so far — keep ’em coming, and i’ll be announcing a winner on tuesday morning!

glad to be back and bentoing… hope everyone had a lovely holiday!