speedy bunny bento

20 04 2011

this speed-packed bento is my nod to easter… the “speedy” in the title refers both to the bunny and to the bento-making time!

it’s a simple meal in my trusty tiffin:  some bulldog-glazed veggie meatballs, japanese pickles, rice with scallions and peas, a few carrot flowers, and a sweet potato bunny.

no bento for me on friday, so this is my last reminder that the highly-sought-after bento play food set auction ends in just over a day… and then we’ll be in easter weekend.  wishing all my bento pals a wonderful holiday weekend with their families!





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?





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]





japchae frogs bento

17 11 2010

sorry for the sporradic posting, there have been a lot of random salad-in-tupperware, sandwich-in-ziploc-bag, and overpriced-to-go-from-the-concourse lunches lately.  nothing wrong with the first two though they’re not particularly photogenic; the latter is one of the main reasons i started making bento in the first place ($12 for a vegetarian sandwich and soup is just outrageous!).  so i’m really trying to get back into the swing of things, and tomorrow’s lunch is a start.

i had leftover japchae from sunday dinner that needs to be used up before it turns, so i decided to use that as a bed for two kiwi “lily pads” and quail egg frogs, inspired by these cute guys i saw a while back on luckysundae’s blog.  i used peas and sesame seeds for eyes, whereas hers appear to be cheese, but i hope they’re similarly cute.

in the back section, i have some lovely winter plum slices, a vine-ripe mini-tomato, one takuwan gingko leaf, a steamed broccoli floret, some pumpkin sections (i had roasted a whole bunch and then threw some in the freezer, so i all i needed to do with these was defrost), and a frozen product from the korean grocer that i’m trying for the first time — it’s called 김 마리, and it’s some sort of glass noodles mixed with veggies, wrapped with nori, and then deep fried (i am a strong subscriber to the philosophy that a little deep fried once in a while is good for the soul!).

this will probably be one of the last times i get to use this nifty metal box — i’ve used it so much that it’s been banged against hard things in my bag, and the lid has become a bit dented, meaning that it doesn’t seal as tightly anymore.  that makes me nervous when it comes to saucy (or in this case, sesame oil-y) foods, and so with my next paycheck i’m hoping to spring for one of the beautifully-made aizawa stainless boxes at bento & co., like this zen 01.





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: 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!





jalapeno-fried chicken bento

21 04 2010

a while back i placed a fresh direct order, and the amount of jalapenos that was delivered was waaaay more than what i thought i was ordering!  what’s a girl to do with extra jalapenos that have been lingering in the fridge for almost too long?  how about jalapeno-fried chicken fingers, and a hearty salad topped with jalapeno-citrus dressing!  that’s what i made for dinner (recipes below), and tomorrow’s lunch includes two good-sized chicken pieces.

the rest of the bento has brown rice topped with peas and two cute bears made from two hard boiled egg slices (nori and sesame seed facial details), a beautiful vine-ripe tomato, some steamed broccoli, three butterflies cut from fish sausage, some pea pods and clementine wedges, and some cucumber and takuwan slices.

— ♥ —

jalapeno-fried chicken fingers

  • 1 package boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 package panko (japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika to taste
  • 1 medium-to-large sized jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  1. get yourself a nice, big, and clean workstation, where you can set up three bowls.  put the flour in the first bowl, and mix in your salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika (if you haven’t made spiced dredging flour before, start with about 1/8 teaspoon of each and add more as you like).
  2. in the second bowl, crack and beat the two eggs.  add a few teaspoons of milk or water if needed to thin the egg mixture down.
  3. in the third bowl, toss your diced jalapeno with your panko.  now you have your breading station, and you should line up the three bowls so that the panko/jalapeno mixture is closest to your frying pan.
  4. cut your chicken into approximately uniformly-sized pieces — i like mine longer and thinner (like “fingers”), but you could easily do squatter “nugget” style pieces.
  5. in a large frying pan, heat the oil until you can drop a piece of diced jalapeno in and it bubbles and sizzles.
  6. once the oil has come up to temp, bread the chicken, one piece at a time, by first dredging through the spiced flour, then dipping in the beaten egg, and then rolling through the panko/jalapeno mixture.  i find it works best to use just one hand as your breading hand (just hold the chicken piece in that hand and work it through all three bowls).  that way you have a clean hand left to turn on the faucet when it’s time to wash the messy hand!
  7. once you have about 5 or 6 pieces breaded, gently place them in the oil (if you drop them with too much force, the hot oil will splatter and burn you), and fry until both sides are golden brown (about 2 minutes on the first side and 90 seconds on the second).  i like to blot the fried pieces with a paper towel and then pop them into a 375-degree oven for a few extra minutes, just to make absolutely sure they are cooked through.
  8. you will want to fry the chicken in batches (that’s why i said 5 or 6 pieces for the first go), being careful not to crowd the pan. crowding the pan will result in stuck-together pieces and non-uniform browning.

jalapeno-citrus salad dressing

  • light syrup from a can of mandarin orange slices (if you don’t have a can handy, you can make a simple syrup by combining equal parts water and sugar in a pan and stirring over a low flame until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened — the mandarin flavor is lovely here though, and worth the price of the can)
  • juice from 1.5 limes
  • 3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar (plain white vinegar is fine too)
  • 1 small to medium sized jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 kiwi, skin removed, cut into chunks
  • 4 mint leaves
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. in a food processor, blend about 1/2 cup mandarin (or simple) syrup with the lime juice, vinegar and jalapeno, until the jalapeno is finely ground and gives the syrup a green-speckled, slightly opaque appearance
  2. add the chunked kiwi and mint, and continue blending until thoroughly ground
  3. through the pouring hole on the food processor container, pour a thin stream of olive oil, allowing the food processor blade to emulsify the dressing
  4. season the dressing to your liking

the dressing is super simple, right?  it’s deliciously tangy, and removing the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno makes it just spicy enough to give the dressing a real kick (a bit of an after-burn, actually), but without setting your entire mouth on fire.  i like this dressing over a salad of spinach leaves, chunked avocado, kernels of sweet corn, thinly-sliced red onion, chunked (or grape) tomatoes, and some sliced jalapeno-fried chicken fingers!

speaking of those, here is a picture of the finished product:

enjoy!