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.





spring bunny bento

22 03 2010

has everyone seen hapa bento’s announcement about this month’s BOMB (“best of the month bento”) theme?  what a fun one!

here’s my contribution… he’s not an easter bunny, just a goofy spring bunny with his own carrot.  he’s made of cheese, cut with a toothpick using a stencil i found online.  i applied some orange soy paper for the patches on his belly and ears.

he’s plopped down on some pesto primavera pasta (also springlike with its fresh and light veggies — recipe below), and will make his way past the carrot baran to the garden patch of sweet mini yellow pepper, grape tomato, strawberry, pea pods, blackberries, and mini plum.  there’s a halved portobello soy burger in there that i’m hoping to beat him to!

here’s a close up of my bunny, and then the recipe…

pesto primavera pasta

  • 1/4 box tricolore fiore pasta
  • 1/4 box tricolore bowtie pasta
  • 2/3 bunch asparagus
  • 1 small zucchini
  • about 20 grape tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp. pesto (i used pre-made from a jar, but here’s a great simple recipe i use when basil is in season and bunches are cheap)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley and grated parmesan for garnish
  1. put a big pot of water on to boil.
  2. while the water is boiling, halve your grape tomatoes and set them aside.  bend a “test stalk” of asparagus to test where it’s pliable and where it’s woody; cut the entire bunch on the line where that stalk breaks.  discard the woody ends, and then cut the remaining stalks on the bias into approximately 2″-long segments.  slice your zucchini into rounds or mezzalunes.
  3. when your water has reached a rolling boil, salt it (about 2 tbsp. kosher salt).  add your bowties first — these are bigger and will take slightly longer to cook than the fiore shape.  after about 2 minutes, add your fiores.  when the pasta is just slightly too all dente, throw your chopped asparagus and zucchini into the pot.   when the pasta is done, turn off the flame and drain the whole pot with a colander.
  4. add the pasta, asparagus and zucchini back into the cooking pot, but keep the flame off.  add your halved tomatoes and your pesto, and mix thoroughly.  season with salt and pepper as desired.
  5. top with a bit of chopped parsley and parmesan cheese.

that’s it!  super, super simple, but also super fresh and springy tasting.  you can substitute other veggies to turn this recipe into a fridge-cleaner-outer, too.

i’m in miami for a business conference tomorrow evening through friday evening, so no bentos for me until next monday.  see you on flickr and twitter, though!





“woman in a hilltop teahouse” bento

21 03 2010

tomorrow’s lunch is my entry for the japan society’s virtual bento box battle.  i chose to imitate “woman in a hilltop teahouse,” a beautiful woodcut by japanese artist utagawa kuniyoshi.  click here to see the woodcut (image 10 of 26), part of the japan society gallery’s display entitled “graphic heroes, magic monsters:  japanese prints by utagawa kuniyoshi from the arthur r. miller collection.”

i chose this image because the lovely woman is dining… although it’s not a bento box on the bench with her, it could be, and she’s very much enjoying her peaceful and relaxing meal, as i hope to enjoy this lunch!  her bench is made of vegetarian ham, and she is made out of cheese and nori, with food coloring mixed with a few drops of water for a watercolor painting effect.

in the background i have broccoli, flower-cut carrots and a few pea pods, asparagus tips, a purple carrot skewer, takuwan slices with sesame seeds, a few grape tomatoes, a perfect little mini-plum (labeled “prune plum” in my market), and some blackberries, almost hidden behind the sesame leaf baran.  the teatime lady and her bench are layered over white rice, which is itself layered over stewed tofu for the protein component to this meal.

entries for the bento box battle are being accepted through wednesday, march 31, so there’s still time for you to make one if you haven’t already!

UPDATE:  the judging is over, and this box was selected for first prize!  take a look at the other winners over at the japan society’s website, and my congratulations to all who participated, especially lia, lucky sundae, pikko, and laura bento, all of whose entries were gorgeous and proved very stiff competition!





bunny bahn mi bento

11 01 2010

most of you probably know how tasty bahn mi sandwiches are, and for those of you who are lucky enough to have a vietnamese sandwich shop in your neighborhood, they are usually pretty cheap and easy to pick up.  because of the convenience factor, i fall back on a bahn mi bento every couple of weeks — it’s a great “fill in” on nights when i don’t cook dinner or don’t make enough to produce bento-able leftovers for the next day.

today, in an effort to showcase the versatility of this lunchbox item, some of my favorite bentoists and i have put together a variety of bahn mi bentos!

my bahn mi bento is geared towards my relatively physically inactive lifestyle (i pretty much sit at a computer all day!).  in order to tailor the lunch to my nutritional requirements, i simply added a lot of fresh fruits and veggies.  the bahn mi already has fresh carrots, cilantro, and cucumber in it, as well as tofu for my protein element.  but because the yummy baguette is a processed carb (it’s plain white, not whole wheat or anything), i do need to be careful not to add other carb elements to the meal. the fruit is even pushing it, because it has so many natural sugars. to keep my body working to process those sugars, i will pace myself over the course of the day, eating part of the fruit section as a mid-morning snack.

the bunny decoration is made from mozzarella and american cheeses, with vegetarian ham and nori accents.  in the bahn mi tier i also have a steamed sweet potato flower, three takuwan-and-beet flowers, some enoki mushrooms, pea pods, and grape tomatoes.  once i eat the sandwich i will probably rip up the lettuce leaves and eat the rest of the veggies mixed with the lettuce as a small salad.

my fruit tier has nashi and plum fans, with a baby orange in a food cup, some strawberries in a food cup, blueberries in another food cup, and grapes and raspberries to fill the gaps.  both sections of this 2-tier ccomotti box are pretty deep, so the food cups are propped up on additional slices of nashi and plum.

for other ideas on how bahn mi sandwiches fit into various lifestyles (with various nutritional needs), please take a look at these other gorgeous bentos:

  • sheri over at happy little bento, who makes lunch for her son and his big appetite, made a bahn mi bento focusing on balanced nutrition for a full and active school day.
  • debra of hapa bento is a vegetarian, and her post discusses enjoying a bahn mi in nutritional moderation.
  • finally, susan over at hawai`i’s bento box cookbook makes lunch for her cutie-pie daughter paige, so she made a bahn mi bento focusing on incorporating veggies into a kid’s diet.

in the comments, i’d love to hear about your favorite bahn mi sandwich shop, or your favorite accompaniments for a bahn mi bento!

and many thanks to debra for coordinating this fun exposé on bahn mi bentos!





rain cloud bento

12 11 2009

bento 39

gloomy weather today here in NYC, so a comfort food dinner was in order.

mac and cheese with soy hot dogs and a white american cheese rain cloud (nori eyes and mouth, pickled radish cheeks).

fruit and veggies: sliced plum, strawberry quarters, snow peas, carrot sticks, one red grape tomato, and broccoli under the rain cloud.

[as seen on epicute, FFFFOUND!, dainty squidjapanisches allerlei (all things japanese), bento box lovelin loves, and they made me eat it]





cold soba bento

11 11 2009

bento 38

quick box based around my leftover soba noodles (from terikyaki boy).  top tier: two slices of last night’s hobak jun, three slices of tamagoyaki, a row of pea pods and carrot slices, the yummy soba (topped with a takuwan and sweet potato flower), and three red grape tomatoes.  bottom tier:  golden plum fan, apple fan, pomegranate seeds, foil-wrapped chocolate “leaf,” yellow wax beans, cucumber sticks, broccoli, and one beautiful ripe strawberry.





h’ors d’oeuvres bento

8 11 2009

bento 35had a friend over for a mini-cocktail and scrabble party on friday night, so now i have goodies for tomorrow’s lunch.  clockwise from left center:  marinated artichoke hearts in a silicone cup with a food pick, cornichon pickles, wedges of gruyere and gouda cheese, vegetarian “meatballs” and tomatoes on bamboo skewers, stuffed grape leaves with a cucumber flower, carrot sticks and yellow wax beans.

the top tier is not pictured, but has sesame and poppy seed crackers, pomegranate seeds in a food cup, kiwi slices, blackberries, and a leaf-cut plum.