carribean tofu bento

12 03 2012

today’s lunch (made yesterday) came together quickly — no recipes involved, just soy boy’s carribean tofu, which is spiced so beautifully as to make a tasty meal with the addition of just nutty brown rice and a few garnishes. this lunch is totally in keeping with the tone it up nutrition plan‘s simple “lean, clean and green” philosophy!

nutritional info below.

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cucumber maki bento

29 03 2011

tomorrow’s lunch was simple and easy to speed pack — which was perfect, since i went to happy hour with a friend and came home ready for bed!

i have one fairly thick cucumber maki here, rolled with rice that i mixed with shiso powder. in the bamboo box i also have two fat slices of a tamagoyaki that i pre-made the other night. a few citrus segments in the side box and i’m all set for a light and refreshing mid-week lunch. they can’t all be kyaraben!

i may steal mils’ idea for miso-soup-on-the-go to add to this, too… wouldn’t a nice mug of hot miso be great with these chilled maki pieces?





little post, big news

1 11 2010

hey everybody!  my apologies for going off the grid during the past couple of weeks… i was on a crazy wedding diet, and i couldn’t eat delicious bento, so looking at all of your mouth-watering creations became torture for me, and i had to just bow out of the bentosphere for a little while.

i’m back, and i’m a mrs.! woo hoo!  my stomach is still regaining its full capacity after the home stretch of basically starving myself to try to fit into my wedding dress, so i’m still packing fairly small lunches this week.  but it’s so nice to have carbs again!  rice, pizza, noodles, potatoes, yum!

tomorrow’s lunch has two brown rice onigiri mixed with vegetable furikake and topped with takuwan maple leaves, as well as a vine tomato and some mixed fall veggies (eggplant, pumpkin, and mushrooms).  we saw so much beautiful fall foliage on our mini-honeymoon this past weekend, so the maple leaves were inspired by those views.   i hope to be able to post some city hall wedding and hudson valley honeymoon pictures soon!

p.s. HOLY SH!T GO GIANTS!!!!





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.





shikai maki bento

23 05 2010

thank you all for sharing so many wonderful links in your contest entries!  i had a wonderful time this weekend browsing through them — some took me to blogs i already know and love, and some took me to totally new sites i had never even heard of.

tomorrow’s bento has a few sources of inspiration:  one is the luxirare shikai maki bento that brenda posted in the comments, and another is the beautiful work of my good bento pal jenn (bentobird).  i tried to echo the natural elegance that her boxes epitomize, and it seemed fitting to incorporate her style into this meal, since her boxes often include sushi.  for the sushi component, i tried my hand at this interesting square-format sushi (using a handy how-to video on youtube!).  my roll contains shiso rice, kiwi strips, cucumber, and fried tofu… i need some more practice (the kiwi layer, in particular, didn’t hold its structure because the kiwi was so slippery), but i have the general idea and am sure i can improve!

another source of inspiration this week was a long-postponed first trip to minamoto kitchoan, the fine purveyor of gorgeous wagashi (japanese sweets) located on manhattan’s chi-chi 5th avenue.  here is a photo from their display case (these are plastic, but do look just like some of the items they are selling):

alongside tomorrow’s box i have a shobumochi packaged to look like a beautiful iris.  this will cap off my dessert fruit section (kiwi slices, pomegranate seeds, two juicy blackberries and one ripe cherry), which will in turn balance my veggie section (peppery arugula, a tiny sweet red pepper, two asparagus tips, two carved takuwan flowers, and a quail egg). to fill up the empty space in the box, i placed a bottle of soy dressing and a pair of disposable chopsticks (both decorated with washi tape in complementary colors).  the box is packed in a pretty red-patterned furoshiki that i received from another sweet bento friend.

— ♥ —

getting back to the contest… i edited the entry comments in order to number them, and then used the random.org website to generate a random integer from 1 to 95:

the winning entry, number 79, is abby of totoro bento!  congratulations!  please get in touch with your mailing information and i’ll mail your prize package right away.





“before and after” bento

26 04 2010

one night last week, i was tweeting with some bento pals when debra of hapa bento showed us the first bento she had photographed and posted online, a full year ago. we all dug up our first bento posts, and remarked on how fun it was to see the evolution of our bentos. then debra had the great idea of us all doing a “before and after” post, to show how we would use the same ingredients from our first bento in a different way.

my first bento was pretty simple — some homemade kimbap rolls (with tofu, carrot, egg and spinach in them) laid over a leaf, with a separate tier of kiwi slices and a checkered apple and takuwan flowers. the checkered pattern was one of the first decorative techniques i learned, and the soy sauce bottle and flower cutters the extent of my bento equipment! here’s a picture of that bento:

to revamp the same ingredients this time around, i chose a similar box (unfortunately my original box suffered an unfortunate dishwasher incident; this one is also slender and pink, though), and filled it with slices of a simplified kimbap roll (just egg inside) over some shiso leaves. modifying an idea from hawai`i’s bento box cookbook (“hotdog sushi bear,” p. 35), i used the eggy centers of the slices as the bear’s muzzle, and added nori details for eyes, nose and mouth. then i cut takuwan ears and attached them with toothpick ends.

instead of a checkered apple, this time i have some apple “coins” with teddy paw-prints carved into them. to use the other ingredients that were inside the kimbap roll in my first bento, i breaded and fried two tofu chunks, and topped them with steamed carrot flowers and washi-tape flag picks. i filled the empty spaces in the box with some more takuwan, and my final original ingredient, kiwi (this time in wedges instead of slices).

what do you think? nori, rice, egg, carrot, tofu, takuwan, apple, kiwi, and leaves — all there. my arrangements have gotten slightly neater and more character-focused, but i would like to think my bento “style” hasn’t changed that much.

check out some other great “before and after” bentos from some of my favorite bento artists:

if you ask me, these ladies were just as talented then as they are now, and their “before” bentos show how accessible this hobby/art form really is… if you are just starting out, you don’t need a ton of fancy tools to develop your own signature style, just some practice and imagination!





kyo bento

20 04 2010

tomorrow’s lunch is the first use of the new kyo bento box i purchased with my gift certificate from bento & co.  it’s one of the most beautiful and refined objects i’ve ever possessed.

i wanted to keep lunch in this box simple and classic, so i hand-molded two onigiri (the rice is mixed with my favorite chunky ume furikake) with shiso leaves, and added some basic garnishes:  two wedges of clementine, two pieces of tamagoyaki cut on an an angle, some pea pods and grape tomatoes, and some pickled cucumber and takuwan in a paper food cup with a carrot flower.  i love how it turned out — i feel like the box would make any food look gorgeous, so i didn’t even have to work at it tonight.

thanks again to bento & co. for the generous prize i received in the spring bento contest!