strawberry onigiri bento

1 05 2011

tomorrow’s lunch was fairly quick and easy to pack using leftovers from tonight’s dinner: two round onigiri made from rice mixed with sauteed broccolini stems and garlic (which is how i served it the first time, not mixed especially for the onigiri), plus a few small pieces of pan-seared salmon filet.  i topped the onigiri with “strawberries” made from fish sausage, sesame seeds, and snow pea tops, using another great idea from akinoichigo’s blog.

the rest of the bento has one of the brightest red strawberries i’ve ever come across in my market, a little bit of tomato, some snow peas, broccolini tops, a takuwan rosette, and a few slices each of mini-cucumber and tangerine to fill empty spaces.  i’m looking forward to this relatively light and healthy lunch.

i hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  i have another busy work week ahead, but can’t wait to catch up on my favorite blogs and twitter feeds when i get some down time…





vintage stamps bento

26 04 2011

a recent trend in wedding stationary is to use a mix of vintage postage stamps for a unique and stylized look. i think this idea is really cute, but it can be cost-prohibitive (some vintage stamps cost up to 10 times their face value!).

inspired by the trend as well as cute bentos by akinoichigo and lucky sundae, and evolving the scottie dog “stamps” bento i made a few weeks ago, i made two vintage postage stamp sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch. each stamp sits atop a sandwich of pumpernickel, vegetarian ham, cheese and mustard. the provolone stamps are topped with fish sausage roses, as well as green pea and nori accents and hand cut 12-cent demarcations.

posted in “what’s for lunch wednesday” — what are you having?





happy matryoshka bento

25 04 2011

tonight for dinner i made an awesome pan-seared cod dish, served with shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (recipe below) and a fat slice of oven-roasted beefsteak tomato.

for tomorrow’s lunch, which is my last passover lunch for the year (YAY!), i packed some of the cod beneath a layer of the quinoa salad, topped with a cheese-and-nori matryoshka.  the side portion has steamed broccoli, a fish sausage heart, steamed asparagus, sweet potato “doilies”, pea pods, and a lettuce border.

quinoa has been a controversial grain for those observing passover — because it was not a part of the diet of the jews who fled slavery in egypt, it was never placed on the list of forbidden passover foods, even though it expands like rice and other forbidden grains.  that’s good enough for me, and because quinoa is protein-packed, it’s a nice change from rice.

the basic recipe is simple, and the number of potential add-ins is infinite.  here’s the combo i came up with tonight:

shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (if you can come up with a better name, let me know!)

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 8 medium shitake caps, julienned
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • olive oil to coat a medium skillet
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. shiro miso paste
  • 3 big handfuls of arugula
  • pepper to taste
  1. coat your skillet with olive oil and heat it up.  add the sliced garlic and julienned shitake caps, and sautee until golden.
  2. add the quinoa to the pan and stir until it’s evenly toasted but not burned.  (this is the same process you would use when making risotto and toasting the arborio rice prior to adding liquid.)
  3. in a separate pot, bring 2 cups of water to boil, and then whisk in the miso paste.
  4. add the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to the boiling miso broth, cover and reduce to a low simmer.  allow to cook for 10-15 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed and the individual quinoa grains are plumped.  turn off heat and leave lid on to steam for an additional 2 to 5 minutes.
  5. transfer the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to a mixing bowl, and fold in the arugula.  it will steam/wilt in this process; make sure fold until it’s evenly incorporated.

that’s it!  it’s good hot or cold, and very nutritious.





spring horsies bento

19 04 2011

tomorrow’s lunch has some curry rice with two hanpen horses, plus steamed broccoli, a tomato, steamed brussels sprout halves, and some juicy pieces of mochiko chicken.  i made a batch using a combination of both sheri and debra‘s helpful recipes; mine came out looking a little bit different (the batter consistency was so close to pancake batter that the outside of some of the pieces actually look like pancakes), but it was absolutely delicious.

my horsies have manes made from egg sheet that i had leftover from last night’s rilakkuma creation.  i cut a slit in the hanpen and inserted the base of the fringed egg sheet strip so that the mane looks like it’s “growing.”  cilantro sprig harnesses are a cool idea i borrowed from lucky sundae, and i put my own spin on akinoichigo’s saddle idea by using soy paper in which i hand cut little hearts.

have you bid on the awesome play bento set or the beautiful crane earrings, both auctions to benefit the japan relief effort?

and — i posted my lunch in “what’s for lunch wednesday,” did you?





flying rilakkuma bento

18 04 2011

tomorrow’s bread-free lunch is my take on soboro, mexican-style: a layer of spanish rice (cooked in my rice cooker with peas and corn), a layer of monterey jack cheese, and a layer of vegetarian ground beef sauteed with cumin.  plus a bunch of fresh fruits and veggies — cuke, yellow and red vine tomatoes, steamed broccoli, pea pods, a big fat strawberry, and a few tangerine sections.

the star of this lunch is rilakkuma, cut with an exacto knife from two colors of egg sheet.  i recently bought a package of onigiri cases with rilakkuma on them, and the package had two funny/cute rilakkuma designs:  in one he is flying with cooking utensils in his hands (this is what i reproduced for my bento, without the utensils), and in another he is totally relaxing (per his name!), with one arm leisurely propping up his head.

just a reminder: the fabulous play bento set — consisting of adorable, hand-crafted fabric food items traditionally found in a bento box — is still up for grabs on ebay.  the bento4japan charity auctions are winding down, but this item is like a grand finale!





poodles in love bento

10 04 2011

tomorrow’s lunch has two poodles in love.  the poodles are cut with a fondant cutter from hanpen, which i was able to find at my japanese grocer.  the poodles are set on a bed of rice mixed with the very last of my hana osushi no moto… for some reason i can’t find that product anywhere!  if you know of an online source for it, please share in the comments!

the rest of my lunch has some thai-basil mock duck, a steamed carrot slice, a few pieces of steamed broccoli, a few pea pods, a nice yellow tomato, half each of a strawberry and a steamed brussels sprouts, and some pretty purple japanese pickles.

have a happy start to your week, and don’t forget, the auction for the cute shinzi katoh box ends early tomorrow morning, but there are lots of other cute boxes to bid on for charity!





april showers bento

6 04 2011

the  past couple weeks have NOT been spring-like here in NYC, with the exception of this past weekend.  today it rained again, and honestly, i’m getting pretty tired of it — i want to break out cute spring skirts and shoes!

tomorrow’s lunch has umbrellas and rain drops as an homage to the current weather system.  my umbrellas are made from carrot (cut with a tiny fondant cutter), and are affixed with somen to two mixed-rice-and-ume onigiri.  the box also contains steamed broccoli, fish sausage “rain drops,” purple potato, cute strawberries, pea pods, and a silicon cup with a kabocha gratin.  i have a sesame-flavored soy milk drink for a sweet accompaniment.

hope you all had a nice wednesday, and are furiously bidding away on the bento4japan auctions, including the adorable shinzi katoh box which i relisted today!