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?





happy snail bento

5 04 2011

tomorrow’s lunch was inspired by a snail bento by the talented lucky sundae – how cute, right?!  i love her work.  my snail is a little bit different, but with the same “shell” — i used white cheese, yellow soy paper, steamed carrot and fish sausage.  i gave my snail little fish sausage cheeks, too!  and my snail is crawling on a sesame leaf.

the base for the snail scene is omurice — a thin egg crepe wrapped around fried rice (i fried mine with kimchi and tofu).  in the back section of the box, i put the last of the leftover broiled salmon, some steamed brussels sprouts, purple cauliflower, romesco, pea pods, takuwan, a plump vine tomato, and a carrot butterfly.

bento4japan european raffle winners have been chosen, but you can still donate, and there are still charity auctions to bid on!





spring sailboat bento

3 04 2011

i hope everybody had a nice weekend! we finally got some nice, spring-like weather, with temperatures in the mid-50s and two days of fairly consistent sunshine.

tomorrow’s bento has a nautical theme, with a sailboat (nori and colored soy paper on cheese) and an anchor (cut from steamed carrot). i have a small piece of broiled salmon, with more flaked underneath the rice (which is mixed with seaweed and sesame seed furikake). a few steamed broccoli florets, a mini yellow pepper, and the cutest mini-strawberries round out this meal.

happy start of the week!





polka dot birdies bento

2 07 2010

i’m still catching up on all the bento blog posts i missed during my break, but one of the things i saw recently that inspired me was this adorable polka-dot bird at e-obento.  too cute, right?  i put my own spin on it by cutting a bird template from paper and tracing two birds out of cheese with a toothpick, and then applying polka dots made from orange and green soy paper, along with little cheese-and-soy-paper wings (cut with my smallest teardrop cutter).

i used my birds as toppers for two tea-sized club sandwiches (“club” only in the sense that they are three layers each of bread, and two of filling) — vegetarian ham, cheese, and mustard on dark pumpernickel bread.  the rest of the box has a steamed broccoli floret, the last (phew!) of my okra, a grape tomato, a piece of steamed corn, two pea pods, and some blueberries on a pick.

for more polka-dot inspiration, check out piewacket, food gal, and oh joy!, as well as etsy, where there are tons of great finds (including this bird headband that served as another model for my sandwich toppers).  wishing you all a wonderful weekend!





froggie garden snack bento

19 04 2010

tomorrow i have a lunch meeting at work, so i only need a little snack bento.  this box combines two objectives:  a garden theme for hapa bento’s contest with japanistic, and a froggie theme to inaugurate the kawaii new box i received from a dear bento friend (thank you so much, you-know-who!).  plus, a lush and damp garden always has froggies hiding in it, so i think the frogs really are perfectly appropriate for the garden contest.

my frogs are made of cucumber (cut with a small veggie cutter shaped like a teddy bear head — just use the ears for eyes!), with cheese-and-sesame-seed eyes and vegetarian ham mouths.  the middle froggie is looking surprised, tee hee!

the rest of the box has my usual rice layered over tofu, then a layer of sliced takuwan, and then some double-cut carrot and purple potato flowers topped with white soy paper punched flowers.  to accent this garden, i added two grape tomatoes, and a bunch of pea pods to simulate the leafy area in which the flowers and tomatoes are growing.





“a cute riding red hood” bento

13 04 2010

tomorrow’s lunch is packed in a new box i got from kir devries, an online store with a selection of great shinzi katoh boxes.  this box is the “a cute riding red hood” two-tier, and to inaugurate it, i made a red riding hood kyaraben.  shinzi katoh designs are whimsical and unique, and i was thrilled to find an online supplier in the states with low shipping costs (plus they offer free shipping on orders over $50!).

my red riding hood (or should i say “riding red hood”) girl is made of cheese with yellow soy paper for hair, and white soy paper (dyed red with food coloring) for the hood and dress.  her eyes are nori, and her nose and hair squiggles are food coloring.  the bows in her hair were cut from nori with this cute tiny bow punch from jlist.  she’s on plain white rice, with cheese and sesame seed flowers, and in the same box are two soy nuggets, a grape tomato with a yellow heart food pick, a flower-cut carrot, cucumber slices, and some mint leaves.

the other tier has sliced kiwi (accented with one purple potato flower) in a paper food cup, with a plump strawberry, two more flower-cut carrots, and some purple potato slices.  here’s a picture of the lid of the box, so you can see how closely i tried to model my kyaraben after shinzi katoh’s design:

— ♥ —

the past few days have been full of excitement: the apartment search has continued at a frantic pace (preventing me from bento-ing), and i think i finally found the perfect place… fingers crossed, and i’m not going to say more because i don’t want to jinx it before the paperwork goes through.

on monday i also found out that my “spring butterfly” bento won the spring bento contest hosted by bento & co.just bentofrench bento!  i’m so sorry for not getting to this earlier, but i did want to take this opportunity to repeat my congratulations to all who participated, especially to lia of my bentolicious and sheri of happy little bento (two of the best bento pals and competitors a girl could ever ask for)!  i’m extremely honored to have won, but the best prize was the chance to see the other contestants’ inspirational ideas and to make some new international bento contacts — it was really a great experience, so thanks again to maki, mook, thomas and erico for hosting!





shy giraffe bento

29 03 2010

my  latest j-list order arrived yesterday, woo hoo!  one of the items i’ve been eagerly awaiting is this cute set of animal picks, and tonight i decided to use the giraffe (which the boyfriend insists looks like a cross between a giraffe and a duck).  i also got one of the slender bento boxes i’ve been wanting to experiment with.  i’m pretty happy with how this turned out!

i have last night’s leftover dinner rice, layered over a bit of black beans, with a gentle giraffe on top.  a few fish sausage flowers and parsley leaves decorate the giraffe’s “habitat.”  the giraffe was made from a free-hand drawing (referencing some online photos), which i made into a simple template and then cut out of cheese.  his spots are made from the orange sheet of that cool colored soy paper i received from a bento pal — those colored sheets sure do come in handy!

in the top section, i have a few clementine wedges, some broccoli, a few fried tofu slices, a pea pod, an asparagus tip, and some japanese pickled cucumber (i love the purple color).  my new giraffe pick, spearing a grape tomato, tops this presentation off!  oh, and jello for dessert… yum.





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!





spring butterfly bento

14 03 2010

tonight’s bento features a handmade cheese, soy paper, and nori butterfly.  the unexpected package i received on thursday also contained a package of these cool colorful soy papers, and over the weekend i had the brainstorm to apply cut-out pieces to white cheese to resemble the colored markings on a butterfly’s wings.  you like?  the white cheese was cut with a toothpick from a template i cut out of paper, and then layered on top of vegetarian ham that i cut with an x-acto knife.

i also used the yummy red shiso meshi i received in the same package to make some lovely purple rice for the butterfly to alight on.  the purple rice is layered over stewed tofu for some extra protein.

the “garden patch” in this box is separated from the rice by two sesame leaves (natural baran for hapa bento’s BOMB theme).  the butterfly is headed for those sweet potato flowers, which are growing out of the broccoli; there are also grape tomatoes, pea pods, blackberries on one of the “hairpin” skewers maki posted on flickr recently, a star-cut radish, and some takuwan strips in a paper food cup, sprinkled with sesame seeds.

did everyone remember to move their clocks forward an hour?  what a bummer to lose an hour of sleep, but at least it’s an official sign that spring is here!

here’s a close-up of my butterfly:

[as seen on craft gossip, stdandme, all about the cute, and thebaffled]

UPDATE:  this bento won the spring bento contest hosted by bento & co. / just bento / french bento!  congratulations to the other members of the top 15 and to all who participated, and many thanks to everyone who voted for me — i truly appreciate your support!  the best prize, though, was the opportunity to see the inspirational ideas in all the other contestants’ fabulous entries, and making some new international bento pals whose work i didn’t know about before.  what a great experience!