“fit for life” bento

6 01 2010

tonight is my contribution to hapa bento’s b.o.m.b. (best of the month bento) project, for which this month’s theme is… ROASTING!

the roasted veg here is really my side dish, but since it’s the b.o.m.b. theme i’ll discuss it first. basically, i kept it simple – asparagus, baby bella mushrooms, grape tomatoes, yellow squash and brussels sprouts roasted in my toaster oven (energy efficient and the perfect size for roasting only enough to feed one) with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, and thyme. thanks again to hapa for hosting this contest on her awesome blog, and for inspiring us all to use this healthy cooking method more often!

roasting aside, the sandwich here is kind of the main event. sometimes when the boyfriend and i are feeling lazy we have “sando night” and pig out on crazy sandwiches stuffed with whatever we want. the boyfriend chose hummus and salami (weird, right?) whereas i chose a concoction from his mom’s yummy sandwich shop (ygnacio cafe in walnut creek, ca – highly recommend if you are ever in the area) that she has dubbed “fit for life.” this magical sammie consists of wheat bread (i like mine toasted), with cream cheese, sprouts, avocado, and sliced black olives. i also added baked lemon-pepper tofu to mine to give it a little bit more protein, and added a pretty accent with some nashi-and-beet blossoms (snow pea “leaves,” sesame seed centers).

fruit sidecar has fanned strawberries, green grapes, the last two slices of starfruit, and a skewer of blueberries (i thought the blue matched the main box nicely).

chili corndog bento

5 01 2010

i made yummy vegetarian chili for dinner tonight, so tomorrow’s lunch bento has the chili with some cheese music notes in a food cup (it’s actually an onigiri mold, but it was the right size, so whatever), some asparagus wrapped in cheese and veggie ham, grape tomatoes, snow peas, a little baby orange (or maybe it’s a clementine?), starfruit slices and a trader joe’s vegetarian “corn-doggie.”

the corn-doggie is hard to see from this angle, so here’s another shot:

a corndog doesn’t have exactly the right shape for a dog’s snout, but oh well, i thought it would be cute to make a dog out of a “dog”!  in case you want to try this, here’s how i did it:

  • microwave trader joe’s vegetarian corndog for 1 minute.  let it cool while you do other stuff.
  • once it’s cool to the touch, work the stick out of the dog.  this will leave a hollow tube running through the dog.
  • insert the non-sharp end of a toothpick into the hollow tube on an angle, so that it eventually sticks into one side of the dog.  keep pushing it in until only the sharp point is sticking out (about 1/16 of an inch) of the hole at the end of the dog.
  • skewer one edamame bean to the sharp end of the toothpick, being careful not to poke the end of the pick all the way through (you don’t want to see the point on the outside of the nose!).
  • using a nori punch, cut eyes and mouth of your liking and affix with mayonnaise.
  • using a cutter of your desired shape and size, cut floppy ears and affix with mayonnaise.
  • you could probably be more creative and find something good to use as a tail (or even add legs), but my doggie is a yorkie with a short stubby tail, so i thought the heart pick was a cute thing to stick in this doggie’s butt.

and in case you want to whip up a tasty batch of vegetarian chili, great on these cold winter nights, here is my family recipe:


– 3 cans of beans (i like to use kidney, pinto, and black, but my mom uses like two dark kidney and one light – whatevs)
– 1 huge can of diced or chopped tomatoes (i like the kind that already has herbs in it)
– 1 tiny can tomato paste
– 1 huge or 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
– 5 cloves garlic minced (yeah, it’s a lot)
– 1 bell pepper, chopped (i hate green but yellow, orange or red is ok), chopped
– 1 package fake meat (yves ground round or any other brand of soy crumbles will work; tvp would also work)
– spices to taste:  chili powder, cumin (this is THE KEY), garlic powder, oregano (sounds weird but used a lot in mexico), salt and pepper of course
– random liquids of your choosing:  balasamic, white vinegar, hot sauce (make it up as you go along)
– canola oil (you can use olive instead if you want)

  • sautee your onions and peppers in the oil until the onions are translucent.  add the garlic and sautee until it’s cooked-ish but not darkening too much in color.  add your fake meat and sautee that in there too until everything is pretty well mixed and the meat has absorbed the oil and the liquid from the veggies.  dump your cans of beans in there WITH THE LIQUID (which is super starchy and helps hold the chili together).
  • mix that all together, and then dump your ginormo can of tomatoes in too.  mix that up and then add your spices (this is when i also add a little bit of vinegar and hot sauce. you could add balsamic if you want the chili to be slightly sweeter).
  • bam, it’s pretty much done already!  you should let it simmer for a while (anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes) though, so that the beans start to break down (adding further starch which further thickens everything) and so that the flavors of the spices penetrate everything and meld together.
  • for a “quick” batch of chili you can use a potato masher to break up some of the beans, and the tomato paste to thicken.  you will want to readjust the spices after you add the tomato paste, though, because it adds sugar.
  • i love this topped with chopped raw onions, grated cheese and sour cream, and TONS of frank’s red hot.
  • the bonus factor with this recipe is that it’s ALWAYS better the next day, either cold or reheated.  it also freezes well, so go ahead and make a huge batch (the above recipe is already pretty huge because of the volume of the canned goods, but sometimes i even double that).


tequeños bento

4 01 2010

tequeños (deep fried cheese sticks) from the outrageously delicious caracas arepa bar in the east village… definitely not the healthiest option, but i am trying to balance it out with a larger tier bursting with fruit and veggie goodness. are you buying into this dietary technique, haha?

in the tier with the tequeños i have a container full of caracas’ special secret recipe hot sauce (i’ve been trying to figure it out for years – it’s definitely vinegar based, and it has mango and peppers and spices, it’s tangy and not too hot but VERY flavorful).

the fruit and veg tier has toaster-roasted beets and asparagus (just a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper – i’m totally on board with hapa bento’s roasting kick), plus some sliced raw mushrooms, cucumber, grape tomatoes, nashi, snow peas and starfruit.

orange pencil chopsticks and orange-flavored gummies for dessert!

flirty empanada bento

6 12 2009

the boyfriend was sick all day today, so i picked up a quick dinner from ruben’s empanadas to cheer him up — breakfast for dinner always does it! he had sausage and egg, but this leftover for tomorrow’s lunch has a spinach filling.

her eyes are cheese and nori, her mouth is nori, and her hair bow is a pasta bowtie.  she’s surrounded by — clockwise from top right — purple carrot sticks, a starfruit slice, pomegranate seeds in a food cup, half of a deviled egg, snow pea pods, an orange-and-red grape tomato skewer and an olive skewer, some nashi slices and a few more pea pods.

[as seen on “cute food – the adorable, edible art of kawaii cooking”]

twin flower onigiri bento

3 12 2009

a quick bento tonight with leftovers from the fridge.  the stars of the box: twin brown rice onigiri, filled with pickled garlic (sooo yummy, breath be damned!), wrapped with strips of nori, and topped with a takuwan-carrot-purple carrot blossom each.  they’re sitting in my pretty “lace” food cups from ichiban kan.

top left corner: cherries, pom seeds, and slices of starfruit.  bottom right corner:  slices of lotus root, the last of my shimeji mushrooms, and snow peas.  center:  lettuce-wrapped spicy korean tofu.

like the doily and chopsticks?  i’m really feeling pikko’s prop styling lately…

bahn mi bento

29 11 2009

tomorrow’s lunch has another bahn mi from nicky’s vietnamese (2nd street between A and B) – the spicy/sweet tofu, carrot, and pepper slices are just outrageously good.  in the sandwich tier i added a purple and yellow carrot skewer.

in the fruit and veggie tier:  star fruit, pomegranate seeds, shimeji mushrooms, kumquat and grape tomato skewer, cherries with leaf picks, pea pods, and another purple and yellow carrot skewer.

this bento is using some of my new accessories from daiso:  the green square silicone cup is part of this set; the orange oval cup is part of this one, and the heart picks come in a pack of 20 similar to this one.

i’ve received tons of great contest entries so far — keep ’em coming, and i’ll be announcing a winner on tuesday morning!

glad to be back and bentoing… hope everyone had a lovely holiday!