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…





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!





sandwich bow bento

5 10 2010

last night i attended a lecture and then caught up over a bottle of red wine with a good friend, so i got home too late to bento; i threw some leftover chili in a tupperware on my way out the door this morning and that was that.

tonight also feels rushed, so another quick one:  just a few mini egg salad sandwiches with a salami “bow,” a lotus-cut baby carrot, a steamed broccoli floret, yellow and orange tomatoes, a strawberry and a fig.

what have you got for lunch this wednesday?  find out what everyone else is eating, at shannon’s blog.





“picnic for one” bento

11 06 2010

today, if the weather holds out, i’m planning on taking the dog to the park for lunch.  i’m still exploring my new neighborhood, and the dog is a chubster who needs to walk more, so this is killing two birds with one stone.

i wanted to bring a simple and easy (and mostly recyclable) lunch with me — i’ll still need to worry about bringing the actual box and the little dip container home, but both of those have lids, so any food residue stays pretty self-contained.  the food cup, wax paper “baran” and recycled wood silverware will all go in the appropriate bins.  and the food itself is mostly finger-friendly: summer veggies i can dip and munch with one hand, and tea-sized sammies that are really only two bites each.

the sandwiches are vegetarian ham, cheese, and butter lettuce on sourdough with mustard; i topped them with two flowers stamped into potato bread (actually, leftover potato burger buns from a BBQ last weekend — these work well for impressions because potato bread is sooooooo soft).  the vegetables are ripe grape tomatoes, quick-steamed corn and brussels sprouts, and raw asparagus (there’s ranch dip in the container).  a paper-lined foil cup with grapes, strawberry quarters and a mint garnish, and i’m all set.

wishing all my bento pals a tasty weekend!  i’m in new orleans tomorrow through tuesday, so no bentos from me for a bit, but maybe some beignet pictures on twitter?

[as seen on more design pleaseapartment therapy, and re-nest]





yum-yum bento box: walruses bento

4 06 2010

today’s lunch is based on the “walruses” bento featured on p. 52 of the book “yum-yum bento box: fresh recipes for adorable lunches.”

again, i tried to faithfully copy the character idea, while substituting ingredients as necessary.  so for instance, in the book, the walruses are brown rice.  my boyfriend isn’t a huge brown rice fan, so i mix our brown rice with white rice… the resulting onigiri is a lighter color, but i think it’s still ok for a walrus!  as another example, i didn’t have the mushroom caps or lentis recommended for the walruses’ noses, so i used edamame beans.  green noses are cute too!  finally, i don’t have a nori punch that makes small enough dots for the walruses’ whisker holes, so i just used sesame seeds, pushed into the rice with the pointy sides down.  the nori eyes, cheese “tusks,” and ketchup cheeks are all just like in the book.

the point is to make do with what you have!  if you use the basic character ideas from the book and put your own spin on them, you are sure to come up with something cute.

the rest of my box contains broccoli with corn kernels (like on p. 32), half a steamed brussels sprout, two cherries and a strawberry, two pieces of vegetarian chicken, some takuwan-and-carrot rosettes, a salami rosette, and pea pods to fill empty spaces.  my brown-and-white rice onigiri are stuffed with umeboshi.  yum!

i hope you have all enjoyed my take this week on various yum-yum bento boxes, and that you’re eager to try your own interpretations of the wonderful characters and recipes from this book… have a wonderful weekend!





yum-yum bento box: retro girl bento

3 06 2010

today’s lunch is a re-mix of the adorable “retro girls” bento featured on p. 42 of “yum-yum bento box:  fresh recipes for adorable lunches.”

i actually wanted to use up some scraps from cutting veggies over the past few days, so i opted for an omelet-style bento, as seen in “early-bird omelet” (p. 106) and “sunny-side up” (p. 128).   my omelet is filled with fried rice, which used up all my pea pod, sweet potato, broccoli stem, hot dog and salami bits — i added gochujang and red onion for more flavor.  if you need a basic recipe for fried rice, try this one from one of my previous posts (i added meat this time, but the basic recipe there is vegetarian).

because of the size of my box/omelet, only one retro girl would fit — but she’s super cute!  just like in the book, i used nori eyes with sesame eyelashes, a nori mouth, and a carrot nose, but i replaced the ham cheeks with ones cut from fish sausage.  i also added some cheese-flower and herbal sprig accents, like the decoration for “early-bird omelet” in the book.  totally mixing and matching — dig it?

food-wise, i totally did my own thing, with a veggie meatball (music note pick to keep up the “retro” theme; after all, the book tells me that “cute retro girls love their . . . jukebox music”!), three flower-cut carrots, steamed brussels sprouts and broccoli, a few beet slices, half a strawberry and a cherry, and some pea pods to fill empty spaces.





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.





robot love bento

18 04 2010

has everyone checked out the new kawaii bento club HQ on squidoo?  it’s chock full of information, tutorials, and links to helpful products and books, and it’s also a great way for bento makers to come together as a community.

right now KBC is running an “i love robots” bento contest… robots are perfect for bento because they can be made from simple shapes.  if you haven’t submitted an entry yet, why not give it a try?

this is my entry — a boy and a girl robot in love.  they are made from purple potato, vegetarian ham, carrot, and cheese, and were cut free-hand using just a paring knife and only two actual cutters (the small and large circles i used to cut the robots’ eyes and hands — you could accomplish these same cuts with a regular and a jumbo sized straw).  for the heart on the boy robot’s chest, i used the freehand toothpick method, and i used nori punches for the facial details, and a bow pick for the girl robot’s accessory.  the robots are on top of plain white rice, which is layered over spicy stewed korean tofu.

the rest of my box, separated by lettuce baran, has some broccoli (topped with a vegetarian ham and cheese flower), some takuwan slices, a strawberry, some clementine wedges, a few peapods, and a trio of grape tomatoes.

here’s a close up shot of my robots… tee hee, they’re holding hands!

thanks to KBC for hosting this fun contest — i hope everyone takes the opportunity to let their imaginations and creativity run wild!





kimbap bee bento

15 04 2010

tomorrow’s lunch is leftover kimbap from tonight’s dinner… mmm, i LOVE me some kimbap!  my boyfriend is great at rolling it, and it’s such a tasty and healthy treat, especially on warmer days/nights.  my kimbap is vegetarian, with egg strips, takuwan, sesame spinach, and spicy tofu.  the kimbap slices are separated from the rest of my food by a zig-zag-cut carrot strip baran, an idea from one of lia’s awesome bentos.

i’ve also got some steamed broccoli, purple potato flowers, a big fat strawberry, some grape tomatoes, two vegetarian chicken nuggets, and a few pea pods.  hovering over the broccoli, about to collect pollen from the potato flowers, is a cute bumble bee.  i’ve seen a bunch of cute bees lately, from akinoichigo’s to lucky sundae’s to mombento’s, and this is my take on the theme:  a turmeric-dyed quail egg with nori strips and facial features, and white soy paper wings.

tomorrow’s friday — i’m hoping for an apartment-hunt-free weekend for myself (still waiting to dot the last Is and cross the last Ts on the apartment i found), and a fun and sunny weekend for all my bento pals!