Saturday, January 29, 2011

breakfast bento #6

My friends Alyssa-14, Emma-12, and Trey-10 spent the night on Friday... we played games, cooked, and watched a movie.  Before we went out to do some winter hiking Saturday morning, I made them breakfast bentos... Emma had gone crazy looking at all my accessories the night before, so I knew at least one of them would enjoy them.  ;)

I was barely awake when making these... Trey's is in front, Alyssa's in back.

- cup with strawberries and yogurt.  the hearts got a little squished.  ;)
- ham croissant sandwich
- half a satsuma
- grape skewer, oh, and a little cheese garnish

Nothing especially fancy.  We had no sun today, so not much natural light to work with in my kitchen at 8am.  I ate the leftover yogurt as I was making these, then made a bento for myself with a sandwich and fruit... but never took a picture.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

bento #10

I had to make a trip to"the big city" (Indianapolis) ;) yesterday, so I took a bento.  Actually, I didn't end up eating it because I just waited and had an early dinner (Al Basha... gyro... yummy).  So, this bento will be lunch today:

- hardboiled egg... I need to remember to buy X-Large eggs so my animals will have ears, but I've been buying large for years so automatically go for them
- cucumber slices
- satsuma
- two octodogs
- a "sea" of rice noodles with leftover potsticker sauce.  And some scallion and spinach
- with a little bear swimming full of soy sauce

Also, I checked out three Asian/Japanese restaurants on the northside Indy.  One had one bento box, and another had about half a dozen, but all were rather expensive, so I didn't get anything.  Was able to pick up a few ingredients to make more Japanese food.  And some grape leaves... I've been craving lamb and dolmades.  And kibbe, and kafta... you get the idea.  At least the gyro temporarily put a patch on that Middle Eastern craving.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

leftover bento... #9

I had several things to use up... like the leftover takeaway dumplings and cooked zucchini from a previous bento.

- Chinese dumplings... dipping sauce in the blue strawberry container
- satsuma
- cucumber slices
- my first-ever octodogs!
- leftover zucchini

Cucumber slices are really tasty with hot dog grease on them.  Or dumpling sauce.  Actually, that sauce was very yummy-- ginger and I don't know what else.  I used it on my noodles for tomorrow as well.

breakfast bento #5

I was reading another blog and saw yogurt with wheat germ on top... I had to have some.  Oddly, yes, I did notice the wheat germ before the cute egg and blueberry panda.

- yogurt with strawberries and wheat germ
- triscuits with ham cooked in tonkatsu sauce (cut into the shape of a pig, but it's hard to tell)
- half a banana

It was pretty filing for a breakfast bento that's only 480 mls.  Not exactly pretty looking... I have one that's worse, but haven't had the courage to post it yet.  ;)

I have friends coming to spend the night on Friday-- they are 14, 12 (girls), and 10 (a boy), and I'm going to make them bentos for breakfast.  :)  Already have them planned!  Nothing fancy, just a sandwich, yogurt, clementine, and a fun pick or two.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

bento #8

Wow, how did I get to #8 already?  And, if I count my breakfast bentos, I've made a dozen!

Using my new hamburger bento:
- bottom layer: leftover pork chow mein (I didn't put anything in the middle brown layer... that's where the fork and spoon live)
- ground turkey meatballs with Bull-Dog sauce in the yellow bear
- sauteed zucchini
- satsuma

I've been practicing eating with chopsticks lately-- I've never used them before.  I can handle the chow mein okay, but anything small, like the leftover bits when I'm almost finished eating, are difficult for me to eat.  Practice, practice, practice...

A question: does anyone know if you're supposed to refrigerate Bull-Dog sauce?  The package doesn't specify.

Monday, January 24, 2011

breakfast bento #4

More ham sandwiches for breakfast!  I wanted to give my cutters a work-out.  It's a spring-themed bento, but I'm not especially eager for spring to come: I like snow!  Apparently this is what happens when one was raised in Michigan.

- ham cooked in Bull-Dog sauce sandwich; ham and cheese characters
- satsuma

Sunday, January 23, 2011

breakfast bento #3

So, you didn't think you'd be seeing any sandwiches appearing in my bentos, did you?  Well, you probably won't see many for lunch unless I'm craving tuna salad, bologna, or ham salad.

However, this is a breakfast bento, and I like sandwiches for breakfast.  More of an European thing, I guess.  Theirs are typically open-faced (at least in Slovakia), but it's easier to eat with the bread holding everything together.  ;)

- ham sandwich: the ham is cooked in Bull-Dog sauce.  It tastes a bit like chipped ham (a Pittsburgh favorite, if you're not familiar with it), and it's my new breakfast favorite
- satsuma and a few banana slices

I used the largest of my new Miffy bentos.  Pretty simple, overall.  I wondered later why I didn't throw in a few sheets of baran to separate the sandwich from the fruit-- and for a little more color.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

bento swap!

I participated in my first-ever swap.  Well, okay, I'm in one on Craftster right now, and while I've sent, my participant hasn't received yet, and neither have I.

Back to bento... I swapped with another bento enthusiast on flickr.  It was fun, and she was super-generous!  The funny thing is that she only lives an hour south of I.

She said she wanted to spoil me because I'm just getting into bento.  :)  Yup, I feel spoiled!
- Putifresh green bento... love this color
- yellow bento with a cute little guy on the front!  It looks like it's the perfect size for a salad on the bottom and a sandwich and a few snacks up top
- hamburger bento!  Seriously, I'd been looking at these and was considering one as my next purchase!
- tootsie roll snack bento!
- onigiri wrappers... cute animals and soccer ball shapes
- a natural lunch fork, spoon, and chopstick set with case
- small containers: two hearts, a cupcake, and a hostess cupcake
- two sets of cutters: a sandwich dolphin one and a flower/garden set
- many picks, suitable for all seasons!  The dolphin, fall, and flip-flop ones are my favorites

Saturday Snack bento... #7

Snacks are perfect for Saturdays.  :)  I got hungry and decided to put together a snack bento.  Actually, it was based on another one I'd seen with cut-out cheese, and I wanted to use my new cutters, too.

- skewer of green pepper and cucumber slices
- one last cherry tomato
- triscuits with pepperoni slices
- cheese and pickle skewer (I wanted to use olives but mine were sliced, not whole)
- the little orange cup contains ranch for the veg

I couldn't find the right size of container... this one was a little too large, but my others were too small.  You'd think, with the stash I have, that wouldn't be a problem!

I keep trying to incorporate more veg into my bentos; I'm a bit picky as I only like raw peppers (but not American ones, just Slovak), cucumber, tomato, and baby carrots.  One trend I'm noticing upon cruising several bento blogs is that many include little to no vegetables; this seems to be more common in what I've dubbed "American bentos" which typically feature a sandwich, lots of carbs, and when something fresh is included, it's one or more fruits.  Oh, and candy/other dessert, too!  Apparently Americans have several sweet teeth.

Friday, January 21, 2011

breakfast bento #2

I was so excited about this bento that I couldn't wait to wake up and eat it this morning.  Silly, I know.  :D

Still, it was pretty good.  I used two of my new tomo tomo boxes.  I only ordered the three smaller sizes (I thought the 400ml and 300 would be large enough to combine for a lunch), but now looking at/using them, I wish I'd ordered the largest at 555 as well.  They're a bit deeper than typical bento, but I guess I don't have many "deep" foods.

I just love the way this turned out: the colors, everything.
- Kashi granola
- one banana, sliced, with a frowny giraffe fork/pick
- 3 oz. cherry yogurt

Thursday, January 20, 2011

at-home bento #2

My lunch yesterday.  Okay, so the pic doesn't look too appetizing... tacos don't exactly translate to bento, so I plopped them on a plate and call it another at-home bento.

- tacos with chicken wing sauce over turkey (after eating fresh Mexican tortillas, store tortillas barely taste like tortillas!)
- salad with fresh spinach (and using up the last of my lettuce)
- clementine

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Slovak bento... #6

I'm 7/8 Slovak, visit Slovakia every summer to teach English, and incorporate Slovak foods into my diet fairly frequently.  Actually, I grew up eating Polish and Slovak food.

So, it's not surprising that some Slovak food will find its way into my bentos.

- chicken paprikas with peppers... except that I made mine more of a stir-fry instead of stewed chicken
- brown jasmine rice
- cherry tomatoes
- cucumber salad, a.k.a. uhorkovy salat


If you're interested in traditional Slovak cuisine, here's a great blog: Slovak Cooking.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

new poll!

See the top right-hand corner of my blog.
Here are the results of the old one:

What's your favorite part of bento?
cute accessories...4
making them... 3
eating them... 3
collecting boxes...2

I have to say, I love all the aspects of bento, but I voted for "cute accessories."

Monday, January 17, 2011

I think I'm done buying for a while

Got my last order of bento supplies, from fitjp; I was expecting it to arrive tomorrow, so was surprised to hear the package drop and doorbell.  Yay!  I tend to buy "in bulk" to save on shipping costs... I hate to pay shipping for anything.

Anyway, here's what I got:

3 new bento "sets"
- 2 petit amour at 510 and 320 mls
- 3 tomo tomo boxes; 425, 300, and 125 mls.  I like the deer and squirrel ones best  :)
- natural lunch flask and a 560 and 480 ml box; I have an ongiri box in the same green if I need a sidecar

and, some accessories:
- two bento bands, in penguin and matryoshka
- a pair of Clickety Click monkey chopsticks
- bear and flower rice molds
- fish-shaped sushi mold
- animal and flower cutters!  these should be useful for everything
- silicon grass baran and animal baran
- clickety click picks; no monkey, sadly, but I wanted some longer picks to use for kabobs

There's more, but I'm saving it to swap.  I'm also obsessed with swaps at the moment; I'm doing one on Flickr with bento folks and have an inchies swap going on Craftster.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Look!  the vote on that poll over there is tied  -------------->
Someone should do something about that.  :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

bento #5

Last night I made a mini dinner bento... I was already working in the kitchen, so made it up ahead of time for when I'd be hungry.  I didn't think I had anything but veg to put in it, but a little poking around in the fridge and freezer produced two onigiri and some leftover tuna soboro that needed to be used up.

- two brown rice onigiri, one with tuna soboro inside, the other with it sprinkled on top
- sesame spinach
- cherry tomatoes

One of the things I'm realizing about bento is that all the flavors in bento don't always complement each other.  I'm a fan of simple tastes: two items at most on my pizza, no more than two veg/additions in my salad.  Therefore, combining four or more things in a meal is odd for me... I think three is my limit, but that's not exactly bento!  We'll see how this works out.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Yay! New bento gear

... now granted, I haven't exactly packed enough bento to qualify for new supplies, but that's part of who I am: I jump right in to something new!

From Bento & Co:
- set of 4 miffy boxes, 480/300/180/100 ml.  I forsee these getting a lot of use.  :)  Perfect sizes for anything
- zoony black cat, 310 ml
- onigiri box.  cute!
- egg holder... love those hardboiled eggs.  perfect for snacks... could even slip this in my purse if I want.
- and, in the back, panda picks and panda baran... now have to get a panda bento box to match!

I'm very pleased with the high quality of the plastic...  none of those flimsy bentos here.  The Miffy boxes are very sturdy: my only problem will be not spilling the food when I try to open them!  But, they should become a little more flexible with use.  I am worried that the clips on the onigiri box could break off, but I'm careful.

And, all the boxes are dishwasher and microwave safe (but not the lids)!

Now, of couse, I'm looking back at the site and going "how did I miss this?"  I'm on spending restriction, though, after ordering all these bento supplies... I have another order coming from fitjp next week.  :D  Bento & Co is having a winter sale (after I ordered, of course)... they shipped on 1/6 and it arrived on 1/14.  Not bad!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

at-home bento #2... for breakfast

I haven't been hungry lately... a lot going on, too much stress, not enough "doing."  I promised my friend I'd eat at least three times a day, something nutritious, so I'm counting on bento to help me.

Yesterday morning, for example, I was hungry... for cinnamon toast crunch.  :D  So, I told myself I could have some if I ate something healthy as well, and made this up:

- cinnamon toast crunch
- hardboiled egg... need to get some larger eggs because the bear's ears didn't quite turn out
- sunflower seeds... more protein, and I needed something else to fill space.  I should have used a smaller bento-- would have had to eat less, then!
- a clementine.

It's hard coming up with ideas for a breakfast bento!  Maybe if I'd had more on hand, but it's not like lunch where I just put in vegetables to fill empty spaces.  While I do like savory food for breakfast, I don't like raw veg for breakfast.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

why bento?

On a forum I was reading the other day, the topic of conversation was "why do you make bento?"

My foremost reason, as I mentioned yesterday, is to eat more healthily.  It's not a New Year's resolution or anything, just something I'm constantly trying to do.

Many people talk about the portion control aspect of bento, but I don't need that because, well, I have a high metabolism.  Eating 1500 calories a day, with a little exercise, I can lose weight.  Because of my high metabolism, I need more protein to keep me full, which I why I try to eat whole grains to supplement, and why the traditional bento with lots of rice isn't quite for me.  My ratio is more like 3 parts protein, 2 parts grains, and 3 parts vegetable.  And a sweet occasionally, like my current favorite, the clementine.

I love buying things... and, there are so many cute things for bento!  It's gotten a bit out of hand, I admit, as I have two more bento orders on the way.  Whoops!  I just love this kawaii stuff.  I'd love to get some character stuff, but it's even more expensive, and I can't justify spending $15 on a Hello Kitty or Totoru one... so, I'll wait.

And, finally, it's fun!  Spending time thinking about the food I'll eat makes me enjoy it more.  I haven't had much of an appetite lately, so I need some encouragement to eat real food and not just snacks.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

first "sushi" bento

A lot of "firsts" with my bento experiences these days... I've had sushi a few times before, but just a mild California roll or something similar... no raw fish.  ;)  I like it as long as I'm in the mood; however, the taste wasn't as strong as I'd remembered.  Sometimes the smell of nori can be a bit much.

Anyway, bento #4 (don't you love my creative titles?)

- sushi rolls with (tinned) tuna mixed with chili sauce and cucumber
- hard boiled egg (included a few bunnies... for my first bento in the year of the rabbit!)
- spinach cooked in sesame oil, with a few black sesames
- cherry tomatoes, cucumber
- a satsuma

I wasn't as good at filling in the spaces as I was with my first bento... in fact, as I was taking the picture, I noticed a gap behind the clementine, so ran and cut another piece of cucumber.  ;)

I used brown rice to make the sushi... it held together okay, but hey, I need the protein!  As much as I love white rice, it's not as healthy nor filling.

Monday, January 10, 2011

at-home bento

One of the reasons I love bento is because it encourages healthy eating.  To me, bento isn't about cutting up a traditional American sandwich-lunch into cute shapes and putting in a packet of crisps.  It's about including vegetables.

So, I've started doing a few "at-home" bentos, which aren't traditionally bento, but include that all-important aspect of healthy eating.  I'm single, so typically, I'll sit down with a bowl of chili or whatever I'm eating for lunch/dinner, and the vegetables I eat are whatever's cooked into the meal.

While reorganizing my plastic cupboard, I found this divided plate... well, I actually found it after I bought two others.  ;)  It's the perfect thing to remind me to eat more than just the main dish!

So, at-home bento #1:
- chili with portobello mushrooms and onions (I put onion in almost everything)
- sliced English cucumber
- clementine, which was a banana when I had the same thing for dinner :D

It doesn't look especially attractive, I know... (I'm pretty sure only a professional photographer can make chili look good), but it's mostly healthy!

sweets? who needs 'em?

I have bentos to post, just too lazy to go get the camera!

Okay, I'm not much of a sweets person.  I get cravings every once in a while, but I don't think that they need to be included in every meal... or even every day.  So, my dessert is mostly fruit, except for the jello/jelly at the end of the list.  But I'd probably put fruit in that, too.  :D

Mango... a new favorite!

Feel free to offer suggestions if I've forgotten something!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

bento bands!

I went on a bit of a bento band kick last night, making several with kawaii designs.  However, I only have two bento boxes, and can only use one at a time, so I put a few on etsy for ya'll to pick up.

Here's just a sample of the cuteness:

bunny, panda, sheep

laughing onigiri, smiling onigiri, owl

And, here's my etsy shop where you can buy them:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

so, things haven't gone as planned...

but that's life, and when does it usually?  ;)  I'm on the job hunt-- have one part-time job teaching at a local community college, but still need another job, and one that pays.  Those who teach at college level do so because they love to teach, not to make money.

But, since I'm not working much, I don't need to pack a lunch yet.  Which means no bento.  That doesn't mean I didn't order a few more bento boxes, of course.  :)  They'll be here later this month.

Over Christmas, I did make a "travel bento" for my trip to my parents' house:

- seven ham-wrapped asparagus spears
- baby carrots
- a fat "snowman" hard-boiled egg
- clementine
- previously-frozen onigiri-- I forgot to pop this in the microwave first, so the rice was very dry

My first time using my new lock-and-lock set!  I also packed a small snack bento with a hardboiled egg and another two clementines... hey, I get hungry when I drive!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I've been researching,

always researching.  One of my favorite things to do.

I thought I'd tell you about some of my favorite bento blogs.

I'm finding more, and I'll share those later, but for now... I think I have plenty to share.  :)  I think this was one of the first bento blogs I found... I sat down and read it "cover to cover."  Maki has many great recipes here, and many can be frozen for later.  She also covers some bento basics like making onigiri.  A great Japanese focus.  Great pictures, lots of colorful veg!  Another huge favorite.  Lots of vegetarian bentos as well.  Such kawaii bentos this Indonesian mom makes for her two children.  Yum yum... looking at these bentos makes you want to make some yourself... and then eat them.  :)

That's four of my favorites... I have many more, and the list keeps expanding!  I think I'll use a blog reader specifically for bento... but, I like seeing the websites instead.