Monday, February 28, 2011

bento #24

This one looks a bit raggedy... I think it's the sandwiches.  Blerg, sandwiches.  ;)

- two chicken curry salad sandwiches (Coronation chicken)
- two jam sandwiches.  I can't call them jelly sandwiches with a straight face... because that means "jell-o sandwiches" to anyone English.  These are better in concept than real life... I used marmalade.
- cucumber slices
- hardboiled egg.  I actually remembered to buy extra-large eggs this time, so my bear has ears!
- grapes

Sunday, February 27, 2011

bento #23

Another vegetarian bento.  I wanted comfort food as I wasn't hungry and didn't want to cook, so I went with risotto-- plus, I had some mushrooms to use up.  This was the first time I'd made risotto with brown rice, and it took FOREVER, definitely over an hour.

Packed in my Miffy bentos from Bento & Co:
- risotto with fresh button and dried shiitake mushrooms
- orange slices and grapes
- romaine and spinach salad; Italian dressing in the blue strawberry
- rice crackers and agar agar jelly

I should have put the salad in the largest container, but green on green?  Sometimes visual aesthetics are more important than nutrition.  ;)

for the starch portion of your bento, I bring you:

Sushi roll
Plain potato croquettes
Miso yaki onigiri
Spicy lentil snacks
Risotto cakes
somen noodles

Obviously starch is where my creative skills are lacking.  Probably because I don't like them as much as I like other foods... although I do love my noodles!  They just don't taste so great room temperature/cold.

And, if you want to be crazy and combine starch AND protein, use any of these:

hot dog sushi
musubi w/ spam
sushi w/ tuna and sriachi
spring rolls (lumpiang)
gyoza/pot stickers
potato croquettes
bahn mi
Philadelphia rolls
Tuna and mayo maki/sushi
Potato oyaki w meat soboro

Saturday, February 26, 2011

bento #22... more Indian food!

Made some dahl today and used up the palak paneer leftovers.  Still had some naan dough in the fridge as well.  Oh, and this is a vegetarian bento as well!

- dahl; I don't really use a recipe, but I saute fresh garlic, dried chile, mustardseed, cumin, ginger, and tumeric for a bit, add onion, then add the red lentils and almost twice as much water as lentils.  Let cook about half an hour.  I don't make my dahl as soupy as others do, and I also don't cook it as long.
- leftover palak paneer with fresh tomatoes
- naan
- half an orange and some grapes in a sidecar.  Lots of fruit, I know, but the dahl was a bit spicy, so the fruit was a nice counterpoint.  Ate the grapes concurrently with the dahl, and orange slices were dessert.

For quite a while I said I didn't like fruit, but now I'm finding fruits I do like.  I'm just picky.  ;)

Friday, February 25, 2011

bento #21

I'm in love with Indian food right now.  My friend Elisabeth gave me a few tips and taught me to make basic dishes like a chicken curry, dahl, and that curried cabbage of which I'm so fond.  Reading Madjur Jaffrey's childhood memoir, Climbing the Mango Trees, this summer also sparked my interest.

Thus, an Indian cuisine-inspired bento:

In my yellow Urara bento from All Things For Sale:
- chicken tikka masala
- palak paneer, although I didn't pulverize the spinach, and instead of cooking the tomatoes, left them to eat on the side.
- what was supposed to be naan, but it didn't rise, so I cooked it tortilla-style.

Keep in mind that when I post a recipe, I've probably just used it as a rough guide... and may have actually used a compilation of recipes as well.

Also worth noting today: snow day!  I teach one day a week, and of course we had a snow storm that day.  Thankfully, my schedule is pretty flexible.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

bento #20

I'm not fond of pink, really.  I just happen to have two pink bentos, and I use this one frequently because it's the largest of my two tiered ones.  I don't even think it's a great backdrop for most foods, but it was either this or my dark teal one, which doesn't photograph very well.

This is almost completely a leftovers bento:
- tofu in chili sauce... had frozen some sauce
- cabbage curry
- carrot kinpira... the last of it
- salted cucumber slices
- half a blood orange

I don't always post these bentos on the day I eat them... it sometimes works out to a few days later, so the kinpira isn't as old as you might think.  ;)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

breakfast bento #11

Keeping me happy in the morning... breakfast bento!

- toaster waffle with syrup in the yellow container
- two sausage links
- half a blood orange.  My first time trying these... it was a little freaky looking to eat.
- grape skewer, of course

I just wanted some orange juice to drink with this!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

breakfast bento #10

Racking up these breakfast bentos... gives me something to eat in the morning if I plan the night before, rather than scrambling for something or, as is more likely with me, not eating for hours after I wake up. 

- sausage link sandwiches on leftover toasted hot dog buns
- last of the yogurt... going grocery shopping soon!
- grape skewers

Pretty basic overall, but still yummy!  It also looks rather bland... I was going to put some cheese cut-outs on top of the sandwiches, but then I forgot.

Monday, February 21, 2011

breakfast bento #9

The last of the sausage balls.  :(  I really love them... they're good for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, whenever.  I never thought I could eat a pound of sausage so quickly.

- sausage balls
- yogurt with pineapple
- granola to sprinkle over the yogurt
- 2 grape skewers

I'm going to have to come up with new ideas for breakfast bentos because the only breakfast-able items I have are a half cup of yogurt, granola, and grapes.  No bananas, pineapple, bread, sausage... maybe no breakfast bentos for a while.

It was a nice weekend treat, although breakfast bento #8 was more filling, probably because it was larger.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

bento main dishes

I've been compiling a list of different items I can put in bento.  I HATE eating the same things day after day (although I do get in a rut where something sounds good, I'll eat it obsessively, but then rarely again), so variety is important to me.  I look at some bentos and think "how can they eat two cherry tomatoes every single day?"  ;)

It's turning into a long list, too.  Here's the protein portion:

Egg tamagoyaki
Tuna soboro
Balsalmic sesame chicken
Meat soboro
Mini cabbage rolls
Hardboiled egg
Soy sauce egg
Miso egg
Deviled egg
Mini quiche
Mini meatloaf
Chicken teriyaki
Ham-wrapped asparagus
Ham blossom
Octo dogs
Babybel or other cheese
Scotch eggs
Sausage balls
Meatballs w/ cheese in the middle
Pearl meatball
Tsukune (chicken meatballs)
Chicken grilled skewers (yakitori)
Miso chicken
Miso-marinated pork
Spanish tortilla
Lemon chicken nuggets
Salted chicken thighs
Red wine vinegar chicken
Tuna tofu mini burgers
kara-age (Japanese fried chicken)
salmon balls
sesame tofu
Japanese stuffed peppers
Cucumber and chicken salad
Stuffed grape leaves

Some of these I have recipes for, some I don't... if you want a recipe for something, just ask.  Most of them can be found with a quick internet search, however.  Quite a few recipes are from Just Bento.  There are also a few items that are *ahem* not Japanese, like the kofta and dolmades.  I'm interested in other international cuisines as well. 

Starch, veg, and sweets lists to follow.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

bento #19

Yes, I'm posting a bento on the weekend... just because it was my lunch yesterday.

I actually took two bentos with me: a small one with crackers, smoked sausage, and a deviled egg.  Never took a picture of it, but it wasn't anything fancy... that was my snack while teaching.

Then, as I had to go to Indianapolis after that, I made a lunch.  Good thing, too, as I stopped at a park to walk afterward and didn't end up eating dinner 'til 7pm.

- vegetable and chicken dumplings (got these at Asia Mart in Indy)... very tasty, and cheap for a whole bag of them!  with some soy sauce.
- carrot kinpira
- harboiled egg on a nest of red and green peppers (my third hardboiled egg that day... breakfast, snack, and lunch)
- orange slices

Friday, February 18, 2011

breakfast bento #8

I realized the other day that when I say "breakfast bento," I'm saying "breakfast lunch box."  Do Japanese ever eat bento for breakfast?  Does it have another name?

I had errands to do yesterday, so I packed this so I could hop up and head out.  First up was an oil change, so I ate while that was being done.

- strawberry yogurt
- sausage balls
- granola crackers... I'll eat these with the yogurt as I don't like yogurt on its own (unless it's Slovak yogurt!)
- pineapple
- two grape skewers

A nice, tidy breakfast... the top tier is protein, with some whole grains and fruit.  Overall, though, breakfast is so brown!

News: I'm now an affiliate with All Things for Sale.  If you want to order from them, please use my link on the right.  I'm definitely a fan of their $6 shipping, and they have so many neat picks  (my weakness)!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

bento... halusky, deconstructed... #18

As I was cooking, I realized this bento had all the aspects of halushky.  I guess it's more like a Polish halusky-- traditional Slovak halusky involves dumplings, sheep's cheese, and bacon.  Growing up, ours included fried cabbage and noodles, which I have today.

- the straw-looking stuff is leftover ww noodles, mixed with eggs and cheese and baked... like a noodle frittata
- one last hot dog!  trying to use things up
- cabbage fried with mustard seed, cumin, garlic, and tumeric... it looked yellow when I cooked it, not so much in the photo, though.
- carrot kinpira... and still have some left.
- cucumbers and two balloon grapes!

I was happy with all the colors I have: white, green, orange, purple, yellow, red... these days, I have a hard time getting anything green in!  My options are cucumber or green pepper.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"bento children" and more links!

I have "bento children!"  When I had my friends Alyssa and Emma over a few weeks, ago, Emma went crazy looking at my cute bento stuff, and then I made them breakfast bentos.  Emma said she was going to buy bento supplies with her birthday money, but her birthday is a long way away... April!  So, I gave them a bag of supplies to get started.

They sent me a photo of their first bentos:

My first "guest bento" post.  :)  Alyssa's is in back with the sandwich, grapes, yogurt, and clementine, and Emma's in front has the smiley face.

Also, I thought I'd share a few more of my favorite bento blogs, as it's been a while.

Pikko lives in Hawaii and shares her Adventures in Bentomaking.  She includes Weight Watchers points for each bento, which are always healthy-looking and colorful!

Thought I'd give Katy Crayon's Bento Corner a shout-out as she and I read each other's blog (and comment on them!) fairly regularly.  She just recently her one-year bentoversary... I can only dream about that day.

Another newer bento blogger, Kelly of My Bento Adventure posts her lunches that always look good and include a variety of foods.

And, I think sherimiya of Happy Little Bento would win the award for the most colorful bentos!  They are always bright and healthy.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

bento #17

I think this is my most authentic Japanese bento yet!  It was super yummy, tasty, and filling... all the flavors worked together very well.

- chili sauce tofu (I used Ohayo Bento's wing sauce) minus the coconut milk
- brown rice with soy sauce
- carrot kinpira (from Just Bento)... super good, a little spicy
- tamagoyaki... my first try at this as well.  It was too thick, I think.  (Just Bento again... although I only added soy sauce to mine)
- raw green pepper
- a mushroom cooked in sesame oil

I think this is my favorite bento yet, and it's vegetarian!  This was also the most cooking I've done for a bento... used one small pan for the sauce, cooked the kinpira and tofu one after another, and one for tamagoyaki, then mushroom.  Yikes, messy kitchen!

Monday, February 14, 2011

bento #16

Snack bento!  I taught on Friday, it's a four-hour class (yes, four hours!  It's a 12 week semester instead of 16 weeks), so I needed something to sustain me as the class goes right over lunch time (10am-2).

See those little hearts?  My nod to Valentine's Day.  ;)

This is the first time I've used this bento... it's only 310 ml, so a bit small for normal use.  The lids fit down inside the boxes, so you can't fill them even close to the top.  Still, I love the cat!
- triscuits, cheese
- smoked sausage
- cucumber
- a deviled egg

I didn't end up eating it until after class... I was planning during break 1 and chatting with students during break 2.  The cheese made the triscuits a little soggy... or maybe it was the fact that they'd been in the fridge overnight.  So, I at it on my way home... and then ate dinner three hours later.  :D

Saturday, February 12, 2011

breakfast bento #7

Today I have a friend's basketball game and then another friend's baby shower, so I packed a breakfast I could eat on my way.  Bento is great for traveling!

- sausage balls, a classic from my childhood (recipe here).  I bake them longer because I like them crispy!
- granola crackers.  I've never heard of them before either... made them up.  Basically a very thin granola bar.
- pineapple and grape skewers.  Apparently I like these picks a lot.
- a hard-boiled egg

Afraid the bento is a bit brown in tone!  That's what meat and starch will do... oh, I also have a thermos of pineapple orange juice to accompany.

* Interesting note: if I lived in Slovakia, I wouldn't be able to eat and drive because it's illegal.  It would make my trips much longer because I'd have to stop and eat every hour: driving makes me even more hungry than usual!

Friday, February 11, 2011

bento #15

Ate this one last night.  I like using noodles for bento because they squish into all the little places and gaps.  Apparently this bento is my noodle-bento, too, because that's what I used last time I had a noodle dish.

- Asian Noodles with Vegetables (mushrooms and onion) and Pork (recipe here... love Rachael Ray stuff!)  Also, my first time to try soba noodles.  They were good, but I think I prefer wheat noodles, and not sure how they'd taste cold.
- green beans with sakura blossom peppers
- 2/3 of a banana
- grapes!  Math question: if I have a small bag of grapes and I put four in each bento, how long will they last?  I think I'm a bit predictable!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

tonkatsu... bento #14

Finally got to try some tonkatsu!  It tastes yummy.. I think it's from the crispy fried breadcrumbs on top?  ;)

I could call this the lion bento because I use all of my lion picks.  It contains:
- tonkatsu (I used Just Bento/Just Hungry's recipe here) with... tonkatsu sauce, of course!  It's pounded out a bit, Slovak/Central Europe/schnitzel style.
- a little brown rice and soy sauce
- green pepper scattered about
- some leftover honey tangerine... trying new fruits this week!  I like this one.
- cucumber slices
- a few grapes
- star fruit-- I hadn't had this in almost twenty years.  Wasn't expecting it to be so crunchy!  And, a bit sour, but I seem to think that of most fruits.  It tastes like the Christmas of my childhood.

I could have filled that top tier completely with fruit, but I needed some veg as well.  I went grocery shopping last night (I usually go twice a month), so I had many options!  I keep putting carrot kinpira on my list, but it never gets made... maybe later.

I usually draw a quick sketch of my bentos beforehand, and thought I had, but turns out I hadn't, so had to make it up on the fly.  Good thing I had a lot of food about!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What's Your Lunch?

Every Wednesday, What's For Lunch at our House hosts What's for Lunch Wednesday.  Hop over there and post a picture of your bento!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Where can I buy bento?

If you don't know where to look, bento can be difficult to find-- and expensive!  Small bento boxes on ebay or any specialty store can easily run $15-20... for something that holds one or two cups.

My first bento order was from All Things for Sale.  Overall, they have good prices (although some expensive bento boxes) and a good selection.  If you order more than $50, they'll send a free gift, and flat-rate shipping (from the U.S.!  Many bento sites have foreign shipping) is only $6.  (ETA... I now have an associates account with ATFS.  You can use my link on the right sidebar to order so I'll get credit).

The best (cheapest and widest selection) bento store I've found is Fit.  It's an online Japanese dollar (well, two dollar) store, and all bentos are $2-4.  Lots of great accessories, too!  However, if you're looking for character bento boxes, you won't find them here.

A few other stores you might want to check out:
- Jbox.  Lots of cute bentos, but the accessories especially are on the more expensive side.
- Bento & Co.  All bento.  Lots of cool stuff, expensive, but you can find a few deals.  Lots of adult (and larger-sized) bentos, though!  And, everything is high quality,  microwave and dishwasher-safe.  Shipping is expensive as well.
- Amazon has a few bento supplies, mostly boxes... see my sidebar there.
- It's also possible to find some good deals on ebay... I found two character boxes, shipping included, for $13, from Japan.  Most things tend to be overpriced, however.

Ordering bento is fun-- gift cards I'd bought from earning Swagbucks and money I made taking surveys online financed almost all of my bento gear!

Monday, February 7, 2011

bento #13

A bento from the weekend.  I'm getting better at eating with chopsticks; I rarely have to think about what I'm doing anymore and can just eat!  I have four sets and they all get used; in fact, they all need to be washed.  I find the shorter ones are easier to use right now.

- bottom tier: chicken curry with cabbage and onions.  Tasted good but the flavor needed a bit more depth.
- top tier: brown rice onigiri (when I began eating this, I found it had tuna in the middle... I ended up eating it later since it didn't fit with the rest of the meal)
- a few cucumber slices
- grape skewers (I need to go grocery shopping... not much fresh produce left in the fridge!)
- satsuma... working my way through the last of the box

Those poor pandas look like they're balanced precariously on the edge!  Sorry it's a bit blurry... I have a hard time taking good pictures sometimes.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

bento one dozen!

This was my lunch on Thursday:

- onigiri with a little furikake ... moon and star cut-outs in nori.  These were from the freezer... still have one left to use
- sauteed spinach
- hot dog flowers
- green pepper as filler
- hardboiled egg
- green grapes
- satsuma

This one was quick to put together... random whatever I found in the refrigerator and freezer.  Apparently all my picks were hiding when I made it.  ;)  I like having a variety of bento boxes so I can choose which color will go best with the meal I plan to make.  ;)  I should get a red one because I have a hard time incorporating red foods into my bentos... there are cherry tomatoes and red pepper, which I don't even like raw. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

bento #11

I did make a few bentos during the big ice storm.  Apparently there was another one in 2005, and people lost power, but that was before I was here.  Let's just say that I MUCH prefer snow to ice... I can shovel snow, but am not sure what to do about the two inches of ice in my driveway!  That's a new experience.

- refrigerator yakisoba (got this at an Asian store last week... it comes in a package like ramen with a flavor packet, but you have to keep it refrigerated) with scallions and spinach
- turkey meatballs
- satsuma... slightly anemic.  It's the end of the season, okay?

Pretty easy, quick lunch.  I should have used one pick of meatballs and put something else in instead, but I'd already defrosted the meatballs when I realized how large they were.  ;)

I'm back!

It's been a crazy week... I didn't mean to not post for a whole week, of course.  My computer (one and only) died on Sunday... I'd been expecting it, so I'd researched a new one, and ordered it Sunday night.

Then, we were hit with an ice storm... I still have two inches of ice in my driveway.  Things are just getting back to normal today.  I would have had my computer on Wednesday-- except for the ice.

I'll post later tonight... bento from the ice storm... still catching up.