Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A non-bento food post!

OK, now that I've posted the little bento photo gallery below, I thought I'd add a post of some other food stuffs since that's what I've been thinking about more than bento lately.  I have been trying to eat healthier and cut way back on processed foods and nearly eliminate those which contain High Fructose Corn Syrup.

One of my favorite things, and some can be seen in the last couple bento in the last post, is the Black Bean Quinoa Salad I've been making.  If you've followed my blog for a while, you may remember that I used to make Black Bean Orzo Salad - well, this is the same recipe, only I replace the Orzo pasta with healthy Quinoa :)

Below is a close-up from one of the bento in the last post.  I love the color in this salad (but I don't think the photo captures it well). Instead of just red pepper, I like to also use yellow and orange for even more color and nutrition :)
The original recipe can be found here - I just swap the orzo for quinoa

This is my husband's version of a Panzanella Salad he had a number of years back on a business trip.
It's very healthy and a great way for us to use some of the basil from the garden. We've been making this for years - I made it this time, but the 'recipe' is his :)
The greens are baby spinach and basil from our garden tossed with fat free caesar dressing.
I toasted pine nuts in a skillet and then added red onion, roasted red pepper and artichoke heart quartes - heated that a little, turned off heat and added the halved grape tomatoes -
cut bread in to cubes and toasted under broiler
(it's a white whole wheat garlic herb bread that I made in my bread machine - if using plain bread, we would spray w/ canola and toss with herbs first).
Top the greens with the pine nut mixture and bread cubes and sprinkle grated parmesan - Voila - so yummy!

Next up is my husband's version of the shrimp and egg open faced sandwich they serve at Ikea.

He makes it a little different every time  and it doesn't usually have cherry tomatoes, but we had just picked the first couple from the garden and wanted to use them :)

This time it was as follows:

Shrimp & Egg Toats
4 Tbs Hellman's Light Mayo
1 Tbs Spicy Brown Mustard
1 Tbs Fresh Dill
3/4 lb Baby Salad Shrimp
3 Boiled Eggs, chopped
Salt to taste
Additional Dill and Cherry Tomatoes for garnish
Mixed salad greens and/or baby arugula and baby spinach
(we use whatever we happen to have)
Toast of choice
(We used the White Whole Wheat Garlic Herb Bread as in the Panzanella above)

Last week the grocery store had Swordfish on sale. We haven't had swordfish in quite a while, so I decided to pick some up for dinner that night.  A search for ways to prepare it yielded a recipe for Swordfish with Citrus Pesto. I read through the reviews and made a couple slight adjustments to the pesto - I ased a bit more garlic and only used the juice of half a lemon and half the orange,but all the zest. I thought it was pretty darn good, though it makes a lot more pesto than you need for the Swordfish, but that's a good thing as it is tasty and can be used for other things - I used it a couple nights later in a shrimp pasta primavera dish :)

Along with the Swordfish, I had picked up a bunch of beets.  This was the first time I made beet greens, and only my second time eating them - I'm a fan :)
I sauteed some red onion in canola oil until semi translucent, then added garlic and sauteed for maybe 30 sec or so before adding the beet greens, which were sauteed until tender.  I then sprinkled them with sea salt and a squeezed some lemon juice over it - yum!

The beets were just boiled, peeled and sliced - it's too hot for roasting, but I plan to try them that way this fall :)

The other side dish is a Grilled Italian Bread and Cherry Tomato Salad.

Last week the grocery store had Swordfish on sale. We haven't had swordfish in quite a while, so I decided to pick some up for dinner that night. A search for ways to prepare it yielded a recipe for Swordfish with Citrus Pesto. I read through the reviews and made a couple slight adjustments to the pesto - I ased a bit more garlic and only used the juice of half a lemon and half the orange,but all the zest. I thought it was pretty darn good, though it makes a lot more pesto than you need for the Swordfish, but that's a good thing as it is tasty and can be used for other things - I used it a couple nights later in a shrimp pasta primavera dish :)

Along with the Swordfish, I had picked up a bunch of beets. This was the first time I made beet greens, and only my second time eating them - I'm a fan :)

I sauteed some red onion in canola oil until semi translucent, then added garlic and sauteed for maybe 30 sec or so before adding the beet greens, which were sauteed until tender. I then sprinkled them with sea salt and a squeezed some lemon juice over it - yum!

The beets were just boiled, peeled and sliced - it's too hot for roasting, but I plan to try them that way this fall :)

The other side dish is a Grilled Italian Bread and Cherry Tomato Salad.

Kat used some of the pesto and some of the quinoa salad from above in her bento for today - the pesto is on top of some cooked shrimp:

Last night I made Miso Sake Glazed Salmon.

This is a dish Kat and I love and Rob will eat, but I don't think he loves it like we do...
I don't measure the ingredients when I make this, but this is basically what I do - just taste and adjust as needed:
I'm proud to say my salmon was cooked perfectly :)

Miso Sake Glaze/Marinade

1/4-1/3 cup miso paste
a couple tablespoons sake
a couple tablespoons mirin
honey - maybe a Tbs or so...
Salmon (I had 3 steaks, I think about 1 1/2 lbs)

Mix all ingredients and coat salmon - broil on low until salmon has just about reached desired doneness, then broil on high just long enough to finish off the glaze.

I keep saying I'm going to try this on chicken, but I haven't done it yet...

I absolutely loved the broccoli cooked this way - I had the little bit of leftovers cold this afternoon while I was making my lunch - so good :)

For the broccoli, ginger and garlic was sauteed and a couple tsp sesame oil and a little hot sesame oil , broccoli was then sauteed for a couple minutes, then I added a little water and put the lid on to steam the broccoli just until crisp tender - perfect :)
The noodles are a teriyaki noodle dish from a package - just trying to use up what I have in the pantry...

I hope you enjoyed this not so much bento food post and maybe get an idea or two from it :)

Just a quick 'photo gallery' of some summer bento to get back into posting :o

Sorry for the extended absence! I don't know what happened, I haven't even taken pictures of all the bento that I've packed.
Below are pics of the ones I have photographed over the last couple months (obviously without the light box...)

Maybe I'll come back later and add descriptions, I really just wanted to get them on here

Friday, June 4, 2010

Practice Run #1 for Workshop...

OK, so I think I've mentioned on here that we'll be doing a bento workshop at the anime convention here in NJ in June - Now only 2 weeks away :o

This is just a quick practice run for the bottom tier of the two tier boxes that some will receive (some will get the 2-ties, some will get a one tier).  I don't actually plan on using green rice, but this was made from some of the leftover rice from the frogs I did for Monday.  I didn't do a very good job on it - I think the small ball needs done with plastic wrap - it's too small to form by hand (at least I found it to be...).
It is supposed to be a walrus - as seen in the new Yum-Yum Bento Box book, but it's definitely not obvious here - it's supposed to look more like this
Mine is missing the tusks as I knocked them off putting the other stuff in...

The egg will be one of 4 different shapes for the workshop (bunny, bear, fish or egg)

Anyway...  Just thought I'd share the first trial run - subject to change; I may be better off sticking to a cat ;P

A messy, but healthy and yummy bento

I think this bento just kinda looks like a mess.  We had run errand after dinner and I  was tired and just threw the bento together - plenty of color, but the arrangement leaves something to be desired...

I thought about putting faces on the mini quiches, but decided not to worry about it.  I am down to scraps of nori anyway - need to make a run to the Asian Market!

In the left tier, he has mini quiches, baby carrot sticks, pea pods (from the local Farmer's Market they're running on the first Wed of the month through the summer - yay!), strawberries, blueberries and bold chex mix.

The right tier has a salad w/ cucumber flowers, sliced baby carrot, sliced grape tomato and sliced mini yellow pepper.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dip 2 ways bento :)

Last night for dinner we had Ikea meatballs in cream sauce w/ roasted potatoes and lingonberries.
I have to ask: Are we the only ones who every so often decide it's time to go to Ikea just to have their meatballs meal?  lol - I know, we're a little strange ;)

When we purchased the frozen meatballs, cream sauce mix and lingonberries, we also purchased a package of giant round cracker things called knackebrod.

So, Rob decided we finally needed to crack into these things and made a seafood dip and an artichoke dip to have with this along with the meatballs etc.
I didn't actually measure it, but I would say it's about 14" across - I think there were 4 or 5 of them in the package (there are 2 left here; I'm not sure how much of it he and Kat ate...)
I found it to be a bit bland and dry for my taste - not quite so much as a water cracker, but closer to that than other crackers - I'm not a fan of water crackers myself; I like flavor and tend to eat flavored triscuits and that sort.

In the top tier we have the dips: artichoke in the bottom left yellow cup and seafood in the red upper right cup.  The cheese and spices were baked on top of the artichoke dip and I added a grape tomato rose to the seafood dip since it looked so plain and white :)
He also has a sliced strawberry and blueberries, baby carrot sticks and bell pepper strips.
I put a bag of some of the knackebrod in his bag for the dips.

In the bottom tier is his salad - only this time it is romaine instead of the spring mix.
For the ham, turkey and cheese this time I used my set of 3 flower cookie cutters in 3 sizes to cut it into shapes.  The bottom, largest flower is ham, the turkey is the next size on top of the ham and the swiss is the smallest in the corners.  I laid the scraps in strips on each end and then sliced a baby carrot and placed them on top of the ham and turkey.

Yesterday he just took leftover baked ziti again and a salad, so I didn't even bother to take a photo.

Happy Bento-ing!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tiger cubs bento - A very fruity bento :)

I had so much fun packing the cute froggie bento for our friend that I really wanted to do another cute onigiri bento.  I've mentioned before that Rob doesn't really want rice for lunch; especially plain rice, so I thought about it and decided a fruit filled onigiri in a rice cooked with coconut milk would probably be a yummy treat - unfortunately, to my surprise, I was out of coconut milk...  But then, I noticed the cans of mango nectar and voila! Mango Rice - that sounded so good to me!  So I put the rice and a can of mango nectar into my rice cooker and added the little bit of water it needed to bring it to the correct amount and got it cooking :)

I was so excited that by using the mango nectar, my rice would be naturally orange :)  That immediately made me think of the cute tiger onigiri I've seen in a number of bento blogs and in the new Yum-Yum Bento Box book - so I grabbed the book and checked out their method and went from there :)

I chopped up a strawberry and the ends of the kiwi that are sometimes too small for the flower cutter I typically use for it, put some rice in the bear onigiri mold, added some of the cut up fruit, then added more rice to fill the mold.  Of course I tasted the mango rice; My disappointment at not having coconut milk quickly dissipated - it was pretty yummy :) 
I made 4 onigiri; Kat ate the other 2 :)

I absolutely love this onigiri box, though I haven't used it as much as I'd like. 

In the top, onigiri tier, we have the adorable tiger cubs, a peanut butter and fig preserve flower shaped sammie (I kinda wish I'd thought of something else here...), Cucumber slices, baby carrot sticks and broccoli and grape tomatoes for filler. 

In the shallow bottom tier we have 2 sliced strawberries, kiwi flowers and blueberries.
 I love when the berries start coming back into season - such a healthy and attractive way to add color to bento :)

Don't you hate when you're lying in bed trying to sleep and you just can't stop thinking about bento to sleep? haha
Between being concerned there wasn't enough protein in his bento and that maybe it wasn't enough for a grown man who goes to the gym in the morning and doesn't eat breakfast; and what if he didn't like the onigiri and didn't eat it? He definitely wouldn't have enough food then... and thinking about what I still need for our bento workshop in a couple weeks, I just couldn't sleep.

So, at about 1:15am, I got up and threw this salad together in about 5 minutes - I had boiled the egg the night before (I always do 2 in case one gets messed up and then I also don't need to do one for the next day)

It's just the usual organic spring greens, a car shaped boiled egg, halved grape tomatoes and ham and swiss pinwheels (I was out of turkey).
In the end he said his lunch was too big - yeah, but better than still hungry, right? :P

It was nice to have a cute bento to post today since I only got a few hours sleep last night (got to sleep around 3:30ish, was awakened at a little before 4:30 by some noise from the girls, woke up again about 7? when Rob came in and dropped off his gym bag and kissed me goodbye and then the alarm went off at 8 - you needed the details, right? lol)

If you stuck with me this far, thanks for reading - lol
and Happy Bento-ing! :)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Bento for a friend and contest winner :)

This bento was packed for a friend of ours visiting from California (he used to live here in Jersey, so he had lots of folks to visit!).  Having me pack a bento for him was one of the things he said was on his 'to do' list while he was here - I was happy to oblige; especially since it allowed me to finally make onigiri myself.
Kat makes it for hers fairly regularly, but believe it or not, this was the first time I've made it (I think... lol)

Inspired by Pikko and Maki's new bento book Yum-Yum Bento (links to Pikko's 500th bento where she also has a link for the book; seems wrong to link to my own Amazon affiliate account...), I decided to go with the frog onigiri - It was a debate between the walrus, the tigers or the frogs :)  I also debated between keeping it simple and just using food coloring or mixing white rice w/ green furikake - since I was unsure how green it would get w/ the furikake, I decided to just go with the food coloring and just added a few drops to it before starting the rice cooker.  By the way, have I ever mentioned how much I adore our Zojirushi NS-DAC10 Zutto Neuro-Fuzzy 5-1/2-Cup Rice Cooker and Warmer  :) 

As I read in the book and have also seen on Pikko's blog and others, I used one of our bear onigiri molds and the ears then became the eyes.  I noticed after taking the picture that when I put the left eye of the top frog back on after knocking it off twice I put it back on upside down, so the pupil is lower - funny how you see things in the photos that you don't notice live.

I never really map out the bento before I start them; sometimes I wonder if maybe I should start doing so - it would probably save some time as I dig around for what else to put in...  I can't draw to save my life, so I figured it would be a futile effort to try and draw it out ;P  haha

I am still playing with the lighting for my portable photo studio - I have 3 lights here because one of the lights from the smaller one we already had burnt out. I think I will look at replacing the bulb with a higher wattage.

I still think, even with the shadows, it looks better than with the flash - at least the detailsof the egg aren't so washed out...

In the top tier we have the 2 little green frog onigiri, a bunny shaped boiled egg, 3 Aidelle's Chicken Meatballs in the Pineapple Teriyaki flavor from the freezer stash, grape tomato ladybugs, lettuce leaf lining the box, and for fillers, a grape tomato, baby carrots cut in half lengthwise and then in half at an angle widthwise and mini yellow pepper strips.

In the bottom Tier are 2 strawberries sliced, blueberries, carrot flowers as a divider and then 2 bunny mini peanut butter and fig preserve sammies; I forgot to color the edge of the press with the food markers first and tried to do it directly on the bread - does not work as well with these icing/foodmarkers.

All in all I'm happy with this cute bento - sure, it may not be appropriate for a grown man, but I think he liked it anyway - lol.  It helps that he'll be at another of his friend's homes today who has young children to see it :)   

I decided to just go with this plain bento box rather than a cute one so that if he chooses to, he can use it to pack himself bento later.  The bag is one I just got, and I think is really meant for a single tier as it was a tight fit; it is also thermal lined and has a velcro closure.

Another awesome friend in San Francisco did some shopping for me for bento sets for our upcoming workshop at the AnimeNext convention here in NJ.  This bag was in the stuff she sent, but I have a couple extra drawstring bags we'll use in place of these, simply because we thought it would be easier for the attendees to carry bags with strings/straps around the convention :)

Wow, I really have just rambled away today, haven't I?
If you've stuck with me this far, it's time to officially announce the 50 Followers Theme Bento (links to the post w/ the pics of all entries) contest winner - although you can see in the poll who won :) 
Congratulations to Angelene w/ her "Best Friends Forever" bento who won this bento set:

Angelene, please send me an email at with your shipping information :)

Thanks to all of you who entered and voted!
Look for another giveaway once I reach 100 Followers :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Kat's Bento for today...

This is the bento Kat packed for herself today.  She had a job interview at Six Flags today to do Caricatures and was going to be stuck there while Ahmetia worked her shift, so she took a bento rather than pay the outrageous theme park prices for bad food.

In the top tier she has edamame, a sliced boiled egg and pink rice; she used the juice from the jar of umeboshi to color the rice.  She wanted to try the little pink lamb that the new Yum-Yum Bento Box book has on the cover, but she was running late and didn't have time to do it.  She also has a bottle of soy sauce.

In the bottom tier she has coconut jelly, a baby yellow pepper filled with hummus, sundried tomato and a spinach, artichoke and garlic saute she threw together this morning.

Rob didn't need a bento today.

Yesterday for lunch, Kat took an Arnold Sandwich Thin and made a veggie pizza out of it - since she took a picture of it, I thought I'd go ahead and share it :)

Doesn't that look delicious?! Too bad she didn't make one for her poor old Mom, who was so busy working yesterday that I just threw pizza rolls in the toaster over to scarf down at my desk for lunch :o

She used a wonderful all natural pasta sauce I got at Sam's Club for the sauce and topped it with mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, capers and onion -- I think that was it...  Looks so yummy!

Well, back to enjoying a Friday night Strawberry Margarita! :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Club Sandwich 'Sushi' Bento :)

A while back - like probably 6 months ago - a friend sent me a link to a page where someone had done a similar club sandwich roll, but with avacado instead of lettuce and tomato.  I've been meaning to duplicate it for quite a while, but just hadn't gotten around to it; and I may have been a bit intimidated by it, considering I have never even rolled sushi before and the one I had seen did not include how to roll it :o

Last night the girls weren't going to be home for dinner, so I decided not to marinade and grill the chicken we purchased earlier in the day for dinner - incidentally, we're not having it tonight either; I just ordered pizza after a very busy workday...

So, anyway... I decided to cook up the package of bacon I had in the fridge and make Rob a club sandwich  - Something fairly simple that I knew he'd be happy with.  Plus, I could finally do the club sandwich roll :)

For the club sandwich roll, I took a soy sushi wrapper - Kosher Soy Wrappers - and placed a folded slice of turkey on one end, folded the wrapper over it and stacked bacon on top of the turkey and soy wrapper, then folded it back over the bacon, added another folded slice of turkey and folded the last part of the soy wrapper over that layer, sort of accordian style.  I then topped that with strips of lettuce and a slice of tomato cut in half, end to end and rolled the whole thing in another soy wrapper.
I lightly toasted two slices of bread and rolled it around the roll I had just made and finally rolled a sesame soy wrapper around that whole thing and then used a little mayo to seal it, sliced it (I ate the ends and was happy with the result :)

I probably should have used more lettuce and tomato, but live and learn right :)

In the top tier he has macaroni salad topped w/ baby carrot flowers and pub mix - my strawberries weren'tlooking so fresh and after so much time spent on the rolls, I really just wanted to get it packed.

In the bottom tier he has salad under the club sandwich rolls and some carrot and baby carrot flowers.

I finally ordered a larger (12x12) portable photo studio and am trying to figure out the best way to use it.  I find the lights that came with it son't seem quite bright enough for this size - they seem to be the same lights that came with the smaller (8x8) one we already have that is too small for my bento photos (unless it happens to be a single tier...), so for this one, I used all 4 lights and set it up so the back was the bottom and the top was open so I could get above it and take the photos.  I still need to play with it a bit to figure out the best setup and maybe try and find a place where I can leave it set up so I don't have to drag it out each evening.

This was yesterday's bento and the first time using the photo box, but with only the two lights it came with.  As you can see, there is quite a bit of shadowing - especially at the back - and not quite enough light - but at least the egg isn't completely washed out as happens with the flash...

In the top tier he has macaroni salad w/ yellow pepper, celery and cilantro flowers, hummus topped with a small piece of sundried tomato and strawberries.
In the bottom tier - surprise! ;P - he has salad w/ a bunny shaped boiled egg, baby carrot flowers, yellow pepper bits and the usual ham, turkey and swiss pinwheels.

If you haven't voted for your favorite bento in my 50 followers bento contest, please do so before Saturday midnight :)

Thanks for reading and happy bento-ing! :)

EDIT: I found the post that inspired the rolls - at the risk of showing how lame mine are in comparison....  lol:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Voting Time!!

Below are the entries for my 50 Followers Theme Bento Contest.
Please vote for your favorite in the poll on the right - Poll will run through May 30 (set to close at midnight EST).  Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to vote!

Also, see below the entries for the bento the winner of my previous 25 Followers drawing packed in her prize :)

Entry 1


And the theme is... not hearts. You thought it was gonna be hearts. I know. But it's not. It's Rosemary.

The top layer is Rosemary Lemon Pulled Pork (with tomato garnish), Rosemary Garlic Potato Wedges (in not-wedge form), and Rosemary Steamed Spinach.

The bottom layer has Rosemary Tomatoes, Grapes, Kumquats, Kiwi, and a Strawberry.

Entry 2

"Children's Hideout"

This is my take on a little kids hideout. There are two bear onigiri, with a fish filling. Their treasures include grapes, carrots, walnuts, corn, and a few deviled eggs. There's also bell pepper leaves.

Entry 3

"Best Friends Forever"

A simple bento packed with loads of tender, loving and care for a beloved friend!

Entry 4


Spring always brings life and love. i tried to put all these in a box. so there are newly grown spring vegetables (lettuce, green onion, radish) along with off-season vegetables (pepper, cucumber). and, as a symbol of love, i also placed some heart shaped egg rolls and some heart shaped ham sandwiches in the box. i made it as a breakfast for my love. and he was delighted with it.

Entry 5

'The Bluebird of Happiness'

The bento consists of home-made tuna fritters, paprika stir fried mini corn, sliced radishes, cucumber sticks and humous. The little bluebird and the nearby tree are cut from mild English cheddar and rubbed with food colouring. The bluebird is seated amidst the colours of a garden beyond the cucumber fence. In the fruit layer are strawberries, grapes and kiwi

Entry 6

"Hello Kitty"

boiled fish cake, thin french beans, cherry tomato, broccoli, carrot. hk is made from chicken ham. their dresses, ribbons and flowers from yellow and red pepper. hk mama’s chef hat made from fish cake and bento bowl , ham

Entry 7

"Weanie Dog"

I made this bento to look like my weanie dog, Deanie Weanie. It contains a nori dog with a red pepper collar and cheese face on top of white rice. The other container has shoyu chicken with steamed broccoli, raw carrots, and grape tomatoes. :)

Entry 8

"Pet Treats"

The sandwich is leftover from Panera's. It also has cucumbers, green apple jelly, a few pickles, goldfish and Colby Jack Cheese. The goldfish represent kitty treats and the cheese is for the dog bones.
We have 4 cats and 1 dog.

Entry 9

"King and Queen Aliens"

The bottom portion contains rice and has a King and Queen Alien made out of green colored egg sheet and decorated with nori cutouts.

The rice is bordered with asparagus and rolled steak slices. Top portion contains lettuce, carrots, bell pepper, cucumber, raisins, strawberries, and cheese.
Entry 10

"The Strongest Link"

This bento contains 2 onigiri pressed rice balls with nori seaweed hearts, some apple and carrot, and chicken dippers with lettuce.

I was going to call this bento “The weakest link” seeing as I made some carrots all linking together in a chain and it was the first phrase that sprang to mind, but after thinking about it, “Weakest” sounds a bit negative and today has been a really positive and jolly day, weatherwise, moodwise and mental health wise!

Entry 11


Cheese boy and girl over tiny pesto bowtie pasta (the hearts mean they're in love), cheese hearts on bruschetta with mini toasts, frozen cherries and carrot sticks. Simple but loving!


And because I didn't get it posted before I had my computer crash and recently got the pictures again, here is the bento packed by my last, 25 followers, bento contest, Rebecca Frank :)

The Sandwich box was not part of the prize - I love the way she packed it :)

In the bottom tier is left-over shrimp fried rice that I made for dinner, it has some cauliflower stuffed in as a filler.

The top tier has a hard boiled egg cut in half with the yolk pulled out and mashed with some garlic dill mustard in the yellow cup. The blue cup has pasta salad I made a few days ago, it has orzo, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, fresh mozzarella, and onion splashed with lemon juice, olive oil, and dill.

And if you were curious, the sandwich box has roast beef, spicy cheese, lettuce and mustard roll ups. Also 2 tomato provolone 'sandwiches' and a little bottle of balsamic vinegar for the pasta salad.

Here is what she won in my last contest: