Sunday, January 31, 2010

We have a winner! :)

OK folks!  It's that time - time to announce the winner of the bento drawing :D

First, how I chose...  I used to give me a random number, then counted through the comments, skipping my own replies and the one second comment from the same person, just to be fair :)

So the winner is - drumroll please! ;)


Please email me at with your mailing address and let me know which set you want and I'll get that sent out to you :)  Congratulations! :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Which came first... ;)

The other night, I was watching some youtube videos and came across one where they did cucumber cups, so I decided to try doing one.  In the video, they used more of an English cucumber than our typical fatter, shorter ones, but it came out ok and made a nice edible container for the hummus :)  I will likely keep that in my bento repertoire for the future :)

I started by putting the last of the carrot salad into the food cup that came with this bento box.  I then put in the cucumber cup and filled it with sun dried tomato hummus, then put in the oval foil food cup and filled it with pineapple and blueberries.  I love these oval foil cups - they are thinner than the baking cups and very flexible to mold into the space I want them to fit.  I ordered them from Ichibankan USA before they closed their web store.  I'm down to only one package now and will be sad to use the last of them!

Next, I squeezed a mini valentines cupcake baking cup on each dise of the cucumber and filled one with those Wasabi Almonds (yes, again - lol) and used the other for a nut cake from a package I bought at the Hong Kong Supermarket last Friday.  The cup provided a bit of a barrier from the cucumber.

I felt like doing something a little different with the egg for today, so I decided to do an egg chick :)  The yolk stuck a little to the egg, but he's still cute, I think.  Next time, I'll try letting the egg cool a bit more before I cut it and remove the top.  The eyes are nori and the beak is carrot.  I usually use black sesame seeds for the eyes, but with nori, I can add a dot of mayo and they stick nicely :)

 I made a little nest of shredded carrot in the center of the mixed organic spring greens and put my egg chick into it and then put the rest of the egg white on the side.

The pinwheels are once again ham, buffalo chicken breast and provolone.

Happy Bento-ing!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Onigiri shaped egg for a no rice bento :)

When I went to make the tabouleh the other day, I discovered that the package of tomatoes was bad - on the bottom of course, where it went unnoticed until the package was opened.  So, no tabouleh yet...

Today's bento was a fairly quick one. 
I started by getting the eggs boiling while I decided what else to put into the bento.
A while back, I bought a set of 3 egg molds that included the Onigiri, Pumpkin and Ice Cream Cone shapes.  They were purchased on ebay, and although they were a bit pricey, I haven't regretted the purchase :)

I've recently been seeing Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and even Disney's Stitch egg molds - the Winnie the Pooh is a temptation, but so far I've been able to avoid the temptation! lol

I started by putting in the 3 heart shaped silicone cups.  These are shorter than the Wilton heart shaped cups and are great for the shorter tiered bento boxes.

I filled one with the macaroni salad Ahmetia got at the grocery store (the one that isn't very good, but I feel was too pricey to just throw out - ugh, I may break down and throw it out anyway - life's too short to eat yucky food! lol). 
In the next cup, I added the carrot salad I made the other day.  Rob said he liked it, so I'm happy and it will likely become something I use on a somewhat regular basis :)  In the final cup, I put in some fresh pineapple and blueberries.  I love the colors together :)

I filled in the space between the 2 salads with wasabi almonds (I love those things!), then added the baby carrots (trimmed down to fit) and the red pepper strips and pea pods.

For the bottom tier, I put together his typical salad of organic spring greens, topped with the baby carrot slices from the trimmed down baby carrots, ham, buffalo chicken and provolone pinwheels and the onigiri shaped boiled egg with nori face :)

In the lid, I added a pudding marshmallow and a mango gummy.

Wednesdays are the girls long day on campus, so they each have bentos for today:

Kat was running behind this morning and didn't have time to make her rice, so she cooked up some pierogi in the microwave and put sour cream in the dog cup and filled the space with some ham (torn from the trimmings from the ham flowers in the single tier).  In the bottom tier she has clementine segments and blueberries and some wakami salad in the heart shaped silicone cup.

Being a long day, she needs both lunch and dinner.  So in the single tier, she decided to go with soba.  She topped the noodles with some ham flowers and has a dashi soup base in the cup.  She also has an ice cream cone shaped boiled egg that I did last night when I did the onigiri shaped egg.

To save time, I often do 2 eggs and store the 2nd in the fridge, left in the egg mold in a sandwich bad.  I still set the egg in the ice water before putting it in the fridge.  I find the moisture from the ice water helps keep the egg from sticking to the mold the next morning.


Ahmetia only packed one bento for herself, I hope she has enough food (Though she may have grabbed a lunchable or something...)

In the bottom tier she has a cheese omelet.  I always think she overcooks them, but this is the way she likes them.

In the top tier, she has grapes, the last of the veggie samosas, california blend steamed veggies and a pudding filled marshmallow.

It's not a bento, but this was my lunch today - doesn't it look yummy! 

I'm sure it's obvious, but it is a baked potato with a little fat free sour cream, chili and 2% shredded cheddar cheese and some green onion.  Very satisfying!

Happy Bento-ing!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Not so pretty, but yummy, bento

Rob didn't need a bento today, so I have one for myself - sort of...
About 15 minutes after Kat left for class, I noticed she hadn't put away the rest of the pork fried rice she had made for her bento, so I decided to finish it off - even though I usually try to stick to brown rice myself...

I also had leftover Cherchie's Spicy Southwest Bean Soup and wanted to get that eaten and out of the fridge.  So, while I was getting some ground beef thawed out in the microwave for the chili I'm making in the slow cooker today, I pulled out the Hello Kitty tight sealed, microwave safe box we have and put the rice on one side and the soup in the other.  The soup was thicker since it has been in the fridge a couple days.
I placed a heart shaped cookie cutter on top of the rice and put in some shredded carrot, pressing it down onto the rice for a little color and sprinkled the soup with about 1 1/2 oz 2% sharp cheddar cheese and some green onion - yum!

Now, here's what I love about this box - it's air tight, like it says, but has vents on the top that you press to open when you're ready to heat your lunch.  I just put the entire box into the microwave and let it heat up while I browned my ground beef and got it into the slow cooker with the rest of the chili ingredients :)

The girls are on campus from 1:30 to 9:45 today for 2 classes each, so they needed a dinner bento each.

Ok, this picture looks funny - for some reason, every time I try uploading it, it turns on it's side - it doesn't look like this in the folder, but each time I upload it, it's back to this - Oh well, I give up...

Kat made her very first homemade pork buns yesterday, so she has one in her bento today on a lettuce leaf, dipping sauce in the banana bottle, pork fried rice using some of the pork she cooked in the slow cooker for the pork buns, shitake mushrooms, edamame, blueberries, daikon salad, bean sprout namul and for treats she has a White Lotus Moon Cake and a puddisg filled marshmallow - yum!

She took some pictures from making the pork buns, so I may post some later in the week :)  Stay tuned!

Ahmetia made herself peanut butter toast rolls using light whole wheat bread and natural peanut butter, california blend steamed veggies and grapes in the first tier and pineapple, blackberries and a jelly cup in the second tier.  What a healthy meal she has here!
I bought her this bento box on ebay last year.  The listing said it was from Japan, circa 1950s :)

If you haven't already, don't forget to see Monday's post and comment to be entered into the drawing for a bento set! :)
Happy Bento-ing!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Indian inspired bento & CONTEST TIME! :D

I know, I know - I really need to either make that lightbox I keep mentioning or find a better way to take my photos! :P  I picked up the small white lidded cup at the Dollar Tree on Friday - the lids seemed to fit nicely too :)

For those of you packing bento for children, they also had the Disney ice packs, meant for little accidents, but would be great for chilling bento :)

I decided to go with the snapware lunch container rather than a traditional bento box for this one so that I could fit in the vegetable samosas I made without taking up half a tier in a bento box and.or smashing/breaking them.  I also think it's a good idea not to get too caught up in having to have an actual bento box in order to pack a bento style meal :)

I actually was in a cooking mood on Saturday and took advantage of the feeling by making Indian food for dinner.  Although I prefer the saucy Indian dishes that I can mix into the rice, Rob almost always orders the tandoori - and it's not difficult to make (especially with a jar of pre-made tandoori paste! lol).

Since I actually took photos of dinner for my FB food diary, I think I'll start by sharing that :)

Here we have the chicken ready for the oven and then right out of the oven - yum!

I marinaded the chicken in a gallon sized ziplock bag for about 7 hours - longer would have been better though.  I had forgotten to score the breasts before marinading and did so before baking and rubbed a bit of the marinade into the cuts, then topped with onion and lemon slices and baked at 450 degrees until a meat thermometer registered 165 degrees - these breasts were huge, and with the red marinade, it becomes difficult to tell when the juices run clear, so I felt more comfortable using the meat thermometer.  I was amazed how little bone there was on these breasts!

I usually buy frozen vegetable samosas, but since I haven't been to the Indian grocery in a while, I decided to make them.  I had gotten dumpling wrappers at Hong Kong Supermarket on Friday, so I decided to use them for the samosas - so they look a bit like gyoza. :)

I didn't measure the ingredients, but the ingredients were:

Vegetable Samosas

3 smallish potatoes, boiled and roughly mashed
1/2 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and smashed up a bit
maybe 1/2 cup frozen green peas
a couple Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
maybe a tsp or so garam masala
maybe 1/2 tsp each:
 ground cilantro
curry powder
garlic salt
ground cumin

Just mix the potatoes, beans and peas and add all the spices to your taste, place a wrapper in the palm of your hand, place about a Tbs and a half filling (guessing, I didn't measure it) in the center and press a little with your fingers, have a small dish of water ready and use fingers to wet the edge of the top half of the wrapper and fold over the filling and press to seal.  Or use a dumpling press, mine seems to have run away somewhere...

I brushed half with a little canola oil and baked in the oven with the chicken, turning occasionally and keeping an eye on them until nicely browned.  The edges were a little crunchy, but I thought they were yummy :)  The other half were deep fried in our deep fryer.

Rob's plate is on the left and mine on the right.  I had found pappadum in a can at the grocery store and decided to give them a try.  We also have brown basmati rice and grilled onion.  In the sauce cups are cilantro mint chutney and a makeshift onion chutney for the samosas and pappadum respectively.  It was a very good and filling dinner :)

When Rob saw that there were samosas left, he actually expressed an interest in seeing them in today's bento :)  So, since he won't have access to a microwave today, I decided to use some of a tandoori chicken breast on a salad. 

I topped the organic lettuce mix with the tandoori slices and then added tomato roses and thinly sliced carrot flowers.  He has a ginger dressing (a vinaigrette style) to go with it.

In one side of the divided tier, I arranged the samosas that I had crisped back up in the toaster oven and the food cup of chutneys, then filled in spaces with the pappadum and pea pods and added a couple grapes just for a little color.

As far as plain boxes go, I have always loved this one.  I love that it fits 3 silicone cups the way it does.  Once I put the cups in, I filled the center one with carrot salad I threw together quickly.  This was the first time I've ever made this.  I've never had it, but a couple months ago, Rob bought some at Delicious Orchards and I had been thinking about picking up more.  Since I had bought a bag of the shredded carrots at the Asian market, I decided to just make some myself - it was so easy, it would be silly to buy it :)

I added the red and yellow pepper strips to one cup and blackberries and blueberries to the other to finish it up.

Again, I didn't really measure, but here is the carrot salad recipe - adjust the amounts as necessary...

Carrot Salad

About a cup shredded carrots
1/8-1/4 cup raisins
1/4 of a good size apple - I used granny smith
1/2-1 Tbs lemon juice
1/8-1/4 cup mayo (I use a light mayo)
maybe 1 Tbs honey

Just mix it all together, tasting and adding lemon juice and or honey as needed.

OK - now on to what we've all been waiting for - The contest/drawing! :)  lol

Here's what I've decided to do:
In the comments below this post, please share your favorite bento resource(s).
It can be specific blog(s), books, websites, sources for products etc. It can even just be your best tips!  I just want you to share!  And why it's a good resource or tip would also be great :)

The deadline for comments will be Saturday, Jan 30, so you have about 5 days.  I will do a random drawing from the comments on Sunday and post the winner.  Please check back to see if you've won - if you have provided your email address, I will also let the winner know by email, but I know not everyone wants to post that information. 
Once the winner has been announced, they will need to email me at with the shipping information etc.

Now for the fun part!  The prize :)  I am giving the winner a choice between 2 bento sets - the winner needs to choose one or the other:

Each set includes the box, belt and bag and the bunny and bear egg molds and the cookie cutters.  The clickety click bunny set will include matching chopsticks and case, while the tenmari set will include the penguin sauce bottles.  I know, it's a tough choice! :)
International folks, if you win - I will send via the slowest, cheapest boat out there - but you will get it :)
I plan to do another contest when/if I ever get to 50 followers which will be a nicer set, so keep 'em coming! :)
Thanks again to all my new followers and readers!
Happy Bento-ing!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


So, I forgot that my daughter is on my followers twice, so the question is, do I still consider it 20 followers, or do I wait for 21...?  :P

UPDATE!  I am now at 23 followers, so I will officially be doing a contest - stay tuned for the details (probably Monday)  Thanks and welcome to all my new followers :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bunny Eggs make me happy :)

Now that we're stocked back up on some grocery staples, Rob's bento includes his usual salad :)

The bottom tier contains his typical organic lettuce blend with ham, buffalo chicken and provolone pinwheels, grape tomato roses, carrot flowers and a bunny shaped boiled egg :)  I still love the shaped boiled eggs.  This time I decided to add some black sesame seeds in the impressions of the face to bring them out more.  I still haven't gotten more food markers, but last time I used them on egg, Rob said it looked unappetizing, so maybe it's a good thing - lol

Unfortunately, when I put leafy lettuce on the grocery list, I forgot to remind Ahmetia that I did not mean romaine :( Maybe now that we've had this miscommunication twice, we'll remember next time. Oh well, I'll make the best of it :)

I also had put macaroni on the list so I could make more macaroni salad, but Ahmetia thought I meant macaroni salad and bought it premade.  It was a different brand than we have ever purchased before and unfortunately isn't very good.  And she got a 3 lb tub of it...  Rob says he'll eat it anyway (I'm not a big fan of macaroni salad myself, nor would I eat it being that it is not WW friendly...)

Once I had added the macaroni salad into the romain lettuce in the box, I then added the organic baby carrots and the small valentines cupcake cup that I filled with blueberries.  In the last of the space, I added 2 clementine segments (one of my favorite fruits, can you tell? lol - I ate the rest) and a single grape.
I then sliced the kamaboko and broke off a piece of dill and added it on top of the macaroni salad.

I also stocked up on some Asian ingredients at the Hong Kong Supermarket in East Brunswick, NJ today, including the purple sweet potatoes that I can't wait to use - I just have to figure out how I want to add them so that Rob will like them! :)

I had the girls and their friend do most of the shopping while I was next door at the DMV renewing my license and registering Kat's 'new' car (pics in post from the other day).  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to do both in about an hour or so :)

I am not at 19 followers - one more and I will need to come up with some sort of contest :)  I think the prize may be the bento box shown in this post.  I just have to order it! (or get it at Mitsuwa...)
Stay tuned!

Speaking of bento contests and prizes, Debra over at Hapa Bento is running a contest right now - Hmm, maybe I shouldn't share the news and decrease my own chances of winning ;)  Haha :)

Happy Bento-ing!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lovie Dovie Bento :)

Ahmetia is grocery shopping as I type this, so this bento represents the last of the bread, the macaroni salad, the tuna, the clementines and the red pepper :o  Thank goodness she's shopping :)

I didn't want to do the same bunny, bear and flower sammies or the flower I did the other day, so today's has a heart shaped sandwich and a triangle from the rest of the bread.

I put the macaroni salad in first then the sammies, using baran food dividers to keep any tuna from getting on the other foods. 
I then queezed in the Valentine's cupcake cup and filled it with the chex mix, then added the clementine wedges and the veggies as I cut them up.  I didn't want too much baby carrot since I already had plenty of orange in the bento.

It took some rummaging around the kitchen and fridge to come up with first the wasabi almonds and then the smoked Gouda to fill in around the heart shaped sandwich.  I specifically chose a smaller bento box knowing
that I only had a little macaroni salad left etc.

The sammies looked so plain, so I grabbed a slice of cheese (poor Rob was stuck w/ fat free since that's what I had...) and used the bear sandwich cutter to make a cute little cheese bear to plop on top of the triangle shaped sammie (I think this is the same one used by Pikko for her breakfast bento for her TV appearance the other day - her awesome blog can be seen at

At first, I was going to just cut a smaller heart to place on top of the heart sammie, but then saw my letter cutters and decided to do our initials like you'd see carved in a tree :)  Last, I added the nori accents and was finally done!

This fairly simple bento ended up taking me probably 45 minutes just because I didn't really have a plan (though I rarely do) and was low on so much. 

Tomorrow's bento will likely once again have a leafy green salad - at least the low groceries forced me to do something different for a few days :)

On another note, someone I went to High School with who I reconnected with on FB has a daughter who also loves all things Japanese.  A while back I sent her a package of bento goodies.  Anyway, she just did a Social Studies project on Bento and won first place! 
Congrats to Kaylin!! :)

The girls had their first day back to classes yesterday, which happens to be their long day between the 2 of them, so they each packed themselves bento for yesterday.

I'll start with Kat since she does them more often and has been doing them the longest.  She has a lunch and a dinner bento.

Here she has an onigiri decorated with Pink Denbu, egg flowers and pea pod - This onigiri is from the Kawaii Bento Boxes: Cute and Convenient Japanese Meals on the Go.
Also in the tier are 2 quail eggs, Octodogs and shitake mushrooms.

In the bottom tier she has edamamme, bean sprout namul baby carrots, grape tomatoes and soy sauce in the bottle.  The namul recipe (for both the bean sprouts and spinach) is from Personal Trainer: Cooking for Nintendo DS.  I think she uses this more than any actual games - lol.

For dinner she had a sabboro bento.  Over the rice, she has Pink Denbu, Egg and Shitake mushrooms with some of the pretty kamaboko slices.  Then in the bottom tier she has edamame, kimchi and daikon salad.  There's soy sauce in the bottle for her sabboro.

Now for Ahmetia's bento.  She packed one large bento for lunch and dinner and still brought some back home.

In the first tier, she has rice noodles topped with a veggie stirfry.  In the second tier she has peppermint bark, broccoli and cauliflower and pierogies.  She needs to work on the photography :o

whew! that was a long one!

Happy Bento-ing!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More sammies :o

I still haven't gone grocery shopping, so I packed the cute min sammies again and this time tried dipping the press side in hot sauce first - They aren't perfect, but I like the addition of a little color :)

We bought Kat a used car today, so I *still* haven't gone grocery shopping, which means if I pack Rob a bento for tomorrow, it'll be tuna sandwiches again and the last of the macaroni salad & not sure about fruit... 
At least I get a break from the reg salad! ;) lol

I started by adding the macaroni salad to the cup in the top tier.  I opted to leave it undecorated this time - can you see the purple? :)
I then added the clementine segments and cut up the red pepper and the pea pods and put them in.

Next I made the sammies, cutting out the shapes then dipping the press part in the hot sauce and pressing it onto one piece for each sandwich.  I'm completely out of lettuce, so I used a baran food divider behind the sammies and some dill for a little more color.

I then opened a Little Debbie heart shaped brownie, put it in a Valentines cupcake cup and wedged it in at the other end, filling in w/ the grape tomatoes, chex mix and some nuts.

Voila - A better bento than I expected when I started to search for stuff to put into it :)
He also has an apple and a Kiwi gummy in the lid and a side cup of lite Hidden Valley Ranch dressing to dip the veggies.

And in case you're curious, here's Kat's 'new' 2000 VW Cabriolet:

Not bad for her first car IMHO :)

Happy Bento-ing!

(If you missed it, yesterday's post included a tutorial on my ladybug tomatoes)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ladybugs :)

So we finally went and saw Avatar yesterday in Imax :)  LOVED IT! :)

After the movie we went to dinner at Bonefish Grill - yum!  So by the time we got home and I finally got around to packing Rob's bento for today, my intention was to just pack a speed bento and be done with it, but then I chenged my mind and decided to do the ladybugs as originally planned :)

The ladybugs are nothing new, but still one of my favorite cute things to add to his bento.  The first time I did them, they took friggin' forever without a small hole punch.  I soon after made the purchase of the small hole punch and now they're not too time consuming :)

I always think the ladybugs have to have a little greenery to munch on :)
Flower kamaboko makes another appearance here - still loving it :)

I started by putting the clementine segments into the box, then added the foil cup and filled it with macaroni salad, added the hummus and topped it w/ sundried tomatoes, then added the chex mix.
I added the salad to the bottom tier and got an egg boiling while I made the ham, buffalo chicken and provolone pinwheels and cut the red pepper flowers. 
Then I decided to add the nori eating utensils :)
Once the egg was boiled, molded and cooled, I sliced it (Rob finds it easier to eat pre-sliced) and added it.  I decided on the black sesame seeds later as I was about to take pictures, remembering that it seems to help keep the egg from washing out in the photos.
I *still* haven't made that lightbox :o

Then I started on the ladybugs

As I was preparing to sit down and blog, I decided I wanted to do a quick tutorial for the ladybugs - so I made another one real quick and got some pictures of the process :)

Here are the tools I use:

First, I take a sheet of nori and punch out the dots and then the face w/ the pink nori punch you see in the picture.  I got the punch in this set: Nori Face Punches - I love the face punches and definitely recommend them if you're looking to do cute bento :)

Then I take my half grape tomato and dot it with honey using a toothpick:

Once the tomato is dotted w/ honey, I use my dedicated bento tweezers to place the nori spots onto it:

The next step is the 'face' - I use only the eyes from the face punch that I punched earlier:

Cut the eyelashes off each as shown:

Next, I get them wet to make them more pliable - otherwise they don't want to bend around the tomato, and then use the tweezers and my fingers to position them as shown:

The last step is to add the sesame seed eyes.  I put another dot of honey on each side of the face and carefully place a sesame seed on each side using the tweezers:

And that's it!  I decided I needed 2 more dots and added them after the eyes - and here's your finished product :)  Wasn't that pretty easy?
To give it the wing effect, you could also add a strip if nori down the center, but I never felt the need :)

I should have had a manicure before I did this! :P  lol

Happy Bento-ing!