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20 minute Bento

I'm sure you've heard it before, but I'll say it again - Having a bento friendly stock of fridge and freezer fare makes life so much easier.

I was so glad I was well stocked when I packed last night's bento as I was packing it pretty late and my mind was on other things. When I went on my nightly walk with my neighbor, I discovered that my car had been hit earlier in the day - no note, nothing but damage :(

So, I very nearly didn't pack Rob a bento for today, but then realized that he really needed one since he was going to be at a dealership today in an area he is not familiar with. So, out came the frozen deli spirals from Sam's Club. I was also glad that I had boiled and molded an extra egg the night before :)

Top Tier: Macaroni salad w/ nori and black sesame seed face, deli spirals, babybel light w/ flower cutout and bold chex mix
Bottom Tier: Mixed Spring Greens salad w/ ham and swiss pinwheels (was out of turkey), carrot flowers and pumpkin shaped boiled egg
Side car of pineapple and blueberries
Melon and strawberry gummies in the lid

And Kat's bento for today:

June 2 -- Top Tier: Rice w/ umeboshi, spinach namul and tamagoyaki
Bottom Tier: Pineapple, imitation crab stick and blueberries

Bird's Eye View of Kat's Bento hereCollapse )

Being Neighborly :)

Last week, I started walking with my neighbor when she takes her dog for his evening walk :) He is an adorable Shephard and is just the sweetest thing :) I have mentioned bento to her before, but what better to way to show what it is than to pack one for her, right? :) Since I am so used to packing the more american foods in the bento for Rob, hers is very similar to his. I of course intend for her to keep the boxes and bags for future use (I love getting people into bento - not that she has to do it - lol). She seemed excited when I dropped it off to her as a surprise last night - I just wish I had thought to pack a plastic fork in it just in case!

Bottom Tier: Checkered apples, pineapple and blueberries
Top Tier: Egg Chick on a nest of grated carrot, pea pod halves, broccoli, macaroni salad w/ carrot and pea pod flowers, sesame seed 'ground' & a grape tomato & nori ladybug and a little of Kat's Spinach Namul :)
Single Tier: Mixed spring greens w/ carrot flowers and grape tomato roses (I meant to add grilled chicken, but forgot :o)
I also threw in a packet of light Italian dressing, not knowing what she likes...

I always love the egg chicks when I see them in bento, but Rob likes his egg sliced for his salad, so that doesn't really lend itself to the egg chick. I cut the egg right away after peeling it; I think I should have let it cool first as the yolk started to crack as it cooled... Also, the beak and whatever the thing on top of the head is called are just carrot pieces, but they didn't really want to stay put, so next time I'll have to do that differently. The eyes are black sesame seeds.

I also finally tried the checkered apple :) I am fairly happy w/ how they came out and how relatively fast and easy they were to do. I rolled it in a little lime juice to retard browning - I prefer the flavor of lime juice over lemon juice for this purpose. I wanted to arrange the fruit into sort of a flower, but it wasn't working for me, so I just put it in sections as usual...

I think it's a little light on protein since I forgot about the chicken breast, but with the single tier of salad, it should be filling enough :)

Now on to Rob's bento:

Top Tier: A little leftover frittata, blueberries, checkered apple, pineapple, Macaroni salad w/ carrot flowers and pea pod stems/leaves and black sesame seed 'ground' and a grape tomato ladybug w/ nori dots and face
Bottom Tier: Mixed spring greens, leftover grilled chicken breast, star shaped boiled egg and carrot flowers
Sabra Hummus to go cup (and a few extra crackers thrown in his bag and light ranch for his salad)

Sunday I decided to finally make a Frittata. I had been wanting to for quite a while, but had just never tried it. I sauteed onion and red pepper in about 1 Tbs butter, then added sliced mushrooms and torn spinach leaves and sauteed just enough to let the spinach go limp. I wasn't sure of the best way to season the dish, so I seasoned the veggies w/ salt and pepper and then added the 6 beaten eggs. I poured that into the cast iron skillet and added feta cheese (I meant to add ham and forgot!). Using a heat proof rubber spatula, I stirred it around a bit and cooked a few minutes until the bottom seemed set. It then went under the broiler until then top began to brown slightly. It didn't really puff up like I expected, so next time I plan to try moving it a little closer to the broiler. Overall, I was pretty happy with it. I had intended to use a wedge in Rob's bento, but he wasn't sure it would be good cold, so I just used a little :) The verdict: it was ok, not something I should go out of my way to make for bento, but if we have it already, it's fine.

Mmmmmmm :)

Now for Kat's bento!

Jun 1 -- Top Tier: Brown Rice, Stir fry w/ tofu, chinese broccoli, baby bok choy and onion
Bottom Tier: Apple, pineapple, blueberries and imitation crab stick

Bird's Eye View of Kat's bento here!Collapse )

Now to where I got the boxes...

Both my neighbor's and Kat's boxes came from ichibankanusa.com and are sold out there, but I have also seen them on http://www.jbox.com/ (but not as cheap as ichibankanusa.com!)
Rob's is from VeryAsia.com

Whew! That was a long one today - lol :)

I even packed myself a bento today :)

The last couple days I have been craving a boiled egg - sure, I could have just made myself one and that would have been the end of it, but what fun is that?

So, as I was preparing to pack Rob's bento for today, I started 2 eggs boiling instead of one for his salad (I often do a second one for use in the next day's bento, but being the end of the week, only one would have been needed).

As usual, his bento was packed last night for him to grab from the fridge and take to work. On days he's in the office, he has a fridge available and just places the whole thermal cooler bag he uses into the fridge. Days that he is in a deaslership, he adds an ice pack to the thermal cooler to ensure it stays cool, so I don't worry too much about the foods I pack. It should be noted, however, that if you're not refrigerating your bento or using an ice pack, you may want to take a little more care in choosing what to pack in your bento.

Kat, however, does not refrigerate her bento and should probably be more conscious of what she packs and does add an ice pack if she takes something like seafood salad - although that is typically purchased at Sam's and does at least contain some preservative... Still, I want to point out that if you are packing bento for yourself, be sure to keep food safety in mind.

Biggie, over at the infamous lunchinabox.net has a great article on the subject at http://lunchinabox.net/2007/05/08/food-safety-for-packed-lunches-updated/

So on we go to the bento!


His bento is probably a bit big for today, but it is mostly veggies and fruits and we have a tendency to eat later on Friday's. Tonight I am making miso sake marinated salmon - yum! Been a while since I made that :D

May 29 -- Bottom Tier: Mixed Spring Greens 'chef's salad' w/ ham. turkey and swiss pinwheels, cucumber and carrot flowers and a pumpkin shaped boiled egg
Top Tier: Macaroni salad w. carrot flowers w/ cucumber stems and black sesame seed 'ground', sundried tomato hummus and strawberry and melon gummies
Side car: Pineapple slices topped w/ a dried kiwi slice, pitted cherries, baby carrots and cucumber
Light ranch for his salad and veggies

He also has a few triscuits in his bag in case he wants them for the hummus - I would use it for the cucumber and maybe the carrots myself, but he tends to use the dressing for that and like crackers or pita for the hummus - unfortunately, my pita was moldy when I pulled it out - I hate when the weather turns humid - whole wheat goods just don't fare well in this weather...

So, since I already had a boiled egg shaped like an onigiri for myself, I decided I needed to pack myself a bento today :) I love steamed dumplings and almost always have a few bags in the freezer, so that was an easy choice for me. Kat's last little bit of spinach namul also sounded delicious and made a great addition to the bento - it was so yummy - I think I'll get another bag or two of spinach and get her to make it again over the weekend :) She loves to cook and this recipe came from her Nintendo DS Light Cooking Coach game.

Here is my finished bento:

I decided to pack myself a bento today - I'm still always surprised how much food the little boxes hold...
Top Tier: Chicken Cabbage and Pork Leek steamed dumplings and the Spinach Namul
Bottom Tier: Onigiri shaped boiled egg w/ nori face, cucumber, baby carrots, celery, pitted cherries and pineapple

Since I was eating this at home, I was able to use an open cup for the dipping sauce. I don't measure anything when I make it, so I can't tell you amounts, but I make it with say sauce, rice vinegar, hot sesame oil, minced ginger and garlic. I buy jars of each at the Asian grocery for timesaving and because I don't have to worry about it going bad - especially as the weather gets warmer!

And finally - Kat's bento for today (reminder - she packs hers herself :)

May 29 -- Top Tier: Umeboshi (or it could be pickled ginger) onigiri, kimchi, raspberries, corn on cob slice, kamoboko
Bottom Tier: Cherries (pitted), baby carrots, imitation crab and spinach namul

click here for the bird's eye view of Kat's bentoCollapse )

And finally, where I got the boxes :)

Rob's bento is in a Hakoya box from VeryAsia.com and the side box came from Pikko over at http://adventuresinbentomaking.com/ -- every so often she sells a box on her blog :) Thanks Pikko!!

My bento is packed in a Hakoya box from ichibankanusa.com, but is another one that sold out fairly quickly - if you see a box you like on there site, snap it up, they often sell out fast!

And finally, Kat's box also came from ichibankanusa.com and is also sold out - there is no longer even a category for clickety click boxes. I see them on ebay every now and again.

My garden - No bento today

I had a splitting headache last night and didn't end up packing Rob a bento for today - Bad wife! ;P So, I thought instead that I would post a few pictures of the little garden we have. We still need to get another bag of mulch, and one type of flower didn't make it and they need replaced, but otherwise the garden is going well enough :) Not all the flowers were photographed, but there are lots of rose pictures (I'm not even posting all of them!)

This year we planted olive tomatoes (I assume the same as grape), basil, rainbow mixed peppers, sugar snap peas, cilantro and one garlic chive plant - and there is oregano, that even though Rob insists is an annual, has come back for the third year in a row... I rarely use oregano, so it's a bit of a waste...

I wish we had the space for squash and cucumbers, and we have planted them before, but they take over too much of the little garden.

Rob has a system all set up to automatically water the garden each morning - it's really nice not to have to worry about that - especially if we go away for a weekend :)



Mixed Rainbow Pepper:

Sugar snap Peas - you can also see a little of the watering system Rob has set up for the garden:

Olive Tomato:


Garlic chives:


And just for fun, here are a couple of the flowers and some roses on the rose bush that was supposed to stay small according to the guy at the flower farm where we purchased it...

more rose photos hereCollapse )

A very familiar looking Bento.... Again :)

Today I got the official email notification that our Bento workshop at the AnimeNext convention has been accepted - woohoo! It's a lot of work and $$, but we enjoy it :) We charge a $5 fee, but they get a little bento starter kit to keep and to fill it at the workshop :)

Last year we did the 2-tier bento boxes, but this year I decided to save the extra $1 per person and go with the single tiers. They also get the bento bag, an egg mold and a mini onigiri mold to keep and a sauce bottle or two and a pretty pick or two :) I still need to pull out the box of what I already ordered for it and figure out what we still need. I really can't remember if I already ordered the picks and sauce bottles :o I think we'll do that when Kat gets home from school today :)

So far my plan is to boil the eggs ahead of time and place them in the egg molds in the fridge so when they get their egg molds, they get the egg for their bento at the same time :) Last year I purchased an egg cooker to do it on the spot, but it was a bit too messy with the egg peeling etc.

We did the octodogs and crabs ahead of time last year and will again this year. I will also slice carrots and then they can use our cutters on them for flowers etc :) I am hoping to borrow my sister's rice steamer so we can do two batches at once - That combined with the smaller onigiri molds this year will hopefully solve that problem from last year (the rice cooker didn't like doing a new batch immediateky after the first).

I'm still thinking through the rest, and trying to remember what else we did last year. I'm open to suggestions! :D

Now on to today's bento!

Yesterday I started walking with my neighbor when she walks her dog. I had to quickly finish this when after I got back as she arrived right after I began packing it :)

May 27 -- Top Tier: Mixed Spring Greens w/ sliced grilled southwestern chicken breast (still leftovers :), carrot flowers and a few grape tomatoes
Bottom Tier: Raspberries, bold chex mix, macaroni salad w/ cheese flowers and an out of place star, edamame and snow pea stems :)

Kat's Bento:

May 27 -- Top Tier: Mixed spring greens, baby carrots, macaroni salad w/ cheese star and corned beef
Bottom Tier: Raspberries, dried kiwi and edamame

The butterfly bento box was ordered from happymall.com but I have also seen it on ebay often :)

The leaf box, I believe, came from ebay also.

The star cutter came in a set of cutters from pampered chef and the flower cutters were from AC Moore and are by Wilton :)

Simple bento after a long weekend :)

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Weekend (if you're here in the States :)

We had the In-Laws visiting for the weekend, so Rob didn't need a bento for Thurs or Fri and Kat didn't need one Fri. They arrived Thursday and left this morning. It felt like we did nothing but eat all weekend - lol.

In all the running around we did all weekend, we did stop at AC Moore (craft store), where I bought a couple of new cutters - they can be seen in the photo with Rob's bento - haven't used them yet, but plan to soon! :)

For Memorial day, we bought the best hot dogs I have ever tasted in my life :) We also decided to grill chicken breast, which I marinaded in a southwest marinade. I knew we'd have leftovers that I could use this week in Rob's bento on his salad - sure makes it fast and easy to pack :)

This bento only took me maybe 15 minutes :)

May 26 -- Bottom Tier: Mixed Spring Greens w/ southwest marinaded grilled chicken breast left over from Memorial weekend, carrot flowers and a few grape tomatoes
Top Tier: Cole Slaw left over from Harold's Deli over the weekend w/ carrot flowers and cilantro, bold chex mix and fresh raspberries
Light ranch for his salad and strawberry and melon gummies in the lid

Kat's Bento:

Kat says she is going to start following the Weight Watcher's points program online. She has Prom on June 18 and is hoping to lose a couple pounds by then.

May 21 -- Bottom Tier: Babybel light w/ star cutout, Craisins, Walnuts, Baby carrots, raspberries
Top Tier: Broccoli, Fried rice, and 4 quail eggs w/ cute animal picks :)

May 26 -- Botom Tier: Spinach Namul (korean recipe), tamagoyaki, steamed rice
Top Tier: Raspberries, baby carrots and fresh sliced mushrooms

I have been wanting to make a Frittata and bought the spinach and mushrooms mainly for that, but Kat's recipe for the Spinach Namul from her Personal Trainer Cooking Nintendo DS game took the whole bag, so I guess I'll just have to wait to make my Fritatta - and then hope Rob'll eat it in his bento!

The box used for Rob's bento was purchased from ichibankanusa.com under the hakoya bento boxes, but I believe is sold out at this time.

Both of Kat's boxes in today's post came from Ebay.

Ladybugs are back! :)

I realized the other day, when I was doing the Simpsons bento, that I hadn't done the ladybugs again since I got the tiny hole punch - and I pretty much bought it to make those easier - lol :)

I also ran into Sam's Club on my way home from my lunch meeting yesterday, pretty much just to get the salad. They had such beautiful Raspberries, I just had to buy them :) Hopefully they get used before they don't look so good... Unfortunately, I was running late and ended up getting pulled over for speeding :( - thankfully, since my license was clean, the officer only gave me a ticket for an obstructed view for my GPS, but I was even later for my meeting and I can't stand to be late for things!

My boss asked me if Rob hides in a corner when he eats his lunch :P lol - I told him he likes my bento and shows them off, so there! lol

So, anyway, on to the bento!

May 20 -- Bottom Tier: Mixed Greens Salad w/ cucumber flower halves, ham turkey & provolone pinwheels, a star shaped boiled egg and 2 grape tomato roses :)
Top Tier: Macaroni salad topped w/ green onion & 2 grape tomato ladybugs :), Sundried tomato hummus, pineapple and raspberries
Light Ranch dressing in the container & melon and strawberry gummies in the lid

The grape tomato roses idea came from laurabento on the bento lunches community. She has a tutorial that can be found at http://laurabento.livejournal.com/1581.html

I tore the strip from the second tomato into 3 pieces instead of 4 though :)

Close-up of the ladybugs :)
Made from grape tomato halved, nori and sesame seed eyes - honey for 'glue'

Kat's Bento:

May 19 -- Gotta love leftovers!
Bottom Tier: Broccoli, Tandoori chicken and Indian spiced rice (both leftovers from dinner)
Top Tier: Blackberries, Papaya and Pineapple

May 20 -- Japanese Curry, Rice (under the curry), Pineapple, Salad w/ cucumber hearts, craisins and raspberry vinaigrette in the bear bottle :)

The bento box for Rob's lunch is a Hakoya box and came from Ichibankanusa.com, but seems to be sold out at this time.

The bunny Hakoya bento box Kat used is from VeryAsia.com and the Hello Kitty box came from ebay I believe. I bought it because it's microwaveable and even has a vent for that purpose in the lid - too bad she doesn't have a microwave at school! :)

The Simpsons!! :D

I guess I'm feeling more inspired at the moment :) Too bad Rob doesn't need a bento tomorrow - I feel a Calvin and Hobbes coming on... (Been wanting to do it for a while since I keep seeing his Complete Calvin and Hobbes set - lol) - Plus we have the in-laws coming in this weekend (on Thursday), so I probably can't spend another 2 hours on a bento this week :o

May 18 -- Close-up!
Not quite what I had hoped, but I stilll think it came out ok - took WAY too long - I had a hard time finding a cutter to use for the eyes that wasn't too big or small (except for Homer) - Finally it came to me - a straw! :) So I redid the eyes - then I redid the pupils with the division sign from my punch set - the dot puncher I had was a little bigger than I wanted - would still have liked them a little smaller, but they're ok I guess...

May 18 -- Top Tier: Asian Nut Mix, Pineapple, Mac Salad and The Simpsons! made from cheese, tiny piece of ham for Homer, nori, tiny piece of red pepper for Maggie's pacifier and a bit of tortilla for her bow - Marge's hair and Maggie's bow were colored w/ a food marker
Bottom Tier: Mixed Greens Salad w/ ham flower and turkey hidden underneath, red pepper flowers and car shaped boiled egg, sliced and used in halves for less height - dropped it as I was setting it into the box and messed up the layers a little - grrr...
Melon and Strawberry gummies in the lid and he has light ranch dressing for the salad :)

Kat's Bento:

May 18 -- Top Tier: Edamame, Fried Rice, corn cob slice w/ cheese star, broccoli and imitation crab stick
Bottom Tier: Mixed Spring Greens, Blackberries and pineapple and raspberry vinaigrette in the container

Rob's bento for May :D

Woohoo - Almost caught up :D I keep thinking I should really do more of a blog on here and not just post the bento, but I'm really just boring -what would I say? :P I think I'll work backwards this time - didn't think of it on the others - so that the most recent is on top :)

May 15 -- Top Tier: Mixed Spring Greens Salad w/ ham flower petals and turkey hidden underneath them, provolone flowers and a pumpkin shaped boiled egg (2/3 of the egg for space)
Bottom Tier: Pub mix, pecans, Mac Salad w/ grape tomato roses and lettuce leaves
Side box - Bottom Tier: Blackberries, pineapple and strawberries - Top Tier: Cucumber slices, red pepper strips and baby carrots w/ melon and strawberry gummies in the lid
Saw the flower ideas on another bento post and stole it - hehe - needed that inspiration :)

Close-up! :D

May 14 -- Bottom Tier: Mixed Spring Greens, ham turkey and swiss pinwheels and car shaped boiled egg
Top Tier: Mac Salad, raspberry preserves (for the shortbread cookies) and red pepper hummus
Side Car: Pub mix, papaya, blackberries and strawberries
Lorna Doone shortbread cookies and light ranch for his salad (I guess he put the cookies back - not sure what he ate the preserves with! lol)

May 13 -- Bottom Tier: Mixed Spring Green Salad w/ carrot and a babybel w/ star cutout
Top Tier: Mac Salad w/ wax star from babybel, strawberries and blackberries -- melon and strawberry gummies in lid
Sabra Go Cup and the light ranch for his salad - he also had half a whole wheat pita since they don't put enough pretzel chips in the go cup...

May 12 -- Top Tier: Papaya, strawberries and blackberries, red pepper hummus and a rat gummy - hehe :)
Bottom Tier: Mixed Spring Greens Salad w/ carrots and red pepper and imitation crab sticks
Side Car: Macaroni Salad

May 11 -- Bottom Tier: Strawberries and Blackberries
Top Tier: Fajita chicken wrap/burrito, melon and strawberry gummies
Side Car: Mixed Spring Green Salad w/ carrot and red pepper
Small container of homemade guacamole :) (He of course had his light ranch for the salad also)

All packed up - just had to show off my new Onigiri box - even though for Rob it'll be used for sandwiches and wraps etc...:

May 7 -- Bottom Tier: Italian Chicken Panini (store bought - not a real panina - looked like it was done in a pie plate and cut in half - lol - but Rob said it was good), cucumber, baby carrots and red pepper strips
Top Tier: Pub Mix and strawberries and blackberries

May 6 -- Bottom Tier: Tabouleh, baby carrot strips and pineapple
Top Tier: Mac Salad, Sabra red pepper hummus and bold chex mix
Strawberry and kiwi gummies in the lid again and a cup of ranch for the carrots

May 4 -- Bottom Tier: Pineapple, baby carrot strips, deli pinwheels and pub mix
Top Tier: Mac Salad, Tabouleh, mini babybel light and sabra red pepper hummus (also had a whole wheat pita again)
strawberry and kiwi gummies in lid and a little cup of ranch for the carrots

Kat's bento for the first half of May :)

I really have to keep up with this so I don't have to do all of this work at once :P

May 1 -- Top Tier: Pineapple and mac salad
Bottom Tier: Whole wheat pita filled w/ hummus, tabouleh and mixed spring greens, feta and cucumber

May 4 -- Top Tier: Teriyaki chicken, purple kale for decorarion and filler, baby carrots and plain onigiri
Bottom Tier: Apple bunnies, potato and baby corn

May 7 -- Bottom Tier: Namul Spinach (korean recipe from DS light personal trainer cooking game), blackberries, tamagoyaki, apple bunnies and strawberries
Top Tier: Ginger onigiri, octodogs, mango, carrots w/ flower cutouts, asparagus and mustard and ketchup in monkey containers

May 12 -- Top Tier: Shimeji mushrooms, imitation crab sticks, mixed spring greens, uneboshi onigiri, melon candy and soy in bottle
Bottom Tier: Strawberries, papaya and blackberries, Japanese petit pudding and namul spinach

May 13 -- Top Tier: Namul spinach, imitation crab sticks and crab dogs, shimeji mushrooms, mixed spring greens and bean sprout namal
Bottom Tier: Walnuts, Strawberries, Blackberries and papaya

May 14 -- Top (Onigiri) Tier: Onigiri coated w/ furikake, strawberries, blackberries and additional furikake in the monkey
Bottom Tier: Apple bunnies, blackberries, octodogs and bean sprout namul

May 15 -- Bottom Tier: Baby carrots, imitation crab sticks, tomato roses, strawberry flower and blackberries
Top Tier: Tamagoyaki, cucumber, rice topped with shimeji mushrooms and wakame
Single Tier: Mixed spring greens salad w/ cucumbers and dressing in container