Friday, May 30, 2008

Quick and Easy Bentos

Today my husband needed to leave early, so I got everything ready to go last night. I just had to put the boxes together this morning. Nothing to cook (and let cool).

Here's my box:

Clockwise, starting from the top:

I have ground turkey cooked with vegetables (leftover from dinner last night).

In the next tier, I have coriander scented bulgur with a container of Guacamole to eat with the cucumbers.

Finally in the 3rd tier I have cut cucumbers, and lentils in a little heart shaped cup.

My husband has the same foods, but in a differently shaped box:

The ground turkey dish was very simple, I did not follow a recipe, but rather went with what I had on hand.

Basically, I sauteed 1/2 red onion, celery, carrots, sweet potato and asparagus (all of them diced smallish) in a dutch oven, added drained diced tomatoes that I had almost pureed (chunky puree if you will). I added a mix of coriander, garlic granules, salt and pepper.

In the meantime, I added the same spice mix to the ground turkey, added minced green onions and browned that lightly in a separate pan.

I added the turkey to the vegetables, added a little broth and cooked that until everything was done.

The bulgur was just soaked with vegetable broth and spices (salt, pepper, coriander). Et Voila!

Next week I want to give myself another challenge: Cutsy Curse Challenge! The goal being to make my bentos cute! I've been sloppy on that score lately!

So there, have a great weekend!!

Happy Bento Everybody!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

2 days in one!

Ok, so I'm catching up! In this post, I have the bentos I made yesterday, and the ones I made today!

Yesterday first! Tuesday night I had dinner alone since my husband was stuck at work due to an accident on 101. I made myself a simple vegetable curry with Zucchini, tomatoes and beans. I used that along with whatever I could find in the fridge to fill our bentos Wednesday morning:

Seen up close, here's my box:

In the lower tier (left): there's steamed broccoli and shredded carrots, and cucumber-lean ham skewers.

In the top tier I have the vegetable curry, red bell pepper pieces, and a container of guacamole.

Here's my husband's box:

It doesn't show on the picture really, but his pieces of ham on the skewers were about double mine, and he had more steamed veggies too! Otherwise, he had the exact same lunch I did.

I always add a little bag of baby carrots to his lunch, and a banana for snack.

Today I didn't have anything ready to go, so I went fishing for bento fare in the freezer and got inventive. Here's my box:

In the top tier (left) I have round Onigiri on cucumber slices, and a little cup of lentils. The red pieces are diced red bell pepper I put in for color.

In the lower tier (right) I had steamed broccoli, red bell pepper pieces and shredded carrots. In the little cup I had black beans, lentils cooked in BBQ sauce to which I added TJ Tomato-less corn salsa after it was off the fire (about a tablespoon).

I cooked the beans and lentil real quick in the morning and it was delicious! There's a lot of lentils in the bentos today, but I wanted to use up the ones I had before they go bad.

My husband's box was the exact same thing as mine. Here it is:

So there, I've been back on the bento wagon, just didn't have time to post much. I fine myself going more and more toward vegetarian bentos, adding ham or Canadian bacon here and there when the vegetarian fare is not high enough in proteins.

I just find vegetarian fare easier to deal with. There isn't the issue of contaminating everything like there is with chicken for example. That's a good thing when you're in a hurry in the morning.

For dinner tonight I made ground turkey with vegetables. I have a lot of leftovers so be assured that you'll get some turkey bentos soon! :o)

Happy Bento everybody!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Late Start Bento and Guac madness!

Today I had a late start due to not sleeping well. I didn't have time to make a bento for my husband, since he left just after I finally got up. The poor guy is in a crunch at work, if he ever needed good food... Oh well.

I did take the time to make myself a box. I've been reeving up my eating well and moving routine, and I'm enjoying myself a lot doing it.

Here's my box today:

Starting at the top, clockwise, I have steamed lentils (from Trader Joes), canned chickpeas and red kidney beans that I cooked in a non-stick skillet with salsa*.

In the next tier I have pieces of red bell pepper with a container of guacamole.

Finally, I have my now usual steamed veggies with salt, pepper, and cilantro.

I haven't had lunch yet, so I don't know how filling it will be, I shall report about it eventually!

*I had left overs that didn't fit in my box and added better n egg with the bean salsa mix and cooked that. YUMMY breakfast!

Yesterday we stopped by Trader Joes and I bought some more guacamole. Here's the brand I buy:

I absolutely love that guacamole. It's made with avocado (imagine that!) and jalapeno puree, white vinegar, jalapeno (huh? again?), dehydrated onion, salt, and granulated garlic. That's it! No ingredients that I can't pronounce of find in a normal dictionary!

So, I love that guacamole, but my problem is that it's in 2 containers of 8 oz each. Too much for me and my husband to eat at once, or even fast. My solution is to open those containers, and repack in smaller ones. I can then thrown them in the freezer, and thaw out just what I need!

Here's my containers (out of a 2 pack package):

Each container is enough for 2 bentos and a little snack (or 3 bento!). Funny thing is I didn't realize I still had left over from my last Guacamole expedition, so we'll be eating a lot of guac. this summer! Hehehehe

Happy bento everyone!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Final installment of my "new box everyday" challenge! Today I decided to use my "Donburi box" that my husband bought me for my birthday!

Here it is, the picture is a little washed off I think, but still:

It's a two tier box, made with a bowl (usually for rice) and a smaller top tier (usually for saucy stuff to dump on the rice.

For some weird reason I was very intimidated by that box. I didn't know how to work with it, other than curry with a grain. So I didn't do that today, just to be stubborn about it!

I did my husband's box first since he had to leave in a hurry:

He has Confetti Bean Salad, with cucumber and shredded carrots in the lower tier.

In the top tier he has steamed broccoli and left over roasted chicken that I coated with Mexican hot sauce. He bought that stuff last week and says he loves it so there!

In the lower tier of my box, I have half brown rice, and half Confetti Bean Salad. This picture doesn't do it justice because it looks like there is more rice, but there isn't. It was exactly the same and even. Humpf!

In the top tier I have steamed broccoli (with Garam Masala) , cucumber slices and ham!

Yup, those butterflies are ham, I used my cookie cutter, and made 6 little butterfly out of a thick ham slice and put them on a skewer! I didn't really need extra proteins, but I decided to try it out for taste and because I had a cutsy attack. Neat huh?

So there you go, all packed up and ready to go!

I've really enjoyed this, and now I'm looking forward to making more bento since I've seen all the possibilities of my many boxes!

Ah! Watch me go, the Cutsy Curse will never die!

Happy Bento Everybody!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Another day, another box!

Ok, today we had planned a picnic, but it didn't happen, so I turned my picnic goodies into bento goodies! My husband doesn't have a box, since we were supposed to eat that picnic together. Darned schedule!

Today I decided to use the very first bento I've bought. It's a small 2 tier bento, I usually use it as a snack bento since I've always felt like it was too small for a meal. WRONG! I had plenty of food in there, and it was delicious!

Here's my box:

In the top tier, on the left, I have left over roasted chicken shredded. With that I have cucumber slices. Nothing fancy.

In the lower tier, on the right, I have Confetti Bean Salad, with avocado slices on top.

Since the box is a little smaller, I went for "filling foods" like beans, and avocado, with proteins to keep me going with less food.

Here's my box closed. I like that it's all red with no decoration. I bought it at Ichiban Kan for like $1.50.

I wanted to give an idea of how small the box really is. Here it is, bundled up (no cooler bag, just the box) in my hand. See? It's tiny!

I'm really happy I decided to do this "different box each day" thing. It's forcing me to think and making me realize how versatile my boxes are. I'm having a blast with this!

To think I was always using the same box every day! This is so much fun!

Happy Bento Everybody!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Yesterday's Bentos

I didn't put together any Bento today. I was not working, though I'm working tonight though, and my husband didn't need one, so I flaked out of it.

I did make some yesterday though, and kept up with my "try a new box each day" challenge! Yesterday I used my 2 tier black box, that I bought at Sokko Hardware in Japantown. I love that box because it's perfect to pack a salad along with a side dish and proteins. Most boxes are too small for salads.

Here's what I had:

In the smaller lower tier (which is divided) I have leftover tabbouleh surrounded with cucumber slices, just to make it pretty. I also have leftover Turkish Meatballs.

In the top tier I have a salad made with lettuce, red bell pepper, chickpeas, and shredded carrots.

Here's my box closed. Isn't it cool? The decorations on it reflects the light in all sorts of cool ways!

Here's another picture:

See the butterfly on the right? Cool huh?

Here's my husband's box:

He's not big on salad, besides I have only one salad friendly box, so I made him steamed veggies, and cut pepper pieces instead. He still has the tabbouleh, surrounded by cucumbers and the Turkish Meatballs.

Tomorrow I'm going to see what I can come up with. I had not planned on working tonight so I'll have to be creative in the morning.

I think I'll be using my Donburi box, I do have curry in the freezer, and rice that I can make really quick. We'll see what happens!

Happy Bento everybody!

Monday, May 19, 2008

New Day, New Bento

In continuation with my exploration of different bento box shapes, I decided to use my comfy, regular 2 tier bentos. I use those regularly, so I have an easy time packing them up effectively.

Here's today's fare:

In the top tier (320 ml) I have left over Tabbouleh, that I made Sunday, and left over Vegetarian curry that I made Saturday.

In the lower tier (250 ml) I have steamed broccoli and shredded carrots with cilantro and Turkish Meatballs. I made a divider with little cucumber sticks! Isn't it cute?

I also brought a snack bento. Fruit salad with a little container of honey.

My husband has the exact same lunch as mine. His cucumber divider looks more cool because it's all twirly! His box is the same as mine, just a different color. I also have the red version of that box.

Now that my favorite box format is used, the rest of the week should be interesting! I think tomorrow I'm going for several smaller boxes since I work all day and then again at night. I need a snack, a lunch, and another snack (before my second job). We'll see what I can come up with!

Happy Bento everyone!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Starting my week

This week I want to try something out!

I have several differently shaped bentos, but somehow I always use the same format. So this week I want to use a different box every day. I don't know that I have 6 different "format" of boxes, but at least not two days in a row the same box shape. We'll see how that goes!

Today I needed a breakfast bento, like every Sunday. I had some stuff to play with, and kept it very simple. Here's what my box looked like:

I used my round box that I bought at Kamei while Mom was in town. It has 3 separately removable containers which divides the box in 3 equal parts. I'm really falling in love with that box, it's simple, and yet very versatile.

Clockwise, starting on top:

1st tier: I have sliced cucumbers and a container of Baba ghannouj that I bought at the Farmer's Market in Santa Rosa.

2nd tier: I have a layer of rather plain bulgur and 2 hard boiled eggs (small ones) halved (I had to cut one of the half to make it fit in without mushing them up).

3rd tier: I have steamed broccoli and shredded carrots with salt, pepper, and cilantro.

It was very tasty, and very filling. I didn't have lunch until 1pm, and I wasn't starving in any way.

Tomorrow, I'll be eating leftovers. It was so good tonight, it's got to be good again tomorrow!!

Happy Bento everybody!

Friday, May 16, 2008

My first "Sushi Bowl"... kind of...

Today I'm home, so I made my bento and ate it right away. I wanted to try and make a "Sushi Bowl" but I didn't want to use rice. So here's what I did:

I used my "round box" I got from Kamei (didn't want to use my cute Donburi box that my husband got me for my birthday cause I didn't want it to smell like shrimp). I removed the 3 containers that usually divides it to make it work.

1- I put a layer of Bulghur that I soaked with chicken broth, salt and pepper. Ideally you want to use sushi rice, but I felt rebellious today! ;op

2- On top of that, I put pieces of avocado, spread over the whole surface. After slicing the avocado, I coated it in lime juice to keep it green.

3- Then I sliced a mini-cucumber and halved half of the slices. I stood those half-rounds between the avocado pieces to add dimension to the whole thing (thanks to the WW Core board for the english lesson AND entertainment LOL). I put the rounds here and there wherever there was space left, covering some, but not all, of the avocado. (I wanted both the cucumber and avocado to show through).

4- I sprinkled shredded carrots over the whole thing (for color).

5- I placed steamed shrimps over the whole thing, spacing them enough to see the layers under them. It'd be better with slightly smaller shrimps, but I had only those (I buy them frozen at Costco).

I love to eat food that makes me happy. I'm not talking about eating a chocolate cake to "feed my sorrow" but I'm talking about "fun foods" that looks and tastes neat!

That bento would be a great carry around box if it was given time to cool completely before closing!

I did make a bento yesterday, but forgot to take a picture! :o( I had like 2 minutes to put it together and go.

I used my 2 tier red longish box(I have 3 of those, a yellow one, a blue one that my husband uses, and a red one). There wasn't anything overly inspiring in it, but still! I had 3 small rice balls over lettuce, the rest of my tiny eggs boiled and halved (so cute! I'm out!) and veggies with guacamole.

Ah the life of a sub teacher! Bento on, my friends, bento on!

Happy bento!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday & Wednesday

Busy busy! Yesterday I was at school from 7 to 3:15 and then at WW from about 4:30 to 6:30 and then at the gym. Got home at about 9!

So, I did make bentos, but didn't have time to post. So here's yesterday and today's bentos in one post!

Yesterday we had yummy left overs, so I used that:

I had Ginger Chicken Yakitori (Sizzle It, WW) in the little pink container, I had cilantro pesto. With that in my top tier, I had my Corn, Black beans, and Mango Salsa.

In the lower tier, I had steamed broccoli, carrot and cucumber sticks, lentils, and a container of guacamole.

I knew it was going to be a long day, so I packed a snack bento:

I had in there diced plum, and honey dew melon, with a container of yogurt sweetened with honey.

My husband's box was exactly the same as mine, but in different colors. I just made them together in line:

He did not need a snack bento so I didn't make him one.

Today was a different story! I had very little time to get stuff together, very little left overs, and my regular bentos were dirty. I decided it was the perfect time to try my round box I got at Kamei:

Clockwise, starting at the top:

First tier: I divider that 1/3 container in 3. I put in steamed broccoli, Corn, Black Bean and Mango Salsa in the middle and lentils on the right. I didn't put any dividers, and it was still visibly divided when I ate at noon! Cool!

Second tier: I removed the container to add space, and used a lettuce leaf as a container, I put a round rice ball in there.

Third tier: I put carrots and cucumber sticks with a container of pesto.

It looks like a lot, but it really wasn't so I brought along a thermos with vegetable soup to complete the meal.

My husband's box was a little different:

In the top tier, he had steamed broccoli, a rice ball resting on lettuce (keeps it from sticking to the box) and deli turkey skewers (I used my little animal skewers!).

In the lower tier, he had carrot and cucumber sticks, pesto (like the salsa, it's all gone), and lentils.

I didn't think he had enough food, but he has access to food at work if needed so he must have been fine. He just said it was enough food. Oh well!

So that's two days of bento at our house! I need to pack up two bentos for myself tomorrow. Lunch is only at 1:04 pm, I'll need a snack to make it that late!

I'll post tomorrow night!

Happy Bento!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Yummy leftovers!

We've been cooking this weekend and ended up with wonderful leftevers for the Bento. Here's our boxes for today:

Both boxes have the same foods exactly, I filled them together.

In the top tier, there's leftover pork roast, cooked in sweet jalapeƱo chutney. Also there is steamed lentils (from TJ) and steamed broccoli. In the little container I have cilantro pesto I bought at the Farmers Market Saturday.

In the lower tier, there's Corn, black beans and mango salsa, and grilled asparagus (leftover from last night). I put sushi rice between the two so the asparagus wouldn't get soggy.

Here's my box up close:

Here's my husband's box, same thing, different colors:

To help out with the pictures, I got myself a tripod!!!! I think it's helping a lot! I'm also studying my camera to try and learn how to use it fully. If that doesn't work, I have a camera in mind that might work better (but that I haven't managed to justify with my husband yet ;op). So keep posted, I'm hoping to get the pictures looking better as I go! :o)

So, that's my bento adventure for today! It was very good, and I think looked good also!

Happy Bento everyone!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Oops, swam too long!

This morning I went to the gym and after my "regular" cardio, I went for a swim. I hadn't counted in the time it takes to put on the swimsuit and everything, or the shower time at the end (when I don't swim I take a shower at home). I got home at 7!

So, I had like 5 minutes to put the bentos together cause my husband had to go to work! I had leftover couscous and roasted veggies, that's it, so I went digging in the fridge.

Here's my box:

Top left corner (top tier) you can see rather plain couscous, it's curried lightly, but had it with spicy food last night so it's not too spicy. In the same tier, you have the roasted yellow carrots and asparagus. I added Canadian Bacon on skewers. I only have 3 slices, but on skewers like that it looks like a lot doesn't it? I added a tomato to keep stuff in place.

In the lower tier, I have steamed lentils (TJ) and cut up honey dew melon. In the little yellow container, I have honey to pour on the melon.

My husband's box is a little different, here's what it looks like:

In the top tier (left) he has the same couscous, and I made his skewers with mesquite turkey slices instead of Canadian bacon. He also has the roasted veggies (hidden under the skewers). Half hidden on the left is cheese sticks, I don't even know what kind. He had leftover of a block of cheese, and I cut thick sticks out of it.

In the lower tier, he has steamed lentils, cut up yellow carrots, and raisins for dessert.

My husband was quite sick for the last few days, so I boosted the proteins a little to give him strength since it's his first day back to work.

I have to say that with the time I had to put this together, I'm pretty happy with how the boxes turned out. The cutsy curse never ends! :o)

Happy Bento everyone!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A week in a post!

Hello there! I'm baaaaaaaack!

I had visitors last week and was out of town most of the week. The few days that I was actually here, I was running all over the county. Offaaah!

There hasn't been much time for bento making. I did make a bento for my husband on the monday. It was fairly simple, but I had 3 extra people in my tiny condo!

Here's my husband's box for monday April 28th:

He had 2 boiled eggs, couscous with peppers and onions, steamed broccoli and sliced mini peppers and cut up red bell pepper and cucumber.

We like eggs a lot, and this Monday (the 5th) my friend gave me "real eggs"! She has chickens at home (more pets than "farm animals" believe me) and she gave me 12 tiny eggs! Here's one of them in a mini muffin silicon cup. It's been boiled and cut in half (the fork beside it is one of those small salad fork, not a big "normal" fork):

Those fresh eggs taste so much better than store bought eggs! It's like being back home eating eggs from my dad's chickens! I love it! They are also tiny, so perfect for bentos! I know her chickens aren't laying eggs all year round, I'm already looking around for other sources for "real eggs"!

Ok, back to bentos. My birthday was this week, and I got 2 boxes as gifts! One in a red Donburi box that my husband ordered from Japan (I love it!) and the other one is a big "family size" bento that my friend (same one who gave me the eggs!!) gave me. Before my birthday I stopped by Kamei and bought myself a round box with dividers to use as a Donburi (didn't know I had one coming!) that will be useful too!

Here's all 3 of them:

My red Donburi box is really neat! It has a top compartment that rests on the black lid, and a main compartment under that. It also has a little container with a lid to put condiments n stuff, and a sauce bottle (which is huge... hmm).

My 2 favorite feature of that box is that the top compartment isn't the lid, it rests on the lid. That way, if I want to microwave it, it's not gummy under it. I'm fuffy that way.

Another really cool thing is that there's a little plastic "grill" at the bottom that can be removed. I love to eat a lot of salads and veggies, so that gives a little "drainage" feature so that the bottom doesn't get all soggy!

My next box is my divided round box. I got it "el cheapos" at Kamei. It's cool because each divider is a little container, and can be removed! I love that. The lady at Kamei told me it could be microwaved. The trick at Kamei is to keep the questions simple (they generally don't speak english too well) so I pointed at it "Microwave ok?" there you go!

I also like the look of a white box with a clear lid. It doesn't take very good pictures, but it looks good. It's perfect for colorful fruits... makes them pop!

Finally there's my bento "platter"! Funny thing is, when I opened the box, my reaction was "OMG, it's huge!" and my friend went "Yeah I know!" I don't think she expected it to be that big. At first I was wondering what I would do with it, but once I opened it, I fell in love!

It's obviously too big for a "lunch bento" but it's perfect for a picnic, a potluck, a BBQ with friends! the little dividers you see in one of the tiers are all little containers and are removable. They also fit in both tier (on some bentos one tier is taller than the other) so you can put 2 in one and 3 in the other. Perfect for dips, for sauces, for serving salad with dressing, different grains!

Now I can carry my bento mania even to parties!

So that's what has been going on. I made onigiri yesterday and froze them, I'm planning on making Oyakis sometime this week and will get ready to be back to work full time next week.

About time. My husband is home sick and I'm not working so no need for bentos really. After all the restaurant eating though, I think I'll be cooking all week!

Until then I'll try and make some bentos for us when I have a minute.

Happy Bento everyone!