Monday, December 14, 2009

Slowly getting into the grove.

Hi there,

Following a expansion of my schedule (oh my... understatement!) lunch has become a challenge. My work has me working at lunchtime which means that I have the choice between lunch at 11, which is too early, or at 3, which is too late!

To fix this, and keep me from eating junk on my way home, I've started packing my lunch again. Slowly but surely my trusty bentos are coming out more and more often.

Here's 2 different days of bento packing:

This is last week sometime. I didn't have much leftovers to work with so I just made it up on the spot.

This is my box, I had chicken breast, which I baked for Thanksgiving, sliced packed and froze in 1 serving package to use in lunches. I wasn't sure if sliced chicken would freeze well. It was fine! I wouldn't leave it forever in there, but it tasted just fine!

Which that I have steamed carrots and peas, rather plain couscous, and steamed lentils (TJ!). A simple but very filling lunch!

My husband's lunch was a little different:

He has the same veggies, but less couscous and chicken, so I added 4 felafel's. I bought those at Costco a while ago and froze them. They keep forever.

Honestly I don't like them much, but my husband seems to love them.

Today was a little more leftovers happy! My husband bought precooked chicken yesterday and we sauteed that with carrots and zucchini sticks. With that I steamed vegetables and made couscous with carrots and onions.

That's what I have in my box here:

On the left there is the chicken with the carrot/zucchini sticks. On the right is the couscous. I covered both tiers with the steamed zucchini rounds and the carrots slices that I cut into flower shapes. Purty ain't it?

The cutsy-curse strikes again! I actually felt pretty good sitting around in Oakland eating my little lunch. It also filled me up so I wasn't tempted by the delicious goodies from the bakery at the Montgomery Bart Station. Hmmmmm

So there, I am still bento-ing. It's not always this pretty, but being so busy does that it's advantages, I HAVE TO organize myself!


Happy Bento everybody!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Leftovers

I’m still around making bentos, though not as often as I would like to. I am also doing simpler lunches mostly made with leftovers rather than taking the time to cook for bento-making. For that reason I rarely bother taking pictures of my lunches, as I don’t think they are “picture worthy”. That goes along with my new phase of “KISS” (keep it simple stupid).

Still the whole goal behind having a lunch blog was to share ideas and encourage people to just make the little extra effort to pack their lunch. It’s not complicated, and it doesn’t take long. Even Leftovers can look pretty!

Yesterday I had good leftovers to work with, and the box ended up looking rather cute, so I decided to share it with you. I used my 3 tier bento. That’s a good one when you have dishes that stand on their own.

In the top tier I have diced pork tenderloin. I bought it at Trader Joes, it came pre-marinated (cracked pepper and garlic) and all you have to do is brown it, and then put it in the over for a bit. Nothing easier and so good!

The yellow container has hummus (also from Trader Joes).

Going clockwise, the tier on the right has cut cucumber and carrots, that simple! I cut them to eat with the hummus the previous night and had leftovers.

Pre-cut veggies can have a little bit of a texture issue, so I rinsed them in cold water and patted them dry before packing them. They were just fine when I ate them!

On the lower left tier I had my new favorite grain: Quinoa! I can't believe it took me so long to try it, I love that stuff! It's good hot, cold, with veggies, spiced up, bland with a sauce. Awesome!

This time around I sautéed diced vegetables, added chicken broth, quinoa, salt pepper, cumin, cinnamon and oregano (I think) and cooked it until the broth was gone. That easy!

It was a very satisfying lunch, and kept me going for the rest of the day!

Happy Bento everybody!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Didn't go fast did I?

Ok, ok, I'm back to blogging. It's been a long time, and I blame it on not being able to figure out "Gimp" my picture fudging software.

Truth be told, I was a little burned out on talking about food. I work for Weight Watchers, I cook for a hobby, I do bentos for the fun of it... food food food! So I got lazy, and a little heavy, and here I am! Back to my bentos. I missed them!

This doesn't mean I didn't do ANY bentos. I did, but generally they weren't very good looking, or I didn't have the camera around, or it was in the living room and I didn't want to walk that far (AH!) you know...

Here's the bento from April 24th. They were my last "custy" bentos made with the leftovers from the Chicken Wrap with Mango, Basil, and Mint that I had made the previous night.

So I had the chicken/mango mixture, with I think brown rice, steamed peas, cut pepper and raisins. Simple, and I remember it being very good as a cold leftover. :o)

My husband had the same thing exactly.

The rest of April and all of May were very sad "bento-wise" so I won't bore you with any of it. Fast forward to this week:

Monday June 8th:

I have discovered that our favorite Indian place, Great India on Geary st at 25th Avenue, not only makes great food and delivers for free, but they also will sell you a full Tandoori chicken for less than 15$! The half is 10$, so for 5 more you get double! AH!

Tandoori chicken is perfect bento fare, so that's what I did. Tandoori chicken with cucumber and tomato salad (also leftovers from Great India). I cut some extra cucumber because I didn't have enough food.

The little bottle has extra dressing from the salad which I didn't need.

I would have done better with some grains to be honest, but there wasn't enough rice left, and I didn't really have time to make anything. I was working in Santa Rosa that day. At 7:45am!

In case you didn't notice, my box is brand new! From Daiso, it's the same as my "basic boxes" but square! I can't wait to play with foods in there. Monday's lunch was more about throwing the food in there, than about making it cute.

Since I was out all day, I also made a snack box:

Blueberries on the left, cantaloupe on the right, and the two little containers have honey. I ended up using only one. It was plenty!

I don't use my snack box very often, but I love it. Isn't it cute? It's very small so it fits pretty much anywhere.

Dan had more to lunch with than I did, and it gave me the occasion to use my other new box. I've been drooling over that set since I first looked at the Lunch In a Box Blog. I couldn't find it anywhere. This weekend we went to Ichiban Kan and there it was! But it was 22$.

I promised myself a while ago that I would not put more than 10$ on a box, and even that would have to be a really special one. I was totally torn, but my enabler husband told me to get it since he could see that I really liked it. So I did!

Here's his Indian Bento:

In the insulated container (middle) he has Chicken Makhni with a "rice lid". I've seen other Bento-makers do that and wanted to give it a try. As you can see, seepage occurred, but I think it still kept the curry from drying up.

In the little containers there is the rest of the Jasmin rice (left) and tandoori chicken (right).

See how it all packs up perfectly? It ends up packing quite a bit of food, but it looks tiny. I love it!

And all closed up and everything, it's very cute, but not "girly" so my husband can use it. Not that it bothers him, happy to say that he's confident enough in his "manhood" to take my custy attack with patience if not enthusiasm.

Today's boxes:

We didn't have any leftovers, though I did soak some bulgur last night to use today.

Left: I have bulgur (simple with salt and pepper) with tomato-cucumber-lettuce salad, and clover sprouts.

If you made a face reading sprouts here's something to think about: Alfalfa sprouts taste like you're chewing on the lawn. That's the one that turns off most people to sprouts. Clover sprouts are a lot tastier and sweeter. Taste different kind before you write them off!

Right: Steamed lentils (TJ), a boiled egg (showing only the good side of it, I can't cook eggs... how lame) and a mix of strawberries and blueberries.

My husband has the same foods, just a little more of it:

He has bulgur and salad (minus the lettuce and the sprouts, he's not crazy about either) on the left side. On the right he has lentils, an egg, strawberries and blueberries. I added a Mini Babybel cheese as always.

So that's that. I'm excited to be bento-ing again. It doesn't take much really, it's to get started that is the hardest.

Happy Bento Everybody!!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

All organized and ready to go!

So, after making bentos yesterday, I decided it was time to organize my gear once and for all. Yesterday we stopped at Target and bought baskets to go in my unit I had bought when we first moved a month ago.

I took out all of my boxes and washed every single one of the 15 sets that I use for food. I have a few decorative ones that I don't put food in, those are another story.

After that I had to fit all of it on my little unit. Here's what it looks like:

The unit itself was super cheap at Kmart. The baskets are from Target, about 13 dollars each, which is more than I wanted to pay, but I like them so... there.

I still have my spice boxes for the little stuff. I managed to empty one by reorganizing everything. I'm pretty happy about that because one of the box was bent and difficult to open. Not cool early in the morning.

The purple box is from a pair of flats I bought a few weeks ago. I thought the box was pretty, and it's the perfect size, so there.

I used that box to put the "over flow" of stuff. Extra things that don't fit anywhere else. I overbought a little last year because I didn't have easy access to Ichiban Kan and Daiso. Of course, now it's not a problem anymore! So happy!

The top drawer has the spice boxes with the stuff I use less, my bento cloths, bags and insulated bags.

The middle drawer has the boxes I use the most. Most of them are microwave safe and leak proof (well mostly).

Finally the last drawer has my fuffier, less user-friendly boxes and those I just use less.

Notice that there is space for more in there, not that I WOULD buy more, of course I wouldn't, just that if I came across a very interesting box, I COULD fit it in there if needed. ;op

I'm pretty happy with my storage solution for my bentos. It's a lot of little things, and in a small place, I needed a compact, easy to work with solution. I think I got it.

Now I feel like I'm home... ;o)

Happy Bento Everybody!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

I found my Bentos!!!

Hello there!

Offaah, nothing like moving to throw you totally off your routine! I've been taking a vacation, but enough is enough. If I want to take another vacation sometimes, I have to get back to the grind.

So today, I reconnected with work (I'm alive guys, really!) and took out my bento stuff! Since we moved on March 8th, I've tried to make a few bentos, but it didn't really work. Without my cutsy tools it's not nearly as much fun. Still I did make a few, here's two mentionable ones:

Ok, I know, it's Tupperware, not a bento! I was trying to "think bento" and see how I could pack a lunch for my husband since we had such good leftovers. Clockwise starting to the top left corner:

Shredded Green Beans, with lemon-lime zest and snipped chives
, bell pepper pieces, leek-potato soup, Red kidney beans with jalapeno link (TJ).

In the middle is a tomato dip I bought from the Pakistani guy who's trying to pass himself off as Indian at the Ferry building Farmers market.

I packed the whole thing in a cooler bag with my husband's trusty snack: a banana!

This was on Monday April 13th: Falafel (Costco, I freeze them), carrots and cucumber pieces, precooked lentils (TJ), bulgur, steamed peas and leftovers tomato-onion dip (from Great India... well, they deliver!).

Notice that I signed my work on that one with a big W on the bulgur. I was just cracking up saying "Dude, I've lost my mind!"

Today I had delicious leftovers to work with, and I wanted lunch to look good. So I trotted out my bento stuff, and made "real bentos".

Vegetables: I have flower shaped carrots and cucumber. The bits and pieces that were left from the cutting are mixed in a salad that is under the flowers!

I also have steamed broccoli and peas leftover from last night. I had no broth, so I put garlic powder and rosemary in the water. Very tasty.

Grain: I have a very simple citrus couscous with rosemary.

Proteins: I made Orange chicken last night. It was delicious and since the thighs were small, no need to cut them up to fit in the box!

This is my lunch ready to go! I had planned on having lunch on the beach, but it's already very hot and I'm sunburned from the weekend, so I'll skip for today. The bulge on the right is an orange, my new obsession.

My husband has exactly the same lunch. He does have 2 chicken thighs because he's a big boy and needs more food than I do.

So there we are! Back to bento making! We're having dinner out so bento making might be complicated tomorrow, but I'll figure it out.

Happy Bento Everybody!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Random Bentos since mid January

Hello there,

We're still moving, only a few days to go. I decided that the "new look" of the blogs wasn't working for me, so I stripped the whole thing down and will rework it when I can breathe again after we're all moved.

In the meantime I've been taking pictures of Bentos here and there and decided to post those here. Unfortunately I don't remember the dates or details of most Bentos I took picture of, it's been crazy around here, but here they are:

This is a Bento I did after one of my "Whole Food expedition". I bought this funky broccoli that is all spiky and spirally. I love it! With that I have cucumber flowers, sliced strawberries, precooked chicken (that you can buy in the deli section of any grocery store) and a broiled Onigiri.

Oh and there's also clover sprouts under the Onigiri! I don't like Alfafa but I like clover sprouts!

My husband has the same thing with a wedge of laughing cow light added. He also have a little more chicken and an extra Onigiri.

This one I'm not so sure. I know that I had made a sort of chicken and bean dish with carrots. I couldn't define is precisely. It was good though! With that I have brown rice. It was a last minute no time to think Bento and it shows.

My husband has the same thing with two Mini Babybel cheese.

That was a sad Bento day...

This is my husband's "Fortune Bento" #1. I made it after I packed my Bento gear so he's got an aluminum foil container in there. I'm trying to find more interesting ways of taking pictures. Bear with me I'm having fun!

He's got leftover baked chicken, cucumber edamame salad, 2 broiled Onigiri and 2 Mini Babybel light cheese.

Finally! This is another Fortune Bento ("Bento de Fortune" in French, which mean something made with whatever you can do with whatever you have). He has leftover steak with a corn/bean salad, couscous, carrot sticks and a mini Babybel cheese.

There you have it! I'm still bento-ing, though not as much as I should. Soon I'll be able to set a new routine for myself, and I'll be close to all the interesting shops on Clement st!

Happy Bento Everybody!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Announcement - Announcement - Announcement

Hi Everybody!

Between my laptop being down, the apartment hunt, and now packing, I have been unable to post on either blog.

I have made a few Bento Boxes (though not many) and have been up and about, but I will get back to my regular schedule hopefully soon.

At the worst, I should be done moving by the second week of Mars. I'm hoping to be able to get back to posting before that, but that hopefully.

Keep on keeping on!!! I will soon be sharing my San Francisco adventures!!!!

I am so excited! Be good n stuff


Saturday, January 17, 2009

A New Look!

Well dear readers, here you have it! Willow's Home finally got it's very own look!

I have wanted to give Willow's Lifestyle and Willow's Bento Box a look that is my own ever since I started them, but I needed help.

It took some nagging, but Mister Willow (actually my husband Dan Ross) finally decided today that he would sit down and do it. The spice background and the spice lettering are made from a photo I took and that Dan transformed into lettering and background.

There will be other upgrades and creations as time goes by, but the basis of what I want my blogs to look like is there. Finally!

A great huge loving thank you to Dan for taking the time to do it (and putting up with me in the process ;op).

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ending the week well

Thursday I had the day to myself along with Grace (my dog). I decided that it was more than time to get outside and play together. We both needed it.

I was going eat at a cafe somewhere, but realized that I had plenty of leftovers to work with, so I made a bento out of odds and ends I had in the fridge.

Here's my box:

Grains: I had cinnamon scented couscous.

Vegetables: I had steamed broccoli stem, and precooked edamame (Trader Joes). I added steamed lentils (Trader Joes) to that.

Proteins: I had the rest (finally) of the pork roast. It was delicious, but I was getting very sick of it!

Others: I cut up a pineapple Wednesday to put in the chicken salsa dish and had leftovers. I put those in as a "side dish/dessert".

I went to a Weight Watchers meeting, and then to the dog park. I ate my bento there, and had a few dogs roaming around me. Apparently, there were volunteers to help me out with my pork if needed. ;op

Today (friday) I made Sushi Bowls for dinner (see my Lifestyle blog for details) and with the leftover rice I made Broiled Onigiris:

Those are now in the freezer ready for a coming bento! I hadn't made those in a while, and they are goooood!

Happy Bento Everybody!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Don't tell me I have an hour!

This morning I'm not working, again. Kinda depressing, but it gives me time to do useful things, like... well, useful things!

I didn't have anything prepared really for the bentos, just leftover pork roast. As I made a comment about "Gee, i need some time this morning" my husband said "Well, I'm not leaving for another hour".

Oh yeah? Cutsiness attack! I took out some vegetable cutters and had some fun:

Grains: I have about 1/2 cup of the quick couscous I made with chicken broth, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cinnamon. I love Couscous for those "I got nothing" mornings because it's so fast. I added a cut out red bell pepper flower to make it look cute.

Proteins: I made little sticks with 2oz of the never ending pork roast. It is delicious! I had sushi last night so I'm not tired of this pork yet.

Vegetables: I have steamed broccoli. I put some mirin in the water, we'll see how it goes. I had orange blossom water in the water last time, but my husband thought it was a little too strong (I love it so there!).

I also have red pepper and cucumber salad. I cut flowers out of red bell pepper and out of cucumber, and diced the "leftovers" to make the main salad. I covered it with the flowers. Cute huh?

My husband has the same foods, but a little more. The only difference is that I added a leaf of lettuce under his pork sticks to make it look better.

He has twice as much couscous, and about 3.5 oz of pork. He has a little less vegetable though so I added a little bag of baby carrot and a banana to his lunch.

I used a bento cloth to hold everything together. The cooler bag with the bento is in there as well as the banana and the baby carrot bag.

There you have it, another day of bento!

Happy Bento Everybody!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Loving Leftovers!

Today is another leftovers day. As I explained in my Lifestyle Blog, I'm trying very hard to simplify my life by cooking once for 2+ meals. So far, it's pretty darned tasty!

Here's today's boxes:

Grains: I have leftover Chicken-Sausage-Rice casserole. It will need to be reheated, which is not usual for me since I like to pack cold lunches, but I knew I was not teaching today so it's ok. ;op

The grain is Trader Joes frozen brown rice. The whole process from the pouch to the casserole is explained in my Lifestyle Blog.

Proteins: I have the chicken and sausage in the Rice casserole, I also added a little be of edamame and steamed lentils. Both sold fully prepared at Trader Joes.

Vegetables: I have steamed broccoli, lettuce and baby carrots.

I'm having a blueberries-apple butter phase. What can I say, it's delicious! The apple butter is in the little yellow bear container.

My husband has exactly the same foods, so I won't bother to repeat myself. His portions are bigger because, as stated many times, he's 6'2", he needs food!

I tried to play with colors a little more today to have the boxes more visually interesting. Of course that rice casserole is not pretty, I noticed, but it's good!

Happy Bento Everybody!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Breakfast Bento and a New Start!

I started 2009 running backward due to a flu that hit me between the eyes on the way home from my vacation. I'm feeling better now, and am ready to get going.

So, today was weigh-in day (down 2.8 lbs YAY!) and my first breakfast bento:

Proteins: Last night my husband hard boiled 2 eggs (well 3, but one exploded Woah!). This morning I removed the yolks (to cut down on fat and calories) and chopped the whites. I salted and peppered, et voila! Proteins for few calories!

Fruits: I washed about 3/4 cups of blueberries.

Other: In the little yellow container I have apple butter that we bought at Costco. It's 60 calories for 1 Tablespoon, but a little goes a long way. It's delicious!

My breakfast is lacking in grains, but I had enough to last me until noon. I was working my Sunday meeting today so I didn't have time to get hungry.

It was actually a simple but very satisfying breakfast.

Happy Bento Everybody!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Quick Leftovers Bento

Today I made a box only for myself. I had leftovers to work with and it was really a "throw it in the box lunch.

Here's what it looked like:

Grains: I have Bulgar with minced vegetables. I minced the vegetable in the chopper, sauteed them, added Indian spices, a little broth and threw the mix in pre-soaked Bulgar. It was delicious!

Proteins: I have leftover roasted chicken (from the deli) mixed with cilantro.

Vegetables: I have steamed broccoli and red bell pepper strip with cilantro.

Others: I added a clementine for dessert.

It was very simple, and I was surprised by how delicious it all was. The combination of taste and texture was perfect. The Bulgar recipe in particular will be made again!

Happy Bento Everybody!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2009 is There!!

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!

I was all excited to start 2009 after a difficult year in 2008, but I've got a bad case of the flu, so I'm "crawling" into 2009 rather than jumping in. Still, I had to get my Bento-ing going and get myself on track!

One of my goal is to simplify things for 2009. I get grand ideas and expand them until there is no way I can get it all done. That is not working for me. I have a full very challenging year ahead of me (but exciting!!!) so I need to keep things simple.

So, hopefully, I'll be able to bring in simpler, easy to make bentos, that can be done quickly. Don't worry though, the cutsiness isn't dead! It will come around when I have more time (and more energy).

I also plan on weekend cook off in which I will cook for the week, for both lunch and dinners, so that would be cool "Make ahead posts".

So, after all this blah blah blah, here's today's fare:

Grains: I have the Weight Watchers Side "Zesty Spanish Brown Rice" that I cooked following package directions and then threw over sauteed vegetables. We had leftovers from last night.

Proteins: I have Trader Joes steamed lentils. They are sold precooked, so you just open the pack and dump them in. I really like the taste of them!

Vegetables: I have cut up carrots, red bell peppers, and cucumbers. It's very simple, I like raw vegetables by themselves without dressing.

Others: I'm going to have a small flavored non-fat Greek yogurt (from Trader Joes) with that and most probably a clementine.

Note: I loaded my box with raw veggies because they don't have weird taste when I'm sick.

My husband's box is a little different:

Grains: He has the leftover rice I have.

Proteins: He has lentils also, but I added 4 falafel (bought at Costco and frozen).

Vegetables: He has red bell peppers and cucumber pieces.

Others: I gave him a clementine, but also 2 pieces of Toblerone Chocolate. I thought the two would go well together!

Note: My husband is 6'2" so he needs a lot more calories than I do. He is also taking along foods for the whole day so I added a banana and a whole grain crisp snack (new at Weight Watchers, they are delicious!) so that he has other snacks than the junk from Costco at work.

So that's our lunches for today. I'm thinking that describing the foods by "kind of food" rather than by "top tier, bottom tier" would be less confusing. Let me know what you think!

Happy Bento Everybody!