Archive for the ‘bento’ Category

Biding my time…

Monday, February 8th, 2010

While my lunches this week are taking on a more healthy outlook, I am sad to say that they aren’t much to look at. I know that salad can be really fun and interesting if I push myself to make it look nice, but I’ve been too distracted with football game commercials, finishing up season 2 of Dexter, and now hula hoop lessons to dwell on what else can be done to make a carrot look like..well..something other than a carrot. So while I spend some time planning my next food project and bento, here is another bento blast from the past:

What are those things?

Monkey faces!!!

For details on the contents of the bento, just click on the picture.

Chinese Take Out

Thursday, February 4th, 2010


Just a little something I made with leftovers from Chinese take-out. The Lo Mein was lacking in the promised vegetables, so I added a zucchini. I figured it was a good way to add volume without eating more of the greasy noodles. The dumplings in the top section are filled with spinach. Last but not least is my darling little clementine.

Daisy Bento

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Daisy Bento

In between attempts to vacuum seal everything in my kitchen (I just got one of those FreshSaver things) , I managed to make this bento. I know that the use of the frozen veggies is “meh,” but I do have to confess to enjoying the ease of them. And also, I REALLY like them in my mashed potatoes.

Ham and turkey (thanks mom!)
babybel cheese
white sweet potato mash with veggies

A New Japanese Grocery Store

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Some of you out there may remember my sadness over the closing of Kotobukiya in Porter Square. No really, the loss of that store really did change the look of my bentos and though I know there is another shop in Union Square…well, things haven’t been the same.

Then today, my sister sent me a link to Ebisuya. Rumor has it this store is owned by some past employees of Kotobukiya! Could this mean that I will be able to find my usual products with no problems? And what is this about free parking? Be still my little heart. There is hope for my poor lonely bento boxes yet.

I hope to get to the store myself within the next few weeks, but if anyone has been there yet, please feel free to write a comment below to let us know how things are looking.

Brined and Cured

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

You know you have a pretty intense obsession with food when you spend your day home sick reading a book about charcuterie. However, when you’re not feeling so good, slow cooking is definitely something you want to think about. Throw something in a slow cooker or oven, and don’t think about it for a bit while you take a nap. Or better yet, defrost something in the freezer and fry it up quick in a pan.


Both of the cooked elements in this bento were cured and brined by me. The bacon is something my readers are familiar with thanks to my “bacon odyssey.” And the chicken breast was brined by me as well. I tried brining recently because I wanted a way to keep my chicken breasts moist without adding fat. Also, i am such a fan of brined turkey at Thanksgiving, I thought I would give it a try. So after 2 hours in a lemon and garlic brine, I cut the breasts into strips and pan fried them with some Pam. Easy, easy, and something I will definitely do again…hopefully with some pork chops!


Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

A Quickie...

Here is another early bento. This time I want to point out the lack of bento box. I’ve been noticing lately that I have been leaning more towards using my regular tupperware over the bento boxes I have. I think this is because most bentos are not dishwasher safe and they often require a bit more care than other containers do. Also, I must admit that some of my boxes are looking a little worse for the wear.

If I remember correctly, this bento was a rush job. I was more focused on using up leftovers but also trying to add as many different colors as I could. I’ve read that more colors and variety speak to the palette and make the meal appetizing.

For more details about what is in the bento, just click on the pic.

Repost: Early Bento

Saturday, January 9th, 2010


This is a very early bento I made. I had a lot of work to do when it came to filling up blank spaces. But you gotta admit, it sure does look happy.

Bits and Pieces

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

The purpose of posting this rather bland bento is to illustrate a concept that I keep coming across in my readings about Japanese food and bentos: bite-sized pieces.  While I have yet to find a definitive answer as to why this is, many people think that this is because slicing large pieces of food isn’t really all that possible when you are using chopsticks.  In his book “A Taste of Japan,”  Donald Ritchie argues that Japanese food is served cut-up because Japanese chef’s focus more on presentation than other cultures do.  This would most certainly apply to bentos as you often need to cut food down in order to make it fit attractively in box. In many cases too, it’s the least you can do to make sure you are fitting enough food into that box as well.

I especially like this bite-sized food idea when it comes to portion control and using bentos as a way to eat better. Taking smaller bites but having more of them can often make you feel like you are eating more. Also, it can help you to slow down your eating so you can allow your body to feel full. Basically, it just another way to make you slow down and actually enjoy the meal.

The Boy will be eating this today:

Bits and Pieces


Cucumber and babybel cheese
chicken and apple sausage
roasted sweet potatoes (again!)
japanese candy

No knife required!

I Heart Octopuses

Monday, January 4th, 2010

With the new year comes all those resolutions that most of us are bound to break. Seriously, I always start the year with the best intentions and then by the year’s end, I find myself exactly where I was 365 days earlier. Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to try right? Especially when my sister is getting married in October and she has promised me that I can wear whatever kind of dress I want to her wedding. Right now I am leaning towards Jackie O, or maybe Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas. It’s still early though and I have some weight I want to drop before doing any serious shopping.

I know I’ve mentioned a ton of times that bentos are a great way to both eat healthier foods and manage portion control. Traditional Japanese bentos call for a 4:2:1 ratio. This means 4 parts rice, 2 parts protein, and 1 part other ingredients. Due to the advice of a nutritionist, I focus on having more veggies. I was told that at least half of my meal should be veggies, so that leaves the rest to be a mixture of protein and other other ingredients. I’m not always the best about this, especially when I’ve been snowed in all weekend, but it gives me a goal to work towards in the New Year.

So here it is, first bento of 2010:

I heart octopuses

Hot Dog octopuses (made with 97% fat free hot dogs)
roasted sweet potatoes
light babybel cheese
Heinz 57 sauce

PS – I am now on Twitter @The_Smalerie.

Sunday Dinner Bento

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Monday’s bentos are usually the best simply because I have all Sunday to get ready for it. Either I have really tasty leftovers from a nice Sunday dinner, or I’m not too worn out from work to really take the time to make the bento staples that I need to help me make it through the rest of the week’s bentos.

This bento features some leftovers from my Sunday roasted chicken dinner. I admit to using jarred gravy, which in the end was a huge loss cause the chicken drippings were incredible looking, but gravy is one of those things that I am still trying to get a real grasp on. Practice does make perfect, but a cranky chef is not always going to enjoy the meal.

Roasted Chicken Bento

There is rice under the chicken and I added a few dried apricots for dessert. The only extra cooking I did for this bento was the artichoke. I love artichokes with a passion and while my preferred method is to stuff them, I chose to steam this one instead. Steamed in my rice cooker while I cooked the rice for dinner, I only had to worry about making a dip for the artichoke leaves. While many recipes are mayo based for dip, I either use yogurt or even salad dressing instead.