Archive for May, 2009

May Something Bento

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

This bento was from some point last week, things are kinda a blur with the long weekend and my trip.

May Something

The only thing special in this bento are the little pork patties.  I was hoping to make something that would taste like the inside of a peking dumpling.  The result was pretty yummy, but nothing I am ready to post yet.  I think that they needed a bit more seasoning or something to make them worthy of posting the recipe.  What is nice about them is that I was able to freeze over half of them to use another time when I am pressed for time…which actually seems to be all the time lately.

Back From Vacation

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Okay, so I was gone a little longer than planned, but I am back now and should be able to start posting again. In fact, I should have a bento pic ready to post this evening….assuming that I am not distracted by watching more episodes of Chuck.

Ghosts of Bentos Past

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

I know I haven’t updated in quite a bit, but my schedule never seems to slow down when I hope it will. This weekend I will be in Philly, so I guess that will give me something to post about when I come back. I did make a bento this week, but I didn’t have time to upload the picture last night. Excuses are lame, I know that… So to make up for my bad behavior, I am posting some pics of bentos that I made when I first started playing around with them. Enjoy!

For more details click on the picture:

Chaz Rocks!
This is Chazz. Chazz is a huge fan of the band KISS. This is mostly because he has a lot in common with the band… including the desire to rock and roll all night, and party everyday. Like his favorite band, Chazz also enjoys merchandising. So much in fact that Chazz will be promoting his own brand of spicy tuna flavored toothpaste which will be available this fall.

From the leafy depths...
From the leafy depths comes Pasquale the Salad Monster. He just can’t get enough arugula and guards it with a ferocity that few dare to challenge.

Ninja!
Because everyday is a good day to have a ninja in your lunchbox!

Veggie Bento

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Veggie Time

This month Just Bento is featuring vegetarian recipes. Though I am not a vegetarian myself, I do like to cut down on the amount of meat I eat when the summer rolls around. Call me crazy, but sometimes those grilled veggies can be just as exciting as some of burgers, hot dogs, and whatever else might frequent your bbq in the summer (unless your grill belongs to my friend Sean, then his bbq meats win every time).

This bento was mostly improvisation after a trip to Costco. I had a lot of veggies to use up, so I started by making the pasta salad. Pasta salad is the easiest thing in the word to make so I’m not going to waste anyone’s time with a recipe for this one. I will give you a hint though: Dress your pasta salad while it is still warm if you are not using mayo. The hot pasta will actually absorb the dressing and make for a much tastier salad. You might want to add more dressing later though, because sometimes too much gets absorbed and you can be left with something too dry. Also, never add your veggies until the pasta has cooled. The hot pasta could over cook your veggies or make them wilted and unappealing. My pasta salad contains the following: french beans, mushrooms, roasted red pepper (roasted myself on my gas range), and feta cheese. For dressing I just used some red wine vinaigrette.

Now since, I didn’t have any protein in my pasta salad, I made some spiced chickpeas for the side. I love making these and they taste even better the day after you cook them because the spices get a better chance to mix together. These spiced chickpeas are also great because you can pretty much make them different every time depending on what spices you have on hand. For my chickpeas, I used Turkish Spice from Penzey’s, but you can also use curry, cumin, or whatever you like.

Spiced Chickpeas

1 can of chickpeas (or equivalent soaked chickpeas)
2 tb olive oil
2 cups veggie stock
1 shallot, chopped
2 tbs tomato sauce (or even ketchup if you like things sweeter)
1 clove chopped garlic (optional)
spices of choice (cumin, coriander, parsley, paprika, cilantro, etc)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in shallow pot (I use a small saucier). Add shallot and cook until it starts to become translucent, then add garlic if you choose. Continue to cook until garlic is cooked and shallots are translucent and a little brown. Add chickpeas. Next add enough stock so that it is level with the chickpeas. Once the stock begins to simmer, add tomato sauce and spices. Stir occasionally and allow the broth to reduce. Basically, all you are doing now is cooking things down so that the chickpeas and onions get soft and cooked. If you find that things get too dry and the chickpeas are soft enough to your liking, simply add more stock and continue to cook down. This is also a fun time to adjust the seasoning and make this dish really your own. Dish is done when chickpeas are relatively dry and start to come out of their skins a bit.

Tuna!

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

In my house we have to make a distinction between tuna salad and a tuna salad. They are not the same. Tuna salad is that stuff you usually put in a sandwich and includes mayo and whatever else you like. A tuna salad really includes salad (ie lettuce) and doesn’t have any mayo at all. My mother once told me that making tuna this way is another Italian-American recipe and that is why my friends would eye us suspiciously when they came over to lunch. Happily, it wins people over in the end and makes a great bento lunch. Just remember to keep the tuna-mix separate until it is time to eat if you are going to make it in advance.

Tuna!

Italian Tuna Salad

1 can or packet of tuna (if using a can, you will need to drain it first)
1 plum tomato, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
lettuce of choice
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Place tuna in a bowl and break it up a bit with a fork. Add olive oil and vinegar and mix to combine. Add tomato and celery and gently fold these in so that you don’t break up the tomato too much. Add salt and pepper to taste. At this point I will sometimes add more oil and vinegar too if I think it needs it.

In another bowl, tear up lettuce. If you are going to eat this right away, simply add the tuna mix to the lettuce and toss. Think of the tuna mix as dressing. If you are going to pack it in a bento, place the lettuce in your bento and then keep the tuna in a separate container until lunch time.

This type of tuna salad is very light and refreshing and makes a great summer/warm weather lunch.

Also in this bento:
olives
baby carrots
cheddar cheese

When bentos aren’t enough…

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

While I would say that making bentos is my main outlet for allowing my creative juices to flow, I’m also a casual knitter. My carpal tunnel makes it difficult for me to take on any major projects, but I do have a Ravelry account and spend a lot of spare time knitting blankets to donate to animal shelters. My sister, on the other hand is a hardcore knitter. You can see proof of that by checking out her shop Effulgent Crafts.

Sure this seems like shameless plugging, but you are ignoring the ever important bragging element! That’s right, for the first time, something handmade by Smalerie herself (coughMEcough), is available in her shop. While my sister spent a very long time creating wooden knitting needles by hand, I stole the fun part of making the toppers. Here is a pic of one of my creations:

Burger Knitting Needles

Food related toppers?  Really Smal?  Guess you shouldn’t be surprised. 😉

The Ultimate Lazy Bento

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Mermaid

I grabbed this onigiri at Kotobukiya to make this bento, and while they are not the best the day after, my schedule hasn’t allowed me much time for bento making in the past week. Normally, I would have liked to have made my own onigiri and freeze them. This would allow me to place it frozen into my bento and it would work to keep things nice and cool until lunchtime. Otherwise, the asparagus is leftover from dinner and the strawberries where on sale at Shaws. As for the egg, that is simply baked in a foil cup in my toaster oven. I added some pepper, a parley leaf to look pretty, and a splash of tobasco.