Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#27 Gnocchi Bento

Bottom Tier: Gnocchi with pesto and pine nuts
Top Tier: Orange slices, chocolate raspberry sticks, black tea bag

Gnocchi is a pasta made with potato flour. It's really delicious, and quick to cook. You can buy it dried, but I prefer the frozen kind. The pesto sauce was simple olive oil and basil.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

#26 Wrap Bento

Top Tier: Spinach tortilla with mayo, salami, and colby jack, cut in half; goldfish crackers, dark chocolate-covered almonds
Bottom Tier: Salad of Romaine lettuce and carrots, with peppercorn ranch dressing underneath.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

#25 Veggie Pasta Bento

Top Tier: Cucumber (from the garden!) and carrot slices
Bottom Tier: Capellini with a triple tomato and asparagus sauce
Hidden: Chocolate square in the lid

This sauce is made with 3 kinds of tomatoes- raw cherry tomatoes (from the garden!), bottled stewed plum tomatoes, and sun dried tomatoes.
Saute some asparagus in a little olive oil and salt (I prefer using fresh asparagus as opposed to frozen, because it doesn't fall apart as easily). When the asparagus is cooked through (about 5 minutes on medium heat), add thinly-sliced garlic, and saute for another couple of minutes. Add sun dried tomato pieces, and whole cherry tomatoes. Cover pan so that the tomatoes will burst from the heat. Then, add a couple of the stewed tomatoes, and crush/mix them with the rest of the sauce. Add any spices to taste (I used ground black pepper and an Italian seasoning mix), pour sauce over pasta , mix, and top off with some Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

#24 Orange Bento

Bottom Tier: leftover takeout- enchilada and 1/2 of a quesadilla
Top Tier: 2 apricot halves, cut-up carrot, trail mix as filler.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

#23 Pita Pizza Bento

It's been months since I posted! I've been packing bento lunches pretty much daily, but have been too lazy to photograph/post them. Here's one I found in my camera from June or so (I think):

Bottom tier: Whole wheat pita with tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic, and Buffalo mozarella slices
Top tier: cucumber (from the garden!), strawberries, grapes, tiny homemade lemon poppyseed muffin with orange glaze.
I will try to get back in the game starting.... NOW!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

#22 Adult Quesadillas Bento

Bottom Tier: 2 Spinach-Feta Quesadillas
Top Tier: Strawberries, chocolate square

The spinach in our garden is getting a little out of control, so we had to harvest a bunch. These quesadillas were a natural choice, because they're so delicious:
Make roasted garlic as in my very first bento blog post. While it cools, boil some veggie or chicken broth with some chopped jalapeno peppers (the number of peppers depends on how spicy you want your quesadillas). Boil for about 10 minutes, so that it reduces a little, and the pepper flavor gets infused into the broth. Then, pour it into a shallow bowl or pan through a sieve (to remove the pepper chunks). While the broth cools, chop up some spinach into small strips, and put it into a large bowl. Add crumbled feta cheese, the roasted garlic, and a little olive oil. When you are ready to cook your quesadillas, choose a frying pan that is the same size or larger than the tortillas that you will be using. Heat the pan up to about the medium setting, and add some oil. Dip each tortilla in the spicy broth mixture, and fry it for about 1 minute on each side, just to make it sticky.
After all of your tortillas have been pre-cooked, you can start adding the spinach-feta mixture and rolling up your quesadillas. Then, fry them again until golden-brown.

#21 Greek Bento

Top Tier: Jasmine rice with gyro meat, hummus in the plastic container
Bottom Tier: Falafel, strawberries, carrot chunks
In the Lid: chocolate square

#20 Southern-Style Bento

These are leftovers from Cracker Barrel, which holds a very special tiny space in my heart.

Bottom Tier: Roast beef, pinto beans, and a biscuit
Top Tier: Fried apples, strawberries

Totally not nutritious, but soooooooooo good.

New Boxes!

I just bought these new boxes from Ichiban Kan. They are from the Putifresh grape series, and have some awesome Engrish: "Happy fruits is very delicious. I will eat this and will become fortunate all together!" The one on the left is two tiers, 350 mL and 250 mL, and has space in the top lid for my little fork, and something small, like chocolate squares. The box on the right has a snap-top lid which makes it spill-proof. It holds 480 mL, which is more than enough soup (or whatever). Also, both boxes are microwaveable.
I also bought some more elastic bands to hold my boxes together, two bags, some furikake, a spring roll kit, and some cookies, and my total was less than $20!

Friday, April 3, 2009

#19 Baked Potato Bento

Bottom Tier: Baked potato, sour cream and Earth Balance in the silicone cup
Top Tier: Caprese salad, cheddar cheese cubes, slices of beef bologna, grapes, kiwi slices.

I have a debilitating weakness for bologna. Its a curse I'm resigned to living with.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

#18 Alfredo Bento

Top Tier: Shrimp fettuccine alfredo
Bottom Tier: Butter beans tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a kale leaf, strawberries, raspberries

Shrimp Recipe:
Heat up some olive oil in a frying pan around the medium setting. Wash off your shrimp, and pat them dry (if you don't do this, then your shrimp will end up rubbery and not crisped. Sprinkle with any seasoning you prefer (I have a seafood spice that I like, which includes salt, white pepper, garlic, red pepper flake, and some other stuff). Fry about 2-4 minutes on each side.

Alfredo Recipe:
If you're making the shrimp variety, remove the shrimp onto a plate and put the pan back on the heat. Add a little olive oil, and several splashes of cream. Deglaze the pan, while also making sure to stir constantly. If left alone, the cream will boil extremely quickly, and then you'll have a big mess on your hands. If you're not using shrimp or any other meat or veggie, just heat up a pan with a little olive oil and add some cream. Once the cream has reduced a little (about 3-5 minutes), add shredded cheese a little at a time, while stirring to combine. I used a mix of Pecorino Romano and Parmesan cheeses, but you can use whatever you like. Add your shrimp back in to heat up, and you're done!

Monday, March 30, 2009

#17 Squash Bento

Bottom Tier: Roasted half of a tiny acorn squash, sitting on top of some almonds
Top Tier: Manchego cheese cubes, chocolate raspberry sticks, strawberries, 2 halves of a Seckel pear

Roasted Acorn Squash:
Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds and gooey bits. Put about 3/4 of an inch of water into a baking pan, and put the squash in skin side up (so that the "meat" of the squash can get steamed by the water). Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Then, dump the water and flip the squash. At this point you can go one of two ways: (1) Add some butter, cinnamon, sugar, and little nutmeg, or (2 [this is the one I did]) drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and herbs. Bake for another 20 minutes or so.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

#16 Salad Bento

Top Tier: Salad with purple cabbage, carrots, and English cucumbers with ginger dressing underneath
Bottom Tier: Cubes of Manchego cheese, roasted almonds, strawberries, blueberries

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

#15 Take-out Leftovers Bento

Top Tier: Leftover calzone from Tennessee Gyros, with lamb, tomatoes, spinach, feta, and garlic
Bottom Tier: Tzatziki for the calzone in the cup, celery, strawberries, blueberries

I've found that bentoing helps me with portion control of takeout food, because I know that I need to save some for the next day's lunch, and that if I don't, I'll have to make something later. The threat of doing any work is usually enough to make me stop eating, even when the food is as delicious as this calzone was.

Monday, March 2, 2009

#14 Stir-Fry Bento

Top Tier: Stir-fry with jasmine rice, tofu, garlic, carrots (from the garden!), spinach (from the garden!), and fresh dill on top
Bottom Tier: Celery, roasted almonds, blueberries, chocolate covered raspberry sticks.

We've been prepping the garden for Spring planting, so the carrots had to come out. They were a little small, but sweet and delicious! The spinach came from our cold frame.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

#13 Couscous Bento

Bottom Tier: Couscous cooked in chicken stock + spices, edamame
Top Tier: English cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, 3/4 of a blood orange, chocolate square

I love using couscous, because its so versatile. I just made 2 cups of it, and ate it for several meals (a couple of times with the edamame, once with sliced hot dogs and black beans, and once just plain with some soy sauce). It keeps well in the fridge, but you have to cover it tightly with plastic, or it will dry out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

#12 Sandwich Bento

Top Tier: Sandwich with "Philly Steak"-style Tofurky, cheddar, and mustard on 9-grain bread; almonds filling in the spaces
Bottom Tier: Pickle slices for the sandwich in the blue cup, celery, English cucumber, strawberries, blueberries

This was my first time trying the Tofurky, and, I have to say, it wasn't bad. I recommend frying it a little first for more meaty flavor. Also, I just noticed that on their website, they recommend using this flavor for stir-fries and fajitas, so maybe I'll try that soon.

Monday, February 23, 2009

#11 Stir-fry Bento

Bottom Tier: Vegetarian stir-fry
Top Tier: Three quarters of a blood orange, cherry tomatoes, roasted almonds, chocolate square

This stir-fry recipe starts with the pan-fried tofu recipe from Bento #9, and then...
Cook whatever rice you like. When the tofu is almost done (about 5-10 minutes left), toss in some veggies, in the order that you want them from most to least cooked. For example, this time I first put in some carrot slices, waited a couple of minutes, then added some finely diced garlic and fresh ginger for a few minutes, and finally put in some purple cabbage and haricots verts for a few minutes. When all that stuff is done, put the cooked rice into the pan, add some cooking oil and soy sauce, and mix everything up. Then, turn down the heat to medium-low, cover, and leave it for about 5-10 minutes. Then eat it!
If I start out with a pound of tofu, and a cup or 2 of rice, I'll end up with enough stir-fry for about 3-4 meals, and I never get sick of it. This is one of those dishes that inexplicably gets better when you reheat it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

#10 Mozzarella Bento

Top Tier: Tomato and mozzarella salad
Bottom Tier: Brocolli, the ever-present strawberries, raspberries, a chocolate square.

Salad recipe:
Get some vine-ripened tomatoes, and some good mozzarella (the kind in its own liquid). Cube both and toss in a bowl. Add a couple Tbsp. of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, salt, pepper, and either fresh or dry Italian herbs of your choice. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. Yum

Monday, February 16, 2009

#9 Tofu and Couscous Bento

Bottom Tier: Tri-color couscous with pan-fried tofu cubes, with soy sauce and curry powder.
Bottom Tier: Laughing Cow Cheddar, broccoli, baby carrots, strawberries, and a chocolate square hiding underneath.

I love tofu, and this is my favorite way to cook it:
Get either firm or extra firm tofu. Cut it into cubes (or buy the cubed version). Drop the cubes into a pan (I prefer cast-iron for this) on medium heat, and add a splash of soy sauce, plus whatever spices you like. I currently prefer a a mild yellow curry powder, and some fresh-ground pepper. Cover the pan, wait around 7 minutes, and check on the tofu. It will have shrunk slightly from the water evaporation, and the sides should be starting to get brown. Stir and continue frying until its done to your satisfaction. Throw it on top of some rice or pasta or whatever, add another bit of soy sauce, and you're done!
I also sometimes like to add various veggies to this to make different sorts of stir-fries.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

#8 Wonton Bento

Bottom Tier: Pan-fried wontons with crab filling
Top Tier: Laughing Cow Gouda cheese, baby carrots, blueberries, strawberries, 2 Dove dark chocolate squares.

I bought the wonton wrappers in my local Publix, in the refrigerated section, and made the filling myself:
Put some cream cheese in a bowl and microwave for about 20 seconds to soften. Stir in your favorite spices (I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, and an Italian seasoning mix. Chop up some crab legs (or, if you're cheap like me, some imitation crab meat), and mix it in. I went pretty heavy on the crab to cream cheese ratio, but you can mix it to taste. Put about a teaspoon of filling into the center of each wrapper, and moisten the edges with some water. Fold and press together. Pan fry on each side.
Note- Make sure you don't overfill the wrappers, because then you might get leakage, and also the wonton won't lay flat on the pan, and it won't all cook.
Another note- Next time I'm planning on making a sweet version with cinnamon and sugar, and possibly apples. Or berries? Or craisins? The possibilities are mostly endless at this point.

Friday, January 23, 2009

#7 Salad Bento

Bottom Tier: Broccoli slaw with Asian ginger dressing underneath
Top Tier: Pistachio, almond and cashew mix, garlic cheddar cubes, baby carrots, papaya spears

Monday, January 19, 2009

#5 Sick Bento

Bowl: Home-made chicken soup with a drumstick, topped with fresh dill
Box: Garlic-flavored bagel crisps, strawberries, raspberries, chocolate-covered raspberry sticks

I was feeling really sick, but had to go into work anyway, so I made this soup that my mom used to make me when I was sick:
Put some chicken in a pot (I like dark meat, because it makes a more flavorful soup). Cover completely with water. Bring to a boil. This will make the meat release a foam that will float up to the top, which you can then remove with a spoon. Add some salt, some cut carrots, and a parsnip (you're also supposed to also add one whole onion, but I hate onions, so I don't). Turn the burner down to medium low, cover, and simmer for at least 1.5 hours. The more you cook it after this point, the stronger the tasty goodness will be, but I can only wait so long. Add your favorite pasta, rice, or in this particular case, farina, and allow to cook for however long said carb is supposed to cook. Top with some chopped fresh dill, and feel better!

Another note about this bento:
Since I had to use the bowl for the soup, I used one tier (and a lid) of one of my boxes for the other things.

#4 Sushi Bento!

Top Tier: Imitation crab stick, avocado, carrot, and cream cheese sushi roll
Bottom Tier: Sliced strawberries and raspberries