Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bento Meals: 10/6/2010 and prior

Due to a number of concerns, I'm trying to buckle down on my lunches. This is both for financial improvements, as well as health. See below for the last three I packed (from newest to oldest).

Today: Oct 6, 2010

Lunch Bento
Garlic Shrimp over white rice
Romaine salad with fresh sliced carrots and scallions
Small container of fat-free honey dijon dressing
Side container of homemade mak kimchi.

Tuesday: Oct 5, 2010

Lunch Bento
Garlic Shrimp over white rice (sprinkled with sesame oil)
Romaine salad with shredded cheddar, fresh sliced carrots and scallions
Small container of fat-free honey dijon dressing

Last Wednesday: Sept 29, 2010

Top Tier
Romaine salad
1/2 vine tomato
1/2 kirby cucumber
1 small container fat-free honey dijon dressing

Bottom Tier
Cheeseburger sauce with peas
White rice

Apple (forget the type)
2 Hershey's Candy Corn Kisses

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bento Meals: 9/21/10

Last night, I made a lot of bento lunches! One for my son, my husband and myself. A bit of a strain on the back, but it made me feel good to do this for them. I also packed myself a nice breakfast this morning too, though I didn't finish it all. That just means I'll have some extra for tomorrow! :-)

Also, if you didn't know, chili is one of those foods that taste better after it rests. Last night it was okay, but today it was absolutely delicious! Good job, Honey!

Breakfast Bento

Harvest Grits
(grits made with diced apple, minced dried cranberries, a mix of brown sugar and white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, butter, and a dash of salt.)

Lunch Bento

Top Tier (Snack)
GF cornbread (made with yogurt instead of milk)
Miniature apple

Bottom Tier (Lunch)
Cheddar frico (cheese cooked into a crispy chip)
Chili over white rice
American cheese harvest cut-outs
Sweet green peas
3 Hershey's Candy Corn Kisses (I gave one of them to my co-worker)

My son's and husband's lunch bentos were similar to mine, except without the mini apple.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thoughts on bentoing in my family

The Sunday before last, my younger brother gave his fiance a nice Zojirushi Mr. Bento Lunch Jar and Bento Boxes: Japanese Meals On The Go (a cookbook for practical foods that are easy to pack into bentos, with little-to-no emphasis on the cute stuff). The package actually arrived on Thursday, when my husband, son, and I routinely visit my mother.

I thought it somewhat neat. I've been working with bentos for over 6 years and got my older sister and mother packing bento lunches as well. My mother even started buying a number of the cute bento box recipe books (having several in her collection and possibly her first repeat purchase of the same title). It's not uncommon for my husband or me to pack a family bento to take over to my mother's house or on trips. We have several different types of containers, ranging from the small cute children's bento boxes (snack and meal) to large picnic tiffin sets. I actually bought a Zojirushi Classic Mr. Bento Stainless Steel Lunch Jar (before it was called "Classic") and a cheaper version from another company (which I forget the name of) for when my husband was working as an auditor, which kept him on the road and in remote locations with little chance of stopping for food or heating up what was packed.

I'm left feeling curious why my younger brother suddenly found this an interesting idea. Surely, he's seen my husband and I pack them, but he's expressed no interest. Surely, he's heard my husband, sister, or I talk about them, but again, he's expressed no interest. I asked him if his fiance is into making bento lunches (because she too has not shown anything that would say so, but there's admittedly there's only so much people get to talk about when time is so limited and she doesn't really post much on Facebook). My brother responded that he likes to buy her a new cookbook each year and that she likes asian cuisine. Ah... that explains it. He saw the book, thought it an interesting idea, and bought her a container to go with her. She seemed to think it nifty (my mother also got her compact chopsticks, with a container, that unscrew into four pieces for ease of travel... something I've been wanting for a while because they are pretty cool). Her response to him was, "So, you are going to pack my lunches for me?"

My older brothers were confused by it all, but that's okay. Everyone acted like this was a cool new concept... and I thought, "Wait a second... I've been doing this for years, guys!" But that's okay. Admittedly, even though my family (siblings, parents, etc) are not what you would call "normal", we all have our oddities in different directions. Mine is things like artistic endeavors, bento packing, cooking Asian dishes (mainly Korean), going to steampunk events (and helping create a steampunk larp), and so on. I would say that I don't really fit, because it's true. My brothers have their little grouping of oddities. My oldest sister is the most normal, which actually makes her a bit more odd in our family. My older sister is very heavily into middle eastern and belly dance things. I don't even really know what is considered "normal". The other things is that I tend to be more laid back about the things I'm into... I don't discuss them much because in my mind, they just "are". There's no reason to point out the bento meals or go into details about a particular design of steampunk attire I'm figuring out. I don't bring these things into the limelight. Perhaps it's because I'm somewhat humble, or perhaps I don't see them as all that special because they are normal to me. I don't know. I just know that the reaction to the bento gift to my youngest brother's fiance caught me off-guard.

Bentos are definitely spreading, and it's nice to see it catch the attention of yet another member (and soon-to-be member) of my family.
Last Wednesday, I went on a Korean food cooking frenzy. My back felt it the next day... very much so. But the food was healthy and delicious. I made:
Mak Kimchee (easy nappa cabbage kimchee)
Galbi ( marinated beef short ribs)
Uhmook Bokkeum (spicy stir-fried fish cakes)
Sigeumchi Namul (seasoned spinach)
Kinpira (japandese sweet seasoned carrots and potatoes)

The bento I ate on Friday (though it was actually intended for Thursday) was made up of a number of the items made.

Top tier
Mak Kimchee
Sigeumchi Namul

Bottom Tier
White Rice with Furikake
Uhmook Bokkeum

I was planning on making some Oi Kimchee (stuffed cucumber kimchee) and Ggakdugi Kimchee (daikon radish kimchee), but was too tired and was still debating some of the recipes I wanted to use.

My husband actually helped with the Mak Kimchee. It didn't turn out quite right, but I was using a new recipe and we used fine ground red pepper powder instead of course ground... which means more pepper powder ended up being used for the same measurement. (Course ground lays in the measuring cup different, allowing more space between the pieces compaired to the fine ground.) I ran into this problem before, but forgot to mention it to dear hubby. I also didn't tell him to add extra ginger root, which is what we like. Oh well. Still is decent kimchee and we got to try new veggies we don't normally use for it.

Also, the Galbi recipe I used definitely needs some tinkering. A korean pear apple or kiwi or some other acidic fruit would have helped tenderize the meat better, but since I was using a new recipe, I figured it would be best to follow it properly.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bento Meal: 9/9/10

Yet again, it's been a while since I packed a bento. The week before last, I was in too much pain to be bothered (standing long enough to pack a decent bento would have been too much on my back). Then last week, I had the pains again, but also in the abdomen. Not round ligaments, but from an "Irritablility", as my doctor put it, from not drinking enough fluids. Great. So, I was a bit more focused on other things rather than packing food.

Earlier this week was as follows: Monday was Labor Day, so no need to pack for work. Tuesday, I had a frozen personal size pizza. Wednesday, I had leftovers from taking my hubby out to dinner for his birthday.

But today, I was determined to pack my lunch. Also helped that I don't really have much in the way of "grab and go" food ready at this time and I definitely didn't want to go out to buy food or order in, so a packed lunch was a must.

Today's Bento...

Fried rice (beef, onions, tater tots, and white rice, seasoned with salt and sesame oil)
Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)
Cucumber slices

Gluten-free chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filler and chocolate icing

Limeade (to be watered down further)

Pretty much everything was leftovers. The beef and tater tots in the fried rice was leftovers from my son. The beef was from Monday dinner and the tater tots from yesterday's lunch. I figured he'd not be interested in either today, especially with leftover homemade spaghetti available. The cake was also from Monday, which my mother made my husband for his birthday. The dolmas were leftover from my small dinner yesterday. I wasn't very hungry, so I had a few with some buttered rice on the side... 1/3 of which my son ended up eating, even though he had dinner and a small dessert prior. I'm not complaining though. He's at that stage where he's not really eating much (quantity-wise), so I didn't mind sharing. Besides, as I said, I wasn't that hungry.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bentos from Parenting Magazine

I always find it super spiffy when I see neat lunch ideas or containers that are obviously inspired by or at least similar to bentos. Usually, it's the containers that are seen more than actual examples of what to pack.

Lately, I've been going through my old magazines. When I get a new one, I go through it immediately. I save the pages I want to keep and recycle the rest, because they just take up too much space (and xeroxing the pages I want before donating the magazines just never seemed to actually happen).

A week or so ago, I saw in my newest copy of Parenting Magazine a mention of packing bentos. They actually used the term (which sometimes happens, but not often), and had a very cute example of a bunny. They gave a quick description and said that you can go to their website for more information. Of course, I had to do it and I'm glad they did. There are such cute ideas on there that I haven't seen before or for a while. They also give a "how to" in making the key elements. Here's some of the photos and ideas I liked the best. (Click here to go to the website.)

Jelly sandwiches... I would not have thought to make them like this! Thought I don't know how well gluten free breads will work for these.
A pizza sandwich and "cake" sandwiches. Now this is something I can make with the gluten free breads and I'm sure my son would love them. I also really like the mash potatoes in the secont bento's top tier.
I'm actually more impressed by the green peas "roll" and the cheese mouse, but the cat is very cute too.
Not too fond of the bear, though I'm sure kids would love it. I do like the use of the grapes. I tend to pack halved grapes often enough, so seeing them used like this, in so easy and yet pretty a manner really caught my attention. Only one draw back... less packed grapes! And note the cute cherry tomato with cheese slices in the center. How cute and interesting is that?
Obviously, I think the hedge hogs are adorable and a great idea. I also like the deli meat and egg ribbons gathered together like that. For the cute tiger... I've seen this done before, but still love the idea. The main thing I like in this second bento, though, is the idea of cutting a meatball in half and placing sliced cheese between the halves. Very similar to the cherry tomato idea above.
Onigiri cows... I mean, really! That's adorable!!! (And oddly, it reminds me of my husband.)
The main thing I like in the following bentos are the chicken nuggets. No need to pack dips if you cut the nuggets in half and put a dab of dip between them. That is an excellent idea! Of course, the spaghetti nest with mozzarella ball birds is very cute too.
And lastly, mini "hamburgers". Meatballs, halved like before, with lettuce, cherry tomato slices, and whatever else you wish on a nice pick... to make bento perfect mini hamburgers. :-)
Hope you all enjoyed. Definitely check out the website and the "how to" guides. I definitely plan to implement some of these ideas in future bentos (and maybe as nice touches to regular meals).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Week O' Bento: Meals from 8/16-8/20

I am a bit behind on posting this week's bento images. It's been one crazy week (or should I say "month"). So, starting with today's bento (then moving Monday-Thurday)...


Ojinga Bokkeum (spicy squid stir-fry)
Sigeumchi namul (seasoned spinach)
white rice


The ojinga bokkeum was actually a different take on the base recipe from Maangchi. We had only a few of the vegetable ingredients, so the stir-fry had 1/2 of a huge white onion, extra carrots (though a bit old), only a few home grown scallions, and no green korean chile pepper. But one thing I love about more "rustic" dishes is that they tend to be flexible to a degree. This stir-fry turned out wonderfully, as usual.

Monday: I packed a small container of two chicken nuggest and some mac and cheese left over from my mother's Sunday dinner. I think I also had some snacks that I brought too, but I can't remember what they were.

GF eggplant parmesan (using bread crumbs from homemade GF bread) with home made tomato sauce with old aged parmesan cheese on top of white rice


Top tier
Fried eggplant with mexican mix cheese and homemade tomato sauce over white rice

Bottom tier
Lentils and rice with carmelized onions
Cherry tomatoes from my mother's garden


Top tier

Bottom tier
Cheesy corn and rice with carmelized onions
Lentils and rice with carmelized onions

Blackberry Wegmans Yogurt

All in all, each bento was made quickly and of leftover food that needed to be used up. This was also an "Eat Down the Kitchen" week, which means we were trying not to go out and buy any groceries unless necessary (milk and cream cheese and yogurt being the exception, I believe). So, everything here was pretty much from items we already had waiting to be made into something delicious. Some were waiting longer than others, but all were nummy. :-)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bento Meal: 8/12/10

I haven't made a bento for a week or two. I mainly stuck to quicky stuff at work, like keeping a small container of crab salad in the work refridgerator to use with some bread from my desk drawer. I also had (have) some ramen in my drawer as quicky "emergency" meals. Lovely, no? Definitely not too healthy... so I hope to get back in gear, especially now that my baby bump is becoming a boulder and I'm starting to worry that it might be me packing on unnecessary weight due to these not-so-healthy choices. :-p

Today's bento was a quick "throw together" bento of various leftovers, but is also very healthy. The cherry tomatoes were grown in my mother's garden and are delicious. :-)

Notes on the food preparations are after the meal breakdown.*

Top Section:
sweet-tangy chicken, cut bite-sized
green leaf lettuce, torn

steamed green beans
steamed carrot noodles
cherry tomato tops
white sticky rice
sprinkling of toasted black sesame seeds
monkey container of Dynasty Thai Spicy Mayonnaise

spicy scallop stuffed cherry tomatoes
salted zucchini noodles

*To make the vegetable noodles, I use a julienne peeler. (There's actually a really nifty julienne peeler available in parts of Europe that I would really love to get, but so far, it doesn't seem available in the U.S.) After using the peeler, I take the resulting vegetable strands and salt, steam, or saute them according to the vegetable. The resulting noodles are great for infants and toddlers who can chew soft to semi-soft foods. (Salted foods should be introduced at the appropriate age.) These peelers are also great for cutting veggies for sushi or kimbap.

The spicy scallops were bay scallops that my husband steamed (though a quick saute would work too). After they cooled, I chopped them up and mixed them with a few spoonfuls of the Dynasty Spicy Thai Mayonnaise (to taste). This was part of our pre-anniversary dinner (spicy scallop kimbap rolls with home-grown scallions and vegetable rolls made of the lettuce, green beans, zucchini noodles and carrot noodles also seen in this bento. Yum!). I put one of the cherry tomatoes on top of one because, well, it was just too cute not to.

I'll have to ask my mother for the chicken recipe, as this is one of the best I've tasted. It's so good, that the first time my mother made it, when the idea of chicken made me sick, I actually gobbled down a drumstick with no "ew" reaction. My youngest niece, who also didn't eat chicken, also gobbled some down (she eats chicken now). My 2 year old son practically picked his drumstick clean. If/when I get the recipe, I will try to post it. :-)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bento Meals: 7/23/10

I haven't been making bento lunches the last few days. I had 2 packages of different types of bau (stuffed buns) and leftover bulgogi dolseot bibimbap (a korean dish of rice topped with vegetables, marinated/grilled beef, and an egg). As you can see, I was pretty much covered with food. Then yesterday, we also had a free lunch from Costco, though I enjoyed the last of my bibimbap over the items they brought in, of which I am glad I only took a small sampling.

Today's lunch bento, which I hope to start devouring soon, has a main dish of ojinga bokkeum (spicy stir-fried squid). Anyone who followed this blog for a while (or looks into older entries) will see that I am obviously a big fan of this dish. This time, my husband made it. We use Maanchi's recipe as a base (click here for her recipe) and it is always a win! That doesn't mean we don't plan to try other people's versions too, just to see what suits us best.

This time, we used squid slices that were already scored. My husband found we were low on green onions, but this wasn't a huge concern given all the other veggies I was going to have him add. We were also out of white sugar, so my husband added brown sugar. We added carrot and zucchini matchsticks; the zucchini pieces were salted and squeezed to remove excess moisture. The sauce turned out a bit thin, which we've never had happen before (but wasn't surprising), so my hubby added some tapioca starch. This concoction turned out very well, though I prefer our usual ojinja bokkeum.

Our son ate more of this new version than I remember him ever eating our regular version. A nice way to get him to eat more veggies given that he's still in that stage of veggie-pickiness. The squid was a lot easier to eat because of the scoring and the veggies toned down the spiciness. Still, the flavor was missing something, but I'm just happy my son ate the entire amount we served him within a short period of time (rather than his long period of pick-while-play method).

On to the bentos:
Lunch Bento
ojinga bokkeum (spicy squid stir-fry w/ extra veggies) topped with furikake
white rice
broccoli, lightly cooked
quicky dipping sauce (gochujang, soy sauce, sugar, salted green onion and garlic, and sesame oil)

Snack Bento
cantaloupe (musk melon)
natural peanut butter w/ brown sugar

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thoughts inspired by processed foods in bentos...

First, I wanted to mention that we found out the gender of our little Pinto. It's a girl. The running joke with everyone we've told thus far is that we now have "A Perfect Match". One of each and the oldest being a boy... not what we expected when we talked about having kids (before we had our son), but nice nonetheless.

Now on to the main point of this post.

I've been looking at a number of really nifty bento blogs. One of my favorites is E-Obento, which is run by a woman in Japan who is apparently very well known over there for her creative meals. The webpage is written completely in Japanese, but I've learned a lot from her blog by simply looking at the photos she posts (both of completed meals and of the prepping pictures). Heck, the broccoli "flower" I made recently was inspired by her carnations. Granted, mine was a "quickie" flower, but I still like how it turned out and owe the credit for the idea to her.


After a while, a few things have become more and more clear, the more I look at most bentos...
1. There is a disturbing amount of highly processed foods used, especially processed meats.
2. A goodly number are unbalanced in their food choices (like providing mostly proteins, bread and cheese in a given meal, especially noticable on E-Obento).

For many parents, the processed foods aren't that big a concern, but unfortunately for my family it is. We seriously monitor how much processed foods we buy/eat and are slowly cutting out more and more, the main ones we avoid being most junk foods and processed meats. This isn't hard to do since we have to avoid so many foods due to my husband's issues with gluten. Sandwiches and wraps are nice treat for us, which means the need for sandwich/wrap fillers are far less. Add to that my limitted intake of red meats and poutry, and you cut out many deli meats. Bacon, sausage, and hotdogs are rare for us as well. (And I do see the irony that my banner here features octi-dogs.) Even before I started cutting back on meats, we were careful with these items when we purchased them, buying ones that didn't contain sulfites, nitrates, and other particular chemicals.

I'm not saying we don't eat any processed foods. We definitely do! We just try to limit them and we definitely read the labels to try to make informed decisions. We rarely eat ketchup or salad dressings, but I use a decent amount of soy sauce and red pepper paste. We avoid buying potato chips, but do buy tortilla chips (which I love to melt cheddar cheese on them with salsa... delish but I rarely do this now). We don't have a lot of condiments compared to most people I know, but I do try to always have one (and usually only one) container of icecream in the freezer and have been buying cereals more often rather than making oatmeal (cold breakfast is nice in warm weather). Donuts, cakes, breads, pastas, and the like are also considered treats (either being very time consuming to make from scratch, semi-expensive as a pre-made mix, or darned expensive as ready-made).

There have been many times that my typical diet (ie. the foods I eat regularly, not "diet" to lose weight) has been described to me as very healthy. I tend to agree. At the same time, I'm not sure how one doesn't eat healthy because I'm not sure what people usually eat. My family doesn't eat out often, and when we do eat out, we typically choose healthier places or make more balanced choices (substituting fries for a side of veggies and so on). It's just second nature to us because of years of avoiding gluten. Currently, I've been eating gluten because of this pregnancy, but still try to limit it and will continue decreasing the amounts more and more.

I'm not passing judgement on people who choose to each the items my family doesn't. It's not my place to... though I will if the parents are only offering their children junk food. We all have our pet-peeves. I really do feel that each family's dynamic is different and accept that mind is different. After all, how many middle-class caucasian families serve their children a diverse menu of foods, which regularly include Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Tex-Mex, Italian, French, and more? How many kids in a standard American family rarely has burgers, meatloaf, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni and cheese and so forth, and never even had fish sticks? We also tend to allow our son sips of our coffee (which is normally decaf but sometimes "caffeine-lite") rather than allow him to have sodas. Like I said, I know my family is not the typical when it comes to food. I also understand that you really can't get a real idea of the family's diet by just looking at one meal or one meal per day. How many people eat cereal, yogurt, a bagel, or oatmeal for breakfast without anything else but then eats full meals the rest of the day?

So back to bentos... I've just been noticing that so many people seem design their bentos with processed meats and the like and it's been making me think...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bento Meals: 7/19/10

I decided to start trying to incorporate red meats and poultry to my meals again. The reason I gave them up was mostly because they were making me sick, but that very likely could have been due to the pregnancy. The other reason was for the treatment of the animals and the right to live vs. die, but that reason is harder for me to justify... since fish and shellfish have as much right to live and the same applies to plants. I don't plan on becoming a fruitarian though! (Fruitarians are a group of people that eat only vegetation that doesn't kill the plants; their diet mostly consisting of raw fruit, nuts, and seeds.)

Today's lunch looks so lovely and yummy. Sadly, my belly isn't really cooperating today, so I'm not sure how much I'll actually eat.

On to the details!

Lunch Bento:
Thai coconut meat patties
dolmas (cut bite-sized)
potato-broccoli gratin (with Guyere, Parmesan, and Romano cheeses)
flower made of broccoli and green pepper

Snack Thermos:
Korean cold cucumber soup (Oi Naengguk)

Another close up of the Lunch Bento. I love how it looks. :-)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Savory Spinach Ricotta Crepes

The crepes that are seen in my bento today was made by my husband. He wanted to make crepes for a dinner, to test out a recipe in one of our gluten free cookbooks, and I wanted something that would be fast for him to make and which our son might actually eat. My poor boy is teething again, so something soft would be great, but preferably not too mushy or hot. (He's also been steering away from cold things, so obviously we needed something just warm enough.)

So I figured, why not make some spinach-ricotta crepes. While figuring out our grocery list the other day, I did some research on different savory crepes. I didn't want nutmeg in it and wanted a decent amount of spinach AND ricotta.

There's a few factors to keep in mind:
1. My son has entered that stage of not wanting to eat most green veggies.
2. My husband and I aren't into the idea of "Sneaky Chef" type recipes. We want our son to be aware that he's eating veggies and fruits and get accustomed to their look, texture, and flavor in different dishes.
3. I wanted it to be quick and easy, regardless of whether my husband made the filling or I did.

All in all, the crepes were a success. My son devoured his, as long as they looked like they were coming off of my plate. After all, the food on Mommy's plate must be better. We were relieve and excited that he not only ate a decent amount, but he knowingly ate green!

This is definitely a family favorite now. The recipe below was written up by my husband.

Savory Spinach-Ricotta Crepes
1/2 pound frozen spinach, thawed, and finely chopped
1 cup ricotta
3 tbs grated parmesan
3 tbs grated romano
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tbs olive oil
Crepes made from recipe in "Gluten Free Baking Classics" by Annalise Roberts

Cook onions in olive oil until translucent, add garlic, add spinach and cook out majority of water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix ricotta, romano, and parmesan together then add spinach. Mix thoroughly and spoon about 3 tbs into crepes, roll, place in microwave safe dish and heat until crepes are warm.

Bento Meals: 7/15/10

Today's bento is much more interesting, though quite a lot of food! The only real problem I have with the Laptop Lunchbox is that it tends to hold so much... at least when one is packing it like a bento box (while using denser foods) and not like a typical American meal. These boxes are supposed to be used for a kid's lunch with maybe a snack, but it's at least two meals for me! My food weighed quite a bit, but given how my appetite seems to have returned, this might be a good thing... I already ate the green peppers and am trying to hold off on eating other sections. That's not to say I don't like using these boxes; I really do! I like how they have such easy compartments; I'm just not sure how I feel about these originally being marketted for kids. Then again, my son's not a teen yet, so my tune may easily change later on. (Side Note: I couldn't wait. Halfway through writing this, I grabbed the dolmas and yogurt.)

The typical meal I imagine would have a sandwich, a fruit, some cut up veggies with dip (or a salad with a little dressing), and maybe a 'treat' (like chips, cracker, pudding, or so on). I'm probably not far off, since that's what I mostly see on the website's customer gallery. Click on the following link to see:

Anyways, on to my lunch.

(Clockwise from the top-left)
Section 1: Savory crepes with ricotta-spinach filling
Section 2: Green pepper slices
Section 3: Nectarine pieces
Section 4: Dolmas and vanilla yogurt with ground cinnamon

Bento Meal: 7/14/10

I think my little Pinto had a growth spurt and my body couldn't adjust fast enough. I had to cancel my plans on Sunday to rest, let work early on Monday, and then took Tuesday off because of how sick and out-of-it I felt. I did work a few hours from home on Tuesday though, and then stayed a half hour late yesterday. I really hate taking sick days, especially right now.

So yesterday, since I was still feeling off, I packed a light lunch. I had some snack in my desk in case I got hungry before or after I ate my bento, which worked out well. My boss saw my little bento lunch and even asked, "What's in your bento?" He then went on to say that if it came from home, it's bound to be interesting. I was actually surprised he remembered the word "bento." Unfortunately, this was one of my less interesting lunches, but it was still suited to my day and my appetite.

sliced green peppers
pasta salad (homemade gluten free pasta, shrimp, celery, green pepper, and sauted onions)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bento Meals and Etc.: 7/3/10 - 7/7/10

I've been meaning to post for a few days now, but I've wasn't able for one reason or another. So here we go! :-)

Picnic Sushi Bentos: 7/3/10
These were made for a Fourth of July Firework event my family goes to every year with my mom, her boyfriend, and my oldest sister's family. Too bad the "red" rice looked more pink, but it was was very cute. I also didn't get a picture of the vanilla soy pudding, fruit, or other treats we took, but I think the pictures below make up for it. My nieces and mother thought they were neat and my nieces said the pieces we gave them were delicious. ;-)

The sushi rolls contain a mix of the following:
tamago (sweet omlette)
marinated shiitake
carrot strips
cucumber strips
nori stars
colored rice (red, blue, or white)

Bento Lunch: 7/6/10
My bento meal for 7/6/10 was rather simple and didn't warrant a picture. Half of it I didn't eat and repacked into my lunch for 7/7/10. What I did eat was my blueberries, grapes, and vanilla flavored soy pudding.

Bento Lunch: 7/7/10
This lunch was made of leftover items from my fridge or my previous day's bento.

Top Tier:
grilled seafood kabobs (shrimp and salmon with onions, different peppers, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms)
leftover grilled lobster tail cutlets (lobster tails curled around huge scallops)

Bottom Tier:
leftover dolmas

And Lastly...
And below is a sampling of the pancakes my husband made for my family for our Fourth of July breakfast. Nothing commemorates the rebellious actions of our fore fathers than Star Wars pancakes, right???

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bento Meals: 7/2/10

No bento yesterday, but did pack a nice little set today!
The red-white-blue theme of the snack tier was a happy coincidence that I notice after having finished making it. Perfect for my last work bento before the Fourth of July. How funny!!!

Top Tier: (Snack)
vanilla yogurt
red seedless grapes, halved

Bottom Tier: (Lunch)
dolmas (domades; stuffed grape leaves)
red romaine salad
sliced mushrooms
sliced radishes
dolma oil as a dressing

This was an incredibly satisfying bento. The dolmas and salad were perfect for lunch and the snack tier was very crisp and refreshing. I can see myself making something like this again, especially since it was so fast to put together! :-)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bento Meals and Recipes: 6/30/10

I'm so excited about today's lunch, I'm having trouble waiting till later! Of course, I now eat two meals at work (if I don't pack a breakfast) because my pregnancy is making me hungry more often (though I usually can't eat as much throughout the day). I eat one meal around 11am and the second around 2 pm. I know I call one tier of my bento "snack" at times, but it really is a rather nice sized "snack", sometimes nearly as much as my actual lunch!

You'd think I'd be gaining a lot more weight given the extra eating and the growing baby, but I'm not. My weight gain has been perfect according to my doctor. Most of the weight is very obviously in the "baby bump". Of course, eating healthy and not using the pregnancy as an excuse to over indulge is helping, though it would be very hard to over indulge when I can't eat much and my unborn seems to reject a lot of sweets, treats, and fried junk! Sadly, even decaf coffee is on the "No You Don't, Mommy" list. People thought I hate pretty healthy before, but it's even more so now!

Top Tier:
chopped and sliced cucumber and tomato
roasted pepper and curry salad dressing (in the monkey container)
vanilla yogurt
blueberries and halved seedless red grapes

Bottom Tier:
spicy fishcake stirfry (uhmook bokkeum) w/ sliced onion and julienned Portabella mushrooms
veggie fried rice

Now for a few recipes!
I apologize in advance, since I tend to use base recipes and then do my own thing with them, oft times, not noting the small changes I make or the amounts of other items I added. I usually eyeball these things each time I cook the dish. I will do my best to estimate how much I used of things. :-)

Spicy Fish Cake Stir-Fry (with onion and Portabello mushrooms)
To see Maangchi's original recipe, which I use as my base, click on the following link:

1 package assorted fish cakes, each ball cut into half
1 medium onion, sliced (white or sweet preferred)
1/2 to 1 cup baby Portabello mushrooms, julienned (measured after being cut)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 to 2 Tbsps gochujang (korean hot pepper paste)
1 Tbsp sugar

1 green onion, chopped
1 Tbsp of vegetable oil
sesame oil, approx 1 to 2 tsps
toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

Heat vegetable oil in a wok (or large skillet).
Add the fish cakes to the wok. Stir until they begin to turn golden, watching the wok's temperature so they don't brown to quickly or burn. Mix in the onion, garlic, and mushrooms and stir fry for a couple minutes.

Add the gochujang (hot pepper paste) and sugar, mixing until the vegetables and fish cakes are coated, only a couple minutes. Gochujang tends to burn, so turn down the heat right before adding it.

Turn off the heat and remove the wok from the hot plate (if possible). Stir in sesame oil and green onion. Transfer the food to serving dish or individual plates and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.

Veggie Fried Rice
I had a number of veggies and some cooked rice I needed to use. So why not a quick, easy, healthy, fun fried rice dish? Measurements here are nearly non-existent. Sorry.

Leftover cooked rice, appox 3 cups worth
1 medium onion, chopped (white or sweet)
1 small head of raw broccoli, chopped, approx 1/3 to 1/2 cup
1 small to medium yellow summer squash, shredded, squeezed of liquid, approx 1/3 to 1/2 cup
1 to 2 Vegetable oil
Sesame oil

Heat vegetable oil in a wok. Add onion and broccoli; stir-fry a few minutes until onions and broccoli soften lightly. Add shredded squash and mix for veggies for a couple minutes. Add rice and mix in until each grain looks lightly coated in oil and separated from eachother. Add a small amount of sesame oil and salt, to taste. Transfer to a serving dish or on individual plates.

We had our uhmook bokkeum and veggie fried rice with a large slice of cantaloupe. :-)