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. :-)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bento Meal: 6/28/10

This meal was made of some leftovers from my oldest's niece's visit. We had taco death dogs (mine actually had sauted mushrooms and onions instead) and we had a number of items left. I've been transitioning to pescetarianism, but decided to try one of the cheese-hotdogs that were left. I used to love them and I really love making octo-dogs, so why not start the work week with a cute Monday meal?

Top Tier:
octo-dogs made of a cheese hotdog
steamed/seasoned broccoli
white rice
furikake (nori bits on the broccoli and rice balls on the rice)

Bottom Tier:
green salad (red romaine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and radishes)

Side Container:
salad dressing (made of shredded colby cheese, sour cream, and mild salsa)

I will admit that I'm not used to the taste of hotdogs anymore. Very salty. The rice helped cut the saltiness. In general, I rather enjoyed this bento... though I think I'll continue avoiding any more hotdogs in favor of tofu dogs. Now to find a good gluten free tofu dog...

As for Tuesday, I didn't make a bento. I decided to scavenge instead, taking some prepackaged stuff. Monday night, I just wasn't in the mood (or mental place) to deal with making my lunch, especially since we didn't have any leftovers from dinner. I also didn't want to make it this morning, since I wanted to get to work early for various reasons.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Today and Fun Egg Faces from BentoLunch Blog

First, here's a link to a Egg Faces Tutorial. Shannon from BentoLunch shows how to make these without the use of nori. The picture is from her tutorial.

Second, I didn't pack a 'real' bento today, per se. I grabbed one of my bento containers and put a bunch of cantaloupe in it for a snack. My lunch is going to be a packet of ramen noodles (drained and mixed with less than half of the seasoning and maybe some toasted sesame oil). I didn't pack my lunch last night because we didn't have any leftovers from our meal and I didn't get around to prepping food. This is all probably for the best because my tummy isn't too happy today. I think the coffee (decaf) isn't settling well, given that I almost never drink coffee now and I have an extra large cup I've been working on since this morning. Ugh... (I be a glutton for punishment, me thinks.)

Tomorrow, I might not have a bento either since I have the day off of work and will be going out to lunch with my mother and nieces... and I almost never pack bentos over the weekend (though we have a small Renaissance Faire we'll be going to, so I might actually pack us some stuff to nibble or have a picnic with).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bento Meal: 6/23/10

Another bento made of leftovers*. (See note after this bento's details.)

I tried to make the lunch tier look a little like a garden, with grass (scallions), ladybugs (nori), roots (zucchini noodles), dirt (zucchini-turnip side) with underground worms/bugs (dried shrimp), and a fence (nori strip). The yogurt was decorated to go with the theme, like a mosaic sun. My hubby thought this was a really cute bento, though I'm sure it could use some work. One thing he pointed out was that the bugs also looked like a ghosty face from an angle... Now I got that stuck in my head too!

Not a bad bento job for another quick throw together, though this time it was packed after dinner as I put our leftovers away. :-)

Snack Bento
vanilla yogurt with dried fruit (apricot, cranberries)
4 Hershey's Kisses (2 peppermint, 2 mint truffle)
Honey Nut Chex

Lunch Bento
risotto balls (3 cheese, shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes)
mashed potato balls w/ nori punchous and scallions
zucchini noodles w/ butter and garlic
steamed turnip slices cut as flowers
sweet turnip-zucchini side with three tiny dried shrimps

On June 16, a member asked the BentoLunch LJ community, "Who has a bento stash and what is in it? Also what are your bento must haves on your shopping list?" The answers have been interesting to read, but mine seemed quite different. I was hoping a little that someone would also have the same idea or practice I do, but I didn't see any. That's okay though, because it reflects how diverse bentoing can be, from very practical to very artistic to both!

Here's what my response was: "I'm one of the strange ones that doesn't really have a bento stash in the way of food. I pretty much have whatever I bought from all of us to use for various meals, and I take pieces for my bentos. Or leftovers... especially the nummy leftovers. :-) I will admit that certain things are bought with bento packing in mind (like grapes). Usually, though, I do try to keep some sugar snap peas in the freezer and carrots and nori in the fridge for quicky bento sides and fillers. Rice is not uncommon to have at ready for general meals, so I don't really count that. ;-) Hm... maybe my bentos reflect this... heh heh.But this week, I did buy some broccoli, turnips, zucchini, avocados, and grapes with bento making clearly on my mind. (Though they will likely show up for dinner first...)"

But it did get me thinking about food stashes and such... and I find myself boggled. I don't think I can imagine having a food stash in my fridge or pantry that is mainly for bentos. I'm not sure why it's so hard for me to wrap my mind around. :-p

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bento Meals: 6/22/10

My lunch bento was made mainly of leftovers from dinner, while the snack bento and breakfast drink used up some strawberries that were getting to that "nearly over ripe" stage.

The zucchini noodles were such a hit that I will definitely need to make them again. The risotto, however, could probably have done with a little less cheese, but it wasn't bad for my second attempt.

Lunch Bento:
shrimp risotto with three cheeses and sun-dried tomatoes
zucchini "noodles" with butter and garlic
carrot sticks with toasted sesame oil

banana-strawberry smoothie (with unflavored soy milk)
Snack Bento:
balsamic strawberries with marscapone cheese and fresh mint leaves

Close up of the snack bento:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bento Meals: 6/17/10

Today's bento came together much faster. I believe this is due to my getting back into the swing of my bento making and because we had some leftovers from dinner that I felt I could stomach today. I used my Laptop Lunch box (okay... the blue one is technically my husband's box) and put both my snack and my lunch in it. I also packed my breakfast in my Hello Kitty Thermos container.

Lunch and Snack
shrimp Enchiladas with Tomatillo Bean Salsa
avocado half with sour cream
"hint of jalepeno" tortilla chips
yogurt with mini grape and dried fruit (apricot, cranberries)
halved seedless red grapes

unflavored soy milk
Steel cut oatmeal with:
dried fruit (apricot, cranberries)
walnut pieces
seasoning (brown sugar, vanilla extract)
a splash of unflavored soy milk (for creaminess)

I also have leftover fruit from yesterday's snack bento which I'll probably eat tonight or tomorrow morning along with any leftover fruit from today. I've been packing large bentos just in case I have a "big appetite day". I definitely don't need the strong urge to go get a snack or hit the vending machine at work.

Hopefully, I'll start packing most of my bento stuff at night and can get my bento boxes in order, to save time. I noticed today that I would find parts to my boxes but would be missing other key parts. Luckily, today the Laptop Lunch was all together and ready. Whew! I wonder if my son has been wondering off and hiding my bento box pieces in his secret treasure chests and hiding spots...

Catching Up: Another edition!

I realized last night that I had this images in a draft entry from back in January! I meant to post these but never got around to it and then completely forgot. So... I figure I might as well share, mainly because one of the bentos I was extremely proud of! :-)

My bento meals from today will be posted tonight. :-)

So first... the bento I really thought turned out uber cute!

Lunch Bento
hard boiled egg with black toasted sesame seed detailing
sugar snap peas
white rice with indian salad topping
soy sauce in fishy container

Another bento that actually turned out pretty nice, but not as cute.

Lunch Bento
kabobs (pan-fried fish balls with sauteed red onions and garlic)
daikon seasoned with rice vinegar and sugar
carrots lightly cooked with sugar, sesame oil, and sesame seeds
two types of spicy korean red pepper paste sauces

This next bento was made for my son. He was going to Grammie's for a nice visit. (I can't remember if this was a dinner and dessert bento or a dinner and breakfast one.

Son's Bento
egg fried rice (homemade, of course)
gluten free pancakes
vanilla yogurt

And as an extra... some nice pictures of a veggie soup I made around that time. It was so yummy, healthy, and pretty, I couldn't bring my self to erase the pictures from the draft entry. :-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bento Meals: 6/16/10

So today's bentos were also a semi rush job, but not bad. They gave me some fun ideas for later on. :-)

Lunch: 2 sweet potato balls with butter and brown sugar, 4 kimbap pieces with seasoned carrots and marinated mushrooms, a quick mashed avocado (with a little lemon and salt), and some "hint of jalepeno" tortilla chips. The sweet potato balls are decorated with a nori cat and rat.

Snack: cherry vanilla yogurt, strawberry pieces, and halved seedless red grapes.

The cat and the rat are actually a sentimental symbol for my husband and me. In college, he and his brother were the Ratones (rat-oan-aes) and one of their friends made a comic strip that featured these Ratone characters. When my hubby and I started dating, he called me his Kitty Cat (now I'm just a MankyCat) and he gave me a pendant with a cat holding a rat by the tail. To rats with cats (or mice with cats) are a lovey-dovey thing for us.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bento Meals: 6/15/10 (and 6/14/10)

For 6/15/10:
Yay for a bento meals! (Especially ones with pictures!)

The image is a little dark, but I can't guarrantee I will be able to post a lightened version when I get home. I'm just happy to have this! (Thanks goes to my husband, who downloaded and emailed me the picture to put up here.) So....

Lunch (bottom tier): Various types of Kimbap. Kimbap is like a korean version of sushi, using unseasoned rice. There are three pieces with marinated Shiitake mushrooms, two pieces with seasoned carrots, two pieces with the mushrooms and carrots together, two pieces with the carrots-tamago-scallions, and two pieces with mushrooms-carrots-tamago-scallions. Included is a small bottle of soy sauce.

Snack (top tier): halved gluten-free buckwheat pancakes and a small side dish of syrup.

The Kimbap was delicious and filling. So filling, in fact, that I'm not sure I'll actually get around to eating the snack, but we'll see. One never knows when hunger will strike an expecting mother!

For 6/14/10
No picture was taken of yesterday's bentos. I didn't have time and they weren't anything spectacular enough to drag a camera to work in order to get pictures.

But what I had...
Lunch bento: Cheese filled raviolis (containing wheat) with basil tomato sauce.
Snack: 4 mini gluten free buckwheat pancakes with a small container of syrup and cantaloupe cut into bite-sized chunks.

Side Note
Sadly, it's very apparent to me that I need to go grocery shopping. We are getting low on various staples. On the plus side, we obviously have enough to make delicious scrounge meals like the kimbap and pancakes above! Regardless... Me thinks I shall hit the store tonight or tomorrow and get some extra stuff. Besides, I would love to have more cantaloupe... The last one was so good...


Star Wars bento hasn't happened yet, but I hope to make it soon... or three of them (one for me, one for my honey, and one for my baby).

We did, however, get some nifty items yesterday for belated Mother's Day, early Father's Day, and very early birthday gifts for my husband and me. Of course, we really got them to use for my son, but hey... why not? :-)

These are the items we got from Williams Sonoma:

Starwars Pancake Molds, Star Wars Cookie Cutters

Latticework Pocket Pie Mold, And Heart Shaped Pocket Pie Mold

My husband already broke-in the Latticework Pie mold last night. He made us apricot-pear pocket pies! I'm a lucky woman.

I hope to get the star shaped pocket pie mold, because the Williams Sonoma around the corner has some left, and they are not available online or in most places. I'd also love to get the Buttercup Cakelet Pan below.

Wouldn't that be just perfect for strawberry shortcakes and the like???

Friday, June 11, 2010

Today's Lunch and How to Egg Sheets

Today's lunch was not really that pretty, but it was tasty enough for a stomach that isn't too happy. I will try to add a picture of it later, but if that doesn't happen, here's what it was.

One Tier: Brown rice mixed with leftover lasagna cheese filling, topped with basil cheese tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella and a side of corn. I also packed some spicy cucumber banchan for my ramen noodles, but don't think I'll be eating that today.

Now for a nice "How To" found on MyBentolicious. For her instructions, click on the following link:

I usually make egg sheets a bit more simply, but I want to try this method out, since mine don't look nearly as pretty as hers! And do I see another use for my tamago pan? Why, yes I do!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Carved Carrot Flowers!

I found this 3D carrot flower carving technique on Bento Zen. The carrot flowers are amazingly cute and I love how they are steamed, making them more vibrant, easier to carve, and easier to eat! The image on the left is from her entry.

Click the following link to read the entry and instructions:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Since my last post, I found out I am pregnant. Making bentos became low priority due to constantly feeling sick. Hopefully, since I'm in my second trimestor and food is looking appetizing again, I will start my bento making with renewed interest.

In the meantime, I found this link on a bento forum I frequent. The costs look really good and I know several of the items they are selling because I ordered them from another company that no longer takes online orders.

The website is All Things For Sale.

Enjoy! :-)