Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hummus Snack Bento

Today I was eating homemade gumbo for lunch, so I just packed a side of veggies and hummus:

I still just love my little hummus things from Costco. So convenient!

By the way, yesterday while my husband was at school, I re-did my blog banner from this:

to this:

I was wondering what do you think? Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Anyone think the old one is better? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Happy bento!

Related posts:

Basic Hummus Recipe

Cute is a Verb

"Did you cute your lunch today?" one of my students asked, innocently. Grins all around, and a few of the staff chuckled. But we all knew what she meant.

"A little bit. Do you want to see?"

The bottom tier has brown rice supporting a nori wink, and pulled pork garnished with a tiny little tomato.

The top tier is bordered in lettuce, and displays three varieties of tomatoes (thanks to my dad for the yellow and orange ones!).

Here it is, just waiting for the top lid to go on. Yum!

So, I have to ask: when was the last time you cuted your lunch??

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fresh Bento

Here is the little bento I made for today:

I just went to the grocery store yesterday, so I have lots of fresh foods to cram into my little box...

  • Dark green lettuce
  • Kiwi
  • Carrots (with black sesame seed eyes)
  • Cherry tomatoes (from my yard)
  • Grapes
  • Broccoli
  • Onigiri (rice ball) with nori face
  • Turkey and egg swirl
I love this little guy. He looks like he's hiding, doesn't he?

The kitty cat onigiri was super easy to put together this morning, because I had pre-made the onigiri, and pre-cut the nori.

Happy Bento!

Related posts:
Making Onigiri (rice balls)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How to Cut an Intricate Design Out of Nori

First off, a disclaimer: I do not pretend to be an expert on this topic. I am not even sure this is a good way to do it. This is the first time I've tried cutting out anything at all complicated. But below I will show the steps I took to cut out Sally and Jack for my Nightmare Before Christmas bento.

First I found a simple silhouette online and printed it out the size I wanted. Next I cut the major portions with scissors.

At some point, it occurred to me that scissors were probably not the right tool for the job, and I switched to an Exacto knife.

When I had finished cutting out my model (I know, cheating, right? - but who's to say those "bento artists" I see online don't use gimmicks like this? Not everyone can manage things freehand, people...) I paper clipped it to a sheet of nori. (Again, not sure that this is a great way to do it - any suggestions people have on how to attach a guide to nori would be great!)

My first try, Jack's coat-tails broke off. My second try, Jack lost his head:

Not wanting to waste the Sally and landscape I had intact, I just cut Jack off and redid him by himself.

This seemed to work well, and on this, my third try, Jack turned out pretty well.

I would welcome any thoughts if fellow bento-ers have an easier way to do this. Otherwise, I was pretty happy with my first attempt at such a design.

Happy Bento!

Related posts:
Jack and Sally Bento

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jack and Sally Bento

I am so excited to share this next bento with everyone. I am very pleased with how it turned out.

But first of all, a little background info: I am already getting excited about Halloween. I had my "Trick or Treat" mug out this weekend and was sipping spicy teas from it; dreaming up designs for my jack-o-lantern this year. So it was only natural that my mind would turn to The Nightmare Before Christmas when choosing a bento to do for Monday.

(For my mom, who I'm sure will be shocked that this is now a favorite flick of mine, I must say, "It's not really about ghouls - it's a romance!")

I was at home feeling pretty puny all weekend, which gave me plenty of time to mess around with this bento and get it just the way I wanted it. And here it is:

Close-up of the love-birds:

All packed up and ready to go:

  • Steamed white rice background
  • Usuyaki tamago (thin omlette) moon
  • Nori cut out of Jack and Sally
  • Iceburg lettuce filler
  • Homegrown tomatoes (4)
  • Carrot shards
  • Filet mignon
Happy Bento!

Related Posts:
How To Cut Nori

Friday, September 18, 2009

Smiling Sandwich

Today I made a straight-forward sandwich with a smile:

The face is made of nori, with mayonaise for the whites of his eyes. Wet ingredients were again kept off to the side, so the bread wouldn't get soggy by lunch time.

This time, I managed to fit my hummus into a bento container. I get these little single-serving hummus (what is the plural for hummus anyway? Hummuses? Hummi?) at Costco.

Happy Bento!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Bento for Bryan

Tonight I steamed some rice and spruced up our left-overs to make an appealing bento lunch for Bryan to eat tomorrow. Dioji was near at hand during the photo shoot, which was held (uncustomarily) on a diningroom chair to catch the last rays of the setting sun.

Sorry the picture is dark, like I said, it is just the time of day the photo was taken:

Bryan's lunch contains:

  • Steamed rice (sprinkled with poppy seeds)
  • Grilled teriyaki chicken (sprinkled with sesame seeds)
  • Pineapple skewers
  • Seasoned almonds
Here, again, is Dioji pretending he's not interested:

Happy Bento!

Kitty Bento

Here is the first meal with a face I've made all year:

Bento lunch contains a turkey sandwich on flatbread, with tomatoes and pickles to add on.

Kitty's face is made of turkey. Nose and ears detail is ham. Wiskers, eyes, and paw detail done with nori. Mouth drawn on with food coloring.

I was a little disappointed with how the mouth turned out. The moisture from the meat caused the ink to spread out more than I would have liked. But that's okay. Live and learn, right?

Happy Bento!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chicken and Veggie Medly

The teriyaki chicken bounty continues and so do the bento lunches:


  • Teriyaki Chicken
  • Pineapple
  • White Rice
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Black Olives
One of my co-workers came over expectantly as I opened the vegetable tier of my lunch. She was considerably disappointed that there wasn't any "food art" to behold. Thought I was doing well just getting back to bento... but I guess I will have to kick it up another notch. Not feeling real inspired here. Any ideas?

Happy Bento!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Teriyaki Chicken Bento

My husband spending more time grilling makes for tasty left-over bentos. Below is the result of teriyaki chicken and pineapple skewers. They have been "un-skewed" and are resting on some white rice. The other tier holds left-over red roasted potatoes. Yum!

Happy Bento!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Homegrown Tomatoes

Here are some cherry tomatoes from my yard:

I would say my "garden," but that term implies care - and I have really neglected my little plot of earth lately. Fortunately for me, tomatoes are hardy and determined!

Here they are nestled into a bento lunch:


  • Turkey sandwich
  • Homegrown tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
This last photo is for those of you who feel that I don't eat enough. You will see that I generously round out my meal with hummus, an apple, and Silk yogurt.

Happy Bento!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cedar Plank Salmon

To wind the summer down, Bryan has been grilling up a storm. On Friday, that meant cedar plank salmon. For this to work, you need to soak the plank of wood in water before-hand so that it doesn't catch on fire.

Put whatever salmon seasonings on that you prefer - or use butter, lemon juice and minced garlic if you aren't sure. Then just put the plank, fish and all, on the grill above your hot coals.

In the picture below, Dioji looks on from our newly finished deck.

This filet is on its way to being done. Yum!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Day of School Bento

Here is the bento I packed this morning for my first day back to school with students:


  • BBQ turkey meatballs
  • mashed potatoes
  • broccoli
  • carrots
I plan to eat my veggies with a little hummus. Yum!

Happy Bento and hope everyone is enjoying Back To School season!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chocolate Drop Cookies

Two days ago, I found my recipe book on the counter opened to Chocolate Drop Cookies. These cookies are my husband's absolute favorite. He says they are "texturally superior" to most all other cookies. So go preheat your oven to 350* and let's get started, shall we?

Mix together 1/2 cup of butter and 1 cup brown sugar:

(See the goo on the edge? I accidentally put the egg in there before mixing these together, and decided to remove it and do it right.)

Add the egg (or re-add the egg, in my case)

and beat well.

In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/4 teaspoon each salt, baking soda & baking powder.

Here is something that makes this recipe extremely unusual for me. It uses milk.

But not just milk...

Curdled milk.

To prepare your own 1/2 cup of sour milk (come on, you know you want to!) add 2 Tablespoons of vinegar and stir. Yummy!

Incidentally, when my husband first found out the secret ingredient in his favorite cookies (walking into the kitchen once while his mom was making them) he was completely grossed out and wouldn't eat them for like, a year.

He has since gotten over it. ;) Alternately add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and then 1/3 of the sour milk to the bowl w/ sugar/butter/eggs (you know the drill) and mix well.

Next add 6 Tablespoons of cocoa powder to the bowl.

And blend.

What you have will resemble chocolate pudding.

Drop spoonful sized onto baking sheet (please note: if you use a cookie sheet the cookies will be too thin)

and put them into your preheated oven.

Bake them for 10 - 12 minutes.

When they are done they will probably look a little flat to you.

Do not despair! I am told they are DELICIOUS.

Go ahead and have one or two warm from the oven. But the recipe is not finished yet...

For best texture... after the cookies have cooled, place them on a plate covered with Saran Wrap over night.