Friday, August 1, 2014

Arancini Bento

Today I used leftovers from yesterday's bento to create this one. Arancini are fried rice balls with cheese inside of them. Um, thanks Italy for the AMAZING idea. I used leftover brown rice as well as some of my exploded sweet potato to form these rice balls, and each has a cube of white cheddar inside. Also in this bento: steamed broccolini from the West End Farmers Market, and a yellow tomato also from the West End Farmers Market.

I used a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis as the basis for my recipe. I have included a loose recipe below, but the measurements are not exact.

Look at that oozy yummy cheesy goodness! These are the best soon after they are made, but they are also a delicious bento staple.

Exploded Sweet Potato Arancini
1 small egg, beaten
1/2 cup cooked short brain brown rice
1/8 cup exploded (mashed) cooked sweet potato
1/4 cup breadcrumbs, plus more for coating
1 teaspoon minced fresh green onion
1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
salt and pepper

Combine above ingredients in a bowl. Mixture should hold together but still be sticky. Take about two tablespoons of mixture and then put in a little chunk of white cheddar cheese. Use your hands and fingers to mold the mixture around the cheese, then roll the ball in reserved breadcrumbs. Heat oil over medium heat, and fry balls in oil until browned on all sides. If you have a deep fryer, good for you. You can deep fry the balls at about 350 degrees for about 4 minutes until golden. Serve either warm, or cool and add to bento box lunches. Makes about 4 large arancini.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hippie Bento

One of the go-to lunches I used to eat in Seattle was brown rice, greens, and sweet potato. Sometimes I would add tofu. My boss, Shawn, used to call this "Hippie Lunch #1" and that always cracked me up. I guess Hippie Lunch #2 might include hummus.

In this bento: brown rice with black sesame seeds, sauteed kale from Sebastopol, sweet potato mash*, and chunks of heirloom tomato from the West End Farmers Market in Santa Rosa.

*I ended up with sweet potato mash because I was baking a sweet potato in the oven, and when I went to check on it, it exploded! So instead of just a half of a baked sweet potato (which was my original plan) I ended up scraping out some exploded sweet potato into this bento box. LOL

And as soon as I am done eating this, I will order a pizza with everything. Kidding.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Circular Logic Bento

Today's bento is in fact NOT from today. I never posted this lunch (which I actually made LAST summer), but I saw this picture and it got me thinking...

One of the most pleasing box shapes for preparing bento box lunches is not actually a box with sides, but a circular shaped container like this one. Bento makers call it a Magic Round Bento. Food placed in a circular bento box naturally falls into place, with one food gently resting on the next, echoing the circular flow of the outside of the container. There really isn't a need to plan placement in a circular container, because each bit of food fits easily next to the other bit. And an empty pocket is the perfect spot for the tiny globe of a cherry tomato. I also photographed this bento on a piece of scrapbook paper dotted with circles. (whoa, dude!)

In this bento: baby carrots, bbq pork, tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette), radishes, edamame, and a cherry tomato. Happy bento-ing!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Monochromatic Green Bento

I thought I would try my hand at a few monochromatic bento box lunches. One of the rules of bento is to include 5 different colors. This makes sense, to insure that your lunch has a variety of foods. However, sometimes you gotta break the rules. I present: Green Bento!

In the left container: steamed broccoli, cucumber slices, steamed green beans, fried bamboo rice with edamame, and kiwi slices. In the right container: fried bamboo rice with edamame topped with pan fried turkey cutlet and herbs.

While this bento does not have 5 different colors, I do have protein (the egg whites in the fried rice, as well as the edamame and turkey cutlet), starch (rice), vegetables, and fruit. 

I made a marinade for the turkey cutlet using Italian Parsley and cilantro, and reserved some of the marinade (before I put the turkey in it!) to put on top of the poultry after I pan fried it. The marinade also contains olive oil, salt, pepper, a drop of sesame oil, and Yuzu Ponzu sauce.

Bamboo rice is a light green rice that has been infused with bamboo extract. It does retain a slight green tinge after cooking and it is very pretty. I used Yuzu Ponzu sauce when frying the rice so as not to turn it brown with regular shoyu. I also added fresh parsley to the egg white in the rice, for more green color.

Here is the bento box I used for my green bento. This is a fun two tiered bento box in the shape of a frog. And I would say the best thing to pair with this bento is the Austrian wine, Grüner Veltliner. (Grün is German for Green!)

Happy Bento-ing!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Carnitas Bento

This bento was made with leftovers from a slow cooker carnitas recipe. One tip that I found really great was to spread out some of the pulled pork onto a cookie sheet and then broil it for a few minutes to get the meat a little crispy on parts. Ooo, yum!

Also in this bento: romaine lettuce, a tiny red bell pepper from Triple T Ranch, a green chile tortilla from La Tortilla Factory, and slices of tomato from Triple T Ranch. Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

One Fish Two Fish (No Fish)

Is it weird that this One Fish Two Fish bento does not actually contain any FISH? ha ha.

In celebration of the 109th birthday of Dr. Seuss (March 2nd), here is my One Fish Two Fish lunch. The fish are actually made with egg sheet colored with food coloring! I had a heck of a time making egg sheets, I just don't have the skill. So I used a microwave method posted by Biggie, and it worked out okay. I'm still not that good at doing egg sheets.

In this bento: rice, egg sheet fish, steamed broccolini from Triple T Ranch, carrots, and pulled pork topped with picked red onions and sprigs of cilantro. The eyes of the fish are swiss cheese, and the details are cut out from nori.

Of course, I had to pack this in my Dr. Seuss bento box! This is actually just a food container I got in the dollar bins at Target, but it is perfect size for a bento. Yum!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How Does That Bento Fill You Up?

I am giving myself a refresher course with Maki's Just Bento online course. So far it has been really fun! The course is designed for people new to bento, but since I fell behind on bento making for a while, I think this is a good way to reinforce good bento skills. Lesson 2A is called What Do I Put In It?

One thing I have heard a lot from my friends and family when they see my bento box meals is, "How do you get enough to eat with that small box?" Maki takes on this idea in Lesson 2A by having you show the food spread out on a 'normal' dinner plate, and then see how you can put that food into a 'relatively' small container. Here is my bento:

In this bento: two pieces of leftover crispy fried tofu from Goji Kitchen, leftover grilled pork with rice noodles and some lettuce also from Goji Kitchen, three slices of cucumber, a radish, and four yellow cherry tomatoes. I had the fortune cookie in this picture, but I actually forgot to take it with me today for lunch!

Here are the ingredients spread out on a dinner plate, and actually, I was able to fit one more cherry tomato and one more slice of tofu into this bento box! Spread out like this, it looks like a normal portion of food for lunch. And I felt perfectly satisfied after eating this, not deprived at all.

Here is my ADORABLE Hello Kitty bento that I picked up in SF Japantown the last time I was in the city. This came in a set of three boxes, each one a bit smaller than the last. The big box was too big, so I chose this one, which is big enough to hold 300ml of food. 

Maki has posted the next lesson in her Bento 101 course today, which deals with finding the right kind of bento box for you. I think I find TOO MANY right kind of boxes for me, ha ha. But they are sooo kawaii!! I encourage you to check out the courses on because I am sure you will learn something new. 

I have also included this bento in Shannon's What's For Lunch Wednesdays blog. See more great ideas for lunch inspiration!