Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Bento No.38, Bulking Out Burgers

My obsession with these delicious rice and bean burgers continues. We had them again the other night, with leftovers for lunch the next day. I put in a bit less rice this time, which meant they didn't make quite enough for a next day bento themselves. Fortunately, a quick root through my cupboards managed to provide some healthy (and not quite so healthy!) fillers! 

Left (top) box: Bean and Aduki bean burgers, cheese, tomato ketchup (in blue tub), edamame, tamagoyaki
Right (bottom) box: Crisps, tomatoes, cucumber

Friday, 5 October 2012

Bento No.37, Jumbalaya

We have had a glorious September here in Japan, and right up until last weekend, it still felt like summer. But then a typhoon hit, and since then, autumn has certainly been on the way! This definitely mean it's time for a chance in the eating habits...salads and light meals fall by the wayside and stews and hearty one pot meals come to the fore. One of my favourites is for Jumbalaya, a Creole dish. I have no idea how authentic my recipe is, but it certainly is delicious, and helps stave off those winter blues, no matter what the time of year! 

Unfortunately, it doesn't work all that well as a bento item. It's definitely nicer warm, but I was out of inspiration this morning, so I added some along side some other bits and bobs. 

Left (bottom) tier: Mayo in a container (made from the bottom of a red bell pepper), asparagus, cucumber, cherry tomatoes
Right (top) tier: Jumbalaya (recipe below), cucumber as a divider, homemade brown bread
Dessert: Bounty Chocolate Bar, Peach Jelly, Satsuma

Chicken and Prawn Jumbalaya Recipe

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • ½ can of sweetcorn
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ a 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • Herbs of your choice: 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 tsp dried thyme and 1 bay leaf are the best combo, but 1tsp mixed herbs does the job and are much easier!
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper/chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 125g basmati rice, rinsed
  • 2 skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 250g peeled prawns, fresh or frozen (optional)
  • Extra water/stock for when it dries out.
1. Heat the oil in a pan. Reduce the heat to low and sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly, until well blended. Cook very gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until the roux turns a rich brown.
2. Increase the heat slightly, stir in the onion, green pepper and garlic and continue frying, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the stock, parsley, thyme, bay leaf and cayenne pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, half cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes, until sightly thickened.
3. Increase the heat and bring the liquid to the boil. Stir in the rice, then reduce the heat to low, add the chicken and sweetcorn and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the rice is tender and the chicken is cooked through. Stir frequently to stop it sticking. Pour in a little extra stock or waterif needed.
4. Add the prawns (if using) and simmer for 1 minute or until the prawns turn pink.
5. Remove the bay leaf. Season to taste, then ladle into bowls. Serve with hot pepper sauce, and/or toast if you need a bit of crunch.

Bento No.36, Sashimi and Sweets

I got called into work last minute the other night, and what with that and then a Japanese lesson the next morning, I didn't have much time to make a bento. Luckily, John had picked up a lot of sashimi the night before from the supermarket, so that made the basis for a tasty, simple lunch! Some people might be funny about raw fish in a box you're going to leave out for a few hours, but I'm fairly lax with food hygiene and it's not that hot here now anyway.

Top box: Tuna and miscellaneous other types of sashimi, on a bed of shredded daikon
Bottom box: Cucumber, tomato and lettuce salad, with ranch dressing (in blue pot)

This might look like a very very healthy lunch...but I have a confession to make! I don't know if it's the time of year, or because I've been feeling a bit ill, but this last week I have just eaten and eaten and eaten! I'm constantly hungry and have been eating like an absolute pig! I knew this bento alone wouldn't fill me up in my current mood, so alongside it, I bought a nikuman (steamed dumpling) and took this dessert bento. I tried to make it fairly healthy, and it was oh so yummy!

Satsuma, Peach jelly, Bounty chocolate bar, Raisins

Monday, 1 October 2012

Bento No.35, Totally Vegan

One of the blogs I always enjoy perusing for new bento ideas is Bento Blog Network. They do a weekly theme, and anyone can submit their bento. My themed bentos still leave a lot to be desired, so I don't usually bother to submit mine, although I still love looking at other peoples. This week, however, the theme is "Totally Vegan". Whilst I am not vegan, or even vegetarian, both John and I try to eat meat free lots of the time. Not only is it cheaper and healthier, but it's also much better for the environment. Loads of my bentos are vegetarian, and one or two are vegan, but this was the first time I'd set out with a vegan aim in mind. Whilst veganism is most obviously about protecting animals, a major secondary benefit is the lessened environmental impact. Since that is, to me anyway, the strongest appeal of vegetarianism and veganism, I thought it was fitting to make my "Totally Vegan" bento a nature themed one! 

Yesterday, John requested Greek for dinner, so we had pita bread, hummus, calamari and various salad bits. It was delicious, and luckily the leftovers were very easily adaptable to make this lunch! 

Chickpea and Aubergine Falafel, Cherry Tomatoes with flower pick, Daikon and Sun-dried Tomato flowers with Lemon and Cucumber centres, Hummus, Olives, Pita Breads, Cucumber and Tomato decoration

This bento is a more basic version of the one above, without the olives or the fancy decorations! 

Linking up to:
Bento Blog Network

Bento No.34, Bean and Rice Burgers

The other night, John was cooking dinner, and veggie burgers were on the menu. I asked him to make enough mixture for bentos the next day too, and when I tried them I was very glad I had. They were DELICIOUS! The original recipe was for adzuki bean, sun-dried tomato and millet burgers, but we substituted the millet for rice, and changed the herbs around a bit. They weren't like traditional burgers at all, but I've been craving them over and over again since we made it!

For my bento, I'd thought there was more mixture left than there was, so when I put the burgers and veggies in, there was loads of space left. Luckily, a quick search round my room found me lots of little bits and bobs to fill it up with. I loved the variety that it gave me, and mean to try to do more bentos with lots of variety when I have time!

Rice and Adzuki Bean Burgers (recipe below), Broccoli, Tomatoes, Green Beans, Satsuma, Ketchup (in small green tub), little chilli biscuits, half a cereal bar, small 60% cocoa chocolate

Rice and Adzuki Bean Burgers (Makes enough for 2, with some leftovers for the next day)
Adapted from Veggies on the Counter

3 cups Cooked Rice
60g Sun-Dried Tomatoes (in oil or dry)
400g Adzuki Beans (canned or cooked)
3 Cloves of Garlic
Oil (sun-dried tomato oil is best, but olive would do too)
 ½ tsp Salt
Black Pepper
1tsp basil (or sub with other herbs of  your choice)

1. If using dry tomatoes, put them in a bowl with hot water and leave to rehydrate for about 15 minutes.
2. Chop garlic and fry in a bit of the olive oil until golden brown.
3. Chop tomatoes and drain beans.
4. Put half each of the rice, tomatoes and beans and all the garlic in a blender. Add about a tablespoon of oil,  the salt and pepper and herbs. Blend until it makes a smooth paste. Add more liquid if necessary (oil or water; oil will be tastier, water healthier!)
5. Mix the rest of the ingredients into the paste. Pulse once or twice in the blender.
6. Slightly oil your hands and shape the mixture into burger patties.
6. Heat up some oil in a frying pan, and fry the burgers until they're browned (about 5 minutes on each side)
7. Serve with veggies of your choice. 

Friday, 28 September 2012

Bento No.33, Thanks Mum!

On the last day my parents were here, my lovely Japanese tutor invited us all to her house for a delicious lunch. We all ate far more than was good for us, and so before I headed off to work I asked Mum to make sure there were a few salad bits in the fridge for when I got in. Well, she outdid herself, and made me this gorgeous bento! It was lovely to have someone make me a bento for a change! 

Top tier: Lettuce, tomato, edamame and cucumber salad (I added a bit of ranch dressing before I ate it)
Bottom tier: Ham and egg, with ham and cucumber letters, koala yummies (biscuits filled with chocolate)

Friday, 21 September 2012

Bento No.32, Hummus and Dippers

My parents have been visiting me in Japan for the last couple of weeks, and we've been having a lovely time exploring some of the areas around Sendai that I like the most. Obviously, that includes several of my favourite restaurants, but we spent several days in the countryside, and I got to introduce them to bentos! My Dad was very dubious about the idea of decorating your food, but even he couldn't resist a smile when he saw some of the cute lunches I made for him, and my Mum was a convert from the start! 

Left hand box: Homemade hummus, decorated with cucumber name, cucumber, pepper, tomatoes
Right hand box: Spicy curry peanuts, lettuce, cheese rabbit, homemade pita breads

Mum and Dad enjoying their bento boxes in a park at the end of our walk! 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Bento No.31, Sakura Onigiri Bento

This week I've been getting really excited about my parent's visit...by this time tomorrow they'll be on their way, and by this time on friday we'll all be together in a hut near Mount Fuji!! Hurrah!! Because we're going camping, I've been getting lots of food bits together to take with us, so most of my meals this week have been rushed affairs. However, yesterday I decided that I would prettify my lunch because, after all, it only takes a few minutes, and it's nice! 

I've been eyeing up the quails eggs in the supermarket for a while now, and finally got round to buying them this week. I was impressed with how tasty they are, and they're so bento friendly. They'll definitely be on my shopping list more often in the future! 

Left (top) box: Ginger tuna soboro, cheese flower, cucumber, pumpkin with cumin, Daikon flower, quails eggs, nori flowers, small pink ball of jelly (wrapped in what is effectively a balloon, this was a gift from my Japanese tutor!)
Right (bottom) box: Sushi rice onigiri with nori

Close up on the flower. I've been meaning to play about with sesame seeds on flowers for ages, and although they were a bit of a faff, I think they make it look a lot posher!!

Linking to:

Bento Lunch

Friday, 31 August 2012

Bento No.30, Cute but Boring Pooh Bears

John went away for work for a few days, so I treated myself to a naughty breakfast: Welsh Cakes. They're really yummy, and are perfect for a special breakfast, alongside a glass of orange juice or even a smoothie. While cutting them out, my eyes fell on the Pooh Bear cutter I bought last week, and I decided to try it out. They worked perfectly, I was so happy with them! So, they had to go in the bento I was making that day, along with their friends! I hadn't really thought about this bento beforehand, and food stocks are running short, so it's actually fairly boring to eat. Ahh well, at least it looked cute! 

Left tier: Boiled carrots with cumin, edamame and peas, tamagoyaki
Middle Tier: Rice with cheese decorations
Right tier: Pooh Bear shaped Welsh Cakes

All packed in my new bear bento box, of course!  

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Bento No.29, Tortilla Rolls Ups

I've been wanting to try making tortilla roll ups for ages, since I've seen them on so many other people's blogs.  I had some soft cheese that I acquired from the sky bar at the Keio Plaza when we were there last week, so I decided to make some tortillas and give it a go. They looked nice, as long as they were wedged in, but as soon as there was any space they sprung out of shape again. I think they still look quite nice though, and they were really yum with the peppers.

Left (bottom) tier: Salad of lettuce, tomatoes and edamame
Right (top) tier: Cucumber, hot and sweet peppers with carrot, chunk of cheddar cheese, tortilla roll ups with soft cheese and lettuce

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Bento No.28, Saturday Pizza

Pizza for dinner means pizza for bento! It is the most satisfying feeling when you know tomorrow's lunch is all sorted with very little extra work! This bento wasn't that healthy, especially with the sweet bits for pudding, but it's not as bad as it looks! The pizza were fairly healthy; half brown flour, no oil, and the bottom one was covered in veggies. And anyway, working on a Saturday calls for a little treat!

2 homemade pizzas, one with sausage and pineapple, one with spicy veggies (hidden underneath), lettuce and cucumber, mayo for dipping, cheese Pooh bear decorations
Victoria sponge cake, raspberry ruffle and pineapple for pudding

Bento No.27, Mediterranean with a View

On a day off last weekend, John and I finally got round to hiking over some hills near our house. We didn't know how long the walk would take (or exactly where it started or how difficult it would be or really anything about it!) so we wanted to take lunch with us. We'd bought some salami the day before, and John treated himself to some olives, so I used that as a basis for a (very) vaguely Mediterranean, simple bento. 

Back box: Steamed brocolli and couscous with fried carrot and red pepper and various herbs
Front Box: Sweet potato (boiled, drained, then sprinkled with cumin), salami, sundried tomatoes, olives

My box was the same, except for an olive/cucumber substitution

And just look at the gorgeous view we had to eat it with! I don't know if it was the view, the hunger or the bento itself, but this was one the yummiest bentos I've made in ages, despite the simplicity. Definitely be making it again! 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bento No.26, Pepper and Rice Pooh Bear

I had a random craving for chicken mayo, so this bento had that, along with a selection of Winnie the Pooh paraphernalia! I definitely need more practise on decorating onigiri, the bears all look a bit messy! 

Top (left) tier: Pooh Bear onigiri heads, made with tumeric rice, peas and edamame
Bottom (right) tier: Hot and sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, chicken mayo, Pooh Bear pepper decorations

Monday, 27 August 2012

Bento No.25, Bear in a Bear Box

When I bought my new Panda bento box, there was a bear bento box next to it, also half price. I was really tempted to buy, but I definitely didn't need it, so I didn't. Then, obviously, I spent 3 days wishing I had. So I went back to the shop and bought it. And while I was there, I bought a little Pooh Bear food cutter because I love Winnie the Pooh! Here is a bento using both the box and the cutter *(^-^)*

Left hand (top) box: peas and shelled edamame, pooh bear carrots, tomatoes, white fish (don't ask me what kind) marinated and cooked in soy sauce, mirin and sugar, brocolli
Right hand (bottom) box: Steamed rice

Look at that lovely happy Pooh Bear! 

Bento No.24, Traffic Light Panda

Since being in Japan, I have developed a panda problem. You can get I have a panda watch, panda lego, a panda iphone case, a panda onigiri maker and panda picks. I first saw this panda bento box a few months ago, and have been lusting after it ever since. But it's really a bit too small for an adults lunch (only 500ml), so I decided it wasn't worth the ¥900 price tag and I left it. But I still go back again and again to all the shops I know that sell bento making supplies, just to check they haven't got anything new. And last week, when I went into a supermarket near one of my schools, I saw my lovely panda bento on half price. So, obviously, I succumbed! And then made a cute panda bento just the next day.

Just look how lovely it is! 

...with cute paw print chopsticks.

The top box is 300ml, and fit in a lovely little "traffic light" red, yellow and green lunch for me. Cucumber, edamame, tamagoyaki, yellow cherry tomatoes, frankfurter and red pepper.

 The bottom box is 200ml, and just about fits in enough rice. Embellished with a panda face, of course!

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with this box. Neither of the seals are particularly watertight, but they fit well enough. And I was surprised that I managed to fit enough food in it to fill me up. Definitely would have been a good buy even at full price, and I'm very happy I could get it at just ¥450! 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Bento No.23, An egg bento for 4

John's parents have been visiting us the last couple of weeks, which has been lovely! They were a bit overwhelmed by all the Japanese food all the time though, so I made us all bentos one day. It was fun to experiment with a more western style lunch for a change, but I find it a lot harder to make it all fit than I do with Japanese food. I don't know if it's because the food's less dense (especially rice vs bread), or because I've got more assumptions about the amount of food I need when it's the food I've always eaten. We all found these bentos filled us up anyway, especially with an ice cream for pudding! 

Everyone had different likes, but I managed to use the same basis for everyone's. It was fun trying to work out how to tailor it to suit John's hatred of "boring foods", John's mum want for not too many carbs, and John's dad's hatred of dry food. I think everyone was happy in the end though!

All four bentos contain, in some way, Homemade brown bread, Egg (David's has egg mayo, the rest of us have boiled eggs), Camembert, Salad (made out of varying amounts of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado and edamame).
John and I also have pumpkin (boiled, then with cumin, curry powder and chilli powder sprinkled on it), and John has some spicy curry peanuts
On the side, I took a small box of salad dressing which we shared.

I like how colourful this bento is

I gave John 3 boxes so I could squeeze in a bit of extra bread for him to share with me! 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Bento No.22, Scraping out the Fridge

We went away to Tokyo last week. As always before going away, we hadn't bought anything fresh for a few days, so we could use up everything in the fridge. I hate wasting food! A good idea in theory, but by the time I wanted to make this bento, we'd run out of just about everything! Fortunately a bit of scavenging around the corners of my fridge and cupboard gave me just about enough stuff to make a bento with! I love this frankfurter, sweetcorn and edamame mixture as a bento filler. It uses things I always have in the freezer or cupboard, and allows me to fullfill my naughty processed sausage craving while still having something fairly healthy! 

Top tier: Boiled Egg, Frankfurters, Sweetcorn and Edamame, Aubergines made with a very very vague version of this recipe
Bottom tier: Rice with Tuna Soboro

Bento No.21, Evening Relaxation

My work schedule is erratic, to say the least, so bentos serve lots of purposes. Some are lunch at work, some are picnics before work, some are dinner at work in the evening, and some are just because it's nice to know dinner will be on the table when you arrive home at 10pm. This bento was one of the latter. John wanted a bento to take to work, and I knew that I'd never be bothered to cook for myself. It was so nice to be able to crash in front of my computer and not have to think, as soon as I got in! 

It might not be the prettiest, or the most exciting bento, but it was yummy, and certainly filled a hole! I had a bit of a rice nightmare...put it on to cook them promptly forgot about it while packing for our trip to Tokyo. About 40 mins later my cooker started beeping at me because it got too hot, and I had raaaather crispy rice! I salvaged the bit from the middle, and cooked some sweet potatoes to fill up the extra space. A fortunate mistake in the end, because the sweet potatoes were yum! 

Top tier: Cherry tomatoes, Brocolli, Tamagoyaki, Miso aubergine/eggplant
Bottom tier: Sweet potato (boiled, then drained and readded to the pan with a little oil and cumin and fried until a little crispy), rice with spicy curry peanuts

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Bento No.20, Putting birthday presents to good use!

Yesterday was my birthday. My day was nice, but had too much work in it to feel like a real birthday! I got some lovely presents though, and despite being ill my lovely boyfriend did his best to spoil me rotten! As well as some other bits, he gave me a super super cute panda onigiri maker that I've been coveting for weeks, but had decided it was too expensive to justify. Things like that are the best presents! 

Sooooo cute *^-^*

My Mum sent me a parcel full of British things, everything from postcards of my hometown to liquorice allsorts to a union jack bag. Most ridiculously, she sent me a block of cheese! Japanese cheese is either expensive and really awful, or really REALLY expensive. So this is the first time in 7 months that I've had cheese that tastes of something. I just munched a couple of slices straight out of the packet, and cheese on toast is on the menu this week!

John had a really late night at work today, so I used my cheese and my panda onigiri makers to make a couple of cute bentos for dinner. Of all my bentos so far, I'm proudest of these. I think I got the balance between cute, tasty, healthy and portable just right. Hurrah! 

Johns was based on Date Masamune. He was the founder of Sendai (the city we live near), and a common modern emblem of him has his head shaped like an onigiri (see here). I don't know why, but I do know that I have been dying to make a real Masamune onigiri for months! I needed cheese to make a good crown though, and so when I opened Mum's parcel, I knew what my first project would be! 

Clockwise from top left:
2 Date Masamune onigiri with cheese and nori decoration
Cherry tomatoes
Yellow pick used as a 'sword' (because apparently boys will be boys, and since Masamune was a warrior, he has to have a sword. Psssht.)
Leftover salmon and tuna sashimi

My bento was almost idential, except for the cucumber instead of avocado, and cute pandas instead of "scary" warriors! 

Smiley panda picks, with their big panda brother smiling down on them. Happiness reigns! 

Bento No.19, Homemade Italian

Japan, as everyone knows, is a very homogeneous country. This has a lot of effects, but one of the ones that affects me the most is the food. There are international restaurants but a lot of them are fairly dubious and serve a lot of foods that would be unrecognisable to anyone from that country (I know this isn't just Japan, but it seems a lot worse here)! It's even worse in supermarkets. Unless you go to (often very expensive) import food shops, it's really hard to find international ingredients. I'm not talking about fancy stuff here. Things that are either unfindable or horrendously expensive include; cheese that tastes like cheese, brown bread/rice/pasta, hummus, lentils, any pasta except spaghetti, naan breads, poppadoms, tortillas, fresh coriander, pita breads, etc. Some of those things, I'll just have to wait until I go home for. But 'necessity is the mother of invention', hence homemade hummus, breads of all kinds and now, pasta! I made some a few weeks ago for this bento, and decided to repeat my success, and make another Italian bento. 

Everything is made as much from scratch as is reasonably sensible, while it is a fairly plain looking bento, it delivered on taste. A good summer's day meal, I think.

Top tier: Lemon Borlotti Beans (I made a lot of herb substitutions to that recipe!), cucumber, tomatoes, mediterranean vegetables (pepper, courgette and mushroom, cooked in sundried tomato oil, with basil and oregano)
Bottom tier: Homemade tagliatelli with homemade tomato salsa sauce, and cheese on top.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Bento No.18, Singapore Noodles and Salad Dippers

This was a lovely quick, summery bento, perfect for cheering me up during my meeting. It's my second bento in a row made with leftover noodles, but it came out completely different in the end. .I love it when there are leftovers, it makes bento making and planning so easy. In all the heat at the moment, I'm craving salad, so that was an easy second tier. There was no need for the pandas, but they did make me smile at lunchtime! 

Top tier: Leftover Singapore Noodles, with red cabbage, prawns, mangetout and pepper
Bottom tier: Tomatoes, cucumber and peppers with avocado dip (avocado mashed with lime and chilli powder)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Bento No.17, Leftovers and Rice

We've been a bit busy recently teaching Summer School, but we found time the other day for a quick picnic in the park before we had to head off to work. Despite getting eaten to death by ants and goodness knows what else, it was lovely to enjoy some of the sunny weather we're having at the moment. And, of course, a picnic meant a bento! 

We had some Shirataki noodle stir fry left over from the night before. Shirataki noodles (and konnyaku, which is the same thing in block form rather than noodle form) are made from the konnyaku (or konjac or devil's tongue) plant. Although they're called noodles, and are generally used as a carb, they're 97% water and 3% fibre. Which means they're insanely healthy. A serving fills you up, while only giving you 5-10 calories. Not bad, hey?! I'm not trying to loose weight at the moment, but I really like their slightly chewy texture, and if the main course is based on these, that's more calories allowed for pudding! 

In this bento we combined our leftovers with rice, which meant we had too many carbs really. We don't usually, but we didn't have enough leftovers for that alone, and rice was the only carb we had in the house.

Top tier: Prawns fried in a little chilli oil with black pepper, tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce, shirataki noodle stir-fry with carrot, pepper, red cabbage, chickpeas and tofu
Bottom tier: Rice and spicy curry peanut furikake

John's bento was the same (minus the cucumber), but a lot more messy! 

Monday, 30 July 2012

Bento No.16, Buzzing Bees

For the last 8 years, my Dad has kept bees in the garden. When he first suggested it, I was not happy at all. I thought they'd mean I could never relax in the garden again, and I'd get stung every other day. However, despite the odd stressful moment (such as when a whole hive of bees swarmed when I was alone in the house), all our family has actually loved having the bees there. Not only is the honey itself delicious, but their pollination makes all the fruit trees and flowers in our garden go crazy, meaning lots more plums, pears and apples for us, and a very beautiful garden. 

 Obviously I can't reap the rewards this year, but I still hear all about the bees whenever I speak to my Dad, and our family obsession with all things bee continues! So when I saw this bento, making bees from tamagoyaki, I knew I had to give it a shot! I wanted to have them on a blue rice sky, but the red cabbage didn't co-operate, so I added a little vinegar, and made purple-y pink rice flowers for them to bus around instead! Mine aren't nearly as cute as the ones from that link, but I was fairly pleased as a first attempt! 

Purple rice flowers, dyed with red cabbage water and vinegar
Tamagoyaki bees with cucumber and nori decoration
Miso aubergine
Cherry tomatoes

 I ran out of time to make this bento with bees, but I was still pleased with how neatly and colourful it turned out. I think I actually prefer it to the one above! 

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Bento No.15, Mediterranean Vegan

After yesterday's bento, that was pretty but ultimately rather unsuccessful, I decided to play it safe for a couple of days! I forgot to take a photo of Fridays, but it was only tuna sushi with salad.

Yesterday's bento was another fairly simple one to use up all the veggie leftovers in our fridge. I love couscous and it's been ages since I had any, so I used that as a basis for a Mediterranean style vegan bento. It was fairly simple, delicious, and best of all, it survived until it was time to eat!

Couscous, flavoured with black pepper, coriander, raisins, sundried tomato oil and tomato ketchup
Sweet potato, courgettes, mushrooms, red pepper and tomatoes, with garlic, olive oil and herbs.
Homemade falafels

Friday, 27 July 2012

Bento No.14, OLYMPICS!

It feels a bit like the lead up to the Olympics has been going on FOREVER, but it's finally here! I feel a bit sad that I'm out of the country while they're there, but I'm still routing for team GB all the way from Japan!! And with my current obsession, what better way than with a bento?! 

Back Box: 
Cherry Tomato
Tofu with Sambal Tumis
Union Jack, made out of red pepper and pickled aubergine
Watermelon and marshmallow skewers
Front Box:
Coconut Rice
Olympic Rings, made out of white egg (kind of dyed with pickled eggplant liquid), egg yolk, nori, cucumber and red pepper

The background is the right colours, but looks a little too like a French flag for my liking!

That's better! This box was mine. It's basically the same, but with cucumber rather than edamame, and no flag.

Unfortunately, the bottom bento had a rather sad end. When I opened it for dinner, the watermelon had been crushed, and the juice leaked over everything, mixing with the Sambal sauce as it went. NOT a good combination. I think I need a box with rather more sturdy dividers before I try and mix sweet and savoury in the same box again! I just hope the Olympics end slightly more successfully than my Olympics dinner did!! 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Bento No.13, Vegetarian Curry Bento

Today we accomplished something we've been meaning to do for ages...a trip to Yamadera. It's a temple on a mountainside quite near where we live, and our trip involved a 6 mile walk and lots of stairs. So we needed a good, filling bento that would give us plenty of oomph! Luckily the curry we'd had for dinner the night before gave some inspiration, and when I found the recipe for kidney bean curry on Just Bento, I knew I had the basis of my bento sorted. Plus, when headed to a Buddhist temple, a vegetarian bento seemed appropriate!

Time in the morning was short so I went for functionality over prettiness, by new panda picks added a nice element of cuteness. I did manage to make some more Welsh Cakes (not pictured) to go in the chopstick holder section of my box. That little tray is a great way to add a little sweetness to my meal. Nobody brought up by my parents could help needed some sort of cake at the end of each meal! 

Rice with garam masala
Steamed broccoli
Yoghurt Salad (dressing: yoghurt mixed with coriander, parsley, lemon juice and salt)

Everything tastes so much more delicious after 6 miles of hiking!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Bento No.12, You Are A Star

Today I had lots of time on my hands, and bento toys that were as yet unplayed with, so I decided to go to town on John's bento! I found every star related bento item I have, and used then all somewhere along the way. I'd been dying to try out making the tomato stars for ages, but the 'petals' didn't stick out as well as the other ones I've seen photos of. Maybe I need smaller cuts or different tomatoes. I love love LOVE the tuna soboro that I used to make the 'sky' and to fill my onigiri. It's so easy and delicious. There's a link to the recipe below. 

Negimiso green beans
Cherry Tomatoes
Rice onigiri
Cucumber and nori decoration

By the time I'd done all this to John's bento, we were both hungry for our lunch, so I didn't do much to mine. I'd planned a panda themed one, but other than cover it with panda picks and make my onigiri bear shaped, I didn't get very far, so no photo I'm afraid. I'll have another go at a panda one soon, because everyone loves pandas!