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!