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.