Monday, December 31, 2007

Feisty Bento #96: Happy New Year!!!

1st pic
Top box: really sad looking broccoli (I didn't cook it); red sauce for calamari (it's NOT marinara, it's homemade red sauce, courtesy of PopPop)

2nd pic
Top tier: salt & pepper pork chops
Bottom tier: calamari and three baked clams

I'm in a rush today so that's all I'll say, and have a happy happy new year!!!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Feisty Bento #95: Christmas presents!!!

Look!  I actually have dessert today!  And I didn't even realize I did this till just now but eclairs were one of my Dad's favorite desserts- fitting on what would have been his 62nd birthday...

Lunch jar: egg noodles with cod roe spaghetti "sauce" (courtesy of S&B brand, and the last remnants of taramasalata from the jar I'd bought a few months ago)
Left side dish: mini-eclair
Right side dish: broiled/roasted asparagus with sesame oil, sesame seeds, salt and freshly ground black pepper

Onwards to the main event: all the wonderful bento stuff I got for Christmas!  Normally I'm really wary of people who ask me, "So what did you get?!" because either they just want to talk about what they got (which is totally fine by me; I don't mind listening) or they are really that materialistic and give a crap that so-and-so person got me this while other-person got me that.  But in the case of bento, I want to show off my goodies, and I've tried to post fairly consistently about my bento supplies/gear as I've bought it, so I figured, why not?

My darling coworker buddy C (whom I am waiting for to start her own darn bento blog... come on already, I know you're reading!!!) saw this and thought of me.  Isn't it sweet?!  It's much bigger than the one I already have (pictured here), and it has a little silver tag with my full first name engraved on it!!!  (Don't you worry about what it is if you can't read it clearly, mm'k?  Haha)  I love it!

***it's probably not that obvious on this blog, but if you ever saw me, you'd know pink is easily my favorite color.  I wear it everyday; yes, every single day.

From my coworker buddy Orzo's girlfriend~ (she doesn't have a nickname yet, sorry!) I'm not sure if she saw this in the Phillippines or Taiwan (I'm guessing, she just came back from a trip to both, maybe she got it here, I really don't know), but how adorable!  A set of four microwaveable side dish containers!  (The graphic on the back shows them being put in the microwave; otherwise I can't read a damn word on there...) 

More adorable side dish containers that are microwaveable, from my brother this time.  Brightly colored and actually... these are from Tupperware; stain resistant and you can keep the lid on during microwaving, since there's a steam vent!  Freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe.  About 1 cup capacity each, I think that's 250-260ml for those of you counting calories (as I am).

Strange looking thing that I'm claiming is for bento, huh?  Well, actually... it's for oshibori or wet cloths to wipe your hands with after you're done eating!  This is an 8 pack of baby washcloths that also comes with a "terrycloth toy" as they refer to the frog.  I haven't thought of a good use for the frog yet, but I'm sure I will.  Maybe a dog toy?  From my sister!

Also from my sister... remember this post about BuiltNY gear?  I showed it to her back then and raved about how adorable the Meadow Munchler (the green bunny) bag is, and she saw that there was a dog option as well.  So when she saw it in a store, she had to buy it for me... how cute is it?!  It's an insulated lunch bag... in hot weather, I might slip an ice pack in there to keep my lunch cool... lovely.  For purchasing information, click here!  And if you're not packing for a child... and you're a more serious adult than I... well, check out Built NY's line of insulated lunch bags here.  They have a lot of great bags that are inexpensive and will hold your lunch nicely!

Last but not least, the motherlode... my brother got me a Mr. Bento!!!  He has one himself actually.  But as his company currently provides him with meals every day... he never uses it... (In fact you're probably wondering if he wrapped his to give to me!  To this I say: impossible.  Why?  Because his came with chopsticks, and this one has the dreaded spork combo.)  I didn't have time to open it up and take pictures of each component, but coincidentally, one of the bento blogs I read just posted about her own receipt of Mr. Bento for Christmas, so go over here to see the full deal of what's inside!  I've been drooling over one of these for well over a year- since before he got his- but wasn't into bento before, and then it just is way too much food.  I'm going to have to either put my breakfast in there as well, or I'm going to have to leave parts of it empty... I don't know, really, but I'll definitely have to do something because the total capacity is something ridiculous like 1230ml.  That is just way too much food for one meal.  I think I will wind up putting my breakfast in there; I've seen some people put vitamins in one tier, but even so, I feel like that's just way too much food!

(He didn't get me Ms. Bento because the new one is just like my current lunch jar- a food jar and two side dish containers that don't go inside.  I wanted a lunch jar where all the containers go inside the jar.  I'll figure something out to make this work, it's no big deal... I can't wait to use it!!!)

As always, happy bento and I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and got everything you wanted- and more!  I sure did :)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Does this make my lunch look phat? deadline extension

A few months ago, I announced my first ever contest, "Does this make my lunch phat?"  Unfortunately, the holidays caught hold of me and not that many people entered (boo...), so I'm extending the deadline (and finally announcing the extension!) to... February 29th.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, the new year will bring exciting news and an exciting plan (the 2nd solely regarding cooking!), so I expect that I'll need some time to get back into the swing of things and get everything together.  Also, I like the idea of making the deadline a day that only comes around once every four years.  I'm quirky, sue me.  :)

The rules and requirements remain the same, with one large exception: the green box has been promised to someone, so don't request that one, please!!! 

Also, Allison of SushiDay has generously offered a SushiDay t-shirt to the first place winner, in addition to their choice of bento set!  Thanks Allison!  I wish I could be the first place winner... ;)  She'll be posting further details shortly, so be sure to head on over there to take a peek at what she's got for you.  Awesome site with tons of great pictures and all sushi tutorials, and even the nutritional info.  Totally awesome!  And much of her stuff is bento-friendly! 

Good luck and as always, happy bento!!!

crossposted to Feisty Foodie

Feisty Bento #94: Xmas Dinner Leftovers!

Hmm... these leftovers are actually from Christmas Eve dinner, I hope I don't get sick!  Haha, I doubt it.  Also, this is post #100, even though I'm only up to Feisty Bento #94!  I better start thinking about what special thing I could do for #100.... *wink*  We'll see! 

Top tier: poached/baked/fried (I'm not sure what he did!) salmon with ginger, scallions, cilantro, and a sprinkling of roasted sesame seeds on top; broiled asparagus (the tips were soft, so I had to throw them out, and wound up not really filling the box, oops)
Bottom tier: gyoza, I'm going to need a refresh of my supply soon!, gyoza sauce in the little teddy bear

Happy Bento!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Feisty Bento #93: Lots of gifts and holiday wishes

At least it's a short week, but I'm so exhausted.  Too much running around and non-stop motion just gets to me, y'know?

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas/holiday and they got everything they wanted.  I got a ton of cooking stuff, yay! and some bento stuff, double yay!  I like the theme- my family's been focusing on my hobbies for gifts.  I guess I didn't have hobbies before or something because they seem to never have known what to get me ;p  Or rather, I had more expensive hobbies.  I did get a lot of great gifts, thank you to everyone!!!

(I got two new Wusthof knives, which adds to the two I got last year for Christmas, and the two I got for my birthday, bringing my knife block to a grand total of... 6!!!  w00t!  I'm getting there!) 

Here's how I packaged the rest of my goodie bags:

the glass of wine I had at the "holiday lunch" with my two buddy/coworkers, DD & Orzo, and Orzo's gf- the wine really wanted to be in the picture

Also, pictures of how I've been sort of bitten by the Martha bug, because I actually wrapped my presents then decided I could make them look even better by... well, adding stuff, frills, ribbons, taping stuff to the package...

BF's wrapped gifts: Transformers chess, Transformers rock'em/sock'em robot-style toy/game, and a bottle of cologne. 

(I didn't wrap his other four gifts: two original pages from the Wolverine/Marvel Knights series, signed by Darick Robertson, his favorite artist; the comic series from which those pages came, all 43 issues, bagged and backed; and the Mel Brooks' boxset of DVDs- think it was 10 DVDs? plus Spaceballs since that wasn't in the box set.  Yeah, I know, I'm an awesome girlfriend.)

For my cousin: Friends SceneIt DVD game- she loves board games, maybe as much as if not more than I do- we even played, finally (after she's brought the board game to the past 3-4 family events! I felt so bad!), Settlers of Catan on Monday night.  And I like the game, but I am biased since I won and any game I win is fun.  The two little wrapped packages on top are Sephora lip balm and a Sephora French manicure set.

For my sister, two cookbooks- she loves cookbooks though I'm positive she never uses them, haha.  She just emails me and asks for recipes.  I got her "Country Pork" because as she said when she opened it, "I don't know how to cook pork!" and "30 minute meals" NOT Rachael Ray, just a random cookbook that had the same title.  And as her husband said when she opened it, "HAHA that actually means 60 minute meals when it comes to Vivien!"  Well, he's right, so that's why she should start shorter... *wink*

Gift for my brother in law- 50 pack of DVDs, war movies and documentaries- some from the enemy perspective (Germany and Japan).  I thought it was cool so I snagged one.  One of the movies stars Ronald Reagan, hehe.  He seemed to really like it- I know he loves war movies, historical novels, war documentaries...

For my brother: the small package is a USB drive- you plug it in and it reads nearly any memory card there is, basically you can use it as a thumb drive or... as I do... as a portable drive I plug into any computer I want to put pictures on, so I don't have to lug my camera cable back around or leave it at work (my laptop has an internal/integrated SD drive, so I don't need the cable at home).  The box is filled with DVDs he requested.  Every single one of them.

(These are only the gifts I wrapped; I gave most people more than just what's pictured.)

And today's bento is a lesson in "Why I should sometimes just let go and not make bento (and sleep the extra 15 minutes)

I burned the gyoza!  Can you tell?

Top tier: hummus, toasted pumpernickel cocktail bread, roasted baby bok choi
Bottom tier: gyoza and gyoza sauce in the little bottle

Remember this bento set?  It was the first one I bought.  I'm only using it because something's wrong with the water and it comes out screaming hot only, so I can't wash my bento gear and this one was clean, obviously.  Blegh.  I really think I should have just slept the extra few minutes today.  Haha.

I hope y'all are having a great time off or an uneventful week at work!!!  Happy bento!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Feisty Bento #92: No touching

So I did about 8 of them last night.  The candy canes just are looped loosely over the top; this is the easiest way with the ribbons.  I ran out of ribbon, too.  *sob*  It's okay, I don't really care, I'd like to have gold ribbon instead actually.  Hmm I wonder how much ribbon I have left.  I also ran out of stuff- apparently I cannot count, the sad thing being I keep track of these things in Excel and it was a simple matter of ordering xx number of each item but I chose to order different numbers for each item.  I still cannot fathom why I would do such a thing.  My only guess is that I hadn't intended on giving to my groupmates at work (just a few select people that I'm friends with), but my groupmates started giving stuff out everyday since Tuesday (!) so I felt like a tool if I didn't reciprocate.  That was an extra 5 that I'd intended to just distribute amongst the females in B's family... but ah well.  (We have a rule/deal: I buy the presents for my family and stick his name on there, and vice versa.  So basically, my family loves him, and his family thinks I'm an asshole.  They get gift cards from him!  I put thought into my gifts.  Ahhh... what a shit deal, and I made it [because I used to go bonkers thinking of gifts for his family and he'd still give them gift cards with my name on it, so I felt like it was a waste of money plus no one seemed to appreciate my gift.  Fuck'em.] but oh well.) 

So the title of my blog today.  I was just asking someone yesterday how to get other people to stop touching me.  I believe I blogged about this months ago when she first did it, but the woman who sits next to me- a slightly older woman who is so well-meaning, I genuinely believe that- she once came over to me when my hair was loose and started stroking it, exclaiming how nice my hair was (it's only okay; I don't lie to myself about how nice it is, just what color) and how her son loves Asian hair.  SKEEVE.  She continued to stroke it and talk about her son.  GROSS.  She did this at least one other time while I kind of sat, frozen and uncomfortable.

She's a groupmate, so of course she got a goodie bag.  And after she opened it, she exclaimed "Oh you're so sweet!" and then said, "I just have to give you a hug!" and started to approach me, which was the perfect opening for me to blurt out...

"Oh please don't!" with this apologetic tone and look on my face.  She stopped, looking uncertain, so I felt the need to explain, "I appreciate the thought but I really don't like being touched," and she just said "Oh... okay," looking confused and retreated to her desk. 

This is perfect, but WHY do I still feel like an ASSHOLE for having said it?  For having said outright how I feel and getting what I want: to no longer be touched? 

Top tier: lots of hummus, sprinkled with parsley and sesame seeds for color; toasted pumpernickel cocktail bread
Bottom tier: yay! kickin' chicken, and marinated artichoke hearts on top of pickled radish (I thought the color contrast would be nice but it didn't show up anyway)

Happy bento, and have a great holiday!  I'm going out with friends for lunch tomorrow, so my next bento will be next Wednesday.  Have a wonderful and safe holiday, everyone!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Feisty Bento #91: No Goodie Bags, Less Food

Okok so last night was supposed to be the big to-do with the goodie bags and whatnot.  Well I didn't do it.  Why?  I wound up working OT until 9, got home at about 9:30, jumped in B's dad's car at 9:40, and we zipped off to Roosevelt Field so I could help him find some stores to buy stuff for his wife.  I got home at about 11:30 and proceeded to tear through some dumplings (I hadn't eaten dinner yet)- 14 in all, actually *shame* and play Onslaught until 12:30 then I went and passed out.  Sigh.  I HAVE to do them tonight- no dawdling now- because some people won't be in on Friday so I've got to get them together and give some out tomorrow. 

Bento for today.  Packed awfully- I worked the color scheme great but the stuff jumped around in the container.  Oh well, it'll still taste good.

Top left: hummus, cucumber slices;
bottom left: corn relish and whole wheat orzo (from the cafeteria last night for dinner);
right, from top: toasted pumpernickel cocktail bread; grilled chicken breast (bland, very bland, also from the cafeteria); in the little cup, a marinated artichoke heart

Less food than usual.  Why?  On purpose.  As I mentioned before and above, I've been not losing any more weight and it's the holidays and I've been eating more and there's always goodies around and and and... well no more excuses.  I have to curb my eating and the easiest way to do that is to pack less lunch.  Kick start my weight loss and get going again on this.  But super flavorful foods will hopefully keep my interest and prevent me from eating my face.  I hope.  I think I should try to get a smaller bento as well... but then I'd go hungry and that just makes me binge, wah.

Happy bento!!!  Tomorrow will bring pictures of all of the completed goodie bags, I promise!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Feisty Bento #90: Welcome Back Bento!

I didn't want to jinx it which is why I didn't mention it before it happened... so, since July, I've been "in the process"- this long, grueling process that stressed me the freak out, which in part is why I've been sticking to this bento thing- of buying a co-op!!!  Whee!  I closed on Thursday which explains why I took some time off from work and stayed in New York (I tend to prefer going somewhere, anywhere, when I vacation, though this will probably change soon), and didn't make any bento...

(For the non-NYC-area people: click.  A lot of non-NYC people have asked me what a co-op is, before which I hadn't realized it's mostly an NYC thing.  It's like a condo, but not.  Basically I bought a 1 bedroom apartment if you're not so inclined to click, but I had to go through an application process, including an interview and probably a background check, etc. etc. etc.) 

I am now officially a homeowner!!!  I hope to move in shortly, but am planning on painting first, so that's going to take a few weeks to get everything together and planned out...

And, the update on the goodie bags ... I only gave out one [of the ones pictured last time] so far, but mostly because I wasn't going to see her this week.  I took off the candy canes and let those two remain the same.  I haven't actually put together anymore, but tonight will be the big to-do where I put all of them together... BUT I gave out two larger goodie bags, and here's what they looked like- thanks Lilly for the idea/websites/how to's!!!  (You guys all rock btw.  I am really seriously not creative and not crafty- I can try as hard as you like but mostly I fall very, very flat.) 

Easy enough even for someone like me.  I punched two holes near the top and looped wired-ribbon through a few times then tied into a regular bow, looping a regular size candy cane through.  Oddly enough, I messed up the green bag's bow, even though it was the 2nd one I did.  Haha.  I should have taken a picture of what went inside: everything I wrapped in about 20 minutes because I was in a huge hurry, and it came out decent, I think.  I heard no complaints =P 

(I'm not exchanging gifts with anyone this year outside of the obligatory family.  These aren't gifts.  These were little things I saw randomly and thought "OMG, [person] would love this!" so I picked it up.  It wasn't expensive, but some of the items were kind of larger than you'd think for the price I paid.  This is my disclaimer before people get mad at me or whatever.  I genuinely like buying people things that I think they'd love, and in fact, I had to curtail buying some items for the green bag, since I saw a couple of other things I KNOW she'd have loved- including Greek honey- sorry sweetness!  But yeah, no getting jealous, no getting mad, I love everyone, but some people I happen to know their tastes and happen to shop in stores that have a lot of that stuff more than, say, umm... other stuff.)

I really missed bento these past few days, especially when I hopped on the scale and noticed a few lbs. came back, but I am going to blame that on where I am in my cycle.  (Not that you need to know this, but I am currently at "FAT" in my cycle.) 

Oh, and that little paint swatch under my bento?  That's what color my bedroom is going to be.  "Caliente" - Benjamin Moore Aura.  HOT. *wink*  Or spicy, depending on how you want to translate...

Quick and easy bento today, to get me back in the swing of things!

Top tier: hummus, toasted pumpernickel cocktail bread
Bottom tier: roast pork, cucumber slices, and potato salad

BTW, I went to CostCo to pick up hummus and wow, it was $6 for 32 oz.  I paid $6 for my 17 oz. container a week or two ago.  I go through hummus fairly quickly, so I will definitely be going back for more... yumyum~!

Happy Bento!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Feisty Bento #89: Short day bento!

I channeled my inner Martha last night. That's a pretty big stretch; aside from when it comes to food, I am not creative visually at all. I am not artistic with anything but words or a wok (well, not really a wok, but I really like alliteration, sue me). But I saw a picture of a coffee bean bag wrapped with ribbon up and down, and I thought, "I can do that." So I did. The ribbon colors are irking me a bit, but what do you think?

The ribbon on the red bag is actually a sheer green color, and the ribbon on the green bag is actually a sheer red. Mom suggested putting the red ribbon on the red bag next to oomph the red and green on the green, so I'll probably do that. I also attempted to glue the candy canes on, instead of having the tape which looks admittedly and decidedly very, very ugly, but the glue wouldn't hold. Any suggestions? This was really easy and really improved the look of the goodie bags. (Each bag contains the exact same thing, but for some reason I folded them different heights by accident. See? Not crafty AT ALL.)

I really like goodie bags and putting them together is so much fun. Finding the various items to put in it was a lot of fun... I hope the recipients like them...!

Despite the fact that I am leaving work at 1 today, I need to eat lunch before I go, right? So I did pack myself a bento today. Also because yesterday, we went out to grab pizza (Adrienne's, which I adore!) and I felt a bit more than disgusting afterwards, not just for eating 3 slices but I don't know, it's more food than I normally eat for lunch and a bit heavier as well. So, here's lunch... which is basically dinner from last night (I worked OT, if I work beyond a certain time, they provide dinner. AND a car home. I didn't eat my dinner last night):

Top tier: broccolini Bottom tier: parmesan mashed potatoes; herbed cod

I also whipped up a quick tartar sauce (sort of, I didn't have any inclination to chop onions this morning so I left those out) to go on the side in case the fish is only so-so.

Happy Bento and I will return with more bento next Tuesday!!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Feisty Bento #88: "Nasty, Disgusting" Bento

Top tier: "BBQ" pork; potato croquettes with tonkatsu in the little carrot bottle
Bottom tier: pork gyoza, gyoza sauce, seaweed salad and pickled radish

My brother bought a huge thing of super thinly sliced pork for "shabu shabu" (swish swish) yesterday, and the leftover raw meat was used in my bento today.  I cooked nearly everything this morning before packing, which made for a slightly hectic morning... and I would NOT use this method for my pork again.  I wound up using a pair of scissors and snipping the slices of pork into little strips, then cooking them in a pan over low heat with BBQ sauce.  It was okay, but I feel like I'm missing something that could make it great.  It was no kickin' chicken, I'll tell you that much, even with the addition of the pepper flakes as I like.

Ah well. 

It didn't help that today was the day I normally volunteer at a nearby elementary school and read to a student (to help with his grades), and my student today not only wouldn't settle down but began poking at my lunch with his fingers.  I held back a shriek of disgust because I have serious issues with people touching my food, but I politely asked him to stop (he was poking the pink and white sauce bottle), and then he informed me that my lunch was "nasty" "disgusting" and "made him want to barf".  I told him that was just not very nice- his lunch had made me want to barf, but I kept that opinion to myself! on top of which, he then implied my lunch was not something he'd like- "My mom says I wouldn't like that kind of food because it's nasty" like, it's pork!  It's even BBQ which is "American" - I told him this - and he was just shocked like "REALLY, that's not pork, that's not American!"  ...

I am very grumpy today and I was not in the mood to deal with that so I just kept reading.  Sigh.

As always, happy bento! 

Friday, December 7, 2007

Feisty Bento #87: Oh my curry!

Jar: chicken curry rice
Left side dish: three pork gyoza, gyoza sauce
Ride side dish: cucumbers, grape tomatoes, hummus

Mm, curry!  I love Japanese curry in general, but during the cold months- and it is COLD here, like in the 20s- and after seeing curry on Lunch in a Box yesterday, I was like, okayyy, that's definitely what I'm making.  I like to make a big pot and eat it over the course of a week- nope, I don't get tired of it, it's perfect for my breakfast in the cold mornings, and just great, soothing comfort food (even though I never ate this stuff growing up).  YUM. 

My general recipe can be found here but I'll give you a brief rundown anyway.  I tossed chopped boneless/skinless chicken thighs (again, what I had on hand- use what you like) into a pot, splashed a dash of soy sauce over it, and added chopped carrots, celery and onions to the mix- I add whatever veggies I have on hand, and this is what I had (I like adding bell peppers too usually).  Added a brick of S&B curry - in this case, medium hot- stirred it around, coating everything, and then added beef stock (what I had on hand, though normally I use chicken). 

Yummy!  Can't wait for lunch again!

Happy bento! 

PS The two big brands of curry I see are House and S&B.  I like the apple curry flavor but I have a lot of bricks leftover so I have to use those up before I buy more; I don't buy the pouches of sauce, but rather the bricks of seasonings and I recommend those as they're cheaper and they last longer.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Feisty Bento #86: Kickin' Chicken, among other things

Top tier: taramasalata macaroni (NO MAYO) with green onions sprinkled on top; kickin' chicken
Bottom tier: cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, and of course, hummus!

I've got a lot to talk about today! 

First, the taramasalata macaroni.  This is my version of tarako spaghetti, using what's available to me.  A while back, I realized that I really like cod roe spread, known as "red caviar spread" at Turkish Kitchen and taramasalata in Greece.  Of course, it was phenomenal at those two places, but while we were in Greece, I saw it in every grocery store we ventured into (maybe 3?  You can tell a lot about a country by its supermarkets, and also, they have some snacks that are just crazy and totally unavailable here) in the area where you might find string cheese in a US supermarket.  Right by all the prepackaged cheeses and "deli" items.  So about a month ago, I decided it must be found somewhere here, I'm in a huge city and we do have our pockets of Greek neighborhoods... I'd found it online but wanted to see it in person before I shelled out for it... and I finally found that very same brand in a very ethnic store in my neighborhood (they sell all sorts of cool foreign items, including these wonderful looking cartons of various nectars that I desperately want to try, especially the cherry nectar, that must be so good splashed in a Grey Goose/cranberry drink...).  I mentioned mixing it in pasta a few weeks ago so here it is, and I was right: it's perfect, no additions needed.  The green onions were for color and because I like the flavor of green onions. 

Second, the kickin' chicken.  I've mentioned it a few times here, and this dish has become a true staple of my life.  Whenever I don't know what to make or don't feel like thinking, this is what I do:

Chicken thighs - boneless/skinless in this case, but I don't mind being frugal and buying them with the bone in/skin on, or even with drumsticks attached.  I think it works best with dark meat though.
KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce- I'd prefer to use my own, but it's been a while since I've had the time or inclination to make any.
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.  (Bento is my way of controlling my weight, and I read somewhere that if you eat spicy foods, you're less likely to snack later.  You can totally omit these if you like though.)  Alternatively, you can add a bit of honey. 

Line a baking dish/pan with foil (easy clean up! this dish is all about easy everything).  Rinse off chicken, pat dry, place in dish and sprinkle a teensy bit of salt and freshly ground black pepper over chicken.  Bake at 350 degrees for a little bit until chicken is more white than not (this should only take 10-15 minutes in a toaster oven, like I use). 

In the meantime, mix the BBQ sauce with the red pepper flakes and/or honey in a small bowl. 

Once the chicken has turned white, you can slather on some BBQ sauce, cook for a bit longer, then flip it, cook for a bit longer, and keep it up with the BBQ sauce.  You'll probably want to throw all of the BBQ sauce on there and let it heat through just to be sure any and all germs from raw chicken are killed.  Total cooking time for 5 chicken thighs should be at least 30-35 minutes, you can let it go longer if you like or if your chicken doesn't feel done.

Once done, allow to cool slightly, move to a container (taking all the sauce with it!) and using two forks, pull the chicken meat apart.  Voila!  Kickin' chicken! and perfectly sized to put in your bento- no bones, no mess, just use a fork and you're good.  Enjoy!!!

Last but not least, my cucumbers!  These are a bento's best friend.  Well, one of them.  Known as hothouse, English, seedless or burpless cucumbers, these bad boys come wrapped in plastic and don't need to be washed or peeled.  The skin is thinner than regular cucumbers (I believe that's why they're called burpless) so in the morning, if you're looking for something green, all you have to do is whip one of these out of the crisper, slice away and pack!  No washing, peeling, really no fuss about them.  Great with hummus, too! 

Happy bento and as always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Feisty Bento #85: Supply Alert!

Top tier: BBQ chicken with a kick (you know, my kickin' chicken...); bok choi that had really curly leaves, I roasted these with some sesame oil and soy sauce in the toaster oven
Bottom tier: grape tomatoes; potato salad with green onions on top for color and contract!; ratatouille in the silicone cup

Here's a deal for all of you: silicone muffin cups that just about fit into my Urara bento (I squished it into the smaller tier, but I think it'd easily fit into the bigger one).  At $7.99 for a set of 12, it's a good deal, but Bed Bath & Beyond always mails out 20% off single item coupons, making it an excellent deal.  Alternatively, they may mail you a $5 off any $15 purchase coupon, so you can buy 2 sets for an even better price! 

Happy bento!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Feisty Bento #84: Frantic Bento

So I woke up this morning about 45 minutes later than usual.  Instead of forgoing my shower, I gave up packing a two tier lunch and just slapped potato salad (yuck! seriously this brand is AWFUL) and grape tomatoes into the container that the roast pork came in, pushing the remainders of the roast pork to one side.  Voila.  It took me like 2 minutes, if that, to put this all together, and I managed to get to work on time albeit with some large portions of my normal morning routine thrown to the side.

From left to right: char siu/roast pork, potato salad, and grape tomatoes

Let this serve as a reminder to you all that you don't need to make it pretty for it to be bento, or even in a cute container!  It's still bento!!! 

Happy bento'ing!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Feisty Bento #83: Ratatouille

Top tier: Sabra brand hummus; toasted pumpernickel cocktail bread stacked; grape tomatoes
Bottom tier: Ratatouille; Chinese roast pork (char siu); store bought potato salad (Sally Sherman brand)

Okay, let's talk: first, I bought the potato salad after seeing potato salad on SushiDay and just like, wanting potato salad but being too lazy to go through all the steps of her recipe (it's not hard, it's just time consuming and I have had NO time to myself lately...).  I walked into a grocery store and saw tubs of this stuff going for $1.50 so I said why not, I'll try it, and brought it home.  This morning, when I opened it and started to scoop it out, it was gummy and gross looking, not even a sliver of vegetable (the way I like my potato salad, with some crunch, some contrasting textures!).  Ugh.  Maybe I can feed it to my brother. 

Second, this is probably blasphemy coming from not just a fangirl of Pixar/Disney and all cutesy movies with talking animals, and also from someone who not only lives and eats in NYC, takes the subway with plenty of rats all the time, and honestly, I have eaten in some really delicious dive joints that undoubtedly have rats in the back by the garbage- and according to the people I know who OWN restaurants, well, all restaurants have rats etc. etc. etc.  Fine.  But I watched Ratatouille recently and had to stop myself from throwing up.  I kept gagging and eventually I busied myself looking at stuff on the comptuer instead of looking at the screen the whole time, because I was really disturbed and grossed out by the rat cooking.  And other choice scenes which, if you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about.  I don't even consider myself squeamish or easily grossed out by much, but something about seeing a rat cook just turned my stomach.  Maybe it's because cooking is an activity I really enjoy and consider myself proficient at, I don't really know, I just know that Remy really made me want to barf.

But at a French restaurant on Friday night (review coming on Feisty Foodie!), I decided to order a side of ratatouille to see how it tastes.  I'm positive it wasn't a rat back there cooking it, anyway.

It's okay; stewed vegetables and I'm not a huge fan of super soft mushy veggies.  But the flavor is very powerfully concentrated, which, if you like the vegetables in that particular mix, is delicious. 

As always, happy bento!!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Feisty Bento #82: The Last of the Ribollita

Lunch jar: the last of the ribollita
Left side dish: "cuties" orange segments, these are so good and seedless!; toasted pumpernickel cocktail bread with butter
Right side dish: cauliflower, carrots, and celery lightly cooked with a dab of butter

I first read about "cocktail bread" on (of course) Lunch in a Box, and was surprised to come across it in a specialty Italian gourmet store last night.  They had both rye and pumpernickel, but I only picked up pumpernickel- it's been ages since I last had pumpernickel anything.  It is good, too.  I'm wondering if it'll sog up from the moisture in the orange segments (which wouldn't fit whole, so I had to peel it).  I will definitely let you all know (sometimes I don't have time or the inclination to put in dividers; anyway the segments aren't wet, but have a lot more moisture than the toasted bread, so it might just be drawn over anyway...).

Oh, and so you know, the jar keeps my lunch totally piping hot, like I almost burned my mouth two days ago hot.  Nice.  I love it.

Happy bento and have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Feisty Bento #81: Thanksgiving, Deconstructed

The last of my Thanksgiving leftovers... boo...

While I was eating my lunch yesterday, my delightful coworker Orzo said to me, "You're violating the rules of bento!  I think covering anything in gravy immediately negates any healthy effect your bento might have."  I responded by staring at him and slowly eating the rest of my delicious side dish of stuffing and turkey smothered in gravy.  Do I care?  Nope!  (Also that's not a rule of bento; deep fried stuff makes it way into bento all the time, case in point.)  So, today's super-gravy-bento is dedicated to him.  It says, "Eat me."  *grin*

Top tier: slices of stuffing, pan fried- that's right I said pan fried!!! crispity goodness; shredded turkey off the "small" drumsticks
Bottom tier: green beans with mushrooms; gravy baby

This is the very last of all of my Thanksgiving leftovers... sniffles... I wish I had more!  Ah well... I can't wait for lunchtime!

Happy Bento'ing!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Feisty Bento #80: Thanksgiving Redux

Oh, the yumminess abounds.  Almost the same as Monday's bento, but not.

Lunch jar contains more ribollita.

Left side dish contains turkey and stuffing, both smothered in gravy... yummmm.
Right side dish contains green beans and mushrooms.

Ooh, I can't wait!

Happy Bento'ing!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Feisty Bento #79: Perfect for Today's Rainy Weather

Yumminess of the best kind...

In the jar: my version of ribollita, kept piping hot by the thermal jar.  I cannot wait for lunch!
Left side dish: stuffing with giblet gravy generously poured on top
Right side dish: green beans and mushrooms

So this long weekend, I began feeling the onset of something gross.  By Friday morning I was convinced I was getting the flu and decided to make myself some soup.  I remembered making ribollita before and liking it, so I tossed together the ingredients- it's mostly stuff I keep in my panty/freezer anyway, and we're golden.  I actually didn't have carrots but had the leftover "sauce" from making pot roast last weekend, along with the super mushy vegetables that'd cooked along with it, so I used that.  The end result was super flavorful, the BF loved it again, and though I had to tweak the recipe a bit to match what I had on hand, it still came out delicious and my buddy Orzo, who'd come over to hang out, ate three bowls.  I was thrilled!  (Since I didn't have ciabatta but had fairly fresh Italian bread, I just sliced that up and put it in the bottom of each bowl.  It softened more than ciabatta would have, but was still really delicious.)

After we'd all eaten, what was leftover was fairly "dry"- less liquid and more stuff, so I added another can of diced tomatoes this morning and heated it all up on the stovetop.  More cheese, more spinach, whatever I could find, just threw that in, too.  It changes as it goes, by the end I expect there to be hardly any beans but some potatoes in there (there's a bag of "stew veggies" in my freezer that I've got an eye on, haha)...

I started feeling better immediately and am looking forward to my lunch immensely.  Gotta love that stuffing with sausage, and bacon-based stew...

Happy Bento!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Feisty Bento #78: Hibachi Leftovers

Top tier: hibachi'd filet mignon
Bottom tier: horseradish sauce for the filet; hibachi'd noodles and veggies

Leftovers from dinner last night.  Still feeling that oily grease in the bottom of my tummy, yuck.  Still tasty the next day, though.

Happy Bento'ing and to all of my readers in the US, happy Thanksgiving!!!  Hope you eat plenty and take lots of leftovers for next week's bentos!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Feisty Bento #77: Something New

I'm not sure how this is going to work out, because, well, I kind of messed up the base.  Ah well.

So as you may know from reading Feisty Foodie, I'm pretty big on making my own stock.  How hard is it, just throw your veggie scraps and maybe some bones from some meal into a pot, some water, and let it go over low/medium-low flame.  I did that this morning with the bones from the rotisserie chicken I'd bought and some veggie scraps from making pot roast over the weekend.  I planned on making a sort of chicken noodle soup to bring to work.

***Side note: yesterday, my rice was piping hot and soft and delicious.  This thermal lunch jar thing is amazing.  I LOVE IT! 

With the way time ran down for me this morning, I was running around and wound up ladling the boiling hot broth into my jar, threw in some shredded chicken, and then threw in some dried egg noodles without cooking them.  I'm hoping/guessing the soup will cook the noodles until I'm ready to eat- I hate overcooked noodles, but what can you do?  Hopefully this will come out just right. 

Unfortunately, my veggie scraps were a little onion heavy so when I went to drink some broth this morning, I was surprised and a bit taken aback by how onion-y it came out.  Boo.  And since I was in a hurry and hadn't the time to season the broth right there, I poured some kosher salt into the little blue bear container to season it with later.  Tossed some chopped scallions on top and sealed it up.

The two side dish containers hold three gyoza with gyoza sauce and bean sprouts, respectively. 

Will update later with how my soup turns out!

Happy Bento'ing!!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Feisty Bento #76: Quickie Bento!

Running late this morning so I threw together whatever I could find in the fridge.  Result?  "Fried rice" lunch jar! 

In the jar: white rice mixed with garlic shoots and beef, just heated through in a skillet- I wanted to add a beaten egg to this, but we have no eggs!  What gives?!  I always have eggs...

Left container: gyoza with, of course, gyoza sauce!
Right container: sauteed mustard greens, or some sort of greens, found these in the fridge

Happy bento'ing- have a great Monday!!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Feisty Bento #75: Two Tone Lunch

You can tell I was running late this morning because there's actually sunlight on my table! 

Top tier: three gyoza with gyoza sauce fishy; the ever-present bean sprouts
Bottom tier: vegetable croquette sandwiching a cream corn croquette (my last one!  sniff), tonkatsu sauce in the piggie bottle, and fried chicken wings taken off the bone

Top tier is all white, bottom is all golden brown (and delicious!).  It's okay, it's all yummy, and a bakery nearby is giving out free cupcakes today so I will head over there for dessert.  Yum!

Happy Bento and have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Feisty Bento #74: Taramasalata

Bottom tier: bean sprouts; some sort of green beans but not; shredded chicken Top tier: two gyoza, gyoza sauce in the fish; macaroni mixed with taramasalata and an S&B Spicy Cod Roe spaghetti sauce packet. The silver foil packet above is the furikake/seaweed topping included in the pouch for you to sprinkle on top.

For some reason, I couldn't find spaghetti, so I used macaroni, what I could find. The spicy cod roe is a little too spicy for me, oddly enough, so I mixed it with jarred taramasalata (which I believe has yogurt in it) to cool it down a bit. I think in the future I'm just going to use the jarred taramasalata to mix with pasta- it's very salty, and it "melts" into the pasta nicely, that should work.

Happy Bento!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Feisty Bento #73: Back to High Protein

Top tier: one last inari sushi; shredded chicken Bottom tier: bean sprouts; edamame; two gyoza with gyoza sauce

Happy Bento!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Feisty Bento #72: Super Carbo Load

OMG I can't wait for lunch, even though I'm so full (I had 3 gyoza and two inari sushi for breakfast, haha).

Left: grilled eel over sushi/seasoned rice, sesame seeds sprinkled on top (I even "cut" the rice using my mold into bite size pieces); inari sushi
Right: bean sprouts; creamed corn croquettes; seafood gyoza with gyoza sauce- the GOOD brand of gyoza!


Inari sushi is tofu skin, deep fried and soaked in this wonderfully sweet and syrupy liquid, then stuffed with sushi rice.  You can fill it with other stuff as well, but I was in a rush and whipped these up this morning, so I didn't have masago on hand to add to it.  The first time I made inari, I totally didn't follow the directions.  Oops.  Fantastic instructions can be found here for regular inari zushi, and here for slightly more fluffy frills (I have to try it with masago... drool!) 

Unfortunately I forgot to pack some tonkatsu sauce for the croquettes, but maybe they'll be fine without - I often alternate plain bites with sauced bites anyway! 

The good brand of gyoza is Ajinomoto, I love their pork gyoza, seafood gyoza is pretty good, and I also bought a bag of pork & chicken gyoza, will have to see how good those are as well. 

As for the eel, I didn't buy the frozen kind, as I went to a Japanese supermarket on Sunday, I picked up a grilled eel that appeared to be somewhat fresh.  It was only $4.75, which is actually cheaper than the frozen kinds, and this one had little to no hard bones, which I've found in the frozen ones before!  (I ate part of it for dinner and then took about 1/4 for lunch; I was going to make onigiri but I was in a rush so unagi don is what worked.) 

I also wanted to pick up the Asian style potato salad, but it was $12.99 a pound.  YOU READ THAT RIGHT.  I mean, they had small containers, so it was about $2-3 a container, but come on!  I find $2/lb. for potato salad a bit outrageous already, what the heck?!


Monday, November 12, 2007

Feisty Bento #71: Trying to Save $$$

Top: last of the JFC gyoza that I don't like; gyoza sauce in the little bottle; bean sprouts in the cup
Bottom: roast chicken with an attempt at food art- I tried to draw a heart with the BBQ sauce but totally messed up; bok choi and some meat, pretty bland, will need soy sauce or gyoza sauce later

I bought a whole rotisserie chicken the other day (for a whopping $7.58 including tax, at Dallas BBQ in Manhattan- the one on 23rd & 8th, though I'm positive they all offer this take out special).  I admit I was a bit disappointed because it seemed much smaller than I am used to ordering from them (for eat-in), and I didn't opt to pay the extra $2 for honey glazed or BBQ basted (my fave).  When I got home, I just deboned the entire thing, shredding the meat a little as I went, and packed it into a tupperware for my lunch for the week.  So this morning I just heated it up a bit, plopped it into my bento, and sprayed with a little BBQ sauce to jazz it up.  (Which is really why I declined BBQ basting; I can just use my own BBQ sauce from home and not pay another $2!)  The rest of the bento, much the same as usual.

Happy Bento'ing!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Feisty Bento #70: Oshibori Update

Left, from top: bean sprouts, edamame, dumplings
Right: cut up chicken, spaghetti

Update on the oshibori: I love it for what it is, but I wonder if there's anyway to keep it somewhat warm?  The cold water kind of ruins it for me...

Happy BENTO!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Feisty Bento # 69: More Kickin' Chicken

Top tier: honey bbq with a kick chicken, potato croquette cut in half Bottom tier: bean sprouts, edamame, potato salad

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Feisty Bento #68: Trying to be happy

I have got to stop eating the croquettes!  I can't help it, they're so good, deep fried YUM, but... but... freezer stuff is meant to be a backup supply of food for bento, not my only supply!  Eek! 

Also, I messed up the color scheme for the top tier... all brown.  Dark browns, too (let the croquettes go for a few seconds too long, oops!)... boo.

Top tier: barbecue chicken thighs (2); creamed corn croquettes, well done, with tonkatsu sauce in the fishy
Bottom tier: bean sprouts, bok choi, apple/potato salad, edamame

I actually cooked the chicken thighs this morning.  I realized I'd been carb heavy and protein light in my last few lunches, and wanted to even it out, and luckily, there was a package of chicken thighs (boneless, skinless) in the fridge, ready to be cooked!  I took only 2 and slipped them into a pan with a dash of soy sauce, a few grinds of black pepper, and a pinch of kosher salt.  After they were browning a bit, I squirted some bottled barbecue sauce on it, and a lot of red pepper chili flakes, and just stirred it around until the chicken was done.  Let it cool on a plate, then cut it up for easier eating.  Yummy! except I think I used too much chili flakes; I took a bite (it didn't fit in the container) and I was like, oh wow, that's a bit spicier than I'm used to eating...

I also slipped a plastic grass sheet between the chicken and the paper wrapper for the croquettes, so the sauce wouldn't soak into the sheet and sog up my croquettes.  I have to say, though, putting anything slightly moist into the same tier as the croquettes seems to guarantee a soggy croquette, but worse, even if it's all fried/dry stuff (like yesterday's bento), it tends to sog up a little bit, I guess because the mashed potatoes on the inside are moist.  Hmm. 

Now, if I could only find cheese & macaroni croquettes.... heh!

Happy Bento!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Feisty Bento #67: Deep Fried Goodness

Top tier: creamed corn croquettes alternating with veggie; deep fried green beans (my brother's leftovers, I think he went to Friday's or Applebee's)
Bottom tier: bok choi, bean sprouts, edamame, and gyoza.

Not shown: the sauces for the gyoza and croquettes.  In the little box?  Oshibori.

During the same trip that I'd picked up the croquettes, I happened to notice a package of two cute little boxes with similar designs (the other one is yellow and has a cat on it, I think).  I wasn't sure what I'd use it for, tartar sauce or I don't know what, but when my mom handed me a package yesterday of really, really thin baby washcloths (she bought 6 for $1 at a nearby $1 store), I knew exactly what to put in the case: oshibori.

Since reading about oshibori on Lunch in a Box here, I've been considering how great it would be to use those, since I really hate sticky fingers and a lot of times, regular paper napkins just don't cut it.  So today will be my first time using one, I'm really excited!

HAPPY BENTO'ing on this soggy Tuesday!

PS I know my lunch, though stuffed with veggies, isn't the healthiest... too much fried stuff.  Ah... well....

Monday, November 5, 2007

Feisty Bento #66: Product Spotlight

At Sunrise Mart the other day (over on Stuyvesant St., around the corner from St. Mark's Place [for non-NYC people, this is basically "Japantown"; it's a few blocks of nearly all Japanese restaurants and a couple of really good Japanese markets, this opinion from a non-Japanese person]), I was in the freezer section searching fruitlessly for Ajinomoto Gyoza, NOT vegetable OR seafood, because quite frankly that's where I started and that's what I'm used to.  It also fries up nicely with no oil, and I just like how they taste.  I wound up trying JFC brand pork gyoza, but after 2 days with this brand, I'm already positive Ajinomoto is the best there is.  I will just have to search harder for it- Sunrise Mart USED to have it, but every time I go, they're out. 

While in the freezer section, I also noticed croquettes!!!  I was happy and excited, because though I'd been aiming to attempt making them a few weeks ago, I didn't get around to it, and I know someone had once commented asking me to write a tutorial on croquettes.  Instead, I'm writing to praise this brand of croquette- Katokichi.  It was about $3.50 for each type- I bought one of each, potato, vegetable, curry, and creamed corn, which alone came in a long sleeve of 10 smaller croquettes.  The creamed corn croquettes fit into my bento standing on end with no cutting, I think that's why they are sized that way, but the larger ones need to be cut in half to stand up in my bento and not get squished. 

The curry ones aren't very good, I can't put my finger on it because I like curry a lot, but I was meh on them.  The potato ones are standard, and the vegetable ones, I was hoping for a bit more mashed vegetables, but it's just chunks of veggies, which is still nice.  All of them fry up pretty crispy, though mine were soggy by the time I had lunch- perhaps moisture from the onigiri (which I'd cooled completely) seeped into them? 

Overall, I recommend these croquettes.  Quick, easy, and pretty darn delicious (my favorites are, in order, potato, then creamed corn & veggie tie for 2nd, and curry comes in last).

Now for my bento!

Top tier: Croquettes (cut in half for ease of packing; I ate the stray half)- vegetable, potato, and vegetable; katsu sauce for the croquettes; surprise onigiri (it's kind of old, was in the freezer, not sure what kind of filling it is, oops)
Bottom tier: edamame; pork gyoza & gyoza sauce

As always, happy bento'ing!!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Feisty Bento #65: In Memoriam

It's fitting that on this day, All Hallow's Eve, the day that the spirit world moves closest to the living world... I would choose to honor my father, who firmly resides in the spirt world.  It's been seven years to the day today, and it never hurts less.  I am sorry to be the one to tell people that, but it's true: I may be able to live each day without constantly thinking about him, but it still hurts. 

My father helped shape who I am today, and instilled in me a love of food that I didn't start exploring until later years.  Initially I was content to love sandwiches, simple and homemade, and eventually I became the food-obsessed-nerd I am today.  He taught me how to cook, and without him in my life, I would not be here, blogging about food.  For that, Daddy, I thank you.

In honor of his memory, and the memory I mentioned here of his bento'ing for me, I made a jazzed up version of the bento he made for me, once upon a time.  I was going to put it in the same glass Pyrex dish, but I didn't want to risk breaking it on my commute or quite honestly, carrying it (with food in it, it's probably easily 5 - 6 lbs.). 

Top tier: the last of the BBQ ribs, cut up and mixed with sauce; more potato salad
Bottom tier: deviled eggs, a la Daddy; salad- panzanella salad, recipe to be posted on Feisty Foodie

As always, happy bento'ing and happy Halloween to everyone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Feisty Bento #64: Smelly Lunch

Top tier: those are not olives, they are black grapes; two dumplings or something; more BBQ rib meat cut up (expect at least one more day of that).
Bottom tier: green veggies, and more potato salad.

I think my brother played a trick on me.  He told me there were dumplings or something in the fridge that I could have.  I opened up the fridge and found two fried woh-tiep, so I popped them in the toaster oven blahblah and you see them here.  Well, when I got on the bus, I smelled something funky.  Then I realized... the funky thing?  ...was me!  There's leeks or something smelly in those things, and now I smell horrendous... like farts.  Blegh :P

And the potato salad sucks ass.  My mom used truffle mustard and I don't like truffles 90% of the time (it has to be in the right application for me to enjoy).  Boo.  And I guess she was tired or mad at me or I don't know what, but no big box of cooked veggies, so I'm struggling for veggies this week.  I stole those greens out of a wonton mien I found in the fridge.  Boo. 

Ah well, no complaints, at least I have food to eat!  Happy Bento'ing!!!