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!!!