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!!!