Thursday, January 31, 2008

Feisty Bento #111: Double Take

Left: glass noodles with Shiitake mushrooms, Chinese cabbage; roasted chicken Right: bean sprouts; sauteed greens; Asian pear and three cherries

Look familiar? It's all the same stuff as yesterday, just in a much smaller box (phew, time to shed some of these holiday pounds!). Yummm, I can't wait for lunch!

BTW, because everything in the boxes is meant to be eaten cold, I packed it the night before and put the whole box in the fridge. Ahhh... sleeping in an extra 5-10 minutes is nice, isn't it? Haha!

Happy Bento!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Feisty Bento #110: Courtesy of Mom!

The bottle is filled with water, but I have a little packet of Tea2Go by 4C's - Green Tea... this is my first time trying it, but I'll let you know how it turns out!  I thought to try this after reading on Lunch in a Box tips for packing airplane bento.  The last tip mentions bringing an empty water bottle, filling it with fountain water once you're past security, and then using a powdered drink to flavor it!  I would love to take it one step further and instead of buying them pre-packed like that, bring just a little thing filled with the powder, but rather than constantly being stopped so they can examine the powder before determining that it's neither narcotic nor explosive, I'll stick with this method.  If you buy in bulk, it isn't that expensive (about 20c a package, I think), but it's probably even cheaper to pack your own... Ah well.  I paid $5.99 for a box of 20.  Still cheaper than buying a drink in an airport! 

Left tier: the remainder of the cucumber salad; bedraggled grape tomatoes
roasted chicken (dark meat this time, and from a different chicken, courtesy of mom)
three cherries; sliced Asian pear

Right tier: glass noodles, Chinese cabbage, Shiitake mushrooms (courtesy of mom)
stir fried/sauteed greens (courtesy of mom)
sauteed bean sprouts (courtesy of mom)

Sorry!  If it's "courtesy of mom" that means it tastes delicious but I don't have the recipe.  As you can see, she decided she loved me this week and made me all sorts of yumminess for bento, so expect to see more of that this week!  Yay! 

Silly me, by the way, I just discovered my Lock & Lock set is... 470 ml each container.  I totally thought these were 350 a piece.  Damn it, that's too much food!  No wonder I'm not losing weight!  No wonder my brother accused me of being pregnant last night!  Argh.  Ah well.  I'll have to adjust and put less food in these or more salad/bulkier, lower calorie items.  Blegh. 

As always... HAPPY BENTO!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Feisty Bento #109: Cucumber Salad Recipe

Left: Romaine lettuce, bagged iceberg lettuce salad mix, grape tomatoes, and two marinated artichoke hearts, with the oil/vinegar combination that the artichoke hearts were marinated in (from a jar) poured on top as a dressing
Right: chopped up roasted chicken breast (courtesy of FeistyMom, but super dry... blegh, maybe I'll mix it with the salad, either one); homemade cucumber salad of a sort with green onion sprinkled on top for color

The recipe for the cucumber salad can be found here.  I added a lot more red pepper flakes this time so it's quite a bit spicier at the end, yum!  I love the mix of cucumber coolness with the surprise heat at the end ;)

Yum, I'm starving, can't wait for lunch!

Happy bento! 

Monday, January 28, 2008

NOT a Bento... but a MEME!

I usually don’t do memes or talk about my personal self on here, but Danielle from Habeas Brulee tagged me. The rules are:

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So, let's get to sharing.  Since I've done a lot of memes in my time (and posted one on a food blog...), I'm going to try to come up with stuff I've never mentioned before anywhere!  (Which means digging into the inner reaches of my mind for stuff I've long ago forgotten.)

Here are 7 really- well, sort of- random things about me:

1. I was really excited to try oatmeal the first time.  I don't remember how old I was, maybe 10 or 11, and I was seriously looking forward to it.  I took one bite and wanted to throw up, which, in my humblest of opinions, may have improved the look, the texture, maybe even the taste of the dish.  It didn't help that over the following few weeks, I tried adding honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, sugar, whatever I could get my hands on to try to improve the dish, but I just couldn't get into it.  I haven't had it since then, and in keeping with my theme of openmindedness and trying things I once hated again a while later to see if I now like them (did you get that?)... I suppose I should give it another go.  But I'm so... UGH... at the sight of oatmeal, which...

2. means that on cold winter mornings, for breakfast, my top choices are congee (hard to get the kind I like in time for breakfast, though) or assorted chowder type soups.  Sometimes Cup'o'Noodle or the like.  Weird to you perhaps, but what else can I eat in the mornings that's hot and soothing?  (Ok, this is a cheat, because it's a continuation of #1 and also because I've mentioned this in a few places before.  Tough!)

3. I'm a Scrabble fiend.  Seriously.  I love Scrabble and can't get enough of it.  It really, really bothers me when I lose for no good reason.  If I lose because I'm playing against someone who is better than me or closely matched- that's fine.  But when I lose solely from consistently getting crap letters over and over again,... I get really, really frustrated. 

4. I cry a lot, and often, during movies.  I generally tear up during the heartbreak moment in movies, even when I KNOW it's going to turn out happily, I still tear up.  I bawled for about 20 minutes straight during Click- from one very specific part towards the end, straight through to the end (if you've seen it, you may know which part and why I started crying [and am tearing up again just thinking about it]: highlight for spoiler When Adam Sandler says, "Take me to my dad's funeral," and then it turns out he didn't go, but the real waterworks started when he then says, "Take me to the last time I saw my dad," and then he goes there, and sees how his former self didn't even look up or even really look at his dad, and his current self tries to hug his dad for the last time... oh man, I'm going to start crying right now!  And some people say it's because of my own dad having died, you could say that, or just say it's a really touching part.)

5. When I'm depressed, there is nothing I like better than eating CRAP FOOD.  Oops, secret's out.  Actually, I also like to wield my control freak when I'm stressed out and cook something, especially something new or hard to cook, because it'll be the one area in my life I feel like I can control.  I know what happens when I mix certain things together, I know what this will taste like if I put this with that in this quantity, and I know what the end result will be.  It is a huge stress reliever for me to be able to turn out a dish I enjoy - especially if I can take photographs and share it later on my food blog - because it feels so validating that not everything has gone to shite. 

6. I am a loyal and die hard friend, but I am also super stubborn.  Luckily I'm not as argumentative nor confrontational as I might have seemed 10 years ago, but if pressed, I will stick to my guns.  I think also as we've gotten older, people don't tend to try to change your mind as much.  Maybe.  And despite my being what I personally would love to have in a friend- I am the best friend I could possibly want to be and have- I seem to consistently "lose" friends year after year.  I'm not taking it personally anymore.  I used to always say "It must be me because it always happens to me," and try to use it as a stepping stool to becoming a better me, but last year I decided the other people are just flat out psycho. 

7. I cannot bake for the life of me.  It bores me to tears to follow a recipe so closely in order to achieve desired results.  Ugh.  But this year I intend to conquer at least one bread- I'm skipping the easy ones, cakes, cookies, brownies, sweets, and heading straight to attempting a bread.  I can't guarantee when I'll do it, but I will.  It'll be fun, so stay tuned to see the disaster that becomes...

I’m tagging: SushiDay, Avenue Food, Midtown Lunch, Lunch in a Box, Yumbrosia, Smitten Kitchen, and Not Eating Out in NY.

Feisty Bento #108: Steak, steak, everywhere

Creamed corn; steak cut up into bite size pieces; bagged salad

Last night, I made steak with creamed corn- BF's favorite vegetable- and had leftovers.  Since I like my steak medium rare, it's totally microwaveable.  I cut the steak up last night, then packed it up and nuked it for a brief minute this morning.  Unfortunately it kind of made the steak completely cooked, but it turned out fine; next time I'm going to steam-re-heat it because it will cook more slowly that way.  Actually, there's extra steak underneath the creamed corn; those pieces came out super tender.  Ah well, lessons learned. 

I'm back to work, but not really feeling up for anything. 

Happy bento, at least.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Feisty Bento #107

Top tier: roasted pine nut hummus; grape tomatoes; cucumbers; Harry & David pear slices (dipped in acidulated water to prevent browning)
Bottom tier: leftover lo mein; seafood gyoza

Lunch time!

Happy bento everyone- I'm off all next week so I will return on January 28th!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Feisty Bento #106: International Day of Italian Cuisines

Left: spaghetti alla carbonara
Middle, from top: Sabra brand roasted pine nut hummus; grape tomatoes and cucumbers; Harry & David pears
Right (drink container): not-from-concentrate orange juice, partially frozen

Here's the set I used mentioned here with the drink container, though still without the orange lids.  Oops.  And you can't really see the orange of the lid of the drink container because the OJ inside kind of detracts from it, but it's a light orange, almost like... I can't describe it. 

I posted the recipe for the spaghetti alla carbonara on Feisty Foodie, so head on over to that link!  Today is the International Day of Italian Cuisines... well, go to the recipe link to see what that's all about and why I made carbonara anyway! 

These pears are so creamy and juicy, it's amazing.  Too bad the skin kind of sucks, and I didn't realize - since it's been years since I ate a pear - that they discolor, so I forgot to do something to prevent browning.  Oh well, hopefully they'll still taste yummy... can't wait for lunch!  I tried to twirl the pasta into nests or some semblance of nests so that it'll be easier for eating later... we'll see how that works out for me.


my dinner last night - click the picture for recipe!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Feisty Bento #105: Spring Colors (even though spring is a long way away...)

Top box: Romaine lettuce; low fat Hidden Valley ranch in 50ml bottle; a couple of cucumber bits scattered
Bottom box, from top left: marinated artichoke hearts; cucumber slices; hummus; mini bell peppers stuffed with hummus; in the little cute container, shredded Monterey and cheddar cheeses for sprinkling on said salad in top container

It's so pretty, even though there's no meat, I am happy.  All the colors on the bottom make me squee.  Even though I feel like crap, achey, headache, and just gross all over- I'm definitely coming down with something.  Yay. 

Happy Bento!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Feisty Bento #104: Pork, two ways

Top tier: roast pork and crispy skin pork, with "sweet" sauce courtesy of "local" Chinese butcher
Bottom tier: steam-boiled veggies with a sprinkling of sesame seeds on top for color; white rice with egg furikake (with seaweed and sesame seeds)

Had to add rice today because someone only left me half the choi... sigh.  Can. not. WAIT. to. move!!!  (What am I waiting for?  Do you really want to hear a huge rant?  Nah... let's be cheery!)


Monday, January 14, 2008

Feisty Bento #103: New Product!

Right side: cucumber slices, roasted pine nut hummus
Left side: bulgogi

I forgot to take pictures of the package- I want to do a full review- but yesterday, I hit the Trader Joe's that recently (October) opened in my 'hood.  Interestingly, it has some items that I've heard other bento'ers mention that the Trader Joe's in Manhattan/NYC doesn't have, including this bulgogi; marinated slices of raw beef in a Korean sesame sauce.  At $5.29/lb. it's not exactly cheap but it cooked up in my toaster oven, on broil, in about 7 minutes, on the foil lined baking tray, so it's an awesome time saver.  Each package is about 1 lb. so it's probably a bit much to eat in one shot (which I did today, blarghhh...) but definitely good for a meal x2!  Or maybe two bentos if you pack for more than just yourself.  I sprinkled some extra sesame seeds on top to emphasize the point... 

They were pretty good but once they got too cold, it was a little bit gross to eat.  And I'd want to cut them into smaller slices before I cooked it next time, for easier eating. 

As always, happy bento'ing!!!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Feisty Bento #102: New Lock & Lock Set Debut!

Guess what?  I finally used a "new" bento set that I bought back in September, in California.  I think it's too much food though... 

Silly me forgot to take pictures of the entire set- the lids are orange, and there's an included matching drink container!  Pictures of the same set with details can be found here - the set cost me $13 at the store.  I've managed to find a person who will ship them to me for $23 from Hawaii- she also has larger blue ones, same set up, same price.  Let me know if you want her contact info, I know I just bought the last one, but she gets them in occasionally... The nifty or niftiest part of the whole set up is that the divided container on the left - the tops of the dividers reach and touch the bottom of the lid, which has grooves specially for that, so my understanding (from reading Lunch in a Box and her lunches using these boxes) is that the contents can't and won't "jump" into the section next to it!  Awesome!

Left tier, from top: celery with cucumber slices underneath, and hummus adjacent with a green "grass" divider; sliced Asian pear; seafood gyoza with gyoza sauce
Right tier, from top: kimchi (Korean pickled and fermented spicy cabbage), mini marinated fishy; white rice with tamago furikake sprinkled on top; chicken & veggie curry

Something interesting: I actually made a huge batch of curry the other day and froze scoopfuls (a ladle and a half full, actually) in sandwich bags laying flat in my freezer.  Once frozen, the curry peels out of the bag very easily for a quick spin in the microwave to defrost and heat through.  Voila, perfect for my lunch!  I just heated it through really quickly this morning, and as I'd made fresh rice last night, I tossed some into my lunch as well.  Easy.  Everything else is just stuff I keep on hand... so easy, so yummy, and a ton of fun for me to eat later!

As always... happy bento'ing! 

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Feisty Bento #101: Mini bento

Top tier: baked chicken thigh (my mom marinated this in a bit of soy sauce and then put it in the oven to bake; it won't be very delicious but it won't be awful either); rice with tamago furikake (sesame seeds, seaweed, and egg bits) sprinkled on top
Bottom tier: hummus, cucumbers, and on the right, from top: spicy squid; pickled cucumber; mini fishies

Yumm, see, like I said, lots of variety here, I'm happy!  I can't wait to eat it, too.  I'm actually more excited about bento now.  Of course, tomorrow will be hard because I've used up everything...

Happy bento!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Feisty Bento #100: Mr. Bento & me

Today marks the 100th bento I've made.  Whoohoo!  It's been a fun ride, and I can't wait to see where else I go with this... To mark the occasion, I didn't even really go the bento route, instead using the brand new Mr. Bento my brother bought me for Christmas! 

On the left, in the rice container, I put chicken curry (this time, I used House brand Java curry, medium hot- it's hotter than S&B brand curry's medium hot) on the bottom and covered it using the rice lid method to keep the rice soft, not mushy, and the curry hot.  I have to admit that last time I made curry, I didn't use the rice lid method because I was in a rush and decided that it should be fine pre-mixed.  WRONG.  The rice turned mushy and just didn't taste as good as I'd have liked...

Bottom middle container: "sai yeung choi tong", watercress soup made with pork bones (that's one of the first recipes I posted on Feisty Foodie; check out the different writing style and the pictures!)

Right container: half of a Cutie clementine; sliced hothouse cucumbers and roasted pine nut hummus (Sabra brand)

Top container: the last of my pork & chicken gyoza, teddy bear of gyoza sauce; vegetarian duck; a little bit of Korean banchans (mini fish that are salty, spicy squid strands and pickled cucumber)

This is seriously wayyy too much food, which is why I chose to put watercress soup in the soup container (even though it's pretty warm out)- it's less filling, in my opinion, since it's just like drinking water; still filling but calorie free, at least.  I'm really looking forward to lunch, and on the bright side, I remembered that I love having little bits of various foods, a wide variety, just a teensy bite of each thing- which, if you look at my recent bentos, I haven't been really doing that.  I've been trying to fit 2-4 different things in a box and leaving it at that.  No more, I'm going back to having little bites of everything!!! 

BTW, after having tried the vegetarian duck again, I actually like it.  My memory of it was dry, hard, crunchy (not in a good way) and just overall ick, but this kind is really good, soft and yummy. 

So, wow, 100 bentos.  I guess it's just another number, but it is a BIG number!!!  I'm proud that I stuck to this hobby- my mom said, back in July, "Why are you spending so much money on this, you'll just stop doing it over time" and it's kind of true, if it was another hobby I might have gotten bored already.  But you know, having seen the results with my weight, and just how happy it makes me to open up my lunch and find the delicious food I've packed for myself, and I just feel overall better in general.  I have not regretted bento'ing at all and I don't think I'll stop anytime soon.  I highly recommend it for anyone tired of spending big money on lunch, or tired of being overweight, or just tired of eating garbage all the time. 

Happy Bento to everyone!!! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Feisty Bento #99: Something new

Left: chicken/pork gyoza; vegetarian duck Right: mini bell peppers stuffed with garlic & herb soft cheese; a few Korean pickles; gimbab

Vegetarian duck is one of those things I don't like. Actually, vegetarian anything basically gets a face from me: "tsai/jai" (depending on the dialect you speak, some variation of that) in Chinese is stuff that's vegetarian and usually meant to taste like meat, hence the "duck" labeling here. It's tofu skin wrapped around shiitake mushrooms, I can't recall the last time I tried it- years ago, and I hated it- but that doesn't make sense since I like tofu skin and I like shiitake mushrooms. Hence me trying it again. But honestly, I don't expect much, which is why I only took two pieces (I just needed something to stick in my bento!).

My mom kindly went to a K-town store yesterday and picked up fresh gimbab and a bunch of banchans for me (and herself, of course). I took some of the pickles and of course the gimbab (Korean style sushi; containing pickled daikon, carrots, spinach, a tamago-like egg, and some sort of tofu? it appears (I haven't had that before in gimbab but I can see it peeking out- it tasted good), and fake crab. Pretty yummy and a lot cheaper than Japanese sushi (this time, $6 for a package as seen in the picture here- it was $3 for that entire tray, and here in NYC it's $6! Sad...).

Since reading about mini bell peppers here, I've been dying to give this a try! So when I noticed my mom also picked up a big bag of mini bell peppers in pretty colors, I squealed and knew exactly what I was putting in my bento today! I can't wait to try it, though my mom insisted to me "You don't need cheese, these are so sweet it tastes like an apple, don't put cheese, no!" Heh, I stuffed some cheese in anyway.

As always, happy bento!!!

PS Tomorrow will be Feisty Bento #100! Be sure to tune in and see what's up, I've got something sorta special planned...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Feisty Bento #98: Lock & Lock Debut

Cucumbers; hummus; Singapore style mai-fun (not spicy; has a little bit of curry in it)

I think I'm over my food poisoning; I promptly inhaled anything in sight over the weekend because after eating a few bites of whatever everyday for a week, I deserved some food.  For those of you so kind to tell me, "At least you're losing weight!" from not eating... I didn't lose a single pound.  I don't get it.  Ah well.  It's okay; that'd be weight lost the unhealthy way and would return anyway.  It would've been nice to at least see the scale drop beyond the 1[x]0 mark, though... (I'm a little shy about my exact weight.)

This box is the one I mentioned previously that I got at Target- the first time using it was a week ago, to hold the broccoli from my fated food poisoning bento (though the clams were in the other box).  Since it's really way too big for me to comfortably justify filling and eating, I filled the cup less than halfway with hummus (and it was still a bit much), and cucumbers are so low calorie, I think that's okay.  The noodles were also filled to less than halfway, but I was still full.  Success!

Happy bento'ing!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Feisty Bento # 97: Guess who has food poisoning?

Penne a la vodka; honey bbq chicken wings deboned; bleu cheese dressing

I am off to a great start this year.  Sarcasm, people.  I started off the year with food poisoning and still can barely eat.  In fact, I forced myself to make the above bento and felt sick while making it, then when I began eating it, I took two bites and felt sick again- it's delicious, don't get me wrong, just that my stomach can't tolerate eating anything apparently!  Boo.  So I didn't eat more than two bites before I had to put it away.  Wah.  I still feel sick hours later from those two bites... sigh.

And the culprit?  My own bento on Monday, the clams?  Leftover seafood is rarely a good idea.  I just hate wasting.  I learned my lesson (well, not really, because I can see myself doing it again). 

Happy Bento!!!