Thursday, March 16, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Pot o' Gold Bento!

Happy St. Paddy's Day!  Today TinySprite gets a rainbow's end pot o' gold made from a piece of green pepper filled with egg salad and cheddar cheese coins. There are stars cut from steamed Okinawan sweet potato, red grapes, tomatoes, and mandarin cuties. Hope it's a lucky day for you!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Soba Salad Bento

Hello! I know it's the middle of March, but it has been feeling like summer these past few days in the Bay Area. It was too hot in the kitchen to cook, believe it or not, so I decided to make a fresh cool salad for dinner. And tomorrow's lunch as well! Soba salad is convenient because everyone can use whatever toppings they choose: this one has snap peas, tomatoes, ham, egg, shiitake mushrooms, sesame seeds and green onion. The tsuyu goes into a separate small container on the side, but if you have a leakproof lunchbox you can drizzle it right on top ahead of time (or just omit it if desired). You can also sprinkle furikake as well. I hope this weather means the worst of the rainy winter season is over!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Won Ton Bowl Bento

Another bowl type bento today; this time in an actual round bowl. I really like this apple-shaped two tier metal container. It's cute and handy and just right for meals like this. I lay some soba noodles on the bottom, added shredded romaine lettuce, cilantro and green onions, then topped with as many won tons as would fit. You can drizzle a little shoyu, chili oil, and black vinegar, or use a separate condiment bottle for that. I have a current obsession with scallion ginger sauce so I ate mine with that - SO good. One day I'll share that with you but that's for another day. Since there aren't too many fruit in season right now, I cut some red grapefruit. You might think it sounds tart and sour but they are actually quite sweet! I know some folks sprinkle sugar on top but trust me, you don't need to. If it's not sweet enough for you, maybe toss in some oranges (or squeeze some juice over). I hope you try it!

Won Ton Filling

1 lb ground meat (I used turkey but pork is traditional)
1 scallion, chopped
1 t grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T shoyu
1/2 T cornstarch
1 egg

Mix all together and fill dumpling skins. You can change the amounts of the ingredients to suit your taste. Drop in boiling water and when they float to the surface, wait 30 more seconds and lift out gently. Serve with soup, noodles, or just as is.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Chicken Rice Salad Bowl

Welcome to my current favorite kind of lunch: the protein bowl! I like it because it's very simple to make and the only rules are that you should use as many different varieties and colors of fresh and minimally processed foods as you can. I like to use a whole grain carb base like rice or pasta, salad greens, cruciferous vegetables, fruit, and protein.
There are tons of cookbooks offering great ideas for protein bowls, and I got the idea for this bento from Bowls of Plenty by Carolynn Carreno.

Vietnamese Bowl with Sweet and Tangy Vinaigrette

1/4 C rice vinegar
1/4 C sesame oil
2 T soy sauce
2 T honey
1 lb. skinless chicken breasts, thin

Marinate chicken for 2 hours, then cook chicken until caramelized, 3 minutes, then turn and cook 5 minutes more or until juices run clear. Rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Lay over rice, add shredded cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables of choice (I used brussels sprouts and grapefruit segments). Serve with vinaigrette.

Sweet and Tangy Vinaigrette:
1/2 C canola oil (or other neutral flavored oil)
1/2 C rice vinegar (I also added ume vinegar)
3 inch fresh ginger, grated
3 T lime juice
1 T honey
2 garlic cloves, minced

For this Ecolunchbox Solo Cube I used chicken marinated in this vinegar shoyu sauce and then pan fried in a skillet. You can use other kinds of protein too, such as shrimp, beef, or even tofu. I made a mixed rice composed of brown rice, red rice, barley, black rice, and quinoa. I also added a tossed salad of shredded cabbage, grated carrot, and grapefruit segments. You can pack along this fresh citrusy gingery vinaigrette in a separate container to drizzle at lunchtime. Pan roasted brussels sprouts and halved grape tomatoes round out this square bento. So good, and good for you too! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Happy Girls' Day Bento!

In Japan, Girls' Day (Hinamatsuri, 雛祭り) is celebrated on March 3. On this day we wish for the health, success, and happiness of girls. My TinySprite is 10 years old, but not too old to enjoy a sweet token of my love for her. I hope she likes her Hello Kitty bento treat. Happy Girls' Day!

In this bento: hard boiled egg, radish, carrot, blood orange, snap peas, wild blueberries, mandarin orange.