Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bentos #111, #112, #113, #114... You know my greatest fear with this blog?

It's that I'll spell 'Scrumptious' wrong.  I have a mini panic attack every single time I type that damn word.

Anywho.  I had a lovely, busy week.  It started with a load-in of 'The Nutcracker' on Monday morning.  Bright and early.  Or maybe just early.  And definitely not bright.  The Covey Center actually does at least three 'Nutcrackers' every year.  And they start before Thanks giving.  And by the beginning of December, we all want to start pegging the 'Waltz of the Flowers' dancers with airsoft beads.  Not because they're not good dancers, or we dislike them in anyway.  But that song gets going through your head...

They actually loaded out on Wednesday night.  By which time I had 36.75 hours for the week.  This didn't stop me from taking a freelance gig on Thursday and Friday.  Because I get bored when I'm not working.  And I need the money.

My first issue is that I need some massive dental work done.  ... I look like a hobo right now.  Due to unfortunate circumstances, I need an implant and a few crowns.  And those babies aren't going to be cheap.  But, you know, then my face will be fixed and I'll have, to quote my oral surgeon, 'a movie star smile to go with my movie star eyes.'  Yeah.  He totally said that.

And then I found out last week that I need new tires on my truck.  Something about them being so cracked around the sides that they don't want to top off the air in them for fear they'll explode.  ...I love my truck, but I really should have taken a better look at it before I bought it...  Truck tires aren't cheap, although I may go to the Pick'n'Pull to see what I can dig up.

Oh.  And Christmas is coming.  And I already started getting gifts for the entire clan, so I can't back off and just get them family gifts now.  It's too late.

This week holds another 'Nutcracker' for me.  And NIMS training, because if something goes down around here, my theatre becomes the morgue, and I a morgue attendant.  Ew.  And hopefully a bit more freelance work over the weekend.  Busy, busy... but that's how I like it.


For your enjoyment... or mine... I guess... I've packed turkey meatballs with broccoli and two onigiri from my freezer stash in the one layer, and carrots, hummus, cucumbers, blackberries, and kiwis in the other.

My basket last week contained cabbage, so I figured I'd make some Irish cabbage and noodles.  Which is what I did.  Just stir-fried cabbage with onion and peppers over egg noodles.  And then... I was out of Polish sausage.  And all I had that I could quickly top it with was some stir-fried beef.  Two flavor profiles that do not mix.  Lemme tell you...  Also I had lots of cucumber, kiwi, and blackberries.

This one contains a really good fall rice casserole thingy.  Apples, onion, peppers, cinnamon, nutmeg and sausages... It's such a good mix.  I've got it coupled with roasted delicata squash.  The other layer has kiwi, strawberries, cucumber, and a babybel cheese.

Last Sunday my little brother, who is a really good cook when he actually does it, made spinach manicotti.  Which is what that cheesy mass covered in carrot flowers is.  I've also got carrots and hummus, blackberries, and kiwi.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bentos #109 and #110... My LocknLock prize came!

For some reason, nobody ever knocks on my door when I can actually get the door.  I'm either in the bathroom or shower, or I'm not properly dressed... I live by myself.  I don't have to be 'decent' all the time...

So when the fedex guy knocked, I was in the midst of getting ready for work.  I dug around for a second to find my robe, ran a brush through my wet hair, and rushed to the door.  There was no one there when I peaked through the window.  I'm usually not fast enough to catch whoever it was that knocked.  But there, sitting on my tiny stoop, was a giant box.  It blocked the entire doorway.  I knew what it was.  And I couldn't bring myself to leave it out there...  So I opened the door, checked to make sure there was no one around, and awkwardly dragged it into the house with one hand.  Awkwardly.

And then I called and told the guy I work with that I was going to be late.  I have my priorities.

So I unpacked it all.  And I took a picture for you.  Or at least tried.  Poe chose that moment to come and see what was going on...

I gave Poe a treat to keep her out of the way for a moment.  And took the picture.  

See how shiny the lids are?  Like mirrors!  Yes.  That's me with a camera.

The prize was the whole set of Cookplus Fruits pans from LocknLock.  There are 2 saucepans, 3 casseroles, and a stock pot.  They feel really heavy for their size.  Which I take as a good thing.  At some point in the near future, I need to do the fudge test.  It's my experience that a crappy pan won't turn out a decent batch of fudge.  So I'm picky with my pans.  Fudge is important to me.


The fact that I have now received my prize means it's time for a giveaway!  Check back in the next couple of days!  Or... become a follower.  Because you have to be a follower to participate in any of my giveaways anyway.  Might as well get a jump on it. ;)


And... here are the bentos!

This one is another taco salad.  But without torilla chips.  I've got kidney beans, tomatoes, sharp cheddar, soy nuts, and Thousand Island dressing for the salad that's hiding under the tray, and a couple of Dove chocolates for dessert.

I found a honey poppyseed dressing that has no sugar added.  But there's a problem... Honey poppyseed dressing should be sweet...  Next time I pack the dressing, I'm going to add some honey myself...

So.  Kidney beans, sliced grapes, soy nuts, and the dressing to dump on the salad.  And a babybel cheese and a turtle for my desert.

I didn't manage to eat all the salad last week.  I have enough for another lunch.  And I picked up my basket yesterday, which had, and will almost always have, more lettuce.  If I can get do three salads in this week, I should be good!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bentos #105, #106, #107, and #108...

I think it's funny... I started needing bentos again at work.  And so I started making them.  But I was so out of the habit of blogging about them that... well... here we are.  With a bit of a catch up post. 

The bit of an update is this... My comp hours are still up around 100.  It was finally decided at work that it would be impossible to just try to send me home.  So we sat down and figured out a plan that would slowly bring my comp down to an acceptable level.  We'll see if that works.  Related to you... that should mean I'll need a decent amount of bentos over the next couple of months.

Also related to you... I told you about winning the LocknLock review contest!  I'm still uber excited about it.  I haven't received my prize yet, but when I do, that'll mean a giveaway for you guys as well.  Because if I didn't have a blog, I wouldn't have written that review in the first place.  This giveaway is in addition to the 3000 views giveaway that will hopefully be happening in the next couple of weeks.  So... keep those in mind!


A lovely bento, consisting of a brown rice onigiri, turkey meatballs in a sweet soy sauce glaze, and steamed cabbage.  Also cucumbers, yellow tomatoes, a babybel cheese, Italian prune plums, and hummus.  I put sliced carrot flowers over the hummus to dress it up, and also to help keep the hummus from making a mess.  Works every time.

Egg fried rice with peas, carrots and cucumber with hummus, a yellow tomato, a babybel, and an Italian prune plum.

A meatless bento...tri-color rotini with ICBINB and Johnny's Italian Seasoning with broccoli.  Also figs, yellow tomatoes, a babybel, pickled sweet peppers, and a few mini Reese's cups.

What the salad?  Right.  I ate this and everything.  There were TWO heads of romaine in my basket this week and I vowed to at least attempt to eat it.  So I dug out this awesome salad bowl that's been gathering dust in the corner, and here we are.  To top the salad, I have tomatoes, kidney beans, sharp cheddar, and FF Thousand Island Dressing in the center container.  I also had a bag of tortilla chips at work to crumble in.  And for desert, I have a turtle and a couple of sweet and low candies.  

How much salad do you think I can eat this week?  I'm not exactly sure, but I think I've got enough for 3 more of these... I might die.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Not a bento... miss me?

I haven't had a need to pack bentos for the past few weeks.  Hopefully you'll see a few next week.  But.  I just had to tell everybody...

I won the review contest at LocknLock!  You know what that means!  I won the entire set of Cookplus Fruits pans.  Which I've been drooling over for ages... and a gift certificate!

Why should you care?  A giveaway, of course!  More details will come soon.  But.  You know... fun!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bento #104... Finally... some downtime.

My show is open.  Finally.  I've got about 120 comp hours to burn down now.  I was going to take the train to San Francisco.  (It sounds fun.)  But try as I might, I can't convince myself that I can afford it right now.  Maybe in the spring...  I'll probably end up going camping for a few days here and there.  And catching up on some projects.  Like my motorcycle.  And the '49 Dodge sitting in front of my apartment that needs tires.  Maybe I'll even deep clean my apartment.  Maybe.

Anywho.  This is a bento from a dress rehearsal.  I don't remember which one.  I was just happy to have it.

It has an onigiri from my freezer upon which I sprinkled some furikake, some of the chicken patty things, and I filled it in with frozen peas.  (I was in a massive hurry...)

The other container has two Italian prune plums, a handful of Thompson grapes, cucumber rounds from my planter, two tomatoes and a strawberry (also from my planters), and a babybel cheese.


I think I've written about a giveaway in all of my last few posts... and there's another for you.

Not Exactly Bento is giving away an awesome Lock'n'Lock box, a sports bottle, and a collection of Tony Chachere's spice mixes to a lucky reader.  Check it out here.


Just a reminder that I'll be hosting a giveaway of my own once the guest counter reaches 3000.  So keep reading and watching!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bento #103... Better

3 Musketeers opens tomorrow.  You know what that means?  I'm averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night.  I'm still awake now because I'm needing to unwind from that rehearsal.  It went well.  It's a good show.  And I think it will make people happy.  But damn I'm tired.

I spent way more time on this bento than I should have.  But I really needed to focus on something just for me for a little while...

There's a bit of a leftover remake to this one.  I made the little chicken patty things with leftover chicken from Sunday dinner at my parents' house.  Recipe will follow, providing I can still see the screen when I get that far...  Along side the cute little chicken patties, I have broccoli and an onigiri from the freezer stash.  I'm getting the hang of using those things.  This one I was able to just pick and munch.  There's also a bottle of potsticker sauce for the chicken patties.  

The other layer has a nectarine, carrots, hummus, a few grapes, and a babybel cheese.  I love and adore babybels, but I won't buy them anywhere other than costco, because I refuse to pay a lot for them.  So this is the first one ever to make it to a bento.


Chicken Bites

1/2 chicken breast, cooked.
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Mrs Dash.  Whatever kind you feel.
2 heaping tablespoon flour (I used wheat)
Water until sufficiently moist.

You could also add shredded zucchini and carrots to this.  And I bet it would be amazing.  I'll have to try it once my new Salad Shooter gets here.

Anyway.  Shred the chicken.  Mix the ingredients.  The batter should be moist, but not runny.  Heat a frying pan over medium heat.  Put small dollops of the chicken mixture into the lightly greased pan.  Slightly flatten.  Cover.  Cook for 3 minutes or so.  Flip.  Cover, and wait until cooked through.  Maybe another 3 minutes.  Serve with yummy sauce that you love.  I love potsticker sauce.


There's yet another bento giveaway happening!  This time over at Bento Monsters.  Do I need a new box?  Signs point to no.  But it's so cute!

Also, Casa Bento is giving away a bento box on facebook!  Just follow the instructions here to enter.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bento #102...

I almost decided not to post this one.  I was in a hurry.  And it's not as balanced or as pretty as I usually try to make them.  And then I said to myself, "You know what, self?  Just take the picture and get over yourself!"  So I did.

The back box contains a turkey sausage cut into three sections.  I tried using a cutter to put a shape in the end, but this sausage doesn't behave the way a hotdog does when heated, so the effect was lost.  The sausage is surrounded by a garden fresh summer squash, and the other side has a freezer onigiri that I didn't even have time to microwave and get the plastic wrap off.  (As a side, after I microwaved this one, I put a little bit of pressure on it to reform.  It held together quite well!)

The other layer has a nectarine, green grapes, and an Italian prune plum.


I'm planning another giveaway!  My little counter is at about 2500 visitors right now.  When we get to 3000, we'll have some fun!


On a related note... while you're waiting for my giveaway, hop on over to Not Exactly Bento to check out a giveaway that's happening right now!  There's $50 LocknLock coupon up for grabs!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bento #101...

I've spent the last couple of days trying to find time to make a bento.  But things kept coming up.  Like... Monday.  I was going to pop into work for 20 minutes or so and then run to the gym.  Come home.  Shower.  Make a bento.  Make it back to work in time for a meeting.  What actually happened was that I went to work, and my boss caught me (slightly embarrassing considering the workout clothes I was wearing) and decided that we should have a staff meeting.  But we couldn't do it until the Box Office Manager got there.  Which wouldn't be for 40 minutes.  So I had to wait around.  It would have been ok.  Meeting started at 10:00, my other meeting wasn't until 1:00.  Except every single time we went to end the meeting, something else came up.  I was there until 12:30, which gave me barely enough time to book it home, shower, and then book it back to work.  I ended up eating out.

Tuesday I had to pop into work again.  This time at 2:00.  The plan was to leave at 3:00, run some errands, make it home to put together a bento, and be back by 6:30... But.  I didn't get to leave until 4:30.  I was still running errands at 5:30 when I got a call about a meeting at 6:00.  So... I ate leftovers from the day before.

And here.  Finally.  Is the bento I've been trying to make all week.

Please forgive the skuzzy picture... My camera is at work so I can take pictures of cast members who haven't emailed me their headshots yet.

I have an onigiri in a case with a fish full of soy sauce.  (This is my experimental frozen brown rice onigiri.  That I'll probably have to eat with chopsticks because I didn't take time to reform it after I microwaved it.)  The lower right box has four homemade potstickers, separated and surrounded by summer squash slices and topped with carrot flowers.  The other box has a peach, some cucumber slices, some carrot sticks, a mini yellow tomato, and some mini-mini sweet cherry peppers.  The bottle contains dipping sauce for the potstickers.


If you haven't already, check out the All Things for Sale giveaway!  They're giving away at least two bento sets including a box, an insulated lunch bag, and a matching water bottle!  Click here for more information!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The comforts of rice... a bento-ish lunch

I'm writing this as I'm sitting on my living room floor, encompassed by the incredible aroma of cooking rice.  Rice is one of my biggest comfort foods.  My family had rice for dinner three or four times a week when I was a kid.  I have a big family (my parents, me, and six brothers!) and rice is cheap.  There was always a twenty pound bag on the floor beside the microwave stand.  And another two or three in the basement, waiting their turn.

I learned to cook rice on the stove.  I couldn't always time it right, and sometimes I burned it.  But I was a kid.  Give me some credit.  I was probably the most excited person in the house when my mom brought home our first rice cooker.  And when I moved out, a rice cooker was the first appliance I HAD to have.  And I've been using that same cooker for the past six years.  It's also the appliance that I use the most.

I love rice in all its incarnations... plain, with soy sauce, covered in a country gravy, or ground beef gravy, Spanish, spam-fried (the only way I'll eat spam...), risotto, cold and covered in cinnamon sugar and milk (really! It's good!)... The list is really endless.  

Usually the only rice I have in the house is short-grain brown rice.  The flavor is nutty and rich.  And, you know, it's better for you than white rice.  Or something like that.  My goal for this pot is to make onigiri.  I've never made successful onigiri with brown rice.  Oh, this is sticky enough.  I think I'm just not pressing them firmly enough out of fear of making hockey pucks, so they fall apart.  Also... I don't think I've done it with freshly cooked rice.

The pot just clicked.  I'll be right back...


There they are!  I think I did it right.  At least, the one I just ate only started falling apart when I got to the nori.  I seasoned them like I do sushi rice... a splash of rice vinegar, a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt.  I used a mold, but I filled it a little more than I usually do.  Once popped out of the molds, I wrapped the bottoms in a bit of teriyaki flavored nori.  I'll try making one for my lunch tomorrow, and we'll see what we see!

On a related, but not exactly bento note, the rest of my lunch consists of leftover garlic pepper porkloin, steamed carrots and broccoli, a peach (I ate the other half while putting the plate together), and a handful of black grapes.   I've come to realize that I put a fair amount of effort into making my bento lunches colorful and healthy and varied.  And I usually put much less effort into making my meals at home the same.  Usually I would have just eaten a bowl of rice and a peach and been done.  I should likely work on making my at-home meals as good as my packed meals...


I shaped most of the rest of the rice into onigiri (some flavored and some not).  They'll be a great addition to my freezer stash!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bentos #99 and #100!

Blogging during rehearsals again...  I usually am not here during stage combat rehearsals, but this one was rather unplanned, so I don't have anyone here to cover it.  That's ok.  I got some things done.  And now I can do this.

I threw this one together in a hurry.  It has roasted sweet corn and red peppers with sliced garlic pepper pork tenderloin, black grapes, and three quarters of a peach.  The rest is from my garden; 3 tiny strawberries, mini-mini sweet cherry peppers, a few small tomatoes, and three green beans.

I had intended to do something a bit more exciting for my 100th bento.  But then I forgot all about it.

The left layer has a pasta salad made with tri-color rotini, turkey pepperoni, tomato, cucumber, parmesan cheese, and carrot flowers.  The dressing is a blend of red wine garlic vinegar, italian seasoning, and EVOO.

The thing holding the hummus on the right layer is a cucumber!  My lemon cucumber plant is going bucking nuts.  Which is nice.  So.  I chopped one in half, hollowed it out, and filled it with hummus.  It's surrounded by carrot sticks.  There is also a pluot and a handful of grapes.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bento #98...

So.  We're rehearsing '3 Musketeers.'  I've told you this.  It's great fun.  The sword fights look pretty brutal.  The actors are all great.  Whatever.  The past week we've been rehearsing at my old high school.  Because we hired my old drama teacher as the costumer.  And since there's been a dinner theatre onstage at the Covey, we needed a place.  And by rehearsing at the high school, the costumer gets to pull whoever she needs for fittings.  It works out well.

My ASM, who actually graduated from the same high school just this summer, realized this week where he knew my name from.  It's on a 2x4 in the booth.  I think we used to prop up the projector with this 2x4.  Anyway.  It says, "Wise man say: Never wrestle with Pam, she will kick you in the face.  Among other things."

That's probably true.


Check it out!  Not only is it a single layer (which you don't see very often), it's not meant to be microwaved at all (which you see even less)!  There hasn't been an accessible microwave at the high school.  So I had to move outside my comfort zone...

It contains... a hard boiled egg, a few slices of black-pepper beef, a handful of mini potatoes, cucumber slices (in the back), 3 cute little tomatoes out of my garden, a mini-mini sweet pepper (also out of my garden), grapes, a silicone cup of pluot chunks, and a strawberry.  Also from my garden.

The director has gotten into the habit of stopping rehearsal when I pull out my dinners, because she wants to see.  And who can blame her?  They're adorable!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bento #97... and I join a gym

I was doing SO good with my running.  3 or 4 times a week even.  Although I never did get past week 7 of the Couch 2 5k program.  Mostly because when I run for longer than 20 minutes, I get really light headed.  I'm sure it has something to do with eating correctly before I go running.  Which I'll be researching.

In the past three weeks, I have run 3 times.  I think that's sad.  But I know why.  It's really hot outside.  And I'm not actually capable of getting up before or even with the sun.  And running in the heat really contributes to the light-headedness.  So it's not that I don't want to run... it's that I'm not making it possible for me to run.

Which is why I joined a gym.  No sun.  Controlled temp.  Cardio cinema...  Also they were having a membership sale.

We'll see how it goes.  While I did mostly join for the cardio equipment, I'm thinking I might as well take advantage of the weights and junk, too.  So I'm trying to find a book that will walk me through routines.  Because I'm much to cheap to hire a personal trainer.


This is my very first round bento box.  Thanks to Lia Chen over to  I won a contest!  Which happens very rarely.  I'll be putting together a better bento to show off the box and the cute picks I got with it.  I was just running behind yesterday.  I'm not sure how.  I had 3 hours to get ready for work...

The top layer contains a hard boiled egg, black grapes, a strawberry, and lemon cucumber slices from my garden.  I may have let the lemon cucumber get too mature.  It's very tough around the outside edges.  I love the taste though... Cucumbery, but slightly sweet.

The other layer has a stuffed sunburst squash.  I'll be honest... it was kind of a fail.  No recipe for you.  I ended up dumping out the filling and just eating the squash.  Someday I'll learn... Start with a recipe and then tweak. :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bento #96... Lazy Bento

I've been... down... recently.  It happens, I guess.  The problem is, when I do occasionally get like this, I have very little motivation to do much of anything.  Like eat.  Hence the lack of bentos recently.  I DO eat.  I just end up with a bunch of kids meals from fast food places because it's that or nothing.  And the toys make me happy.

Once upon a time, Del Taco had little plastic hamsters in wrestler masks.  I forget what they were called.  But there were six of them.  One of which was a hamster in a black mask with a glow-in-the-dark skull.  Del Taco toys come in black bags so you can't see what they are.  You know what that meant?  I, and the entire crew at work, ended up eating Del Taco kids meals every day for about four weeks.  We gave up eventually.  And then my boss' kids wanted Del Taco and randomly ended up with the elusive black mask hamster... I might have to find one on ebay or at the Saver's if I really want one... And I might...

Anyway.  Here is proof that things are looking up.  A bento!

I tossed a slice of lasagna leftover from Fazoli's (lovely, lovely Fazoli's...) and a bunch of sauteed asparagus.  The other layer has a Persian cucumber, 5 bitty strawberries from my garden, and a small slice of cheesecake (leftover from my birthday).

I'm not quite sure what I was thinking when I agreed to take 5 big slices of cheesecake home with me... Now I'm going to have to eat it all.  And lack of motivation means I've gone running once this week... ;)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bento #95... I did go camping

And it was interesting.  At least I think so.

This is the first time I've ever been camping on my own, so I was a bit nervous.  I'll admit that.  When I got to the lake, it was drizzly and overcast.  Check-in wasn't until 2:00, so I found a little turn-off that looked over the lake and spent a couple of hours reading a book.  At 2:00 I went to the campsite, paid my fee, and started settling into my spot.  I made lunch first.  Chicken, noodles, and zucchini.  I got my tent up, and then it started pouring.  Buckets.  I got soaked.  And I discovered that neither my tent or my umbrella are waterproof.  Great.

As soon as the torrential downpour turned to just a drizzle, I decided I should move to another campspot.  One where my truck would be parked much closer to my firepit.  Just in case the weather stayed gross.  It didn't, of course.  I could have stayed where I was and been just fine.  But that's what I get for being careful.

I spent a few hours just walking around by the lake and sitting at the dock.  I met a guy who invited me back to his firepit for beers, but... I'm kind of like a good little Mormon girl.  He offered me marshmallows instead. When I got back to camp, I got really tied up reading a book though.  I didn't even build a fire.  Or eat dinner.  Somewhere around 11:00 I realized that A) I was hungry and B) it was late.  I munched some fruit from my ice chest and went to bed.

It was at some point in the middle of the night that I realized... even though it wasn't raining, it still would have been nice to waterproof the tent.  The condensation on the outside was seeping through where my sleeping bag was touching... My socks were wet.

I did make myself a decent breakfast.  I boiled a potato (that was supposed to have been baked in the fire the night before) and then poached an egg.  And had hot chocolate.  Really good hot chocolate.  I make my own mix that is sugar-free, fat-free, and really good and creamy.  And then I added a caramel-vanilla marshmallow to it.

After I cleaned and packed up my camp, I went fishing.  Kind of.  I baited the hook twice.  But I was reading, and couldn't be bothered with actually putting effort into the fishing thing.  I spent hours out there, and baked my shoulders to red crispy bits.  Even though I really was using sunscreen.  I promise...


This bento contains lemon-pepper chicken (that I cooked while I was camping), green beans, lots of tomatoes from my plants, plum slices, peach slices, a bit of mango, and a cantaloupe ball.

The green beans were steamed in my microwave steamer and then tossed into a saute pan with some garlic and hoisin sauce.  They turned out really good!


And now... Two of my favorite camping pictures...

I did not use the zoom with this picture at all...  I saw this gal near camp, started snapping pictures, and she walked right up to me.  I could have touched her.  But there was this nagging voice that said touching wild animals would get me killed.  Even if it was just a little deer...

The area around Strawberry Reservoir is covered with these little neon orange flowers....

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bentos #91, #92, #93, and #94... Quick Catch-up

I have a thoroughly uninteresting life.  This week I had rehearsals.  Our real swords came in, so my actors are no longer using sticks to practice with.  I managed to get the rehearsal schedule put together and functional up until the run (no small feat).  I went jogging more than once.  I cooked one interesting thing that will eventually end up in a bento, at which point I'll tell you about it.  I went to lunch with my mom.  And my birthday was Saturday.  I did absolutely nothing fun.  Although I may have overcompensated today when I bought a butt-load of camping gear.

Speaking of which.  I'm going camping.  I was going to go tonight, but really didn't get started prepping early enough.  So I'm going early tomorrow.  I will fish.  Although I'm not sure what I'll do if I actually catch one.  I've not ever cleaned a fish before.  And only kind of know where to start, thanks to youtube.  I will cook things on my new little camp stove in my new little camp cook set.  I will sleep in my teeny-tiny tent.  Unless it's raining.  In which case I will sleep in my truck. (The tent hasn't been waterproofed yet...).  I will read one of my many new books (Big-Lots was clearing out all theirs for 50 cents each.  I may have bought about 30 of them...)  I will jog somewhere by the lake.  I roast caramel-vanilla marshmallows.  And it shall hopefully make this week more interesting than the last.


On to the bentos...

Teeny-tiny potatoes on skewers with kale and smoked turkey sausage bits.  There's j-dawg sauce in the container... Other layer has carrots and hummus, melon, pineapple, and a little strawberry from my garden, plum and nectarine slices.

This is a bento in which I attempted to make tofu edible.  I think tofu could be a cost-effective meat replacement substance... If it could be make edible.  This was only barely.  I didn't finish it.  Something about soy sauce, garlic, and sugar.  I am rather happy with the green beans.  They also had something to do with soy sauce, garlic, and sugar.  But in a much better way.  The zucchini was just pan-fried with salt and pepper.

Other layer has nectarine and strawberry slices, and cucumber with mini heirloom snacking tomatoes.  Which I love.  They're the size of marbles.

Orzo pasta salad with kale and feta, carrots, cucumber, black-pepper beef, plum slices and hummus

First, we focus on the two veggies in the top corner.  The yellow tomato is from my garden, as-is the black pepper.  The tomatoes ar funny.  I planted yellow pear tomatoes, but these are not those.  When actually ripe, these puppies turn orange.  And there is no pear shape to them.  As for the black peppers, they are not supposed to be mini'.

This bento has carrot slices over brown rice with leftover rosemary pork tenderloin, broccoli, cucumber, carrot, melon, nectarine, and the veggies from my garden.


I can't keep my eyes open and keep telling myself that I'm going to leave really early.  That might not happen...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bento #90... Oven-Fried Anything...

You may have noticed the recently added 'Recipes' tab at the top of the page.  I wanted to make all the lovely things I cook easy for you to find.  And then I went back through my posts and realized that I usually don't tell you exactly how I make things.  I throw things in a pan, add dashes of this or that... and that's it.  So I'm making an effort to actually put recipes in my posts.

This one might be a bit of over-compensation...


I'm generally not allowed to fry things at home.  I nearly bought a countertop deep-fryer once.  And then realized that I would fry EVERYTHING.  Did you ever watch the 'King of the Hill' episode where Bill and Dale start playing with their fryer?  That would be me.  Because fried things are delicious.

So.  I decided I could oven-fry things.  And I had a package of mushrooms in my fridge that I really needed to do something with.

They're not exactly pretty, but they'd been in the fridge for a week.

I decided to do a zucchini as well.  In protest to Red Robin changing their fried zucchini recipe.

I put all my veggies in a ziploc bag with *1/2 cup of flour, *1/2 tsp paprika, *1/2 tsp pepper and *1 tsp salt.  Since these are not being fried, you have to add salt now... you can't do it later.  It won't stick.

Shake until the veggies are coated.

In a bowl, whisk an *egg with *1/3 cup milk.  Dunk your flour coated veggies in the mix and then...

Put them directly into a mixture of *1 cup panko bread crumbs and *1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.  Press the crumbs into the veggies.

Put your veggies onto a greased cookie sheet.  (I line everything with foil.  I don't really like washing dishes.)  And bake in a 350 degree oven until the outsides are crispy!  Mine were in for about 15 minutes.

I ate these with ranch dressing.  And I didn't feel bad about eating a lot of them.  They're oven-fried, after all.

Yeah... I totally did a turkey sausage.  I had leftover panko...  See?  You can oven fry anything!


This is a little snack bento I did using some oven-fried goodness...  The zucchini and mushrooms are packed in a baking cup to keep them separate from the moist things.  Carrots, black pepper beef, and a tin of sliced plums make this a perfect snack.  It's got all the food groups in it!  I'm so amazing!

Eat bento and be happy!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bento #89... Rosemary Pepper Pork Loin

I bought a new toaster oven.  I decided I had to.  And I know better than to argue with myself.

I live in an apartment in an old house with only one accessible, open-able window.  And the poor little AC unit I've got in it has been having a difficult time keeping the apartment cool during the recent spate of uber hot summer days.  And I like to cook.  And using the oven (which is far, far away from the AC unit) just doesn't help anything.  So I bought a toaster oven.  And I'm in love.

Not only does the toaster oven keep my apartment cooler, it means I don't feel like I have to cook big batches of things to justify the use.  The first thing I made was two cookies.  I never bake more than that, because I will eat them.  I usually just eat the raw cookie dough.  I know.  You aren't supposed to do that.  There's a warning on the package and everything.  Bite me.

The second thing I made was the Rosemary Pepper Pork Loin.  This is actually a VERY simplified recipe of my pulled pork.  Which is a recipe I will probably never share.  Everybody has that thing they make incredibly well that everybody else wants to eat/make/hoard.  The pulled pork is mine.  All mine.

*****Rosemary Pepper Pork Loin
You need:
1 lb Pork Loin, cut into 4 oz pieces
A bottle of honey
Dried Rosemary

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a pan with foil (unless you want to clean caramelized honey off it later) and then spray with canola oil.

This is the part where your hands get sticky...  Drizzle honey over the pork loin and smear it around until the entire thing is coated.  Sprinkle with rosemary (I like a ton, you might not), pepper, and salt.  Place on pan.  Bake for 7 minutes, turn pork pieces over, bake for another 5.  I like my pork a little teeny bit pink in the middle, or you could cook it through.


This bento consists of zucchini, the most adorable baby potatoes I've ever seen, and a piece of pork sliced over more potatoes.  I drizzled the veggies in this layer with a garlic flavored oil. It may be slightly odd, but I had to convince myself that drizzling oil was no different than buttering...

The other layer has carrots and english cucumbers with hummus (in the container), pineapple, plum slices, canary melon balls, and a strawberry from my garden!  This is not the first, but it is the first one that actually lasted long enough to get into a lunch.  I usually eat them right off the plant.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bento #88... A Dinner Plate Comparison

One of the new-to-me things I found at the market the other day is a bag of Vegetable Pancake mix.  Basically, you wisk it with water and then add veggies and seafood.  If you feel like it.  I decided to try the stuff out with cauliflower.  The measurements on the bag were all in ML.  I don't have any measuring cups that cool.  I guessed.

Once I felt I had the ratio right, and the batter looked like I thought it should (although I was likely wrong), I dumped in some finely diced cauliflower and some green onions.  So far, so good.

I also decided this would be a good time to try out the truffle oil I found at Ross a couple of months ago.  So I heated some in my small, sad frying pan.  I say it's sad because the bottom is warped.  It doesn't sit flat anymore.  I'm sure it's my fault, and it involved cold water after a bout of cooking.

My first attempts at the cakes came out thin, flat, and uber crispy.  They were delicious.  As things that are fried generally are.  But they looked nothing like the picture on the bag.  I turned down the heat in the pan.  And tried again.  The second batch came out slightly thicker.  Chewy in the center but still crispy on the edges.  And equally delicious.

It was about that point that I realized how horrible these things are for me.  Especially considering my slowly shrinking waistline.   I would like it to continue in that vein.  So I decided to try baking a few cakes.  I dropped some batter into six silicone muffin cups and tossed them in the oven.  And then I finished frying the batter I had.  Because even if it was bad for me, I didn't want it to go to waste.  I'll make that sacrifice.

The baked cakes turned out chewy all the way around and through.  And then I had a brilliant idea to crisp them up.  I drizzled them with the tiniest bit of oil and then put them under the broiler.  And I had success!  They still looked nothing like the picture on the package.  But they were cooked through, crispy, and not too greasy.  And yummy.  Did I mention yummy?


The big thing I hear when I take my lunches to work is, "That's not very much food.  Does it really fill you up?"

Especially when I started packing bentos, my focus was more about substance than cute.  Because I was also concerned about whether it would fill me up.  It always does.  I'm trying to make that transition to cute now.  I mean... substance is still important.  But a little bit of adorable goes a long way.  To the point where I have to unpack my dinners before my rehearsals or meetings start.  So everyone can gather around and make impressed noises.

I actually packed this bento to eat during staff meeting today.  But then we moved staff meeting up two hours, so I just ate the banana I took for breakfast.  And I got sent home because I'm up to 92 comp hours.  And they don't like that.  So I ate it at home.  And I thought it would be fun to put it on a plate and take a picture.

Here it is IN the box...

Leftover steak from Applebee's, sauteed mushrooms, steamed kale, and cauliflower cakes.

Half a plum, pineapple, canary melon, English cucumber, and carrots.

And here it is on a plate.

That's more food than I got at Applebee's last night!  I've never actually done this comparison before.  I knew I was eating plenty.  But.  I didn't know I was eating that much.  I never fill these plates this full when I'm eating at home.  Although, when I am home I grab random fruit out of the fridge and snack on it.  I guess it evens out.

So there you go!  Next time someone asks why you're starving yourself, dump out your pretty little lunch and show them how big it really is!

Eat bento and be happy!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bento #87...

So.  The first and most important thing.  Lock&Lock has re-released their 45% off discount code.  So.  Type in QLTY4LESS at checkout.  And bask in the good deal.  The code works on already discounted prices, which means the bentos that are 30% off right now get way more cheap.  I might have to buy one in every color.


I found another Ethnic market today.  I've been driving past this place since I was a kid.  When my mom was driving.  Today I really felt the need to find some panko so I can oven-fry some mushrooms.  The place I usually hit is closer to my parents' house.  This place... kinda looks like a dive.  It's almost impossible to park anything bigger than a sedan in the parking lot.  And there's no sign with hours and such, so I wasn't even sure they were open.

But I'm glad I went.

Mostly because they carry haw flakes.

Kinda sounds like fish food, yeah?

Haw flakes are a kind of Chinese candy made out of dried haw (which I think is some sort of stone fruit) and sugar.  The little round bundles look like fireworks.  I loved taking them to school when I was a kid.  Because fielding the "why are you opening a firework?' questions was fun.  But this is the first time I've seen them in nearly ten years!  They taste just like I remember...


I haven't shown off my Bountiful Basket in a while.  I think I should do that now.  Because I was really pleased with the pile of produce today...

 - 1 head cauliflower
 - 1 bunch broccoli
 - 1 head salad savoy (YUM!)
 - 1 head romaine
 - 1 English cucumber
 - 2 organic beefsteak tomatoes
 - 1 gigantic Canary melon
 - 1 pint blackberries
 - 7 bananas
 - 3 red pears
 - Many plums
 - Many nectarines

I know, right!

I roasted about a head and a half of cauliflower (I had some left over from last week.) and I promptly ate all of it.  Every time I roast the stuff, I mean to save some for my lunch.  I think I've managed to do it once.  At least it's good for me.



I packed this in another of my new Lock&Lock boxes.  Which I will review at some point in the future.  When I can clearly see my computer screen.

I've got brown rice hidden under meatballs, peas, and corn.  The other layer has saurkraut (under the sauce container), J-Dawgs sauce (in the container), and tomatoes with sweet pickled mini peppers, figs, plum, and pineapple.  I usually get my J-Dawgs with saurkraut and pickles.  So I was hoping that the combo would work with the meatballs.  It wasn't bad.  But it wasn't as good as it is with a giant Polish dog.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bento #86... and a Lock&Lock review!

All the Lock & Lock boxes I ordered arrived.  And I love them all.  My first order contained a Slim Lunch Box and a Mini Lunch Box.  Along with a vacuum bottle that will just have to wait in a sad, lonely corner until it gets cold out to be reviewed.

Anywho.  Lunch boxes.  I took pictures of only the Slim because the Mini is in the sink, waiting to be washed.  It's ok though... they are basically the same lunchbox, just a slightly different shape and size.  The Slim compartments are 250ml and 340ml, while the Mini's are 270ml and 330ml.

The set came with the box itself, a set of collapsible chopsticks (cool!), a lunch bag, and I opted for the optional beverage bottle.  

 Here are all the pieces of the lunch box, including the chopsticks.  The compartments are deeper than I'm used to packing, which is not necessarily a bad thing... just something to note.  I just had to figure out how to prop up some foods, and all was well.

I love that the chopsticks have their own little compartment.  I'm pretty sure I could fit some m&ms in with them as well if I need a reward for eating all my veggies.  The chopsticks go together easily, and they are secure enough that you don't need to worry about them falling apart while you are using them.  It took me a couple of tries to get them apart when I was done with them, so they might not work so well for a small child. Maybe practice with the kid before you send the box off with them to make sure they can do it.

I figured this out while I was playing with it for the photos... the layers stack into each other!  A nice space saving design for those with limited cupboard space.

A nice feature these boxes have it that the lids are microwavable.  You'll want to crack them open a little bit, but they can be left on!  I don't think I have a single other box like that.  And I have a lot of boxes.

The bottle has a top that pulls off, and then a cap that screws off.  I think it's perfect for freezing water in for those who don't have access to a refrigerator.  It holds 300ml.  I'm hesitant to put anything other than water in it.  The screw cap has a foam insert that I think would stain or hold flavors.

The bag is made out of canvas.  It feels pretty heavy duty for a lunch bag.  Which I like.  It's an insulated bag, although the insulation big only goes up as high as the top of the box, which makes me wonder how well it works.  I have a fridge at work, so haven't had a need to try it out.

The bag has a strap sewn in.  It wraps around the bag and then velcros on the bottom.  It was designed to fit perfectly around the bag with the box and the waterbottle inside.  I wish there were more velcro strip on the strap though... I don't see myself always wanting to use the water bottle, which means that the strap will be loose on those days.  ...On the other hand, with the strap loose, the bag kind of has a handle.  That's my silver lining.

The box itself fits rather snugly in the bag.  Not a problem for a person with such fine motor skills as mine, but possibly an issue for a child.  Just another thing to practice with this set before you send them off with it.

This is what the set looks like all bundled up.  It's very compact.  Stylish even.  Not likely to get confused with a coworker's sandwich.

Long story short.  I'm glad I bought this box.  And the other one.

I paid around $9 a piece with a coupon code.  Which is expired now.  But Lock&Lock always has some awesome sale going on.  This week the boxes are 30% off, which puts them around $12.


This is the lunch in the other one:

Shrimp alfredo with broccoli.  I sprinkled it with diced squash blossoms.  My squash plant has been blossoming like crazy, but only male flowers.  So I'm eating them.  The other is cabbage tossed with salt, rice vinegar, and a little bit of sugar with a cup of sweet pickled mini peppers nestled on top.  I told you you'd see those eventually.  The other half has plum slices, apricot slices and two roasted figs.

I got the figs in my basket last week.  They didn't have much flavor just eaten fresh, so I googled a bunch or recipes and then put my own together.


Roasted Figs.

*De-stem and slice figs in half.
*Drizzle with honey.
*Sprinkle with rosemary and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.  I use a lot of pepper.
*Sprinkle with a little bit of salt.
*Stick into a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or so.
*Eat them up!


This is Poe.  She's helping.  The teeth marks by the sticker are hers...


*This is NOT a compensated post.  I like Lock&Lock all by myself.  I don't even have an affiliate link... maybe I should work on that...*