Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bento #157... and foodie penpal reveal!

The Lean Green Bean

Katie from The Eight Hour Project was my foodie penpal this month.

She sent some amazing things.  It's hard to keep them under wraps until the official reveal day, and to not completely consume them before I can work them into my bentos...

From left to right... a little box of sesame crackers.  They have great flavor, strong enough, I think, to not be overpowered by whatever I want to put on them, but good all by themselves as well.

The Karai Fusion Peanuts... I have to admit, I was a bit worried when I saw 'wasabi' in the description.  I'm a wimp when it comes to wasabi.  I mix the smallest bit into my soy sauce when I'm having sushi, but I could never handle wasabi peas and the like.  However.  These are amazing.  And surprising.  Imagine, if you will, honey roasted peanuts, and then mix in just a bit of wasabi.  Just enough to give them some heat.  They are fabulous!

And last, but my favorite, a head of smoked garlic.  The smell alone is enough to make a garlic lover like myself swoon.  I'm trying to ration it out, but let's be honest.  I totally ate a clove plain as soon as I opened the package.  (It was a good day to not have someone to kiss...)  I've been using it in recipes that will just let the flavor shine...

Katie was also thoughtful enough to send me some information about DC's Union Market, where she went to shop for my box.  You can look them up Here.  It's something I wish could be found in Utah...

Anywho.  Bento.

You saw the smoked garlic in the pasta and greens yesterday...  Today I've used it to up the flavor in my mashed sweet potatoes.  I also added rosemary, salt, pepper, and plain greek yogurt.  I made the face by cutting a stencil in a piece of paper, putting it on the potatoes, and then pressing poppy seeds into the surface.  The potatoes are packed with collards and grilled chicken.

The other layer has strawberries (with a little dead guy pick to eat them with), a muenster cheese pumpkin cutout (the scraps are underneath), baby orange tomatoes and jicama with hummus (which is hiding under the cheese).  I've also included a small container of the awesome peanuts Katie sent to me. :)

Don't forget to enter the last of my blogmark giveaways!  Click HERE!

Here’s a detailed explanation of the Foodie Pen Pals program:
-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
- Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!

Bento #156... winner, last giveaway... and me freaking out a little bit

So... this week, I had a bit a freak out.  Over something that I don't have to make a decision on for at least another year and a half.  And it completely through my week out of wack.

Basically, I have an awesome job.  Government benefits.  Flexible enough that I can freelance.  Stable.  Fun.  All that good stuff.

And I have another company after me.  Benefits, but not as good.  Travel.  Great tech toys.  Also fun.  Also stable.  Regular 60 hour weeks....

There are more pros and cons to each.  But I'm with my current job for at least another year and a half.  Non-negotiable.  To me really, not to them.  But still.  Non-negotiable.

But time seems to fly, doesn't it?  And 18 months will be here before I know it.  And that's why I was stressing.

And then I though to myself... I don't have to even think about this for another year.  Get over it!

Which brings us here.

The winner of the 5000 views giveaway...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The announcement of the 100 blog posts giveaway...

Aw, silicone cups.  I didn't even know I needed these until I found a cheap set of regular old round ones at Walmart.  I mean... I already had small ones.  But the big ones!  I love them! I bought many shapes!  (These are the only ones that have made it here thus far.) And I want to share some with you...  Also... those are some amazing guava candies I picked up from a local Asian market...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And a bento...

My last bountiful basket had a bundle of collards.  I don't keep bacon around the apartment, and that seems to be how most recipes start out, so I hit the google.  Pasta and greens...  I didn't actually follow the recipe, just used it as a guideline.  Capers, smoked garlic, olive oil, collards, and whole wheat pasta topped with cheese.  Yes.  It was uber tasty.  Which is good, because this weeks basket had two bunches of collards...

I also have applicot, cucumber, baby tomatoes, and a key lime cheesecake mini.  Next time I get limes I'll perfect the recipe so I can share it with you.  It was tasty... texture had some issues.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bento #155...

Another bento brought to you by my foodie penpal...

I discovered recently that I love grits.  

Love them.

Who knew?

I made a bigger batch this time.  And had a lot of leftovers.  So I thought I'd try frying little squares of it.  It was totally good!

I added an onion and herb porkchop that I tossed on my Foreman grill, and some pan-fried zucchini.

The other bit has celery with hummus, a big applicot, and a couple of guava candies.

Bentos #153 and #154 - Two presentations, same food...

This is a twisted story about two bentos... both of which are slightly sad.  One more sad than the other.

First... I made this bento:

It started out nice.  A silicone cup of squash and carrots with a small container of italian dressing... A babybel, upon which I used my new Wilton fall cookie cutter... a couple of radishes with an attempt at some decorative cuts (my first try... go easy), and two guava candies.

And then it got kind of sad.

Although I did discover a way to eat sweet potato that I actually enjoy...  I boiled and mashed it with a spoonful of plain greek yogurt, salt and pepper. Incredibly tasty... but time was running out.  I slapped it into the box, cut a breakfast sausage in half and tossed that in too.

One passably cute layer... one that just looks... sad.

Maybe a little gross.

Although it tasted good.

I ended up eating the sweet potato with carrot slices because I forgot to pack a spoon...

I decided to try again.

This time I added some rosemary to the mashed sweet potato and topped it with an italian cheese blend.  I added some zucchini to the layer this time (yum!) and topped it with a sliced up turkey breakfast sausage.  And then I used another of my new cookie cutters to cut an oak leaf out of a sweet potato slice.  Cute!

And then I realized what time it was.

Why?  Why can't I manage my time?  Ever?

I shoved carrots into the box, threw in some radishes (no cutesy designs...) and put in a couple of sliced applicots, two guava candies, and italian dressing... which I actually ate with the carrots this time.  I think that if you put certain aspects from the two layers together... I did get one awesome bento out of them...


Side note... this is my 100th post!  And I have one more giveaway coming up!  In the meantime... check out the current giveaway, going on HERE!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bento #152... My new box... a winner... and another giveaway!

So... I went to the women's expo with my mother.  It was interesting.  I spent way too much money.  I picked up an electric massager thing.  And some interesting food.  And this:

Definately wasn't designed to be a bento box... I think it's just supposed to be a container you keep your peppers in in the fridge.  I've seen them for tomatoes and onions.  This was the first pepper though.  It's made by tupperware, and I only paid $5 for it!  It also came in yellow.  But I told myself I could only have one.

It was a bit interesting to pack... the lid is much deeper than I'm used to.  But it holds plenty of food for my average lunch.

I packed some tamagoyaki, black pepper triscuits (in a silicone cup to keep them relatively not soggy), smoked gouda cubes (probably my favorite cheese... this week...), cucumber slices (in another silicone cup), two applicots, two radishes, two slices of starfruit, and two guava candies.

Starfruit... I like the flavor... I like the look... I don't like eating it like this.  It has some tough membranes through the center that make it difficult to chow down on.  

And now... 

Because I know you've been waiting...

a Rafflecopter giveaway script>

Congratulations!  Please send me an email by September 23rd with your contact info and mailing address!

Now for this!

Two days ago, I reached 5000 page views!

I find this rather awesome.

It's my second blogmark in a week.  (And my third will be happening in the VERY near future!)

So this is how we're celebrating.

See that?  It's a brand new Lock'n'Lock mini lunchbox.  (The packaging is a bit battered.  But you're just going to throw that out anyway, right?)

You could win that.

It's not even that difficult.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bento #151... A new favorite or two!

Once upon a time my awesome foodie penpal, Jenny, from Blog for a New Year, sent me a package of grits... amongst other goodies.  I finally cooked some up.

Up until yesterday, my entire experience with grits was this...  Skip ahead to 1:40....

Great movie, yes?

Anyway, I was excited to try them.  All I really have to say is... Oh hell yes!  They were so awesomely tasty!  I had them with salt and pepper.  And then I went all sorts of wild and added a bit of sharp cheddar.  I completely approve!  And some of them made their way into my lunch.

I packed the grits in another new favorite... I picked up a batch of heart shape silicone cupcake liners on ebay for really cheap.  They are a much sturdier than I thought they would be, given the price I paid.  And the size is great.  

I packed some sauteed carrots and squash (leftovers from an ill-fated attempt at making carrot chips) with a turkey breakfast sausage patty.

The other layer has three types of plum, cherry and pear tomatoes, and yet another new favorite... chunks of smoked gouda on cute little skewers.

The colors in this bento were fairly monotone... and that's my fault.  I was just too lazy to slice up some cucumber or bell pepper to break up the reds and yellows.  However.  It was really tasty.  So there.


Don't forget to enter my 150th bento giveaway HERE!  And stay tuned for my 5000 views giveaway coming up on Wednesday... and my 100th post giveaway sometime after that!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bento #150... Giveaway time!

I apparently started this blog in January of 2010.  And it's taken me that long to get to 150 lunches.  I do need to work on that.  However.  Now that I'm finally here...  Wait.  I'll tell you after I show you my bento.

I finally decided to try a Maryland style crab cake from Sprout's market.  It wasn't too bad.  Not my favorite.  But now I know.  It's packed with a mini bell pepper, mini pear tomatoes, an applicot, and a lemon wedge for squeezing on the crab cake.

So this blog is about to hit three land blogmarks.

I'm 150 page views away from 5000!  That's a ton for a blog that doesn't get updated as regularly as I would like.  And I'm grateful for those who are interested enough in what I eat for lunch to drive that number up!

I'm 3 posts away from finally getting to 100 posts!

This is bento #150! Those are all awesome!

And I think they all call for giveaways!

And so... we'll start here.  At bento #150.

The first in a series of giveaways!  A package of cute bento picks (that... let's be honest... my lunches would benefit from), an adorable two tier bento box with a matching belt!

This is my first Rafflecopter giveaway, so... go to town!  Good luck all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bentos #148 and #149

Uber short post... lunch today for my LONG work call... cream cheese chicken salad with mini ritz crackers, mini sweet peppers with hummus, grapes, applicots, mini grapes and raspberry chocolates.

And a snack! Cute little tomatoes, goldfish, and pirouette cookies.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bento #147...

Just a quick post before I head off to put the finishing touches on my show that opens tonight...  It's been an uber long week.  I had already worked 37 hours by Wednesday night.  And there's a holiday this week.  Which means my comp time will shoot way up.  That's ok.

That means I can take it easy for a few weeks.

Or fill my time with freelance work.

... I really should learn how to NOT be a workaholic.

Anyway.  Here's my bento for a late lunch today...

I've got leftover cashew chicken from my favorite little Chinese place along with some pan roasted brussels sprouts I found in the bottom of my fridge.

My method is easy... I drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of my frying pan and then add sliced brussels sprouts.  Top with salt and pepper (and sometimes garlic and onion powders) and slap a lid on.  Stir every couple of minutes until they are as tender as you like them.  Brussels sprouts don't release too much liquid, so you get the lovely browned bits on the bottoms.  It's much faster than roasting in the oven.  If I'm feeling really fancy, I'll drizzle them with a bit of balsamic vinegar just before I take them off the heat.

The rest contains a few mini sweet peppers with roasted pepper hummus, champagne grapes, cherries, and raspberry chocolate balls.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Some days I cook awesome things for family dinner at my mom's house.  And then I steal enough leftovers to make a loverly meal.  

Last Sunday I made the most awesome chicken.  I mixed a cup of plain greek yogurt with a cup of miracle whip, dumped in two or three cups of sharp cheddar cheese (who's counting?) and some dried onion (1 Tbs), garlic powder (1 tsp), italian seasoning (1 tsp), paprika (1 tsp), salt and pepper (to taste).  I slathered this amazing mixture over small cuts of chicken breasts, sprinkled them with bread crumbs, and then baked them for 20 minutes or so in a 400 degree oven.  I finished it all up by broiling them until the tops were browned nicely.  

They were fairly amazing.  I think you could use all greek yogurt, or all miracle whip, or use mayo.  And you could use regular breadcrumbs, italian breadcrumbs, panko... whatever.  And whatever kind of cheese you like the most.  The point is that this is splendidly juicy chicken topped with a heavenly, melty cheese mixture.

You should try it.

Anyway.  I took about six ounces of chicken home with me.

Yesterday morning, I also decided it was time to try the garlic cheese biscuit mix my foodie penpal, Jenny, sent to me last month so I could have them in my bento.  

And then I had to figure out what to have with biscuits. 

 And I realized I had that chicken in the fridge.

I don't keep regular chicken salad ingredients around my apartment.  I don't use mayo on a regular basis.  I was out of mustard.  I had no idea what to put in my chicken salad.

And then... lightbulb!

I ended up dicing my chicken and adding a small spoonful of fat free cream cheese and another of red pepper hummus.  Yummy!

So I packed some of the chicken salad in a silicone cup.  And topped it with sesame seeds.  Sesame seeds are like the paint spatter of bento.  I had a scenic painting teacher who always said, "Spatter takes crap and makes it look good."  Sesame seeds work like that.  It's great.

I also packed two of my little garlic cheddar biscuits and some mini sweet pepper halves for eating the chicken salad. The salad was good cold, but then I got the brilliant idea to microwave it.  (Who doesn't like warm, gooey cream cheese?)  And then the salad became perfection!

And then there's the silicone cup of champagne grapes and a few cherries.  I'm almost through the champagne grapes.  Which is kind of sad.  As they are adorable and tasty.

The little cup to the side has what are left of the praline pecans my foodie penpal sent me.