Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fresh Bento Part Deux

Ok, so this bento looks and tastes almost exactly like yesterday's bento, but that's cool, because it was tasty and I didn't have to cook anything! More yummy treats from Fresh by Lisa Hemenway (chicken salad and roasted beets), plus a few carrots, cuke slices, and a tiny cherry tomato from Ridgeview Farms. I really love the container, which I found at Daiso in Westlake Mall on my recent trip to Seattle. It's a Magic Round Bento with compartments! Double woot.

I wanted to share a couple of exciting tidbits: the Sonoma Bento blog made it to 10,000 hits this past week and to celebrate I am going to do another GIVEAWAY! Woohoo! Stay tuned bento buddies, I am pretty sure I will have it ready to go by this weekend, or Monday at the latest.

Also, my friend Maria Vieages, a fabulous chef and host of Maria's Non Pompous Food Talk has asked me to be on her show to talk about bentos! Yay! I am scheduled to be on the show this coming Monday, October 4th. You can stream her show Mondays from noon to 1pm online at Just click on the link that says STREAMING LINK. Plus, if you have any topics you think I should cover, let me know. I really hope that I can get more people excited about bento making.

And lastly, my hubby just started a new job (yay) and now I am making non cute bento boxes for him. So far it has just been sandwiches and veggies, but I am going to get all creative soon.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fresh Bento

There is a new eatery/grocery store/wine bar in Sonoma County called Fresh by Lisa Hemenway. Lisa has been a fixture of the food scene for a while in Sonoma County, and people are really excited about her new endeavor. She came in to the station yesterday to talk about it, and lucky me, brought along some samples of the delectable food she has at Fresh. My hubby and I demolished the sausage and pepper stromboli for dinner last night, so I couldn't use that for my bento today. But I did save the delicious chicken salad and roasted beets for today's bento.

In this bento: rice topped with black sesame seeds, chicken salad and roasted beets from Fresh by Lisa Hemenway, cherry tomatoes from Ridgeview Farms, and steamed edamame.

The chicken in the salad is roasted on the rotisserie, with chicken from Mary's in Fresno. The salad is made with celery, basil, and garlic. SOOOO tasty. The beets are from a local farm and tossed with Lisa's Hare Hollow raspberry pear champagne vinegar.

I have included this bento in Shannon's What's For Lunch Wednesdays. You should really check it out for great bento ideas, and BONUS, Shannon is donating to her local food bank for every bento posted. Woo hoo!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Potato Croquettes

Not a lot of time to post today, still covering for my coworker. Today I made croquettes out of leftover mashed potatoes.

The croquettes have a little piece of fresh mozzarella inside, so they will be a little cheesy as well.

Also in this box: cherry tomatoes and watermelon from Ridgeview Farms, baby carrots, and slices of Armenian Cucumber from Redwood Empire Farms. I also have a little container of meaty tomato sauce to go with the croquettes. I got this box at Daiso in Seattle's Westlake Mall. I love it!

I have added this bento to hapa bento's September B.O.M.B. challenge. Potatoes feature greatly in my fall food repertoire. Check it out and submit your own fall foods bento.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Overtime Bento

You probably won't see many bentos from me in the next week. My coworker is off on vacation (his started the day I came back from Seattle), so that means that I am doing both my job and his. No time to breathe! It means I am here for very long days, with little chance to leave the office, so I have to be prepared. I bought these two bentos at a store called Tokyo Japanese Lifestyle in Seattle. They are matching colors and will hopefully work well enough to keep me from dying of hunger through these long days of work.

In the large bento: caprese skewers, a few slices of Armenian cucumber from Redwood Empire Farms, steamed corn on the cob from Ortiz Farms, fried padron peppers and tamagoyaki omelette from Crescent Moon Farms, and rice with a nori flower and beni shoga pickled red ginger.

This is an onigiri box, but I was too lazy to make an onigiri rice ball for this bento. In the lower compartment: edamame tossed with soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, powdered ginger, a bit of sugar, and black sesame seeds, plus some cherry tomatoes from Ridgeview Farms. In the upper container: more rice with beni shoga and black sesame seeds.

Happy Bentoing! I'll chat with you again when I come up for air. :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Oh My Stars!

My mom is originally from the midwest and one of her favorite sayings is "Oh My Stars!" It cracks me up. And since I get to see her this weekend in Seattle, I thought I would make a starry bento.

This bento has cherry tomatoes from Ridgeview Farms and Triple T Ranch, corn from Duffy at the Santa Rosa Farmers Market, star shaped onigiri rice balls with black sesame seed accents, and a few grapes from Schletewitz Family. In the lower compartment: another star onigiri, baby carrots, steamed edamame, and chicken prepared kind of like karaage (Japanese style fried chicken) but with a glaze.

I have to head to the airport soon, so I'll try to come back and post the recipe while I am waiting for my flight. Have a great weekend Bento Buddies, and maybe I will run into you in Seattle. :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tomato Alien Bento

This bento is almost entirely leftovers from a delicious dinner my hubby and I enjoyed at Sizzling Tandoor in Santa Rosa. They make delicious Indian food and we were there for Happy Hour so it was quite affordable. I ordered Idli Sambaar because I really wanted to try idlis after reading about them in a great book called Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes. My husband is reading the book now, and he was also hankering for some good Indian food.

Hubby ordered Peshawari Lamb Boti Kebab, which was so moist and flavorful. I took the leftovers home to make this bento. In the upper compartment: Sambaar Daal, red cherry tomato from Triple T Ranch, and leftover Lamb Kebab. In the lower compartment: idli, grapes from Schletewitz Family at the Santa Rosa Farmers Market, greens from Offerings of the Land, and tomatoes (cherrys from Ridgeview Farms and large orange tomato from Larry Wagner of Sebastopol) arranged like a little alien. I used pieces of spaghetti to pin the "eyeballs" to the head and nori cutouts for the facial features.

The reason I made this little alien dude is because the idli reminded me of Flying Saucers. They are rounded on the top and bottom, so they have that saucer shape. :)

Closeup of the Alien. "We come in peace! Take me to your bento!"

On a less silly note, I went to the Ladybug release party last night to remember my friend Glen's late wife. It was a really nice way to honor her memory. I put together a video slideshow of the evening.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ready for Fall Bento

Dang, it's been nearly a week since I posted a bento. I did make three bentos on Friday for a trip to Movie Night in the Park last week, but didn't take great pictures of them. We were too excited about watching the movie. :)

Fall is definitely on its way, and I have to stop thinking we might still have an actual summer in Wine Country. Oh well. But fall is such a great time of year! To get myself into the autumn mood, I made a bento filled with leaf-shaped roasted potatoes. Yum!

In the upper compartment: an heirloom tomato salad made with lime juice, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and basil, corn on the cob from the Santa Rosa Original Cerified Farmers Market, and steamed edamame. In the lower compartment: roasted leaf-shaped potatoes, greens from Offerings of the Land, and cherry tomatoes from Triple T Ranch and Ridgeview Farms. I used small leaf shaped cookie cutters to make the potato 'leaves'.

A closeup of the cutie little cherry tomatoes and the roasted potatoes. I tossed the taters with olive oil, salt, and Chat Masala, a spice I picked up at The Savory Spice Shop. It's kind of tangy and spicy at the same time. Really yummy!

The tomato salad was made with tomatoes grown by Larry Wagner of Sebastopol. Larry is always one of the big winners in the Kendall-Jackson Tomato Growing Contest each year. I believe this salad I made contains his Japanese Black Trifele tomatoes. I was lucky enough to take home a few of Larry's tomatoes after out broadcast at the Kendall-Jackson Heirloom Tomato Festival this past weekend. Despite some technical difficulties, it was a wonderful broadcast. And this weekend we will be at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market for their bit Tomato Tasting! I love, love, LOVE tomatoes!

I included this bento in Shannon's What's For Lunch Wednesdays blog. Take a look for more inspirational bento ideas.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Happy Birthday California!

Today is California's 160th Birthday! The state of California was admitted to the union on September 9th, 1850. And of course it would be impossible to fit that many candles on a cake, let alone in a bento, so I used the state animal instead. The California Grizzly Bear was adopted as the state animal in 1953. The bear appears on our state flag and in our state seal. And now, on California's 160th birthday, the bear is making an appearance in my bento.

I actually made two bentos today, because I wanted to make a sandwich and a salad. The salad is made with salad greens from Offerings of the Land, walnuts from the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market, baby carrot 'flowers', a pepper jack cheese bear with a black sesame seed eye, and a mini caprese skewer with a Triple T Ranch cherry tomato, Triple T basil leaf, and bocconcini fresh mozzarella ball. I brought along some homemade yogurt dill dressing to go with the salad.

I made a second bento with a PB&J sandwich, baby carrots, a sliced french breakfast radish from Ridgeview Farms, and grapes that my friend Steve gave me from the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market.

The sandwich bento was arranged in this cute Toy Story sandwich container that I found in the Dollar section at Target. It came with a water bottle, and I think it was actually $2 for the set. Still, it was really fun to use a sandwich container and pack it bento style. The foods fit in snugly to keep everything in place. Debra at hapa bento has used two sandwich containers on top of each other to make a two tier bento. What a great idea!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ladybug Bento

A week from today will be the one year anniversary of the passing of Carol Marie Geddes, a woman I never met, but feel like I know through the love and thoughts of her husband and friends. Carol died from cancer on September 15th, 2009 when she was only 40 years old. I met her husband Glen just a few weeks after Carol had passed away. My husband was high school buddies with Glen and had reconnected with Glen over facebook. Tragically, I missed meeting Carol by just weeks. Next week, Glen and his friends and family will gather to celebrate Carol's memory by releasing live ladybugs into the air. Ladybugs were one of Carol's favorite things, and Glen continues to be comforted each time he sees a ladybug, knowing that Carol's loving spirit is not something that will ever go away.

Today I made a ladybug bento in honor of Carol, and I am really looking forward to the ladybug ceremony next week.

In the upper compartment I have steamed edamame and corn from Duffy at the Santa Rosa Farmers Market, an orange cherry tomato and french radish slices from Ridgeview Farms, and slices of charentais melon (dressed with honey, lime zest, and lime juice) also from Ridgeview Farms. In the lower compartment a mix of chicken, zucchini, and red onion cooked with soy sauce and spices, and leftover cardamom scented rice with two cherry tomato ladybugs (decorated with nori), a nori heart, and some of the salad greens and flower from Offerings of the Land.

Hi Carol! I used mayonnaise and a toothpick to attach the nori to the cherry tomatoes (actually one cherry tomato from Triple T Ranch cut in half). It worked really well and was not too difficult.

This is a new bento box that I got at the Disney Store! They have a selection of about 5 different bento boxes with different Disney/Pixar characters. And they are very reasonably priced!

This Ariel box is two tiered with a removable plastic divider for the upper tier. It latches shut very securely with two latches on either side.

I also included this lunch in Shannon's What's For Lunch Wednesdays blog. Check it out for other great bento ideas.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Indian Bento and Taste of Sonoma

Leftovers and Tasty Bite made this bento possible. I just finished reading a great memoir/cookbook by Shoba Narayan called Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes. It made me hungry every time I opened the book to read a chapter. Shoba writes honestly and humorously about her family and her neighbors (and herself) in this book, recalling her childhood, teen years, move to America and eventual wedding. At the end of each chapter is a recipe that pertains to what happened. It's really well written and I recommend it highly! Of course, after reading stories about dal, idilis, rasam, curry, and chutneys I was ravenously hungry for Indian food. Short on time, I resorted to prepackaged Tasty Bite lentils. I know, I know, but I did make my own cardamom and clove scented rice pilaf.

In this bento: a green zebra heirloom tomato from The Patch, cherry tomatoes from Triple T Ranch and Ridgeview Farms, radish slices and apple slices from Ridgeview Farms, cucumber from Crescent Moon Farms, a silicone cup filled with lentils (Tasty Bite!) topped with basil from Triple T Ranch and homemade rice pilaf with a bit of black sesame seeds.

Recipe for Cardamom and Clove Scented Rice Pilaf
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced red onion
1/2 cup jasmine rice
2 cardamom pods
3 cloves
1 1/4 cup water

In a pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, rice, cardamom pods, and cloves. Cook and stir for about 2 or three minutes until fragrant. Add water, turn up heat and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat down to low. Simmer covered for 15 minutes. Remove lid, fluff and recover for 5 minutes off heat. Makes enough for 3 or 4 servings. Top with minced cilantro and chopped tomatoes if desired.

This past weekend was super fun with a great visit to MacMurray Ranch, site of the 2010 Taste of Sonoma. Here is a video of the amazing food, wine, and atmosphere that I enjoyed at the event.

Create your own video slideshow at

Friday, September 3, 2010

My, What A Big Bento You Have!

This is the very first bento box I purchased. I got it at Asia Mart in Santa Rosa (Guerneville Road) and at the time, I thought it was pretty tiny. And of course, after making bento for a while, I have realized that it's huge! Ha ha! In general, our collective sense of portion sizes is way out of whack. We overeat all of the time because we don't know what serving sizes look like. Our plates get bigger and so do our tummies.

The only practical way to use this bento box now is for picnics, or for a nice healthy salad. The lower tier has salad, and the compartment that rests on top of that one has edamame, fruit, and nuts.

I mixed chopped iceberg lettuce with my favorite salad mix from Offerings of the Land. On top of the lettuce blend are slices of French Breakfast radish from Ridgeview Farms, a mixture of chopped cilantro and basil from Triple T Ranch and Crescent Moon Farms, leftover steak, and a few cherry tomatoes from Ridgeview Farms.

The upper compartment has a fig from The Patch, walnuts from the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market, half of a nectarine from Twin Peaks, edamame, and another cherry tomato.

I also included a small container of yogurt dressing. A yummy and filling lunch. :)

Recipe for Yogurt Dressing
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 small clove of garlic, grated
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
a few drops of taragon vinegar

Mix all ingredients together. Makes a bit less than 1 cup of dressing.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bento Fights Hunger

I am really excited about my 60th Bento post, because with it I am introducing my new pledge to fight hunger in Sonoma County. Susan Yuen of Hawai`i's Bento Box Cookbook donates a dollar to her local food bank every time she makes a bento blog post. She makes that donation each time she hits a twentieth post to make it easy to keep track of her donations. I LOVE this idea, and I am starting it with this post. Since it is my 60th bento blog post, I made a donation of $60 today to the Redwood Empire Food Bank. Redwood Empire Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief agency in Sonoma County, providing food to 75,000 people every month.

We are so lucky to have the luxury of farmers markets and cute food for our bento box lunches. Every kid, every mom, every dad should be able to enjoy nutritious lunches. I encourage you to support the Redwood Empire Food Bank, and to also find the food banks in your own communities who are working so hard to feed those in need. You can click here to donate, and I have also added their link to the right side of my blog.

Today's bento features a green zebra tomato from The Patch, cherry tomatoes from Ridgeview Farms, french radishes from Ridgeview Farms, leftover steak, homemade spaetzle, figs from The Patch, two chunks of Point Reyes Toma cheese, cucumber and basil from Crescent Moon Farms, and slices of charentais melon from Ridgeview Farms.

Charentais melons taste so amazing, they have more subtle flavors than cantaloupe. These are melons from Reenie at Ridgeview Farms. The charentais are the smaller ones with the green ridge along the outside.

I am also really excited today because I just got the pictures from a photo shoot I did with my buddy Candice Caballero. Candice is soooo talented. You really have to check out her work. She was asking for people to model for an upcoming photo exhibit so I volunteered. We headed to a local golf course with my scooter and did what I jokingly refer to as a "Scoot Shoot" - ha ha! Here's a few of the fun shots she got.

Probably no bento posts this weekend, since I get to head to the Taste of Sonoma on Saturday. It's going to be so much fun! Have a great weekend bento buddies!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chicken and Rice Bento

I wanted a more substantial bento today, and I had some leftover chicken from that yummy bird I got from Triple T Ranch. Save your leftovers! They make great bento ingredients! :)

In the upper compartment: leftover chicken cooked with zucchini and spices and garnished with cilantro and basil, tomatoes from Ridgeview Farms and The Patch, a fig from The Patch, grapes from Neufeld Farms, and a lychee (from Safeway!).

In the lower compartment: Crescent Moon Farms cucumbers (marinated in seasoned rice vinegar, sugar, and salt), rice, chopped beni shoga (red pickled ginger), black sesame seeds, and a small sprig of fresh dill.

Today's bento was put together pretty quickly because I set the rice on to cook while I was taking a shower. The chicken was already cooked, so it was just a matter of heating it up with some other ingredients and then putting it in the bento. I think I took about 15 minutes to make this bento, not counting the rice cooking time.

These are gorgeous Green Zebra tomatoes from The Patch in Sonoma. They are at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market every Wednesday and Saturday. Great tomatoes!

Recipe for Spicy Chicken with Zucchini
1/4 cup cooked chicken, chopped small
1/8 cup small dice zucchini
1/2 tablespoon minced red onion
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 pinch ground ginger
a few drops toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar or 1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

Cook chicken, zucchini, onion, and garlic in olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When sizzling and warmed through, add other ingredients. Stir and heat through. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro and basil. Makes one serving.

I featured this bento on Shannon's What's For Lunch Wednesdays blog. Check it out for other great bento ideas. :)