Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Heart Bento

Today I busted out the Magic Round Bento for a simple bento lunch. I used green beans (blanched) from Crescent Moon Farms, baby carrots, watermelon "flowers", a piece of lime, a few cherry tomatoes from Triple T Ranch, two teriyaki meatballs from Aidell's, and a heart-shaped onigiri. The face on the heart is made from black sesame seeds, nori (toasted seaweed), and a piece of pickled ginger. Hidden underneath it all are a few slices of cucumber, also from Crescent Moon Farms.

If you haven't yet, you should really check out the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market. I normally go on Wednesdays, because I work a lot on weekends. They are open year-round, rain or shine, and it's the perfect place to find hyper local food, and great artisan products. Today there was a big group of kindergarteners on a field trip. They were jumping around and just super excited to check out the market, so cute. And if you go to the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market this Saturday, you can enjoy FREE red, white, and blue shortcake! They will have mini shortcakes topped with whipped cream and local berries. YUM!

On a side note, I am trying out a few new items in my bento box lunches, namely pickles. I got some takuan (pickled daikon radish), umeboshi (pickled plum), and beni shoga (red pickled ginger). So far, I have only tried the beni shoga. I like it!

Also, I am featuring this bento box lunch on the What's For Lunch website. Fun!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An Apple A Day

No apples were harmed in the making of this bento box lunch. In fact, no apples were used to make this lunch, just an apple shaped cookie cutter. :-)

A quick bento made with leftover camping goodies. I made an apple shaped sandwich (with bologna and cheese), cucumber slices, carrots, and chive blossoms. In the lower compartment: watermelon slices (cut with my new bento food cutters! I super love these, and just got them from Amazon), slices of lime to squirt on the watermelon, and a few walnut halves.

The larger set of food cutters can be found here: Stainless Vegetable Cutter, Large, 6 Assorted Shapes, and the smaller set of food cutters can be found here: Stainless Steel Vegetable Cutters #K8444 "100% Made in Japan!!"
My coworker Danielle brought in some watermelon slices yesterday, and I also ended up seeing a gorgeous photo of watermelon chunks online with an amazing recipe for tequila soaked watermelon wedges. The watermelon slices in this bento are booze free! All of the watermelon stuff seeped into my brain and I couldn't get away from it. But do I recommend checking out this recipe. I tried it out on myself and my hubby last night and it turned out great! With the 90+ degree weather we've been having recently, this stuff is amazing. Oh, and the recipe on this page recommends boiling the alcohol in the simple syrup, but you should make the syrup first, then add the alcohol when it cools.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Don't Feed The Bears

I am recovering today from a whirlwind camping trip (one day, it was too short!) to Richardson's Grove in Humboldt County. Because of work commitments, I was only able to enjoy one day of camping, but I had been dreaming about playing in the Eel River for months, so I had to take what I could get.

After washing the campfire smell out of my hair when we got home, I thought about making a camping themed bento. S'mores really would have been fun, but alas, no marshmallows! So, since we were camping in bear country, here is a bear sandwich (filled with bologna and cheese - no bear meat!), with blanched green beans, kalamata olives, and tomato-mozzarella salad. In the lower compartment: cherries, cucumbers, and a few cherry tomatoes.

Oh how I miss the river! I'm looking forward to many more fun camping trips this summer with friends. :-)

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Leave The Gun. Take The Cannelloni.

A week ago when I went to play trivia at The Cantina in Santa Rosa, I won a really cool prize: a Godfather Gift Basket! It was filled with fun goodies like Francis Ford Coppola wine, crystal stemware, pasta, canned tomatoes, chorizo sausage, peppers, garlic, onion, and a copy of The Godfather Part 2! What a freakin cool prize. So this bento box lunch was inspired by that prize.

I used the line from the first Godfather to create this bento box lunch. In the scene, Clemenza instructs Rocco, who has just shot and killed Paulie, to, "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." Cannoli are italian desserts that are shaped like tubes and filled with whipped cream or other sweet stuff. The pasta that was in the basket of goodies was tube shaped, so I though I would try a play on the line, and switch it up to cannelloni (stuffed pasta shells).

In this bento box: a "donut" peach, cherries from the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market, and a tomato salad made with fresh mozzarella cheese, chives and chive flowers, and tomatoes from Triple T Ranch. In the lower compartment: tomatoes, stuffed pasta shells, roasted green beans wrapped in proscuitto, and olives.

These are chives (and chive flowers), and a basket of the first tiny tomatoes of the season from Triple T Ranch.

Check out this pile of delicious, tender green beans from Crescent Moon Farms. I roasted these in the oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then rolled them up in prosciutto. So easy and yummy!

And I really recommend checking out the Quizmaniax Pub Quiz, currently held on Thursday evenings at The Cantina in Santa Rosa. Find out more about Quizmaniax on their Facebook page.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy First Day of Summer Bento

Today is the longest day of the year, and I do not plan on spending much of it inside. It's a glorious day in Wine Country, and I am looking forward to a simple afternoon of some time spent pool side in my new bikini, and a little research with my new Steven Raichlen book, Planet Barbeque. I get to interview Steven tomorrow, I am sooo excited!

Today's bento is simple. I did both nail art and a bento box this morning, so I had to keep it pretty basic. In my magic round bento box: slices of cucumber, vibrant purple radishes and sugar snap peas from Crescent Moon Farms, orange bell pepper slices, lettuce from Ridgeview Farms, cherries from Hamlow Ranches, and three teriyaki chicken meatballs from Aidell's sausage.

Look at the lovely rainier cherries from Hamlow Ranches. Oh, they are so yummy! Get them now, because the cherry season is achingly short.

And here's the nail design I did today. It matches my t-shirt. Julius the Monkey is one of my favorites. Paul Frank is so creative.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Look What Just Turnip'd!

I found some great stuff at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market this past Wednesday, and was able to use a lot of it to fill this bento. Jill at Crescent Moon Farms always has really interesting and unique veggies. I bought this bunch of Hakurei Turnips from her, and made little steamed turnip buddies for my lunch.

Also in this bento box lunch: a bed of purple rice, lettuce from Ridgeview Farms, some orange bell pepper slices, and teriyaki chicken meatballs (Aidells brand!). In the lower compartment: turnip greens sauteed with garlic, red pepper flakes, and a little bit of soy sauce, cucumber slices (also from Crescent Moon Farms), and rainier cherries from Hamlow Ranches (another great vendor at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market). This is a new bento box that I picked up at Daiso in Seattle.

Here are the young hakurei turnips with their greens. Jill says to try slicing them and eating them raw. They really are tasty!

And here is Jill! Find her at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and she is also at the Sebastopol Farmers Market on Sundays.

This bento box and another bento box that I got at Daiso in Seattle have a really odd manufacturer, or logo. Check it out: LUBE SHEEP. What the...?!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Life's a Beach

One of the awesome Bento Bloggers out there, Hapa Bento, has a monthly contest called the B.O.M.B. (which stands for Best of the Month Bento). The theme for June's B.O.M.B. is the beach! I tried a turtle onigiri, which worked out okay, but not great. I think this one is better!

The cheese sunglasses with nori lenses are resting on a "sandy" bed of soboro (a.k.a. crumbled cooked meat.) This is turkey soboro. I also have cucumber skin palm fronds, and an orange pepper coconut (it could be a sun, I wasn't really sure), and there are waves of steamed cauliflower washing up on the beach, with a sea of blueberries behind it.

Recipe for Turkey Soboro
4 oz ground turkey meat
1/4 cup minced onion
1 tablespoon mirin (or dry white wine)
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
a few drops of toasted sesame oil
freshly ground pepper

Combine ingredients and cook over medium heat until cooked through and moisture has mostly evaporated. Makes enough for one bento box lunch.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Froggy Bento

No frogs were harmed in the making of this bento. Aaaag! Isn't this the cutest thing evah!?! I picked up this bento box at Uwajimaya in Seattle. And of course, I had to fill it with frog onigiri. This idea came from a wonderful new book that I also picked up at Uwajimaya, called Yum-Yum Bento Box. If you are interested in learning how to do bento boxes, I really recommend this book. It has so many great ideas.

To make the frog onigiri, I tinted the rice with green food coloring, and used my teddybear onigiri mold to make the frog faces. Their eyes are provolone cheese and nori, nori smiles, and black sesame seed noses. There are also carrots, arugula, a radish and sugar snap peas from Crescent Moon Farms, and chicken nuggets.

The frog bento box has an upper compartment with a air tight lid, and I put in some overly ripe mango slices (they kind of turned to mush), and cherries from the farmers market, with a little slice of lime.

Wine Pairing Suggestion: This is a fairly light, and definitely fruity (and completely silly) bento lunch, so how about some bubbly? What could be better with a frog-themed bento box lunch, than a glass of Toad Hollow Vineyards Amplexus Crémant Brut Sparkling Wine? It's toadally delicious. And the folks at Toad Hollow have great senses of humor, which would pair so well with this lunch.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Magic Round Bento

This is one of the bento boxes I picked up at Daiso in Seattle. It is stainless steel, and has a plastic airtight lid. I have seen round bento boxes on other blogs, and they are often referred to as "Magic Round Bentos," because apparently they are super easy to arrange. I had to try it for myself.

It's true! For some reason, things just seem to fall into place in a round bento. I didn't have to arrange and rearrange things, like I sometimes do with my other bento boxes. Things just fit, and sort of naturally go where they should. I can't wait to try more of them!

In this bento box: steamed broccoli, cherries, slices of white nectaring, sugar snap peas, a pretty spicy radish (whew), arugula, and a cut up lightly breaded boneless pork chop. I made steamed broccoli and the pork chops for me and my hubby last night, and used the leftover chop for this lunch. Yum!

Cherries are in season now, super sweet and ready to be gobbled up. This photo is from the Sebastopol Farmers Market. I like to buy cherries this way, instead of buying a basket, because presentation is such a big part of making a bento lunch. Choosing each individual cherry lets me get the best ones.

Recipe for Lightly Breaded Boneless Pork Chops

4 thinly sliced boneless pork chops
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon aji amarillo ground pepper (or chili pepper)
2/3 teaspoon garam masala spice powder
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Combine dry ingredients in a plastic bag. Add pork chops, seal the bag and toss to coat the meat with the breading. Melt butter and oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Cook pork chops for about 2 or 3 minutes each side, until golden brown and cooked through. Makes enough for 4 bento box lunches, or enough for two dinner portions. You can sprinkle a little seasoned rice vinegar on the breaded chops for more flavor.

Garlic Scape Pesto Bento

Wow, life sure got interesting! Sorry for no bento posts in a while, I ended up with a new job here at the station, and I am slowly but surely getting the hang of it. A side effect of my new two-hour daily talk show duties, is that I am hella tired, and don't have time to make bentos. But I was determined to get back to it this week.

I made a lovely pesto with garlic scapes, walnuts, and parmesan cheese, and tossed it with this penne pasta. There's also arugula from Ridgeview Farms, and a sugar snap pea and radish "tulip" from Crescent Moon Farms.

In the lower compartment: slices of white nectarine, cherries, carrots, and fresh cucumber from Crescent Moon Farms.

I made a trip last weekend to Seattle for my best friend's wedding celebration, and also to see my mom. Of course, no trip to Seattle would be complete without a stop at Uwajimaya! I went a little crazy there and bought a few bento books, as well as two new bento boxes. And then as we were leaving Uwajimaya, I noticed that there was a Daiso store right across the street. Bonus! So I spent some time there and got a few fun things, including this cutie-patootie Bunny felt band for my bento box. Look closely and you can see a few strawberry Pocky sticks tucked away in the upper compartment of the bento box. Stay tuned for more of the stuff I scored while in Seattle!
Recipe for Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup roughly chopped garlic scapes
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup walnuts
2 ounces finely grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the garlic scapes and olive oil in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add walnuts and pulse again to incorportate walnuts. Remove pesto from food processor and stir in cheese and seasoning. You can freeze this pesto (I lined an ice cube tray with plastic wrap and froze the pesto in cubes!), or put it in the fridge and use it within 10 days.