Friday, May 27, 2011

Miso Soup Bento

Hi bento pals! Today I tried out a trick that I first discovered through notabrownbag's website. It's portable miso soup! You can buy powdered miso soup packets, and I think I may even have one hiding in one of my desk drawers, but there is nothing like fresh miso paste and delicious cubes of tofu. Today even turned out kind of chilly with a few drizzles, so it's a perfect day for miso soup.

In this bento: steamed white corn, cucumber slices, cherries, my portable miso soup, and breaded pork cutlets leftover from last night's dinner. Portable miso soup is super easy: in the silicone cupcake liner I have a ball of miso paste mixed with a pinch of dashi granules, topped with cubes of tofu and sliced scallions. Dump the all of those ingredients into a bowl and top with hot water. Et voila: Miso Soup!

Note: I have tried making miso soup without dashi, and it just is kind of flat tasting. I found dashi granules at Asia Mart on Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa. It's totally worth it if you are making miso soup at home.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kung Fu Panda Bento

In honor of Kung Fu Panda 2, which is in theaters today, here is a bento with Po! Bwahahahahahaha! Ok, I have to let you in on a little something that makes Kung Fu Panda even funnier for me, and for all German speakers. The name of the panda in Kung Fu Panda is Po. Po is the word for 'butt' in German. So I really just start giggling like a 7-year old every time I hear his name. Po really knows kung fu! (Butt really knows kung fu!) See?!?! It's HILARIOUS! Ah Hahahahaahahah!

In this bento: edamame, cherries, baby carrots, slices of cucumber, and a bao bun filled with bbq pork. I decorated the bao to look like Po (snort) with nori and provolone cheese. I used a bit of mayonnaise to stick the nori onto the bao. Unfortunately none of the items in this bento are from Sonoma County producers, I just haven't had a lot of time to make it to the Farmers Market. Things are super busy at work. I hope to stop by the market this Saturday.

Here's Po in all his glory (giggle) with all of his kung fu pals! I can't wait to see the new Kung Fu Panda, he's such a great character.

This is also a fun bento because it is my 140th bento, and that means another donation to the Redwood Empire Food Bank! Every 20 bento posts, I make a $20 donation to my local food bank, Redwood Empire Food Bank. That's one dollar per post. They deliver 4 dollars worth of food for every dollar donated and have received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for their high level of efficiency. Redwood Empire Food Bank is a really inspiring organization, and I like to help them out in my small way. Bento bloggers are lucky to have the luxury of fun, cute, nutritious food everyday. Some people are not so lucky. I encourage you to make a donation as well, or to donate to your local food bank.

Have a great week bento buddies!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring Fruits Bento

Bleh, Blogger weirded out on me, so check the next post to see who won my One Year Anniversary giveaway!
I picked up some spring fruits at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market yesterday. Yay! Neufeld Farms, who sell lots of dried fruit and are based in Tulare County, are one of the first vendors to have cherries and fresh apricots. I was a little wary to see if they were flavorful, but after trying a sample I was convinced! So nice to have this fresh spring fruit in my bento box!

In this bento box: pork patties from my freezer stash, clove scented jasmine rice with slices of garlic scapes from Middleton Farms on top, half of an apricot from Neufeld Farms, 4 cherries from Neufeld Farms, and edamame.

Beverage Pairing Suggestion: Pyramid Brewery makes a really yummy Apricot Ale, which is a hefeweizen flavored with apricots. The fruit flavors would mirror the spring fruit in this bento and also be a great contrast to the spicier pork patties and clove scented jasmine rice.

Sonoma Bento Blogiversary Winner!

Sorry this is a little late in posting, the weekend was jam packed and I am still recovering. Garden tours, food and wine tasting, and a hootenanny - and that was just Saturday!

There ended up being 46 different entries in the contest, so cool!

Without further ado: congrats to WYOWOMAN! Kristin has a fun blog called From My Little Corner filled with scrapbooking, cooking, thoughts, and other fun stuff.

Kristin, you have won this fun prize pack! You can continue your bento adventures with fun picks, chopsticks, a pink bento box, a nori punch, an onigiri mold, and an onigiri felt strap.

Thank you so much for all of the great responses, especially those who shared which bento tools they enjoy the most. Cutters seem really popular, and I can see why. They make cute really easy!

Today's bento uses leftover clove scented jasmine rice with homemade chicken and potato curry which is topped with scallions and garlic scapes from Middleton Farms, a wedge of lime to squeeze on the curry, an apricot from Neufeld Farms, baby carrots, and a few slices of cucumber. I love this round bento I got at Daiso. It's got two containers inside, which work really well to separate saucy stuff like the curry.

Have a great day bento pals!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th Bento

Not sure what is up with Blogger. It seems that it ate yesterday's post, and also deleted a few entries in my contest. So if you entered in the past few days, be sure to check to see if your comments are still there.

There's still time to enter my 1 year blogiversary giveaway! Click here and leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. And the contest is open to everyone on the planet, so if you live outside of the U.S. you can enter too! (If you live on Alpha Centauri, you cannot enter, sorry.) I will stop taking entries at midnight tonight (that's 12:00am Pacific Time May 14th, 2011).

So here's my fun bento for today: Jason from the Friday the 13th movies!

In this bento: fried rice, Jason's mask (made from provolone and nori), tamagoyaki omelette slices, baby carrots, cherries from Neufeld Farms, edamame, and an apricot also from Neufeld Farms.

Here's the spring fruits bento that Blogger ate (hope you enjoyed it, Blogger!!): pork patties from my frozen stash, clove scented jasmine rice topped with slices of garlic scapes from Middleton Farms, half of an apricot from Neufeld Farms, cherries from Neufeld Farms, and edamame.

Here's the goodies you could win in honor of my 1 year blogiversary! A cute bento box with a handmade bento box felt strap (made by me!), animal shaped food picks, chopsticks, an apple shaped nori punch, and an onigiri mold.

Click here to leave a comment and be entered in the drawing. Thanks for following my bento adventures!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fava Bean Bento

Fava beans are now in season at the farmers markets in Sonoma County. They do take some effort to prepare, but they taste so good that I will usually give it a go a few times each spring.

In the top tier: fava bean and ricotta cheese puree with a fava bean butterfly on top, garlic crostinis, an apple rabbit, and walnuts from the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market. In the lower tier: pulled pork wrapped in a red lettuce leaf from Triple T Farms, cucumber slices, baby carrots, radishes, and a yakionigiri from Trader Joe's.

Preparing fava beans requires shelling them from their pods, blanching them and quickly cooling them, then removing the outer skin from the bean. Then you still have to cook them. So it's a bit of an effort. But super delish, and the essence of spring! I bought these favas from Triple T, but lots of vendors at the Sonoma farmers markets have favas right now. I also used a garlic scape (another amazing spring veggie) from Middleton Farms in this recipe.

Fava beans in their pods from Triple T.

Garlic scapes from Middleton Farms.

Fava Bean and Ricotta Puree with Garlic Crostini

a little over 1 pound of unshucked fava bean pods
olive oil for sauteeing
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
2/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic scape, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1 baguette, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, sliced in half
2 tablespoons olive oil

fresh goat cheese (optional)

Prepare the favas as described above. Reserve a few fava beans for garnish. In a sautee pan, heat about 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Sautee the shallots for about 1 minute, then add the fava beans and the italian seasoning. Cook the favas for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the favas cook, arrange the sliced baguette on a cookie sheet. Rub each slice with the side of the garlic clove. Discard the clove. Brush each piece of baguette with olive oil, then broil until the edges of the baguette slices just start to turn golden. Remove bread from oven and set aside. Remove the fava beans from the heat and allow to cool for about 2 minutes. In a food processor, combine the favas, ricotta, olive oil, and garlic scape. Pulse to combine. Use a spatula to push the mixture back down (without the blade running!) to make sure the favas and cheese are well mixed. Turn the mixture out into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Top garlic crostinis with fava mixture and an individual fava bean. You can also put a small bit of goat cheese on each crostini. Makes about 30 crostinis.

Delish with a nice chianti. Ffftftffftftfftftf....

DON'T FORGET: You still have time to enter to win my fun bento kit in celebration of one year of Sonoma Bento. Enter now by clicking here and leaving a comment! Drawing is on lucky Friday the 13th of May. :-)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Bento

Hola! Happy Cinco de Mayo! I got a bunch of chicken drumsticks from our local hispanic grocery store yesterday (Lola's--I love this place for really great deals!), and simmered them in spices and chili powder, then baked them in a salsa with lots of green onion. They turned out great, and made this bento very flavorful.

In this bento: quesadilla with refried beans, white cheddar cheese, and chicken meat. Also radishes, green onion, navel orange segments, a baby carrot, a dried mission fig, lime flavored cabbage slaw, and walnuts from the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market. Just for fun, here is the bento I made on Cinco de Mayo last year:

This one had tortillas from La Tortilla Factory, a great company in Sonoma County. I think this one was pretty cute, and I remember that it tasted good. :) Are you doing anything fun to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Any special meal planned for today?

And remember, you still have time to enter my 1 Year Blogiversary contest, good luck!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Steak and Potato Bento

This is a bento made with leftovers from dinner. Flank steak and baked potato fit well in this round bento box!

In this bento: baby carrots, half of a baked potato with black sesame details and a tiny cilantro leaf, slices of cucumber, green grapes, orange cauliflower, flank steak, and a container of sour cream with green onions. The flank steak was marinated in a combination of soy sauce, rosemary, worchestershire, green garlic from Middleton Farms, red pepper flakes, mirin, and rice vinegar. I broiled it and it made lots of steak for dinner and subsequent bento lunches.

Don't foret to enter my One Year Blogiversary Giveaway! You have until May 13th to enter. Good luck!

Also, this weekend I went on a scooter ride through Sonoma County. Farm Trails organized a great event called Blossoms, Bees and Barnyard Babies, and I went to two different stops along the route. Here's a quick video of my adventures yesterday: