Yummy Bento!

Yummy Bento!

It’s been a while and I’ve been slacking. But being snowed in has given me time to make more bento!

Karage chicken: I made karage chicken the night before and made sure to add one extra piece to the recipe so there was some for the bento. I use Runnyrunny999’s recipe from his hiyashi chuka video. It’s my favorite way to make any kind of fried chicken.

White rice: My personal brand of choice for rise is Nishiki. Why? Because it was the first one I tried that wasn’t Uncle Ben’s, I really enjoyed it, and it’s available at several local grocery stores. On top of it is umeboshi furikake (plum seasoning). Furikake is seasoning that can go on top of rice and comes in LOADS of different flavors. You can find some at your regular grocery store, but there will most likely be more variety at the Asian market.

Curry broccoli: Not sure why, but I’ve been on a broccoli kick lately. There are always 2 or more bags of the frozen florets in the freezer at all times. If you plan on eating this bento soon enough where you don’t think they will thaw in time, then toss them in the microwave a bit to give it a head start. Otherwise if this is a bento that will sit for a while, you can probably opt to leave them frozen (it will keep the celery cool!). Sprinkle on your favorite curry powder, maybe some sesame seeds, and you’re set!

Celery: Not much to say here. Just celery hearts out of the bag. I personally prefer the more tender celery hearts. Not nearly as stringy (almost none) than the darker green regular celery. Only catch, it’s more expensive.

Seaweed salad: I can eat this stuff all day and all night long. Any bento can benefit from this. it’s healthy, and requires zero effort. Place it in a cupcake wrapper, small container, or a silicone cup (as shown).

Crumbs Cupcakes

Crumbs Cupcakes

I visited Crumbs Bake Shop in Burlington, MA to satisfy my sweet tooth. I’ve heard wonderful things about their flavors and wanted to give it a try (also, it was my birthday) 😛

The amount of flavors they have is almost overwhelming (in a good way). The ability to purchase a sample pack (filled with tiny cupcakes, as shown above) is a bonus. They also have LARGE versions of their popular flavors.

The flavors shown above are (in no particular order):
Red velvet, lemon, apple cobbler, dulce de leche, milkshake, birthday cake, vanilla on vanilla sprinkle, carrot cake, chocolate/vanilla/strawberry, banana bread, and I can’t remember the pink one at the top! Oops 😛

Their website is set up nicely and you can even hover over the cupcake pictures to see what it would look like on the inside (most of them have fillings in the middle).

The ONLY downside I would say about this (other than calories) is the price. These are made with quality ingredients and you certainly get what you pay for. For a special occasion, or for treating yourself every now and then, this is a must have.

Nabeyaki Udon

Nabeyaki Udon

Once again at my favorite local Japanese restaurant, Takumi on a cold day. It was REALLY cold outside and the Nabeyaki just called out to me from the menu. I had to stray from the normal Unadon (eel on rice) to get this hearty soup.

My apologies for the cell phone picture. I need a better quality camera to take to restaurants that isn’t my giant Canon.

The broth is a dashi stock, which is a light fish broth made from bonito flakes, konbu (seeweed), soy sauce, and mirin. It is topped with prawn tempura, kamaboko (fish cake), carrots, green onion, soft egg, chicken, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, and bamboo shoots. This all sits on top of thick and almost chewy udon noodles. And on the side is my personal favorite, shichimi!!! (seven flavor chili pepper). I put this on pretty much everything and go through these bottles faster than any other herb/spice (including salt and pepper).

I wish there was something else in the picture other than the small shichimi bottle for size reference because this kettle of soup is HUGE! I could not finish it (and I was pretty darn hungry). Similar to eating Pho, this warms you up from the inside and made the cold weather almost non-existent.

And for $11.50 with a salad during lunch, you can’t go wrong 🙂

Breakfast and Lunch Bento

Breakfast and Lunch Bento

After lots of traveling, new job, training, and eating everything in sight over the holidays, it’s time to get back into the Bento scene.
The trick to keeping up with making Bento is to make it fun and easy. Put items in there you will look forward to eat, make it visually appealing (don’t have to go nuts with a deco bento, but keep it as interesting as you like. For the easy part, buy pre-made items (like already cooked rice), make things ahead of time (make a bit extra when making dinner), or go raw (no cooking involved and super healthy).

Mango, celery, eggs, rice, pickled daikon, seaweed.

Nothing cute or flashy about this Bento box. Just threw it together early morning before work. So anyone can do it!

To start off, this is my new Bentgo box and I really like it. Couldn’t believe how inexpensive it was and it’s the perfect size for me. There is a built in separator, plastic fork, knife, spoon, lids, and an elastic band. I will say it’s not the most leak proof thing on the market (I’d personally stick with a Lock & Lock set for those types of meals), but this is really fantastic for the price.

Rice: rice is pretty much a base in any Bento. It’s filling and you can do so much with it. However, really good rice can take a long time to cook. You have to rinse it, then it can take up to an hour in the rice cooker, then you need to wait for it to cool before placing a lid on the Bento box. Why? The steam creates condensation in the box and can ruin the taste and texture of the other food (since you are essentially steaming whatever’s in there). Say goodbye to anything that’s fried in your Bento if you do not let anything cool. This is extra rice I made for dinner the night before.

Pickled daikon: very refreshing and adds a great crunch to most rice dishes. You can find it at the local Asian market or even online. Since it’s pickled it can be easily shipped to you. Guess I was going for a pseudo panda bear look in this bento. If I had some nori (seaweed sheets) I could have cut out some eyes and a nose.

Eggs: this is quickly becoming my favorite breakfast to bring to work. Place in cold water then bring up to a boil. Total time is between 13-15 minutes. Add soy sauce, salt, pepper, sriracha (shown here), or whatever else you like.

Fresh fruit and veggies: a must have for any healthy bento. Go nuts and add literally any fruits or veggies. Tailor it to your taste so you’ll be more likely to eat and enjoy it. Want to add some fun so you have that cute Bento feel? Add picks! They come in all shapes and sizes. They make your bento cute and keep your fingers clean. Pictured here is celery and mango. Really wish I had some picks for the mango as it was very juicy.

Seaweed salad: I felt this Bento needed more greens so I added this in a silicone cup. No cooking involved!

Another H-Mart Haul

Another H-Mart Haul

This is only my second trip to H-Mart and I honestly don’t know why I don’t go there every single week.
Oh wait, probably because I’d gain a ton of weight and have no more money.

This trip was special though. I had one item in mind: a Zojirushi rice cooker! I’ve been wanting one of these (and water boiler, but that’ll have to wait) for literally over 10 years. Why did I wait so long? I received a rice cooker from my mom as a moving gift that did the job. But it was honestly way too big for just the two of us and over its 8 year life span, the rice was starting to burn on the bottom. BONUS, the one in H-Mart was on sale! Cheaper than Amazon!

So while I was there, why not stock up on a ton of goodies. 🙂
(not everything is included in the picture)
Fresh fruit and vegetables, candy, snacks, LOTS of bakery items, super delicious lychee juice boxes, Rilakkuma note book and Hello Kitty pen (was going away for training and wanted something fun for note taking), Korean sheet masks, curry, and an adorable stuffed animal.

Not much else to say except if you have an H-Mart anywhere around you then it’s well worth checking out. You could purchase most of these items online but it will cost more (many H-Mart grocery items are cheaper than the regular grocery store) and you’ll most likely have to pay shipping. Also the fresh items are very fresh and you can to choose the exact one you want. Bring some friends and make it a field trip! As I mentioned in a previous entry about this store, there is a decent size food court, which alone is well worth the trip.

“Two” Ingredient Cookies

I’ve been looking for a healthy and filling breakfast for a while. Something that’s not loaded with sodium, carbs, and chemicals.

After seeing Bubz’s Instagram photo of her cookie, I headed over to where she got the idea. I was instantly hooked! A great way to use those bananas that are a bit too brown for straight up eating.

1 banana
1 cup oats

Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes
(15 minutes for a softer cookie, 20 minutes for a crispier edge)

That’s it!

This is titled “TWO” ingredient cookies because the base of it is really just two ingredients: banana and oatmeal. But you can twist this up however you like!

Here is some info based on my own trials with this:

~ These are very bland without any salt. Not terrible though. I would recommend either a pinch of salt or at least some kind of sweetener (raw sugar, for example).

~ Add fruit! Either in the mix or on top after they are cooked. The original recipe showed fresh cranberries. There were none available at the store so I used dry ones. They added a nice tarty-sweetness and some chew.

~ Smash the banana first! It’s much less messier this way. I use a potato masher to smoosh up the banana before adding the oats.

~ I personally use a mix of steel cut oats and old fashioned oats for texture. 1/2 a cup of each.

~ The bigger you make the cookies, the easier they will fall apart. Unless you are using a small banana, try to make at least 3 cookies. I’ve found that they hold together nicely.

Chilly Days Are Better with Pho

Chilly Days Are Better with Pho

One of my all time favorite dishes. It just warms me up from the inside and hits all the things I love: noodles, perfect broth, tons of toppings. It’s never boring. You grab any amount of any topping with each bite. Make it as spicy as you want (or not). As for me…I likey dee spicey!

On the way home from work I pass by Tanh Tanh 3 (they are still working on the site). As I walk to my car from my work’s parking lot I call the restaurant and put in my order to be picked up. Large PH3 (beef noodle soup with well done flank). By the time I get there it’s ready! It’s consistently awesome every time. Everything is packaged separately for you to assemble once you get home. The picture here is in my kitchen with some fried spring rolls in the background (I was hungry!).

I’ve also eaten inside the restaurant and it’s just great. The service is always nice and the food comes out quick and it’s always delicious. No complaints (except maybe their choice in music, but oh well). The decor isn’t anything to write home about but I’d rather it just be clean and have good food (which it does).

If you’re ever in southern New Hampshire I recommend stopping by here for the best Pho that I’ve personally eaten. DISCLAIMER: I haven’t eaten much Pho at other restaurants. My personal sample size is small! 😛