Zero Cooking Quick Bento

Extremely Lazy Bento

And by quick bento, I mean lazy bento. Because I’m lazy! But here I was seriously in a hurry.

Seaweed salad, marinated beets, cherry tomatoes, deli meats, mini peppers, celery.

Seaweed salad: Purchased from the same area that does sushi at the local grocery store. Very cheap, very yummy. My local Asian market also carries this for about the same price.

Beets: These are Love Beets and are one of my new favorites for bento! WARNING: this stuff will stain anything it touches! Open the package carefully and eat with a utensil! I also recommend putting these in their own cup. Here they are in a cupcake liner that has foil on the outside. They come in different flavors and are healthy and delicious. Just wish they were a bit less expensive. I also love putting these on top of salads.

Cherry tomatoes: Finally found a pack of “heirloom” small tomatoes so you get the different colors. These make excellent natural baran (food dividers) for your bento. Also healthy and delicious.

Deli meats: I know deli meat isn’t the healthiest thing, but I was in a huge rush (thus the poorly angled picture) and just wanted something lunch-worthy. Pictured here is ham and turkey.

Mini peppers: You can get bags of these at the local grocery store (saw some at Trader Joe’s too)! Different colored peppers that are not spicy. Think bell pepper but smaller. Same thing here! Place them in your bento whole or cut them up.

Celery: Celery. Yep. That’s about it. I personally prefer paying a bit extra and getting the organic hearts since they aren’t as stringy. But that’s just me.

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Skoshbox: October

Skoshbox: October

The first of every month is a super happy one because it’s Skoshbox time! WEEEEE!!!

I am signed up for the monthly subscription and have no desire to cancel any time soon. A present arrives on your doorstep every month filled with Japanese treats.

Disclaimer: I am in no way, shape, or form affiliated with Skoshbox. Just a rabid, food-loving fangirl.

You can view what was in each box here. Here is my review on each item:

Green tea gum – tasted just like a Starbucks green tea frappuccino. Not too sweet, not too bitter.

Salad flavored rice cakes – next to the chocolate stick these were my favorite. Savory, salty, and crunchy!

Choco puff – imagine a giant cheese puff but instead it’s all chocolate. And it’s big! Hands down, my favorite thing in this box.

Awa Dama candy – it’s fizzy candy! It actually fizzed a bit while sucking on it. Very interesting and fun. There were two different types in here with different flavors.

Nori rice crackers – this is my go-to favorite whenever I’m in an Asian market. I always get any variation of a seaweed (nori) wrapped rice cracker. The cracker usually has a kind of soy sauce coating on it and is very delicious.

Black sesame mochi – pretty much as it sounds…chewy candy that’s black sesame flavored. It was great trying something new like this and I could easily eat 50 more. Very interesting and yummy.

Yakionigiri rice cracker – this came in close second for my favorite item in this box. It really did taste like yakionigiri (which is rice balls coated in soy sauce and pan fried). Very delicious. I ended up making some actual yakionigiri not long after eating this. It put me in the mood!

Green pea snack – crunchy peas out of the pod. Yep, that’s basically it. A healthy snack that wasn’t too salty.

Pretty post cards – they put one inedible item in each box. This month is postcards which are beautiful and can’t wait to send them out. Other months included a Japanese eraser (which are amazing) and chopsticks.  NOTE: starting January 2014 their boxes will be food only.

Quick Vegetarian Bento

Quick Vegetarian Bento

Make this vegan by avoiding the dairy products (use pimento or garlic stuffed olives and omit the Babybel cheese). This is a pretty boring bento compared to what is out there, but I’m feeling under the weather lately and just don’t feel like doing anything mega fancy or cook anything.

Seaweed salad, feta stuffed olives, celery stuffed peppers, carrots, cheese, cucumber salad, marinated beets.

Seaweed salad: Picked this up from the sushi section at the local grocery store. Starting to see it more and more lately. The Asian market has this as well. It’s a very tasty, healthy, quick, and easy addition to any bento. This is sitting in a cupcake liner that has a foil outer layer.

Feta stuffed olives: You should be familiar with these by now. I am actually starting to get tired of them. Going to try another flavor once this jar is finished.

Celery stuffed peppers: These are mini sweet bell peppers that come in a bag. I was getting a bit bored of eating just the pepper so decided to stuff them. It’s pretty yummy! Normally I would stuff these peppers with cream cheese but wanted to be slightly healthy here.

Carrots: These are organic baby carrots straight from a bag. Quick and easy for any bento.

Babybel cheese: This is the light variety. It comes in many flavors. I wish they weren’t expensive (compared to the rest of this bento). But they are a quick grab and you can even cut the outer wax layer into fun shapes.

Cucumber salad: Sprinkle salt on sliced cucumber (this is a small, pickling cucumber) and let sit for about 10 minutes. I usually do this step first then make the bento. This draws out the moisture from the cucumber giving it a softer texture. Then I rinse them (to remove the saltiness) and drizzle some vinegar. Then it’s stopped with scallions and black sesame seeds. You can use regular sesame seeds, but I like the color contrast.

Marinated beets: These are addicting! Recently found these in the produce section of the grocery store. It’s called Love Beets and comes in a few flavors. I honestly do not remember the price, but it wasn’t awful. Beets are super tasty and healthy but I HATE having to cook and clean them. Very messy. With this, I just open the container, stick a knife in to cut them in half, then use a toothpick to take them out and place into bento box. No touching involved! These WILL stain everything it touches so just use a utensil to eat them. But oh my goodness they are very delicious!

First Trip to H Mart!

First Trip to H Mart!

All of these goodies and I used NONE of them in a bento. 😦
But I did eat it all (the picture above is not the entire haul)!

Imagine Costco but all Asian (and no membership required). That is what H Mart is. I went with a few friends after work one afternoon and took the trip to Burlington, MA. Not only is this a grocery store, there is also a pseudo anime shop, gigantic seafood section, Asian appliance section, tons of fresh produce, and AMAZING FOOD COURT! Fresh ramen, super fresh (and fairly cheap) sushi, bounties of Korean dishes (like soondubu jjigae and jjajang myeon)! Then there’s the bakery. Oh man, the bakery. I gained 10 pounds just walking in there but it was totally worth it.

Much of the produce (and there was more here than my local regular grocery store) was cheaper than at the conventional grocery store. Certainly cheaper than the local Asian market (most likely because they buy from here and have to mark it up). The price difference isn’t huge, but there is certainly potential to save money by shopping here if you buy these things often.

Juts a tip, shopping carts are not allowed in the food court (which is right by the entrance to the store). My suggestion would be to go in without a cart, get something to eat, then go back out and grab and cart and begin shopping. But don’t fill up in the food court because sample paradise awaits you (if you are shopping on the weekend).

There’s an entire room dedicated to kimchi. Oh yea, and you can sample ALL OF IT!

Pretty much the entire back wall of the store is seafood. Fresh, whole seafood. There’s a sign hanging with information on how you can order your fresh fish and you tell your fish monger which method you prefer (whole, gutted, head off, chopped up). And for the most part it’s CHEAP! I personally think this is a great way to sample different kinds of fish without blowing up your wallet. WARNING: there are TONS of fish to choose from! You might want to have a slight idea on what you would like to try beforehand or it can get a bit overwhelming.

I can go on and on about this place. Wish I knew about it sooner. Do yourself a favor and hop on Google to see if there is one by you. If you have any amount of interest in Asian ingredients you will not be disappointed.

Game Review: Cookie Clicker

Game Review: Cookie Clicker

Title: Cookie Clicker

Platform: PC

Publisher: Orteil

Genre: Click-based javascript

Single/Multi Player: Single

Story: Click on the giant cookie to get cookies. Use cookies to buy upgrades so you can receive more cookies.

Difficulty: Easy

Replay Value: Medium

Graphics: Picture based

Soundtrack: None

Personal Review: I don’t think I’ve ever been so quickly addicted to a game before. Not since Bejeweled. You click on cookies to get cookies so you can get more cookies. It seemingly goes on forever. I’ve had this game running on my PC for LITERALLY 3 weeks straight. No joke. The cookies have not stopped flowing at all. There has even been an update since the screenshot above was taken and you can purchase Antimatter Condensers, which produce an insane amount of CPS (cookies per second).

You do not have to sit and click on the cookie the entire time. You purchase upgrades and machines that produce and collect the cookies for you. If you click the giant cookie, you receive cookies for every click.

Did I mention there are also achievements? That’s right! Don’t just leave the game running all on its own. There are golden cookies that randomly appear that give you boosts and bonus cookies! There is also research you can buy (using cookies) to get even more upgrades! Beware of the grandmothers though. Give them enough power and you can trigger Grandmapocalypse, in which grandmothers become demons and evil cookies appear that take away from your cookie production!

The game is completely free. You may donate to the developer if you feel like it. There are no pay to win features like Candy Crush. I don’t know when I’ll stop playing this game. Must get all achievements!

Jazz Up Your Ramen

Jazz Up Your Ramen

Ramen is my personal choice for lunch on the weekends, especially now that the weather is getting cooler.

The base for this is one of my new favorite brands of ramen, Shin Ramyn. I actually found these in the Asian section at the local grocery store. If you can’t find them there, check your local Asian market. If that isn’t an option, Amazon has a large selection. Amazon has probably the best price, at around $1.25 per pack.

Now for the “jazz it up” part. Here are things you can add:

Egg: Probably the most common (and delicious) thing you can add to ramen is an egg. Either stir it up during the last minute and a half of cook time (while noodles are cooking) or boil beforehand. I like the look and texture of the hard boiled better, but that’s just me. It takes a bit longer to do, but you can boil a few ahead of time and even marinate them in soy sauce (and/or sriracha). Just put the egg into a zip top bag with some soy sauce and let it sit. The longer it sits, the better.
WARNING: this makes the egg taste more salty! Ramen is usually pretty salty, so if you don’t want to add more salt, either cut this step or just use sriracha.
The length of time you boil the egg will give you a more runny or hard yolk. RunnyRunny999 made a nice YouTube video about how to make a sexy hard boiled egg with the yolk juuuuust a bit runny.

Seaweed: This ingredient seems to be getting a bit more common. You can find this in the Asian section at the local grocery store and it’s sold in sheets. You can even buy them in snack packs, which are salty and delicious on their own. The sheets meant for sushi are a bit thicker and won’t get soggy as quickly.
Depending on your personal preference, either add these immediately before eating, or let them sit in the broth (crunchy vs soft seaweed).

Ham: There’s something about the sweetness of ham that goes well with ramen. This bowl of ramen is a spicy version so I wanted something to counter that. This is just one piece of pre-packaged deli ham. Get any flavor you want. Probably a good idea to get a low sodium ham since ramen has more than enough.

Veggies: I can go on and on about all the different vegetables you can put in ramen, but it will vary depending on your taste. In the picture above is a sliced mini bell pepper. Here are things I’ve tried and personally enjoy. Feel free to experiment and add whatever you have available:
bamboo shoots
bok choy – add to water while noodles are cooking for softer leaves
cabbage – either raw or boiled with the noodles, depending how crunchy you want them
mushrooms – pan fry with some oil then add before serving
green onion/scallion – add right before serving for more crunch
pepper – sweet or spicy
lettuce – on top right before serving for a refreshing crunch
corn – if frozen, cook beforehand then add on top before serving

Meat: The list for this can be just as long as veggies. Whatever you have on hand and whatever you feel like experimenting with. Remember that this will be going in a salty broth, so whatever seasonings you add may be different than if you were eating the meat on its own. Be wary of the amount of soy sauce you use.The ham mentioned above was just to cover what’s in the photo above, but here are other things to try:
ground pork – pan fry with sesame oil, chili oil, ginger, and garlic
deli meat – ham is my favorite so far. Have not tried others yet.
chicken – sliced chicken breast boiled or pan fried
sliced pork – pan fry with whatever seasoning you prefer

Seasonings: As mentioned above, be wary of the salt content. You are adding this into an already seasoned broth. The seasonings you add will vary depending on the brand of ramen you purchase, your personal taste, and what you have on hand. Here are some suggestions:
soy sauce – SODIUM WARNING!
red bean jam
sesame seeds
sesame oil
hot chili oil
shichimi togarashi
sriracha
ground pepper
basil
cilantro

Snack on the Left, Lunch on the Right

Not The Prettiest

Here’s another snack and lunch bento. I REALLY need to make more bento. It saves money and calories. When I started this new job there was a lot of not packing lunch because of the new time schedule. But now I think I have a groove happening so here we go!

left: steamed broccoli rabe with garlic, feta stuffed olives, loads of grapes, mini bell peppers, celery.
right: cheddar cheese, ham, turkey, tomatoes, avocado.

Broccoli Rabe: or rapini. It’s basically a broccoli and spinach cross that’s slightly bitter. Steam it with garlic, olive oil, and salt and you have something yummy! It shrinks up a LOT in the pot so don’t be afraid of adding a whole bunch of this at once. It stores nicely in the fridge for about 3-4 days. I personally love to eat this on toast with a bit extra olive oil drizzled on top.

Feta stuffed olives: that good ol’ staple for my bento. I love the briney-ness that these give to the meal and are super convenient for a lazy bento maker like myself.

Grapes: just thrown in there. Nothing fancy or pretty. I could have sliced them in half or arranged them in their own silicon cups. But naaahhh…lazy! And tasty 🙂

Sliced mini bell peppers: I’ve seen these at almost every grocery store. There are 2 peppers here sliced in half. They come in a bag of multi-colored peppers (sweet, not hot). Just great to have on hand at all times.

Celery: I personally prefer the celery hearts, as they are a bit softer and sweeter (and less stringy). But they were out of those. 😦

Sharp cheddar cheese slice: doesn’t get much lazier or ugly as this. Just took a single slice of cheese and broke it into 3 pieces so it will fit around the box. Didn’t want the meat sitting directly on top of it or else it may get too soft. It’s a harder cheese or I would have rolled it up.

Deli sliced ham and turkey: what you do not see in this box that I used is Joseph’s flax wrap bread. It’s folded up and placed on top of the box to keep away from the food moisture. I placed the deli meat and avocado in this and made a wrap. It was a really nice and healthy lunch. Yes, I know deli meat isn’t the best thing. I ran out of chicken breasts which is what I was using (and forgot to take a picture).

Tomato: I didn’t use these in the wrap but wanted the pop of color and something to separate the avocado and meat. These made a nice side dish for the wrap.

Avocado: this was smeared on the wrap then put the deli meat on top (I ended up eating the cheese by itself but you could put that on the wrap too). There’s some lime juice on top to keep from turning brown.