Friday, April 30, 2010

Bento #15

Ok now it’s time for lunch. Again I kept it simple. I decided to try out the bamboo steamer I purchased from j-list and it worked out perfect. As you can see I made matching bentos for my daughter and I. These bentos were as purchased from j-list. They are not expensive and not as sturdy as my others but they work.

Now for the contents of the bentos. Both bentos are exactly the same. The main part contains steamed broccoli and steamed onigiri wrapped with chicken. I had rice left over from this morning so I made more onigiri but I wanted something different so I wrapped them in thin slices of chicken and steamed them, then I brushed on a little soy sauce.

The second compartment contains a wedge of laughing cow cheese, red and white grapes and homemade wheat crackers. No I have not found a recipe for making homemade wheat crackers yet but I was able to do the next best thing in a pinch. I had some whole wheat flatbread wraps in my fridge. Using my medium size square cutter I cut out squares from it. I placed them on my griddle with no oil or butter just dry and let them toast until crisp. Then I brushed on a little butter lightly salted them and there you go.

This lunch was very filling and tasted wonderful.

So until the next bento, Itadaki masu!

Bento #14

Hi everyone I thought I would change things up a bit and do another breakfast bento. As we all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day so I wanted to share this one with you. As you all know I like to keep thing very simple in my bentos and this one is no exception. For this one I pulled out one of my sandwich boxes as I did with my breakfast bento before. I feel you don’t need a lot for breakfast just the right foods will do. I like to have high protein foods in my breakfast to help wake up my brain. So here we go.

This bento consists of simple grilled chicken that has been lightly seasoned with pepper and seasoning salt, red grapes, trail mix and mini yaki onigiri (my way).

You may be asking what I mean by yaki onigiri my way. Well I took my rice and mixed in a little butter (the way I have eaten since I was a kid), a little soy sauce and pepper. Then I micro scramble two eggs and mixed it in. Then I shaped them with my cookie cutters (these are the only cutters I have in my bento stash), place them on the griddle. I fried them on the top flipped them and fried the bottom. Then I brushed on a little soy sauce and flipped them again then brushed on a little soy sauce on the other side. Let it grill for about 1 minute then removed them.

These yaki onigiri are bite size and I love them. They are the perfect size for my smaller bentos. I also have larger cutters that I use for my larger bentos.

This bento was a great pick me up this morning.

So until my next bento, Itadaki masu!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Here is a quick and easy turkey chili that I came up with one day. I had never made chili from scratch before so I didn’t have a recipe to go by. I always loved my dad’s chili but like me he always cooked by taste so he did not have a recipe written down so I was all on my own. This turkey chili has very few ingredients and despite using the slow cooker does not take a long time to make. If you don’t want to use a slow cooker or don’t have one just let the chili simmer in a pot on the stove for about 1 hour. The flavor of this chili gets better the longer it cooks.


1 lbs ground turkey
6 oz chunky salsa
1 packet chili seasoning mix (I use Hot Chili Seasoning for a spicier taste.)
1/2 packet taco seasoning mix
1/2 to1 cup water or chicken broth


Seasoning Salt

Extra – If you like it extra spicy – add to taste

1. Preheat slow cooker on high.
2. Brown ground turkey in a skillet and season with salt, pepper and seasoning salt.

3. Once the turkey is browned pour in 1 package of chili seasoning and 1/2 package of taco seasonings then mix thoroughly.

4. Add 1/2 to1cup of water or chicken broth and bring to a boil. Note: If you prefer a denser chili leave out the water. For a less dense chili add water to the desired thickness.

5. Turn heat to low, cover and let the mix simmer for 5 minutes.

6. Pour chili mix a long with 6 oz of salsa into the slow cooker.

7. Leave slow cooker on high for 1 hour then turn down to low for 2 hours.

The chili can be made the night before and left to simmer in the slow cooker on low overnight. This will intensify the flavors in the chili.

This chili is very versatile. It can be added to pasta or rice and can be used with nachos. It also freezes well.

Serve it with your favorite topping along with some garlic bread, cornbread muffins or crackers.

I served mine with corn muffins, half and half (Iced Tea and Lemonade) and chocolate chip cookies. The chili was topped with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bento #13

While I was on my short break from blogging I did continue to make bentos on a daily basis. Some worth photographing and sharing and some that were not. Here is one of those I thought was worth sharing. The bento box I used for this one is one of my favorites. It is in the shape of a fan and I was lucky to find it for next to nothing on eBay an few years ago. I’ve been dying to use it and this time I had my chance.

This bento consists of a few experimental foods and some of the usual. First off I made tamagoyaki sprinkled with cheese, mini farfalle (bow tie) pasta mixed with salsa and cheese. Then I did some experimenting. I used puff pastry and made some broccoli and cheese bundles. I wrapped broccoli florets in thin slices of chicken breast and I made salsa and cheese chicken wrapped bundles.

The items in this bento have now become some of my staple bento items and you will definitely see them in the future either the same or as a variation. I will post step by step instructions soon.

So until the next bento, Itadaki masu!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hi everyone as you all know I have been away for a short while. I just needed to take a short hiatus to recoup, reorganize, reenergize and regroup. I just wanted you to know that I am back and will continue to give you wonderful posts on recipes, bentos and tips.

Before my short hiatus I enter a contest held by Eric Ackerson @My Hungry Tum. I usually don’t enter contests but I really liked his blog and was fascinated by how it was written. The contest was to win a Bob Kramer Series Shun Utility Knife. I have to admit that I had never heard of the knife brand before but when I saw the photo of the knife I fell in love with it. I could tell that it was a high quality knife by the pattern you can see on the blade. That pattern is created by the forging of multiple layers of stainless steel together which creates a strong, flexible and sharp blade. You may ask where I learned something like this well I remembered seeing a program about how a Katana or “Samurai sword” is made and it uses a similar process. After entering the contest I decided to do a search on this knife to learn more about it and came a cross a video here.

Each knife is meticulously crafted by 150 expert artisans to achieve the precise heft, balance and shape of Bob Kramer’s original design. The 3mm steel blade is composed of an SG2 core (64-66HRC) clad with true pattern-welded nickel and Damascus stainless steel for a beautiful, razor-sharp and lasting edge.
Gently rounded and richly grained red and black Pakkawood handle is crafted in Bob’s signature contoured shape, and mirrors the curve of the palm for a wonderfully natural hand-feel.
Use this utility knife for jobs smaller than those that require a chef’s knife.
Made in Japan.

I must say the performance of this knife is wonderful. As you can see the knife is cutting through the chicken like it was butter. I must however let you know that the chicken here has been slightly frozen to make it stiff enough to be able to cut thin slices. Note I learned this trick from watching the last The Next Food Network Star program. In one of the episodes Melissa d'Arabian used this technique to make chicken slices that where very thin. However I must tell you that I tried this same technique with my old knife with not so good results. Although my old knife is sharp and of good quality and it can cut slices of chicken breast just not as good. I found out from my research that keeping your blades honed is a necessary task. So I will be buying a honing tool to use for my old knives but for my Shun I will be sending that into the company to have them hone it for me.

As you can see in the photo above the slices were so thin you are able to clearly see the outline of the knife underneath the slice of chicken. As you can see in the photo below the slices came out beautifully.

This knife has become an intricate part of my cooking. Although I can use it for almost everything from cutting meat to cutting vegetables I don’t like to cross use my knives. So I am looking into buying more of the Shun brand knives for my various cooking needs.

However, I did try it out on vegetables before using it on my meat products and the results were just as wonderful. When I was creating my j-cation bento contest entry I used it to cut the red pepper I used to make various parts of my Maneki Neko. As you can see I was able to cut small then slices that were perfect for the paw.

I must say that winning this knife has been another step in my cooking education which I feel is a never ending process. I want to thank Eric @My Hungry Tum for having this contest. The world of the Shun knife has been introduced to me and I don’t think I can ever go back to the ordinary.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ok I have been out of the bento loop to a few weeks but I am now back with my entry for the j-Cation Virtual Bento Box Battle with my Maneki Neko or Beckoning Cat. I have to admit this was a definite challenge for me because I usually don’t do character bentos. I think I needed to accomplish this one to get myself back on track.

This bento is filled with tamagoyaki with nori, mini turkey burgers seasoned with a packet of vegetable dip mix, sautéed broccoli and apple cinnamon flower tarts with craisins. The cat consists of plain white rice for the body, red bell peppers for inside the ear, collar, mouth and on the paw. I used nori on the paw and for the inner eye and fried egg for the outer eye. Angel hair spaghetti was used for the whiskers and a pink edible flower petal for the nose. The collar is decorated with sour cream dot flowers.

From my reading the Maneki Neko are sometimes shown holding a gold coin called a koban which was used during the Edo period in Japan. The koban is supposed to be worth one ryō but because as in any society early monitary units could very. The one I made although not gold has the value of two million ryō as depicted in the kanji written on it. The coin was made of a tortilla cut into an oval. Then I wrote the kanji (千万両) or two million on it using food coloring and a tooth pick which reads . I have to admit that is came out better than expected. I did use Google translator to make sure what the kanji said.

Well there you go. I hope to have another bento posted soon.

Until next time Itadaki masu!