Monday, February 22, 2010

Bento #6

This is just a quick post for today’s lunch bento.

Today’s lunch consists of my breaded rice balls (baked), onigiri with broccoli and baked chicken (its hard to see in the center), baked breaded tilapia fingers, baby carrots, broccoli, baby bel cheese and two wedges of laughing cow cheese.

I have been really busy lately and my sleeping is way off so I tried to keep today’s bento very simple.

By the way I split this bento with my daughter it was so filling.

Itadaki masu!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As I was trying to come up with my bento for Valentine’s Day I was trying to figure out what can I put in that is different from my usual stuff. That is when I remembered seeing an episode of Road Tasted with Bobby and Jamie Dean on the Food Network. The episode was called New York-Forgettaboutit and they went to a place called Landi’s Pork Store. At this place they are famous for a deep fried rice ball that looked absolutely delicious. Ever since then I have been trying to figure out how to make rice balls myself but could never get them to come out right until now. I owe some of my success to Claudia of What’s Cookin’ Italian Style Cuisine. She wrote a post on her Grandma Victoria’s rice balls. So I was then inspired to do my own. My recipe differs form Claudia’s and the one at Landi’s because I wanted to achieve a different taste.


1 cup cooked rice
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2 cup Broccoli cooked and finely chopped
1 Tbsp Hidden Valley Ranch Fiesta Dip Mix
3 Tbsp parmesan cheese
2 Eggs
Panko Bread Crumbs

Prep Note:

Cook and chop broccoli. I love that taste of my broccoli. I sauté it in butter with a little garlic powder. I use a frozen broccoli and put it in the pan frozen. Once the broccoli is coated with the butter/garlic I turn down the heat slightly and put on a lid to help it thaw out then turn the heat back up to finish cooking them. However for this recipe I only kept them in long enough to thaw them out so that they could be chopped to go in my rice mix.


Take one cup of cooked rice. This recipe works better if the rice is left over from the previous day or even two days prior. Put it in a skillet with about 3 tsp of vegetable oil stirring constantly to heat up the rice.

Then add in 2 tbsp of soy sauce and mix together.

Once thoroughly mixed add in the chopped broccoli as well as cayenne, and cumin to taste. Remove from the heat to another bowl to cool slightly.

Once cooled add in 1 egg, the fiesta dip mix and parmesan cheese and mix well.

Roll the rice mix into 1/2 inch balls. Because this mix is very sticky I suggest that you roll all of your rice at one time before going on to the next step.

As these can be deep fried or oven cooked either method you chose should be preheated. Heat your skillet to medium and your oven (I use a toaster oven) to between 380°-400°.

As this next part can be very messy I suggest that you do this part in steps also. In a bowl put in about a half of a cup of flour. Then roll all of your rice balls in the flour before moving on to the next step. I have also found that when you let the rice balls rest after flouring them the egg and panko bread crumbs stick better.

Then take the floured rice balls and first roll them in the egg in bowl 2 and then the panko breadcrumbs in bowl three. Roll one at a time and set them aside on a plate to rest before dropping them into the hot oil.

Drop in only 4-5 rice balls at a time as they will brown up very quickly. Keep turning them in the oil till they are a golden brown. Then remove and drain.

If you are using the oven method just line them up on a pan after rolling them in the egg and panko bread crumbs, that has been sprayed with cooking spray and drizzle them with any oil such as olive oil. I did not do this with the batch that I baked and even though they still came out tasty they were a little dry on the outside.

Serve alone or with a complimentary dipping sauce like one made from the Hidden Valley Ranch Fiesta Dip mix that was used in the rice mix. Also if you have any left over they can be eaten the next day. Just place them in the oven on 380° for about 5 minutes or until crispy again. I am not sure at this point if they can be put in the freezer for later as I did not have any left over to test but when I make another batch I will test it out and update this post.

Note: Please test out the oven temperature of your own oven because I used a toaster oven for this recipe and a large oven will heat up more than a toaster oven. So all of the temperature references are according to how a toaster oven will cook.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe as much as I did making it.

I would also like to thanks Claudia of What’s Cookin’ Italian Style Cuisine for the inspiration for these rice balls.

So until next time.

Itadaki masu!

Monday, February 15, 2010

I love oatmeal raisin cookies but even better than that are these loaded oatmeal cookies. Although I am able to make these kind of cookies from scratch sometimes I like to make them the semi homemade way. They came out Fantastic!

I began by using Jiffy Oatmeal Cookie mix. For those of you who don’t know. Jiffy is the product of the Chelsea Milling Company located in Chelsea, Michigan. The company was established in 1930 producing great baking mixes. The Oatmeal Cookie Mix is only one of 22 different mixes the company makes. I will introduce more of these mixes in later posts.

With this cookie mix as a base I added a store bought trail mix to the cookie mix. Using this cookie mix made it easy to customize these cookies to suit my own taste.

To begin combine the cookie mix, 1/4 cup butter (softened), 1 egg and 2/3 cup of trail mix and mix thoroughly. Drop teaspoon size amounts on a cookie sheet and bake at 350°. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

The mix will yield between 18-20 cookies. Note I used my mini cupcake pan to make mine more cluster like. But you can make the cookies any size you want but know that the larger the cookies the smaller the yield.

These cookies can actually be made with any basic cookie mix but I have used Jiffy mixes for years and I love them. As well as being really great mixes they are also inexpensive. This mix only cost me .65¢ at my local Meijer store. If you are in an area that sells Jiffy mixes please try them out I think you will like them too.

These are the same cookies that can be seen in my Special Holiday Bento for Valentine’s Day.
Come back for more recipes using different Jiffy mixes.

Itadaki masu!

Jiffy Mix website:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hello everyone today’s bento was put together for my daughter and me for today. I know very little about Chinese New Year and neither of us are Valentine people but we always like doing things for each other on special occasions. I decided for today to fix a combine bento for the two of us instead of two separate bentos. This gave me a chance to use one of my larger two tier bentos that I don’t use very often.

What I made for today’s bento was in tray 1 bacon wrapped chicken in sesame sauce, fiesta rice balls, penne pasta salad with roasted broccoli with garlic and parmesan and cheddar cheese hearts. Plus baby carrot sticks and tortilla hearts.

The second tier has chicken taco cones, 2 wedges of laughing cow cheese, thin wheat crackers, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies (daughter’s favorite) as well as loaded oatmeal cookies, plus a small amount of trail mix to snack on.

That was today’s bento I shared with my daughter. I wish all who celebrate a Happy Valentine's Day and a wonderful Chinese New Year celebration.

Note: As I did not want to take up a lot of time when preparing this bento I will write up how I prepared some of the items in my bento in another post. Thanks for understanding.

Itadaki masu!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bento #5

Today’s bento is very simply full of love. I racked my brain on how to bring out the spirit of Valentines Day in my bento. When I was at the store I went to the Valentines section and found a multi-size heart shaped cutter set and I guess the wheels began to turn. Then I saw the Fish & Salsa Bento by Sherimiya of Happy Little Bento and though I could do mini chicken tacos. Yeah I know my bento is a far cry from hers but it was the taco aspect that caught my attention. You know I like to work in miniature. Then I thought what else can I do to go with the tacos of course chips and salsa and that is when it hit me. So that’s how this bento was born. It’s very simple in presentation but big on taste.

In the first part there are mini chicken tacos and baby carrots. In the second part there is salsa and heart shaped home made tortilla chips.

Here’s how the tacos were made. Basically I baked a medium chicken breast in my crock pot. I find this method leaves the chicken nice and juicy every time I cook it. It took about 2-3 hours on low to cook but the slow cooking keeps the meat from drying out and as I am up very early it was ready by lunch time. I usually cook two or three chicken breast at a time for various recipes so look for more to come.

Then I shredded the chicken breast by hand. I like the texture I get better than chopping it. I then put it in a skillet with the juices from cooking the chicken plus about 4 tablespoons of store bought chicken broth. Then I put in about 1/3 of a packet of taco seasoning, cumin and cayenne to taste. After the chicken simmered for about 5 minutes I added about 2oz of chopped red pepper to the pan to cook for about a minute to release its flavors then I added about 7oz of french cut green beans. Let it simmer for about 3 minutes then its ready to serve.

I got the small taco shells by cutting 9” rounds out of larger tortillas. Don’t worry I used the leftover tortilla at another time. I put on a small slice of cheddar cheese and a small amount of the chicken mix. Then I put them in my toaster oven for about 4 minutes to melt the cheese and lightly toast the outside.

Then there is the heart shaped tortilla chips. I simply took three different size heart shaped cutters and cut out the shapes from a tortilla. I then fried them in vegetable oil however they can also be baked in the oven. Then I seasoned them with table salt although they can be seasoned any way you with. I usually make my tortilla chips by just cut them into simple triangles but in honor of Valentines Day I cut them into hearts. I served them with store bought salsa (I haven’t tackled making my own salsa yet). There you go.

Itadaki masu!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Today’s recipe is a mini pot pie I came up with. Today’s pot pies are made with my basic ground turkey mix. For me this mix is one of my staple mixes that I can go to for many different dishes. It mixes well for pasta and rice as well as a base for my chili and spaghetti. The dishes are endless.

As with many of my dishes this one is very simple to make and put together. I like to keep pre-made pie dough in the freezer as a got to. I use my Wilton mini muffin pans to make the pies because they are the perfect size for my bentos also they make the perfect bite size meal.

Basic Turkey Mix


1 lb Ground Turkey
6 oz French Cut Green Beans
1/4 cup Chicken Gravy [est.] (I usually use brown gravy for more flavor but I changed it for this recipe)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Seasoning Salt (to taste)
3 tsp Vegetable Oil (or any oil you like to cook with)

Added for this recipe: (optional)

Cayenne Pepper (to taste)
Sesame Oil (to taste)

I cooked up the turkey as usual (see this post) the only difference is I used chicken gravy instead of brown gravy. I also decided I wanted a little kick to it so I added cayenne pepper (about a 1/2 teaspoon) to the mix. I then wanted to add some cumin but realized I didn’t have any. I forgot to replace it the last time I went to the grocery store. So it’s substitution time. After the mix was cooked I add some sesame oil. Yeah I know not exactly like cumin but it gave the mix a smoky and nutty taste so it worked for me. Once the mix was done I let it sit and cool for about 30 to 45 minutes stirring the mix occasionally to help it cool. I know it was going to be heated up when I put in the oven but for some reason I didn’t want to put the hot mix right into the uncooked pie crust. I thought it would make it get soggy and not bake right. I’ve never baked a pie from scratch so this was a gut instinct I don’t know if there is anything to it.

While the turkey mix was cooling I prepared the pie crust in the muffin pan. I cut out rounds in two different sizes for the top and bottom. Top 8” and the bottom 9” around. Because this was made in a muffin pan I had to make the measured cuts to make it easier to assemble. Even though the pan is nonstick I lightly sprayed it with cooking oil. Just as an aside I had a set of these pans before and did not spay them when I cooked with them every time and when things stuck to it the surface was ruined. Not taking any chances this time. I put the bottom round in the muffin cup and gently pressed it in.

When the mix was cooled I put in about a teaspoon in each cup (sorry I didn’t measure the amount) but basically I filled it to have a slight mound on it.

Then I added the lid sealing it as you do with any pastry by wetting the edges with water. Because of the size of the pot pies and how close they sat to each other, instead of using a fork to crimp the edges I used the blunt end of a knife. This kind of made them look like the crimping you see on the store bought ones.

I then cut slits in the top for ventilation in a star shape. Then I baked them in my toaster oven for 10 to 15 minutes at 425° or until they were lightly golden brown. I have to be very careful with my toaster oven because the heating element is only in the center and it can burn while cooking very easily.

Once they come out and have been cooked to a tasty golden crispiness I let them sit for about 5 minutes and then it’s time to eat or pack in my bento. The good thing about these mini pot pies is that they are good at room temperature so great for a bento or lunch box. However they can be reheated easily in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds. Try not to over heat them or they will get a little soft and not have the crispiness of a pie (unless you like them like that).

I also made some mini apples pies but I will leave them for another post.

Itadaki masu!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bento #4

Today’s bento was my breakfast bento. It was very simple and I must say very tasty. This bento consists of rice which is layered on the bottom. The rice was season with just salt, pepper and butter. Then the top layer consists of ground turkey seasoned with salt, pepper, seasoning salt, sesame oil and soy sauce. Next came the broccoli. I used frozen broccoli that I stir fried in a pan with butter until no longer frozen then taken out and chopped into smaller pieces then put back in the pan to cook a little longer. I like the flavor of the slightly browned broccoli. The eggs were supper scrabbled in the same hot pan after the broccoli. They were seasoned with salt pepper and dill. I don’t know I have just grown to love the taste of dill in my eggs. This was my micro-breakfast. I hope you like it.

Itadaki masu!