Saturday, February 20, 2010

Salmon Salad Bento (#19)

I am really excited about a new recipe I found. It incorporates salmon and a veggie that I didn't even know was a veggie...fennel. To my surprise one of the markets in town actually had fennel. It sort of a cross between licorice (REAL licorice), celery, and a cabbage-like texture. If you haven't tried cooking with it, I highly recommend it! Here is a picture to give you an idea of what it looks like:

FYI, the wispy green stuff is called a frond, and is good for garnishing and flavor. The stalks can be used to flavor broths, and are too "woody" to eat. The bulb of the plant is that part that is eaten. The recipe can be found online here. I wasn't too thrilled at the work involved to prepare the oranges...and the wastage of most of it. I'm sure sliced oranges or canned mandarin oranges would work just as well and cut down on the prep time.

Here are some more pictures related to my salmon salad bento with fennel, orange, and mint!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fresco Bento (#18)

I have literally been running around the past two weeks like a headless chicken! This is the first day that I actually have a moment to post a picture.

I have to say that the frozen spaghetti nests were a hit. Granted, its basically chilled pasta, but it still looks nice when it thaws...not to soggy not too dry. I also have been using them as a pseudo ice pack. Hands down my favorite part about them is that I can just pull it out of the freezer and stick it in my lunch box. I'm curious to see if using a green pesto sauce would work as well.

You'll notice in this bento that I have actually included a shape! I made some really yummy rye/wheat bread earlier in the week. I still haven't figured out a way to make the crust turn out softer. My teddy bear cookie cutter was the perfect size for the bread slice with minimum wastage, so I just kept the remaining crusts for breadcrumbs. Other than that, its just a turkey sammie with provolone cheese and spinach. I don't eat sandwiches much because I'm not a fan of deli meat. However, I did find some nitrate-free meat in the grocery store the other day! And it was basically the same price as the other nitrate-laden brands. I was very happy with my purchase. :)

I managed to get lucky with some out-of-season oranges. I love fruit, but don't often purchase it in the winter...its just so difficult to find something that tastes good. I just wish I had picked up some more from the same batch! Too bad you can't sample fruit before you purchase it!

Happy Weekend to everyone! I'll trying to post the rest of my creations soon.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Snow Day!

School is closed do to a severe winter storm...which means no class or work for me today. I have tracked down the recipe for bento-sized chicken pot pies...and I'll do my best to make it as clear as possible! The dough recipe is one of my favorites.

I usually just put the ingredients in a bread machine and hit the dough cycle. But it can also be made by hand ahead of time. I'm sure other "crust" ideas would work as well.

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1 package active dry yeast (~2 1/4 tsp)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1 egg
3 1/2 cups flour

To make by hand:
-Heat milk in a saucepan on the stove until it starts to bubble on the edges. Add the butter, sugar, and salt.
-Dissolve yeast in warm water and let set for 10 minutes.
-Combine yeast mixture, milk mixture, and egg.
-Add flour and knead for about eight minutes.
-Place dough in an oiled bowel, cover with a damp dishcloth, and let rise for one hour.

The best info I got from my roommate concerning the filling is that she added ingredients till she liked how it looked. I know that I would love carrots in mine. So feel free to add items or leave them out depending on what you like...

1 cup cooked chicken (or leftover meat that you may have), cut into cubes or pieces
1 cup peas
1 cup corn
Salt/Pepper to taste

I'm sure there are multiple ways to make a sauce for the pie filling. I've personally used a cream of soup in the past when making similar recipes. But here is my roommates idea to get you started.

1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup flour
1 3/4 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup milk

-Combine butter and flour in a saucepan on the stove.
-Add broth and milk.
-Stir until the mixture becomes thick.

"Assembly Instructions"

-Pinch off a piece of dough and roll it into a circle. Make it big enough so that when placed in a greased muffin cup, some dough hangs out over the edge.
-Add the desired amount of filling, being careful not to fill it too full.
-Spoon some sauce over the filling.
-Roll out another circle of dough and place it on top.
-Pinch the edges of the circles together, then roll the edge in and pinch around it again.
-Repeat until you fill up the muffin pan...or you run out of dough (trust can happen!)

-Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, or until the pies are a healthy golden brown.

Enjoy! Hope that this is helpful.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Quick Bento (#17)

This bento is just a quick put together of things that I had on hand and need to use up. The little chicken pot pie thing was a creation of my roommate. She basically combined chicken, peas, corn, and a homemade sauce to make the filling. A home made bread roll recipe was also used for the "crust," and the pies were baked in muffin tins. I'll track down the exact recipe sometime this week to share. I microwaved the pie before I ate it, so I'm not so sure how it would taste chilled.

I also am experimenting with frozen portions of spaghetti. This is one of Biggie's speed bento tips discussed on her website. I am pretty impressed with the visual results so far...and look forward to seeing how they taste!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Here we go a bento-ing... (#16)

After a tumbling first semester of graduate study, I have decided to start documenting my bento meals again. And I've been blessed with a graduate assistantship, which means I'll have really no choice but to pack a lunch to school everyday. This also means that I'll probably have to start planning my weekly menu out more thoughtfully. (Yikes!)

In today's bento:

Parmesan & Broccoli Couscous (with a happy face!)
Buttered Multi-grain flatbread (folded into a wedge)
Spinach & Romaine Salad with carrots and red bell pepper
Catalina Dressing on the side

My salads can get a bit monotonous after a while...but its my vow to use what I buy before I go purchase something else!