Thai Green Curry Chicken bento


The last day of the week brings more Asian flavours in my bento. For me savoury, "exotic" foods are the perfect remedy to forget about the grey and cold weather outside : sunshine in a box :o) And Lord knows, we could use some cheering up on the weather department.

So, for today's bento, I came back to the M4SB, an old time favourite. It holds white basmati rice sprinkled with sesame seeds, thai green curry chicken (with peppers and green beens), a carrot/daikon/edamame salad, with some leftover springrolls and of course the usual fruits. It was the first time I tried packing leftover springrolls and I was quite disappointed that they turned out to be completely soggy by lunchtime. The taste was still OK, but texture left a lot to be desired.

How to Thai Green Curry Chicken :

[Green curry chicken recipe will be added later tonight]

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Have a nice weekend and see you back on Monday ! :o)

Chicken Gyoza bento


Today's bento had something special : chicken gyoza. It may not seem that spectacular but for someone like me who never ate these before today, it's big news :o) And now that I have tasted them, I don't know why I never made them before : these are so yummy. I wonder what other delicious foods I have been missing out on. I'll have to make up for lost times soon, maybe even this weekend. And I know for sure that I'm not the only one in this house who likes them, because this box actually holds the second batch I made last night. Somehow, while I was waiting for the bento to cool down before taking my pic, P. went behind my back and ate all the dumplings I had put in the box. I guess that could be considered a compliment :o) I think they could be a bit browner and crunchier on the bottom, but these were fine too.

Anyway, this bento had a few chicken gyoza on a bed of lettuce, more of yesterday's bean sprout/ramiro pepper stirfry, broccoli florets and radishes, edamame and the usual white rice. Dessert consisted of a nice apple which didn't make it to the picture.

Ginger pork bento

Back to bento

Multiple postings on the same day, don't worry ... it won't become a habit. :o) Sukiyaki style bento was my lunch on Monday, no bento on Tuesday (aftermath of the unwanted visit), and today I had this delicious ginger pork at lunchtime.

It was also the first outing of my new purple Bento Color Box, with its tree separate tiers. The box turned out to be a bit smaller than I expected (although it still holds 650 ml), so there wasn't a lot of room of embellishments, which can be an advantage when you're uninspired :o)

The bottom (and largest) tier held white rice with carrot slices for colour, alongside some broccoli and a cherry tomato. The next compartment has a beansprout/ramiro pepper stirfry and the ginger pork giving the bento its name. The top and final tier housed the sweet finish of any good lunch : some fresh fruits.

How to "ginger pork" :

Again a recipe from my new favourite bentobook JustBento. :o)

Ingredients :
* 100g thinly sliced pork
* 1/2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
* 2 tbs soy sauce
* 1 tbs mirin
* 1 tbs sake

Fry the pork in a little bit of oil, until each side is browned. Remove the meat from the pan and wipe the pan with a paper towel. Add the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the reserved meat to the pan, in order to coat it with the sauce.

Show-off of the new bento :

Sukiyaki style beef bento

Sukiyaki style bento - 18.10.2010

A rather straigthforward bento, to get the groove back : sukiyaki style beef on a bed of rice, topped of with some carrots, snowpeas and radishes for that essential dash of colour.  And a little sidecar filled with fruity vitamins.

How to sukiyaki style beef :

I can't take credit for this recipe as I found it in Maki's JustBento book (which is a fab book btw, go out and buy it, you won't be disappointed :o) )

* enoki mushrooms (+/- 90g)
* 10 cm thinly sliced leek (white part)
* 2 fresh shiitake, sliced without stem
* 100g thinly sliced beef
* 1 Tbsp (brown) sugar
* 60ml dashi stock
* 2 Tbsp soy sauce
* 1 Tbsp mirin
* 1 Tbsp saké

Remove the stuck together roots from the enoki and separate them. Heat a bit of oil in a pan and sauté the leek until limp. Add the enoki en shiitake and sauté further for 4 minutes.  Add the beef and sugar and stirfry until the meat starts to brown. Add all the other ingredients and cook for an additional 4 minutes. Done.

As you might (or might not) have noticed, this post features a new box : a foldable (and reusable) bento, I encountered while browsing the website.  They have a lot of different designs for the cover, but I liked the swirly red line this one had. I was a bit weary at first : would it be hard to fold (knowing that my origami skills are quite limited) and more importantly, would this box be leakfree?

My apprehension was totally unjustified: not only did I fold the box in a record time, it is also nicely sized (640ml), microwave safe and didn't leak at all (although I have to add that using common sense, I didn't transport it upside down).  Compared to other boxes, this one is cheap, easy to use and doesn't take up a lot of room in the cupboard (reason to buy more of them? :o) ), so don't hesitate to get one.

Bento as therapy

It has been five long months since this bento blog was last updated.  My silence wasn't supposed to last, a little break, just the time of my holiday, but May brought serious health problems to my sweetheart and dealing with that new important fact in my life made me put quite a few habits on the backburner.  When things were finally looking up by September, we left for 2 weeks of relaxing holidays under the Spanish sun... where I had a close encounter with the gravel of a parking lot. I didn't wish for ripped ligaments as a holiday souvenir but that was what I got, as well as a nice new piece of fashionable footwear i.e. a cast. My planned return to bento had to be postponed.

Last week, finally free of the annoying cast after hobbling about for a month, I immediately started planning my first "back to bento" post this weekend.  I was eager and ready to go. My first bento post after my long absence would be happy and cheerful, and I planned to post it on Monday evening after work.

I seem to have real kharma issues though, or as a friend told me, I'm "really getting the short end of the stick lately". Because I had a nasty surprise when I returned from the office Monday evening : someone had broken into my home and had searched through the whole house.  Needless to say that posting to BentoBliss didn't even cross my mind that night. I was much too shaken, trying to deal with police and making a list of what had disappeared.

Saying that I am over the whole invasion of my privacy aspect, would be a lie. I no longer feel safe in my own home and am torn apart : I'd like to stay home just to make sure they don't come back, but at the same time I don't want to stay, precisely because they could be coming back. The cops said I should try to get on with my life and not become a hostage of my own fears.  Easy thing for them to say of course, but I know they're have a point.

Making a bento is my first step in getting my life back on course.  It's silly really, but it helps me focusing on easy to handle things without getting swept up in a maelstrom of anger, fear and other feelings.  For the time being, bento making will be my therapy.  Hopefully, I'll soon be able to consider bento as I did before : a fun challenge of making happy lunches, without any ulterior motives. Fingers crossed.

Crêpes salées aka savoury crêpes bento

Crêpes salées bento #2 - 28.04.2010

I had crêpes salées at my parent's last week and as it had been a while since I last ate them, I kind of had forgotten how much I love them. So yesterday evening I decided to make some and then a few extra to pack in our bento. Moreover these are extremely simple to make, which of course is a lovely bonus :o)

So my bento has, the leftover savoury crêpes containing ham and zucchini topped with some cheese flowers, some carrot sticks, steamed brocoli and a cup of coleslaw. The fruits are the usual apple, orange, cantaloup, Belgian (!) strawberries, black and white grapes, nectarine and kiwi slices.

How to crêpes salées :

Ingredients :

- 8 savoury crêpes (bake them as you would sweet crêpes, just omit the sugar)
- 3 zucchini
- bechamel sauce (I used storebought one, because I ran out of milk, but with just milk and flour you can make your own)
- 200g diced ham
- 100g grated cheese (preferably gratin cheese because it melts evenly and colours nicely but any grated cheese will do)

Preheat the over to 200°C

Wash the zucchini, cut it into thick slices and cook them until tender with some water in which you have diluted a stock cube (elminates the need for more salt or spices down the line). Once cooked, drain.

Mix the zucchini and the ham dices in the bechamel sauce. If you like you can keep some of the sauce aside to pour on top of the crêpes before adding the cheese, but I didn't this time.

Grease an oven dish. Spoon some of the zucchini mix in a crêpe and fold it up (I just make rolls) and put it in the dish. Repeat until the dish is full. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the crêpes and put the dish in the oven for 20 minutes. And there you go ... bon appetit :o)

Crêpes salées bento #1 - 28.04.2010

Sweetie's bento has the same ingredients, minus the broccoli and with some diced ramiro pepper. The ramiro pepper should have been in my bento as well, but as I don't like raw peppers that much, I tried grilling them. Tried being the keyword here. But cooking and watching Cold Case on TV at the same time isn't really a match made in heaven (multitasking fail). The carbonised pepper ended up in the bin instead of in the bento ... Lesson learnt? We'll see :o)

Back to bento

Back to bento

Due to some family issues (I don't want to get further into), the last two weeks have been kind of an emotion rollercoaster, draining all our energy and leaving us mentally and physically exhausted every single evening. Not the best circumstances to put a bento together. So both our lunches have consisted of sandwiches from a nearby snackbar for the last 10 working days. And although the snackbar near my office makes a delicious "boursin méditerrannée" sandwich, after eating those for such an extended period ... you can indeed have too much of a good thing. :o)

Now that things are looking up on the family front, I felt the urge to make a bento again for lunch. For my first day back "on the job", I didn't strain myself : orzo, grilled veggies (eggplant, zucchini, bellpepper) and some souvlaki skewers I had to take off the skewers to get into the box. The dessert section has lots of different fruits today, as the return of sunny days (24°C yesterday !) calls for this colourful sweetness : cantaloup, orange wedges, apple, black and white grapes, kiwi, strawberry, nectarine and plum. I am really longing for some blackberries but haven't seen them in ages. I wonder when they'll be in season again.

My "back in bento" will be relatively short by the way, because I will be on a plane to sunny Turkey for a week on May 5. I just hope that Icelandic volcano with the unprounceable name doesn't act up and doesn't spit out another ashcloud in my direction, because I am really looking forward to this break and don't want to be grounded like so many other travellers last week. This is a new hotel we'll be staying in, but if it is anything like the one from last year, many food pics on my flickr will make up the lack of bento pics. :o)

I am also seizing the occasion to show off my new round two tier box. I found this one at a discount (8,99 EUR) the day I made my last bento and I couldn't pass up on this purple goodie. They had a few other colours as well (included a hot pink one), and if they still have them when I come back from vacation, I might be tempted by an additional box. I like the metal handle, which makes it rather sturdy and very picknick-like. It makes me feel like a schoolgirl, instant rejuvenation minus the pimples :o)

Chinese takeaway bento

Chinese takeaway bento - 09.04.2010

I was dead tired yesterday evening, the result of sleeping for a mere 4,5 hours the night before. Because I didn't feel up to cooking, we had Chinese takeaway for dinner and the fact that there were leftovers, allowed me to take this bento to work today without any culinary nor creative effort from my part. I love cooking and bento, don't get me wrong, but every once in a while, it's nice to have someone else do it for you :o)

So the M4SB has fried rice, babi panggang (according to wiki, it's known in "English" as Char Siu), pork in satay sauce, a bit of chop suey (which I spread over the two meat sections) and lychees for dessert.

I also added a fortune cookie I had in the cupboard (I bought a box of them when they were in the supermarket on the occasion of the lunar new year -> we don't get these in Chinese restaurants over here). The fortune cookie is bilingual (Dutch on one side and French on the other) and today's fortune is : "You have the talent to create order in disorder". Hmm ... if you saw the state of my desk, you'd pray for that talent to manifest itself soon. :o)

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Have a great weekend everyone and "see" you next Monday!

Peas & ricotta moelleux bento

Peas & ricotta moelleux bento #2 - 08.04.2010

Another day, another bento ... and we're Thursday again already. The weekend is almost there ... I can smell its sweet scent, beckoning me :o) But I still have to more working days to go, which will need lunch-boxes.

Today's bento has a moelleux as center piece.  I looked for the correct English word, but couldn't find it.  A moelleux is in fact a cake with a soft core.  The most famous example would be a moelleux au chocolat, a chocolate cake with a gooey centre.  The cake in the bento is a savoury variation of that concept, although the core is clearly not runny like the chocolate version.  The recipe for these cakes can be found below.

My bento has white rice with green asparagus layered on top, brussels sprouts, steamed broccoli, a moelleux with ricotto and peas, and some cordon bleu pieces (breaded veal scallop with gruyère and ham in the centre). The vitamins can be found in grapes, blueberries, nectarine, oranges and cantaloup balls.

Peas & ricotta moelleux bento #1 - 08.04.2010

The second bento has the same ingredients except for the veggies, because brussels sprouts are a no-no in my other half's bento and Sweetie isn't too fond of broccoli neither. So I replaced those by green beans, snow peas and sugar snaps ... also green greens, but different ones.

How-to Moelleux Ricotta & peas (for 9  pieces):

Ingredients :

* 100g (frozen) peas
* 140g ricotta
* 3 eggs
* 20g grated cheese (gruyère)
* 60g all purpose flour
* 25 cl milk
* 40g demi-sel butter (i.e.lightly salted butter)
* salt & pepper

Cook the peas in salted boiling water for 10 minutes.  Drain and mash them and mix with the ricotta.

Preheat the oven to 210°C.

In a bowl, wisk the eggs as it to make scrambled eggs.  Add progressively the sifted flour, while mixing with a fork.

In a pan heat the milk with the diced butter.  When the butter has melted, pour the warm milk in the bowl with the egg/flour mixture. Mix and add the peas/ricotta mash.  Mix again and season with pepper.

Pour the dough into 9 individual recipients, sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes (according to the size of your molds).

Let them cool slightly before taking them out of the molds.

My talented bento friend Lia from MyBentolicious surprised me yet again by passing on two awards to me.  I'm paying it forward to all my fellow bentoists whose blogs are such an inspiration to me.  Feel free to grab the badges here :o)

BlogAward10        BlogAward9

Empanada de atún bento

Empanada de atún bento #2 - 07.04.2010

Spanish flavours in today's lunch, as I decided to make empanadas de atún last night to pack in our bento boxes. As it was a kind of a "spur of the moment" idea, I didn't have the time to make it completely from scratch as my MIL used to do. Luckily for me, the "organised business woman" I am, has everything she needs in her fridge and cupboard to produce these savoury pastries in a relatively short time.

As my (Spanish) Sweetie grew up with these flavours and with MIL's comida casera, cooking up a Spanish dish is always a bit tricky. No matter what I do, I'll never make things exactly the way she did. And as she sadly passed away a few years ago, I can't ask her for advice anymore neither. Nevertheless, I had to shoo someone out of the kitchen last night, who had picked up the familiar scent, trailed it back to the kitchen and was intent on stealing a few scraps out of the hot pan. I guess I can consider that a compliment :o)

So both our bento have an empanada de atún on a bed of young lettuce leaves, radishes, cucumber, tomato/mozzarella skewers and a green olives skewer. It's nice to include raw veggies again, it reminds me that sunny days are on their way and that it will soon be BBQ weather again :o)

The dessert section has grapes, cantaloup balls, orange parts, nectarine and blueberries.

Empanada de atún bento #1 - 07.04.2010

How-to speedy Empanada de Atún :

Ingredients for 8 empanadas:

* 3 garlic cloves (or less, if you're not a garlic fan as we are)
* 2 red onions
* 400g of canned tuna (I used tuna in olive oil, but on brine would work too)
* 2 (bell) peppers (traditionally you'd use green ones, but I used the two red ramiro peppers I had in the fridge)
* 1 jar (400 ml) of tomate frito (my fave brand : Solis)
* 2 hardboiled eggs
* 1 egg
* 2 puff pastry sheets

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Dice the onions and peppers and finely chop the garlic. In a skillet, fry the onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil, and add the peppers when the onions have glazed over.

Once the peppers are starting to tender, add the tomate frito and let it simmer for a while on low heat.

Meanwhile, drain the tuna and crumble it. Chop up the hardboiled eggs and add them together with the crumbled tuna to the tomate frito. Stir all the ingredients together and let it simmer a while longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and let cool a bit.  The filling should now be rather consistent and not watery or liquid.

Roll out the pastry sheets. The ones I had in the fridge were round ones, which aren't the easiest to use. If you make your own pastry dough you can make roll it out in a sheet, cut out round shapes, reshape the remaining dough into a new flat sheet, cut out again, etc. (empanadas are normally presented as half circles, like goyza)... But I just cut the round doughs in four, filled them and then (painstakingly) tried to close them.

Whisk the egg and brush it on top of the empanadas, before putting them in the oven for about half an hour (depending on your oven).

The empanadas are delicious hot and cold, which makes them ideal for bento.

Creole turkey bento

Creole Turkey Bento #1 - 06.04.2010

We just had a three day weekend (Easter Monday is a holiday in Belgium) that passed way too quickly, as usual. I sometimes think I wouldn't mind two day workweeks and 5 day weekends, but on the other hand, I guess you have to work for a longer time to really enjoy the time off :o) On the positive side, it will be weekend again in 4 days ... yay.

Today's bento is not sophisticated. I have been busy with creative things this whole weekend and didn't think about what I would pack for bento, until it was already quite late.

So my lunch is composed of white rice with some cheese decoration, creole turkey with baby mushrooms (leftover from diner), green beans and sugar snaps for that dash of colour. I used some slices of spinach savoury cake (which I found in the frozen bento stash) as a baran to separate the savoury from the sweet. The fruit section has my usual fruits : grapes, plums, nectarine, apple, strawberry, blueberries.

Creole Turkey #2 - 06.04.2010

Same thing for P.'s bento, nothing to add.

And to end this post I just wanted to show off what I baked this weekend : oriental cupcakes. :o)

The cupcake has almonds in it (powder and pieces) and is flavoured with cinnamon and orange flower water. Because I didn't have any rose water left (it met an untimely end on the kitchen floor), I flavoured the white chocolate and cream frosting with orange flower water again and used food colouring in order to have it look orangy. I wanted it to be a rather funky orange but it ended up way more pastel, oh well. They were delicious and that's what counts in the end, right?

Easter Bell bento

Paasklokken bento - 02.04.2010

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Easter tradition in Belgium and France, seeing a bell as an Easter theme will probably raise some eyebrows. Bells bringing Easter eggs is part of the catholic Easter tradition, although nowadays we also have Easter Bunnies as seasonal decoration. Trivia fact : in Dutch it's not a rabbit, but a hare, the Paashaas :o)

Back to my Easter bell. I am sure you're eager to know how it is related to Easter (and even if you aren't, you're still getting the full story :o) ).

Children are told that after Mass on Maundy Thursday, all the bells leave the bell towers of their respective churches and fly to Rome (hence the wings). This explains why you can't hear any churchbell toll from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday (the silent bells are actually a sign of mourning, but that's not half as fun as imagining flying bells). In the night of Saturday to Easter Sunday, the bells return with their bellies full of Easter eggs, which they drop in the gardens on the way to their churches. On Easter morning the children have to search the garden to find the eggs the bells dropped.

So far the Easter trivia. Now the bento. Under the forbidden rice, I have a stirfry of green bell pepper, bean sprouts, leek and carrots, and mini schnitzels. The carrot kinpira acts as a baran. The vitamin section is composed of white and dark grapes, plum, nectarine, clementine, nectarine and strawberry. I even added two chocolate eggs ... because it's the season :o)

The Easter bell deco is made of cheese (coloured with turmeric), with ham and nori decorations.

To all my friends & readers

Garlic mushroom bento

Garlic mushroom bento  - 31.03.2010

How time flies. The blink of an eye and it's already the middle of the week again. And this time there is a three day weekend urging me on, as a carrot on a stick. :o) I really look forward to it, as I have so many pending projects I would like to start on. If the weather decides to finally give in to spring and the rain and wind would subside, this would indeed be a perfect break. Fingers crossed that the sun will be quicky rerouted to my part of the world. :o)

Back on the bento front, there isn't anything special today. I have been thinking of making a bunny/Easter themed box, but don't seem to be able to come up with something nice ... maybe tomorrow, maybe (don't get your hopes up).

Anyway, my bento has sausage slices (left over from last night's dinner), some white rice with cheese sakura, fresh carrot kinpira (made a whole new tupper of it yesterday) and baby mushrooms sauteed with garlic and shives. A cucumber baran separates main course from dessert, being the usual fruit selection (orange, plum, nectarine, grapes, apple and kiwi).

Mediterranean stirfry bento

Chicken sesame bento #1 - 30.03.2010

I love stirfries : they are easy to make, quickly done, the veggies keep more vitamins than by cooking/boiling them and as you only use a wok, the amount of dishes to be done afterwards is also reduced to a minimum.

The only downpoint, as you can tell by looking at this picture, is that it looks so downright messy in a bento,which everything poking out in every possible direction, as if the greens were hit by some kind of natural disaster. :o( Luckily the taste didn't suffer from this lousy presentation.

Back to the contents : for today, I packed balsamic sesame chicken pieces and a mediterranean stirfry composed of green beans, red and yellow bell pepper, zucchini, potato wedges and baby carrots. For dessert, there are grapes (black & white), strawberry, nectarine, kiwi, orange.

Mediterranean stirfry bento #2 - 30.03.2010

Exact same ingredients as the previous one, so nothing to add :o)

Because food doesn't always come in bento

I didn't have time (or rather the motiviation) to make a bento last night.  I rather spent the evening on the couch watching the "La Vida Loca" DVDs, which I gave Sweetie as a birthday present on Saturday.  Watching these younsters and the way they face death on a daily basis is quite chilling. Entering a gang is a personal choice of course but can you really speak of choice when you have no other options?  For short, I highly recommend this documentary to anyone.

Back to food. Even if I didn't make a bento, I kept busy in the cooking & baking field this weekend, so I am going to share some of it. Incidentally it will also help me to keep the blogging rhythm. :o)

This post will have like my bentos a savoury and a sweet part.

Tagliatelle a la carbonara

I made Tagliatelle a la carbonara for last night's dinner, and I did it the Italian way i.e. with eggs and NO CREAM. I wonder why they always insist on putting cream in carbonara in my neck of the woods, when it's obviously unnecessary. Now I won't pretend that my version is the only legitimate one, because in the end it's just the taste that matters.  But this one was really good.

Googling up recipes for this dish, will lead you to hundreds of different recipes and variations, something for every taste. I'm going to add my version to that pile of recipes as well, who knows one of you might find it useful :o)

Ingredients I used (for two servings):

* tagliatelle (or any other larger size pasta - fettucine, linguine, ...)
* 3 eggs (if you want to make it in larger amounts, count 1 to 1,5 egg per person)
* 180 g of bacon (you should use pancetta if you have it available, but I couldn't find any)
* 60 g of grated pecorino cheese
* 1 tsp of garlic paste
* lots of ground black pepper
* chopped parsley

Separate the whites from the yolks and put the yolks in a bowl. Whisk them as if to make scrambles eggs, season with salt and pepper, add the grated cheese, mix well and set aside.

While cooking the pasta (in salted water), fry the bacon (or pancetta) sticks with the garlic paste in olive oil until it's nice and cripsy .

When the pasta is al dente, remove from the cooking water (without draining it too much) and add it to the skillet with the bacon, still on medium heat. Toss the pasta and the bacon, season with fresh ground black pepper.

Remove from the heat, pour the egg mixture on top of the pasta and toss until everything is coated with the eggs. The residual heat of the pasta will cook the eggs. If it seems to be too solid, add a bit of the pasta's cooking water to "loosen it up".

Add some freshly chopped parsley and serve hot.

And because no meal is finished without desert, I made a Baileys & Mascarpone cake.

Baileys & Mascarpone cake

I saw the recipe for this cake on Miriam's blog, The Winter Guest, and as I had leftover mascarpone in the fridge, I decided I'd give it a try. After all, anything sweet AND containing Bailey's can't be anything but delicious.

The mascarpone was storebought but I will be making my own next time, because it seems rather easy to make (have a look at the link Miriam referred to in her post).

Miriam used agave syrup in her recipe but because I never encountered that type of syrup while shopping, I asked her if I could replace it with sugar. She advised me to increase the sugar amount to 200g, as the syrup sweetens more than regular sugar, and add an additional 80g of vegetable oil to the batter to make up for the syrup's liquidy.

The kitchen smelled deliciously of Bailey's (attracting all kind of curious houseguests to the kitchen) and the taste of this cake is simply divine. I think I will leave it in the oven just a bit longer next time (there will be a next time for sure!), because when the wooden testing stick came out clear, I took it out of the oven immediately for fear of the cake becoming too dry and just a bit less moist would have been better. In my rush to get it out, I managed to burn my arm but it's nothing I won't survive. This delicious cake was worth any blister :o)

L'heure de vérité

Taboulé & falafel bento

Taboulé bento - 25.03.2010

I was a bit at a loss last night as to what to pack in today's bento. My main problem is that I don't plan ahead. I try, really, I do, but somehow it just never works out the way I want it to. This means that by Tuesday, all my good intentions have already gone down the drain and I have given up on the whole "let's plan ahead and save precious time in the evening" plan.

Yesterday was no exception to the rule: like on other evenings, I found myself staring blankly at the inside of the fridge. And then I saw the M4SB on the kitchen cupboard, waiting to be put away and inspiration hit me : the magic of the M4SB was operating :o)

I didn't plan it to but when I finished assembling the bento, it was quite colour coordinated again. I guess it's a virgo thing that takes me unawares, whether it be colours or symmetrical lines, I always come back to "neat and orderly".

Anyway, enough rambling. My M4SB of the day has :

* yellow section : taboulé with bell peppers, parsley, scallion, tomato and raisins (and a drizzle of olive oil). Taboulé is more of a summer dish but with temperatures up to 20°C today, a sunny dish was in order. :o)
* purple section : storebought falafels (because I still can't make them myself, at least not edible ones) and a cherry tomato
* green section : steamed greens (brocoli, zucchini, peas)
* red section : strawberry, nectarine, plum, apple, grapes

Fried rice with shitake bento

Fried rice shitake bento #1 - 24.03.2010

For some odd reason, I never made fried rice. Come to think of it, even back in the days, fried rice never came out of my mom's kitchen. I used to get some from a good Chinese take-away nearby but when that place closed down more than a year ago, I never bother to look for a replacement supplier. All the more reasons to dive into my favourite cookbook (aka internet) and see how to reproduce the yummy dish in the privacy of my own kitchen.

So yesterday I decided to throw myself in at the deep end ... until I realised that I wasn't at the deep end at all, rather in the toddler's section. This is such an easy dish to make, why didn't I give it a try years ago?

Anyway. I had some leftover brown rice in the fridge and turned that into fried rice together with some sliced shitake, scallions, smoked ham strips and a diced omelet. The fried rice took up almost the whole bento, but for some extra veggies, I added a little cucumber baran, two cherry tomatoes and a few green manzanilla olives.

I spotted some strawberries at the store yesterday and although they're still expensive (almost 3 EUR for 250g) because out of season and therefor imported (from Israel this time), I couldn't pass up on the juicy red sweetness. My fruit section has strawberry (of course), kiwi and apple slices, some orange wedges, a piece of yellow plum, two lonely black grapes and some cantaloup melon. It was a pleasure to encounter a cantaloup, it's a telltale sign that spring finally getting here :o)

Fried rice shitake bento #2 - 24.03.2010

As always the main ingredients of Sweetie's bento are the same as mine. Besides the fried rice, I added 2 slices of manchego cheese, boursin (garlic & herbs) balls, a tomato & oliver skewer and some carrot sticks which I attempted to cut into flowers (attempted being the key word!).

The fruit sidecar has again strawberry, kiwi slices, a piece of apple, some orange wedges, a piece of yellow plum, black grapes and some cantaloup melon balls.

Let the sunshine in ...


On this almost springlike day, Lia from MyBentolicious surprised me by passing on this Sunshine Award to me and as I don"t have any bento pic to post today, this pretty flower is getting a post all by itself.

Receiving an award by a fellow blogger is always an honour, so not only do I graciously accept it, but I also want to thank Lia (whose charaben bentos and other culinary delights are an inspiration to us all) for thinking of me.

According to the rules, the award should be passed on to 12 other bloggers. I don't know if the award is limited to foodies, but as there are many things that brings happiness (aka sunshine) into my daily life, I thought it fitting that my nominees were active in different communities.  These are the few of the blogs I follow on a daily basis (ever since I discovered Bloglines, my blogroll is rapidly expanding) and deserve this award for bringing the sunshine in my daily reads.  Some of these have probably already received the award, but you can't have too much of a good thing, so here you go ...

French Bento was one of the first blogs I discovered when I decided to try my hands at bento.  One of the few French language Bento blogs (because most write in English, even if it isn't their mother tongue, just like I do), she provides her readers with everything they need in order to venture into this world : recipes, book reviews, tutorials on how to use all those cute accessories, ...

Hapa Bento by the talented Debra is offering lots of tips, tricks and easy to make recipes for anyone interested in merging multiculteral cuisines in quick & healthy bento.  Whenever she posts one of her short recipes, I feel compelled to try them out.  Check out her new ongoing bento stash series.

And yet another bento blog is called to collect the award : Bento Zen, vegetarian and healthy foods (with particular interests in Korean dishes, which I never heard of before venturing out into her food world) presented in a cute and stylish bento ... it's Megan's specialty.

Amuses Bouche is another French language blog (by a published author) on everything a sweet tooth like myself craves : fabulous pictures and tons of recipes for patisserie and other baked delights.

The Winter Guest is a another food blog by Miriam this time.  Her blog also exists in a Spanish version and I usually switch between the both of them ... it helps me keeping my Spanish up to date (which I don't use a lot anymore since my MIL passed away).  For accessible recipes and mouthwatering pictures, this is the way to go.  If you are familiar with the Foodbuzz website, you'll regularly see the produce of her skillfull hands featured in the "Today's Top 9" section.

I recently discovered another awesome blog by Sasha, who set off on a great aventure of cooking up 195 meals from as many different countries and for as many weeks. Global Table will be like a culinary roadtrip exploring not only the foods but also the customs of all those nations who call Earth home.  The next best thing after going to these places myself. Check it out.

One of my flickr contacts, Ana Fuji also has a blog with never ceases to marvel me Acúcar com arte.  Her sugary creations are so precious that I wonder who would have the heart to actually eat them. Undoubtedly sunshine award material coming from one of my favourite countries, Brasil.

Besides bento-ing and being "into food", I am also active in the arts & crafts deparment, so some crafty blogs were also limelightworthy :

Through Etsy (my favourite shopping channel !), I discovered the incredibly talented Afi who has created a little place called JooJooLand, a sunny place filled with exquisite jewelry, fabulous mini sculptures and gorgeous watercolours.  Quite a few of JooJooLand inhabitants have emigrated to Belgium last year and they would love more of their fellow critters to follow in their foodsteps.  Looking at her creations always make me happy, so she definetely deserves this sunshine award.

Sandrine, who is also a talented scrapbooker and customiser, posts the most gorgeous projects on her blog ... check it out.

I also like to present you Noialand, a little corner on the world wide web which filled with gorgeous creations, from jewelry over doll faces to fimo minatures ... a real treasure cove.

And because some blogs are just plain fun to read, as they let you have a glimpse in the life of total strangers, I couldn't pass up on these.

Misadventures With Andi , a blog I discovered only a short time ago but is a fun read as it touches all kind of subjects.  One that I will definetely keep following and what better way to show your appreciation than by passing on this award, so that she keeps up the good work.

Charlie's Blog, because it's funny to see your country through the eyes of a foreigner for a change :o) (quite an eye-opener sometimes too).

Cajun Turkey Bento

Cajun Turkey Bento - 22.03.2010

A very simple and straightforward bento for Monday's lunch because I just didn't have the time nor energy to come up with clever ideas last night : my parents returned home after a small vacation and I had to pick them up. Between driving to the airport, waiting for what seemed an eternity (their luggage didn't make it to Brussels so they had to do some paperworks), driving them home and having a little holiday debrief, it was already passed midnight when I finally saw my kitchen again.

So today's bento just has whatever was leftover from last night's dinner, which had been "quick & easy" also. I went to Stonemanor last Friday and while strolling through the aisles looking for novelties, I came across the Discovery Food range. The packaging looked appetizing, so I grabbed the Cajun and Creole stirfry sauces for those times when you need a quick turnaround to get dinner on the table. I used the Cajun sauce and spices last night and it turned out really good. I was afraid it might be a bit too spicy but it was just perfect. (Completely off topic, but I also found for the first time Reeses pieces at Stonemanor's, oh boy, after sour skittles I feel a new addiction coming up ... I only wish my addiction involved readily available candy, instead of me having to depend on my friends abroad to get my candy fix :o( )

Anyway, I disgress. Back to today's bento which has brown rice, cajun turkey and a cucumber baran separating it from some grapes, orange, kiwi and plum slices and an apple piece.

P.'s bento has the same items but my camera battery gave up on me before I could take a pic of it. It looked quite simliliar though :o)

ETA : I got a shunshine reward from MyBentolicious (thank you Lia !!) and I will upload a post dedicated to this award later tonight or tomorrow. I'm still thinking about the blogs I want to nominate for this award. Stay tuned :o)

The M4SB feat. risotto gremolata

The M4SB feat. risotto gremolata

After having eyed up the M4SB for two days, I decided that the time had come for this bento to make its long awaited debut and accompany me to the office.
I was surprised at the capacity of the box : it holds way more than its compact size would lead you to believe.

So for this inaugural lunch, I packed leftover risotto gremolata with an olive skewer, soy nuggets with bell pepper stars, aubergine slices on top of carrot kinpira and red bell pepper strips and finally the red dessert section holds nectarine, red plum, a part of a pink lady apple and a small Easter egg.

Bon appetit.