Monday, December 1, 2008

Smoked Beef Bento

My dad smoked this huge hunk of beef in his new birthday present, a smoker. It was so good and so plentiful that he gave Jim and I a huge chuck of it so I put it in Jim's bento the next day. Also, I love having a rice cooker. I toss some rice in the cooker when I start the coffee and 20 minutes later I let it cool, pack the bento, and off he goes to work. Easy as pie. And look! It's happy to see you.

The main lunch box contained:
Smoked beef

The secondary box contained:
Sliced Apple
Dried cherries, grapes, cranberries

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Roast Beef, Stew & Salad Bento

Another leftover filled bento. This one has a chunk of meat and stew vegetables from my crock pot dinner last night. The salad is a simple mix of greens with some cheese shreds and a little container of garlic infused oil. I love using leftovers in bentos. They save sooo much time in the morning.

The main lunch box contained:
Roast beef
Stew Vegetables including sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, and turnips

The secondary box contained:
Green Salad with cheese and garlic oil
Spiced Gum Drops

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Goat Kurma Bento

Leftovers from a trip to our favorite Indian place, Nilgiri's, is the main course for today's bento. I made some fresh rice in the rice cooker and packed a lot in since the lunch is kind of lacking a lot of meat. Also, those seeds are actually chai flavored pumpkin seeds that Jim and I made a few nights before from the guts of our jack-o-lanterns.

The main lunch box contained:
Goat Kurma
Basmati Rice

The secondary box contained:
Aloo Parartha (naan stuffed with mashed potatoes)
Chai Pumpkin Seeds

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Shrimp and Scallop Linguini Curry Bento

Jim and I went to an awesome little Asian fusion restaurant in Hagerstown, MD. We have been there many times before and still enjoy the food. It is called Red Curry and it is where the bento fare came from. Jim had leftover curry so I packed it for him the next day. It is a Shrimp and Scallop linguini with jalapenos and green curry. VERY spicy. I took one bite and was brought to tears. Jim ate half and brought the rest home. I tried to pair it with some foods that might not be so tear inducing like cold apples and mint cookies.

The main lunch box contained:
Shrimp and Scallop Linguini with Jalapenos and Green Curry

The secondary box contained:
Apples with chai sugar on top
Mint cookies

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bologna and Swiss Sandwich Bento

I know it is kinda boring but I did another sandwich. Lebanon bologna, mustard, swiss cheese, and lettuce. We are totally out of swiss and bologna so no more of these.

The main lunch box contained:
Bologna and Swiss Sandwich

The secondary box contained:
Dried Fruit mix: including 3 types of cherries, raisins, and orange craisins
Camembert cheese wedge

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bean & Onion Saute Bento

Jim and I bought a rice cooker last night and I wanted to use it this morning. I will finally be able to put rice in Jim's bentos, yay! The cooker worked perfectly, I am happy to say, so I am sure you will be seeing more rice later.

Because I needed something to go with the rice, I scrounged around the fridge and freezer and found some frozen green beans. I sauteed some garlic and onions in olive oil and then tossed in the beans. I salted and peppered them and then tossed them in the bento after I had packed in the finished rice.

The rest is just my normal bento fare. Cookies and fruit.

The main lunch box contained:
Sauteed Beans, Onion, and Garlic

The secondary box contained:
Apples Sliced with sprinkled cinnamon on top
Chocolate Mint Cookies

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bologna and Swiss Roll-up Bento

I totally dropped the ball. This was supposed to be posted on Tuesday (so i fixed the time stamp- this was actually posted 2 days late) but Jim proposed to me so my mind went out the window. I am so excited but I'm sure none of you are here for my personal news so on with the bentos!

This was a weirdo bento. I threw in a whole bunch of random stuff. Not all of it is that fun and I was in such a rush that the roll ups were a mustardy mess. This is what happens when you sleep in and your mind draws a complete blank when you enter the kitchen. Thanks goes out to Jim for actually eating this one.

The bologna is actually sweet lebanon bologna, which is actually quite tasty, so I hope that made up for this crazy melange.

The main lunch box contained:
Lebanon Bologna & Swiss Roll-ups
Cheese Squares
Grape Tomatoes

The secondary box contained:
Banana Bread cubes
Coco Drop Peanut Butter Cookies (with choco nipples removed for travel)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hummus Pita Bento

Yesterday Jim enjoyed the hummus pita sandwiches I made him for lunch. I thought about making them again for today's lunch but I couldn't figure out how to fit the fully stuffed pitas in the box so I made chips instead. I cut the pita into 6 pieces, stuffed them cheese and toasted them for about 8 minutes. While they were toasting I filled a cup with hummus and (after the "chips" had cooled) packed them all together.

The rest of the box was just random other goodies that I thought he would enjoy. There are 2 boxes of yogurt raisins so he has an afternoon snack as well.

The main lunch box contained:
Pita Chips stuffed with 4 cheese blend
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Grape Tomatoes

The secondary box contained:
Yogurt Covered Raisins (2 boxes)
Sliced Plum

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Another Sandwich Bento :-(

My default bento lunch is a sandwich for Jim. I know it is very boring, but he likes them (I think). Today's is nothing short of basic. With the fresh summer produce gone I am going to have to get more creative. All of his fresh fruits have been apples or grapes lately and that's just not going to cut it.

With the colder weather coming, I think I may have to use my new crock-pot (thanks mom!) to make an old standby in my parents home: a nice root stew. At least Jim will be eating some vegetables that he's not bored of yet (namely carrots, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, maybe cabbage). And I suppose with fall coming some pumpkin is in order. Decent fresh fruit is just hard to pack in the colder months. No worries Jim, where your next bentos may lack in fruit, they will make up in roots and holiday cookies.

The main lunch box contained:
Turkey & Roast Beef Sandwich with swiss cheese, mustard, and lettuce

The secondary box contained:
Apple Slices
Cheese Cubes

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Quiche Bento

Last night I made a simple spinach quiche for dinner. I had never made a quiche before but I have watched my mother make them plenty as I grew up. It actually turned out quite well and we had plenty of leftovers for my lunch today, Jim's bento and for his dinner tonight (seeing as how I am going out of town tonight to visit my grandparents for the weekend). For those interested here is the VERY simple recipe for the quiche.

1 premade Pillsbury Pie Crust
1 ½ cups cooked spinach (or anything else you want to put in - tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon, ham, etc.)
1 cup of shredded cheese (I used a a mix of Romano, Mozzarella, Asiago, and Parmesan)
2 cups of milk (heavy cream, light cream, 2⁒, whole, or a mixture of several)
4 eggs
dash of nutmeg
dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350º F. Cook spinach. Place pie crust in pie plate. Add cheese to crust. Layer filling (spinach) on top. Mix milk, egg, and spices in a separate bowl. Carefully pour milk mixture over the top of cheese and filling. Bake 45 min or until a knife inserted in middle comes out clean.

The main lunch box contained:
Spinach Quiche
Grape Tomatoes to fill in the gaps

The secondary box contained:
Tomato and Cilantro salad with Garlic Olive Oil
• Green Grapes

I also threw in his bag:
• Kozy Shack's Rice Pudding

You are probably wondering why the quiche was sliced like that. Well, when I originally cut the pieces, the 2 wedges fit perfectly together, but I had inadvertainly grabbed the smaller of the 2 boxes to size the quiche slices. When I realized this and switched boxes, I had more room so I sliced up a long skinny piece to compensate. Oh well. I also ran out of time today so I had to do a repeat of the cilantro tomato salad from Tuesday. Jim said it was tasty so he didn't mind (not that he would).

There probably won't be any more posts from me until *maybe* next Tuesday, but I am not sure when I am getting back from my Grandparent's (they live 300 miles away and don't have internet).

See you all when I get back!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Chicken VanDamme Bento

Chicken "VanDamme" is actually just Chicken Divan with a funnier name. I made a large batch of this casserole last night and when I packed up the leftovers, I packed the bento as well. No need to find Tupperware to fit it all and dirtying more dishes. This chicken divan recipe comes from my mother of course.

4 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use lower calorie mayo made with olive oil)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 tsp lemon juice
10 oz package broccoli
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325-350º F. Cook broccoli until tender. Mix chicken and broccoli in a casserole dish. Mix mayo, soup, and lemon juice in a separate bowl and pour over chicken and broccoli. Mix shredded cheese, bread crumbs, and butter and sprinkle mixture over casserole. Bake 25 min.

The main lunch box contained:
Chicken VanDamme

The secondary box contained:
Tomato and Cilantro salad with Garlic Olive Oil

I have to admit, this was the best divan I have ever had. I hope Jim enjoyed it as a leftover in his bento. Yum yum yum.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Turkey Sandwich Bento

This bento is very similar to Tuesday's. Jim actually made the sandwich (Turkey, swiss, mustard, lettuce, wheat bread) while I constructed the rest to save some time. I enjoy making the sandwich bentos because the are quick and easy to pack.

The main lunch box contained:
Turkey Sandwich with swiss cheese, mustard, and lettuce
Grape Tomatoes
Cheese Cubes

The secondary box contained:
• Garden Salsa Sun Chips

The photography is gradually getting better. I still don't like that particular wood tone, but I have many surfaces in the house, I'm sure I will try many more.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Roast Beef Sandwich Bento

Here is the bento Jim took to work today. It is a simple sandwich bento but still fun. I have noticed that every time I take a bento photo on my butcher block surface it looks washed out. The darker woods really make the food pop. Next time the photo will look much better.

The main lunch box contained:
Roast Beef Sandwich with swiss cheese and horseradish mustard
Grape spears (which looked a little like olives, but I assure you, they are not.)

The secondary box contained:
Carrot Bits
Spice Cookies

Nothing special but a little different as far as the over all look. I'm still figuring out how to make bento-wiches look fun. Like I said, I'm still working on it...

On an unrelated side-note: Jim and I went engagement ring shopping last night. I cannot contain my excitement! :-)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Top 10 Bento Accessories

Since I don't have any new bento lunches to show anyone, I figured I would do a list of all the more popular bento accessories. Here you can read and see what people use to create the fun and cute bento boxes that have been found all over the internet. Some are tools that are used in construction of the boxes, others are simple decorative accessories to make the food look even more appealing. All of these pictures are just examples found at Ichiban Kan.

1. Baran Food Dividers 

Jungle up your bento with some bento grass, good for keeping your dry snacks dry and your saucy bits out of your plain bits, and great for whipping up your own original bento art creations.
These come in a variety of shapes and colors and some even feature cartoon characters like the Clickity Click animals and Hello Kitty.

2. Food Picks

These food picks are shaped to make food look more attractive to kids. By inserting the picks, cherry tomatoes become balloons, carrots turns into flowers and so on. Other picks have animals on top or are shaped like food or characters. Generally speaking they are mini utensils to keep small foods together or make little pieces easier to eat.

3. Paper or Aluminum Food Cups

These disposable food cups act like the food dividers only they have a bit more cup-like qualities. You can separate slightly moist foods from dry foods easily with these. Also, with paper and aluminum cups clean up is simple because you can just toss the mess. I use muffin tins as food cups and they work great!

4. Silicon Food Cups

Similar to the previous cups, these are made of silicon. They can bend to form shapes around the rest of the bento lunch and can be washed and reused.

5. Sauce Bottles

These are really great for very liquidly sauces like soy sauce or oil & vinegar because the little spout allows you to pour out the contents. These little bottle can stay plain or you can use the stickers to turn them into penguins. Also, these bottles come with a little cap to make sure they stay sealed during travel.

6. Condiment Bottles

These can be used for liquid sauces (like previously mentioned) but I like to use mine for thicker sauces like salad dressings and BBQ sauce. They can be easily squeezed to release their sauce so its easier to use with thicker stuff.

7. Food Cutters

The mini food cutter molds can be used to punch out shapes from fish cake, carrots, cucumbers, and other veggies. These come in lots of shapes and sizes.

Also included in the set is reusable plastic sheet that can be used as a template to create a picture of a car when filled with chopped egg, cooked ground meat, rice, etc.

8. Boiled Egg Molds

With this mold, it is so fun to make and eat boiled eggs! This set shapes eggs into rabbits and bears. Works best with the L size eggs. Just plop a warm hard boiled egg in the mold and press the halves together. After a 10 minute cold water bath the egg expands to form the shape! What fun!

9. Rice Molds

Fun rice molds are the essential tool for creating those yummy looking bento lunches! Easy to use and fun to decorate. These molds also come in all shapes and sizes for all appetites. Just fill the molds with rice, use the press to mold it into place and pop it out. You can then decorate the rice shapes with veggies, fruit, or nori.

10. Seaweed Cutters

With one punch you get 2 eyes and a smily mouth to place on vegetables or rice balls. Just use nori, or dried seaweed sheets like paper and place the little face in the lunch. You can find many shapes for these punches including other faces, animals, and shapes.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Turkey Wrap Bento

I haven't really had much time lately to blog about bentos. That's mainly because I have only made two since the last blog, but also because Jim bought a new house recently. Since the move we have been spending every bit of time we have working on the house, furniture shopping, painting, and cleaning. Jim's lunches have been falling by the wayside because I may or may not be there in the morning to pack them (I have not officially moved in yet and Jim thinks making himself a turkey sandwich is easier for him). We also don't really have a good arsenal of bento supplies, and it is not really taking priority yet. 

Also, not having a digital camera here is hindering my bento documentation. However, I do have my built in laptop webcam camera to take pictures, but the quality suffers dramatically. Believe me, better bentos and images will follow.

The main lunch box contained:
Turkey Wrap made with olive oil mayo, onion powder, deli turkey, lettuce, and tomato. I would typically toast it, but since he's not eating it warm, I didn't bother.

The secondary box contained:
• Garden Salsa Sun Chips

The side container contained:
• Fresh Home-made Garden Salsa for dipping his wrap.

This bento isn't glorious, but with a new house and new kitchen I'm starting small and working my way back up again. Hopefully I will have more supplies soon. Jim has begun working from home 3 days a week so my bento-ing will probably only happen on Tuesday and Thursday when he commutes. That should give me the stamina to make excellent lunches more regularly...hopefully.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Anti-theft Lunch Bag

This is quite an idea. Sherwood Forlee, a self proclaimed designer, has come up with an ingenious idea for keeping co-workers out of your lunch bag.

As stated on his Anti-theft Lunch Bag webpage,
Stealing your co-worker's lunch is a downright contemptible act, that is, if it's perpetrated by someone other than you. But, if you've ever had your lunch stolen, you know the the frustration and anger it causes. You know the revenge and ill-will it inspires. And you know that no matter how well you try to hide your lunch bag at the back of the refrigerator, something's gonna be missing when you open it. Well, lament no more. The Anti-Theft Lunch Bag to the rescue . . .

Anti-Theft Lunch Bags are regular sandwich bags that have green splotches printed on both sides. After your sandwich is placed inside, no one will want to touch it.

Here is why no one will want to touch it.



If you are interested in owning one or more of these "moldy" bags, you can email skforlee(at)gmail . com and he will let you know when they become available.

These bags remind me of ThinkGeek's, Atomic Food Containers (see image at right). Imagine packing a bento using all this fun "hands-off" gear. I'm not sure you'd have an appetite left for lunch.

Japanese Fried Rice Bento

I'm not exactly sure where the name of the main dish comes from considering its not Japanese nor fried rice. Maybe at one time you did fry the rice for this recipe, but that has long since been forgotten as this quick and easy recipe was passed down through my family.

To make the "fried rice" is simple and quite tasty. Slice carrots into coins and slice a few onions. Cook some rice while you fry the vegetables together in a skillet with some olive oil. Cut into strips a cooked leftover piece of meat (we had leftover roast from Sunday). Toss the meat in the vegetable mixture last (add oil as needed) and cook until warm through out. Mix the whole thing together with the rice and serve with soy sauce. It is excellent and uses up leftover meat.

This bento was for my mother. Jim's Monday bento wasn't photographed because it wasn't very pretty and we were in the process of moving Jim into his new home so we didn't have a camera. I must admit though, my photography is getting better.

The main lunch box contained:
• Leftover Japanese Fried Rice
• 2 fish full of lower sodium Soy Sauce

The secondary box contained:
• Sliced Plum
• Fresh Blueberry spears
Cocoa dusted Almonds

The drink was:
• Fresh Fruit Smoothie made with mango, blueberries, plum, and V8 V-Fusion Light (not pictured)

As you can see, kind of, I did attempt to make a little scene in this bento. I tried to make the main bento into an aquarium. The rice is the water, the carrots are supposed to be the gravel, the meat slices are attempting to look like seaweed or plants, and the little soy sauce bottles are the fish...well, I tried.

Also, I would like to note, that I used white Jasmine rice. You could use healthier brown rice (which is how my mother always made it) but I was in a time crunch and every minute counted.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Visual Omnivore’s Hundred

Very Good Taste posted a blog about the 100 foods that every good omnivore should try in their lifetime. This meme has been traveling the internet with an interesting list of 100 strange and common delicacies from all around the globe. The point of all this is to paste the list on your personal blog after you make bold the foods you have tried, and cross out the ones you would never try. Use this as a jumping point for a truly uniques culinary experience. Learn about other cultures and cuisines, and test the limits of your tastebuds.

Because I enjoyed this list, I have compiled a "Visual Omnivore's Hundred" of all the food mentioned in the list in a set over at Flickr. I have credited all of the original photograph locations, added descriptions of the foods, and recipes where I could. So if you are curious about any of the food mentioned, head over there an take a look at all the beautiful food!

Here is the original Very Good Taste's blog post with directions:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

I have made bold all the of the food I have eaten as per the instructions. I didn't cross any out because...well, none of them were unappetizing. Several of these I know I have had but I am not marking them because I used to eat them when I was younger and no longer remember what they taste like (ie. Black Pudding, Haggis, Hare etc.)

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

I have also added a few bonuses to the list of food that I believe should be tried by every good omnivore, including:

101. Bison
102. Emu Steaks
103. Chinese or Mongolian Hot Pot
104. Popcorn with Nutritional Yeast
105. Kimchi
106. Bird's Nest Soup

This set has taken me days to compile due to my need to find accurate representations and high quality photographs. If you have tried any of these, want to try them, or want to share what any of them taste like please comment here or at Flickr! Enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Spaghetti Bento

Leftovers reign in my household again. I had leftover spaghetti sauce from Friday's dinner. However, all of the leftover cooked wheat spaghetti was gone, so I took a quick 8 min to cook up some fresh pasta before packing this bento. While that was cooking, I cut up the apple. I tried to make this box a little more bento-y by spearing some fresh blueberries. Not having any of those fun picks (and the fact that this was for my 26 year old boyfriend) I decided to use plain wooden toothpicks. Its fun without being cute.

The sauce is actually a standard basil tomato sauce dressed up a bit. I added hot italian sausage, sauteé mushrooms, fresh basil, garlic, and a little brown sugar.

The main lunch box contained:
• Leftover Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce

The secondary box contained:
• Sliced Apple (I also threw a travel Peanut Butter cup in his bento bag for dipping the apples)
• Fresh Blueberry spears
Cheddar Cheese chunk

The under-the-lid dessert was:
Dark Chocolate square
Dark Chocolate with Pomegranate square
Dark Chocolate with Blueberries, Cranberries, and Almonds square

I also tried something different with the photography. I think it looks much better thank some of my previous photos. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

BBQ & Campfire Bento

Happy day after Labor day everyone! We had so much good food at our Labor Day celebration that there was plenty left over. We had BBQ spare ribs, cole slaw, stuffed jalapenos, chips, cheese, crackers, watermelon, fresh peach pie, and s'mores. It was a fantastic day full of family, food, and well, video games, because I wasn't feeling to hot. However, Jim and I played on his Wii and we relaxed, so all in all, it was a nice day off. Today's bento was for Jim and it is a post BBQ and campfire fun themed bento!

The main lunch box contained:
BBQ Spare Ribs (made with honey bbq)
• Extra BBQ Sauce in the sauce container
Cole Slaw
• Mini "campfire cut out" Cheddar Cheese bites

The secondary box contained:
• Fresh Watermelon
Lime-chili cashews

The under-the-lid dessert was left over from out campfire s'mores.
Hershey's bar

I just packed it and sent it with him to work this morning, so he has yet to eat it. I hope everything is ok. Some was a little messy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fit & Fresh Bento Box with Flexi-Freeze Bag

While my mom and I were shopping at the grocery store I came across a cute lunch box that I thought would be useful to my mother. It was a Fit & Fresh "Lunch on the Go" box. Even though my mother already has a bento box (see previous posts), I thought she should give it a try since she loves taking cereal, yogurt, cottage cheese, and dips that all require refrigeration. Bento boxes are typically for a room temperature lunch, so I came up with a few ways to allow my mom to transport her lunch safely, and with the new Fit & Fresh, very neatly as well.

First, lets talk about the box.

It is comprised of a main course container for sandwiches, meat portions, salads, or leftovers; 2 serving containers perfect for yogurt, vegetables, or cottage cheese; an ice pack that serves as a divider between the upper and lower layers; and a tight sealing lid that can also be used as a make-shift plate.

According to the box, the inner ice pack stays chilled for up to 6 hours. It also provides stats on how much the containers hold. For your information, the larger container holds 22 fl oz (660 mL) and each small container holds 10 fl oz (300mL).

Fit & Fresh's website boats that their system "makes it easy to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Innovative Preparation, Transportation, Dining, and many other unique, inventive products combine to create a system to prepare and enjoy healthy, fresh, portion-controlled snacks and meals." Although, I wouldn't really call it innovative nor consider their whole idea behind portion control to be new and exciting. Bento boxes have been around for ages and they boast compartments and portion control. However, Fit & Fresh's ice packs are pretty cool.

Speaking of ice packs...A few years ago, when I was in college, my mother bought 2 of these ice pack-like lunch bags off a home shopping channel. They were made by Flexi-Freeze because you could literally unzip the bag, lay it flat and freeze the whole thing. When you were ready to go, you pulled it out, zipped it up, packed it, and left.

The walls were filled with little bubbles, similar to industrial strength bubble wrap, that were filled with genuine purified water. No more leaky blue goo, or dangerous chemicals.  The whole bag is squashable, stretchable and easy to fit into tight refrigerators. If you have no fridge to put it, you can just leave it under your desk until lunch time. Being a commuter to school, I never had a place to store my lunch, so sometimes I was forced to leave it in my car. Even left in a hot car for over 3 hours, I still was able to eat a cold lunch! It really was a time and money saver.  

Because of having this bag already i decided to pair it up with the Fit & Fresh. Works perfectly! I can't wait to try it out!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rigatoni Bento

Leftovers certainly make the best bento boxes. Everything is home-made, easy to gather and assemble, and if it was loved the night before, perhaps it will be loved again! Thankfully, Jim has no issues eating leftovers, so I pack them for him a lot. This morning I packed a simple lunch with the leftover rigatoni from the night before.

I am submitting this lunch box to Coffee & Vanilla's Wholesome Lunch Box event for September, because of the vegetarian entree (made with organic tomatoes), the organic strawberries, the energy packed nuts and the low calorie cookie dessert. Also, I am entering this pretty little bento into the Not Exactly Bento Photo Contest as well. Wish me luck! ;-)

The main lunch box contained:
Rigatoni (made with fresh home-grown heirloom tomatoes and cheese; recipe found here at Tasty Planner)
• Buttered Italian bread
• Cocoa dusted almonds (to fill in the gaps)

The secondary box contained:
• Organic Strawberries
Camembert wedge (with the rind removed)
Mini chocolate chip cookies fill in the gaps

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Post Camping Bento Box

Jim and I (as well as my entire immediate family) headed north recently to attend my family's annual reunion. Every year, my family gathers at Black Moshannon State Park, in central PA, to camp for a few days before the reunion. It is always a blast, and now that Jim and I have all new camping gear and a tent that is envied by all, we were on cloud 9 (especially with the temperature hovering around 72 the whole time!)

Anyway, after we returned home tired and with our coolers nearly empty, we put away what little food was left from the trip, did some laundry, and we all passed out before having to return to work the following day. Because we had no fresh food I had to be creative with Jim's bento the next day. If you look close you can see all the camping goodies I had to pack the bento with.

The main lunch box contained:
• 1 Nutri-Grain bar (a handy breakfast snack when you're camping)
• 1 peanut butter and blackberry jam sandwich (I like eating PB&Js outdoors)

The secondary box contained:
Fruit Salad (left over from the reunion)

***If I could interject my own blog for a moment: The fruit salad was amazing. Everyone brings a dish to share at the reunion and this was my contribution. It included: cherries, green grapes, cantaloup, plums, nectarines, and strawberries. It was the best ever.***  

I also slid a dessert under the main box's lid:
• 1 melted and then refrozen Hershey's chocolate bar (because we all know smore's are the best)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Quick Sausage Cracker Bento

This is definitely not the nicest looking bento, or the best picture. I couldn't find my digital camera when I needed it so I was forced to use my laptops webcam to take a photo. 

This bento was created for my mother. As I said before she loves German food, so this includes a few things we purchased from a German market.

The main lunch box contained:
• 2 Slices of Liverwurst
• 2 Slices of Hard Salami
• Pitted Prunes

The secondary box contained:
Celery Sticks
Brie wedge (with lettuce for support)

Not pictured:
• 2 oz container of Peanut Butter 
• thermos of home-made Iced Chai Tea

Thursday, August 14, 2008

German Bento Box

Both my mother and my boyfriend LOVE German food with a fiery passion (much like that of the German people). For my first bento attempt, I decided to take this love and bento it all up. I am also entering the image of Jim's bento into a bento photo contest. What fun!

Due to the fact that I just bought a nice new white bento for my mother, I didn't want the red pickled cabbage to totally stain the inside of the box, so I wrapped the inside of that compartment with saran wrap. It worked perfectly, left no stain, and clean up was really easy for her when she was done. Here is what the saran wrapped compartment looked like:

Below is what the Jim's bento looked like (and my entry for the contest).

The main lunch box contained:
1 Weisswurst (with parsley) sausage &
1 Bratwurst sausage nestled in a bed of
Hot German potato salad (recipe can be found at Tasty Planner)

The secondary box contained:
Pickled red cabbage next to
Pickled beets
Cucumber salad is kept away from the beets with a devider
Spicy mustard for the sausage is found in the little sauce container

I also slid a German inspired dessert under the main boxes lid:
• 2 squares of Belgian milk chocolate
• 1 slice of Schlunder Cappuccino Liqueur Cake
• 1 Mandelgeback mit Cremefullung (an almond cookie with cream filling)

Most of the German fare (including the sausage) was purchased at my local German market called Muller's. It includes a large inventory of imported German products, including deli meats, sausages, breads, canned goods, Spaetzle, etc. Some baked goods are provided by another chef.

It's not the most beautiful box, but it is very German in spirit. Sausage tossed on a bed of potatoes with a bacon dressing; pickled vegetables and spicy mustard; and what German lunch would be complete without a few sweets! By they way, here is my mother's bento box. It is very simple, but it included all she wanted.