Showing posts from 2008

Obentec comments and a discount!

I got a nice email from the president of Obentec, they are the makers of the lunch box technology that I use. They were the first to boost my visits by adding me to their newsletter, which I'm very grateful for. She reminded me of a discount they have running, only hard part is you've got 2 days to take advantage. I highly encourage the laptop lunchbox, it's been a great way for me to make sure to limit portions and do my little bit to be green and reduce the plastic bags and such that I might have had to use. Love your lunch photos! Just wanted to let you know that all products are 20% off at through Dec 31 st . Use coupon code “holiday2008” (no quotes) when checking out. Feel free to pass this info on to your readers, and have a very happy New Year! Best, Amy Hemmert Thanks for visiting all. And if you're from Obentec, thanks for supporting me! Ironjack

The Fudge Factor

So every year my wife and I like to give homemade gifts from the kitchen. This year we decided to go with a bundle of fudge. This sounded like a fairly easy and straight forward idea, it turns out there's a lot more to fudge than melting some chocolate. After 3 messed up batches and a pot that has been completely ruined, I have to say I've learned a lot about fudge and the science of candy making. For you're reading pleasure I present to you my trials and tribulations. I'm not a sweet's person, I actually dislike chocolate and ice cream ( I know I hear the gasps all the time), so I've never actually had fudge before. This really presents a challenge when that's the gift I'm to be giving. My wife was armed with a handful of recipes, and after reading them thru, I thought, how hard could this be. Turns out, VERY... Good fudge, I learned cannot be shortcutted, the very best you can do is to take out insurance to make sure you don't mess it up. The id

Final box 2008?

Final bento of the year for me. Unfortuneatly my eaters go on winter hiatus soon, and I'll need to spend next week making our homemade holiday treats, so this will be the last bento for 2008 probably. I'll still be posting, I've got a couple of things I've promised to blog about so I hope to tide you over with those. I didn't have a chance to come up with a good theme for this box, it's simply yummy steak goodness, that was extremely fast to put together, and a calorie friend bento to boot. To start we have a nice Dijon herb crusted steak tenderloin. I used a bit of whole grain mustard mixed with the Dijon and a good bunch of herbs. I think this would ultimately have been better had I used a pork tenderloin. The beef tenderloin was a bit tougher than pork would have been. Alternatively, I could have cooked it slower to have things break down better. Next we have a Roasted Cauliflower soup with Black Truffle Oil. I was gifted with a nice bottle of truffle oil an

Italian Lite!

If your holiday season has been anything like mine then there was a lot of good food to be had and some pants to be let out. With that in mind, I wanted to bring in a low calorie, light lunch bento. Low cal does not have to mean low taste, so I set out to find a good blend of taste and technique to deliver just that kind of lunch. We'll start with our entree: Chicken with lemon artichoke sauce. The key to lower calorie cooking is to remove your usual suspects for taste (butter, frying, fatter cuts of meat) and replace them with taste highlights (lemon zest, spices) and plenty of vegetables. The veggies of course are there for low calorie filler and provide a satisfying lunch. I took some chicken breast cutlets and lightly dusted them with a season flour mixture and finishing them in a pan coated with a bit of cooking spray. Slow cooking got the onions and artichokes nice and soft while the lemon zest and juice punched up the taste. Next we have a polenta with mushroom ragu. I delet

Thanksgiving Bento!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I decided to beat all of my holiday events to the punch with the first turkey meal of the season! All those potlucks and holiday meals, if you don't get in first then you're meal is just another one in the long line of holiday meals. :) This also gave me a reason to fire up my tech. (more on that in another post). We're also coming up to the holiday season where I won't have much more of a chance to cook until the new year (the company goes on an extended 2 week holiday). I admit, I relied heavily on my food blogs this time around, but this time of year folks really show off with some amazing recipes and I can't help but try them out. We start everything up with, you guessed it, the bird. I fired up my orion smoker/cooker (I'll do a post dedicated to the review of that in the future). I first brined up this bad boy overnight (it's my first attempt at brining), then I fired up the smoker with some cherry wood. The resu

A tour of Africa

We had a substitute bento eater this week that issued the challenge of African food. I eagerly went on a search for a particular cuisine that would fit the bill. Unfortuneatly, most dishes from any one country in Africa contained pepper or some other spicy tidbit, apparently the African continent is populated with a lot of fans of hot food. So, I took a culinary (virtual) tour of Africa finding recipes that would easily allow me to omit spicy components. This also proved to be the most time consuming of my bentos as I wanted to spend time cooking each individual dish (rather than the usual multitasking/get it out fast method) to fully appreciate and understand the cooking techniques and reasoning behind each recipe. I had an additional last min challenge in that the regular bento boxes were not at the house, so I had to scramble with some creative packaging. So with no further ado, here is the bento. We start our journey in Kenya, this dish is called Kuku Na Nazi. It's a chicken co

New ideas + indian food = Yummy

Sorry about the no post last week. Most of my wife's coworkers were out so I busted out another wrap. It wasn't too exciting so I decided it wasn't post worthy, maybe I'll save it if I get into another drought. I ran into this wonderful post from one of the many blogs I follow on a Pumpkin Masoor Dal . Being that it was halloween (this bento was meant for last week) I thought what better time to try out this yummy sounding recipe. One dish does not make a full bento, at least it would leave me a lot of room, so I rummaged into the freezer to see what else I had on hand, low and behold I had a very large pork tenderloin (which turns out to be 2 normal sized packed together). I thought, wow why not a nice tandoori marinade and break out the indoor grill?! I did a bit of searching, I didn't want to ruin a perfectly good tenderloin if my hair brained idea didn't work. After a bit of google searching I came up zero. So to be safe, I experimented on some pork loin ch


As promised my "borg" pumpkin. 2 harddrives gave their lives to make it happen :). My wife carved the Jack "the pumpkin king" pumpkin. I've got a fun bento coming up stay tuned!

Welcome Fall!

I don't count fall here in the south unless I get a full week of cool weather. In celebration of our break (finally) into fall. I created a nice bento full of fall goodness. I managed to still keep on budget, it's for some reason getting harder and harder as the weeks go by. I'm pretty certain it's general food costs at the store :( anyhow enough whining. So we start with a sheperd's pie, honestly this was the hardest part for me. It's hard to cook single portions in plastic cups.... I had to improvise and take the top off the finished pie and put it back onto the bento cup after the fact. The other challenge was that this recipe asked for a whole stick of butter! Definitely not on the healthy side. I managed to cut this recipe down to 2 tablespoons *and* packing this into the right form factor. I added flavor to the mashed potatos by cooking the potatos in some chicken broth (and mashed a bit of it in) to compensate for the lack of butter We celebrate fall wit

Back to basics

Sometimes it's easy to lose track of some of the basic principles that I set out in my early rules. Simplicity and budget are the biggest offenders, health is always on the forefront of my mind. Lots of bento bloggers are all about speed of preparation and trying to economize from what you have, be it leftovers or stock stuff from the freezer. My wife and I had a pumkin carving party so I really had to ratchet back and think really hard on how to make the fastest lunch for 5 people. I have been really skating the edge of the budget lately too, so I considered what all I had on hand. We start with this Miso marinated chicken. Wonderful recipe, very simple miso, brown sugar and a bit of rice wine to marinate some chicken thighs over night. I picked this for two reasons, first, it's fast, second, I got a chance to break out the indoor grill again. I'm still pretty happy with the grill, it cleans up pretty fast, the heat consistency isn't as good as real fire. I really had

Keeping it simple

It's been a tough weekend and despite that, I still really wanted to get a bento out the door. So I designed a bento that had some flash but was able to cut corners on complexity on two of the items to bring the overall effort down a notch. We start with the entree, Chicken Saltimbocca. There are many ways to put this dish together you can either flatten the chicken and wrap it around some ingredients (in my case baby swiss, prosciutto, and roma tomatos) or you can put the ingredients on the chicken breast and secure it with the prosciutto. I happen to like my way better. This was one of the first dishes I learned to cook when I started really taking cooking seriously (moving on from the instant ramen staples of my college years). It's a lovely dish that's still impressive, you get plenty of oohs and ahhs when your diners cut into the chicken. I try to grill this by pan as I'm afraid of the chicken getting too dry if I try to bake it. Perhaps a sear on the stove and a

Curry on my Mind (Thai Bento 2)

I've been having this craving for curry, not just any curry, but a nice Thai green curry. Of course this quickly translated into a fully formulated Thai (part 2) bento. It also just so happened that my local grocery chain was running some special on shrimp, obviously this was a sign that I had to make some Gaeng Keow Wan with Shrimp. I will say this bento really almost did me in. I think I traversed the city twice to find everything. Everywhere I went, it was either sub par ingredients, or trusted sources for ingredients that were completely out. I think I burned more on gas than I did on the ingredients for this bento but 6 hours of shopping later I was ready to begin. I love green curry, it's mild and has a hint sweetness to it. There's many variations to the ingredients, I used a bit of what was on hand and tossed the shrimp into it. I think the core must haves are: coconut milk, green curry (of course) and the basil. Everything else seems fairly negotiable. I would have

Wheatberries?! what are those?

I have to confess, I was really struggling with coming up with a bento this week. Nothing I flipped thru looked good. I had no inspirations over the week, and the few things I saw were disqualified by the "must be healthy" guideline. Non-detered, I turned to the Food Network for some help. After watching a few shows I finally saw something of interest. They had this recipe for Wheatberry salad. I know my grains fairly well, but I've never worked with (or actually heard of) wheatberries. So there we have it, I built the box based off the show. I had to do some trimming and recipe changes to make serving the lunch calorie-friendly. It's weird even though the show is about healthy eating when you add up all the proper servings for the meal it came out to something like 1/2 the USDA calorie recommendation Anyhow, to the bento, we start things off with the main dish. I've got a do-it-yourself asian lettuce wrap. I used super lean beef and firm tofu as the basis of th