I couldn't really think of a good coherent theme this week. It's been so busy and although I've been busily clipping new ideas and storing them away it can get overwhelming when you stare at the "future bento" tag list for my note file. As it turns out I had quite a few recipes from the magazine EatingWell so I assembled my top favorite looking recipes and off I went. I really enjoy the magazine, it's one of those that I pick up from the local bookstore when I happen to see it. There's always some interesting articles but the important part is they manage to put together some very tasty looking (while at the same time healthy and nutritious) foods. I might some day get around to a subscription, I just have so many magazines I have to "process" every month as it is.... oops I'm yammering. Anyhow healthy bento it was and I managed to score bonus points because I was able to make it a fully Gluten Free bento.
This was suppose to be Spicy Chicken Cakes with a horseradish aioli, but I did a few tweaks here. I opted to grind together chicken breast and thigh meat instead of just breast meat, I also cut the mayo and went with the Olive Oil based mayo which is half calorie and fat (that was part of the binder). And since I wanted to go gluten free, I subbed out the breadcrumbs with "corn flake crumbs". I went with the corn flakes because when it fried up it gave a nice crispy texture to the outside of the cake (and thus retain some moisture). Because I went with a bit more fat in the meat I didn't think I really wanted to add in further calories and fat in the form of the aioli sauce, it tasted just fine without it (that and I was getting a bit lazy). Anyhow these turned out great. Since it was hard to buy one pound of chicken I ended up with like 60 of these chicken cakes (about six pounds of meat), we'll see how well they hold up in the freezer.
For a starch component I went with this Rice and lentil Salad. I love the texture of the salad. The rice and lentils were tossed in with a bit of red wine viniagrette. The dressing was not very overwhelming, definitely added a slight twang to the dish. The original recipe asked for canned lentils which is a nice time saver but at $3 a can (for a total of $9) I decided to go with the single bag of dried lentils at $.67 and boil/simmering for 30 mins. That money could easily go to something else and I could afford the stove space.
There is a recent interest in Kale, you see it in all the cooking magazines and blog posts. Most of it in the form of smoothies, green smoothies have recently start popping up at work (we have a health challenge going on). Anyways, there's pretty good reason for all the attention, it's packed full of good for you vitamins and minerals. It's also high in fiber so it's really a big favorite with all the different diets floating around these days. Given all that I knew this Salsa Braised Kale was definite in, I figured this was a good chance to work with Kale and the recipe happened to be really really really simple. All you do is heat a bit of oil quickly saute the kale, add in some salsa and water and let it braise for 15 mins. Optionally toss in a bit of cheese but I though it was fine without it. I had some initial misgivings as the kale was very tough but the braise really softened it up quite a bit and it's a really tasty dish. I went with the "fresh" roasted tomato salsa in the fridge section and a carton of the fresh pico de gallo both had enough seasoning such that I didn't even need to add any salt.
Finally dessert, I wanted something dead simple and I found it with this Tea Scented Mandarins. I cheated and went with canned mandarins and rinsed off the syrup. From there you just boil up some black tea and add some honey and ground cardamom. The flavors really developed over night and was a surprise hit with the bento-ers. A few of them were like, huh canned oranges (the tea syrup is not immediately obvious) but the unusual flavor turned quite a few heads.
I got another bento coming up next week but then holiday season will be upon us. Stay tuned!
- Spicy Chicken Cakes
- Rice and Lentil Salad
- Salsa Braised Kale
- Tea Scented Mandarins