Dun dun DUN!

It’s…..it’s……it’s another bento post!  Huzzah!  Having become newly inspired by all the tasty things I keep seeing, I’ve started taking more photos.  This is what I had for lunch today.

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Here we have (from top left clockwise) steamed broccoli, parsley potatoes, a fish-shaped egg, a lemon wedge, and 2 garlic and herb fish fillets, cut into bite-size pieces.  I forgot to photograph the lid for this bento, but it is a blue usagi design.  I realized from reading other bento posts that I am a box hog.  Where some people have only one, I have 5-6 and wasn’t even using half of them.  So I’ve been using some of the boxes I’d forgotten I had. Like this one.

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Bento Post!

Heeyah!  First real bento post in a long time.  It’s not that I haven’t been making bento, it’s that they’re a bit….camera shy.  Yeah, that’s it.  Anyway, here’s my meal in my wooden Hexagon box that I’ve been waiting to use for forever.

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Here we have a tortilla wrap, filled with ham, mushrooms, and some greens, chunks of cheddar cheese, a very prettily cut (if I do say so myself) hard-boiled egg, some edamame, and a bottle of Italian dressing for the wrap.  I still think there could have been more green, because the tortilla makes things seem awfully bland, but still pretty.

Peaches, Peaches, Everywhere!

So, I recently moved into a new apartment with my boyfriend.  It’s big, has a fireplace,  a big pantry, a nice sized bathroom, and a huge walk-in closet for the bedroom.  And the rent isn’t too bad either.  We’re still getting settled in and everything, but if you’d like to come visit or anything, just let me know.  I’m feeling much better after the pile of mush I was last semester, and definitely want to work on rebuilding some of the friendships I pushed aside to deal with personal issues.  (This entry is also to kind of let people know I’m alive at all, and back in Oklahoma.)

Anyway, before I came back, my family bought a big box of Fredericksburg peaches.  For those who don’t know, Fredericksburg is a German tourist town near where my family lives, and they’re known for all the local peach orchards.  However, what this means for me is that I have 20 some fresh peaches on my hands.  So I’ve been trying like mad to make a lot of different peach desserts to use them up before they go bad.  Which is the theme of this entry.

My mom emailed me a recipe for Peach Upside Down Cake, and yesterday, I decided to try it.  I had never made upside down cake before, and while I knew the theory behind it, it was still an adventure.  If you’re interested in photos and the recipe, read on.

First are the photos: (I tried to keep them small to save loading time.)
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As you can see, Andrew and I already dug into this cake, but you can get the idea of what the whole thing looked like.
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This is a closeup of the peaches arranged in the top of the cake.  I think I should have done a different pattern, but I couldn’t move the slices much after I had placed them.  Read the recipe and you’ll see why.  Also, the recipe calls for an 8 inch cake pan, but I used a 9-inch and it was fine.  Also, mine ended up being baked for about 45 minutes.  I don’t know if that’s because of my oven (which I’m not completely familiar with yet) or just the recipe itself.

Peach Upside Down Cake

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup stick margarine softened
2/3 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
–Topping–
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups fresh peach slices  –or frozen–thawed
1 tablespoon stick margarine softened
whipped topping optional

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat 8-inch cake pan with no-stick cooking spray.

Combine brown sugar and 1 tablespoon margarine in cake pan; pat over bottom of pan. Arrange peach slices in circular design in bottom of pan.

Combine all cake ingredients in large mixing bowl; beat on low speed of electric mixer for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Turn mixer to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Pour batter over peaches.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes.

Turn out onto large serving plate. Serve with whipped topping, if desired.

Makes 8 servings. 

Peach-tastic.  Stay tuned for other experiments from Shayna, cooking or otherwise.

More bento, huzzah!

Ok, so to get caught up on my previous bento pictures, I’ve got three more for you today.  They’re not nearly as pretty, but they demonstrate the variety of things you can pack.

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This first one is full of experimentation and bravery.  The main dish is called yakisoba.  ‘Yaki’ I’ve found to mean things that are sauteed or grilled, and soba are Japanese buckwheat noodles.   I bought a kit that came with noodles and a sauce packet and had to add the veggies myself.  The noodles came out chewy, and I didn’t know if that was right, so I’m going to try it again at some point.  In the side container there’s a fruit salad of watermelon, green grapes and tiny banana stars.  On the other side is some pepper jack cheese and a daifuku.  Daifuku is a Japanese sweet cake that’s filled with red bean paste and is mostly made from sweet rice flour called mochi (which is also another name for the sweet).  It’s very chewy and the dough is almost elastic so the texture takes some getting used to.sd530067
This one isn’t all that pretty, but it demonstrates a great idea: frozen foods.  The three triangles are an idea I took from another bento blogger who does speedy bento tips in her blog.  One of ideas was mini shepherd’s pies, which is exactly what these are.  They were very tasty too.  On the right we have nectarine slices, carrot sticks, a Reese’s heart, and a sliced egg.  The egg was actually going to be an egg chick, but I botched it.  Whoops. 😛

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This is the last one right now, I promise.  Here we have a sandwich roll with turkey, cheese, and spinach in a flour tortilla.  I’ve since gotten better at these, holding them together with toothpicks.  The thing in the corner is called a tea egg, and is made by hard boiling eggs, taking them out while they’re still warm, cracking the shell, and then simmering them in a mixture of black tea and spices.  I just used a couple bags of Chai, because it seemed to have most of the spices I needed.  The flavor is really subtle, and unusual to me because I normally like my eggs salty and this had a sweet taste.  To the right we have cheez-its, a fruit salad, and in the Hello Kitty container is mustard for the sandwich rolls.

That’s all I’ve got right now.  You’ll get at least one more on the weekend though, because I did a froggy breakfast bento earlier today.  I’m just trying not to overload the bento happiness meter all at once.

First Bento Post

This is my first bento that I ever made.  Simple, not very cute, but for a first result, I didn’t consider it too bad.  It’s in the Lunch To Go Fit and Fresh container.
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We have a bagel sandwich with turkey, colby jack, and fresh spinach, a berry mix of blackberries, raspberries, and kiwi stars, some crackers and a hard-boiled egg.

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This is my most recent bento that used up my leftover Easter food.  I’m of Polish descent, so Easter breakfast is all sorts of fatty tasty foods like kielbasa and pierogi.  My boyfriend (who is also Polish) couldn’t find normal sized pierogi, but he found mini ones.  The moment he showed them to me, I said “Bento!”

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I’m actually really proud of this bento.  I arranged it pretty for the camera and everything.  Here we have a very large salad with mixed greens, cucumber flower cutouts, egg, craisins, carrot stars, and sunflower seeds.  In the container is some Italian dressing.  On the side we have some spiral pasta with sauce and parmesan, cheese for the salad, chocolate, and orange slices.  The fluffy thing on top is called  “Cheddar Bay Biscuit”, and it’s supposed to be like the ones from Red Lobster.  My boyfriend made some, and I couldn’t resist packing one in my lunch box.

For my friends who don’t know what bento is, it is a boxed lunch, normally meant to be eaten at room temperature.  The term is Japanese, but the concept apparently has shown up in Korea, the Philippines and elsewhere.  Bento used to be filled with traditionally Japanese food, such as sushi or onigiri (rice balls), but even in Japan, today, about any kind of food, as long as it will keep well, will work.  Bento can be microwaved, or refrigerated, and there are even fancy thermal bento for those who like hot meals.  The other neat thing about bento is portion control.  Most bento boxes, especially the pretty ones are very small, like my little blue one above.  A lot of Americans accidentally think they are kid sized.  The key to packing bento is to not pack junk food, and to fill all the space as best you can.  If you want to know more about bento, I can provide some very informative links, or you can ask me.  While I’m not an expert, I have been reading up and developing a serious obsession.