Vegetarian Bento Box

Vegetarian Bento Box

months ago,
i made mention of a
new food hobby:
the bento box.
my goal for a simple 2018
with some planning,
and practice,
i’ve been able to whip
this up in 30 min.
i’ll take it.

wood bento boxes

Vegetarian Bento Box

Bento Components:
enough for a week’s lunch, for 2 adults
baked tofu
soy roasted squash
maple-ginger carrot
pickled daikon
prepared rice, fruits and cheese, hard boiled egg

for the snack layer, i used silicone muffin containers to keep the fruit and cheese separated. it ended up working out, dw is not a fan of papaya but the 3-4 pieces i added was enough without annoying him.

for the lunch layer, i sectioned off the box with a bit of rice, about 1/4 cup. then i layered the top with a few sticks of carrots, and sliced hard boiled eggs. next to it, i added the squash, tofu and slices of pickled daikon. under all that was either parchment paper cut to fit or spinach leaves, just to keep the food from leaching onto the wood.

baked tofu:
extra firm tofu, squeezed of excess water
2 TBL tamari
1 TBL sambal oelek or sriracha
drizzle of maple syrup
1 TBL sesame oil
cornstarch – approx 1/3 cup
sesame seeds – 2 TBL
black sesame seeds 2 TBL
bread crumbs – 1/2 cup
1 egg

wrap tofu block in a clean kitchen towel, pressed down with something heavy, i usually put a large can on top & ignore

large square bowl or casserole dish, add the tamari, sambal oelek or sriracha, maple syrup and sesame oil. mix through.

cut the tofu block into equal size cubes, aim for roughly the same size so that they bake evenly together. add the tofu to the dish and gently mix them in the sauce, every so often turning them so that all sides are evenly marinated. set aside while you set up the mise en place.

pre heat oven to 400F.

in three shallow dishes, add cornstarch in one, egg in another (mixed through so that the white and yolk are well incorporated) and breadcrumb + both kids of sesame seeds in the last bowl.

at the end of the assembly line, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

methodically, a tofu cube and roll around in the corn starch, shaking off any access. next, add it to the egg wash, ensuring all sides gets wet. last, dredge in the breadcrumb mix, pressing down hard to ensure it gets all sorts of crusty. line on prepared baking sheet.

now do this for the rest of the tofu. not gonna lie, this step sucks, it’s messy but it’s work it.

roast in oven for 30 minutes, at the mid-way mark flip the tofu cubes over.

cool completely, store in airtight container.

pickled daikon:
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
healthy pinch of salt
1 cup thinly sliced daikon
1/2 tsp tumeric, for color

in a small saucepan, gently simmer the rice vinegar, sugar and salt until dissolved. turn off heat. meanwhile, slice the daikon as thin as you can. in a clean jar, add the slices in and then gently pour the vinegar in, last adding the tumeric. gently swirl the jar till the tumeric is fully mixed in. allow to cool before lidding, will keep in fridge as long as you use clean utensils for a while.

soy roasted squash:
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 TBL tamari
1 TBL honey
1 TBL sriracha
1 TBL sesame oil

mix all the ingredients together and roast in 400F oven for about 30-40 minutes, until squash is tender. allow to cool.

maple ginger carrots:
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
1 TBL maple syrup
1 TBL minced ginger

mix all the ingredients together and roast in 400F oven for about 20-25 min, until just tender. allow to cool.


Vegetarian Bento Box

4 years ago: red pepper & baked egg galette
3 years ago: lentil tacos – vegan
2 years ago: chili + fennel seed pork pies
1 year ago: spinach salad + baked falafel balls

japanese style beef stew – Wahu Beaf Sichu

Japanese Beef Stew

a common theme around these parts lately
is simplicity.
2017 was an overwhelming year,
and a coping strategy i’ve taken to
is simplifying our meals –
it’s one less item on the
To-Do List,
of which i have many tasks.
even as a staunch non-resolution making person,
i do have a few loose goals,
that when strung together will hopefully lead
to more thoughtful,
less-stressed living.

here’s to Simplification in 2018!

Japanese Beef Stew

japanese style beef stew – Wahu Beaf Sichu
adapted from NHK: Dining with the Chef
video episode found here

*note: most friday night you’ll find us on the couch watching NHK and right around 9:10EST is Dining with the Chef. i am obsessed with this show, specifically when they feature chef Rika. (she has a fantastic credenza/buffet in her home that is so beautiful.) what was previously a strong aversion to japanese food, now has bloomed into an appreciation for their simplistic cooking, using seasonal ingredients with minimal fanfare, which leads to delicious but easy meals. a pressure cooker is featured in this recipe, but since we don’t have that toy, yet, i adapted it to use a slow cooker instead.

2 lbs beef chuck, cut into just larger than bite-size pieces
1 medium onion, rough chopped
2 carrots, cleaned, skin on, rough chopped
2 celery stalks, cleaned, rough chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1 can tomatoes – 14.5 oz
3 very generous TBL tomato paste

healthy splash of olive oil (optional)
1 cup sake
2 tsp miso
1/2 TBL salt
1 TBL sugar
1 TBL honey

in the crock pot, layer meat on the bottom.

in a food processor, add the onion, carrots, celery stalks, garlic, tomato paste and tomatoes. process until reached desired chunkiness.

in a bowl, mix the seasonings.

pour both sauces into the crock pot, over the meat. cover and turn on low.

ignore for about 4-5 hours.

serve with rice.


Japanese Beef Stew

4 years ago: coffee chocolate chip ice cream
3 years ago: carne rustida de navidad
2 years ago: spiced mexican wedding cookies
1 year ago: mohinga – burmese fish noodle soup

bento love

Variety Bento

autumn is in the air —
i vacillate between
excitement for
mustard yellows & crunchy leaves
utter dread for
dreary cold temps.
today marks the first day of school
for most kids in MD,
which means traffic is up,
the campus is packed,
and the kids in my building
aren’t seemingly training for the
gymnastics olympic team at 1pm.

Variety Bento

in favor of transparency here,
i’ve been in a food rut.
i’m not my usual excited self on market day,
most evening dinners have been veggies on toast,
i’m spotty with the breakfast thing
and while i still pack our lunches 4/5 days,
more often than not,
it’s PB&Honey sandwiches
or pasta salad.
just punch me with all this food blogger burnout already.

Variety Bento

enter the bento.
i tinkered with it a little last summer,
then lost interest
and for reasons beyond me
picked up the interest again.
i like the portion control,
and honestly,
how pretty it looks.
if that’ll get me out of my slump,
i’ll take it.

Variety Bento

resources & inspiration: (these are not affiliate or sponsored links)
glass bento containers
sushi maker

quinoa sushi rolls

Quinoa Sushi

last weekend i was in
the Dirty South,
for work,
and for play,
and then i ended up
staying for longer than
or wanted,
and i stressed about what
dw would eat for dinner
while i was away.

nevermind that he’s
a grown ass man
who lived for upwards of
36 years without me
and he turned out just fine perfect.
nevermind that i
left the fridge
and pantry
well stocked.
nevermind that he
successfully made it to
market day
and replenished further
said stocked
fridge & pantry.
i’m a natural stresser
when it comes to
feeding dw.

it might surprise you,
or not,
given the last
but i stress about
what to make for dinner
every night.
so i polled my FB friends
to make the decision for me.
this was one of the options.

Quinoa Sushi

quinoa sushi rolls with quick pickled ginger
gluten free and vegan
makes about 6-7 rolls

*note: i used whatever vegs we had in the pantry, use what is in season and what tickles your fancy. also, i used red quinoa, use whatever quinoa you have on hand, it tastes all the same to me.

sushi vinegar dressing, to dress the quinoa and for the ginger
4 TBL rice vinegar
2 TBL water
2 tsp agave (or superfine sugar)
healthy pinch of sea salt
a few drops of pickled beet juice (very optional, for aesthetic purposes only)

mix all together until well incorporated. reserve half to dress cooked quinoa, the other half to pickle ginger.

a knob of ginger, about 2-3 oz

peel ginger and slice it as thin a you possibly can.
salt and allow to sit for about 30 minutes.
wash & rinse thoroughly, squeeze and pat dry.

in a glass bowl, cover ginger slices with dressing. fridge it for at least an hour. will keep for about a week.

sushi filling
1 cup of quinoa, cooked to package instructions (it’ll come out to about 3 cups cooked). i cooked the quinoa with water to keep vegan, but i won’t judge you if you cook it with stock/broth, dressed with half the vinegar, it should be lukewarm to the touch
prepped stick vegs: carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, if you’re fancy: avocado, raw sushi
sushi nori sheets

using a sushi rolling mat, place nori sheet on top. spread a thin layer of quinoa, leaving a half inch space on either side.

place ingredients on top, along the length. don’t get crazy, you want to be able to roll with ease and keep these bite size.

roll carefully and evening away from, pressing firmly. cut into 1″ pieces.


Quinoa Sushi

miso ramen

Miso Ramen Bowl

so what ended up happening was:
i looked in the freezer
for any kind of inspiration
something to catch my fancy
i’ve been in a rut lately, you see
not cooking much
just throwing of stuff on a plate
and calling it The Pile
and then whining
two hours later
that i was hungry
and that we should go get ice cream
and so,
in the cavernous back there
(just kidding, my freezer is tiny)
hidden behind the veggie bouillon cubes,
wedding cake,
and various i don’t know whats
was a lone package of ground pork
leftover from last autumn’s csa pork stash
i had it in my heart to make
dandan noodles uh-gain
despite how utterly delicious that dish is
i required something more inspired,
something completely inappropriate
for the lingering heat & humidity
we’re finally getting
so ramen came along

Miso Ramen Bowl

you can get the full on recipe here
i’ll just list a few of my tweaks:

i used So Delicious Coconut creamer instead of soy milk
i didn’t bother to fancy up my eggs, a simple soft-hard boiled egg was fancy enough
i used a mild miso, it didn’t specify if it was yellow or white, it just said mild
i used dashi flakes instead of dashi granules (it’s what i had in the pantry)
i used dried wood ear mushrooms instead of shitake (it’s what i had in the pantry)
last: i used water instead of stock, because i completely forgot to buy some AND i didn’t feel up to making any


Miso Ramen Bowl