18 August 2010

Mango & milk jello

Hi everyone!

I'm currently experimenting with agar-agar jelly on various things: milk, kiwis, chocolate, and so on.
It's an easy way to make a dessert that is sweet and refreshing at this time of the year.
Yesterday I tried not to make the jelly so stiff. Agar-agar is a lot "harder" than normal jelly, I'd been experimenting the amounts so as not to make it too hard nor too soft.

I ended up with this:

 For 12 silicone cupcake cups:
- 250ml boiling water with 1/2 tsp agar-agar flakes;
- 50ml milk;
- 1 sweet fresh mango.

I blended the milk with the mango, then slowly mixed in the boiling water with agar-agar and poured it onto the cups. Put them in the refrigerator and they'll be done in about 1h.

Nothing else to report, neither me or my bf need the lunches to go, but I'll be gathering some new recipes for when we do need them :)

05 August 2010

Too hot to cook?

It's been a while since I made something to take pictures of. It's too hot to cook and whenever I cook I completely forget grabbing the camera.

This past week I made skewers with chicken, mushrooms, bell pepper and green onion which were awesome but I was in such a rush I didn't get the camera. 

I used the mushroom stems for something else. I cooked some black beans (which I haven't eaten in about 2 years by now, because the bf doesn't like beans) added some chopped onion, tomato and the mushroom stems and put it all in a pan. 
The final result: super tasty! I missed eating beans!

Currently I'm experimenting certain types of food, keeping a food journal to see what makes me constipated and what helps me with it. So far, water and avoiding bread has helped with it. Exercise usually helps with it, I'm slowly working on that.

26 July 2010

Sesame beef bento


I woke up at 6am determined to get used to assembling bentos in the morning. They taste much much better (the rice and fruit) and there's no mushiness. This week I planned my food and chose to follow a recipe from Bento Love cookbook of sesame beef.


At first I thought I wouldn't like it because sesame oil is a bit strong for me but in the end I was sad I didn't get to eat any (I made it specifically for the bf)
The recipe is very simple and it was done in under 10 minutes (serves about 2 portions) which is a plus for when I'm still sleeping :) not too many ingredients, just toss in the pan and voilá! you have a delicious tasty meat done.

I used japanese rice topped with some sesame seeds, a kiwi (almost whole *munch munch*) broccoli and raw star, flower and clubs shaped carrot. All of it assembled in about 30 minutes, from scratch.

22 July 2010

Pea Stew - Defrosting pt. 2

This was more of a mix-in-the-pot thing than a proper recipe. My grandma used to make something similar, I just tried figuring the ingredients by memory.

Also, I made use of the tripod we bought for the camera. No more asking love to take pictures while I cook so I don't get the camera dirty.

Here's the recipe (serves about 6):

- 3 table spoons Olive oil;
- 2 onions, diced;
- 3/4 sliced chorizo, peeled;
- 2 bay leaves;
- 600g of diced meat;
- a splash of white wine;
- 3 chopped tomatoes;
- 3/4 kg of peas;
- 1 farinheira (Optional, I only used it for the defrosting purpose);
 - Enough boiling water;

- Salt and pepper to taste.

This is a VERY caloric meal, used to be made for farmers who work all day long and need them, so if you're trying to lose weight, I'll advise you not to eat it :)

Grab a big pan, and heat up the olive oil. When it's hot enough, drop the diced onion in the pan.

 Add some salt and stir until the onion is translucent. Add the sliced chorizo.

Add the bay leaves and let the chorizo cook until lightly fried, then remove it. It should look somewhat like this.

At this point, add the meat.

Add the wine and let it cook for a few minutes.

Add the diced tomato and be patient.

This next part will take about 15 minutes. I hate waiting while stirring but it pays off, really.

It should look like this:

Add enough boiling water to the mix and put the chorizo back. Add the peas:

Put the lid on and let it cook. At this time I prepared some rice and 5 minutes before the rice was done I set this aside and added the farinheira pieces.
Instead of the rice, you can put some small sized pasta in the pan along with the peas. Grandma also used to put some beans but love doesn't like them.

Only a few things to go from the freezer. Stay tuned I'll be posting soon.

20 July 2010

Defrosting: when the freezer resembles the north pole!

It's that time again, when I have to think of various dishes to put together what's in the freezer.

This time I'd like to share the process (last time I only showed the freezer's pictures) and start by telling you what I have in there:

- Frozen tomatoes; Corn; Peas; Brussels Sprouts; Red and green bell peppers;

Meat & fish:
- 2 chorizos and 1 farinheira;
- 3 random beefs (I'm almost sure they're all pork);
- Turkey breasts;
- Crabsticks;
- White fish filetts;

- Corn bread;

Adding to the freezer stash, I have some other things I need to use from the fridge like tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber and more bellpeppers that came from my grandparents' farm.

For the next few days I'll be showing how I'm going to use all of these ingredients in delicious plates! They're probably not so apropriate for bento but I'll put them in bento boxes because I am watching my portions and it's the easiest way to do it.

So, here's today's meal:

Whitefish fillets with onion, frozen tomatoes, frozen bellpeppers, 1/4 of sliced chorizo for taste and some spices sided with plain white rice and brussels sprouts.

I am stil dwelling with the new camera on food photos, they all come out a little grainy but I'm getting there :D

In my previous post, I mentioned this bento box, I'm not sure how much I can fill the lower tier with, remember? Well, That's why the brussels are all squished and have the upper tier's print on them, it looks big but I can't fit much in it... I wonder if it's for rice only?

19 July 2010

Bento gear

I found it! In my country! It was an accidental finding but I got a bento book and acessories in one pack in Fnac. Even though the book is in french, I was shooting stars through my eyes with the gear

Sorry for the grainy picture but this is what came with the book:
A 2 tier bento box (i still haven't measured how many ml go in it) with an elastic band, a star-shaped egg-mold, a plastic fork and spoon, a sushi rice mold, a star shaped cutter, 6 picks in the form of fish and seals in 3 different colours, soy sauce bottles in the shape of a duck and of a fish.
I was so delighted with it, I couldn't wait to put all this to use. Still missing some nori punches :)

Since I have a little ammount of things, I bought an Ikea storage box to organize them all :)

I also used some space for other things like chopsticks, skewers, my old soy sauce bottles, a cup to measure rice, and a small one to measure liquids, my silicone cups and my cookie cutter box. Since I'm putting this inside a drawer with the bento boxes, I don't need to close the lid, so here's a bit more vertical space.

From right to left: star-shaped egg-mold, sushi rice mold, 2 small plastic forks, foodpicks, 3 different soy sauce bottles and a salad dressing bottle. This last one is useful because of the large opening because it allows me to put oregano inside for example, along with olive oil and vinegar etc.

I almost forgot to show the inside of the cookie cutter box and my heart shaped silicone cups. I'm glad I got 2 different sizes of star cutters, it made me curious what can I do with it.

Last but not least, the bento box!

The top tier is a bit strange, it squeezes the bottom tier, I'm still figuring out how much I can pack below so that it doesn't get too squeezed. I still have to check the capacity, will edit when it's empty :)

EDIT: The capacity of this box is 250ml on the top tier and around 150ml on the bottom tier. Because the bottom tier is tricky I only measured up to half and even just half, the top tier was already pushing the water. So i'd say between 100ml and 150ml is the limit to fill it.

18 July 2010

Bento Cookbooks

I have been acquiring some literature to better understand how to improve my bentos. Of course I can look for so many things on the Internet, but there's that something about it being a book and not a screen. I know of no one in my country that makes bentos.

Kawaii Bento Boxes and Bento Love are written in English and were ordered. Mes petits bento was a gift with some more bento things :) I am currently waiting for Makki's book from Just Bento to come out so I can order it together with some other. I'll post more books when they get here!

17 July 2010

Bento for a long trip

I've been sooooo busy running around town and other towns over bureaucracy I haven't posted much, but it'll soon be over!

Last week I packed these bentos around 2 am to get up at 6. Due to some paperwork, I had to travel to Porto, one of the major towns in Portugal. It was a 7 hour trip. Just for paperwork you might ask?
Nope! The only store that sell bento related items is located there, by coincidence :) not like I planned it on purpose.

My lunch consisted of peach, kiwi, hard boiled eggs, broccoli, carrot and rice with flavours and nori.

His lunch: same thing except instead of eggs he got some teriyaki salmon with a pinch of miso.

For the onigiris I bought 3 different flavour packs:

- wakame and salmon;
- arame and shiitake;
- nori, bonito and ume.

I enjoyed them while the onigiris were warm, but while cold, I couldn't eat it.

I was very excited to go to the store because they sell tamagoyaki frying pans and powdered green tea, had actually saved up some money for wasting at the store but they had ran out of both things and the variety was a bit limited. The owner had one of those furry rabbits walking around the store, it was so adorable!
I ended up buying...

Strawberry flavoured pocky~ There was one "for men" with dark chocolate but the price wasn't worth it.
I loved the inside package :D it has a dog, a cat and a hamster.

and here's the back side:

I guess there's no other way than to order on the web.

05 July 2010

Salmon filled Onigiri

Now that I have a rice cooker, making onigiri has been so much easier! I used to make it in a normal pan but since it took so much time and timing it, waiting,washing, I used 1Kg of rice and froze in batches.It was okay but sometimes the rice would over-cook and there'd be a LOT of overcooked rice to eat because I couldn't just throw it away.

So we finally got a little extra money and bought the rice cooker.

It comes with another section to cook veggies so that helped a lot as well  and it's super easy to wash. Thus meaning I don't feel so lazy to wake up in the morning and make/arrange lunch, it actually motivates me because I can concentrate on the rest  while the rice and vegetables cook and it's 2 pans less to monitor.

I usually make onigiri in the morning but it was our dinner too so I had a little more time to grab my camera:

I am so happy for being able to photograph white food! It was impossible with my old camera...

I'm still getting the hang of the size of the onigiri... Sometimes they come out too small, others too big. What would be your advice for finding a good size for them? I' ve seen a japanese friend make them very big and smaller so I'm not sure what the "regular" size is.

This time I filled them with this:

Salmon, green onions, some salt, mirin and soy sauce. I've also tried i with canned tuna and it works great. Maybe next time I'll try putting some meat inside. For now *nom nom nom* these are just wonderful :D

02 July 2010

The Mother of Zucchini


OR the father? My grandparents have a fair-sized piece of land where this year they decided to plant a larger variety of vegetables, including zucchini. The green beans were also big but when I got home and found 2 of these in the kitchen counter, I thought they were pumpkins!

I have had a bad experience with big zucchini before, and they WERE actually pumpkins, I couldn't pierce through the skin. So I was a little drawn back by the size. The result? The skin is so thin I almost couldn't believe it, and they're not sour like most supermarket ones.

One of them went to some rice and a soup. I'm still thinking what I'll do with this one considering it's size (it weighs 2,1 Kg) ... Maybe I'll stuff it? or just slice it into some dish?

For a better notion of the size: I placed a normal sized pencil next to it.

Now I'm waiting for the tomato season which should be in a few weeks to see how big they'll turn! If I get a chance to go to their farm soon, I'll show you what other things they have planted there.

27 June 2010

Exam time is almost over!

In two weeks I will be able to restart posting properly, for my examination time will be over :) I will be ordering some bento cookbooks soon but I'll talk about the ones I have when the exams are done and also my new acquisition:

And it's not a new pet :D it's decent camera at last! I still haven't tried it on food because I'm slowly learning how to work with it and make the most out of the manual options :D if you have any suggestions/advice for that leave a comment.

Back in a few days!

13 May 2010

Taking a break...

Exam time is close and I won't have much time to pack bentos, I've been packing them but they're quite clumsy and more to eat than to look so I haven't posted any. If I do anything interesting I'll certainly post but for now, exams are my priority.

Thanks for reading!

20 April 2010

Unfinished bento

I wanted to make more of this but I was too sleepy.

I have discovered the wonders of boiled eggs again. :D I have never really liked boiled eggs, scrambled with anything are my favourite but they always leave me hungry for more. It doesn't happen with boiled eggs. Last week, I did the same thing and I felt "fuller" with 3 eggs than I would with a handful of rice. It makes me rather happy because I have a BIG appetite which doesn't go along with my not so big body. I can eat as much as my bf does if I want to, but I don't have his metabolism, so instead of using it, my body stores anything it can get, thus making me grow round (someday).

If you pay closer attention to the eggs, I wanted to make the right one a Daruma doll and the middle one a bunny using the broken one's pieces, but I was simply exhausted. I still managed to put the nori on the onigiris but that was it for decoration.

On the top tier there's a slice of pudding some cut carrots and the tasty brussels. I still haven't gotten the hang of planning the vegetables I'm sure I'll get there one day.

There's something that's been bothering me a bit: I'm posting weekly... and I really didn't want to do that! It's just the time is a little off I need some thinking and focusing on myself. Once I'm done with it, I'll start posting more often and more wonderful food so keep watching from time to time. At least I'll post weekly (I won't allow any more laziness than that :) )

19 April 2010

Egg pudding

This was my weekend experiment!

I know, it doesn't look like an egg pudding at all.. that's because I used brown sugar instead of refined sugar. I have tried in so many ways to replace sugar with fructose or another kind of sugar that is not so harmful, but the cakes and puddings fall a lot as you can see. The recipe I used contained sugar,eggs,milk and lemon zest, nothing else, the only change I did was on the sugar.

A little note to anyone who uses brown sugar, it is sweeter than normal one! Lucky me, the pudding mold I have is small so the top less sweet part of the pudding mix went first and I used a pan for the rest.

This is how it looked in the middle of cooking. It's a very handy mold that came with the pan so I can just pull it out and it fits perfectly. As for the pan cooking.... It didn't go so well

I managed to make the upper pot not touch the lower one and stay in place like this, but the heat didn't go through and it still looked the same after two hours. I gave up and as soon as it cooled off we ate it, and at the first bite... ugh too sweet for me! I was so sad because I love egg pudding but it was horribly sweet and just thinking I had another one in the fridge waiting to be eaten :( My bf loved it which made me a bit relieved because at least I wasn't going to waste too much food. The next day, we tried the pudding that actually cooked and it wasn't that unpleasant, I guess the sugar stayed on the bottom of the mix and all of it went to the pot mold.

It shrank but it was tasty and consistent with no bubbles inside :) Next time I'll simply adjust the sugar to 1/3 of what I used.

Bon apetit!

12 April 2010

Springy bentos


Oh lovely spring! And sweet tasty strawberries! These were my first strawberries of this year, I was dieing to get some strawberries :D

This bento was unexpectedly fun to make. I boiled a few eggs because usually either I break one, ruin them pealing or they weren't so okay. My grandparents brought SO MANY eggs I don't know what to do with them! Maybe cake or pudding?

Anyway, when I peeled them one of them got ruined so I used the egg yolk only. It suddenly occurred me, why not make chicken ou of the eggs? I've seen it made, I can always try and hope it'll go okay. Usually when I learn something I like to watch people make it and then I can recreate it much better than from reading a recipe alone. And it turned out the way it did.

Some couscous with nori on top, decorated eggs with carrot and nori and a little green to add colour. And of course, the strawberries!! I did get hungry in the afternoon but it's okay :P

I also packed one for my dear with roughly the same things:

Omelet, strawberries, carrot, couscous and meatloaf (or i think it's called that)

I thought the chicken wouldn't be such a good approach to his lunch. It's quite nice to make 2 bentos because I can make one a bit more childish and the other one a little elegant.

Also, this last weekend I made gyoza but forgot to take pictures at he final product. When I use them I'll make sure to show you ^_^

07 April 2010

The Inarizushi experience

The title says it all:

I found them by accident in the Asian store I buy most of the things, and just because I always fear for not having enough I bought 2 packs.

It seemed like something fun to do and not too messy to eat because I was gonna eat in public the next day, (this was done on the 30th March but I'm only posting now because I was unsure to do so) therefor no messy food that could dirty my clothes was allowed.

I opened the package and the ones inside and tasted a bit of the liquid that protected the inaris. I took one out carefully because from what I read they're very delicate.

Gently opened it and started filling with rice and then half with tuna and onion filling, half with fake crabmeat. After I filled them all, and packed them, I remembered to give a bite on one of them...

The result was... very unexpected. The sweet taste of it just made my stomach twitch and turn. I'm not sure if I did something wrong by not washing it from the pre-packed fluid or something but it tasted horribly. Luckily the bf managed to eat around 8 of them before he had enough.

I really dislike wasting food and trashing it but this was a bit too much for what I can stand. After that I have been refusing to cook (actually getting excuses) because a few days later I had terrible stomach pain followed by nausea and remembering the inaruzushi or any kind of food on that day was plain torture.

I did make Teriyaki chicken on Monday but the camera didn't have any battery and I was too lazy to bother with the pictures. It was quite delicious.^^

01 April 2010

Birthday food (and more)

Yesterday was my birthday and as always, I had to take a few pictures at the cute foods I found near the cake before dinner :D

Aren't they just CUTE?! They're sweets with some sweet liquid filling on the inside. I tried getting all the different types in the bag but I might've missed one or two.

I spent all morning in a voice casting so I didn't plan the rest of the day. Thanks to my mum, I was able to have cake and dinner :D

Woops, there's a piece missing already. All the full cake pictures had me staring at the cake like I'd eat it with my eyes so I put this one :)

When we're done eating cake, I completely forgot what I wanted to do this year with my birthday cake, but.. I did it anyway!

For those who have seen house M.D.'s latest season you probably know what I'm talking about: I dug my face onto the cake just like in the series. The cake choice for this was bad tho. All the chocolate sprinkles stuck to my face and I didn't hurt the cake too much. I got cake on my hair too!

It didn't get too damaged and I dont mind eating the part where I put my face in :D

I'll be taking a trip this long weekend, I'll be sure to post something here later :)

OH, and you know... just to make it clear... the cake is a lie (from Portal, I loved the credits song)

30 March 2010

Napolitan spaghetti

It's been a chaotic week! I'm enjoying this more and more every time I make bentos :)

On the top-tier there's, kiwi, tamagoyaki (a little burnt because I used the round frying pan and mirin makes it turn brown a lot faster) some cucumber slices,cheese and ham rolls and spinach with cheese.

On the bottom tier there's the spaghetti, which I made following a recipe from a bento cookbook. It has grated carrot, onion, bacon tomato sauce and red and green bell peppers. The bf said it was like what his mum does at home :D

Since I'm not fond of bacon, I threw it to his bento and kept mine with 2 pieces of it somewhere:

My bento has exactly the same thing but instead of the spinach cheese and the cucumber, I put brussels sprouts (because I love them and he hates them).

I enjoyed making this very much, and feel like I'm starting to get the hang of it my way. I am thinking I should buy some more bento related books or japanese home foods, Do you have any suggestions?

The colour distribution wasn't all that balanced but I ran out of red things to put on the top tiers so, there's green and more green!

22 March 2010

Cupcakes #2

Here's my little Thank-you experiment of the weekend!

I don't know where to start writing this... After I got my bento boxes, I realized the trouble a couple friend went to get them and I can only imagine the hours wasted traveling from one place to another, so I thought of making something to show my gratitude because some may thing "but it's just 2 boxes!" Well, I've been wanting to get those for 2 years almost 3 now and had no luck.

I picked these cupcake liners because they were subtle and yet colourful, something I would like to receive if it was for me.

Then I started mixing the ingredients first for the chocolate cupcakes, which were the only ones I took a good picture before baking.

The recipe said to fill these up to 2/3 of the way and 2/3 I did. The orange cupcakes said to fill the liners 1/2 of the way and well... compare the results with these baked goodies:

The chocolate ones didn't change much in size but the orange ones are spilling on the outside of the liner! They were very different in consistency too. The chocolate cupcakes were a bit more gummy and the orange ones light and puffy.

The hard part started with the frosting: First of all I forgot to take pictures because i was too busy whisking because I had to do it by hand, or by arm :D I don't have a machine to beat the frosting so I thought it'd be easy to do it by hand... I don't know what I had in mind... I started  mixing the chocolate frosting and after I couldn't feel my arm, I called the bf to come mix it for a while. As soon as he did, the mixture started blending and 3 minutes after it was good to frost the cupcakes! I was so happy I did the vanilla buttercream frosting in a few more minutes (still with the bf help for the last minutes) and stuck them in the fridge.

I let the cupcakes cool overnight and woke up very early to frost them. I had never frosted a cake nor used a piping bag EVER in my life. Just tried following what I saw on videos, guides, etc, and experimented with a few tips for the piping bag. After the 3rd try I found the one I wanted and then it was pretty simple. After doing the vanilla frosting, I gained trust to make the chocolate and you can see the difference on trying new stuff. I topped them and carefully packed them for a long trip to school to my couple-friend's hands.

I hope they liked the flavour of the cakes and the frosting. I didn't try any with frosting but the bf offered to serve as test subject to try them out. He said the vanilla one was too sweet but the other one was okay.

I'll wait for their review of the cupcakes :)

16 March 2010

Roasted Salmon bentos

I said I would try not to post both lunches but I was inspired so I made them differently.

Top tier:

in the silicone cup there's spinach with fake crabmeat. Next to it there's some carrot bits, a shiitake mushroom and a cucumber and tomato salad.

Bottom tier:

Roasted salmon mixed with rice and pieces of nori. Decorated with nori and cheese hearts and on the corner chopped coriander.

There's the same thing on the top-tier as the first one but I didn't mix the rice with the salmon here. I separated the rice and topped it with furikake. With the salmon, I put along a slice of roasted onion and some coriander. The lettuce was just for a little colour.

I've been feeling extremely tired lately, so it's very unlikely I'll do anything else this week.

I'm going to bake something for a friend and his wife in thanks for bringing me the bento boxes, I'll try to post it when it's done.

15 March 2010

First use of my bentos

Made from dinner's leftovers:

It's not the healthiest but we had people over for dinner and I didn't have a vote on the matter (the deep fried thingies).  This is my box and on the picture it does look huge to me, not in real life. Most people whom I've shown the boxes to say "it's so small!" and  "you'll be hungry!" and many other related things to small and not enough food. Bento boxes are not known in my country (at least not by 98% of the population) and portuguese, the most traditional, don't rely on food measurements but on making sure no one at their table will get hungry. This is a reason why when I'm with my grandparents (and having been taught to always clean the plate) I put on weight. It's not that the food is unhealthy; they just put too much food on the plate and then we "can't leave anything to waste"

My love's lunch box. He didn't want eggplant so he got some empty space on the bottom tier. We'll see if he gets hungry eating this, I doubt I'll be hungry with mine.

From now on I will post only 1 of the 2 bento boxes depending on how good they look, (if they both look good, I'll put them both :D) some things fit better on the rectangular, others on the oval bento box, simply the rectangular one belongs to my love, the oval one to me.

I'll leave you with a scenery of Portugal - Setúbal, Arrábida.