Sunday, September 20, 2009

Weekly Bento Round-Up #4


This week, four lunches, and not one of them a repeat from previous weeks. That feels like a real accomplishment. I've only been doing these weekly Bento round-ups for four weeks, but thinking up something interesting and challenging to make for dinner (and sometimes breakfast) near-daily can be pretty difficult itself, so lunch, in the past, has just been the meal that I've typically just thrown something together for: a sandwich here, a salad there, nothing terribly exciting or requiring much forethought.

Making Bento lunches requires me to think differently, though--not just because it's another meal every day that I want to come up with something delicious and different for, but also because these lunches have to be packed pretty meticulously, and that requires, for me, a lot of consideration of what's going to fit well in the box, what's going to reheat well (this was a week of lunches that all required at-work heating of some kind), and what's going to be fun for Jen to eat. And how best to use those unbelievably cute Duck Family food picks, of course.




The recipe for the corn fritters with fruit salsa pictured above, one of Jen's favorite meals, comes from my sister's site, Cook Like Mad. The fritters are delicious and heavy on the fresh corn, and the fruit salsa is delightfully tangy. This was the first time I've ever worked with a pineapple (for the fruit salsa), so the whole process was good to learn, and the literal fruit of my labor was well worth the effort.

Also pictured here is the Octodog, the recipe and tutorial for which I found at the ever-useful Lunch in a Box. The Octodog is half a hot dog, with legs cut out, which curl when boiled. When the Octodog leaves its kitchy, faux-undersea realm, the legs spring out, because I had to carefully hold them together to get the Octodog into its blue, plastic prison. Boy, I'm really torn on whether the Octodog's domain is a happy or sad place. Anyway, in that tutorial, Biggie suggests that you use honey to affix pieces of nori or black sesame seeds to the Octodog in order to make its face. Here, the Octodog rocks some aviators and sports a displeased grimace, or perhaps a wry grin. With all these dichotomous interpretations of the Octodog and his lair, perhaps it would be most accurate to call this Schrödinger's Octodog. You won't know quite what he is until you open the Bento box. The mysterious Octodog rests on a bed of nori.


For Tuesday's lunch, clockwise from the top, we have: french bread rounds; turkey and a Babybel Light Gourmet Cheese Bite; sliced Gruyère and Manchego cheeses; olive oil, herb butter. The thinking behind this lunch was that it would be DIY crostini with various toppings. Jen has a toaster oven at work, so she just brushed the bread rounds on each side with olive oil at 350 degrees until golden brown. The herb butter was just fresh thyme and basil, unsalted butter, lemon juice, and sea salt.


Jen hadn't gotten to try the polenta when I'd made it the day before, so I cooked up a decent-size slice of it for her in the morning (while making breakfast, just to keep things interesting), and she ended up really enjoying it, which was good, because I wasn't 100% sure she'd go for the consistency of the polenta, which is a very crisp outside and a very soft interior. More turkey in this one, just for some additional lean protein, as well as the last of the fruit salsa, which is still plenty delicious just on its own.


Oh, it's early. You can see the early-morning sun shining through our kitchen window in this one. The main item is this lunch was a Manchego cheese quesadilla. My first inclination for that day's lunch had been grilled cheese, and cheese quesadillas are pretty much the same idea. This one was heavy on the cilantro, which is one of Jen's favorite herbs (and one of mine, too), so it was a big hit. The last of the turkey, as well as some baby carrots (which went very quickly in our home this week), rounded out the Bento box, but as always, I packed a bunch of bagged snacks for Jen, as well.


Thanks for stopping by Beach City Cooking, and I'll see you all very soon for another post. Have a great night, and stay cool!

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