The Stick-To-Your-Ribs Bento

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With the autumnal weather rolling in, I get really excited about warm flavorful food. Thus, this bento is a testament to some of my latest tried and true favorite dishes! To the left is homemade chicken tikka masala with arugula, wrapped in paleo naan. My mom found this recipe for the masala sometime last year and it has now become somewhat of a family recipe. She knows how to make it, I know how to make it, and my 15-year-old sister knows how to make it, so much so that she goes over to her friends’ houses and makes it for them! It calls for ghee and heavy cream– delicious fats that help it develop the perfect textures, flavors, and aromatics of what I would order at a restaurant. Instead of a small portion of leftovers eagerly gobbled up the next morning,  it makes enough that we eat it for most of the week. I’ve made a few tweaks to the recipe by adding a little more turmeric to help it get that nuclear orange color since turmeric doesn’t alter flavor very much. I highly encourage using boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, as well. I now always make sure to have the spices it calls for in my pantry so I only need to buy one container of heavy cream and a can of tomato sauce to just make it on a whim.

The paleo naan comes from a My Heart Beets recipe and is made with almond flour, tapioca flour, and full fat coconut milk. You make the batter and cook it on the stove like a pancake. I can usually get about four decently sized naan out of one batch. It’s great for a gluten-free accompaniment to curry that isn’t rice.

To the right is some homemade applesauce that I am very proud of. I looked at Alton Brown’s recipe for applesauce and loved all the ingredients in it, but, as I may have mentioned before, I get wigged out over microwaving anything for more than 5 minutes out of sheer terror that I will set my kitchen ablaze. So I looked up stove-top recipes for applesauce and combined the two ideas with some adjustments.

Not-Healthy-At-All Applesauce
“You put butter in your applesauce?!”
“Yeah…why not? It’s delicious!”

6-8 Fairly sizable apples (I’ve used Fuji, Honeycrisp, Sweetango, etc. I buy random bags of apples. Use up what you have)

3 tbsp of brandy

2 tbsp cultured butter

1 cup water

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Slice up all the apples and throw them in a big pot. You don’t have to peel them unless that is what you prefer. Add all the ingredients together, put the lid on, and bring to a boil. Bring the heat down and simmer for about 30 minutes until all the slices are tender. Then get out your trusty immersion blender (or potato masher) and blitz (or smush) the whole pot until it is all creamy. Consume with fervor.

The Productivity Pumpkin Oatmeal Bento

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I bought a new bento box this weekend at AWA (Anime Weekend Atlanta)! I figured a cute little strawberry bento was worth $6.00. Here it is closed:

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It’s actually perfect for breakfast bentos because it is smaller than my usual ones. I was superbly productive this morning, prepping breakfast and dinner simultaneously. On the left is my oatmeal made with some canned pumpkin, vanilla protein powder, and pumpkin pie spice. I’m sure there will be many pumpkin-oriented posts in the future, so heads up! On the right is some pork sausage on some green beans.

I have neglected to post probably about 2-3 months worth of bentos due to the whole school thing getting in the way. I have a lot of catching up to do!

The Chicken Jerky Bento

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I got home from the gym two hours before I had to be at work, so in true Sherry Bobbins fashion, I had to cut some corners! I wrapped up a sweet potato in tin foil, set the oven to a blazing 450, and then proceeded to try to cook frozen chicken tenderloins along with the potato. I cannot stress enough the importance of not cooking chicken with other things because you might make yourself sick, so please do as I say and not as I did.

Anyway, when I pulled the chicken out of the oven, it looked fine on all accounts. It wasn’t until later that I realized I essentially made chicken jerky because it was stringy and tough. Not as bad as the jello fiasco, but nevertheless I feel it was still a mistake worth sharing.

I added the chicken (jerky) to a little salad with sautéed green beans. The little bunny rabbit housed double garlic, ginger and lime dressing that I splurged on at Whole Foods ($6 for salad dressing is excessive so I hope it makes a good marinade). It did make the chicken go down a little easier.

The sweet potato turned out beautifully and I put a teaspoon on Kerrygold Irish butter on it with pumpkin pie spice. It was glorious! As were the raspberries above it.

The Bell Pepper Bowl Bento

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A few days ago I bought two of the biggest green bell peppers I had even seen and intended to use them in a crockpot Philly cheesesteak recipe. But my intentions fell flat as usual and I had to quickly repurpose some produce! I cut off about a third of the pepper so it would be shallow enough to fit in the bottom compartment. I then stuffed some ground turkey taco meat (just lean ground turkey with Trader Joe’s taco seasoning) in the pepper with a little bit of Mexican shredded cheese. I cut up the rest of the bell pepper and sautéed it with sliced onions, using it as a side.

I then sautéed some green beans and added some plain Greek yogurt with Splenda and almond extract into the little compartment.

Now unfortunately due to my unseasonable allergies (THIS ISN’T SPRING?! Why is this happening to me?!), I haven’t been able to taste stuff very well. I actually drank so much water yesterday that I wasn’t hungry enough to eat this bento! But I was ravenous by the time I got home so I ate it for dinner. What I could taste was excellent and I would recommend this to everybody!

The Fruit n’ Cream Oatmeal Bento

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Remember when you were little and you would always bug your mom to get you the Quaker Oats Fruit n’ Cream sugar packets…I mean “Microwave Oatmeal?” My mom would get them for me occasionally and I would eat all the flavored ones, trying my best to avoid eating the boring packets of the plain one (you know, the healthy ones). And heck, if you’re in college, you probably still eat box after box of this stuff, using two packets because you’re an adult now! Well, I can’t justify eating that much sugar in one meal anymore. I think that if I’m going to eat a bowl full of sugar, I would much rather down an entire sleeve of Thin Mints and then deal with reassessing my life choices.

This bento was inspired by the sugary cereal of my youth and is a much healthier and filling adaptation that doesn’t skimp on taste! I started with boiling a little over one cup of water and then added 40g (about half a cup) of plain old fashioned oats and let it boil for about 5 minutes. In the middle of cooking I added about 6 cut strawberries, allowing them to heat up with the oats. They get mushy along with the oats and turn it pink without having to use crazy dyes! Once it was all done boiling I added half a scoop of Met-Rx vanilla protein powder and mixed it as thoroughly as I could. It is a bit messy but can be achieved with elbow grease.

I will be definitely doing this with my oatmeal from now on, especially to use up fruit in my fridge!

In the right compartment is fresh coconut, sweet potato, and maple almond butter.

The Unintentional Egg White Omelet Bento

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This bento tasted like accomplishment because I successfully made my first egg white omelet today! I really intended to make my scrambled egg whites with spinach and prepared everything as usual, but the mixture started to cook on the bottom in a perfect little circle. I realized I had turned the heat down just enough to cook the eggs and not make it smell like I was trying to fry them into oblivion. I gingerly lifted one side of the mass to meet the other edge and nothing broke! Hooray for accidents!

I put it on top of my sautéed green beans (that are less visible because of the green bento box). On the right is a cut up juicy little Georgia peach with plain Greek yogurt that I mixed with a packet of Splenda, almond extract, and slivered almonds. One of these days I will try to mix in stevia since I know it’s probably healthier and I get a lot of winces when I mention that I use Splenda. Until then my philosophy is “Everything in moderation,” or whatever the latest excuse is:)

The Vegan (out of necessity) Bento

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I ran out of money and subsequently regular food for this bento. Thus I had to excavate through the freezer to find some edible protein. I found some Gardein chick’n strips that I bought MONTHS ago at Kroger at a decent discount that I threw in the freezer for just such occasion. I threw some Trader Joe’s Eggplant Punjab on top to give it more flavor and it turned out to be tastier than I expected. I don’t think I will repeat it but it was enjoyable out of necessity.

Above it is some polenta that I pan fried and seasoned with salt and pepper. To the left is some mango I cut up while frying the polenta, nearly torching my apartment to the ground. It was all smoke and no flames, but enough to make me panic and double check the burners and even the oven (which I didn’t use at all).

And, of course, there are green beans that I sautéed in coconut oil with rosemary seasoning below the mango. They are my go-to vegetable choice!

The Quinoa Con Pollo Bento

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Quinoa and I have a small acquaintance with each other. We see each other in recipes, I scan it at work, but I never really cook it that often. The last time I tried cooking it was about two years ago in a recipe with scallops and a citrus sauce. In my naïve mind I thought that grapefruits were interchangeable with tangerines. They most certainly are not. So the only thing in the recipe that turned out well were the scallops and the sauce tasted incredibly sour. The quinoa turned out very grainy and not pliable, kind of like bird food. Thus I severed ties with it for a moment.

I have been curious about quinoa because it has more protein and fiber then rice does. I figured it would be a better grain to eat with meats and vegetables as opposed to pasta or just regular rice. Recently, I was talking about quinoa with a coworker of mine and I asked him how he cooked it. He told me he likes to sauté garlic and onions in the pot before adding the quinoa. He then adds 1 cup of quinoa and then 1 3/4 cups of water (as opposed to the 2 mentioned in the directions on the bag).
I figured that onions and garlic can’t hurt anything so I decided to try it. This is now my favorite way to cook quinoa!

So in the middle of the tray to the left is my quinoa, some sautéed green beans, and rosemary chicken. I’m a little addicted to that rosemary chicken. If you live by a Trader Joe’s, it is $2.99 a bag. It is frozen raw meat, though, so you do have to thaw it but it is well worth it! In the other tray are some baby carrots and baked sweet potato with maple almond butter.

I must admit that I ended up eating this bento for dinner. Because during when I normally would have eaten it, I decided to commit Carboside by eating a demi- French baguette and probably three quarters of a bag of snapea crisps. Afterwards I felt like I ate a boulder. I suppose I have to be more diligent with packing snacks.

The I’ve Made a Huge Mistake Bento

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Today’s bento made me a little sad later. I made scrambled egg whites (a 3:1 ratio egg white to egg), rosemary chicken, and sautéed green beans with half a blueberry Udi muffin and some black cherry jello. All was well in assembly and I took it to work, intending to eat it during huddle time before we opened the store.

I opened it up and this happened:

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Jello overtook my muffin, rendering it pretty unappetizing. So today’s PSA is DON’T PUT JELLO IN YOUR BENTO. Use a separate container like a normal person.

Everything else was delicious and untainted.

The Turkey Bacon and Eggs Bento

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This one is a pretty simple breakfast bento. I got adventurous at about 3 in the morning before going to work and decided to try and make an egg white omelet. But somewhere in between the idea and the results, my elbow hit a cabinet and I cut the whole project in half. I then also realized that a smaller amount of eggs and egg whites might become a more successful omelet. So my eggs were large, tasty square pieces. When I was cooking what I thought would be an omelet, I sprayed the pan all over with coconut oil. While the finished product was not what I had hoped for, the eggs turned out to be incredibly buttery and flavorful. I think the coconut oil really helped in the flavoring. I highly recommend it to everyone!

Beneath the eggs are some slices of turkey bacon and some sautéed broccoli (also with coconut oil). To the left is some cottage cheese, honey mango, and a handful of pistachios because I had run out of ideas and time to throw something else there!