DIY BENTO PICKS/CUPCAKE TOPPERS AND TUTORIAL #2

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I’m sure you know by now that I love making my own things. I will try my hand at making almost anything but clothing and bento goodies are my favourites.

I have already made a Bento pick tutorial post and a DIY baran tutorial, but it’s about time I did another DIY bento pick tutorial.

This time I got the amazing idea to use ShrinkyDink (the pack I bought was called Shrinkles) from Licious Lunches

Onto the tutorial

First draw a circle around 2 inches across ( or 6.28″ circumference) and add a 2″ long, 1/2 an inch thick “stick” with a point at the end.

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Then trace this onto the sheets. I managed to get 12 onto one, just slightly smaller than, a4 sheet.
In my set was 6 sheets and cost me £4.95. That’s 72 bento picks for less than £5. Not bad aye!

Cut out the shapes and then draw whatever you want onto the rough side. Or you can cheat like me and trace 🙂

When you’re happy with the designs put them smooth side down in a baking tray lined with foil and put into the oven.
I put mine at the bottom of the oven and left for around 4/5 minutes but times may vary.

Once they have laid flat (or as flat as possible) remove them quickly from the oven, lift out the foil and place a heavy book on top of the picks to flatten them out and stop them from curling while cooling.

Et voila.

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Mine came out with the circle being about the size of a 20p piece.

Black+Blum Thermo Pot Review and “Donburi” Bento Recipe

I was recently sent a Black+Blum Thermopot to review by Find Me A Gift.

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This is a great item perfect for soup, stews or Donburi style lunches.

Cost: 3/5

At around £30 this lunch pot can be seen as quite expensive and if you want a truly versatile lunch box this, sadly may not be it. If however you eat a lot of soups, stews etc and want a lunch pot that will keep your food warm for upto 6 hours this is the lunch box for you!
While it is somewhat pricier than some lunch boxes this lunch pot makes up for it on style, nifty features and the ability to keep food warm. Something a sandwich box wouldn’t be able to do!

Size: 5/5
Although a somewhat smaller than some bento boxes at around 500ml, when you consider it will mainly contain soup etc that is more than enough!

Ease Of Use: 5/5

Due to the style of the Thermopot you don’t really need to do any forward planning regarding how you will arrange the food. If you want a pretty, decorated lunch box I’d look elsewhere. If you want warm, homemade stew this is perfect.

Style: 5/5
If there is one thing every Black+Blum item has more than enough of it is style. The sleek metal body combined with the charming cork lid makes this a quirky yet stylish item.
Add to it the beautifully shaped spoon ( never thought you’d hear a spoon called beautiful huh?) that attaches with magnets and you have a lunch pot that is sure to turn heads!

Pros:
• Stylish and sleek.
• Keeps food warm for upto 6 hours.
• Hard wearing and leakproof.

Cons:
• The price may be inhibitive to some people but you definitely get what you pay for!

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As always I made a lunch in the Thermopot to test for ease of use.

I decided on a Donburi style lunch containing plain rice, vegetables, bacon, fried egg and a delicious sauce.

It is neigh impossible to take one photo to show of the lunch due to the deep nature of the lunchpot, so I will add them to the steps of the recipe.

What you will need:
• 240ml cooked rice.
• 120ml bacon.
• 160ml chopped vegetables.
• 1 small egg.
• Brown sauce.
• Oxo cube / Gravy granules.
• Water.

Steps
1. Prepare and cook rice.
2. While rice is cooking give the bacon a quick fry until cooked through but before crispy.
3. If using fresh vegetables cut into very small pieces. If using frozen chopped vegetables measure out and set aside.
4. Measure 100ml of boiled water, add an oxo cube or a tea spoon of gravy granules and 2 teaspoons of brown sauce. ( This sauce is extremely rich so you may want to add a smaller quantity of brown sauce and gravy granules/ oxo.)
5. Cut bacon into smaller pieces, add to a sauce pan, turn on high heat storing for a few seconds before adding vegetables. Stir for a minute or two before adding the sauce. Put on the pan lid, lower heat to low and leave to simmer until the sauce has reduced but not completely evaporated.
6. While the sauce is reducing fry an egg. While the egg is frying use a spatula to press the edges inward to make the egg small enough to fit into the container.

To assemble

1. Divide rice into three equal portions, place one portion into the container.
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2. Divide the bacon mix into three portions. Layer one portion on top of the rice.
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3. Continue layering so you have rice, bacon mix, rice etc. Once you have used up the rice and bacon mix place the egg on top.
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4. If there is any sauce left in the pan drizzle on top of the egg.
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I’d like to say sorry for the extremely poor images. Due to the shape of the lunchpot and the weird light ( and need for the flash in one photo) it was very difficult to get a nice image.

Disclaimer
I received the product to review but no cash was exchanged, my review is my honest opinion and has not been swayed by the company or anyone else.

DIY Anko and Dorayaki Recipes

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Yesterday I posted about some homemade Dorayaki and I promised I’d post the recipe so here it is 🙂

Anko

What you will need:

•Azuki Beans
•Sugar
•Water

What to do

1. Measure out your azuki beans ( I used 150 grams and ended up with a lot of anko! )

2. Measure out the same weight in sugar ( I used icing sugar, for no reason other than i had boxes of icing sugar that need using. It didn’t impact the taste or texture of the anko.)

3. Soak your azuki beans over night in three times their volume of water.

4. After 24 hours fill a saucepan with the azuki beans and enough water to cover them, bring to the boil.

5. Once the water is boiling, drain the azuki beans and rinse with cold water. Repeat again. This removes the bitter taste.

6. Now place beans back in the pan, put on lid and cover with just enough water to cover beans, cook on a gentle simmer for about an hour or until the beans can be easily crushed with your fingers. (Don’t burn yourself!)

7. Drain the beans.

8. If you want smooth, jam like anko now is the time to add the beans to a blender. Slowly add water to the beans in the blender until you have a slightly watery paste ( it will thicken up after the next few stages.) If you don’t want jam like anko jump to the next step.

9. Add the paste/beans back to the pan, put on a low heat and add your sugar one third at a time while continually mixing.

10. You will eventually end up with a sweet paste that can be stored in the fridge for about 2/3 days or frozen in portions.

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Anko goes great in Dorayaki, ice cream and most other deserts 🙂

Dorayaki pancakes

What you will need:

• 1 cup Cake flour ( I used self raising because that’s all I had and the pancakes ended up being a little too thick.)

• 2/3 cup of sugar.

• 3 tablespoons water.

• 2 large / 3 medium eggs.

• 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder ( leave out if you use self raisin flour.)

• Vegetable oil for frying.

• Frying pan or griddle.

What to do:

1. Put the eggs into a mixing bowl and give a quick mix to blend the yolk and whites.

2. Add the sugar slowly while stirring to incorporate into the eggs.

3. If using baking soda mix into water and add to the egg mixture.

4. Sift flour into egg mixture and mix til there are no lumps. ( Be careful not to overmix! )

5. Cover bowl with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for half an hour.

6. After half an hour, heat up your pan ( or griddle), add a small amount of oil and using kitchen tongs and a paper towel spread the oil and remove excess.

7. Add mixture to the pan as you would normal pancakes until your desires width is achieved. ( Dorayaki pancakes are normally 4/5 inches in diameter.)

8. When small bubbles appear in the batter flip over. Once both sides are evenly browned put onto a plate and continue until all of the batter is used.

9. Take a pancake and place a teaspoon ( or more if you’re adventurous) of anko in the centre. Place another pancake on top and press the edges together to seal.

Tada Dorayaki!!

Here are my CuteZCute Dorayaki 🙂

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How to make Tsukemono (Instant Pickles)

One of my favourite side dishes, for bento and other meals too, is tsukemono or instant pickles. This is not the kind of pickle you spread in sandwiches with meat but the sort akin to pickled eggs but with vegetables.

Below are two methods in which Tsukemono can be made

Press-less method

This tutorial uses a cucumber for demonstration purposes but you can use almost any vegetable using the same principles.

Step 1:

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Cut lengthwise through the centre of the cucumber, the cut should be 2 inch deep per person. So for 3 people the cut should be 6 inch deep.

Step 2:

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Cut the cucumber into thin rounds, the cut through the middle makes the cucumber into crescents.

Step 3:

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Using about 1/4 teaspoon of salt per 2 inch, massage the cucumber with the salt until limp.

Step 4:

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Put into a freezer bag and shake up the cucumber to make sure the cucumber is evenly coated in salt. Now put the freezer bag in the fridge and leave for at least 15 minutes. Instant vegetables taste best if left overnight.

Pressed Method

Follow previous method but instead of putting the pickles in the fridge in a freezer bag you can use a press to further extract more liquid making the pickles better.

You can purchase Japanese pickle presses online but they can be quite expensive, a great alternative if you only want to make small batches is the Eddington’s Egg Cuber.

You simply put the pickles in the body of the Egg Cuber and screw on the lid pressing the pickles and releasing it’s own pickling liquid.

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Then put the Egg Cubers in a bowl/tub and put in the fridge.

TIP!!

The salty juice left from the instant pickles makes a great tangy salad dressing!

Pokemon bento, how to: radish Pokeballs

After viewing my pokemon bento a few people have asked how I made the Pokeballs. So I thought I’d make a little tutorial so everyone can have a go!

They’re really easy to make and taste great!

What you will need

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• Radishes ( I usually only make 2 or 3 )
• Nori seaweed
• A sharp knife
• Scissors
• A little sauce ( tomato, brown, mayonnaise etc )

Step 1

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Score a line around the centre of the radish to separate the top and bottom of the “pokeball”

Step 2

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Start “scraping” the layer of red off of the bottom of the “pokeball”. Don’t cut the flesh off as it will change the shape. Scraping takes the red skin off to reveal the white while keeping a spherical shape.

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Step 3

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Cut out long, thin strips from the seaweed and some small circles slightly wider than the strips.

Step 4

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Using a little sauce stick the nori strip onto the pokeball around the line you scored and then stick the circle onto the middle.

You now have some delicious little Pokeballs for your pokemon bento!

How to: easy soboro bento for less than 70p!

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After making the soboro bento the other day I thought I would do a quick tutorial on how to make a super easy and super cheap soboro bento.

I measured the ingredients and worked out how much that made the bento cost and the whole bento cost less than 70p! That’s with over estimating the prices too!

So if you want to make a really easy and cheap bento here is how:

What you will need
•1/2 cup of uncooked rice
•25g of minced beef
•1 egg
•100g of mixed vegetables
•1 Carrot
• Salt and tomato purée

The steps

• Measure your ingredients out.
• Wash your rice and cook as standard.
• Cut the carrot in half, cut one half into very small pieces and with the other use a peeler to make very thin discs. Put the cubes aside and then put the carrot slices in a freezer bag, sprinkle with salt, shake to coat and then put in the freezer.
• Cook your eggs so they’re scrambled and try to get the pieces as small as possible.
• Cook the mince so it is still moist but in small pieces, add a little tomato purée to taste.
• Cook your vegetables either by steaming of dry frying.
• Assemble the bento by almost filling one layer with rice then top with the mince, egg and carrot cubes. Fill the other tier with the pickled carrot slices in a cupcake divider and the mixed vegetables.

Ps. Even when trying to measure to minimise waste there were still leftovers. These measurements were for a 560ml two tiered bento

Homemade salmon furikake tutorial

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Here it is!
My homemade, frugal furikake. I checked on eBay and the cheapest pot of furikake was about £5/£6 with delivery, this cost £2.56. I was slightly worried as I’m not a huge fan of salmon and recently I have gone off nori too but I have to admit this tastes pretty good!!

Now for the tutorial!!

What you need:
salmon ( I used smoked salmon trimmings, 90p from Tesco for 120g)
sesame seeds ( I used half a cup but I would suggest a slightly smaller amount)
Nori seaweed ( You only need half a sheet!)

What to do:
• Put the salmon in a nonstick pan and pour in half a cup of water, put on medium heat with the lid on until salmon is cooked and water has evaporated. ( you can use mirin etc for more flavour )
• Once cooked remove salmon from heat and begin flaking with forks/chopsticks/hands. Put the pan back onto the heat and cook until the flakes are as dry as you’d like, being careful not to burn. ( dryer flakes will keep longer ) Put salmon into a bowl or similar container.
• Wipe pan dry and pour in half a cup ( less may be better) of sesame seeds, cook on low heat until fragrant and slightly browned. Pour into container with salmon.
• Take half a sheet of nori and cut into 1 inch strips, lay all strips on top of each other and cut into very think strips, you can give a quick dry fry in the pan with some spices for more flavour.
• Now mix all ingredients in a bowl and store in an airtight container. Should keep for at least a week with dryer flakes keeping for longer sometimes upto two weeks.

I hope you enjoy and please let me know if you make a batch and maybe share a picture too!