Here a Bento…there a Bento…

Since I’m currently hiding in bed, trying to get rid of a stupid cold, I figured it was a perfect time to catch up on blog writing. A few weeks ago, I got it into my head to do some research into bento box meals, both in an attempt to eat healthier balanced meals, as well as making sure the amount of left overs that we produce in this house hold don’t go to waste (it gives me another reason to mess around in the kitchen and experiment with cooking, which I’ve discovered I’m actually pretty decent at, and the last bonus is I have food for lunch, which means I have to eat less of the crappy stuff that’s available at work).

In my research, I came across the following website, JustBento.com, and to my delight, the site’s author was just about to start a free, complete-when-you-can online course on how to make and pack Bentos – an introductory course that she’s designed to kind of work in conjunction with her book (which I have since grabbed) – though the purpose is less to sell copies and more to pass knowledge of how to move beyond set recipes and to get people thinking “outside the box”….oh that was bad, even for me…

Continue reading “Here a Bento…there a Bento…”

There’s WHAT in My Muffins!?

(Side note: two posts, back-to-back about food?! Unheard of!)
Today’s project was what promised to be delicious breakfast muffins, filled with fantastic tasting fall goodies. I’d see this recipe in the October 2012 issue of “Whole Living,” and decided it was worth a try. For those keeping score, this was my first attempt at baking in quite a while, as when you make Nanaimo bars, you don’t actually BAKE anything…

Butternut Squash, Apple and Hazelnut (And Blueberry) Muffins.
(Recipe found here.) The recipe is also both vegetarian & gluten-free.

The ingredients, minus a few things. Like the blueberries, which were still in the freezer.

Everything was easily found at Whole Foods if we didn’t have it already. Although I did end up chopping up my own hazelnuts, as it was the one ingredient that they didn’t have pre-chopped. They have practically every other nut…it’s a little nutty. 😛

The biggest challenge I had overall, was actually figuring out how to prepare the butternut squash. As I’m just teaching myself to cook, I’ve never prepared it before – in any format.
To the internet I went!
I found a lovely site, with step-by-step photo instructions, which allowed me to easily accomplish what I needed to do.

My only complaint with the recipe actually is that it first tells you to prepare 3 cups of squash cubes, which you then steam and finally puree. Of those 3 cups, you only end up using 1/2 a cup of the puree. They do say to use it for other things, but I’m still attempting to get Mr. Kittychix to enjoy some of these fine, winter vegetables, so I’m not sure what I’ll do with the extra puree just yet. I know I’ll be using the other half of the squash this weekend when I cook for “Girls Night” with the lovely Ms. Jonika.

I originally just baked them for the normal 18 minutes, forgetting I’d added the cup of the blueberries. The instructions for the added fruit said to keep them in for an additional 5 minutes – which resulted in a perfectly clean toothpick, when I tested them.

Finished product!

My final verdict: definitely will make again. They’re light, fluffy and have more than a hint of sweetness, thanks to the fruit and squash. The added hazelnuts on top give them a satisfying crunch.

Now to see what Mr. Kittychix thinks….
EDIT: Success! He likes them too. Which is awesome, because I can see these easily becoming a part of my morning menu!

Weeknight Fresh + Fast

I’ve been branching out in my cooking recently – partially because I’ve had some serious downtime now that the wedding planning is completed and I’ve been doing the job securing thing.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a cookbook I’ve had my eye on for a while while at William-Sonoma. I’d wanted the book for a while but while I in school full time I knew I wasn’t going to have time to teach myself to cook, so I held off. I really like the recipes, and it’s laid out in “seasons” – so far, I’ve attempted two (tonight makes three) of the recipes and I find them very easy to follow, and so far very tasty.

Tonight’s meal was the 3rd attempt out of the “fall” section, and was the first meal I didn’t immediately love. This can probably be attributed to a change in an ingredient, rather than the fault of the recipe or myself.

As you can see in the above picture, I used little miniature eggplants, where-as the recipe called specifically for Asian eggplants. The difference, I would assume, is the shape -they almost resemble zucchini as they are long and slender. As it was, the eggplant didn’t cook so well – they just kind of became mush. I did attempt to locate the original ingredient, checking both AmazonFresh and Whole Foods, but neither had it in stock. Next time, I’ll either find it, or go without – it didn’t really add anything to the flavour that I can tell, but the texture I was left with was…less then compelling.

The finished product! The crumbled goat cheese on top actually added the perfect finish. I enjoyed mine with a nice, cold glass of chocolate milk. 🙂