Friday, December 23, 2011

Butterfly Bento #3: Leftover Steak

Back to making lunches after a round with a bad winter cold!  Today's bento is some sliced leftover steak on a bed of rice flavored with a little steak sauce (and parsley for garnish), with some snap peas, cheese cubes, and half of a satsuma mandarine.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Butterfly Bento #2: Smoked Salmon Sushi

Another work week, another set of hers & hers bento boxes!  This one has nigiri sushi with some smoked salmon slices for topping, along with sugar snap peas, carrots, Havarti cheese cubes, and nuts.  (Mine has wasabi & soy almonds, and she doesn't like those so hers has plain mixed nuts.)  ^_^

(If you're interested in practical bento making, be sure to check out Makiko Itoh's Just Bento blog for all you could ever want to know about the subject!)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Safeway Select Chicken Bacon Alfredo Pizza

Distributed by:  Safeway Inc.
Tools Required:  Oven
600 calories per 1/2 pizza

I debated with myself as to whether to include store-brand products like this one, but I decided that Safeway is a national chain, after all, and I imagine there are people who would like to know if the store-branded products can compare with the more-expensive name brands.  Now that that's settled, it's time for the Butterfly to review!

Out of the package, the pizza doesn't look too bad; there is a fairly generous sprinkling of bacon bits and cubes of white-meat chicken.  It kind of looks like there isn't much sauce, but that could just be because it's a white sauce and blends in with the crust.  I preheat the oven to 425°, fix the positioning of the chicken cubes a bit, and bake it for 13 minutes (the package says 12-14).  Let it cool for a bit, and it's time to serve!

The pastry-style "Pizzeria Crust" isn't too bad, although I think the Red Baron crust was better both in texture and flavor.  I think this one could have stood a little extra time in the oven to crisp up, and maybe then the texture would have compared better.  The chicken pieces have a nice "real-meat" texture and flavor and stay tender and moist, and there is a nice balance between chicken and bacon. The sauce, though, seems a bit off to me; it doesn't come across as quite rich enough to be true alfredo sauce, and especially with the black pepper sprinkling, it ends up tasting a bit more like country gravy to me--which makes the whole thing taste kind of like one of those 'breakfast' pizzas.

Overall, I think it did seem like a quality product and a decent value; it might not be quite as appealing as the name-brand Red Baron pizza I tried last time, but it wasn't bad by any means.  I will be interested to try one with a normal pizza sauce for a better comparison.  As for this particular flavor, my sweetie said she liked it, but I'm probably going to try something else next time.  :|

Samyang Cold Ramen with Ponytail Radish (Yulmu Bibimmyun)

Made By:  Samyang Foods Co., Ltd. (Korea)
Also Required:  Saucepan & Range, Water, Strainer, Bowl/Utensils
550 calories per package

Available online at

For today's lunch, I am going to try something completely different--this "stir noodle" style product from Samyang is made to be served chilled (hence the name Cold Ramen).  On the side of the package, it says "Yulmu Bibimmyun," which I'm guessing is a Korean noodle dish of some sort, which this is the instant variety of.  It's also described as a Spicy Radish flavor, so I am expecting the chili heat that is typical for Korean ramyun.  I'm actually a little nervous about this one, I'm not going to lie... but if I didn't want to try it, I shouldn't have bought it in the first place, so here goes!

Inside the package is a block of very pale-looking noodles, and one packet of a deep red seasoning paste.  We are to boil 600ml of water, or around 2-1/2 cups, add the noodles and cook for 4 minutes, then drain them and rinse under cold water until they are chilled.  Then we transfer them to our bowl, add the sauce and toss until mixed well, and it is ready to serve.

I have to say, the experience of eating cold noodles is dramatically different than having hot ones--it's like the difference between a nice hot plate of spaghetti and a cold pasta salad.  The texture of the noodles seems very different; they feel much firmer and chewier, not quite to the point of being off-putting, but almost.  The sauce does have a kind of radish-vegetable flavor going on, but that is all overpowered by the intense heat level.  These are some seriously spicy noodles!  I think I have a pretty good tolerance for the chili heat, but these left my mouth burning for at least fifteen minutes after I was done.  (Even my sweetie commented that I don't normally carry on like that after eating spicy noodles.)  Whew~!

I think overall, I would have to say that these really aren't my kind of thing.  While the fact that they were served cold didn't bother me in and of itself, I didn't really care for the rubbery texture of the noodles, and the spice heat was a little over the top even for me.  I do think that as a cold noodle, they feel more like a summertime thing to me, but if I were to revisit the cold noodle category again in the summer, I think I might try to find something a little less extreme, and give this one a pass.  :\

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My first homemade bento box lunch!

A while back, I was cruising the internet and I ended up looking at Makiko Itoh's Just Bento blog.  My sweetie and I had been talking about trying to make some healthier meals, and I was very inspired by the recipes and meals that she presented.  Yesterday I went to Uwajimaya Bellevue again, and I found some really cute bento boxes on sale--this one was only $9.00!  I ended getting us two boxes each for less than $50.  Last night I made some Japanese rice (which was the best rice I ever made thanks to Itoh-san's easy to understand recipe) and today I put together our first bento lunches!

I made matching hers-and-hers lunches (her bento box is the same style but green); on the left is a bed of rice with some katsuo furikake, and then a good helping of leftover baked salmon from last night's dinner.  I tried to cut out little hearts from some teriyaki nori strips for decoration, and then I just crumbled the rest of it up for topping.  On the right is some sweet cherry tomatoes, cheese cubes, broccoli, and grapes.

I spent about a half-hour this morning putting everything together, but it was a lot of fun.  I'm looking forward to doing more of them soon!