A Bento on the Lighter Side

Dear Friends,

It has been quite some time since I've posted and with good reason.  Four kids will keep ya hoppin'.  But, I really wouldn't have it any other way.  DH is back to teaching after a lovely, lazy summer replete with 5 weeks on the Cote d'Azure.  OK it was only 4 weeks in France; one week was spent in Tuscany in a lovely villa.  The trip was wonderful and the food . . .  AMAZING!  (Did I mention that my mom's a French chef?) Needless to say, we overindulged a little bit.  So, to send DH back to school, I've tried to make meals a little lighter.  He doesn't mind and it is a bit healthier.  So, here is a lighter bento with just a little indulgence.

Layer 1: Ham roll-ups (I was going to alternate ham and turkey but DH wanted just ham).  They have an herbed Neufchâtel cheese in the middle.  There are almonds, stawberries, Greek yogurt, and a special indulgence: some of the candies we bought in Perugia (in the Perugina factory - as yummy and fun a diversion as it sounds BTW).

Layer 2: A simple spinach salad with carrots and tomato slices.  There's homemade vinaigrette in the little bottle.

Fun tip:  I love the Magic Bullet.  I know, it's a cheesy infomercial product . . .   But the thing is a real work horse and can make food on a small scale.  That makes it perfect for bentos.  Homemade vinaigrette is super easy with it.  Most people just swirl together oil and vinegar with some herbs and call it good.

That's not the way my mom taught me to make a vinaigrette.  She always puts a teaspoon or so of mustard in a bowl.  Then she adds red wine vinegar and oil in a 1:3 ratio.  You start with the vinegar and whisk constantly while adding oil in a small drizzle until it's all fluffy and creamy.  Now, this takes a fair bit of stirring and I've got better things to do.  So, I put the mustard and vinegar in my magic bullet and add about 1/3 to 1/2 of the oil I want to use.  Run the magic bullet.  Then open it up and add some more oil.  Repeat until all the oil is incorporated.  What you'll get is the thickest, creamiest vinaigrette you've ever seen. Add salt, pepper, and any herbs you like. You might need to add a fair bit of water to thin it enough to pour.

The baby bullet has a blender attachment that makes this even easier, but I've packed up my baby bullet and put it away (our little guy is eating normal food - time flies by so quickly!).  The magic bullet is on the counter . . .  Setting up the baby bullet takes time I don't always have. (Yes, I'm that lazy.)

Just a thought folks:  A bottle of salad dressing is at the very least around $2.  The ones I like run $3.50 - $4.  Making your own costs almost nothing by comparison.  You have a teaspoon or so of Dijon mustard (cost maybe $0.10), a little red wine vinegar (I make my own with leftover red wine we're not going to drink, but even if you bought it, it wouldn't cost much - maybe $0.25), and some oil (I use canola and that's pretty cheap so $0.30 max for the amount used).  The salt, pepper, and herbs are hardly worth mentioning.  So, at the most you've spent $0.65 for enough salad dressing to last my house of 6 two weeks (and we eat a lot of salad).  Even better: these ingredients are things I usually keep in the house anyway.  I don't really spend anything "extra" on this the way I do when I buy salad dressing.

Economical and easy!  How often do those two combine?  Did I mention it's tasty too?

Hope you have a lovely day!

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