Thursday, August 25, 2016

Happy Jackson Snack Boxes #16

I was in the mood for a large fruit salad today: Strawberries, kiwi, mango, and blueberries; pinwheels of cream cheese, spinach, and roasted chicken on a tortilla; and a sort of improvisational potato salad made from leftover potatoes, scallions, and mayo with a little salt and pepper.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Skater Lunch Box #21

Mini stuffed peppers, a few boiled potatoes, cucumber slices, some butter in the little chick (for the potatoes), and mango chunks tossed with blueberries.

I felt myself to be really clever to have adapted the technique in America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two for slow cooker stuffed peppers to make these delightful little microwave versions. They cook up super quick and you can stuff them the night before you cook them. But the only real drawback here is that you have to find small bell-style peppers like these. These are an heirloom variety I got from the CSA share my co-worker gave me when she was going out of town.

But if you should be lucky enough to have little peppers, you can do this. Microwave recipes are out of fashion these days, but heaven knows it's too hot to turn on the oven, and honestly, you won't miss out on a thing by micro-cooking these.

Microwave Stuffed Mini-Peppers
Serves: 1-2

1/2 small onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
3-4 small bell-shaped peppers
1 Italian sausage patty or link (if a link, remove the casing) (sweet or hot is fine, depending on your preference)
1/4 cup leftover cooked rice
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1. Microwave onion, garlic, oil, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes in a bowl, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened (about 5 minutes).
2. Cut the tops off of each pepper. Chop the pepper tops and discard stems. Remove core and seeds from the pepper shells. Use a small, sharp knife to make tiny holes in the bottoms of the peppers (about 3-4 holes per pepper).
3. In a bowl, mix onion mixture, chopped pepper tops, Italian sausage, leftover rice, cheeses, and salt and pepper with your hands. Pack this into the prepared pepper shells. You can mold them into rounds over the pepper tops if you have too much of this mixture. If you are making these ahead of time, stop here and refrigerate prepared peppers.
4. Set peppers over water in a microwave vegetable steamer. Open vent.
5. Microwave on high for about 10-15 minutes, or until peppers are tender and the meat is cooked through. If desired, sprinkle with more Parmesan before serving.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lunchopolis #24

I found a salad online I wanted to try. At the very last minute, I discovered the red onion I had had gone bad. So I had to substitute scallions. This salad isn't quite as colorful as the original, but it was tasty!

So here we have Apple, Pecan, Cranberry, and Avocado Spinach Salad (based on this) with homemade balsamic vinaigrette, some large scallion-herb crackers, and strawberries.

This is my improvisational recipe, alongside a recipe for balsamic vinaigrette:

Apple, Pecan, Cranberry, and Avocado Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Balsamic Vinaigrette for One
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Put all ingredients into a small cup with a secure lid. (I used a Tupperware Midget.) Shake well.

Apple, Pecan, Cranberry, and Avocado Spinach Salad
1 cup baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
1 tablespoon chopped salted pecans
1/2 apple, cored and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon chopped scallions
1/2 small carrot, cut into long strips with a vegetable peeler
1/3 small avocado, cubed
Balsamic Vinaigrette for One (recipe above)

Top spinach leaves with cranberries, pecans, apple slices, scallions, carrot strips, and avocado. Pack vinaigrette separately. When ready to eat, top salad with dressing and toss gently. (I couldn't really toss this easily in this container, but it worked out fine.)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Lunchopolis #23

The sun has made photography rather difficult lately!

This is a peanut butter and graham cracker sandwich, baby carrots, cucumber slices, and a simple fruit salad (kiwi, strawberries, blueberries). One of those incidentally vegan meals. Sylvester Graham, inventor of graham flour, would probably approve of everything here except the graham crackers. (Too sweet; overstimulating.) It was light, but I wasn't all that hungry today.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Insulated Jar & Sides #14

This jar is very hard to photograph, I'm learning...

Leftover chicken and wine sauce, rice pilaf, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and ground cherries.

Ground cherries are kind of odd. I don't know what to think of them. But I ate them.

The chicken was this recipe, without the grapes and cream. I recommend it highly, without grapes and cream.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

LunchBots Quad #2

A cup of yogurt ranch, yellow pear tomatoes, baby carrots, chopped kiwi and strawberries, garlic-herb water crackers, and chicken salad (from leftover chicken breast--I just added celery, scallions, some off-brand Mrs. Dash, and mayo).

The LunchBots Quad, I should warn you, will leak a little if you pack anything liquid-y. There was a bit of strawberry-kiwi juice that ran under the divider. Fortunately it didn't actually mix into my crackers, and the amount was small enough not to really effect the flavors of the rest.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Insulated Jar & Sides #13

I was super frustrated with the lighting in my kitchen this morning. This is the best shot I could get. The glare is the sun, not flash; I had the flash off.

Ignoring the oddities of my lighting, let's talk food. This is how you pack Frito chili pie for lunch.

Some of you are scratching your heads and saying, "Frito what?"

In the Southwest, this is a super common dish. When I lived in Texas, the first time I was invited to anyone's house--with maybe one exception--they served Frito chili pie. Normally, what one does is to put down a layer of Fritos, then top with chili and cheese. Like Cincinnati chili, you can stop there if you want. (If Cincinnati chili also has you scratching your head, it's the same thing, just with spaghetti instead of Fritos and the chili is a mole-based flavor.) You can also add other toppings. Here I had scallions (barely visible), sliced black olives, chopped tomatoes, and sour cream. People in New Mexico, I am told, eat this by dumping the chili into a bag of Fritos, but I'm from Oklahoma, and we do it in a bowl. Some people also assemble the thing and then bake it like a casserole, but I like the crunch of the Fritos.

To eat this at lunch, you dump everything into the jar and go at it. By then the heat of the chili will have melted the cheese.

A lovely, low-effort meal to soothe my transplanted soul.