Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Laptop Lunches #132

Smoked salmon pinwheels (recipe below), deviled eggs with a bit of an excess of paprika, water crackers, sweet potato salad (America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two), kiwi slices, and a little cup of chocolate covered orange peel.

Usually I say I have stuffed eggs; this time I really deviled them. (I do not know when "deviled eggs" became the default term for stuffed eggs, but I do know that they are almost never spiced up with hot sauce the way they're supposed to be if you call them "deviled.")

I really liked the sweet potato salad. It's a pretty simple recipe as well as having nice colors and flavors. I will probably make it again.

Now, onto today's recipe for smoked salmon pinwheels. This is really the kind of thing northeastern people would eat, and I've been trying to embrace more of the local flavors. I had leftover smoked salmon from a typical bagel-and-cream-cheese thing, and it seemed like a good idea. They went well with the crackers.




Smoked Salmon Pinwheels
Serves 1

2 thin slices smoked salmon
About 3 tablespoons cream cheese (I used veggie cream cheese, but you could also use plain or chive and onion)
About 2 teaspoons minced red onion
About 1 1/2 teaspoons minced capers

Mix cream cheese, onion, and capers well in a small bowl; set aside. Arrange salmon slices into a rectangle on plastic wrap. Be sure to overlap the slices slightly. Carefully spread cheese mixture onto salmon rectangle. Starting with the thinner side of the rectangle, roll into a tight log (use the plastic wrap to help with this). Cut into bite sized pieces, trimming either end of the log off so the pinwheels will sit flat in your container.

Note that you will end up with some trim ends. I suggest turning them into mousse by chopping them up very fine and adding more cream cheese as necessary to bind together. (Serve that with some crackers or a slice of toast.)

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Laptop Lunches #131

It's amazing what you don't notice until you look at your camera later, such as a streak of meatloaf glaze smeared over the left side of your box. Oh, well.

Poached pears with a bit of syrup, a poppyseed tea cookie sitting atop a bag of decaf English breakfast tea, glazed spinach meatloaf (recipe below), herbed mashed potatoes, and creamy peas with goat cheese and bacon (America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2009).

I have never been a major fan of peas. Peas were one of the only veggies that had me running away as a child. Legumes and I don't really get along too well. But since they are high in fiber, I've been trying ways to convince myself to eat them. I found this recipe and thought it sounded promising. It is an improvement on peas, that's for sure, and I ate them, but they're still peas, and I was left wondering why I bothered to use an ounce of goat cheese on peas.

I love meatloaf as a user-upper of random things you have around, and adapted a recipe also in the America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2009 book to suit what I had around. Meatloaf is also excellent for packed lunches if you plan ahead--bake them in silicone cups and you can have any shape you want this particular meatloaf was baked in a square silicone cup). Don't be daunted by the longish ingredient list--it's really pretty simple. If you're not in the mood for glazing, don't bother with that part; it's still good and looks pretty nice with the flecks of green for the spinach.

Also, a helpful tip about the tomato paste for the solo cook--next time you have a can, drop it by the teaspoon onto waxed paper on a cookie sheet and freeze, then plop the frozen balls into a freezer bag. Doing this has really been a real money and time saver, since I would often end up with half a can or more of tomato paste just lying around going bad in my fridge, and having it premeasured means I don't have to wash a teaspoon.

Glazed Spinach Meatloaf
Makes about 8 muffin-sized loaves

For the loaf:

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
Salt
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
2 garlic gloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons water
1 slice white sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1/4 pound 80 lean ground beef
1/4 pound ground turkey (you can substitute 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef for the beef + turkey)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the glaze:

3 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until fully heated through. Increase the heat to medium high and add garlic, thyme, and tomato paste, and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir in water and cook until nearly evaporated, about another 30 seconds. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, parsley, soy sauce, mustard, pepper, and salt. Mix in meat. Set aside.
4. Using either the chopper attachment of a handheld blender unit or a food processor, process bread crumbs with vegetables.
5. Mix meat and veggie mixtures together with your hands, then press into silicone baking cups of your choice. Arrange cups evenly on a baking sheet.
6. Bake until the center of the loaf registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Time varies according to the size and shape of your silicone cups, but for me took about 15-20 minutes.
7. Remove meatloaf from oven and preheat broiler.
8. Simmer all glaze ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium heat until thick and syrupy, about 3 minutes. Spread glaze over loaves and broil until bubbly (only a few minutes). Remove and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Laptop Lunches #130

Leftover chicken pot pie with crumble topping (America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2012), cucumber slices, orange bell pepper strips, mixed fruit, and various cherry tomatoes with yogurt ranch dressing.

Don't be fooled by America's Test Kitchen. This is not chicken pot pie. It is basically chicken and dumplings, if the dumplings were crunchy instead of soft and fluffy. It was better than the description makes it sound, but I don't think I will make it again. (And again: two servings? Seriously? It's at least four.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Laptop Lunches #129

Beet/herbed goat cheese/walnut salad, some peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets, cucumber slices, yellow bell pepper strips, baby carrots, yogurt ranch dressing, a peppermint chocolate square, and a mandarin orange.

I wish the beet salad thing was better than it was. I had high hopes, and was even willing to spring for goat cheese (a quite pricey proposition most of the time; however, I finally did find it in a small enough package (about 2 ounces) to make it worth a try). But it wasn't all that great, unfortunately. I do, however, still love goat cheese.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Laptop Lunches #128

I had choices today between a picture that was crooked or several slightly blurry ones. (I need, among other things, a new camera.)

Honeycrisp apple slices alternating with sliced lacy swiss cheese, some original flavor Bobby Sue's Nuts, a mandarin orange, M&M's, strips of yellow bell pepper, celery sticks, baby carrots, spicy 3-pepper hummus, and some mini pretzels.

The nuts were from my Goodies box. They're really nice--not terribly sweet, but with a good kind of sweet-savory flavor. Worth a second try.