Friday, October 31, 2014

Laptop Lunches #193

Mini cucumber slices tossed with an impromptu dressing of rice vinegar, sesame oil, and salt and topped with sesame seeds; a Tupperware smidget with a mix of M&Ms and yogurt covered Craisins, banana chips, carrot sticks, crunchy green beans, almond butter, and mini pretzel thins.

This was one of those mornings when I was just fighting to find something to stick in a box that at minimum included a fruit, a vegetable, a starch, and a protein, and was not all the same color. Bonus points for also having dairy and being pretty darn respectable--but I'm looking forward to my first post-dissertation shopping trip, because I think I'm in a rut. But I've eaten down my pantry enough and had to throw everything out of my freezer not too long ago. I've earned the right to get some of those things that call to me from overpriced land. Fancy cheese! Prosciutto! The good olives!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Laptop Lunches #192

Tortilla/ham/goat cheese/dilly bean pinwheels, carrot sticks with yogurt ranch, halves of a mini apple, and celery sticks.

The pinwheels were supposed to be cream cheese, not goat cheese, but I discovered, upon opening it this morning, that Dissertation Fog Brain let my cream cheese go bad. But goat cheese was okay with this. And it was a new use for dilly beans (sort of).

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lunchopolis #7

Some leftover takeout salad from the Cheesecake Factory (dressing in the Tupperware smidget with lid), mini damame crackers, pork shu mai with a homemade dipping sauce (in the other smidget), and mini almond milk chocolate squares.

All I can say is that I'm getting through! My brain is still mush and proper grocery shopping is a way off, but as long as I manage to get something together to actually eat mid day, for now that is a victory, even if it does mean weird combos. (The salad had goat cheese in it. I do not think goat cheese and soy sauce should ever sit right next to each other like that. However, you can always eat in courses. It works out.)

An aside: We're not going to talk about the clementines, or how many I had to give up on. Food packaging is super annoying.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Laptop Lunches #191

Baby carrots, crunchy green beans, some dark chocolate with orange peel and a yogurt star perched on top, lemongrass chicken sticks, dipping sauce, a tomato, and grapes.

I just couldn't face more clementines today.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Laptop Lunches #190

Mini chicken and cilantro wontons with a homemade dipping sauce, a hard boiled egg with salt and pepper nestled in with some heirloom tomatoes, clementine halves (what else?), and cucumber slices.

I am beginning to loathe clementines...and I have at least 15 left.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pack-a-Snack #11

Mini almond biscotti and applesauce. A snack fit for a champion. Well, almost:

It is when you add some tea.

Which only works out if you remember your mug. Which I didn't. But applesauce and almond biscotti is still pretty nice anyway.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Laptop Lunches #189

Baby carrots and cucumber slices with ricotta dip, cherry tomatoes tossed with chunks of fresh mozzarella, apple slices, and banana chips and chocolate-caramel-hazelnut spread.

The ricotta dip is in one of the Tupperware Smidgets I bought from Amazon recently. I do not buy Tupperware from Tupperware Reps, but Amazon seems safe enough. They work super well! The lids are a little challenging to get on and off, but otherwise I can't complain about it.

Although I had nothing to dress the tomatoes and mozzarella with whatsoever, it still worked out well. (This is a lesson from the world of scrounging--my mind wasn't on my shopping because of my dissertation and I bought weird things.)

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Laptop Lunches #188

Mini bell pepper strips, baby carrots, cucumber slices, and ranch dressing; ham and dilly bean bundles; chunks of kiwi and clementine; and tortilla and pumpkin cream cheese pinwheels.

We must ask ourselves:

1. Why are clementines only sold in huge bags, so that single people must choose either A) no clementines or B) too many?

2. Why do we suddenly start putting pumpkin in everything in October and don't stop until January?

Meanwhile: I still love dilly beans. I need to find a new way to use them, though. Preferably without pumpkin!

I passed and all the paperwork is done! (They give you a Ph.D. for Ability to Do Vast Quantities of Paperwork, not for Ability to Write a Dissertation and Talk about It Intelligently. It's a little known secret.) But this will still be Food for Dissertating, because I'm too worn out to think of a new name!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Big News!

I am defending my dissertation today! So this will soon be a tale of lunch and life with a Ph.D., rather than a tale of lunch and graduate school...assuming I pass. Dissertation defenses do not come with packed lunches, of course. Stay tuned.

Tomorrow I am taking the day off to run a few errands and settle things in my mind, so there will be no packed lunch then, either. But I return to work in a normal schedule on Thursday, so things will go back to the usual pattern.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Laptop Lunches #187

Half a mini apple, a mini square of milk chocolate with almonds, two clementines, some mini multigrain crackers, carrot sticks, crunchy green beans, yellow cherry tomatoes, and cottage cheese.

Cottage cheese is good and simple and 70s, I guess. It goes well with tomatoes and crackers.

Ghirardelli is doing these mini squares of chocolate now. I wish they came in some different flavors. Somewhere along the line I found myself preferring dark chocolate, but I have to have stuff in my chocolate. For some reason I can't deal with plain chocolate, dark, milk or otherwise. Milk chocolate does go well with toffee chips, though. Are you listening, Ghirardelli?

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pack-a-Snack #10

I didn't clean my cutting board before I took this photo because I was in a hurry; my apologies. But there's not any particular reason to be horrified by a few stray scallion slices, is there?
(I'm defending my dissertation on Tuesday, and therefore my brain no longer holds useful information like, "it is a good idea to clean the cutting board before taking a picture," because it is forced to hold too many other things.)


This is just a simple shrimp cocktail with yesterday's remoulade (recipe in the post), with a little extra sliced scallion for garnish, in my leftover pasta sauce container, with the metal condiment container (with lid, not shown). I don't like the red cocktail sauce at all, so I use other kinds when I do eat shrimp cocktail, which is almost never. But as portable food goes, shrimp cocktail is a pretty good choice.

I'm still pretty sure I'll never get through all this shrimp before it goes bad, though.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Laptop Lunches #186

Avocado-shrimp wrap (recipe below), baby carrots, ricotta dip, chocolate-pecan yogurt, and mini apple halves.

(An aside: today, in my Shrimp Eating Quest post-freezer-door-open-all-night incident, I learned that toast with mashed avocado, salt, pepper, and shrimp on top is actually not a bad breakfast.)

The wrap was improvised from a few recipes I saw online. This is the "what was in my apartment" version. You have to start by making a remoulade.

Servings: About 4

1/4 cup light mayo
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
1/2 scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 celery rib, minced
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix all ingredients well.

Then you can make the wrap.

Avocado-Shrimp Wrap
Serves: 1

1 fajita-sized flour tortilla
3 slices avocado
About 6 cooked shrimp
Remoulade (above)

Mix shrimp and remoulade, enough to coat (maybe a few tablespoons). Coat tortilla with a thin coating of remoulade as well (to serve as glue). Arrange coated shrimp in a line down the center of the tortilla. Arrange avocado slices on top. Roll carefully and somewhat tightly, but not too tightly or everything will squirt out the sides. Cut in half.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Laptop Lunches #185

Celery sticks, orange bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, ricotta dip, creamy carrot-spinach polenta topped with shrimp, and star fruit slices.

I did cook the shrimp last night. That much shrimp is daunting to me; for me a serving is about what you see here. Even if I eat shrimp with every meal, I can't quite see getting through it all, but I'll do my best.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Laptop Lunches #184

Baby carrots, baby cucumber slices, ricotta dip, multigrain water crackers, yogurt-covered Craisins, starfruit slices, and mini heirloom tomatoes.

I made the ricotta dip with frozen basil rather than fresh, and I used way, way too much, but I had a reason. When I woke up this morning, I discovered my freezer door had been left open overnight. I had to throw out a lot of things, and what I didn't throw out needed immediate use. The rest of this week will reflect that. (And since I had two pounds of shrimp that need to be cooked tonight now, I expect you will see a lot of shrimp.)


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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Laptop Lunches #183

Last night, I made green chile enchiladas.

They were really lovely, but I'm still working on the recipe. They need more onions. Look for that recipe later.

Here is the lunch version of that meal, leftover:

Green chile enchiladas, Mexican rice, a bunch of red seedless grapes, and carrot sticks.

Enchiladas are good at any temperature, in my opinion, but I know not everyone feels that way. In any case, a quick blast in the microwave to take off any chill is all it takes, and they taste pretty much the same as the night before. I love enchiladas. Macaroni and cheese isn't comfort food to me--these are! Tell me again why I moved to a place where people think Taco Bell sells Mexican food!?

Eh. My enchiladas are probably more Okie Mex, anyway. But if you think Taco Bell is Mexican food, you're totally missing out.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Lunchopolis #6

A banana, a few clementines, some truffles, arancini, and Vidalia onion-tomato sauce for dipping.

I decided to call the onion-tomato sauce my vegetable this morning, because I was too sleepy to think up anything else.

Arancini are one of those things that, although portable, don't necessarily taste very good at room temperature (although the sauce you dip them into is fine at room temperature). So the rice balls got the microwave-on-paper-napkin treatment, exploded because I wasn't paying attention and cooked them too long, and stuck to the napkin.

Not every day goes well. But they did taste good, and I had truffles, so it wasn't a total loss.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pack-a-Snack #9

Water crackers and jalapeno hummus in a recycled pasta sauce container (alfredo sauce, maybe?), with the hummus in a metal condiment container I bought ages ago. (It has a lid!)

Not earth shattering, but water crackers are one of my favorite things to pair with hummus.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Laptop Lunches #182

Heirloom tomato salad (I used my basil vinaigrette for this one), ham and dilly bean bundles, slices of clementine, yogurt-covered Craisins, and cheddar flavored mini pretzel thins.

I bought the dilly beans from a somber-looking Amish man at a farmer's market in a small town in Pennsylvania, on a weekend trip to see a friend. I wasn't quite sure what I would get. They were amazing! Not only dilly, but spicy, too, in a way I really like. Wherever you are, Amish man (not on the internet, I'd imagine), your Ordnung makes awesome dilly beans.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Laptop Lunches #181

Avocado "sushi," an heirloom tomato, some edamame-flavored rice crackers, a sliced Asian pear, and some chocolate nutty bits and salted pumpkin caramel chocolates.

Sushi is an investment in time I don't have in the mornings. So I did this instead. I spread a nori sheet with cream cheese (very thinly--for glue more than flavor), and sprinkled it with shredded cucumber and carrot for "rice." Then I added fillings of avocado and yellow bell pepper strips.

I rolled it and sliced it and it packed well. It needed something, though. The crackers served the purpose for this time, but if I ever do this again, it needed soy sauce. Otherwise, a good new thing I'm glad I tried.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Laptop Lunches #180

Asian baby corn salad, some clementines, a wrap made of scallion pancake and ham, and some yogurt-covered star cookies.

The salad was from this recipe. It was fantastic, even though I didn't eat it for a couple hours. It packed well. The only thing I might change was to reduce the amount of oil in the recipe, but I'm just particular that way.

The wrap was really good! I think you could use scallion pancakes for a lot of non-Asian applications. In fact, I think this wrap would have tasted great with a little cream cheese or mayo.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Laptop Lunches #179

White nectarine slices, rice, baby carrots, sweet & saucy meatballs (recipe below) and a bit of snow pea-chestnut salad from some old cookbook I had around here.

A few thoughts:

One: My usual photography is better; this was a weird morning. But I promise that tomorrow things will be back to normal!

Two: Most people eat sweet & saucy meatballs only as an appetizer, but they can work out well as a meal with rice and things. Expand your repertoire!

Three: I made this primarily because I had the stuff around already, but it worked out anyway! It's always great when that happens.

Now, how to make them:

Sweet & Saucy Meatballs
Servings: 5-6

1/4 cup apple jelly
1/4 cup grape juice
6 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons water
14 oz. frozen meatballs

Mix all ingredients except meatballs in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add frozen meatballs and lower heat to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until hot.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Laptop Lunches #178

A leftover spinach lasagna roll cut in half and nestled in with cherry tomatoes, kiwi berries, cucumber slices and snow peas with yogurt ranch for dipping, a salted pumpkin caramel truffle, two yogurt-covered star cookies, and baby carrots.

For the lasagna, I halved this recipe. According to them, that should have meant I had three servings (2 rolls per serving). To me, one roll is plenty, especially if you eat it with anything else. But it was good enough, and lasagna rolls are easier to pack, in my opinion, than cut lasagna.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pack-a-Snack #8

Okay, so that shows you nothing. Here's another photo:

I packed them flat, of course, but now you can see what it was: chocolate graham crackers spread with cream cheese and sandwiched around strawberry slices. I used my recycled pesto container for this one.

If you do this--and I recommend it, as this was a pretty great turn out to an experiment--be warned that the graham crackers will soften to have the consistency of the outside of an ice cream sandwich.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Laptop Lunches #177

Sliced tomatoes, mango chunks, leftover sweet potato gnocchi with a little parmesan, and kiwi berries.

This is the first time I've eaten kiwi berries. The flavor is approximately just teeny, tiny kiwis. They even look like kiwis inside if you slice them in half. You eat them whole. They're really fun! Supposedly they are also some sort of nutritional powerhouse. Win-win.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Laptop Lunches #176

Scallion pocket with soy sauce cup, mango sticks, tomatoes, green peppers, baby carrots, Thai-ish peanut dip, and a tea egg.

The "Thai-ish" peanut dip is basically peanut butter, soy sauce, honey, water, and garlic powder. It worked okay with veggies, and seemed to make more sense with the Asian flavors here than ranch dip (although I am certainly not averse to mixing continents).

I was a little disappointed that this tea egg wasn't darker. I'm not sure why it turned out that way. It tasted fine, though.

The scallion pockets, which I cooked from frozen, were a learning curve. The first one I tried was decidedly raw when I thought it was done, and when I cut it open...well, ugh. But I started over. I persevered. And it was really nice! Assuming you like scallions--because these are very scallion-y--I think you'll enjoy these.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Laptop Lunches #175

Carrot slaw, multigrain water crackers, a mixture of strawberry and kiwi chunks, and chicken-and-cream-cheese rolls.

The chicken slices I had were so tiny that pinwheels didn't make sense--and I think this turned out pretty well.