Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pack-a-Snack #16

Tortilla and cream cheese pinwheels and Honeycrisp apple slices in the two small containers from my Lunchopolis set. Quite a good contrast of textures, and the flavors worked well together.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Rosehip Soup with Vanilla Ice Cream and Mandel Biskvier: A Swedish Taste Test

No work today, so no packed meal to show you. But I do have a bowl of rosehip soup with vanilla ice cream and Mandel biskvier (tiny almond coconut cookies) from lyktabento instead! She said this was how it is typically eaten--warm with vanilla ice cream (melting fast as I tried to take a picture) and the tiny cookies.

This was good--very unusual, but good. The rosehip soup is kind of blah on its own, but with the ice cream and cookies, it is a good balance of flavors. The cookies are firm enough to stay pretty crunchy even in warm soup and melting ice cream, but also really nice plain.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Thanksgiving in the United States, so no lunch today (well, at least not pictured! It will be quite a meal, though).

Look for some not-lunch-but-still-food posts tomorrow and Saturday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lunchopolis #8

Honeycrisp apple slices, cubes of cheddar, a few cranberry-pistachio biscotti, spinach salad with homemade lingonberry vinaigrette (see explanation below) in a Tupperware Midget, croutons for topping the salad just before I ate it, and some jalapeno-stuffed olives.

An aside: about midway through everything-is-flavored-pumpkin season, we get everything-is-flavored-cranberry season. Neither impulse makes a whole lot of sense, since nearly everything pumpkin-flavored is done with canned pumpkin, and nearly everything cranberry-flavored is done with dried cranberries. We could do it year-round, people! But we're too busy with our summer tomatoes and spring peaches and such, I guess. Anyway, the biscotti was good with the tea I had the foresight to bring along to brew at lunchtime (not pictured).

Lyktabento had sent me some lingonberry jam, and I had the idea to put it in my usual fruity make-it-yourself vinaigrette today. (I realize you almost never see this--which is because I really almost never eat the sort of salads that go with it. But they're good with spinach.) It's very simple: olive oil, white wine vinegar (or any other kind, really--apple cider vinegar is also quite nice), salt, pepper, and jam. The little cup you see here is great for making it, since there are measuring lines on the sides, and you just put everything in, put the lid on, and shake for a bit.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Laptop Lunches #209

Banana and strawberry slices; a bit of tzatziki hummus; cucumber slices; orange bell pepper slices; a wrap made from ham, swiss, fresh spinach, mayo, and a tortilla; cherry tomatoes; and some Swedish dill-and-chive flavored potato chips.

I had initially wanted to make pinwheels, but the tortilla wasn't holding together as well as if I had used cream cheese, so I scrapped that in favor of a wrap. It still tasted good, but it wasn't as pretty.

The potato chips were really nice! The bag got a little crushed in transit from lytkabento, but there were still plenty of whole chips inside. They are a little thicker cut than what Americans consider standard potato chips, more like kettle cooked chips, which is the kind I like best. The closest thing to dill and chive flavor I've ever had here is dill pickle flavor, which is vinegary in a way that drowns out the dill a little. Here, the dill got to shine. I'm not a huge potato chip person, but I could definitely eat these again. (And I have, at home.)

Meanwhile, if you have ideas about how to use some crushed dill-and-chive potato chips, I'd love to hear them! Other than topping a tuna casserole (which sounds pretty good, actually), I don't have any new thoughts.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Laptop Lunches #208

Tabouleh doctored up with extra veggies, slices of fuyu persimmon, falafel balls, cherry tomatoes, yogurt-ranch dip, and mini cranberry scone-type things.

I had never had a fuyu persimmon; now I am sorry I passed them over so many times! They have a pretty wagon wheel inside if you cut them crosswise, and they are super sweet, not the sour, horrible things I have heard about the American persimmon. I peeled mine before I ate it, although some say you can just eat it with the peel on, so long as you don't eat the stem and leaves (although I don't know who would be compelled to eat those spiky things anyway).

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pack-a-Snack #15

This is one of those bits and pieces snacks, packed in my medium-sized Lunchopolis container with six mini square silicone cups: strawberry slices, mini multigrain crackers, mini cucumber slices, mini cheddar pretzel thins, mango chunks, and tzatziki-flavored hummus mixed with bits of smoked turkey.

These really are the most fun snacks, but most of the time I don't end up with enough tiny bits to make it worth my while. I did this week, and I'm glad! It worked out really well. This sort of thing might make great toddler lunches, too.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Laptop Lunches #207

Turkey and dilly bean bundles, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, ranch dressing, quince paste, manchego slices, melba toast, and mango chunks.

Manchego with quince paste on melba toast is really very nice! Manchego is a hard Spanish cheese, and quince paste is a very thick jelly sort of thing (quince is from New Zealand, I think?). I'm mixing cultures again but I think it works.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Laptop Lunches #206

Kiwi, mango, and strawberry slices, a stuffed egg (paprika mix), tortilla/soft spinach and artichoke cheese/turkey pinwheels, and lentil crisps.

This was simple, but fun. It was a really nice thing to have waiting for me in the middle of a long workday.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Laptop Lunches #205

Strawberries, mango slices, multigrain water crackers, sort of Greek salad, a cup of tzatziki-flavored hummus, some caramel cups, and part of a Swedish candy bar called Daim sent to me by lyktabento.

My sort of Greek salad is just some marinated Greek olives, chunks of feta, halved cherry tomatoes, halved cucumber slices, and some red onion. It worked really well!

Tzatziki-flavored hummus was half price, on sale. And it does taste remarkably like tzatziki, so it seemed to go with the salad.

Daim, the Swedish candy bar, is a bit like almond roca--almond toffee covered in chocolate. It is really, really good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Laptop Lunches #204

Homemade hash brown potatoes with peppers and onions, a hard boiled egg nestled in with cherry tomatoes, strawberry and kiwi chunks, and maple sausage links.

Sometimes breakfast makes sense for lunch. It did for me today!

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Laptop Lunches #203

This is a Swedish meal, prepared mostly according to lyktabento's instructions. I have a sliced boiled potato (with parsley), some strawberries, Swedish meatballs with brown cream gravy, sautéed mushrooms,  lingonberry jam, and Swedish cinnamon buns.

The first thing that felt quite different to me was having Swedish meatballs with a potato rather than with egg noodles. Another was the lingonberry jam. The brown cream gravy was also quite light compared to the American version. I made the mushrooms because they were on the picture on the packet of gravy mix lyktabento sent, and I do love mushrooms, so they were a nice addition, but not necessary--that was just something I added, like the parsley.

I liked these, but I felt like the gravy and the jam should really be an either/or proposition. The meatballs, without gravy, with the jam, are really nice. The meatballs, without the jam, with the gravy, are also really nice. I'm not sure the full combination works out for my palate, though, even though sweet-and-savory can go really well together. I think it may be the overall texture of the gravy. I don't know.

I now kind of wish I'd sent lyktabento some American Swedish meatball mix. I'm pretty sure she would have found it nearly unrecognizable!

The Swedish cinnamon buns are really nice, too. They're soft and have a light sweetness to them. I think it is just because I got the packaged kind, but they reminded me vaguely of Entenmanns. They tasted a little different without the typical frosting you'd see on cinnamon rolls here, but you don't always want frosting!

Thanks again, lyktabento!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pack-a-Snack #14

For today's snack, I Americanized Swedish food a little. I had some strawberry cream from lytkabento that I mixed with some mashed ripe banana, then topped with mini marshmallows and shredded coconut. It's in a glass container that has a lid, just the right size for this sort of snack.

I loved this. It was just the right balance of flavors for me.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Laptop Lunches #202

A beef tamale, sautéed apples with cinnamon sugar, red bell pepper strips, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, a dip made from sour cream and salsa verde, and leftover Spanish yellow rice.

You know how sometimes you end up with mushy apples you can't quite face? Toss them in a skillet with some butter and cook for a while, then dust with cinnamon sugar. Perfect.

The dip is really good for veggies or as a sauce for tamales, etc. It's super easy--just mix equal parts sour cream and the salsa you have on hand. Again, a cohesive meal. This was good, but I wished I had some sort of green vegetable to balance out the colors.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Strawberry Cream with Milk: A Swedish Taste Test

The head of my department took me to lunch today, so you'll see no lunch. But I decided to show you my breakfast instead! Breakfast, unlike lunch, gets eaten on good china.
Lytkabento was kind enough to send me some strawberry cream from Sweden, and she said one way they eat it is to top it with milk. Well, I'm nothing if not adventurous, so I decided to have it for breakfast. (I do not know if that is appropriately Swedish or not. Especially with orange spice tea and buttered toast. Oh, well.)

I wasn't sure whether the milk was just supposed to sit on top or be mixed in, but the strawberry cream seemed too solid to mix anyway, so I went with it like this. It was nice--very unusual, but nice. I think I like it better without milk. Stay tuned for this Saturday's "Pack-a-Snack" post for how I doctored up Swedish strawberry cream--I hope my Swedish benefactor isn't horrified!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Laptop Lunches #201

Whole grain mini waffles, some dried mango snacks, collard greens, popcorn chicken, ranch for the chicken and waffles, and candied yams.

I love chicken and waffles, and this actually worked out well for lunch. The veggies needed a quick trip around the microwave carousel, but otherwise, things were fine at room temperature.

The mango snacks are a new one for me. Turns out they're pretty new to everybody! I keep dried fruit, etc. around for when I run out of fresh. These were pretty good.

The veggies were also new--I found them in the freezer section on clearance. Anything marked down to 30 cents gets a try at the Student-turned-Doctor's place! The yams were way, way too sweet. But the collard greens were amazing! I'd even pay more than 30 cents for a box. Unfortunately, that level of clearance suggests it is discontinued and I'll never see it again. Oh, well. If you ever see these, get them.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Laptop Lunches #200

200 Laptop Lunches! I feel like this one should have been more thought-out--maybe it would have been if I'd realized!

Tabouleh, some cubes of feta tossed with marinated Greek olives, lytkabento's strawberry cream, and some onion flavored lentil crisps.

If ever a meal was a hodge podge of many lands, I guess this would be it! (But as I've said before...just eat it in courses and it's fine.)

Strawberry cream reminded me of the coating a Chinese restaurant I used to go to put on sliced bananas. It is sweet, but not sugary, and it does taste like strawberries. Since lyktabento sent the powdered version, it was super easy to make. I liked it, but I wanted to see what else I could do with it. (Learn more later in the week.)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Laptop Lunches #199

Leftover rice and sweet-and-spicy chicken, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, some ranch for dipping, lemon-flavored Greek yogurt with a sprinkling of shredded coconut, some apple slices, and half of a Swedish candy bar called "Pigall" (sent to me by lyktabento).

The sweet-and-spicy chicken was just some chicken thighs cut into bite-sized chunks, then marinated in a mixture of my "too sweet" stir fry sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sririacha sauce for a half hour or so, and simmered until done. It was good and also made great spicy noodles (with some leftover linguine) and spicy soup (with some instant rice noodle soup mix).

I liked the coconut with the yogurt. Yum!

"Pigall" comes in a packet with two half-bars like this. One fits perfectly in the Laptop Lunches box. It was a lot less dense than American candy tends to be--maybe the consistency of a Milky Way--and had something faintly crunchy in it. I liked it, but I never did figure out what the flavor was meant to be!

This was a bit strange as a cohesive meal--in that it really wasn't cohesive at all--but at least I hit the high points, anyway.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pack-a-Snack #13

A cup (Tupperware Midget) of blackberries, mini rice cake thins with pumpkin cream cheese spread between them, and some Swedish candy from lyktabento. The whole kit and caboodle is packed in a recycled pasta sauce container.

The rice cakes got a little soft by the time I got to eat them, but this still worked well.

The candies I tried this time were the "Dumle," which is like a chocolate with a chewy filling of some kind (caramel, I guessed, and Google says I'm right!), another "Geisha" (still lovely), and, buried underneath (you can't really see it), in the orange wrapper, something I wish desperately I could buy in the U.S.: "Mjuk Gräddkola."

When I opened it, I thought it was a caramel, and it would be chewy. It crumbled in my mouth like candy corn does and tasted buttery, like toffee. It was astonishing. It was the kind of good-tasting that makes you stop everything and close your eyes to focus on it. I don't really know what it is, but whatever it is, thank you, lytkabento!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Laptop Lunches #198

Blackberries, horned melon pips, leftover potato croquettes, cucumbers and grape tomatoes, some yogurt ranch to pour over the salad, and assorted Swedish candy.

I was so excited to start trying what lyktabento sent from Sweden! The red one, called "Rollo," is just a caramel, essentially. That's good, because I like caramel! It was chewy, like the caramel rectangles sold here wrapped in clear plastic. The other wrapped candy (the pink one) is called "Geisha" (does this mean in Sweden what it means here?). That one was my favorite in this group. It is some kind of chocolate with a brown nougat-like center that had something crunchy in it I could not place. It was yummy! (I Googled later and apparently it was hazelnut. So it's a little like Ferrero Rocher without the crispy coating, maybe.) There is a sort of pinkish disk peeking out underneath the Rollo. I expected it to be hard, but it was kind of like a marshmallow. The brown round ones are chocolate-covered caramels, I think. The biggest shock was the little round pastel ones. I don't quite know why, but I expected them to be like jawbreakers. They were actually minty! All of the candy was really good, though. I'm glad I have a lot of other things still to try!

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Laptop Lunches #197

I think this lunch started out with some other plan, and got nixed in favor of this one, and yet the juice of purple fruit still hung around on the blue container. Sorry about that.

Baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and cherry tomatoes with a homemade honey mustard, some strawberry chocolate squares, leftover pasta with some parmesan cheese, and half a horned melon.

Horned melons are pricey. And they look very alien. They taste like cucumber-kiwi Jello, if such a thing existed. And they take forever to eat, fishing the little Jello-like pods out of the melon membrane and sucking them off the seeds. And yet...they're good.

Go figure.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Laptop Lunches #196

Melba toast, grape tomatoes with mozzarella chunks, pineapple chunks, prosciutto rolls, and spinach-artichoke cheese spread (for the toast).

Melba toast is a way out of my rut in some ways (if Scotch quail eggs didn't do it). I think Melba toast gets a bad rap. It's awesome. This lunch was also awesome. Hooray for digging my way out of a rut!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Laptop Lunches #195

Scotch quail eggs with cups of mustard and ketchup, cherry tomatoes, a mixture of pineapple and blackberries, sugar snap peas, baby carrots, yogurt ranch dip in a Tupperware midget (why not the cup that comes with the Laptop Lunches box? I think maybe it was being used in a snack--don't recall), and some mini almond biscotti.

I have never made Scotch quail eggs, or actually, Scotch eggs, period. But I saw a recipe here, and it had to be done. I'm not sure what I make of the results. I think my sausage was too fatty to fry, and the fat doesn't really render out of fried foods, so...

Well, I did it! And it was edible. Cross that one off my list.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Laptop Lunches #194

Asparagus salad, potato salad, pineapple slices, stuffed quail eggs, and some mini milk chocolate with almond squares.

The asparagus salad recipe was this one; I think it is a little too mustard-y for my tastes, but in general it was okay.

Quail eggs...I'm still learning. These were more soft boiled than I would like, so I mixed the yolks with some mayo and seasonings and stuffed them back in. They were fine, but someday I hope to figure out how to time quail eggs properly.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Swap with lyktabento!

I had a present waiting for me on Tuesday afternoon:

A box of Swedish goodies, from the author of lyktabento! I was very excited that she wanted to send me strawberry cream, but I wanted to reciprocate. I suggested a swap. She has blogged what she received from me here.

(She apparently has much better talents at photography than I do, but I'm going to give it my best shot.)

The general concept was to exchange traditional/common foods in our respective countries that were not easy to find on the other side of the ocean. Her box seems to have gotten a tiny bit beaten up in transit, but the goodies seem to be in tact. She very thoughtfully labeled the contents for me, with English translations of how to prepare the mixes.

Since I have the best lighting in my kitchen, I organized clusters of these goodies to show you on my kitchen countertop, but it isn't big enough to hold it all at once (I live in one of those tiny places...and I'm planning on moving now that I'm a "Doctor," but all in due time). So you'll get them in three batches.

Photo #1: In the rear are a trio of sweet soups: the strawberry cream that started it all, blueberry, and rosehip. In front of them is a package of Ballerina cookies, Swedish hard bread (the blue triangle), a bottle of lingonberry jam, cinnamon buns, and car candy.

Photo #2: Brown gravy to make Swedish meatballs (I'm quite curious to see if Swedish Swedish meatball gravy mix is like American Swedish meatball mix!), some dill and chive potato chips, Swedish pancake mix, dill flavored fish balls, little almond meringues with coconut, a sauce mix for hot dogs (is it like beef stroganoff with hot dogs instead, I wonder?), seafood soup, and mixed candy (that I poured into a bowl). She also very thoughtfully sent along a metric measuring cup, which is good because liters I know, and milliliters, but deciliters would require some hard thinking!

I couldn't help but try the cute marshmallow banana candy right away, after I took the picture. It smelled very banana-y. It tasted like a firm marshmallow, but the smell of banana made it new and different.

Photo #3: Two tubes of cheese, one blue, one shrimp (she says to eat the blue cheese with the gingerbread to the left, and the shrimp cheese as a breakfast spread); gingerbread, some chocolate bars, "Punchroll" or "vacuum cleaner" candy (that's the one in the green package with the blue tape across it), salmiak (strong Scandinavian licorice), some dill dip mix, and a chocolate ball cookie.

I'm so excited to try all this! I love dill, so I'm glad that she defaulted to that when having to choose. Thanks so much to!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pack-a-Snack #12

I'm going to claim that I meant for the container to be crooked, and I was being artsy.

This is mini chicken and cilantro wontons with a quick homemade dipping sauce, in the medium-sized container from my Lunchopolis set and a Tupperware smidget. It was actually a pretty great snack. They're pretty light, but they digest slowly. They also taste perfectly fine at room temperature. I previously raved about the Bibigo ones, and they're still my favorites, but these, from Trader Joe's, are pretty good, too.