Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pack-a-Snack #30

I thought I would be eating this snack, packed in the two small Lunchopolis containers, with hot tea, so I packed a very teatime-like snack, but the office was out of anything that wasn't caffeinated (I don't do caffeine). I had hot cocoa instead. Hot cocoa doesn't really go with cucumber-and-cream-cheese sandwiches, but it goes reasonably well with mini chocolate almond biscotti. (Yes, I know cocoa has trace amounts of caffeine; it is not the same thing, according to my doctor, who thankfully does allow me to have chocolate. I can live without caffeine; chocolate I am not so sure of.)

Another reason was that the grocery store was out of the bread I would usually buy, and I ended up with a small loaf of extremely thin-sliced white instead. It was practically begging to be turned into cucumber sandwiches.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Laptop Lunches #250

Mini chicken biscuits, grapes, multicolored bell pepper strips, snow peas, baby carrots, edamame hummus, and mixed heirloom tomatoes.

I don't often eat anything like mini chicken biscuits, especially not in the frozen north, but they were a nice thing to have today.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Laptop Lunches #249

An experimental shrimp and pasta salad, cucumber spears, baby carrots, fruit salad (pummelo, cantaloupe, and grapes), yogurt ranch dressing, and mixed grape tomatoes.

There is a grocery store here with a salad bar selling the most amazing pasta salad with tiny shrimp. This particular experiment resulted in not quite the right flavor, so I won't give you the recipe yet--but I will say that tiny shrimp in a can is a revelation! There will be more of that in my life! The main problem, I think, is that I used light mayo, and from what I can tell this stuff is calling out for the real, full fat version. At home, I tried adding parmesan cheese; although definitely not the grocer's version it did taste good. Ah, well, we press on.

I bought the cantaloupe because it was on sale, but egads if I am not getting tired of cantaloupe! Single people cannot eat melons. It's like some sort of rule. One can only buy the little cup of cut melon that costs three times as much as a whole melon, so one does not eat melon.

Question for other lunch bloggers out there, based on some reactions to this lunch: Does your packed lunch provoke other people to say judgmental things to you about how you choose to use your time or what you choose to eat? How do you respond?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Laptop Lunches #248

Homemade Cuban black beans with rice, cantaloupe chunks, and grapes.

When this blog was hiatus due to a broken camera, there was a season of poverty for me. You might have sensed this given my lack of funding to buy a camera, but ... I was really the starving grad student there for a while. For a time, I basically ate whatever happened to be on clearance at Target, alongside some very, very cheap things. I found this recipe on the back of a bag of store brand rice, and tried it mostly because it seemed extremely cheap. It was also easy, and seemed reasonably nutritious. It just so happens that it is also vegan, and astoundingly comforting. I didn't keep much in terms of poverty ration-type food, but I did keep this. As recipes go, it covers a lot of ground: cheap, fast, easy, good-tasting and good-for-you, gluten free, vegan. I've modified the recipe slightly, so I'll share it with you here, as Starving Student Cuban Black Beans & Rice.

Starving Student Cuban Black Beans & Rice

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 bay leaves
2 15-oz. cans black beans (not drained)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons vinegar
long grain rice (amount depends on preferences--see below)

1. Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in cumin and bay leaves; cook 1 minute. Stir in beans and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, cook rice.
4. Remove bay leaves from beans. Stir in olive oil and vinegar.

To serve:

Lay down a bed of cooked long grain rice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with desired amount of beans, and a bit more salt and pepper. I personally would most often eat this with a glass of milk, but that of course makes it not vegan. My preferred ratio of beans and rice was about equal parts rice and beans, but the base recipe suggested much more beans than rice. When I was feeling especially poor, I ate it with about 2/3 rice to 1/3 beans. Feel free to experiment.

The leftovers of this dish are as good or better than the first bite. For lunch, I just dumped the rice on top of the beans and stirred.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sakura 3-Tier Bento #13

This was a snow day, sort of. We had a delayed opening, but they called me at about 5:00 AM to let me know I need not report until 10:00. So considerate of them. Thus, I was awake and had extra time. What does one do with extra time? One makes sushi, of course!

The top tier has avocado and cucumber sushi, with a little apple-head bottle of soy sauce. The middle tier has cantaloupe chunks. The bottom tier has smoked salmon and avocado sushi, with a little duckie bottle of soy sauce.

All in all, quite good! I finally learned to season sushi rice properly. This was too light to eat on a day when I had breakfast at the usual time, but since I had a pretty late breakfast (the ends of sushi and whatnot), it worked out. I still haven't learned how to get just the right amount of rice, or how to get the fillings really in the middle, but I'm still proud of this.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sakura 3-Tier Bento #12

Grapes, avocado with grape tomato slices, and salmon/cream cheese/tortilla pinwheels.

I'm not sure what inspired this combination, but it was nice; you do need really dense food in a box so small, but this worked out well for me.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pack-a-Snack #29

Tomato hummus topped with salami and served alongside leftover naan in my medium Lunchopolis container.

Okay, so we've got many nations represented here, but they play along nicely.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Laptop Lunches #247

Leftover artichoke ravioli in a homemade white wine butter sauce, a piece of English toffee with milk chocolate and almonds, leftover sautéed baby zucchini, and orange chunks.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Laptop Lunches #246

Improvisational rice salad, half a Guld bar from lyktabento, ranch dressing, a cup of chocolate covered pomegranate seeds, grape tomatoes tossed with cucumber slices, and apple chips.

The rice salad was from the leftover basmati rice, orange chunks, and sliced almonds. It worked out fine. I should probably experiment with rice salad more.

I really liked the Guld bar. Lyktabento had told me it was Swedish nougat, which is not like our nougat.
Swedish nougat is a chocolate nut paste. It's really nice--especially since I never liked American nougat much!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Laptop Lunches #245

Leftover naan, orange chunks, leftover lamb curry, and leftover basmati rice.

Indian food is glorious, but I'm bad at making it, so I mostly only eat it on the rare occasions I go out. This was really nice. I wish I could remember the name of the lamb curry--I would definitely try to make it if I could.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Laptop Lunches #244

Cheesy waffle sandwich snack things (I don't know what to call them), ham and dilly bean bundles, blue cheese dressing, snow peas, grape tomatoes, strips of yellow and orange bell pepper, and pummelo chunks.

Herr's makes the cheesy things. They're okay, but I probably won't buy them again.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Laptop Lunches #243

Calrose rice, marinated tofu, cucumber slices tossed with leftover marinade, green tea flavored Greek yogurt, blackberries, and a cup of chocolate covered pomegranate seeds.

Green tea flavored Greek yogurt is quite odd. Okay, but odd.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Pack-a-Snack #28

I'm excited about two things today. One, my internet service is back. (Water got inside the lines, and when they froze, it cut it off. Hence, the wonky internet.) Two, I get to tell you about these pink eggs! I showed you some slightly less pink eggs a few days ago. These are pink. Shocking, glorious pink.

What I did was this:

Very Pink Eggs

Put a peeled, hard boiled egg into the juice left over from pickled beets and onions. Leave for about two days. Halve and scoop out yolks. Mash yolks with a bit of mayo, some of the pickled onions, and salt and pepper. Stuff yellows (now a slightly orange color from the pink onions) back into the now-pink whites.

These have a strong beet taste. I love beets, so I love that--but you've been warned!

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Laptop Lunches #242

Wedges of scallion pancake (panjeon), homemade dipping sauce, some cherry tomatoes, kumquats, a piece of English toffee with milk chocolate and almonds, wasabi-flavored seaweed snacks, and crispy tofu sprinkled with sliced scallion and black sesame seeds.

Word to the wise: crispy tofu needs a sauce. Always. I used the dipping sauce and wrapped them in the seaweed, but still. Must have sauce!

My internet service is terrible. It has been going in and out every flipping day. The best I can figure it out, it seems to not like cold weather, because it tends to be on when it is warmer, and go out as the temperature drops at night. So if I turn out to be intermittent for a while, blame the horror that is Comcast. (Comcast is supposed to come tomorrow to fix it. We'll see.)

An aside: making Comcast call me "Dr." is strangely satisfying.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Laptop Lunches #241

Leftover balela salad tossed with chunks of feta, the other half of yesterday's olive tapenade stuffed egg on a bed of cucumber slices, pita chips, tomato hummus topped with chunks of salami, and blackberries.

As I try desperately to eat up what I have in my refrigerator, my meals just get stranger and stranger, but this was satisfying, anyway. Salami is great with hummus.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sakura 3-Tier Bento #11

The cup holds blue cheese dressing, and the fact that it is nesting in a bed of chocolate-covered pomegranates should assure you of my confidence in it being leakproof. I also had chunks of pummelo, blackberries, jalapeno-stuffed olives, an egg with olive tapenade stuffing, Persian cucumber wrapped in tortillas with cream cheese and ham, grape tomatoes, and baby cut carrots.

The plan was to have all four cucumber things in one container, but they wouldn't fit, so this is what I did instead. I either need smaller cucumbers or a different container to make that plan work. The up side is that everything tasted really good.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Laptop Lunches #240

Greek-ish salad, blackberries, balela salad, and stuffed pink eggs (recipe below).

Greek-ish salad is the usual: feta, cucumber, kalamata olives packed in seasoned olive oil, and cherry tomatoes (yellow this time). It was lovely as usual.

The balela salad was edible, but nothing spectacular.

I'm so excited to have another recipe to share! Somewhere on the internet a long, long while ago, I read a recipe for stuffed pink eggs. But I don't know where, and can't find it. So here is my version. For a sense of quantities in the stuffing, see my tutorial on stuffing a single egg. You'll need to plan ahead for these; get some pickled beets to eat so you have the juice you need. (Pickled beets are nice, too.)

Stuffed Pink Eggs

Juice from pickled beets
Hard boiled eggs
Black pepper
Paprika (or other seasonings per your preference)
Dijon mustard
Worcestershire sauce

Peel the hard boiled eggs. Submerge them in the beet juice overnight. (They may need to be weighted to do this; they have a tendency to float.)

Remove eggs from beet juice. Slice in half and remove yolks from whites (pinks). Mix yolks with remaining ingredients to taste. Garnish with a few grinds of black pepper.

These are vaguely sweet, and so much fun! I think they'd go super well with sweet pickle relish in the stuffing.

Plus, they are gorgeous!

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Laptop Lunches #239

Leftover spinach pasta filled with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes in a homemade white wine butter sauce, blackberries, sugar snap peas, mixed cherry tomatoes, baby cut carrots, tomato hummus, and chocolate covered pomegranate seeds.

Confession time: while making the butter sauce, I accidentally dumped the entire pan of melted butter in the floor and had to start over. But I recovered and persevered, and it turned out really nicely.

Chocolate covered pomegranate seeds are also quite lovely, in case anyone wondered.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pack-a-Snack #27

Wherein we learn: I need either a new cutting board, as this one is stained and battered-looking, or to use a different backdrop for my photos. But old habits die hard, alas. Most bloggers use fancy cloth napkins or something. I really should look into that.

Anyway. I bought these snack-sized containers a while ago and didn't use them until now. We have: pummelo (my absolute favorite fruit!), mini cheese cracker sandwiches, and blackberries. A good snack, but the new containers leak, so pummelo needs to be packed in something else.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Lunchopolis #11

A banana, sliced in half, three leftover raggmunkar (Swedish pancakes), dried mango-oat pieces, lingonberry jam, and bacon.

The raggmunkar is from lytkabento, or at least the mix I used to make them is. So is the lingonberry jam. The pancakes are hard to describe. If scallion pancakes tasted like potatoes instead of scallions, though, that would perhaps get at the texture. They're not like the bready American pancakes; they're too thick to be like crepes. I don't know if I really cooked them well enough, since they look so much lighter than the picture on the box, but I liked them, and her suggestion to serve them with bacon and lingonberry jam made them even better (especially the bacon). I think when I was making them I was looking for the bubbles that would tell me to flip them, but there were never any bubbles--they just got a little puffy.

Thanks again, lytkabento!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Laptop Lunches #238

Tortilla wrap (cream cheese, ham, lettuce), tomato hummus, carrot sticks, applesauce with cranberry relish topping, and bell pepper strips.

The wrap was supposed to be pinwheels, but it wouldn't cooperate with me. It may not be as pretty, but it still tasted good.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sakura 3-Tier Bento #10

Kumquats, almond butter in the little cup, banana chips, Spicy Cucumber Salad #2, calrose rice, and orange chicken.
The orange chicken is from Trader Joe's.  It was supposedly their best seller. I'm not sure why; it's edible but nothing quite so yummy as most of what I have eaten from Trader Joe's. Go figure. (It's also much better as leftovers than the first time around.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sakura 3-Tier Bento #9

Kumquats, a checkerboard tea cookie, corn cakes trimmed a bit to fit the box, cheddar slices, and avocado with grape tomatoes and salt and pepper.

This was one of my favorite lunches! Corn cakes taste pretty much like rice cakes, and I'm not entirely sure why they exist, but they seem to come in a more convenient shape than rice cakes tend to, so I'm not going to ask any questions about that one. They're really good with cheese or avocado or tomato or all at once!

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Sakura 3-Tier Bento #8

A tortilla spread with peanut butter, wrapped around a banana, and sliced; baby carrots; sliced Persian cucumber; sliced mushrooms; yellow and red grape tomatoes; a pistachio tea cookie, chocolate covered potato chips, and blue cheese dressing in the pink cup.

This may look quite strange, but I loved it! The banana wrap thing worked really well, and there are few things in the world as lovely as chocolate covered potato chips.

Seriously. If you've never had them, you've never really lived.

Still not great at photographing this box, but cropping out the shadows seems to work okay.

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