Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sakura 3-Tier Bento #49

Orange slices, a hard boiled egg, quick-pickled cucumbers (just salted, with the excess juices squeezed out so they wouldn't run in my container), cherry tomatoes filled with tuna salad, and mini Club crackers.
I know you've seen very little from me lately, and this is probably the last post of mine you'll see this year. (So many working lunches, and then I'm taking a much-awaited mini vacation.) But lunches will come, I promise.

Monday, December 28, 2015

ECO Lunch Box Three-in-One #25

Tossed salad, yogurt ranch, a chocolate, goat cheese, grapes, and mini toast squares.

It was what I had around, and it worked out.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Temari Rabbit Bento Bowl #9

A lunch from before I moved, that you've never seen (I attended a conference where lunch was provided, and did not pack anything). Vegetable fried rice and grapes. Actually not bad considering the circumstances, trying to pack everything up and all.
There will be no Pack-a-Snack post tomorrow, and the next few weeks will probably have few lunches in it due to the holiday. Stay safe out there, everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Temari Rabbit 2-Tier Bento #58

A stuffed egg (paprika mix), some grapes, mini toast squares, and mushroom walnut pate.

This is not much to look at, really, but it was amazing. Necessity was the mother of invention here; I had way too many mushrooms going south in my fridge. Just sautéed wasn't going to cut it or I'd be eating mushrooms atop things for a week.

A the suggestion of a friend, I Googled "mushroom pate." But I didn't actually have all the ingredients for any of the versions I saw. So I plunged ahead, and made this. This is my own mushroom pate.

Okay, so it's brown. And pureed. If you can overlook that, and enjoy the flavor, you won't be sorry. It's truly lovely.

Mushroom Walnut Pate
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

10 oz. mushrooms (I used about half white button mushrooms and half baby bella mushrooms)
1 baby leek (if you don't have one of these, just use about 1/2 cup of chopped leeks)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley

Cut the mushrooms up. Saute them in the butter until well cooked; set aside. Slice the leek thinly, then submerge in a bowl of water. Swirl around until the grit settles at the bottom. Carefully spoon out the leeks and strain them in a colander.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet you used for the mushrooms. Cook the leek and the garlic in this until quite soft, then add mushrooms and cook a bit more until the flavors meld (a total of about 5-8 minutes). Transfer the vegetable mixture to a bowl.

Toast the walnuts in the skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the walnuts. Using a food processor or blender, finely chop the walnuts with the oil. Add vegetables, lemon juice, and herbs. Blend until creamy. Salt and pepper to taste.

Chill for at least a half hour to thicken a little. Serve with toast or crackers.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sakura 3-Tier Bento #48

Grapes, orange slices, ricotta dip, roasted grape tomatoes, sliced black olives, sautéed mushrooms, and mini toast squares.

This worked surprisingly well. I should not be surprised, as I have had some variant of this before and found it delightful, but it's so simple I guess it just surprises me that it tasted so sophisticated.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sakura 3-Tier Bento #47

Orange slices, cherries, an improvisational cucumber and smoked salmon salad, a bottle of soy sauce, cherry tomatoes, and shrimp-edamame shumai.

The cucumber-smoked salmon salad was taken from Makiko Itoh's Just Bento, only it was meant to have seaweed in it. I didn't have the seaweed, but I had everything else, and it sounded pretty good. It worked out! I really loved this salad, and it is different than what I usually do with cucumbers and/or smoked salmon. I'll probably make it again, whether or not there is any seaweed available.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Temari Rabbit 2-Tier Bento #57

Some sauce bottles with a mixture of soy sauce and rice vinegar in them; vegetable mini dumplings; cucumbers tossed with sesame seeds, soy sauce, and rice vinegar; tamagoyaki; and cherries.

This was just okay. I was disappointed in these dumplings (frozen, a brand I've not tried before), so having the tamagoyaki really helped matters.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Pack-a-Snack #59

Leftover seasoned sushi rice with seaweed crumbles, a bottle of soy sauce mixed with rice vinegar, and tamagoyaki, in my Happy Jackson "Picky Things" box.

This is some of my best snack packing work. It was truly delightful. I think the fact that the rice was already very well seasoned with rice vinegar and sugar made a big difference. And what else are you going to do with just a few spoonfuls of rice, anyway?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Skater Lunch Box #15

This photographed badly and wasn't too exciting to begin with, but anyway: a wrap made of leftover pork, avocado, lettuce, and mayo; and cherries.

Not every day can hit it out of the park. But this is still much, much cheaper than buying something at lunchtime, and it got me through the day. So it has things going for it.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

ECO Lunch Box Three-in-One #24

Couscous-veggie salad, vanilla yogurt topped with min chocolate chips and tiny marshmallows, and slices of fuyu persimmon.

First, a warning. If you have never had a persimmon, and end up with one, like this, that is slightly underripe, run! It will make you believe persimmons are awful. Because the difference between "this is one of the best things I've ever eaten" and "HOW DO I GET THIS TASTE OUT OF MY MOUTH!?" is a razor thin thread with persimmons. I'm just glad my first one didn't taste like this or I would think they all did.

The couscous salad was pretty bland, but perfectly edible. If I were to make it again I'd use some sort of dressing. I made it from leftover parmesan couscous, so I figured it was flavored enough, but it just wasn't enough flavor to take care of all those veggies (tomatoes, asparagus, cucumber, red bell pepper, and carrots--it was at least a 1:1 ratio of veggies to couscous).

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

KOSOX 2-Tier Sushi Box #4

Pickled baby corn, cherries, asparagus with sesame dressing, and smoked salmon-avocado sushi (tiny soy sauce/rice vinegar bottles are nestled among the sushi).

This was not really the plan. But I woke up super early with an irresistible urge to make sushi. And there you are. This isn't perfect sushi, in terms of getting the fillings right in the middle, etc., but the flavors were just exactly right.

Also, this is the first time I've had pickled baby corn. It's actually really nice, and a good change of pace. It went well with the sushi. In fact, it would probably go pretty well in sushi sometime.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Insulated Jar & Sides #1

Mini Club crackers, butternut squash soup, and fresh cherries.

It's winter and I really needed something that I could have hot soup in. My experiments with anything microwave safe plastic have been sort of disastrous, so I finally sprung for a thermal lunch jar. It worked! My soup was hot at lunch. This isn't the most colorful of meals, but it worked for today. I'm not bothering to list this according to brand because there are so many options of pretty much the exact same thing, but if it matters to you what this is, just let me know in the comments and I'll give you a link.

Also, I love butternut squash soup. It's so easy and elegant.

Monday, December 7, 2015

KOSOX 2-Tier Sushi Box #3

Salami, mortadella, and pepperoni on silicone baran leaves (to keep other stuff dry), garlic-herb breadsticks (barely visible), black olives, cucumber slices, yellow bell pepper strips, grape tomatoes, and a small cup of ricotta dip (recipe here).

Apparently, this imperfect box is growing on me. I needed something to fit the breadsticks, so I had to use my longest box. (As it was I nibbled off the ends to get them to fit.)

I'd never had mortadella and it was on sale, so I figured I'd give it a try. It's essentially Italian bologna with visible chunks of pork fat. (Is it right to call it "Italian bologna" or should we call ours "American bologna"? Mortadella is from Bologna, Italy, after all.) Sounds kind of dreadful, but it's actually pretty lovely--especially if you like bologna. (As a child, I was in love with bologna. I hardly ever have it now, but a taste of that super-processed loaf of pork is quite the heady sense memory!) Mortadella has an interesting history. It was banned in the United States from 1967 to 2000, so at the risk of showing my age, I could never have had it before I was a legal adult anyway.

I was really happy with this lunch. Italian is a nice change of pace.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

#Pack-a-Snack #58

Roasted butternut squash seeds in a small container I had on hand.

I was making butternut squash soup, so I decided to roast the seeds while I was cooking the squash. They turned out really well! And because I'd otherwise throw them away, they were practically free. The only thing is that you don't get a whole lot of seeds out of a butternut squash--about enough for one snack.

Roasted Butternut Squash Seeds
Serves 1

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the seeds from a butternut squash (hopefully being used for some other purpose). Rinse and dry the seeds, discarding any smaller, softer seeds. Coat the dry seeds in olive oil (about 1 1/2 teaspoons will do it). Bake in a single layer on a baking sheet, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Season as desired (I used garlic salt, and it was excellent). Leave to cool if you plan to pack them before serving.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Temari Rabbit 2-Tier Bento #56

Swiss cheese and apple slices, red grapes, mini Club crackers, a cup of yogurt ranch, yellow mini bell pepper rings, baby carrots, and celery sticks.

This is from the absolute dregs of my fridge/pantry after nearly three weeks of avoiding the grocery store, but it worked!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

KOSOX 2-Tier Sushi Box #2

Some homemade bacon-mushroom mini quiches pulled from my freezer stash and Waldorf salad. I put too much lemon juice in the salad, and it was super tart, but edible. I also put the quiches on a napkin and gave them a quick blast in the microwave, which helped matters some.

This box with it's imperfectly-fitting lid still annoys me, but it seemed to fit the quiches so well, I just gave in.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

ECO Lunch Box Three-in-One #23

Honeycrisp apple wedges, mixed grapes, yogurt ranch, croutons, and a striped chef salad-type thing with Swiss cheese, carrots, ham, cucumbers, and hard boiled egg on top of Boston lettuce.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Temari Rabbit 2-Tier Bento #55

Hard boiled egg halves, Persian cucumber slices, a little cup of yogurt ranch, baby carrots, a chunk of Honeycrisp apple, and shrimp pasta salad topped with parmesan cheese.

My version of shrimp pasta salad isn't perfect yet (hence the parmesan), but I'm getting closer! Someday soon I'll have it ready to share with you.