Well, today I got soup at the new Potbelly restaurant in Fargo, but I did bring my lunch all week. These are the lunches I packed late Sunday afternoon, which is a huge time saver for me and pretty much guarantees that I’ll actually bring my lunch during the week. I’ve learned that if I leave it for each evening, I will inevitably be too busy to get one made each night.
All four days this week included a large salad made with English cucumbers, grape tomatoes, celery, and red and yellow peppers. I keep a small bottle of balsamic vinegar in my desk drawer to use as a salad dressing.
Lunch #1 included the salad, plus some canned tuna mixed with roasted red pepper, a honeycrisp apply, Sunbutter and a few green olives.
For my second lunch this week, I had leftover jerk chicken, dried cherries and cocoa roasted almonds.
No, the salad doesn’t get boring. The next day I had another honeycrisp apple, this time with natural peanut butter. I also had spicy pickled green beans, and the empty container was for some frozen shrimp that I packed that morning. Yum!
And finally, here’s another serving of canned tuna, this time topped with dill relish. I also had a few slices of dried peaches, a small serving of white cheddar cheese and a Pumpin Pie Larabar (a new flavor I just tried that was very good!).
Yesterday, I was looking for a quick lunch and here’s what I came up with. I took a mushroom and Swiss burger out of the freezer and fried it (which I NEVER do and still would have preferred to grill it, but that didn’t feel quick and it also was pretty cold outside). I served it with ketchup (not real food, BTW), mustard and a dollop of dill relish. I purchased the burger from my local butcher shop.
Fast, easy, delicious!
Wash the squash and cut a slice off one side so that it doesn’t roll when you cut the rest of the slices.
Slice the entire squash into 1/4″ slices (if they get thinner, they are even better). (Mom’s editorial comment: “They are so pretty as they have a scalloped edge.”) Discard the middles when you get to where you are cutting into the seeds.
Dip in olive oil and then parmesan cheese. Put them on cookie sheets and bake in a hot oven. I start with one pan on the lowest rack, bake for 10 minutes and then move to a higher rack. Then, put the other pan on the lower rack. I had the oven at about 400. Salt as desired.
I used this dish a couple days ago to warm up two items — chipotle shredded pork and roasted butternut squash.
It’s a unique dish and I don’t know that I’ve seen one like it other places. The divider is nice when you’re cooking multiple things. I think warming up leftovers is a great example of when a dish like this can be useful. I love that it’s unusual but in a utilitarian way.
To me, though, the dish brings back memories — memories of the beautiful woman that owned it before me. Her name was Charlotte (which is very similar to my name) and she was my great aunt. I remember many things about her, including her love of gardening and her ability to use a use her spinning wheel to make wool into yarn. She had a large sale when she and her husband downsized from their large farmhouse and moved into town and I actually have several items from this woman, and each time I use them, they bring back a warm feeling about her.
I’ve had about 10 butternut squash waiting in my garage since the first freeze and yesterday was the day to do something with them. I know that they would keep fine just in the garage, but with that many squash, I just wasn’t sure we’d eat them fast enough.
So , I cut them in half and roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. (You do need to scrap out the seeds before roasting.) I added about a half inch of water to each pan. I ended up doing two batches.
Once they had cooled, I peeled them and mashed them. I did find that the ones that had gotten brown on the skin were much easier to peel (good tip!). Now I have several containers of roasted squash in my freezer for soups or just eating. I saved out a couple servings for dinner tonight with the shredded pork that I had in the slow cooker all day yesterday.
I’m kind of fixated on a new breakfast. I kept seeing recipes online for “egg muffins” or things that looked a lot like them. So, I tried making them to see if they would work well for quick breakfasts on working days. They do make fast breakfasts so I’ve been making them on Sundays. (You know my routine by now, right?)
One of them in a muffin tin just didn’t seem like enough food though, so I pulled out my trusty silicone granola bar pans and tried them out instead. Here’s some pictures of most recent version using cherry tomatoes, shallots (from my garden), mushrooms and bacon. They were both good but I gotta admit the ones with BACON were better. And, I tried try cooking the veggies in coconut oil on the first batch and my opinion is that made the muffins taste a little too sweet for my liking. I’ve also been topping them sometimes with salsa.
I broke my habit this week and only made two lunches Sunday night, instead of my usual four. So, tonight I had to make lunch for tomorrow.
I am also kicking it up a notch this month, trying to be even more unprocessed. I’ve taken the 5th Annual October Unprocessed Challenge. The easiest way to eat “real food” is to make it yourself; you just can’t trust restaurants.
So, here’s the lunch I made tonight. It’s not my usual, but it looks pretty good. I made it by scrounging in the kitchen (not that different, I guess, from what I do many Sunday nights.)
On the menu: Tri-color pepper salad with shallots (from my garden), dressed with olive oil and white vinegar; cottage cheese (doesn’t look that good?), red grapes, a few green olives, a chunk of white cheddar cheese, a snack-size Cashew Cookie Lara bar and a square of dark chocolate.
See, I canned a bunch of stuff this fall, like applesauce, tomatoes, peaches, vegetable juice, maybe a few other things. They’re all sitting there on my shelf, looking awesome. They’re just waiting. And waiting… and waiting.
You see, I can’t use them yet. I just can’t. I feel like I need to wait until it’s colder outside before I dig into them. (Yesterday, I needed applesauce in my breakfast cookie recipe and it about killed me to open that jar and use it now.) I know, I get it, I canned them to use but it just seems like I should be saving them until a little snow flies.
How about you? Do you start using your fall canned goods right away, or save them a while, like I do?
On Sunday’s, I like to actually make something for breakfast that takes a few minutes. Often, it’s eggs over easy with sausage or bacon. Today, it was breakfast cookies.
I tried out a recipe by Danielle Walker, who wrote the “Against All Grain” cookbook. These cookies were easy to make and tasted pretty good. I didn’t have any currants so I substituted mini dark chocolate chips. I even had enough to package a few up in smaller bags for commuting to work this week.
My cookies didn’t look quite as chewy as Danielle’s did, but they looked pretty good.
I’m still getting small heads of red cabbage from my garden, so yesterday, I looked up ideas on how to preserve it. It turns out you can just blanch it for three minutes and then pop it into the freezer. So, that is what I did with about four heads that were ready.
Way too easy! These will taste great in soups later this winter.