Sunday, September 22, 2013

And we're back! Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta!

Heirloom, Tomato Bruschetta, Blueberries, Hard Boiled Egg

.....aaaaaaand we're back after a much longer hiatus than I had anticipated.  I'm going to be honest, I was a little glad to take a break from having picture perfect lunches every single day...there may have even been a few days when I just threw a Lean Cuisine in my purse and pretended like I wasn't a slacker.

Anyway, I've decided to try to make it to at least 365 lunches - also known as a year's worth!  After that, we'll see.  I definitely won't be updating every day, but I'll try to update at least once a week.  I may also lean more on showing you recipes that would provide great leftover lunches rather than just showing you lunchboxes.  In other words, lots of ideas!

Now, this lunch I'm showing you is from over a month ago.  At the height of tomato season, I visited my mom and we got some heirloom tomatoes from Reyer Farms in Lena, Mississippi (thanks, mom!).  If you're anywhere near the area, you should go visit the Reyers (they also frequent the Jackson and Livingston Farmers' Markets).  We went to their farm and picked out a whole bunch of tomatoes.

Aren't they beautiful?!

When I mentioned that I liked to cook, and particularly loved caprese salad and bruschetta, they cut some fresh basil for me and let me take it home for free.  (Really, you should go visit them.  They are super nice.  And no, they're not paying me for this review.  In fact, I don't think they even know I have a blog to review them in!  They're just nice, and sell tasty vegetables).  Anyway, mom and I divided up the tomatoes.  I brought a bag full home and made caprese salad, spaghetti sauce, and some bruschetta for lunch.  It. Was. Delicious.

I packed the bruschetta for lunch with some fresh local blueberries, and a hard boiled egg for protein.  If you pack this for lunch, you've really got two options.  I like it when the tomatoey goodness soaks through my bread and I have to eat it with a fork, so I packed it as pictured above.  If you like your crostini to be actually, you know, crisp (like it's supposed to be outside of my crazy world), then I recommend packing the bread and tomato mixture separately and assembling at lunch. 

Now, go buy some fresh tomatoes before they're all out for the summer!

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

1/2  cup chopped heirloom tomato (about 1/2 large tomato, or 1 roma tomato)
2-3 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 T chopped red onion
1 T crumbled feta cheese
1 T red wine vinegar
1-2 t olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
dash of salt and pepper
dash of red pepper flakes, optional
2 slices Italian style bread (I used day old homemade rosemary focaccia - use whatever you have on hand)

Toast your bread until just golden on the edges, and let cool completely.  You may sprinkle on a little olive oil or butter if you like, but I find it unnecessary.

In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and stir well.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.  You may store this in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days, realizing that the tomatoes will get softer and the flavors stronger the longer you store them (not necessarily a bad thing, just a matter of taste).  When ready to eat, spoon tomato mixture onto toast and eat like an open faced sandwich with your fingers.  Enjoy as a snack, appetizer, or light meal. Pin It Now!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 208 - One Year's Worth of Work Week Lunches!

Half Pimento Cheese Sandwich, Sugar Snap Peas, Peaches and Blueberries, Cracker Crisps.

A year ago this week, I started making lunches for work.  I said I'd make and document four lunches a week for a year, a total of 208 lunches.  And here we are!  I decided to end with a classic, cold sandwich lunch.  A half pimento cheese sandwich on toasted wheat bread, sugar snap peas, peaches and cracker crisps.  I took it to a brown bag lunch conference, and I definitely had the best looking lunch at the table!

So, I seem to be at a crossroads and need to decide what to do with this blog next.  Should I just leave it up as it is?  Keep documenting lunches?  Do something different?  I'd love to hear your feedback - whether or not you'd keep reading, if there are particular things you'd like to see, etc.  Let me know!

Either way, I'm taking a week off.  I am just a little tired of making lunches.  Don't worry, I'll still be having lunches at work, but I'll give myself a break from the photos and the creativity.  Heck, I may have a chicken sandwich every day this week!  Ok, probably not...

If you're distressed over the lack of lunches next week, just pop over to my Lunch Ideas Pinterest page. Pin It Now!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 207 - Cheesy Baked Chicken

Cheesy Baked Chicken, Broccoli, Orange.

I made a little too much pimento cheese this week, so we'll be using that up for the next two days.  Last night, in  a moment of desperation (because none of my regular recipes sounded appealing), I took a chicken breast, stuffed it with pimento cheese, rolled it in Ritz crackers, and baked it.  And it turned out really tasty!  I made an extra for lunch today, and cut into the side a little so you can see all the cheesy goodness inside.  I packed it with broccoli and an orange half, and it was a delightful lunch! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 206 - More Delicious Salad

Can you tell I bought a whole lot of spinach last week and I keep trying to think of inventive ways to eat it?  Well, today that resulted in a very simple spinach and tomato salad with a white wine vinaigrette, a scoop of pimento cheese, peaches, blueberries, and some poppy seed crackers. 

That's really all of interest I have to say about this lunch, other than it's delicious!  You can check out my Lunch Ideas Pinterest page if you need more ideas for the week.  Only two more lunches til I reach my one year goal!  

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 205 - Leftover Pork Shu Mai

Pork Shu Mai on Spinach, Teriyaki Ginger Dressing, Orange Slices, Dark Chocolate
Can you believe that this is my last week of lunches before meeting the one year mark?  One year, four lunches a week, 208 lunches total - crazy!

So, starting out this week, I've got some leftover pork Shu Mai from Sunday night take out!  I put them on a bed of spinach with a teriyaki ginger dressing on the side, orange slices, and two little dark chocolates!  I ate the shu mai cold, and it was so good! Pin It Now!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Day 204 - Fourth of July Leftovers

Pigs in a Blanket, Orange, Bell Pepper Strips, Carrot Sticks

 Happy Friday!  And Happy (late) Fourth of July!  I had some delicious pigs in a blanket for the Fourth yesterday, and so I packed the leftovers for lunch today with half an orange, some bell pepper strips, and carrot sticks.  I wish I had packed some ranch for the vegetables, but it was probably healthier without it!

I think pigs in a blanket are a totally underrated food.  I made mine with turkey hotdogs, reduced fat crescent rolls, and about a teaspoon of dijon mustard rolled into each little blanket.  I baked mine, but I love these roasted over a fire - great for cookouts!  I've even seen them done on the grill, although I'm always worried that the heat is too high for the crescent roll dough.  But, you could try it, and let me know how it goes!

Need more lunch inspiration?  You should check out my Lunch Ideas Pinterest page over the weekend! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day 203 - Tarte aux Champignons

Tarte aux Champignons, Spinach Salad

 Today, we have another treat from the Trader Joe's freezer section.  This Tarte aux Champignons is very similar to the Tarte d'Alsace that I love so much, just with different toppings.  This one has mushrooms, emmental, and some other cheeses - still the tasty pastry crust, still a tasty bechamel base.  Y'all, these things bake in 10 minutes!  That's it!  Just enough time to get your plates, drinks, and salad ready!  I paired the leftovers today with a plain spinach salad (I threw some vinaigrette in the lunch box, not pictured), and it was a very tasty, quick lunch!  Pin It Now!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Days 201 & 202 - One Ingredient, Two Lunches - Trader Joe's Style!

Salad and Stir Fry, both made with mixed Asian Vegetables from Trader Joe's.

I went a little crazy at Trader Joe's this weekend.  I do that, from time to time.  It's far enough away from me that I don't get weekly groceries there, so I tend to just buy large quantities of wine and frozen food at once. 

For the next two lunches, I took advantage of the produce section!  They apparently sell a pound of mix, pre-cut Asian Vegetables in the produce section - red and green bell pepper, red onion, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, watercress, and pickled corn.  So, what did I do?  Bought it, and used it for lots of meals this week, inlcuding two lunches! 

The first lunch is a tasty, French inspired salad with mixed greens, bell pepper, mushrooms, corn, broccoli, and carrots with a tangy honey mustard dressing that I made at home, along with a leftover dinner roll.

The second lunch is Trader Joe's Mandarin Chicken, amped up with all of the delicious veggies, over jasmine rice with orange sections and broccoli from the veggie mix.

And I still have some vegetables leftover - I'm going to use the peppers and onions in a pasta later this week (unlikely to show up for lunch), and then just snack on the carrots for the rest of the week! Pin It Now!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Day 200 - Cold Shrimp Plate

Baked Shrimp, Berry Salad, Wasa Crispbread, Goat Chevre, Cucumber Slices
Two hundred days of lunches!  Woooohooo!

Let's celebrate with a grown up, classic cold lunch, shall we?

Scouring for leftovers last night, I came up with some leftover baked shrimp, berry salad, wasa crispbread, goat chevre, and cucumber slices.  I spread the goat cheese on the wasa and alternated topping it with berries, or a combo of shrimp and cucumbers.  Delicious! Pin It Now!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day 199 - Buffalo Turkey Sliders

Buffalo Turkey Sliders, Potato Salad, Fruit Salad

Ok, this is probably one of the more unappealing pictures for one of the more delicious things I've ever made.  I made up this recipe based on what I had in my fridge, and it was SO GOOD.  Turkey burgers stuffed with cheese and buffalo sauce, on slider buns with provolone and tomato.  Beyond tasty!  The provolone was totally unnecessary, but still appreciated!  Had two leftover sliders for lunch today with fruit salad and potato salad.  I ended up actually packing the burger patties in a separate container for microwaving, and at the rest cold.  Perfection!

I know these don't look pretty, but they are much prettier in person and delicious!  You should definitely try them.

Buffalo Turkey Sliders

1 lb ground turkey
8 slider buns, any kind (I used King's Hawaiian)
1 egg white
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded colby-jack cheese
1/4 cup buffalo sauce (I used mild)
toppings of your choice

In a large bowl, mix turkey, bread crumbs, cheese, egg, and buffalo sauce with your hands until well blended.  Shape into 8 slider patties, about the size of two golf balls.  Cook over medium high heat in a non-stick skillet until dark brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side.  Place hot onto slider buns, add toppings of your choosing, and enjoy!

These burgers will fall apart on the grill, so be sure to cook these stovetop.  They will come out very soft and gooey - as long as there is no pink in the middle, you're burgers are fully cooked - enjoy how they melt in your mouth! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Day 198 - I Really Just Want A Cookout

Turkey Hotdog with Wheat Bun, Berry Salad, Baked Beans, Potato Salad
So, in menu planning this week, I realized that I'm really just in the mood for a constant cookout.  Hotdogs, burgers, barbeque, whatever.  So, I made myself a big batch of potato salad and baked beans, and we'll see what else this week brings!

Today's lunch was a turkey hotdog on a wheat roll, potato salad, baked beans, and fruit salad.  I try in the summer to buy up lots of fruit, cut it up, and keep it in the fridge all week for healthy eating!  I try...I don't always succeed.  But I succeeded this week, making a delicious mix of strawberries, cherries, and blueberries.  Get ready to see a lot of this fruit this week.

Look at all that beautiful fruit!

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Day 197 - Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits
I love shrimp and grits.  It's shrimp!  AND grits!  What more could you ask for in a food? 

There is great debate as to whether Shrimp and Grits as a dish orginiated in Charleston or on the Louisiana/Mississippi/Alabama/Florida coast (affectionately known as the Gulf Coast to those of us from the area, even though we acknowledge that there are many other gulfs in the world!).  Now, I've lived both in Mississippi and in South Carolina, and I'm not sold on who actually invented this delightful dish...nor am I sold on which is better than the other.  The Charleston version always has bacon (yay!) and gravy (ew), while the Gulf version usually has sausage (ew) and creole spices (yay!).  So, mine is...a little of both.

I took some to lunch today, even though the picture I snapped was in the bowl last night before I devoured it.  If you're reheating grits, I recommend pouring a little milk or chicken broth over it before heating - grits dry out after a while, so the added moisture is needed.  And I always use the Southern Living Cheddar Cheese Grits Casserole when I'm cooking to impress - has never failed me!

Shrimp and Grits

1 batch of cheddar cheese grits
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 slices thick cut bacon
1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper (I use red, but green is fine), chopped
1/2 cup white wine or light colored beer, whatever you have on hand
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 T olive oil
1-2 T creole seasoning

Bake up your grits.  Don't eat them too soon, even though you want to!  Slice bacon into small bits and cook in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  As soon as bacon begins to crisp up, add in mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and creole seasoning, cooking for about 5 minutes or until softened.  Pour in wine or beer and bring to a simmer.  Toss in shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes, or until shrimp is pink.  Spoon over grits and serve hot! Pin It Now!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Day 196 - I Love Spaghetti

Spaghetti with Meatballs, Corn, Orange Slices

I know I've posted spaghetti before, and sometimes I take it to lunch and just don't post so that y'all don't see how much I eat it - but really, I love it.  My boyfriend makes it for me about once every other week or so, not only because I love it but because we also both always have the ingredients for it at our houses.  As such,  he made some last night when I was just too tired to even look at a kitchen, and it was so tasty.  I "borrowed" some of the leftovers for lunch today, which I packed with corn and oranges.  Yum! Pin It Now!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day 195 - Avocados Stuffed wtih Shrimp Salsa

Avocados Stuffed with Shrimp Salsa, Mandarin Orange Segments, Wheat Crackers
I love walking into the farmer's market these days and seeing all the fresh, delicious produce.  I saw some avocados this week that looks delicious, and then I started thinking that a lot of the leftovers I'd have this week (shrimp, corn, tomatoes) and some of my pantry staples (oil, vinegar, lemons, frozen edamame) would make a delicious stuffing for those Avocados.  And so, the  "avocado stuffed with shrimp salsa" was born!  Ok, not born, I know other people have made them, too, but I made this recipe out of leftovers, and it's the first time I've made it!

So.  Delicious.

Had half for a snack last night, packed two halves for lunch today, and I have another half which I may feed to by boyfriend tonight, if he's really, really lucky!

I packed my two halves for lunch today with mandarin orange sections and some wheat crackers.  You definitely need to try this one!

Avocados Stuffed with Shrimp Salsa

2  ripe avocados
1/2 cup cooked shrimp
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup cooked corn kernals
1/3 cup shelled edamame
1 T olive oil
1 T lemon or lime juice, divided
1 T minced jalapeno, optional
1 t finely chopped cilantro
dash of salt and pepper, as needed

Cut avocados in half and discard the pits.  Scoop out just a little of the center of each avocado to make room for your stuffing.  You may chop up this avocado and put it in your salsa, or just eat it as you scoop it out like I did!  Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice over the faces of the avocado, coating the surface of the flesh well - this will prevent them from browning.  Chop shrimp and tomatoes into smaller pieces, about the size of the edamame.  Stir together shrimp, tomatoes, and remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Spoon mixture in equal parts into avocados.  You may either serve immediately, or chill a few hours in advance of serving.

This is how open your avocado "cup" for the stuffing should be after you scoop out some of the avocado flesh.  Isn't that beautiful?!

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day 194 - Baked Shrimp

Twice Baked Potato, Baked Shrimp, Grape Tomatoes, Orange Slices

This lunch is all leftovers, and wow were they good last night!  I'm hoping they're just as good for lunch today!  Last night I had a big green salad, twice baked potatoes (I'm on a kick with these that needs to end now), and baked shrimp.  So, for lunch today I packed a leftover potato, leftover shrimp, cherry tomatoes leftover from my salad making, and some orange slices.

I can't wait for lunch!

Baking these shrimp was super easy.  They'd be delicious on pasta, salad, or - as I had them last night - on their own.  These are so easy, even your culinarily-challenged friends could make them.  You should try it!

Baked Shrimp

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 T olive oil
2 T adobo seasoning
1 T butter, melted

Gently toss together all ingredients and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake at 425F for 10 minutes.  Shrimp should be delicately pink, and the oil should be sizzling.  Serve hot, or chill in refrigerator for use in cold dishes.  Enjoy!

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Day 193 - Potatoes Benedict

Potatoes Benedict

 Alright, friends, I'm aware this is cheating - I did not take this to work, nor would I.  But I made it for brunch yesterday, and it was so good that I have to share.  I'm calling it...Potatoes Benedict!  Essentially, it's a bacon-hashbrown muffin topped with a poached egg and some hollandaise sauce.  A little different, and very tasty.

I'm going to give you the recipe details for the potato muffins, which I topped with poached eggs, and this hollandaise recipe.  This makes a dozen muffins, and I served two per person.  Enjoy!

Potatoes Benedict
1 lb shredded hash browns (I used Simply Potatoes)
1 cup shredded cheddar jack cheese
3 strips of bacon
1/4 cup sour cream
1 T salt
1 T black pepper
12 eggs, poached
Hollandaise Sauce

In a large bowl, mix together potatoes, cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper.  Cook bacon until crisp, crumble, and add to potato mixture, stirring well.  Spoon potatoes into a well greased muffin tin, filling each cup about to the top.  Bake at 400F for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and run a knife around each cup.  Flip potato muffins over and let cool while you're poaching your eggs.  Top each muffin with one egg and a generous drizzle of hollandaise.  Serve immediately, perhaps with some grilled asparagus and toasted English muffins! Pin It Now!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day 191 - Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Apricot, Herbed Rice, Pan Seared Pork Chop.

Still have leftover pork chops from the other day!  So I packed it for lunch with some herbed rice, another apricot, and roasted brussels sprouts.

Now, if you hate brussels sprouts when they're boiled and steamed, you absolutely must try them roasted.  I promise, it's like a totally different food!  They take on this sweet, nutty flavor and get all crispy and delicious!  Mine look very dark because they're covered in balsamic...and a little over-charred.  You should definitely cook them until they're visibly golden and crisp, at least!  Try it!

Delicious Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 lb brussels sprouts
2 T olive oil
1-T vinegar, your favorite type
salt and pepper, to taste

Wash brussels sprouts and pat dry.  Trim ends and cut in halves or quarters.  Place in a bowl and drizzle with oil and vinegar, tossing very gently with a spoon.  Lay sprouts (flat side up or down, I do both) on a lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 400F for 20-30 minutes, or until dark golden.  Serve immediately.

Party trick:  Soak toothpicks or wooden cocktail picks in water for 30 minutes.  Stack about 3 brussels sprout halves on each stick and bake that way.  Serve as a party appetizer with horseradish or a lemon-garlic aoli.  You're welcome! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day 190 - Pork Chop and Mushroom Pasta

Mushroom Pasta, Seared Pork Chop, Green Peas, Apricot.

Tried out a new recipe last night from Martha Stewart for Mushroom Pasta. Yummmm!  Creamy like alfredo sauce, but a little lighter.  I made mine with spaghetti instead of fettuccine, as called for, for the very important reason that I only had spaghetti in my pantry!  I served it last night with some pan seared pork chops and green peas.  Packed it all up for lunch today with some orange sections, and it was very nice for lunch indeed! Pin It Now!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Day 189 - Tilapia and Rice

Tilapia, Rice Pilaf, Sugar Snap Peas, Apricot.

Had some delicious tilapia yesterday pan-fried with some Adobo seasoning and olive oil.  Made an extra piece and put it in the lunch box with some leftover garlic rice pilaf (from a box), sugar snap peas, and an apricot.  Tasty and healthy! Pin It Now!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Day 188 - Seafood Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo with Shrimp and Scallops, Red Cherries, Broccoli.

Some days, you need to make fancy comfort food.  That's what I needed last night.  It's just been a rough week (ok, rough month), and it was time for some cream sauce to make it temporarily better.  And so, fettucine alfredo from scratch, with shrimp and scallops.


This is not healthy.  Do NOT make this if you are watching your weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, or anything else.  This is the epitome of indulgence, and it's delicious.

I added some cherries and broccoli at lunch to make it at least somewhat nutritious.  I added in shrimp and scallops, but this would be delicious with just about any seafood or chicken.  I'll give you the recipe for the sauce, which matches about a pound of pasta, cooked.  You will love it!

Alfredo Sauce

1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
salt, to taste
1 pound dried pasta, cooked al dente 

In a medium sized non-stick pot, melt butter.  Stir in garlic and saute just until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Pour in cream and wine; heat over medium-low heat until just barely bubbling on the sides.  Stir in cornstarch and bring to a boil; reduce heat to low immediately and whisk together until thickened.  Add in parmesan and salt, if necessary, whisking until smooth.  Toss with hot, cooked pasta and any other toppings desired (seafood, chicken, broccoli, asparagus, etc.).  Serve immediately and enjoy!
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Day 187 - Cheerwine Pulled Pork

Cheerwine Pulled Pork, Potato Salad, Baked Beans.
Made pulled pork this week for two friends who recently had a baby.  And, since dad is a Carolina Boy, I made Cheerwine pulled pork?

What is Cheerwine, you ask?  It's a softdrink originating in the Carolinas.  It's like a fruitier, lighter Dr. Pepper.  Anyway, they make pulled pork with it a lot, because it's really tasty, and so that's what I did, along with potato salad and baked beans.  And, of course, kept some for myself.  Had some for dinner the other night, and then brought the leftovers for lunch.

If you've never made pulled pork, try it this way.  I promise, you'll thank me.

Cheerwine Pulled Pork

1 5-lb pork picnic shoulder
1 12-oz can Cheerwine (or Dr. Pepper, or Coca-Cola, or anything else dark and sweet)

Spray the interior of a 5 quart crock pot with cooking spray.  Place pork shoulder in the crock pot, pouring Cheerwine over the top.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  When pork falls apart with a gentle prod of a fork, you're ready to go.  Pull out pork with tongs (it should shred on its way out), makings sure not to include bones or fat.  Place pulled pork in a separate container.  You may or may not reserve the juices leftover, as desired.  Serve hot or cold.

If you want to keep hot, pour bones, fat, gristle, juice, etc out of crock pot, reserving at least a cup of juices.  Place pork and liquid back into crock and keep on the warm setting. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Day 186 - Green Salads Are Good for You!

Green Salad, Cherries, Boiled Egg.

Had a nice, leafy green salad yesterday with some fish.  So I packed up the leftovers with some extras for lunch today.  Mixed greens with parmesan cheese, tomatoes, and pumpernickel croutons with a vinaigrette, served up with dark red cherries and a boiled egg.  Healthy!  Easy!  Delicious!  Yay! Pin It Now!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Day 185 - Baked Chicken Breast Leftovers

Baked Chicken, Feta and Pita Crostini, Caesar Salad, Orange Sections
Ah, leftovers!  My favorite part of Monday!

Last night had some tasty baked chicken which had been marinated in Italian Dressing - so I made an extra for lunch today.  Boxed it up along with some feta-pita crostini, caesar salad, and orange sections.

Chicken breast or fish filet and a big plate of salad is a weeknight regular in my kitchen.  I think I have it once or twice a week because it is easy and healthy.  And it's always good to get some greens in you!  They also make great lunch leftovers.  Many nights, I'll mix the salad together minus the dressing, spoon it in a box for lunch, then toss that's night salad with dressing and add a little dressing on the side in my lunch box.  Couldn't be easier, and that way I always have freshly dressed salads! Pin It Now!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 184 - Somedays, You Go Pantry Spelunking

Tomato Soup, Banana
Yeah, so, remember when I had a schpiel the other day about sometimes just doing the best you can?  Well, some Fridays you realize that you forgot to plan a day of lunches, so you go pantry spelunking.  And what you come up with is tomato soup and a banana.  And you smile, because even if it's not glamorous, you're still not buying your lunch at the cafeteria! Pin It Now!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 183 - Crispy Baked Cod

Crispy Baked Cod, Lima Beans, Rice Pilaf
This is one of the easiest recipes ever.  I've been trying to get over my dislike for frozen fish.  I grew up in an area where fresh fish was plentiful, and find myself now in a city where the "fresh" fish is literally described as "fresh (frozen)."  Seriously?

But fish is so good for you, and I love it so much, that I've been experimenting with frozen fish.  This isn't as good as fresh, but it's pretty darn good and so easy.  I made some last night and packed the leftovers for lunch today with some lima beans and rice pilaf.

Not my greatest recipe, but a good one nonetheless.  You can use either fresh or frozen, whatever you have on hand.

Crispy Baked Cod

2 six ounce filets of cod (thawed, if frozen)
6 oz. fat free, plain greek yogurt
1 T lemon juice
1 t hot sauce
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon, and hot sauce.  Spread over fish filets and place in a shallow dish.  Wrap well with cling wrap and marinate, refrigerated, for at least four hours.  When ready to bake, shake off excess marinade from fish and roll in bread crumbs.  Place both pieces of fish on a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 400F for 15 minutes, or until fish flakes.  Serve hot. Pin It Now!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day 182 - I Had a Lot of Extra Feta Cheese

I really, really  love feta cheese. And I had some leftover, and no idea what to do with it.  So, I thought, "Hey!  Why don't I just eat feta for lunch?!"  So, I did.  I mixed feta, olive oil, kalamata olives, and red pepper flakes together for  lunch today, which I heated in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make a warm feta spread.  Soooooo worth all of the calories!  Put in some leftover pita bread, leftover caesar salad, and sections of a Cara Cara orange.  Good, healthyish, easy, and quick! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day 181 - Memorial Day Leftovers!

Hash Brown Casserole, Green Beans, Orange Sections.

I hope you each had a good, long weekend.  And I really hope that you all did a lot of good eating this weekend, too!  I got in some unnecessary but delicious calories myself - pulled pork, fruit salads, green beans, hash brown casserole, and ice cream!

Today for lunch, I brought some of those leftovers!  Hash brown casserole, green beans, and orange segments.  Yum!

Hope you're all having a good day back in the swing of things at work, life, and whatever you do.  Pin It Now!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 180 - Tuna Noodle Bake

Tuna Noodle Bake, Broccoli, Strawberries
Leftovers from last night, yay!  Tuna Noodle is my boyfriend's favorite meal.  Ok, let's be honest - it's his favorite meal when his mom makes it.  He is always very appreciative when I make it for him, but he's also always clear that it's not the way his mom makes it.  (So, I asked his mom.  She says she's never made it the same way twice.  I'm assuming, then, that his preference is purely nostalgia and has nothing to do with the actual casserole).

Anyway, I grew up eating it, too, so I make it from time to time.  It is cheap to make, and consists almost entirely of pantry staples.  And last night, that was the kind of meal I needed!  I had the leftovers today with some steamed broccoli and fresh strawberries, and it was very nice. 

Tuna Noodle Bake

2 four ounce cans tuna, in water, drained
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
10 ounces milk
16 ounces of pasta, any kind (This is a great way to get rid of leftover bits of dried pasta in your pantry)
1 can green peas, drained
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter

Cook pasta according to directions; when al dente, drain water.  Add in tuna, soup, milk, and peas; mix well.  Pour into a greased 9x13 casserole dish.  Top with cheese  In a small, nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Stir in  breadcrumbs until they have absorbed the butter and become clumpy.  Sprinkle over the cheese layer.  Bake casserole uncovered at 350F for 30 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Pin It Now!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 179 - Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice Baked Potato, Orange Sections, Spinach Salad

I've lamented before that I just don't like potatoes reheated.  They just don't have their normal pizzazz.  There are some exceptions, though, and twice baked potatoes are definitely that for me!  Now, I prefer them reheated in the oven, but they do just fine in the microwave.  They are also ridiculously easy to make, but everyone gets excited when you bring them to a cook-out. 

I'm giving you my recipe for a lightened version of this classic, which makes about 8 of the serving you see above.  Feel free to play around with it, or use full fat versions of allt he ingredients.  I took some to a potluck tonight, and had this little leftover for lunch today with some spinach salad leftovers and orange sections.  Yum!

Lighter Twice Baked Potatoes

4 small baking potatoes (Should be no longer than your hand)
4 strips turkey bacon
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup shredded, low fat cheddar cheese
2 T sliced green onions
1 T butter or butter substitute
1-3 t hot sauce, optional (but seriously, does wonders for the flavor!)
1 t garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Scrub potatoes well and pat dry.  Pierce skin of potatoes with the tip of a sharp knife in several places, and sprinkle with salt if desired.  Bake directly on the oven rack at 500F for about 1 hour.  Remove from oven and slice in half, lengthwise (be sure to use an oven mit or towel to protect your hands!)  Scoop out the baked potato goodness from the shells and place into a large bowl.  Add in remaining ingredients (reserving some cheese or green onion if you'd like to sprinkle those on top, optional).  Beat together ingredients with a hand mixer or fork until well blended (I prefer to use my stand mixer so the potatoes are nice and fluffy).  Spoon potato mixture back into skins evenly.  Sprinkle on any cheese or green onion you've reserved.  Potatoes and filling should still be very warm at this point.  Return to the oven and bake at 500F for 10 minutes, or until tops are just barely browned.  Serve immediately.

You can make these ahead of time.  Proceed through all steps until the second baking - let potatoes cool, and then wrap them tightly with cling wrap and freeze or refridgerate them.  When ready to cook, thaw if necessary and allow to sit on the counter for about 15 minutes til room temperature.  Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes, or until hot throughout.  Pin It Now!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day 178 - Aren't Salads Easy to Make?

Spinach Salad, Orange Sections, Toasted Pita Bread

Alright, friends, due to some unexpected rearranging of my week, today for lunch I just packed a regular, boring salad.

Who am I kidding, and good spinach salad is never boring!

Spinach, dried cranberries, almonds, and a delicious raspberry vinaigrette.  Added some orange sections and toasted pita for crunch, and I was good to go.  Going to be honest, I'm a little worried there's not enough protein in here (which usually leads me toward the vending machines around 3:00 - eek!), so if you decide to make this lunch then you should add some chicken!  Or, more nuts, or shrimp, or even a little beef, or some grilled tofu with a raspberry drizzle.  Yes.... Pin It Now!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day 177 - Sometimes, You Just Do the Best You Can

Poppy Seed Chicken over Rice, Navel Orange

I ended up working today - had to cover a shift at the hospital for someone at the last minute.  Which, of course, meant that I had to pull together some dinner in a hurry to bring to work.  And so, I grabbed my leftover Poppy Seed Chicken from last night and an orange, tossed in a Diet Coke, swiped on some mascara and got to work in a hurry.  And so, friends, above you see my very unglamorous, but delicious lunch. 

I considered not including it, because it wasn't very planned out or fancy.  And you've seen this recipe before.  But then I thought "You know, sometimes, you just do the best you can.  The last thing I want for this blog is to represent some illusion that every meal should be planned out.  Sometimes, life happens, and sometimes when life happens you fall short of your plan.  It's not the end of the world."

I see all these beautiful lunches that people make, especially for their children, and I appreciate all of the love and creativity that gets put into those projects.  At the same time, though, I appreciate others who just pull lunches together with a lick and a promise because they need to spend more time helping their kids with homework, or doing something nice for themselves, or covering a work shift for a friend.  Life happens.  And so, I've added this lunch to the "life happens" file, because I want to be clear that I make lunches because I enjoy them, not because I have to, and not because I don't sometimes run out of time. :) Pin It Now!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Day 176 - Kielbasa and Couscous

Parmesan Couscous, Grilled Turkey Kielbasa, Broccoli, Strawberries.

So, this lunch was really easy.  I have some leftover parmesean couscous and broccoli from last night, so I just grilled up a little piece of turkey kielbasa and sliced up some strawberries.  Ate it cold for lunch.  Easy peasy.

Yes , I know I've been doing a lot of leftovers and easy stuff the past few weeks.  I'm just so tired lately - too much going on!  Hopefully I'm getting in some healthy food, and will have a little more culinary inspiration soon!
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Day 175 - Leftover Zaxby's

Zaxby's Boneless Wings with Hot Honey Mustard Sauce, Celery, Carrots, Apple Slices
Zaxby's is one of my favorite indulgences.  It's some of the only fast food I will eat, and I get it for myself every once in a while.  I was out at a professional event until 9:00 last night, and just didn't feel like being creative for lunch today.  So, I bought some Zaxby's boneless wings and added in celery, apples, and carrots. 

Easiest lunch ever.  Pin It Now!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Day 174 - Spicy Garden Pasta with Shrimp

Spicy Garden Pasta with Shrimp, Carrots, Grapes
Y'all, I made this up last night and it was so good. Spicy, full of vegetables, shrimpy.  Yummmmmm.  It's not overly pretty, but I promise it looks better in person, was super easy to make, and pretty healthy.  I'd definitely make this for company...but enjoyed not sharing it last night.  A lot.

Added some grapes and carrots with the pasta, which added a nice, bright, crunchy feel for lunch.  Delicious!

Spicy Garden Pasta with Shrimp

12 oz. whole wheat pasta shells
24 oz. vodka sauce
2 cups frozen shrimp, thawed and peeled
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 small zucchini, sliced thinly
2 T olive oil
2 t red pepper flakes
1 t minced garlic

In a  large, non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add in onion, bell pepper, and garlic, sauteing for about 5 minutes.  Add in tomatoes and zucchini, sauteing about another five minutes.  Pour in vodka sauce and pepper flakes, stirring well and simmering over medium heat for about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions.  When pasta is done, add in shrimp to hot water and pasta and drain immediately.  Add in sauce as desired, and let sit for about 2 minutes while shrimp steams in the pasta.  As soon as shrimp is pink, serve immediately.  

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Day 173 - Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice, grapes,corn.

Red beans and rice!  Yum! I make mine in the slow cooker, and enjoy every single bite.  I also make mine Gulf Coast style - I was informed at lunch today that my red beans looked "weird" because they had sausage and onions in them, by a friend who is from another part of the country.  Honestly, never occurred to me that "red beans and rice" wasn't a trademarked term used in New Orleans.  Obviously that's just crazy talk on my part, but I found it interested how heated the table discussion became over the "right" way to cook different foods.

Whoever said American culture is becoming overly homogenized needs to come eat lunch with me, apparently.

Anyway, I pared my red beans and rice with some leftover silver queen corn and grapes.  Tasty!

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

1 cup dried red beans
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 lb kielbasa or cooked andouille sausage, sliced thin
1 T minced garlic
1 T cajun seasoning
1 quart chicken stock or broth
3 cups hot cooked rice (I like saffron rice, but plain white rice is the classic)

Combine all ingredients, except rice, in a 2 quart crock pot.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until beans are tender.  Serve over rice with a green salad and a crusty baguette!
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Friday, May 10, 2013

Day 171 - Taco Pasta

Taco Pasta
Leftovers today!  Last night I made Taco Pasta from The Girl Who Ate Everything (one of my favorites!).  The pasta was good - very kid friendly, very filling and tasty after a long day.  I'm not sure I'd make it again for myself, but I will definitely pull this recipe out for babysitting, youth group, etc.  But seriously, check out her blog...great recipes! Pin It Now!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Day 172 - PB&J

PB&J, pretzels, cantaloupe.

It's happened.  I've been fighting it for 172 days, but here it is:  My first PB&J for lunch.  I couldn't help it - I was so tired, so uncreative, and that white bread looked so inviting!  To be fair, I do usually buy the thin white bread from the store, which makes me feel like I'm being a little healthier.  Right?  Well, at least I added cantaloupe, that's healthy!  And, pretzels...

I feel like a little bit of a lunch fail, and yet this was so inevitable. AND delicious!  Pin It Now!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Day 170 - Cinco de Mayo Rice Bowl!

Steak Fajita Rice Bowl, Refried Beans, Orange

Of course I have Cinco de Mayo leftovers.  Have you not yet figure out how much I love Mexican food?   I made steak fajitas Sunday, which were delicious, and decided to bring the leftovers for lunch.  Instead of just bringing more fajitas, however, I made a modified rice bowl in my lunch box.  Rice box?  I don't know.  Anyway, we've got a bed of Fiesta Rice, fajita steak and veggies, refried beans, and segments of a Cara Cara orange.

Yum!! Pin It Now!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Day 169 - Hot Dog Lunch!

Hotdog, Potato Upside Down Cake, Corn on the Cob, Cantaloupe.

I was inspired by this lunch from My Epicurean Adventures today.  She packed her daughter and herself hotdogs for lunch, and I thought "Well of course you can pack a hot dog for lunch, why didn't I think of that?!"  Also, I love hot dogs, a lot, so I was really excited.

So, for lunch today I packed a fat-free turkey dog on a white (gasp!) bun with leftover Potato Upside Down Cake, leftover corn on the cob, and cantaloupe.  I pulled out the cantaloup and bun for microwaving, and this was delightful!  Like a picnic, just at work...and not as cool, because I had to go back to work instead of taking a nap.  But for a minute there, it was all good! Pin It Now!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Day 168 - Breakfast in a Box

English Muffin, Blackberry Jelly, String Cheese, Cantaloupe, Yogurt Covered Raisins, Cashews.

Very easy lunch today, friends. And, mostly pulled randomly from my refrigerator (are you noticing that trend this week?).  English muffin for a carb with blackberry jelly, string cheese and cashews for protein, cantaloupe for vitamins, and yogurt covered raisins for dessert.  Super fast, easy, and relatively healthy!  And rather breakfasty, which you know I love. Pin It Now!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day 167 - Cajun Pasta

Cajun Pasta, Strawberries, Dried Pineapple.

I had no idea what to cook for dinner last night.  NO idea.  I normally plan my menu in detail, but I just wasn't on my game last night.  But then I remembered this Cajun Pasta recipe that I found on Pinterest, and realized that I had the ingredients at home to make an altered version.  It was SO good.  Creamy, zesty, and still a little light.  Of course, like any pasta, it was less good heated up for lunch, but still quite tasty.  I'd definitely make this again, even for some company.  The leftovers today were packed with some strawberries and dried pineapple, which made a very nice lunch.

Feel free, when making this pasta, to play up or down the spice factor!

Cajun Pasta

8 oz egg noodles, cooked
1-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
12 oz frozen onion and pepper blend (also called fajita mix)
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup 2% milk
4 oz fat free cream cheese
2 t. Cajun or Creole seasoning (I use Tony Chachere's), divided
2 t. chicken bouillon
1 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Chop chicken into bite sized pieces, and place into pan when hot.  Cook until chicken is lightly browned and cooked all the way through, sprinkling with 1 teaspoon of cajun seasoning as you cook.  Remove chicken and place in a separate container.  Place frozen onions and peppers into pan, cooking until they are slightly soft, around 7 minutes.  You  may add more oil, as desired.  Stir in minced garlic and saute for another minute.  Pour in wine and bouillon, making sure to scrape up any drippings or brown bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Stir in cream cheese and remaining seasoning, stirring until cream cheese has melted.  Add in milk, chicken, and pasta.  Cook until heated through and sauce has thickened; serve hot. 

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Day 166 - Wasa and Toppings

Wasa Crispbread, goat cheese, pepperoni, strawberries, blackberries.

 I really like Wasa Crispbreads.  My parents always talked about them like they're the worst diet food in the world, but I find them to be an excellent vehicle for cheese, vegetables, and fruit.  I usually keep a pack or two around the house, and top them with goat cheese and apples when I need a quick, healthy snack.  Today for lunch, I packed sesame Wasa and goat cheese, as well as other things randomly selected from my fridge - blackberries, strawberries, and pepperoni.  Both the berries and the pepperoni were great toppings with the Wasa and goat cheese, so I got to have several little creative moments at lunch!

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 165 - Takeout Dumplings

Leftover dumplings, soy sauce, honeydew melon, dried pineapple, yogurt covered raisins.

I had leftover dumplings from takeout last night, so guess what I had for lunch today!  You guessed it, dumplings!  They were so good...little bits of shrimp and pork and vegetables and happiness!  I added in some honeydew melon, dried pineapple, and yogurt covered raisins, and I was one happy lunch-eater.

I promise to be more creative later in the week.  But today is Monday, and I'm proud of myself for even packing a lunch to begin with. :) Pin It Now!