Thursday, February 28, 2013

Day 131 - Couscous with Ham

Today I used the little bits of shredded ham for lunch.  I made instant couscous with pine nuts, parmesan cheese, wilted collard greens, and chopped ham.  Served it with some corn and lima beans, and it was quite good!  You could serve the couscous either hot or cold, but I heated it up at work and had a nice, warm meal on this chilly day.

No recipe today, because this was just tossed together.  If you've never tried couscous for lunch, you should think about trying it!

Pin It Now!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day 130 - Ham with Vegetables

Ham, Lima Beans, Corn
Remember those beautiful ham slices from yesterday?  Well, I ate them on their own today with some corn and lima beans.  Very simple, very quick, and very delicious.  It microwaved together in about a minute, and the only thing I felt I was missing was some cornbread!  Which I don't need to eat anyway...

Not much to say about this one.  Good use of leftover ham and vegetables, for you leftover fans!

Pin It Now!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 129 - Frijoles Charros and a Week of Ham

Alright, friends, this week we have a theme.  Drum roll please!  This week's theme is....One Ham Bone, Four Lunches!  This involves one of my favorite thrifty secrets.  Honey Baked Ham is a big deal down here in the south, but those hams cost anywhere from $6-$12 a pound, which is absurd.  Who has money for that?  Well, lots of people, apparently.  But not me! can buy a ham bone, with plenty of meat on it, for $2.50 a pound.  So, I got a beautiful ham bone for only $5.95, sliced the meat off, and will feed myself lunches from it all week!


Now, this is about a 2.5 lb ham bone.  You could get a much bigger ham to feed more people, but even as it is...look at all that ham!  Notice I've got a lot of ham left over on the bone, too.  That will come in handy!  I've also managed to get some ham slices and ham bits off the bone, which will show up next week.

Now, onto today's lunch!

Frijoles Charros, Rice, Avocado, Collard Greens, Red Plum

So, dinner last night and lunch today came from the ham bone itself.  I made frijoles charros in the slow cooker, and wow they were good.  Frijoles charros basically translates to "cowboy beans," and it's essentially a southwestern version of what we call baked beans in the south.  Or, at least that's how I see it. Pork, tomatoes, and chilies are slow cooked with pinto beans in the original varieties, so I just added my own little spin to a basic.  This was great served over rice last night, and today I had them with rice, avocado, collards wilted in chili oil, and a red plum.  So good.  I highly recommend this for a thrifty and filling hot meal!

Frijoles Charros in the Slow Cooker

1 cup dried pinto beans
1 cup dried kidney beans
1 large ham bone with some ham attached
1 can Rotel
12 oz beer (I used Corona, but any kind is fine)
12 oz water

Combine all ingredients in a 4 quart crock pot.  If you're ham bone isn't entirely covered in liquid, that's ok!  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Stir well and remove bone and any little bits of ligament or bone.  Serve hot over rice and enjoy! Pin It Now!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 128 - Cold Breakfast for Lunch

Muller Corner Yogurt, Strawberry Fruit Leather, Mixed Graham Bunny Crackers, Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, Raspberries and Blackberries 

Remember the lunch that I forgot to plan last week?  Well, I liked it so much that I copied it this week...just with a little more intentionality!

This lunch was all breakfast type items, mostly from pantry staples.  I had some fresh berries, and (as always) a Muller Corner with granola.  I threw in some Annie's Graham Bunnies with chocolate hazelnut butter for dipping, and a strip of strawberry fruit leather.  I get the little individual packs of fruit leather and hazelnut butter when they're on sale at the fancy schmancy organic section of the grocery store, and they're great for snacking and lunches.

This was easy, and quick.  I tucked everything in so the top fit on well, and ate it very happily at lunch time!

And it all fits!

Pin It Now!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 127 - Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Gravy

Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Gravy, Collard Greens, Clementine, Apple Slices.

 Last night I made one of my favorite dishes...Chicken breasts with a mushroom white wine cream sauce.  One of the reasons I love it is because you get to cheat with a can of cream of chicken soup.  I know, I know, nitrates and preservatives and whatever.  I usually reserve cream of whatever for casseroles, but sometimes you just have to admit how easy they are to use!  This recipe makes a gravy that is velvety and flavorful and delicious...and quick.  Full of calories, but a delicious treat once in a while.  I like to make it extra indulgent by serving it over mashed potatoes!

Today, I made it a little healthier by packing it with a clementine, some apple slices, and collard greens.  I poured in just a teeny bit of water into the larger compartment so that I steamed the collard greens while I microwaved it.  I also tossed the apples and clementine into an extra little container I packed with me, so they stayed cold.  Little more work than some lunches, but totally worth it. 

The chicken recipe is originally from Southern Living, but I've of course made some alterations.  This comes together very quickly and would be great for mid-week company - or just a treat for yourself! 

Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Gravy

skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon marjoram
2 T olive oil 1 (16-oz.) package linguine
1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup dry white wine

1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and marjoram.  Warm half of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat; cook 2 breasts 5-7 minutes on each side or until nicely browned and cooked through. Remove chicken; cover and keep warm, reserving drippings in skillet.  Add the rest of the olive oil to the skillet over medium-high heat; add mushrooms and sauté 8 minutes. Add wine, stirring well and bring to a boil.  Be sure to scrape up brown bits from the skillet and mix well with mushrooms and wine.  Remove from heat; add soup, and whisk vigorously until smooth.  Add chicken back into pan and coat with sauce; warm until just heated through.  Serve with pasta, rice, or potatoes (you'll want a starch for all that great sauce!).  Spoon extra mushroom sauce over chicken as desired, and serve immediately. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day 126 - Baked Turkey Meatballs

Turkey Meatballs, Tallegio cheese, What Thins, Blueberries, Apples

Remember the turkey burger that I had yesterday?  Well, I had some leftover turkey, so I made meatballs!  And woah, were they better than I thought!  I threw them in the lunch box with some leftover tallegio cheese, wheat thins, blueberries, and apples!  Not a whole lot different from yesterday's lunch, actually, but very good.

I made fewer meatballs than the recipe below, but I thought I'd give you an idea of what to buy at the store.  I suspect the recipe below would give you a couple dozen meatballs.  They tasted great alone, and would also be good in a variety of sauces.  Feel free to experiment!

Cheesy Turkey Meatballs

1 lb ground turkey
1 package Kraft Fresh Takes, any flavor (I used Four Cheese this time)
1 egg
Dried parsley, optional

In a large bowl, crack and whisk egg well.  Add in turkey and contents of Fresh Takes package.  Blend ingredients well with your hands, making sure that the egg, cheese, and breadcrumbs are evenly distributed.  Roll into golfball sized balls and place on a parchment lined sheet.  Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.  Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Pin It Now!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 125 - Turkey Burger

Turkey Burger on Wheat Bun, Apples, Blueberries.

Made some turkey burgers for dinner last night, made an extra one to take to lunch today.  I had a turkey burger on a wheat bun wtih lettuce, white cheddar cheese, and dijon mustard, accompanied by blueberries and apples.  Not too unhealthy, right? 

The trick is, I assembled this lunch and took a picture of it..and then just disassembled it for packing.  I know, I know, deception!  But, I didn't want to eat a cold burger, and I didn't want to heat up the whole dish.  So, I actually packed the fruit as you see it now.  I then packed the hamburger bun with the cheese and letuce in the middle.  I had a pack of mustard that I tucked in the side, and then I put the actual turkey burger in a small sandwich bag.  That way, all I had to do at work was nuke the bagged burger in the microwave for about a minute, slide it between the lettuce and the cheese, wrap it in a nice fluffy bun drizzled in mustard, and enjoy! Pin It Now!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Day 124 - The Lunch I Forgot to Plan

Muller Greek Corner with Berries, Lara Bar, Carrots, Nut Thins

 Some weeks, you just can't plan out every meal.  And so you come to Friday morning and you just throw things in your lunch box.  This morning, I found a Muller Greek Corner, Lara Bar, carrots, and almond Nut Thins crackers.  Pretty healthy for a lunch on the fly, if I do say so myself.

Have you tried Muller Corners?  Muller is a European brand that Quaker has brought to the US, and it's to die for!  Unfortunately, the Muller Rice pudding snacks haven't made the transatlantic journey, but someday, I hope...
Strawberry Muller Corner

Anyway, as they appear now they come in Greek and traditional yogurt varieties, and the corners have delicious little additions, like fruit preserves or chocolate or granola.  You should try them if you haven't!  They fit great in your Easy Lunch Boxes, too! Pin It Now!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Day 123 - Valentine's Day Salad

Spinach Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette, Orzo Pasta Salad, Oven Fried Shrimp.

Today, we're featuring a Valentine's lunch!  How in the world is a spinach salad related to Valentine's, you ask?  Because it's a pretty light lunch.  Let's be honest, almost everyone has a heavy evening meal on Valentine's.  You're either going out to eat, cooking something elaborate for the people you love, or emotionally eating because Hallmark and society tell you that your single status is sad. 

You are not sad, for the record.  You are wonderful just as you are, whether you are single, happily married, unhappily married, or somewhere between any of those.  That said, there's nothing wrong with indulging your awesomeness with a little extra chocolate tonight!

And, so, enters the healthy lunch.  I've got frozen pizza and wine on the menu at home tonight (heck yeah, I know I'm fancy!  That was sarcasm...), so for lunch today I've got a spinach salad with feta and Dijon vinaigrette, orzo salad, and oven fried shrimp.  No recipes today, nothing fancy, just a good cold lunch.

Happy Valentine's Day. Hug someone you love and have an extra treat for me!   Pin It Now!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Days 121 & 122 - Two Meals, One List - Italian Style!

Two delicious Italian and Mediterranean Style lunches!
I never planned on this being a thing, but I guess it is now!  Here's another two days of lunches from one main set of ingredients.  Common ingredients for these two days include:  salami, tallegio cheese, bean sprouts, mini bell peppers, and a baguette.  I already had the baguette, peppers, and cheese at home, so I brainstormed and picked up the salami and bean sprouts to round it out.  

The first lunch was a salami and tallegio sandwich on a baguette with sprouts, peppers on the side, rice crackers, and mixed berries.

The second lunch was a bed of sprouts with a wedge of tallegio, a few parmesan cubes, salami  slices, olive skewers, bell peppers, and baguette slices.

These were great to make ahead of time because they kept cold so well.  And all of the ingredients could be served at room temperature, so I could refrigerate it overnight and then just leave it on my desk for work.  If you're packing lunch for kids, this would be great for any adventurous eaters.  Pin It Now!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Day 120 - Crunchy Shrimp Pasta

Crunchy Shrimp Pasta

I packed leftovers from last night for lunch today.  I knew I'd be doing it in a hurry this morning, too, so I just snapped a picture of dinner last night.

So, for my readers who love whole foods and clean eating, this is not for you.  For my readers that don't mind using a little processed food for a quick and tasty meal, this is totally for you.

Remember the spaghetti from last night?  Well, I used up the rest of the sauce and pasta, and this time topped it with some shrimp tossed in Italian Parmesan Fresh Takes and baked.  It.  Was.  SO.  Good.  I may be making shrimp like this all the time now.  Couldn't have been easier, and it was so delicious!

I'm going to write the recipe assuming you're starting fresh and didn't have leftovers like I did.  I made enough for 3 servings last night, and the below recipe will make 4-6 servings.  Enjoy!

Crunchy Shrimp Pasta

1.5 lbs shrimp, peeled with the tail off
1 package Italian Parmesan Fresh Takes
1 egg
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup white wine
1 T minced garlic
1 T olive oil
1 pound angel hair pasta

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and onion, cooking until soft.  Add in tomatoes and wine, bringing to a simmer.  Pour in spaghetti sauce and bring to a simmer again.  Reduce to low heat and keep on back burner while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Put on water to boil for pasta.  In a separate bowl, whisk egg until well blended.  Dip shrimp in egg and place into opened bag of fresh takes.  When all shrimp is in the bag, seal and bag and shake until coated.  If your shrimp are large, you may need to do this in two batches.  Remove coated shrimp and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle over any remaining cheese and bread crumbs as desired.  Bake at 425F for 10 minutes and remove promptly.  While shrimp is baking, you should have plenty of time to cook and drain pasta.  Toss pasta with sauce and keep warm.  Transfer to individual bowls and top with shrimp.  Serve hot.   

Pin It Now!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Day 119 - Not-Really-Homemade Spaghetti

Spaghetti, roasted chicken, sugar snap peas.

I love homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch.  Love it.  I love all the chopping, the simmering all day, the rewarding slurping at the end of the night.  Buuuuut, some days you get home late from work, have bills to pay, emails to answer, clothes to launder, groceries to buy...and all you really want to do is catch up on TV.  That, my friends, is time for spaghetti sauce from a jar.

Jarred sauce is always on sale, there's always a coupon, and you can heat it up faster than pasta.  You can jazz it up, too...I usually add a can of diced tomatoes, a little minced garlic, and some chopped onion or mushrooms if I've got them.  And the good news is, if there are leftovers, I just pour them back in the jar and use them over the next couple of weeks.  Opened, a jar of sauce usually stays good for a week or two.

So, leftover pasta with jarred sauce starred at lunch today, with some leftover roasted chicken and sugar snap peas.  I added just a teaspoon or so of water to the peas so that they steamed when I microwaved this for lunch.  Very tasty! Pin It Now!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Day 118 - Comfort Food Winter Salad

Comfort Food Winter Salad

Remember my talking about those goodies I got from my friend K?  She also included some spicy honey mustard, which I used for this tasty salad!  While the shelf variety of hot honey mustard won't be as good as hers, this recipe would still make it pretty tasty!

I call this a "comfort food" salad because it has lots of high calorie items - bacon, cheese, chicken, nuts.  I also filed it under healthy recipes, because even though it's higher in fat, the greens are so good for you.  I know our culture around salad is that it should be an exclusively healthy food, but I think the benefits of the vegetables are worth amping up with some higher fat treats on occasion.  And since it was wintry and blustery this weekend, but I desperately needed some vegetables, that's what I did!  Leftovers for lunch today were great.  I only wish this salad had a little more color, but it tasted just fine as is!

Comfort Food Winter Salad

1 chicken breast
1/2 head lettuce, any type (I think I used romaine), chopped
1/2 head radicchio, chopped
3  strips bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 oz crumbled goat chevre
1 T hot honey mustard
1 T red wine vinegar
2 t olive oil

Cook chicken breast any way you like and chop into bite sized pieces (I baked mine, drizzled with extra honey mustard, the night before with the rest of my dinner - this is a great thing for chicken leftovers!).

In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, and oil - emulsify with an immersion blender if desired.  Set aside.  You may refrigerate and store this overnight if desired.

When ready to eat salad, combine lettuce, raddichio, cherries, cheese, bacon, walnuts, and chicken in a large bowl.  Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat.  Serve immediatley.

If packing for lunch, feel free to pack the salad on the side. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Day 117 - Pot Roast Soup


My grandmother, who grew up during the Depression, saved everything.  E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.  I mean, the woman saved old underwear elastic to use as rubber bands.  Really.  She could look at a bag of trash and find uses for almost anything.  I remember playing with my cousin's 10 year old (first edition, probably priceless) Star Wars toys that she had found behind the couch and saved, because they were perfectly good toys.

Now, I'm thrifty, but I'm not that thrifty.  I came of age in the 90's when consumerism was king, and so I feel no guilt at throwing out (or, more likely donating) things that I can no longer use.  One really smart thing that she did which I copy, though, is a container of vegetable soup starter in the freezer.  By that, I mean that she keep a plastic container in the freezer, and anytime she had leftover vegetables she just added them to the container and let them freeze.  When it starts to get full, then it was time to make vegetable soup!    

Now the wisdom of my mother kicks in.  My mom makes a great pot roast in the oven, and she discovered years ago that if she saved all of the drippings and used them to start a beef vegetable soup broth, it made the best soup ever.

So, I enter the cooking scene, and here's how I combine all that wisdom to make my own soup.  I keep a 2 quart container in my freezer.  Any time I have vegetables OR pot roast leftovers, I add them to the container.  I usually make pot roast in 1 pound quantities, so my drippings aren't a lot.  And I only add vegetables I'd like in soup - tomatoes, corn, peas, beans, carrots, onions, potatoes.  Then, when my container gets full, it's soup time!

I call mine pot roast soup because I usually buy a 1 pound pot roast and cut it up into little bite sized pieces to cook in the soup.  Pot roast is pretty cheap, and you can trim the fat quite easily.  It's also very similar to how I make pot roast in the crock pot.  I usually add a fresh onion and some tomatoes, maybe a potato.  This soup also goes back in the freezer very well.  I let it cook for most of the day and come home to delicious soup.

Which is what I did yesterday, and brought the leftovers today.  The picture is a little hazy because it was still steaming!

Pot Roast Soup

1 lb pot roast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup baby carrots, chopped
1 cup red wine
1 quart beef stock or wine
1 package Lipton Savory Herb with Garlic Soup Mix
2 quarts vegetable and pot roast leftovers (if this isn't your style, use 4 drained cans of any vegetables you like and 1 additional quart of beef broth or stock)

Place your dry ingredients in a 5-6 quart crock pot.  Pour over liquids.  Cover crock and cook on high for 6 hours, or low for 12 hours.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Pin It Now!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Day 116 - Easy Greek Yogurt Parfait

Easy Greek Yogurt Parfait

This is one of the easiest lunches ever - easy to put together, easy to eat.  It's a simple yogurt parfait that I threw together.  A traditional parfait is usually layered in a tall glass.  Actually, a traditional parfait is a French dessert that looks very little like what we eat in America.  But I digress...anyway, this is not a prettily layered parfait.  It has three layers - granola, yogurt, berries.  I added a dusting of granola between the berries and yogurt to keep the strawberries from producing too much juice and drowning the yogurt, but this little beauty is pure function.

If you like, you could put the ingredients in a mason jar (which are soooo trendy right now) and break up the layers for a better look.  As long as your container has a good fitting top - mason jar, plastic bowl, or whatever - these keep well in the fridge for quick breakfasts and snacks.  Or, as in today, lunches!

Easy Parfait

3/4 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup plain, vanilla, or honey Greek yogurt, fat free
1/2 cup low fat granola
1 T honey, optional

In a 16 ounce container with a tight fitting lid, pour in granola, reserving about 1 T of granola for later.  Gently spread yogurt over granola, and top with honey if desired.  Sprinkle your reserved granola over the yogurt, and top with berries.  Secure lid and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Pin It Now!