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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