Tag Archives: Lunch

Quick Norwegian Flatbread (and How to Make it Lunch)

You know when you wake up from a nap, and it feels so good to stretch out?

Henry knows all about that.  I call this The Morning Dance of the Cat:

It took me a little while to wake up this morning, too, but once I got my butt in gear, had a piece of peanut butter and banana toast, and drank my tea, I headed off to the gym.  Try not to be too impressed, but I ran 2.6 miles–quite an accomplishment for a real running-hater like myself.

Though I have to clarify–I hate the actual running, but it feels so good after. That’s why I keep doing it.

Anyway, once I got home, I had some lunchtime inspiration from my CSA box (no picture this week, sorry!) and the giant tub of hummus (best batch yet) that I made yesterday.  Sungold cherry tomatoes + hummus + herbs from the garden + flatbread = lunch.

Quick Norwegian Flatbread (from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads)

  • 1 1/2 C rye flour
  • 1 1/2 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 C butter, melted
  • 1 C buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  While you are getting the ingredients ready, I’ll give you two short cuts that I used today.  One, to bring an egg rapidly to room temperature, let it sit in a cup of hot water for a minute.  Two, if you don’t have buttermilk, just combine some milk and a little lemon juice for a quick fix.

Combine the egg and buttermilk in the mixer.  Add the melted butter and mix again to combine.  In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and pour them into the liquid, mixing until a dough forms.  Knead with the dough hook for a few minutes until smooth, adding pinches of flour if necessary to make the dough pull away from the bowl.

Divide the dough into two pieces on a floured countertop, and roll out with a rolling pin until about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.  Traditionally, this is rolled into a circle, but I went with a more rectangular shape just ’cause it’s easier.  Transfer on a greased baking sheet and bake in the oven on the medium rack until browned on the bottom and lightly golden on top, about 15-2o minutes.

This was so delicious as is.  If you want to toss together a quick bread for dipping in soups, eating with hummus, or with jam and butter, this is a great choice.  So soft and the subtle rye taste is irresistible.

But I needed lunch.  I set one flatbread aside (in a ziplock bag), and got to work on the other.

I spread a nice layer of hummus over the top of the remaining flatbread, then sprinkled it with some lemon thyme from my herb garden.  I sliced a handful of cherry tomatoes, placing them cut-side up on top of the hummus, and sprinkled the whole thing with a bit of salt and pepper.  Just a few minutes under the broiler and voila!  Lunch is served.

Next time I’d spread the hummus all the way to the edges to keep them from browning too rapidly…and because hummus is just delicious.

These tomatoes from my CSA box are also super sweet–I can’t resist eating them whole, which is quite unusual for me, since I was never a big tomato fan.

In fact, as a child I threw up when my parents made me eat one, and they stopped making me try after that.  My feelings for raw tomatoes are definitely improving this year–but they are even better cooked.  On flatbread.  With hummus.

What else came in our CSA box this week?  Well, the size of the box is a little small this week, thanks to Miss Irene, but we still got some good stuff:

  • 2 acorn squashes (yes!!!!)
  • 1 pint of Sungold cherry tomatoes (that you’ve seen here today)
  • Red beets and their greens
  • Baby leeks
  • Bunch of cilantro
  • Several big red tomatoes
  • 1 bag of green beans

Though it was a slightly smaller box, it was full of all of my favorite veggies, so I’m pretty excited to have our kitchen restocked.  I’m still trying to plan something to do with the cilantro (Fritz is not a fan), but most of it will likely have to be frozen.

Have a good weekend!

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Filed under Breads

Making Salads Portable

Do you guys miss baking the way I do?  Without my camera (Fritz has it for the weekend while he’s in Montreal with his dad for the Grand Prix), and without my husband, baking has seemed a little superfluous.  Between trying to get through all the greens and leftovers in the fridge by myself, and having no one to share baked goods with, I just couldn’t make it seem necessary.  However, Fritz is coming home tomorrow and today is looking like its going to be a perfect day for some serious baking.  I’m thinking cookies, or bread, but probably cookies.  Mom gave me some giant nonpareils that would look so cute squished atop some peanut butter cookies.

Sorry that you won’t see them.

Last week, when I knew I’d be camera-less, I took some extra pictures so I’d have something to blog about.  Today’s topics:  making salads portable.

With Fritz and I both in school all day long, it’s even harder to eat healthily–especially on a student budget.  When I first started school, all my classmates bought their lunches in the hospital cafeteria, which adds up really fast.  A prepackaged salad there costs between $5 and $8!  Definitely not acceptable.  I brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day (I’ll admit it, I still love a good ol’ PB&J) which wasn’t the most nutritious of lunches to eat daily.  This year, we’ve started to bring leftover dinners to school for lunches, along with our standard easily packaged sides (yogurt, baby carrots, fruit, cottage cheese, trail mix, etc), and now–salads.

When I started trying to make salads portable, I was making rookie mistakes such as (don’t laugh) putting the dressing on them at home and eating them five hours later.  The horror!  Wilted, slimy lettuce and a salad that’s half the size it was when I first packed it.  I also crammed a big salad (these are entree-sized salads, here) into too small a Tupperware, making them difficult to mix and messy to eat.

Finally, I’ve got it down.  For someone who didn’t really like salad that much in the first place, it took a lot more trial-and-error than you’d expect to make me actually want to enjoy a salad at school.  For all you salad-haters out there–it is possible!  Stick to it.

Here’s some of my “making salad portable” tips:

1)  Mix your lettuces.  I get bored of salad pretty fast, so if you can combine lettuces in the same salad, or rotate lettuce types daily, it’ll really help.  In this salad I started with the red Boston lettuce, and added in a handful of baby mixed salad greens.

2)  Be creative with your toppings–and don’t get stingy.  This is a meal, remember.  For this salad I used white salad turnips and turkey, and I topped it off with a handful of sesame seeds.  I was making this salad quickly in the morning, and wanted a protein–even sliced deli meat is better than nothing!

Other tried and true combinations are strawberries/raisins/walnuts, carrots/bell peppers/tomatoes, and any leftover grilled chicken or steak we have lying around.  Since I am still a rookie salad maker, I’ve yet to get into adding hummus, lentils, beans, etc.–but I can promise that will happen.  One step at a time, here.

3)  Dressing.  So important.  Get a non-leaking small container that’ll hold 2 T of dressing, and take advantage!  Also have a few interesting dressings in your fridge so you don’t have to make one yourself every day, and you can change up the flavors.

4) A big enough container.  I use a pretty giant container, but it holds my salad and all the extras–the dressing container, a fork, other toppings I want to add later (in a baggie), everything.  That way it’s okay that it’s giant.  You can take all the extras out, add the dressing, and shake it up!

So far, salad has really grown on me.  Summer of the salad is turning into a successful venture!

Today is really looking like a good day–it’s cool and rainy, so it feels a bit like fall (which you know I love).  Even though I’ve been moping around without Fritz, today I woke up feeling motivated.  I’m currently watching my favorite movie of all time (Dan In Real Life), and when I’m done blogging I’m going to clean out my closets.  It’s going to be crazy.

I have so many clothes.

Someone pinned an old blog post of mine on Pinterest, reminding me of a necklace organizer/display I made a few months ago.  I have some newer pictures of it, so I thought I’d reshare for all you new readers out there.  I used to have all my jewelry crammed into a box, and the necklaces were forever getting tangled together, broken, and buried until I forgot about their existence all together.  A genius idea (if I do say so myself), a towel bar, and some shower curtain rings later, I have this:

It’s awesome, because not only is it super easy to pick out the necklaces I want to wear, but it looks really cute and bright, and never will a necklace tangle again.  And if you get more necklaces, buy a few more shower curtain rings!  I have a million necklaces on there, and it’s not overcrowded yet.

Above the necklace rack is a Frangel that Fritz’s mom made for me.  Beautiful, huh?

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Filed under Non-food things I like, Salads

Green Apple Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I forgot all about this recipe until very recently.  It’s nothing too exciting; in fact, it’s the perfect example of “you can’t go wrong with the classics” and “less is more”.

My love for chicken salad sandwiches started when I was in middle school–there was a small cafe that opened in my hometown within walking distance of campus.  My friend Meghan actually worked there for a while, and we used to absolutely rave about their chicken salad, which were best when served on toasted bagels.  The best part about the salad was that it was studded with pieces of tangy and sweet green apple.

I’ve adapted this recipe over the years, and yesterday’s version was by far the best.  And that was a happy accident.

Fritz grilled some chicken for us yesterday, and we had three breasts all frozen together.  I told him to defrost all three, grill one, and I’d use two of them the next day for chicken salad.  He thought I meant he should grill all three of them, and when he coated them in a thin layer of BBQ sauce, I thought the resulting chicken salad might be a little too weird.

Wrong.

It was so good!  The smoky BBQ sauce was only a pretty thin layer on the chicken, and it actually worked perfectly for this recipe–you could hardly taste it, but what you could was a perfect addition to the basic chicken salad taste.

Green Apple Chicken Salad Sandwiches (this makes enough for four hearty sandwiches, but you could easily multiply this recipe!)

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1-2 T of your favorite BBQ sauce (we used a mesquite flavor)
  • 1/2 tart green apple (such as Granny Smith)
  • 1/3-1/4 C mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste

It doesn’t take a genius to make most recipes–this one included.

Grill the chicken over high heat, coating once with a thin layer of BBQ sauce.  If you a BBQ sauce lover, then you can add more, but I really would suggest going light.  You want to taste the actual chicken in this salad.

Once it’s cooled (I usually use leftover chicken, so this is an even easier summer recipe), cut into small chunks–about 1/2″ big or a tad bit smaller.  Dice the apple (I like the apple pieces to be about the same size as the chicken, but you can go smaller if you want less crunch and more homogeneity in every bite) and mix.

Stir in the mayonnaise, going a spoonful at a time.  I normally hate mayonnaise, but this recipe really does it for me.  As long as I wash my hands 100 times after eating it (is there anything worse than the smell of mayonnaise on your hands?).  However, the last thing you want to do is add too much mayonnaise, ’cause you can’t take it back.

Season with salt and pepper–we actually didn’t have to add any to this particular recipe, but sometimes I add a generous sprinkle of black pepper and a small amount of salt; it does depend on how salty your mayonnaise is, though!

Serve on toasted sesame buns, or bagels, or even plain white bread.

To each his own, you know.  Although I personally feel the bread needs to be toasted for appropriate enjoyment.

Fritz said this was the best version of this recipe I’ve made, and I credit the BBQ sauce incident.  Well done, Fritz.

I also made this salad for some friends of ours lately, and they also liked it.  It’s perfect for a hot summer day (hello heat wave this week!) when you can’t even contemplate turning on the oven, or if you have some leftover chicken you need to use up.

I also make a turkey/cranberry version after Thanksgiving.  Instead of apples, sometimes I use green grapes.  Try anything!

We served it with edamame.  Isn’t it so fun to eat edamame out of the pods?  Sometimes I buy it already shelled, and it’s just not as satisfying.  Too bad, ’cause it’s more expensive in the pods.

We pick up our CSA box in a few hours!  I can’t wait–looks like I can expect to see red boston lettuce, a lettuce mix, arugala, baby spinach, garlic scrapes, swiss chard, and red beets.  Heavy on the lettuce, but that’s expected this early in the season, and perfect since I’ve been having a green monster every morning and going through spinach super fast!

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Filed under Entrees

Soba Noodles with Orange-Ginger Miso Dressing

Despite that there were a few flakes of snow threatening my peace of mind yesterday,I was so glad that today was a (chilly) but beautifully sunny day–still light out at seven!  I went to the gym today for the first time since midterm week started, and even though it was hard getting back into the swing of things, it’s nice to experience that post-workout high again (it helped that the sun was just setting as I left the gym).

However, I have to admit something to you about the upcoming recipe.  It’s all about a cold soba noodle salad, with an orange-ginger miso dressing–perfect for a quick lunch during midterms week when Fritz wasn’t around.  Except…midterms week was last week.  I made this an entire week ago.

This isn’t normally much of a problem, except that I didn’t write the amounts of anything that I used, so I have to kind of guess at what actually went into this dressing.  Luckily I have pictures as a reminder.  It was really good though, so I’d like to suggest that you use this recipe as an inspiration for a soba salad of your own–and if you do use my recipe, taste it as you go an adjust accordingly to your taste.

For myself I’ve found that’s true of any recipe using miso–I am still getting used to the strong and salty taste of miso, so I like to go slow as it is.  Miso and I are still taking baby steps as we get to know each other. 

No rushing into this relationship.

Cold Soba Salad with an Orange-Ginger Miso Dressing

  • 6-8 oz uncooked soba noodles
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced (I’d definitely roast the pepper first next time)
  • 1-1 1/2 T miso
  • 2 T grated ginger
  • juice of one small orange (I used a tangelo)
  • 2 T tahini

Cook the soba noodles as instructed on the packaging (it only takes a few minutes in boiling water) and douse them with cold water once they are done to prevent them from overcooking.

Once they’ve cooled off and been drained, add the shredded carrots and bell pepper.

Next, mix the last four ingredients together to make a dressing.

Pour that right over the noodle mixture.

Give the noodles a good toss, and there you have it!

A light but filling (and healthy) salad.  Perfect for a meal on the go, or as a side dish for a heartier meal.

Tomorrow I plan on making a cake in the morning to celebrate our friends Steve and Gill’s first anniversary (congrats guys!) and then Fritz and I are having dinner at the Jensen’s house.  Should be a lovely day.

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Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad

I have a nice lunch recipe here for you:

Fritz and I just had a mini-vacation.  It’s actually still happening–since we’ve studied every night and day for the past two weeks, we decided to give ourselves a break.  We made a steak dinner, had a glass of wine, and watched a movie on the pull-out couch/bed (we don’t have a tv in our bedroom).  But don’t worry.  Study time is rapidly approaching as this movie (The Duchess) is coming to a close and I finish blogging.

Alas.

We had a guest speaker in class today who talked about “mindedness”, and I wanted to write her off as a total kook as soon as she started.  Her Powerpoint was inundated with photos of animals doing human activities, and she kept using words such as “heartfullness” and “mindstream” while she taught us about meditation.  She was also wearing a fanny pack.

However, she did say one thing that really stood out to me:

Our thoughts are real.  They are just not always the truth.

I struggle on and off with accepting myself as who I am, and not worrying about whether I’ve gained one, two, or five pounds–not on an eating disorder level, but just as your average woman trying to love herself.  Why does a number on the scale mean so much to me–and my happiness?  There’s a lot of pressure from our society on women to subscribe to an ideal that is frankly less than ideal for our health.   But what impact does this have on me?  For one, the thoughts I have are real; they have to be acknowledged at the very least, and preferably dealt with.  Secondly, they are not necessarily true, just because I think them over and over.  I have to learn to identify false thoughts and give them less value and frankly power over my mind.

Anyway, just something to think about.

While you’re thinking about that, eat some of this cold salad.  I ran across some buckwheat soba noodles in the grocery store the other day and decided to give them a try–instant love affair.  They have the greatest texture and the taste is just smoother than any other whole-wheat noodle out there.  Combine it with sesame and wow.

Sesame Soba Noodle Salad

  • 6 oz dry soba noodles (I used half a package)
  • 1 t tahini (or sesame oil)
  • 1/2 small onion, minced finely
  • 1 t apple cider vinegar (rice wine vinegar would be even better, I presume)
  • 4 t soy sauce (reduced sodium)
  • 1-2 t honey or agave
  • 1/4 C sesame seeds
  • handful of button mushrooms, washed and sliced

Introducing the soba noodle!:

Cook the noodles as instructed–in boiling water for 5 or 6 minutes, until softened but not mushy.  Make sure that you have some cold/ice water to dump them into when they’re finished so they don’t overcook–plus this is a cold salad, so it works.

Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat until brown.  Browned but not burned.

Set them aside.  In a skillet, add the onions, tahini, soy sauce, and honey and stir over medium heat until a nice brown, thick sauce forms.  Toss in the mushrooms and stir them up until they soften.  Yum.

Drain the soba noodles and place them into a bowl; pour the sauce over the top. 

Top with the toasted sesame seeds and combine.  Inhale.  Just serve yourself up a nicely sized bowl right away and eat it up.  Yum.

 

This salad is quite refreshing, cold as it is.  Definitely perfect as a summer salad, so remember this in a few months when you are feeling hungry!

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Filed under Entrees

Garam Masala (Spice Mix)

Often when I make Indian food (and apparently Moroccan), it requires a spice mix that I don’t have–garam masala.  Garam masala means “hot mixture”, but that refers more to the intensity of the spices included then the actual heat–it’s not really a hot spice, more of just a spicy spice.  If that makes any sense. 

As I was making the Moroccan stew a few days ago, the recipe once again called for garam masala, which I (once again) didn’t have.  As I thought about it, I realized that I probably had all the spices used in the mix, and combined with a coffee grinder, I could probably just make my own!

I was right.

Garam Masala (adapted from this recipe)

  • 4 T coriander seeds
  • 1 T cumin seeds
  • 1 T black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 t ground ginger (I didn’t have this, but I will absolutely add it as soon as I get my hands on some)
  • 3/4 t black cardamom
  • 3/4 t cloves
  • 3/4 t cinnamon (two 1″ pieces)
  • 3/4 t crushed bay leaves

If the spices you are using are already ground, simply combine them in a bowl and mix.  For a more authentic (and powerful!) mix, use whole spices, toast them first, and then grind them.

To toast them, heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and add spices.  Move the spices often by shifting and shaking the skillet so they don’t burn–and don’t be tempted to turn up the heat!  Toasted spices taste good, burnt ones do not.  Once they have all deepened a few shades in color, remove from the heat and let them cool.

I used a few pre-ground spices and some whole, depending on what I had.  I toasted the bay leaves, cardamom, cumin, black peppercorn, and cinnamon.

Let me warn you–toasting spices smell amazing!

The pre-ground spices I added to a bowl to await the others (cloves, coriander, and would have been ginger, if I had it).

Once the spices cool, grind them in a spice/coffee grinder (or a food processor may work). I ground the cinnamon first, then added the rest.

Combine with the other spices, mix, and store in an airtight container.  I had just run out of tandoori masala, so I had a nice almost-correctly labeled container to use.

that's my coffee grinder in the background (thanks, Mom--as always!)

I really don’t know how I lived without a coffee grinder before my mom stepped in.  I use it for everything–grinding oats, grains, spices–everything.

I also wanted to remind you of a recipe from a few months ago:  Not Your Grandmother’s Tuna Salad.  I was scavenging through the cupboards trying to find something (anything!) to make for a quick lunch, and I remembered this recipe.  It’s quick, healthy, and uses up those ingredients that you can usually find in the cabinets when you have nothing else.  It’s not the kind of tuna salad you put in a sandwich, but the actual salad kind.  Lovely!

Wondering what Henry is up to?

Fritz calls this “playing Crock Pot”.  Henry climbs up into those shelves and quietly waits for me to notice him.  He also likes being able to survey the activities of the mere mortals who live beneath him.

I woke up super early this morning because the sun was shining so brightly that there was no way I could go back to bed–too  beautiful!  I’m definitely looking forward to Daylight Saving Time this weekend because I love, love, LOVE when it’s light out past five–plus, it’s much easier to fit in dinner after class without having to set up the lightbox for pictures or rushing to chase daylight.

Enjoy the sunshine today!

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Filed under Spice Mixes

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian “Tuna” (Chickpea) Salad

Oh, hello Monday.  It’s so lovely to see you again.

Not.

Ah well.  Here it is.  And since it’s late, I’m going to quickly share with you our Meatless Monday lunch, and then I’m going right to bed.

When I was in college, one of my good friends was a vegetarian.  This was really the first time I was in close proximity to a real-live-practicing-since-fourth-grade vegetarian, and I experienced a lot of interesting (sometimes weird–but not weirder than how I eat now) foods that she ate.  One of these was a “vegetarian tuna salad”.  Now, I don’t like real tuna salad very much, but I love chickpeas and every permutation of them, so this was an instant hit.  Her version of this is probably very different than what I came up with at seven this morning, but mine turned out great regardless.  Fritz ate this for lunch too, and was happy enough with how it tasted.

He has a real tuna salad sandwich for tomorrow, though.

Vegetarian “Tuna” (Chickpea) Salad

  • 2 C chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 T mayonnaise (we use low-fat, or something like that)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients and smash ’em.  You could puree them in a food processor, but I like the texture you get from smashin’.  Then make this into a sandwich, or eat it on bell peppers or pita chips (yum).  I imagine you could add onion (maybe shallots would be better), or relish, or olives (I think I recall black olives in the college version of this) for a more interesting taste.

Fritz made my sandwich with avocado (definitely recommended) and iceberg lettuce topped with a bit of spicy mustard.

Fritz had a more classic sandwich–avocado, iceberg lettuce, and thick slices of a plum tomato.  No mustard for this kid.

Both sandwiches were on a great multigrain bread we’ve finally settled on (we have very different bread tastes–I like as grainy as possible and Fritz would love if I let him eat white bread).  By the way, did you know that Fritz makes my lunch everyday?

Oh yes.  I make sure the house is stocked with easily packable snacks (Fritz: granola bars, yogurt, almonds, trail mix, pears, string cheese and baked goods; me: almonds, yogurt, apples, carrots, tea, sugar snap peas, and whatever else strikes my fancy that week), and he makes the magic happen.  It’s amazing, because I don’t have to get up any earlier (how does it take me an hour to get ready not including lunch prep?).  Fritz is just the best.

The best.

Goodnight!

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Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian