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Foodie Tuesday: what to do with all the hardboiled eggs
Apr 26th, 2011 by Nancy

egg salad samI’ve got a fridge full of them,’you?

Today’s Foodie Tuesday entry offers up a quick and simple, kind, easy twist on the soggy mush of bad-egg-salad-on-soggy-white-bread: a sliced hard boiled egg with provolone, a tomato slice, sprouts, and herbed mayo on a lightly toasted English muffin. It’s brought to you by kokomama and inspired by a breakfast she noshed when working at a cafe in college.

Substitution ideas abound: no provolone in the fridge? Try havarti; tomatoes are all gone? Soak and mince sundried tomatoes, or use the marinated-in-a-jar kind. No sprouts? Any greens would probably work well, and I think I might make use of the dandelion greens in my back yard.

Note to all you Lunchsense users: this shows off several features of your lunchbox, one obvious and one not so much.  The obvious one is that the ice pack will keep this egg and mayo-laden treat fresh and cool for hours; the lesser-known (but no less valuable) feature is that since the food containers hold a sandwich in the same orientation as when it’s sitting on a plate, the sandwich guts don’t slide out from between the bread slices on your way to work.  Lunch looks just as good when you open up the containers as when you made the lunch.

Next up: a healthy, refreshing sandwich that makes use of all the leftover jelly beans.
Ha, I wish.
Foodie Tuesday: Marinated Flank steak
Apr 19th, 2011 by Nancy
Flank steak. Yum.

Flank steak. Yum.

We bought half a cow last week.

If you haven’t looked into buying a part of or a whole farm animal, I’d like to endorse the practice.  We started by buying half a hog from a co-worker of my husband’s about 15 years ago, and have repeated the process several times in the last decade.

I’ll save the particulars of bulk meat buying for another day, but I wanted to mention it because of my favorite cut, the flank steak.  It’s not the tenderest cut by far, but I have an old family recipe that sends me back to my childhood every time we serve it up.  Besides, flank makes a yummy dinner one day and an even better steak sandwich, in your lunchbox, the next day.

By the way, if you’ve ever bought “London broil” at the grocery store, you probably got flank steak or top round.  London broil is a cooking method to make the best of a tasty-but-tough cut, and that’s exactly what this recipe does.

Note that the recipe probably came into my life in the late 60’s and some of the ingredients (ketchup, vegetable oil) reflect it.  I’m sure, in its day, it bordered on exotic: garlic! soy sauce! no salt (soy sauce notwithstanding)! More than an 1/8th teaspoon pepper! An actual spice!  That said, it works exceedingly well, is simplicity itself, and never fails to wow family and guests alike.

Here’s the recipe.  Simple, accessible, delicious:

Marinated Flank

Combine:

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 C soy sauce (or tamari, per your preference)

2 T ketchup (any brand will do)

2 T vegetable oil

1 t ground pepper

1 t dried oregano

Pour over a two to three lb. flank steak, refrigerate and let marinate 4-12 hours. Grill over or broil under high heat to your liking (though this less-than-tender cut does best if grilled no more than medium rare – 140 degrees), then remove the steak and allow to rest 10 minutes.  Slice thinly across the grain and serve.

Hoard the leftovers (if any), and serve on a hoagie roll for lunch the next day.

Foodie Tuesday: Hummus
Apr 12th, 2011 by Nancy

hummusSuch a simple thing, hummus.  Fun to say, fun to type, too: hummushummushummus

Every time I have hummus I have a minor-league epiphany:

Oh! This is great! I love hummus! I should have this more often!

Then I forget about it for another 6 months, only to have the insight all over again when it crosses my path.

I found this recipe and thought it offered everything I could hope for: a great basic recipe with lovely, creative adornments and embellishments, and it’s all packable for a tasty lunch.

Brought to you by Jacqueline Pham at Pham Fatale, the basic recipe is made from easily accessible ingredients: chickpeas, cumin, garlic (though she suggested pickled shallots, which sound great), lemon juice & zest, and toasted sesame seeds (though I suspect premade tahini would substitute reasonably well).

The magic begins when she whips heavy cream, adds toasted sesame oil, and folds it into the hummus just before serving. Zowie.

Thanks to Jacqueline’s fine teaching and presentation skills, you can learn how to roast the red bell peppers that pair so nicely with hummus, discover what “verrines” are, consider alternatives to the standard issue pita for the hummus-delivery-system, and know what to do if you’re out of sesame seeds.  Check it out.

Foodie Tuesday: Dulce de Leche Brownies
Apr 5th, 2011 by Nancy

Dulce-Brownies-300x275Oh, there’s so much to share, and Tuesday comes but once a week!

Chocolate. Butter. Sugar. Nuts, or no nuts. Finger food, and two-bite sized.  Honest, sublime, homey, decadent, simple, sophisticated: brownies may be the all-time perfect treat.

Besides, Foodie Tuesday was due for a sugar fix.

Here’s an offering for Foodie Tuesday that may actually improve upon perfection: chocolate brownies with a sweet gooey layer of dulce de leche in the middle.  This brownie recipe is a time-honored classic that I’ve made dozens of times (even in gluten-free flour; all I add is a little xanthan gum to keep them from falling apart in my hands), and thanks to David Lebovitz and brought to my attention at babble.com, the addition of dulce de leche is simple and effective. Best of all, for those of you in the lunch-carrying corps, these are eminently packable and sure to draw longing stares from your coworkers.

dulce brownies 2

If you like that kind of thing.  It’s your call.

Unfamiliar with dulce de leche?  Here’s another link from David with the recipe.  Easy as can be: one ingredient, a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Enjoy!

Plastic: too good to throw away?
Mar 31st, 2011 by Nancy

book_plastic_greyI came across this article at the grow and make blog, and just had to bring it to your attention.

It echoes a sentiment of mine that’s been growing and developing with this lunchbox biz, which goes like this: Plastics are a useful, valuable resource created from another useful, valuable, infinitely malleable resource – oil.  We’ve all heard that plastics are going to be around for hundreds or thousands of years, which is why I’m appalled that we are churning out items of plastic that are meant to be used once and disposed – plastic packaging, for example.  According to the author Susan Freinkel, half our plastics production is for single-use “disposable” items.

Please read the article, and if you can find the time, read the book, which comes out April 18.

Plastics – a Toxic Love Story – I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Foodie Tuesday: The Pioneer Woman's Spicy Peanut Pasta Salad
Mar 29th, 2011 by Nancy

PIONEERWOMANI make the lunchbox.  YOU make the lunch.

Foodie Tuesday, week two: Where would I be without you, Pioneer Woman Cooks?

If you haven’t come across this site by Ree Drummond, you’re in for a treat – this gal loves food, cooking, good photography and her family (and much more), and rolls them all together into a website that keeps surprising and entertaining us with every visit.  When I need a delicious, comforting meal, her site is often my first stop.  My chef-in-the-making daughter browses her site partly for inspiration and partly for sheer entertainment; little does she realize, though, that in Ree’s hands she’s getting a head start on her cooking education as Ree photographs every single step along the way.

Do note: fat is her friend.  Butter is a food group, not a condiment, in Ree’s kitchen.  The results are worth it, but it takes some time to get used to measuring the stuff by the stick, not the teaspoon. Note also that her portion sizes run to the “cattle rancher” sized, especially since that’s just who she’s cooking for – she and her husband are in rural Oklahoma, where they ranch and homeschool their four children.  Whew, it makes me weak-kneed just writing that sentence.  Anyway, adjust her portions accordingly.

Now to hone in on a recipe from her site…I’m aiming for something that cooks up easily, packs up nicely in a Lunchsense lunchbox, serves well at any temperature, and is mouth-wateringly tasty to boot.  I think I’ve found it:

SPICY PEANUT PASTA SALAD

Spicy-Peanut-Pasta-Salad

Spicy Peanut Pasta salad: click the photo for the recipe.

Here we have peanut+garlic+sesame+sweet/sour effects of vinegar and brown sugar, blended and dressing room-temperature linguine and garnished with cilantro.

What I love about this recipe is that it barely breaks a sweat in the prep department: boil noodles, make sauce in blender, pour over noodles.  I also like that it starts with a solid base (the peanut sauce) made from readily available components, but it’s infinitely adjustable depending on the current inventory in the kitchen and preferences of the diners.  Outa red chile oil?  Not a problem, use…a little chili pepper, maybe, for heat, or possibly red chile paste.   No cilantro?  Sure, coarsely grate some carrots and/or cabbage and it’ll be fine.  Toss in bean sprouts or steamed pea pods if they’re around, it’ll be great.

To complete the meal Ree served it up with sliced roasted beef tenderloin and roasted asparagus – note that both of these other dishes are great served hot or cold, making them perfect lunchtime companions to the pasta salad.  They aren’t essential, though, and if you have another combo that works I’d love to hear about it!

Portlanders: Better Living for you!
Mar 17th, 2011 by Nancy

BLS posterDo tell, oh neighbors-to-the- north: does the new program Portlandia change the way you refer to yourselves? Are you now Portlandians, or do you remain Portlanders?

My husband and I lived in Portland for about 7 years.  Our daughter was born in there (okay, Milwaukie, technically). We moved to Bend for a lovely 18 month period, where our first son was born.  We moved to Eugene thereafter, where our second son was born.

We’re not moving anymore.

I will be making the trek at the end of this month to the Expo Center in Portland for the Better Living Show, which (if the last couple years is any measure) is bound to be a great time.

Many good reasons to go….

Food samples!

Admission is free, and here’s why: the Better Living Show organizers want to counter the impression that “green = expensive.”

A wonderful kid’s pavilion!

The weather will not improve, so while you’re waiting for a break in the rain to mess about in the garden, you can pick up some new gardening tips and ideas.

1,001 ways to green your home!

I’ll be having my annual drawing for a free lunchbox in any size and any color, but you have to stop by the booth to enter.

More samples!

Enjoy a 20% discount on every Lunchsense lunchbox set purchased at the Better Living Show!

You can train, bus or bike to the show, but if you must drive you get a buck off parking if you carpool (3 or more).

If you don’t make it to the show but do “like” us on Facebook, you will help your friends who order later – if we reach our goal on Facebook we will offer $5 flat rate shipping for all of April!

Fashion!

Lots of other presentations!

Did I mention food samples?

Last but not least, a fabulous lineup of lunchboxes!

Check here for a slideshow of last year’s event, stop by booth 529 and say hello, and maybe even walk away with a marvelous new lunchbox while you’re at it.

‘Hope to see you there!

Foodie Tuesday: a new series
Mar 16th, 2011 by Nancy

I make the lunchbox.  YOU make the lunch.

This has always been my response when customers ask if the Lunchsense lunchbox they’ve just ordered will come, um, pre-loaded.

You might think I’d be all about recipes, clever tips, great photos – an endless resource for what to put in that fancy new lunchbox.   As you might know, I’m a huge fan of food, from growing it to cooking, reading about, and most of all eating it, in (most) all its wondrous form.

But how do most of MY lunch-packing adventures go?  Not so adventurous, frankly.  I usually only pack lunch for my 3rd grader and 5th grader, and their tastes are…still developing, shall we say.  If I were to even try writing about what I usually pack for these two I’d run out of words by Friday, and you’d get pretty sick of what I had to say by about Wednesday.  ‘Hardly inspiring,  I’m sorry to say.

I’m not doing you any favors, though, if I’m not sharing some of the eye-popping, jaw-dropping, mouth-watering delectables that come across my desk and browser in the course of business, so as of today I will officially start fixing that.

By the way, how do you define a foodie?  Is it someone who’s a food snob?  Someone obsessed with eating “correctly” (whatever that means)?  Let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts about “my-lunch-can-beat-up-your-lunch” food snobbery (or would that be “my lunch can have your lunch for lunch”?)  vs. genuine, heartfelt foodie-ness.

So then, today: what’s on the (virtual) menu?

Since it’s lunch, and that conjures images of sandwiches, I’ll start with this: Raspberry Chipotle sauced Pulled Pork Leftovers topped with Candied red onions & provolone cheese, found on My Year on the Grill:

pulled pork sandwich

Didja get all that?  Here it is again: sweet and smoky raspberry and chipotles slow-cooked pulled pork recipe; bright, tangy candied red onions; velvety provolone.  Crunchy+pillowy+salty+seedy bun. Pull all this out of your lunchbox and you’ll be the envy of all your office mates.  For the surprisingly fast and easy raspberry chipotle sauce, see here .

I’ll be getting Foodie Tuesdays out every week.  I’m open to suggestions as well – if you see something just too good to hide, let me know!

Lunch is the "Friendliest" Meal
Mar 2nd, 2011 by Chris
Photo taken by TheRehn, stock.xchng.

Photo taken by TheRehn, stock.xchng.

As the unofficial custodian of the Lunchsense Facebook page, I’ve decided we should make a push this month to reach 250 (FB) “likes.”

“Why?” you might ask.  Why should I bravely endeavor to persuade complete strangers to become new friends?

The answer is simple—“It’s what we’re all about.”

Certainly, new “customers” are nice, but consider the Lunchsense mission:

to change the way people THINK about (and pack and carry) LUNCH.

Sure, we want you to contemplate the benefits of our box, but first, we’d just like to get you to consider what’s inside.  We want to invite you to re-evaluate the possibilities of this under-appreciated, “brown-bag” meal.  In the interest of your health and well-being, it strives to be a much larger part of your life.  And, it’s eager to be shared.

We rarely get a chance to have lunch with family members during a busy work-week, but that doesn’t mean we can’t cultivate “family” wherever we are.  Relationships develop over shared bites in lunchrooms, cafés or at picnic tables every day.  A noontime respite is the perfect opportunity to share rants & raves and to formulate like-mindedness.  It’s a communal exercise—when we collectively stop grinding for a moment, and grab some grub with our mates.

It connects us with our community.

Do you eat at the same place every day?  With the same people?  Alone?  Indoors, or out?

This simple practice, nourishing ourselves, improves the quality of our lives if we let it.

We want to spread the word—“lunch!”  Hopefully, becoming more well-liked on Facebook will enable us to enrich a larger community.  AND, if we reach our goal—250 “likes” by March 31, 2011—Nancy will offer $5 shipping to everyone for the month of April (2011)!

Please visit our page this month, and invite your Facebook friends to do the same, as we attempt to build our group of enlightened grubbers one lunchbox, and one lunch-break at a time.

HouseSmartsTV Gives Lunchsense a Green Light
Feb 14th, 2011 by Chris

The bustling staff at Lunchsense world headquarters is a proud, yet mostly humble group.  The truth is, we get a little squeamish about blowing our own horn, so—it’s always nice when someone else decides to tell more folks how helpful our lunchboxes can be.

HouseSmartsTV.com is primarily a home-improvement site run by Chicagoland’s “Mr. Fix-It,” Lou Manfredini.  They also occasionally produce cooking or lifestyle pieces, and they recently featured Lunchsense in a video about healthy, environmentally-conscious, noontime-meal solutions.  Hooray!

Check it out, pass it on and above all else—enjoy your lunch!

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