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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: 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!

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!

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!

Last chance for 20% off Lunchsense!
Nov 17th, 2010 by Nancy

Hey, lunch is on me!

Last day for 20% off deals!

Just a quick note – I’ll be inching back on the seasonal deals tomorrow night, Thursday November 18, by changing that 20% into a 10%.  If you’d like to get the best price around on the best lunchbox around, go here now, then at checkout use the coupon code…

BLOG20

HOWEVER, if you’re still looking for deals, come on back on Monday, November 29 – cyber Monday.  On that day only I’ll be offering FREE SHIPPING on top of the 10% deal.  You’ll be the world’s favorite aunt, uncle, wife, husband, mom, dad, brother and/or sister, AND you’ll reduce packaging and food waste at the very same time.

Nice!

Leaving on a Jet Plane
Feb 26th, 2010 by Nancy

It’s pouring rain outside. Again.beach scene 4

I love Eugene, and I’m a Northwest native (“Clan of the webbed toes”) so rain doesn’t really register most of the time, but after a spate of gardening last weekend I’m getting a bit fed up with February, and March is threatening to march in this weekend looking suspiciously similar to it.

I concede that I have nothing, comparatively speaking, to complain about. You East Coasters are having a winter for the record books and the most recent storm means that many of you can’t even see this post because the power is out, and I really, truly, feel for you.  Weather over there has gone from “inconvenient” to “Dorothy’s house just flew by the front window,” and you are all in our thoughts and prayers.

Nobody on either coast, then, would fault any of us for daydreaming about warmer, drier climes.

Getting to those locales is weighing heavy on my mind, though. Notwithstanding the cost (both financial and environmental), we all know the real truth: food on airplanes is mostly pretty wretched stuff. To add insult to injury, now we have to spring for it.

I was pondering this dilemma awhile back, and my wool-gathering turned from the destination to the journey, and what, exactly, I’d pack in my Lunchsense lunchbox for the trip.  I realized I had a few constraints, as follows – all the food would have to be:

1) Relatively non-perishable since the FSA would confiscate the ice pack (although we CAN pack ice in the drink bottle, then dump it out before boarding the plane, then get more ice on board, if absolutely necessary);
2) Lacking in any liquids or gels in quantities over 3 oz.;
3) Free of un-neighborly foods like allergens (i.e. nuts) or really aromatic stuff like, oh, limburger; and most of all
4) A meal that will be the utter envy of my cabinmates. A meal that will make the security guards that x-ray the lunch box stop the machine and stare in awe. A meal that will have passengers climbing over seat backs to get at it.

I realized at this point I needed professional help.

I needed a chef.

Enter good friend Andy Roybal, who took my constraints and weighed in with this response:

I would not worry about the temperature control because food has a 4 hour window in which it is safe and you would want some of the items to come up to room temp for better flavor.
The menu:
Rice is out because cold rice sucks but I would do Inari Nigiri – Sweet Rice wrapped in Fried Tofu Skins, it is normally served cold and three pieces would fit nicely into one of your containers. Along with that I would have a container of Soba Noodle Salad (again served cold) with julienne Green Onion, Carrot, Cucumber, and Red Pepper in a Soy-Ginger Dressing. Then you need some veggies… Soy Beans to the rescue! Edamame seasoned with Hawaiian Sea Salt, Toasted Sesame Seeds and Sesame Oil would be a nice. Here are a few more ideas… no harm in more vegetables, so let’s add a small side of Seaweed Salad available at most Asian stores already prepared. If you still have room… some home made Teriyaki Chicken would be nice… you can eat it cold and that rounds out your meal with a bit of protein. You do get to bring on 3 oz of liquid, so in the small salad dressing container, I would fill it with some Sake!

That would be my meal. I hope that helps… if you don’t like that one I was thinking of a Middle Eastern Lunch of Falafel, Hummus, Baba ghanoush, Tabbouleh, Yogurt Sauce and lots of Pita Bread.

Thank you, Andy. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

(Aside to Andy: The last line about kills me – “if you don’t like that one…” Oh fer heaven’s sake, Andy, have you FLOWN lately? Do you know what you’re up against?)

Can’t you see it? You get on the plane with your tidy little lunchbox, and about midflight when your cabin mates are prying the plastic wrap off their nine-dollar “club sandwiches” and trying to discreetly open little mayonnaise packets with their teeth you pull this feast out, smooth your cloth napkin (included) on your lap, smile graciously to them, and dig in?

So – what would you pack?

To all of us – hang in there, spring’s just around the corner. In the meantime, I’m going to daydream about warmer, drier, beautiful places. Like Eugene in August.

p.s. Stay tuned – Andy says he’ll come up with recipes for the goods above.

p.p.s. And if dreaming about good food isn’t enough, slide on over to foodgawker for a visual, virtual orgy of good food AND good photography.

Instant Karma
Feb 9th, 2010 by Chris

nirvana1With the New Year well underway, it seems like a good time to do a little accounting. No, I don’t mean finally opening the credit card bills you’ve been hiding for the last several weeks (though you should at least take a peek before attempting your next purchase). I’m talking about considering your Karma account. “Karma account?” you might ask. Yes, that’s right, and we all have one. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, in my world I have my own version: “It takes a bunch of friendly neighbors to get me through my to-do list.” Sure, some of you (those without children, of course) might be more independent than that, but honestly, don’t we all get by “With a Little Help from Our Friends?” Where would any of us be without an occasional favor? The luckiest among us live in vibrant communities full of helpful neighbors, and the best way to keep ourselves on the right side of this vital group is to pay attention to our Karma accounts. If yours is anything like mine, it looks a lot like the check-book after Christmas . . . “I owe, I owe, I owe.”

Okay, so we’ve all been getting, and it is our turn to do a little giving. What do we do? Obviously, there is the ever popular returned favor, like for like: you picked-up my boys from school last week when my washer exploded and flooded our house, so I’ll get your daughter this week while you are waiting for your son’s broken arm to be set. It’s all nice and tidy, Karma in/Karma out. But, perhaps you are few favors down. Or, you really want to gift a close friend. Maybe you want to get the attention of a new friend or co-worker who (if you are single) also happens to be very cute. I’d like to suggest that timeless Karma classic: treating someone to lunch. This might seem like an obvious choice to some, but before you make those reservations at the swankest hip spot in town (remember those credit card bills), or (Heaven forbid) start jotting down orders for the nearest drive-through, consider the word: “treat.” Yes, it implies you’re paying, but what else?

To treat also means things like to care for, to entertain, or more suggestively, to heal (as in, what ails you). Synonyms for a treat include delicacy, ambrosia, or the simple, charming goody. Any sandwich that starts with the word “Big” and ends with a trademark symbol hardly fits this description. Even that $12 Club with the awesome cup of French Onion that’s available at Swanky Swanks falls short of truly caring for someone.

Consider this alternative: taking a few moments to thoughtfully prepare a healthy, lunchtime snack that you can serve to your friend and enjoy on the fly. Treat inherently implies something special, so be creative and add a personal touch. Cut your carrot chips into stars, whisk up your famous vinaigrette, or maybe a little spinach dip. Include that awesome ginseng tea, or a fresh berry smoothie, and don’t forget the homemade oatmeal-raisin cookie because for many (all the kids in my house) treat means something yummy and sweet. Stack them all neatly into your Lunchsense lunchbox and find a special spot, preferably outdoors, but anywhere quietly adjacent to the beaten path should do. Invite a friend and celebrate your greenness (more Karma points) with a trash-free treat while sharing an appreciative smile. If you use your Lunchsense wisely, your Karma account could overflow.

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