Posts Tagged bento

Laptop Lunchbox Around the World

I’ve gotten back into the habit of taking my Laptop Lunchbox to work a few times a week, and I’ve been enjoying it.  To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to prepare a few of the menus from Vegan Lunch Box Around the World, which I purchased a while ago but hadn’t cooked from yet.  I picked the menus to use what I had received in my CSA delivery.

First up was Thailand #1:  Pad Thai, Red Curry Vegetables, Thai Cucumber Salad and an Asian Pear

For being so simple, the red curry vegetables were really good.  The cucumber salad was your standard asian cucumber salad, light and fresh.  The pad thai component was supposed to be from a boxed pad thai, but my grocery store didn’t have a vegan brand, so I chose peanut noodles instead and added some tofu.  The noodles weren’t very good, but that wasn’t the cookbook’s fault.

Next up, Germany:  Cabbage Rolls, Beet Salad, Applesauce and Spitzbuben cookies.  Except I didn’t feel like I needed cookies, so I subbed some pretzels and chocolate.  Pretzels and chocolate are German, right?

I was super happy with this lunch.  The beet salad was really simple to make and really tasty.  The cabbage rolls, with a filling of walnuts, chickpeas and brown rice, were surprisingly good.  I thought the recipe was a little simple, but was really pleased with how the flavors came together.  And, the filling held together nicely without any crazy binders.

Nummy cabbage rolls!

For my last themed lunch, New England:  New England Chowder, Fish Crackers, Boston Brown Bread Muffins with Vegan Cream Cheese and a Pear.  I thought the meal was a little carb heavy and protein light, so I cut out the crackers and added some fishy tempeh – tempeh marinated in vegetarian fish sauce.

I also added some cherries to fill the fourth position because, well, cherries are fantastic!  The chowder was good but maybe a little bland.  I felt like it could’ve used some flavor of the sea, say, from seaweed, but I guess that wouldn’t be very kid friendly.  The brown bread muffins had fantastic flavor, but were undercooked in the middle, which was probably my fault.

Here are a few more lunches.

shirataki noodles with sugar snap peas and mushrooms, baked tofu, celery

sourdough bread, Amy’s lentil vegetable soup, carrot sticks, soy nuggets with barbecue sauce, pecan cranberry clusters

roasted cauliflower, springtime risotto with asparagus and fresh peas, salad with french dressing, prunes and dried apricots

One day when I didn’t have a whole lot of food to take, I packed this cute little bento box which I had never used.

Bottom layer:  kiwi with radish flowers, carrots and celery, mixed nuts and mini chocolate chips.  Top layer:  steamed broccoli with mustard-apricot sauce, brown rice and chickpeas with gomasio.  This was tasty and fun, but really small!  I don’t know how people eat this tiny amount of food and aren’t still hungry!

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Care Packages, Laptop Lunches & Works In Progress

We successfully broke all the internets at our house (wireless AND non-), and with no solution in sight I am bringing you this post from my work computer.  So, I’m gonna jam a bunch of stuff in and keep it brief.

Firstly, I have been receiving a lot of love in food-related form lately, and I wanted to share the love with everyone!

I participated in my third PPK care package swap, and this time my partner was from Japan and sent me all manner of awesome Japanese stuff.

some sort of seitan stars (“fu”), a sushi mat, cooking chopsticks made of bamboo, shiratamako and red bean paste for attempting daifuku, and candy from Kyoto

candy closeup

Bento toys!  nori stamp machine that makes faces, onigiri molds, small containers, flag picks, a small monkey bento box int he back, little utensils, soy sauce bottles with animal heads, chopsticks in a case and monkey mayo holders.  I’m definitely going to have to go Japanese in some upcoming lunches.

I felt kinda bad when I got all this awesomeness because I mostly sent my partner Mexican food supplies and junk food.  That’s what we do well here!  Although he said he ate the Tings and Eco Planet Cheddar Crackers in one sitting each, so I think those went over well.

A few weeks ago I got a completely unexpected box in the mail from my mom.   She had read my blog post about having difficulty finding grits out here and sent me a “box of stuff Erin can’t find in CA”.

Satchel’s secret salad dressing, quick grits, yellow grits, a cute Publix tote bag, a cute notecard, and Southern Living.  Yeehaw!  Unfortunately, Satchel’s dressing is NOT vegan (which I only learned after eating it many times and falling in love…it has honey…sorry mom!), but fortunately a friend of mine who also recently moved out here from Gainesville loves it, so I’m going to pay the dressing forward.

This same friend gave me some love too!  Although she sent this over the day after I mentioned the dressing…hmm…Anyway, she’s an amazing gardener and lives in a house that already had some goodness growing in the backyard.  Thanks Hope!

lemons, mint, rosemary, thyme, keffir lime leaves, oregano and parsley

But I don’t just receive, I also give!  Remember back in November when I celebrated my 1,000th comment by promising to send whomever posted it a package of sweets?  Anybody?  No?  Well, Megan from The Sisters Vegan happened to win, and she happens to live in Berkeley, which is where I happen to work.  So we agreed to meet up for dinner one night after work, at which time I could give her her goodies.  She’s been testing for the upcoming cookie cookbook, so she was all cookied out and requested no cookies.  And said that it would be nice to have something she could grab for breakfast on the way out the door to work.  Enter muffins!

Full Meal Muffins from Vegan Lunchbox.  These have zucchini, pomegranate juice (subbed for the apple juice called for), bananas, walnuts and raisins, and I subbed in some quinoa flour for a bit of extra protein.  They’re completely sugar-free, sweetened by the bananas and juice and raisins.  They turned out sweet enough, I suppose, but next time I make them I’ll probably add a bit of sugar or stevia.

Smoky Jalapeno Corn Muffins.  Made from my Buttermilk Cornbread recipe, with added jalapeno, roasted corn from TJ’s (freezer section), and liquid smoke.

These were the real star, to me at least – Butterscotch Scones.  I had a bag of butterscotch chips in the pantry screaming to be used, and I wasn’t too keen on the idea of butterscotch muffins, so I decided on scones.  Even though I’ve only made scones once, and they turned out just okay.  The first time I used the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, and while it’s entirely possible that I botched up the recipe, I wanted to make more “authentic” scones, using the pastry cutting method that most biscuits call for.  So I looked in the good ol’ Betty Crocker Cookbook where I was sure I would find a scone recipe, and lo and behold, there it was.  Veganized very easily, and these babies turned out beautiful.  I typed out just the general recipe, so obviously you can add whatever extra ingredients you want, like nuts or fruit, but I would highly recommend the butterscotch chips if you have ’em.

Vegan Scones

1 3/4 c flour
3 Tbs sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c Earth Balance, cold
6-8 Tbs soy creamer
coarse sugar
1/2 c add-ins (butterscotch or chocolate chips, fruit, etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the Earth Balance using a pastry cutter until there are no large pieces of margarine and the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in 6 Tbs creamer, just until the flour mixture is moistened. If there is still unincorporated flour, add creamer by the tablespoonful, just until mixture comes together. Gently fold in any additional ingredients.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll in the flour to coat. Knead gently 10 times. Pat into an 8-inch circle on an ungreased baking sheet. Cut into 8 wedges with a knife dipped in flour, and do not separate wedges. Brush the top with additional soy creamer, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
4. Bake 15-18 minutes, until the scones are turning golden and the tops don’t give in to the touch. Immediately remove from the cookie sheet to a cooling rack, using a knife to separate the scones if needed. Serve warm.

Makes 8 scones.

On to the lunches!

4-6  lentil & tempeh-stuffed collards, dill pickle cashews (Archer Farms brand), pretzel nuggets, rosemary foccacia, boiled beets, strawberries

4-7 sandwich (multigrain toast, tofurkey, tofutti cheese slice, baby greens, gourmet mustard & red onion jam), broccoli & carrot sticks, goddess dressing, dried apricots, raisins & sour gummies

4-9 garlic crusted grit cakes, succotash, mango-habanero sauce, snapea crisps, lime cucumbers, prunes & dried cherries

4-13 tofusteak sandwich on ezekiel bun with greens & mustard,
bbq crisps, coleslaw, strawberries

4-14 salad stirfry, brown rice, clover sprouts, cucumbers &
sesame seeds, tangerines

4-16 lentil & tempeh-stuffed collards, pasta salad, corn muffin,
kiwi & strawberries

4-17 lentil & tempeh-stuffed collards, multigrain crackers, apple pieces, carrots with goddess dressing, cookies

And finally, I’m very fond of the W.I.P posts on Musing From The Fishbowl.  It stands for work in progress, and they’re crafty works which are posted on Wednesdays.  Other bloggers have joined in too – one who stands out for having super cute crafty posts is Amanda from Walking The Vegan Line.

I wish I could join in on these posts, but the problem is I’m just not crafty.  I’ll sew or make something every once in a while, but the craft is not in my blood.  However, I have a few food projects that I’m working on, so I thought I’d share them as works in progress.

I first posted a picture of this dish that I’m working on for a cooking contest here, asking if anyone could identify the triangles, and giving the hint that they’re not tofu.

The most popular guess was polenta, and that’s really SO close!  They’re grit cakes.  This is Garlic-Crusted Grit Cakes with Succotash Hash, Mango-Habanero Sauce and Quick Pickles.  BF says it’s too complicated, but the contest rules say that you have to prepare it within two hours, and I can do that, and sometimes complicated is how I roll.  I need at least one more run at this one and the contest deadline is the end of this month, so I need to get moving on it.

Another one I’m working on for a different contest is Creamy Corn Pudding.  My mom makes this for almost every family holiday gathering and it’s so good, but it’s full of butter and milk and eggs, so no corn pudding for me.  No more!

It’s not perfect yet, but it’s darned close.  I also need at least one more go at this one.

I posted a picture of this Swiss Chard Risotto two posts ago, and I thought I would have it perfect this time, but alas I didn’t have any white wine and subbed in with white wine vinegar and it was a little too much.  Luckily, I’m getting chard again in my CSA tomorrow and I think with one more try it will be perfect.

That’s it for now.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to post again because we’re cheap and refuse to pay to fix our internets.  Until then!

update:  BF fixed the internets, hooray!  He is now a wireless router reconfiguration master.

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