The Sweetest Thing.

" I feel there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people" ~Van Gogh

Lunch. May 21, 2015

Filed under: Lunch,Meal Plan — Jessica @ 8:00 am
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After covering Breakfast last week, we are talking about Lunch today. Much like breakfast, I try to keep my lunch pretty healthy and hassle free. I actually pretty much never eat lunch at home. During the week I am working and we are on more of a brunch/snack/dinner schedule on the weekends. My lunch needs to be something that packs up easily, travels well and does not require a lot of fuss to be ready to eat. Tiff will often take dinner leftovers for lunch but it is not always my favorite. Once in a while they are a nice option but I often find them to be “too heavy” for a mid-work day meal.

When the weather is nice, I often take salads with a variety of toppings. When it is colder, I will take soup in a screw tight container (mason jars work well). More than actual recipes for lunches, I stick with a formula. I am always sure to have protein, fiber, a fruit and vegetable and a snack or treat.

The chart below shows some common choices in each category-

Protein chart

I pick something from each category and build my lunch like that. When I take salads or soup, several categories are combined into one. I often have more than one vegetable and protein packed in my lunch. I usually take too much food with me and don’t eat it all, but I would rather have some extra at the end of the day instead of being lured to the junk in the vending machines.

Next week- Snacks!

 

Food Talk. April 2, 2015

Filed under: Lunch,random — Jessica @ 8:00 am
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It would seem that pretty much everything on this blog is food talk, and it is, in the practical sense. That is all important stuff to cover, but it isn’t what food is really about to me. If food was just about practicality, I would spend a lot less time reading, thinking about, researching, shopping for and preparing it. For me, food is about passion. It is about love, It is about nourishment far beyond the physical body. It is about community, tradition, family, memories. Food is the absolute center of my world.

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With Spring Break going on this week (exciting for me since I teach but do not have children, so I really get a break), I have had time to fully indulge my “food brain” as Joy the Baker likes to call it. I have spent countless hours on the internet researching some ideas I have and a few recipes I want to try, I have been reading “My Berlin Kitchen” and I watched The Hundred-Foot Journey . It is always good to know that I am not the only food obsessed one out there. While my family appreciates my culinary adventures, they don’t really “care” about food like I do.

I literally gasped in awe at the markets in The Hundred-Foot Journey and I could taste the salty olives, creamy cheese and the warm yeasty dough as I read about many of the recipes the Author’s family prepared in “My Berlin Kitchen”. I find these kind of stories so deeply, entirely satisfying and I just can’t get enough. Burnout happens with even the most passionate cooks, something that used to make me doubt my passions, but it doesn’t take much to get me excited again.

After seeing the markets in the movie, I had to take a trip to Wegmans (it is the closest I am getting to a market this time of year in Western New York). First, I picked up a cup of coffee while taking in the rich smooth aromas. Then, I took a few minutes to just stand at the front of the produce section and admire all of the colors and textures. I slowly walked around and took the time to really appreciate what was offered. I picked things up to touch them, smell them and imagine them on my table, A few things made it into my shopping basket and I moved on. I went to the olive bar and cheese area. I packed a variety of briny olives into a small container and picked up a couple of chunks of cheese. Next, I walked over to the bakery and admired the crisp golden crusts of their freshly baked loaves. I debated between their rosemary olive oil or the garlic tuscan bread for a few minutes- taking the time to gently squeeze and smell each- before adding one to my basket. On my way to the register, I picked up a bouquet of flowers.  I never even made it past that side of the store. I had what I had come for-a sense of connection, of contentment, of joy. I also had the makings of a really delicious lunch.

Once I arrived home, I trimmed my flowers and put them in a vase on the table. I made a salad with dark leafy spring mix, salty feta cheese, toasted walnuts, olives and my favorite sweet balsamic homemade dressing. I sliced a thick piece of the impossibly chewy bread with the perfect crunchy crust and soft center and poured a bit of olive oil to dip it in. I poured a small glass of wine,lit a candle and sat down at the table for a late lunch. It was one of those meals that was so simple yet so utterly satisfying. It never even crossed my mind to photograph it. When I was done eating, I just sat there, thankful for the time to enjoy such a simple thing so very much.

It was great to remember how important it is to slow down sometimes.  To take the time to truly enjoy the things that bring me real pleasure. It is not practical to think that meals can be such an occasion everyday, but I am going to try to add little touches to remind me that they can and should be sometimes. Tucking a cloth napkin into my lunch bag and taking the time to lay it on my lap, opening up all of my containers to appreciate the colors and giving thanks can make a hurried lunch at my desk a little more special. When I am home, lighting a candle and sitting down at the table without any distractions can make leftover soup seem like a feast. Remembering that food is more than calories, more than a necessity, makes is so much more satisfying.

 

Homemade Freezer Burritos. April 1, 2015

My darling partner ate a lot more processed food before we got together. She was not the most terrible eater by any means, but often relied on convenience items for quick lunches or late night dinners. Despite an aversion to tortillas, she really liked keeping a package of frozen burritos in the freezer for these occasions. After looking at the questionable ingredient list on the package of these burritos, I decided I could make my own version at home. These are quick to make and can be customized to fit your family’s tastes, but this is a general guideline. I most often make this version, but I have also mixed in leftover taco meat (turkey, pork or ground beef), extra veggies etc.

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Homemade Freezer Burritos

makes 8 burritos

Ingredients

8 Tortillas (I try to get ones with minimal ingredients- flour, salt, water and oil is pretty much all it takes)

1.5 cups (or 1 can) refried beans

1 cup salsa

1 boneless skinless chicken breast- cooked & shredded

6 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese- shredded

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1. Make sure tortillas are at room temperature so they roll easily without tearing.

2. Mix beans, salsa, and shredded chicken together

3. Divide mixture evenly between tortillas and spread down the middle of each

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4. Divide cheese evenly between tortillas and sprinkle on bean mixture

5. Roll as pictured below.

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6. Place each burrito in individual sandwich bag & then put all burritos in gallon freezer bag. This makes them easy to just grab from the freezer and toss in a lunch bag.

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7. Place gallon bag in freezer.

8. Reheat in microwave 1-2 minutes depending on how frozen it is and how your microwave works.

9. Top with additional salsa, sour cream/greek yogurt, guacamole etc

10. Enjoy!

*if using gluten free tortillas, Aldi brand are the best I have found so far!

 

Tuna & White Bean Salad October 22, 2014

Filed under: Lunch,Uncategorized — Jessica @ 5:00 am
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This is one of the most versatile recipes in my regular rotation- in both ingredients and ways it can be enjoyed. I like to make a batch of this up during my weekly food prep session on Sunday and use it in lunches all week. You can add pretty much any veggie you want to the mix- it is great with avacadoe! I eat this on Wasa type crispbreads,  scooped over spring mix as a topping and dressing in one, mashed on to sandwich bread, wrapped up in a tortilla with some spring mix and I have even made a quesadilla out of it with some fresh mozzarella. It is seriously so good and packed with protein and nutrients.

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Tuna & White Bean Salad

1 can tuna- drained

1 can cannellini beans- drained and rinsed well

1/2 med red onion-diced

1/2 medium green pepper-diced (I also added that one random baby red pepper I had)

medium tomatoe- diced

large handful of spinach- chopped

2 Tbls red wine vinegar

2 Tbls olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper- to taste (I used Borsari which is a local seasoned salt, but plain old salt and pepper work fine)

* for texture purposes, I try to chop my veggies to be about the size of the beans in this recipe

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1. Mix all ingredients in medium bowl.

2. Serve immediately or store covered in fridge up to 6 days.

3. Enjoy!

 

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* pleas excuse my nail. Nails were next on the to do list.

 

Spicy Chicken Sausage & Kale Fritatta September 25, 2014

Filed under: Breakfast,Lunch — Jessica @ 5:00 am
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Surprise! Another egg recipe. This is one of my favorite quick and easy meals. It’s pretty healthy too. Leftovers are great for breakfast or lunch the next day!

 

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Spicy Chicken Sausage and Kale Fritatta

serves 4-6

 

Ingredients:

6 eggs (I added another after the photo was taken)

1 cup milk

2 spicy chicken sausage links (substitute your favorite flavor if you would like)

2 large handfuls kale (washed and torn)

small/medium red onion (diced)

olive oil, salt & pepper

 

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Heat about 2 Tbls of olive oil in large oven safe skillet (no plastic handles). Add diced onion. Cook 3-5 minutes until partially soft

2. Add sliced chicken sausage and cook 2-3 minutes. Add kale. Cover and let steam until bright green (about 5 mins)

3. Meanwhile, whisk eggs and milk together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Add egg mixture to pan. Cook on stove top 12-15 minutes until egg begins to set.

5.  Once egg mixture has started to set (get firm), put pan in oven and bake 10 minutes to finish.

6. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Slice like a pizza and enjoy!

 

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Since this dish already contains veggies and protein, I often keep the meal simple and serve it with some fresh seasonal fruit.