Touch of Nectar











{September 1, 2011}   12 Minute Bento – Step by Step

Yeah, yeah. It’s been awhile. I know.

 I am getting very excited because the kidling starts “real” school in about a week and she’s decided that she wants me to make her a bento for lunch each day too. So now I’m all inspired and I decided to take photos and time myself while making today’s bento.

Get out the food.

Get out the tools

Make onigiri. I used a pouch of salmon to stuff them this time. 1/2 a pouch for 2 fairly large rice balls.

Add stuff. Here I’m filling in with cherry tomatoes and a cucumber salad. The salad is tucked into a silicone lined paper cup. There’s a bit of fried, seasoned tofu tucked in the box too. I also topped the rice with a vegetable furikake (seaweed sprinkles). We’re half done! 7 minutes on the clock…  Yes those are picked onions (delicious!) but they didn’t make it into today’s box. Back into the fridge they went.

The rest of the bento.  More fried tofu and a silicone cup to hold a wet salad.

And finish it off.  Beet and orange salad. Pickled daikon and carrot. And I tucked a couple more cherry tomatoes in there too.

I’m having a cut up peach for dessert. Not sure if this counts as a bento, but it IS in a bento box. 🙂    12 minutes start to finish. Another minute or so to put everything away. Easy peasy!

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The Menu this Week. April 16-22 2011

As usual, these are not in the order that I will make them. Fruit/dessert on the menu this week is pineapple, bananas, pears and oranges.  Do you see a theme with this week’s menu? Hubby brought the barbecue back from our property. It is one way I can get him to help me cook dinner. Shhh… don’t tell him I said that!

I’m super excited because the farmer’s market near my house is now open. You can expect to see lots of fresh fruit and veggies in the upcoming menus. I have asparagus to use but I haven’t decided what I want to make yet. Maybe a white bean and asparagus salad?

I bought half a ham for the kebabs, and only need a small portion of it, so I will make a ham and bean soup in the crock pot to freeze. I will also freeze a portion of diced ham for quick omelets or quiches. I love having a well-stocked freezer!

Sat – CORN/Leftovers Night

Sun – Olympic Burgers #   from 365 Grilling Recipes

Mon – Ham and Pineapple Kebabs #445833 from 365 Grilling Recipes

Tues – Chicken Sandwich with Lemon Basil Mayo #451586 from Eat Well Stay Well

Wed – Pork chops (TBD),  Dijon Parsley Potatoes from George Foreman

Thurs – Grilled Chicken Fajitas from 365 20 Minutes Meals (make double and freeze half), Salsa Fresca Mexicana from 365 Mexican Recipes, Rice

Fri – Watercress and Cucumber Salad with Fresh Tuna from George Foreman, sliced tomatoes

Breakfasts – Sunday, unless we go out to breakfast. Almond Pancakes from Beyond the Moon (didn’t get made last week) and fresh fruit
Muffins (TBD)

Lunches – (smaller portions of the recipes) Grilled Pear Salad with Parmesan from 365 Grilling Recipes
Shredded Carrot Salad # from 365 Grilling Recipes
 
Dessert – Applesauce Cake #451271 from Spices of the World (didn’t get made last week)



Rigatoni with Escarole and Sausage (link to recipe)


I love a fast dinner! This took about 20 minutes or so.

First I put a pan of water on to boil for the pasta. (correction – first pour a glass of wine to drink while cooking dinner!)

From the freezer, I pulled out a package of basil-chicken sausages. I thawed them in the microwave, then sliced them into ¼ inch slices. While those were heating in the skillet, I chopped the garlic and escarole. The head of escarole I had was huge, so I only used half.

When the pasta water was ready, I dumped in the farfalle pasta that I was using.

I added the garlic to the skillet and let that sauté for a bit. When the pasta was almost done cooking, I added the escarole to the sausages. I also added a bit of the pasta cooking water to help it wilt.

When the pasta was done cooking, I drained it and then tossed it with the escarole and sausages.

Served topped with lots of Parmesan cheese.

Dessert was fresh cantaloupe.



The Menu this Week. April 9-15 2011

As usual, these are not in the order that I will make them. Fruit/dessert on the menu this week is pineapple and cantaloupe. I’ve already messed up the menu, but tonight will be the Rigatoni. And I have some watercress to use… I’ll have to find a recipe for that.

Sat – Going hiking with the kidling, so I need a fast and easy dinner.

Sun – Chicken Athenos #330056 from 1001 More Low Fat

Mon – Pizza Burgers #445820 from 365 Grill (make double and freeze?)

Tues – Pineapple Rum Turkey Kabobs #231845 from Low Carb, Rice and Snow Peas

Wed – Lemon Herb Swordfish Steaks #452353 from Low Carb

Thurs – Rigatoni with Escarole and Italian Sausage (sausage from freezer) #334597 from 1001 Low Fat

Fri – PCT Movie night. Leftovers or pizza.

Breakfasts – Sunday, unless we go out to breakfast. Almond Pancakes from Beyond the Moon

Lunches – Blackeyed Pea Salad from Beyond the Moon

Dessert – Applesauce Cake #451271 from Spices of the World



Restocking the freezer this week.  Some doubling up on recipes throughout the week.   Ground turkey is on sale at Safeway for buy one get one free, so I’ll be making a HUGE batch of meatballs to freeze. I also want to restock my freezer with roasted red bell pepper and tomato soup.  I might throw some beans in the crockpot for some sort of freezable stew later this week too. I bought a giant package of chicken breasts, so those will go in the freezer in at least 3 different marinades. (to be determined)

As of today, I am at 99/365 recipes. As always, these are in no particular order.  (Already changing the menu since I forgot a few things at the store last night…)

Sat 26 Shrimp and Snow Pea Stir Fry – Cooking Light 04
Steamed rice, dumplings (freezer)

Sun 27 – Mini Meatloaves – Cooking Light 2004 (make double) and Twice Baked Potatoes (make at least double. hubby loves these)

Mon 28 Pork Chili with Greens – 1001 Slow Cooker  and Sweet Corn Cheddar Pancakes From Asparagus to Zucchini

Tue 29Sage Stuffed Chicken Breasts – George Foreman Green Beans (wondering if this would freeze well?)

Wed 30 – CORN/Leftovers night (might change since I won’t be around this weekend to cook)

Thur 31 Pork and Fennel Ragu – Cooking Light 2004 Rice, Bread, Salad

Fri 1 – Off to Canada! I’m teaching a 4 hour backcountry cooking class. So not ready! Hubby and kidling to eat leftovers or eat pizza.

BreakfastsStrawberry Cinnamon Muffins – Cooking Light 2005 and Ginger Dessert Waffles – Spices of the World

LunchesGreen Apple Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette – Cooking Light 2004 and  Tarragon Tuna Salad – Spices of the World and and Potato Salad with Parsley and Chives – Cooking Light 2004 (for hubby. Didn’t get made from previous menu) Slaw of some sort? I have green cabbage to use up.

Dessert Applesauce Cake Spices of the World (made with home canned applesauce) I also picked up an angelfood cake at the store – to be served topped with Cool Whip and home-canned berries.



The Menu this Week. March 19-25 2011

It’s official! I am ¼ of the way through Project 365. I have made 92 recipes. Only 273 left to go! I am about 2 weeks ahead of schedule, but I’m anticipating a lot of days in April and later this summer when I will not be cooking at all.

Dinners this week are mostly from the pantry. Pretty much the only things I need from the store this week is a pound of hamburger and a large package of chicken.

As usual, these are most likely not in the order that I will make them. I’ve been trying to get the husband and kidling to eat more fruits and vegetables so I will also serve melon, grapes, pineapple and/or oranges with dinner. And bread. Always with the bread.

SatCanton Chicken and Rice  from 1001 Low Fat

Sun – Chicken Stew with Parsley Dumplings (my own stew from the freezer) from 1001 Low Fat

Mon – Pork Schnitzel from Rachael Ray’s 365 No Repeats and Rice Pilaf with Shallots and Parmesan from Cooking Light 2004

TuesPasta Shells with Tuscan Tuna from Cooking Light 2004

Wed – Beef and Been Burritos from 1001 Low Fat and Zucchini with Oregano and Sun dried tomatoes from Asparagus to Zucchini and Herbed Polenta from 1001 More Low Fat

Thurs – Knit night. Hubby and kidling to eat leftovers or order pizza.

Fri – Fettuccini with Chicken Piccata from 1001 More Low Fat

Breakfasts – Almond Pancakes from Beyond the Moon and Muffins (undecided. Strawberry?)

Lunches – (also doubles as side dishes) Potato Salad with Parsley and Chives from Cooking Light 2004, Macaroni Salad from 1001 More Low Fat, Armenian Bean Salad from Asparagus to Zucchini and Egg Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes from Beyond the Moon.

Dessert – Double Crust Blueberry Pie from 1001 Low Fat (made with home-canned blueberries)



I recently discovered this berry recipe in my Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2004 book. I have a freezer full of berries from last summer’s berry picking excursions.  I used blueberries and strawberries and left out the raspberries since the hubby doesn’t like them much.

This works with frozen berries! Thaw and macerate at the same time. A great dish to make ahead. I served this on vanilla yogurt with Girlscout cookies, but it would also be good on ice cream, pound cake or angel food cake. Or pancakes and waffles!

Macerated Berries
#78 for Project 365
Serves 4

2 cups sliced strawberries
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon sugar

Combine all ingredients, stirring gently.

Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally.



{March 10, 2011}   1001 Low Fat Recipes

Project 365 Marches on. As of today, I am at 78 recipes. Ahead of schedule on purpose since I know there are quite a few days coming in April that I will not be cooking.

I am slowly adding series of books to my cookbook collection. The 1001 series by Sue Spitler is one of these. I have four, with plans to add at least two more.

Let’s start with 1001 Low Fat Recipes. So far this year I have made five recipes from this book; Italian Turkey Burgers, Chicken China Moon, Garbanzo Parsley Salad, Artichoke Delight, Country Lentil Soup and Potato Seafood Cakes.

Except for the Seafood Cakes, which I ended up heavily modifying, everything has been delicious. The recipes are well written, easy to follow and flavorful. Not something you always get from a low fat cookbook.

Other recipes I have tried (prior to 2011’s Project 365) include
Mushrooms in Vermouth and Turkey Marsala.

I have a ton of recipes tagged to try soon as well. Mushroom Barley Soup with Herbs, Chinese Coleslaw, Fruit Filled Muffins, Salmon Salad Farfalle, Sesame Shrimp Stir Fry, Easy Chicken Saltimbocca, Golden Spaghetti Squash… I could go on and on.

One thing I really like about this book, compared to other low fat books, is that it doesn’t call for a lot of “low fat” product substitutions. Instead, she uses less oil and cooking techniques to make the recipes healthy. They rely heavily on seasonal vegetables and fresh herbs. Food itself has a lot of flavor if you cook it right.

Most of the recipes take 30 minutes or less and don’t have an extensive list of ingredients. Additonally, they do not call for hard to find or “weird” ingredients. There are a lot of re-worked classic dishes throughout the book.

There are 18 chapters, starting with Appetizers. This is a very well organized book. Sometimes the chapters may be short, but it makes recipes very easy to find.  For example, there is a whole chapter on Dinner Sauces. Vegetable Entrees are followed by Vegetable Side Dishes.



Yesterday’s bento was a mish-mash of stuff out of the refrigerator. Usually my bentos are dinner leftovers, but there were no dinner leftovers!

I always have  lots of fruits and veggies in the fridge, so there’s always something to eat and/or put inmy lunch. I like my rabbit food!

Cottage cheese, cherries and quail eggs. Strawberry jello, lichis and blueberries.

In the front: Teriyaki tofu, veggies and rice with vegetable furikake. There is Green Goddess Dressing in the little container.

I didn’t end up eating the rice. It was a bit dry. Would have been good to make fried rice out of though. Oh well.

I swear I wasn’t going for any sort of theme here. It is so bright and yellow! The Sunshine Bento! lol.  Once again, I had no dinner leftovers (except the peas) so I was winging it for lunch.

I pulled the pesto turkey patties out of the freezer. Even the paper liner they are in is yellow gingham. Tucked behind them are a couple of cheese wedges.

Pineapple, raspberries (I bought WAY too many!) and fresh mango. Dang it! I forgot my cut e picks yet again.

A big salad in the back. Nothing spectacular. Just greens and veggies. Green Goddess dressing in the little cup. Again, I didn’t pick the yellow one on purpose! That was the one that was clean!

I also have some wasabi rice crackers for a snack. After eating one last night, I don’t know if I will be able to eat them. They are eye-wateringly spicy! Might have to have chocolate instead. Oh, poor me. lol.



{June 19, 2009}   Bento-Italiano (sort of) #46

Dinner last night was sauteed mahi mahi in marinade from TJ’s. Since I don’t really like leftover fish (with the exception of tuna/salmon cakes) I needed to raid the fridge and freezer for today’s lunch.

I found the pesto turkey burgers I made last week and decided to go with a theme, more or less.  Under the turkey burgers there are some red/yellow roasted red peppers from a jar (also TJs). I have the turkey burgers in a divider cup so they won’t get soggy. They look a little strange because they were still frozen when I snapped the photo. I usually make my lunch the night before, so they will be thawed by lunchtime.

There was fresh basil and heirloom cherry/grape tomatoes in the fridge that need eating, so I grabbed on of the kidling’s string cheese sticks and made mini caprese skewers. The rest is just spinach salad with olives, yellow bell pepper and carrots. There are 3 radishes tucked in there too. I’m always surprised at how much food this small box can hold!

In front there is also a small container of Annie’s Green Goddess dressing, some TJ’s animal cookies for dessert (oh, how I want some nutella to dip these in!).

In the sidecar there is fruit (watermelon, cherries, grapes and blueberries) and a laughing cow cheese wedge for breakfast/snack/dessert.

Everything but the cookies fit in the box. 🙂



et cetera