Sunday, October 28, 2007

Protein-packed lunch

I can pack all the cute lunches I want, but if I want to actually have a shot at losing weight then I need to pay attention to what I eat and how much I eat.

After yet another weekend of eating nonstop, I will try to get my act together and try to make an attempt at eating lighter.

I decided that tomorrow I'd make myself gag down a salad. I baked up the last hunk of lemon-garlic marinated turkey breast and portioned it out into pieces for lunch this week. But to make the salad more palatable for me, I decided to make it full of protein. None of those sissy all veggie salads. Pffft. My salad has hunks of juicy, flavorful turkey and chunks of pepperjack cheese. If I can remember to pack some dressing, even better!

Bento buying binge, part deux

So, I did a little shopping this weekend with a friend of mine. I seriously think I need some help!

I will say that I didn't buy everything I saw that looked cute. I showed SOME restraint.

Let me explain a bit.

We went to that Discover Mills mall way the hell over in Suwanee/Duluth way up on 85. There is a Sanrio store, a Japanese goods store, and this store called Lydia's Artbox. My friend likes Sanrio stuff, like Hello Kitty. I wasn't expecting to buy anything in that store, but then I saw a couple boxes. And the price was right. And that wall was 50% off!! I only bought one box there -- the square, aqua bottomed box with the pink plastic diagonal strip. At the Japanese goods store, I bought a couple bags to take my lunches in and a few boxes to sell on Ebay. I'd already bought one of whatever they had the last time I'd gone there (see previous post). At Lydia's Artbox, I saw a display of "lunche box," but nothing caught my eye, until I happened to glance at the back of the window display. Then I saw the Hello Kitty bento boxes I've seen everyone and their mom posting about that they found at Dollar Tree. I haven't seen any at the ones I've gone to, and I'd pretty much resigned myself to having to get one off Ebay for an exorbitant price. I saw them at the store for 3.99 and was happy with that since I'd be saving on shipping. I also bought a couple extra to sell on Ebay as well.

After lunch, we decided to hit up Morning Glory, which I think is a Korean gift shop with the usual cute stationary, toys, etc. I'd bought a box at one of them before, but I hit the jackpot at this particular location. OMG. I think I really did squeal with delight at the sight of all the cute colorful plastic boxes. But I was good and only allowed myself 2 items: the double tiered blue box in the upper right, and the pink and orange mini side-dish set that came with their own carrying bag.

And then as a bonus, a package I'd been expecting from Ebay was waiting for me. That tiny aqua colored box on the upper left. For some reason, although the seller had posted the measurements, I hadn't expected to be so tiny and deep. I thought it was going to be shallower and bigger. Oh well.

So I think it's safe to say that I can cool it on buying more boxes for a long time. I'll post pics of the rest of my collection soon.

And now for something a little different . . .

Well, it's technically food related, no?

Today at the tender age of 27, I finally carved and gutted my first jack o' lantern.

A friend of mine had a pumpkin-carving party/chili cook-off/"guac"-off this afternoon. I wussed out and didn't make any chili or guacamole, but I did bring a huge ass pumpkin to carve.

I'm sure left to my own devices, I could have come up with a simple yet diabolic looking pumpkin, but since I'd never done this before and wasn't feeling that creative today, I opted for one of the simpler patterns that came with this pumpkin carving kit we had at the party.

It's supposed to be a bat. The pattern was called "Fatty Batty," and looked very cute and not scary at all. I don't know what the hell I did to the pattern, but here it is, my first attempt! We decided to stick flashlights inside to see what our creations would look like lit up from within.

I like it. It's cute in a lopsided, goofy kind of way.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The "can't sleep" bento

What do most people do when they can't sleep? Read, watch tv, close their eyes and hope that sleep doesn't remain elusive for long.

Me? I pack my lunch. And then post about it.

Well, this might be the only time I've done it so far.

I kept seeing all these cute little collapsible sandwich boxes on various bento blogs and was intrigued by them. Intrigued meaning I trolled Ebay until I found one and before I knew it had clicked on "Buy it now!!" Wonder how that happened?

Anyway, I got this over the weekend but just haven't had a chance to pack anything in it yet. It's really neat , the sides collapse down and this bottom part fits neatly into the lid when you're all done with lunch. Maybe if I'm motivated enough I'll post some pics showing how it works.

So today for lunch I've got a rotisserie-style oven roasted chicken sandwich with lettuce, a clementine, and some sugar free double chocolate Jello pudding. I also packed a couple of the chocolate raspberry Milano cookies I found at Kroger this weekend. I noticed the hubby had opened them up and already finished half the bag, so they must be good. :D

As you can see, the box is a pretty decent size. I was able to cut the sandwich in half and fit both halves in easily with room to spare. To keep the sandwich halves packed tighter, I stole a divider from one of my other bento boxes. Gotta love that early morning creativity.

I will say that packing my lunch in this box transformed it from one of those ehhhh sandwich lunches packed in sandwich bags and all tossed in a leftover plastic grocery bag into something far more appealing.

What can I say, I'm just a sucker for cute packaging.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Shrimp and noodles

This was one of those "toss-together" dinners I do during the week.

I'd had this package of Indonesian sambal sauce from Harry's or World Market that I'd been wanting to use for a while. I also had some rice noodles, frozen shrimp, and angel hair shredded cabbage and broccoli slaw.

Soooo . . . I sauteed the veggies and shrimp in some oil, added the sauce packet (it contained dried shrimp paste, and I wasn't expecting the smell). In the meantime I had soaked the rice noodles in hot water for about 30 minutes.

After the shrimp and veggies were done, I took them from the pan and then sauteed the rice noodles, added ginger, garlic, green onion, soy sauce, and some oyster sauce. Then I dumped the shrimp and veggies back in, added some lime juice and chili paste, and prayed that it would taste good. It did. I had 2 heaping bowls and the hubby had a huge heaping plate. And there was actually enough for my lunch tomorrow!

Oh yes, before I forget. I heated up some Van's shrimp egg rolls in the toaster oven to go along with dinner. I don't usually like egg rolls, but these are good. And not too bad in the calorie department.

So anyway, it seems that dinner was a success. Unless I can find that sauce pack again, I doubt I can recreate it exactly. But that's usually what happens with the "toss-together" dinners.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Garlicky Goodness

I'm still at it!

I was lazy and packed it in my green Putifresh container instead of having to decide which new bento to use this time.

Left tier contains grapes, strawberries, and a clementine.

Right tier contains leftovers from tonight's dinner: wilted garlicky spinach and cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic mashed potatoes (from a mix, shhhhh!), and some lemon garlic marinated turkey breast I found at the grocery store and grilled on our Calphalon grill pan. That thing is getting some serious use.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Purple what??

Purple cauliflower, my friends.

I saw it at Kroger last weekend and was so intrigued by it. I usually buy frozen cauliflower because I can't be bothered to actually wash and cut the fresh stuff, but this deserved a try.

Too bad I was too scared of it until today!

This is one of the Putifresh bento boxes I bought during my binge last weekend. At least I'm using it!

The left container has brown rice and some carne asada chicken from Trader Joe's that I grilled up tonight. I poshed it up a bit by sprinkling some parsley flakes on top. Mom would be proud. :D

The right container is a melange of colorful veggies. Carrot slices, grape tomatoes, edamame, and some steamed purple cauliflower. Looking forward to the looks at lunch tomorrow.

Let's play catch-up

I got really caught up with work last week, since it was right before the October 15th deadline. A mini-tax season, if you will.

I didn't pack lunch a lot last week because I was coming home late and I was too lazy in the mornings.

This is the only one I managed to at the beginning of the week. Look how colorful it is!

Left container has edamame, mini beef tacos from Trader Joe's, meatless chicken nuggets from Trader Joe's, and a very anemic-looking vegetable croquette I got at H-mart last weekend. The right container has mandarin oranges and fresh strawberries. God those were some yummy oranges.

Confession time. What I didn't say was that last weekend I descended into yet another level of bento mania. While browsing through yet some more pics of other people's lunches, someone mentioned having gone to the Japan Fest in Atlanta a couple weekends ago and then scoring some bento boxes at a nearby mall. So I got the bright idea (obsessive thought) of heading out there last Sunday. And since I was going to be all the way out there I'd hit up H-mart and Trader Joe's, neither of which is near little old Smyrna, where I live.

I definitely hit the jackpot last weekend. I was in Discover Mills and found a Sanrio store and then 2 other stores selling Japanese goods. The second store is where I scored three 2-tier Putifresh bento boxes, a 1-tier Putifresh box, some food picks, a couple little Buddha figurines for the hubby and me, and some Almond-crunch Pocky. I asked the cashier if they had more boxes, he said they get shipments once in a while. Yayayayy!! Then he asked if they were for my kids. Ummmm. I don't have kids, but I was dressed a bit frumpy, so I will forgive him. :P

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New box!

At last, my two boxes from Japan have arrived!

I love the blue color of this one -- it really seems to make the food pop.

On our left is rice sprinkled with green onions and a grape tomato for color. I guess it's a fake umeboshi. :)

On our right we have some leftover Asian-glazed salmon (for lack of a better description), steamed French-cut green beans, and my first attempt at a Japanese rolled omelet! It was pretty fun to make, although I think next time I'll make it more flavorful. I just don't like bland-tasting food.

Cool Bento Art

This past weekend the hubby and I attended the Japan Fest in Duluth, GA. I kinda wish we'd gotten there a bit earlier, since it was packed! I'd heard there was a huge bento display there, so after we'd wandered around the stalls, we decided to go exploring.

Here's the display -- we couldn't get all of the chopsticks at the bottom. I believe this was all made out of recycled material.

You can tell that I've gotten obsessed when I can identify some of the items at first glimpse -- 2 onigiri, sliced apple, dumplings, tomato, carrots, broccoli, rolled omelet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pint-sized lunch

I'm a volume eater. I have to feel full and my plate needs to look full. Packing my lunch in some of these teensy little containers depresses me sometimes.

There's really more food in there than meets the eye, but looking at it makes me hungry.

Leftover hot & spicy ramen noodles in the left compartment, steamed edamame, grape tomatoes, and leftover chicken katsu in the right.

The noodles and chicken turned out great. It's pretty hard to mess up ramen, although I've managed to do it a few times. The chicken katsu was a first for me. Other than getting some hot oil spatters on my hands from turning the chicken over as it was cooking, no casualties! Next time I'll just brown quickly and then bake, since I really don't like frying stuff.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A semi-poshed up lunch

This is probably the most artsy/cute I've gotten with my lunches so far. And that's not saying much!

We have a bed of red-leaf lettuce on the bottom, 3 grape tomatoes in the upper left, 2 carrot matchstick flowery thingies in the center, and 3 Tyson Boneless Buffalo "Wyngs" in the lower right. Oh and a weird cucumber matchstick border.

I think I'd better pack something to go along with this, since salad just doesn't keep me full very long. But it does look pretty! The hubby even said he'd eat it and he claims green veggies are from the devil. ;-)

It's so cute!

I love love love this shade of blue!! This is actually a Tupperware Lunch n Things container that I got from Ebay last week. I was drawn in by the color and the compartments.

I know my picture taking skills suck and that I probably don't pack my lunches as nicely as I should, but whatever.

We have sliced carrots, cucumbers, and grape tomatoes in the left, 2 small mini pitas in the center, 5 Mi-Del Lemon Snaps in the upper right and some hummus in the lower right.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Everybody Bento!

Maybe I'm slow to the trends, but I have finally discovered the world of bento. Indeed, I've almost become obsessed, since I've spent the last week or so drooling over various bento blogs and trolling Ebay for cute bento boxes.

I've even made a few attempts at packing lunches this past week. They are nowhere near as creative and artistic as other posts, but to me they look colorful, healthy, and yummy. And in the end I guess that's what matters to me.

This first picture probably isn't the best, but I was
excited about making my first attempt that day. It's just
steamed gyoza on a bed of lettuce in the bottom tier, and then sliced carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes in the upper tier.

This one is my second attempt. Still haven't got the hang of packing the box right, but again, it looks very colorful and healthy.

Inside we have steamed broccoli and fresh carrot slices in the left compartment. To the right we have garlicky brown rice with green onion garnish and three spicy koftas. I was on a roll that Sunday -- I steamed a ton of broccoli, made the garlicky brown rice, and made kofta! Go me!

I was afraid this wouldn't be enough for me at lunch, but having a variety of tastes and colors really did satisfy me more than I thought. And to be honest, I did pack a 100-calorie pack of cookies for dessert, so that definitely helped. :D

This is bento #3. I actually got made fun of at lunch time for this one! One of the partners at my company looked at it and announced, "Now here's when you know you're an accountant! When your lunch is all compartmentalized and organized!" I took it all in good humor. Of course when I told the hubby about it, he did snicker a bit. Pfft. Anyway, the upper tier on the left contains sliced plum, blueberries, and carrot slices. The bottom tier on the right contains more steamed broccoli and spicy kofta. To round it out we have some pulao I'd made with beef broth, which accounts for the brown color of the rice. Should have made it with chicken broth.

This is bento #4 from last week. Can you tell how obsessed I was? Not only had I dragged the hubby to a huge Asian grocery store on the other side of Atlanta that weekend, but then I hit up Container Store for faux bento boxes AND I drove out to a little Korean gift shop during the week for the box on the right. It's cute though, it has these black and white pigs on the cover. Should have posted a pic of the lid.

Anyway, on the left we have steamed frozen gyoza with some steamed broccoli. On the right, I made some ramen, rinsed in cold water to get it to cool down, then added some seasoning mix, steamed broccoli, broccoli slaw mix, green onion, and sliced up some corned beef or pastrami lunch meat for some protein and color. Note to self: cold ramen is nasty, but it looked good!

And here is the final bento from last week. I wasn't even planning on packing lunch on Friday since we were planning to go "away" to a bed and breakfast in the Virginia Highlands area of Atlanta for the weekend to celebrate our 3rd anniversary.

So in all its glory in disposable Gladware we have steamed white rice, a cute diagonal border of steamed broccoli (will I ever finish this??), and some leftover Japanese curry made with potatoes and chicken. I used the S&B Golden Curry roux blocks to make it. Not too bad, I must admit. It's quite a bit thicker and sweeter than when I make traditional Indian-style curry, but this was very good hot over rice with some spicy mango pickle to round it out. I was scared to pack the curry in my cute containers in case they got stained, so I sacrificed the disposable container. This was probably one of the better tasting lunches I packed this week, no doubt because it had spices and stuff in it. Yum yum!

I'm chalking it up to being all gung-ho the first week, but I really am proud of myself for packing lunch most of last week. It does take planning ahead and having stuff ready to go, so it really depends on how organized I am on the weekend about making stuff ahead of time. I don't know how often I will make them or take pics and post them, but I've enjoyed myself. And I have a feeling once I get the boxes I ordered off Ebay there will be more pics to come!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Confetti stir-fry

We've enjoyed a few variations of this recipe in the past few weeks. I got the initial idea for it off the Weight Watchers message boards, but have tweaked it to my tastes. I've made it using ground turkey, with shrimp, and just by itself as a side dish. You can serve it with rice, noodles, whatever. Honestly, we don't even miss the rice.

If you make it with ground turkey, shrimp, or chicken, I'd suggest you cook the meat first using whatever seasonings you want. I usually just do garlic, ginger, and green onions, since I want the flavor to be in the vegetables.

1 bag broccoli slaw

1 bag coleslaw mix

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tbsp. jarred minced garlic

1 tsp. ginger paste

1 tbsp. chopped green onion

soy sauce to taste

Asian 5-spice powder to taste

chili sauce to taste

cooked shrimp, chicken, ground turkey (1/2 to 1 lb.)

additional chopped green onion for garnish

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large frying pan or dutch oven. Add the garlic, ginger, and green onion, and cook for a minute or so, to let the flavors mingle. Add the vegetables and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add the soy sauce, 5-spice powder, and chili sauce to taste, continuing to stir. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to mix everything. You want the veggies to wilt down a little, but you still want them to have a bit of crunch. Once the vegetables are done to your liking, add your pre-cooked meat. Sprinkle chopped green onions over top to garnish.

Makes 4 large servings.

Taking it one bite at a time

I love food, it's really as simple as that.

I love eating it, I love reading about it, I love cooking it, and I love talking about it.

I've been wanting to do a food blog for the longest time. I couldn't decide if I wanted it to have a theme like Indian recipes, healthy recipes, etc. so I've decided not to have an offical theme. :)

Some of the recipes will be my own concoctions, some will be from various message boards, and some will be attempts to recreate favorite dishes (especially stuff my mom makes).

So, having said all that, it's time to start this journey, one bite at a time.