Monday, April 29, 2013

New Box and Paper Punch

Good morning, today I have to leave super early around 5:45 am so I was up at 4 am once again to create my lunch. I am really excited today because I have some new items that I got to try out. The box was from Amazon for about $15.00 I love that this box is small and has two compartments, which makes it perfect for days like this when you really don't wan't to carry around enough food for 2 meals. Also noted in this picture you will find two Ionic paper punches that I used to cut my nori into 2 flower shapes. The blue whole puncher is a tad bit annoying to use however because the pieces are tiny and I sometimes loose the little dot in the center of the flower and am forced to punch a second one for spare parts.

For lunch today you will find the following...

The Main Compartment contains:

  1. Pulled pork, that was roasted for around 4 hours.
  2. 2 Rice shaped with my flower cookie cutter...sad fact its the only cutter I have right now besides the apple one, but I do have my eye on a set of star shaped ones the next time I go to Michaels Arts and Crafts. On top of the rice you will find the flower shaped Nori that I made with the Ionic paper punchers pictured above. They cost three dollars each at Ross.
  3. Peas, to fill in the space and to meat my desired vegetable intake.
The Cold Compartment contains:
  1. Strawberry and Blackberry fruit salad.
  2. Flan shaped like a flower using the same cutter as the rice.
Well that is my lunch for today, I am still debating between adding some Korean BBQ sauce to serve with the pulled pork or if I should just keep it plain. Anyway until next post, have a great day.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Snack or Side Garden Bento

Good Morning, yesterday I was bored and decided that I wanted to practice my garnishing skills by creating a snack bento that I enjoyed as a side for my beef stew lunch (not shown). Having a light, fresh, and bright sides gave a nice balance to the otherwise heavy and hearty stew.

In my snack box you will find:
  1. One large strawberry rose.
  2. 1 snack sized mandarin orange drained.
  3. 1/3 Blanched carrots in various shapes.
  4. 2 small grape tomatoes. 

I was inspired to create a carrot rose when I was browsing the computer for various garnishes and saw multiple pictures and videos on the carrot rose. The carrot rose appeared to be an easy task to accomplish and I happened to have carrots in my fridge so I thought this would be a great starting point for my list, however I came across a slight complication when I realized that my carrots were too thin, and I cut the slices a tad too thick. This means that my rose had a hard time standing up on its own without falling apart, or without a support (toothpicks, and grape tomatoes). Above the Rose you will find a flower carrot cutout and two leaves, these were inspired by the memory of a flower symbol I saw as a kid, I don't remember what it means but I the visualization remains vivid in my mind. In the end my garnish looked more like a bunny then a flower garden but it was still pretty to look at, and is a great representation of spring.

Another garnish that I wanted to try was the Strawberry rose, this has been on my to do list for a long time but just like most the list I create this rose just became neglected. This was very easy to create, as it took only four slits on the bottom and then four more smaller slits near the the top in between the previous slits. Once the slits are all created I took the pairing knife and carefully pulled the petals so that they would flair a little to give the illusion of a flower in blossom.

Well this is my snack/ side box that I made yesterday, I hope you enjoyed this post.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Taco Bar

Good morning! I hope everyone is having a nice day, originally I had planned to make a bento style lunch today to enjoy inside since I haven't packed anything in almost a week, but when I got down stairs my lunch was already ready for me. So instead I will just show my lunch from Monday, which happened to be Earth Day but I forgot.

Monday's lunch was made from the leftover taco ingredients from Sundays taco dinner. I am not a huge fan of eating a taco the proper way where you stuff the shell instead I always turned my tacos into a nacho bar and used a spoon to scoop my ingredients onto the shell, I know its weird and I don't know anybody else who does that but I've been doing it since HS. I basically organized my tray the same way I do my plate but the tray separated the ingredients nicely but my proportion sizes did need a little adjusting. In my case I found that I had way more meat then I needed and not enough vegetables to finish off my little chips. If I were to do this again I probably would either top the meat with the cheese or melt the cheese on to the chips, this way I would have a whole block for both my lettuce and tomatoes, and the limes would be placed where ever there was room (probably with the tomatoes).

Here is what I included in my taco bar:

  1.  Mexican Shredded Cheese... maybe 2 or 3 tablespoons?
  2.  1/2 a lime sliced, I added the sliced lime because I used the other half to make guacamole.
  3. 2 Crispy corn tortillas broken into chips... I know I am weird.
  4. 4 small grape tomatoes small diced. I ended up using dicing 2 more to finish off the meat and chips.
  5. Shredded lettuce... I think its about 3 tablespoons as well, I had it packed pretty tight, but I ran out quick and didn't cut extra.
  6. Trio of Sauces: 2 tablespoons each of Homemade Guacamole, Salsa, and Sour Cream
  7. 1/2-2/3 Taco Meat

To make the Guacamole You need:
1/2 Lime
2 Avocado
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 small garlic clove minced
1/2 minced Jalapeno (optional)
2 Tablespoons Cilantro minced.

  1. In a medium bowl mash the Avocados with a fork, once all the chunks are gone.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and half the Cilantro.  Mix until well combined.
  3. Check the seasonings, adjust if needed. (If more garlic is desired either chop another clove or use a pinch of garlic powder)
  4. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with the remaining cilantro. 

Well that is my post for today! I've got some new items today that I can't wait to share with you tomorrow  but until then have a great day!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Why I did this at 3 am I do not know?

 Good afternoon everybody! Funny thing happened this morning at 3 am I was feeling hungry and thirsty so I go down stairs to grab some cold water and maybe a snack, when I get to the fridge I saw a bowl of Jasmine rice just calling my name. Now you probably think I decided to eat the rice at 3 am but instead I grabbed the nori and some scissors and created a little boy rice ball. This took me only 2 minuets and for being half asleep I think I did a good job especially because this is my first time. Anyway once he was made I wrapped him up and stuck him in the fridge completely forgetting I was hungry. Anyway since he was already made I decided to stick him in my lunch for today, I am not going anywhere so I brought out my little sectioned tray that most people buy cheaply for their kids. These can be purchased at any grocery store for about a dollar a piece. When I bring my tray out I am usually trying to proportion what I am eating in this case my veggies. I look forward to the day I am allowed to eat as much vegetables as I want, this day should come very soon but until then I have to be careful. Anyway here is my lunch for today!

For my lunch I have:

  1. 1 Little boy Onigiri that I made at 3 am... Simple but proud of myself, I guess getting up at 4 am to get ready for culinary school has it's uses!
  2. 1/3 cup Vegetable Stir fry
  3. 1 thin long pork chop that I dredged in gluten free flour and adobe seasoning before frying. Once it was cooked I sprinkled it with salt and added some lemon juice to it. Although the flavor was good I felt as if the gluten free flour made the pork feel grainy, in fact you can kinda see it in the picture but at least it taste good so I can temporarily overlook the flaw in my brand of flour.
  4. 1 egg that I cut in half and sprinkled with salt.
  5. 1 slice Cassava dessert, it was the last slice in my fridge so I thought I would add it to my lunch.
  6. 1 plum that I sliced and garnished with a lemon twist.
  7. 1 Snow pea and carrot garnish that I used to fill in the space and add a pop of color to the lunch.
As you can tell pork is my favorite protein with shrimp being a close second, I guess its the Filipino in me and my love for bread and pasta comes from my dads European side, but until I am off gluten I will just embrace my Asian side 100% and stick to the rice.

About garnishes, according to the teachers I love the pretty things in a kitchen, and they are right I much prefer a pretty platter then one that looks commercially made.  To make this carrot and snow pea garnish I quickly microwaved 5 small snap peas in water for about 30 seconds until tender but still crisp. Then I made 6 carrot flowers that I cut out using a small cookie cutter. Once the peas are tender fan it out and place 2 of the flowers (the other 4 went in a side salad for later) under the snow peas for a simple and beautiful garnish.

Vegetable Stir Fry are one of the easiest things to make in small or large amounts, In my case I made enough for 3 sides or 2 entrees. Here is what you need:

  • 2 Garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon each Soy Sauce, Mirin, and Saki
  • 1 carrot Julianne
  • 2 green onions cut on a bias
  • 5 mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup snow peas, mine were big so I cut it in half.
  1. Heat a little bit of oil or butter in a medium skillet and add the garlic and ginger until it becomes fragrant and has a lightly toasted color.
  2. Add the mushrooms and carrots until they become tender, once the mushrooms start to brown season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
  3. Once the carrots become tender add the rest of the ingredients and cover until the snow peas are soft but still slightly crisp.
  4. Check the seasoning, add more salt and pepper if needed if not remove from heat and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. 
Well that is my lunch, I hope you enjoyed it! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Magnesium Rich

Good morning, yesterday I packed a magnesium rich meal for lunch but I was just too busy to post it until this morning.  I really need to get a smaller box because these boxes hold way too much food for me, instead I ended up having a lunch and 3 snacks but I had breakfast really early and dinner late so the constant snacking was important, it was just a pain to drag out and put back together. A less complex box would have been better. Anyway before I go into details about my lunch I wanted to talk about my little shaker I used as a sauce container. Originally I thought it would be a good sauce vessel because it held my ketchup really well, but as far as my soy sauce goes it did not hold up instead I found a puddle of soy sauce in my that my peas and rice were happy to soaked up.

In the main compartment of my lunch you will find:
  1. Pork Tocino sprinkled with sesame seed. The pork itself isn't high in magnesium but the sesame seeds are with 1 oz providing you with 101 mg of magnesium. To make the meat higher in magnesium switch the pork for white meat chicken which will provide you with 7.6 mg magnesium for every 1 oz. To make the Tocino I used a seasoning mix I got at the Asian grocery store but I plan on making my own next time to avoid the citric acids.
  2. 1/3 cup White Rice is also a good source of magnesium, for every 1/2 cup you receive 9.3 mg of magnesium. To go with the rice I added soy sauce in a container.
  3. 1/4 cup of Peas contain 16.2 mg of magnesium, because the soy sauce is high in salt and the tocino is high in sugar I just left these peas unseasoned but you can add salt and butter if you wish.
  4. Tomatoes: 1 medium tomato contains 13.5 mg of magnesium but these were grape tomatoes so I probably got about 5 or 6 mg instead. 
Inside the cold compartment you will find:
  1. 1 slice Cassava Desert: This desert is very sweet so I probably should not have eaten it with the tocino and apricots but it taste good and will give me a lot of calories which at the moment I want so its fine, plus I didn't eat it until 3 hours after I finished the food in the main compartment. I am not sure the exact amount of magnesium in the cassava root but I read that it contains alot of copper, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B. They are also high in calories so if you are on a diet avoid it.
  2. 1 medium Banana contains 33 mg of magnesium as well as 422 mg of Potassium, although they are one of my least favorite fruits they are high in the nutrients I am constantly deficient in so I consume 1 or 2 a day on average. 
  3. 2 tablespoons Sunflower Seeds: these are one of the highest sources of magnesium about 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds will contain 128 mg of Magnesium. All the moisture in my lunch made mine soggy :( so next time I will have to place it in a container to prevent that from happening, instead I blended it up with my banana, apricot, and an ensure to make a high calorie nutrient rich  snack when I got home.
  4. 6 halves canned apricots gave me 16 mg of magnesium. Periodically throughout the day I just randomly munched on them as well as adding them to my shake. 
  5. The Parsley and babybel cheese were in case I wanted them to go with my entree but in the end I didn't use them so the cheese went back in the fridge and I tossed the small amount of parsley.
Anyway that was my lunch yesterday, all I am missing here is an over easy egg to eat with my rice but I forgot to make it. I know my food for yesterday was a lot but barely anything was wasted with the long day I had. I hope you enjoyed the post, I have a new box coming in the mail soon and I can't wait to use it but until then it will just be my not so little green and orange boxes. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Shrimp Toast and Shrimp Patties

Good afternoon! Today I am having a great day, the weather outside is so beautiful and cooling that it brings happiness when you go for a walk. This says a lot for the weather especially because I hate to go for a walk with nowhere to go. Anyway for lunch today I finished off my shrimp paste and made a shrimp toast for breakfast along with two eggs and sausages, this was a perfect way to start my morning and very energizing. I have been meaning to post the picture of my lunch yesterday but with some computer problems I wasn't able to load the pictures until today but I must say it is very appetizing.

For lunch yesterday I had the following:
1/4 cup sauteed mushroom and eggplant.
1/4 cup green beans.
1 Jar sunflower seeds (I munched on all day)
2 Shrimp patties
1 Shrimp Toast cut into 2 triangles.
1/2 cup rice
1/4 lemon
Parsley for garnish.

My dad said that I should start writing out my recipe in a proper format instead of just listing ingredients, so next time I post something I will try to remember to write them out in proper recipe format. Truth is I don't follow recipes or measure ingredients so this will be new to me. Instead I like to go based on instincts and taste. Lately I learned no recipe is original instead you should always taste your food and make things your own.

In case you are wondering how I make the shrimp paste it has the following:
1/2 lb Shrimp that has been de-veined and peeled
1/4 minced Jalapeno (I made meatloaf the day before so I decided to keep just a tad for the paste.)
2 small garlic cloves
2 tablespoons parsley
1/2 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon onion
Salt and Pepper to taste
For extra flavor I added a dash of saki and rice wine vinegar.

Puree all the ingredients in a food processes until it forms a smooth paste, some people add a little cornstarch if it becomes too moist. Spread a thin layer of mixture on a piece of lightly toasted bread then sprinkle some sesame seed on top of it. For an even layer I placed the sesame seed in a small dish and pressed it on the bread. Then you can finish toasting it in the oven or you can shallow fry the toast shrimp side down until the shrimp is cooked and toast is crunchy. Serve with a sweet chili sauce or eat it plain like I did.

Well that was my lunch for yesterday, I didn't pack or cook anything interesting for lunch or dinner today instead I am enjoying all my wonderful leftovers. Have a wonderful and bright day!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Just another Thursday!

 Good afternoon everybody, today I had a big breakfast and late snack of Organic Sunflower seed's and Mediterranean lemon yogurt so I didn't get around to eating lunch till 2 in the afternoon, I know its late but I still wanted to eat so I optioned for a light lunch today instead of the double layers I usually consume. Although my lunch was simple and looks like a leftover lunch it wasn't. Originally I planned on making it for dinner yesterday but I still had leftover chicken I needed to finish first. This lunch was exciting to make for two reasons: 1) I always wanted to make a mini meatloaf. 2) I got to use my new mini shaker. I really don't know what it is suppose to be used for but it had a little plastic divider inside so I could add mustard and ketchup in the same container. Anyway back to lunch!

For lunch today I had:
1 banana
1 package Gluten free macaroni, this was my last package so I will have to pick more up on Monday.
1/4 cup of canned green beans.
1 of 8 mini meatloaf's
1 container of Ketchup.

For the meatloaf I lined 8 of the 12 slots in the cupcake tin with a plain paper liner, the foil ones probably would have given the edge a little bit more color but I wanted to save those for something else. After I lined the cupcake tin I preheated the oven to 375 degrees F and started making the mixture. Inside the mixture you will find 2 pieces of gluten free bread (I toasted them and crushed to make homemade bread crumbs.), Worcestershire sauce, 1.2 lbs of ground beef, mushroom, garlic, onion, 1/2 jalapeno  green onion, S&P, fresh Parsley, Paprika, garlic herb seasoning, tomato basil seasoning, pizza sauce (normally I use ketchup or tomato sauce but I need to finish my jar so in it went... I think it taste better anyway!), and one egg. Be careful not to over mix the meat, instead I mixed the egg, pizza sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings together first, then I added my vegetables and bread crumbs together and mixed till they all well combined. I then added the meat into the mixture until it the mixture was evenly combined and let it sit while the oven finished reheating. Once the oven timer went off I added the mixture into the tins and baked it until the temperature reached at least 155 degrees F, but I took it out at 190 degrees which is a little over done but you can't be too careful with ground meat. If you don't have a thermometer you can just tell by the color and the the meat should be firm.

Once the meat cools I peeled off the paper liners and wrapped them in food service wrap before putting them in the fridge or freezer. Normally I like to add ketchup to the top of my meatloaf's but since I planned of freezing them I just decided to put the sauce on the side. By leaving it plain the individual meatloaf's are easy to wrap with little to no mess an allows you to have various sauces whenever you are ready to use them. My personal favorite is a Roasted Red Pepper sauce (Basil, garlic, onion, red pepper, tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper) that I make. Anyway that is my lunch I hope you enjoyed it! I do have plans to try a healthier version of a Chinese appetizer that I wan't to pack. What is it? I can't tell you but I hope it won't disappoint. Anyway Good Night!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sure it looks pretty, but I still despise GF Pasta!

Good Afternoon everybody! Things have been and will continue to slow down for me this week but it will probably pick back up again next week, so while I have this time off I won't be really packing much food so instead I will probably talk about more gluten free items I am discovering, out of respect for individual products as well as my personal taste I don't like to really bash products that I find plain awful, but still think its important to express my struggles with adapting to a new lifestyle that is hopefully not permanent. So let me introduce to you what I ate the other day! It is a lobster and shrimp with a Lemon and Garlic Cream Sauce. I have made this dish about 100 times before I even went gluten free... just minus the lobster, it was on sale so who could refuse? ... but anyway I love this pasta dish but I absolutely HATE! Gluten Free pasta, I must have tried two types in the last month and about four others prior to that each one I found a major problem with them; either the taste was awful or the texture was way to unappealing to even bother. I hate to waste money but I don't even think I wan't to make any more noodle dishes with the ones that I have lying around. What else I noticed was the bigger the pasta the bigger my problem with them are. On my previous post I did mention that I tried Annie's Gluten Free Macaroni as well as Quinoa Macaroni Noodles and I seemed to tolerate those better then I did any other noodles, maybe the lack of size helps me forget the odd unappealing texture that makes you wan't to throw away all your hard work and grab the nearest gluten intoxicated product you can find, but they do give me some hope. As for Spaghetti and Linguine will be out of circulation until I buy my own pasta machine and give making good old fashion noodle making a shot, after all pasta isn't hard to make its just 2 egg yolks, 1 cup flour, and 1 tablespoon each of oil and water (you can add more if you find it a tad on the dry side).

What makes my meal really disappointing was that I even took the time to make my own seafood stock which takes a lot of time even if I only made a small amount. In case you are wondering what I put in the sock its just shrimp and lobster shells, garlic, black pepper, onion, bay leaf, parsley, and basil. Normally with a stock you would add onion, celery, and thyme but I did not have those so I just used what I had and the stock had an amazing color and flavor. For the actual sauce all I did was sweat the garlic and onion, add the roux (equal parts flour and fat in this case butter), deg laze with the stock, add milk, reduce, season, and finish off with lemon juice, more butter, Parmesan cheese, and basil. When the sauce was finished I divided the sauce into two pots (one for my gluten free pasta and one for my moms regular pasta) added the already cooked seafood, and tossed the pasta so that the seafood and pasta noodles had a chance to absorb the sauce. To finish I just tore my basil into large pieces (I like large bites of basil) and added more Parmesan before serving. My mom loved it, in fact this is one of her favorite pastas that I make and always request it  when she is visiting me! For me on the other hand did not, the flavor of the corn pasta was so unappealing and it over powered the delicate flavor of the lobster and sauce. I hated it so much I did not finish it, instead I just picked the seafood out...if had,'t tossed the sauce in with the noodles I would have just eaten it with rice... O well the meal for me is disappointing but it just means I am human and still need to find what gluten free product work for me and what doesn't. My frustration doesn't mean I should throw in the towel just yet, I am only 4 weeks into this gluten diet so I still have 2 more weeks until I reach the recommended 8 week trial and although I have seen little or no change it may still be too early to notice, and I still have a freezer full of products to try. Best Wishes on everyone's culinary adventures sometimes they are good and sometimes they are bad; I will be sure to keep you all up to date on what I like. Have an Amazing day!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Time to Play Catch up.

 Good Evening! Sorry for the long post but things have been so busy for me lately that I haven't really had time to take pictures or pack things but today is my last day of scheduled craziness unless they decide to spring things on me for the weekend, in which case I would be ready, but I rather just relax and go home on Monday. Anyway catch up begins now with the Blue Diamond Almond Rice Crackers Original and Cheddar version. Taste wise they both are pretty decent and nutty, the cheddar version did actually  taste like cheese which I love and prefer over the original version at first I wanted to be able to top the crackers with various items like the Babybel cheese and honey from Tuesdays snacks, but I just ended up munching them separate  Texture wise I felt they were a cross between a chip and a cracker it has that crispness for sure that Americans look for in good chips and crackers but to me it didn't satisfy the soft crispness I look for in a cracker but it was to thick feeling to be like the chips I love. Instead I do plan on buying these crackers to eat as a separate snack item on their own because the positive flavors do come through a lot that will match various dips and I think it would easily scoop without breaking... NOTE TO SELF: try these crackers with a homemade Humus, great product but I think I will look for another cracker to top things with.

Wednesdays  Snack in a Chinese takeout box, contained some white cheddar popcorn, flan, and a 1/2 a popcorn for some reason I completely forgot to take a picture of it but I did take some pictures of the fruit snacks I also consumed that day as well as the night before. The first one I made was a simple strawberry fruit kabob nothing special but it adds a touch of love to it without much work which is a really great way to show case any fruit. As you can see I added a little Cinnamon because it goes great with a wide variety of fruit and its good for you. The only thing I would like to go with it would be some whipped cream but I didn't have any :(.
The second Snack I have is an apple flower cup that was filled with more blueberries. I love my fruit but my carving skills are subpar it seems but it was my first time working with it and I used a thick pairing knife instead of any proper fruit carving tools but it was nutritious and tasty which is all that matters.

Thursdays Snack contained a bagel pizza, 2 breakfast sausage, and a fruit salad (blueberries, banana, and strawberries. This pretty much filled my pink takeout box and wasn't really enough to sustain my appetite even with the babybell cheese (not shown) and cheddar crackers I added to my bag as well. I don't know if I was just overly hungry today but I just wanted a little something extra. Keep in mind that I have breakfast around 4 and snack at around 8 so this needs to keep me full till 12 or two in the afternoon, but my mother came to my rescue when she visited me around 10 and brought me delicious Chicken Adobo and rice for an early snack. Shes so sweet and adorable I just love her.

Normally I tell you I will try a new gluten free product then a post later I will let you know what I think but since I forgot to post my snack yesterday but since I already have my opinion on the product you get to know today. This is Udi's Gluten Free Bagel, it is pretty decent and something I could make as part of my bi weekly shopping list. I believe it cost just under $4.00 for 4 which is pretty well balanced with its gluten counterparts. Taste and texture wise it feels almost as if I were eating a wheat bagel, making it easier to adjust to the switch easier then other products. The bagel itself toasted really well and I became amazed with the crispness the outside produced while still having that nice softness in the inside. In this picture I did over sauce my bagel but it held its ground with out getting soggy even when I had it in my bag for a few hours. This is by far one of my favorite Gluten free products I have discovered, normally I consume bagels at least once a week when I am running to class late in the morning and it feels good to know that I will still be able to continue in the tradition of darting to class with books in one hand and a beagle in the other.

When I left I realized yesterday morning I realized I forgot to show you how it looks packed in its little pink box. So I propped it on a chair and clicked away, why I didn't just set it on a table is a question I asked myself as well believe me. Anyway have a good night.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Almond Cracker Snack

Good morning everyone I hope you had a wonderful Aprils Fools Day. Today and Yesterday I have been feeling very sore and Flu like (minus the coughing, sneezing, and the many constant races to the bathroom for nausea) symptoms so I haven't been up to being very creative, but I have made some pretty snacks out of fruit, however those were taken on my phone and was dumb enough not to take the proper charger (mine hooks up to the computer), instead I grabbed the one for my camera :( so it will be another 4 days until I can show you how cute they are but my carving skills still need a lot of work. Anyway like I said earlier I have been dizzy and sore for the last 3 days so I just purchased my snack for yesterday and today's I forgot to take more pictures; but anyway here is my snack for today.

In the picture above you will see that once again  chose the Chinese take out box but this time its just simple and pink with no added embellishments or design. Inside I packed 2 Babybel Cheese wedges with a small flower cut into the wax. To go with those cheese wedges I have included some Blue Diamond Almond Rice Crackers, one is original and the other is cheddar. I personally have never tried them before but they were on sale and had good reviews so I thought why not? For my sweeter side of the snack I also have 3 GF ginger snaps which by the way I did not like when I ate it yesterday, the texture was once again chalky and it tasted more like a coffee (I hate coffee it makes me gag from all the bitterness)  then the normal ginger cookies... I guess I will have to find a new brand. Regardless I refuse to waste $6.00 worth of cookies (yes GF products are SUPER expensive) so I will have to suck it up and just finish it off, at least the bag was never big in the first place.
Finally we have a strawberry and some blueberries for a healthy kick. Once I packed these inside the little pink box I noticed that I still had alot of room left so I added more fruit, 4 oz of yogurt in a reusable container (otherwise it wouldn't fit) and some honey to go with the cheese. Any way that's my snack for this morning, tomorrow I will let you know what I think of those crackers, and next week I should be back home and creating more inspiring and creative meals that I can hopefully pack in my not so little green and orange bento lunch boxes.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Today's Officially Easter + another Snack

 Good Morning! And Happy Easter!! I know I've been saying this for the last three day's but at least I am enjoying the holiday's. Today my mom is flying in to see me and I am super excited, I miss her so much. Since I wasn't able to sleep I had time to throw together another snack for my morning appointments, then I plan on spending Easter with my grandparents so no lunch is needed for today. I must say I am growing fond on these boxes, yesterday I stopped by world market and got two more for 50 cents before I went to Marshals and grabbed yet again another two for 60 cents. The one pictured here with the bunny cutout was one of my items from Marshals, I also grabbed another pack of stickers while they were suppose to be on sale for (1.49) but some how I ended up paying full price of 2.49 for them... I really wish the employees in all stores would label prices properly yesterday I was suppose to buy a toothbrush for my mom for 1.79 but found out when I got home that they charged me nearly $4.00 for it at the grocery store. I guess it was just one of those days, but you don't want to drive back for the extra dollar or cents especially with gas prices these days.

Anyway my snack for today consist of an onigiri shaped like an egg (that ugly green thing in the green egg), it didn't come out like I wanted but I just couldn't get the seaweed to go on smoothly... more practice is defiantly required. To the right of that you will find a small handful of Skittles (orange egg) I was very happy to discover that these are gluten free and I was given a fun sized one as a treat yesterday that I wanted to save for an egg stuffer. Beside that you will find three little strawberries that I placed inside both purple and one pink egg. above that you will find two sandwich cut outs in the shape of a flower with a bunny pick to hold it together, these were placed in the other pink egg. Above that you will find a shiny pink box with a bunny cutout window that I got at Marshals for 60 cents. To the left you will find a whole egg sandwich (my sandwich was too small yesterday that I was starving by lunch)  that was cut into 8 triangles and decorated with more stickers, this obviously wont go inside an egg. The stickers easily come off so I plan on using them in my scrapbook. Finally hiding behind the sandwich I have a 4 oz Juicy Juice (fruit punch) that fit graciously in the box. Unlike by apple juice yesterday this box is rectangular in shape so I had no awkward extra space that you just couldn't fill. I believe I could also get away with a 6 oz juice box, perhaps next time when I go to the store I should get one and try it out *fingers crossed*.

This time I could not get all the snacks to fit in my snack box so I ended up eating the ugly onigiri and the two flower shaped sandwiches on the spot as well as some extra strawberries that I washed (not pictured). Most people snack when they put a lunch together so I have no guilt doing so myself. Anyway that's my snack I hope you enjoyed it. Happy Easter!

For those of you wondering yesterday I tested out the Udi's flax seed gluten free bread and it held up at room temperature very well. The sandwich was of course dry because it only contained cheese so after my first little triangle I ended up eating the cheese slices by itself and smothering the bread with some Jelly that I brought with me. I like this bread because of it's nuttiness taste to it, however I think I prefer this variety toasted alot better then I do cold or at room temperature. I've had the Udi's white bread last week when the store ran out of the flax seed kind and it was less dry then the flax seed variety so it makes a better cold or room temperature sandwich in my opinion then when its toasted (it just lacked the nuttiness that I love with toasted bread.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Snack's in an Easter Chinese Takeout Box

Good Morning everybody, today I will be stuck outside for a few hours which will require a snack and not an actual lunch so today I wanted to share with you the snack I decided to pack my self. I found the Easter themed Chinese takeout box at Marshals where I got my stickers and was really excited to use it. Originally I had planned on using it for a lunch but thought it would make a great snack carrier instead. I find the box so handy and a great size for an adult snack and its cost effective too less then $1.00 a box, however if you shop around I have seen them as little as 30 cents per box for the plain ones online but I didn't mind the extra cents this one costed me.

 For my snack today I chose just 1/2 a simple cheese sandwich on Udi's Flax Seed Gluten Free bread. Normally I would never make myself such a plain sandwich but I wanted to test how the breads taste and texture would hold up at room temperature without other items such as tomatoes  peanut butter, or Jelly effecting it the outcome. To make the sandwich even more snack like I cut them into three triangles and added an egg pick to it. To the right of that you will find some yogurt that i put in a shot glass and covered with a mini cupcake liner and rubber band. Since the liner is paper I need to make sure it stays upright so it won't leak, but I did turn it upside down and experienced no leakage so I should be ok. If we continue in a clockwise motion you will find the take out box, this is made of plastic so I should be able to reuse it but its held together by that wire so I have to be careful how I stuff it later. Next we have a four ounce apple juice, I think a small juice box would fit better but this was all I had besides the ensure and water bottle that was way to big to even shut it by its self. Finally we have my two egg stuffers that I placed in a mini cupcake liner. The first was a simple trail mix that I bought which contains peanuts, cranberries, and cashews. The second egg stuffer was my sweet treat of blue and pink melting chocolate pieces. They aren't in any fancy shape but they fit in the egg nicely so I don't mind them one bit, besides they make for a quick packing experience.

 In this picture can see that the snack fit in the box really well except for the slight bulge on the bottom right that was caused by the yogurt and apple juice, once you close the box it will even out. I was even able to include a napkin in the extra space so a whole sandwich instead of a half would have fit nicely. What I like about this snack is that you have a really balanced portion size as well as a variety of textures to fit your pallet preference. Considering my schedule for this week I think I will make more carryout snacks to bring with me instead of whole lunches.

Well here is what the box looks like closed up. I added two extra egg stickers to the top just to make sure it doesn't come undone. I hope you enjoyed this post, Happy Easter!!!

Friday, March 29, 2013

My Easter Lunch Project 2013

Good morning everyone I hope you are having a wonderful Friday! Guess who found their camera and charged it? I did and its great to have it back, the color is 10 times better and its not as foggy either. This is a simple point and shoot so its not as Fabulous as my dads camera but its been great for 5 years and outlasted the one I bought 2 years ago. To day I will be out all morning so that means another packed Lunch for me YAY! Origionaly I had planned on making this project on Easter Sunday but with the way things are going I may be super busy and unable to do so, but don't worry if I get a chance to make another packed lunch for that day I will be sure to post and make it Really CUTE!... Well within my means that is, after all I have just started the whole packed lunch thing so it will take time to make it perfect. So out of Celebration for the Glorious Holiday here is my Lunch. To start things off let me introduced you to my decked out new Orange Bento Box. This box contains a fork and spoon under the lid for things like yogurt or pasta which I love, especially because I am keen on eating yogurt every day. Any way here you can see I added an Easter Sticker Set that I bought at the arts and crafts store which adds a ton of character to an otherwise boring but convenient box. The foam makes the stickers easier to remove then the regular stickers so I recommend this variety if you plan on   bedazzling any boxes.

This is the Bottom tier to my Lunch inside you will find a medium well NY strip steak that I cooked in the oven because I have no grill or grill pan :( Bummer. Then in the middle I have a spinach and mixed green salad with grape tomatoes and orange bell pepper. On the Left you will find an Italian risotto, most people don't like to make risotto ahead of time because it becomes super thick but there is something about the cold consistency that I love, if you don't like it that way then just substitute it with a pilaf or mashed potatoes to go with the steak.

Since this is a project and one of my cutest lunches so far I wanted to go into more detail about it starting with the salad. Here you see a cute little chick with the pink hat, this is by far my favorite one of the three chicks but it ended up down there because it was the only one short enough to fit but that gave it an extra special backdrop. Now as I said before our greens are spinach and mixed spring greens combo that I got in the grocery store. I then topped it off with 2 ducks and a tulip shaped orange bell pepper that is held up by 6 grape tomatoes. For the eyes I just used a small amount of seaweed.
To the right of the salad you will find the Italian Risotto and the cucumber flower. To make the risotto you will have to sweat the onions until translucent, you can use butter if you want but I prefer the olive oil. Once the onions are translucent then you add the arborio rice and toast it until it starts to make a poping sound that is when you deglaze with wine or chicken stock. Let the liquid reduce down then continue adding stock little at a time, and stir. Add more stock when the pan starts to become dry until the rice is cooked, this allows the starch to develop and create a creamy consistency. Add herbs (preferably fresh but all I had was dry), heavy cream or milk, Parmesan  and butter. As decoration I used a flower cutter to make the cucumber flower then I took the smallest of the three I had and cut little pieces out of the cucumber which I replaced with the orange bell pepper. For the Pink egg pick I used one of the egg stickers and placed a tooth pick on it and some food service wrap for the backing.

The last component of this tier is the steak that I cooked in the oven for 15 minuets at 350 degrees. This steak was marinaded in a small amount of mojo sauce before being placed in a baking pan with onions and the marinade  I then baked it for 15 minuets and let it sit while I finished off the risotto. If a darker color is desired you can either sear it on a hot pan or on the grill before cooking it in the oven. As decoration I added some mini cucumber flowers and topped it off with 2 egg shaped picks made the same way as the pink one above.

For Desert I have apple and Mango Kabobs as well as "Blue" White Chocolate roses. I decided to prop them up so that they would look a little more dimensional but with the extra space they still slid down a lot. I probably should have added an extra Kabob to fill in the gap but I ran out of fruit. :( to make these I used a whole apple and a whole Philipino Mango which were very small, all the scraps I had left over I got to eat for breakfast YUM.

My apple bunnies and Blue Roses were easy to make, all I did to the apple was cut a V shaped line then carefully peeled away the excess skin with a knife. Then I peeled back it ears partially so that they can stay up slightly. With the roses all I did was buy some candy melts and melted it in the microwave for 1 min with 20 second intervals and filled up a chocolate mold. You could also melt white chocolate and tint it with food coloring if desired.

With the Kabobs I couldn't make up my mind on how to do it t first I tried to drizzle it with the remainder of chocolate but the first attempt was too clumpy and the second attempt was too thin so I just skipped it with the kabobs and ate my failure for breakfast. The apples were simply cut rustically with a knife, I did that because uniform cubes would have been plain boring. As for the little ducks I just used a cookie cutter on the mango half then I used the hedge hog method to remove the pieces. Very easy!! My kabob sticks are actually drink stirrers, I have a green butterfly  pink pineapple, blue flamingo, and yellow orb; because the mango and apples are not too delicate I was easily able to push the stirrers through even though it has a round edge instead of a pick. To make sure the ducks don't fall apart make sure you make them a little bit thick or they will break in half. I placed them on the top because they are very moist and like to slip down the plastic while the apples hold them up very well.

Here are 5 reasons I love Easter and my lunch:
1. Easter is the first day of Spring for me, its the day I celebrate the beauty of the season as well as my Catholic heritage.
2. Easter is full of bright and beautiful pastel colors like my little blue roses. Seeing as I am a bright color loving person it fits my personality very well.
3. Easter celebrates a lot of cute little critters ie: Ducks, Bunny's, Chicks, and Lamb.
4. The food during this time taste clean and not to heavy which is great for the early afternoon brunch's.
5. The fifth reason which is the most important is that Easter gives you another excuse to be with family and friends... but mainly family for me, I can celebrate friendship any other weekend.

Well that is my lunch I hope you enjoyed my project and HAPPY EASTER!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Back Up Lunch

Good Morning... well afternoon almost! This morning I got up late it was already 5 am before I got up out of bed and I had to be ready by 6. Unfortunately this meant making/ eating breakfast, cooking/ packing my lunch, and taking a shower all in an hour. So the first thing that I decided to do was to take a shower and prepare my lunch for today. I originally wanted to have a chicken Parmesan (baked and un-breaded is my favorite way to eat it), however when I went to open the jar of tomato sauce I found my self unable to muscle it open so that plan was scratched. Instead I diced up the chicken and made both a fried rice and pasta salad drizzled with olive oil and seasoning instead of a vinaigrette. Once those were made I realized that I don't have enough protein on my plate so I quickly made a pork burger to go with it. By the way Pork is my favorite meat and I will usually consume it for lunch when I am not devouring seafood, and I will eat chicken or beef for dinner. Once I had my proteins and carbs done I was seriously low on time so I quickly heated up some Lotus root and tossed a few carrots and tomatoes in there as well. For desert I grabbed the diced pears in the fridge, drained it, and sprinkled some cinnamon for an extra layer of flavor. Usually I cut up fresh fruit because I think they taste better but with my time dwindling down I took the short cut, but hey that is why they are there in the first place. Now I am left with some extra space in my upper tier which I quickly filled with my strawberry yogurt. All in all this is a pretty decent lunch that will keep me filled all day especially with the addition of Quinoa macaroni noodles.

My lunch for today looks a little blurry, my apologies... I really need to start using my proper camera.

On top Box:
Chicken fried rice
Carrots and tomatoes
Simple Pork Burger- ground pork, S&P, and Adobo seasoning
Lotus Root Marinaded in garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice
Chicken Quinoa Macaroni Salad dressed with EVOO

Bottom Box:
Strawberry Yogurt
Diced Pears with Cinnamon

I hope you enjoy my Lunch for today, hopefully Friday I will plan my lunch better so it isn't so bland in color but trust me the flavor is there. I also can't wait to work on my Easter project that I guarantee will have more color, like a blue chocolate rose! Can't wait... Happy Wednesday!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Panda and the Sea

Good Afternoon Everybody! Origionally I wasn't going to post but I woke up feeling better and decided that I was bored so I wanted to try a few items that I have bought and never used before.

The first one is a butter mold. This butter as you can tell is in the shape of a shell. This was made from  a shell shaped silicone mold that cost me only 59 cents and allowed me to make 4 shell shaped pieces of butter. All you have to do is let the butter sit at room temperature till soft enough to work with then just evenly spread on top of the mold and refrigerate till you are ready to use it.

The second item I bought was a panda onigiri press and nori cutter. Isn't it cute. This item that I purchased for $14.00 was way too adorable to pass up. If I didn't like rice so much I probably would have bought it anyway... besides every girl needs at least one cute thing in their kitchen. Anyway this press was really easy to use but a tad bit hard to explain when you forget to take a picture of the actual product. Yeah sorry about that but you live and learn, next time I make Mr. Panda here I promise he will be given the explanation he deserves.

Anyway here is my lunch for today! It seems like only a small amount of food but it was actually a lot and hard to finish, plus only 3 hours prior to that I had a steak and egg sandwich for breakfast so I wasn't too hungry.

5 Carrots with a brown sugar soy glaze topped with 1 shell shaped butter.
2 small slices of squash cut into thirds steamed and glazed with the brown sugar soy glaze as well.
2 lotus root slices steamed and lightly coated in gluten free soy sauce.
1/4 lb BBQ (my own GF sauce) ground pork.
3 ginger shrimp
1 panda onigiri.

What I really liked about this lunch was that it was really easy to make and only required 1 small pan and one small pot to cook the rice so it wasn't too messy to make. I started off by preparing the rice before I ground the meat in the pan. Once the meat was done I steamed my vegetables until tender, then I drizzled them with soy sauce and removed the lotus root. Once that was removed I proceeded to make my glaze and dress the rice. Once everything was enough to handle I assembled the components into the cute plate you see before you.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Macaroni To GO!

Good Morning, today I have a tad bit of the cold so I plan on staying in bed and finishing my leftovers but when I woke up my throat hurt a bit so I decided I wanted to try Annie's Gluten Free Microwaveable Macaroni and Cheese. I found these at the health food store yesterday and to tell you the truth I never even knew they existed. Every time I passed their food in the isles of different grocery chains I always said I wish they had these in Gluten free in case I ever wanted to go on a gluten detox for 2 months (Which I contemplated a lot before I found out 2 weeks ago that I actually can't have gluten)... regardless I was very pleased when I found them.

When I made the macaroni I pretty much followed the directions it said to microwave the macaroni with 3/4 cup of water for 3 1/2 minuets then stir in the cheese sauce and let it sit for one minuet. If desired add 1 tablespoon each of milk and butter while adding the cheese sauce. Well I didn't have milk so I just added the butter. A little note before I forget, as you can see my little casserole thing is REALLY (1/3 cup or so) little probably enough for 1 egg, after I filled it I still had about 1/2 my macaroni left in another bowl.

Here are the top 5 reasons I like this Macaroni:
1. I love food that can be taken on the go! With Annie's Macaroni you can just staple the two packets (noodle & cheese sauce) together and keep it in your bag to reheat in the office, school, friends house or anywhere you find a microwave. I may even buy a bag of these to keep at my grandparents house so that I have a snack if I get hungry when I visit them.
2.. Annie's products are organic with no preservatives, making them a healthier alternative to regular macaroni and cheese which jam packed full of chemicals YUM!
3. The price wasn't too bad, I paid $6.00 (pack of 5) for this. Basically this cost only a dollar more then the regular microwavable macaroni (pack of 6) that college students stock in their dorms. What I am trying to say is that it is an affordable alternative organic option for broke college student's as long as you don't scarf down the entire box all in one sitting, and way cheaper then buying those 1.50 snacks from the schools vending machine that does absolutely nothing for you. 
4. Simplicity, I really did not have to work at cooking this meal, it only took me about 10 seconds of prep (measure, pour, stir, go) and another 30 seconds to finish it off (add butter, stir, pour, stir,transfer, cut sprinkle) 15 seconds if you didn't add the butter or the green onions like I did As you can see I had no clumping.
5. This is probably one of the biggest reasons I like it: It taste GREAT! My parents know I hate gluten free pasta it just does not taste right in my opinion and the texture is SO WRONG!!! So I am really happy to know I can still enjoy some type of pasta in my diet.

Here are the only two cons I can find... which aren't really that bad depending on perspective:
1. It doesn't have much vitamins, then again what macaroni and cheese does? So my recommendation is to eat this as a side or a snack and not a meal. When I ate this I had 2 eggs and 1/2 a grapefruit (not shown) along with it.
2. Sodium Content is also a little high at 540 mg (23% of a 2000 calorie diet) so if you are on a low sodium diet be careful where you want to spend it but for me I love and need more sodium in my diet so I will welcome it with open arms.