Packed Lunches, September 2020

Things I made for work lunches in September.

The school where I work has reopened (minus students) so I'm packing lunches again.

Week of 8/31/20:

Meatballs with Carrot side

Meatballs with Broccoli side

Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Chickpeas and Cherry Tomatoes

Again with the sheet pan meatballs, but closer to the original recipe because tomatoes are in season. I used a combination of red cherry tomatoes from the store and yellow pear tomatoes from my balcony, and for the herbs I substituted in cilantro and the flowering tops that I needed to trim from my basil plants.

Side 1: Persian-style Carrots with Dried Apricots from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian (made by my partner). Side 2: Broccoli and Red Bell Pepper roasted with lemon juice, salt and pepper, and 21 seasoning salute.

Curry with Rice

Beef & Dried Apricot Curry with Spiced Lentils & Rice

Funnily enough, I hit 2/3 of the same meals as my last packed lunches post in March without planning it that way. This is from the Hermes House Indian cookbook. I substituted beef for the lamb because $30 for 2lbs of meat is ridiculous. I had planned on serving banana raita as a side but I forgot to buy plain yogurt at the store, so it doesn't have an abundance of sauces and sides like a proper indian meal.

Side: Broccoli and Red Bell Pepper roasted with lemon juice, salt and pepper, and 21 seasoning salute.

Peanut Noodles

Peanut Noodles with Cabbage and Carrot

My partner did most of the work on this one. The sauce is based on an Indonesian recipe from the Sunset Oriental Cookbook; I described the basic method I use for these noodles in February.

Side: Broccoli and Red Bell Pepper roasted with lemon juice, salt and pepper, and 21 seasoning salute.

Week of 9/8

Green Curry

Green Curry with Chicken, Carrot, and Red Bell Pepper

My partner cooked our standby green curry. This week's had chicken, carrot, red bell pepper, ginger, garlic, onion, curry paste, lime juice, and coconut milk, with garnishes of green onion and cilantro.

Side: Broccoli and Cherry Tomatoes roasted with 21 seasoning salute.

Chickpea Pasta

Lemon-Basil Chickpea Pasta

An easy pasta. I cooked a can of chickpeas (with liquid) in a skillet with olive oil, garlic, black pepper, and red pepper flakes until it had thickened into a sauce; when the pasta was finished I added it, some of its cooking liquid, the juice and zest of a lemon, basil salt, and plenty of butter to the skillet and stirred to create a glossy coating; I topped it with fresh basil and more black pepper.

Side: Broccoli and Cherry Tomatoes roasted with 21 seasoning salute.

Week of 9/14

Bánh Mi

Bánh Mi

Bánh mi is Vietnam's all-purpose sandwich — its endless variations cover just about anything crammed inside French bread. My partner and I like to make them with a mixture of lunch meats, a quick carrot pickle, plenty of cilantro, and chunky chili garlic paste blended with mayonnaise or butter.

We were close to one of the current Oregon wildfires, so this week's prepared lunch was meant to be flexible: if our workplace were closed due to hazardous smoke levels or imminent fire threat we could eat the bánh mi at home; if asked to evacuate, the sandwiches could be thrown in the car with our already-packed emergency supplies and they'd get us through a few meals. Our workplace did, in fact, shut down, so we ended up only eating one lunch at work that week.

Mocha Mochi Cake

Mocha Mochi Cake

This week's snack/dessert is the mochi cake I made last week — it takes the two of us about two weeks to finish the pan. I don't particularly like this cake when it's fresh, but at about day three the flavors meld and the cake softens, and it only improves from there. The recipe I've been using is a chocolate butter mochi, and I've been messing around and adding other ingredients to it (cardamom, espresso powder, and almond extract in this batch).

Week of 9/21

Sambal Noodles

Sambal Noodles

I helped my partner cook this noodle recipe that we're in love with, substituting some sake we didn't like the flavor of for the water and beef for the pork. I garnished the servings with cilantro and 'Yellow Pear' tomatoes, ripe Serrano peppers, and purple Thai basil from my balcony garden.

Sides: — Roasted broccoli with garam masala and cilantro — Roasted Okinawan sweet potato with sweet chili sauce — Chocolate bread

Chicken and lentil soup

Chicken & Lentil Soup

This soup has become a favorite. I was using boneless and skinless chicken thighs this time, so I used homemade chicken stock instead of water; I also slightly increased the amounts of everything so I'd have leftovers, added a heaping spoonful of my homemade wholegrain mustard, and left the caramelized onions and garlic in the soup rather than reserving them for a garnish. The soup is served over rice with plenty of parsley and plain yogurt on top. Sides and dessert are the same as above.

Week of 9/27

Chicken Yassa

Chicken Yassa

I'm not even going to link to the recipe I originally used for this, because the way I make chicken yassa has diverged enough and I'm planning on writing up my recipe. In brief, I marinade chicken thighs with onion, habanero, lemon juice, and mustard overnight, brown the thighs, saute the onions and juices, and then barely cover everything with water and cook until I can pull the bones right out of the pot. I serve this over rice with olives on top, and I like grated carrot salad as a side. This salad has golden raisins, parsley, lemon juice, and coriander in addition to the carrots.

Cranberry Wraps

Cranberry-Walnut-Chicken Wraps

My partner very strongly requested these again and we made them together. We roasted chicken breasts; let the cream cheese soften and mixed it with just a bit of jam (cranberry sauce would be preferred); chopped the chicken and toasted and chopped the walnuts; mixed the chicken, walnuts, and dried cranberries with the cream cheese in a big bowl; and then spread the filling onto tortillas, rolled them up, and cut big slices. This isn't necessarily “healthy” but it's completely packed with protein and fat, which is what I actually need in the middle of a work day.