Tag Archives: food

Jar Lunch: Soba Noodles with Asparagus & Miso Butter

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

Have you heard about miso butter yet? It’s all over the internet. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to try it. Simply mix equal parts butter (softened) and miso. White miso makes for an amazing, subtle flavor. We now keep a mason jar of this heavenly stuff in the fridge.

This jar lunch was inspired by the Momofuku recipe for pan-roasted asparagus with miso butter and a poached egg on top. I am practically obsessed with poached eggs, but for lunchtime food safety I settled for hard-boiled*. This lunch is so simple, no recipe is needed. Just chop some steamed asparagus, toss freshly cooked soba noodles with miso butter to taste, and let them cool completely. Layer into a wide mouth pint jar along with a peeled, hard boiled egg sliced in half.

I promise, you won’t regret it.

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.

*I don’t ever boil my “hard-boiled” eggs anymore. Boiling fresh eggs always leads to difficult peeling. Awhile back I discovered you can steam them for 10-12 minutes and avoid the difficult peeling problem. Now I’ve tested Alton Brown’s Hard Cooked Eggs that are baked in the oven. Although I need to reduce the baking time next time around, I am excited to report that they peeled perfectly and tasted great!

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Jar Lunch: dessert edition

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

Everyone loves the occasional special sweet in their lunch. I remember the excitement of a Hostess cake in my brown bag. Tomorrow I will post the usual Friday Jar Lunch, but today you get dessert: Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes.

These are best warmed up in the microwave for about 45 seconds before eating so the brown sugar stays gooey and melty. If you don’t have access to a microwave, they are still quite delicious when cool, just a little crunchier.

All you have to do is divide your favorite pineapple upside-down cake recipe into wide mouth half-pint mason jars. I used this recipe and made 7 jar cakes. Pineapple rings are ever-so-slightly too big for the jars, so simply cut a slit in the ring and overlap the ends a bit. I also added maraschino cherries to some and home canned drunken cherries to others.

And if you have a plate available, you can always put your upside-down cake right side-up.

Enjoy!

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.

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meringue practice

I will let you in on a little secret: everything we make isn’t food blog worthy. Okay, you probably already knew that. It can be hard to tell, since there are not a lot of failure photos. For example, the orange meringue pie we made for Pi Day? Delicious. But the meringue was a total failure. It turned into more of a seven minute frosting. It tasted great, but it wasn’t a gorgeous fluffy meringue with perfectly golden peaks. If there is anything I have an excess of around here, it is eggs. So I need to practice my meringue. What better place to start than meringue cookies?

Success!

This attempt was this recipe from Joy of Baking, only substituting vanilla bean for extract.

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Jar Lunch: Cornbread Topped Chili Leftovers

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

We make a pot of chili every two or three weeks. If I make a really big batch, Levi will sometimes complain about taking it as leftovers. This trick makes the leftovers a little more enticing for him, especially since we don’t eat a lot of bread around here. At dinnertime, vegetarian chili is usually served over quinoa or brown rice and comes with the works: a dollop of crema, chopped avocado, scallions, and cilantro. Here I’ve put some of the leftovers in a mason jar, topped it with cornbread batter, and baked it.

Use your favorite chili and cornbread recipes. Just put about a cup of chili in a wide mouth pint jar and top it with 1/3 cup plus 1 heaping tablespoon of cornbread batter. Use leftovers that are room temperature or still warm, as refrigerated chili could cause your batter not to bake throughout. As always, a jar funnel makes filling the jars easier. I found that baking time for these is about the same as baking a pan of cornbread. For the cornbread recipe shared below, that was 20-25 minutes at 425° F.

Our favorite online vegetarian chili recipes are Vegetarian Chili with Peanut Butter and Black Bean and Espresso Chili. I’ve included a cornbread recipe you can use below, which makes enough batter to top ten jars of chili. If you have too much batter for your leftovers, bake the rest in prepared muffin tins!

Jalapeño, Creamed Corn, & Cheddar Cornbread
adapted from Alton Brown

Ingredients:
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 cup creamed corn
1/3 cup grated onion
2 medium jalapeños, finely diced
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425° F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, creamed corn, onion, and jalapeño. Once combined, add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir thoroughly. Finally, fold in the cheese.

Fill a wide mouth pint jar with about a cup of leftover chili (warm or room temperature). Scoop 1/3 cup plus 1 heaping tablespoon of cornbread batter on top of the chili. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Make sure to cool the jars completely before putting on the lid. Refrigerate enough leftovers to be used the next day. Freeze any additional leftovers to be used up later.

Enjoy!

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.

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chipotle mashed cauliflower

Years ago in Vegas I ate the most decadent chipotle mashed potatoes at a buffet. I could seriously eat those every single day, and I immediately came home and replicated the recipe. Since we are always looking for new ways to add veggies to our dinner plates, it occurred to me that chipotle mashed cauliflower might be pretty damn good, too.

It is.

chipotle mashed cauliflower
Makes 4 cups

one large head cauliflower (about 2-1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pureed chipotles in adobo*
1 cup shredded white cheddar
1/4 cup milk

Remove the leaves and chop the cauliflower into small florets. Steam in a steamer basket until very soft, about 10 minutes. In a medium sized pot, place the steamed cauliflower, butter, salt, chipotle, cheddar, and one tablespoon of the milk. Puree with an immersion blender, adding the rest of the milk one tablespoon at a time until you achieve the perfect mash texture.

If desired, you can put the mash in an oven-safe dish and place under the broiler with a little additional cheese and/or butter. Sprinkle with some additional cheese, leaving a small well in the center. Broil until golden, remove from oven and place a pat of butter in the well to melt.

*I always keep this in the refrigerator in a jar. Simply buy canned chipotles in adobo and dump them in the blender, stems and all. I usually puree two cans at once.

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our very first giveaway!

We just pre-ordered our copy of Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round.

The book description: Popular food blogger Marisa McClellan takes you through all manner of food in jars, storing away the tastes of all seasons for later. Basics like jams and jellies are accompanied by pickles, chutneys, conserves, whole fruit, tomato sauces, salsas, marmalades, nut butters, seasonings, and more. Small batches make them easy projects for a canning novice to tackle, and the flavors of vanilla bean, sage, and pepper will keep more experienced jammers coming back for more.

Sample some Apricot Jam and Rhubarb Syrup in the spring, and then try your hand at Blueberry Butter and Peach Salsa in the summer; Dilly Beans and Spicy Pickled Cauliflower ring in the fall, while Three-Citrus Marmalade and Cranberry Ketchup are the harbingers of winter.
Stories of wild blackberry jam and California Meyer lemon marmalade from McClellan’s childhood make for a read as pleasurable as it is delicious; her home-canned food—learned from generations of the original “foodies”—feeds the soul as well as the body in more than 100 recipes.

We use Marisa’s blog Food in Jars for recipes all the time. We are so excited about her new book that we want to pre-order a copy for one of you lucky readers! It is scheduled to come out May 22nd. Fellow food preservationists or those of you just getting started this year, you want a copy of this book. Comment on this post and answer the question: What are you most excited about putting up this year?

Entries must be posted by noon PST on Sunday April 1st. Shipment to US & Canadian addresses only. The winner will be selected using random.org. We will contact you via e-mail, so be sure to include your e-mail address in the comment! This giveaway was not sponsored. We are just genuinely excited about this book.

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preserved lemons

If you drop enough hints, sometimes your wife might do something extra sweet like start a couple batches of preserved lemons for you. She used this Food in Jars post for the method.

After they finish, I just have to figure out how to eat them!

And a bonus chicken shot for good measure and because apparently the weather forecast isn’t favorable for some time to come.

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Jar Lunch: 7 layer dip with baked tortilla strips

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

If you’re anything like us, you have a taco or burrito night in your dinner repertoire. Here’s a simple lunch to pack with those leftover ingredients. This Jar Lunch has the official teenager seal of approval. Packed in a wide mouth half-pint jar, the less healthy ingredients are portioned. If you have time, make some of my baked tortilla chips, only cut them into strips instead of triangles. Pack with a generous portion of fruits or vegetables like pineapple slices, jicama and carrot sticks, or a green salad.

7 Layer Dip in a Jar

In a wide mouth half-pint mason jar layer:

1/4 cup refried beans
2 tablespoons salsa or pico de gallo
3 tablespoons guacamole
2 tablespoons crema or sour cream
2 tablespoons shredded colby jack cheese
sliced black olives
pickled jalapeño slices

This lunch is easily customizable for those picky eaters. Jess got a layer of shredded cabbage instead of olives. Other layer options: crumbled cotija, scallions, cilantro, lettuce, tomatoes.

Here’s the link to the baked tortilla chips again. If you’re going for healthier, it’s worth the time to make chips that don’t taste like the store-bought cardboard ones. They don’t take long to make, but they do take undivided attention as they go from perfect to burnt in an instant.


about 2-1/2 small corn tortillas worth of chips

Other tips:

  • Thoroughly stir ingredients like guacamole or crema before layering for easier spreading.
  • If you use canned refried beans, add hot sauce and fire roasted diced green chiles to improve the flavor.
  • Simple homemade guacamole is always better: avocado, finely diced jalapeño, fresh lime juice, cilantro, salt.

Enjoy! Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.

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Hunger Games food round-up

It’s no secret that our family is a little obsessed with the Hunger Games trilogy. The movie version opens this week, and I would guess that probably a full fifty percent of my waking hours are devoted to thinking about the Hunger Games. Krista wrangled up a collection of Hunger Games-inspired food for your District 12 parties this week.


Photo via Instructables user thatgirlwithacurl

We are in love with this step-by-step instructable for District 12 Coal Cookies! We might just be packing these for the midnight screening!

Check out The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook if you need 150 recipes to get you started.


Photo via San Jose Mercury News

A reader submitted feast for ‘Hunger Games’ enthusiasts from the San Jose Mercury News.


Photo via The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post’s Kitchen Daily collection of ‘Hunger Games’ recipes, including apple-goat cheese tarts a la Mellark’s Bakery.


Photo via Fictional Food

Fictional Food has a ton of Hunger Games recipes. The blogger goes by the name Greasy Sae, after all. What a cool idea – a blog entirely of food inspired by books, television, movies, and such.


Photo via Lizy B Bakes

Lizy B Bakes shares her method for these works of art here.

So what kind of snacks would you pack for a freezing cold midnight showing of the Hunger Games? May the odds be ever in your favor, and may the moviemakers not destroy all of our hopes and expectations with this movie!

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Jar Lunch: Irish Shepherd’s Pie

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

Shepherd’s Pie is already Irish, but this vegetarian version adds bit of Guinness and is topped with colcannon instead of plain ol’ mashed potatoes. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish with cabbage or kale in mashed potatoes. I’ve used kale here as we still have it in the garden and it adds a festive green touch for St. Patrick’s Day.

This recipe can easily be made vegan with non-dairy margarine and milk & forgoing the optional cheese.

Irish Shepherd’s Pie
Makes six jar lunches in wide-mouth pint jars.

colcannon topping ingredients:
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (just under 1-1/4 lbs.)
3 (packed) cups chopped kale, tough ribs removed
1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
¾ cup milk
1-½ tablespoons butter
¾ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

filling ingredients:
14 ounces vegetarian sausage (such as Gimme Lean), crumbled
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup Guinness
½ cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons vegetarian Worcestershire
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

optional topping:
6 tablespoons shredded Dubliner cheese or sharp white cheddar

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Prepare the colcannon:
Peel the potatoes and chop into large cubes. Place in a medium-sized pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over high heat, and then reduce heat to low. Simmer about 15 minutes, until the potatoes begin to break apart when poked with a fork. Drain the potatoes, return to the pot, mash thoroughly and cover.

While the potatoes are cooking, bring the kale, leek, milk, butter, salt, and nutmeg to a simmer in a small pot. Keep covered and stir occasionally until soft, 10-12 minutes. Add the kale mixture to the mashed potatoes and stir to combine. Keep covered while you prepare the filling.

Prepare the filling:
Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the vegetarian sausage crumbles. Cook until browned. Set sausage aside on a plate.

Put ½ tablespoon olive oil in the same pan used for the sausage. Add onion, garlic, celery, carrot, cabbage, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Saute for 10-12 minutes, until soft. Add flour and stir until veggies are evenly coated. Next add the Guinness, broth, and Worcestershire and cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Add the sausage, peas, and parsley and continue to cook until combined and warmed through. Remove the bay leaf.

Fill the jars:
Divide the filling evenly between six wide-mouth pint mason jars (a little over a cup in each jar). A jar funnel is very helpful for this step but not required. Next divide the colcannon topping evenly between the six jars (just over ½ cup in each jar).

Bake the filled jars:
Place jars on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400° F for 20 minutes. Remove the sheet with jars from the oven, and switch setting to broil.

Add cheese as an optional topping. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon at the top of each jar. Return baking sheet and jars to the oven under the broiler. Watch closely while broiling. Allow the cheese (or colcannon if you didn’t add cheese) to turn golden, approximately 1-3 minutes.

Cool completely before putting lids on the jars and refrigerating.

Next time I make this, I’m doubling it and freezing half!

If you try this recipe or any of the other Jar Lunches, don’t forget to add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr Group. Flickr users, please join! Show off your own clever jar lunches.

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