Tag Archives: jar lunch

Jar Lunch: Sesame Noodle Salad with Ginger Tofu Cubes

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.

I love sesame noodles a little too much. I make a double batch so big it barely fits in our biggest bowl. I don’t know why I don’t make this more often. We use whole grain noodles and lots of ginger baked tofu for protein. A cold noodle salad like this makes an easy jar lunch that you don’t even have to heat before you eat.

Sesame Noodle Salad with Ginger Tofu Cubes
Makes eight pint mason jar lunches

Ingredients:
1/2 pound whole grain spaghetti noodles
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1/2 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced and cut into 1” lengths
2 cups thinly shredded napa cabbage
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced and cut into 1” lengths
1 (15 ounce) can sliced baby corn
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup cashews, toasted* and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 recipe ginger baked tofu (below)

Directions:
Cook the noodles al dente and drain. After draining, rinse with cold water until completely cooled and drain again. Whisk together the honey, tamari, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. In a large bowl, toss together all ingredients. It is best to let the salad marinate in the bowl overnight and toss the salad again. Then pack into eight pint-sized mason jars for lunches.

*To toast the cashews, spread on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350° F for about 10 minutes, checking on them frequently. When they are done they will be golden and fragrant.

Ginger Baked Tofu

Ingredients:
20 ounces high protein, extra firm tofu
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons minced ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon red chili paste

Directions:
Press the excess liquid out of the tofu. You can watch a quick video on that technique here. I use two cutting boards instead of plates, slice the tofu lengthwise into two thinner pieces, and wrap them in a kitchen towel to absorb the liquid.

Once the tofu is pressed, cut it into ½” cubes. Combine all the other ingredients in a medium casserole dish and marinate the tofu in the dish for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Spread the cubes of tofu in a single layer. Put the casserole dish in the oven to bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Turn the tofu with a spatula every 15 minutes.

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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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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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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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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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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Jar Lunch: crustless quiches 3 ways

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.

This week’s Jar Lunch is individual crustless quiches in three flavors so your family won’t get bored: rosemary tomato, broccoli cheddar, and pea & leek.

For this recipe you’ll need my absolute favorite jar, the half-pint wide mouth mason jar.


half-pint wide mouth mason jar

These jars are perfect for preserves like jam, but they truly are versatile as you can use them in place of an 8-ounce ramekin for just about any recipe. The bonus is you can see your food from all sides!

Crustless Quiche in a Jar 3 Ways: Rosemary Tomato, Broccoli Cheddar, and Pea & Leek

Makes 8 individual quiches.

Ingredients:
butter for greasing jars
12 eggs
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Filling options (choose one):
Option one: Rosemary Tomato
(this option requires extra prep time)
8 medium tomatoes
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups halved, thinly sliced onions
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, torn into small pieces
4 ounces crumbled feta

OR

Option two: Broccoli Cheddar
20 ounces frozen broccoli florets
6 ounces sharp cheddar, grated
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

OR

Option three: Pea & Leek
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon butter
4 medium leeks, sliced (white & light green parts only)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
3/4 cup shredded parmesan

Instructions
1. Prepare chosen quiche fillings according to directions found below.

2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly butter 8 half-pint wide mouth mason jars and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.

3. Beat together eggs, half-and-half, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix in the prepared fillings along with cheese and fresh herbs or spices listed for your chosen quiche flavor. Using a ladle, divide evenly between the eight mason jars. Though not required, a jar funnel makes this job a little easier.

4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until set and golden on top. Allow to cool completely before putting on lids and refrigerating.

Preparing fillings:

Rosemary tomato: If you opt for the tomato quiches, roasting will take an additional 45 minutes of prep time. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats. Slice the tomatoes, and spread evenly over the prepared baking sheets. Roast for 35-45 minutes, until most of the liquid is gone and tomatoes begin to caramelize. Roughly chop the tomatoes after they have cooled.

Meanwhile, heat a medium pan over medium high heat and then melt one tablespoon butter. Sauté the onions until soft and golden, 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Broccoli Cheddar: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the broccoli florets, and cook for one minute. Drain well and remove excess water with paper towels. Roughly chop.

Pea & Leek: Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat and then melt one tablespoon butter. Sauté the leeks until soft, 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

Show us your jar lunches! We have created a Flickr pool for everyone to share. What are you packing in your mason jars? Go here to join the Flickr Group and add your photos!

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