Tag Archives: home cooking

Punching Up Packed Lunches #weekendcooking @BethFishReads

The upside of being unemployed–lunch at home with my work-from-home husband.

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After several months of being unemployed, I have recently gone back to working in a library, and so have started bringing packed lunches again. I am lucky to have a husband who often packs lunch for me, complete with unexpected little treats!

The lunches my husband packs for me to eat at work are a balm to my soul.

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But I do try to pack my own lunch at least a couple of times a week, so I checked out this article right away when it came into my email inbox from Refinery29:

11 Things People Who Pack Their Lunches Always Do

The ideas in the slide show reflect different approaches and eating/cooking styles; depending on your level of willingness to plan ahead, spend money, etc., only some may seem worth a try to you. Some of them I occasionally do already, such as  immediately portioning out and putting away a lunch-sized serving for the next day of whatever we’re having for dinner. Tip #9 from Senior Health Editor Amelia Harnish was my favorite, “Pack a fun snack”:

The secret to bringing your own lunch every day for real is making a lunch you actually like eating — something that’s healthy and makes you feel full and satisfied and happy —but it also has to be easy to make. I usually go with a salad with plenty of protein and a “surprise” ingredient, which is mandatory.

Sometimes I top my salad with sweet potato fries; sometimes it’s the chicken I didn’t finish at dinner the night before. Sometimes I add salsa and also pack chips, or it’s even weirder, like a scoop of leftover Indian food. I also build in other treats: cheese sticks, chips, Oreos, whatever you want. Lunch dessert is important. — Amelia Harnish, Senior Health Editor

I’ve been on a salad kick for the last couple of months, and have already been making plain garden salads more interesting with toppings like rice salad, hard-boiled eggs, assorted cheeses, seasoned/dressed canned beans, capers, toasted sunflower seeds, and slivers of sundried tomatoes. Also adding torn leaves of basil, parsley, and/or mint to the mixed greens, and always remembering to pack a little bottle of homemade salad dressing!

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But after reading Tip #9, I tried putting leftover Chinese food on salad greens for lunch, and it was pretty good!

Lunchtime! Just starting Tuesday Nights in 1980, but have heard good things about it!

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The other day I finally thought of returning the favor and made a salad for my husband’s lunch (He works from home.) when I made my own in the morning!

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Some of our best recent salad efforts:

Don’t forget fruit salads!

Happy Weekend Cooking!

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Rhubarb! #weekendcooking @BethFishReads

Rhubarb in the Garden

Although I am fond of it and it’s a perennial, which makes it easy to grow, rhubarb is an ugly plant, takes up a lot of space, has a short harvesting time, and last spring we didn’t do much with it. So, this year, I tried to pick some and use it in early spring when rhubarb, asparagus, and the ubiquitous mint are the only plants growing in the yard. (Raspberries soon!)

Here’s a picture of our two rhubarb plants after I hacked off many of the edible stalks, making it look even uglier than it already was:

Two rhubarb plants after hacking off many of the edible stalks

I killed our third rhubarb plant last year cutting it back too drastically, and I have also just found out that we shouldn’t be cutting the stalks off the plants, but gently twisting them off, so I hope these hardy perennials are hardy enough to withstand this additional mistreatment, and we’ll harvest our rhubarb correctly from now on.

Also, not all rhubarb is red! Did you know that?

I always thought rhubarb was a New England native vegetable, but it turns out it’s an Asian plant, according to Merriam-Webster.

Full Definition of rhubarb from Merriam-Webster

  1. any of a genus (Rheum) of Asian plants of the buckwheat family having large leaves with thick succulent petioles often used as food; also :  the petioles of rhubarb

  2. the dried rhizome and roots of any of several rhubarbs (as Rheum officinale and R. palmatum) grown in China and Tibet and used as a purgative and stomachic

  3. a heated dispute or controversy

Rhubarb Recipes I Tried

Fresh Summer Fruit Salad (AllRecipes)
I didn’t really follow this recipe, but wanted to see if I could use rhubarb in a fruit salad, so found out from this recipe that you can cook up chopped rhubarb in sugar water (just as you might do with cranberries) to make a sauce, and add then add it to fruit salad. Tasty!

Rhubarb Custard Ramekins (Nancy Guppy, Registered Dietician)
I used smaller custard cups to bake these, so came out with six instead of three. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly, except for maybe adding a little bit more nutmeg, and they were a hit. Even better warm, with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars (Smitten Kitchen)
I substituted gluten-free flour in this recipe and had to use a larger-sized pan than called for, so they were a little thin. I also used a higher proportion of rhubarb to strawberries and added a little extra sugar to account for that.

Rhubarb Recipes I Want to Try

Almond Cake with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote (Smitten Kitchen)

Gluten-Free Rhubarb, Lemon and Almond Cake (Food52)

Rhubarb, Cranberry and Thyme Crumble with Coconut Flour Oat Topping (Nancy Guppy, Registered DIetician) – Gluten-free

Rhubarb Frangipane Pie (The Splendid Table)

Vanilla Rhubarb Custard Bars (Cakes ‘n’ Bakes) – Gluten-free

Rhubarb is one of those plants that’s usually heavily sweetened and used as a fruit, often paired with strawberries for sweetness, in pies, jams, sauces, etc., but is actually not a fruit. (See rhubarbinfo.com for more about rhubarb.) I plan to investigate ways to use rhubarb in main dishes sometime, though. Maybe next spring!

Happy Weekend Cooking!

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Weekend Cooking: Slow-Cooker Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day #weekendcooking @BethFishReads

It’s time to think about corned beef and cabbage! Before the weather turns springlike and we start planning meals around asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, and rhubarb, St. Patrick’s Day is a chance to make one more stick-to-your-ribs winter meal in the slow cooker.

Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned Beef and Cabbage in Slow Cooker
Photo from Martha Stewart www.marthastewart.com

Martha Stewart has a recipe for Slow-Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage that looks easy and traditional.
Reading through the comments, I see that the directions given in the video differ from the directions in the recipe printed on the Web site, so you might want to watch the video. I think it’s mainly a difference in how to arrange the meat and vegetables in the slow cooker.
My husband usually makes our St. Patrick’s Day boiled dinner, so I’ll see if he wants to take a chance on this Crock Pot version. I’ve had good luck cooking brisket in the slow cooker, so I don’t see why this recipe wouldn’t work.

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Slow Cooker Irish Beef Stew

Photo from Cook Smarts http://www.cooksmarts.com
Photo from Cook Smarts http://www.cooksmarts.com

This recipe for Slow Cooker Irish Beef Stew on Cook Smarts looks good!
As the description in the recipe post by Jackie Sun says: “What’s not to like about chunks of tender, slow-cooked beef, carrots, potatoes, and onions infused with not just Guinness, but red wine as well?”
I especially like this recipe because both the flour and the Guinness stout are optional ingredients, which makes the recipe easily convertible to a gluten-free one.

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Crock Pot Lamb Stew

Photo from The Reluctant Gourmet http://www.reluctantgourmet.com
Photo from The Reluctant Gourmet http://www.reluctantgourmet.com

This is the recipe I’m least likely to try, because I don’t like the idea of eating lamb, but my husband loves lamb and I love him, so sometimes I at least think about making something with lamb.
This recipe for Crock Pot Lamb Stew from The Reluctant Gourmet seems easy and do-able. If you like lamb, why not try it?
One tip from the site is never to but pre-cut cubes of meat sold for stew. So much for convenience! It’s likely to be from various cuts and you don’t know what you’re getting, says The Reluctant Gourmet.

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Irish White Bean and Cabbage Stew

Photo from Forks Over Knives http://www.forksoverknives.com
Photo from Forks Over Knives http://www.forksoverknives.com

I came up with a surprising number of possibilities when I googled “vegetarian Irish slow cooker recipe”, but this one for Irish White Bean and Cabbage Stew from Forks over Knives sounded best to me., Most of the recipes seemed pretty similar – using beans and pearled barley in place of meat – I also liked the sound of Crock Pot Meatless Irish Stew from The Examiner, which is bean-less and full of root vegetables, but I would have to find out where to buy nutritional yeast around here before trying that recipe.

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Thank you for reading through my curated collection of St. Patrick’s Day Slow Cooker Recipes that I haven’t tried yet! If you try any of them, please let me know!

If you can’t get enough, check out these links. I didn’t have the patience to look through all these slideshows today!

St. Patrick’s Day Food: 21 Slow Cooker St. Patrick’s Day Recipes

7 Slow Cooker Dinners for St. Patrick’s Day

13 St. Patrick’s Day Recipes for Your Slow Cooker

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy Weekend Cooking!Weekend Cooking badgeLinked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click/tap image for Weekend Cooking posts from other bloggers.