Archive for the 'tofu' Category

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Latin-Korean fried rice box lunches

This week I misjudged the heat level when making kimchi fried rice for dinner, and it wound up being too spicy for my preschooler. Although I usually serve him the same things that we eat in order to broaden his palate (and make things easier on me), this is one of the only times I’ll actually make a different meal for Bug — when it’s simply too spicy and I can’t fix it by adding yogurt, etc. So while my husband and I got leftover fusion fried rice in our bento lunches, Bug got green onion bread and mini burger patties from the freezer. I made the mini burger patties about a month ago when we had meatloaf for dinner. I reserved some extra meatloaf mix and fried up the mini patties at the same time as I was making dinner, then flash froze them on a little metal pan (putting them in a freezer bag afterwards for longer-term storage). This is a convenient way to build up a stash of quick lunch items in your freezer that you can grab and pack quickly on busy mornings. (Read about more speed techniques in my Mommy’s Lunch Manifesto.)

Fusion fried rice lunch

Contents of my lunch: Fusion fried rice with kimchi, Salvadorean chorizo, tofu, onion, broccoli stems, carrots, nopales (prickly pear cactus paddles), egg, green onion and chogochujang sauce (recipe here). The fruit half holds crisp Asian pear (nashi), Concord grapes, green and gold kiwifruit, and cherries. Kimchi fried rice is a standard dish at our house that uses up whatever leftovers I have around. Leftover cold rice, the last of the kimchi, whatever veggies are on hand — you name it. It’s also nice with a garnish of roasted/ground sesame seeds and a bit of sesame oil.

Morning prep time: 8 minutes, using leftover fried rice from dinner. Just prepped the fruit in the morning.

Packing: To keep the fruit from browning, I tossed the Asian pear with lemon juice mixed with cherry grape juice to cut the sourness. Packed in a 500ml Leaflet box with movable divider.

Green onion bread lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler lunch: A whole red banana, green and gold kiwifruit, Asian pear (nashi), mini meatloaf patties, and Chinese green onion bread. After having tried the tiny Manzano bananas in a lunch the other week, I was intrigued when I spied the red bananas in the store. Also known as Jamaican bananas, red bananas are more commonly used in baking than raw, and are ripe when there are black spots on the skin. I learned this the hard way by peeling one last week and discovering that it was green and inedible in its raw state. But let ‘em sit for a week and Bug was begging for them. They were delicious and not mealy, although I think I prefer the Manzano bananas for out of hand eating.

Morning prep time: 10 minutes, using frozen mini meatloaf patties and store-bought green onion bread. In the morning I popped the frozen meatloaf patties into the microwave to thaw, put the green onion bread in the toaster, and sliced the fruit.

Fusion fried rice lunch

Packing: Packed in two tiers (280ml and 180ml) of a 4-tier nesting Thomas the Tank Engine bento box.

My husband’s lunch is the same as mine, packed in a 600ml two-tier box.


Published by Biggie on August 25th, 2007 tagged bento, for kids, glutenfree, lactose free, meat, rice, tofu | 10 Comments »

Pork bun lunches

Pork bun lunch

Contents: Steamed pork buns (baozi) and sauce, tangerine teriyaki tofu, edamame, cherry tomato, and pepperonata (roasted red peppers in rustic tomato sauce). Not shown: 100% raspberry juice cut with water in the bento set’s drink container. I got a package of the pork buns from my local Chinese bakery, but I’ve also seen them frozen in Asian markets.

Morning prep time: 8 minutes, using pre-made food and leftovers. The pepperonata was from a jar, the tofu was pre-marinated and just needed a quick pan sear. I steamed both the pork buns and frozen edamame together in a big microwave steamer for a minute, then let it sit enclosed in the steamer afterwards for a minute to finish steaming (definitely improving the texture of the bun). I used pre-filled sauce containers of mixed soy sauce and rice vinegar for speed.

Packing: I went ahead and packed the warm buns, tofu and edamame in the boxes, then let them cool with the lids open for optimum packed lunch food safety. The moist pepperonata was well contained in this particular container with built-in dividers; if packed in a non-divided box it would have required separation or draining and drying. Packed in two 350ml containers from my Lock & Lock insulated lunch set.

Pork bun lunch for toddler

Click for preschooler bento details…

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Published by Biggie on July 11th, 2007 tagged beans, bento, dumplings or buns, for kids, lactose free, meat, pasta or noodles, tofu | 22 Comments »

Burgers in flowerpot smoker, recipes

Last year for Father’s Day I made my husband a claypot “flowerpot smoker” as shown on Alton Brown’s TV show “Good Eats”. It’s basically a makeshift insulated smoker that could easily cost US$1000 if you bought a Kamado or Big Green Egg ceramic smoker- the benefits of this general type of smoker are the heat retention and ability to cook at low temperatures for extended periods of time (think pork butt) or super-high temperatures. We pulled it out for that classic Fourth of July meal: hot dogs and hamburgers, with a smoky twist.

Smoked burger lunch

Contents: Tuna and bean salad with vinaigrette (recipe below), marinated cucumber and tomatoes in ponzu-sanbaizu dressing (recipe below), tangerine teriyaki tofu, smoked hamburger and barbecue sauce in container, and hot dog bun. I wound up putting the burger pieces, lettuce and barbecue sauce in the hot dog bun, and eating it like a sandwich.

Morning prep time: 8 minutes, using leftover smoked hamburgers and tuna/bean salad. The tofu (leftover from grilling) was already prepped and marinating in the refrigerator; I just quickly pan-fried it to give it a nice sear. While that was on the stove I quickly sliced and dressed an English cucumber and some cherry tomatoes, and filled the sauce container.

Packing: I used lettuce as an edible divider around the smoked hamburger, and cut both hamburger and tofu into bite-sized pieces as it’s difficult to cut things already packed up in a lunch. A reusable silicone mini muffin cup holds the tuna & bean salad, keeping the vinaigrette from mingling with the tofu. Packed in my 500ml Leaflet box, there’s also a little pick for the tofu and cucumber/tomatoes, and a little clear spoon for the tuna/bean salad.

Cooking: Both hamburgers and hot dogs were wood-smoked for an hour in our flowerpot smoker (details below), with guidance from recipes in the informative barbecue cookbook Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecue by James Beard Award-winning authors Cheryl and Bill Jamison. This is the fastest thing we’ve ever smoked; the pork butts below took 15 hours last year! The smoked hamburger was a standout, with seasoning mixed in, a dry rub on the outside, and a mop sauce during cooking. My lord, they were tasty!

Flowerpot smoker Pork butt BBQ

Click for recipes for quick bean salad and salad dressing, flowerpot smoker details/review, and kid + husband meals

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Published by Biggie on July 6th, 2007 tagged beans, bento, for kids, lactose free, meat, recipe, sandwich or wrap, tofu | 23 Comments »

Sukiyaki lunches & preventing fruit from browning

To prevent fruit from browning, Cookwise (Shirley O. Corriher’s respected book on food science) suggests putting the cut fruit into water with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which slows the enzymes that cause browning. Options include lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, cream of tartar, or even a crushed vitamin C tablet dissolved in water. Chili pepper is also high in vitamin C, so dipping fruit in water with ground-up chili pepper will also prevent browning. I like the flavor that orange juice adds to fruit, but often use bottled lemon juice with a little Splenda or sugar for the same effect without the pucker.


Contents: Rice and sukiyaki from dinner the night before. The sukiyaki includes thinly sliced beef, tofu, onions, Napa cabbage, green onions, chrysanthemum leaves, and Malony-brand saifun noodles (made of potato starch and corn starch, they don’t fall apart even when in broth for a long time — glutenfree). Shirataki noodles (from tofu or yam) are the traditional low-calorie, low-carb noodle choice for this dish, but I was out. Kuzukiri noodles (made from arrowroot) are also a good choice.

Morning prep time: 4 minutes, by packing dinner leftovers the night before when cleaning up. In the morning I just microwaved the top container with the sukiyaki, and put in fresh rice from the rice cooker. I could have pre-packed the rice the night before and refrigerated it (nuking it in the morning), but I chose to keep the rice cooker on overnight instead.

Packing: I packed these in a cheap knockoff thermal lunch jar that’s about the same size as the Zojirushi Ms. Bento. I packed the big rice container only about halfway full of rice, so that I was able to pour all of the sukiyaki on top of the rice when it was time to eat (creating a do-it-yourself fresh “gyudon” beef bowl without soggy rice — ta dah!). There’s no Yoshinoya beef bowl chain around here for my gyudon fix, so this’ll have to do. :-)

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Published by Biggie on May 30th, 2007 tagged bento, food jar, for kids, glutenfree, lactose free, meat, pasta or noodles, rice, soup or stew, thermal lunch jar, tips, tofu | 20 Comments »

Ice blanket and inari sushi lunch

Morning prep time: 12 minutes. Everything was leftovers today except the fruit and inarizushi stuffed rice pockets. We had rice with dinner last night, so I let it sit in the rice cooker overnight and made the inarizushi pockets fresh this morning (using a refrigerated kit of triangular preseasoned wrappers and flavorings by the Korean Assi brand). It took a little longer than usual but was worth it to see Bug and his American friends tear into them at playgroup today (Bug’s lunch and mine are identical, so no duplicate photo).

Inari sushi lunch

When I was in Target the other week I picked up a Rubbermaid flexible ice blanket for US$2.50. Essentially a quilt of tiny ice packs, it can be cut apart to produce tiny reusable ice packs for packed lunches, or kept whole to wrap food in a cooler or wrap your arm/leg when hurt. Especially convenient for throwing into tight insulated lunch bags or small spaces; a similar product sells here. I threw a few of the little packs into a new insulated lunch set that holds today’s lunch.

Reusable ice blanket for packed lunches

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Published by Biggie on May 2nd, 2007 tagged bento, for kids, freezing, lactose free, onigiri or sushi, poultry, rice, tips, tofu | 32 Comments »

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