Cottage Cheese Salad

Cottage cheese salad

During the last several decades, cottage cheese increasingly took a backseat to the much more exotic and sexy yogurt products that sprang up in supermarket dairy sections. A pity. Cottage cheese is tasty, full of protein and calcium, and it takes absolutely no time to prepare.

Instead of just plopping a scoop of cottage cheese in a bowl, try adding flavor and texture using this recipe, created by my husband, Peter.

COTTAGE CHEESE SALAD (1 serving)

  • One cup cottage cheese
  • One medium vine-ripe tomato, sliced
  • One tablespoon bottled balsamic vinegar
  • One tablespoon chopped green onions
  • One tablespoon packaged bacon bits (found in the bottled dressing section)

1.Slice tomato and place in a plastic lunchpail container. Drizzle with one and a half teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

2.Place the cottage cheese on top of the tomato. Drizzle the rest of the balsamic vinegar over the cottage cheese.

3.Sprinkle with green onions and bacon bits. (For vegetarians, substitute one tablespoon low-fat feta cheese for the bacon bits.)

4.Cover container and place in frig overnight for a tasty brown bag lunch!

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This salad works as a main or side dish. Delicious with crackers. Great on a hot day when you don’t feel like cooking. In addition to tomatoes, try adding canned asparagus and/or drained canned kidney beans for more color and flavor.

Recipe: Chicken Adobo

Chicken adobo with white rice that I cooked last night

Chicken adobo, a classic Filipino dish, consists of chicken simmered in a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce. It is easy to make and reheats well. Perfect for a brown bag lunch, along with a salad. If you do not have a microwave at your workplace, please check the menu on this blog and look up the “Equipment and Gadgets” category. There you will find descriptions of portable heating devices. I would recommend both the Crockpot Lunch Warmer and Hotlogic thermal bag for reheating this dish.

Here’s a recipe that I tried just yesterday. It turned out great!

CHICKEN ADOBO (6 servings)

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs

1.Place the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, black peppercorns, and bay leaves in a large saute pan. Place the chicken thighs, skin side down, into the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, and then cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken over, and then cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.

2.Uncover the pan, and then increase the heat to high and return the sauce to a boil. While occasionally turning and basting the chicken, continue boiling the sauce, uncovered, until it is reduced by half and thickens slightly, 5-7 minutes. Serve with steamed white rice.

The site from which I obtained this recipe indicates 332 calories per serving. (Not counting the rice.)

Reference: https://rasamalaysia.com/classic-chicken-adobo-recipe/

Lentil and Beet Salad

For those of you who have access to a Trader Joe’s, here’s a nutritious and delicious item that you only have to assemble to enjoy. You will find the ingredients in the produce and cheese section of the store. The dish is great as a vegetarian entrée, or as a side dish for a meat entrée. It’s ideal as a brown bag item.

I should mention that I obtained this recipe from Celine Cossou-Bordes’ excellent book, “Cooking with Trader Joe’s.” (I have substituted low-fat feta for her recommended full-fat goat cheese. Also, bottled vinaigrette to save prep time.) You can buy Coussou-Bordes’ book on amazon.com.

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LENTIL & BEET SALAD (4 Servings)

  • One pkg TJ’s refrigerated Steamed Lentils
  • 6 pearl tomatoes, cut in wedges
  • One pkg TJ’S refrigerated Steamed and Peeled Baby Beets
  • 6 oz. low-fat feta cheese, crumbles
  • 3 oz. bottled vinaigrette dressing
  1. Place lentils in a medium bowl and heat in microwave for 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and beets.
  2. Pour vinaigrette over lentil mixture, stir to combine, then sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles.
  3. Refrigerate.

A Tasty Rice Snack: Onigiri

Rice balls (onigiri) made with Annie Chun’s Sprouted Brown Rice

It’s mid-August in California, and the temperature has been pretty high. So my appetite runs towards something cool and a little salty. How about some home-made onigiri?

According to Wikipedia, Onigiri (or omusabi) is a rice ball made from white rice which is formed into a triangular or cylindrical shape. It can be filled with pickled plum, salmon, tuna salad, or any other salty or sour ingredient. The dish is eaten at room temperature or cooled. It is ideal as a brown bag side dish.

Onigiri is usually made with top-grade sushi rice. (Please see my post titled, “Let’s Here It For Haiga,” dated March 13, 2019.) However, in this blog I will share a recipe using Annie Chun Sprouted Brown Rice, which can be microwaved. It makes the process much easier for those who don’t have much prep time. You can find Annie Chun rice in the Asian section of your grocery store. You might even find it in the rice/grain/bean section. I bought my last batch at Sprouts Market.

Please see the nutritional data for the sprouted rice below. The product is vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and contains more protein and fiber than most sushi rice.

I’m going to deviate somewhat from the classic ingredients for this dish in that I will add rice wine vinegar instead of salt. I just think it tastes better.

For additional flavor, I recommend Furikake Shredded Shrimp (Nori ebi) with toasted sesame seed and nori (minced dried seaweed). You can purchase this product at your local Asian grocery store or the Asian section of your supermarket. You can also purchase it on amazon.com using this address: https://www.amazon.com/Seaweed-Shrimp-Furikake-Seasoning-Product/dp/B07NPCK6R3/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Urashima%2Bfurikake%2Bnori%2Bebi&qid=1566684022&s=gateway&sr=8-3&th=1. If you are vegetarian or vegan, there are meatless furikakes.

Furikake with dried shrimp, nori, and sesame seeds

Finally, you will need two rice molds approximately 5.8 by 3.5 centimeters. You can purchase them from amazon.com using this address: https://www.amazon.com/Sushi-Onigiri-Bento-Press-Maker/dp/B06XBWMCPY/ref=sr_1_44?keywords=onigiri+mold+small&qid=1566681321&s=gateway&sr=8-44.

Small onigiri molds

Here’s the recipe:

ONIGIRI (1 serving)

  • One container Annie Chun Sprouted Brown Rice
  • One tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • One tablespoon furikake
  1. Heat rice in microwave according to directions.
  2. Place cooked rice in a bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Add vinegar and furikake.
  4. Fill two 5.8 cent. x 3.5 cent. rice molds with the rice. Make sure you really pack the rice in. But don’t put so much in that you can’t seal the molds. You will probably have a little rice leftover.
  5. Place sealed molds in refrigerator. *
  6. Serve with soy sauce or soy sauce mixed with wasabi. (You can get tubes of wasabi from the Asian section of your local supermarket. I got mine at Sprouts.)
Onigiri packed in rice molds.

*It is recommended that you consume the rice balls no later than the day after you have made them. Otherwise, the rice will dry out. Also, do not remove the rice balls from the molds until you are ready to eat them. The molds will retain moisture and texture for better mouth feel.

This side dish is good with cold teriyaki chicken, cold teriyaki salmon, or cold breaded chicken fingers. Make sure to pack some of that soy/wasabi sauce!

“Onigiri”  Wikipedia:  The Free Encyclopedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.  13 August 2019.  Web.  24 August 2019.

Greek Salad with Sardines

Greek salad with sardines

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who abhor sardines, and those who adore them. I belong to the latter camp. To me, tinned sardines are delicious on crackers, in a sandwich, or straight out of the can.

So I was delighted when I found a recipe for sardine salad on http://www.eatingwell.com. It’s easy to assemble and requires no cooking. You might want to prepare it for the weekend, then bring leftovers to work. Great with sourdough bread spread with a little butter.

I should add that sardines offer several nutritional benefits. They are full of protein and healthy omega-3 oils. In addition, canned sardines that have not been deboned contain a lot of calcium. (Don’t worry about the bones. They are extremely soft and unnoticeable when consumed.)

GREEK SALAD WITH SARDINES (4 servings)

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 large English cucumber, cut into large chunks
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sliced Kalamata olives
  • * 2 4-ounce cans sardines with bones, packed in olive oil or water, drained

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1.Whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic, oregano and pepper in a large bowl until well combined.

2.Add tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, feta, onion and olives; gently toss to combine.

3.Divide the salad among 4 plates and top with sardines.

*When I recommend fish dishes, I’m always mindful about whether a species has been overfished or contaminated. According to Monterey Bay Seafood Watch (seafoodwatch.org), sardine schools in the Mediterranean Sea have been severely depleted. Therefore, Seafood Watch does not recommend buying brands obtaining fish from that part of the world.

What I can recommend is looking at labels for sustainable sardine fisheries. Wild Planet is usually reliable in terms of sustainable produce.

References:

  • eatingwell.com
  • seafoodwatch.org

Lamb and Couscous Salad

Lamb and couscous salad

Those who have followed this blog know that my husband and I have been on vacation in the Pacific Northwest and the eastern Sierras. Well….we’re finally home. And what a shock! We went from 70 degrees in the mountains to just below 90 degrees upon arrival in Orange County.

Yup, it’s definitely summer here in Southern California. Much too warm for any hot entrees. So this weekend, I put together a cold main dish that’s filling and easy to make. Got it from the New York Times, a dependable source of tried and true recipes. Their lamb and couscous salad can be assembled on the weekend, and the leftovers are perfect for a portable brown bag meal.

If you don’t like lamb or cannot get it this time of year, pre-cooked roasted chicken works equally well.

LAMB AND COUSCOUS SALAD (6 servings)

  • 1 cup dry couscous
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound cooked lamb or chicken, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 pound feta cheese, crumbled into large chunks
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped

1.Combine the couscous and raisins in a large bowl. Pour 1 1/4 cups boiling water over the mixture. Cover and let stand 5 minutes; fluff with a fork.

2.In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil.

3.Add the meat, chickpeas, tomatoes, feta, mint and green onions to the bowl of couscous. Pour the dressing over the mixture and toss well. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt if necessary.

Eat at room temperature or chill in the frig before consuming. The portion you see in the photograph is garnished with hard boiled egg and calamata olive slices.

Brown Bagging on the Road: High Sierras, California

Roast beef sandwich with horseradish, cucumber/tomato salad, Pete’s cold baked beans

Over the last several weeks, my husband and I have travelled all the way from Southern California to Canada, then back south to the Eastern Sierras. We are currently camping at Mono Village above the small town of Bridgeport, off Hwy. 395. Here’s a photo of some meadows below our camp. As you can see, the wild irises are in bloom.

Cow pastures full of wild iris below Mono Village camp site.

There are great opportunities for hiking, fishing, and just taking some nice walks at Mono Village, which is right next to Twin Lakes.

Upper Twin Lake

I make a point of walking the area every morning. To not do so would be forfeiting the wonderful gift of seeing things like this on a daily basis:

Creek near our campsite

Let me get to the food portion of this post. My husband, an experienced RV camp guy, is also a fine cook. Using both his crockpot and grill, Pete has produced many delicious meals at camp.

One day, we decided to have a cold dinner. We’d just gotten our provisions at Von’s supermarket in Bishop, which is about 2 hours south of the campsite, and Pete didn’t really want to cook. Here’s a photo of what we ate:

Roast beef and horseradish sandwich, cold baked beans, deli cucumber-tomato salad

That’s right, cold baked beans. And they were surprisingly good! This dish is easy to make and a convenient, transportable item for a brown bag lunch. Here’s the recipe:

PETE’S COLD BAKED BEANS (3-4 small servings)

  • One 16 oz. can Bush’s vegetarian baked beans
  • One tsp. prepared mustard

Mix beans and mustard together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for three minutes. Let beans cool and then chill in the frig for an hour or two.

The Bush’s Beans website shows the following nutritional data for 1/2 cup portion:

  • Calories: 130
  • Fat: 0
  • Sugar: 12 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 29 grams
  • Sodium: 550 mg.
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Iron: 10%

The website also indicates that this product is gluten-free.