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lunch

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Everyday Lunch: Avocado, Tomato and Feta Salad

September 5, 2012

Since we’re enjoying that time in the season where the last of summer produce co-exists with the beginning of fall favorites, I’ve been trying to enjoy both while I can! We still have a container filled with fresh tomatoes from my mother in law’s garden (so much more flavorful than anything you could buy at the store) and I’ve been stocking up on the ripe, creamy avocados that don’t cost a fortune right now.

My favorite part about the days I work from home is that I can take a little time to prepare a lunch for myself. Instead of cramming whatever I can find in the fridge into my lunch container and running out the door in a rush, I have a fridge full of options at my disposal. Usually, I take the opportunity to prepare myself a giant salad packed full of whatever is on hand in our fridge.

This salad is ultra-simple and doesn’t really deserve a recipe. But it’s also incredibly delicious and is worth mentioning in case you’re looking for a little lunchtime (or dinnertime) inspiration.

Avocado, Tomato and Feta Salad
Ingredients (serves 1)
*1 heart of Romaine lettuce, chopped
*1/2 medium avocado, peeled and chopped
*3 to 4 cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
*1 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
*1 tablespoon poppy seed dressing
*1 tablespoon balsamic vinaigrette or balsamic vinegar
*2 tablespoons hummus (served on the side, optional)

Instructions
*Toss the ingredients for the salad together. Serve with hummus and toast, if desired.

Happy Cooking!
Madison

Everyday Lunch: Quinoa Salad with Broccoli

April 20, 2012

Last week when I posted this salad that I take to lunch each week, lots of you responded saying you wanted to see more lunch ideas on Espresso and Cream. Sometimes my lunches are just a random assortment of whatever is left in the fridge, but other times I take a few extra minutes to prep something more reminiscent of a meal.

One of my favorite strategies for lunchtime success is to prepare a large batch of whole grains at the beginning of the week to go in lunches in the days to come. Quinoa, brown rice and whole wheat pasta are my personal favorites because they’re so easy.

 Here’s a look at what I ate this week! It was filling, veggie-packed and healthy. Though if I made it next time, I would suggest crumbling a bit of feta cheese atop the salad before serving, since feta makes almost anything better.

Quinoa Salad with Broccoli
Ingredients
*1/2 cup cooked quinoa
*1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Romaine lettuce
*2/3 cup steamed broccoli florets
*2 tablespoons Ken’s Steak House Light Caesar Dressing
*Salt and ground black pepper
*2 slices whole wheat toast (optional but highly recommended)

Instructions
*Toss the quinoa, lettuce and broccoli together in a travel storage container. Just before serving, toss with the dressing and sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper. Serve with the toast. Enjoy!

Madison

Spring Green Salad

April 5, 2012
Lunches are difficult for me. Are they difficult for you? The whole process of packing a lunch, trying to find something in the fridge that will transport well and keep me filled throughout the afternoon. Something that’s not going to stink up the office fridge (which is already its own kind of disgusting). It’s really a drag, isn’t it? But since I’m trying to eat out less during the week and save us a little extra money, brown-bagging it is the way to go. 
A couple weeks back, I made an effort to specifically buy ingredients that would make for a killer salad. Avocados, feta cheese, hummus. And then I proceeded to eat this salad four days in a row. Sometimes when something is that good, you don’t get sick of it. 

From a vegetarian’s perspective, this salad also meets my need for protein thanks to the hummus and cheese, and healthy fat from the avocado. Though you certainly don’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy it, since my husband found it equally delicious.

Now it’s your turn: What are your favorite ‘sack lunches’ to take to work? I’m always looking for new ideas to add to the mix. 
Spring Green Salad
Makes 1 serving 
Ingredients
*1 1/2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
*1 oz. crumbled feta cheese
*1/4 of a medium avocado, peeled and cut into pieces
*2 tablespoons hummus
*2 tablespoons Ken’s Steak House Light Caesar Dressing (my favorite, but any light Caesar works)
*2 slices French baguette (optional)
Instructions
*Place Romaine in a sealable plastic lunch container. Top with the feta cheese, avocado and hummus. Place the dressing in a small container and toss right before serving. Serve with baguette, if desired. 
Happy Cooking!
Madison

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

March 23, 2012

You know me. I’m all about simple weeknight meals. In fact, I think everyone I talk to is looking for more easy meals that don’t require a bunch of ingredients or a lot of time. This is especially true when it comes to meat. Being a vegetarian, most of my meals are quick to prepare. Roasted veggies, sauteed tofu, loaded up salads – they’re all quick and easy. So it’s probably no surprise that I have less patience when cooking meat for the hubs on weeknights.

Before we got married, I had never cooked with a slow cooker. After seven months of being married, I’m not sure I could give mine up. Singe Joe is happy to eat meals that are much heartier than my preferred fare, the slow cooker is my savior. It cooks meat to absolute tenderness and does everything for me while I am away at work.

This ‘pulled pork’ (I’m using the term loosely for the barbecue purists out there) was a big hit tonight. Yes, it uses bottled barbecue sauce, ketchup and a tenderized pork loin. But it’s also practically ready to eat the minute you walk in the door. All you have to do is mix together the ingredients for the sauce and shred the pork. It’s really that easy.

And what did I have for dinner you might ask? Greek yogurt, Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal, peanut butter and mixed berries, of course. :)

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches
*1 Hormel Always Tender Pork Loin (27 ounces)
*1 cup beef broth
*3 cups water
*Salt and black pepper
*1 cup bottled barbecue sauce
*1/2 cup ketchup
*1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
*1 tablespoon brown sugar
*Hamburger buns or kaiser rolls

Instructions
*In a 6- to 8-quart slow cooker, combine the pork loin, broth and water. Set the slow cooker on low. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 hours, until the loin shreds easily when pierced easily with a fork.
*Remove the loin from the slow cooker. Discard the liquid. Place the loin in a large bowl and shred with two forks. Add in the barbecue sauce, ketchup, white wine vinegar and brown sugar and stir into the meat until evenly combined. Transfer shredded pork to buns and serve immediately. Store unused pork in an airtight container in the fridge. Makes 4 to 6 servings

Happy Cooking!
Madison

Chopped Green Salad Wrap

January 26, 2012
I’ve received a lot of questions from readers about what I pack for lunches and snacks when I go to work each day. I’m not going to lie, I struggle just as much as the next person. But since I would much rather spend money going out to eat with my husband on date nights, taking a packed lunch and snacks is the norm. 
A few of my favorite snacks being:
          *Lara Bars (cashew cookie, peanut butter cookie, apple pie, and pb&j being my favorites)
          *Cliff Bars (peanut butter, white chocolate macadamia and carrot cake being my favorites)
          *Greek yogurt and canned pumpkin with a dollop of peanut butter
          *Apples or pears with a few slices of cheese
          *Sugar-free applesauce with granola 
Lunch, on the other hand, is much less predictable. Sometimes I’ll tote along leftovers from dinner the night before. Other times I’ll make a quick salad with quinoa and veggies or a salad topped with lentils and feta cheese. 
This week I was looking through my fridge, trying to get inspired, and saw we had whole wheat tortillas, lettuce, pesto, feta cheese and broccoli. Never one to be a fan of raw broccoli, I found that chopping the broccoli into small pieces and tossing it with the other ingredients helped to ward off the raw flavor that I typically dislike. 
The wrap was super tasty and satisfying. So if you’re looking for a new addition to your workday meals, I would totally give this a try.
Chopped Green Salad Wrap 
Ingredients
*1/2 cup Romaine lettuce, chopped 
*1/4 to 1/3 cup raw broccoli florets, finely chopped
*1 oz. crumbled feta cheese
*1 1/2 tbsp. Trader Joe’s Champagne Pear Vinaigrette or other fruit vinaigrette of your choice
*1 tablespoon purchased pesto 
*Cracked black pepper 
*1 whole wheat tortilla 
Instructions
*In a small bowl, combine the lettuce, broccoli, feta cheese, vinaigrette, pesto and black pepper. Toss to combine all ingredients evenly. Spoon mixture onto tortilla. Enjoy!
Happy Cooking!
Madison
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