my name is lulu. i love to cook. i love to share my cooking with friends and family and as a working girl, i know how important it is to save money. one of the easiest methods of doing that is by bringing lunch to work. but after week three it seems you are eating another sandwich that doesn't quite taste as good as the one you bought at the deli a few weeks back. and you being to think "that 8 bucks was worth it". well, it wasn't. hopefully, this blog will inspire you to create some new and exciting lunches, that will keep your wallet - and your palate happy. lulu.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday - fall for it.

Lunch with lulu


I have been waiting for this time of the year for a few months now. The only time in New York City, when the air actually smells like - well - air. There is no struggle to breath, the subways aren't unbearable and scarves are back! It's fall. It's beautiful. It's hopeful. It's time for a new start - new love - new opportunity. It makes you sad and optimistic all at once. Remembering the old, but looking to the future. Thank you fall, for coming. And thank you for making night walks with my dog chuck even more meaningful, with your leaves and cool breeze. Thank you for being CHILI....speaking of.

Chili – so many different ways to make chili. I don’t really like a ton of cumin in mine, mainly because I like to make it the way my mom used to make it. When we were growing up my mother used to cook every Sunday. Whether it was brisket or chili or chicken soup, she would make something unforgettable and fragrant. I would sit on the floor of the kitchen wearing her blue terry cloth robe, that I acquired as my security blanket at a very young age, and watch her chop vegetables and clean chicken, cook meat and always prepare something nice for desert. Sundays were a day to sit down as a family and have comfort food. Real, comfort food with each bite you could taste the scents and textures that went into each chop, stir and mix.

So, here is a quick chili recipe that I really enjoy:

1 lb of ground turkey or beef

1 large onion chopped roughly

1 large can crushed tomato

1 jalapeno pepper chopped finely

1 yellow pepper chopped roughly

A few dashes of hot sauce (I like texas petes or red hot)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 can of kidney beans

1 can of black beans

Red pepper flakes

Tiny bit of cumin

Heat the olive oil up in a pot, add the chopped onions and peppers into the pot until the onion is translucent and the mixture smells like heaven. Add the meat and cook it on up until the meat is cooked through. Add the pepper flakes, jalapenos, hot sauce and crushed tomatoes. Mix it up. Take a whiff.

Open the cans of beans and wash them off. Dry them and add them to the pot. Put a touch of cumin in the mixture and turn the heat down low…let that mixture simmer for an hour or so, watch it get thick. Then let it cool. I like to make rice too and mix it together.

Don’t forget the following ingredients for toppings: sour cream, shredding cheddar and some salsa and chips on the side.

I like to make a pound of it and end up eating it for a few meals during the week. It is one of those foods that tastes just as good heated up the next day.

Plus, when it’s cool and breezy outside, and I’m in an office that looks nothing like my mother’s kitchen, heating up that chili, well it makes me feel a lot better.



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tossed and Chopped - Tuesday

Tuesday after Columbus Day– maybe it’s time for a salad?

I love salads, but as we all know, it is so tempting to go and buy one. Especially at those places that have a million things you can pick from. Well, let’s make our own. I started making these salads often after I found really cheap tuperwear at ikea. I never had enough storage for all of the ingredients I wasn’t using completely, so making these salads felt daunting. Not anymore. Let’s make a really yummy chopped salad.

My inspiration for this salad is from a place called Sarabeths – there are a few locations throughout new york city. When I was younger I used to go to the one on the upper east side with my mother. On the weekends we would sometimes take a walk over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and see whatever was new, and I knew that on those days I would have a fancy lunch with my mother. In fact, even as an adult that restaurant held one of my favorite memories. My grandmother was in New York City, seeing specialists, right after she was diagnosed with leukemia. Prior to her diagnoses we decided to take her to dinner at Sarabeths. It was me, my mother and my sister - her oldest daughter and her two oldest grandkids. Since we have such a big family, we usually have so many kids running around when grandma was in town, so much company. But this time it was just the four of us. I think, for my grandmother, it was such an important time for her, to see her granddaughters as adults, responsible, caring, successful adults who she loved so much. I saw the pride in her eyes and she saw it in ours and we all knew she was about to start a battle that would inevitably take her fifteen months later. We sat for hours, laughed, ate, talked about our lives, her life, my mother sat back and listened and smiled. As we walked out of the restaurant, cold air hitting our pink cheeks, she looked at us and said it was one of the best nights of her life. It was one of mine too.

That dinner was memorable.

As are the lunches - Sarabeths inspired me to start making chop salads. They use romaine, chicken, bacon, blue cheese, hard boiled eggs and corn. But instead of mixing it all up, they put it in rows on a plate with a side of balsamic dressing. I tried that once, putting the ingredients in rows, but by the time I got off the 1 train, the entire salad had turned over in my bag a few times and ended up mixed as can be. It still tasted wonderful.

So, here are my favorite ingredients to put into a chop salad.

Chop a head of romaine and add to a large tuperwear container. Add the following in quantities you can decide (remember to chop them up):

· -Hearts of palm

· -Honey Turkey from the deli counter

· -Shredding mozzarella cheese

· -Corn

· -Black beans

· -Avocado

· -Hard boiled eggs

· -Cherry tomatoes

· -Potatoes (just boil some new potatoes and cool with cold water, then chop)

For the dressing, I never go bottled. I like to make my own lemon vinaigrette. It is super easy.

· -3 tables spoons of extra virgin olive oil

· -The juice of an entire lemon

· -A table spoon of Dijon mustard

· -A dash of salt and pepper

· -A little lemon zest

Take a fork and whip up this dressing. It is so easy and light and delicious. Put that in a separate little tuperwear container and you are ready to go.