Friday, May 11, 2012

It's still Friday somewhere - This Week's Friday Fifteen - Minnesota Edition!

Hello Lily On The Lam Readers -  Well I spent my Friday afternoon and evening hanging out with my little sister Squidge, who is one month away from graduating college.  Then we made pies as a room full of young 20 something men drank a lot of beer around us.  It was like having a Food Network cooking show set in a frat house.  So needless to say I didn't get around to writing my Friday Fifteen post until after Midnight, so technically Saturday.  But as I like to say - it's probably Friday somewhere and I think I can backdate this blog post, so you'd be none the wiser-- unless you spent all day checking the Lily On The Lam Blog for a new post every 10 minutes ... hopefully you didn't do that, but hey it would make my page view meter skyrocket if you did!

So here is today's Friday Fifteen - if you don't know what the Friday Fifteen is, check out my first Friday Fifteen Blog Post here.  Or if you are click-phobic, I guess I could explain what the Friday Fifteen is.  But if you are click-phobic, perhaps you should consult a psychiatrist. 

The Friday Fifteen was inspired by a reader who asked me for "take to work" lunch ideas.  

(A)      Five recommendations for make ahead and freeze meals

(B)      Five recommendations for quick to assemble meals

(C)      Five pre-packaged frozen entrees recommendations 
(Either from my own personal experience or links to other review articles.  I seriously can't do a taste test of all the frozen entrees out there!  My stomach will kill me!)

So for the 2nd Friday Fifteen Blog Post, I am going to add a theme ... This Friday's theme is "Minnesota/Lily's Childhood Edition."  Friday Fifteen Ideas inspired by either my childhood or my childhood home - Minnesota.  I hope you enjoy ...  Please feel free to leave comments as feedback.

Here we go ... "Friday Fifteen - Minnesota/Childhood Edition":

(A)      Five recommendations for make ahead and freeze meals

(A1)  Wild Rice Soup
My first recommendation for a make ahead and freeze meal to take to work for lunch later is one of my absolute favorite Minnesota dishes.  Byerly's Grocery Store's Wild Rice Soup.  If you are not fortunate enough to live in an area with a Byerly's Grocery Store OR their line of frozen soups, there are many copycat recipes for this soup online.  But I prefer to use Byerly's actual recipe located here.  The combination of ham, wild rice, creamy soup base and slivered almonds is just beyond deliciousness.  Try making this soup.  It will provide happy lunches at work!

(A2)  Tater Tot Hot Dish
My second recommendation is something that probably does not taste as good heated up in a microwave, but if your work has a toaster oven, this may be your dish.  Growing up in the Midwest, one part of our food pyramid is "Tater Tot Hotdish."  There are many, many recipes for Tater Tot Hotdish online, but here are a couple that I think you should check out ...

Tater Tot Hot Dish recipe from a Minnesota Tourism website

Two Tater Tot Hot Dish recipes from Bella Online

Grown Up Tater Tot Hot Dish from WannaBeChefSteph

(A3)  Lily's Grandmother's "Goulash"
Third Minnesota inspired make ahead and freeze meal - my Minnesotan Grandmother would call it "goulash," but it was really just elbow macaroni, ground beef and a tomato sauce.  Brown one pound of ground beef, drain excess fat.  Add to one pound of cooked and drained elbow macaroni.  Stir in one large can of tomato sauce and return to stove.  Cook over medium heat until warmed all the way through.  Serve with canned (OK I think its now in a plastic container but I still call it canned) Kraft Parmesan cheese.  And you will have my Grandmother's "goulash."  Read more about my Grandmother and her cooking in my blog post entitled "Cadavers, Adultery, The Butterfly Effect and Why I Have Been Missing In Action."

(A4)  Tuna Noodle Casserole
Another Minnesota Childhood food memory is Tuna Noodle Casserole.  I recommend making this casserole and when you bring it to work, bring some crushed potato chips.  After you heat the casserole in the microwave, sprinkle some of the crushed potato chips on top before eating.  Check out these recipes for Tuna Noodle Casserole:

Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe from Pinch My Salt food blog

Tuna Noodle Casserole Recipe from Southern Food at

Tuna Noodle Casserole from Dine and Dish

(A5)  Minnesota Egg Bake
Last but not least, I recommend what I had for breakfast this morning - a good old-fashioned Minnesota Egg Bake.  Check out these great recipes ...

Hearty Breakfast Egg Bake Recipe from the Life in Minnesota Blog

Canadian Bacon Strata Recipe posted on the CBS Minnesota website from Everyday Food

Breakfast Hot Dish, Minnesota Style from The Awl

(B)      Five recommendations for quick to assemble meals

(B1)  Ploughman's Lunch
In honor of the great Minnesota dairies, try bringing a "Ploughman's Lunch" to work.  What's a Ploughman's lunch?  The Americanized version is basically cheese, bread, maybe a hardboiled egg, a couple pickled pearl onions and some cornichons.  If you want to be more English, try some Branston Pickle with it.  Check out this article on for more information.  So grab a hearty country style roll, a variety of some cheeses, a hard-boiled egg, sliced apple and some pickles and pickled onion for a take to work lunch idea.  Check out these fine Minnesota cheesemakers.... 

Pastureland Co-op

One of my favorite Minnesota cheeses is Big Woods Blue Cheese from Cowgirl Creamery.  Check it out!

Caves of Faribault

(B2)  Smoked Turkey, Pear and Brie Baguette
I currently live in Florida and unfortunately there is an astonishing lack of French bakeries in the area.  Lots of great Cuban bread, but no good baguettes.  When I am in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, I like to visit the Hotel Sofitel to pick up great baguettes and pastries from Le Petit Marche.  If you are lucky enough to live near a great French bakery, get a small baguette, split in half and spread brie on both sides, add smoked turkey and sliced pear - for a great, quick lunch idea for work.  Bring a side of grapes for an added flavor side dish.

(B3)  Hot Ham and Cheese Pretzel Roll Sandwich
Growing up in Minnesota, I always enjoyed getting a hot fresh pretzel and dipping it in cheese sauce.  To have that same delicious taste in a more lunch-style menu, I like taking a pretzel roll and making a hot ham and cheese sandwich and serving with a side of Bavarian mustard to dip the sandwich into.  Find Sister Schubert's pretzel rolls in your grocery store freezer section, the bakery section at The Fresh Market grocery stores or bake your own with this great pretzel rolls recipe posted on Tasty Kitchen.

(B4)  Lefse
One of my favorite tea rooms in the world is Podunk in the East Village of New York City.  (Read my review of Podunk here.)  One of the dishes Podunk serves is lefse, buttered and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  This is a tasty Minnesotan treat.  I was not surprised to hear that the owner of Podunk lived in Bemidji, Minnesota for awhile.  You can buy lefse or try this recipe from Faithfulness Farm

(B5)  Duck Rolls
My Mother loves a good roasted duck.  When I lived in Los Angeles, I would go to LA's Chinatown, buy 2 roast ducks and the little doughy buns that many Chinese restaurants serve with roast ducks and bring them home with me when I would visit my family in Minnesota.  If you have a good Chinese restaurant in your area, pack up a bun, some roasted duck and some julienned green onion to make a quick and easy duck lunch to bring to work.

(C)      Five pre-packaged frozen entrees recommendations 

In keeping with the Minnesota/Childhood theme, here are recommendations for homestyle comfort food ... if you have tried these frozen entrees, give your feedback in the blog comments.  (Thanks!)

(C1)  Macaroni and Cheese
Try Trader Joe's Mac'n Cheese frozen entree.  It has been rated by several blog sites as the best!  Also,
check out We Heart Macaroni and Cheese's blog post on the best and worst frozen Macaroni and Cheese. 

(C2)  Country Fried Beef Steak
Nothing says down home comfort food to me like Country Fried Steak.  Now I prefer it freshly made, but if you're looking for a substitute in the freezer section, check out Marie Callender's Country Fried Beef Steak

(C3)  Meatloaf
When I want comfort food but not a lot of calories, I grab a Lean Cuisine Meatloaf entree with whipped potatoes.  At 250 calories, it gives me the comfort food feeling without the guilt.

(C4)  Chicken Pot Pie
I prefer heating Chicken Pot Pie in a toaster oven versus a microwave - but there are several microwaveable varieties on the market.  But if you do have a toaster oven, check out the fantastic pot pies from Marie Callender's

(C5)  Chicken Parmesan
I love a great chicken parmesan, but if you want to control your portion and your calories; check out Weight Watchers Smart Ones Chicken Parmesan.  The reviews on this frozen entree are mixed-- it seems like people either love it or hate it, which I think can be said for a lot of frozen dinners.  So if you have tried the Smart Ones Chicken Parmesan, please post your review in the comments section!

I hope you have enjoyed this 2nd blog post in the "Friday Fifteen" series.  In just two blog posts, you now have 30 ideas for take to work lunches.  I hope these posts give you great ideas for lunch ideas.  There's no reason to have a boring lunch at work!

Google Affiliate Ad:
Disclaimer:  To increase revenue for Lily On The Lam, I am adding Google Affiliate Ads.  However, I am able to select the ad featured for this section.  I either pick items I already own and can recommend or items that I would be personally interested in and that correspond with the theme of my blog post.

Looking for an insulated cooler to bring your lunch to work?  Check out this cooler that has a pouch for silverware.  Very cool!