culinary exploration

Follow me through the adventures that take place in my kitchen, in restaurants or in other kitchens. Cooking and food are my passions and I want to share my experiences of cooking, baking and eating with you.
I'm a Greek self-taught cook who lives in Chicago. I learned a lot about cooking from both of my grandmothers, my mom and dad, family and friends. Passing on timeless traditions through food is one thing I strive to do in life.

These are my journeys through culinary exploration...

clraptis (at) gmail (dot) com
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Posts tagged lunch

Sep 26
Healthy Eats Brown Bag Challenge (WEEK 4)
It’s the last week of the challenge and I’m proud to say I’ve stuck with it so far.  Even the week I was in Vegas for 3 days - I brought Larabars, almonds and banana chips to eat instead of hitting the casino buffet. 
Since I always do make-ahead lunches on Sundays for the upcoming week, I made one of my favorite salads.  My mom had a strict rule that no matter what we were having for dinner, even if we were having pizza or grabbed some chinese take-out in a pinch, we HAD to have a salad with dinner.  A good habit to have as a kid because I find myself now as an adult always ordering a salad with dinner at restaurants (and inevitably eating less of my meal as a result of filling up on something green first). 
This salad is what we Greeks call a village salad.  A true Greek salad.  As you can see - NO LETTUCE.  That’s right.  It’s the simplest, easiest salad to make and in my opinion, the tastiest. 
Here’s what you do: chop up tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion then throw together in a bowl.  Toss in some crumbled feta, season with salt, pepper, and oregano, then finish off with some extra virgin olive oil (Greek olive oil preferably).  Stir and you’re ready to go!  I know, there’s no measurements… but if you were to ask my Yiayia (“grandma” in Greek) she would give you the same “recipe” so I figured I would stick to her style!  :)
That’s my lunch for the last week of the challenge.  Check out what these fabulous bloggers brought in their brown bags:
Chez Us: Lentil SaladEssentials of Nutrition: Brown-Bag Challenge, Break Room Not RequiredThe Undercover Cook: Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Baked PotatoesThis Imperfect Plot: Week 4 (and a BBC side effect: weight loss)Confessions of a Curious Cuisiniere: What Does Your Sandwich Say About You?I Brown Bag: Brown-Bag Challenge, Day-by-DayCarmen Fitness: Brown-Bag Challenge, Going StrongFamily Fresh Cooking: Top Ten Best Lunch-Packing TipsCanadian Mother Musings: Caught NOT Brown-Bagging ItBoysNBerry: Sandwiches … and a Not-so-Great Frozen BurritoFeeding Philosophers: Lovely LegumesHealthy Plates: Vegetable Beef SoupHealthy Kitschy Vegan: PeaceAli Girl Cooks: Brown-Bag Shake-UpAll Things Splendid: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-ChiliCity Life Eats: Day 16 and a Recap of This Week’s LunchesCooking Channel: Monkeying Around Lunch BoxReve Noir: Brown-Bag Challenge Day 9, Repeat AgainThe Garden Ephemerist: Brown BaggedAdventures in Every Day: Brown-Bag RecapEating Omily: My Lunch Story
Nutritious Daily: Easy, Peasy PastaChick Bike: Brown-Bag Challenge Days 15 & 16

Healthy Eats Brown Bag Challenge (WEEK 4)

It’s the last week of the challenge and I’m proud to say I’ve stuck with it so far.  Even the week I was in Vegas for 3 days - I brought Larabars, almonds and banana chips to eat instead of hitting the casino buffet. 

Since I always do make-ahead lunches on Sundays for the upcoming week, I made one of my favorite salads.  My mom had a strict rule that no matter what we were having for dinner, even if we were having pizza or grabbed some chinese take-out in a pinch, we HAD to have a salad with dinner.  A good habit to have as a kid because I find myself now as an adult always ordering a salad with dinner at restaurants (and inevitably eating less of my meal as a result of filling up on something green first). 

This salad is what we Greeks call a village salad.  A true Greek salad.  As you can see - NO LETTUCE.  That’s right.  It’s the simplest, easiest salad to make and in my opinion, the tastiest. 

Here’s what you do: chop up tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion then throw together in a bowl.  Toss in some crumbled feta, season with salt, pepper, and oregano, then finish off with some extra virgin olive oil (Greek olive oil preferably).  Stir and you’re ready to go!  I know, there’s no measurements… but if you were to ask my Yiayia (“grandma” in Greek) she would give you the same “recipe” so I figured I would stick to her style!  :)

That’s my lunch for the last week of the challenge.  Check out what these fabulous bloggers brought in their brown bags:

Chez Us: Lentil Salad
Essentials of Nutrition: Brown-Bag Challenge, Break Room Not Required
The Undercover Cook: Buffalo Chicken-Stuffed Baked Potatoes
This Imperfect Plot: Week 4 (and a BBC side effect: weight loss)
Confessions of a Curious Cuisiniere: What Does Your Sandwich Say About You?
I Brown Bag: Brown-Bag Challenge, Day-by-Day
Carmen Fitness: Brown-Bag Challenge, Going Strong
Family Fresh Cooking: Top Ten Best Lunch-Packing Tips
Canadian Mother Musings: Caught NOT Brown-Bagging It
BoysNBerry: Sandwiches … and a Not-so-Great Frozen Burrito
Feeding Philosophers: Lovely Legumes
Healthy Plates: Vegetable Beef Soup
Healthy Kitschy Vegan: Peace
Ali Girl Cooks: Brown-Bag Shake-Up
All Things Splendid: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Chili
City Life Eats: Day 16 and a Recap of This Week’s Lunches
Cooking Channel: Monkeying Around Lunch Box
Reve Noir: Brown-Bag Challenge Day 9, Repeat Again
The Garden Ephemerist: Brown Bagged
Adventures in Every Day: Brown-Bag Recap
Eating Omily: My Lunch Story

Nutritious Daily: Easy, Peasy Pasta
Chick Bike: Brown-Bag Challenge Days 15 & 16


Sep 19
Healthy Eats Brown Bag Challenge (WEEK 3) 
I made a huge bowl of this roasted chickpea, cucumber and marinated mushroom salad on Sunday night. Then portioned it out into 5 servings so my lunch is made for each day this week! I have to do make-ahead lunches over the weekend otherwise I’ll forget and end up making poor decisions when it comes to food for lunch.
Check out what these bloggers are bringing for lunch!
Ambitious Kitchen: Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps With Sweet Mango Cilantro SalsaFeeding Philosophers: Tart Pizza and Tofu Pesto Sandwiches, Oh MySweat=Success: Brown Bags and Book BagsConfessions of a Curious Cuisiniere: Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled PorkReve Noir: Brown-Bag Challenge Day 8The Garden Ephemerist: Brown Bag TalesI Brown Bag: Healthy Eating Starts at HomeEssentials of Nutrition: Marriage>BachelorhoodAll Things Splendid: Day 12, Wild Rice SoupFamily Fresh Cooking: Project Lunch Box 30 Day ChallengeCity Life Eats: Brown-Bag Challenge, Day 11 Netlycka’s Distracting Confusion: Snacks for LunchThis Imperfect Plot: Brown-Bag Challenge, Week 3Adventures in Every Day: Brown-Bag ChallengeBoys n’ Berry: Brown-Bag Challenge, (featuring many great sandwiches)Healthy Plates: Quinoa With Peas and SpinachLiving Omily: Autumnal Brown-BagGlory Foods: What in the World is a Bento Box?

Healthy Eats Brown Bag Challenge (WEEK 3) 

I made a huge bowl of this roasted chickpea, cucumber and marinated mushroom salad on Sunday night. Then portioned it out into 5 servings so my lunch is made for each day this week! I have to do make-ahead lunches over the weekend otherwise I’ll forget and end up making poor decisions when it comes to food for lunch.

Check out what these bloggers are bringing for lunch!

Ambitious Kitchen: Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps With Sweet Mango Cilantro Salsa
Feeding Philosophers: Tart Pizza and Tofu Pesto Sandwiches, Oh My
Sweat=Success: Brown Bags and Book Bags
Confessions of a Curious Cuisiniere: Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
Reve Noir: Brown-Bag Challenge Day 8
The Garden Ephemerist: Brown Bag Tales
I Brown Bag: Healthy Eating Starts at Home
Essentials of Nutrition: Marriage>Bachelorhood
All Things Splendid: Day 12, Wild Rice Soup
Family Fresh Cooking: Project Lunch Box 30 Day Challenge
City Life Eats: Brown-Bag Challenge, Day 11
Netlycka’s Distracting Confusion: Snacks for Lunch
This Imperfect Plot: Brown-Bag Challenge, Week 3
Adventures in Every Day: Brown-Bag Challenge
Boys n’ Berry: Brown-Bag Challenge, (featuring many great sandwiches)
Healthy Plates: Quinoa With Peas and Spinach
Living Omily: Autumnal Brown-Bag
Glory Foods: What in the World is a Bento Box?


Mar 16
Sushi bowl - bottom layer of sushi rice, thin layer of nori, topped with crisp cucumber, tofu, eff, shrimp, squid, tuna, yellowtail, roe and sea urchin.
Quite possibly the best Japanese lunch ever.  While at a tradeshow, the President of the company I work for took us to a fancy hotel restaurant for lunch.  I ordered what I thought was this small bowl of deliciousness.  He upgraded my order to the platter which came with soup, pickled veggies, this sushi bowl and dessert.  It was WAY too much food and I felt awful leaving so much behind.  Plus, it is a Japanese custom to finish your meal.  If you leave any food on your plate, the restaurant/chef takes it as a subtle insult that the food was not delicious enough to finish.  I didn’t want them to think I didn’t like the food because it was one of my favorite meals!

Sushi bowl - bottom layer of sushi rice, thin layer of nori, topped with crisp cucumber, tofu, eff, shrimp, squid, tuna, yellowtail, roe and sea urchin.

Quite possibly the best Japanese lunch ever.  While at a tradeshow, the President of the company I work for took us to a fancy hotel restaurant for lunch.  I ordered what I thought was this small bowl of deliciousness.  He upgraded my order to the platter which came with soup, pickled veggies, this sushi bowl and dessert.  It was WAY too much food and I felt awful leaving so much behind.  Plus, it is a Japanese custom to finish your meal.  If you leave any food on your plate, the restaurant/chef takes it as a subtle insult that the food was not delicious enough to finish.  I didn’t want them to think I didn’t like the food because it was one of my favorite meals!


Aug 6
Best.  Lunch.  EVER!
Malnati Salad from Lou Malnati’s. 
Chopped romaine, sliced mushrooms, black olives, diced tomatoes, gorgonzola and (my favorite) crumbled & crispy Volpi salami tossed in their signature vinegarette dressing.  DELISH!

Best.  Lunch.  EVER!

Malnati Salad from Lou Malnati’s

Chopped romaine, sliced mushrooms, black olives, diced tomatoes, gorgonzola and (my favorite) crumbled & crispy Volpi salami tossed in their signature vinegarette dressing.  DELISH!


Feb 17
lunch today:
whole wheat pita pockets stuffed with deli turkey, reduced-fat colby jack cheese, julienned green pepper, lots of spinach and homemade guacamole
one word can describe this healthful lunch - DELISH!

lunch today:

whole wheat pita pockets stuffed with deli turkey, reduced-fat colby jack cheese, julienned green pepper, lots of spinach and homemade guacamole

one word can describe this healthful lunch - DELISH!