Top: avocado tossed with lime and lightly salted; mandarin oranges
Bottom: spaghetti* garnished with red bell pepper confetti and spinach sakura flowers
Side: meat sauce for the spaghetti

3/4 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced (I used yellow)
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
salt, to taste
1 jar of store-bought pasta sauce (I used Amy’s Garlic Mushroom)



  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. Push the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the ground beef to the center. Cook the beef, using a spatula or wooden spoon to break up any large chunks.
  3. Once the beef has evenly browned, add the jar of pasta sauce and stir well. Add the crushed red pepper and salt to taste. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes — or whatever time is needed for you to boil up some pasta!

* Use gluten-free products







Left: cha siu bao (steamed bun with pork filling), sliced chuoi nep nuong (Vietnamese grilled banana-sticky rice cake), little bear filled with coconut milk-based dipping sauce for the chuoi nep nuong, half of a dorayaki (sweet pancake-like patties with sweet red bean filling), blackberries, blueberries, strawberries
Right: kim bap (Korean “sushi” with cooked filling), unagi nigiri (hand-molded sushi topped with grilled BBQ eel), grape tomatoes


1/4 cup tamari
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. scallions, minced
1 tsp. brown sugar



  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. Pour marinade over 3/4 lb. to 1 lb. of thinly-sliced flank steak. Mix to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove meat from marinade. Beef may be grilled or sauteed in a frying pan over high heat.






Three flavors of onigiri (beef & ginger, sweet egg, and umeboshi), as well as simmered green beans, simmered enoki mushrooms, and a mini choux-a-la-creme pastry (non-GF).


Rice (for 2 sets of 3 onigiri, I used 4 cups uncooked rice)
Nori (optional)
– Beef –
Ginger to taste, grated (or julienned finely)
1 tbsp. tamari
1 tsp. each of sugar, mirin, sake
1 tbsp. water
2 oz. beef, sliced thin, then julienned
– Egg –
1 small egg, beaten
2 tsp. sugar
cooking oil
– Umeboshi –
1 umeboshi



  1. Cook the rice.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the beef onigiri except the beef. Bring to a boil in a small pan. Add the beef to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes and set aside.
  3. Combine all the egg ingredients except the oil. Heat a small amount of oil to the pan, then add the egg mixture. Scramble the egg, stirring rapidly, until the egg has separated into small, round pieces.
  4. Remove the seed from the umeboshi and shred it into small pieces.
  5. Divide the rice into 3 portions. Combine each portion with a different flavored mixture. Be sure to not add so much of the beef cooking juice that your rice gets soggy or slippery.
  6. Form the rice into flattened balls. I use an onigiri mold as it is faster, but you can shape by hand as well. Make sure to wet your hands or the molds between rice balls to keep the rice from sticking. Add a strip of nori to each if you like.


*Use gluten-free products






Rigatoni with a “quick bolognese” sauce and roasted green beans with garlic


2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup Italian parsley, minced
1/2 lb. ground chuck
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes packed in juice, finely chopped, with juice reserved
1/2 cup heavy cream
rigatoni, cooked according to directions
grated parmesan to serve with



  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and parsley and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the ground meat, oregano, and salt. Crumble the meat with the edge of a wooden spoon to break it apart into tiny pieces. Cook, continuing to crumble the meat, just until it loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juice and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently until the sauce begins to thicken, about 20 minutes. Stir in the cream, bring to a simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust seasonings with extra salt to taste.
  4. Serve over rigatoni. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top if desired.

* Use gluten-free ingredients






Big Fish: chicken nuggets, rice with black and toasted white sesame seeds, grape tomatoes
Little Fish: red beef curry (a favorite!!), baby bok choy stir-fried with tamari, sugar & pepper
GF products used: Bell & Evans air chilled gluten free chicken nuggets, A Taste of Thai red curry paste and fish sauce, Thai Kitchen lite coconut milk, 365 Every Day Value roasted peanuts


3/4 lb. flank
1 red bell pepper
2 tbsp red curry paste
3 tbsp canola oil
1 can light coconut milk
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
1/4 cup fresh basil



  1. Thinly slice the beef across the grain into strips about 2″ long. If the beef is too soft for thin slicing, throw it into the freezer for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat the curry paste and oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Cook the curry paste, mashing it and mixing it with the oil until well mixed and bubbling.
  3. Add the beef slices and cook until the beef is lightly browned on all sides, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add about 3/4 of the can of coconut milk and stir it in. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. While the beef is simmering, coarsely chop the peanuts and thinly slice the basil leaves. Thinly slice the red bell pepper lengthwise.
  6. After simmering for 10 minutes, add the fish sauce, brown sugar, salt, and chopped peanuts. Simmer for 3 minutes.
  7. Add the red bell pepper strips. Simmer for another 2 minutes.
  8. Serve over rice and garnish with the fresh basil slivers.

*Use gluten-free products






Front: stir-fried rice noodles with beef & broccoli
Back: panda cake (non-GF), sliced kiwi and mango


1 small head of broccoli (about 1 lb.), stems trimmed and cut into small florets
12 oz. rice vermicelli (you also can use thicker rice noodles)
1 tbsp. salt
4 tbsp. peanut oil
1/2 lb. flank steak, thinly sliced across the grain
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. tamari
1 tbsp. sugar



  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the broccoli and cook until just tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and set it aside in a bowl. Do not drain the water!
  2. Add the noodles and salt to the water and cook until the noodles are just tender but not mushy, about 2-4 minutes for vermicelli (and 4-5 minutes for pad thai-like noodles). Drain thoroughly and toss with 2 tbsp. of the peanut oil.
  3. Heat a large saute pan over high heat* and add the remaining 2 tbsp. of peanut oil. Heat the oil until it starts to shimmer and swirl to coat the pan. Add the flank and cook, stirring constantly, until it loses its raw color, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the eggs and let them set for 15 seconds. Then stir, breaking up the eggs with a spatula into clumps.
  5. Add the broccoli, fish sauce, tamari, and sugar and stir for 15 seconds to combine. Add the noodles and cook, pulling apart with tongs/chopsticks and tossing to coat with the sauce, until heated through.

* I use medium heat because I have AllClad pans. Apparently you are not allowed to heat AllClad pans above medium, and they conduct heat so well that you don’t have to.

** The trick to this dish is the timing. You want to have your beef sliced and garlic ready to go. Once the noodles are drained, you should start cooking up the beef. If you wait too long, the drained noodles continue to cook (as they are not rinsed) until they are mushy and you don’t want that!

* Use gluten-free products






Top: Thai-style “sushi” sandwich rolls, grape tomatoes
Bottom: strawberries, raspberries, cherries, petite pudding


2 tbsp lime juice (preferably fresh)
2 tsp Thai-style fish sauce (Vietnamese fish sauce is saltier, etc.)
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic flour tortillas (mine had an 8″-diameter)
romaine lettuce (from a bag is fine!)
sliced roast beef from the deli (for 4 wraps, I used about 3/4lb. of beef)
handful of shredded carrots
handful of fresh mint leaves



  1. Combine the lime juice, fish sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a small bowl. Stir well with a fork or whisk to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.
  2. Spread the sauce mixture on a tortilla using a pastry brush. Do not sop the poor tortilla with excess liquid.
  3. Lay 2 roast beef slices on the tortilla to cover most of it. You can add more if you like really beefy rolls. Lay some lettuce leaves down the middle of the tortilla, but to one side. Arrange some carrots and mint leaves on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle a teaspoon of sauce over the toppings.
  4. Roll the tortilla up tightly, beginning with the half with the toppings. Let the tortilla rest seam-side down while you make the remaining rolls. Slice and serve.

*Adapted from a Cooking Light recipe for Thai Beef Rolls.






Three-color donburi — rice topped with slightly sweet scrambled egg, seasoned beef, and steamed snowpeas.
Container is about 4.5″ x 6.5″ x 1.5″ (but looks huge!).


– Egg topping –
6 large eggs
2 tbsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. canola oil
– Beef topping –
1 lb. finely ground extra lean ground beef
2 tbsp. sake
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. reduced-sodium tamari
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. canola oil
– Green topping –
Handful of snowpeas, trimmed



  1. Steam or quickly boil snowpeas until tender crisp. Refresh under cool water, then julienne lengthwise and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a small frying pan. Add the eggs and sugar to the pan, bring heat to medium, and scramble the eggs for 2 minutes. When the eggs start to harden, add the pinch of salt. Continue to scramble for 2 more minutes, or until the eggs are just cooked and in very small pieces. Remove the eggs and set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a small frying pan. Add the ground beef, sake, sugar, tamari and salt to the pan and bring the heat to medium. Saute the beef, stirring constantly and breaking the beef into small pieces, for 6 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.
  4. Layer each of the colored toppings over white rice and serve.

*Use gluten-free products.






Bento box: pork with garlic and pepper, stir-fried Chinese broccoli, rice with furikake, container of sauce from the garlic & pepper pork
Extras: steamed bun with pork and beef filling (not GF), spam musubi, orange wedges (not pictured)


1 lb. pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
canola oil
– Marinade –
2 tbsp. reduced sodium tamari
3/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1 tsp. tapioca flour
– Fried Garlic – (you can also use readymade fried garlic)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup garlic, chopped
– Sauce –
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tbsp. reduced-sodium tamari
1/2 tsp. sugar
4 tbsp. chicken stock or water



  1. Put sliced pork into a bowl and add the marinade ingredients. Mix well, then let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. [If using prepared fried garlic, skip this step.] Heat oil in wok; add garlic and cook on high heat until garlic starts to turn brown. Turn down heat and keep stirring until garlic is crispy, 2-3 minutes. Remove garlic and drain on paper towels.
  3. Heat oil for deep frying in wok. Add the marinated pork and fry for 1 minute. Remove pork from oil.
  4. Heat empty wok. Add fried pork, oyster sauce, tamari, and sugar. Stir-fry quickly to combine.
  5. Add the chicken stock and stir-fry to combine for another 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.
  6. Before serving, sprinkle crispy garlic on top.

*This recipe is gluten-free.





Left: strawberries, kiwi, mango, and mandarin oranges
Right: SPAM fried rice with egg flowers (GF)

Snack bento (non-GF): steamed bun with spinach filling, panda cake (for Tai Shan!), mini-choux a la creme pastries

1 1/4″ slice of Spam, diced into little cubes
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
diced onion, about the same amount as the red bell pepper
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 cup cooked rice (leftover rice works best)
1/2 tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. sake
1 egg (or 2 eggs if you are going to be cutting shapes)



  1. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking oil and add 1 beaten egg. Swirl pan to coat. Once egg begins to set, flip it over. Slide egg out of the pan once it is done cooking. Repeat with another colored-egg mixture if desired.
  2. Spray the same pan with cooking spray and add the red bell pepper and onion. Stir-fry until onions begin to turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Remove vegetables from pan.
  3. Add the Spam cubes and a pinch of sugar and stir-fry until the edges begin to crisp (or more if you like). Remove from pan.
  4. Wipe out the pan with a damp paper towel to remove any residue. Then add the butter. Once butter has melted, add the rice and stir-fry, breaking up any clumps as you go. Add the scallions and cook them with the rice. Once the rice is hot, add the veggies and Spam cubes, as well as the salt, sugar and sake, and continue to cook until heated through. Taste and adjust the seasonings as you prefer.
  5. Cut the omelets into shapes and garnish. Otherwise, take your one omelet and julienne into strips and mix it through the rice evenly.

*Use gluten-free products





Front: homemade Thai-style dumplings with pork and veggies (not GF), grape tomatoes, steamed broccoli
Back: rice with black sesame seeds, stir-fried bok choy, grape tomatoes, container of cilantro-lime dipping sauce (GF)

1 lb. ground pork
1/4 cup minced scallions
2 tbsp. minced cilantro
2 tsp. minced ginger
1 red bell pepper, minced
2/3 cup minced cabbage
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
1 large egg, beaten lightly
45-50 shumai wrappers (or round wonton wrappers), thawed if frozen
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. sugar, or to taste
2 tsp. minced ginger
1 tbsp. shredded mint leaves
1 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro



  1. In a bowl, add the scallions, pork, ginger, bell pepper, cabbage, garlic, oil, soysauce, coriander, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix well with hands. Cook a bit in the microwave and adjust seasonings to taste. Cover and chill filling for 1 hour (or overnight).
  2. Put a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of a wonton wrapper, then moisten the edge of the wrapper with water. Form into the dumpling shape of your choice (regular wonton triangles or half-moons, little gathered purses with the filling completely enclosed, etc.). To make ones like mine, pinch the wrapper closed around the filling, forming a mulit-pointed star-like shape with the filling exposed in the middle. Then push all of the points in one direction and squoosh the filling and the dumpling into the shape you want. With a wet fingertip, flatten out the top of the dumpling. Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
  3. Continue making dumplings until you run out of wrappers or filling. At this point, the dumplings can be frozen on the cookie sheet or cooked right away. I froze mine overnight, then popped them into freezer bags the next day.
  4. To cook the dumplings, heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan. Place the dumplings in and cook for 1 minute, or until the bottoms begin browning. Then place about 1/4″-1/2″ of water in the pan, cover and steam until the water is absorbed. Continue adding water as it is absorbed until the dumplings are cooked all the way through (it usually takes at least 6-7 minutes if cooking straight from the freezer).
  5. To make the sauce, just combine all of the sauce ingredients and mix well. Adjust as you like.

* NOTE: The sauce is pretty strong so do not liberally douse your dumplings before tasting first!






Left: Chinese egg noodles, blanched baby bok choy
Right: homemade wontons stuffed with pork and shrimp filling, slices of Chinese BBQ pork
Front: packet of instant wonton soup broth, ‘wonton’ of scallions for garnish, chile sauce

1 lb. coarsely chopped boneless pork loin, or ground pork
1/2 lb. peeled shrimp, finely chopped
2 tsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. Chinese rice wine (you can substitute pale, dry sherry)
2 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. finely chopped green onion
2 tbsp. wood ear mushrooms, rehydrated in hot water, then finely chopped
1 oz. bean thread noodles (“glass noodles”), soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, drained, then finely chopped
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 package square wonton wrappers
1 beaten egg



  1. In a large bowl, combine pork, shrimp, sugar, wine, soy sauce, green onion, mushrooms, noodles, and ginger. Knead with hands until mixed well. Let stand for about half an hour.
  2. Place about one teaspoon of the filling at the center of each wonton skin. Moisten two adjacent sides of the wonton skin with the egg, then fold the skin over and seal into a triangle. Press the edges firmly to seal. You can then crimp the edges, gather the skin and crimp towards the center to form a little ‘purse’, bring the opposite corners together an seal a la Chinese restaurant style, or leave it fairly flat.
  3. Continue until you run out of wrappers or filling. Either can be frozen for use later.
  4. Soup — Before adding to soup, add to boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, or until fully cooked. Otherwise, your broth will become cloudy. A quick broth can be made by combining 3 cups chicken broth, 1 tbsp. soy sauce, 1/2 tsp. sesame oil, and 1/2 tsp. grated ginger (change proportions as needed). Garnish with fresh scallions. You can also add Chinese egg noodles (cooked and drained), blanched baby bok choy or Chinese broccoli, or fresh spinach, as well as slices of pork or cooked shrimp to round out your bowl of soup.
  5. Frying — These little guys are terrific fried as well. Just heat enough oil to deep fry over medium heat until a piece of wonton skin sizzles when added. Deep fry the wontons in batches until golden, about 2-3 minutes per side, making sure they don’t stick together, and making sure the oil doesn’t get too hot (or the wontons will brown too fast). Drain in a paper towel-lined colander. Serve with duck sauce or plum sauce.




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