Electric Lunchbox #36: Mama Tuca’s Lentils

My mother-in-law is a wonderful cook! Lucky for me, she is always more than happy to teach me how to prepare Peruvian food whether in her kitchen in Lima, or mine in Orange County. She is very kind and gentle but strong and determined. She likes to go out on her own, fearless, and discover places. I grew up more sheltered, more scared, careful of the outside world. I remember once when she was vacationing here in the US, my husband and I came home from work and she was gone…we had to go and drive our cars to look for her all over our city. I found her walking by Trader Joe’s, arms full of grocery bags with treasures she found to make a meal. She is good at substituting and making a new dishes.

When we were in Peru, breakfast is usually turkey, cheese, ham sandwich, with fruit juice and my essential, coffee. Lunch is the biggest meal, and she would always prepare a salad to go with it. Everything tasted really good. This is one of those recipes. Healthy and easy to make, it quickly became a staple as both my husband and my son likes it.

I adapted it to the ELB, substituting garlic and onion powder for the real thing as we will not be sautéing it. If you have a red bell pepper and aji amarillo, please use that instead of the paprika and turmeric I used. I just used those as it is something we are all familiar with and probably have in our pantry already. When mama Tuca made this, she used pork, but I had used beef, and chicken when I’m too lazy to go to the store.

Please remember to soak the lentils for about couple of hours. We are using raw lentils and they do cook faster than regular beans, but soaking helps it along.

I hope you like this recipe. I’m sure my family does!

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*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny Itaki cup, unless specified.*

1/2 cup lentils, soaked at least 1 hour, up to overnight

1 cup water, for cooking

1 teaspoon oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika powder (or 1/4 red bell pepper, pureed)

50 – 60 grams cubed pork or chicken, or ground beef

1 small potato, peeled and cubed

120 ml water (for steaming)

Drain the lentils after soaking. Transfer to the big bottom bowl of the ELB. Add all ingredients and stir to mix. Place in the ELB base.

Add the water for steaming to the base. Cover the ELB snd let steam until done, about an hour. Check lentils and meat for doneness , adding more water to the base and steaming longer, if necessary.

Serve hot, over rice (can make some in the little nesting bowl at the same time!).

My husband usually asks for a fried egg on top of the lentils. I like it this way too so I happily fry some eggs to serve with this dish.

If you have a jumbo, make lentils in the bottom bowl, poached egg in the small nesting bowl, and rice in the top medium bowl! Perfect meal!

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Electric Lunchbox #31: Philly Cheesesteak

Buttery toasted bread, thinly sliced beef, mushrooms, provolone cheese…… I only had Philly Cheesesteak a few times, but I remember how good it tasted. Today’s recipe came about because my son remembered the sandwich we had in Las Vegas several months ago. With travel not recommended right now, I had to try making it at home. And although this won’t yield little charred edges since it’s made in the electric lunchbox, I think it tastes really good.

I normally would use thinly sliced beef but COVID is currently keeping me from driving an hour to the grocery store that sells it. So I tried with ground beef, that I’m sure everyone has access to. Maybe that is a good thing because it’s more readily available. I encourage you to use the recipe as a guide, adding more of what you like, less of what you don’t, substituting when needed.

Serve over buttered and toasted hoagie rolls or rice, I hope it will put a smile on your face!

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny Itaki cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:
1/2 cup ground or thinly sliced beef Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste
1/2 Russet potato, chopped
1/4 green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped white onion
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1 thick slice provolone cheese

Mix the ground beef with about 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the ground beef loosely in the big bottom bowl of your electric lunchbox. DO NOT PACK the meat in the bowl, see photo below.

Place the potatoes, green pepper, onions, and mushrooms on the beef and top with a slice of provolone cheese. I have the thinly sliced ones so I put two slices, you can use as much as you want!

Place the bowl in the electric lunchbox base and cover with foil. Add 3 Itaki cups water to the base, cover and let steam until done, about 55 minutes.

Carefully open the lunchbox and check potatoes and beef for doneness. serve over toasted hoagie rolls, or rice if desired! Enjoy!

Electric Lunchbox #19: Mongolian Beef

Mongolian Beef is one of the few Chinese recipes I make semi-regularly as my family devours it. I usually make this on the stove for a meal big enough to have left overs for the following day.

I decided to try to modify it for the Itaki and make it a set and forget meal so that it can work if I were to actually use this in a lunch-at-work setting. After a few tries, I got it just right! I am sharing it with you all so that you can have this delicious meal, with a little effort on your part!

*Please note that the word “cup” in any of my electric lunchbox recipe refers to the little Itaki cup included with the lunchbox. It holds 40ml.*

200 grams steak (sirloin or flank), sliced thinly
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon chili sauce (sambal oelek)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons green onion, to serve

2 cups rice

2 cups water

2 ELB cups water in the base

Mix the steak, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, chili sauce, garlic, ginger, cornstarch, beef broth, and sesame oil in the bottom bowl of the Itaki. Set on the base.

Place rice in the small upper bowl, rinse and drain. Add 2 ELB cups water to the rice and place on top of the other bowl. Pour 2 cups water in the base, cover, and let steam until it shuts off, around 30 minutes.

Carefully remove bowls from the base and fluff the rice. Stir the beef and top with green onions before serving.

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Electric Lunchbox #15: Broccoli Beef and Rice

Broccoli and beef is one of those dishes that are easily recognizable as they are offered in popular Chinese fast food restaurants like Panda Express and Pick Up Sticks.

This is an easy recipe made for the Itaki. I added the cornstarch to the mixture so that it thickens the sauce as it cooks. Red bell pepper adds a pop of color and ups the vegetables in this delicious dish.

*Please note that the word “cup” in any of my electric lunchbox recipe refers to the little itaki cup included with the lunchbox. It holds 40ml.*

1. Place the following ingredients in the big ELB bowl:

100 – 150 grams beef, cut into thin strips

1/4 of a bell pepper, sliced

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon minced ginger

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons soysauce

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

2 tablespoons shao xing wine

Handful of broccoli florets

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2. In the top nesting bowl add the following:

2 cups short or medium grain rice, rinsed and drained

2 cups water

3. Place the small nesting bowl with rice on top of the big bowl with beef. Set them on the ELB base.

4. Add 2 cups water in the base.

5. Cover and let steam until it shuts off.

*It took about 38 minutes.*

6. Carefully open the ELB.

7. Check meat and rice for doneness.

8. Sprinkle with chopped green onions. Enjoy!

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Electric Lunchbox #13: Gyudon (Sweet Soy Beef Rice Bowl)

*Please note that the word “cup” in any of my electric lunchbox recipe refers to the little itaki cup included with the lunchbox. It holds 40ml.*

Gyundon (beef bowl), is a one dish beef, onion, egg, and rice meal that is similar to what Yoshinoya serves. It is a very popular food in Japan and I like to make it as it comes together rather quickly. Preparing it in the electric lunchbox is a plus as it is essentially set it and forget it until it shuts off! And just like that it’s time to eat!

A handful of shaved beef (I used 2 cups ground beef as that is all I have)

1 teaspoon apple, grated

2 tablespoons diced onion

Pinch salt

2 T soysauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons sake

1 cup water

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 cups rice

2 cups water

3 cups water in the base

Mitsuba or celery leaves, to serve

Place beef, apple, onion, salt, soy sauce, sugar, sake, and water in the big bottom bowl. Mix and pour beaten egg on top. Do not mix at this point. Place bowl in Itaki base.

Wash and drain rice and place in the smaller top bowl. Add 2 cups water. Place bowl on top of bigger bottom bowl.

Add 3 cups water in the base. Cover with lid and steam until it shuts off, about 50 minutes.

Open lid, carefully remove rice bowl and set on a heat proof surface. Stir the beef and egg mixture and serve with rice. Enjoy!

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Electric Lunchbox #12: Quinoa and Ground Beef with Eggplant and Tofu

I figured I should make something healthy today as I’ve been baking and cooking and eating during this pandemic.

I always have different grains in my pantry and found this tricolor Quinoa we got from Peru the last time we were there. It looks so pretty with all the colors.

When cooking quinoa, always remember to rinse thoroughly before cooking otherwise it tends to taste soapy. This step removes the saponin on the outside of the grains. I usually do this by placing the quinoa in a fine meshed strainer and running my fingers through it under running water. You could also rinse them in a bowl with plenty of water, drain and repeat.

I also wanted some tofu and vegetable main dish so I quickly put this recipe together. It is loosely based off a dish I had in Chinatown in Binondo, Philippines ages ago. That dish had eggplants and ground beef and is a mix of sweet and spicy.

Try this dish and let me know what you think!

*Please note that the word “cup” in any of my electric lunchbox recipe refers to the little itaki cup included with the lunchbox. It holds 40ml.*

2 cups ground beef

2 tablespoons chopped onions

2 handfuls cubed eggplant

2 handfuls cubed tofu

1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 tablespoon soysauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes(adjust to taste)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 cups water

Green onions, to serve

Top bowl:

2 cups quinoa, rinsed very well in a strainer and drained

2 cups broth or water

2 cups water in the base (48 minutes)

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Electric Lunchbox #9: Beef Stew and Corn Bread with optional Flan

Comfort food!

Someone asked for an American dish for the Itaki, so I made beef stew and cornbread! My dad loved beef stew and for me cornbread goes really well with it so here goes!

Disclaimer: I used the Itaki Jumbo since my son and I wanted flan again! 😊 The second tier, medium bowl, had another experimental flan recipe! I am trying to make a softer flan so I upped the amount of milk to see if it would work better.

Although it is perfectly fine to just use the Itaki pro and make beef stew and cornbread only, I figured since we’re steaming for a good amount of time, I want to maximize the food created.

*Please note that the word “cup” in any of my electric lunchbox recipe refers to the little itaki cup included with the lunchbox. It holds 40ml.*

Beef stew:

6.5 oz beef, cubed (I used ground beef as that was what I had)

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

1 small potato, peeled snd diced

1 small carrot, peeled and diced

3 green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 tablespoon diced onions

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 1/2 cups beef broth

Salt and pepper

Cornbread:

2 1/2 T melted butter

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 c cornmeal

1/4 cup + 1 T all purpose flour

2 T sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Beef Stew:

Place the beef, flour, salt and pepper in the bottom bowl of the electric lunchbox and mix well. The flour will help thicken your stew. Do not pack the meat down.

Place the potatoes, carrots, green beans, celery, and onions on top of the meat. Add tomato paste and beef broth and mix the ingredients in the bowl. You can add a little more beef broth if you want a runnier stew but remember to leave at least an inch space between the ingredients and the top of the bowl. Place the bowl in the Itaki base.

Now for the CORNBREAD:

Grease the small Itaki bowl or spray with nonstick spray. Mix all ingredients in a separate bowl until combined and pour into the prepared bowl of the Itaki. Place over the prepared beef stew bowl and cover with foil.

For the JUMBO:

If you have an Itaki Jumbo and want a flan for dessert after this meal (like me and my son did!), you can use the second tier for it! Follow the Italicized instructions. Otherwise continue to the Steaming instructions below.

Flan in the Jumbo

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon water

1 egg

1 cup condensed milk

4 cups milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Place sugar and water in the medium Itaki bowl. Caramelize over low heat until you get a golden syrup, swirling constantly by holding the bowl with a stainless tong. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix egg and condensed milk until smooth and condensed milk is incorporated. Add milk, and vanilla, stir to combine. Strain into the bowl with caramel. Cover with foil and place on the second tier of the Itaki Jumbo.

Steaming:

Add 3 cups water to the Itaki base, clip on the top cover and turn it on. Let it steam until it shuts off by itself, around 1 hour 12 minutes.

Open the Itaki carefully, refrigerate the flan if you made one, stir the beef stew and adjust seasoning to taste. Remove the cornbread from the pan and cut into wedges, if desired.

The flan did turn out softer than my previous trials. It is a keeper for me. Chilled, it firmed up a little but still delicious. I will still try to make an all yolk flan soon.

Enjoy your meal!

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Electric Lunchbox #6: Sukiyaki

Ingredients for sukiyaki. I didn’t realize that the onion rolled away for the photo op!

Sukiyaki in the Itaki lunchbox is a sure winner! I made this using my mom’s recipe so I just scaled everything down to make 1-2 servings in the electric lunchbox.

Most ingredients are probably in your kitchen already save for maybe mirin and dashi, so grocery list is going to be short. I did have to Instacart the beef as they are super thinly sliced specially for sukiyaki if you by them from Asian grocery stores. If you are handy with a knife, you can partially freeze a chunk of beef and slice it very thinly (carefully).

We always serve this with Japanese rice so that is going on the top bowl to cook with my sukiyaki. Serving it with a raw egg is customary but I couldn’t find eggs the last time I went to the stores so I have to do without. The ones I still have in the fridge are doled out sparingly.

Try this and let me know how it went!

If you want to see the full recipe for the stove top version, here is the link to it: https://athomewiththeresa.com/2020/04/10/sukiyaki/

*Please note that the word “cup” in any of my electric lunchbox recipe refers to the little itaki cup included with the lunchbox. It holds 40ml.*

5-8 pcs thinly sliced sukiyaki (ribeye) beef

2 shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced

1/6 of a block of tofu, cut into cubes

1/4 – 1/3 cup shirataki noodles (I have used rice noodles and bean thread noodles before, just soak in water prior to using and add more water to the sukiyaki bowl as these are going to absorb some.)

2 leaves Chinese cabbage, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped onions

3/4 – 1 cup soy sauce (adjust to taste, I used 1 cup)

2 cups mushroom soaking liquid

1 cup mirin

1 tablespoon sugar

Pinch of dashi powder

2 cups rice, rinsed

2 cups water

2 cups water in the base

1 egg (optional)

Green onions, chopped, for serving

Arrange the beef, mushrooms, tofu, noodles, chinese cabbage, and onions in the big bottom bowl.

In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, mushroom soaking liquid, mirin, sugar and dashi powder. Stir until sugar dissolves. Pour mixture over ingredients in the big bowl.

In the small top bowl, place washed rice and water.

Place 2 cups water in the base of the electric lunchbox. Place the big bowl in then the small bowl on top. Cover and secure, then turn it on. Let it steam until it shuts off, about 40 minutes. (It shut down a little before 40 minutes).

Carefully open lunchbox and remove bowls. Sprinkle green onions over sukiyaki (and rice if desired). Crack the egg in the sukiyaki bowl, if using.

Enjoy!

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