Parade.com: A Happy Lunch to Go in a Mason Jar

"Mason Jar Salads" by Julia Mirabella

The minister of my church once asked all the lawyers present to stand up. Nobody stood. “They’re all working. I should know, because I know the lawyers who are members of this church,” the minister reasoned. As an attorney, Julia Mirabella finds time to write a food blog at MyFoodandOtherStuff.com between long hours at the office analyzing data on computer screens and reading mile-high stacks of documents and forms.

While wisely managing time, Mirabella discovered the art of fine dining in a mason jar. To save time and money during the weekdays, she would concurrently pack several lunches in jars during the weekend. Once she mastered the technique of layering ingredients (such as placing vinaigrette at the bottom of the jars to avoid soggy salad leaves), she wrote a cookbook, Mason Jar Salads.

Read more

Parade Magazine: Watermelon and Shrimp Salad with Vanilla Balsamic Vinaigrette

Watermelon and Shrimp Salad with Vanilla Balsamic Vinaigrette

As we’re at the height of Summer’s juicy bounty, we’re also a few weeks away from the start of a crisp autumn. Continue to savor the taste of summer in a leafy salad tossed with juicy cubes of watermelon, sweet shrimp, and creamy feta cheese with a few crunchy pistachios and celery pieces. While you’re at it, drizzle a lovely Vanilla Balsamic Vinaigrette to bring out summer’s juicy flavors, because autumn is still weeks away.  Read more

Star Anise and Orange Duck Salad: A Harmonious Lunch Bowl

Star Anise Quinoa with Oranges and Smoked Duck Salad

As a graphic designer, I want my ‘brown bag’ lunch to taste and look visually delicious. Otherwise, I’m likely to toss it in the garbage and pay for a fresher option from a restaurant. Such actions eventually add up to plenty of regret and an empty wallet. Learning to pack lunches take time and practice. When lunch containers reveal a salad of crispy lettuce and colorful, layered ingredients or a fragrant soup waiting to be heated in the microwave, my wallet stays full.

The initial inspiration for packing lunches come from bento boxes with separate containers or compartments. The separate containers help maintain the freshness of the meal (good for hot and cold recipes). Another bento-style lunch is creating a meal in one bowl, in which the ingredients harmoniously enhance each other. Read more

Tarragon and Pink Peppercorn Chicken Salad

Tarragon & Pink Peppercorn Chicken Salad

It started with an email from JCPenny a few months ago. The PR representative explained they’re changing their brand, and she wanted to give me a $200 gift certificate to spend. It was promptly delivered, and it wasn’t used until recently for the purchase of new bed linens for our new super pillow top comfortable mattress set.

Up until JCPenny contacted me with their much needed gift, my life was a hurricane of stress, sleeplessness nights, and regrets. Then, my life instantaneously started to change. Suddenly, I had a freelance job. As the job gradually started cutting hours, my sudden luck made sure I made a smooth transition into a full-time position as a Graphic Designer with a large Brooklyn non-profit organization. With this new 9 to 5 schedule, the gift certificate remained untouched on my desk until we could determine how to maximize its benefits. Read more

The Ultimate Hoagie Sandwich

My Pre-Kindergarten days have a dark side. It starts with a single file line walk towards the cafeteria. We were place in pre-assigned small chairs at low-rising tables to anxiously wait for lunch to arrive. I prayed for my favorite lunch, for there was a rule: No recess until plates are clean. My prayers were answered on some days. On other days, my classmates and I were served a baloney and mustard sandwich, and I wasn’t blessed with recess. It was also the moment, where my teacher and I lock eyes. Read more