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The Cookstr Weekly: Back to School – Brown Bags & Bento Boxes

August 19, 2011

Welcome to The Cookstr cookstr logoWeekly!

This newsletter is filled with a variety of editorial features and links to Cookstr’s expert recipes by chefs and cookbook authors. You can access an archive of Cookstr newsletters here, and check out more featured recipes on our homepage.

As always, Cookstr recipes are tested, trusted, and handpicked by Cookstr’s editors from published cookbooks to help you on your culinary journey. To get you started, here are a selection of recipes on Cookstr by the chefs and cookbooks authors that made them famous.

Cook in good company.


Deluxe Peanut Butter Sandwiches by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner


As back-to-school season hits, parents and children across the country are gearing up for autumn with smartphones rather than sharpened pencils and tablets instead of textbooks. Packed lunches, unlike technology, endure through the ages, although the recipes you’ll find here are a far cry from a crustless PB&J or tuna salad sandwich tucked into a paper bag. Even if you don’t share your home with someone of the K-12 persuasion, these healthy lunches serve just as well for grown-ups – as in the bento boxes of Japan, detailed below. Whether you pack a thermos of chili, an inventive sandwich, or a tupperware of salad worth looking forward to all morning, making lunch at home not only provides an ideal mode of using leftovers, it’s a savvy way to conserve finances and stick to dietary goals. This recipe for Deluxe Peanut Butter Sandwiches, with orange marmalade and banana, strikes the perfect lunchbox balance between portable, kid-friendly, nutrition-conscious and wholly enjoyable. 

More Lunchbox Recipes from Cookstr 


Sesame Chicken Salad by Michele Urvater


Fresh Linguine with Heirloom Tomatoes, Ricotta Salata, and Basil Pesto by Alfred Portale


Texas Cowboy Soup by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds


Spiced Carrot Bran Muffins by Esther Brody


Red Pepper and Onion Frittata by Julia Della Croce


Happy Trails Mix by Jennifer Carden


Kingston Meat Patties by Eric V. Copage

What is Bento?

Bento is a single-portion meal common in Japanese cuisine, constructed either at home or in restaurants in a box-like container, with several compartments housing different elements of the meal. The word “bento” comes from a Chinese slang term meaning “convenient,” with similar styles of boxed lunches existing in the Philippines, Korea, Taiwan, and India as well. While the form has roots that can be traced back through many centuries, the bento box as we know it today experienced a surge in popularity within the U.S. in recent years as a way to make packed lunches for work and school more interesting, varied and nutritious. Bento boxes allow a single lunch to contain several vegetables, a grain like rice or noodles, and a protein. While some enthusiasts spend time constructing complex bentos and collecting decorative elements and boxes to explore bento as an art form, everyone can take inspiration from the convenient design of bento in packing lunches this fall. Try Deborah Madison’s recipe for Chilled Soba with Soft Tofu and Soy-Sesame Sauce, flavoring whole-grain buckwheat soba noodles and tofu with ingredients that draw upon Japanese cuisine.

August is National Goat Cheese Month!

ice cream cones There’s still time left to celebrate creamy goat cheese, or chèvre, which is available in varieties from subtle and spreadable goat’s milk Brie to a lush Italian Caprino or crumbly aged French wheel. High in protein, calcium, vitamins B2 and A, and several more minerals and antioxidants, goat cheese delivers quite the nutritional punch – not to mention its fresh, tangy flavor. Try some chèvre in this Spinach, Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Panini recipe by Tiffany Collins, which sandwiches leafy greens and tomatoes with three types of cheese between slices of sourdough brushed with olive oil.
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