NOTE: This giveaway is now CLOSED. Thank you for your interest!
Yes, a GIVEAWAY! If you can't wait, you can scroll down to the bottom. But first I want to tell you about my posole. ^_^
Remember the posole bento I made almost exactly a month ago? It was my first time making this spicy Mexican chili-based pork and hominy soup at home, although I've enjoyed it in restaurants for years. This bento marks my second attempt, this time using real homemade red chile sauce from scratch! I used New Mexico chiles, as per Homesick Texan's recipe here. It came out quite tasty! I adapted the recipe a bit.
1 - 29 oz. can of hominy, drained
1 pound of pork shoulder, cubed (I used pork tenderloin, but pork shoulder is better)
1 medium onion, diced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano (can substitute regular oregano)
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
9 New Mexico chiles, stems and seeds removed
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime
One avocado sliced
One lime cut into wedges
1 cup of cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup of diced onion
In a large pot, cook the onion in olive oil for 10 minutes. Add the pork and brown on each side for a couple of minutes. Throw in the garlic and cook for one more minute.
Pour the broth into the pot and add the oregano, cumin, ground cloves and ancho-chile powder. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a low simmer.
Meanwhile, take your New Mexican chiles and cook on high in a dry cast-iron skillet until they pop, a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat, add water to the skillet and let the chiles soak until hydrated, about half an hour.
Drain the chile-soaking liquid, and place the chiles in a blender. Add one cup of water and blend on high until a smooth puree has formed. Stir the chile puree into the soup pot.
After a couple of hours, add the hominy to the pot along with the juice of one lime and the chopped cilantro. At this point, adjust your spices and add salt to the pot. Continue to cook on low for a couple more hours.
Pour into bowls and serve with shredded cabbage, diced onions, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, and avocado slices.
LunchBots Thermal Food Jar, which they were gracious enough to allow me to try out and review. I was so excited, because in the cold months I use a thermal food jar several times a week. I'm always on the lookout for a better one. I sent this one along with a side box of shredded cabbage and cilantro, and some decorative carrots for her to add to the hot soup at lunchtime. There are also some blackberries and a juicy strawberry.
So what did I think of this jar? I've actually used it several times already, and you'll see those bento during the rest of the week -- so I've had some time to think about the merits and shortcomings of this jar.
- At 16 oz, it's larger than the Thermos brand Hello Kitty thermal jar and similar jars available for the kid set. This is nice because there are times when my nearly kindergarten-age girl could eat a little more than the 9 oz of the Thermos.
- Even though it's quite a bit bigger, it's not much heavier. I also have the Stanley 17 oz jar, which I use for my 3rd-grade boy, and that one would be too heavy for her to handle.
- All surfaces which come into contact with food are stainless steel, including the inside of the lid. This is a nice feature for those who are concerned with heat effects of plastic in contact with food. I have not seen this feature on any other thermal food jars.
- The wide mouth opening makes it easy for her to eat from, similar to a bowl.
- The stickers on the jar and lid make it easy to know how tight to screw on the lid so that the vacuum seal won't be too great to open it again.
- The wider screw top lid, while convenient to eat from, may be unwieldy for a smaller child with a smaller grip. My 3rd-grader could manage it with no problem but my preschooler needed help opening it. Of course, a teacher should always be nearby to help with this.
- I've found greater heat loss through this jar than from the Stanley jar, but may be similar to what I see with the Thermos brand jars. I didn't do a side-by-side comparison, but I measured the temperature of boiled water packed into the jar after several hours on the counter. After 4 hours, which is about the longest that my daughter waits before eating her lunch, the temperature was not piping hot. This is not necessarily a problem: she reported to me that the food was still warm and delicious.
In conclusion, I think this thermal jar is worth purchasing, if you are in the market for a versatile jar useful for either a child or adult. As I mentioned, it is unique in its shape and capacity, and those in themselves are good reasons to invest. It does a good job of keeping your soup or stew warm, and with no leakage through the gasket seal. Big enough for a healthy appetite but lightweight enough for a smaller child to handle, you could use this jar for kids (or adults) of any age. But even better than purchasing this jar would be winning it in a giveaway! That's right - the kind folks at LunchBots were generous enough to provide a LunchBot of your choice to one of my readers. All I'd like you to do is tell me which LunchBot you'd prefer, and what you'd pack in yours. If you haven't noticed, I own quite a few of them (Uno, Duo, Trio and now Thermal Jar), so I'd be interested in hearing your suggestions! And tune in tomorrow because I've got a review of another cool LunchBot product coming up!
To Enter the LunchBots Giveaway:
Please comment with your name and email address, telling me which LunchBot you'd choose AND what you'd pack inside.
The winner can pick any one LunchBot food container or insulated container of their choice.
US and Canada residents only, please.
Contest entries must be received before Friday March 16th, 2012, 5pm Pacific.
Oh, and if that isn't enough, use the coupon code HAPPYBENTO for 10% off and free shipping at LunchBots.com all week! Woo!
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