I am currently enjoying “Under the Tuscan Sun,” the novel, not the movie, and am completely enamored with Frances Mayes’ description of the beauty that surrounds her home of Bramasole in Tuscany. The thought of being able to walk out onto my land and harvest figs, olives, apricots, herbs, and berries seems all so magical to me. I want magic in my life too. Bramasole, to yearn for the sun. I yearn for the sun, I yearn for that Holiday feeling in my every day life, I yearn for simplicity, I yearn for touches of beauty. What do you yearn? But what I yearn is already here right before my eyes, it has been going on for a while now. For almost a year I have been creating Mason Jar Meals for my family, these meals are magical.
They come down to two things: Simplicity and Design. Jars of pre-roasted onions and peppers, chicken, and steak becomes a flash-in-the-pan Fajita Fiesta on a busy week night when I barely have time to breathe, let alone cook. Jars of homemade Marinara Sauce become useful for a fast pizza night or pasta night. Some of my meals are baked up right in the jar. I enjoy the Simplicity these little jarred meals have added to my life. I must say that these glassy little meals are also aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I mean, we do eat first with our eyes. Right? Design. The layered salads, Peanut Butter Pies, and Mini Quesadillas are just a few ways I have sent my family out the door with beautifully designed meals to bless their soul as well as fill their bellies.
For today’s Mason Jar “Small Plates” type meal, layer in a quart-sized Mason Jar- Roasted Grapes (inspired from Plums in the Ice Box via Chowstalker) and Red Pearl Onions first; then Roasted Shrimp; topped by a layer of Hard-Cooked Eggs; and here is the icing on the cake, a cupcake paper liner filled with Raw Almonds with a large strawberry and a nice teeny tiny piece of dark chocolate, Divine Chocolate to be exact. Add a cloth napkin, a small cedar plank for a reusable plate, a jar of Cucumber Mint Sparking Water, and ta-da, you have added nourishing beauty to your day. “Small Plates” is my most favorite way to eat. Little bits of this and that, all so healthy and flavorful.
I like to think of myself as an artist. My medium? The Mason Jar.
Roasted Grapes, Red Pearl Onions, Shrimp, and Eggs
few clusters of green seedless grapes
one heaping cup red pearl onions- root ends cut off
2 raw eggs
4 extra large shrimp
finely ground sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a strainer place grapes, onions, eggs, and shrimp, and give them a nice rinse, draining well. In a small baking dish, I used and 11×7 inch glass dish, place the rinsed items being sure to place the eggs in foil or silicon cupcake cups liners. Drizzle all but the eggs with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes but removing the shrimp after 6-12 minutes- if you are using fresh shrimp check it at the 6 minute mark, it will be done when pink and curling into a “c” shape. Mine were frozen so was perfectly done at 12 minutes. Finish baking the rest of the items so that they have been in the oven for a total of 25 minutes. I had only cooked mine for 20 minutes total and the egg could have used 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and place eggs in an ice bath to stop cooking. Once cooled, peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Makes enough for 2 snack jars on the go. Don’t forget the strawberry, almonds and chocolate!
Note on Storing: Place each food on a paper or foil (foil may be best in this case due to the olive oil) cupcake liner and layer in a jar for immediate travel. Or place each in their own jars and layer just before leaving the house- we wouldn’t want flavors to mix by storing them already layered in the jar. I store my jars of food up to 3 days, if I am at the three day mark, and if the food is freezable, it goes in the freezer. I believe the grapes, onions, would freeze fine. The shrimp would get fishy, and the eggs would be terrible.
Note: To eat the pearl onions, pinch the stem end, bite down on the onion, root end in your mouth, and the onion will pop right out, into your mouth. Pish posh, who needs peeling- it’s finger food!
Using 2 (12 ounce) tall mason jars, place a sprig of mint and 2 slices of cucumber in each jar. Fill completely with crushed ice and then fill to the very top with sparkling water. Lid and carry with you for a refreshing beverage on the go. Makes 2 jars.
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