Podcast Picks

Podcast Pick: The Happiness Lab

“Happiness” is a loaded word for me. It feels hard to define, and out of reach, so I tend to think in terms of “better.” A new podcast with Dr. Laurie Santos makes this messy topic clearer in ways that might feel familiar to Box Lunch Lifers:

  • Episode 1: You Can Change
    Acting just a little bit differently in the world pays off, and just smiling more often can lift a person’s mood. When we build a better lunch instead of just grinding through another day, means not having to remind ourselves to smile.

  • Episode 2: The Unhappy Millionaire
    When people think they’re dream has come true, it’s usually what we call a Loud Dream, like the money or fame that other people see. Those things matter, but they don’t often make us as happy (or happy for as long) as we think they will. Feeling satisfied at the end of the day happens when we feed our Quiet Dreams.

  • Episode 3: A Silver Lining
    Focus on the process, not the outcome. Enjoy the doing of it. Enough said.

If you love the podcast, more episodes are on the way. You could also join the 433,247 people already enrolled in Dr. Santos’ free online class. Will you let me know if you sign up? That would make me happy.

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Podcast Pick: Weeknight Kitchen

 
 

I cook, but I don’t consider myself a Cook. I need practical, simple, with-ingredients-I-understand recipes, and that’s what I expect from Melissa Clark’s new podcast. Here’s why I think Box Lunch Lifers may want to check it out:

  • For most of us, new recipes don’t get made unless they’re totally practical. In this episode, MC didn’t once mention an ingredient that I didn’t recognize, know where to buy, or that I’d use only once then throw most of it in the trash someday.

  • Podcasts mean learning without more screen time. You can listen while doing something in the actual world, like playing with your dog or walking to…anywhere.

  • This show’s short. You could just about fit it into a lunch break. Better yet, spend 15 minutes making a grocery list and deciding when you’ll cook. Like Chris Guillebeau says, “Inspiration is good, but inspiration with action is so much better.”

MC calls her Episode 1 recipe “the crispy-lover’s version of a one pot meal.” I LOVE CRISPY. I’m definitely making it, and hope you’ll let me know if it ends up in your lunch box sometime soon.


HARISSA CHICKEN WITH LEEKS, POTATOES AND YOGURT
by Melissa Clark

Serves 3
Time = 1 hour + 30 minutes marinating total

One of my all-time favorites, this sheet-pan supper has it all—spicy harissa-laced roasted chicken; sweet, browned leeks; crunchy potatoes; plus a cool garnish of salted yogurt and plenty of fresh bright herbs. It’s a little lighter than your average roasted chicken and potatoes dinner, and a lot more profoundly flavored.

The key here (and with all sheet-pan suppers) is to make sure the ingredients can all cook together on the same pan. This means cutting sturdy, denser things into smaller chunks that will cook at the same rate (chicken, potatoes), and adding the more delicate ingredients (here, the leeks) toward the end so they don’t burn. Another important note: don’t overpopulate the pan. You need to leave space between things so ingredients can brown and crisp rather than steam. If you want to double the recipe to feed six, you can, as long as you spread everything out in two pans rather than crowding them in one.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks

  • 1 1/4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 × 1/2-inch chunks

  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons harissa

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise, rinsed, and thinly sliced into half-moons

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt, preferably whole-milk (if using Greek, thin it down with a little milk to make it drizzle-able)

  • 1 small garlic clove

  • 1 cup mixed soft fresh herbs such as dill, parsley, mint, and/or cilantro leaves

  • Fresh lemon juice, as needed

Directions

1. Combine the chicken and potatoes in a large bowl. Season them with 2 1/2 teaspoons of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together the harissa, cumin, and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Pour this mixture over the chicken and potatoes, and toss to combine. Let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the leeks, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil.

3. Heat the oven to 425°F.

4. Arrange the chicken and potatoes in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet, and roast for 20 minutes. Then toss the potatoes lightly, and scatter the leeks over the baking sheet. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and everything is golden and slightly crisped, 20 to 25 minutes longer.

5. While the chicken cooks, place the yogurt in a small bowl. Grate the garlic clove over the yogurt, and season with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

6. Spoon the yogurt over the chicken and vegetables in the baking sheet (or you can transfer everything to a platter if you want to be fancy about it). Scatter the herbs over the yogurt, drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice over the top, and serve.

Podcast Pick: Side Hustle School

 
It’s true. I’ve heard every single episode.

It’s true. I’ve heard every single episode.

 

As some of you already know, I’m a big Chris Guillebeau fan. Some of the principles CG advocates in his daily Side Hustle School podcast align beautifully with Box Lunch Lifestyle:

  • You don’t have to do “work” (or lunch) the way other people do. You can make your own rules for the life you truly want.

  • Dramatic changes may not be your thing—today, or ever. But you don’t have to quit your job or completely overhaul your lifestyle to get a taste of something more personally satisfying.

  • CG often says, “Inspiration is good, but inspiration with action is so much better.” Don’t just think about your good idea. In just 15 minutes during today’s lunch break, you can start making it real.

If you’ve been percolating on a side hustle idea, let CG’s stories inspire you to actually do something about it. If you don’t have an idea yet, they’ll remind you that a whole world opportunities is waiting.