Tag Archives: bread

Weekly Menus: 5/19/2013

Gentle Readers, with spring comes renewal: new foods, new ideas, new quests. And I need your help. First, the hunt for perfect fried chicken continues. If you know of spots in Savannah, GA, or Charleston, SC, let me know. They are targets for the research mission.

Duck fat tater tots with Dragon Sauce, Korean Pork Belly Slider, Sweet Potato Fries, Pork Belly Tacos: Four-Square Win

Duck fat tater tots with Dragon Sauce, Korean Pork Belly Slider, Sweet Potato Fries, Pork Belly Tacos: Four-Square Win

Next, if you consider yourself a dollar store guru, I need some guidance. I’ve challenged a fellow food blogger (aka @VeggieMacabre) to a Dollar Store Dinner cookoff. If you’re familiar with Mutually Assured Destruction, the political theory that guided much of our nuclear policy in the 80s and 90s, you have a good grasp for where the challenge is headed. The rules are still fuzzy, but the basics are you have to produce a meal from dollar store finds, with allowances for spices and butter/oil you already have.

Pork Belly and Kale Biscuit from Rise in Durham: This is not a drill, you need to eat this soon.

Pork Belly and Kale Biscuit from Rise in Durham: This is not a drill, you need to eat this soon.

Things got problematic when we added the “you have to eat what I cook clause.” Game on. I need the best of the best here. And by the best, I mean I’ll be cooking a 3-course meal laced with Vienna sausages. All guidance and thoughts on dollar store shopping appreciated.

Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Toffee Paired with Red Wine at the Newly Opened Bar Lusconi in Durham. I had a moment.

Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Toffee Paired with Red Wine at the Newly Opened Bar Lusconi in Durham. I had a moment.

Yes, I did eat all of the things photographed above yesterday. In unrelated news, I’m going for a run shortly. But I digress. Another travel week, another round of TPCs Junior leading the charge. Thus the weekly menus are:

Weekly Menus: 5/19/2013

Weekly Menus: 5/19/2013

The Four-Square Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 5/19/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 5/19/2013

Which all means:

Sunday: Rotisserie Chicken
Easy and efficient. We’ll eat what we want, make stock from the bones, and use the rest in the salad and chicken pie later in the week.

Monday: Salad + Leftovers
The perfect medium to clean out the fridge. A bit of chicken and some fruit, done.

Tuesday: Mexican
Leaving TPCs Jr to test a new taco kit. Let’s see what the critics have to say.

Wednesday: Lasagna
Nothing says “easy weeknight” like a lasagna. That your mom makes. When you’re not there. Thanks TPC’s Mom!

Thursday: Chicken Pie
Just need the pie crust, some chicken, more vegetables, a bit of stock. With the right veggies, it’s a light springtime meal.

Friday: Grilled Cheese and Soup
We are on a quest to actually FINISH a loaf of bread in a week. We did last week, but only with concerted effort. Even with daily lunches, a little goes a long way. More on that later when I reveal my Depression Era Hamburger Steak Recipe.

Saturday: Dine Out!
This will be TPCs Jr’s choice–they’ve  been going fairly exotic, so we shall see.

Remember, all fried chicken and dollar store wisdom wanted. Shoot me an email, post a comment, Tweet #DollarStoreDinner my way.

Send duck fat tots, questions, or fried chicken locations to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Wednesday: Eating Las Vegas

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Spinach Crostini: A Recipe of Sorts

Gentle Readers, the best vegetable is the one that is eaten without complaint. Though I’m very fortunate to be raising a couple of foodies who don’t run screaming from green things, crostini is a secret weapon in the war for nutrition and good taste.

Spinach Crostini: Sauteed spinach, goat cheese, toast.

Spinach Crostini: Sauteed spinach, goat cheese, toast.

Bread (toasted), cheese (goat, in this case), and garlicky sauteed spinach. Done. It’s an appetizer, it’s a vegetable, it’s a miracle. You can mix this up at will. I served these the other night, and we consumed an entire bag of baby spinach between the three of us. It was unbelievably delicious, and we all ate it not just without complaint, but with joy.

Try cream cheese and roasted red peppers, or sauteed broccolini with goat cheese. Change the bread from loaf to baguette. Use what’s at hand, stack it, and cut into manageable pieces.

Crostini with Broccolini

Crostini with Broccolini

This is the perfect lead-in to a pasta meal, or to soup. It stretches what’s being served, and it is so very easy. Spinach on bread, Popeye would be proud.

What’s your favorite green vegetable? Post a comment below! It is easy AND fun.

Send deep thoughts, kitchen confessions, and actual questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up on Friday: Bachi Burger, I Think I Love You.

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Fast Food at Home (Lunch and Dinner Edition)

Gentle Readers, sometimes life doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for food preparation. In my job, I have the good fortune of being able to work from wherever there’s wifi. My kitchen is the corporate kitchen most days of the week. However, before you submit your resumes to me to pass along, be prepared to eat lunch on camera and to prep it in 3 to 10 minutes.

Speedy Salad: Strawberries, rotisserie chicken, almonds, goat cheese, greens.

Speedy Salad: Strawberries, rotisserie chicken, almonds, goat cheese, greens.

Yes, that’s right, there were no zeros missing from the above statement. I attend a lot of conference calls. I’m committed to being present in the meeting, so I use my webcam. The meetings run 30 minutes to an hour, and they’re often back to back. Because I work West coast hours, that spans the traditional lunch time. So I know quite a bit about fast food.

Open-faced tomato sammie, or tapas!

Open-faced tomato sammie, or tapas!

Dinner is 30 minutes or less by necessity. So fast food in the commercial sense is not really an option for me. Talking about quick meals with a chef friend, I asked what he made for himself when he was tired and wanted something easy. His answer: a roasted chicken with roasted potatoes and turnips.

Free form Mexican Meal made with The Jrs. Squash, guacomole, beans and rice, chips.

Free form Mexican Meal made with The Jrs. Squash, guacomole, beans and rice, chips.

Um, yeah, that’s not something I can prepare when I’m exhausted and it’s late! He even excused it as “rustic.” My point here, you have to work within your skill level and expertise. I can’t whip out a souffle or bi bim bap, but I can rock some pancakes, a quesadilla, or some tapas.

Spinach quesadilla with avocado slices FTW!

Spinach quesadilla with avocado slices FTW!

The Practical Cook’s 5 Tips for Making Fast Food at Home

1. Shop smart. I’ve been over this before, but stocking your pantry with Punt! meals that you can make in your sleep is key. You can’t eat the leg of your desk. Things I’m never without currently: peanut butter, bananas, bread, tortillas, spinach, cheese, yogurt, walnuts. I can make salads, sandwiches, parfaits, and more in seconds with these.

2. Plan ahead. This is a laudable goal, and I admire greatly those who succeed at it. This week, I’m happy to remember to dress in the AM. From my friend Literacy Cook, boil eggs in advance! From Complicated Veggie, pack lunch the night before! Go team! This could also include leaving leftovers in a state of near-readiness (single serving bowls, lined up in the fridge, etc.).

3. Practice. You’ll never get faster if you don’t. It may be years before I consider roasting a chicken and root veggies fast food (Chef tips: turn the oven on immediately when you get home, high heat and spatchcock the bird), but the more often I am forced to perform this dance, the faster I get.

4. Recruit help. I am fortunate in that The Practical Cooks Junior make excellent sous chefs and wait staff. They can now set the table, read labels, open jars, pour water and milk, and so on. It slows things down a bit short-term, but think of the long-term rewards!

5. Remain open. This bit of advice is as open as it sounds. You know what makes things fast? Not binding yourself to the notion of meat and three. You need nutritious food, not to win Iron Chef. Yogurt parfaits are fantastic and infinitely variable, cereal can work in a pinch, leave the top off your sandwich and eat it as tapas, throw random leftovers into a bowl of lettuce and call it salad.

The Juniors and I have embraced summer with 6 arms this year. We set aside dinner formality to work together, play together, and eat together. I’m sure the structure of a new school year will return us to more traditional meals as well, but we’ve learned a lot about being creative in the kitchen. They’ve asked that I do a breakfast edition of this post, so look for that soon. What do you eat for fast food? Share your ideas below!

Send your speedy suggestions, good ideas, and mayhem to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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On Friday, A Little Vegetarian.

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What Not to Eat When You’re Feeling Green

Gentle Readers, this subject is not so gentle, and The Practical Cook will do her best to be mild in the language used regarding the enemy of food lovers (and people of all ages): the upset stomach. Having recently faced down this beast in the household (the stomach bug is running rampant right now), this topic is timely.

For authenticity purposes, let me also state, this is an area of unfortunate expertise for me, courtesy of my body’s reaction to pregnancy. So I can tell you what not to eat when you’re feeling green, and what you might want to try when an encore presentation is possible.

Let’s start with the “not to eat list”:

1. Granny Smith Apples. OMG, I literally almost died on this one. I remember thinking, so this is what happened to Joplin, Morrison, etc. . .

2. Dairy. Don’t do it. The medical peeps will tell you it can be an irritant, and I can tell you it is not good.

3. Pomegranates. Or anything that is used to dye clothing in nature. Trust me on this.

What to eat to calm the stomach:

1. Nuts. If you’re at the “am I hungry or feeling unwell” decision calculus stage, these are the perfect test balloon, assuming you’re not allergic.

A Few Cashews: Just what the doctor ordered

A Few Cashews: Just what the doctor ordered

2. Dry cereal. Don’t be tempted to add milk, and choose something basic, like Cheerios, Corn Flakes, etc. Chew very slowly.

The Practical Cook's Cereal Warehouse

The Practical Cook's Cereal Warehouse

3. Baked potato. Easy to microwave, add some salt but nothing else. Sometimes the warmth of the potato will help you feel better.

Thinly Sliced Russet Potatoes

Thinly Sliced Russet Potatoes

4. Popsicles. Cold works. You can freeze anything, just use ice cubes if you have nothing else.

Beautiful Blackberry-Lime Popsicles

Beautiful Blackberry-Lime Popsicles

5. Grapefruit. Okay, that’s probably just me, and best for morning sickness, not the flu. But I craved them, ice cold. And apparently, if you’ve been unwell for a while, something acidic is just your body replacing what has been lost. Point being, take all advice with a grain of salt (possibly literally), and trust your cravings.

The Grapefruit

The Grapefruit

Of course, rice, bananas, plain pasta, all wonderful choices, but if you’re the cook, I’m providing some options that you can try without expending much effort. Though many people swear by ginger ale and soda crackers, they are so guilty by association for me now that they make me feel ill on sight.

So pass the Lysol, take small sips of water, and I hope you all avoid whatever is going around!

What do you crave when you’re unwell? Post a comment, or Tweet!

Send tea and sympathy to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, we’ll move to corrective measures,  Homemade Chicken Soup Recipe.

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An Ode to Bread or Bite Me Atkins

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook is not usually so vigorous in her titling, but alas, she feels she must take a stand. You see, I am deeply Southern, and bread  on the table is a requirement. Especially if you’re feeding my father, or anyone of his generation. Recently, I found myself tapping those roots when challenged to serve a meal that not everyone wanted to eat. There is an answer.

Bread, it's what's for dinner Dr. Atkins.

Bread, it's what's for dinner Dr. Atkins.

It’s bread. I dare you to find a picky eater who won’t go for it in some form. I have the makings for cornbread on hand all the time (and I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, if you want THE resource for cornbread, for you or as a fabulous holiday gift, get The Cornbread Gospels [yes, I worked for the company in a past life, and swear by this cookbook]). Cornbread is great for bean-based meals, chili, stew, and anything vaguely Mexican.

Cornbread is the Southern staff of life.

Cornbread is the Southern staff of life.

When I want something soft and squishy, my current fave is the Whole Wheat Mom’s Dinner Roll from Whole Foods. These are perfect for sliders, lunch box variety, or anything else really. They just rock.

Buy this bread, and not just for the festive imagery.

Buy this bread, and not just for the festive imagery.

For those who swear by the Atkins diet, I will say that for me personally, bread is not an extreme weakness. I’m already a protein and veg fan. When I’m hungry and service is delayed however, I will eat my weight in the breadbasket and butter category. All that aside, serving bread with a meal can save you extreme headache if you’ve got kids, hungry people, or picky eaters (or triple threats).

Hot Bread Calling Out for Butter

Hot Bread Calling Out for Butter

Alternative bread ideas:

1. Sandwich bread: Toast it, add garlic to it, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, etc. Instant interesting.

Pimento Cheese and Toasted Bread

Pimento Cheese and Toasted Bread

2. Corn tortillas: These are filling, and you can make little tacos out of practically anything. Look for these coming soon in a dish I managed to save.

3. Crackers: This is a family tradition, though my tastes tend to run to the Trader Joe’s Rosemary Raisin over soda crackers. However, I’m sure you have some crackers in your house, put a bowl on the table and let the picky eaters stop complaining.

Tractor Cornbread, Just Because I Can

Tractor Cornbread, Just Because I Can

House rules stand, I don’t permit bread-only to avoid tasting what’s on the table. I often suggest putting the food on the bread and trying it that way. And if the meal is going to be challenging, I often serve with cut-up fruit and cheese, providing options. But it’s not called the staff of life for nothing. Bread works, and has for hundreds of years.

Cornbread with Molasses

Cornbread with Molasses

Do you serve bread with your meals? Post a comment or suggestion below (click through if you’re reading this as email). Or Tweet my way with #bread as your hashtag.

Cookie samples, deep thoughts, queries? Email me at practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, the last of the Ben and Jerry’s Taste tests for awhile (famous last words): Late Night Smackdown.

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One Ingredient, Three Ways: Maple Butter (with Video PLUS Kellie Pickler Tickets Giveaway!!)

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook settled in to her blogging chair, thinking a nice cup of tea and a simple blog post were in order. But life doesn’t always work out that way, sometimes an opportunity comes knocking. Back to the business of Lilly’s Gourmet Maple Butter. Here it is, One Ingredient, Three Ways:

Lilly's Gourmet Maple Butter: I Think I Love You

Lilly's Gourmet Maple Butter: I Think I Love You

1.Apples. As a taste-test, I put a small spoonful of Maple Butter out next to the old stand-by peanut butter. The Maple Butter, with its seductive sweetness, was gone in a hot minute. It’s like what a caramel apple wishes it was on a good day. Bonus, fairly low calorie spend for the amount you’ll need with your apple. My fave Honeycrisp was a maple match made in heaven.

Apple Snack Tray with Peanut Butter and Maple Butter

Apple Snack Tray with Peanut Butter and Maple Butter

2. Oatmeal. Stir Maple Butter into your oatmeal, add a few pecans or walnuts, a little milk, and bam, breakfast. The warmth of the oatmeal makes the smell and flavor bloom, and it’s amazingly inspiring as the mornings grow darker and colder.

Hot Bread with Maple Butter Glaze

Hot Bread with Maple Butter Glaze

3. Hot Bread. I turned the Brown-N-Serve Rolls (atypical for me to have them, from the failed Doughnut Experiment) into glistening lures to eat vegetables with a simple dollop of Maple Butter on the top. It doesn’t take much to do the job, and would be fantastic on practically any bread product. I’ll be working it with sliced apples on waffles soon.

Where does one obtain this magical elixir? Admittedly, I sourced it after a free sample at the N.C. State Fair. I told you to beware the samples, didn’t I? In this case, I wasn’t at all sorry, and went back for reinforcements. But you can order it online. Bonus, Lilly’s Gourmet Maple Butter has a great story, too, as told to me by Nancy Foss, the force behind Lilly’s:

Are you a maple fan? Post a comment below or Tweet at me with #maple as the hashtag.

Send queries, questions, and recipe suggestions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, it’s time again for Weekly Menus: Deep-Fried Detox Edition!

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