Tag Archives: breakfast

Rice, It’s What’s for Breakfast

Gentle Readers, being Southern, as I am, there are few versions of chicken and rice that I haven’t tried. Yet, no matter how much of a fan of leftovers I am (cold fried chicken, cold pizza, cold Mexican, yes please), I rarely considered rice for breakfast.

As a regular business traveler to the West Coast, I have certainly seen the pot of congee gurgling along right beside the oatmeal, but I passed it by.

For various reasons, mainly that the Moscone Conference center has been undergoing major renovations, business life has kept me from downtown San Francisco, home to a little tea house called Samovar. I eat two things there: the yogurt with dates and apples and mint, and the jook with smoked duck. (I have been known to devour the grilled cheese with pesto when wisely special ordered by a friend, but let’s not let fact checking disrupt my flow here.)

Shame on me for not investigating further and realizing this before last month, but jook and congee are really close relatives. So when I started to crave jook, I googled and learned the new love of my kitchen life, my Instant Pot, could deliver.

Shout out to Sweet Comfort Kitchen, the Instant Pot Chicken Jook recipe I based my trial run upon. I used all water instead of broth. Chicken quarters are cheapest, and since I’m picky about my bird (I can legitimately taste the difference between commercial and organic chicken, snarky Perdue commercials notwithstanding), I bought those and cut them into two pieces with my trusty poultry shears.

(Sidenote, if you don’t own a pair of actual hardcore kitchen scissors, run don’t walk. To get them that is. After that, walk, because, well, scissors.)

Now just follow the recipe in the link above and you’ll get this:

IMG_8840.jpg

Don’t be afraid to add more water to adjust to your preferred texture. And if you’re new to this like me, and have texture issues, like me, don’t skip the green onions and chopped peanuts or cashews. The soy sauce and toasted sesame oil shown here are key to punching the flavor. And when pollen slapped me in the face, I added red chili flakes to punch back.

At its core, this is very simple chicken and rice with ginger, amended at the table to your specific taste. The recipe makes a lot. Everyone ate it and I froze a couple for delayed gratification. The chicken was hearty and filling as well, and it reminded me a lot of Chicken and Dumplings with 1/10th of the work involved.

Not quite the refined smoked duck version of Samovar, but a great and simple technique to diversify breakfast, or really any meal. Savory rice, like so many other folks eat around the world, also lasts longer than my beloved commercial cereals, though it pains me to admit that.

What’s on your breakfast table? Tweet my way @practicalcook!

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Adaptable Pumpkin Pancake Recipe (Halloween Is Everyday)

Gentle Readers, seasonal eating is great, but rulebreaking also tastes delicious. Why store food or have pantry-safe items if not to violate the rules of the season? Enter Pumpkin Pancakes. Having developed a serious taste for the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake mix, and lacking any spare boxes, it was time to take action.

Adaptable Pumpkin Pancakes with a side of bacon and walnuts. Winning!

Adaptable Pumpkin Pancakes with a side of bacon and walnuts. Winning!

For those out there who are Halloween fanatics, rolling in pumpkin lattes and beers, this post is for you. Usually, I would tell you to avert your eyes, because I will not touch either of those beverages. Pumpkin, in my humble opinion, belongs in pies, custards, and pancakes. Especially pancakes.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix is both festive and mildly generic looking.

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix is both festive and mildly generic looking.

I don’t drink pumpkin, as delightful as Harry Potter makes it seem. Maybe I’m Vitamin A deficient this week, but wow, these rocked. I ate the leftovers cold.

Adaptable Pumpkin Pancake Recipe

For the sake of testing, I used Trader Joe’s Pancake and Waffle Mix. Any pancake mix should work, or make your own and adapt from there.

Use the pumpkin puree, get orange pancakes!

Use the pumpkin puree, get orange pancakes!

To pumpkinize, make 12- 14 pancakes according to recipe (using about 2 cups of the pancake mix), adding 1/2 can pumpkin puree (NOT PUMPKIN PIE FILLING, the plain stuff), 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (assuming  a plain mix), and 2 Tablespoons sugar (I used vanilla sugar, because I can). You can omit oil in the recipe if you’d like, but I added a smidge for texture.

Vanilla Bean Buried in a Jar of Sugar, Voila, Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla Bean Buried in a Jar of Sugar, Voila, Vanilla Sugar

For those of you that insist on chocolate chips, you can add a handful of those too. I do not care for them in my pancakes.

The pumpkin pancake batter will be thick--you can thin with a bit of extra milk as desired.

The pumpkin pancake batter will be thick–you can thin with a bit of extra milk as desired.

We served with toasted walnuts and maple syrup, side of bacon. They were spicy (not overly, even with that much seasoning, but if your pumpkin pie spice is fresh, back it off a bit and smell the batter first), warm, and wonderfully orange. They aren’t as crispy as some pancakes, but they were fluffy and filling.

Beware, these pancakes are addictive, reasonably nutritious, and available year-round. What’s your favorite pancake adaptation?

Send your pumpkins, questions, and food challenges 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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For the Love of Doughnuts

Gentle readers, into every virtuous eating life some doughnuts must fall. Be they called beignets or fried dough, they are simply delicious. Life has delivered a few of these wonderful treats lately, and here’s an ode to them.

The Hot Now Sign, a Siren Song for Me

The Hot Now Sign, a Siren Song for Me

1. Cake style. Still thinking about the doughnut in New York, which I ate too fast to photograph. That is in fact the sign of a great doughnut. Much like Hot Now from Krispy Kreme. My heart is with the double K, but an artisan cake doughnut is a thing of beauty.

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry: Because I could not stop long enough to photograph the actual doughnut.

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry: Because I could not stop long enough to photograph the actual doughnut.

2. Beignets. Procured at Bouchon in The Venetian in Las Vegas. These were tasty, and I attacked them like a wild dog. It is very difficult to get granulated sugar back off of your phone, by the way. Spread with a touch of jam (we passed on the chocolate sauce for breakfast), these were a delight. I desperately wanted chicory coffee though.

Beignets from Bouchon with Chocolate and Jam

Beignets from Bouchon with Chocolate and Jam

3. Fusion with dipping sauces. These doughnuts were more of a sauce vector. There were three, vanilla, caramel, and chocolate. The vanilla was nice, a bit sharper than sweet. The doughnuts were bite-sized and perfect for after a meal. (I realized I failed to take a picture of these as well, notice a trend? So here are some oversized biscuits instead, doughnuts cousins.)

Biscuits from Hash House a Go Go.

Biscuits from Hash House a Go Go.

In conclusion, though I have no need to take up another hobby, I bet I’ll be working on making apple cider doughnuts soon. They are my weakness, and I would like to see how hard they are to do from scratch. Are you a doughnut fan? Post your favorite in the comments section!

Send your dipping sauces, extra napkins, and coffee 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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Cereal Review: Weetabix Is Not Just for Vampires

Gentle Readers, in case you were not aware, Team Practical Cook, as a unit, loves cereal. We are committed to trying all of it. Yes, all of it, one box at a time. Okay, many boxes at once. In this quest, we get a new cereal almost every week.

Weetabix Takes the Stage for Cereal Quest!

Weetabix Takes the Stage for Cereal Quest!

Feel free to join the quest, submit suggestions as we go. We’ll highlight some favorites, and acknowledge the lows as well. As a long-time Buffy fan, I can’t believe I had never tried Weetabix before. (Bonus points for my fellow Whedon-ites who can name that scene that references Weetabix’s textural properties.)

The Practical Cook's Cereal Warehouse

The Practical Cook’s Cereal Warehouse

I digress. It’s a cereal, it’s a biscuit, it’s relatively healthy, woohoo! Except, it dissolves into mush. The Practical Cooks Junior, ever adventurous, took the challenge, and both dismayed over the texture in milk. Warned by them, I added way less milk and ate fast. The flavor is not bad at all. The Eldest Practical Cook wisely ate her second biscuit dry.

Cute little Weetabix biscuits.

Cute little Weetabix biscuits.

But I’m left wondering–how is this cereal traditionally eaten? Is mush part of the appeal? I really like the simplicity of the cereal, and will probably convince TPCs Junior to consume the rest sans moo, but it was unappetizing in milk in a matter of seconds.

So send in your Weetabix ideas, I’ll keep trying. Post a comment below, or Tweet #cerealquest at me! And it’s Reader Question time on Friday. Submit yours today!!

Send your garlic, actual questions, and good ideas 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, Questions from you the Gentle Readers!

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The Most Delicious Blueberry Muffin Ever: An Ode

Gentle Readers, last week was an overwhelming display of deliciousness. Team Practical Cook took the show on the road to New York, and we ate for all we were worth. One of the more challenging meals on the road is breakfast. Do you want to spend all morning eating questionable eggs from a buffet? No.

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes from Veselka

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes from Veselka

We tried a variety of New York breakfast approaches, and we augmented with dry cereal in the room as a breakfast appetizer. Here’s our journey.

Photobombed by the statue at the edge of Central Park!

Photobombed by the statue at the edge of Central Park!

Day 1: Veselka
Home of my very favorite blueberry buckwheat pancakes. Plus pierogi!

Potato Pierogi from Veselka

Potato Pierogi from Veselka

We essentially brunched here. I have fond memories of Veselka breakfasts from my misspent youth, and who knew, they cater to kids too. These pancakes rocked, as did the corned beef hash. Simple comfort food done right, plus wiki sticks for the win.

Corned beef hash with eggs over medium, side of kasha from Veselka

Corned beef hash with eggs over medium, side of kasha from Veselka

Day 2: Cart Outside Central Park
Egg and Cheese on a Roll, Bagels with Cream Cheese

The Jrs' First New York Bagel

The Jrs’ First New York Bagel

The experience was great (the Jrs actually paid both times, very exciting), the food was average. When asked if I wanted salt and pepper on my egg and cheese I said yes, and apparently no one had affirmed in some time so great was the enthusiastic application. A good bit of the bagel went to the pigeons as well.

City pigeons meet bird lover and bagel fan.

City pigeons meet bird lover and bagel fan.

Day 3: Bouchon
The Most Delicious Blueberry Muffin Ever (plus a Savory Scone, Ham and Cheese Croissant, and Broccoli Quiche)

The Most Delicious Blueberry Muffin Ever from Bouchon

The Most Delicious Blueberry Muffin Ever from Bouchon

This happened by accident in Rockefeller Plaza, as the original destination simply never opened the doors. I am not sorry. I didn’t think it was possible to make a blueberry muffin that good, it was magic and sunshine. The savory scone featured bacon, cheddar, and herbs, and the warm dishes were nice too. A huge hit with everyone.

Savory Scone from Bouchon

Savory Scone from Bouchon

Day 4: The Takeaway Shop Next Door
Bacon, Egg, and Cheese on a Roll, Bagel with Cream Cheese, Fruit, Milk

New York breakfast, takeaway shop.

New York breakfast, takeaway shop.

Finally we tried to health it up a little bit. After much excitement in passing this place every day on the way to and from the hotel, the end result was less thrilling. My bagel was good, the Jrs are not sold on rolls versus biscuits. The fruit and milk were consumed though, and the idea that you could just grab and go was inspiring.

The Jrs take on the Big City!

The Jrs take on the Big City!

In the end, I realized why I lean on Starbucks so often when I travel: predictable oatmeal and pumpkin bread. Add a latte to it and call it a meal. I couldn’t do that in NYC, seemed wrong. But we were never close to the greatest bagel or the dive-iest diner at the right time. I look forward to hearing your breakfast recommendations in NYC and beyond!  Post a comment, send a Tweet, share your strategy!

Send your sky miles, cooking challenges, and utter nonsense 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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Coming up Friday: The Watermelon Semifreddo Recipe!! (For the summer win!)

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Bacon Brackets: First Round, Supermarket Style

Gentle Readers, the people have spoken. Here is the Round 1, Bacon Brackets: Supermarket Style. Remember, the goal is for you to play along at home, so feel free to test these fine bacons yourself. Some themes have been emerging.

I love bacon this much. And coffee isn't half bad either.

I love bacon this much. And coffee isn't half bad either.

Bacon Trends:

1. Keep it thin. I’ve seen several posts condemning floppy bacon, though thick-cut is marketed left and right as being gourmet (possibly pronounced with a hard “t”). Thick has been equated with “chewy” and generally unpleasant. Who knew?

When in doubt: bacon is the answer.

When in doubt: bacon is the answer.

2. Crispy rules, briquette does not. See above.

A BLT, recently ordered and consumed with glee by The Practical Cooks Junior

A BLT, recently ordered and consumed with glee by The Practical Cooks Junior

3. People like bacon. A given, but bears repeating.

So how do you cook the bacon? Though Cook’s Illustrated promotes the oven-baked method, which I’ve used, I have never been completely satisfied with the crispiness of the results. They advocate 400 degree oven, rotate, I think 20 minutes total. For me it worked okay, but caused a lot of smoke and heartache.

Bacon on a Baking Sheet

Bacon on a Baking Sheet

I like the skillet method, working in batches, draining the grease for disposal (can headed for the recycling bin) or use (glass jar). My friend, FoodEngineer, advocates cooking bacon in your cast iron skillet on the grill. Why? Because you can re-season your skillet and avoid a mess, all at once. If you’ve never cooked in your cast iron on the grill, you should try it. It’s fun and functional.

Enough with the pre-game commentary, the Supermarket Bacon Bracket is as follows:

Supermarket Bacon Brackets: Round 1

Supermarket Bacon Brackets: Round 1

If you can’t read that, it’s Oscar Mayer Uncured, Hormel Black Label, Wright Hickory Smoked, and Smithfield Hickory Smoked. Thanks to all who submitted favorites, and there’s still a little time to submit for the other categories, listed here, so get on it.

Ideas, compliments, 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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Top 3 Reasons to Eat Breakfast

Gentle Readers, as long-time readers and close friends know, The Practical Cook is at war with her cholesterol (see For the Love of Grapefruit for the whole scoop). I am happy to say I am still winning this battle of the ages. It is possible to eat Fried and love it, and still maintain one’s health. There is a secret, do lean in and I’ll tell you. I eat.

Recovery Cereal

Recovery Cereal

Yes, I am not a meal skipper. As my London traveling companion will tell you, there is a reason for this. I get a smidge touchy when I don’t eat. In my experience, skipping meals always backfires. I mention the cholesterol because I had to fast for the test. The second I knew I couldn’t eat, I was starving.

Neal's Deli Biscuit with Egg, Swiss Cheese, and Garlicky Spinach: It's a Health Food Really

Neal's Deli Biscuit with Egg, Swiss Cheese, and Garlicky Spinach: It's a Health Food Really

At the same time, Crescent Dragonwagon (author of The Cornbread Gospels and the upcoming Bean by Bean <awesome!> cookbooks) shared this article on Facebook about the benefits of dessert with breakfast. Exactly. Just eat.

Oatmeal with Fig Preserves

Oatmeal with Fig Preserves

So this one goes out to the myriad readers who I know are drinking coffee instead of eating, grabbing a Little Debbie snack cake, or calling a lone banana breakfast. You know who you are, I shall not name names.

For the Love of Lattes

For the Love of Lattes: But It's Not a Breakfast Substitute!

Breakfast rocks, and here’s 3 reasons why.

1. Energy. It is the most important meal of the day. Did you learn nothing from the PSA’s of the 1980’s?? But really, coming from a farming family, breakfast is meant to fuel you through the majority of your heavy lifting. You’re getting kids to school, thinking, working out, why starve yourself?

Prepping Waffles for the Freezer

Prepping Waffles for the Freezer

2. Bacon. Need I say more? Morning is a good time to have some. I couldn’t resist sharing this picture I just found of a colleague hedging his bets, balancing his oatmeal and whole wheat toast with a side of Fried. Good work Virtually Cooking.

A working breakfast, with all the major food groups and some technology present!

A working breakfast, with all the major food groups and some technology present!

3. Cereal. Again, why miss a cereal eating opportunity? I’m a well-documented fan, but you can eat it dry or with milk. I sometimes have to take the bowl with me to the car to get The Eldest Practical Cook Junior to school on time, but don’t try to pry it from my hands. You’ll pull back a nub. Point is, it’s fast, easy, and varied. Find one you like and keep it on hand.

The Practical Cook's Cereal Warehouse

The Practical Cook's Cereal Warehouse

You have time to eat something of substance in the morning. Let yourself be hungry then, and answer the call. Cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, eggs, fruit, leftover pizza, even pie on occasion (assuming you balance it with protein), whatever floats your boat. Just don’t skip. I will be watching. (And if you ever hear I’ve missed breakfast, do not come near me without a bagel, muffin, or omelet in hand as a peace offering.)

40 All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins

40 All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins

Confession time. Do you eat breakfast? If so, what’s your favorite thing to eat in the morning? If not, why? Post a comment and share your thoughts! There is no judgment, but I won’t promise not to gently persuade. 🙂

Send cereal, bacon, and doughnuts 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, Kitchen Tool Talk!

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