Tag Archives: cooking with kids

Weekly Menus: Busy Family Edition, Week of 9/8/2013

Gentle Readers, it’s important to know when to cry uncle. Though I’ve spent twice the amount of time in the kitchen lately than I did over the whole summer, I’m still dreadfully behind. We are in the process of becoming real swimmers here at TPC gym, along with the start of school shenanigans and plenty of travel stirred in. Therefore, I’m taking a break this week and will blog again next Sunday.

Use the pumpkin puree, get orange pancakes!

Use the pumpkin puree, get orange pancakes!

Here’s what I’m working on in the test kitchen:

  • School Lunches that are reasonable shelf stable and not just peanut butter and jelly.
  • Pumpkin everything. We’ve successfully made pumpkin pancakes from scratch, now we are off to conquer pumpkin bread, pumpkin pasta sauce, and potentially a burrito. This is a seasonal trend I support ONLY in it’s actual form. You can save your pumpkin-flavored lattes, beers, and Oreos. Yes, I said that out loud.
  • Dosa. I want to be able to expand my pancake/crepe repertoire, and this is the next frontier.

For this week’s menus, it will look something like this: TPC’s Mom brings her kitchen to mine and makes amazing food my kids would never eat for me.

Persimmon Pudding from Crook's Corner. Almost as good as TPC's Mom makes.

Persimmon Pudding from Crook’s Corner. Almost as good as TPC’s Mom makes.

I will dutifully stock the kitchen with the basics and then politely get out of the way. Just like the header on this blog shows, there’s a special relationship in the kitchen between generations, and I love the fact that TPCs Jr have the opportunity to eat some of the things I did (and probably complained about at the time, as is my job as offspring).

So to the store for milk, bread, eggs, and lunchbox treats!

The Practical Cooks Junior Train for a 5k.

The Practical Cooks Junior Train for a 5k.

The door is always open for kitchen challenges and good lunchbox ideas! Send them my way in the comments section, on Twitter, or by inviting us over to dinner. 😉

Send good luck, post suggestions, and extra hours in the day 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 Next Sunday: More Weekly Menus and Recipe Ideas

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Weekly Menus: Week of 4/7/2013 (with actual meal plans!)

Gentle Readers, what a long strange trip it has been. By that, I mean business and vacation were back to back in the last couple of weeks, and I’ve eaten my way along both coasts of these United States. Strangely, I now have intense cravings for Malaysian food, perhaps because BestieForce has been in both places. Yes, those are unicorn chopsticks.

BestieForce! Just add unicorn chopsticks.

BestieForce! Just add unicorn chopsticks.

And yes, I woke up in the middle of the night, jetlagged and craving this, Roti. Reviews of the two Malaysian restaurants are pending, and rumor has it I may learn to cook the sticky dessert rice I kept eating as well. Stay tuned.

Roti from Banana Leaf in San Jose, CA

Roti from Banana Leaf in San Jose, CA

But back in realityville, I came home to a reasonably clean kitchen and a fairly blank slate. You can see I’m not done globetrotting from the menus though. There’s an international festival at school this week, but we tend to eat that way all the time.

Sticky Rice with Mango from Banana Leaf

Sticky Rice with Mango from Banana Leaf

Without further delay, here are our weekly menus:

Weekly Menus: 4/7/2013

Weekly Menus: 4/7/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 4/7/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 4/7/2013

Which all means:

Sunday: Salad!
I’ve been craving this for days. Though I managed a few of them over the last couple of weeks, it was not as often as it should have been.

Monday: Indian
I have some cauliflower that needs roasting, and I may try my hand at the sauce that goes with the roti pictured above. Plus chickpeas. Though my recent trip to Roti Boti has spoiled me on this front. Sigh, food memories . . .

The largest, fluffiest naan I've ever seen. You can ignore the adage to not fill up on bread at Roti Boti.

The largest, fluffiest naan I’ve ever seen. You can ignore the adage to not fill up on bread at Roti Boti.

Tuesday: Stir fry OR Breakfast for dinner
Depending on time and leftover supplies, I’ll make the call. I feel certain I know which the Jrs will choose. I have a half gallon of milk that needs to be consumed quickly, and eggs too. I’m thinking it’s time to make Waffles in bulk. Perhaps to be served with chicken?

36 Waffles

36 Waffles

Wednesday: Dine Out (Germany!)
We’re celebrating someone cranky’s birthday (cough cough Wadorf), and the Jrs have decided to go German on this one. Our tradition is to visit a new “country” (via food) and then ask a lot of trivia questions about that country during dinner. It’s great fun, give it a try.

Spinach Quesadilla and Ranchero Beans

Spinach Quesadilla and Ranchero Beans

Thursday: Mexican
It’s been too long since we have had our simple and traditional spinach quesadillas at home. Perhaps I’ll make sopapillas to go with. Mmmm. Dessert.

Carbonara from NYC!

Carbonara from NYC!

Friday: Pasta and Salad
Clean up hitter for the week. I may attempt carbonara again to polish off the last of the eggs. The Jrs are big fans, especially now that they are eating bacon again.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Looking forward to this one.

Questions, comments, topics? 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! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Next on Wednesday, Reader Questions and Feedback! (Submit Yours Today!)

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Weekly Menus: Week of 3/17/2013

Gentle Readers, while practice makes perfect, blog posts are not an ideal forum to test this theory. Apologies for the lateness of the post: a beautifully constructed installment was written, and then something went terribly and technically wrong and all was lost.

Irish Brown Bread at Rest

Irish Brown Bread at Rest

Alas, we soldier on! Lessons learned from this week (having flown over the handlebars teaching The Eldest Practical Cook Jr bike safety): pick up, dust off, keep going.

Sunday Night Vegetable: Carrot Cake

Sunday Night Vegetable: Carrot Cake

Another lesson learned: when you’re short of time, ask for help. TPCs Jr stepped up this week to write the menus and lists with a little bit of help. The Eldest, a lefty like me, has handwriting remarkably similar to mine. As we celebrate her birthday this weekend, I feel we may also celebrate a new TPC staff member.

Without further adieu, the weekly menus:

pc_blog 197

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 3/17/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 3/17/2013

Which translates into:

Sunday: Corned Beef and Cabbage
This is the late lunch menu, as we’ll be serving pizza at the birthday party. The slow cooker makes it easy, and the Irish brown bread makes it special.

Hot Bread Calling Out for Butter

Hot Bread Calling Out for Butter

Monday: Sammies
Hello leftovers. Combine the bread, add a special mustard (spicy, grainy, etc, you decide), and you have a meal fit for royalty.

Tuesday: Pasta
I’m going to add salad to that and call it a day.

Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner
Corned beef hash perhaps? With toast or cornmeal pancakes? So many good options.

Thursday: Soup and Sandwiches
Whatever has not been consumed another way becomes soup. Add tomatoes to enrich and soften the beef, call it dinner.

No, really, I'll take one of everything: Swedish pancakes, corned beef hash, hash browns, eggs, and coffee.

No, really, I’ll take one of everything: Swedish pancakes, corned beef hash, hash browns, eggs, and coffee.

Friday: Nachos
TPCs Jr chose this to make Friday an easy cooking day for me. Thanks guys!

Saturday: Dine Out!
Field research suggestions? Send them my way!

How collaborative are you with your menus? Do you ask for input or dictate the schedule? Post a comment below! And now, I’m off to make a Birthday Carrot Cake!

Comments, questions, and quips can be emailed 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, Leftover Salad, a Recipe of Sorts.

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Weekly Menus: 3/3/2013

Gentle Readers, another week, another busy time. I am learning to forgive myself for doing less cooking and more plating up these days. There are still inspired moments in the kitchen, we still eat very well, and I know that the time will come when I make souffles once more.

My Kitchen Staff, The Practical Cooks Junior

My Kitchen Staff, The Practical Cooks Junior

But for now, the focus is on time together, teaching the Practical Cooks Junior how to cook, and eating food that is both healthy and visually appealing. The Jrs help me shop, plan, and prep, which takes more time, but yields better results for the team. I can’t complain.

Without further preamble, here are our Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 3/3/2013

Weekly Menus: 3/3/2013

And the Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 3/3/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 3/3/2013

Which translates into:

Sunday: Flying Mayans
This will be burrito style and use up the leftover sweet potatoes, black beans, and rice I found in my fridge upon returning from my business trip. Woot!

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

Monday: Soup and Sammie
We got some rocking good bread (there has been a protest held over “just brown bread”), and sammies are once more fun. Many smiles in the grocery store when I made them choose, without interference, saying, you pick it, but don’t complain later. Survey says, the Jrs prefer “prairie” bread, or something with a lot of seeds.

Tuesday: Pork chops and Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Though my offspring are still primarily vegetarians, I’m going to try this hybrid meal. They’ll gladly eat the gnocchi on its own (with extra crispy sage), and I’ll serve a pile of Brussels sprouts on the side. That way they can choose to pork chop or not.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Extra Crispy Sage

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Extra Crispy Sage

Wednesday: Veggie Burger and Fries
This feels like a night to watch a bit of a movie and have some vegetarian junk food. Always popular to get over the midweek hump. We’ll have salad or broccoli with.

Thursday: Polenta with Mushrooms
You can’t complain about raising kids who can tell a) which portobello mushrooms are the best and b) the clerk that they’re not shitakes.

Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms: A vegetarian family favorite!

Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms: A vegetarian family favorite!

Friday: Leftovers
Who knows what we’ll have left and in what capacity, but it is going to end up on the table. We can stretch this with crostini or cheese and crackers. Mama Tapas in the house!

Saturday: Dine Out!
The plan is to go restaurant reviewing with Waldorf. Hopefully we’ll find a new gem or at least fight about it in the process. We’ve been far too agreeable lately.

Send good ideas, dishwashers, and extra sleep 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 Wednesday: Spinach Crostini, a Recipe of Sorts

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Weekly Menus: Week of 2/17/2013

Gentle Readers, three cheers for The Practical Cooks Junior. Not only have they mastered several breakfast items, they are now taking on school lunch, snack, and meal planning with great enthusiasm. This is a great help in not having to guess what they want.

The Practical Cooks Junior at Work: Shake Shack Reviewing

The Practical Cooks Junior at Work: Shake Shack Reviewing

The flipside, I’m raising two strong-willed women with advanced and particular palates. Please send help.

Without further adieu, and before they make additional editorial changes, here are this week’s menus:

Weekly Menus: 2/17/2013

Weekly Menus: 2/17/2013

And the Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 2/17/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 2/17/2013

Which translates to:

Sunday: Fish and Chips
The Eldest opted to have a slice of bacon at dinner the other night. It’s unclear if this is a change or a one-off. We shall see. Meanwhile, I’m going to try homemade fish and chips again.

Monday: Beans and Rice
Love this meal for simplicity and creating possibility through leftovers.

Black Beans and Rice: Simple and Satisfying for Dinner

Black Beans and Rice: Simple and Satisfying for Dinner

Tuesday: Rustic Veggie Tart
This rustic tart will be caramelized onions, sweet potato, and goat cheese.

Sweet Potato and Bacon Rustic Tart with Goat Cheese

Sweet Potato and Bacon Rustic Tart with Goat Cheese

Wednesday: Pasta and Salad
Probably cheese tortellini, but potentially spaghetti and veggie meatballs.

Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner
This is so simple and variable I struggle not to serve it daily. Never fails to please the crowd.

Grits go with everything. Especially breakfast for dinner.

Grits go with everything. Especially breakfast for dinner.

Friday: Leftovers
I am thinking either soup or burritos based on the week’s bounty.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Getting ready to travel again, so one last celebration on the way. Probably over a salad. 🙂

Eat the rainbow (salad)!

Eat the rainbow (salad)!

How does your crew feel about cheese sticks/pre-cut cheese? TPCs Jr are firmly against, and have started a movement to make our own. Discuss.

Send inspiration, desperation, and chocolate 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: Sour Cherries on Top: One Ingredient, Three Ways

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Punt! Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes with a Side of Bacon

Gentle Readers, sometimes good fruit goes almost bad. The tomatoes sat too close to the bananas, chaos ensued. Normally I freeze the overripe bananas, but I’ve got a stockpile awaiting banana bread time. And it was breakfast, and the Juniors and I were hungry and creative. Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes with a Side of Bacon were born.

Trader Joe's Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter with Sea Salt

Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter with Sea Salt

Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes Recipe

Start with your favorite pancake mix. I prefer whole grain or buckwheat. Don’t judge. There will be more on this topic soon when I deploy my emergency pancake rescue team. Make according to the mix, but go light on the oil. Add 1-2 thoroughly mashed, completely overripe bananas. We’re talking blackening ones. Mash mash mash. Add the bananas and a spot of dark brown sugar to the mix. Make silver dollar size pancakes.

One Very Large Banana Pancake!

One Very Large Banana Pancake!

And if you’re me, make the last one a gigantor pancake, for no reason other than you want to sit down and eat and it’s what you’ve always done.

Melt a few tablespoons of peanut butter in the microwave, just takes a few seconds. Apply as a drizzle or light spread to pancakes, top with maple syrup, serve with bacon (or facon, the salt is what’s important here).

Sing Love Me Tender at the top of your lungs and thank me later.

What do you like to add to your pancakes? Post a comment below, I’m listening. Better still, Tweet me a video of you covering Elvis. Special thanks to the Juniors for helping invent and consume these. You are the bestest.

Send your good ideas, your challenges, and your kind regards 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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Sunday Sunday Sunday, will be late. I’ll be in the air, but you’ll get Weekly Menus later in the day.

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Weekly Menus: Summer Style, Week of 7/15/2012

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook is once more happily ensconced in the test kitchen. The joy of summer is more gathering than hunting I think, so many vegetables, so little time. My philosophy of finding something good and interesting and getting out of the way still holds.

Tomato Watermelon Salad from Crook's Corner

Tomato Watermelon Salad from Crook’s Corner

My favorite moment with The Eldest Practical Cook Junior, when hearing that okra was one of the most loathed veggies,  she suggested we take it or another vegetable and prepare it multiple ways, then invite people over to see if we could convert them. Brilliant. I’m actually going to do that soon, a One Ingredient Three Ways thing. Please feel free to suggest the vegetable. I’ve taken on okra and Brussels sprouts, I’m not afraid.

Non-horsey Okra Pods

Non-horsey Okra Pods

But I digress, and there’s so much food to eat. Here are the Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 7/15/2012

Weekly Menus: 7/15/2012

And the light-weight Four-Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 7/15/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 7/15/2012

Because the CSA is tripled from my absences:

1 dozen eggs
1 pk bacon
1 regular bratwurst
1 cantaloupe
1 1 lb bag shelled butterbeans
lb filet beans
1 lb heirloom tomatoes
1 pt yellow cherry tomatoes

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Leftover fried rice
This was inspiration from yesterday. It was leftover plain rice with lots of egg, a stray piece of ham, ginger, ketchup, and soy sauce. Toss it with a few stir-fried veggies and go. I’m going to add edamame to the mix for round two.

Leftover Fried Rice

Leftover Fried Rice

Monday: Beans and Rice
This will probably be Indian food. I’ve been craving, and we haven’t made dal in a while. Nothing better than spicy vegetables in the summer. Seriously. (See Some Like It Hot for my diatribe.)

Tuesday: Sammie Platter
Because I can eat my weight in tomato sandwiches, let’s just go ahead and call it dinner.

Sandwich Platter Piled High!

Sandwich Platter Piled High!

Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner
It’s biscuit time again, per the Juniors. We’re still hammering out our favorite recipe, having had a worthy contender at the Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, NC.

Fresh-Squeezed OJ for the win!

Fresh-Squeezed OJ for the win!

Thursday: Take me out to the ballgame.
Hot dogs, burritos, I say yes. We are stepping out this evening, and I expect an eating marathon.

Friday: Beef!
I’ve been craving it. Probably meatloaf. Though I am omnivorous, I lean toward my vegetarian roots (pun intended) in the summer. Sometimes I have to toss some iron into the mix.

Saturday: Dine Out!
I have to check some items off the growing recommendation list. If you haven’t, please check out the RTP Restaurants page and let me know what you think!

Have you stepped out of the kitchen this summer? Perhaps to the grill, or simply because you’re cutting things up and serving rather than turning on the stove? Share your summer cooking strategies in the comments below, or Tweet my way!

Send your heirloom tomatoes, questions, and kitchen 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!)

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Next on Wednesday, 5 Wines Under $10 from Trader Joe’s.

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