Tag Archives: easy vegetarian recipes

Product Review: Frozen Polenta with Spinach and Carrots from Trader Joe’s

Gentle Readers, sometimes comfort food comes frozen, in a bag. The Practical Cook adores fresh simple food, but there are days when simplicity, speed, and vegetables come first. Enter Trader Joe’s Frozen Polenta (that’s Italian for “grits”).

Trader Joe's Frozen Polenta with Spinach and Carrots

Trader Joe's Frozen Polenta with Spinach and Carrots

It’s simple, you heat it up in a pan, and though the instructions don’t say add water, I did and would.

Frozen Disks of Polenta Goodness

Frozen Disks of Polenta Goodness

Fairly simple process. I served it with Black Beans (added cumin, garlic, and onion, cheddar on top) and sauteed zucchini and red peppers. Colorful. The Practical Cooks Junior were excited to taste test, but not thrilled with the results. The Eldest opted for more black beans, the Youngest opted out of the survey.

Polenta with Black Beans and Zucchini

Polenta with Black Beans and Zucchini

The polenta wanted some salt, as they say, and a few grinds of black pepper. Overall, it’s good, but I might doctor a bit to gain acceptance going forward. The Juniors prefer my homemade cheese grits, 20 minutes of stirring and all. To be candid, though I enjoyed this, and the ease of it, I can’t disagree with them.

I would give this a B+. Useful for a crunch, very comforting for a lazy day, but not strong enough to be on its own.

Are you a fan of grits or their European cousin, polenta? Share your thoughts in the comments box, or on Twitter. #grits

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It is once again time for Weekly Menus.

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Filed under On the Table, Punt!

How Not to Bore Vegetarians at a Cookout

What better to do than cook outside for the Fourth of July festivities? But what if you’re hosting a flock of vegetarians? Do not hit the panic button, The Practical Cook is here to help. There are a few ways you can host mixed company and not just go the burgers and dogs (veggie, of course) route.

How Not to Bore Vegetarians at a Cookout

1. Do not offer to grill them. Completely socially unacceptable. This includes actual cooking and a quiz about why they just won’t eat the burger.

Veg-in-a-Box

Veg-in-a-Box

2. Think outside the box. Seriously, I love a veggie burger from the freezer, I won’t lie. It’s easy, fast protein, and convenient. But if you’ve ever spent time as a vegetarian (I was full on for 7 years), you’ve eaten aplenty of these.

Grilled Corn

Grilled Corn

3. BYOV(egetable). Request that they bring something to grill. Perhaps you provide the grill and the beer, and they bring the plants.

Meat Kebabs and Salad

Meat Kebabs and Salad

4. Kebabs. If you’re going to do the cooking, this is the simplest way to do a single prep that will serve most in a mixed crowd. Use peppers, onions, mushrooms, fruit, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, squash, you name it, and thread some of the skewers with steak, chicken, or shrimp (just don’t serve me the shrimp one). The Farmer’s Market runneth over right now and will be open on Saturday in most places. Go there  and run wild. Be sure to buy some corn, too, because it’s awesome on the grill.

Grilled Pineapple

Grilled Pineapple

5. Pineapple. If there’s one thing you can do to impress anyone with your grilling skills, it’s grilled pineapple rings. They’re different, simple, and versatile. Try dipping them in coconut milk, brown sugar, rum, coconut flavored-rum, whatever. Slice into 1/2-inch rings, core them, and do not skimp here–use fresh. (Or consider fruit kebabs. Great info over at BarbecueBible.com, which I once worked on.)

Thanks to  VeggieMacabre for the question, be sure to send in some pictures! Also, thanks to Miss Clairol for the kebab photos. Blogging is seriously a tag-team sport.

What do you like to grill? Let’s hear some more ideas from the veggies out there, post your comments here.

What’s your burning question? 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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For Sunday, Weekly Menus from a remote location. Perhaps I’ll read my list as a video blog? We shall see.

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy