Tag Archives: eat more fruit

Mango and Blackberry Parfait

Gentle Readers, in good faith, The Practical Cook can’t call the following a recipe. But The Practical Cooks Junior were enamored enough of the combination that it warranted a mention. The Eldest said I needed to let you know about it.

Denuded Lime, Blackberries, Trader Joe's Blackberry Juice

Denuded Lime, Blackberries, Trader Joe's Blackberry Juice

And as we eat our weight in apples and citrus in these winter months, it is nice to have a change of pace, a treat from a different climate. So this was our snack the other day, a Mango and Blackberry Parfait. Mango and blackberry pair beautifully, they are gorgeous to look at, and they go with almonds, pecans, or walnuts.

Mango and Blackberry Parfait (not quite a recipe, but lovely nonetheless)

Mango and Blackberry Parfait (not quite a recipe, but lovely nonetheless)

A scoop of granola (Trader Joe’s Mango Passionfruit is an obvious choice) and a dash of maple syrup over the top, plain lowfat yogurt underneath. Done. Winter gloom is banished for a little summer paradise.

What are your favorite fruit combinations? Post a comment below!

Send your fruit combos, questions, and Practical 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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Up next, Weekly Menus, or Wow, It Is Cold Outside.

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Filed under Recipes, Snacks

Fruit + Cereal: A Complete Breakfast

Gentle Readers, if you’re new here, perhaps you don’t know about The Practical Cook’s complete and utter obsession with Cereal. It’s a food, a dessert, a snack, a recovery meal, and an ingredient. And it comes in a  bazillion flavors and combinations. For today’s discussion, we’re going to focus on the building block cereals, the unsung heroes.

Barbara's Shredded Spoonfuls, Grape Nuts, Trader Joe's Corn Flakes, and a Banana

Barbara's Shredded Spoonfuls, Grape Nuts, Trader Joe's Corn Flakes, and a Banana

With cereal, I have a few guiding principles:

1. Cereal needs to be made of, you know, cereal. I borrow this fabulous and true line from my friend and fellow cereal guru, LibrEditor. Cereal is not made of sugar, or air, or vitamin C. Read the label and know what you’re eating. I’m not rebuking Lucky Charms, but I do reserve those cereals with much sweetness for dessert.

Note: I find Trader Joe’s Corn Flakes better than most corn flakes—the kids eat them, and I cook with them, but they’re standing in for Whole Wheat Chex, which I’m currently out of.

2. Plain cereals require fruit. My number one choice is the humble banana. After that, it’s fresh berries in season (I don’t love the frozen ones in there). I think pineapples, plums, and mangoes shouldn’t go into a cereal bowl, but peaches are okay. These are arbitrary guidelines, feel free to have your own quirks.

3. Better to pour two bowls than to be soggy. This is especially challenging with the flake family of plain cereals. No one like’s disintegrating cereal, with the rare exception of my Great Aunt. Just use a small bowl, pour lightly, then refresh. Corn flakes are corn flaps otherwise.

What are your cereal rules? Do you add fruit? Comment below! I can feel you lurking.

Blog ideas, questions, and commentary are welcomed 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, Weekly Menus!

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, Punt!, Snacks

Personal Banana Puddings with Cookie Crumb Crusts

For those Gentle Readers with eagle editorial eyes (and alas, there are several of you who fit that description), yes, I punted on my blog idea once more. But The Practical Cook trusts that you’ll forgive her for the following reason: Personal Banana Puddings with Cookie Crumb Crusts

Personal Banana Puddings

Personal Banana Puddings

These are so simple to make, yet elegant to observe, that one of my younger Gentle Readers suggested that I open a restaurant. I will certainly be cooking for her in the future. (Hugs!!) However, challenge being that a) I stink at making the same thing twice in the exact same way and b) I excel in cooking what’s on hand, not high-falutin’ high-prep stuff. But I digress.

Personal Banana Puddings with Cookie Crumb Crusts

Note that while the picture shows a muffin tin, unless you have adequate time to let the crusts cool, I would recommend doing the whole thing in a ramekin. That way you don’t have the lifting of the dish out of the tin challenge.

1 box instant vanilla pudding (preferably from Trader Joe’s, because  it is awesome)
2 cups cold milk
1 to 2 cups leftover vanilla wafers, graham crackers, and cinnamon cookies (in any combination, also preferably from Trader Joe’s)
4 tablespoons lightly salted butter, melted
1 or 2 bananas
whipped cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare vanilla pudding according to package directions. Set aside in the fridge.

2. Take your leftover (read, broken, mildly soft, not great for straight consumption) wafers/crackers/cookies and put them in your food processor. Pulse until they are pulverized.

Pulverized crumbs plus butter. Delish.

Pulverized crumbs plus butter. Delish.

3. Once the crumbs are pulverized, add the melted butter and mix until well combined. If you must use a muffin tin, line it now or you will not speak to me afterward. Trust me in this matter. For the ramekins, you’re fine. Now press a healthy spoonful into the receptacle of choice and press down. Imagine you’re making small graham cracker pie crusts, or a cookie, and mash everything together so it’s nice and reformed, covering the bottom with a depth of a pie crust or vanilla wafer.

Line if you use a muffin tin!

Line if you use a muffin tin!

4. Bake the crusts you’ve just made for 8 to 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Take them out and let them cool.

5. When reasonably cool, top with sliced bananas and a healthy dose of pudding. Use any remaining crumb mixture as garnish. Top with whipped cream, apply spoon.

Layer with bananas, then pudding, then crumb topping leftovers.

Layer with bananas, then pudding, then crumb topping leftovers.

For my next act, I plan on freezing this and finding out what happens. Yes, you heard me. The slightly salty butter mixed with the crumbs, it just took the whole thing to the next level. I cannot describe how tasty this was, and it’s very right-sized. Thanks to the multiple kitchen helpers who had a hand (often a very literal one, in the case of the youngest sous chef) in this creation.

Are you a banana pudding fanatic like myself? Post a comment below or Tweet @practicalcook #bananapuddingfan.

Ideas, thoughts, queries? Email 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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Up next, Why I Should Not Shop Alone, Or Three of My New Favorite Ingredients.

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Filed under Punt!, Recipes