Tag Archives: feeding a family

Weekly Menus: Week of 9/15/2013 Edition

Gentle Readers, what a long strange week it has been. The Eldest PC now has braces and transformed into looking like a teenager, complete with the challenges inherent in feeding one whose mouth hurts. School is in full swing, and we soldier on, attempting to make all practices, rehearsals, and social outings. Sound familiar?

The Eldest transformed into a teenager overnight, complete with braces and a digital native's gift for the craycray-eyed "selfie."

The Eldest transformed into a teenager overnight, complete with braces and a digital native’s gift for the craycray-eyed “selfie.”

So this post will be short and to the point as we prepare to dash to yet another event. The challenge is making meals that the Eldest can eat successfully with potential for lunchbox appearances. All ideas welcome. Which means this week’s menus look like:

Weekly Menus: 9/15/2013

Weekly Menus: 9/15/2013

And the Foursquare Grocery Shopping List is:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 9/15/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 9/15/2013

Which all translates to:

Sunday: Rotisserie Chicken
I have soup on the brain, and potentially a pot pie, so another rotisserie chicken for us!

Monday: Chicken Noodle Soup
Planning to make TPC’s Mom’s version, with cabbage, broad egg noodles, and carrots. Soft but flavorful!

The Practical Cook's Mom's Homemade Chicken Soup

The Practical Cook’s Mom’s Homemade Chicken Soup

Tuesday: Gnocchi
On the request list for a while, this will also be good with diced leftover rotisserie chicken tossed in a pink sauce with a few red pepper flakes. Overcooked broccoli on the side.

Wednesday: Mexican
Spinach quesadillas or potentially Flying Mayan burritos. We’ve been away from our friend the sweet potato too long.

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

Thursday: Indian!
Dal, rice, and palak paneer for the win!

Palak Paneer, Done Really Well by Saffron Chapel Hill

Palak Paneer, Done Really Well by Saffron Chapel Hill

Friday: Leftovers
If I make it through the week without a meltdown, I’ll virtually high-five everyone. Leftovers is my version of the kitchen victory lap.

Saturday: Dine Out!
So many places are opening in the area, including new food trucks, and it’s time to start eating!

What are your favorite easily chewable foods? Send ideas our way, post a comment or a Tweet!

Send good ideas, questions, and lucrative speaking offers 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 on Wednesday: How to Doctor Store-Bought Food and Win!

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Weekly Menus: Labor Day Edition, Week of 9/1/2013

Gentle Readers, never has a holiday been more confusingly named or welcomed with more open arms. Hello, Labor Day, we need you. A bit of a break after the bustle of school starting, recovery from travel season for me, it’s time to roll up sleeves and cook again. How to do so without too much labor? Invite yourself to someone else’s cookout.

Tea wth the Ladies Who Lunch: China Edition

Tea wth the Ladies Who Lunch: China Edition

I’m bringing a dessert, or a salad, or both. But I digress. The weather is getting cooler, and more cooking ahead is possible. Seize the day, or at least the weekend, between naps.

Turmeric Tea from Samovar: Gold, Spicy, Amazing

Turmeric Tea from Samovar: Gold, Spicy, Amazing

For this week, the weekly menus are:

Weekly Menus: 9/1/2013

Weekly Menus: 9/1/2013

And the Four-Square Grocery List is:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 9/1/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 9/1/2013

Which all means:

Sunday: Rotisserie Chicken
It’s been too long. Great for eating and reusing in salads, plus stock from the bones. Will serve with Brussels sprouts and glazed carrots, or mac-n-cheese if I run low on time.

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

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

Monday: Not Dogs?
Since we’re heading to a cookout, we may do one lighter meal on this Labor Day. There are great options for vegetarians and for anyone looking to balance their caloric consumption.

Hot Dog from The Pig with Ketchup, Mustard, and Relish

Hot Dog from The Pig with Ketchup, Mustard, and Relish

Tuesday: Veggie Chili
Breaking out the Red, Gold, and Green Veggie Chili here, in honor of the fall that finally feels like it’s on the way. Perfect to make ahead and eat for a while in different forms.

Veggie Chili Simmering

Veggie Chili Simmering

Wednesday: Salmon and Couscous
Light and simple, I think I’ll pan-roast this and serve with confetti veggie couscous (aka, use the last bits of diced veggie up from previous meals, shhh, don’t tell).

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

Thursday: Egg Sammies
If we’re short on time, the eggs will be scrambled or fried. More time = egg salad sammies. This was a favorite summer meal in my youth, and it’s fun to recapture a little of that feeling as we start the school year.

Eggs on their way to becoming egg salad.

Eggs on their way to becoming egg salad.

Friday: Leftover Delight
The Eldest asked what this was, and I told her it was marketing. She got that. Friday is a clean-up hitter today. Prep for Saturday practice, recover from a week of early rising, gather around the table and enjoy.

Saturday: Dine Out!
We’re on the hunt for a new country to visit. All suggestions welcome!

What’s on your grill this season? Send ideas this way, post a comment or send a Tweet!

Send extra hot dogs, hours of sleep, and brownies 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: Road Salad, A How-To Survive Guide.

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Weekly Menus: Back to School, Remote Edition

Gentle Readers, back-to-school time is almost as hectic as end-of-school time, and they seem so close together. Each year that return is complicated by the fact that one of the biggest projects I have during the work year culminates with a major tech event the week school starts.

How can school lunch compare with Pinkberry in NYC?

How can school lunch compare with Pinkberry in NYC?

So I have to vMom it–remote parenting in the modern age. TPCs Jr biggest complaint is not being able to join me on the dodgeball court, as there’s a yearly charity event. But I digress. How do you show you care from 3000 miles away? FaceTime, food, and photos. Let’s talk food.

We have to temporarily break up the band get get back to work.

We have to temporarily break up the band get get back to work.

Back to School Tips and Lunch Menus:

1. Shop with your offspring. Do not fall victim to the “but you liked this last year” trap. Let them select and own their choices. Tastes change.

Look at the sheen on that peanut butter! (I think we're alone now . . .)

Look at the sheen on that peanut butter! (I think we’re alone now . . .)

2. Let them practice making lunch. This was two parts necessity and two parts evil genius this week. Peanut butter and jelly with sweet potato chips and carrots? I can live with that.

Hello Love: Dark Chocolate Almonds from Trader Joe's

Hello Love: Dark Chocolate Almonds from Trader Joe’s

3. Cheat. Oh I said it. There should always be a few easy wins. This would be dark chocolate almonds with sea salt for dessert. Just two fit nicely into the smallest container in the Bento box set, and they are so satisfying.

Our lunch companion at the Bronx Zoo.

Our lunch companion at the Bronx Zoo.

Proposed Lunch Menus:

Something hearty: peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cheese and crackers, pasta in the hot container, peanut butter and banana sandwich

Something crunchy: walnuts, cashews, sweet potato chips, carrots, celery, dry seaweed, sesame sticks

Something sweet: drinkable yogurt, yogurt in a tube, applesauce in a tube or cup, diced peaches in juice (huge hit in this house), grapes, dried cranberries, apple slices tossed in a little lemon juice, blackberries

Something for dessert: fortune cookies, dark chocolate almonds with sea salt, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, granola bars

Select one from each category, mix and match, endless variety with room for new ideas all of the time.

Back to school on a camel?

Back to school on a camel?

I will miss my road warriors as I cross the country by myself for the first time in several months. Good luck to you and your kids as the new year begins. Please share your lunch ideas here, or tweet my way!

Send healthy snacks, good luck, 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 Sunday: Weekly Menus, Labor Day Edition!

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Weekly Menus: Week of 8/18/2013

Gentle Readers, this August is far more marathon than sprint. I will spend more time in restaurants and other people’s kitchens than my own. That is the challenge and the beauty of life. I’m learning quickly that buying less is more, and now is the time to rely on the war chest that is actually my freezer and pantry. Depression era thinking has never been a more useful skill.

Frozen pizza options.

Frozen pizza options.

Once more on the road, we are celebrating with NYC friends this week. Obviously, I love to eat in this city. I love the street food, I love the random hole in the wall places, and I deeply love the latte from the barbershop in Williamsburg that I hope to revisit. But I digress.

Lamb gyro, extra hot sauce, from The Halal Guys!

Lamb gyro, extra hot sauce, from The Halal Guys!

This summer has been about community around the table–wherever that table may be. From my fellow CloudBunny who opened her home to us in New Orleans to the dynamo that is my Bestie Bride, food happens where it happens, and the people you are with are the most important part. Summer is a time to break from routine and live. We’ve done that.

One shot latte from The Parlor. It was dreamy.

One shot latte from The Parlor. It was dreamy.

Here’s what we’re eating this week:

Sunday: Malaysian food
If you haven’t tried this wing of Asian cuisine, get thee to the Google and find some near you. It’s a wonderful fusion of a lot of different cultures. Lucky us, this is the wedding dinner we’ll be attending. A blend of curry and spice without ridiculous heat, I’m a fan.

Malaysian dessert with a candle, complete with singing, from Laut in NYC.

Malaysian dessert with a candle, complete with singing, from Laut in NYC.

Monday: Street Food
I don’t know what it will be, perhaps Halal Cart or just a gyro, but I plan to enjoy it. A lot. I encourage you to go out and find what’s happening locally foodwise in the street. Some great ideas to be had, some great food to be eaten.

Street food in Barcelona: juice bar style.

Street food in Barcelona: juice bar style.

Tuesday: Salad and Pasta
Recovery food for us, we can always make something out of the pantry. It’s good to reset the palate back to normal after a lot of travel. I think this may just be a penne with red sauce night, side of Caesar salad.

Pasta with red sauce FTW!

Pasta with red sauce FTW!

Wednesday: Steak and Potatoes
It’s been too long since I went traditional. Let’s see what happens!

I am still missing this ribeye. Hello again.

I am still missing this ribeye. Hello again.

Thursday: Salmon and Green Beans, Bed of Couscous
As back to school looms near, so emerges my inner Betty Crocker.

Friday: Pizza!
Again, something we’ve not had a ton of, seems like a good time to start.

Smiling does not improve turkey bacon's taste. Just saying.

Smiling does not improve turkey bacon’s taste. Just saying.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Believe it or not, I’ll be in SF, and I think dinner should be about bacon.

Thanks for all of the suggestions you’ve sent my way. Keep it up! I am still seeking fabulous fried chicken and the very best in chocolate covered bacon. Game on!

Send bagels, egg and cheese on a roll, and Halal cart food 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, Snack Wisdom: Travel Foods.

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Weekly Menus: Birthday Week Edition, 7/28/2013

Gentle Readers, I am once more writing from the road. This week I’m continuing my birthday celebration–it’s one of those milestone ones, so I’m making it last. A candle in every cake I say! Even pancakes.

Adapatable Pumpkin Pancakes Stack, Birthday Style.

Adapatable Pumpkin Pancakes Stack, Birthday Style.

But we still have to heat amongst various travel obligations. How to meal plan for lots of dinners out and time away? Limit the fresh stuff, buy only what you can eat, and consume a lot of eggs and cereal. More on that in the next blog.

German Chocolate Cake Slice, Birthday Style

German Chocolate Cake Slice, Birthday Style

My Four Square Grocery List is therefore usually: milk, bread, salad, fruit (bananas plus a berry or stone fruit), avocados (we are addicted, so this is a weekly thing). Every other week, cheese and eggs. We can go for long stretches on just these things. Fresh produce is coming in from my family farm, so it’s eat as you go. Such as these figs with prosciutto. Dreamy.

Figs with prosciutto, crafted by The Youngest. TPCs Jr are big fans .

Figs with prosciutto, crafted by The Youngest. TPCs Jr are big fans .

So typical Weekly Menus are:

Sunday: Dine Out
I’m in NYC, so I’m doing field research. Italian? Cambodian? Brunch? Yes, yes, yes.

Malaysian dessert with a candle, complete with singing, from Laut in NYC.

Malaysian dessert with a candle, complete with singing, from Laut in NYC.

Monday: Pasta and Salad
The simplest of all meals, because you can add bacon and eggs and/or garden veggies, a squeeze of lemon and a dash of olive oil. Yes, you do have to keep your pantry and fridge stocked with a few basics, but keep supplies low.

Cheesy Rainbow Pasta Toss in the Toss Phase!

Cheesy Rainbow Pasta Toss in the Toss Phase! Use the pot’s residual heat to help blend everything.

Tuesday: Quesadillas and Ranchero Beans
Our go-to for fast food. Spinach quesadillas are a snap, and it’s not hard to fake long-cooking beans from a can.

Spinach Quesadilla and Ranchero Beans

Spinach Quesadilla and Ranchero Beans

Wednesday: Open Face Tuna Melt
This is the surprise hit of the summer. Can of tuna, drain, small amount of mayo, healthy dose of Dijon mustard, sweet relish, splash of hot sauce. Put on bread, sprinkle cheese, toast. Serve in squares with fruit.

Peanut Butter Tuna Salad on Celery: Mobile Lunch

Peanut Butter Tuna Salad on Celery: Mobile Lunch

Thursday: Sausage and Pierogie
This is one of those family favorite meals. Super-easy as well. Serve with applesauce and Brussels sprouts.

Friday: Tapas
We’ll be serving whatever is left, tomatoes and cukes from the farm, apples and cheese, on bread that’s been toasted.

Open-faced tomato sammie, or tapas!

Open-faced tomato sammie, or tapas!

Saturday: Dine Out!
More adventure eating fun. Or perhaps a nice long round of batch cooking. 🙂

What are you eating this summer? Send your ideas! We’re eating a lot of food with chopsticks: Burmese, Korean, Japanese, Chinese. Food just tastes better that way! The runner up with with our hands: Ethiopian, Indian, Pakistani. It’s been quite the world tour.

Where we eat many meals these days--in the air!

Where we eat many meals these days–in the air!

Send extra candles, good ideas, and legitimate 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.)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up (next) Wednesday: An Ode to Eggs, Recipes for Survival **Due to the total publish fail on my part, we are going to delay this post a week. Will be back on track Sunday with menus and ideas!**

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For the Love of Macaroni and Cheese: Homeroom in Oakland, CA

Gentle Readers, sometimes one goes clear across the country for comfort food. In a week of extreme eating (and I do mean extreme, starting with a meat cone and marching across many scones and some chocolate), simplicity won my heart. The Practical Cooks Junior and I went on vacation to San Francisco, staying with family in Oakland, and eating with many friends along the way. Our last meal abroad was at Homeroom, and it was spectacular.

White Cheddar Mac-n-Cheese with Bread Crumb Toppings from Homeroom.

White Cheddar Mac-n-Cheese with Bread Crumb Toppings from Homeroom.

The restaurant serves macaroni and cheese. Plus vegetables. And that’s really it. Well, plus drinks and beer. There’s a good bit of bacon too. I respect that in an establishment. Here’s what I liked about the place.

Kids portion of traditional creamy cheddar mac-n-cheese. So fantastically good.

Kids portion of traditional creamy cheddar mac-n-cheese. So fantastically good.

1. Clarity of purpose. Do something and do it well. I knew what I could eat before I went. It was reasonably priced, and I was delighted to eat the White Cheddar Mac-n-Cheese, with optional crumb topping.

Hello minty peas, so fresh and full of vegetable goodness.

Hello minty peas, so fresh and full of vegetable goodness.

2. Infinite variety. Though the menu is focused, you can alter and amend your mac-n-cheese ad infinitum. Bravo. Next time I’m getting the garlicky gouda or the truffle and mushroom.

Hipster atmosphere for the win!

Hipster atmosphere for the win!

3. Strong vegetable sides. In a world of starch and cheese, it would be easy to fall victim to a junk food mentality. Not at Homeroom. There are several salads and a few main veggie sides. Again, all reasonably priced. We got minty peas and bacony Brussels sprouts: wow. The Youngest could not shovel peas in fast enough. The Eldest launched a full assault on the sprouts. After a week of eating lots of travel food, it was a welcome respite.

Go ahead and drool over these bacony Brussels sprouts. I'll wait.

Go ahead and drool over these bacony Brussels sprouts. I’ll wait.

4. Just desserts. I only regret I lacked the stomach to try more desserts. We had this peanut butter pie, and it was outstanding. A little salty, a little sharp from either sour cream or cream cheese, and well balanced with the graham cracker crust. I will dream of this. The homemade salted oreo is also highly Yelp recommended. I hope someone will eat that and let me know. I will be back for it.

Peanut butter pie was not overly sweet, but full of flavor. No crumb left behind.

Peanut butter pie was not overly sweet, but full of flavor. No crumb left behind.

5. Beer selection. Again, so often it’s easy to try to do everything. Here, they do a few selections that rotate, and they’re diverse and good. Plus they do crazy combos like a lime plus beer shandy. Too sweet for me, but A for effort. Beer and mac-n-cheese may be my new favorite combo ever.

Simple summer ale, wide mouth Ball jar. Made for each other.

Simple summer ale, wide mouth Ball jar. Made for each other.

To conclude, this is run don’t walk. The place is hipster central, but without the snark that so often accompanies it. I do like that about California in general. Right down to the kids’ menus they hold to theme–it was like homework. TPCs Jr were enthralled. They served the veggies first. Genius. Great service, cool atmosphere, rocking food.

Homework time at Homeroom!

Homework time at Homeroom!

I will confess, I tried the bacony mac-n-cheese, and didn’t love it. Too smokey for me. I know, a bacon lover’s sin to say so in my out loud voice. It was me, not them.

Run, don't walk. Homeroom.

Run, don’t walk. Homeroom.

What do you think of themed restaurants? Do you love mac-n-cheese? What’s your favorite combo? Post your comments below or Tweet my way! Great to be back, and more recipes and reviews are coming your way soon.

Special thanks to my crew of tasters.

Special thanks to my crew of tasters.

Send chocolate milk, good ideas, and good intentions 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 Sunday: Happy Birthday to me, Weekly Menu Edition

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Weekly Menus on the Road: Week of 7/14/2013

Gentle Readers, this post will break traditional format as we at Team Practical Cook gear up for a week of field research. Many of you probably have similar experiences of needing to shut down a kitchen for a week during summer break, winter holiday, etc. How do you plan for both absence and for road eating?

Cafe con leche: Breakfast of champions

Cafe con leche: Breakfast of champions

Here’s The Practical Cook Method:

1. Stop shopping. This may seem obvious, but it’s my best tip. There’s more food in your house than you think. Stop buying more interesting things, and face up to whether you’re going to eat that rare Asian noodle snack pack from the 80s.

The Practical Cook's Cereal Warehouse

The Practical Cook’s Cereal Warehouse

2. Eat at home. The best way to prepare for time away is to commit to eating what you have. I’ve not been doing so well at that, but I did have 22 CheezIts and 1/2 a cupcake for lunch yesterday. Not my proudest moment.

Can you blame me for eating my babysittiing payment on the spot? Cupcakes for lunch, not recommended. #sugarcoma

Can you blame me for eating my babysittiing payment on the spot? Cupcakes for lunch, not recommended. #sugarcoma

3. Turn home snacks into road snacks. What can you take with you? If it’s a road trip, your options expand. On a plane, I heart Biscoff cookies, but sometimes one is stuck with just the pretzels. That’s not cool. I love Trader Joe’s Almond bars (like a granola cookie), dry cereal in any form, and trail mix. Do not be without food on a plane. Trust me.

Trail Mix Melted and Reformed = Trail Bark (Yum)

Trail Mix Melted and Reformed = Trail Bark (Yum)

4. Make a plan for road meals. I’m not advocating mapping your entire trip according to Yelp, but establish some targets for food while you travel. Are you going to eat breakfast out for every meal? Can you do sandwiches for some of it? What kind of food is the regional specialty? Are you allergic to the local fare? Do some research, ask friends, and open yourself to possibility, but avoid either eating fast food you could get anywhere or going 4 star everywhere and then entering the poorhouse afterward.

Barbecued pork bahn mi on homemade bread. Wow. Just wow.

Barbecued pork bahn mi on homemade bread. Wow. Just wow.

5. Don’t go it alone. If you’re traveling with family, no matter the age of the offspring or relations, run a benevolent dictatorship. If you’re going to a beach house, don’t agree to cook every meal, distribute the wealth. If you’re going to a destination, find out from each person what constitutes a food win. For instance, we’re going to try Burmese food, a birthday request from the Youngest (yes, TPCs Jr are awesome, thanks for noticing). We’ll also do CalMex for the world’s biggest taco fan, The Eldest.

The Jrs take on the Big City!

The Jrs take on the Big City!

Last tip: if you have a chance to eat an avocado in the wild, buy tamales from someone selling them in a back alley, or try ice cream flavored with foods you can’t identify, do it. And then send me a picture. This is vacation time!

Got ideas, suggestions, or can’t-miss eats? Post in the comments, Tweet me, or email! I look forward to sharing the adventure with you. Perhaps even a stray video review or two. 🙂

Restaurant recommendations, bacon samples, and good ideas can be sent 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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**Team Practical Cook is taking a rare break and leaving the laptop behind. Follow our field research on Twitter and Instagram! We’ll be back, recipes at the ready, Wednesday, July 24, 2013.**

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