Tag Archives: fish

Weekly Menus: Summertime Edition

Gentle Readers, when did summer become busier than the school year? Lots of fun in the queue, but my calendar is openly weeping. Combined with the heat and training for upcoming 5k for Wounder Warrior Project, and I’m more focused than ever on efficient, seasonal, light eating.

Meze platter from Bosphorus: endless variety, light and amazing.

Meze platter from Bosphorus: endless variety, light and amazing.

My friend and food muse, SassySpice, teased me the other night about my fruit obsession, but it’s true–healthy transportable water, with some sugar, that’s what it is.

Fruit: The Cookie Antidote

Fruit: The Cookie Antidote

Plus, I’ve done some serious field research recently courtesy of my fellow pig fan from the Left Coast, Chinese5Spice. No regrets, but this week must be simple food one can eat outdoors or after a trip to the pool.

Pork Belly Buns from Lucha Tigre: Run Don't Walk (Cucumber makes it healthy)

Pork Belly Buns from Lucha Tigre: Run Don’t Walk (Cucumber makes it healthy)

Which means this weeks weekly menus are as follows (and yes, apparently I tried to sneak an extra day into the week there, good job me):

Weekly Menus: 6/16/2013

Weekly Menus: 6/16/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List (complete with another round of ingredients for another birthday party!):

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 6/16/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 6/16/2013

Which all translates to:

Sunday: Salad
I am going to unapologetically combine a field research trip  (bulk bin cereals) to the Whole Foods with a raid on their salad bar. I really crave this. Upcoming post on tips and tricks on what you get there–please post yours in the comments!

Better to top your salad with a little barbecue than a lot of ranch.

Better to top your salad with a little barbecue than a lot of ranch.

Monday: Fish and Quinoa
This meal serves both TPCs Jr, one who loves fish (The Youngest) and one who loves quinoa (The Eldest). High protein, light, and infinitely variable, I highly recommend you give this one a try. Serve with either a hot green veggie or a cold cold salad.

Salmon and Arugula over Quinoa: It rocked

Salmon and Arugula over Quinoa: It rocked

Tuesday: Hummus and Falafal
You can make hummus from practically anything, and it’s usually way better than any commercial product, and in consumable quantities. I’m either going to do a blend of chickpeas and edamame, or use white beans and lime. Leftover chips or toasted (aka, getting stale) bread as an accompaniment.

Wednesday: Pasta and Salad
It’s carbonara time I think. Or perhaps diced fresh veggies and a light lemon sauce.

Not Quite Pasta Carbonara with Spinach

Not Quite Pasta Carbonara with Spinach

Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner
We’re in high biscuit production mode here. They make a great portable breakfast, toast and reheat well, and I want to be that old lady who can whip out light and fluffy biscuits without breaking a sweat. Game on.

Inspired by Rise in Durham's Fried Green Tomato and Pimento Cheese Biscuit. Yes, it was that good.

Inspired by Rise in Durham’s Fried Green Tomato and Pimento Cheese Biscuit. Yes, it was that good.

Friday: Leftovers in a Quesadilla
Sounds more purposeful this way, don’t you think? These were a huge hit last week, so we’re going for Round 2.

Saturday: Dine Out!
This will be pizza, as we celebrate another birthday with friends. More cake, more festivities, and another pack-up to travel.

Carrot Cake Decorated with Care by TPCs Jr.

Carrot Cake Decorated with Care by TPCs Jr.

What’s on your table this summer? Post your comments below, including your tips and tricks for the Whole Foods Salad Bar (which seems to be a shared addiction). Or Tweet my way. I don’t bite. Unless you’re bacon.

Send cold foods, good ideas, and actual 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.)

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Coming up Wednesday, by popular demand: Jeepney in NYC Reviewed!

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Weekly Menus: Week of 5/12/2013

Gentle Readers, sometimes one must say “uncle.” Last week, in the midst of an extremely busy period, I failed to post the blog as promised. I heard no roar and outcry, and instead opted to grab an extra hour of sleep, thus doubling my total. I wish that last were a math flub. Life is busy, incredibly so, and I’m always looking for another way to stretch time and do one more thing.

My favorite food critics: The Practical Cooks Junior

My favorite food critics: The Practical Cooks Junior

So apologies for anyone who was counting on the Chorizo Hash Recipe, it’s coming your way soon. Confession: I am human, extremely so, and trying to manage an awful lot while spending time with my kids and trying to stay healthy. Sometimes I succeed, other times I don’t.

Life on the road is challenging. Quick calories are often the only choice.

Life on the road is challenging. Quick calories are often the only choice.

However, as the Jrs and I celebrate Mother’s Day today, fresh off a week where TPC’s Mom (and TPC’s Dad, a hero in this story) watched the kids while I traveled, I am reminded of what actually matters. Thanks to all for making this journey count.

My not glamorous breakfast of choice.

My not glamorous breakfast of choice.

And now, courtesy of input from the team, the weekly menus:

Weekly Menus: 5/12/2013

Weekly Menus: 5/12/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 5/12/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 5/12/2013

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Fish and Greens
At the suggestion of The Youngest TPC Jr, it will be salmon. Possibly with a citrus glaze, beside couscous and greens.

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

Monday: Salad
Detox begins again. I actually ate a number of delightful kale salads in Las Vegas, much to the merriment of my burger eating compatriots.

Tuesday: Quinoa with Chickpeas
From The Eldest, no idea why this popped in her head, but let’s go with it.

Quinoa with Beets, Chickpeas, and Dill

Quinoa with Beets, Chickpeas, and Dill

Wednesday: Meat loaf and Mashed Potatoes
On occasion I like to be extremely traditional. Let’s see how the Jrs take to it.

Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner
A family classic, we will be working on biscuits and grits again soon.

Fluffy little buttermilk biscuits!

Fluffy little buttermilk biscuits!

Friday: Vegetable delight
Fridge cleanup, and I’m thinking Mediterranean as the tying element.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Raleigh perhaps? Time to explore new ground!

Working on a series of food travel adventures. Post a comment below for areas you’d like to see covered! Nominate your town or a place you love to eat. I’m listening.

Send your lattes, questions, and good wishes 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, this time I mean it, Chorizo Hash Recipe!

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One Ingredient, Three Ways: Salad Edition

Gentle Readers, as Star Wars informs us, there must be balance in the force. In a life full of bacon, there must be some salad. The Practical Cook is actually a fan of salad, salad of all stripes. This challenges comes from @convertiblelife as she is working on a month of salads. My parameters are broad, doesn’t have to be iceberg with ranch. In fact, I can promise you it won’t be. And why stop with one salad when you can have a trifecta?

Grilled Veggie Salad, Potato Salad, Spinach Salad with Gorgonzola and Strawberries

Grilled Veggie Salad, Potato Salad, Spinach Salad with Gorgonzola and Strawberries

Honestly, I could eat salad every day. I do most days. I did today. See above. See below.

The Corporate Lunch Salad: Dismantle the veggie sandwich and add it to the mix!

The Corporate Lunch Salad: Dismantle the veggie sandwich and add it to the mix!

And now, One Ingredient, Three Ways: Salad Edition (fine, salad is not technically an ingredient, let us call it artistic license):

Simple Seasonal Salad with a Moroccan Twist: Romaine lettuce, toasted almonds, mango, goat cheese, and chopped dates (not bacon!)

Simple Seasonal Salad with a Moroccan Twist: Romaine lettuce, toasted almonds, mango, goat cheese, and chopped dates (not bacon!)

1. Fruit Salad. From my awesome SIL, the key is not to mix the fruit till the last possible second. And grapes take up space. You’re welcome, you can now attend potlucks with ease and confidence.

Look to the left of the carbs for the beautiful fruit salad.

Look to the left of the carbs for the beautiful fruit salad.

2. Rainbow Orzo Salad. This is a reminder that a pasta or grain salad does not have to drown in dressing or salt. You can make something healthy and colorful with a fantastic chew.

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

3. Green Salad Guidelines. Something green, something sweet, something crunchy, something salty. Toss with either Balsamic and Olive Oil, or a Sherry Vinaigrette. Example: mixed baby greens, dried cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese. We’ve served this in TPC kitchen for years, it is the house salad. Simple, easy to eat, delicious.

Blueberry Herb Salad: This picture just makes me want to eat it again.

Blueberry Herb Salad: This picture just makes me want to eat it again.

Look for more salad guides upcoming. I love the idea of 30 days of salad. I will confess that our salads have a lot of real bacon bits on them right now. You have your leftovers, I have mine. What’s your house salad? Post a comment, and yes, I’m talking to you.

Simple yet delicious, The Practical Cook's House Salad.

Simple yet delicious, The Practical Cook's House Salad, in Variation.

Email your pictures, queries, and 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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Coming up Friday, Round 3 of Bacon Brackets: Local Edition!

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Weekly Menus: Week of 2/19/2012

Gentle Readers, it is that time again, when The Practical Cook looks into her crystal ball, or at least her crystallized freezer, and plans the meals for the week. Once again, she is also traveling during that week. And while that leads to some expertise in plane food (do NOT try the pizza), it is less conducive to complicated sit-down dinners.

Deep Fried Moonpie at The Pig in Chapel Hill: Speaking of Cravings

Deep Fried Moonpie at The Pig in Chapel Hill: Speaking of Cravings

And I have been craving some serious field research lately. I am having a moment like the Chairman did before creating Kitchen Stadium. I don’t think I’ll bite a whole pepper, but I want some new ideas. Spring can’t come fast enough.

So without further delay, here are the Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 2/19/2012

Weekly Menus: 2/19/2012

And the Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 2/19/2012

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 2/19/2012

Which will hopefully translate into:

Sunday: Something Traditional
You might even say “revolutionary.” Any guesses where we’ll be doing field research?

Monday: Frozen Pizza and Salad
Sometimes, it’s just best to Punt! in advance. This will be most necessary after our journey!

Tuesday: Salmon and Brussels Sprouts
I need more fish in my life, my brain needs all the support it can get. And I’m craving sprouts, don’t judge.

Wednesday: Tacos!
We need to use up some ground beef, and nothing says “festive” like tacos.

Thursday: Beans and Sausage
My kids could eat this constantly. I love it because the variations are endless, just choose a bean, a sausage, and a green. Tomatoes optional but encouraged.

Friday: Chinese Take-Out!
I feel an extreme need for Field Research coming on. I believe it will be a two-fer.

Saturday: Dine Out!
The problem with scheduling in advance is that I sometimes create my own cravings. Sigh. I’m not committing to where the dining will happen, but I’m thinking a lot about Turkish food.

Send your menus, leftovers, and cooking 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!)

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On Wednesday, Three Reasons to Host a Potluck.

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One Ingredient, Three Ways: Rosemary Edition

When the yard gives you herbs and spices, take some scissors with you and harvest them. Several years ago, the Practical Cook took out some yard aggression on those standard “builders’ bushes” and replaced them with rosemary and lavender. It was a good decision. Now, not only is the end of the walk more attractive, it smells better, too. Bonus, rosemary is a versatile ingredient.

Rosemary Flourishing

Rosemary Flourishing

Let it be known that there’s a reason I’m not called the Practical Gardener. I do not have the gift or the patience. (Visit my friends over at You Should Grow That! for all things gardening.) However, even I am capable of growing and not killing rosemary. Give it a whirl.

Quick rosemary tutorial video:

Here are three ways to use rosemary as an ingredient:

1. Baked goods. Don’t go hog wild here, rosemary is strong stuff. But add a pinch or two of finely chopped rosemary to your favorite biscuit or cornbread recipe and make the everyday gourmet. Also great in scones to balance the sweetness (try it with orange-cranberry scones in particular).

Hello, Hello, This Is Rosemary

Hello, Hello, This Is Rosemary

2. Vegetables. Just last week, I made a whole meal around rosemary, from the Skillet Potatoes to the Spring Carrots. It doesn’t take a lot to add punch, and the flavor profile changes with the vegetable, so you don’t just feel like you’re gnawing on a shrub the whole meal.

Layer Potatoes and Seasonings

Layer Potatoes and Seasonings

Spring Carrots with Orange and Rosemary

Spring Carrots with Orange and Rosemary

3. Fish. Nothing is simpler or easier to clean up than fish en papillote (unless it’s fish in foil, as shown here). For this dish, I used a pound of cod, spring onions, the juice of 1/2 lemon, slices from the other half of the lemon, olive oil and a dab of butter, salt and pepper, baby spinach leaves, and two good-sized sprigs of rosemary. Bake in foil in a 400 degree oven, on a baking sheet for support, for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish. Keep an eye on it.

Preparing the Fish in Foil

Preparing the Fish in Foil

Cod in Foil with Lemon, Rosemary, and Spinach

Cod in Foil with Lemon, Rosemary, and Spinach

How do you like your rosemary? Leave a comment here, or Tweet away.

What’s in your garden? Send photos to practical cook at gmail dot com. Or post a comment here, or connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Like, like, like! Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Stay tuned for the Summer Picnic Platter.

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Can this supper be saved? Tuna Fish Edition

Into every family or dinner, a little bit of finickiness must fall. Gentle Readers, the Practical Cook has been gifted with some talented eaters for children, but fish is a showstopper for one member. Sunday night tends to be fish night, and the fish-hater took one look, curled her lip, and said, “is that salmon?” No, it’s tuna, and I’m not going to be able to sell the tuna casserole, am I?  Drat.

Enter inspiration and hot weather. It was hot yesterday, 70 degrees or so in March. Not really casserole weather. The Practical Cook loves a good dinner salad, and thought about a riff on Niçoise Salad. But that can be a bit piquant for young palates, and there were some ingredients in the fridge that were in need of a home. Here’s the result.

Salad Trinity

Salad Trinity

The Great Tuna Salad Experiment Recipe

No Mayo, no cans involved. Serves a family of 4 with two young eaters. If you have big eaters, double the recipe.

.75 to 1 lb tuna medallions (they are much cheaper, and you’re going to slice them anyway)
healthy dose of mixed salad greens
1 or 2 avocados cut into small dice
1 sweet yellow pepper, sliced thin
2 cups diced pickled (or plain cooked) beets
something crunchy for sprinkling on top, options include toasted sliced almonds, chow mein noodles, seeds, fried onions

Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
juice of 1 clementine (feel free to sub another citrus)
zest of 1 clementine

1. Wash tuna, pat dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a medium frying pan, heat a dash of oil (I used peanut) over medium-high heat. Sear tuna on both sides, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Turn off heat, cover with a lid, and let residual heat finish tuna to your desired temp. Keep a close eye on it.  **The Practical Cook likes her tuna on the verge of swimming. For those who prefer it less rare, leave it on a bit longer.

Rare Pan-Seared Tuna Medallions

Rare Pan-Seared Tuna Medallions

2. When tuna is cooked, slice it thinly against the grain.

3. Prepare the dressing by whisking olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Add the juice and zest and whisk again.

Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette

Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette

4. Compose salad. First the greens, then the peppers, then the avocado and beets, topping with tuna. Whisk the dressing and gently coat each salad. Complete with the crunchy topping (we used Trader Joe’s Fried Onions, leftover from the grean been casserole experiment).

The Great Tuna Salad Experiment

The Great Tuna Salad Experiment

Note for picky eaters: Since I was feeding kids, I let them choose the amount of certain ingredients they wanted. None was not an option, but a little vs. a lot was. The youngest opted out of peppers, and the fish-hating eldest opted to not have much tuna. At first. Then she tasted it. And the tuna disappeared. Lots of crunchy onions were used in the making of these salads.

Supper was saved! For some inspiring salad ideas, hunt down a copy of the out-of print gem, Lettuce in Your Kitchen. The title alone makes it worthwhile.

That’s it for today. Coming up tomorrow, an inspiring story of Spring Cleaning from a long-time reader. Tune in to see how she tamed the freezer and put a plan in place to solve the inventory challenge.

Keep those questions and challenges coming: practicalcook at gmail dot com

Twitter: practicalcook

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Easy Fish, or How Not to Flounder

For whatever reason, people are afraid to cook fish. Sometimes they don’t like fish, or have had a fishy fish experience. The cursed 10-minute rule seems to linger and prevail where common sense and eyesight should inform. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was once part of a dinner party group we called “Fish Club.” First rule, don’t talk about Fish Club. (I think you can see where this is going . . .)

Fish Club

Fish Club

But I’ll risk the consequences and tell you the secrets of Fish club. We tried 2 or 3 types every time, not too much of anything, and I learned what I liked and was challenged to prepare things in different ways.

(That said, you will not find shellfish recipes here. The Practical Cook is allergic, and it is not practical to prepare something that is guaranteed to make you sick.)

Fish is a great source of protein, and once you find what you like, and buy good quality, the fish fear should dissipate quickly. It’s ideal to serve to one person or ten, just buy what you need. Fish grills well, broils well, and pan sears nicely. Some preparations will stink up your house though, and I recommend being ready to open a window, turn on the fan, or mull some cider afterward.

Buy the fish locally if you can, don’t buy much of a type you don’t know you like, and be sure to experiment to find out what you do like. A fishmonger once told me that truly fresh salmon smells like watermelon, and it is shockingly true. If it smells fishy raw, cooking won’t do that much to change the end product.

For the fish meal I made this week (see Weekly Menus 1/30/11), I had the advantage of locally, family-caught fresh flounder. It was delicious simply broiled with a little lemon juice. However, I made the mistake of not fully defrosting it before cooking. Yes, the Practical Cook still swings and misses, and from it I learn a lesson and live to fight another day.

Fish and Chips

Sunday Night Dinner: Fish and Chips

So you’ve had your pep talk, gentle readers, now it’s game time.

Spicy Mahi-Mahi with Lime Juice

(this recipe goes out to my friend, whom I shall refer to as Dr. Particular to protect her identity)

olive oil
1 6-8 oz fillet of mahi-mahi, fully defrosted if frozen, rinsed and patted dry
1/8-1/4 tsp Cajun-style seasoning mix, or to taste
1 lime
butter

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Heat the olive oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium heat until the oil is hot but not smoking.

3. While the oven and pan are heating, rub the fish with the Cajun seasoning, covering thoroughly (or to taste).

4. Sear the fish in the hot skillet for 1-2 minutes per side, then finish roasting in the oven. Depending on thickness, this should take less than 10 minutes. But I’m not your oven, nor your fish, so use a fork and flake it to check.

5. When right at done, remove from heat, plate and top with a pat of butter and a squeeze of lime juice.

Fish pairs well with potatoes and rice, and the sweeter varietals (like salmon and trout) go very well with sweet potatoes and winter squash. Most green veggies sit nicely alongside, so if you’re in a rush, whip out the frozen peas or green beans.

Coming up next, “Can this supper be saved?”–transforming soup into pot-pie in 2 easy steps.

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