Tag Archives: kale

Weekly Menus: Week of 3/4/2012 (bonus recipe)

Gentle Readers, with life’s hectic pace, and the winter months upon us, The Practical Cook must confess she did not go to the Farmer’s Market for a long time. Yesterday, driven by a cause (bacon), she went with the Juniors. Hog wild barely describes the scene. And that was just the Juniors. We came, we saw, we tasted and bought. We also learned.

Sing with me: "You're the inspiration!" (Bread, I Love You.)

Sing with me: "You're the inspiration!" (Bread, I Love You.)

If you haven’t located or visited your local Farmer’s Market lately, make a point of doing so. Interesting things are starting to happen again in most climates, and the baked goods are not to be missed. In fact, I’m so inspired, I’m making bread tomorrow. I have a partner in crime, though she doesn’t know it yet. Thanks CV Tall in advance.

Farmer's Market = Potential, my equivalent of mainlining

Farmer's Market = Potential, my equivalent of mainlining

I’ve included my Farmer’s Market purchases on the grocery list, though retroactive, as proof that I don’t exist solely on bacon. Especially since, irony of ironies, I’ve gotten multiple requests for veggie recipes lately: salad, grains, etc. I am here for you. Look to the bottom of the post for the bonus recipe inspired by today’s shopping trip.

Without further delay, here is this week’s Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 3/4/2012

Weekly Menus: 3/4/2012

And the Four-Square Grocery List (still very spartan, still trying to eat down my unfreakingbelievably large pantry warehouse + my assault on the Farmer’s Market = fresh veggie overload):

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 3/4/3012

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 3/4/3012

Which translates into:

Sunday:Salmon and kale
I think I’ll do something orange-ish, as I have a few oranges lingering in the crisper drawer, and pair it with Quinoa or couscous salad (recipe research!)

Monday: Butterbeans, cornbread, and beets, et al TBD
I’m looking to do a serious veggie meal, as the Juniors are developing a bacon withdrawal problem.

Wednesday: Sausage and Chard
Of course, then we’ll eat more pig, but as part of a cassoulet-like dish, with white beans.

Thursday: Bacon and Egg Sammies with Salad
Maybe I’ll have nailed the homemade bread by this point . . .

Friday: Soup and Sammies!
I’ve got some beef stock I need to use, so it may be time for a French Onion soup of some stripe.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Field research is so necessary. I’m scoping some new spots, let’s see if I can gather a research team. Volunteers? Mission: Chinese.

Breakfast for Dinner: I almost forgot, I bought more grits too.

Breakfast for Dinner: I almost forgot, I bought more grits too.

Bonus Recipe: Spinach Salad with Cherries, Pecans, and Goat Cheese

This is too obnoxiously easy to be a true recipe, but it permits me to lecture on what to keep in your pantry/fridge, so you’re salad-ready at all times.

baby spinach (don’t be without this, for real)
dried cherries
chopped pecans, lightly toasted
goat cheese, fresh is best and way less goaty
good quality Balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Combine in portions that work for you. My Youngest, a notoriously picky salad eater, literally wiped the plate with her spinach leaf. She would walk on hot rocks to get to goat cheese, so I crumbled a heftier portion on her salad. The basics here are sweet, crunchy, and salty. Spinach is a good salad back-up. It stays fresh longer in the fridge, is less bitter than some greens, and packs a serious nutritional punch. Keep dried fruit always. Raisins are good, but red dried fruit (cherries and cranberries) look more festive in salads. Nuts or seeds, also keep on hand. Of course, if you’re me or have a nut allergy, you can sub bacon bits. And though I’ve got both feta and goat cheese in the house, I find goat is way more versatile. If you hate it, go with feta, but you want creamy/salty here. It melds with the oil and vinegar.  End of lecture. Salad on!

What are you eating between seasons? Post a comment with your meals or your cravings!

Send salad suggestions, vegetarian challenges, and lucrative book contracts 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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For Wednesday, we’ll be testing one more round of M&Ms: Pretzel vs Peanut!


Filed under Recipes, Weekly Menus

One Ingredient, Three Ways: Kale Edition

Kale. One word that strikes fear and loathing in the hearts of the young and the old. The Practical Cook loves kale, and if you’re a hater, here’s hoping one of the three ways to serve it suggested below will change your mind. Kale, it’s what’s for dinner.

Simply Sauteed Kale
My most oft-used variety, because it’s just so fast. The secret here is high, fairly dry heat. A mere dash of olive oil and a solid medium-high heat on a skillet with a lid. Wash your kale, dry your kale, excise tough stems. When the oil is hot hot hot, toss in your kale, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, close the lid. Use tongs to stir and toss ever few minutes, cooking for 7 to 10, depending on the strain of kale you’re using. Lightweight varietals like Red Russian Kale (don’t fear the socialist veggie) cook fast.

Red Russian Kale

Red Russian Kale

Serve with anything. Seriously. I’ve served it with everything from pizza to pasta to pork chops to beans, and all the way back around. Did I mention that a) my family grows a lot of kale on the farm and b) my offspring REALLY like to pick kale? So don’t talk to me about how you got kale in your CSA box two weeks in a row. Buck up and try it!

Hidden Kale
Not into full-frontal kale? Then conceal it. Kale is great in Pork Noodle Soup, White Bean Soup (or just soupy white beans), Potato Soup, Rustic Tarts, even red pasta sauce or tomato-based stews. Cut it into strips, and it cooks fast in practically any dish. Balance the flavor with some sweet acid, like balsamic vinegar or tomatoes, or let it shine in something more bland like white beans or potatoes.

Pasta Tossed with Bacon, Butternut Squash, and Greens

Pasta Tossed with Bacon, Butternut Squash, and Greens

Krispy Kale Chips Recipe

Kale on a Baking Sheet

Kale on a Baking Sheet

Why are potatoes getting all the chip love? Kale chips are relatively easy, and were well received by everyone. Beware of how much salt you use. Generally speaking, I salt cihps after baking them, which I’ve found to be far tastier.

1 bunch of kale, washed, dried, and in small stemless pieces
1 tsp of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 315 degrees. Line one or two baking sheets (depending on the size of your kale bunch) with parchment paper. Toss kale with olive oil, place on sheets, bake 20-25 minutes until krispy (couldn’t help myself there), rotating pans as needed. Remove from oven and season lightly with salt.

Krispy Kale Chips

Krispy Kale Chips

Serve as you would a green veg, or a chip. Also good crumbled over white bean or potato soup.

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Filed under One Ingredient Three Ways, Recipes

Weekly Menus: Week of 4/3/2011

As spring break wraps up here, and the real spring starts to show its face, the Practical Cook is thinking green. Green vegetables, light flavors, and outdoor dining. This week’s menu contains more treasures unearthed from the freezer, and features a whole lot of kale. Don’t fear the kale, we’ll talk more about ways to use it this week.

Now for this week’s menus:

Weekly Menus: 4/3/2011

Weekly Menus: 4/3/2011

Four-Square Grocery List: 4/3/2011

Four-Square Grocery List: 4/3/2011

Forgive the chicken scratch, the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet:

Sunday: Fish and Kale and Cauliflower
That will be pretty much what it sounds like. Depending on what’s good at the grocery store, it will be a simple preparation or some salmon cakes.

Monday: Rustic Tart
There’s one more butternut squash to use up from the winter CSA, and it pairs nicely with, wait for it, kale.

Tuesday: BBQ Beef Short Ribs and Green Veg
Out of kindness to my family, the green veg here will probably not be kale.

Wednesday: Soup and Sammie
High likelihood of a potato or white bean soup with a certain leafy green that rhymes with “whale.”

Thursday: Pork chops with spatzle and homemade applesauce
The Practical Cook adores spatzle, but forgot about it for a while. A recent Smitten Kitchen  post on the topic brought the pork chops out of the freezer and the spatzle maker out of cold storage.

Friday: Indian
There were family requests for Indian, and it’s a great opportunity to batch cook and put some things back into the freezer.

Saturday: Dine out!
My calendar explodes the following Sunday, so Saturday must be used strategically to pack for a business trip, cook ahead, plan meals, sprout wings, and fly.

Additionally,  the Practical Cook is looking for more ways to use up the freshly purchased Farmer’s Market Lemon Curd, healthy ideas for shelf-stable snacks for school, and new lunch ideas. Lots to blog about in the coming weeks!

Coming up tomorrow, Tool Talk: Three More of My Favorite Things.

What’s on your mind this week? Do you have a kitchen challenge? Email the Practical Cook (because she’s not answering the hotline before 9 am on the weekends): practical cook at gmail dot com

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Filed under Weekly Menus

Friday Night Lights

Just keeping with the football theme here. In our house, when dinner does not proceed according to plan, we punt. Perhaps an ingredient is missing, has gone bad, or wasn’t quite what was expected. Maybe the Practical Cook just wants to get through the meal without convincing everyone to try something new.

Whatever the reasons are, they are most likely valid ones. The only invalid response is just throwing in the dish towel and walking out of the kitchen forever. No, you must fight back! Drop the phone, do not call for a pizza. It’s time to punt.

On Friday, the meal plan called for a one-skillet meal using sausage, tomatoes, greens, and gnocchi. The tomatoes were still frozen, I didn’t feel like cutting up the sausage, and I was not 100% convinced that the greens that were supposed to be turnip in origin actually hailed from a turnip plant (they had some very collardy characteristics).

Here’s what we served instead:

Sausage, greens, and pierogie

Sausage, greens, and pierogie

The smoked sausage (CSA) took a bath in some beer and then a quick sizzle in the skillet, and the mystery greens (their turnip provenance became more apparent as they cooked) paired with green onions (CSA), garlic, and red pepper flakes for a quick saute. The pierogie arrived courtesy of Mrs. T from the freezer (one day I will commit to making my own, but Friday was not that day) and just boiled.

It was all served with a good quality mustard and homemade applesauce. Good condiments can elevate a simple meal.

Look for more punting in upcoming posts–it happens as often as I stay on plan. Thank you for the feedback, and do continue to share your suggestions for posts and punt ideas.


Quick and Easy Mystery Greens

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb greens, washed and stemmed (collards, kale, turnip, mustard, beet greens will all work)
3-6 green onions (scallions), or sub 1/2 onion of your choice
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
salt and pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium to large sized skillet over medium-high heat.

2. While the oil is heating, take the washed and stemmed greens and either A) tear them into bite-sized pieces or B) stack several on top of each other, roll them up like a cheese roll/pinwheel, and slice them thin, about 1/4 inch wide. (Basically a chiffonade.) Smaller cooks faster and that’s what you want here.

3. When the oil is hot but not smoking, saute the onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes for 1 minute or until softened and fragrant. Lower the heat if you start to burn something.

4. Toss in the greens, add a dash of salt and pepper, mix with onion mixture to blend, and cover, stirring frequently. Cook for ~10 minutes or to your preferred level of chew. Add a splash of water if you prefer a softer green or are feeding someone without all of their teeth (from youth, not old age in my house).

5. Serve warm. Vinegar optional. I don’t find greens fixed this way require additional seasoning.


Filed under Punt!, Recipes