Tag Archives: mexican food

Weekly Menus: Week of 12/9/2012

Gentle Readers, what a delight it is to be back in the kitchen. The time of holiday food-gift making is upon us. This year, it’s cookie time, with a side of spiced nuts. Surprise. I’m back from Las Vegas, where the tourist sections rival Texas in portion size. So this week’s menus are an exercise in restraint, in preparation for cookie time.

World's Largest Fortune Cookie: Tao in Las Vegas

World’s Largest Fortune Cookie: Tao in Las Vegas

Weekly Menus for this week:

Weekly Menus: 12/9/2012

Weekly Menus: 12/9/2012

The Four-Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 12/9/2012

The Four-Square Grocery List: 12/9/2012

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Frozen Pizza and Salad
This is not technically in the kitchen, but I have an event to attend, and TPC’s Dad is at the helm. Of his many many life skills, feeding burgeoning foodies is not among them. Rather than risk them cooking a full meal, I’m keeping it simple.

Monday: Pork Chops and Sides
When the vegetarians are away, the omnivore will play. I think some spicy sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts are in order here.

Tuesday: Polenta Delight
We’re having a special guest over, and it’s time to break out yet another version of polenta! Mushrooms, spinach, and what? TBD.

Wednesday: Latkes and ??
I have never made latkes, and I don’t know what goes with them, but I fully intend to a) find out and b) help make them. Happy Chanukah to all who celebrate!

Thursday: Mexican
Long week, tough crowd, Mexican for the win. Burritos or quesadillas, with a side of beans. I am afraid I’m going to have to learn how to do sweet plantains at home as well. They are in very high demand by TPCs Junior.

Friday: Soup and Sammie
Hoping to make veggie stock and try some soup ideas. If not, another boxed soup test will happen. Options, always keep the options open.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Scouting some new places in Durham! As always, send your suggestions.

What are you making for food holiday gifts? Post your ideas in the comments section below. Or just send me a sample. 😉

Send your latkes, your spare presents, and your 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!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up Wednesday, Telling the Truth About Food: Picky Eater Updates.

Leave a comment

Filed under Weekly Menus

Weekly Menus: Week of 9/9/2012

Gentle Readers, where does the time go? Old people used to say that, so I suppose I’m now in their camp. It’s September, time for stews and soups and school projects. Nothing is more life-affirming than making dinner while The Practical Cooks Junior attend to homework at the kitchen table. It’s hard not to openly weep or just stare in happy awe.

The Eldest reading at the kitchen table, using the kitchen timer to clock the minutes.

The Eldest reading at the kitchen table, using the kitchen timer to clock the minutes.

The Youngest assinging herself homework, works in her workbook.

The Youngest assinging herself homework, works in her workbook.

So dinner is about talking them through homework problems, or answering questions, or lively discussions about the day. (If you want a factual report, ask The Eldest. If you want to know how everyone felt about it, ask The Youngest.) We are still eating fairly simply, and focusing on the time together. This week is no different.

This week’s weekly menus are as follows:

Weekly Menus: 9/9/2012

Weekly Menus: 9/9/2012

And the Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 9/9/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 9/9/2012

Which translates into:

Sunday: Tortellini Soup
I’m going to try this with some veggie stock that I have. The Eldest has held firm to her convictions. Which is challenging as a cook, but awesome as a human being. Special thanks to the food professional in her life (you know who you are) who high-fived her for living her beliefs. That meant a lot.

Monday: Veggie Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries
Because they are awesome. That’s really the only reason. Vegetarian junk food, except for the fries, which I make from scratch.

Tuesday: Pizza and Salad
Because it’s delicious and easy.

Wednesday: Pancake Meal
We’re having a dinner guest, and trying out our 3-course savory pancake meal. It will start with a cornmeal pancake topped with black beans and sour cream, then a savory crepe with mushrooms, parsley, and Parmesan, finished with a sweet pancake dessert course. Potentially ricotta and fruit filled. That sounds pretty good now that I type it out.

Thursday: This will be crockpot surprise or leftovers, depending

Friday: Mexican
Spinach quesadillas for the win! Just add avocado and beans on the side.

Saturday: Dine Out!
I feel an adventure coming on here.

What are you cooking these days? Any school snack ideas? We took dry cereal and applesauce in one case, and Clementines in another. I’m always looking for non-Goldfish suggestions. Post a comment below! It’s wide open and waiting!

Send your strokes of brilliance, your challenges, 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!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up Wednesday: My Favorite Cereal Bowls.

4 Comments

Filed under Weekly Menus

Weekly Menus: Week of 6/16/2012

Gentle Readers, it is so very good to be back in the kitchen. Finally, access to food on a regular basis, and the simple bliss of cereal. The vegetable choices are exploding, and I’ve gotten a couple of great challenges to work on in the test kitchen (both involving using up found ingredients, more on this upcoming). School’s out, appetites are in.

Typical lunch for me last week. Not optimal.

Typical lunch for me last week. Not optimal.

Thanks for some fantastic feedback this past week. Knowing that I’ve made a difference in just one person’s dinner, that I’ve convinced just one person to try cooking again, that makes it all worthwhile. Thank you.

On the menu this week:

Weekly Menus: 6/17/2012

Weekly Menus: 6/17/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 6/17/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 6/17/2012

The CSA from Brinkley Farms:

1 lb filet beans
1 cantaloupes
1 green summer crisp lettuce
1 bundle Swiss chard
1 bundle carrots

Which all translates to:

Sunday: Lasagna and Salad
This has been on the request list for some time. I make veggie lasagna, sometimes red and sometimes bechamel, and sometimes hybrid. I’ll report on the outcome. Great way to use zucchini and mushrooms, not just spinach and red peppers.

Monday: Juevos rancheros
One of our most popular meals to date. I love that everyone can size the meal according to their needs. The Eldest Practical Cook Junior can easily out-eat me on this one.

Juevos Rancheros, Practical Cook Style.

Juevos Rancheros, Practical Cook Style.

Tuesday: Sammies!
There’s some bread that needs to be used up, so it’s sammie time!

Wednesday: Pasta Night!
That gets an exclamation because we’ve been highly experimental here in the test kitchen thanks to eating Big Night style a few weeks back. The Juniors have strong opinions here. Wonder how that happened?

Linguine with slightly creamy lemon sauce and asparagus. I wanted to swim in it.

Linguine with slightly creamy lemon sauce and asparagus. I wanted to swim in it.

Thursday: Steak and Potatoes
Believe it or not, this is the hardest meal to sell in. Still working on how to serve mashed potatoes and steak in a way everyone likes. I think it’s texture.

Friday: Pork chops and chard
I heart pork chops. The local ones we get taste like bacon. That is all. 🙂

Saturday: Dine Out!
The Eldest, due to the unfortunate breaking of her ankle on her birthday, has not had her traditional birthday meal at the establishment of her choice. This will be that night. I can’t wait to see what happens.

What are you cooking these days now that school is out (assuming it is), and the weather has turned a bit (assuming it has)? Post a comment below. I am hungry and ready to read some good ideas!

Send your queries, kitchen confessions, and secret ingredients 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!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up on Monday, Reviews from the Road, San Diego Style!

Leave a comment

Filed under Weekly Menus

Punt! Rotisserie Chicken al Pastor

What could be better than a Rotisserie Chicken? Out at dinner with some fellow bloggers (or as the Practical Cook prefers to say, “real bloggers”—these ladies know what they’re about), it was nice to discover that these convenient fowl have quite a following. Sunday night’s emergency chicken left enough chicken to do something with, but not enough to stretch for a meal for four. What to do?

Open-face Pollo Taco al Pastor

Open-face Pollo Taco al Pastor

Every once in a while, there’s a happy moment where multiple little things are in the fridge and they work together. This recipe comes from that special place, but is good enough that I’ll collect the ingredients and make it on purpose

Rotisserie Chicken al Pastor Recipe

Adjust amounts relative to your taste and your leftovers.

dash of olive oil
1 spring onion (or a scant 1/4 cup chopped onion, if you have one that needs to be used up)
1 head green garlic, minced (or a couple of cloves of regular garlic)
1 to 1 1/2 cups leftover rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, shredded
1 to 1 1/2 cups diced pineapple (fresh if you’ve got it, but a can will work fine), juice reserved
1/2 can diced tomatoes with mild chiles, or more to taste
1/8 teaspoon cumin
corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cabbage
lime wedges
guacamole, sour cream, chopped cilantro, diced onion, radish slices (optional accompaniments)

1. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onion and garlic and stir until you smell them. Immediately add chicken and pineapple.

2. Stir mixture and cook for a few minutes until pineapple begins to get juicy. Add tomatoes and cumin, and add some of the pineapple juice, or extra tomato juice if the mixture is dry. Stir to combine, cover with a lid, and reduce the heat to low.

3. Simmer the mixture for 15 or 20 minutes until flavors meld, adjusting seasonings as needed.

4. When the chicken mixture tastes good, serve it on corn tortillas with a bit of shredded cabbage and a squeeze of lime juice.

Rotisserie Chicken al Pastor with Mexican Corn and Beans

Rotisserie Chicken al Pastor with Mexican Corn and Beans

Stand back taco truck owners, pollo al pastor in the house! (For those who aren’t taco truck fans, tacos al pastor are made with pork, take much longer to make than the above cheater recipe, and really rock out. So do give them a try.)

Do you prefer soft or hard tacos? Vote today in the comments section!

Send questions and thoughts to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Like, like, like! Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Up next, Can This Castle Cake be saved? Birthday disaster looms.

4 Comments

Filed under Punt!, Recipes

Adventures in Eating: Dining Out at Salsas in Asheville, NC

When in Asheville, NC, eat downtown and outside! This past weekend, the Practical Cook went on location to the mountains. Not only was she able to enjoy a picnic by a waterfall (score!), she ate a lot of great food around a town that is known for fantastic breweries every few feet. Today’s review is of Salsas.

Waterfall in Asheville, NC: Perfect spot for a picnic!

Waterfall in Asheville, NC: Perfect spot for a picnic!

The food was fantastic, the server was very helpful in helping us navigate our choices, and the beer was the size of the average bottle of wine. Yes, please. For the complete video account, roll the tape.

Why can’t I resist ordering something dramatic? And involving the word “shank?” One never knows. I would not recommend ordering this if you have a rambunctious toddler nearby. This dish was hot and a bit precarious. The kid at the next table was totally jealous of my goblet of fire.

Chips and Salsa, Floral Presentation

Chips and Salsa, Floral Presentation

Salmon Paqueta (aka, Grilled Burrito)

Salmon Paqueta (aka, Grilled Burrito)

Chicken Paqueta (aka Grilled Chicken Burrito)

Chicken Paqueta (aka Grilled Chicken Burrito)

And for the grand conclusion, my dinner:

Molcajete with Pork Shank
Molcajete with Pork Shank

What did my field research teach me? Don’t fear the heat, pair pork with fruit and peppers, and eat outside whenever possible.  Most importantly, share food with friends, and it will always taste better. And I’m pretty sure a molcajete just made the Kitchen Tool Talk Wish List.

Overall, a great experience, highly recommended.

Ever been to Asheville, NC? What are your favorite spots? Post a comment, or Tweet away!

Send your restaurant review requests in to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Like, like, like! Press “like” on Facebook today!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up tomorrow, Summertime Snacks continue with another Popsicle Recipe! Flavor to be determined, tune in to find out.

2 Comments

Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, Restaurant Reviews

One Celebration, Three Ways: Cinco de Mayo Edition

Gentle readers, it does not take much to create a celebration here at the Practical Cook household. And any excuse to eat Mexican food will do. So bring on Cinco de Mayo, with your cerveza (having a Justin Wilson moment) and your chips and guacamole. Here are three practical ways to celebrate.

Flying Mayan

Flying Mayan

1. Flying Mayans. Discussed in the blog before, this is an homage to a burrito joint in Chapel Hill, NC, the Flying Burrito. Make a black bean and mashed sweet potato burrito, add a little rice and cheese, some salsa, and guacamole, with black olives and lettuce optional. Theirs are as large as my head, you may size yours according to preference. Es muy delicioso.

2. Good Ol’ Tacos. Let’s be honest, sometime it’s nice to eat the most American of Mexican foods, the crunchy taco. The good people of Ortega introduced me to tacos from a box many years ago, and I have a nostalgic taste for the “salsa” packet they include in the kit. For the vegetarian readers, try making with either lentils or the faux burger crumbles in the freezer case.

3. Spinach Quesadillas. This is a Punt! staple here in the Practical Cook kitchen. With green garlic (CSA) and spinach (family farm picked by the senior Practical Cook Jr.) in season, what could be better? Whole wheat tortillas, use a flavorful cheese, fire it up in your favorite heavy skillet. Serve with a side of beans (refried or ranchero style), and you’ve got a party on a plate.

Green Garlic

Green Garlic

Fresh Fluffy Spinach

Fresh Fluffy Spinach

Green Garlic + Spinach (Less Fluffy Now)

Green Garlic + Spinach (Less Fluffy Now)

Spinach Quesadilla and Ranchero Beans

Spinach Quesadilla and Ranchero Beans

Complete the celebration by speaking Spanish (do your best) and dancing to salsa music at the conclusion of your meal. Food is a celebration looking for a theme. And hey, if all else fails, patronize your local taco truck!

Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?  Send an email to practical cook at gmail dot com. Or post a comment here, or connect on Facebook (The Practical Cook Blog).

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Up next, the first annual (fine, first ever) book review: Man with a Pan.

2 Comments

Filed under One Ingredient Three Ways, Recipes