Tag Archives: oatmeal

Weekly Menus: Week of 5/5/2013 (Vegas Baby)

Gentle Readers, it’s that time again. In my professional life, May hearkens the beginning of conference season. The big ones. The ones where I’m transported back to my college days where I find myself working as hard as I did before final exams, where days slip one into the other. Then, it’s time to execute, and someone you find the energy.

Not Practical Shoes: Over/Under Odds on Falling?

Not Practical Vegas Shoes: Over/Under Odds on Falling?

All of this takes fuel, and some forgiveness on the lack of originality. This is what menu planning is for, really, to cover you when you need to go on autopilot. Plus, TPC’s Mom will be at the helm in the kitchen, and she has her own views on what’s for dinner. (Did you like how I phrased that? I’m very diplomatic.)

Oatmeal Toppings at Grand Luxe Cafe: Golden Raisins, Brown Sugar, Milk, Bananas

Oatmeal Toppings at Grand Luxe Cafe: Golden Raisins, Brown Sugar, Milk, Bananas (My Glamorous Vegas Breakfast of Choice)

So here are some guidelines, the only request that holds firm is nachos, requested by TPC’s Jr. The proposed weekly menus are as follows:

Weekly Menus: 5/5/2013

Weekly Menus: 5/5/2013

Which means The Four Square Grocery List was very light (no wasting of food!):

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

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

All translating into:

Sunday: Rotisserie Chicken and Rice
They are on sale on Sundays in many places, and kicking of the week simply has many advantages.

Monday: Chicken Salad with Grapes
Advantages include leftovers early in the week! I had a salad the other night with duck confit and grapes, and this is a low-lift rendition, unless of course you have duck confit just waiting to be used. If so, proceed and please invite me over.

Tuesday: _______
This is an extra busy night, and I’m going to let TPC’s Mom fill in the blank. I can only imagine it will be a casserole or one-pan dish, and I’ll probably wish I was there eating it. Favorite include tortilla casserole, tomato pie, lasagna.

Wednesday: Nachos!
TPC’s Jr can make this, with a bit of help turning on the oven and opening a can of beans. I look forward to what happens. Please take pictures Mom.

Thursday: Pizza and Salad
I am not without humanity–there are frozen pizzas and salad in the house.

Friday: Vegetable Delight
I’m Southern, deeply so. Oftentimes growing up, one meal would be the clean-up hitter–a mix of every vegetable known to mankind. Great way to use up leftovers, often served with Beans and Franklins (as I used to call them) and/or Deviled Eggs. I will get off the plane hungry, and this already sounds good.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Though I will undoubtedly be up to my eyeballs in cocktail party food, Fried, and bacon-laced items, we will still dine out. It’s a family tradition, and one the Jrs and I very much enjoy. I’ll be ordering a salad.

Watch for the food posts from Vegas this week on Twitter. What kind of menus do you leave when someone else is in your kitchen? Do you prep food in advance? Leave money for pizza? Post your comments below!

Send good luck, lucrative offers, 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.)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up Wednesday: Oooop!

2 Comments

Filed under Punt!, Weekly Menus

Weekly Menus: Week of 3/24/2013

Gentle Readers, technology is wonderful until it is not. Apologies for the errors/reposting/general high tech hijinks of the last post. Something happened in the editorial and publishing process. On with the show. Today’s weekly menus is going to break form as I continue to attempt to improve inventory control.

The Practical Cook's Cereal Warehouse

The Practical Cook’s Cereal Warehouse

In assessing a week honestly, sometimes I’m just not going to have the opportunity to cook a lot. I have aspirations, and I’m going to blog about the discipline of cooking soon, but buying more food than we need is just not helping.

The Freezer Before the Intervention

The Freezer Before the Intervention

Lean in, I will confess: I haven’t used a coupon in weeks and weeks. And weeks. Perhaps we’ve grown out of using a number of the items on sale, or we just don’t need that much of any one thing. Our travel schedules (and it is plural, TPCs Jr are in very high demand) dictate more meals out, or with friends, or to meet business obligations. So we eat simply at home, or make use of the leftovers, or draw from our vast war chest of pantry options.

My Road Food Survival Kit

My Road Food Survival Kit

The net of it is, our time is the priority right now, and it takes time to plan/shop/buy/put away. If we reduce that load, we get time and money back. I’m not advocating giving up cooking, far from it. Just acceptance that one must take the long view. Weekly snapshots may look like nothing but restaurant time, but there’s a lot of oatmeal and salad in between.

Quinoa and tofu add substance to this Whole Foods salad. I thinned the Thai dressing with lemon juice.

Quinoa and tofu add substance to this Whole Foods salad. I thinned the Thai dressing with lemon juice.

So this week’s grocery list: milk, bread, eggs, bananas, cereal, walnuts. Basically the food of the Southern Snowstorm, with some variety tossed in.

And the weekly menus are:

Sunday: Indian
I’m field testing another new place. Be on the lookout for some reviews.

Monday: Fried Chicken
Again, another review. And yes, I’m running again, and faster than ever, thank you for asking. Also, yes, I got my cholesterol checked and I’m fine. Moral of this: I eat a whole lot of oatmeal and salad you don’t see. I may put together a post around all the oatmeals I’ve loved. Long view, take the long view.

Tuesday: Soup and Sammies
TPCs Jr and TPCs Mom will be at the helm again, so we are looking for simple and healthy. Add some fruit, and call it a meal.

Wednesday: Leftover surprise!
It is better to eat the food you have than buy new and have to throw more out. I have no idea what this will be, but it will be exciting. There are so many options when you are looking to clean out the fridge.

Thursday: Malaysian
More field testing with one of our favorite teams. If you haven’t tried Malaysian food, google and seek. With some luck, I’ll have a guest post before long.

Friday: Dine Out
Again, honest prevails here, we are traveling and looking forward to some exciting food adventures!

Saturday: Dine Out
See above.

How do you manage your inventory? Post a comment below, or Tweet my way!

Questions, quibbles, compliments? 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! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up Wednesday: Corned Beef Hash Recipe!

Leave a comment

Filed under Weekly Menus

Top 3 Reasons to Eat Breakfast

Gentle Readers, as long-time readers and close friends know, The Practical Cook is at war with her cholesterol (see For the Love of Grapefruit for the whole scoop). I am happy to say I am still winning this battle of the ages. It is possible to eat Fried and love it, and still maintain one’s health. There is a secret, do lean in and I’ll tell you. I eat.

Recovery Cereal

Recovery Cereal

Yes, I am not a meal skipper. As my London traveling companion will tell you, there is a reason for this. I get a smidge touchy when I don’t eat. In my experience, skipping meals always backfires. I mention the cholesterol because I had to fast for the test. The second I knew I couldn’t eat, I was starving.

Neal's Deli Biscuit with Egg, Swiss Cheese, and Garlicky Spinach: It's a Health Food Really

Neal's Deli Biscuit with Egg, Swiss Cheese, and Garlicky Spinach: It's a Health Food Really

At the same time, Crescent Dragonwagon (author of The Cornbread Gospels and the upcoming Bean by Bean <awesome!> cookbooks) shared this article on Facebook about the benefits of dessert with breakfast. Exactly. Just eat.

Oatmeal with Fig Preserves

Oatmeal with Fig Preserves

So this one goes out to the myriad readers who I know are drinking coffee instead of eating, grabbing a Little Debbie snack cake, or calling a lone banana breakfast. You know who you are, I shall not name names.

For the Love of Lattes

For the Love of Lattes: But It's Not a Breakfast Substitute!

Breakfast rocks, and here’s 3 reasons why.

1. Energy. It is the most important meal of the day. Did you learn nothing from the PSA’s of the 1980’s?? But really, coming from a farming family, breakfast is meant to fuel you through the majority of your heavy lifting. You’re getting kids to school, thinking, working out, why starve yourself?

Prepping Waffles for the Freezer

Prepping Waffles for the Freezer

2. Bacon. Need I say more? Morning is a good time to have some. I couldn’t resist sharing this picture I just found of a colleague hedging his bets, balancing his oatmeal and whole wheat toast with a side of Fried. Good work Virtually Cooking.

A working breakfast, with all the major food groups and some technology present!

A working breakfast, with all the major food groups and some technology present!

3. Cereal. Again, why miss a cereal eating opportunity? I’m a well-documented fan, but you can eat it dry or with milk. I sometimes have to take the bowl with me to the car to get The Eldest Practical Cook Junior to school on time, but don’t try to pry it from my hands. You’ll pull back a nub. Point is, it’s fast, easy, and varied. Find one you like and keep it on hand.

The Practical Cook's Cereal Warehouse

The Practical Cook's Cereal Warehouse

You have time to eat something of substance in the morning. Let yourself be hungry then, and answer the call. Cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, eggs, fruit, leftover pizza, even pie on occasion (assuming you balance it with protein), whatever floats your boat. Just don’t skip. I will be watching. (And if you ever hear I’ve missed breakfast, do not come near me without a bagel, muffin, or omelet in hand as a peace offering.)

40 All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins

40 All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins

Confession time. Do you eat breakfast? If so, what’s your favorite thing to eat in the morning? If not, why? Post a comment and share your thoughts! There is no judgment, but I won’t promise not to gently persuade. 🙂

Send cereal, bacon, and doughnuts 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

Tomorrow, Kitchen Tool Talk!

2 Comments

Filed under Kitchen Philosophy

One Ingredient, Three Ways: Walnuts Edition

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook does not change her cabinet stores wildly at the hint of every new food trend. Remember when nuts were forbidden fruit? And then they were okay, in small doses. Apparently walnuts will turn you into a genius, and that brings us to today’s post.

The Practical Cook buys walnuts in bulk!

The Practical Cook buys walnuts in bulk!

I love walnuts, and thankfully The Practical Cooks Junior do, too. When they outsmart me, as they do repeatedly, I sometimes regret my snack choice. But I digress. Here’s how to bring more walnuts into your world.

One Ingredient, Three Ways: Walnuts Edition

1. With Apples. For those who feel walnuts have an inherent bitterness, pairing them with apples brightens both ingredients. Great in a parfait, on a salad, or just tossed together in a bowl as a simple, balanced snack.

Apple Walnut Parfait!

Apple Walnut Parfait!

2. For Dessert. Try it in place of pecans in your favorite pie, in chocolate chip cookies, or as Moroccan French Toast.

Morrocan French Toast

Moroccan French Toast

3. In Oatmeal. Pair walnuts with blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup for a high-impact breakfast with protein.

Steel-Cut Oatmeal in a Bathtub-Sized Bowl

Steel-Cut Oatmeal in a Bathtub-Sized Bowl

Walnuts are a great way to add some protein to a sugary breakfast, as a trail mix component, and as a grab and go snack.

What’s your nut of choice? Are you a walnut fan? Post a comment below!

Send your squirrels, recipes, and queries 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

Tomorrow, The Practical Cook opens up the confessional booth. Tune in to find out.

Leave a comment

Filed under One Ingredient Three Ways, Snacks

One Ingredient, Three Ways: Maple Butter (with Video PLUS Kellie Pickler Tickets Giveaway!!)

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook settled in to her blogging chair, thinking a nice cup of tea and a simple blog post were in order. But life doesn’t always work out that way, sometimes an opportunity comes knocking. Back to the business of Lilly’s Gourmet Maple Butter. Here it is, One Ingredient, Three Ways:

Lilly's Gourmet Maple Butter: I Think I Love You

Lilly's Gourmet Maple Butter: I Think I Love You

1.Apples. As a taste-test, I put a small spoonful of Maple Butter out next to the old stand-by peanut butter. The Maple Butter, with its seductive sweetness, was gone in a hot minute. It’s like what a caramel apple wishes it was on a good day. Bonus, fairly low calorie spend for the amount you’ll need with your apple. My fave Honeycrisp was a maple match made in heaven.

Apple Snack Tray with Peanut Butter and Maple Butter

Apple Snack Tray with Peanut Butter and Maple Butter

2. Oatmeal. Stir Maple Butter into your oatmeal, add a few pecans or walnuts, a little milk, and bam, breakfast. The warmth of the oatmeal makes the smell and flavor bloom, and it’s amazingly inspiring as the mornings grow darker and colder.

Hot Bread with Maple Butter Glaze

Hot Bread with Maple Butter Glaze

3. Hot Bread. I turned the Brown-N-Serve Rolls (atypical for me to have them, from the failed Doughnut Experiment) into glistening lures to eat vegetables with a simple dollop of Maple Butter on the top. It doesn’t take much to do the job, and would be fantastic on practically any bread product. I’ll be working it with sliced apples on waffles soon.

Where does one obtain this magical elixir? Admittedly, I sourced it after a free sample at the N.C. State Fair. I told you to beware the samples, didn’t I? In this case, I wasn’t at all sorry, and went back for reinforcements. But you can order it online. Bonus, Lilly’s Gourmet Maple Butter has a great story, too, as told to me by Nancy Foss, the force behind Lilly’s:

Are you a maple fan? Post a comment below or Tweet at me with #maple as the hashtag.

Send queries, questions, and recipe suggestions 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

Tomorrow, it’s time again for Weekly Menus: Deep-Fried Detox Edition!

Leave a comment

Filed under One Ingredient Three Ways, Punt!

An Ode to Road Oatmeal

Gentle Readers, it is no secret that The Practical Cook is a big fan of cereal. I eat it, I Tweet it, I make videos about it. Rarely are there fewer than 10 types of it in my pantry. I cook with it (currently, I’m trying to think of the top 5 uses for the irritating bits of cereal that collect in the bottom of the bag). But I digress. On the road, it is very difficult to get my cereal on.

Steel-Cut Oatmeal in a Bathtub-Sized Bowl

Steel-Cut Oatmeal in a Bathtub-Sized Bowl

The choices are often dicey, the milk is often long-standing, and frankly, I’m morally opposed to paying $5 for a small bowl of Tony the Tiger. So when I travel, as a compensatory move for the way I’m eating the rest of the day (because remember, I got smacked hard with the genetic cholesterol stick), I choose oatmeal.

Oatmeal with Strawberries at Grand Luxe Cafe

Oatmeal with Strawberries at Grand Luxe Cafe

Though it may go for a pretty penny in Vegas (I thought Virtually Cooking was kidding about $20 oatmeal, he was not), at least someone cooked it, and it’s generally steel-cut at that premium. And I feel good about eating it. The toppings are usually interesting and varied, and I go for skim milk when it’s an option.

Oatmeal Toppings at Grand Luxe Cafe: Golden Raisins, Brown Sugar, Milk, Bananas

Oatmeal Toppings at Grand Luxe Cafe: Golden Raisins, Brown Sugar, Milk, Bananas

But wait a second. Check out the above picture more closely. I did my usual dollop of milk, sprinkle of sugar, and big dose of raisins, then I realized, there’s enough brown sugar there to make chocolate chip cookies!! Seriously, I love a ramekin as much as the next person (quite possibly more, owning as many as I do), but you don’t have to fill it up. It’s hard to see the scale here, but it’s A LOT of brown sugar.

Another Day, Another Bowl of Oatmeal

Another Day, Another Bowl of Oatmeal

So here’s my advice, as you navigate food choices while traveling: question the portions you receive. I know Mark Bittman has written extensively about McDonald’s Oatmeal (sample of the back and forth here), and frankly, I think he’s got a point. I hate when food sounds healthy and isn’t. I like to eat my calories full on and with complete joy. Bring me a Snickers, but don’t call it oatmeal.

In the end, I’ve enjoyed my road oatmeal above most of my other breakfast options in a conference/convention setting, so I keep ordering it. I’ll wait to order the chilaquiles in Texas, and the avocado omelet in California. NYC, I’ll see you for corned beef hash and bagels. And NC, grits and biscuits please. (Pancakes and waffles will have to wait for late-night or home, lest I sugar crash.)

What do you eat for breakfast when you’re on the road? Have you tried the McDonald’s Oatmeal? The comment box awaits, post today. Or Tweet!

Question, query, compliment? They’re all accepted by emailing me 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!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Tomorrow, end of season okra: Buttermilk Okra, Indian Style.

2 Comments

Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, On the Table

Readers Review the Practical Cook’s Recipes: 1st Edition

One of the highlights of being the Practical Cook—taking a look into kitchens around the world, learning more about how you, gentle readers, are cooking. Thanks to those of you who have taken the time to share some of your challenges and your successes. In this premiere edition of Readers Review, we’ll look at three successes and one commercial.

Clearly, no one in the sound of my virtual voice follows directions exactly—and that is awesome. Love the creativity out there! True story, the Practical Cook’s Mom (aka, PCM) once handed the Practical Cook a recipe that she had clipped from the newspaper with her changes noted at the top. It was an entirely different recipe. The Practical Cook must paraphrase Hank Williams Jr. here and say “leave me alone I’m just carrying on an old family tradition.”

Success with the Recipes!

Several of you enjoyed the Rustic Tart Recipe, including Blended Familia, who made a version with chorizo and butternut squash. Looking good!

Rustic Tart with Chorizo and Butternut Squash

Rustic Tart with Chorizo and Butternut Squash

From Miss Clairol, we have a riff on the Great Tuna Salad Experiment Recipe. Just like PCM, liberties were taken with this recipe. The idea of pan-seared tuna on greens is there, but surf-n-turf style, using Montreal steak seasoning, salt and pepper, Parmesan, and croutons dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette, served alongside some asparagus sauteed in butter. Well, at least two ingredients were the same, so let’s claim victory! Here’s a look:

Surf-n-Turf Tuna on a Bed of Greens

Surf-n-Turf Tuna on a Bed of Greens

Furthermore, success can be claimed on the All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins (twice made for school snack, the last time in quadruplicate). This is what 40 muffins look like (the 41st was requisitioned and divided for Quality Control and Crowd Control).

40 All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins

40 All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins

Because there was so much volume, requiring 6 cups of something flour-esque, I was able to sub half of it: 2 cups almond meal, 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour. We played “guess the secret ingredient” during the class, and they got sugar, cinnamon, and blueberries, but not one person guessed whole wheat, applesauce, or flax seed meal. Score! One student insisted it was a doughnut, failing to notice I reduced the sugar from 2 cups to 1.5 cups.

Blueberries Cover All Sins (and Whole Grains)

Blueberries Cover All Sins (and Whole Grains)

Another excellent amendment was made to the Banana Bread Recipe—mini chocolate chips. If you’re a choco-banana fan (hello Chunky Monkey), take this idea and run with it! Thanks to KAD for that one.

The Commercial

Quaker Oats Guy vs. Scott's Porage Oats Guy: KO in the first round!

Quaker Oats Guy

Last, but far from least, a fantastic follow up to the surprisingly popular One Ingredient, Three Ways: Oatmeal Edition. So many of you wrote with flavor combos and ideas, there will be a sequel. In the meantime, please enjoy the ultimate nexus of food and marketing, an ad campaign by Scott’s Porage Oats. Special shout-out to the Kilted Vegan for sharing that with us (and for providing me with an opportunity to create and use that moniker).

Seriously, we’d have no problem selling oats in America if we ran ads like that. Quaker Oats Guy vs. Scott’s Porage Oats Guy: KO in the first round!

And that brings us back to Sunday’s Weekly Menus. Some time between losing my mind decorating that Carrot Cake and setting up a treasure hunt, I’ll share next week’s plan. I can already tell you that Wednesday I’ll be serving something purple. More on that later.

Keep the reader reviews coming in, and we’ll keep the test kitchens open: practicalcook at gmail dot com

Twitter: practicalcook

Leave a comment

Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, On the Table

One Ingredient, Three Ways: Oatmeal Edition

For those of you following the Practical Cook on Twitter, you know I love Mark Bittman. Even more, I love that he’s been picking a fight with the 1,000 pound gorilla that is McDonald’s, with their new oatmeal offering. Because they find a way to supersize everything and give it an acronym. Who wants some more FMO?

For the Practical Cook, oatmeal is a kitchen staple. It can serve as a hearty meal, an ingrediente secreto, or the star of the show in a dessert. One of the Practical Cook’s rules is to avoid the “hidden” brownie. In other words, if I eat a brownie, it should be a brownie, and not some fake-out instant oatmeal or yogurt that’s loaded with sugar. I want my Krispy Kremes to be caloric bombshells of Hot Now goodness, and my oatmeal to be healthy, not the other way around.

Without further delay, here’s oatmeal in three ways.

Morning Oatmeal Au Naturel

Step 1. Make some oatmeal. Try the stove, the microwave, whatever you like. Go for old-fashioned or quick, feel free to take on steel-cut or Irish, but please do not become reliant on the instant stuff without reading the ingredients. I fell prey to it recently during a late-afternoon trip with the Junior Practical Cooks. Learn from my mistakes.

Step 2. Decorate your oatmeal. Here are some options:

Medjool Dates, Courtesy of Trader Joe's

Medjool Dates, Courtesy of Trader Joe's

  • Frozen blueberries and toasted pecans (microwave them on a paper towel for a minute or so, the flavor improvement is worth the trouble). Fresh blueberries work here, too, but the frozen ones cool down oatmeal quickly to an edible temp, a bonus during a hectic morning. Finish with some milk and a dash of maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar.
  • Dates and toasted walnuts. Search for Medjool Dates in your store. They are in fact nature’s candy, and once pitted and chopped a bit, melt into oatmeal like little caramels. Walnuts provide a crunchy counterpoint, and there’s no needs for additional sweeteners.
  • Dried cranberries and toasted almonds. (Noticing a theme here with the toasting?) A natural pairing, this combo adds a great sweet/tart/crunch punch.

Oatmeal as a Secret Ingredient

Blueberry Muffins

Mrs. McGee's Blueberry Muffins

This ground has been fairly well-trodden by the Practical Cook. Try oatmeal in your Peanut Butter Powerhouse Snacks and All-Purpose Blueberry Muffin recipe. It’s an inexpensive and quick way to add whole grains, and it doesn’t have the same wheaty weightiness of whole wheat flour, if you’re not into that.

Oatmeal Cookies Recipe, Starring Oatmeal

For the big finish, cookies. This picture includes a turkey template. Pay no mind to it, you’ll be seeing it again in November. There is no call for turkeys in the springtime. And this recipe comes from the mom of a pro football player, proving that eating oatmeal will make you a professional athlete. (Note that the Practical Cook is fond of hyperbole and makes no claims to the truth of this statement.)

Oatmeal Cookies and Turkey Template

Oatmeal Cookies and Turkey Template

Measure and set aside:
2 cups old-fashioned (or rolled) oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional (the recipe says optional, the Practical Cook says not optional!)

Cream with a stand or hand-held mixer in a large bowl:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened but not melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Slowly add dry ingredients to the creamed sugar mixture. Mix. Drop by 2 level Tablespoons (or bust out and buy yourself a cookie scoop and thank me later), or small walnut size. Do not press down. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 13-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Try not to eat all of them at once. I dare you.

How do you like your oatmeal? Leave a comment, send an email, Tweet away, the hotline is open.

Coming up tomorrow, the Secret Art of Sandwiches: From Types to Presentation.

1 Comment

Filed under One Ingredient Three Ways, Recipes

Top 10 Punt Ingredients

Does the Practical Cook make house calls? No, but she does answer her Batphone when the call comes in. This question comes to us from Alt.Country.Mom—what are the Top 10 punt items to keep in the pantry/freezer/general vicinity? Caveat—they have to work with fresh or local stuff, so not the number to the local pizzeria or burger joint.

A.C.M, here are the Practical Cook’s Current Top 10 Punt Staples, in no particular order and subject to change:

  1. Frozen pizza. Sure, I’m kind of violating the caveat (Cooking Legally will have to tell us if this is a tort infraction—I’m here to cook tortes, not break ’em), but it is very necessary. Serve with fresh veggies or a salad as an appetizer, a plate of artfully arranged fruit, and you’ve got extra time and energy to fight another day.
    **Disclaimer: if you punt too often with this one, the other team will catch on to your strategy. Use wisely.
  2. Alphabet Pasta

    Alphabet Pasta

    Dried pasta in a variety of shapes and sizes. This works with fresh or frozen veggies, jarred or fresh sauce, olive oil or butter, cheeses of all kinds, or in a quickie soup. Go for whole wheat or the “plus” variety made of chickpea flour when you can.

  3. Gnocchi or cheese tortellini. The Practical Cook will name names here. Trader Joe’s sells a shelf-stable gnocchi that is amazing, and cheese tortellini in the deli quick case that are inexpensive and delish. If you don’t have access to a TJ’s, scout your area for these gems in a brand/flavor you like. Gnocchi works like pasta, but is more interesting. Great in a tomato/sausage/kale/garlic one-skillet meal or with a fast faux pesto like the one used in Spaghetti Bird’s Nest. Cheese tortellini can be plain, sauced, or in a broth as a soup.
  4. Frozen veggies, various. The Practical Cook loves to eat seasonally, but sometimes soaking 2 lbs of collards for an hour to get the dirt off is not an option. In the PC freezer:  green peas, green beans, Brussels sprouts, corn, black-eyed peas, okra, greens, mixed peppers. Admittedly, some of this I froze myself, but everything is available commercially as well. Don’t be shy.

    Edamame

    Edamame

  5. Frozen edamame, shelled and whole. Yes, edamame is a frozen veggie, but it deserves a special mention. This can take any slightly Asian-themed meal up to the next level. Make fried rice with leftover veggies, rice, and an egg, add edamame, you’re there. Buy some sushi and extend the meal with edamame. In the pod, it’s an activity. Out of the pod, they are little protein bombs. My kids love them more than any other green veg that comes out of the freezer.
  6. Pot stickers or dumplings. Add #5 to #6 and avoid calling your local take-out joint. These gems are widely available now—find the brand and flavor you like and keep some on hand. Works with any number of veggies you can steam or stir-fry. A splash of soy sauce and you’re there.
  7. Eggs. If you’re diet precludes, please excuse. Otherwise, keep a carton of eggs by your side, or at least in the fridge, at all times. If you have the chickens to go with them outside, all the better! But seriously, you can always eat well if you have eggs. Make an omelet, frittata, sandwich, deviled, juevos rancheros, scrambled with toast or grits. Clearly, the egg council got to me. They do have good marketing. (Special thanks to loyal reader, Miss Clairol, for the Google assist on the gem of an egg commercial.)

    Sweet potatoes!

    Sweet potatoes!

  8. Potatoes, sweet and white. Find a coldish dark place, and keep both varieties on hand. They are almost meals by themselves, either can be served alongside any number of the items above, and with some toppings they are versatile and interesting too. The Practical Cook’s Dad sources sweet potatoes in restaurant quantities when the family yield is not sufficient, so you’ll see lots of sweet potatoes here. Look for an entire post on the subject in future days. White potatoes are perfect for picky eaters, good conduits for leftovers, and are also infinitely adaptable.
  9. Oatmeal. It’s not just good for your cholesterol, and it’s not just good for breakfast. Mark Bittman says so. It can be sweet or savory, and with fruit or something else on the side, you’re winning dinner.
  10. Plain yogurt. This has become indispensable as a food, condiment, and ingredient. Serve parfaits for a quickie dessert or snack, cool spicy food with a dollop of it, swap it in for sour cream or mayo. Make a smoothie with whatever fruit, fruit juice, or nut butter you have on hand. Remember, you can always add flavor to plain yogurt, but you can’t scrape the fruit off the bottom from the other stuff.

Tune in tomorrow for some thoughts about Fruit Aplenty. Till next time, keep the hotline ringing and the questions rolling in. Look for a special Valentine’s installment Monday. Something chocolate!

1 Comment

Filed under Punt!