Tag Archives: pancakes

Weekly Menus: Week of 12/16/2012 (Holiday Prep Time Edition)

Gentle Readers, never has it been more challenging to sit down and write with an upbeat message. It is difficult not to focus on the tragic occurrence in Connecticut. I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of community and connection as means of healing.

TPCs Junior learn how to light the candles.

TPCs Junior learn how to light the candles.

This past week, Team Practical Cook was fortunate to be invited to a Chanukah meal, a first for us. It was a great experience, full of tradition and modified for the vegetarian TPCs Junior. Everyone had a role to play, from lighting the candles to blessing the bread and wine.

Vegetarian Matzo Ball Soup in progress.

Vegetarian Matzo Ball Soup in progress.

These small moments are the ones I’m reflecting on as I prepare for the upcoming weeks. We are attending a Moravian “Love Feast,” which features coffee and sweet rolls. We’re celebrating friends and family with a number of holiday meals and open houses. Truly a time to count one’s blessings and remember those who are in need.

Small hands reaching for the Challah.

Small hands reaching for the Challah.

With that in my mind, this week’s menus are:

Weekly Menus: 12/16/2012

Weekly Menus: 12/16/2012

The Four-Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 12/16/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 12/16/2012

Which all means:

Sunday: Sammies
Simple and delicious, we’ll be downing a few before our social event begins.

Monday: Veggie Chili
Great hearty warmth to fight the chill. I may try my hand at a garlicky white version of this, with kale or spinach.

Tuesday: Breakfast for Dinner
Pumpkin Pancakes or potential biscuit experiment. Yes, please.

Wednesday: Christmas Tapas!
We’re reciprocating from our Chanukah invite. Our house rule is everyone gets to eat their favorite stuff in small bite-sized form. It’s the easiest and best way to do a relaxed holiday meal ever.

Thursday: Pirogies and Borscht
Craving both, and planning to source homemade pirogies and make the borscht.

Latkes frying in the pan.

Latkes frying in the pan.

Friday: Arepas and Crepes (or Dine Out!)
Again, craving plus reminded of a new place in town I need to research. We’ll see what energy levels determine.

Saturday: Pasta and Salad
I have some pumpkin pasta I’m ready to try, and looking to wrap the week up simply in preparation for a LOT of cookie consumption/production.

Peace.

Peace.

What’s on your cookie list this year? Wednesday’s blog is about the cookie jar, and I’d love to include some new inspiration! Post your favorites in the comments area below! Or drop me a line or a Tweet.

Send your cookies, cards, and 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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Coming up Wednesday: Christmas Cookie Countdown, What’s Up This Year.

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Sweet vs Savory

Gentle Readers, one of the great debates of our time, savory vs sweet. Most people have a preference. Close your eyes and consider for a moment, if you never have, whether you would want to be stranded on a deserted island with a bowl of chips and salsa or kettle corn. Therein lies your answer.

Chips and Salsa, Floral Presentation

Chips and Salsa, Floral Presentation

In this family, we are a house divided. The Youngest leans more toward savory (and bread, to be fair), the Eldest veers toward sweet. If I had to choose, I’d probably go savory myself, though I can face down a pecan pie with the best of them.

Sticky Popcorn: Chocolate Almond Cherry

Sticky Popcorn: Chocolate Almond Cherry

For our pancake extravaganza, we served savory (arepas recipe!) and sweet. We are going to do this again with savory and sweet crepes. When we were invited to a Chanukah meal recently, we had sweet and savory rugelach and more savory challah. The possibilities are endless, and the combination is delicious.

The variety for arepas is endless! Experiment!

The variety for arepas is endless! Experiment!

Fall Harvest Pancakes: Pumpkin Pancakes with Apples and Pecans

Fall Harvest Pancakes: Pumpkin Pancakes with Apples and Pecans

Sweet potato fries? Also an opportunity to emphasize the sweet or balance with spice.

Sweet potato fries with maple bacon dip. Yes, please.

Sweet potato fries with maple bacon dip. Yes, please.

What’s your vote? Post Sweet or Savory in the comments section below!

Send your latkes, lattes, and lottery tickets 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 Sunday, it’s Weekly Menus, Holiday Style!

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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!)

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Coming up Wednesday: My Favorite Cereal Bowls.

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Weekly Menus: Week of 8/5/2012

Gentle Readers, this has been a whirlwind summer for The Practical Cook and the Juniors. We have often found ourselves lacking the sheer stomach space to consume all we want to try. Not a bad problem to have, I know. However, it has also meant a real lack of kitchen time. I think I’ve cooked in other people’s kitchens more than my own!

The magic quadrant of pancakes from #projectpancakes

The magic quadrant of pancakes from #projectpancakes

Not a bad skill to acquire. Last night’s #projectpancakes was a huge success, as you can see. We field tested a couple of mixes with add-ins for a tough crowd. And there was bacon. That was less of a hard sell. Wright’s Hickory Smoked, the victor from Bacon Madness, again reigned supreme.

Underline your panckaes with bacon. For emphasis.

Underline your panckaes with bacon. For emphasis.

However, I find myself lacking inspiration. I resubscribed to Everyday Food, on my iPad. Let’s see how that format goes, if I use and enjoy it as much. So here’s what I’ve got for the week. Would love to hear from you all, what you’re cooking and eating these days. I also wonder if I’m going to be able to get up at 6 AM again before too long–schooltime draws near!

Totally counts as a vegetable. Cucumber gimlet for the win!

Totally counts as a vegetable. Cucumber gimlet for the win!

But alas, back to the late days of summer. Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

Weekly Menus: 8/5/2012

Weekly Menus: 8/5/2012

And the four-square grocery shopping list:

The still lean Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 8/5/2012

The still lean Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 8/5/2012

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Italian
We’re being treated to a 3-course meal featuring pork. Part of my ongoing quest to learn to cook Italian courtesy of the cantankerous Waldorf.

Monday: Eggplant something
This will be Turkish (broiled and pureed, a smoky base) or Italian (oregano/thyme plus a hit of red sauce and mozzarella)  in nature. TBD.

Tuesday: Leftover surprise
This may change because now we need to do some field research this week. So it may be Mexican and leftovers may be lunch.

Wednesday: Field Research (Dine out!)
I am fortunate enough to know a couple of local chefs, and the Juniors have demanded a seat at the table. Since summer is the perfect time to stay up late, we’re going out more than usual! I will reveal our mission in a future guest blog by the Juniors themselves.

Thursday: Beef and Veg
Because both of these things need to be eaten, work in volume, and can be frozen for the future.

Friday: Dine Out!
More field research! There are not enough meals in the day. Truly.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Though this may very well turn into leftover surprise. Or a salad! I adore the Whole Foods salad bar on a Saturday. The challenge of not building a $20 salad and the infinite variety!

Share your summertime cooking strategy (or eating strategy works too)! Post a comment! The crickets and I await your feedback.

Send confessions, challenges, and inspiration 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 Wednesday: Kitchen Tool Talk, More of My Favorite Things.

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Bacon Brackets, Round 2 Results: Gourmet Grocery Store (with video)

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook has exciting results to share. This week’s Bacon Brackets involve the first of a series of upsets. And really, aren’t we in it for the Cinderella story? In searching for the best tasting bacon, Improv Cook and I just assumed, right or wrong, that the gourmet shops would have something up their porcine sleeves.

Let’s roll the game day footage:

We were wrong. Here are the contenders:

Bacon Brackets, Round 2: Gourmet Grocery Store

Bacon Brackets, Round 2: Gourmet Grocery Store

And here are the stunning results of the Gourmet Grocery Store Bacon Brackets:

1. 365 brand. $4.99/12oz Some shrinkage during cooking, low salt, crisp chewy, meaty but more like beef than pork. 4th place “not good” (Yeah, we said it.)

365 Bacon is not delicious

365 Bacon is not delicious

2. Wellshire market style. $7.99/16oz This bacon had moderate salt, some chew, some bacon flavor, okay texture, good on a biscuit. 3rd place with texture caveat  (as in if you have texture issues with thicker bacon at all, don’t buy this one)

Wellshire Farm bought in bulk

Wellshire Farm bought in bulk

3. Pederson apple smoked. $7.99/16oz This bacon was noticeably sweeter, had a slight chew, some smoke, good for salad or bitter greens, 2nd place, best to cook with this one instead of eating straight up

Pederson Apple Smoked bought in bulk

Pederson Apple Smoked bought in bulk

4. Applegate Sunday bacon. $4.99/8oz This bacon suffered shrinkage, but was bacony with moderate to high salt. However, it was not crispy, so we award it a  reticent 1st place.

Reluctantly, we've crowned Applegate Sunday Bacon as the winner this time.

Reluctantly, we've crowned Applegate Sunday Bacon as the winner this time.

The big shock: the gourmet grocery store bacons got their porcine behinds handed to them by the plain old grocery store bacons. We tasted these back to back, and though I hope our finalist judges aren’t reading this, we agreed we wouldn’t go out of our way to eat any of these “gourmet” bacon contenders.

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving.

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving.

Up next week, Round 3, Local Bacon! I’ll let you gather your local bacon and test along. Do you have a favorite so far? Post a comment, even just to cheer us on or provide exercise tips. 🙂

Got bacon? Send your challenges, ideas, and vegetarian recipe requests 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 Sunday, we’ll have Weekly Menus, Plus Another Bonus Recipe!

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The Great Sweetner Race: Honey vs. Molasses (with video!)

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook adores a challenge, particularly if it is one involving a photo finish. Shout out to @bkeepsushonest for this wonderful question: Which is faster, honey or molasses? Full confession, I have a deep and abiding love for molasses, complete with memories of my Grandpa B making it from scratch. The smell of cooking cane, the bees and other stinging insects, not as pleasant, the end result, outrageously good.

Honey vs. Molasses

Honey vs. Molasses

But I digress, let’s find out if molasses is as slow as it’s made out to be. Roll the tape:

As you can see, even at room temperature, sourcing locally, molasses turned out to be the faster, runnier opponent. This was not a fixed race, but I do have a love-hate relationship with honey. I need to try more kinds, but I generally don’t love the taste.

I like honey in the following ways:

1. In desserts. Honey cake, sopapillas, baklava. Yes and yes.

The Practical Cook's Mom's Honeybun Cake

The Practical Cook's Mom's Honeybun Cake

2. In salad dressing. It makes for a lovely honey mustard and tempers a vinaigrette like a dream.

Chicken Jolt Salad with Espresso Cheese, Apples, and Dijon-Sherry Vinaigrette

Chicken Jolt Salad with Espresso Cheese, Apples, and Dijon-Sherry Vinaigrette

3. On a peanut butter banana sandwich. This was as Elvis, RIP, intended. A tip from Dr. Particular: mix the honey and peanut butter BEFORE you apply to the sammie. You can thank me later.

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 . . .)

If you’ve never sourced local molasses, do it. It is insanely good, and not the same as the commercial product, which I still like. But it the equivalent of aged, expensive balsamic in its smooth character and complexity. I would drink it if permitted.

Ahem, as I was saying, I like molasses in the following ways:

1. On cornbread.With or without butter.

Corn Muffin soaked in molasses.

Corn Muffin soaked in molasses.

2. On pancakes. If you have never tried this, run, don’t walk. Buckwheat and whole grain pancakes are best. It’s pass out good.

Whole Wheat Waffles Transformed into Pancakes!

Whole Wheat Waffles Transformed into Pancakes!

3. On a spoon. It’s for the iron, purely medicinal. Don’t judge.

The Practical Cook Loves Molasses

The Practical Cook Loves Molasses

4. In gingerbread. It’s part of why I love gingerbread, the interplay of sweet and heat.

Lemon Curd on Gingerbread

Lemon Curd on Gingerbread

5. Asian-type sauces. This includes a balancing element for stir-fry, or as an excellent substitute for tamarind in Indian dishes.

Whisk the sauce ingredients until the sugar is dissolved completely.

Whisk the sauce ingredients until the sugar is dissolved completely.

Which do you prefer, molasses or honey? Post a comment below, I can hear you hosting your own Pinewood Derby of Sweeteners out there.

Send molasses, challenges, and deep thoughts 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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Up next, One Ingredient, Three Ways: Walnuts Edition.

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