Tag Archives: polenta

Weekly Menus: 3/3/2013

Gentle Readers, another week, another busy time. I am learning to forgive myself for doing less cooking and more plating up these days. There are still inspired moments in the kitchen, we still eat very well, and I know that the time will come when I make souffles once more.

My Kitchen Staff, The Practical Cooks Junior

My Kitchen Staff, The Practical Cooks Junior

But for now, the focus is on time together, teaching the Practical Cooks Junior how to cook, and eating food that is both healthy and visually appealing. The Jrs help me shop, plan, and prep, which takes more time, but yields better results for the team. I can’t complain.

Without further preamble, here are our Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 3/3/2013

Weekly Menus: 3/3/2013

And the Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 3/3/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 3/3/2013

Which translates into:

Sunday: Flying Mayans
This will be burrito style and use up the leftover sweet potatoes, black beans, and rice I found in my fridge upon returning from my business trip. Woot!

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

Monday: Soup and Sammie
We got some rocking good bread (there has been a protest held over “just brown bread”), and sammies are once more fun. Many smiles in the grocery store when I made them choose, without interference, saying, you pick it, but don’t complain later. Survey says, the Jrs prefer “prairie” bread, or something with a lot of seeds.

Tuesday: Pork chops and Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Though my offspring are still primarily vegetarians, I’m going to try this hybrid meal. They’ll gladly eat the gnocchi on its own (with extra crispy sage), and I’ll serve a pile of Brussels sprouts on the side. That way they can choose to pork chop or not.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Extra Crispy Sage

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Extra Crispy Sage

Wednesday: Veggie Burger and Fries
This feels like a night to watch a bit of a movie and have some vegetarian junk food. Always popular to get over the midweek hump. We’ll have salad or broccoli with.

Thursday: Polenta with Mushrooms
You can’t complain about raising kids who can tell a) which portobello mushrooms are the best and b) the clerk that they’re not shitakes.

Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms: A vegetarian family favorite!

Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms: A vegetarian family favorite!

Friday: Leftovers
Who knows what we’ll have left and in what capacity, but it is going to end up on the table. We can stretch this with crostini or cheese and crackers. Mama Tapas in the house!

Saturday: Dine Out!
The plan is to go restaurant reviewing with Waldorf. Hopefully we’ll find a new gem or at least fight about it in the process. We’ve been far too agreeable lately.

Send good ideas, dishwashers, and extra sleep 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 on Wednesday: Spinach Crostini, a Recipe of Sorts

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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!)

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

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Polenta: Mexican Style! (Recipe of Sorts)

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook listens to the crowd in planning menus. And TPCs Junior have spoken–polenta for the people! Apparently, if a casual counting of likes, reactions, and genial nods are indicators, you, the viewing public, also like polenta recipes.

Mexican Style Polenta (vegetarian!)

Mexican Style Polenta (vegetarian!)

Here’s this week’s offering, Polenta: Mexican Style!

1 shelf-stable package of Trader Joe’s polenta (feel free to make your own, or sub your favorite brand), cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
1 Tablespoon butter/olive oil combo, in any ratio
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 can diced no-salt tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon cumin
a pinch of oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 package Trader Joe’s soy chorizo (or the real stuff, or another kind of soy chorizo)
1 avocado, diced
shredded cheese for topping
sour cream for topping

1. Heat the butter/oil in a large skillet over a strong medium heat. When hot, add the polenta and fry both sides well, at least 8 minutes per.

2. Meanwhile, open, drain, and rinse the black beans. In a small saucepan, heat a dash of olive oil over a low medium heat and saute the onions until soft. Add the garlic and saute until you smell it, about 30 seconds, then add cumin and oregano. Add black beans and tomatoes, stir. Lower the heat and simmer until flavors meld, which I find happens right when the polenta is done because I’m hungry.

Soy Chorizo from Trader Joe's: Not bad actually, but on the spicy side.

Soy Chorizo from Trader Joe’s: Not bad actually, but on the spicy side.

3. Meanwhile, yes, there’s a lot of meanwhiling going on, saute the chorizo (remove the casing!) over medium heat in a dash of olive oil.

Saute the chorizo (soy chorizo in this case, don't be afraid).

Saute the chorizo (soy chorizo in this case, don’t be afraid).

4. Assemble by placing at least 2 rounds of polenta, a dollop of beans, chorizo, cheese, and sour cream on the plate. Dig in.

Deconstructed Mexican-Style Polenta, or Polenta Face (courtesy of the Eldest)

Deconstructed Mexican-Style Polenta, or Polenta Face (courtesy of the Eldest)

I suppose that was actually a recipe. Enjoy, it was my favorite iteration to date. Not quite the masa cakes of Brooklyn Star, but I’ll get there yet. I suspect I need to find a way to make my own polenta cakes, or masa cakes, but the shelf-stable one is so very easy and in demand.

Have you tried polenta yet? What’s your flavor? Post a comment below, the crickets will thank you.

Send your corn meal, witty rejoinders, and favorite cereals 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 next, it’s Weekly Menus or Wait, Where’s November?

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Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms Recipe

Gentle Readers, on rare occasions, everyone in the family likes the same thing. Team Practical Cook prides itself on individual palates, to the point that certain Practical Cooks regret raising Juniors with discriminating tastes. Overheard at the table: that’s not how it tastes to my mouth. Arrgghh!

Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms: A vegetarian family favorite!

Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms: A vegetarian family favorite!

Yes, the Practical Cooks Junior are seriously 2.0, with all the requisite improvements, but you try cooking for short people with very clear notions of food. Enter Trader Joe’s shelf-stable polenta. It was the featured sample a few weeks back, and it’s graced our kitchen ever since.

Trader Joe's Shelf-Stable Polenta

Trader Joe’s Shelf-Stable Polenta

This time we made it hearty. The Youngest didn’t like mushrooms much before, so we had everyone select their own type of mushroom from the bin. Naturally, she went for the shitakes, at $9.99/lb. Oh well. They were delicious.

The More Affordable Portobella Mushroom

The More Affordable Portobella Mushroom

Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms Recipe

1 package Trader Joe’s shelf-stable polenta, or feel free to make it yourself, I won’t wait
olive oil
3 cloves garlic
about a pound of mushrooms, any variety, cleaned and sliced
salt
red pepper flakes
1/2 bag prewashed baby spinach
6 grape tomatoes, quartered
3 – 6 eggs
Romano cheese

1. Slice the polenta in 6 to 8 slices, and prepare according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, heat a dollop of olive oil in a medium-high skillet and add the garlic cloves. When you can smell them, add the mushrooms. Add salt to taste and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Saute until they lose their water and reduce.

3. When the mushrooms are cooked, add the spinach. Saute until wilted. Add the grape tomatoes and heat briefly.

4. By now the polenta should be done. Turn off the heat but leave in the pan. Meanwhile, fry as many eggs as you want, over easy or medium, at least one per serving.

5. Make a stack: polenta, mushroom mixture, egg. Top with grated Romano cheese. Enjoy.

This was a runaway hit. It was beautiful, it felt special, and with some fruit on the side, made for a very filling meal. After all, polenta is really just Italian for grits.

Polenta Frying in the Pan

Polenta Frying in the Pan

Are you a polenta fan? How do you serve it? Post a comment below, I’m listening!

Send your confessions, questions, and bacon 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, on video: Booberry vs Frakenberry: The Ultimate FauxBerry Taste Challenge

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