Tag Archives: quick recipes

3 Salad Ideas OR Greens with Envy

Gentle Readers, in the inimitable words of Shakira, hips don’t lie. Into every bacon-fueled life, some salad must fall. With the onset of summer and the quest to run a 5k (an even more poignant goal as my heart goes out to Boston), it’s time to focus on my other favorite food group, salad.

Blueberry Herb Salad: This picture just makes me want to eat it again.

Blueberry Herb Salad: This picture just makes me want to eat it again.

Yes, you can make friends with salad. It’s infinitely diverse and interesting, and not because you load it down with cheese and dressing and whatever else. It takes time to eat. It’s pretty. I love to top it with fruit.

Tomato Watermelon Salad from Crook's Corner

Tomato Watermelon Salad from Crook’s Corner

But I digress. Here are 3 salad ideas to get you started.

1. Mediterranean style. Greens with goat cheese, orange segments, dates, and almonds. I had this salad this week at Sitti, a Lebanese restaurant in downtown Raleigh. With a light lemony dressing, this was summer on a plate. Delightfully balanced between bitter, salty, sour, and sweet.

Orange Date Salad from Sitti. Mmmm Dates.

Orange Date Salad from Sitti. Mmmm Dates.

2. Ole! Who says salsa is not a salad dressing? This is a new wave take on an old idea: taco salad. A bed of greens, a diced avocado, a mango, some stray black beans, and a few crunchy noodles (forgive me, they should be tortilla strips), and you’ve got a party. I thinned the peach salsa (hello, Trader Joe’s)  just a bit with Orange Champagne Vinegar (also from Trader Joe’s), and it was a hit with everyone.

This is a different salad, because I ate the taco salad too quickly. This is greens, mango, goat cheese, and walnuts. Plus the orange champagne vinegar and a splash of olive oil.

This is a different salad, because I ate the taco salad too quickly. This is greens, mango, goat cheese, and walnuts. Plus the orange champagne vinegar and a splash of olive oil.

3. New Chicken Salad. Rotisserie chicken, diced apples (pink lady FTW), walnuts, Caesar Romano Dressing. I know, perhaps not what you would think of at first, but you’re taking Waldorf salad and mashing it up with chicken Caesar. Don’t be afraid.

TPC Tested, Ninja Approved: New Chicken Salad

TPC Tested, Ninja Approved: New Chicken Salad

As you can tell, I take my salad inspiration from leftovers. I often have less than 5 minutes to prep lunch. If you pre-chop and wash Romaine and leave it in your salad spinner in the fridge, you will grab for it first. Dicing fruit takes less than no time, and then toss something else crunchy or salty on top. Done.

Colander, Salad Spinner, Metal Bowl

Colander, Salad Spinner, Metal Bowl

What are your salad ideas of the moment? Tweet me your salad beauty shots by ccing @practicalcook on Twitter or @amylewi on Instagram. I’m waiting!

Send your food puns, questions, and frosted cupcakes 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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Up next on Friday, Kitchen Tool Talk: 3 More of My Favorite Things

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Filed under One Ingredient Three Ways, Recipes

Sunday Menus: I’m Eating Your Dinner Edition

Gentle Readers, for more than a month of Sundays, The Practical Cook has been supplying weekly dinner menus. The time has come to request a favor/issue a challenge. I want to eat your dinner!

Breakfast for dinner, any hora.

Breakfast for dinner, any hora.

Yes, I am fortunate to be asked to dinner to try new things, but let’s go a step further, shall we? I will still show up for dinner, please don’t hesitate to ask, but I will also cook your favorite dinners for the world to see.  (If you are in need of some meal plans, visit the Weekly Menus archive for ideas!)

Bruschetta for dinner: the perfect way to use up a little bit of everything

Bruschetta for dinner: the perfect way to use up a little bit of everything

So send me your dishes of pride, your Punt! dishes, your make-it-in-your sleep dishes, your new discoveries. What are YOU eating for dinner? Bonus points for things I can turn vegetarian, but I will try anything that won’t kill me. Shellfish is out, and I will not appreciate hazelnut or licorice suggestions.

Sunday Dinner with the Practical Cook

Sunday Dinner with the Practical Cook

If it’s served by a mime, forget it. Everything else, fair game. I will feature menus from you Gentle Readers either as a whole week or guest stars in upcoming posts.

Strawberry Spinach Salad, You're Haunting My Food Memories

Strawberry Spinach Salad, You’re Haunting My Food Memories

Okay, I’m on vacation again. More field research to be done. So please start your ovens and fire up those grills. Feel free to post suggestions in the comments section, on Twitter, or in an email.

Serve the sweet potato bacon rustic tart warm or room temperature with fruit or a salad.

Serve the sweet potato bacon rustic tart warm or room temperature with fruit or a salad.

Send your dinner, your questions, and your brilliant ideas 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 Wednesday, Quinoa Melange Plus Chickpeas!

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Oatmeal Scotchies with Macadamia Nuts Recipe: Cookie Emergency!

Gentle Readers, this past Thanksgiving, I was asked to bring a dessert to the family meal. Pumpkin pie was covered. Chocolate was covered. Whipped cream covered most everything. What was missing?  Butterscotch.

Oatmeal Scotchies with Macadamia Nuts for the win!

Oatmeal Scotchies with Macadamia Nuts for the win!

So often butterscotch and caramel are distant thoughts on the dessert tray. And cookies at Thanksgiving, outrageous!  Team Practical Cook marches to their own beat, however, and we tend to heart butterscotch and caramel even more than chocolate. Oh I know, I said that out loud. Also, cookies: they are portable, crisp/chewy, and frankly perfect in every way.

Stop. Cookie Time.

Stop. Cookie Time.

I have none left. Which is good. Considering how many I tested for quality assurance.

Oatmeal Scotchies with Macadamia Nuts Recipe

I will openly admit I used the recipe from the back of the package, with a few amendments and additions. Here’s the Oatmeal Scotchies recipe from the people at Nestle. I swapped in 1/2 cup of lightly toasted macadamia nuts for the same amount of oatmeal. I used the vanilla instead of the orange peel. I cranked the cinnamon slightly. And I used salted butter and backed off the salt a bit (I like a saltier cookie, though, and think you could use salted butter and the full amount, maybe a scant 1/2 teaspoon, and be fine).

Oatmeal Scotchies at Rest. Cool down, my pretties.

Oatmeal Scotchies at Rest. Cool down, my pretties.

Tips:

Toast the chopped macadamia nuts in the microwave for a minute or so, watching carefully.

Refrigerate the cookie dough between batches.

Resist eating the cookies hot. I know, sacrilege, right? But I found these cookies are the rare exception that makes them an IDEAL holiday cookie. They taste better the next day. The butterscotch chips are not as flavorful in a melted state, and the macadamias were hard to detect.

Refrigerating between batches helps cookies stay fat.

Refrigerating between batches helps cookies stay fat.

I’ve already restocked on the butterscotch chips, and I plan to make them again soon. After all, with so much oatmeal, they’re practically as nutritious as some of the more scandalous cereals on the market.

Butterscotch vs Oatmeal? Where do you stand? Vote now by posting a comment below!

Send your butterscotch chips, hot tea, 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!)

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On Friday, Polenta, Mexican Style!

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Hoppin’ John Recipe, Simplified

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook is a big fan of the one-pot recipe. And though my drive to serve greens would force me to serve this with a side of collards, Hoppin’ John is one of those classic recipes that fits this bill. One of my favorite versions is Bill Smith’s dish at Crook’s Corner. I got close this time, with the help of some sausage.

Simplified Hoppin' John

Simplified Hoppin' John

Honestly, I kept craving this dish, and the leftovers kept getting better. Very easy, very satisfying, and makes a good amount.

Easy Hoppin’ John Recipe

1 lb sausage, flavor of your choice (I had local bratwurst from Brinkley Farms at hand, so I used that; chorizo would also be lovely, as would any Cajun-type sausage), crumbled or cut into chunks
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
dash of salt
dash of ground black pepper
dash of thyme
1/2 can diced tomatoes, no-salt added type
1 can of black-eyed peas, rinsed (sue me, but I didn’t have any more scratch-cooked ones on hand, and these worked beautifully)
shredded cheese, I would say optional, but it really isn’t
3 scallions, white and green parts, sliced, also not optional
hot sauce, preferable

1 batch of white rice, cooked (your choice on the top, but I used standard grocery store rice here)

Not so fluffy white rice, but it will do.

Not so fluffy white rice, but it will do.

1. In a medium skillet, brown the sausage, breaking into bite-sized chunks as necessary. When cooked, set aside on paper towels to drain, reserving just enough grease to cover the bottom of the pan.

Saute the onions and garlic with the spices.

Saute the onions and garlic with the spices.

2. Saute the onion and garlic in the sausage grease over medium heat until softened, about 2 or 3 minutes. Season with a bit of salt, pepper, and thyme. Stir for a few seconds. Add tomatoes and black-eyed peas.

Stir in the tomatoes and the black-eyed peas.

Stir in the tomatoes and the black-eyed peas.

3. Add the reserved sausage back to the skillet, stir, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat and let the flavors meld, amount of time is up to you, but I would recommend at least 10 minutes. Cover as needed to prevent drying out.

4. When serving, and this is important, don’t pour the black-eyed pea mixture over the rice until the very last minute. Once you top it, add the cheese and scallions. Do not omit them, I don’t know why, but it changes the dish a lot if you do. Serve warm.

Hoppin' John with Collard Greens on the side. Leftover lunch heaven.

Hoppin' John with Collard Greens on the side. Leftover lunch heaven.

I like mine with a smidge of Frank’s Hot Sauce (apologies to my hometown Texas Pete, but that’s a blog for a different day.)

Are you a fan of Hoppin’ John? The one-pot meal? Post your comments below, don’t hold back.

Send your black-eyed peas, rice, 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 to stay current on all of The Practical Cook news!)

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Tomorrow, Biscuits, Reviewed: Neal’s Deli in Carrboro.

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Punt! Pressed Cuban Roll-Up Recipe (with video instructions)

It’s dinner time, and you have just discovered that you left the key ingredient to the evening meal in the oven overnight to molder. Since no ingredient is worth a trip to the ER, it’s time to Punt! Sure, you had the forethought to purchase sandwich items, but you’re out of bread. Never fear.

Pressed Cuban Roll-Up

Pressed Cuban Roll-Up

First, Gentle Readers, the Practical Cook  must beg pardon from anyone who either is Cuban or has ever eaten an actual Cuban Sandwich. This recipe takes more liberties than Castro.

Second, if you have doubts that you can make this in a flash, watch the video, made at the insistence of The Younger Practical Cook Junior. She has cooked since she could stand, and made 3 of the 4 sandwiches consumed.

Pressed Cuban Roll-Up Recipe

Makes 4 Sandwiches

4 whole wheat tortillas (I’m a fan of the Trader Joe’s varietal)
Dijon mustard
1/2 pound sliced deli ham
1/4 pound sliced cheese (traditionally Swiss, we used Muenster because it was on sale)
pickles

**If you have roasted pork on hand, feel free to include.

Spread mustard on the tortilla. Layer remaining ingredients in amounts to your liking. Roll. Press in a sandwich press, the flat side of your waffle iron, or in a cast iron skillet under a brick wrapped in foil (or a similar weighted heat-safe object, like a second smaller cast iron skillet). Eat. Do a victory dance.

How do you feel about the pressed sandwich? Share your thoughts and your Punts! in the comments section.

Send your queries and questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading the Practical Cook gospel. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next, Trout, Trout, Pretty Little Trout.

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