Tag Archives: quick vegetarian meals

Ode to Eggs: One Ingredient, Three Ways

Gentle Readers, it’s that time again. It seems like TPCs Jr and I are in our suitcases more than we are out of them. But have no fear, we have meals to cover the in between times. This summer, the overwhelming winner of the protein Olympics has been the incredible, edible egg.

Sunflower Yellow Egg Yolk from Farm Fresh Egg

Sunflower Yellow Egg Yolk from Farm Fresh Egg

On its own, or in something, eggs have saved the day on multiple occasions. Here are some ideas on how to bring more eggs into your lunch and dinner plans.

Eggs on asparagus with lardons from Guglhupf. It's like a salad, right?

Eggs on asparagus with lardons from Guglhupf. It’s like a salad, right?

One Ingredient, Three Ways: Eggs

1. Egg Salad: The classic and a fantastic way to use up eggs that are on the edge. I boil mine just enough: using the 5 minutes of boiling and 10 minutes of sitting method. Cool, shell, toss with just a touch of mayo, a healthy dose of Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Delightful.

Eggs on their way to becoming egg salad.

Eggs on their way to becoming egg salad.

2. Pasta Tossed with Eggs: We fake carbonara all the time here. Eggs make a fantastic sauce tossed with pasta. Beat three eggs with some olive oil, grated Parmesan or Romano, and juice from half of a lemon. Toss fresh herbs in to taste. Toss with hot pasta, using the residual heat of the pasta and pasta water that clings to drained pasta to form the sauce and just cook the eggs. Toss with chopped bacon or quick pan roasted cherry tomatoes, or leftover grilled zucchini and squash. Sigh.

Not Quite Pasta Carbonara with Spinach

Not Quite Pasta Carbonara with Spinach

3. Eggs on Salad: Either hard-boiled and diced or egg salad itself, this is a great way to use very little dressing and make a big impact. I always do this on the work salad bar with balsamic and olive oil to dress. Really fattens up a dull salad nicely, while avoiding the salad bar cream-based dressings that are full of who knows what and nasty.

The Practical Salad

The Practical Salad

Dinner or lunch, no problem. Eggs are not just for breakfast anymore! What’s your summer meal these days? Post a comment below!

Croque Madame? Oui. (From Vin Rouge)

Croque Madame? Oui. (From Vin Rouge)

Send your farm fresh eggs, your insightful questions, and lucrative deals 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 Sunday: Weekly Menus, NOLA style.

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Weekly Menus: 2/3/2013 The Juniors Edition

Gentle Readers, there is great power in being able to put food on the table. For the past few years, The Practical Cooks Junior have been training in the culinary arts, and now it’s their time to shine. As I’m traveling for business this week, the Juniors have stepped up. They created the meal plans, with some oversight, and they are going to cook with adult supervision.

Thoughtful eaters make good cooks. The Practical Cooks Junior at work.

Thoughtful eaters make good cooks. The Practical Cooks Junior at work.

For school lunches, I’ve brought more things in that they could just toss in a lunchbox without much prep: yogurt, squishable applesauce, fruit cups, bagels, phoney baloney for sammies, etc.

A few tips for anyone who needs to prep before: watch and chop salad and leave it in the salad spinner, buy at least one frozen entree, shredded cheese is a good alternative for people without knife skills.

What I learned: It is more expensive to shop for convenience and redundancy. Worth it for peace of mind and still cheaper than eating out constantly, but notably pricier.

Easy to use lunchbox food.

Easy to use lunchbox food.

Go team, I couldn’t be more proud. Take pictures for me.

Weekly Menus, Junior Edition:

Weekly Menus: 2/3/2013

Weekly Menus: 2/3/2013

The Four Square Grocery Shopping List: 

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 2/3/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 2/3/2013

Which translates to:

Sunday: Pizza and Salad
I have carefully selected various vegetarian-friendly pizza option for the freezer. Choice matters, even here. There are also two types of salad, complete with the requisite crunchy toppings.

Frozen pizza options.

Frozen pizza options.

Monday: Leftovers
Even when traveling, there are things to be cleaned up. I depend on leftovers for those quick weeknight meals. I would almost rather toss away something freezer burned than not save it and have it when needed!

Tuesday: Pasta and Carrots
The Juniors have a decision here as well. If they feel ambitious, cheese tortellini with sauce. If they feel like field research, I bought Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Veggie Lasagna. It’s a smaller portion and sounded pretty good. We shall review it one way or the other.

Vegetable Lasagna from Trader Joe's--field testing to begin soon!

Vegetable Lasagna from Trader Joe’s–field testing to begin soon!

Wednesday: Soup and Grilled Cheese
This meal was a big success the last time we cooked for TPC’s Dad in a practice run, so here it is again. Featuring either tomato or red roasted pepper soup, this is a great starter meal, and perfect for the chilly weather we’ve been having.

Thursday: Spinach Quesadilla and Beans
Don’t fear the cast iron skillet! With shredded cheese and prewashed spinach, this meal is a snap. We shall see if the Juniors convince TPC’s Dad to try cutting an avocado.

Friday: Dine Out!
I’ll be home, and we shall do a victory lap together! Juniors choice! Though by this point they may be confident enough I can ask them to cook for me. At that point, we’ll start higher math and I’ll get them to do the taxes as well.

Next stop, what's a 1099?

Next stop, what’s a 1099?

Saturday: Dine Out!
Guests in town, and plotting the best spot to take them!

Do you remember cooking your first meal? What was it? Share your memory in the comments box below, or send me a Tweet.

Send your questions, quips, and confessionals 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 on Friday: For the Love of Marshmallows: One Ingredient, Three Ways

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Quinoa Melange Plus Chickpeas (a Recipe of Sorts)

Gentle Readers, rarely does the opportunity to use the words “quinoa” and “melange” in a title present itself. For anyone unsure how to pronounce quinoa, here you go. “Melange,” you are on your own. This fine, protein-packed product is found, where else, but at Trader Joe’s.

Quinoa Melange from Trader Joe's (frozen!)

Quinoa Melange from Trader Joe’s (frozen!)

They do a great job of marketing, and TPC’s Junior are fans of samples, so there you have it. We bought this as a sample and served it as a meal.

Here’s how: prepare the quinoa according to the stovetop instructions. Watch it carefully, as it will get pretty hot and stick to the pan. Meanwhile, rinse one can of chickpeas (also known as garbanzos, thanks to the Eldest TPC for pointing this out). Add chickpeas to the pan. Stir. Serve.

Quinoa melange with added chickpeas. Nom!

Quinoa melange with added chickpeas. Nom!

I am a big quinoa fan, but the Jrs were not before. This blend is a little sweet from the sweet potatoes, a little toothsome from the quinoa, and nicely nutty from the chickpeas. It packs a good nutritional punch, and it is obscenely easy to serve on a school night.

This is a run don’t walk situation, I would recommend getting at least two bags. It would work very well as a side to poultry, pork, or fish, if you don’t swing veggie. Are you a quinoa fan? Post your two cents in the comments section.

Send your questions, comments, and dinner 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 Friday, The Halal Guys: NYC Mobile Food Review!

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Soy Chicken Review: Friend or Foul Fowl?

Gentle Readers, lean in close, it’s confession time. For many many years, I was a vegetarian but not a particularly good one. I was more of a cheesetarian, with a side of veggie burgers. Now that TPCs Jr have declared themselves to be vegetarians, I feel far more invested in expanding their diet.

Bubbling Hot Tofu Soup from Vit Goal

Bubbling Hot Tofu Soup from Vit Goal

All of that said, it boils down to a simple conundrum: I like tofu, they do not. The Youngest could write an ode to her dislike of the stuff, but I have not yet thrown in the tofu-water soaked towel. So while I’m not crazy over the idea of “meat substitutes,” I use them. I would much prefer each meal to be a lovingly prepared and balanced variety of veggies, legumes, and more, but let’s keep it real people.

Gardein Teriyaki Chick'n Strips

Gardein Teriyaki Chick’n Strips

Enter Gardein Teriyaki Chick’n Strips. I typically find soy chicken one of the more noxious offerings, but TPCs Jr loved it at a local Chinese place. So I bought a package as an experiment. OMG. They probably lace the sauce package with fairy dust, but this stuff is actually good.

I can't believe it's not chick'n!

I can’t believe it’s not chick’n!

First, it is chicken strip shaped, but the texture is way better than typically found. Second, the sauce is nicely balanced. It has umami. It’s a blend of salt, tang, and sugar that works. Cook some rice or noodles, steam some broccoli, pan-steam a few veggie dumplings, boil some edamame. Dinner is served.

Full fake Chinese meal!

Full fake Chinese meal!

And it is served at 1/4 of the price of getting the exact same thing at the local Chinese place. I still consider this cheating, and file it as “vegetarian junk food,” but it is incredibly good. The three of us can plow through a package, so for a large appetite group or more people, you may want to double down.

I won't lie, this soy chicken is tasty.

I won’t lie, this soy chicken is tasty.

Highly recommended for anyone who has to work and feed gourmands. I still hold out hope they’ll fall in love with tofu (they eat edamame by the bushel), but until then, to the Gardein I go.

What’s your stance on meat substitutes? Post a comment below or Tweet my way. I look forward to hearing from you!

Send your witticisms, deep thoughts, 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! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Sunday, it’s Weekly Menu Time! or How to Cook in Chaos.

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