Tag Archives: raising kids

Weekly Menus: Week of 9/15/2013 Edition

Gentle Readers, what a long strange week it has been. The Eldest PC now has braces and transformed into looking like a teenager, complete with the challenges inherent in feeding one whose mouth hurts. School is in full swing, and we soldier on, attempting to make all practices, rehearsals, and social outings. Sound familiar?

The Eldest transformed into a teenager overnight, complete with braces and a digital native's gift for the craycray-eyed "selfie."

The Eldest transformed into a teenager overnight, complete with braces and a digital native’s gift for the craycray-eyed “selfie.”

So this post will be short and to the point as we prepare to dash to yet another event. The challenge is making meals that the Eldest can eat successfully with potential for lunchbox appearances. All ideas welcome. Which means this week’s menus look like:

Weekly Menus: 9/15/2013

Weekly Menus: 9/15/2013

And the Foursquare Grocery Shopping List is:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 9/15/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 9/15/2013

Which all translates to:

Sunday: Rotisserie Chicken
I have soup on the brain, and potentially a pot pie, so another rotisserie chicken for us!

Monday: Chicken Noodle Soup
Planning to make TPC’s Mom’s version, with cabbage, broad egg noodles, and carrots. Soft but flavorful!

The Practical Cook's Mom's Homemade Chicken Soup

The Practical Cook’s Mom’s Homemade Chicken Soup

Tuesday: Gnocchi
On the request list for a while, this will also be good with diced leftover rotisserie chicken tossed in a pink sauce with a few red pepper flakes. Overcooked broccoli on the side.

Wednesday: Mexican
Spinach quesadillas or potentially Flying Mayan burritos. We’ve been away from our friend the sweet potato too long.

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

Thursday: Indian!
Dal, rice, and palak paneer for the win!

Palak Paneer, Done Really Well by Saffron Chapel Hill

Palak Paneer, Done Really Well by Saffron Chapel Hill

Friday: Leftovers
If I make it through the week without a meltdown, I’ll virtually high-five everyone. Leftovers is my version of the kitchen victory lap.

Saturday: Dine Out!
So many places are opening in the area, including new food trucks, and it’s time to start eating!

What are your favorite easily chewable foods? Send ideas our way, post a comment or a Tweet!

Send good ideas, questions, and lucrative speaking offers 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 next on Wednesday: How to Doctor Store-Bought Food and Win!

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Cereal in Review: Chocolate Almond Granola from Trader Joe’s

Gentle Readers, it is time to meet your new addiction. Perhaps you think you’ve outgrown the sugary cereals of yore (great recap of dead cereals here). Maybe you only watch cartoons streaming now. It’s time to think outside the bowl. Meet Chocolate Almond Granola from Trader Joe’s.

My current cereal addiction: Chocolate Almond Granola from Trader Joe's

My current cereal addiction: Chocolate Almond Granola from Trader Joe’s

If you can’t find it, assume I bought all of the boxes in your location.

It’s both that delicious and extremely multipurpose. Dry, it’s like the best crumbled up dark chocolate oat granola bar you could imagine.

Bananas plus Maraschino cherries and walnuts? I say yes.

Bananas plus Maraschino cherries and walnuts? I say yes.

Paired with fruit (I’ve tried strawberries, cherries, and bananas) and plain yogurt, Chocolate Almond Granola is the pair of snakeskin shoes to the favorite black t-shirt and jeans. It just adds that something something.

Sliced strawberries with yogurt and a sprinkle of chocolate granola? Afternoon just got a whole lot more interesting.

Sliced strawberries with yogurt and a sprinkle of chocolate granola? Afternoon just got a whole lot more interesting.

It’s not overly sweet, relying more on cocoa powder than sugar, and the balance of crunch and almond, with enough fat to hold it together, it’s just amazing. As a cereal with milk, TPCs Junior favor a blend. This one features Oatmeal Squares.

Trader Joe's Chocolate Almond Granola plus Oatmeal Squares, a morning blend.

Trader Joe’s Chocolate Almond Granola plus Oatmeal Squares, a morning blend.

Cocoa Krispies and Cocoa Puffs hang their heads in shame near this venerable box. Yes, the milk still turns chocolatey, but you don’t get the mouth film effect. And it’s granola, it has to be healthy, right?

A Pyramid of Sugar Cereals

A Pyramid of Sugar Cereals

This is a multiple box buy situation. I’ll wait for your ingenuity in terms of application. You’re welcome. (Feel free to post your best combos in the comments section or on Twitter!)

Send milk, cartoons, and extra Saturday mornings 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, Weekly Menus: Summer Summer Summertime!

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Weekly Menus: 5/26/2013

Gentle Readers, sometimes weekly menus are brimming with creativity, and sometimes they are just food. In the end, for me right now, food is the conduit of fuel and conversation with The Practical Cooks Junior, everything else is extra. The end of school is a busy time by itself, throw in a few birthday parties, ballet recitals, and business travel, and dinner does not always get first billing.

The upside of business travel, visiting the local haunts with natives. Chicken and Waffles from Bruxie shown here.

The upside of business travel, visiting the local haunts with natives. Chicken and Waffles from Bruxie shown here.

So this week’s menus are about hitting our marks on stage, if you will, as opposed to breaking through any culinary barriers. We eat pretty well, and homework gets done around our table. Checking the win column.

Ballerinas prepare to take the stage.

Ballerinas prepare to take the stage.

Which means the weekly menus are as follows:

Weekly Menus: 5/26/2013

Weekly Menus: 5/26/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 5/26/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 5/26/2013

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Rotisserie Chicken
I’ve been leaning on this menu quite a bit lately. The benefit being it’s fast, easy, and creates useful leftovers. Yes, I can roast my own chicken, and I look forward to the day when that becomes choice A again. Till then, guilt-free.

TPC Tested, Ninja Approved: New Chicken Salad

TPC Tested, Ninja Approved: New Chicken Salad

Monday: Pasta and Salad
At the request of the Jrs. I’ll let them decide the flavor.

Tuesday: Mexican
Burritos were mentioned, but we may Punt! and go for nachos. We’ve got some tortilla chips on their last legs, and I have this Four Seasons idea for nachos, creating flavor quadrants.

Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner
Biscuits will be mine at last! Plus bacon and eggs.

Pork Belly and Kale Biscuit from Rise in Durham: This is not a drill, you need to eat this soon.

Pork Belly and Kale Biscuit from Rise in Durham: This is not a drill, you need to eat this soon.

Thursday: Dine Out!
We’ve got a fun outing with friends planned!

Friday: Beans and Rice
Simple way to end the week. This may evolve into veggie chili, or it may go white chili and use up any remaining rotisserie chicken. We shall see.

Saturday: Dine Out
More field research. I do this so you don’t have to. It’s a sacrifice, I know.

When you have to punt dinner plans, do you get takeout or reach for convenience food in the house? I’m curious. Post a comment below, or send a Tweet my way. I’ll be doing some field research upcoming, and I’m in the test kitchen. Look for more things bacon, but also some salad innovation.

Questions, queries, bacon destination vacations? Email them 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, Double Scoop Ice Cream Review: Video Style.

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Weekly Menus: Springtime Edition, Week of 3/10/2013

Gentle Readers, there is so much to love about spring: the weather, the additional vegetables in season, the flowers in bloom. However, the time change, not so much. Spring forward is the time equivalent of faceplanting for me–I do it unwillingly and inelegantly. Thus the hour of the post today.

Hello my glazed pretties. This was my reward for a hard-fought week.

Hello my glazed pretties. This was my reward for a hard-fought week.

This week’s menus feature some reprises from last week and a lesson learned. A schedule change meant I missed one dinner with the Jrs, one where we had planned for pork chops and gnocchi. They informed me that was a meal we would eat together as a family, not to be jobbed out to someone else. Way to go Jrs, I appreciate your feedback.

So, without further adieu and heading into a big week of party planning, we have the Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 3/10/2013

Weekly Menus: 3/10/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 3/10/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 3/10/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 3/10/2013

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Breakfast for Dinner
A natural choice for a relaxed weekend.

Monday: Soup and Salad
An attempt at health! Let’s see how that goes.

Tuesday: Pasta and Salad
Cheese tortellini for the win. Also a meal that can be shifted around, as the week may demand some changes.

Wednesday: Pork Chops and Gnocchi
This will require more advanced planning for the thawing of the chops. But there will be fried sage, and all will be right with the universe.

Veggie burger toppings: bacon, avocado, cheese

Veggie burger toppings: bacon, avocado, cheese

Thursday: Veggie Burgers
A huge hit from last week, we added bacon and avocados. They were fantastic.

Friday: Leftover Day
Because this week is going to have some complications, I’m building in a day to consume whatever is leftover.

Saturday: Dine Out!
It’s time for the Eldest to choose, her pre-Birthday Dinner!

Do you have meals you only eat as a core family? What are they? Post your comments below!

Comments, queries, quips, and quotations can be sent 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, An Ode to Belgian Chocolate.

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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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One Ingredient, Three Ways: Just Beet It!

Gentle Readers, sometimes one has to pump iron. That is both literal and figurative. I’m a big fan of a few curls between conference calls, but also of the humble yet sweet beet. How many vegetables are that nutritious and that pretty at the same time?

Sweet Roasted Beets

Sweet Roasted Beets

Admittedly, I grew up a beet fan, surrounded by scads of home-canned pickled ones. I am spoiled that way. I have featured beets on more than on occasion on these very pages. And, in the land of vegetarians, the multi-colored vegetables are king. That’s an old proverb. That I just made up.

Squeaky Clean Beets

Squeaky Clean Beets

One Ingredient, Three Ways: Beets

1. Raw and shredded: This is my new favorite salad topping at the Whole Foods salad bar. I admit that I have a WF salad bar problem, as the infinite combinations and pretty colors lure me. Raw shredded beets are gorgeous, flavorful, and add a nice peppery crunch. Give them a try, just wear an apron if you grate them by hand.

Take it from the pros like Whole Foods, Salad Bars work.

Take it from the pros like Whole Foods, Salad Bars work.

2. Pickled on a salad: Cubes of pickled beet with herb salad mix (my personal fave), walnuts, and a salty grated cheese is the bomb. Goat is a natural match, but don’t overlook Romano or the Sartori Balsamic Bellavitano. Simply dressed, the crunch and the sweet are an amazing combo.

Pickled Beets, Walnuts, Sartori Cheese and Herb Salad Mix. Divine.

Pickled Beets, Walnuts, Sartori Cheese and Herb Salad Mix. Divine.

3. Sliced on a burger: Be it beef, buffalo, veggie, or portabello, beets on burgers are awesome. They are awesome AS burgers (Goaty McBeet Burger FTW). Why not layer iron on iron? Add some sauteed onions and goat cheese and you have a party on your hands.

Goaty McBeet Burger with Slaw

Goaty McBeet Burger with Slaw

If you’ve not given beets a chance lately, try them and let me know. Post a comment below. I’m listening. With my superhuman beet-powered ears.

Send your questions, kudos, and confessions 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 next, Sunday Menus: I’m Eating Your Dinner Edition.

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Weekly Menus: Week of 1/20/2013

Gentle Readers, strap in because this week is a wild one. Though our meals seem to grow ever more simple and ad hoc, with the help of my able assistants, The Practical Cooks Jr, we are getting more stuff done than ever before. Breakfasts are laid out, snacks are prepared for guests, tables are set, all as if by house elves. (TPCs Jr are VERY fond of Harry Potter, for anyone who missed that reference.)

Afterschool snack requested by the Juniors: goat cheese with pepper jelly and wine jelly.

Afterschool snack requested by the Juniors: goat cheese with pepper jelly and wine jelly.

So food at our house is being greatly influenced by what we can accomplish together. We continue to eat down the stocks of what we have, bringing new things in to try. We’ll be talking cheese in the next blog, as we work to expand our knowledge. Plus there’s a sale at the local cheese shop.

But I digress. Amidst a whirl of personal and school activity, here are this week’s weekly menus:

Weekly Menus: 1/20/2013

Weekly Menus: 1/20/2013

And the very light Four-Square Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 1/20/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 1/20/2013

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Pizza and Salad
Tried and true, nothing says “holiday weekend” like this combination.

Monday: Quinoa and Greens
Once more, the devilish food marketing skills of Trader Joe’s are at work. Though I’m perfectly capable of making this myself from scratch, a recent sample won the heart of the notoriously picky Youngest. So to the frozen section we go. Look for a review soon.

Tuesday: Leftover Surprise
This has often been where new salads are born, of necessity when the goat cheese has inadvertently grown a furry coat in the back of the fridge. Surprise!

Wednesday: Fish and Chips
I like to say it, and I like to make it. From a recent junk food night, we have tater tots that need to be paired with something. If the fish doesn’t fly, not dogs it is.

Thursday: Black Bean and Butternut Squash Stew
I’m fond of these two ingredients in a tortilla, I’m going to try a soupier version of the combo.

Friday: Dine Out!
Field research with my shortest field researcher who is not a Junior, NYC style.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Fine, I like food, and I’m heading back to NYC to eat my way through the boroughs.

We need inspiration! What are you cooking these days? Shoot us some ideas in the comment box. The crickets won’t mind.

Submit your questions today for an upcoming blog post! Email 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! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Next up on Wednesday, For the Love of Cheese and Jelly!

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