Tag Archives: reader reviews

Gentle Reader Questions Answered: Mailbag Time!

Gentle Readers, having just attended another fabulous At-Home (veggie chili edition), The Practical Cook is inspired and ready for a slew of new posts in 2012. However, we must tend to the end of year business, so let’s close out with answers to a few lingering questions, and a share on some suggestions received.

Smile, You've Got Simplified French Toast

Smile, You've Got Simplified French Toast

Without further delay, Gentle Readers, take it away:

1. Brussels Sprouts Recipe for Haters. Lots of feedback on this one, including a great reader picture of the little veggie that could. Both RockStar and Tri-Awesome (photo credit) added a bit of chopped shallot to this recipe, an addition I’ll make the next go round. Tri-Awesome also swapped in pancetta for bacon, the recipe will flex to meet you! And they ate them, and they liked them. Resolve to try some new veggies people, give them a chance.

Brussels Sprouts for Haters, as Made by a Gentle Reader!

Brussels Sprouts for Haters, as Made by a Gentle Reader!

2. Pork Chops. My friend Blended Familia asked for guidance beyond Shake-N-Bake. A few things there, first being, you can re-create the texture with bread crumbs and dried herbs (thyme, sage, black pepper come to mind). Second, depending on the thickness of the chop, pan-fry or roast and use a fruit conserve as the topping. If you’ve got an interesting jam in your fridge, that will do it, mix it with something spicy for kick, or balsamic for balance. Simplicity and avoid overcooking: that’s the key with pork chops. Will do a full blog on chops in 2012.

Awesome preserves from my cousin (thank you). You'll see these in the test kitchen soon.

Awesome preserves from my cousin (thank you). You'll see these in the test kitchen soon.

3. Fave Ingredient of 2011. This question comes from CptCranky. The answer is bacon. A review of the tapes indicates a borderline obsession with the pig, but having just read this awesome NYT article on Southern Farming, I am justified. For the veggies out there, one can often sub Parmesan if you need salt, pecans if you need crunch, or a rich olive oil or butter if you need tasty fat.

When in doubt: bacon is the answer.

When in doubt: bacon is the answer.

Looking forward to lots more Q and A in the new year. Keep those questions and photos coming. I’ll be here cooking, researching, and chasing you down to photograph your food. What has been your favorite ingredient of 2011?

Send questions, answers, deep thoughts, and blog requests for 2012 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, New Year’s Resolutions: In the Kitchen and Beyond!

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Filed under Can this supper be saved?, Kitchen Philosophy

Fan Mail! Readers Review The Practical Cook’s Recipes

Gentle Readers, as school time rolls around again, it’s time to break out the All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins recipe yet again. The class snack is like a mission statement for me, I just have to keep delivering homemade baked goods. The recipe is fast, easy, and delish.

The Practical Cook's Muffins to the Rescue!

The Practical Cook's Muffins to the Rescue!

But don’t take my word for it. From Wonder Woman, the best compliment I’ve received in quite a while:

These were awesome!! Even with wheat flour and flaxseed meal. Have you tried choc chip?? They’re like giant crumbly cookies!

Oh, how I do blush. Great suggestion with the chocolate chip, though I would be tempted to sub in dried or frozen cherries then. Time to head to the test kitchen!

What’s your favorite muffin combo? Post a comment below, or Tweet away.

Send food pictures and compliments 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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Tomorrow, Ode to My Multitasking Ice Tray.

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Filed under Recipes, Snacks

Recipes in Review: The Top 5 Performers

Though this is not a particular anniversary for the Practical Cook Blog, it seemed like a good time to look fondly back at some of the favorite recipes as determined by you, the Gentle Readers, and by the interweb at large. Admittedly, this is also because TPC was out late doing field research at a chic local establishment and she is a marketer by trade and a stats fan. But I digress.

Here are the Top 5 Performing Recipes, determined by hits, requests, comments, and questions regarding:

1. Mafe. Who knew there would be such an ongoing demand for this little obsession of mine. It gets searched almost daily.

Mafe with Couscous

Mafe with Couscous

2. Spaghetti Bird’s Nests. Simple yet popular.

Spagetti Bird's Nests

Spagetti Bird's Nests

3. Moroccan French Toast. I can’t lie, it is that delicious. (But in case my boss is reading this, I must confess it is neither French nor Moroccan.) People ask me about this one, just because of the picture.

Moroccan French Toast

Moroccan French Toast

4. Fried Squash with Soda Cracker Crumb Coating. Crunchy summer goodness, this one is a sure-fired hit for the friends of fried.

Golden-Brown Fried Squash with Soda Cracker Crumbs

Golden-Brown Fried Squash with Soda Cracker Crumbs

5. Pasta with Broccoli, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, and Goat Cheese. No idea why this is such a popular search term. Apparently many people are looking for ways to tie these elements together. Perhaps it’s the disturbing picture of my overstuffed, disorganized fridge that’s the big draw.

Fridge Pasta Toss

Fridge Pasta Toss

Honorable mentions to “Roma Beans” and “Zucchini.” Clearly a seasonal search. And to the person who searched for “fried orka,” well, I wish you luck.

What’s my favorite? Well, I love all of my children equally. I will admit, I struggle to make the same thing twice, I’m always on the hunt for the next thing. Having kids has challenged me in that way, for the good, to repeat and improve recipes instead of create from whole cloth all of the time.

Do you have a favorite recipe from here? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Or Tweet away.

Send a picture of your favorite TPC creation 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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How time does fly. Up tomorrow, Weekly Menus.

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Filed under Recipes

Readers Review the Practical Cook’s Recipes: 1st Edition

One of the highlights of being the Practical Cook—taking a look into kitchens around the world, learning more about how you, gentle readers, are cooking. Thanks to those of you who have taken the time to share some of your challenges and your successes. In this premiere edition of Readers Review, we’ll look at three successes and one commercial.

Clearly, no one in the sound of my virtual voice follows directions exactly—and that is awesome. Love the creativity out there! True story, the Practical Cook’s Mom (aka, PCM) once handed the Practical Cook a recipe that she had clipped from the newspaper with her changes noted at the top. It was an entirely different recipe. The Practical Cook must paraphrase Hank Williams Jr. here and say “leave me alone I’m just carrying on an old family tradition.”

Success with the Recipes!

Several of you enjoyed the Rustic Tart Recipe, including Blended Familia, who made a version with chorizo and butternut squash. Looking good!

Rustic Tart with Chorizo and Butternut Squash

Rustic Tart with Chorizo and Butternut Squash

From Miss Clairol, we have a riff on the Great Tuna Salad Experiment Recipe. Just like PCM, liberties were taken with this recipe. The idea of pan-seared tuna on greens is there, but surf-n-turf style, using Montreal steak seasoning, salt and pepper, Parmesan, and croutons dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette, served alongside some asparagus sauteed in butter. Well, at least two ingredients were the same, so let’s claim victory! Here’s a look:

Surf-n-Turf Tuna on a Bed of Greens

Surf-n-Turf Tuna on a Bed of Greens

Furthermore, success can be claimed on the All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins (twice made for school snack, the last time in quadruplicate). This is what 40 muffins look like (the 41st was requisitioned and divided for Quality Control and Crowd Control).

40 All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins

40 All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins

Because there was so much volume, requiring 6 cups of something flour-esque, I was able to sub half of it: 2 cups almond meal, 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour. We played “guess the secret ingredient” during the class, and they got sugar, cinnamon, and blueberries, but not one person guessed whole wheat, applesauce, or flax seed meal. Score! One student insisted it was a doughnut, failing to notice I reduced the sugar from 2 cups to 1.5 cups.

Blueberries Cover All Sins (and Whole Grains)

Blueberries Cover All Sins (and Whole Grains)

Another excellent amendment was made to the Banana Bread Recipe—mini chocolate chips. If you’re a choco-banana fan (hello Chunky Monkey), take this idea and run with it! Thanks to KAD for that one.

The Commercial

Quaker Oats Guy vs. Scott's Porage Oats Guy: KO in the first round!

Quaker Oats Guy

Last, but far from least, a fantastic follow up to the surprisingly popular One Ingredient, Three Ways: Oatmeal Edition. So many of you wrote with flavor combos and ideas, there will be a sequel. In the meantime, please enjoy the ultimate nexus of food and marketing, an ad campaign by Scott’s Porage Oats. Special shout-out to the Kilted Vegan for sharing that with us (and for providing me with an opportunity to create and use that moniker).

Seriously, we’d have no problem selling oats in America if we ran ads like that. Quaker Oats Guy vs. Scott’s Porage Oats Guy: KO in the first round!

And that brings us back to Sunday’s Weekly Menus. Some time between losing my mind decorating that Carrot Cake and setting up a treasure hunt, I’ll share next week’s plan. I can already tell you that Wednesday I’ll be serving something purple. More on that later.

Keep the reader reviews coming in, and we’ll keep the test kitchens open: practicalcook at gmail dot com

Twitter: practicalcook

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, On the Table