Tag Archives: snacks

Snack Wisdom: Travel Foods

Gentle Readers, the irony of this post and timing is noted. Just this past week, while traveling, I almost ran out of snacks. While this may fall squarely in #firstworldproblems territory, I am notoriously cranky when hungry. I eat. I eat often. When I crash, it is hard and fast.

Snacktime Smackdown: Peanut M&M's vs Peanut Butter M&M's

Snacktime Smackdown: Peanut M&M’s vs Peanut Butter M&M’s

Thank goodness my friends know me, and one had just given me a piece of chocolate from Turin, which was still in my purse. The day was saved. TPCs Jr literally fell silent while I ate it, much like I had just seen a dementor and was receiving the cure from Honeyduke’s.

So how does one avoid such a crisis? First, don’t clean out your purse, and carry one. Barring that, here are some tips.

Snack Wisdom: Travel Foods

1. Hoard plane snacks. If they give you two packages, don’t eat them both unless you are starving. These snacks are small, unobtrusive, and right sized for emergencies. Spend them wisely.

Two packages of these Biscoff cookies are like gold in the travel bag.

Two packages of these Biscoff cookies are like gold in the travel bag.

2. Dry cereal. I can’t emphasize how useful this is. It works as breakfast for hungry Jrs on the go, and feels a little familiar in a strange situation. Pour it in zipper bags and go. What could be easier? I recommend any square cereal–they travel well and taste pretty good dry. Cheerios and round cereals are my second choice. Or create a nice blend.

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

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

3. Granola bars. I’m currently completely obsessed with the Trader Joe’s Almond Bars, and we’ve blown through a container each time we have traveled. They also work well as a light breakfast, and they have both “fast” and “long” energy–you’ll feel full for a while, but you get an immediate sugar jolt, too.

Trader Joe's Five Seed Almond Bars, How I Love Thee.

Trader Joe’s Five Seed Almond Bars, How I Love Thee.

4. Parfait FTW. Though there are plenty of junky options, so many kiosks sell parfaits now. I like them because they are big enough to share, pack some nutritional punch, and they are portable. A great choice to take on the plane or take a break at the amusement park. Make them at home and you’ll have a comfort snack that’s familiar on a trip.

Mango and Blackberry Parfait (not quite a recipe, but lovely nonetheless)

Mango and Blackberry Parfait (not quite a recipe, but lovely nonetheless)

5. Peanut M & M’s. When the chips are down, this is my go-to snack. Chocolate and peanuts, it’s like a candy-coated version of the trail mix I typical carry with me. Widely available, shareable sizes, easy distribution. This is the snack that wins friends.

Don't leave home without Peanut M & M's.

Don’t leave home without Peanut M & M’s.

What are your snacks on the go? Post a comment here, or Tweet my way! All snack ideas welcome.

Send your chocolates, good ideas, and Pinkberry punch cards 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: Back to School Remote Edition

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Weekly Menus: Week of 7/7/2013

Gentle Readers, summer is going full tilt here at Team Practical Cook HQ. Between blistering heat, monsoons, and a rain of toads (fine, a single gecko looking escapee), life has been wonderfully busy. Still not a lot of kitchen time, but we are cooking, and we are eating together, and we are trying new things.

This gentleman attempted to sell us insurance from a water fountain at Carowinds.

This gentleman attempted to sell us insurance from a water fountain at Carowinds.

Last night we visited Korea, and this happened. That was formerly Kalbi (ribs), Edamame, and BiBimBap. I didn’t have a chance to shoot the empty dumpling plate. The Youngest even tried the fish cakes that came as part of the round of free appetizers. Chopsticks were wielded with a vengeance.

TPCs Jr left not a trace at Minga in Chapel Hill.

TPCs Jr left not a trace at Minga in Chapel Hill.

So the grocery list continues to be about fresh fruits and veggies, and snack food. The focus is on learning to be strong swimmers and as much adventure as we can cram into a few weeks. Above all, keep your head up and your hands in the air.

Wave your hands in the air like you just don't care. (Goldrusher at Carowinds)

Wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care. (Goldrusher at Carowinds)

So this week’s weekly menus are:

Weekly Menus: 7/7/2013

Weekly Menus: 7/7/2013

And the Four Square Grocery Shopping List is:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 7/7/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 7/7/2013

Which all means:

Sunday: Pasta and Salad
At the request of The Eldest PC, we’re having carbonara and a Ceasar Salad. Simple, comforting, easy to make.

Who needs croutons? We use chow mein noodles.

Who needs croutons? We use chow mein noodles.

Monday: Spinach Quesadilla
Straight back from college, this has become our quick meal of summer. It’s a little different each time, and crazy easy to make. Look for a post soon about how to make Ranchero Beans from canned pintos in a flash.

Spinach Quesadilla and Ranchero Beans

Spinach Quesadilla and Ranchero Beans

Tuesday: Omelets
We are egg-crazy right now. Great way to feed greens to TPCs JR, and infinite variety. Add toast for crunch, or possibly some grits. Win!

Green eggs frying in the pan . . .

Green eggs frying in the pan . . .

Wednesday: Sammies!
Also known as Mama Tapas, we are doing a lot of open-faced sandwiches. Cheese and apple, tuna salad, guacammus (another test kitchen experiment, results pending), you name it, we’ll try it.

Open-faced tomato sammie, or tapas!

Open-faced tomato sammie, or tapas!

Thursday: Leftover delight!
We have more travel in our future, so we are constantly trying to eat down our supplies as opposed to buying more. This meal will be whatever is left atop a bed of greens. Slightly frostbitten veggie corn dogs may be an entree. It is not glamorous, but it is necessary!

Friday: Not Dogs
Though I’ve lost some enthusiasm for hot dogs after seeing my first hot dog eating contest (I just saw pictures of the winners before–I have looked into the heart of food darkness, and this is it), I’m still craving them. Last week it didn’t work out to eat hot dogs on the 4th, as is required by US Law, so I’m delaying.

Saturday: Dine Out!
So much great outdoor dining to do. I’ve got a date planned with my foodie gal pal who never steers me wrong! Field research commence!

What do you eat when you’re on vacation? Do you dine out, cook big family style meals in, snack? Post your comments below!

Questions, comments, SPF? Send 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: Adapted Pumpkin Pancakes Recipe!

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Sweet vs Savory

Gentle Readers, one of the great debates of our time, savory vs sweet. Most people have a preference. Close your eyes and consider for a moment, if you never have, whether you would want to be stranded on a deserted island with a bowl of chips and salsa or kettle corn. Therein lies your answer.

Chips and Salsa, Floral Presentation

Chips and Salsa, Floral Presentation

In this family, we are a house divided. The Youngest leans more toward savory (and bread, to be fair), the Eldest veers toward sweet. If I had to choose, I’d probably go savory myself, though I can face down a pecan pie with the best of them.

Sticky Popcorn: Chocolate Almond Cherry

Sticky Popcorn: Chocolate Almond Cherry

For our pancake extravaganza, we served savory (arepas recipe!) and sweet. We are going to do this again with savory and sweet crepes. When we were invited to a Chanukah meal recently, we had sweet and savory rugelach and more savory challah. The possibilities are endless, and the combination is delicious.

The variety for arepas is endless! Experiment!

The variety for arepas is endless! Experiment!

Fall Harvest Pancakes: Pumpkin Pancakes with Apples and Pecans

Fall Harvest Pancakes: Pumpkin Pancakes with Apples and Pecans

Sweet potato fries? Also an opportunity to emphasize the sweet or balance with spice.

Sweet potato fries with maple bacon dip. Yes, please.

Sweet potato fries with maple bacon dip. Yes, please.

What’s your vote? Post Sweet or Savory in the comments section below!

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Coming up Sunday, it’s Weekly Menus, Holiday Style!

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For the Love of Doughnuts

Gentle readers, into every virtuous eating life some doughnuts must fall. Be they called beignets or fried dough, they are simply delicious. Life has delivered a few of these wonderful treats lately, and here’s an ode to them.

The Hot Now Sign, a Siren Song for Me

The Hot Now Sign, a Siren Song for Me

1. Cake style. Still thinking about the doughnut in New York, which I ate too fast to photograph. That is in fact the sign of a great doughnut. Much like Hot Now from Krispy Kreme. My heart is with the double K, but an artisan cake doughnut is a thing of beauty.

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry: Because I could not stop long enough to photograph the actual doughnut.

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry: Because I could not stop long enough to photograph the actual doughnut.

2. Beignets. Procured at Bouchon in The Venetian in Las Vegas. These were tasty, and I attacked them like a wild dog. It is very difficult to get granulated sugar back off of your phone, by the way. Spread with a touch of jam (we passed on the chocolate sauce for breakfast), these were a delight. I desperately wanted chicory coffee though.

Beignets from Bouchon with Chocolate and Jam

Beignets from Bouchon with Chocolate and Jam

3. Fusion with dipping sauces. These doughnuts were more of a sauce vector. There were three, vanilla, caramel, and chocolate. The vanilla was nice, a bit sharper than sweet. The doughnuts were bite-sized and perfect for after a meal. (I realized I failed to take a picture of these as well, notice a trend? So here are some oversized biscuits instead, doughnuts cousins.)

Biscuits from Hash House a Go Go.

Biscuits from Hash House a Go Go.

In conclusion, though I have no need to take up another hobby, I bet I’ll be working on making apple cider doughnuts soon. They are my weakness, and I would like to see how hard they are to do from scratch. Are you a doughnut fan? Post your favorite in the comments section!

Send your dipping sauces, extra napkins, and coffee 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 Sunday: Weekly Menus Time!

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Weekly Menus: Week of 9/2/2012

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook is barely able to recognize her own kitchen. It seems like I haven’t seen it all summer. But school is in, time for school lunch prep, class snack, and quick dinners.

Don't overlook the afterschool snack!

Don’t overlook the afterschool snack!

One quick note. Don’t overlook the power of the post-school snack. I remember well my Granny leaving out a snack every day when I came home from school. It’s a time to unwind, relax, reconnect. Take the time to put something out, or use that time to finish what didn’t get eaten in the lunchbox.

And now, Weekly Menus for this week:

Weekly Menus: 9/2/2012

Weekly Menus: 9/2/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 9/2/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 9/2/2012

Which translates into:

Sunday: Indian Food
We shall see what this is. Probably a simple dal and rice. Potentially some bread or a green.

Monday: Salmon and Greens
Not sure if the Eldest will eat fish, but the Youngest is a fan. Working through how to serve this as a single meal without becoming a short-order cook.

Tuesday: Soup and Salad
Lots of small leftovers. I can make soup for lunchboxes too!

Wednesday: Eggy Pasta
We’ve been relying on pasta with some form of protein added in. The favorite is eggy pasta, a riff on carbonara. I know the purists will shoot me down for the lack of bacon, but so be it.

Thursday: Burritos
Sweet potatoes, black beans, and the inevitable bit of leftover rice.

Friday: Pork Chops, Pierogies, Greens
Theory here is the pierogies and greens (plus applesauce) will be enough of a meal without the pork chop for the Eldest. To be determined.

Saturday: Dine Out!

What’s your go-to weeknight meal? Any vegetarian favorites? Share your comments below!

Send your bacon, your wit, 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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On Wednesday, The Art of Leftover Surprise.

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Product Review: Three New Chocolate Covered Delicacies from Trader Joe’s

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook recently had cause to ask, is everything better doused in chocolate? Though the immediate answer seems to be “yes,” the great Peeps microwaving experiment was more of a resounding “no.” But what about potato chips?

Just say no to Peeps. Chocolate notwithstanding.

Just say no to Peeps. Chocolate notwithstanding.

Experience with Ben and Jerry’s Late Night Snack indicates that salt and chocolate go well, and that potato is not off-putting. But unvarnished by ice cream?

I digress, here are the chocolate-covered reviewees:

1. Milk Chocolate Potato Chips. Like most potato chips, not only is it hard to eat just one, it’s better when you eat more of these. I don’t think that is because they are super delicious, but more somehow tastes better. I know, I tried it both ways. I give these a B. Interesting, but you can’t dance to it.

Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips from Trader Joe's

Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips from Trader Joe's

2. Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Egg. I had high hopes, because of my unblushing love for Trader Joe’s Valencia Peanut Butter. However, the chocolate shell is crunchy, unlike the gold standard, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg. The crunch is not pleasant. My fellow tasters agreed, not worth the caloric holiday spend compared to the yellow-wrappered seductress.

Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Egg loses points for crunchy chocolate coating.

Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Egg loses points for crunchy chocolate coating.

3. Dark Chocolate Almonds with Turbinado Sugar and Sea Salt (WINNER!). The beauty of this snack, beyond the mouthfeel, flavor balance, and general unicorns and sunshine goodness, is it is practically a health food. Almonds, hello. But they are also so rich, that you can eat way less than a serving and feel complete and whole. Run, don’t walk on this one.

Hello Love: Dark Chocolate Almonds from Trader Joe's

Hello Love: Dark Chocolate Almonds from Trader Joe's

What’s your favorite chocolate-covered item at Trader Joe’s? Post a comment today. We won”t bite, unless you are chocolate-covered. Also, submit any questions you have today for answerage on Friday!! Act now.

Farewell until next year old friend. (Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs, truly the perfect ratio of chocolate to peanut butter.)

Farewell until next year old friend. (Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs, truly the perfect ratio of chocolate to peanut butter.)

Send black coffee, good ideas, and unbridled 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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Coming up Friday, Reader Mail! Your questions answered, so ask them now!

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Taste Test Challenge: Peanut M&M’s vs Pretzel M&M’s (with video)

Gentle Readers, how many varieties of M&M’s could there be? The Practical Cook just learned there are white chocolate ones, too. However, one must draw the line somewhere, lest the colorful candy shell envelop a Brussels sprout next. I digress. A Gentle Reader challenged me to taste the Pretzel M&M’s, and I accepted.

Pretzel M&M's, because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

Pretzel M&M's, because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

After all, who doesn’t love a crunchy, salty, sweet snack? Silence, just as I thought. Let’s roll the tape, shall we?

So the results are in, The Practical Cook still votes squarely in the traditional Peanut M&M camp. In fact, I had some plain M&M’s in trail mix the other day and was reminded how satisfying they were. Basically, it’s been a chocolate sort of month. To be fair, The Practical Cooks Junior prefer all new types of M&M over the old, while The Practical Cook’s Dad (a veteran taster), sides with me. There is apparently an age line drawn in the candy-coated debate.

Not sure I want my candy talking to me.

Not sure I want my candy talking to me.

So what’s your stand? Plain, Peanut, Pretzel, Peanut Butter? Vote for your favorite M&M by posting a comment. Make your voice heard! Let us caucus over candy, if for not other reason than to give me the opportunity to use that verb. I can hear you out there.

Serious questions, knock knock jokes, and chocolate challenges can be emailed 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, I’m eating veggies all week to prepare for Bacon Brackets, Round 2: Gourmet Grocery Store Edition!

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