Tag Archives: vegetarian meals

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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Weekly Menus: 3/3/2013

Gentle Readers, another week, another busy time. I am learning to forgive myself for doing less cooking and more plating up these days. There are still inspired moments in the kitchen, we still eat very well, and I know that the time will come when I make souffles once more.

My Kitchen Staff, The Practical Cooks Junior

My Kitchen Staff, The Practical Cooks Junior

But for now, the focus is on time together, teaching the Practical Cooks Junior how to cook, and eating food that is both healthy and visually appealing. The Jrs help me shop, plan, and prep, which takes more time, but yields better results for the team. I can’t complain.

Without further preamble, here are our Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 3/3/2013

Weekly Menus: 3/3/2013

And the Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

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

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

Which translates into:

Sunday: Flying Mayans
This will be burrito style and use up the leftover sweet potatoes, black beans, and rice I found in my fridge upon returning from my business trip. Woot!

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

Monday: Soup and Sammie
We got some rocking good bread (there has been a protest held over “just brown bread”), and sammies are once more fun. Many smiles in the grocery store when I made them choose, without interference, saying, you pick it, but don’t complain later. Survey says, the Jrs prefer “prairie” bread, or something with a lot of seeds.

Tuesday: Pork chops and Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Though my offspring are still primarily vegetarians, I’m going to try this hybrid meal. They’ll gladly eat the gnocchi on its own (with extra crispy sage), and I’ll serve a pile of Brussels sprouts on the side. That way they can choose to pork chop or not.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Extra Crispy Sage

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Extra Crispy Sage

Wednesday: Veggie Burger and Fries
This feels like a night to watch a bit of a movie and have some vegetarian junk food. Always popular to get over the midweek hump. We’ll have salad or broccoli with.

Thursday: Polenta with Mushrooms
You can’t complain about raising kids who can tell a) which portobello mushrooms are the best and b) the clerk that they’re not shitakes.

Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms: A vegetarian family favorite!

Polenta with Eggs, Spinach, and Mushrooms: A vegetarian family favorite!

Friday: Leftovers
Who knows what we’ll have left and in what capacity, but it is going to end up on the table. We can stretch this with crostini or cheese and crackers. Mama Tapas in the house!

Saturday: Dine Out!
The plan is to go restaurant reviewing with Waldorf. Hopefully we’ll find a new gem or at least fight about it in the process. We’ve been far too agreeable lately.

Send good ideas, dishwashers, 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! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up on Wednesday: Spinach Crostini, a Recipe of Sorts

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School Lunch Reprise: Observations and Ideas

Gentle Readers, what do you remember about school lunch? My brother and I often reminisce less than fondly about the smell of bloaty peas that seemed to permeate our cafeteria, with a hint of green cleaner. The world has changed, and while schools often promote the concept of healthy eating, it’s a high nugget environment.

Easy to use lunchbox food.

Easy to use lunchbox food.

Last week I had the opportunity to do some on the ground research courtesy of The Practical Cooks Junior. I went to eat lunch with both of them, two separate yet similar experiences. First observation, every kid who got school lunch chose nuggets and fries, only the fruit varied. Second observation, almost every kid ate the fruit, sometimes first.

Sliced oranges (shown with dried cranberries and bananas) make a great side dish for garlicky pasta.

Sliced oranges (shown with dried cranberries and bananas) make a great side dish for garlicky pasta.

The Jrs pack their lunch, their choice, and as vegetarians, a smart one. The “crushers” (essentially chunky fruit juice) and “squishers” (yogurt in a tube) were big hits. Reminded me of the days of Froot Rollups. Food marketing matters. Kids still sit in judgment of one another’s lunch, and in turn, the judged rarely cares if they like what they’re eating.

Don't overlook the afterschool snack!

Don’t overlook the afterschool snack!

I saw cookies eaten first, but a lot of whole fruit consumed as well. And I saw fries greatly ignored, and who could blame them. A floppy fry is abysmal.Conclusion, bad food is bad, and kids are not fooled by that.

World's Largest Fortune Cookie: Tao in Las Vegas

World’s Largest Fortune Cookie: Tao in Las Vegas

Here are some lunchbox faves from TPCs Jr:

  • bagel with cream cheese
  • nuts — walnuts and pecans lead the pack
  • clementines — these are like kid crack, a favorite classroom snack as well, they’ll go through 2 or 3 of them
  • phoney baloney — the traditional sandwich with cheese is still a favorite
  • fruit cup with 100% juice — these always were and still are fun, and less cloying with the rise of fruit juice as the medium
  • fortune cookies — I have no issue with a lunch box treat, and this is a great way to surprise them. The fortunes always get read, and perhaps they can learn a little Chinese in the process.

The Jrs are still young enough that I am allowed to sit with them at the table and it be a cool thing, which is probably why peer pressure around food is not in full swing either. So while there’s still time, keep pushing those whole foods. They will get eaten!

Bagels are Sandwiches Too!

Bagels are Sandwiches Too!

What’s your school cafeteria memory? Post a comment in the box below! It’s wide open and waiting for you.

Send your hot tea, strokes of brilliance, and kitchen 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 Friday: Smoked Salmon Salad, A Recipe of Sorts.

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Weekly Menus: Week of 2/10/2013 (Recovery Edition)

Gentle Readers, the past couple of weeks have been something of a whirl. To say I’ve been on the run would be literal, 5 miles of literal. Yesterday, for the first time ever, I ran in the Krispy Kreme Challenge with The Cloudcast team. What could be better than combining my love of the double K with running?

The Team mascot, doughnut man, enjoys a glazed treat.

The Team mascot, doughnut man, enjoys a glazed treat.

A few missteps: what I thought was a 5K was actually a 5 mile race. This data point came out mid-race. Also, eating doughnuts at speed and in bulk? Very very difficult. I managed 3 or 4, and full disclosure, had to walk a good portion of the last 2.5 miles of the race.

Add New Post ‹ The Practical Cook — WordPress

Add New Post ‹ The Practical Cook — WordPress

Full marks to my teammates Brian Gracely and Aaron Delp, who ate all the doughnuts and ran the whole way (uphill both ways!). Major bonus point for being the #1 team fund raiser for the NC Children’s Hospital. Way to go guys!

Top Team Fundraiser at the Krispy Kreme Challenge: Thanks to our sponsors!!

Top Team Fundraiser at the Krispy Kreme Challenge: Thanks to our sponsors!!

Which leads us to this week’s menus, full of additional social obligations and salad.

Weekly Menus: 2/10/2013

Weekly Menus: 2/10/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 2/10/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 2/10/2013

Which translates to:

Sunday: Salad
Somehow, someway, this will be the featured item. After some doughnuts.

Monday: Dine Out/Leftovers
Currently planning to attend a business dinner, but will supplement with some plant-based leftovers. Notice a theme?

Tuesday: Flying Mayans
Going to make use of the tortillas and cooked sweet potato I found in my fridge upon my return.

Wednesday: Dine Out/Pasta
More social plans, and if they don’t work, it’s pasta time. With salad of course!

Thursday: Rustic Tart
It’s been cold, and this seems like the perfect match. I plan on roasting whatever root veggies we have around and putting them in a crust with a bit of salty cheese and balsamic. Hungry now.

Friday: Stir Fry
Another vegetable classic, just add egg. I love that you can use up leftovers, alter the sauce, and never have the same thing twice.

Saturday: Dine Out
The Juniors will vote on the destination, they’ve earned it with their time in the kitchen and prepping school lunches. More on that next time.

In a colossal planning oversight, I’m due to get my cholesterol checked soon. I think I’ll delay that slightly. How many doughnuts can you eat at one sitting? Post a comment, send a well wish, or just say hi: comments box is right there.

Send your salads, queries, and lucrative 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 Wednesday: School Lunch Reprise

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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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Weekly Menus: Week of 1/13/2013

Gentle Readers, when the weather is so lovely outside, it is hard to think about cooking inside. Yesterday I even went to a cookout, which has put me in mind of all the fresh spring ingredients coming soon. That said, I’m still not tired of kale and butternut squash.

Wintertime Grilling: Steak, Fish, Corn, Rice with Chimmichurri

Wintertime Grilling: Steak, Fish, Corn, Rice with Chimmichurri

It’s a chaotic schedule next week for Team Practical Cook, and here’s what’s happening menuwise. The weekly menus are:

Weekly Menus: 1/13/2013

Weekly Menus: 1/13/2013

The Four-Square Grocery list:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 1/13/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 1/13/2013

Which all translates to:

Sunday: Chicken Pot Pie
I need to use up some pie crust and leftovers, and this will serve as lunch through the week for me. So it may seem like a heavier dish, but served with salad, I consider it the warm sandwich alternative.

Monday: Salad and Soup
Because it’s Monday and it’s easy. Perhaps something with kale in it.

Tuesday: Pasta and Veggie
The Practical Cook’s Dad will be at the helm this night, so I need something I can bake ahead or make fast and leave. Debating between the pumpkin ravioli or the sweet potato gnocchi. The Eldest is getting to the point where she can make this meal herself. (TPC Pride!)

Pumpkin Ravioli is a huge hit with Team Practical Cook

Pumpkin Ravioli is a huge hit with Team Practical Cook

Wednesday: Burgers and Fries
Another day, another business obligation for me, so another make ahead meal. As I’ve mentioned before, burgers are actually a great choice because you can leave veggie vs meat options with very little additional work for the cook.

Thursday: Fish and Greens
The plan is to make cod fingers and see if the Jrs choose to eat fish. The Youngest has done so on occasion, and The Eldest might. Regardless, the greens and other sides will provide options for a complete meal.

Friday: Pierogies, Fauxsages, Cabbage
More things to use up, and inspired by a friend’s excellent wielding of a cast-iron skillet for his meals. Looking for a single dish dinner here.

Saturday: Dine Out
Field research in the house!

Does weather trump season for you when meal planning? Post a comment below, the crickets are chirping and the space is wide open.

Questions, comments, strokes of genius? 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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Coming up Wednesday, Restaurant Review: Tonali in Durham!

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Portobello Burger Recipe: Vegetarian Meat

Gentle Readers, there is nothing like a lifestyle change to sharply correct eating choices. Such is the road to mushroom love for Team Practical Cook. I have always been a fan. The Juniors, not so much. Then the Eldest became a vegetarian. Now the Youngest is following her sister’s able footsteps.

Portobello Mushroom Burger with Red Onions and Goat Cheese

Portobello Mushroom Burger with Red Onions and Goat Cheese

And they love portobello mushrooms. They like them straight up, they like them sliced, they like them roasted. My favorite thing about them? We can buy them from a local source in the grocery store. I’m teaching TPC’s Junior how to identify fresh ones (unblemished, not wet, gills intact).

Baby Bellas: Cremini mushrooms sliced fine.

Baby Bellas: Cremini mushrooms sliced fine.

I recommend scraping the gills off for most preparations, just because they’ll turn everything black. That’s personal preference though. The consistency is such they’ve both asked me if it’s meat, in disbelief that something they like so much could be on the approved list. We call it vegetarian meat at our house.

Portobello Burger Recipe

3 or 4 large portobello caps, gills scraped
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium-sized red onion, sliced thin
sugar to taste
balsamic vinegar
good quality goat cheese
hamburger buns
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. When it’s hot, place prepped portobellos on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Drizzle some more oil on the mushrooms and rub them. I won’t tell. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast, turning the caps over halfway, until tender, about 30 minutes total, depending on the size of the portobellos.

Meanwhile, in a medium size skillet, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, a sprinkling of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Saute onions, lowering heat to keep them from burning, until they’ve caramelized slightly and are very soft. Finish with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Taste them and adjust seasoning accordingly.

To assemble, split one hamburger bun, schmear it with good goat cheese (don’t get me started, the Juniors can school you on goat cheese), add a portobello cap, then top with onions.

Enjoy. There wasn’t a single bite left. Onions are sweet in this preparation, so don’t leave them out, and don’t fear serving them to the young. A spoonful of sugar does make most things go down.

Where do you stand on mushrooms? Are you a hater or a fan? Vote today. The comments section beckons you.

Send your sprouts, witty rejoinders, and spare turkeys 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, Turkeyless Thanksgiving for the Junior Pilgrims.

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