Tag Archives: vegetarian recipes

The Art of Recipe Usage: Pantry Granola Bars

Note: Gentle Readers, please welcome a very special guest author to the blog this week. You know her as the Eldest of The Practical Cooks Junior, and this is her debut writing for this blog. I launched the blog when she was 5 years old, and she’s now 15. She has been around kitchens, farms, food, and creativity for a long time, and she is just starting to cook on her own. –The Practical Cook

Recipes are often mistakenly thought of as blueprints. If the recipe tells you to add the onions to the pan and cook for five minutes then that’s what you should do. The reasoning is the same as if you have a blueprint of a wall, you put the wall where it is marked. But recipes are not blueprints, they are guidelines. And onions burn, really easily. Maybe your stovetop runs hotter than the author’s does and your onions begin to blacken and burn after three minutes. What do you do? The recipe doesn’t know. I would reduce the heat and move on to the next step of the recipe. 

I’ve been frying eggs, microwaving oatmeal, and toasting bread since I was little. But in the past year I began to truly cook for the first time. Cooking is, to me, the act of preparing and transforming food into whatever you want. It’s an act of creation and of science. And as with most skills: it’s the split second decision that reveal knowledge. When onions burn, you reduce the heat. When sautéing vegetables you put fat, oil, or butter in the pan first and only once it’s hot. When you add way too many beans you add more of all the other ingredients. 

Recipes are here to help. The recipe isn’t cooking the food. You are. The recipe or recipes are there just as your grandmother, father, mother, or other relative might be. They are telling you what worked for them and what might work for you. If everyone, all your friends, are high jumpers and they all flop over the high bar chances are you should too. The same applies to recipes. If you want to make granola bars and every recipe includes oats, chances are you need oats. 

I made granola bars for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I spent about an hour scrolling through the search results for “homemade granola bars,” “peanut butter granola bars,” and “granola bar recipes.” I discovered something: most of the recipes were the same. They all had a binding ingredient: eggs, honey, peanut butter. They also all had oats and a sweetener: molasses, honey. Most had the option to add different nuts or fruits.

There was one clear difference: some granola bar recipes required baking, some didn’t. Among the ones that didn’t, every recipe spoke of keeping them in the fridge and the fact that they fell apart at room temperature. I was making granola bars for my family to take to school and work. I knew I wanted to use a recipe that required baking. 

From there it was simply a matter of ingredients. I was not leaving my house to get unnecessary ingredients. I found a recipe that used five ingredients that I had. The bars I chose called for oats, eggs, maple syrup, chocolate chips, and peanut butter. (The recipe called for mini chocolate chips, but I had the regular sized ones. Would it change the recipe in some crucial way to have bigger chips? No. I made the bars.)

They weren’t perfect. They fell apart a bit. Most dishes aren’t perfect the first time. I made the bars again a week later and this time put the chips on top and let them cool for longer, and this time they didn’t break. 

img_5285

A Granola Bar Sitting Very Casually and Smiling for the Camera

If you are struggling to tell whether an ingredient is crucial, check out other recipes. Is the ingredient in other recipes? No, probably not. Yes, find a substitute. If you don’t feel comfortable cooking one recipe based on your gut, keep looking. Anything used for garnishes can be eliminated. Most things have a perfectly fine substitute.

Remember, most cooking is not precise. Just as much as it is a science, it is an art. The real skill is learning to distinguish between the two. Not baking the granola bars will result in raw eggs, which could give you salmonella. That’s science, don’t mess with that. Using regular size chocolate chips versus mini is not going to change anything except the concentration of chocolate. That’s taste and art. You have license to do whatever you feel like. You can even omit them and add almonds instead. It won’t affect the rest of the recipe. 

fullsizeoutput_3805

Cooking is a skill. It takes time. The recipes are there for you to support your journey and inform you of people’s past successes and failures. So if one recipe tells you that you cannot put eggs in your granola bars but every other recipe tells you it’s okay, treat it the same as that one friend who’s throwing a party at their house even though the government recommends that no groups over ten meet. Don’t listen. Do what you feel is right because you are the cook. 

Coming up next, The Practical Cooks try their hand at Cuban food. 

1 Comment

Filed under Recipes, Teen Cooks

Hoppin’ John Reimagined: Instant Pot and Vegetarian

Gentle Readers, don’t believe all that you read on the internet. Especially if it concerns the cooking time for black-eyed peas in an InstantPot. This dish is one of our favorites, and has a lot of toppings, which we happened to have leftover from this and that.

CE1D9491-0574-44BB-94BB-476D295BDCCF

Hoppin’ John vegetarian style

If you have to choose, don’t skip the tomatoes. They add a freshness that brightens the dish and my mood. Yes, I’m Southern, and yes I can cook dried beans without putting a pig leg in there. Though I eat meat, I don’t like to sacrifice flavor for the rest of the family. Here’s how.

Vegetarian Hoppin’ John InstantPot Recipe

Once more, this is a combination of much Internet research, a lifetime of cooking and eating black-eyed peas, while also paying homage to Bill Smith’s rendition at the Chapel Hill institution Crook’s Corner. I use ghee instead of bacon fat, and the Parmesan rind adds unbelievable depth of flavor.

1 bag of dried black-eyed peas (let’s be honest, they were what’s left during the recent raid on dried beans, I picked up an extra one on principle)
2 healthy Tablespoons of ghee
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/4 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
3 or 4 good grinds of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
6 cups water
1 Parmesan rind (most grocery stores sell these, and they rock, otherwise you can chop the end off of your Parmesan and toss it end, or start saving them going forward)

1-2 cups cooked rice
shredded cheddar cheese
2 scallions, chopped, white and green parts
1 tomato, diced
4 strips of facon bacon, cooked and crumbled
hot sauce, optional, but is it really?

  1. Wash and rinse the black-eyed peas, picking out any bad ones or stones. Drain well.
  2. Set up your InstantPot, turn on Sauté function and wait until it says HOT.
  3. Put the ghee into the InstantPot, let it melt and warm up, then sauté the carrots and onion until they are soft but not burning, a few minutes.
  4. Add the salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir well. Add the water and Parmesan rind, stir well. Add the black-eyed peas, and stir however you’d like to at this point.
  5. Put the lid on the InstantPot, set the lid to sealed/pressure. Cancel the program and set to cook at High Pressure for 15 minutes. Once it cooks, let it Natural Pressure Release for 15 minutes.
  6. Open the pot, stir, discard the bay leaf and the Parmesan rind. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt if needed.
  7. Serve black-eyed peas over cooked rice, topping with cheese, scallions, tomato, and facon. Dash with hot sauce and enjoy.

Coming up next, Homemade Granola Bars from The Practical Cook Junior. 

3 Comments

Filed under Recipes

Grilling What You’ve Got: Carrots, Cauliflower, Broccoli

Gentle Readers, few things elevate the ordinary into the extraordinary like grilling. The most loathed vegetable becomes the anticipated one with some char marks and seasoning.

IMG_9436.jpg

Carrots, Corn, Broccoli, and Chicken from the Grill

Because, to paraphrase the Simpson’s episode, you can’t make friends with salad, sometimes the easiest way to keep on-hand vegetables from becoming snoozers is to grill them. Whether this will be your whole meal or the side act to your chops, here’s how to up your game.

Grilling Carrots, Cauliflower, Broccoli

  • If you use a gas grill (I’m unapologetic about my love for my Weber), soak some wood chips for at least 30 minutes, drain them, and use a smoker box (well worth the investment) or a foil pouch to contain them on your grill. We are very fond of pecan wood, and even grill/smoked our green beans for Thanksgiving this year.
  • Use skewers (metal or wooden) or a vegetable grate or basket to keep things from falling into your grill.
  • Don’t be afraid of heat. Medium-high to high works well to get the smoke rolling, to put some serious char on the vegetables, and to get you to the table to eat.
  • Don’t hold back on the seasoning. I’ve found that smoke and char are awesome for veggies, but this trinity really benefits from a heavy hand. Try commercial mixes (like the McCormic line), Old Bay, Lowry’s, or any of the Trader Joe’s (garlic salt and everyday seasoning are great). This plus olive oil and you’re getting somewhere.
  • Turn your carrots into hot dogs! (Yes, I’ve done this, and I think they are better than not dogs you would buy at the store.) Bonus: you can shortcut this in the InstantPot before you grill.
  • If you don’t want to go full carrot dog, stab your peeled carrots a few times, make a simple marinade (some oil, a little soy sauce, some ginger, salt and pepper), marinate the carrots while you prep everything else and straight grill them. They don’t fall through the grates and they are so easy. We do the multi-colored ones from Trader Joe’s.
  • Cauliflower benefits from a finishing sauce. I’m working on perfecting my Harissa version, but my go-to is Gobi Manchurian. I grill the cauliflower with just salt, pepper, and olive oil, and I mean I blacken it to some extent, then toss with sauce that is basically reduce ketchup.
  • Broccoli on the grill is just roasted broccoli with less indoor mess. Spice mix, salt, pepper, oil, high heat, toss into a vegetable basket. I like a little red pepper flake with them for interest. The wood smoke also adds a layer of flavor and interest here, so worth the extra step.

Up next time, Vegetarian Hoppin’ John!

 

2 Comments

Filed under On the Table, Recipes

Plain Noodle Soup

Gentle Readers, it’s dreary and cold at my house tonight while I’m writing this—just the sort of weather that calls for soup. Because my family has steadily marched from being a crew of picky omnivores to a group of picky herbivores, I’ve been challenging myself to take on new cuisines to diversify dinner and keep myself from being bored.

9AEEAE8B-79E8-4967-8185-5FF71007CB3F

Plain Noodle Soup

It started with Bon Appetit (I’m not paid to say so, I got a subscription through my Amazon Prime membership and fell deeply in love). They had an issue on simple Korean food at home, and I had some early success. Then I checked out some books on Chinese cooking at the library. I made a few simple things with great success and decided to take the leap.

Confession time: I’ve always been intimidated by Asian recipes. I’ve either been overwhelmed by the list of ingredients or equipment I don’t have, or by my complete ignorance of the technique required to produce even an imitation of Americanized Chinese restaurant staples. (Real confession: I’m so terrible at making rice I wouldn’t even be posting this if the InstantPot hadn’t come into my life to stand in as a rice cooker.)

Googling the top Chinese cookbooks led me to The Chinese Takeout Cookbook. It is simple, accessible, and the recipes work. But then came the inevitable and necessary trip to the Asian market. Let’s be clear, I love love love grocery stores. I visit them in foreign countries like I’m on a special field trip. But usually I take a friend as a local guide with me so I don’t make a mess of the adventure. Also, did I mention I can’t speak or read Chinese and I’m allergic to shellfish so need to be a little careful about sauces?

More googling led me to The Woks of Life. They have the most amazing guide to Asian markets, complete with direct brand recommendations and PICTURES for the nervous newcomers like me. Best of all, they offer comfort and confidence, very similar to my mission with this blog. Do yourself a favor and go subscribe—it’s like joining a family picnic where everyone is a good cook.

All of this is to say, if you like noodles, and you like soup, give this a try. Look for more adventures in my attempt to learn to cook Chinese recipes (MaPo Tofu and Garlicky Pea Tips anyone?).

Plain Noodle Soup

This soup was inspired by and adapted from Yang Chun Noodle Soup from The Woks of Life. They are teaching me to chill out and use what I have on hand and I am trusting them and doing just that. Since we are feeding non-pork eaters, I substituted ghee for lard with great results. If you don’t have dark soy sauce, consider investing or check for a substitution (the internet offers a few).

Serves 2 as a meal, serves 4 as part of a meal

3 or 4 eggs
3 “bunches” of soba noodles (see the photo for the brand I found, any noodles will do, but soba noodles come wrapped in bunches within the larger package)
1 carton of commercial stock or 4 cups of your homemade stock of choice (I used turkey stock because one other person will eat meat stock on occasion and I needed to get rid of it, I’m aware it is not vegetarian but you can use some of your freshly made veggie stock here instead)
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
2 heads of bok choy, rinsed well and roughly chopped
4 Tablespoons light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons ghee (you can buy it but it’s very easy to make, or sub bacon grease or lard or whatever tasty fat you have)
3 scallions (white and a good part of the green), sliced thin
extra soy sauce or chili sauce for the table

  1. Boil water in a large enough pot for 4 eggs and cook until jammy. I used the Bon Appetit guide for timing and method. Peel and set aside for now.
  2. Meanwhile, heat your stock to a gentle boil with the ginger in a small pot. Once boiling, toss in the bok choy and simmer until it’s tender (a few minutes).
  3. Boil some more water and prepare your noodles (use the lowest cooking time) per package instructions. Drain and give a quick rinse with cold water.
  4. While things are boiling, mix the soy sauces and the sugar, and divide them between bowls. Measure 1 Tablespoon of ghee into each serving bowl if making two servings, or 1/2 Tablespoon if four.
  5. Plate up: ladle equal portions of the stock/bok choy mixture (discarding the piece of ginger) into your serving bowls. This will melt your ghee. Add a generous portion of noodles to each bowl. Now slice your eggs in half and place them in your soup bowls. Finally, top each with scallions.

Coming up next, Grilling What You’ve Got. 

2 Comments

Filed under Recipes

InstantPot Vegetable Risotto Two Ways

Gentle Reader, life with picky eaters is my cross to bear. I was a picky eater as a kid, overcame it by taking over some of the cooking, and now I have to pay a karmic tax. This is typically solved by offering painless ways for people to customize a dish at the table.

If you are playing along at home and made some Vegetable Stock, now is your time to shine. Risotto is almost like a rice porridge, but not cooked as long. It’s rice, stock, and flavor. For the sake of my sanity, this version is made in the InstantPot. It is hands off, sautés and cooks in a single pot, and I can teach the Practical Cooks Junior to use it. Winning!

B72B3DCF-7632-407C-A0B1-4983D47BD605

InstantPot Vegetable Risotto Two Ways

InstantPot Vegetable Risotto Two Ways

This recipe was adapted from Melissa Clark’s InstantPot Cookbook, Dinner in an Instant, which I recommend. She can flat out cook, so if she says this kitchen device is worth owning, I listen. I use her Yogurt recipe on a biweekly basis as well.

Here’s her recipe for Saffron Risotto.

Here’s how I adapted it:

  1. Double the recipe for a family of 4.
  2. I don’t have white wine in the house, so I substituted white wine vinegar. It was on the brink of too strong for me, but everyone else loved it. You can also use apple juice, or you could do some lemon juice and a bit of white wine vinegar. Or just use the wine if you have it!
  3. I don’t own a mortar and pestle, though I wish I did. I used a spoon and a bowl for the saffron, which I do own. Be sparing in your use of it, it is strong stuff. It makes a beautiful color. Omit if you don’t have it, but make sure you season the dish with salt, fresh herbs, lemon juice, etc. to make up for the loss.
  4. I used my unsalted veggie stock, but I seasoned it with a bit of white miso that I keep on hand. You can just add salt, but make sure your stock has flavor before you add it to the dish.

The Two Ways

IMG_6725

Team Green Pea or Team Mushroom?

1 package of unseasoned peas
several ounces of mushrooms, mixture of your choice, cleaned, stemmed, sliced (save those scraps in the freezer for mushroom stock)
good quality butter
olive oil
salt and pepper
stem of fresh rosemary (optional but delicious)

  1. Prepare the peas according to package instructions, cooking them for the least amount of time. If you have baby peas, use them, but the larger tougher peas work really well here. Drain the peas, season with a hunk of good butter and some crunchy salt. Leave on the table as a side dish or additive to the risotto.
  2. Heat a medium pan over a strong medium heat, adding a good dollop of olive oil when it is hot. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper them, and add the rosemary. Cook until they lose a lot of their water, stirring constantly, and adding a bit of oil or salt if you need. When the mushrooms are a bit browned and cooked through, taste them and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve as a side dish or additive to the risotto.

For me, I added peas and mushrooms to my bowl, split the risotto and had each one separately. Others opted out of mushrooms and just had pea risotto. And still another contingent mixed everything, added more parmesan, and chowed down. There is no wrong answer.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under InstantPot Recipes, Kitchen Tool Talk, Recipes

How to Make Vegetable Stock

Gentle Readers, having grown up in the country, I was used to having a compost pile the old-school way. Basically we gathered scraps and put them outside in a designated area and put some dirt on it occasionally. Not very scientific or very useful for me in the suburbs. Last year, I learned that my good friend in Austin had compost as a municipal service. Game changer, I wanted that.

32E9C842-BF0A-4FA3-98B7-4284E5432827 (1)

Vegetable Stock Before Photo

Fast forward to a breakfast get-together with friends, and someone told me about Compost Now, a service here in North Carolina where you get a bucket, put in all your scraps (meat and dairy and soggy pizza box included) and affix the lid, and they just magically take it away every week and turn it into compost. It doesn’t smell, it removes friction and waste from my life, and I love it.

**I don’t get paid for this, but with current economic times, services like this are suffering from a loss of restaurant and commercial clients. I encourage you to check out Compost Now or similar services in your area and support local business and the earth all at once!**

IMG_6788

Trader Joe’s Fruit & Vegetable Wash

So why are we talking about rotting food on a cooking blog? Because the step between prepping vegetables and forgetting they’re in your crisper drawer is vegetable stock. Yes, you can make something great out of something that you’re going to compost (resist the urge to throw it away, go watch all the documentaries on that to be convinced).

Start today by washing your fruits and veggies (a doubly good practice now, I like the Trader Joe’s vegetable wash). Just keep a plastic bag in your freezer ready to receive the bounty of peelings, stems, and scraps.

Vegetable Stock

For this recipe, I highly recommend busting out your slow cooker, but you can do this in a large pot on the stove as well.

Note: I don’t add salt to my stock, preferring to adjust and add it to the final dish. I also don’t typically add garlic, but many good cooks do and have recommended it to me. Experiment! Each stock is a unique blend of what you have been eating and have leftover or are end of life-ing (for all my tech readers). 

Makes 6-8 cups of vegetable stock

3-5 cups of vegetable scraps, peels, and ends (they can be end of life but pre-compost—wilted is fine, rotting is gross, use some judgment). Skip the cabbage and the cauliflower, too strong for anything but each other. Go for carrots, onions, parsley stems, asparagus tips, celery bits, and even potato peels. Save mushroom scraps separately and make mushroom stock from them.
1/2 onion if you don’t have onion or scallion scraps included
1 generous teaspoon of black peppercorns
bay leaf (optional)
garlic cloves or some garlic powder (recommended to me, optional if you want some additional garlic flavor)

  1. Place everything in a slow cooker and cover with water. Cook on high for 6 hours, taking the lid off for the last 30 minutes or so to reduce the stock. (If you cook on the stove, use a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for at least an hour, watching the water level as you go, and adding more if you need it.)
  2. When stock has reduced and is as flavorful as you’d like, remove from heat, let cool a bit, and strain out the vegetables and spices through a colander, pressing the veggie solids to get all of the liquid out. Compost these scraps!
  3. Now if you want to go next level, and I think that you do, break out your old ice cube tray. I’ve found ice cubes are around 1 tablespoon. Nothing is more annoying than a recipe that calls for this amount of stock. Freeze your liquid gold in the ice cube tray, a batch at a time, until you have several tablespoons. Pop them out and store them in the freezer in a zipper bag. Problem solved, thank me later.
  4. Impatient or lack an ice cube tray? Check your container drawer (not a Kubernetes joke for the tech folks) and select some of your small size containers. This works best in the flimsy plastic Ziploc style containers. Freeze the stock in small portions and pop them out of the containers and save in a plastic zipper bag. Now you have pre-measured stock in rational portion sizes.

IMG_6789

Vegetable stock frozen in usable portion sizes.

Coming up next: Vegetable Risotto Two Ways

 

3 Comments

Filed under Recipes

When Life Gives You Artichokes, Make Pasta

Gentle Readers, here we are, springing forward.Though I love the birds chirping and the tree frogs singing, one could do without the loss of sleep. As we enter this time between seasons (is it liony outside, is it lamby, one never knows), I often crave substantial but not heavy fare.

Enter the humble pasta toss. You know it, the thing you create from whatever’s available? This is that, but guided by a desire for stronger flavor and not one more jar of red sauce. Without further ado, and certainly without enough sleep . . .

Pasta with Artichokes and Beans

Pasta with Artichokes and Beans

Pasta with Cannellini Beans, Artichokes, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients: 
2 cups dried cavatapi
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, skins on
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots (I cannot lie, I use the baby carrots that are not on their first opening and looking little sad and soggy in the bag)
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon or so of Italian seasoning blend
1 can of artichokes (not the marinated kind, just in water), drained and roughly chopped
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons or so sun-dried tomatoes packed in seasoning and oil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
juice of 1/2 lemon

Method: 

  1. Put on a large pot of water to boil, add salt when the water boils, and cook the pasta per pot directions. Cook until al dente and then drain and set aside briefly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium pot with a good lid, heat some olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the sliced carrots and the garlic cloves in their skin. Add some salt (I leave this to you), and the Italian seasonings. Cover with the lid and stir and check on it often while the pasta cooks.
  3. When the carrots are a bit softened and the garlic is starting to soften, add the artichokes to the pot. Keep stirring. When the garlic cloves are softened, pull them out, peel them, mash them with a fork, then add them back to the pot.
  4. Lower the heat, add the beans, cooked pasta, and sun dried tomatoes. Be sure to include some of the oil they were packed in.
  5. Add the poultry seasoning, don’t ask, just trust me, additional olive oil as needed to make it moist, and stir gently until warmed through.
  6. Bring off the heat, put in serving dish, top with lemon juice, and adjust salt and olive oil to personal taste.

Enjoy! I love the simplicity of the dish, and the savory nature without it being a complete salt lick. It’s infinitely flexible, so match it to your needs. It is a very filling dish though, so it will easily feed a family of 4.

Leave a comment

Filed under On the Table, Recipes

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.)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up Wednesday, Quinoa Melange Plus Chickpeas!

1 Comment

Filed under Weekly Menus

Weekly Menus: New Year’s Edition

Gentle Readers, the end of the year is nigh, and pork is in the air. Well, I am Southern, and that is a capital “S.” It just can’t be New Year’s Day without pork, greens, and black-eyed peas. This year we are going to experience this at scale, more on that later in the week.

A traditional vegetarian New Year's meal: collard greens, black-eyed peas, salad, and cheese pizza.

A traditional vegetarian New Year’s meal: collard greens, black-eyed peas, salad, and cheese pizza.

This past week has been an eating bonanza, but it’s time to buckle down and get back in the kitchen. Here’s what that looks like, with weekly menus:

Weekly Menus: 12/30/2012

Weekly Menus: 12/30/2012

The Four-Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 12/30/2012

The Four-Square Grocery List: 12/30/2012

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Pasta and Salad
Feeding kids, will probably be cheese tortellini with sauce. Side of protein. Extra salad.

Tortellini with Pesto and Tomatoes

Tortellini with Pesto and Tomatoes

Monday: Salmon and Green Veg
Simple and complete. Side of quinoa or couscous for a quick meal before the partying begins.

Salmon Cravings Inspired by This Dish!

Salmon Cravings Inspired by This Dish!

Tuesday: Pork, Black-eyed Peas, Collard Greens
Potentially I’ll do Hoppin’ John for the Jrs, as I can easily make that vegetarian friendly.

Simplified Hoppin' John

Simplified Hoppin’ John

Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner
Pumpkin-Apple Pancakes with Fauxsage or Grits and Eggs. To be determined.

Fall Harvest Pancakes: Pumpkin Pancakes with Apples and Pecans

Fall Harvest Pancakes: Pumpkin Pancakes with Apples and Pecans

Thursday: Mexican
Nacho, nacho time!

Friday: Polenta Surprise
This time, major mushroom edition. The Jrs just discovered how many mushroom types there were in the world. Game on.

Saturday: Dine Out!
We’re going to conquer another cuisine of the world. Not sure which one. All suggestions welcome.

What’s on your holiday recovery menu? Post a comment below, or Tweet it out for the world to see.

Send your resolutions, pork, and black eyed peas 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!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up Wednesday: Three Salad Ideas for the New Year

Leave a comment

Filed under Weekly Menus

Weekly Menus: Week of 12/9/2012

Gentle Readers, what a delight it is to be back in the kitchen. The time of holiday food-gift making is upon us. This year, it’s cookie time, with a side of spiced nuts. Surprise. I’m back from Las Vegas, where the tourist sections rival Texas in portion size. So this week’s menus are an exercise in restraint, in preparation for cookie time.

World's Largest Fortune Cookie: Tao in Las Vegas

World’s Largest Fortune Cookie: Tao in Las Vegas

Weekly Menus for this week:

Weekly Menus: 12/9/2012

Weekly Menus: 12/9/2012

The Four-Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 12/9/2012

The Four-Square Grocery List: 12/9/2012

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Frozen Pizza and Salad
This is not technically in the kitchen, but I have an event to attend, and TPC’s Dad is at the helm. Of his many many life skills, feeding burgeoning foodies is not among them. Rather than risk them cooking a full meal, I’m keeping it simple.

Monday: Pork Chops and Sides
When the vegetarians are away, the omnivore will play. I think some spicy sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts are in order here.

Tuesday: Polenta Delight
We’re having a special guest over, and it’s time to break out yet another version of polenta! Mushrooms, spinach, and what? TBD.

Wednesday: Latkes and ??
I have never made latkes, and I don’t know what goes with them, but I fully intend to a) find out and b) help make them. Happy Chanukah to all who celebrate!

Thursday: Mexican
Long week, tough crowd, Mexican for the win. Burritos or quesadillas, with a side of beans. I am afraid I’m going to have to learn how to do sweet plantains at home as well. They are in very high demand by TPCs Junior.

Friday: Soup and Sammie
Hoping to make veggie stock and try some soup ideas. If not, another boxed soup test will happen. Options, always keep the options open.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Scouting some new places in Durham! As always, send your suggestions.

What are you making for food holiday gifts? Post your ideas in the comments section below. Or just send me a sample. 😉

Send your latkes, your spare presents, 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!)

Follow practicalcook on Twitter

Coming up Wednesday, Telling the Truth About Food: Picky Eater Updates.

Leave a comment

Filed under Weekly Menus