Hey! If your New Year’s resolution was to cook more, you probably won’t regret it. Over two years ago, I was utterly sick and tired of making the same old things over and over again. So I decided to try one new recipe (almost) every week, and to serve nothing else more than twice a month. That gives me plenty of room to serve frozen chicken nuggets or hot dogs, if that’s what the day calls for; but I don’t want to die of boredom when I look at the menu, either. The planning sucks, but it makes the rest of the week so much easier. So every Friday, I share our weekly menu, with photos and recipe cards or links for meals that aren’t self-explanatory.
If some meal doesn’t work out or someone’s unhappy with what I’m serving, it’s fine, because next week will probably work out better. The kids’ palates have expanded a lot (my basic approach to kids and food here), and I don’t feel that constant dread and misery around dinner, like I used to.
Someday, oh someday, I will organize these Friday food posts into an ebook or at least a format that’s easier to search. I know there are at least a couple of readers who follow my Friday food posts and just make whatever we make, which tickles me pink! I will give you a lot of variety, and I’m always thrilled to hear other people’s weekly menus, too. I care more about food than a lot of people, so I put a lot of effort into it. But just go ahead and try some new foods. Food is nice.
Here’s what we had this week.
I managed to get through the most bakiest time of the year baking hardly anything at all (the kids produced cookies nonstop, though). I did throw together a longed-for coffee cake on Sunday, because I felt bad we didn’t go ice skating. It turned out fine, and this recipe was very easy, with a pleasant creamy vanilla taste. Next time I will put a layer of streusel topping halfway up the batter, though, instead of just on top.
We also spent our Christmas money from my father at the local book store, according to tradition. It wasn’t cute or anything when Corrie wanted to pay for hers all by herself, with her own money.
She got a Ruby and Max book and a Frances book.
Hamburgers and chips
I can’t even bring myself to sift through the calendar and figure out if Saturday was after Christmas or somehow during Christmas or three years ago or maybe Halloween or what. We definitely had hamburgers, which Damien made.
Roast beef sandwiches, steak fries
The price of chuck went even further down, somehow, so I picked out another couple of likely-looking meaty slabs and Damien cooked them up. He crusts them heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, then browns them up in a heavy pot in olive oil, then puts them in a 325 oven for about an hour and forty minutes. Then he lets them rest a bit and slices them up. And brings me little bits of roast beef crust to taste while I sit on the couch.
We served the meat with provolone and horseradish sauce on rolls which I refer to as “long boys” to irritate my teenagers. Why did no one tell me of the wine-like pleasure of deliberately using outdated slang to irritate your teenagers? It’s grrrrrreat!
New Year’s Eve Sushi Party!
And also various fancy cheeses and crackers and chocolates and stollen and such from Aldi.
Okay, let’s see: for the DIY sushi, I made some expensive rice, and we also had sliced mango and cucumber and avocado, fresh tuna, seaweed salad, roe, spicy sesame seeds, shrimp, and wasabi sauce, soy sauce, pickled ginger, and some kind of lime sauce, I don’t know what it was, and plenty of nori for rolling, and everyone just did their thing.
I didn’t really put my heart into it this year, but it was still nice. I used this recipe for the sushi rice, and we just sort of made sushi handfuls.
Nobody’s technique really exceeded Corrie levels, but it was fun!
I had also grabbed some cleaned calamari for the sushi, but when it came down to it, I had zero desire to batter fry anything, and you really don’t want raw calamari in your sushi. So Damien cut it into rings and sautéed it in garlic, olive oil, and lemon, and we just ate it. Yum.
Oh, and we had cannoli, which Lena gamely took over, with some alert uniformed attendants to help.
Cannoli shells were impossible to find on C*l*mb*s D*y, but they were selling them now, so we took our chance. I forgot to get cherries or chocolate for them, but we had no end of sprinkles in the house. She mixed the ricotta cheese with confectioner’s sugar and a little almond extract. Perfect.
Oh, and we had some crostini with sour cream, smoked salmon, and caviar. Because it was a hard year, dammit.
Oh dammit, we had raw oysters, too!
I’m going through my photos and starting to doubt our sanity. That was a lot of food. Well, it was a hard year. Salut!
Since this is a food blog, here is a short video of Corrie saying “yellow umbrella.”
We watched Horsefeathers. Benny doesn’t remember the Marx Brothers from last New Year’s Eve, and she could not believe how rude they were.
Birthday! And now there were five teenagers in the Fisher household once more. She requested root beer floats for dessert (she’ll have a party with friends and cake later).
I just noticed someone is about to flick her head while she blows out her birthday candle. This is not a Fisher birthday tradition; my kids are just jerks.
For the shawarma, I bought boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which is by far the best and easiest kind of chicken for this dish. I’ll put the recipe card at the end. This time, I spread the chicken and onions in two pans, so one would brown up faster than the other, and when the hotter pan got a little charred, I mix it all together in one pan and chopped it into morsels, then slid it back in the oven for another five minutes.
We had it with copious olives, tomatoes, cukes, pita bread, feta cheese, parsley, and plenty of yogurt sauce (Greek full fat yogurt with lemon juice and minced garlic). So good. SO GOOD.
Beef barley soup, pumpkin muffins
Back to school already! Several of the kids have been begging for this meal, and I like it, too. Damien’s car has been in the shop forever, so he’s been using my car and, more often than not, doing all my afternoon driving. It was very difficult to stay at home in my pajamas and make soup and muffins with Corrie and listen to Cuban music while it rained outside, but I was brave.
I once again forgot to buy mushrooms, but it’s still a very hearty and tasty soup, with beef, carrots, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and barley, with a rich, peppery broth made of beef stock and red wine.
Recipe card at the end. I made it in the Instant Pot, but it’s just as easy to do on the stovetop, as long as you leave at least forty minutes for the barley to cook all the way.
The muffins (recipe card at end) once again turned out tender and pleasant. I had a bunch of walnuts left over from not baking anything, so I sprinkled them on the tops of the muffins.
Vaguely Vietnamese tacos with ginger pear slaw
This is a Sam Sifton recipe, and I followed it pretty closely, so I won’t bother re-writing it as a new recipe. You make up a simple sauce and then just throw it in a slow cooker with a hunk of pork, cook all day, then shred the pork, pitch it back in the sauce, and serve it on tortillas with an asian slaw and fresh cilantro. Remarkably unfussy for a Sifton recipe. The sauce is sesame oil, diced onion, minced garlic, minced ginger, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and sriracha sauce. It absolutely smelled like feet, you betcha. Totally worth it.
The only changes I made were that I couldn’t find my sesame oil, so I used canola; and I couldn’t find pork shoulder, so I used a pork butt. I let it cook for five hours. Next time I will start sooner and let it cook longer, so it gets even shreddier. I had to wrestle with it a bit; but the taste was definitely there, verrrrrrry savory and pungent and gingery.
Oh, and I ran out of cucumbers, so I made the slaw with just carrots, cabbage, and Asian pear, with a simple dressing of rice vinegar, oil, sriracha sauce, and fresh ginger.
The Asian pear was SPENSIVE, my gosh. I don’t know if it wasn’t properly ripe, but I was not wowed by the taste. Cross between a Bartlett pear and a water chestnut, I guess.
Damien LOVED this dish. I thought it was pretty good. The individual elements were not amazing, but together, they did do something special.
I warmed up the tortillas, which I don’t usually bother doing, and that made a difference, too. About 20 minutes in the oven in tin foil.
Oh, so to process fresh ginger, you peel it with the edge of a spoon before dicing or grating. Just in case you don’t know that tip.
Here is my menu blackboard:
So that’s great. Maybe I was counting on the world coming to and end before I had to make supper on Friday.
Okay, now the recipe cards!
- 8 lbs boned, skinned chicken thighs
- 4-5 red onions
- 1.5 cups lemon juice
- 2 cups olive oil
- 4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbs, 2 tsp pepper
- 2 Tbs, 2 tsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
Mix marinade ingredients together, then add sliced or quartered onions and chicken. Put in ziplock bag and let marinate several hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 425.
Grease a shallow pan. Take the chicken and onions out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan. Cook for 45 minutes or more.
Chop up the chicken a bit, if you like, and finish cooking it so it crisps up a bit more.
Serve chicken and onions with pita bread triangles, cucumbers, tomatoes, assorted olives, feta cheese, fresh parsley, pomegranates or grapes, fried eggplant, and yogurt sauce.
Yogurt sauce (tzatziki)
- 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)
Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc.
Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)
Makes about a gallon of lovely soup
- olive oil
- 1 medium onion or red onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2-3 lbs beef, cubed
- 16 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- 6 cups beef bouillon
- 1 cup merlot or other red wine
- 29 oz canned diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice) with juice
- 1 cup uncooked barley
- salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a heavy pot. If using Instant Pot, choose "saute." Add the minced garlic, diced onion, and diced carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and carrots are softened.
Add the cubes of beef and cook until slightly browned.
Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the beef broth, and the merlot, plus 3 cups of water. Stir and add the mushrooms and barley.
If cooking on stovetop, cover loosely and let simmer for several hours. If using Instant Pot, close top, close valve, and set to high pressure for 30 minutes.
Before serving, add pepper to taste. Salt if necessary.
Pumpkin quick bread or muffins
Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins
- 15 oz canned pumpkin puree
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup veg or canola oil
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 3.5 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- oats, wheat germ, turbinado sugar, chopped dates, almonds, raisins, etc. optional
Preheat oven to 350. Butter two loaf pans or butter or line 18 muffin tins.
In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture and mix just to blend.
Optional: add toppings or stir-ins of your choice.
Spoon batter into pans or tins. Bake about 25 minutes for muffins, about 40 minutes for loaves.