What with one thing and another, I never really went shopping this week (which I was supposed to do on Tuesday). I just kept running to the store and muddling through, and it ended up a pretty delicious week. We had already made plans for the kids to do some cooking, so that helped. Here’s what we had:
Tacos al pastor, plantain chips
Almost a very delicious meal. I made too much meat, which means I crowded the pan. I CROWDED THE PAN. Actually I didn’t even use a pan! There was so much meat, I attempted to broil it in the oven, and I crowded the oven.
So the flavors were all there, but rather than being seared and juicy, the meat was in sort of wads, covered in a flavorful paste. Rather sad when you think what could have been.
I cooked the pineapple separately on the stove, and they turned out great. Gosh, I love seared pineapple.
I more or less followed this recipe, except I used pineapple juice instead of orange juice, and I used too much pineapple in the marinade and didn’t reserve enough for the tacos. The extra pineapple pulp did not help the pasty wad situation. But it’s a relatively simple recipe, and I admired the combination of ancho chili and pineapple. Very warming, and then you get your lime and cilantro and red onion, and it’s at least potentially a little party.
Guys, I’m not a very good cook. I’m adventurous, but I have terrible technique, and no respect for recipes, and I panic and make bad decisions that I know are bad decisions. The only thing that keeps me going is the promise that I can take pictures of food. Anyway, we’re gonna revisit this recipe when it’s warm enough to cook on the grill. I did remember to warm up the tortillas for once, so that was nice.
Stuffed shells, fried mozzarella sticks
A Lucy and Irene meal! Irene made the stuffed shells, which turned out to be a bit more work than she had bargained for, but she forged ahead.Jump to Recipe
They turned out perfect!
Lucy made fried mozzarella sticks, which we haven’t made before. Much easier than I expected, and definitely worth the trouble.Jump to Recipe
Basically you slice each string cheese stick down the middle, then dredge in flour, then in egg with a little milk, then panko crumbs, then egg again, then crumbs again, then freeze, then deep fry.
Also delicious. We put them in the oven for a few minutes to make sure the cheese was melted, although that probably wasn’t necessary, as you can see it oozing out. The outside was crisp and crunchy and the inside was hot and melty. Perfect.
A lovely cheesy meal. And, uh, we had cheesecake for dessert. Look, we like cheese.
I don’t know if the kids had any great sense of accomplishment for what they produced, but I was proud of them, and so was Corrie.
Oh, and last Friday, Elijah made the mac and cheese, which is some knowledge he especially felt like he needed to be armed with before he leaves the nest.
Turned out great. My big secret about mac and cheese is just a normal white sauce with plenty of whatever cheese you have lying around, and then a nice squirt of mustard and/t several sloshes of tabasco sauce mixed in before you add it to the macaroni. And very buttery bread crumbs for the top. We use about three pounds of raw macaroni for the family, if you’re interested (and we generally have leftovers.)
So at least three of the kids are now armed with cheese skills. I made a big effort to just give directions to them, and not do it myself, which is a skill I am learning.
English muffin pizzas
This was the meal Sophia chose to make. They turned out great, but I didn’t do as well with my end, and complained that there weren’t enough, even though I never told her how many to make. Also I forgot to take a picture.
Roast beef sandwiches
I think Damien made a paste of oil and garlic and salt and various things, pan seared the meat, and then roasted it in the oven. Whatever he did, it was fabulous as always.
Okay, here’s my hot sandwich dilemma. What if you want a toasted bun and also melted cheese? If you put it all together and then put it in the oven to melt the cheese, only the outside of the bun gets toasted, and the inside gets soggy, especially if you use horseradish sauce. But if you toast the inside of the bun first, and then put the stuff in and toast it again to melt the cheese, then the bun gets over toasted. It’s a problem.
Am I doing Lent right?
Nothing to report. It’s okay pizza, and pretty cheap for the size.
One-pan chicken thighs with butternut squash and garlic, green salad
Drop, drop, slow tears.
(This is the butternut squash fresh out of the microwave, where I cooked it on high for four minutes to make it yielding enough to cut, peel, and seed. It weeps.)
I changed up my normal “one-pan chicken and whatnot” recipe a bit, and I liked it. I added whole cloves of garlic, lots of paprika, hot pepper flakes, and a little maple syrup with the olive oil. I think I also put kosher salt, pepper, and maybe thyme.
Could have stayed in the oven a few minutes longer to get a little darker roast on the garlic, but it was tasty. A little spicy but just mainly warming, faintly sweet.
And several of us ate a green vegetable. It’s been a while.
I think seared scallops in cream sauce over fettuccine.
Ahem, continuing our spare and penitential menu. It’s not my fault the stores put seafood on sale for Lent! I grabbed a few bags a few weeks ago and stashed them in the freezer, and Damien volunteered to make something delicious with them. He said something about mixing cheese in with the pasta water so it coats the noodles. (Although he said that before he spent the morning digging through the ice so he could park his car next to my car so he could jump start it because I left the keys in it overnight.)
Some of the kids are fairly seafood averse, so I was trying to explain how accessible and inoffensive scallops are. If you are in this situation, I suggest avoiding the term “fish gumdrops.” It doesn’t help.
And now I’d like to point out that I cooked supper exactly twice this week: The tacos al pastor, and the chicken with squash. We had frozen pizza once, and everything else was Genuine Hot Dinner Made By Someone Else. Ghost of mother who has escaped babyland is here to say: Someday it could happen to youuuuuuu!
Just a basic recipe. You can add meat to the sauce or spinach to the cheese, or anything that strikes your fancy. Serves about 10.
- 2 12-oz boxes jumbo shells
- 2 32-oz tubs ricotta cheese
- 8 oz grated parmesan cheese
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp dried basil
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 4-5 cups pasta sauce
Cook the shells in salted water, drain, and rinse in cool water. Mix them up with olive oil so they don't stick together.
Preheat the oven to 350. Mix into the ricotta cheese all the seasoning, the parmesan, and 3 of the cups of mozzarella.
Spread a little sauce in the bottom of an oven-proof pan or dish. Stuff each shell with about 1/2-1/3 cup of cheese filling and lay the stuffed shells close together.
Top with the rest of the pasta sauce, and sprinkled the remaining mozzarella on top of that. Cover loosely with foil and cook for 45 minutes or longer, until it's bubbly.
Fried mozzarella sticks
- 18 sticks of string cheese, split lengthwise
- 1 cup flour
- 4-5 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2+ panko bread crumbs
- oil for frying
Beat the eggs together with the milk in a shallow dish. Put the flour in another shallow dish, and the bread crumbs in a third.
Take each split cheese stick, roll it in flour, dip it in egg, and roll it in panko crumbs, then dip it in egg again, then panko crumbs again.
When you've coated all the cheese sticks, cover and freeze them for at least an hour.
Heat the oil in a heavy pot. You want enough oil that you can submerge the cheese sticks. If you put a wooden spoon in the oil and lots of little bubbles collect on it, the oil is hot enough.
Fry the cheese sticks for just a few minutes a few at a time until they are lightly browned all over.
Drain them on a paper towel and serve while still piping hot. If the cheese isn't melted inside, you can pop the cheese sticks in the oven for a few minutes.