What’s for supper? Vol. 299: Love is something when you have a hole in the floor

In haste! In haste! For today we are diving into the big renovation project for the summer, which is putting a new floor in the laundry room so we can turn the toilet back on and have TWO TOILETS before July 4th.

We had this renovation (converting a 3/4 bathroom into a laundry room with a toilet) done several years ago by some folks I can only describe as a team of supergoons, and they put the toilet in wrong; it leaked massively; the floor was ruined; we despaired; and things went from there. We’ve had one working toilet for all, for years and years, all through norovirus and everything. But we’ve since learned (the very hard way) that we’re capable of putting a new floor and subfloor in, so that’s-a-what we’re gonna do. And this time, it just means no washing machine for a few days, rather than no toilet. A breeze, I tell you. 

And, but first, I’m really sorry I haven’t gotten anything up on the site this week. Really struggling with the whole “writing words down” thing lately. If anyone has something fun and neat I can write about it, seriously let me know, because I got nothin’ in my noggin. 

Here is what we ate this week:

Italian sandwiches, chips

Tasty as always. I had prosciutto and spicy capocollo, salami, tomato and basil, mozzarella, and red pesto, and balsamic vinegar on a length of baguette.

All from Aldi. The tomatoes are good this year. I have seven tomato plants going, myself, but they are all still green, except for a few yellow ones that are supposed to be yellow, which I just ate right off the vine while they were still warm from sunshine, without telling anyone. Except for you guys.

Steak, chips, coleslaw; strawberry shortcake

Father’s day! Damien grilled some steaks, Lena made coleslaw, Clara made a pound cake and served it with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

A tasty treat for all. 

Garlicky chicken thighs with potatoes, zucchini, and summer squash

A new recipe, and it turned out great!  A pretty simple marinade with some cider vinegar and onion powder that gave it a little pleasantly acrid pop, along with the rough-cut garlic and fresh basil. 

I ended up cooking the potatoes in one large pan, and the chicken and vegetables in the other, and they were still a bit crowded.

This led to the zucchini and squash coming out a little, well, squashy. Next time I will cut them thicker and give them more space to cook; but I like the flavors a lot. The chicken turned out very juicy and full of flavor, and the whole meal was popular with almost everybody. 

Jump to Recipe

This is maybe the third time in my life I’ve cooked with zucchini. I don’t know why I even bought it, since I have it in my head that it’s just this wretched, slimy, flavorless monstrosity of a veg. It is a little slimy, but who isn’t these days.

I also found a cold Sicilian sweet and sour zucchini dish with onions that I’m dying to try next. Well, not dying, but I do have a recipe tab open on my laptop and my phone. 


Taco Tuesday! Taco Tuesday.

Feast your eyes on me valiantly skipping the sour cream and rapidly becoming the trimmest, lithest mother of ten in the entire tri-state area. 

Rigatoni alla disgraziata with sausage

We’ve been having rainy, chilly days, so this heavy, fragrant pasta dish was very welcome. People kept coming in and asking what I was making, because it smells so wonderful, and I kept getting to take a deep breath, strike an obnoxious Warrior 2 pose, and intone, “Rrrrrrigatoni alla disgrrrrraziata!” 

Made it once, thought it was delicious, thought it would be even better with some meat, so I added sausage. And it was good, but honestly not necessarily improved. It’s an immensely hearty dish to begin with, with pasta, sauce, eggplant, toasted breadcrumbs, and mozzarella, with parmesan on top; so adding the sausage was fairly gratuitous, and it kind of fought with the breadcrumbs a bit. I think I’ll keep this as a meatless dish in the future.

Jump to Recipe

It’s fun to make. You toast the breadcrumbs in oil, then fry up the eggplant,

then add the sauce, then cook up the pasta, drain it, and mix it all together, then add back in the breadcrumbs, plus some mozzarella you’ve torn up. Then more freshly-grated parm on top just for fun. 

My goodness. I just had jarred sauce, because some overzealous person had tossed the leftover homemade tomato sauce I was planning to use; but it was still very fine. 

This is the Deadspin directions for the sauce my husband usually makes: 

[W]hip out a medium-sized saucepot and start a basic tomato sauce. Cook some chili flakes and chopped onions and garlic in oil for a few minutes; dump a big can of whole tomatoes (San Marzano if you can find ’em; um, not San Marzano if you cannot find San Marzano) on top of the aromatics, break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, chuck in some tomato paste and a few glugs of cheap red wine, and let this stuff simmer in the background while you cook everything else.

The eggplant dish definitely benefits from a sauce with chunky tomatoes in it. 

Chicago hot dogs, fries

I guess you’re supposed to have a steamed poppy seed roll for this. As an Aldi shopper, I count myself lucky if they have hot dog buns at all. Or bread in general. So we had hot dogs on regular buns with tomatoes, pickle relish, mustard, raw onions, a dill pickle, and some pickled peppers, and celery salt. 

You would think the pickle relish plus the pickle would be too much total pickle, but they’re really very different things. Some of us were also pretty enthusiastic about the celery salt. It’s neat stuff! Like savory pixie dust. What else do you use it in? I need more. I guess it must be what makes Old Bay seasoning taste like that, along with paprika.

Moe prepped this meal while I started clearing out the laundry room. Here are some before pics:


You can’t see it, but there is indeed a hole in the floor and I did indeed fall into it while cleaning, even though I knew it was there because it was the whole reason I was in there, cleaning. But I broke my fall by grabbing the shelf, which indeed came down on my head, spilling out many year’s worth of outdated prescription drugs, first aid supplies, cleaning products, lightbulbs, and kind of a lot of Halloween makeup. So I have that going for me. 

Then we ate hot dogs, and then we went to Home Depot to get a bunch of lumber and screws, because guess what??? We’re replacing not only the laundry room floor, but the back stairs. Two home improvement projects; two!! I confessed to Damien that I had briefly entertained the idea of just replacing the back steps with a slide, so we could just, zoop, slide out the back, and he said it was okay, because he thought maybe we should just put one of those pirate climbing ropes in. You know, I remember leaving the hospital with our first baby, and both of us thinking, “They’re just going to let us go home with this whole baby? When we’re not even grown-ups?” That situation has not improved.

I don’t know. Oh wait, pizza. 

Okay, that’s it! Gotta finish up work, gotta go to adoration, gotta go to a healing Mass they’re having at our parish and we’re definitely not going to miss, and then PIRATE SLIDE!!!! I mean new back stairs.

Oh, so when my big sisters were little, they went to camp and learned the song about “Love is something when you give it away, give it away, give it away, love is something when you give it away, you end up having more!” Except one of the kids went around singing, “Love is something when you have a hole in your pants, have a hole in your pants, have a hole in your pants…” I never did find out what the final line was. This is why you should never send your kids to a Jesuit college, I mean summer camp. 

And here are the recipe cards!

One-pan garlicky chicken with potatoes, summer squash, and zucchini


  • 12 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • more salt, garlic powder, and onion powder for sprinkling
  • 4 lbs potatoes, scrubbed and sliced thickly
  • 6 assorted zucchini and summer squash, washed and sliced into discs with the skin on


  1. Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cider vinegar, garlic, garlic powder, onion, powder, salt, pepper, and fresh basil. Marinate the chicken thighs in this mixture for at least half an hour.

  2. Preheat the oven to 400.

  3. Grease two large baking sheets. Arrange the chicken, potatoes, and vegetables on the sheet with as little overlap as possible.

  4. Sprinkle additional salt, onion powder, and garlic powder on the potatoes and vegetables.

  5. Cook about 40 minutes or until chicken is completely done and potatoes are slightly brown on top.

Rigatoni alla disgraziata

A hearty, meatless pasta dish with eggplant, breadcrumbs, and mozzarella


  • 2 lg eggplants with ends cut off, cut into one-inch pieces (skin on)
  • salt
  • 3/4 cup olive oil, plus a little extra for frying bread crumbs
  • 3 cups bread crumbs
  • 3 lbs rigatoni
  • 6 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 lb mozzarella
  • grated parmesan for topping


  1. In a very large skillet or pot, heat up a little olive oil and toast the bread crumbs until lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside.

  2. Put the 3/4 cup of olive oil in the pan, heat it again, and add the cubed eggplant. Cook for several minutes, stirring often, until eggplant is soft and slightly golden. Salt to taste. Add in sauce and stir to combine and heat sauce through. Keep warm.

  3. In another pot, cook the rigatoni in salted water. Drain. Add the pasta to the eggplant and sauce mixture. Add in the toasted breadcrumbs and the shredded mozzarella. Stir to combine. Serve with grated parmesan on top.

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15 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 299: Love is something when you have a hole in the floor”

  1. Could you please write sometime about finding a good therapist, or what to do when you realize yours isn’t a good fit? And I also love your home renovation stories.

  2. Meant to mention that shopping at Aldi here in Philadelphia reminds me of shopping in Cuba from what I’ve heard – you can never be sure what will be available; much worse since the pandemic. But I still go there! And someday they’ll have soy sauce again, right?

  3. Good luck with the renovations! My brother-in-law from Texas couldn’t believe we only had one bathroom, but that was just for the four of us – I think he thought we were holding out on him and there was a secret one hiding somewhere in the house that we didn’t want to share. Only problem was when the one bathroom had so much termite damage the joists underneath it had to be replaced and we basically had to move out of the house – what was left of it, that is. I love hearing about anything – kids, movies, food, etc. And I think okra is truly slimy!

  4. If you’re looking for a zucchini recipe for people who don’t like zucchini, I heartily recommend the zucchini butter pasta from Smitten Kitchen. Basically you cook a very large amount of zucchini down to a very small amount, with garlic, parmigiano, and an unholy amount of butter (I usually halve the butter, and I love butter, but it’s enough for me), and use it as a pasta sauce. It’s incredible. My picky toddlers inhale it.

    1. Oh my gosh, Helena — not only does that sound amazing, but I’ve never thought of taking my zucchini cooking all the way to a concentrate! I’ve cooked zucchinis and found them to dwindle, but never thought of going all the way and making a huge portion into a bit of sauce. Ingenious.

  5. Write about raising teens and launching young adults….please!!! Not sure that’s a fun and neat topic but….

  6. Our garden produces unholy amounts of zucchini (seriously, we could feed a small army) and we have diced it and put it in just about any soup or stew, shredded it into bread and muffin batters, mixed it with potatoes to make breakfast hash, and pickled it (surprisingly good). I’ve even sliced it and topped it with tomato paste, leftover diced meat, basil, and cheese to make mini pizza thingies (which the children and husband surprisingly enjoyed).

    It does get a little slimy on occasion though.

  7. I enjoyed your post on adventure movies, and I am desperate for some comedies we can watch as a family! My youngest is 12, but I don’t really enjoy exposing even older teens to the nasty stuff that passes as comedy nowadays, and I don’t enjoy it myself. Funny movies we like are often musicals (The Court Jester, Hello, Dolly!) or just Disney and Pixar. The kids watched Yours, Mine & Ours so many times I can recite the dialog.

    I’d love to hear what comedies, especially older ones, made for adults people find acceptable to watch with their teens now. Some “Golden Age” ones seem way to slow-paced now, or contain unpleasant surprises involving blackface, ethnic stereotyping, or domestic violence played for laughs.

    In the meantime I have The Parent Trap on request at the library (the Hayley Mills one). Can’t believe I missed that one–hope my 12-year-old isn’t too old to enjoy it.

    1. Well, hey presto!: somebody else knows and loves The Court Jester, too! Our family are usually the only ones, in conversations out and about, who have seen that movie.
      “The chalice from the palace has the pellet with the poison; the vessel with the pestle has brew that is true!” 😊

      1. I’ve loved it from childhood–so glad my husband and kids love it too.

        I didn’t appreciate the brilliance of the straight-man performances in this film until adulthood. Especially Glynnis Johns: “Oh, let us not speak of their swollen, twisted bodies, writhing on the floor in agony!”

  8. I’ll third the home reno stories. I was actually wondering what you’d decided on for your flooring. We recently gutted an 80 year old bathroom and put in NuCore waterproof flooring. I love it so much that in the next couple of weeks, we plan on replacing the vinyl flooring in another bathroom with the NuCore. It cleans like a dream with Lysol wipes and/or Swiffer Wets. Actually, the vinyl flooring does too, but we’ve found that the Nucore is less slippery and feels better under foot.

  9. I’d love to hear about what private or alone time means for you as a parent to a large family. Do you care about it? How do you achieve it? Do your kids get time or space to themselves in small shared space?

    Also, what have you learned from your home renovation projects?

  10. I always use celery seed (which I think is just celery salt minus the salt?) in potato salad. It was my mother in law’s secret ingredient – delicious! I also sometimes use it in chicken salad but my husband doesn’t think it belongs in there.

    It sort of shocks me that you haven’t used much zucchini. I feel like you’re such an exotic cook and I’m such a plain jane meat and potatoes kind of gal and I use zucchini all the time. Probably I’m just a slimier person. 😉 Last weekend I used zucchini on our father’s day chicken kabobs (my husband’s favorite), but once the zucchini from my garden comes in, I’ll use it several times a week in stir fries or in quick chicken and veggie tin foil air fryer meals for one.

    Good luck with the laundry/bathroom reno! What a blessing it will be to have two working bathrooms!

  11. I am very happy for you that your kids will eat zucchini. Mine most certainly will not. Although I do sneak the shredded zucchini I freeze into chili and other stew-y things in the winter. It melts right in, and they never know.

    Why not write about your home improvement projects? Either the reality of them, or the dewy-eyed visions (pirate slide!) and what they end up becoming (plain ole stairs).

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