What’s for supper? Vol. 325: (salad)

Okay, this may be a little obnoxious but I am not spending more money on groceries these days. I’m just being more strict with the budgeting habits I’ve followed for years. Would people be interested in a separate post explaining how I plan my weekly menu and how I make my shopping list? It won’t be useful for everyone, but it might be interesting. I promise not to try to sell you a $60 planner. 

Anyway, here is what we had this week: 

SATURDAY
??

I certainly do not remember what we had for supper on Saturday. It was the kind of day that made me google “minimum age child at home alone legal NH,” because there were a lot of duck-fox-basket of corn situations, including the celebration of Sophia’s birthday.

Halfway through our first batch of teenager birthdays, we discovered that, for a surprisingly reasonable price, you can rent an entire small theater a couple of towns over, and they will play a DVD you bring. So she obviously brought The Mummy and invited some pals, and Damien popped a ton of popcorn and they had a nice time. Clara made this snazzy chocolate BTS cake:

and we got some Aldi pizza for lunch. By the time dinner came around, it was a blur. 

SUNDAY
Pork ribs, rice, honey roasted Brussels sprouts

Everything with very simple seasoning. Pork ribs heavily salted and peppered, and roasted right under the broiler, turned once; rice cooked in chicken broth, which the kids desire most ardently; and Brussels sprouts roasted with olive oil, honey, and sea salt. 

I had to do a little fancy footwork with the pork and the brussels sprouts pans, to make sure they both got a turn under the broiler and the brussels sprouts didn’t get overcooked, but Somehow I Managed. Little blorp of bottled sauce and you got yourself a decent meal. This concludes this week’s Spotlight On Pork. I will spare you the other pork photos I took, which look disconcertingly like Martin Luther King Jr’s uhhhhh arm. 

MONDAY
Beef barley soup, butternut squash muffins

They had big hunks of beef on sale for $2.99 a pound, so I got two big ones and cut one up for soup. Here is my trusty, hearty, cozy beef barley soup recipe:

Jump to Recipe

I’m still waiting for my Instant Pot replacement float valve to arrive, so I cooked this on the stovetop, and forgot to keep an eye on it, so the barley and mushrooms gobbled up most of the broth. So we had a savory assemblage of beef, barley, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, and onions, graced with a little whisper of beef broth. Honestly, no complaints. 

I really wanted some bread to go with, but I didn’t have time to let anything rise, and we didn’t have any beer to make a beer bread (which is a great easy quick bread to know. Here’s that recipe: Jump to Recipe); and we didn’t have any canned pumpkin to make pumpkin muffins. 

We did, however, have half a butternut squash left over from last week’s one pan chicken thighs. So I covered it with damp napkins and put it in the microwave for about 15 minutes, three minutes at a time, until it was forkable.

Then I scooped it out and mashed it and used it in place of pumpkins in this very reliable pumpkin bread recipe, which makes two loaves or 18 muffins

Jump to Recipe

and hoooo doggie they were delicious muffins.

Light and kind of buttery and very tender. (I don’t know why I felt it was necessarily to get right up in this muffin’s face for the only photo I took, but at least you can really see the texture!) This is a nice, easy recipe (which any muffin recipe should be), and I often turn to it when I need a quick side for soup. 

I like the pumpkin muffins very much, but these squash ones were clearly superior. More flavor, more interesting texture, lighter. I don’t know if it’s because butternut squash is a better vegetable than pumpkin overall, or because I was using fresh squash instead of canned pumpkin. Probably both reasons. Anyway, I’m going to do it this way from now on, whenever I can. They were a good accompaniment to the soup, as a sweetish quick bread, but if you added a cream cheese icing, they would easily work for a dessert. 

Some of the kids had them for breakfast the next day, too, so I felt massively accomplished. 

TUESDAY
Pizza

Tuesday was my first band practice! Very exciting! I started playing clarinet in 4th grade and continued playing in the school band all through high school. I noodled around a bit after that, but this is my the first time playing in a group in more than thirty years. What an absolute joy. It’s a band for adults just like me, who used to play and are getting back into it, or who are just learning to play, so it’s very friendly and encouraging, and I absolutely love it. Damien got me a clarinet that packs up into a cute little backpack for Christmas, and I got myself a folding music stand, and my fingers are all, “yep, we remember this,” and away we go. It’s awesome. If you are an old bat and feeling a little bit now-what-ish about your life, I strongly recommend checking to see if there’s a New Horizons band in your area. I also dropped my high school band director a note just to let him know I’m still playing and that I have happy memories of band. Wish I could write to Mr. Faro,  who taught me to play all those years ago, but he passed away quite young. Sweet man.

Speaking of sweet men, Damien made pizzas because I was in a bit of a tizzy about my first practice. He made two cheese, one pepperoni, and one garlic, onion, anchovy, and artichoke heart. Veddy good.

WEDNESDAY
Chicken burgers, leftovers

I’m trying to throw away less food, and I can’t seem to actually cook less food, so I cooked some frozen chicken burgers and then heated up some of the massive amounts of leftovers clogging up the fridge, so we had chicken burgers, rice, Brussels sprouts, and nachos. The kids complained a lot, which tells me we need to do this more often so they get used to it, because it was perfectly good food! 

Oh, you know what, we must have had nachos on Saturday, because there were leftover nachos in the fridge. 

THURSDAY
Steak and pear salad, french bread

Not really steak, but I don’t know what to call it. “Beef salad” just sounds gross, and this meal was actually delightful. Damien took the other large on-sale hunk of roast beef, chuck roast or whatever it was; seasoned it, and seared it in oil with garlic cloves, then cooked it slowly in the oven

until it was beautifully rare inside, which I swear I took a photo of, but apparently it was on my imagination camera.

I served it with mixed greens, sliced pears, toasted walnuts (microwaved for two minutes), crumbled blue cheese, diced red onion, and white wine vinegar for a dressing. 

Absolutely delicious. 

I got it into my head that there was’t enough meat (there absolutely was), and we needed a side, so I made some french bread. I started somewhat late in the day, so the bread came out of the oven right at supper time

and my poor family was forced to eat piping hot french bread with melted butter sliding off the top. 

If you are wondering why one of the loaves has a little jog at the end, that’s what happens when you balance a large pan of rising dough on top of a toaster when people are rushing around in the kitchen, and it gets knocked onto the floor but miraculously flips over and the dough lands on the floor on top of the plastic wrap because, well, God loves you all the time, and sometimes he shows it by not letting your bread dough get all crapped up on the dirty floor. So that was nice! One loaf got a little jog at the end of it, but who among us. 

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle or salmon 

It is a snow day! See?

A snow day that they announced yesterday, so we could turn off our alarms, and they sent the kids home with work packets, so the day off won’t get counted against their summer vacation, and the kids industriously did their packets yesterday. I am rewarding them with tuna noodle (which I was planning to make anyway, but they do like it), and the big people are having salmon of some kind, because I happened to be at Aldi right when salmon hit the “sell or freeze by” date and it was 50% off. 

Not sure exactly how I will prepare the salmon. I might just pan fry it and serve it with, hmmm, steamed potatoes and peas or something. My goal is not to run out to the store. Or make anyone else run to the store. 

Anyway, let me know if you want that “how I plan and shop” thing. It might just be annoying, I don’t know. 

 

Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)

Makes about a gallon of lovely soup

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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. 


  2. Add the cubes of beef and cook until slightly browned.

  3. 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. 

  4. 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. 

  5. Before serving, add pepper to taste. Salt if necessary. 

 

Beer bread

A rich, buttery quick bread that tastes more bready and less cake-y than many quick breads. It's so easy (just one bowl!) but you really do want to sift the flour.

This recipe makes two large loaf pan loaves.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 12-oz cans beer, preferably something dark
  • 1 stick butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375

  2. Butter two large loaf pans. Melt the stick of butter.

  3. I'm sorry, but you really do want to sift the flour.

  4. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients, and stir in beer until it's all combined and nice and thick.

  5. Pour the batter into the loaf pans and pour the melted butter over the top.

  6. Bake for about 50 minutes until it's crusty and knobbly on top.

 

Pumpkin quick bread or muffins

Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter two loaf pans or butter or line 18 muffin tins.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture and mix just to blend. 

  4. Optional: add toppings or stir-ins of your choice. 

  5. Spoon batter into pans or tins. Bake about 25 minutes for muffins, about 40 minutes for loaves. 

 

French bread

Makes four long loaves. You can make the dough in one batch in a standard-sized standing mixer bowl if you are careful!

I have a hard time getting the water temperature right for yeast. One thing to know is if your water is too cool, the yeast will proof eventually; it will just take longer. So if you're nervous, err on the side of coolness.

Ingredients

  • 4-1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 5 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 10-12 cups flour
  • butter for greasing the pan (can also use parchment paper) and for running over the hot bread (optional)
  • corn meal for sprinkling on pan (optional)

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, put the warm water, and mix in the sugar and yeast until dissolved. Let stand at least five minutes until it foams a bit. If the water is too cool, it's okay; it will just take longer.

  2. Fit on the dough hook and add the salt, oil, and six of the cups of flour. Add the flour gradually, so it doesn't spurt all over the place. Mix and low and then medium speed. Gradually add more flour, one cup at a time, until the dough is smooth and comes away from the side of the bowl as you mix. It should be tender but not sticky.

  3. Lightly grease a bowl and put the dough ball in it. Cover with a damp towel or lightly cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until it's about double in size.

  4. Flour a working surface. Divide the dough into four balls. Taking one at a time, roll, pat, and/or stretch it out until it's a rough rectangle about 9x13" (a little bigger than a piece of looseleaf paper).

  5. Roll the long side of the dough up into a long cylinder and pinch the seam shut, and pinch the ends, so it stays rolled up. It doesn't have to be super tight, but you don't want a ton of air trapped in it.

  6. Butter some large pans. Sprinkle them with cornmeal if you like. You can also line them with parchment paper. Lay the loaves on the pans.

  7. Cover them with damp cloths or plastic wrap again and set to rise in a warm place again, until they come close to double in size. Preheat the oven to 375.

  8. Give each loaf several deep, diagonal slashes with a sharp knife. This will allow the loaves to rise without exploding. Put the pans in the oven and throw some ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, or spray some water in with a mister, and close the oven quickly, to give the bread a nice crust.

  9. Bake 25 minutes or more until the crust is golden. One pan may need to bake a few minutes longer.

  10. Run some butter over the crust of the hot bread if you like, to make it shiny and even yummier.

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19 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 325: (salad)”

  1. I would love to see a post like that, Simcha. Also, any luck with figuring out or fixing the subscription to your blog? I still haven’t received any notifications since last November.

    1. Sorry about that! For a variety of reasons, I am going to launch a redesigned site soon, with a new host, and I’m desperately hoping that will solve the subscription problem.

      Just posted the meal planning and shopping post. IT’S QUITE LONG.

  2. Another vote here for a grocery and meal planning thread. I’m a much plainer cook who uses many fewer ingredients than Simcha but our bill is definitely up – I think we rely too heavily on eggs and chicken for it not to be.

    We’ve had a week here and I don’t think I purchased any groceries or actually made any dinners. The boys ate from the freezer and pantry all week.

  3. I was amused at all the Amazon ads for planners interspersed… Do you do that on purpose or does it just happen?

  4. More Happy Birthday greetings! Another cool cake! My go-to salmon recipe is to brush olive oil on salmon on a baking pan and then put a bunch of capers and some ground black pepper on that and bake at 350 until done. Capers can be expensive but are surprisingly cheap for a huge jar at Costco, if you go there or know someone who does (Saigon cinnamon is also a good deal there, it seems). I’m always interested in food shopping and budgeting tips (I was a food marketing major in college, and yes, there is such a thing, at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, complete with the Campbell library named after the soup company). Regarding trying not to waste food, for me I think of the people who sometimes literally risk their lives to come to the U.S. to pick crops, pluck chickens, etc., and I try to honor their hard work (and that of my husband and myself, too) by not turning the fruits of their labor into garbage. However, best intentions don’t always work and I just discovered a half-used container of sour cream that has gone to Valhalla. Years ago my sister and brother-in-law were frustrated by their kids being wasteful and picky eaters – they hung a replica poster in their kitchen of WWI British armed forces and merchant seamen looking brave and noble that was captioned, “We risk our lives to bring you food – it’s up to you not to waste it!” My sister and her husband were both librarians – not sure how much life-risking went on at work, but they didn’t enjoy working hard and then seeing the food they prepared at the end of the day when they were tired thrown into the trash.

    1. Mary Jean!! My husband also was a food marketing major at SJU! He ended up changing majors though. I think he stuck it out for two or three years. He’d been working at the Acme since he was 14 and was actually night managing an Acme from the minute he got his high school diploma until he graduated from college (5.5 years later) and the food marketing profs were way too Ivory Tower for him.

      1. Hi, Philly area! So, I became a food mktg major when I didn’t know what I’d do with an English degree, my original major at Gwynedd Mercy (assuming you know where that is since you’re Philly area)- the reasoning was that “everybody eats, so you’ll always have a job.” Most of the jobs were in sales, though, and I was afraid to try to sell anyone anything so I was an assistant buyer for a while at a food wholesaler which went out of business not long after my daughter was born – yeah, everybody eats, but not every company lasts forever, it turns out! I actually enjoyed the food marketing teachers as they seemed less ivory tower than the teachers I’d had when I was an English major and it felt refreshing to me in comparison. I’m sure for your husband, who actually managed a store, a lot of what they said was not the reality he worked with, though!

  5. I’d love a shopping and planning post. I have a lot of little kids so it’s harder to shop sales as I usually just pick up groceries I’ve ordered. Any tips about this season would be appreciated.

    While you’re asking (sort of) I’d love a post on how to properly celebrate the big feasts in the church (Christmas and Easter) without it turning into sloth and gluttony. I want to learn how to celebrate well but maybe what I need to learn is how to sacrifice better on non-feast times? I think you’d be a great person to hear from about this topic!

  6. As a fellow mom of ten, I would love post about grocery shopping. Especially since you serve up much yummier meals than I do. As for leftovers, I serve them every Sunday for dinner…it allows me to use things up before the week starts and I don’t have to cook on Sunday (lunch is always sandwiches and chips). My kids call them “scraps” because that’s what we call the leftovers we feed to the chickens…they grumble every Sunday but oh well, it builds character.

  7. Please tell us how you plan and shop! I try to plan, and I shop, but wind up making the same things anyway, and where did all the food go?

  8. Of course I want to read a post about how you plan and budget your shopping! (Though- full disclosure- I like your writing so much I would also happily read a post about how you teach a child to clean a toilet, though that would be no fun for you to write.)
    Also: I think something made with butternut squash is always 50x better than the same thing made with pumpkin.

  9. Would love to hear your shopping strategy.

    My version of Carla Lalla Music’s Crisp Skin Salmon:
    -Preheat the oven to 475.
    -Dry the salmon with paper towels.
    -Put some olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet with some kosher salt and pepper.
    -Coat each side of the salmon with the oil mixture. I’ve done this both with filets and individuals portions and it works the same.
    -Cook for 9-10 minutes.
    -Delicious. It’s fishy, I pair with some pesto.

  10. I would love a post on how you plan and shop! And I loved your comments in your last food post (I think) about how you handle kids not liking what you make, thank you. My most picky eater and I reached a compromise where he can have chicken nuggets any two nights a week and he can choose which nights — and then the other nights, he has to at least try what the rest of the family is having before getting toast or something (he doesn’t like peanut butter, unfortunately, or most forms of protein); the price of chicken nuggets has really risen!

  11. I’m ok with a plan and shop routine. 🙂

    Two thoughts:

    -OH. THAT’S why people are pearl clutching about that statue.

    – the fact that Clara got the icing that neat and that purple is truly awe inspiring.

  12. I would love your plan and shop routine. My husband does the shopping, with a teenager in tow so said teenager can get driving practice in, but I make the lists and we plan meals together partly based on what’s on sale, and partly what everyone wants to eat.

    I only get annoyed by bloggers’ shopping plans when they’re all “tee hee, kombucha was on sale, so I just *had* to nab a whole case of the brand that is brewed by monks in Tibet!” or “Thank goodness our pastured beef box arrived, or we wouldn’t have been able to have Beef Wellington Wednesday! #budgeting #happycows”

    Me, I am just hoping to get an e-coupon for ground beef to feed four boys and the two of us, and be able to enjoy some name-brand instant coffee.

    1. I relate to this comment from the depths of my soul.

      Same thing with “simple dinners fast” cookbooks that use goat cheese and fava beans.

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