Happy Friday! Happy second night of Hanukkah! Happy solemnity of the Immaculate Conception! And happy birthday to Benny!
Here are Irene and Lucy, making sure their new baby sister Benny has a nose like she is supposed to.
Oh my oh my.
Well, here’s what we ate this week!
Spaghetti with sausages
Saturday is always a quick meal because of shopping and errands, but I get soooo tired of grilled cheese and sandwiches. So I convinced myself that jarred sauce with Italian sausages would be quick. It is not quick! Sausages take forever to cook! Oh well. Worth it.
Kids: Omelets and hash browns
This is Jordan Hall in Boston, where Damien and Clara and I went to see The Messiah as the guests of my brother and his boyfriend Jonathan, who made a completely spectacular lunch, which I forgot to take any pictures of. It was a white bean soup, a tsimmis-like dish of braised chicken and sweet potatoes with dried fruit and cinnamon, and a completely gorgeous fruit plate that looked like a living moroccan mandala or something. No pictures! I’m kicking myself. But it was all very delicious.
The Messiah was so entertaining. I’ve never sat and listened to the whole thing start to finish, and I was delighted. I’m familiar enough with it that I recognized a lot of the parts, but not enough that I knew what was coming, and it was full of surprises. He’s SO good at setting the mood with just a few bars. In this performance, they had the trumpeters pop out through a little side door, which was fun. I also don’t know what kind of trumpet that was, that had all the showy parts toward the end. It didn’t have valves and it was almost as long as a trombone, but I think it had some finger holes? He appeared to be making most of the sounds just with his mouth on the mouthpiece, though. Amazing.
I loved all the solosits. I took a while to warm up to the alto, who had a sort of Evita thing going on; but once she got up to the “He was despised, rejected” part, I was all in. I really loved how they were singing directly to the audience and emoted a lot, which you don’t always see.
And here we are!
What a treat. What a lovely evening.
The kids at home made themselves omelettes and hash browns.
Harvest chicken salad
Damien roasted some boneless chicken thighs while I was out, and I cut them up and served them on salad greens with toasted walnuts and pecans, dried cranberries, feta cheese, green apple slices, and croutons.
Perfectly fine, not thrilling, but who needs thrills every day.
Gochujang chicken, rice, cucumbers
Tuesday I made some chicken with this excellent, easy recipe:
I made the sauce in the morning, and baked the chicken (it calls for wings, but I had drunsticks and a few thighs) and then re-heated the sauce and mixed it together, and it came out great. Sweet, sticky, with a little fire.
I made a big pot of rice and some plain cucumbers to go with it.
I was planning some kind of piquant Asian cucumber salad, but the chicken turned out so spicy, I thought we needed something cooling.
Beef barley soup, carrot-apple muffins
Wednesday was take 2 of the beef barley soup I meant to make last week.
The soup comes together quickly enough, but I wanted some kind of bread. Beer bread is good, but we don’t keep beer in the house like we used to; and pumpkin muffins are popular, but they’re hard to make when you don’t have pumpkin in the house!
We did have carrots, though, and apples, so I found this reasonably quick recipe from Spend With Pennies. It’s not as quick as pumpkin muffins, because you have to shred the carrots and apples, but the food processor made pretty fast work of that.
They were good! Quite sweet, so I might want to cut down the sugar next time. If they had been frosted, they would have been a pretty luxe dessert. They called for raisins, which I skipped for the kids’ sake.
So we had soup and muffins and all was well.
I just threw the cranberries in to make the picture prettier.
On Wednesday I also baked a bunch of cupcakes for Benny’s upcoming birthday; and I also made a batch of rugelach dough for upcoming Hanukkah!
Korean beef bowl, rice, peas
In a hurry once again, I can’t even remember why. Korean beef bowl to the rescue. I made it in the morning and kept it in the slow cooker all day; and then when I got home, I made rice in the Instant Pot and heated up some peas.
Here we see Korean beef bowl on rice with . . . it looks like string beans and asparagus. I forgot to take a picture of the actual Thursday meal.
Then on Thursday night, Benny and I got to work on the cupcakes. We just used boxed cake mix and baked the cupcakes inside ice cream cones. They come out looking pretty feeble, which is all part of the plan.
Then you get a sturdy box and cut X’s in it, and push the cones through to hold them steady. The box is helpful when you’re decorating, but absolutely vital if you’re transporting them.
So then you can decorate the tops to look like ice cream. To get a chocolate-vanilla swirl effect that really looks like ice cream, you’re supposed to get a bag of each flavor and put them inside a larger bag, and then pipe it on; but I had already maxed out my preparedness by buying even one bag. So it all got smooshed in together, and looked reasonably ice creamy. The sprinkles helped a lot.
Here’s Benny, piping away.
and here are the finished cupcakes. The big one on the right is a gluten free cupcake baked in a ramekin, rather than an ice cream cone. They probably have gluten-free ice cream cones, but again, I only have a certain amount of prepardedness in me, and I spent it on buying gluten free cake mix.
Then we put them on the washing machine, because they needed to be protected from the world’s hungriest cat, and the laundry room has a door that actually closes.
The rugelach dough has just been sitting in the fridge all this time. I will update you when something else happens.
Lasagna pinwheels, garlic bread, cup cakes
Friday is Benny’s actual birthday. Some of us went to Mass and then the kids went to school late, carefully toting 27 cupcakes; some of us went to Mass later and are now typing as fast as possible before it’s time to go out again!
I wrote up a whole post about my adventures making rugelach, so check that out! If you don’t know what rugelach are, this is a fine year to find out.
Prolly also gonna make potato latkes, mmm
and maybe sufganiyot at some point. Eight days! I have eight days total.
Okay, goodbye! I love you! Sorry all the recipes are out of order at the end. Happy all the things!
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.
Korean Beef Bowl
A very quick and satisfying meal with lots of flavor and only a few ingredients. Serve over rice, with sesame seeds and chopped scallions on the top if you like. You can use garlic powder and powdered ginger, but fresh is better. The proportions are flexible, and you can easily add more of any sauce ingredient at the end of cooking to adjust to your taste.
- 1 cup brown sugar (or less if you're not crazy about sweetness)
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
- 3-4 inches fresh ginger, minced
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 3-4 lb2 ground beef
- scallions, chopped, for garnish
- sesame seeds for garnish
In a large skillet, cook ground beef, breaking it into bits, until the meat is nearly browned. Drain most of the fat and add the fresh ginger and garlic. Continue cooking until the meat is all cooked.
Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes the ground beef and stir to combine. Cook a little longer until everything is hot and saucy.
Serve over rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.
Serve with sour cream and/or apple sauce for Hanukkah or ANY TIME. Makes about 25+ latkes
- 4 lbs potatoes, peeled
- 6 eggs beaten
- 6 Tbsp flour (substitute matzoh meal for Passover)
- salt and pepper
- oil for frying
Grate the potatoes. Let them sit in a colander for a while, if you can, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
Mix together the eggs, salt and pepper, and flour. Stir into the potato mixture and mix well.
Turn the oven on to 350 and put a paper-lined pan in the oven to receive the latkes and keep them warm while you're frying.
Put 1/4 to 1/2 and inch of oil in your frying pan and heat it up until a drop of batter will bubble.
Take a handful of the potato mixture, flatten it slightly, and lay it in the pan, leaving room between latkes. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, making several batches to leave room in between latkes. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Eat right away or keep warm in oven, but not too long.
Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce or apple slices.