Pretty good week of food! Here’s what we had this week:
Every once in a while, I like to treat the kids to just regular old tacos with ground beef, orange spice from a little envelope, pre-shredded Mexican-style cheese, and so on. No fish sauce or pickled carrots or Asian pears or microgreen nonsense.
Drunken noodles with beef
We have taken to watching Cutthroat Kitchen (currently streaming on Hulu) on family laundry-folding night. I love this show. It’s just mean and weird enough to be entertaining, but you also get some good food ideas. Also, Irene has taken to describing anything terrible as “going for more of a rustic feel.” Their favorite episode was the one where that guy made berry muffins that were just a sticky pile of crumbs. They talk about it all the time. The only part I don’t like is where they make the winner do a little money dance at the end, and 99% of them clearly do not want to be dancing for the camera.
Anyway, Damien is a big fan of drunken noodles (which, to my surprise, are not made with alcohol. They are called that because they are so spicy, they make you want to drink a lot), so I figured I would look up the recipe by Jet Tila, who is often a judge on the show. Turns out the recipe I chose is significantly different from what Damien’s been ordering, but he absolutely loved what I came up with. I used beef rather than the shrimp the recipe called for, so I’ll go ahead and rewrite it as I made it. I also chose to make it less spicy than it might have been, because you can always add heat after cooking, but you can’t really take it away. So we just sprinkled some red pepper flakes on top, and that was good, and brought out the other flavors nicely.
There are several steps to this recipe and a certain amount of slicing, but it’s not difficult, and it was so good. Damien and I both found ourselves eating our first helping as quickly as we could so we could get up and get another helping.
Because I used regular basil instead of Thai basil, and I trimmed out the pepper seeds and membranes, it had a slightly Italian taste in combination with the tomatoes. This blended shockingly well with the sweet, spicy Asian sauce. I made a ton of it
and it got gobbled up.
Definitely adding this to the rotation, and I foresee endless variations, too. Next time, I hope I can find wider rice noodles.
Blueberry chicken salad with homemade croutons
Blueberries were on sale, so I chose this always-popular meal. I opted to cook the chicken breast in the Instant Pot with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, which wasn’t the absolute best. Roasted would have been better.
I cut the chicken into chunks and served it over mixed greens with toasted almonds (toast them easily in the microwave for two minutes), feta cheese, diced red onion, the blueberries, and some lovely croutons I made with the mountain of stale hamburger buns I’ve been collecting.
To make croutons, cut the bread into cubes, drizzle them with melted butter, and season them heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, or whatever else you like. Spread them in a shallow pan and toast them in a 325 oven for half an hour or more, until they are crunchy all the way through.
I had mine with just balsamic vinegar, and it was very good.
BLTs and tiramisu
Damien made this for his b*rthd*y. Some of the January tomatoes were what Corrie would call “puffetic.”
But most of them were okay, and we had a lovely meal.
Damien made a gigantic tiramisu following this recipe,but he added grated chocolate to the top along with the cocoa powder.
One-pan roasted chicken thighs with balsamic vegetables
A true one-pan dish, none of this “sauté this, then braise that, then toast these, then whirl that through your food processor, reduce, deglaze, make a roux, roll out crust to top, pour into springform pan, steam, release, take it for a nice walk down to the park in a sieve, perform reverse osmosis on the juices and run the resulting curds through your KitchenAid centrifuge, and then simply put in one pan!” stuff. You prep the vegetables, put them in the pan, add balsamic and olive oil, salt and pepper, mix it up in the pan, put the chicken on top of the vegetables which are in the pan, and season the chicken that is in the pan. Then put the pan in the oven. Then get one of your stronger kids to drag it out for you while following her with a camera.
(Actually I made two pans’ worth.)
It turns out so tasty. Not everyone liked all the vegetables, but everyone had something. I made this version with red potatoes, brussels sprouts, a butternut squash, and baby carrots. The vegetables draw up the sauce very nicely and take on a kind of glaze, without you having to do anything but put the pan in the oven and turn it on.
So, the butternut squash has been hanging around my kitchen for a good six weeks now, starting balefully at me and sending out almost-audible hoots of derision. So I showed it! I cut its ends off with my newly-sharpened knife and tossed that sucker in the microwave for three minutes. Then I scooped out the seeds, peeled it, and cut it into chunks.
No, I lied. First I held it against my sinuses for an unseemly amount of time.
I briefly considered sharing this as a tip for other migraine sufferers, but then I remembered what happened last time I shared a picture of myself becoming overly familiar with a vegetable
Tito Edwards unfriended me, that’s what happened. And that’s why I live at the P.O.
Oh, if you’re wondering, it’s totally fine to eat a 6-week-old butternut squash. Keep it in a cool, dry place and don’t let anyone stab it, and they keep for a really long time. In fact, they get sweeter and sweeter as they age, unlike people who live at the P.O.
Hey, who wants to talk about my kitchen ceiling? Nice, isn’t it? I think it’s nice.
I was under the impression that Damien didn’t like this dish, so I planned it for when he was going to be away covering a meeting. As it turns out, he does like it, and also I decided to go to the town meeting with him, because I like him. So I threw together the stroganoff ludicrously quickly — really, it was like a Betty Boop cartoon, except not horrifyingly sexy — and we all ate at 4:30, then we went to the meeting. Which turned out to be a dud — just another Cranky Yankee night — but we did stop for a couple of pints on the way home.
Oh, here is the strogranoff.
Not much to see, but it was tasty, if a little lacking in creaminess. I forgot to buy sour cream, so I used Greek yogurt, which should have worked, except I didn’t really have enough. It really was still tasty, though! I can’t quite bring myself to write up a recipe card for this, but the basic idea is:
Chop up a bunch of onions and fry them in oil, then add a bunch of ground beef and cook it up in the onions, crumbling it up into bits. Then glug in a ton of red wine and a huge heap of sliced mushrooms, plus salt and pepper. Then stir in a big tub of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Serve over egg noodles.
In closing: The decision to grab a little bit more cold stroganoff before heading to bed at 1 a.m. after a delayed bedtime due to diabetic nuttiness? Turned out to be a poor decision. Which I learned and re-learned repeatedly throughout the night.
Tuna burgers, fries, broccoli
One of the kids surprised me by actually asking for tuna burgers. Or maybe just mentioning tuna, and me figuring out a way to make it into something the kids won’t enjoy.
Drunken noodles with beef (after Jet Tila)
This is a less-spicy version. For more heat, leave the serrano pepper seeds in and add red pepper flakes before or after cooking.
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp oyster sauce
- 4.5 Tbsp fish sauce
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp Sriracha
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 3 oz fresh basil leaves in a chiffonade (sliced into thin ribbons)
- 30+ oz wide rice noodles
canola oil for cooking
- 8 Tbsp minced garlic
- 6 eggs beaten
- 6 serrano chiles or jalapeños, seeded and sliced thin
- 1 lg onion, sliced thin
- 2 oz fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 2-3 pints grape tomatoes, halved
- 3.5 lbs roast beef, sliced as thinly as possible
Cook the rice noodles according to directions, and set them aside.
Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
Heat a very large sauté pan with oil and brown the minced garlic. Add chiles and beaten eggs, and scramble in the pan until the eggs are in cooked bits.
Add onion and sliced beef and cook until beef is barely browned.
Add cooked noodles, tomatoes, chopped basil leaves, and sauce.
Keep stirring and combining until everything is saucy and hot. Serve immediately.
One-pan balsamic chicken thighs and vegetables
A true one-pan dish that works well with lots of variations of seasonings and vegetables
- 18 chicken thighs with skin and bone
- 1 butternut squash in cubes
- 3 lbs red potatoes in cubes
- 1 lb baby carrots
- 2 lbs brussels sprouts, halved
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- salt (preferably kosher)
Grease a large, shallow pan. Preheat the oven to 400.
Mix together the olive oil and vinegar with a tablespoon of salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in the pan, pour the mixture over them, and stir them up to coat, then spread them out again.
Lay the chicken breasts on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle more salt and pepper, basil and oregano over the whole pan.
Cook for 30 minutes or more, until vegetables and chicken are cooked through and chicken skins are golden and crisp.
If necessary, broil for a few minutes to add a little char.
- 1 can tuna
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- seasonings, minced onion, etc.
- oil for frying
Drain the tuna.
Mix tuna thoroughly with egg, bread crumbs, and whatever seasonings you like. Form into two patties.
Heat oil in pan. Fry tuna patties on both sides until golden brown.