What’s for supper? Vol. 228: Easy does it, more or less

How is it Friday already? I guess I spent the week driving, sleeping, and wheezing. And making Halloween costumes, and cooking.  I tried Instacart again and it’s definitely growing on me. My one complaint is that the default tip is 5%. Five percent! That’s just gross. I know you can raise it, and I do, but what the heck, Instacart. Why would you make that seem normal? Shopping is hard work. 

Here’s what we had this week. A couple new recipes and a lot of easy comfort food. 

SATURDAY
BLTs

Show me a person who doesn’t love BLTs and I’ll happily eat his BLT. 

SUNDAY
Chinese pork ribs, vegetable lo mein

The most elaborate meal of the week. Damien marinated some pork ribs in this lovely Chinese sauce. I didn’t get a great pic of the cooked ribs, but here they are, waiting to be cooked. Lovely thick ribs. I’ll get his recipe when he gets back from his run.

Next time, we’ll make this outside on the grill, but it felt like an oven broiling kind of day.

We’ve been doing a lot of Asian-style meals lately, but are pretty, pretty tired of rice, so I poked around a bit and it turns out a simple lo mein (which means “stirred noodles”) is super easy and delicious.

Jump to Recipe

I made an absolute bare bones sauce with soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar, boiled some noodles, cooked the veg, deglazed with mirin, and added the noodles and sauce, and that’s it. 

It was perfect, just like good take-out. I used red and yellow bell peppers, red onion, and sugar snap peas, and maybe garlic, I forget. The noodles darkened quite a bit from the sauce as I continued cooking it. Next time I may add some fish sauce or hoisin sauce or oyster sauce or fresh ginger or something, but truly, truly I may not. This was so easy and flavorful and just about the whole family enjoyed it, and what kind of fool would mess with that?

The answer, of course, is my kind of fool. I always mess with things. But at least we’ll have this one happy noodle memory. 

MONDAY
Buffalo chicken on salad

Always popular.

Salad greens, buffalo chicken from frozen, blue cheese, and crunchy onions from a can, with a drizzle of blue cheese dressing. You can addd red onion and shredded carrot and tomato, but you have my permission to not. 

TUESDAY
Bagel, egg, sausage, cheese sandwiches and OJ

Most of the kids want an egg or two fried in plenty of butter and not flipped. I firm up the yolk a little bit by covering the pan for a few minutes toward the end. What kind of egg is that? Sunny side up? It’s even better if you use tons of butter and spoon the hot butter over the yolk as it cooks, but it felt like too much work. Then I went and overcooked mine anyway, oh well.

I had mine with a little hot sauce, and I chose American cheese, because I like American cheese.

WEDNESDAY
Nachos

Basic basic. Tortilla chips, seasoned ground beef, and shredded cheese. One pan with jalapeños, one without.  I also heated up a can of refried beans and a bag of frozen corn, and they were surprisingly popular. I sprinkled a little chili lime powder on top; olé.

We also had salsa and the small amount of sour cream that didn’t get frozen. If anyone knows a use for frozen sour cream, I’d be glad to know it. You can thaw it out, but it gets all grainy and horrible. And here I made an entirely gratuitous joke about people who have been in academia too long, but I took it out because fratelli tutti or whatever. Again I say to you, olé.

THURSDAY
Bacon tomato bisque, challah

I put this one effortful meal on the menu and kept putting it off until there was only one day left to make it, and of course the weather turned warm and muggy. Oh well! It’s a wonderful, hearty soup, even with canned tomatoes.

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Tomatoes, cream cheese, fresh rosemary, bay leaves, onions, garlic, bacon, all good. 

I thought it would be pleasant to try a round challah instead of my usual big braid-little braid stacked loaf.

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It looked pretty, but I guess it needs more baking time, because it was still quite damp on the inside. And you can see I let it rise too much for the second rising, and it got kind of blurry, instead of being the plump, pull-apart rosette I was imagining.

Still, hot eggy bread, mmmm. I did alter the recipe a tiny bit by adding an extra half teaspoon of salt and using olive oil instead of canola oil, and that helped the flavor a lot.

With these challahs I finally got through my entire 25-pound pandemic bag of flour, and now I just have my second 25-pound pandemic bag of flour to use. I know some of you go through that amount of flour every other week, but I do not. I love baking about as much as I love paper machéing: I do it if because there is a still, small voice inside me insisting that this is the only way my family will know I love them, even though my actual family with the big, loud voice is begging me to just buy the thing at the store. I yam what I yam.

FRIDAY
French onion soup, roast mushrooms, baguettes, and tuna

Ooh, looks like I never made a recipe card for my very simple french onion soup. Here’s a photo of onion soup past, and here’s the card:

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I’m going to try my hardest to make only a small pot of soup. We still have lots of other soup left over from yesterday, and the refrigerator situation is a travesty, just a travesty. (And yes, this is why the sour cream keeps getting frozen. It’s horribly crowded in there, and refrigerator needs proper air circulation. Well, we all have needs, so GET IN LINE, FRIGIDAIRE.) 

I think Damien is going to make the roast mushroom dish. We haven’t had it in ages and it’s sooooo savory and yummy. It’s one of Burneko’s Deadspin recipes. Dishes with capers in them can go either way, but this one is absolutely smashing. 

And there will be some tuna for the people who are gonna cry about capers.

 

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar

for the rest

  • 6 oz uncooked noodles
  • sesame oil for cooking
  • add-ins (vegetables sliced thin or chopped small, shrimp, chicken, etc.)
  • 2 Tbsp mirin

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

  2. Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.

  3. Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.

  4. Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.

  5. Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.

Tomato bisque with bacon

Calories 6 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 - 1 lb bacon (peppered bacon is good)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 35 oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 46 oz tomato juice
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • crispy fried onions (optional garnish)

Instructions

  1. Fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, chop it up, and drain out all but a a few teaspoons of grease.

  2. Add the diced onion and minced garlic to the grease and sauté until soft.

  3. Add tomatoes (including juices), bay leaves, rosemary, and tomato juice, and simmer for 20 minutes. Save some rosemary for a garnish if you like.

  4. With a slotted spoon, fish out the bay leaf, the tomatoes, and most of the rosemary, leaving some rosemary leaves in. Discard most of the rosemary and bay leaf. Put the rest of the rosemary and the tomatoes in a food processor with the 8 oz of cream cheese until it's as smooth as you want it.

  5. Return pureed tomato mixture to pot. Salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Heat through. Add chopped bacon right before serving, and top with crispy fried onions if you like. Garnish with more rosemary if you're a fancy man. 

 

Challah (braided bread)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup oil (preferably olive oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6-8 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp yeast
  • 2 egg yolks for egg wash
  • poppy seeds or "everything bagel" topping (optional)
  • corn meal (or flour) for pan, to keep loaf from sticking

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve a bit of the sugar into the water, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir gently, and let sit for five minutes or more, until it foams.

  2. In the bowl of standing mixer, put the flour (starting with six cups), salt, remaining sugar, oil, and eggs, mix slightly, then add the yeast liquid. Mix with dough hook until the dough doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl, adding flour as needed. It's good if it has a slightly scaly appearance on the outside.

  3. (If you're kneading by hand, knead until it feels soft and giving. It will take quite a lot of kneading!)

  4. Put the dough in a greased bowl and lightly cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for at least an hour, until it's double in size.

  5. Grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle it with flour or corn meal. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll three into "snakes" and make a large braid, pinching the ends to keep them together. Divide the fourth piece into three and make a smaller braid, and lay this over the larger braid. Lay the braided loaf on the pan.

  6. Cover again and let rise again for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 350.

  7. Before baking, make an egg wash out of egg yolks and a little water. Brush the egg wash all over the loaf, and sprinkle with poppy seeds or "everything" topping.

  8. Bake 25 minutes or more until the loaf is a deep golden color.

Simple French onion soup

Serve with a piece of toasted baguette at the bottom of each bowl. Finish with cheese on top.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 cups onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 4-6 cups beef broth (can also use chicken broth or a combination of water and white wine)
  • pepper
  • parmesan or mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. In a heavy pot, melt the butter and then add the onions. Cook very slowly over a low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and somewhat darkened.

  2. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Stir in the flour and mix to coat.

  3. Add the broth (or water and wine). Add pepper to taste and simmer for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.

  4. Serve with a hunk of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl. Sprinkle cheese on top, and if you have oven-safe dishes, brown under the broiler to form a skin on top of the soup.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 227: Notes from Slab City

As I mentioned, I was in quarantine for part of the week. My car was already in the shop and continues to be in the shop, and Damien has been doing absolutely everything, and as far as I know, he only took one nap, and did not kill anybody at all. I hope this isn’t one of those situations where your plant looks okay from the outside but then you accidentally bump it and it crumbles into dust. 

While in the hole, I finally broke down and started using Instacart. It’s fine. I hate exactly the parts I knew I would hate (not being able to see the meat and produce, not being able to browse the aisles and be inspired as I shopped), but the shopper communicated well and it was very fast. I’m sure my impoverished, exhausted past self would want to kick my current ass for whining about it, but, whatever. It’s fine. Everything is fine. 

ANYWAY, here’s what we ate this week. 

SATURDAY
Meatball subs

I can’t blame Instacart for this one. I was shopping in person at the store and deliberately picked out eleven pounds of ground beef. I guess I was hungry. I made about 110 large meatballs.

If you are thinking, “Goodness, imagine having to make that many meatballs!” think it no more, because I did not have to make that many meatballs. It was Too Many Meatballs. I just lost my head. 

My recipe is nothing special.

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The onliest thing is that I bake my meatballs on a broiler pan, which is fast, easy, tidy, and great. They’re not quite as good as fried meatballs, but they are pretty close. Then you can put them in a slow cooker or a covered dish in the oven with sauce, and keep them warm for hours.  

Or, you can do what I did and put them in a pot and forget about them until they were cold, then add some sauce and realize you don’t have enough, so your husband has to go to the inconvenience store, and you have to stand there turning them over and over with a spatula so they don’t burn.

 I also got it into my head to make a deep dish apple pie, seeing as we’re knee-deep in apples from the orchard. Nice, eh?

I guess this is technically a slab pie, which sounds so hardscrabble, like it must be filled with rocks and served with kerosene. But it wasn’t hardscrabble at all! It was the best pie I’ve ever made, and of course I have no idea what I did differently.

I used my trusty Fannie Farmer crust recipe.

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A double recipe, which was enough for a lattice top and full bottom crust for — I can’t find the dimensions, but it’s the middle-sized Anchor Hocking rectangular glass casserole dish. I did the trick of grating the butter and just very lightly incorporating it into the flour. I also brushed it with beaten egg white and sprinkled it with sugar before baking it, and that was very nice. I made the inside less sweet so the sugary crust wouldn’t be overpowering. I also like that it had all different kinds of apples in it.

It was just a damn good pie and I wish I had some right now. I did have some for breakfast on Sunday.

SUNDAY
Chinese chicken wings and spring rolls with peanut sauce

Quarantine, day 1. Lena made the spring rolls and Damien made the chicken wings. They were both so, so, insanely good. Sorry about the photo quality. Bedroom lighting is not ideal food lighting, and I’m not going to argue about plating when people deliver food to my door. 

Damien got the chicken wings recipe from a guy whose dad had a Chinese restaurant, and every morning would start with a mountain of chicken wings frying, to be fried again later in the day. I can’t tell you anything about the process, but it seemed to take a long time and it was the most fabulous chicken I’ve ever had. Way, way better than even our very favorite Chinese restaurant. 

I guess you fry it twice? Here is the first fry:

and here is another shot, not sure where in the process:

The texture and seasoning of the skin was absolutely scrumptious and the meat was so juicy, with perfectly balanced spices. Delightful. I was glad I was alone in my room because I was an absolute animal with those chicken wings.

For the spring rolls, I forwarded this recipe to Lena, and I have no idea how faithfully she followed it, but I did eat four spring rolls and only stopped out of shame. There is a recipe for peanut sauce attached, but I think they just bought a jar of sauce. SO GOOD. 

MONDAY
Antipasto, Spaghetti with Marcella Hazan’s sauce, sausage and meatballs, garlic bread

Quarantine, day 2. This would be a fine time for you to finally try this miraculous red sauce, which has a mere THREE ingredients, but somehow manages to taste savory and complex. 

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I had been doing FaceTime with Benny and Corrie so we could read at night, but apparently Corrie fell apart at suppertime, so we FaceTimed supper, too.

And here’s my plate. 

You can see that I did a bunch of sketches while I was locked up. I have them on Instagram if you’re interested. Not my greatest work, but I didn’t go batty. 

TUESDAY
Meatloaf, chips

Quarantine, day 3. And very tasty meatloaf it was.

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I think he put some Worcestershire sauce in there, which is a good idea.

I was making a stab at recalibrating my attitude toward food while in the hole, so I requested salad and an apple with mine. 

WEDNESDAY
Pork ribs, rice, mashed butternut squash

Wednesday I was RELEASED, and planned to celebrate by making some stovetop risotto. Then I realized I was still getting winded by shuffling into the kitchen, so I decided Instant Pot risotto was good enough. Then I discovered the Instant Pot valve had gone missing. So I chucked some sabor de pollo into the water and made Light Brown Rice, which the kids actually adore.

I have a picture somewhere, but not here!

Damien seasoned the pork ribs with just kosher salt and pepper, I think, and I broiled them, and they were delicious as always. You really can’t beat salt and pepper and high, direct heat for pork ribs. 

The mashed squash was tasty, too. I cut it in half, roasted it for about an hour, then scooped out the flesh and mashed it. 

Yes, this is just a one-second video of squash, steaming. 

I used butter, honey, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. I, uh, ordered six pounds of cayenne pepper while in quarantine, for reasons.

THURSDAY
Hot dogs, homemade fries, veg and dip

Moe made the fries by slicing them thin, drizzling them with salt, pepper, and oil, and baking them. Pretty good! I made the hot dogs by making hot dogs. I also opened some bags of carrots, and then I went to lie down. 

FRIDAY
Domino’s

And that’s the end of that chapter! And not a moment too soon. 

 

Meatballs for a crowd

Make about 100 golf ball-sized meatballs. 

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground meat (I like to use mostly beef with some ground chicken or turkey or pork)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 8 oz grated parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.

  2. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until it's fully blended.

  3. Form meatballs and put them in a single layer on a pan with drainage. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or more until they're cooked all the way through.

  4. Add meatballs to sauce and keep warm until you're ready to serve. 

 

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, FROZEN
  • 1/4 cup water, with an ice cube

Instructions

  1. Freeze the butter for at least 20 minutes, then shred it on a box grater. Set aside.

  2. Put the water in a cup and throw an ice cube in it. Set aside.

  3. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the shredded butter and combine with a butter knife or your fingers until there are no piles of loose, dry flour. Try not to work it too hard. It's fine if there are still visible nuggets of butter.

  4. Sprinkle the dough ball with a little iced water at a time until the dough starts to become pliable but not sticky. Use the water to incorporate any remaining dry flour.

  5. If you're ready to roll out the dough, flour a surface, place the dough in the middle, flour a rolling pin, and roll it out from the center.

  6. If you're going to use it later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep it in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months, if you wrap it with enough layers. Let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out!

  7. If the crust is too crumbly, you can add extra water, but make sure it's at room temp. Sometimes perfect dough is crumbly just because it's too cold, so give it time to warm up.

  8. You can easily patch cracked dough by rolling out a patch and attaching it to the cracked part with a little water. Pinch it together.

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes, broken up
  • 1 onion peeled and cut in half
  • salt to taste
  • 5 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

  4. I'm freaking serious, that's it!

 

Meatloaf (actually two giant meatloaves)

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground beef
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 8 eggs
  • 4 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup milk

salt, pepper, garlic powder or fresh garlic, onion powder or minced onions, fresh parsley, etc.

  • ketchup for the top

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450

  2. Mix all meat, eggs, milk, breadcrumbs, and seasonings together with your hands until well blended.

  3. Form meat into two oblong loaves on pan with drainage

  4. Squirt ketchup all over the outside of the loaves and spread to cover with spatula. Don't pretend you're too good for this. It's delicious. 

  5. Bake for an hour or so, until meat is cooked all the way through. Slice and serve. 

 

Roasted butternut squash with honey and chili

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • olive oil
  • honey
  • salt and pepper
  • chili powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler to high

  2. To peel the squash: Cut the ends off the squash and poke it several times with a fork. Microwave it for 3-4 minutes. When it's cool enough to handle, cut it into manageable pieces and peel with a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife. Scoop out the pulp and seeds.

  3. Cut the squash into cubes.

  4. In a bowl, toss the squash with honey and olive oil. You can use whatever proportions you like, depending on how sweet you want it.

  5. Spread the squash in a shallow pan and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chili powder.

  6. Broil for 15 minutes until the squash is slightly charred.

What’s for supper? Vol. 226: In which we dedicate an entire day to dumplings and do not regret it

Hello, I have bronchitis. It’s a pretty mild case, but I’m milking it for all it’s worth, so let’s go ahead and say that’s why I haven’t written anything all week. And my car started leaking gas and the headlights both went out, which, you know, me too. So poor Damien has been doing all the driving as well as all his own work. It has not been a good week. 

We did cook, though! A few nice meals this week. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Pork spiedies, cole slaw, chips

Here you can witness my complete disregard for cuts of meat. I got two hunks of pork and I don’t even know what they were, except that they were definitely two very different cuts. It always works out fine. This is actually the most important part of enjoying your own cooking: Just not caring that much. I guess it works for other people’s cooking, too. If I had to come up with a motto, it would be: Just eat it, okay? 

Most of the wild mint has survived the cold weather, so I added plenty to this nice spiedie marinade, which is worth the slight hassle, and marinated the meat for several hours. . 

Jump to Recipe

Then I spread the pork in pans with mushrooms and red onion wedges and broiled it until it had a little char.

We ate it on sandwich rolls with mayonnaise, and it was tasty. I like this combination of meat, onion, and mushroom, because they all end up getting cooked to the right point at the same time. Juicy, tender meat, crunchy onions, and the mushrooms grabbed up so much flavor. 

There was leftover cabbage from last week’s fish tacos, so I made a simple cole slaw, and we had chips. 

SUNDAY
Pork dumplings, hot and sour soup, white rice, sesame broccoli

Sunday, we expected (but didn’t quite manage) to be home all day, so we planned a rather elaborate meal. I thought it was delicious, but definitely a learning process. 

I made the pork filling and sauce for the dumplings ahead of time, and then Damien and I experimented with different methods of forming the dumplings. I used this recipe.

We ended up with about eighty, I think.

The dough is not very pliable, but as long as you don’t overstuff them, they hold together well enough with a dab of water and a pinch. I ended up putting a teaspoon of filling in the center, folding it corner-to-corner, and then making crimps along the edge. 

When we had a good supply, Damien started cooking them. The recipe calls for frying them in oil on both sides and then adding water to steam them. 

This resulted in a gluey mess, and it was not a cooking method conducive to many batches. Some of the dumplings held together, but many of them got both slobbery and burnt. So we decided, hey, it’s our food, we can do what we want. So he just fried the rest and put them in the oven for a bit, to make sure they were fully cooked, and they were absolutely delicious that way.

We may have overcooked them a bit, because we’re a little paranoid about undercooked pork, but they were so nice. Crunchy and crisp on the outside, wonderfully savory inside, and the dipping sauce was perfect.

I won’t change a thing about the filling ingredients. It tasted exactly like what they serve at our favorite restaurants. I considered making handmade wrappers, but luckily Damien hunted down some readymade wonton wraps at the Coop. 

Next time, we will probably deep fry them, though, so they get more evenly cooked. There will be a next time! I bought a little dumpling press (at 3:30 a.m., perfectly normal) and that should speed up the assembly next time. 

The soup was another story. I used this recipe from Damn Delicious. It was SO so salty. Next time I will use low sodium soy sauce (which the recipe did call for, and I ignored!), and probably less of it. It also never took on that slightly — what’s a nice word for slimy? — consistency that you look for, but was just brothy. I just don’t ever have luck thickening things, and that’s a fact. 

But I loved everything else about it. It was sour and tangy and rich and full of weird stuff, shiitake mushrooms, firm tofu, bamboo shoots, and those wonderful silky egg strands suspended all through it. If you have a cold, a bowl of this will clear out your head pretty quick.

All in all, a wonderful meal.

We had vanilla bean ice cream and fortune cookies for dessert. I was too wiped out to cut up the pineapples I bought. 

I ended up eating the soup for lunch for three days and then regretfully getting rid of the rest. I made way, way too much of it, and it was just time. Next time, I’ll make something a little more accessible, like won ton soup, so more people will eat it! But I don’t regret making something that I really wanted to eat myself.  

Oh, I did save out the leftover dumpling wraps, slice them thin, and fry them up in hot sesame oil, and the kids absolutely loved them. So light and crunchy.

We also had roasted sesame broccoli, but we ran out of oven space and had to eat it for a second course. Here’s my simple roast sesame broccoli recipe.

Jump to Recipe

Always popular.

MONDAY
Hamburgers

Back to basics! We may have had a vegetable, but I doubt it. 

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers

I feel like I did something to fancy these up a bit, but there’s no photographic evidence, so probably we just had chicken burgers.

WEDNESDAY
Roast beef sandwiches

Chuck roast was $1.99 a pound, so I scooped up three nice big ones. I slathered them with olive oil and absolutely smothered them with a combination of kosher salt, ground pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Then I put them in a low oven, I think maybe 250, for about an hour and a half. And that’s it. It would have been swell with some overnight marinating or fresh herbs or whatever, but this was great. 

My policy is to cook it rare, and if the little cretins want to throw it in the microwave, they can.

I sliced it as thinly as I could and then poured the drippings over it.

Moist and flavorful. We had it on kaiser rolls with mayo, tomatoes, and muenster cheese. I was too impatient to toast it and melt the cheese.

And onion rings from frozen. I do love onion rings.

THURSDAY
Pizza

I couldn’t find pepperoni in either supermarket, so all I got was black olives, and then mooched around for whatever else I could find for toppings. I ended up with one plain cheese pizza, one olive, one olive and ricotta cheese, one ricotta cheese, red onion, fresh garlic, and fresh basil

and one, ahem, ricotta, tomato, garlic, hot pepper flakes, and broccoli.

The broccoli isn’t quite what I was hunting for. I think what I really want is an eggplant pizza. What I really want is to be lost and freezing cold from a sudden drenching rain in Rome, and to duck into a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant and order a piping hot eggplant calzone, and have it be the best thing I’ve ever experienced with my mortal flesh. But failing that, I may try eggplant pizza next time. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese.

Jump to Recipe

We certainly have a lot of cheese in this house. We certainly do. 

Okay, that’s it! Boy, now I’m thinking about dumplings again. Soon, my pretties. Soon. 

5 from 1 vote
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pork spiedies (can use marinade for shish kebob)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup veg or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4-5 lbs boneless pork, cubed
  • peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, cut into chunks

Instructions

  1. Mix together all marinade ingredients. 

    Mix up with cubed pork, cover, and marinate for several hours or overnight. 

    Best cooked over hot coals on the grill on skewers with vegetables. Can also spread in a shallow pan with veg and broil under a hot broiler.

    Serve in sandwiches or with rice. 

 

5 from 1 vote
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Sesame broccoli

Ingredients

  • broccoli spears
  • sesame seeds
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.

    Toss broccoli spears with sesame oil. 

    Spread in shallow pan. Drizzle with soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds

    Broil for six minutes or longer, until broccoli is slightly charred. 

 

5 from 1 vote
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Baked macaroni and cheese

This is a vague recipe. You can change the proportions of the ingredients to make it thicker or thinner, more or less cheesy. I don't care!

Servings 12

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 212: The best things in life are jiggly

This week, I cleaned a lot and ate a lot, and now you people are gonna hear about it. 

SATURDAY
Aldi pizza

Since I’m no longer shopping on Saturdays, I decided I had time to tackle The Middle Room, which has four girls in it. I normally pretend the upstairs doesn’t exist at all, but every so often, it demands to be recognized, usually by whispering phrases like “fire hazard” and “child protective services” into my psyche at 3 a.m.

I had the kids take everything downstairs. EVERYTHING.

We did it this way because if I go upstairs to sort, I end up drowning in guilt and throwing up with dust, and the rage and disgust and regret overwhelm me before I get to the bottom of things. So I make them bring the mess to me, and then I have to push through and finish the project no matter how bad it feels, or I don’t get my living room back. Maybe someday I’ll finish a task without deliberately entrapping myself, but not today.

So they lugged everything downstairs in bags and boxes, and they stripped that room like we were planning to move out. Then we moved the furniture, and vacuumed everything, and wiped it all down. Then everything they own got a pass or fail (the older kids were allowed to have crates of belongings that I didn’t personally sort through, as long as they were reasonably contained and didn’t smell of rotten fruit). Then we sorted out what was left and put it all back again. 

Guys, we threw out thirteen bags of junk. And we bought a new mattress, and new lights, and new storage tubs and crates and shelves, and new hanging organizers. And a new vacuum cleaner. We finished around 8:45 p.m. The finished bedroom still looks like most people’s “before,” but I’m pleased. And we got our living room back. 

Oops, this is a food blog. Well, Damien exerted his husbandly authority and commanded me to let him pick up some frozen pizzas. 

SUNDAY
Mac and cheese with kielbasa, sausage rolls

Mother’s day! I was showered with truly wonderful homemade gifts and treats, and visited my favorite local nursery to pick out some peonies and lilies of the valley. The original plan was to go on a hike and a picnic, but it was windy and nippy out, so we settled for a picnic in the back yard with strawberries and giant sandwiches Damien made with all kinds of special meats and cheeses, and it was a lovely day all day.

I made my normal mac and cheese (just basically a ton of white sauce with whatever cheese we have lying around melted into it), but added sliced up kielbasa.

As with so many people, more and more of our meals are the result of whatever we could find in the stores, so they are getting weird. I liked the mac and cheese with kielbasa, though. It tasted like exactly what it was.

I also made a tray of sausage rolls. 

 

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Last time I made this recipe, I used puff pastry, and that’s a better choice than the phyllo dough I used this time. (This was the very last roll of phyllo dough left over from the time I made baklava for the Dead Theologians Society. Yes, packaged phyllo dough really keeps that long in the fridge.) 

These are savory little pastries stuffed with sausage and onions, brushed with egg and topped with “everything” seasoning. They were very tasty, and I was amazed all over again that the kids didn’t want them. They are quite easy to make, and would be great for party snacks, or for when it’s mother’s day and you can make what you like and people aren’t going to be jerks for once. 

MONDAY
Different Asian meatballs with lime sauce, rice

Last time I mentioned this moderately popular Asian meatball recipe I make

 

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someone recommended a recipe that included a different, more exciting dipping sauce made with sesame oil, lime, and cilantro. Fool that I am, I messed with moderate success and also tried the new meatball recipe that went along with the new sauce.

Those meatballs were not great. Also, I had some medium-bad migraine brain and repeatedly confused teaspoons and tablespoons, and also I didn’t read the recipe all the way through, and had put all the ingredients in with the meat, including the ingredients which any feeble minded cat would have known were for the sauce, and weren’t supposed to be mixed in with the meat. So I had to scrape a bunch of wet crap off the meat and start over again.

The sauce was good, though! Eventually! I’ll make the sauce again, with the superior meatballs, once we recover from our unpleasant associations with this meal. I also got it into my head to scrub the hell out of the bathtub on Monday, so the day wasn’t a total loss. Nothing beats good old fashioned Comet.

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, fries

I went grocery shopping on Tuesday. My strategy is: a mask to protect other people, my sacred heart necklace to remind me of who I am so I don’t murder anyone, and an extra dose of Buspar to seal the deal. Then I got home and collapsed like a bunch of broccoli and Damien made hot dogs and fries. I feel like there was some vegetable, but that may have been a hallucination.

WEDNESDAY
Bibimbap and berry cheese cake

Earlier in the week, I had bribed Corrie with cake-making videos while I braided her hair. She likes the recipes that involve either morbidly peppy blonde ladies who don’t know when to stop, or else extremely together Asian women making deft little movements with specially-shaped spatulas in their little glass bowls, and then boop! They produce a magical raindrop cake with a flower made of strawberries suspended inside. So I got it in my head that we needed to make our own fantastical dessert of some kind. Here is what we came up with (there were two of them):

They were . . .  intriguing. Even compelling. And wiggly. All the best desserts are wiggly. We used the no-bake cheesecake part of this recipe, but only because I was going for oven avoidance rather than taste; and for the top, we used clear gelatin sweetened with ginger ale. I’ll include the recipe for how we made the Jell-o part, mainly because I went to the trouble of writing it up. 

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The graham cracker base partially fell apart because I used silicone pans, because I have a permanent grudge against springform pans; and the one jell-o mold that came out of the bowl intact had a textured surface, so it wasn’t crystal clear. At this time, I am accepting zero advice about how to get better results next time, as there will be no next time. The kids had fun, I ate some cheesecake, and that’s what we were going for. Ta dah!

I think Wednesday was also when I decluttered and reorganized the kitchen. Maybe? The days are running together. Someone definitely cleaned my kitchen, and I remember being mad, so it was probably me. Spring cleaning hit hard this year, you guys. And I found the bag of powdered milk that I bought when I first realized that this corona thing wasn’t going to just blow over. I guess I’ll hold onto that. 

For the bibimbap, I made a big pot of rice, and cooked up some sliced-up pork and onions in a gochujang sauce

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Clara made some quick pickled carrots

 

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and I set out raw spinach, crunchy noodles, chopped scallions, and miscellaneous sauces and sesame seeds and whatnot. Everyone took what they wanted, and then lined up for their fried egg on top. 

 

Gosh, I love this meal. I like to fry my egg until it’s crisp on the bottom, then flip it over just for a second, then flip it back and slide it on top of the spinach, so it wilts the greens a little. Then some hot sauce. 

You got the cold crunchy carrots and noodles with the egg yolk running into it, you got the meat sauce slowly sinking into the rice. Great meal. I’ve tried many different sauces, but I think I’ll stay with the gochujang one from now on.

THURSDAY
Quicken quesadillas and chips with pico de gallo

These were, of course, chicken quesadillas, not quicken. I may still have a migraine, and also part of my tooth fell off again. Nevertheless, Thursday was yet another big cleaning project: The Dining Room Heap. It was an ugly afternoon, but I only discovered one backpack full of rotten fruit in the process. And now no one has to crab-walk to get to the dining room table. Such luxury!

And boy, dinner tastes good after you’ve been working hard. 

Clara roasted up the chicken and Lena made the pico de gallo

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and I shredded the cheese and finally succeeded in coaxing Corrie out of a 48-hour snit by shouting, “HAVE SOME CHEESE, RAT!” and throwing cheese at her. 

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

Today I open up the bag of avocados and see how I did. I am inordinately proud of my skill at choosing avocados for their ripeness stage. I also have some pineapples and mangoes I’ve been avoiding all week.

Okay, that’s it! I gained forty-three pounds this week, how about you? 

Sausage rolls

Servings 36 rolls

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs sausage, loose or squeezed out of casings
  • 1 lg onion
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil for cooking
  • 1.5 lbs puff pastry dough (1.5 packages)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • "Everything" seasoning, if you like

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.

  2. Dice the onion and sauté in the olive oil until it's slightly browned

  3. Put the raw, loose sausage in a bowl. Beat two of the eggs and add them to the bowl along with the cooked onions. Mix thoroughly.

  4. Cut the puff pastry into six long strips. On a floured surface, roll them out until they're somewhat thinner.

  5. Divide the sausage mixture into six portions and spoon it out into a long rows down the middle of each strip of puff pastry

  6. Form the sausage mixture into a tidier strip, leaving a margin of dough on each side.

  7. With a pastry brush, paint the dough margins on both sides.

  8. Fold the pastry up over the sausage on both sides, to form a long roll.

  9. Flip the roll over and lay it in a greased pan with the creased side down.

  10. Cut each roll into six smaller sections. (You can make them whatever size you like, really.) Leave a little space in between rolls on the pan.

  11. Brush each little roll with the rest of the beaten egg. Sprinkle with "everything" seasoning if you like.

  12. Bake for 20 minutes until the sausage is cooked and the rolls are golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

 

Vaguely Asian meatballs with dipping sauce

Very simple meatballs with a vaguely Korean flavor. These are mild enough that kids will eat them happily, but if you want to kick up the Korean taste, you can serve them with dipping sauces and pickled vegetables. Serve with rice.

Servings 30 large meatballs

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed finely
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup minced garlic
  • 2 bunches scallions, chopped (save out a bit for a garnish)
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground pepper

For dipping sauce:

  • mirin or rice vinegar
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

  2. Mix together the meat and all the meatball ingredients with your hands until they are well combined. Form large balls and lay them on a baking pan with a rim.

  3. Bake for about 15 minutes.

  4. Serve over rice with dipping sauce and a sprinkle of scallions.

 

quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sale, preferably kosher

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

 

2 berry domes for cheesecakes or just for excitement

Ingredients

  • 8 envelopes clear unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 lbs strawberries
  • 6 oz blackberries
  • 6 oz raspberries
  • 6 cups gingergale (about 3.5 cans)

Instructions

  1. Slice the strawberries. Mix them up with the other berries.

  2. Spray a large bowl or two smaller bowls with cooking spray. Put the berries in and try to arrange them as far up the sides as possible. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, mix together the gelatin and the sugar.

  4. Boil the water and whisk it into the gelatin and sugar until the gelatin is dissolved.

  5. Add the ginger ale and stir to combine.

  6. Carefully pour the gingerale-gelatin mixture into the prepared bowls of berries.

  7. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours until firmly set.

Gochujang bulgoki (spicy Korean pork)


Ingredients

  • 1.5 pound boneless pork, sliced thin
  • 4 carrots in matchsticks or shreds
  • 1 onion sliced thin

sauce:

  • 5 generous Tbsp gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 cloves minced garlic

Serve with white rice and nori (seaweed sheets) or lettuce leaves to wrap

Instructions

  1. Combine pork, onions, and carrots.

    Mix together all sauce ingredients and stir into pork and vegetables. 

    Cover and let marinate for several hours or overnight.

    Heat a pan with a little oil and sauté the pork mixture until pork is cooked through.

    Serve with rice and lettuce or nori. Eat by taking pieces of lettuce or nori, putting a scoop of meat and rice in, and making little bundles to eat. 

Pico De Gallo

quick and easy fresh dip or topping for tacos, etc.

Ingredients

  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced OR 1/2 serrano pepper
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • dash kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients together and serve with your favorite Mexican food

What’s for supper? Vol. 206: Thank God for canned tomatoes.

Let’s talk about food! Hope you have plenty at your house. Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Brats, chips, strawberries

Damien boils the brats in beer and onions, then browns them up with more onions. Some of the kids eat theirs with still further, raw onions, but I feel that is too many onions. 

SUNDAY
Braised Pork All’arrabbiata, garlic parmesan mashed potatoes, salad, grapes

Someone mentioned this recipe on Twitter, and I happened to have two hunks of panic pork picnic in the fridge, aging rapidly. So I hacked it up and cooked it, and MAN IT WAS GOOD. 

You brown the hunks of pork with salt and pepper, then cook up some onions, tomato paste, garlic, red pepper flakes, red wine, and diced tomatoes on the stovetop, then put it all in the oven for a few hours until the pork is tender. 

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This is one of those recipes where you could really subsist on the smell alone. Fabulous. Nice and easy, too, and cheap if you can get pork cheap. The red pepper gives it a little dazzle up front, but it’s not super spicy, just very rich and warming. Of course you could adjust it to make it hotter.

I went with parmesan garlic mashed potatoes, which I somehow have never made before. They were a big hit. I put smashed garlic cloves right in with the water to boil the potatoes, and then mashed them along. 

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Check it out: I says to myself, I say, HOW WOULD IT BE if we were to put a layer of pork all’arrabbiata in a casserole dish, sprrrrread some garlic parmesan mashed potatoes on that, sprinkle it with a bit more cheese, and slide the whole thing into a medium oven to think about what’s it’s done until the top is nicely browned? I think it would be wonderful. 

I know people use pork arrabbiata as a sauce for pasta, but that just doesn’t appeal to me. I think it would be great with egg noodles, though. Or on toast!

MONDAY
Asian meatballs, rice, steamed broccoli

I just love these tasty little meatballs. I had plenty of scallions and fresh garlic, which I chopped pretty coarsely, and I added some extra soy sauce. The only other ingredients are crushed Ritz crackers, kosher salt, and pepper. And ground beef, yes. 

An easy, quick meal that just about everyone likes. I make a nice little dipping sauce, half soy sauce and half mirin, to give it a little extra zing. Damien prefers his with sriracha. These are flavorful enough that you could use ground turkey, if you really needed to, what with the war on and all, and they would still be good. 

We had it with white rice and some broccoli which I’ll call “steamed,” but it was really drowned. I am not used to cooking frozen veg!

TUESDAY
Chicken quesadillas

I actually skipped the chicken for mine and just had cheddar and jalapeños. Not my finest frying effort; whatcha gonna do. 

I made the chicken by sprinkling it lavishly with chili lime powder and cooking it very slowly in oil, then slicing it up. I know I bought tortilla chips at some point, but they had disappeared off the face of the earth. I said I would slice up some sweet peppers, but I did not. 

WEDNESDAY
Omelettes and challah

I offered the choice of sausage, pepper jack cheese, or both. Then someone leaked the news that we also had cheddar, and there was a panic. I guess there has to be a panic about something. 

The challah turned out great!

Jump to Recipe

 

I made a double recipe, enough for two huge loaves, and my poor old mixer is getting so old and wobbly, I was afraid I would break it, so I pulled the dough out to knead by hand. Man, I am weak. That was exhausting. I eventually gave up long before it reached the required “feels like a boob” stage, cut the dough in half, and threw it back into the mixer a batch at a time, but I still rushed it a bit, and set the dough to rise when it was still pretty knobbly. 

But like I said, it turned out great! I was most pleased.

It looks flat in this picture, but in real life, it was most pneumatic. 

Look at the sheen on that crust. 

I made exactly two nice, tidy omelettes, and the next ten looked like they were the best I could offer with my broken arm (I do not have a broken arm).

THURSDAY
Pizza

Two pepperoni, two olive, one plain. And them’s the facts. I used the leftover sauce Damien made last week. 

FRIDAY

Pasta again, I believe. This pandemic is taking on a distinct canned tomato flavor. 

 

braised pork all'arrabbiata

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs pork, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 medium onions, diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 5 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes with juice
  • more salt and pepper if needed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.

  2. Salt and pepper the pork chunks. In a heavy pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil and brown the pork on all sides. Do it in shifts if necessary, to make sure all the pork gets browned.

  3. Remove the pork from the oil and set it aside. Add the diced onions to the oil and cook a few minutes until soft.

  4. Add the minced garlic, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, a few minutes more.

  5. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce becomes thick.

  6. Add the diced tomatoes with juice and combine with the sauce. Put the pork back in and stir so it's all coated with sauce.

  7. Put a lid on, or cover tightly with tinfoil, and put the pot in the oven for at least two hours, until the pork is very tender and stew-like.

  8. When the pork is done, the sauce should be thick, not liquidy. If necessary, simmer on the stovetop to cook off the excess liquid.

  9. If the pork is very fatty, shove the pork to one side of the pot, let the fat collect on one end, and drain it out with a spoon.

  10. Serve with parmesan mashed potatoes.

 

Garlic parmesan mashed potatoes

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs potatoes
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 8 oz grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel the potatoes and put them in a pot. Cover the with water. Add a bit of salt and the smashed garlic cloves.

  2. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer with lid loosely on until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

  3. Drain the water out of the pot. Add the butter and milk and mash well.

  4. Add the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste and stir until combined.

Vaguely Asian meatballs with dipping sauce

Very simple meatballs with a vaguely Korean flavor. These are mild enough that kids will eat them happily, but if you want to kick up the Korean taste, you can serve them with dipping sauces and pickled vegetables. Serve with rice.

Servings 30 large meatballs

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed finely
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup minced garlic
  • 2 bunches scallions, chopped (save out a bit for a garnish)
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground pepper

For dipping sauce:

  • mirin or rice vinegar
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

  2. Mix together the meat and all the meatball ingredients with your hands until they are well combined. Form large balls and lay them on a baking pan with a rim.

  3. Bake for about 15 minutes.

  4. Serve over rice with dipping sauce and a sprinkle of scallions.

Challah (braided bread)

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup oil (preferably olive oil)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6-8 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp yeast
  • 2 egg yolks for egg wash
  • poppy seeds or "everything bagel" topping (optional)
  • corn meal (or flour) for pan, to keep loaf from sticking

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve a bit of the sugar into the water, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir gently, and let sit for five minutes or more, until it foams.

  2. In the bowl of standing mixer, put the flour (starting with six cups), salt, remaining sugar, oil, and eggs, mix slightly, then add the yeast liquid. Mix with dough hook until the dough doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl, adding flour as needed. It's good if it has a slightly scaly appearance on the outside.

  3. (If you're kneading by hand, knead until it feels soft and giving. It will take quite a lot of kneading!)

  4. Put the dough in a greased bowl and lightly cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for at least an hour, until it's double in size.

  5. Grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle it with flour or corn meal. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll three into "snakes" and make a large braid, pinching the ends to keep them together. Divide the fourth piece into three and make a smaller braid, and lay this over the larger braid. Lay the braided loaf on the pan.

  6. Cover again and let rise again for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 350.

  7. Before baking, make an egg wash out of egg yolks and a little water. Brush the egg wash all over the loaf, and sprinkle with poppy seeds or "everything" topping.

  8. Bake 25 minutes or more until the loaf is a deep golden color.

What’s for supper? Vol. 156: Cutthroat Fishers

Pretty good week of food! Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Regular-person tacos

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.

SUNDAY
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.

MONDAY
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.

TUESDAY
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.

WEDNESDAY
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.

THURSDAY
Beef stroganoff

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.

FRIDAY
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, use jalapenos or other hotter peppers, leave the membranes and seeds in and add red pepper flakes before or after cooking. 

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 6 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 6 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 9 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha or hot sauce
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 6 oz fresh basil leaves in a chiffonade (sliced into thin ribbons)
  • 30+ oz wide rice noodles

canola oil for cooking

  • 8 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 8 eggs beaten
  • 6 serrano chiles or jalapeños, seeded and sliced thin
  • 2 lg onions, sliced thin
  • 4 oz fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 pints grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3-4 lbs roast beef, sliced as thinly as possible

Instructions

  1. 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

Ingredients

  • 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)
  • pepper
  • oregano
  • basil

Instructions

  1. Grease a large, shallow pan. Preheat the oven to 400.

  2. 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. 

  3. Lay the chicken breasts on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle more salt and pepper, basil and oregano over the whole pan. 

  4. Cook for 30 minutes or more, until vegetables and chicken are cooked through and chicken skins are golden and crisp. 

  5. If necessary, broil for a few minutes to add a little char. 

Tuna burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 can tuna
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • seasonings, minced onion, etc.
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Drain the tuna.

  2. Mix tuna thoroughly with egg, bread crumbs, and whatever seasonings you like. Form into two patties. 

  3. Heat oil in pan. Fry tuna patties on both sides until golden brown. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 139: Cashew! Gesundheit.

Looking back, I’m shocked at how much actual hot food I prepared, considering how hot and steamy it was all week. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips, strawberries

That’s what it says on my menu blackboard. I have no memory of Saturday. What a long week.

SUNDAY
Smoked ribs, cole slaw, biscuits

I got two huge racks of pork ribs, and Damien put a rub on them the night before with mustard, then smoked the ribs on the grill for several hours.

This is our first attempt at smoking meat. Big success! Very juicy and flavorful.

Although cutting up the ribs afterwards is always such a struggle.

Is there some special trick or tool to make this part easier, or do you just have to hack away until it’s done?

I made biscuits using Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I had my doubts about these biscuits, because someone had put a bunch of pink chalk in the bottle of vinegar. I’m pretty good at ignoring things that people have put into my food, but chalk seemed like something that might change the chemical balance of vinegar, I dunno. Luckily, it wasn’t an issue, because even though I can read, I didn’t read the part where they are called “self rising biscuits” or the part where it called for self-rising flour, and I used regular flour. And those biscuits self stayed flat. I mean, I ate four, but they were flat.

We also had a good, snappy cole slaw that Lena made. Recipe card at the end.

My father came over, much to Corrie and Benny’s delight. They traded magic tricks, and my father provided this impressive multi-cake.

MONDAY
Deli sandwich bake

New recipe! A friend recommended this Italian Layer Bake, which calls for crescent roll dough top and bottom, with deli meats and cheese and egg layered inside. I like the idea of it, but was somewhat skeptical about all that egg, so I modified it to be less casserole-like and more sandwich-like.

So I just spread out crescent roll dough (and it turns out that, sometime in the last few years, I’ve changed from being someone who gets a kick out of popping open those cardboard tubes into someone who trembles in fear and then shrieks involuntarily when they burst open. I don’t like carnival rides anymore, either. I guess real life is thrilling enough. Anyway, I’m drinking more) in a pan, then layered all kinds of deli meats and cheese

then put more dough on top. When I say “put,” I mean I unrolled two cans without much trouble, but the third one was a travesty, all shredded and stuck together, so I just stretched out the bits as best I could to cover everything up.

Then I glopped some beaten egg on top (I would say “brushed, but I couldn’t find either of my pastry brushes, and the kids acted like my using that combination of words was the last bit of evidence they needed for my involuntary commitment; so I glopped it on) and sprinkled it with garlic powder and dried minced onion. I considered poppy seeds, too.

Then I put it in the oven covered for about 20 minutes, then uncovered for another 15-20 until it was a little brown on top.

It was very tasty! The pieced-together dough on top was not a problem at all. I cut it into twelve squares for twelve people, and then sliced the squares into, you know, slicees. Very filling and yummy, a very cheery food.

Definitely more brunchy than dinner-y, but definitely not breakfast-y. This would make great party food, and you can make just about any alterations you like. Everyone liked it. It was a little hard on my stomach, to be honest, but I’m old and digestively fragile. Please don’t tell me about probiotics. I’d rather suffer.

TUESDAY
Cashew chicken lettuce wraps and rice

‘Nother new recipe! This one was more popular with the older set. Pretty easy: You just cut up chicken and sauté it, dump in a simple sauce sauce and let it thicken, throw in the nuts, and spoon everything into lettuce leaves. Throw some chopped scallions on top.

It calls itself wraps, but it was too messy for any real wrapping, so we just ate it out of the lettuce. It was quite flavorful and didn’t really need the sriracha sauce I added at the end. Good basic Asian sauce, wonderful texture, easy to make ahead and then cook in a few minutes before dinner. Will probably make again. I simplified the ingredients and cooking process from the Better From Scratch recipe above.

I made the rice in the Instant Pot while the meat was cooking. I adore the Instant Pot on hot, muggy days. You can just tell it what to do and then get the hell out of the kitchen.

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

Taught another kid how to make pizza. We are now a five-pizza family, did I mention?.Two pepperoni, two cheese, and one half-and-half, because I forgot to buy olives.

We like to sprinkled garlic powder, oregano, and parmesan cheese on top before baking. I go back and forth on the merits of putting the pepperoni and other toppings under the mozzarella. I do like having a juicy surprise waiting under the cheese (and yes, that will be the opening sentence in my upcoming book, entitled It’s A Mystery Why I’m Fat), but the little crisp edges of pepperoni are also very fine. What a world.

THURSDAY
Pulled pork, steak fries, cole slaw, buffalo chicken salad, chocolate cake

Another self-imposed incoherent potluck meal. I put a pork in the crock pot with a can of beer and half a jar of jalapenos and juice, but I started too late, and it wasn’t really shreddy by dinner time, so I put it in the standing mixer, which got me something like cat food.

Dora wanted more buffalo chicken salad, so she won the honor of making it. I’ll add a recipe card at the end, but here’s what it looks like from a previous meal:

She also wanted to make chocolate cake with the little girls, and who am I to stand in the way of progress? I forgot to take pictures, though.

FRIDAY
Tuna burgers

We’ve recommitted to strict meatless Fridays, as a mild penance for our diocese. This is more of a penance for me, as it means I’ll go to the trouble of making tuna burgers and getting my hands all smelly, and they kids will throw them away and eat cereal. So I’m propping up the diocese and General Mills. Let God sort it out.

And here are the recipe cards. I can see that the categories are a little wonky on some of these, but I’m too pressed for time to fix them now! I’ll get the hang of this. We like the cards, yes?

 

5 from 3 votes
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Smoked pork ribs with mustard rub

Ingredients

  • 2 racks pork ribs

Pork rub

  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • Yellow mustard
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. The night before or several hours before dinner, mix together the rub spices. 



  2. Spread yellow mustard all over the rack of ribs and apply the rub. Cover and refrigerate. Let it come back to room temp before cooking.

  3. Light the fire and let it die down. Put the meat on the grill off to the side, where it will get indirect heat. Put the cover down and let it cook at least four hours. 

  4. Add salt and pepper, then separate the ribs and enjoy. 

Coleslaw

Ingredients

  • 1 head cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 5 radishes, grated or sliced thin (optional)

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup cider or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix together shredded vegetables. 
    Mix dressing ingredients together and stir into cabbage mix. 

5 from 2 votes
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Deli brunch sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 6 8-oz. tubes crescent rolls
  • 3/4 lb sliced ham
  • 1/2 lb sliced Genoa salami
  • 3 oz Serrano (dry cured) ham
  • 33 slices Swiss cheese
  • any other meats and cheese that seem yummy
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 2 tsp garlic powder, minced onions, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.

Unroll 3 of the tubes of crescent rolls without separating the triangles, and fit the dough to cover an 11 x 25-inch pan.

  1. Layer the meat and cheese, making it go all the way to the edges of the pan. This part is subject to any kind of variation you like. 

  2. Unroll the remaining 3 tubes of crescent rolls and spread the dough to cover the meat and cheese. It's okay if you have to stretch and piece it together. 

Beat 2-3 eggs and brush it over the top of the dough, and sprinkle with garlic powder, onions, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc.

  1. Cover pan loosely and bake for 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes until dough is slightly browned and egg is completely cooked. 

5 from 3 votes
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Cashew chicken lettuce wraps

Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 6.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, with salt and pepper
  • 2-3/4 cups cashews

romaine lettuce or other broad-leaf lettuce

  • 1 bunch scallions
  • Sriracha sauce (optional)

2 Tbsp sesame oil for cooking

Sauce

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 6 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 6 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder or minced garlic

Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken into small pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  2. Make the sauce by mixing all the ingredients together. 

  3. Heat the sesame oil in a large pan and add the chicken. Cook until it's done (duh)

  4. Add the sauce to the chicken and cook at a medium heat, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the cashews.

  5. Spoon chicken mixture into lettuce leaves. Add chopped scallions to top, plus sriracha sauce if you like. 

5 from 3 votes
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Buffalo chicken pasta salad

Servings 10

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 36 ounces dry pasta. Radiatore (ruffled spirals) is good, but anything with texture will do.

Dressing

  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 10 oz blue cheese dressing (or mayo with blue cheese)
  • 1/2 cup buffalo sauce
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook the chicken.
    Instant Pot instructions: Put chicken in Instant Pot with a cup of water. Set to "high pressure" for seven minutes. Do quick release. Allow chicken to cool, then dice it. 

Cook pasta and drain (duh)

Peel and chop four stalks of celery.

Mix together sauce ingredients.

  1. Put pasta, chicken, and celery in a large bowl. Stir in the dressing and mix to coat. 

Tuna burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 can tuna
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • seasonings, minced onion, etc.
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Drain the tuna.

  2. Mix tuna thoroughly with egg, bread crumbs, and whatever seasonings you like. Form into two patties. 

  3. Heat oil in pan. Fry tuna patties on both sides until golden brown.