Friday has arriven! It’s about damn time. And may I just say, my food pictures are really pretty this week. I tried THREE new recipes. One (butternut squash soup with coconut and spinach) turned out great, one (Turkish flatbread) was pretty bad, and one (cranberry chicken) was fine. That’s how you find out!
Here’s what we had:
Caprese chicken burgers; veg and dip
Quick frozen meal for shopping day, with a little extry to make it nice. Aldi’s chicken burgers are actually pretty good, for processed chicken patties. They have a pleasant texture and the breading is crip. So I cooked those and put out tomatoes and basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and then got into a protracted argument with a kid about cheese. This particular kid, see, is PAID to put the groceries away every week, and so you’d think that when I ask a simple question like . .
you know what, never mind. If you have kids, you’ve heard enough. Anyway I found a little package of fresh mozzarella in the back of the fridge, and SOME of us had nice cheese on their sandwiches. Everyone else had pre-sliced whatevercheese.
I cut up a bunch of peppers and broccoli and set out a tray with French onion dip. No chips and no French fries! They said it couldn’t be done! But I’ve been snacking on leftover vegetables all week and only feel prey to clearance Halloween candy one time, so you tell me.
Omelets for kids; Chinese food for adults
Sunday, Moe and his girlfriend took me and Damien out to eat, just to be nice! Wasn’t that nice? We had an excellent Chinese meal at Cherry Garden in Keene. I had pork gyoza and a spicy coconut chicken curry. Splendid.
The kids at home opted to have omelets. Lucy is reigning omelet queen these days.
They also had some kind of waffle fries.
Look at us! One kid takes us out to eat, and one kid feeds all the rest! Amazing. It could happen to you too.
Sausage, egg, and cheese bagel sandwiches; OJ
Monday I took a little drive to pick up something from Facebook marketplace for Corrie’s birthday, which is in February. Sometimes you have to snap up a good deal when it comes along, and then you drive around with a giant secret tortoise habitat in the back of your car for a few months, so what. So we had a quick meal. I didn’t burn the bagels or the eggs!
I must say, I’m looking forward to spring when the ducks start laying eggs again. They knocked off for the year several weeks ago, and we have to struggle along with these inferior chicken eggs.
Butternut squash soup with lentils and spinach; yufka; grilled cheese
Tuesday it really snowed for real. It only stuck around for a few hours, but as it fell, it whispered “soup,” so I was powerless. I was still thinking about that lovely coconut curry I had, so I found this recipe for lentil butternut squash soup with coconut and spinach. Very promising ingredients:
Pretty simple seasonings, just cayenne pepper and cumin along with the onion and garlic, which you cook up with some tomato paste
Add in the cubed butternut squash (from my garden!), chicken stock, and lentils, and let that cook.
I had brown lentils instead of red, but the next step was to blend it anyway, so I didn’t think it mattered much. Then you add the coconut milk and puree it all.
Another small triumph: I remembered before it was too late that hot liquid expands when you puree it, so I did it in batches in the blender
and there was no hot fountain of orange goo, not at all! Not this time.
Hey, this is a good time to make sure you have anything you might need to order for Thanksgiving, which is less than a week away. I finally got around to ordering a new bowl for my food processor. The blender actually did really well with this particular job, though. I like the pouring spout on top.
Then you return the puree to the pot and put the spinach in and let it cook down, and that’s it. I transferred it to the Instant Pot and set it on “keep warm” and just left it for the rest of the day. The IP’s “warm” button is not as hot as a crock pot, but if you have enough time, it’s fine.
I had been listening to Milk Street Radio and they were talking about this flaky Turkish bread, yufka, that you can make it no time – like 25 minutes, allegedly. It doesn’t have any leaven, and you just have to let the dough rest a few times before you fry it up.
Welp, I couldn’t access the recipe they mentioned, so I found a similar one, except you don’t let it rest as much. Then you roll the pieces out and cook it them a hot pan, and that’s it.
So, I’m not sure where I went wrong with this. I made the dough in the morning and let it rest at room temperature, and then I put it in the fridge, which it said you could do. Maybe I used too much olive oil? Maybe the pan wasn’t hot enough?
They were . . . okay. They looked okay.
But they were so rubbery! A few parts tasted more or less like I expected, but they were so dang dense. Oh well. The soup more than made up for it. The recipe suggest squeezing some fresh lime juice over the top, and I was skeptical about that, but it was AMAZING. Just a fabulous combination of creamy and piquant flavors. I also floated a few roasted pumpkin seeds over the top and that was a good idea as well.
Okay so the color of this soup is not necessarily the most elegant. It’s kind of orangey-yellowy-green. I think if I had used red lentils, it would have been a cheerier yellowy-orange. But the taste was superb. It was so warming and nourishing, but not heavy or muddy, like if pea soup went to finishing school, and it had a little sizzling spicy kick with the cayenne and cumin. So good. I had two bowls and had to stop myself from going back for more.
I also made grilled cheese, because I was pretty sure the soup would not be popular, and I was right.
Good old pork butt still goes for 99 cents a pound pretty often. I got a couple of big hunks and off we went. This is such an easy recipe with tons of flavor.Jump to Recipe
You heavily season the pork chunks and then just chuck them in the pot with oil, Coke, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and some orange quarters (I had clementines).
Then you just cook it down for several hours until it gets dark and yummy
You can drain off the liquid and keep cooking it at this point, or you can do what I did and just pull the meat out, shred it, and brown it up under the broiler. I added back a little of the yummy citrusy pot juice along with the meat before putting it under the heat, to keep it from drying out.
I often make beans and rice with carnitas, but I just did guacamole this time. Boy, is it satisfying when you choose the perfect day to slice open the avocados. I forgot to buy tomatoes, so this guac just had avocados lightly mashed, jalapenos, cilantro, onion, garlic, lime juice, and salt and pepper.Jump to Recipe
It was great! I may skip the tomato from now on.
I put out all the regular stuff for carnitas – tortillas, sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges – but I didn’t feel like putting together the whole thing. I heated up some frozen corn and I opted for pretzels instead of chips, and I enjoyed the heck out of this slightly peculiar plate, modified for those who want to lose weight but are choosing their battles.
And that’s my story. I am down ten pounds at last count, so there.
Cranberry skillet chicken; roast potatoes, butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts
I was planning just some kind of sheet pan thing with chicken and vegetables, but I saw this recipe from a local supermarket chain, and I did have a bag of cranberries, so, again, powerless. It’s a very simple recipe. You season the chicken and brown up the skin side, then take it out of the pan
then add in some diced onion and cook that in the chickeny oil, then add in the cranberries, some brown sugar, and some oregano, and let it all bubble around a bit
and then you put the chicken back into the cranberry mixture and put the whole thing in the oven to finish cooking. I knew I was going to be out around dinner time (another Facebook Marketplace adventure for a different birthday kid. Here’s a tip: Raise your kids to understand that used is FINE), so I cooked this in the morning and moved it into a casserole dish; but technically that is a one-pan dish and can be made in a single skillet.
Pretty! I only had one bag of cranberries, but I had a bunch of chicken, so I just browned up the rest up with oil and salt and pepper, and also put that in a separate dish to finish cooking.
Then I went out and harvested my poor Brussels sprouts. They struggled early on in the growing season with a brassica-specific bacteria, and they never really bounced back; but I thought I had lost them altogether, so I was pretty happy to have even these little bitty sprouts.
I popped them all off their stems and washed them well (there was one worm stowaway) and beheld my mighty harvest.
Eh, that’s what supermarkets are for. I also had another butternut squash from the garden, and a few pounds of red potatoes. I spread it all in a pan and hit them with olive oil, cider vinegar because my wine vinegar looked weird, honey, and salt and pepper. So I roasted that up before dinner while heating up the chicken
So it was all . . . fine. Everything was a little too greasy. I think the chicken would have been quite good if I had just cooked it and served it right away. Cooking it in the morning and heating it up in the evening turned the cranberries into mush, sadly.
Live and learn! At least I finally did something with those dumb brussels sprouts and I can stop thinking about them. Next year, I’ll remember to pull the leaves off the plants so I get more sprouts. Somebody enjoyed the leaves, though.
THE ASSASSIN, that’s who.
Who, meeee? Me-MEOWWWWW?
Oh gosh, that reminds me. Tell your kids, “SOMEBODY in this house is possessed by an owl.” Then when they say “Who?” you just stare at them.
Anyway, I might make this cranberry dish again when I can do it properly. It was so easy, and people weren’t fully against it.
Pasta with Marcella Hazan’s magic 3-ingredient sauce
We haven’t had this savory, stupid-easy sauce for a while. Seriously, three ingredients. You will be tempted to add garlic or basil or so forth, but it really doesn’t need it. It’s simple and perfect, and truly absurdly easy.Jump to Recipe
You’re supposed to take the onions out before serving it, but we all like the onions, so we leave them in.
And that’s my story! Try the soup!
John Herreid's Carnitas
Very easy recipe transforms pork into something heavenly. Carnitas are basically pulled pork tacos with the meat crisped up. Serve with whatever you like.
- pork butt/shoulder, cut into chunks
- salt and pepper
- oranges, quartered
- cinnamon sticks
- bay leaves
- 1 can Coke or Mexican Coke
- 1 cup or less vegetable oil
Sprinkle the chunks of pork with salt, pepper, and oregano.
Put them in a heavy pot with the oil and Coke, oranges, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer.
Simmer, uncovered, for at least two hours. The oranges will start to get mushy and the liquid will begin to thicken.
When the meat is tender, remove the oranges, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks. Turn the heat up and continue cooking, stirring often, until the meat has a dark crust. Be careful not to let it burn.
Remove the meat and drain off any remaining liquid. Shred the meat. It it's not as crisp as you like, you can brown it under the oven broiler, or return it to the pot without the liquid and fry it up a bit.
Serve on warm tortillas with whatever you like.
White Lady From NH's Guacamole
- 4 avocados
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1 medium jalapeno, minced
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 limes juiced
- 1 tsp chili powder
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 red onion, diced
Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two.
Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.
Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly.
Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce
We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people.
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes, broken up
- 1 onion peeled and cut in half
- salt to taste
- 5 Tbsp butter
Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.
Simmer at least 90 minutes.
Take out the onions.
I'm freaking serious, that's it!