What’s for supper? Vol. 268: The eleven silly eaters

Wasn’t that a long week? We’ve almost made it!  Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
I think burgers?

Saturday we also made Mrs. Peters’ birthday cake. This is from the delightful book The Seven Silly Eaters, which I was not yet familiar with when I wrote about positive portrayals of large families in literature.

In the book, this nice mom ends up catering to her seven picky kids more and more, and every day makes each of their favorite foods: applesauce, bread, eggs, milk, lemonade, and oatmeal. One night, exhausted, she realizes it’s her birthday tomorrow. She assumes the family has forgotten, but they haven’t, and the kids sneak downstairs to make their favorite foods for her as a surprise. But it’s harder than it looks, and they end up mixing all the foods together and hiding the mess in the still-warm oven overnight — and Mrs. Peters wakes up in the morning to discover the combined foods have transformed themselves into a delicious birthday cake for her (and from that day forward, the kids all pitch in with the cooking).

It’s a very cute story in non-irritating rhyme with a satisfying end, beautifully illustrated by Marla Frazee. The story and the illustrations both show an understanding of both the delights and the trials of family life. 

Last week, when Corrie was home with a sniffle, she decided to make the cake as described in the book,

with predictable results.

I even left it in the oven for many hours at a very low temperature, just like in the book, because I uh forgot it was in there.

As written, the ingredients could not, of course, actually make anything like a delicious cake; but the author, Mary Ann Hoberman, did put together a recipe based on the story, so that’s what we decided to try on Saturday. 

It turned out . . . okay.

It was exceedingly wet. Like, juice ran out when I turned the cake out of the pan. The flavor was pleasant enough, sort of like apple-y bread pudding. You couldn’t really taste the lemon, but the egg taste was prominent. 

It was unclear if you were supposed to use cooked oatmeal or oats. Possibly using oats would have given us different results, but it did say “oatmeal” in the recipe. I also underbaked it, because I was so afraid of overbaking it, which I always do with cakes. Anyway, I didn’t yell very much when we were baking, and Corrie was pleased with her cake. Actually, she quit halfway through, even though it was her idea, and Benny stuck it out through to the end. And that’s our story. 

I guess that’s our third fictional dessert, really, if you count the Earl Gray tea cake being something like an Amelia Bedelia cake, and the several lemon meringue pies we have made, also inspired by Amelia Bedelia. We have no plans to dip fish in chocolate as yet, although I spent a lot of time thinking about it as a child.

SUNDAY
Normal tacos

I was sick as heck on Sunday and went ahead and used Instacart for the weekly shopping like a millionaire. I hate Instacart. Last time we used it, the gal pestered me for every last thing (me substitute blueberry yogurt instead of mixed berry yogurt? YES, THAT’S FINE) and then delivered $260 worth of groceries to a fence company down the road (I mean a literal fence company. They don’t fence for anybody nefarious, as far as I know) and it took a full day to figure out what happened to the food, and almost a week to get my money back.

This time, the shopper did a pretty good job, but we still ended up with stuff like three peaches instead of three three-pound bags of peaches, and some kind of unexpected chicken, and (ptui) lean ground beef, and five cans of sour cream and onion Pringles.

Excuse me, Stackerz. Oh, did the kids carry on about how ridiculous that was! All those sour cream and onion Stackerz! Actually, I’m not telling them this, but that’s exactly what I ordered: Five cans of sour cream and onion Stackerz. I was sick and didn’t feel like clicking around to get a variety of different flavors, sheesh. It’s like a children’s book in here. Fussy fussy. 

MONDAY
Chicken tortilla soup, giant quesadilla slab

I was feeling a little better — well enough to make soup, sick enough to crave soup, especially soup that gets you right between the eyes. I love this chicken tortilla soup from Two Sleevers.

I gathered up the very last of the outdoor tomatoes and put them in the food processor along with onion, lots of garlic, several chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, a giant jalapeño, and a ton of cilantro, and some salt, and you get this wonderful pungent base

and you sauté that in oil. I did it right in the Instant Pot, nice and easy. Oh my land, the smell. 

Then you throw in your tortillas and chicken and some water and cook it until the chicken is shreddable.

And that’s it. I was going to put some beans and corn in there, but I wanted to appeal to as many silly eaters as possible.

We had it with a nice dollop sour cream, plus avocados and more cilantro, and I think some people had shredded cheddar cheese.

Just great. This soup has a sneaky little punch that builds up as you eat it. Really good for people with head colds. 

I knew several people would be sad we were having soup for supper, and corn muffins would just make them sadder, so I made a giant baked quesadilla slab.

Spray the pan, put on a layer of overlapping tortillas, lots of shredded cheese, and another layer of tortillas, then drizzle on some olive oil and sprinkle on some chili lime powder, and bake at 350 until the cheese is melted and the edges are crunchy. Carve into pieces with the pizza cutter. Boom.

Everyone likes it and it takes about three minutes to throw together. Nice easy side for soup, and they can’t moan at you for making just soup for supper. 

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, chips, misc.

Strange burgers, weird burgers. I also decided I was going to clean out the fridge and make a giant, attractive charcuterie board of all the miscellaneous leftovers that are crammed in there making my life miserable. In my head, we had all sorts of delectable deli treats and wonderful cheeses, crisp vegetables and appealing tidbits just begging to be appreciated. In reality, there was six or seven dented, half-frozen hardboiled eggs, a handful of horrible blackened avocado in a sandwich bag, a large amount of rancid salami in various sizes and also some rancid gabagool, and some cold leftover tortilla slab, which . . . I mean, I will eat it cold, but I am not everybody. I laid it all out on a tray, smiled at it, scowled at it, and slid it into the garbage, and put out five cans of sour cream and onion Pringles, excuse me, Stackerz. I’ll show you a silly eater. 

One of these days I am going to do something about the grout on my dining room table. But not today. Today, I’m not even going to bother sweeping the crumbs off before dinner. 

WEDNESDAY
Asian meatballs, rice, raw broccoli

When I first discovered this recipe

Jump to Recipe

I loved it so much. It was such a revelation. Lighter than normal meatballs, versatile, tangy, easy, exciting. Then I made it a few more times, and it turned on me. I don’t know what happened, but the last three or four times I’ve made it, it just wasn’t any good. 

This time, I was determined to do everything carefully, use all the freshest ingredients, prep everything fastidiously in the food processor, measure everything meticulously, and time it precisely. The verdict: Still not that great! Way too salty, for one thing. So I have changed the salt from a tablespoon to a teaspoon. But it seems like the problems go deeper than this, and I cannot understand why. It grieves me. I want to retvrn but I don’t know how.

I did eat four meatballs, dipped them in soy sauce, because that’s what you do when something’s too salty. We also had rice and raw broccoli. 

THURSDAY
Pizza

One cheese, one olive, one pepperoni, and one with sliced garlic, roasted red peppers, and anchovies. 

Very nice balance of sweet and savory. Damien and I are thinking we will try a fennel, pepper, and anchovy pizza next; won’t that be nice? Ooh, maybe some spinach. I don’t know about the fennel and spinach together. 

I also took my final crack at that soup, for lunch, and it will still magnificent. Look, it looks like tomato galaxy. 

Of course there were plenty of rather gravid tortilla strips lurking beneath the surface, and lots of shredded chicken. The recipe calls for chicken breast, which certainly shreds easily, but I think I’ll use thighs next time, for a little more flavor.

FRIDAY
Pigsnetti

That’s what one of my kids used to call “spaghetti.”Isn’t that crazy? So much harder to say that “spaghetti” or even “puhsketti” like a normal human child. 

***

Well, I guess the only recipe card I have is the Asian meatballs, which don’t exactly come with a ringing endorsement this week. Maybe you’ll have better luck somehow. 

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
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (save out a bit for a garnish)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground white 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.

What’s for supper? Vol. 266: Ready or not, soup season!

Hup! Here we go! Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Sandwiches and fries

Damien brought home some baguettes and and assortment of deli meats and cheese and some jarred peppers and things. Very tasty. Forgot to take a picture. 

Which reminds me, people complain about Twitter, and sure, it can be rough, but there’s also this:

SUNDAY

Nobody can remember what we had on Sunday. It has been erased from the books, wiped clean from the slate, carved clear of the tablets of history. Probably burgers.

Oh, now I remember: Sunday I was picking up Lena from Granite State Comiccon. She did really well, selling prints, stickers, and masks. I happen to have one of her stickers on my laptop

and these apparently sold very briskly. I’ll let you know when she gets her Etsy store restocked. 

MONDAY
Beef barley soup, pumpkin muffins

Corrie has been begging for beef barley soup and Benny has been begging for pumpkin muffins, so even though it was in the mid 70’s, I caved. The leaves are changing, the ducks are flying south, there’s a fog rolling across the dried grass in the mornings, and people who live within a mile of actual corn fields are paying $7.88 for disinfected stalks of corn from Walmart to attach to their porches with zip ties. Sounds like soup weather to me. 

The beef barley soup turned out very nice, although I forgot to buy mushrooms. I made it on the stovetop, but here is a recipe you can easily make in the Instant Pot if you’d prefer

Jump to Recipe

I also made about 18 pumpkin muffins, and they turned out a little weird. The can of pumpkin I was counting on turned out to be pumpkin pie mix, which already has spices and sugar added to it, plus who knows what else. 

(It’s a good, reliable, hearty recipe IF you use actual just plain canned pumpkin! Jump to Recipe)

Then I didn’t help matters by somehow bobbling the hot pan and dumping every single muffin out onto the oven floor, which is currently foul and horrible. So a bunch of them got charred and a bunch of them picked up miscellaneous oven crap, and they weren’t sweet enough, and they had a weird texture, more like cake than muffins, but somehow not in a good way. 

Corrie has been putting them in her lunch every day, though, so it wasn’t a total loss. Her lunch gets inspected because there is a kid with a nut allergy this year, so either the teacher is impressed that I bake a lot, or the teacher is horrified that I’m sending my kid to school with charred pumpkin lumps, not sure which. 

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers, chips, veggies and dip

A very deluxe meal, as you can see.

I’ve been putting bowls of fruit on the table, to dissuade myself from eating chips. It works, in the sense that I eat fruit with my meal, and then go back after supper and eat everybody’s leftover chips. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken soup with matzoh balls, challah, Earl Grey cake with vanilla bean frosting

Clara’s birthday! She requested this coziest of meals. I more or less followed my mother’s recipe for chicken soup, and the recipe on the can for matzoh balls. I made the soup the day before, so it could cook all day long and get very rich and golden. Forgot to take a pic of the finished soup, but here it is being made. I used just some legs, plus carrots, celery, onions, dill, and parsley, and lots and lots of simmering time:

I made two big challahs and they turned out pretty nice. It was chumid as chell, which maybe made the loaves a little flabbier than strictly necessary, but they were pretty good. 

The Early Gray tea cake from Liv For Cake was quite a project. I am not much of a baker, and have long since resigned myself to making box cakes for most birthdays. I followed this recipe slavishly, though, and it came out well. Maybe a little dry; I guess I baked it a hair too long. And my oven really needs leveling!

You have to make tea milk and add that to the batter, as well as adding ground tea. You can also make tea syrup to brush over the baked cake, which I ended up not having time for. Very pleasant, cozy, old fashioned flavor, almost citrusy, not too sweet, and the cake has a very fine grain. 

The vanilla bean frosting that goes with it was also a little more labor intensive than I normally attempt, and I will be honest, it didn’t taste that spectacular to me. You cream egg whites and sugar, then whisk them over a double boiler, then put them back in the stand mixer and keep whisking until they are stiff, then add in the butter and vanilla bean paste. The texture is extremely light and has a creamy flavor — like it tastes like there is cream in it — but it also tasted like shortening to me, which was pretty disappointing, since the actual ingredients (unsalted butter, vanilla bean paste) were actually pretty expensive. Maybe I just don’t like buttercream that much. Everyone else liked it, and it was very easy to work with. 

For some reason I got the idea to make a Great Wave off Kanagawa cake.

I guess the sort of frothy buttercream looked wavy. If I had planned ahead, I would have bought some nonpareils for the foam, but I just piped it in with a sandwich bag and a butter knife. I forgot to put the boat in. Anyway, Clara liked it. 

THURSDAY
Pizza

Damien made pizzas. He tried toasting the pepperoni before adding it to the pizza, just to give it a little extra crunch. I didn’t try any, but he said it was good, not spectacular. He also made one cheese, one pepperoni, and one with anchovies, artichoke hearts, and garlic. Guess which one I held out for.

FRIDAY
Penne

The kids requested pasta that is shaped like tubes, in sauce that comes in jars. That I can do.

And now I’m excited, because my Foley mill arrived in the mail!

This is a lovely little machine, very well designed. It clips onto the side of a pot or bowl, and when you turn the crank, the high end of the inside blade catches food underneath it and forces it down through the little holes as it turns, so it crushes it and also sorts out the seeds and skins and whatnot; and at the same time, a little pin turns on the bottom

to keep it clear as you work. Very nice. 

I bought it from eBay, to replace the food mill I threw out at some point last year. I guess I was doing some kind of kitchen purge and thought, “What is this dumb thing taking up space? I can’t use it more than once a year!” Well guess what, stupid? Here we are at the one time of year when I want to make applesauce, and a food mill is really the only thing that works. I like to cook the apples with the skin and cores in, and then strain them out afterward. You can do it with a sieve, but it’s horrible work and takes forever, and a food mill is just fun to use. Our terrible little apple tree also has plenty of terrible apples on it this year. They’re not really good for anything else besides apple sauce, but they have an intriguing smoky flavor that makes very pleasant sauce. The tree’s name is Marvin.

If you’ve never made your own apple sauce, it’s super easy, and a good way to use the million apples your toddler took one bite of and then discarded. Cut them into quarters, leaving on the skins and cores, and put them in a big pot with an inch or two of water on the bottom. Cover loosely and let it simmer for . . . okay, I don’t remember how long. Maybe forty minutes? Long enough that, when you poke the apples, they don’t resist at all, but collapse into mush. (Softer apples, like Macintosh, are best for applesauce, obviously.) Then you dump everything into a food mill (or sieve) and crush out all the skins and cores.

Add however much sugar and cinnamon you like, and a little butter, and stir. That’s it. Best applesauce you’ve ever had, and the smell is heavenly.  Warm, rosy homemade applesauce with a little vanilla ice cream on top will bring tears to your eyes.

You can also trim the cores and peels off first, and then you can just use a blender or whatever to make the apples into sauce, but the flavor and color won’t be nearly as nice. 

And that’s it! Headed out to adoration in a bit. Praying for you all, cheese bags. 

 

Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)

Makes about a gallon of lovely soup

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion or red onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 lbs beef, cubed
  • 16 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 6 cups beef bouillon
  • 1 cup merlot or other red wine
  • 29 oz canned diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice) with juice
  • 1 cup uncooked barley
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot. If using Instant Pot, choose "saute." Add the minced garlic, diced onion, and diced carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and carrots are softened. 


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

  3. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the beef broth, and the merlot, plus 3 cups of water. Stir and add the mushrooms and barley. 

  4. If cooking on stovetop, cover loosely and let simmer for several hours. If using Instant Pot, close top, close valve, and set to high pressure for 30 minutes. 

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

 

Pumpkin quick bread or muffins

Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins

Ingredients

  • 15 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup veg or canola oil
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • oats, wheat germ, turbinado sugar, chopped dates, almonds, raisins, etc. optional

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

 

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. 252: The bright-eyed marinator

Apparently it’s Friday! Here’s what we cooked this week:

SATURDAY 
Meatball subs

Had my sub outside with a short, chatty person who, after a rather violent bath, was drying her hair in the setting sun. 

I could try to pass off that sub as the sub that a silly child has clearly started eating sideways, but in fact that is my sub.

Damien made the meatballs. He uses the same recipe I do,

Jump to Recipe

except he’s much, much better at seasoning meat than I am, and they turned out very yummy indeed. 

SUNDAY
Beef gyros

This is it. This is the simplest, tastiest gyro marinade yet.

Jump to Recipe

It’s just olive oil, lots of garlic, fresh mint, oregano, and paprika, and salt and pepper. The wild mint has come up in the yard, so I added a big bunch chopped up. 

I don’t remember how I cooked the meat. Maybe I seared it and then roasted it, or maybe I just roasted it. It sliced up beautifully rare and juicy.

I served it with fries and sliced cucumbers and tomatoes and plenty of spicy yogurt sauce, and a little hot sauce. Three of the kids spontaneously said it was good! I don’t know if you realize what a dazzling triumph that is for me. 

I took some of the marinade and added it to some plain Greek yogurt, for a zippy dipping sauce. I also made my usual yogurt sauce, with fresh garlic, pepper, salt, and lemon juice. This is definitely the recipe I’ll be using from now on. 

MONDAY
Cumin chicken and chickpeas with yogurt sauce, pita, and red onion salad

An easy, very appealing one-pan meal I haven’t made in some time. You marinate the chicken thighs in a cumin yogurt sauce for several hours before cooking, then just spread it out on a pan with some seasoned chickpeas, and away it goes. The meat is SO juice and the skin is SO crisp and tasty. You really must try it. 

Jump to Recipe

Really lovely with some fresh pita bread, garlicky yogurt sauce, and red onions and cilantro with lemon juice.

Great for people who like middle eastern food, but mild enough for people who don’t especially. 

TUESDAY
Kielbasa, cabbage, red potatoes; green beans

Another easy one-pan meal (or two pans, as the case may be)

I normally flip the components halfway through cooking, but skipped it this time, and that was a bit of a mistake. The kielbasa got a little burnt on bottom, and the cabbage was a bit flabby, but that was my fault, not the recipe’s.

Jump to Recipe

I usually make a mustard sauce with honey and wine vinegar and fresh garlic, but also skipped that, and put out a bottle of some kind of fancy trick mustard from Aldi.

Not bad at all. It was a hot, salty meal that you could easily eat with a fork, and I had no complaints. 

WEDNESDAY
Beef and broccoli on rice, red bean buns

Another surprisingly popular meal! I followed the marinade recipe from Damn Delicious to the letter, so I didn’t bother writing up a recipe card (which I generally only do if I alter the recipe). Slightly spicy (courtesy of sriracha and hot pepper flakes). The sauce didn’t thicken, but I wasn’t expecting that. My sauces just don’t thicken. I accept this. Yes, I used corn starch.

The pictures turned out bad, but it was a pretty dish, as well as tasty.

I had some bean buns in the freezer, that I grabbed when we ventured into a different supermarket a few weeks ago. I wasn’t really sure how to cook them, so I put them in the Instant Pot on the rack with a cup of water and set it to high pressure for 8 minutes. I also wasn’t really sure how they were supposed to taste, but that worked well enough, although I crammed twelve of them in there, so they stuck together a bit. 

What do you normally eat bean buns with? Are they an appetizer? These were sweet. I’m still very much a country mouse and don’t know much about other cuisines. 

THURSDAY
Chicken nuggets/supermarket sushi

I’ve spared you all the details of how busy we’ve been this week, but suffice it to say the schedule made me cry more than once, and also the car broke down again because of course it did. Hence Thursday’s meal. I accidentally bought something called “teriyaki chicken sushi,” which is an abomination. I mean, I ate it, but still. 

FRIDAY
Domino’s, and cake 

Today is Benny’s first communion and Benny, Irene, Lucy, and Sophia’s confirmation! There’s a long sad story about how we kept traveling over diocesan lines right when various parishes were switching order of sacraments, and then when we got caught up, we got covid symptoms and had to stay home. So we’re finally finally getting this done, and then having cake and pizza. Clara made this pretty “stained glass” cake:

We make this by covering a cooled cake with royal icing, which gives you a flat, dry surface to work on.

Jump to Recipe

Then you make your stained glass design with black icing (you can plot out the design with a toothpick first), then carefully fill in the spaces between the lines by spooning in jellies and jams of various colors. You can whip up the jelly with a little water to make it more spreadable. Very handy for people who have a lot of sacrament parties. 

And that’s it! 
 

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. 

 

5 from 2 votes
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Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

Cumin chicken thighs with chickpeas in yogurt sauce

A one-pan dish, but you won't want to skip the sides. Make with red onions and cilantro in lemon juice, pita bread and yogurt sauce, and pomegranates, grapes, or maybe fried eggplant. 

Ingredients

  • 18 chicken thighs
  • 32 oz full fat yogurt, preferably Greek
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp cumin, divided
  • 4-6 cans chickpeas
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 red onions, sliced thinly

For garnishes:

  • 2 red onions sliced thinly
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • a bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 32 oz Greek yogurt for dipping sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

Instructions

  1. Make the marinade early in the day or the night before. Mix full fat Greek yogurt and with lemon juice, four tablespoons of water, and two tablespoons of cumin, and mix this marinade up with chicken parts, thighs or wings. Marinate several hours. 

    About an hour before dinner, preheat the oven to 425.

    Drain and rinse four or five 15-oz cans of chickpeas and mix them up with a few glugs of olive oil, the remaining tablespoon of cumin, salt and pepper, and two large red onions sliced thin.

    Spread the seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on two large sheet pans, then make room among the chickpeas for the marinated chicken (shake or scrape the extra marinade off the chicken if it’s too gloppy). Then it goes in the oven for almost an hour. That’s it for the main part.

    The chickpeas and the onions may start to blacken a bit, and this is a-ok. You want the chickpeas to be crunchy, and the skin of the chicken to be a deep golden brown, and crisp. The top pan was done first, and then I moved the other one up to finish browning as we started to eat. Sometimes when I make this, I put the chickpeas back in the oven after we start eating, so some of them get crunchy and nutty all the way through.

Garnishes:

  1. While the chicken is cooking, you prepare your three garnishes:

     -Chop up some cilantro for sprinkling if people like.

     -Slice another two red onions nice and thin, and mix them in a dish with a few glugs of lemon juice and salt and pepper and more cilantro. 

     -Then take the rest of the tub of Greek yogurt and mix it up in another bowl with lemon juice, a generous amount of minced garlic, salt, and pepper. 

 

One-pan kielbasa, cabbage, and red potato dinner with mustard sauce

This meal has all the fun and salt of a wiener cookout, but it's a tiny bit fancier, and you can legit eat it in the winter. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs kielbasa
  • 3-4 lbs red potatoes
  • 1-2 medium cabbages
  • (optional) parsley for garnish
  • salt and pepper and olive oil

mustard sauce (sorry, I make this different each time):

  • mustard
  • red wine if you like
  • honey
  • a little olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. 

    Whisk together the mustard dressing ingredients and set aside. Chop parsley (optional).

    Cut the kielbasa into thick coins and the potatoes into thick coins or small wedges. Mix them up with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in a shallow pan. 

    Cut the cabbage into "steaks." Push the kielbasa and potatoes aside to make room to lay the cabbage down. Brush the cabbage with more olive oil and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. It should be a single layer of food, and not too crowded, so it will brown well. 

    Roast for 20 minutes, then turn the food as well as you can and roast for another 15 minutes.  

    Serve hot with dressing and parsley for a garnish. 

Marinade for beef gyros

enough for 4-5 lbs of meat, plus a little extra to mix into yogurt sauce if you like

Ingredients

  • handful fresh mint, chopped fine
  • 1 head garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1-1/3 cups olive oil
  • 4 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together and marinate meat. If you like, take a few spoonfuls of the marinade and mix it into 2-3 cups of Greek yogurt with a little water, for a sauce.

Royal icing

An icing that dries hard, so you can use it to glue pieces together, or use as a flat surface to decorate. Add less sugar to make it thinner and pour over cookies or petits fours; add more sugar to make it more thick for spreading or piping. It will be stiff enough to decorate over within about half an hour, and it will be like cement in four hours.

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 6 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Instructions

  1. In an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on high until they are opaque and foamy.

  2. Add the sugar a little scoop at a time, continuing to whisk on high. Add the lemon juice.

  3. Keep whisking on high until the icing is as thick as you want it. Adjust how much sugar you add to make it as thick as you want.

  4. Keep the icing covered tightly, with plastic wrap touching the icing, until you're ready to use it because it starts drying out immediately.

What’s for supper? Vol. 203: Custody of the pies

Every Lent, I try to work out how to write an entire post about food on Fridays without being a complete monster. I futzed around with some html code for a while, trying to get the food pictures to be blurred out with a button that says “remove custody of the eyes” that you can click to see the food, but it stopped being funny long before I figured it out. So here’s some food, you suffering bastards. 

SATURDAY
Turkey bacon wraps, mozzarella sticks and jalapeño poppers

This was popular last week, so I made it again, even though I know this is a tactical error. It could be the most fabulous dish in the world, but if you make it too often, it becomes loathed. Still in the grace period, though. 

I had mine on a multigrain wrap with smoked turkey, bacon, spinach, tomatoes, lacy Swiss, and horseradish sauce. Lots of good sharp flavors. But I have not yet figured out how to arrange the fillings for a wrap in such a way that they are both photogenic and in the right order for wrapping and eating. 

I also bought some miscellaneous frozen snacky things and heated them up. I have to say, Aldi’s bacon has improved immensely in flavor, but their version of jalapeño poppers is nothing to write home about. The texture is bad and it just tastes harsh and slimy. No bueno. 

SUNDAY
Linguine with clam sauce, homemade bread, salad that nobody touched

I made Pioneer Woman’s recipe. It sure is easy, and it’s pretty cheap for a fancy-tasting meal, even if you use fresh lemons and parsley and heavy cream (which you should). Specially yummy with freshly-grated parmesan cheese, which Fishers can have for a treat. 

With some trepidation, I made French bread, hoping against hope that my initial success with this recipe wasn’t just a fluke. It wasn’t! The bread turned out lovely. I made up a recipe card for four loaves, with a few adaptations and reassurances. 

Jump to Recipe

I didn’t score one loaf deeply enough, though, and the poor thing sploded. 

My father came over, bearing a used glockenspiel. Yes, he asked first, and yes, I said he should bring it over, and that we wanted it. We do! We’re just … taking a little glockenpause for a few days now.

Oh, I had my heart set on making mango royale for dessert, but my little plebes requested ice cream pie, instead.

We made it with graham cracker crusts, two kinds of ice cream, chocolate and strawberry and butterscotch sauce, Frozen II marshmallows, and of course blobs of store brand kool whip. It was, of course, delicious. 

MONDAY
Beef vegetable soup; hot pretzels

I thought the kids were still bananas about beef barley soup, but I got a wilting, “oh, okay” response when I told them I was making it, so I switched plans mid-shopping and decided to make minestrone, but with beef. So it had onions, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, wine, pasta shells, beef, and mushrooms. The result was hearty, but a little incoherent, and the broth was thinner than I would like. 

Next time I’ll add some tomato paste and probably skip the mushrooms, and add peas. I wrote up a recipe card incorporating the changes I’ll make next time. 

Jump to Recipe

I sold it by calling it “Little Bear Birthday Soup.” 

This is the exact look I had on my face while I was serving it, too.

It went over okay. There was leftover bread and also hot pretzels. 

TUESDAY
Mardi Gras, and Corrie’s birthday!

We killed two birds with one stone and went to Chili’s. The original plan was to go to one of those Japanese restaurants where they put on a little show and cook things right on the table in front of you, but when I asked one of the kids if she wanted to go there, she said she wasn’t sure, because she doesn’t really like Italian food. So we went to Chili’s. 

The birthday girl ordered nothing but side dishes: Fries, steamed broccoli, mandarin oranges, and corn. 

We had a nice time! My kids may be goons, but they care about each other. 

And then sometimes spontaneously tell the entire plot of Gawain and the Green Knight while waiting for the food.

Then we came home and had some cake. Corrie had requested an Otis (from Milo and Otis) cake with a pink bow. 

I made the bow and tongue by putting Starbursts in the microwave for a few seconds, mooshing them into shape, adding details with a knife, and freezing them. I’ve been meaning and meaning to try my hand at fondant, but honestly, this seems just as good (as long as you can find the right colors), and it has to taste better. 

She was pleased with my efforts.

She was pleased, pleased, pleased all day long. 

She finally unwrapped the giant dinosaur we bought when it was on sale in December and have been hiding in our bedroom since then. We have a pretty small bedroom, and it also has a treadmill, a sewing machine, a folding desk, a heater, and miscellaneous heaps of garbage in it, so the oversized dinosaur was something of a trial for us all. I had to keep covering and re-covering it with a blanket, and it kept poking out. It got the point where Corrie would come in, see a piece of tail or snout sticking out, and go, “oops!” and cover it with a blanket herself, so it wouldn’t ruin the surprise. However, five-year-olds are magical and unpredictable creatures, and she was delighted with her surprise dinosaur, and promptly named it “Tall-y Tall.” 

The rule is that very intelligent, imaginative kids come up with profoundly dull names for their toys and pets. This is the way. (She also has a smaller dino named “Dino-dino.”)

Her other big present was a Super Corrie outfit she’s been longing for. I was up until 2 a.m., and there was a lot of this kind of thing

but I finished it, by gum! And she loves it. Her powers are Rainbow Powers and Flying (and, if you hit her in the right mood, really fast cleaning). 

(I hemmed it later in the day. I just needed to measure it first! The cape has a panel of sparkly blue down the back.)

Oh, here’s what I had at Chili’s. One of those miscellaneous American Buckets Of Shiny Food. It was good.

Ayyyy, Fat Tuesday. 

WEDNESDAY
Grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup

Ash Wednesday, of course. Grilled cheese and tomato soup from a can never tasted so good.

THURSDAY
Hamburgers with mushrooms, chips, veggies and hummus

Nothing much to report. I had a carton of mushrooms left over from the soup, so I sliced them up and sautéed them in olive oil for the burgers.

I, virtuous, skipped the chips. 

FRIDAY
Pahster, I guess.

We have been on vacation this week, but my car has been in the shop, lying back and having money poured into it, so we didn’t go anywhere or do anything, and anyway, the first week of Lent is always a tricky time to go vacationing. It was okay, though! The kids just lurked about harassing each other and throwing popcorn and orange peels on the floor, and it was kind of nice. I like those kids. I wish they would eat my soup, though. 

 

French bread

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

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Instant Pot Everything Soup

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 small cans tomato paste
  • 2.5 lbs chuck roast
  • 1.5 cups red wine
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 med potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Put the onions, carrots, and olive oil in the pot and press "sauté" and then the "+" button until it reads 10 minutes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are slightly soft Add pepper to taste.

  2. Add beef and press "sauté" again, stirring occasionally until beef is slightly browned.

  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, including 3 cups of water. Stir to combine the tomato paste. Close the top, seal the vent, and press "soup."

  4. Quick release, but be ready for a bit of spraying!

What’s for supper? Vol. 202: Grasping at strawberries

Oops, I forgot to do a food post last week. We had a few meals outside of the normal rotation, so let’s review!

One that people liked was turkey bacon wraps. I had mine in spinach wraps , with smoked turkey from the deli, bacon, pea shoots, a nice mild lacy Swiss, and horseradish sauce, with a snappy dill pickle.

We also had some berries and some of those awful spicy crunchy onion ring snacks that are so unreasonably delicious. Fresh fruit is not great at this time of year, but I’m so desperate for color, I’m willing to grasp at strawberries. 

Against my best instincts, I also made a giant chicken pot pie last week. For reasons I don’t understand, no one except me likes chicken pot pie, but I thought maybe I would just make one so delicious and wonderful that they’d all . . . change their minds. Look how cozy and enticing it is!

What you can’t see, since this is a still pic, is that I made the sauce way too thin, and the contents were rolling and sloshing around under that lovely crust. It still tasted good! But we ate it in bowls. 

I used readymade puff pastry dough, top and bottom. (I had some left over, which is what gave me the idea of chicken pie.) I cooked the chicken, carrots, and potatoes in broth in the Instant Pot, and then made a white sauce with chicken broth and milk, then put them together and poured it into the crust. If there’s ever a next time, I will slightly undercook the potatoes and I’ll bake the bottom crust a bit before filling it. And of course I’ll make the sauce much thicker.

I still thought it was a delicious. But no hearts or minds were won this day.

We also had a new kind of salad that I expected to be more popular than it was. The family is pretty tired of buffalo chicken salad and all the other chicken salads, but mango and avocado were both on sale, so I made this lovely mango avocado lime cilantro honey salsa to go with a salad with chicken, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

I don’t seem to have written the recipe down, because why would I? Bah. I guess it was . . . mango, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, honey, and red onion. And there was a dressing made of olive oil, honey, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, minced garlic, cilantro, and salt and pepper. It was really tasty, sweet and summery. Ugh, why did I not write this down? Doesn’t matter, nobody liked it anyway except me. They are so dang spoiled.

Finally, we had gochujang beef with rice. Usually I made this dish with pork. It turns out it’s good either way, and certainly easy. The sauce is just a few ingredients, and you can prep everything in the morning or even the night before, and then just, zoop, cook it up. I’ll put my recipe card at the end,

Jump to Recipe

and you can just substitute beef if you like. I used shredded coins of carrots rather than matchsticks, and I think I prefer it that way. 

Oh gosh, last week was also Valentine’s Day. Clara baked something like 130 cupcakes, and we decorated about half of them. I iced them and added some fancy sprinkles, and Benny sat there and sedately rolled up about 72 fruit roll roses. 

The way you do this is you roll the end of the roll tightly, and then you rotate the roll in one direction while twisting the unrolled part in the other direction and wrapping the twisted part around the roll. I can’t describe it better than that, because I’m not very good at it. But Benny is!

The cupcakes were a big hit. Benny also made those Valentines where you take a photo of the kid holding her fist out, and then cut two little slits in the print and insert a lollipop.

Okay, on to this week! Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, strawberries, chips

Nothing to report. These February fruits are not great, but it’s so cold and bleak, I’m willing to grasp at strawberries. 

SUNDAY
Pizza

Nothing to report. 

MONDAY
Roast pork ribs, tater tots, asparagus

Crazy busy day with hours of driving and appointments, so I was pretty pleased to have this meal cooked in what we professionals “a twinkling.”

Pork ribs with salt and pepper under the boiler, turn once, boom. BBQ sauce from a bottle. Asparagus sautéed in a pan with some sesame oil and lemon wedges. 

TUESDAY
Paprika parmesan chicken with tomatoes and peppers, buttered noodles

Second time making this recipe, which takes a bit of chopping but is a one-pan dish with a simple but very tasty sauce.

 

Jump to Recipe

About half the family likes it, which is pretty good. It’s easy enough, and the chicken turns out very moist and full of flavor.

I love the bright colors for winter, and it’s important to make sure everyone knows you used TWO kinds of paprika. Two!! (If you have to pick one, go with the smoked one.)

As you can see, I crowded the pan.

It’s just what I do. It turned out fine; the chicken just didn’t get as crisp as it might have. Still delicious!

WEDNESDAY
Beef teriyaki stir fry with rice

One kid is very fond of stir fry, and every once in a while, we indulge her. It’s a sacrifice, but I’m willing to ask Damien to cut up a hunk of beef, and then when I get home, I start some rice cooking in the instant pot, sauté the sliced meat in a pan, chuck in some frozen vegetables, and then slop on some bottled sauce at the end.

I really like this teriyaki sauce: Veri Veri Teriyaki, although it’s a bit thin, so I added a little cornstarch while cooking.

I always ask myself if I like it just because it’s called “Soy Vay,” and I just don’t know. 

THURSDAY
Chicken quesadillas, beans and rice

Damien cooked the chicken in the morning, and I threw together some beans and rice and made the quesadillas. 

I didn’t take any pictures, but here is a beans and rice of ages past. 

Jump to Recipe

I snacked on so much cheese and chicken while cooking everyone’s quesadillas, I ended up not wanting one myself. I could actually eat beans and rice every day. Recipe card below. 

FRIDAY
Fish burgers, cole slaw

This will be tonight.

 

Jump to Recipe

Probably I should get chips or something. I got some soft rolls and some battered frozen fish and tartar sauce.

Oh, speaking of which, Lent is coming, and you need to know that Wendy’s cod sandwich is the best fish burger you can get, and if you’re looking for a really stinging penance, give up ordering Wendy’s cod sandwich.  No further questions at this time. 

One-pan paprika chicken with parmesan, tomatoes, and peppers

Bright, sweet, easy, tasty! Make with buttered noodles or hearty bread, or just by itself.

Ingredients

  • 6 lbs chicken parts with skin and bone
  • salt and pepper for sprinkling
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp minced garlic (probably a whole head)
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 3-4 pints cherry tomatoes (I used fancy tomatoes in various colors), halved
  • 4 sweet peppers (I used red, orange, yellow, and green), sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425

  2. In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, paprikas, and oregano, and toss with the chicken so it's coated

  3. Spread the chicken in a pan with a rim and sprinkle with salt.

  4. Add the tomatoes and peppers to the pan in between the pieces of chicken. If the pan is too crowded, spread everything out into a second pan. You want to leave room so it will roast a bit.

  5. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper and lightly drizzle with olive oil.

  6. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over everything.

  7. Roast for about 40-50 minutes until chicken is golden and a little crisp.

  8. Serve chicken, topped with parsley and a little pepper. Sprinkle a little extra cider vinegar on top if you like.

 

5 from 2 votes
Print

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. 

 

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. 

Beans and rice

A good side dish, a main course for meatless meals, or to serve inside carnitas, etc.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 15-oz cans red or black beans, drained
  • 1 20-oz can diced tomatoes with some of the juice
  • 1 diced jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook rice. Add rest of ingredients, adjusting spices to taste. If it's too dry, add more tomato juice. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 187: In which I make good choices and bad choices

I know I said I was ready to start cooking cold weather food, but this time, I mean it. Come for the honey chili acorn squash, homemade applesauce, and heavenly bacon tomato bisque, stay to feel better about the birthday cake you bought at Safeway. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Beer brats with onions, chips

The kids unexpectedly begged for beer brats with onions, and that could be arranged. Damien boiled them in beer and onions and then browned them up in a pan. For me, however, he bought a surprise steak, since I was feeling low. 

It helped!

SUNDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, chocolate cake

This was a birthday meal for Moe. Moe’s birthday is in May. 

Now, you may think it’s pathetic that we wouldn’t get around to celebrating a May birthday until October, but you are mistaken. That’s not pathetic! THIS CAKE IS PATHETIC! 

You will have to take my word for it that the theme was not “mangled remains of a once-proud city after a nuclear holocaust.” It really wasn’t. He is very into theater, so the theme was “comedy and tragedy,” and I made a comedy and tragedy mask with ribbons, and a bunch of olive leaves.

See, last time we made little garnishes out of melted chocolate, they turned out great.

What’s for supper? Vol. 144: Chocolate garnicht

It was easy, even. I don’t know what the hell happened this time. I guess maybe possibly I was rushing a bit. And also, it’s possible my confidence was a little shaky after the cake I had made last week, for Clara’s birthday. 

Now Clara, if you will recall, already had a huge blowout birthday in August when we went to Hadestown

A quick review of Hadestown, which you should sell a kidney to see

So I’m not saying I didn’t try to make a good cake, but after a birthday like that, I did feel less pressure to absolutely nail the cake part.

That being said, this was one garbage cake.

I had meant so bake it the night before, but it turns out I bought cake mix that requires egg whites, and we were out of eggs, and the quik-e-mart was closed, and there’s really no substitute for egg whites. So I asked Damien to bake it the next day while I was shopping. I couldn’t find the right pans, so I ended up giving him two round pans and one flower-shaped pans. 

In my head, it would look something like this:

A sort of grim, underworld nod to a wedding cake, topped with a glowing red blossom and dripping with shiny, dark chocolate. EASY ENOUGH, RIGHT?

So I set about fashioning a glowing red blossom out of fruit rolls and toothpicks, as one does. That part was actually not terrible, except that I got tired of feeling sticky, and didn’t make enough petals.

The inspiration:

And the execution:

To be fair, this was halfway through. It did end up looking a little better. A little.

Then the cake cracked a bit when it baked. That’s fine, that happens. But then, I decided to put the layers together without leveling them off. Why? Who can say? Maybe I suffered a mental injury while trying to fashion a blossom out of toothpicks and fruit rolls. Of course the unleveled cake cracked even more, and continued to crack, in a way that was no longer fine. So I broke up some wooden skewers so they’d be nice and splintery, and jammed them in to keep the layers together. 

But wait, it gets worse! Let’s talk about the chocolate ganache, which was going to rescue the whole wobbly mess by gracing it with a rich, glossy chocolate coating that dripped decadently down the sides.

I have never once in my life been able to make a chocolate ganache. It’s just beyond my capability. Doesn’t matter what recipe I use, what ingredients I splurge on. It never comes out. I’ve wrecked it so many times, and so consistently and so thoroughly, that we’re way beyond the point that there’s anything remotely admirable about trying again. There is a section in the DSM about people who still try to make a chocolate ganache with my ganache history. So naturally, that is what I tried.

You’ll never guess. It didn’t turn out.

It was grainy and soupy and bad. I slopped it on the cake anyway, hoping that a last-minute birthday miracle would make it magically coalesce into something edible. That did not come about. It did not come about, even though I helped it along by dumping a lot of gold sugar into the crack in an effort to make it look symbolic!

So.  That was what I had in my arsenal of cake confidence while approaching this other cake. Yeah, remember the other cake?

I didn’t mean for it to look like a photo you show to a cricket when threatening him about what you could do to his family if he doesn’t spill what he knows. I didn’t mean for it to be straight out of the “this is why you never go to sleep with a cell phone charging under your pillow. Poor Madyson now has a plastic bag where her jaw once was, and she wants you to look at this picture and think hard about your choices” file. It just turned out that way, all by itself.  

The good news is, there are no birthdays in November. 

MONDAY
Buffalo chicken salad

This actually tasted far better than it looks.  And yes, that is a sheet in the background. I was eating salad in bed. 

I wanted to make something like the salad I had at Wendy’s. I love Wendy’s salads. They are fresh and delicious, and let’s face it, sometimes you get a little surprise, especially if Pilar is working that day. 

I bought two bags of breaded chicken strips, one regular and one buffalo. I cooked those and cut them up and served them along with mixed greens and shredded pepper jack cheese, with buffalo ranch dressing and some of those crunchy fried onion things people put on that gross Thanksgiving string bean casserole. I thought it was very good! And of course extremely easy. The cheese didn’t really hit the spot, and I did mean to get tomatoes. I think maybe blue cheese next time. But there will be a next time for this salad.

TUESDAY
Pork ribs with applesauce, mashed squash, mashed potatoes

It’s edible squash season, motherfuckers.

I had the kids pick all the terrible apples they could reach from our terrible apple tree, Marvin.  We don’t do anything at all to take care of this tree, and the apples aren’t great for eating, but most of them are just a little spotty and weird, so fine for cooking. 

Well, some of them are terrifying. 

Doesn’t it look like it wished it could scream? This one didn’t go into the pot.

We also had an awful lot of bruised, dinged, maltreated apples left over from apple picking. 

I cut out all the bad spots, quartered them, and chucked them, peels and cores and all, into a big pot with a few inches of water, and set it to simmer with a loose lid. A few hours later, the apples were mushy and collapsed, and the kitchen smelled heavenly, and I suddenly remembered I had gotten rid of my food mill. So I was reduced to shoving the cooked apples through a strainer to get the peels, cores, and seeds out. Bah.

 I still stand by leaving the peels on when you cook the apples, for color and flavor, but if you don’t have a food mill, be smart and core them before cooking. Bah. What a stupid week. Anyway, I put the strained applesauce back into the pot and added a hunk of butter, some cinnamon, and some honey and let it cook down a little bit more. SO GOOD. There is nothing like warm, homemade applesauce.

I had two acorn squashes. I cut them in half and scooped them out, then put them in a pan in a 400 oven for about an hour, until the flesh was soft. Look how October it is:

Then I scooped it out, mashed it a bit, and added butter, honey, a little salt, and chili powder. I figured I was the only one who would eat it anyway.

I thought it was delicious! And yes, I was the only one who ate it. 

The pork ribs, I just sprinkled generously with salt and pepper on all side and put them in a 450 oven for about 25 minutes, turning once. This is the best way to make pork ribs. Fight me. 

Behold, my Salute to October:

WEDNESDAY
Meatball pizza

Aw yisss, leftover meatballs! I did not take a picture. Too busy eating meatball pizza.  

THURSDAY
Bacon tomato bisque, grilled cheese

This really is the soup of all soups. It takes even less skill than some soups, but it tastes both delicious and fancy. It is absolutely packed with flavor. I tweaked it a bit after last time I shared the recipe card (below). Bacon, garlic, onion, rosemary, tomato, and so creamy and rich. 

I also sprinkled the top of mine with some of those crunchy onion things we had left, and that was an excellent choice. 

I made a bunch of grilled cheese sandwiches with sourdough bread and American cheese, because dammit, I like American cheese. It melts good. I cooked them in the pan that the bacon, onions, and garlic had been cooked in. 

FRIDAY
I don’t know. I think I wrote spaghetti. 

***

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. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 164: Nailed it!

Hey, great, it’s snowing. It’s okay. It’s fine. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Pizza and birthday cake
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Poor Elijah. He keeps having his birthday during Lent. Some people put dry peas in their shoes, some subsist on nothing but dewdrops collected off the tombstone of St. Nicholas of Myra. Elijah gets terrible birthday cakes, and he’s a really good sport about it. He asked for Dragonball Z balls.

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I thought, “Ah, those gourmet lollipops would be perfect!” And they would have, but I couldn’t find any. So instead he got this:

They are made of rice krispie treats dipped in candy melt, and a lot of them fell apart when I dipped them, and the candy melt solidified faster than I expected. The kids helped by shrieking “NAILED IT!!!!”  Anyway, a cake was had, along with a multitude of pizzas, and the dragonblobs did have the right number of starblobs on them.
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SUNDAY
Boiled dinner
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Every year, I pretend I hate this meal, but I really love it. Well, this year, I changed things up by pretending to hate it, and then actually hating it. I blame the Irish.
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In other years, we’ve tried making other, more authentically Irish meals, and somehow we always return to boiling carrots.
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MONDAY
Egg, cheese, sausage bagel sandwiches
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I have no memory of Monday. Oh wait, yes I do! We had dozens and dozens of eggs in the house for weeks and weeks, so I didn’t buy eggs. Then Monday came along, and we had four eggs left. So Damien ran out to the gas station, and they had these lovely ones from a nearby farm:

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Fresh eggs are wonderful. Look at that yolk!
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Not gonna start keeping chickens, though. I’ve seen what happens.
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TUESDAY
Grilled chicken parmesan sandwiches, risotto, zeppolle
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Benny was in a play. She was an owl.

An owl who remembered all her lines! She discovered she likes talking into a microphone. That’s my girl.

Damien made a nice simple tomato sauce, and I roasted up a bunch of chicken breasts, which I sliced and served on rolls with fresh basil, provolone, and a good scoop of sauce.
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I also made some risotto, and man, it did not turn out great. I don’t even want to say why, but it was my fault and it was pretty stupid.
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HOWEVER, in the morning we made zeppole for the first time, for St. Joseph’s feast day, using this reasonably simply recipe. It’s important to dress correctly for this project.
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We’re pretty big St. Joseph fans around here. We started out piping the dough with a star tip, until it fell out.
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Then we just squirted it out of a bag; then we just went with spoonfuls. The last method actually turned out best. I had a feeling I’d be pushing my luck to make the cream custard filling from scratch, so I just got a bunch of instant vanilla pudding and piped that into the zeppole, then dusted it with powdered sugar.
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It was fun. We had fun. I ate a lot of zeppole. Yay St. Joseph!
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WEDNESDAY
Deli meat sandwich bake, asparagus
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Corrie and I worked together to roll out and stretch the dough over the pan for the bottom crust.


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We had a few friendly disputes over how to distribute the ham, but the cheeses and the salami and whatnot went fairly well. Then it came time to put the top crust on. She wanted to do it herself. As an awesome mom, I was willing to let her try, but I did want to start it off in the right spot. No go. She went immediately to “I NEVER WANT YOU TO BE MY MUDDER ANYMORE” and “THIS DOUGH IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME.”  I made a few repair attempts, suggesting cooperation and taking turns and not being an insanely ridiculous person for once, but I just got more screeching and gurgling and drama. So I stepped away, thinking I’d just let her burn herself out.
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Which she did! I did some work on my computer, and before long she climbed down off the stool and trotted away to the next room, where I soon heard her singing Moana songs to herself– something about her wish to be the puhfect daughter. Well pleased, I turned back to the pan to finish spreading out the dough.
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And . . . it was gone. She was sitting at the table with the entire ball of dough in her hand, just eating it.
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So the dough was not in great shape. But I tucked some leftover basil leaves in with the meat
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and I thought it was pretty, pretty good. You brush some beaten egg over the top and then sprinkle on poppy seeds or onion or whatever you have on hand (in my case, nothing), then bake covered, then uncovered, for about 35 minutes.
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You slice it into strips or squares, and it makes a nice yummy brunchy thing. We also had the first asparagus of the season, which I just sautéed in a little olive oil.
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THURSDAY
I dunno

Thursday, I took #1 son to the orgal surgeon. I actually meant “oral surgeon,” of course, but there is a certain poetry to that typo. The orgal surgeon is a strange, strange man, as they always are. He has a southern accent which I can’t quite shake the feeling is fake, and he makes the exact same jokes every time (we have a lot of teeth out). I don’t blame him for that, but they are pretty strange jokes to begin with. Anyway, I had gotten four hours of sleep, and then I was hanging out at the orgal surgeon, and I suddenly realized I was supposed to turn in a book review for a book that I . . . look, I was almost done reading it. I’m not on trial here! So what I’m trying to say is that, no matter what the menu board says, this was no time to whip up a new kind of marinade with hoisin sauce and shred stuff and make lettuce wraps with rice noodles. So Damien just broiled the chicken breasts, cooked up some fries, and washed off a bunch of snap peas. I heated up the leftover deli sandwich bakey thingy, and it was a perfectly good supper for the likes of us.
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FRIDAY
I guess pasta?
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Umph, just two recipe cards this week! Whatcha gonna do. I am feeling pretty okay because, as of this minute, I have nothing due. No articles, no blog posts, no reviews, no interviews, no speeches I’m supposed to be working on. Just the regular old existential dread, but that’s a long term project. Oh, and we haven’t done a podcast in such a long time. There it is, I guess. Also, it is snowing.

 

Instant Pot Risotto

Almost as good as stovetop risotto, and ten billion times easier. Makes about eight cups. 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups rice, raw
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • pepper
  • 1.5 cups grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Turn IP on sautee, add oil, and sautee the onion, garlic, salt, and sage until onions are soft.

  2. Add rice and butter and cook for five minutes or more, stirring constantly, until rice is mostly opaque and butter is melted.

  3. Press "cancel," add the broth and wine, and stir.

  4. Close the top, close valve, set to high pressure for 9 minutes.

  5. Release the pressure and carefully stir in the parmesan cheese and pepper. Add salt if necessary. 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 119: It is almost March.

Well, it’s February and everything is terrible. That’s my excuse for letting things languish around here. Someone spilled something on my computer again, and the quick and easy warranty process only took eleven steps and nine years to complete. Everyone is throwing up. Corrie is hallucinating sad gazebos in the heating vent, and won’t drink Pedialyte or breast milk, only tonic water (Schweppes). If I were in charge of the liturgical calendar, I would put Lent in a month where it wasn’t already so bloody obvious that everything will return dust, but what do I know. Anyway, soon it will be March. Right? Soon?

And, now that I have a computer again, we’ll have our podcasts up and running again asap. Thanks for your patience with that. We’ll also be transferring archives to iTunes and opening them up for non-subscribers, so stay tuned, you stay-tuners!

And now for the food.

SATURDAY
Cheeseburgers and chips

Husband makes good cheeseburgers.

SUNDAY
Pork banh mi, rice, spicy grilled pineapple

I’ve been thinking about banh mi forever, and the time was right. The recipe I used calls for beef, but pork is cheaper, and pork takes on more of the flavor. For this meal, I go around warning everyone that it smells like the Grim Reaper’s jock strap while it’s cooking, but the taste is really very good! This will demonstrate my marketing skills.

I took about four pounds of boneless pork loin, trimmed the fat, and sliced it as thin as I could. Then (this was actually Saturday night that I did this prep work) I put it in a ziplock bag with the marinade, which was:

2/3 cup fish sauce (this is where the “death crotch” smell comes in)
8 Tbs sugar
6 Tbs minced garlic
one onion, minced
a bunch of freshly-ground pepper

So this marinated about twenty hours in the fridge. I also pickled some vegetables ahead of time. I sliced about half a pound of carrots and two long, seedless cukes thin, and set them in jars with a mixture of water, white vinegar, and sugar. I wish I had added more sugar, and I kind of wish I had left the cukes unpickled. There were so many savory, spicy flavors, the sandwiches could have used more cooling.

Before dinner, I spread the meat and most of the marinade in a single layer and slid it right up under a very hot broiler. I turned the meat once so it got a little charred on the edges.

I toasted a bunch of sub rolls, and coarsely chopped a bunch of cilantro; and I mixed about a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce into a cup of mayonnaise. I also set out plain mayo, and some jarred jalapeno slices.

Sublime sandwiches. Just the best. You line the bread with mayo, pack it with pork, then stuff the pickled vegetables in the sides, and sprinkle cilantro over the top. If you do the prep work the night before, this meal comes together in a very short time.

I also made a bunch of white rice in my Instant Pot (affiliate link. I’ll make a small commission if you click through and buy one!), using the 1:1 method. (I took five cups of rice and rinsed it clean in a colander, then put them in the IP with five cups of water. Close the top, close the vent, and press the “rice” button. It automatically sets the time, and this rice comes out springy and a little sticky, which is how I prefer it for asian meals.)

The pineapple was pretty good, not excellent. I’ll try again in the summer, when we can use a real outdoor grill. I sliced two pineapples (does everyone know the easy way to process fresh pineapple?) into long spears, then tossed them with a sweet, spicy sauce made of 3/4 of a stick of melted butter, about half a cup of honey, and about a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce, and a little salt. Next time, I will use olive oil instead of butter, and maybe less honey.

I put them on a greased pan with drainage and put them up under the broiler while we were putting the sandwiches together. It took much longer than I expected for the pineapple to get singed — maybe twelve minutes, after I turned them once.

I liked the flavor a lot, and the slightly firey honey taste was a great accompaniment to the banh mi; but they got a little too soft during that cooking time. As I say, next time we’ll cook them over the coals. They were not bad cold the next day — almost candy-like. Weird, juicy candy.

The meal also made nice leftovers for lunch, with a bowl of rice topped with meat and veggies warmed up. Yum.

MONDAY
Beef barley soup, pesto beer bread

I diced an onion and about five carrots, then put them in the IP with about a tablespoon of minced garlic, some olive oil, salt, and pepper. I used the saute setting until they were a little soft, then added about a pound-and-a-half of cubed beef. When the beef was brown, I pressed “cancel,” then added two small cans of diced tomatoes with the juice, 3/4 of a pound of sliced mushrooms, a cup-and-a-half of red wine, and seven cups of beef broth. Then I added one of those little packets of mixed grains from Aldi, closed the lid, sealed the vent, and set it on high pressure for eleven minutes.

There is a “soup” button, but I’m too old to learn how to use it. Anyway, this turned out swell, and only got the one pot dirty. I left it on “stay warm” for the rest of the day.

I have had this little jar of pesto in the cabinet forever, so I decided to add it to this good old reliable beer bread recipe. I made two loaves. It was . . . okay. I guess I like pesto and I like beer bread, but they don’t do much for each other.

I mean, I ate it. I ate a lot of it.

TUESDAY
Fish tacos with guacamole, tortilla chips

Pretty guac, how I love thee. I could have eaten just guacamole for supper.  Four avocados coarsely chopped, about a cup of grape tomatoes, the juice of two limes, lots of salt, some chili powder and freshly-ground pepper, a few teaspoons of minced garlic, and maybe 1/3 cup of chopped cilantro. I only had jarred jalapenos, so I minced about 1/8 cup of them, and it worked out fine. I forgot onions, but didn’t really miss them. Zippy and good.

GUAC PIC

We also had shredded cabbage, sour cream, salsa, and lime wedges with frozen fish and flour tortillas.

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, tater tots

This was when the throwing really gathered speed.

THURSDAY
Chicken and salad, fresh croutons

Not everyone was sick, so we still needed food. I just doused the chicken in Italian salad dressing and shoved it under the broiler, sliced it, and served it with some bagged salad mix.

CHICKEN SALAD PIC

We had tons of bread left over from this and that, so I cut up a bunch of it into cubes, mixed it up with melted butter, salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder, and put it in a pan in a 300 oven for about forty minutes. Everybody likes croutons.

FRIDAY
Giant pancake and scrambled eggs

That’s what it says on the blackboard, anyway. We’ll see whose tummy is ready for that.

Oh, there was no food post last week, but I do have a few photos to share. The birthday girl went sledding with her friends, and then Elijah genially manned the hot chocolate bar when they got home.

Our hot chocolate recipe: For each mug of hot chocolate, you put into a heavy pot: one heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder and two heaping tablespoons of sugar, and stir it up with a little water. You heat this paste until the sugar melts a bit, and then slowly add the milk, plus a little vanilla if you like. I made two crock pots’ worth of hot chocolate, and the guests could choose whipped cream, marshmallows, and rainbow sprinkles.

Decorations were just paper snowflakes on threads, but I liked how the cake turned out. I frosted it with chocolate frosting, then laid a paper snowflake on it and used one of those squeeze sifters (affiliate link) to sift powdered sugar over it. Then I carefully pulled the paper off. Ta dah!

It would have been lovely as is, but the birthday girl requested little candy balls, so we added those on the edge. This stencil technique is great if you want a complicated design but have shaky hands. Whatever design you want, google that + silhouette, then print it out and cut it out carefully. Then go ahead with the frosting and sugar as above. Very dramatic, and almost no skill required.

I feel like there was something else I wanted to tell you, but now I forget. It is almost March, right?

What’s for supper? Vol. 113: Just pretty much all the food. All of it.

First a prayer request: My father is in the hospital, waiting for heart surgery. He’ll have a triple bypass, or possibly a quadruple bypass, on Tuesday. We’re very glad this surgery is available, and have high hopes he’ll start feeling better than he has in a long time once he’s recovered; but of course the recovery is long and hard, especially since he is 75 and has other medical issues. He lives alone, close to where my mother’s nursing home, but an hour or more away from all his children, so the logistics are a little daunting.
Thank you!

And now the food! We ate so much ridiculously good food this past week:

SATURDAY

Gosh, this seems like so long ago. Saturday we went ice skating and came home to have hot chocolate, popcorn, and grilled ham and cheese. Corrie was very very enthusiastic about skating and won all the races.

I did a lot of skating with Benny, until the moment came when I leaned too hard on the skating frame and it collapsed. Le sigh.

***

SUNDAY
New Year’s Eve. We pretty much ate all the food that is available to the known universe. 

Some friends sent a huge, spectacular hamper packed with luxurious treats, so we hauled out all the various tea sets you accumulate when you have eight daughters, and had a sort of rolling English tea party. Tragically, I forgot to take pictures of my own, but you must take my word for it that it was fancy beyond all reason:

If you don’t have extraordinarily generous friends who send you luxury hampers, I recommend getting some right away.

While everyone continued feasting and being fancy, my husband casually strolled into the kitchen to prepare, you know, a little sauteed scallops topped with shredded duck and Hollandaise sauce.This photo miserably fails to capture how rich and sumptuous this dish is.

If you don’t have a husband who likes to casually stroll into the kitchen and make your dreams come true, I recommend getting one right away.

This dish is not an obvious combination of flavors, but it makes so much sense once you’re shoveling it into your mouth.I thought duck would be more or less like dark turkey meat, but it’s really almost closer to lamb. So good. A wonderful meal for a special treat. (Aldi has both duck and scallops on sale every so often!)

And now the sushi! Yes, we had a sushi party on the same day as our English tea and our duckstravaganza. It made sense at the time.

First, I bought good rice and several packages of nori, soy sauce, rice vinegar, wasabi, pickled ginger, a little jar of roe, tuna steaks that were frozen at sea, some seared and seasoned tuna, canned salmon for the sissies, fake crab legs, toasted sesame seeds, avocados, mangos, carrots, cucumbers, and chop sticks, which we forgot to use.

I bought a sack of Nishiki rice, which is just gorgeous, like mother of pearl. It is expensive, but definitely worth it for a treat. I used the sushi rice recipe in this post (after skimming, with growing horror, through numerous other recipes that discussed whether it was more auspicious to rinse the rice 54 or 128 times before cooking), except I didn’t use quite that much salt. I cooked six cups of raw rice in the Instant Pot, which makes good sticky rice.

While the rice was cooking, I peeled the carrots into strips and pickled them, and we stirred some hot sauce into some mayo, and sliced the tuna as thin as I could, and the kids helped prep the avocados, mangoes, and cucumbers. It was all so lovely.

Now that I have ramekins, I use them all the time. Ramekins!

When the rice was done, I carefully sprinkled the vinegar mixture over it (I sextupled the recipe, but didn’t need that much) and then Benny’s moment of glory came: She used her special gold lace fan to vigorously fan the rice while I carefully turned it:

I guess you fan it to evaporate the vinegar, so the rice takes on the flavor without getting mushy. It worked!

We couldn’t find the rolling mat, so we opted for sushi cones, where you break a panel of nori in half, set the rice and fillings on one side, and roll it up diagonally. It took a while to get the hang of it, and they were not dainty, but on the other hand, NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM.

We kept the rice covered while everyone took turns building their sushi cones.  A few variations:

It was fantastic. Just about everyone found some combination to their liking. Some of the kids skipped the nori altogether, and made deconstructed sushi; some of them just used rice and vegetables; some of them (okay, me) just parked themselves in front of the tray and systematically worked through eleven different combinations.

We’re doing this every New Year’s Eve from now on. What ingredients would you add?

***

MONDAY
Birthday! Baby New Year turned twelve and requested calzones. 

To make twelve calzones, I used three balls pizza dough divided into fourths, then made the cheese filling (this was more than enough):

32 oz ricotta
3-4 cups shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup parmesan
1 Tbs garlic powder
2 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

I stretched the dough portions into the size of small plates, then added a ball of cheese mixture, plus whatever fillings were requested. I folded the dough over and pinched the ends tightly shut, then pressed the calzone to spread out the filling evenly.

We greased two baking trays with shortening and sprinkled them with corn meal, laid the calzones on (with a few inches in between, as they puff up), and brushed the with egg yolk beaten with a little water.

I baked them at 450 for — okay, I don’t remember how long. Maybe 15 minutes?

 

Then we served them with ramekins (ramekins!) of hot marinara sauce for dipping.

We made this one-bowl chocolate cake recipe. I didn’t taste it, as chocolate is a huge migraine trigger, but it looked pretty good. Decorations courtesy of the 90% off shelf after Halloween. I’m a saver.

We made chocolate frosting with a recipe on the side of the cocoa powder can. I think it was just shortening (we had run out of butter!), chocolate, and powdered sugar.

My son took a few pictures of his sister blowing out her candles, and then Google helpfully and spontaneously merged them into this horrifying glimpse into the spirit realm of birthdays:

I don’t want to know what that creature wished for.

***

TUESDAY
Chicken enchiladas and beans and rice

One of the college girls offered to make chicken enchiladas before she flies away again. They were so good. She used boneless chicken thighs with Pioneer Woman’s recipe,   and made thirty nice enchilada longbois, some red and some green.

I made some quickie beans and rice. Cooked up a few cups of rice and added a can of black beans and a can of chili kidney beans, drained, a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes, some jarred jalapenos, and a bunch of cumin, chili powder, and salt.

***

WEDNESDAY
Pork ramen

We just had this, but I like it. I browned up some boneless pork ribs in olive oil, then sliced them thin, and then I cooked up some frozen stir fry veggies in the pork pan. I made a dozen or so soft-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot. The trick is to do a quick release after cooking, then dunk them in ice water, and then shells slide right off, almost in one piece. Not necessarily easier than using the stove, but a good trick if the stove is in use or if you really want unblemished whites.

 

I served a big pot of cheap ramen and let people choose pork, veggies, and eggs, plus sesame seeds, hot sauce, soy sauce, and chopped scallions.

Do you make fancy ramen? What do you add? I like this meal, but would like some more variety in the add-ins.

***

THURSDAY
French toast?

I am not sure. We had a pretty good storm going, and school was cancelled, but we got the news in the morning that my dad was going to need heart surgery, and was going to meet with the surgeons on this day.

So Damien and I rolled slowly north through the storm to the hospital while the kids managed at home. We had a good visit (the only thing my father requested was The Odyssey, Fagles translation) and I like the surgeon.

We thought we’d have to spend the night, but the snow slowed down toward evening, so we pushed ahead to get home, stopping only for Five Guys, because where else would you go on your way home from a visit to the cardiology wing?

I know this isn’t the popular opinion, but while their fries were quite good, I thought the burgers were just okay. The meat was kind of mealy, and the buns were just too greasy to be enjoyable. Huge portions, though. You can see that I am not complaining.

Then we trundled the rest of the way home through the last of the storm, and Damien installed me on the couch with a lot of red wine and The Big Lebowski. 

***

FRIDAY
I think we are having beef stew.

We’ll say an extra decade of the rosary because it’s Friday, but I have this big hunk of beef going unheeded in the fridge, and it has been quite a week.

QUITE A WEEK. Here is a picture of my dad from this summer, talking (possibly about the Declaration of Independence) with my brother Joe:

My father’s name is Phil, if you’d care to mention him in your prayers! Thank you.

What’s for supper? Vol. 94: Meat the rainbow!

Sorry this post is so long. I just can’t seem to stop talking.

Quick question: Do the photos load up more slowly or look different from usual? I’m trying a slightly different thing. Let me know!

On to the food.

SATURDAY
Birthday party!

It was a beach party, so of course the day started with thunder and downpours. But it cleared up! The rain just chased all the cowards away, so we had the place to ourselves by party time.

It was sort of a Moana party, so we cleaned out the last of the luau decorations and leis from the dollar store. The cake was the Heart of Te Fiti:

Ehh, close enough. If we needed it to restore the life to our island, I would have looked harder for the green sugar.

I tried Wilton food color spray (affiliate link, certified Kosher, not for sale in Catalina Island. Now you know) for the first time. I was terrified of making it like amateurish graffiti, so I didn’t use enough. Will probably try this stuff again if I need to do a sunset cake or an underwater effect. It smelled like chicken noodle soup, though.

I honestly can’t remember what we had for supper. Maybe burgers.

***

SUNDAY
Kids had hot dogs, chips, strawberries and blueberries; we had steak

What happened, see, was we are planning to take the kids to a giant water-and-amusement park this weekend, so we felt okay skipping the county fair this year. But then I had a sudden thought. What if we just went ourselves? 

We do have happy times at the fair, but it’s so exhausting and stressful with a crowd of kids. Without them, there would be no bracelets that cost a million dollars, no emotional agony as one kid sorely regrets squandering his One Food Treat on fried dough instead of cotton candy, no sunburned babies, no panic when kids wander away to check out the goats, no grousing, no exhausted toddlers, no “sorry, you’re still not tall enough to ride this ride,” no throwing up, no dehydration, etc.

None of this:

Just fun! Fun fun fun!

So off we went, and . . . very quickly ran out of things to do. I got some fried pickles. We pretended to consider buying a piglet. We went on the Tilt-a-Whirl, and that was nice, but then Pharaoh’s Fury was horrible. HORRIBLE. Just plain scary, with no delightful terror or exquisite tingle of fear. We just both felt like we were going to die the whole time, which we were, and it went on and on and on as death whistled past our ears and everything familiar and safe careened far, far away. When it was finally over, we staggered over to a bench and just sat there wobbling for a while. Then we gave our tickets to some kid and went to Chili’s.

***

MONDAY
Cilantro lime chicken, rice

A new-to-me recipe from Damn Delicious. It’s supposed to be for the slow cooker, but Fisher quantities didn’t fit in one Crock Pot, and I feel like the Instant Pot slow cooker isn’t hot enough.

I took a “before” picture because it was so pretty, and I wasn’t sure what it would look like cooked:

So I started it out in the IP for a few hours, then put it on high pressure manual for five minutes. I added a little water, because I wasn’t sure if there was enough liquid for the IP, but it would have been better without; it was a little soupy. I shredded the chicken easily with a fork and served it over white rice or wrapped in tortillas.

It was a good combination of flavors and textures, subject to lots of variation. Will definitely make again. Damn Delicious bills this as a make-ahead freezer meal, because you just prep everything and then throw it into the pot all together, and that’s it.

I know it’s tiresome, but it really is true that fresh ingredients make food so much better. Some days I feel very bitter about going to the trouble of those extra steps (usually because I forgot to buy the quickie version), but I’m always glad I did it when it’s time to eat. Fresh lime juice, fresh cilantro, fresh garlic, yaaas. I did use frozen corn, and it was snappy and flavorful.

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TUESDAY
Deconstructed pork shish kabob, watermelon

Bone-in pork picnic was super cheap, so I bought two, for maybe seven pounds total. I cut the meat off the bone, trimmed the fat, and cubed it, then mixed it up with four sweet peppers, about 16 ounces of halved mushrooms, two red onions, and a few cups of marinade. All the food was cut to the size you’d want for threading it on a skewer.

The marinade: olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes.

I didn’t have time to let it marinate, but just spread it in a single layer on my two giant sheet pans (which I continue to love. We’ve put them through their paces and they have not warped a bit)

and put them under a hot broiler (one pan at a time, so they could get direct heat) until it was blackened.

Everyone loved it. It wasn’t quite the same as food cooked on the grill, because what is? But it was still delicious.

Definitely making this again. You could easily use bottled Italian dressing for the marinade. Although [irritating ticking noise made with my cheek] fresh ingredients, ya know.

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WEDNESDAY
Kids had fish tacos, we had Chinese

Our plan was to ditch the kids again (because it’s summer! Adults should have fun in summer, too!) and I’d meet my husband at his office an hour away, and we’d have Indian take-out on a blanket for an outdoor Bollywood movie.

But I had only cleared half my schedule, and realized I’d be a country mouse fighting rush-hour traffic in the city, and then we’d have to go home in separate cars at the end of the night. Too much like dorm life with curfews! So we ditched the kids anyway, and he taught me how to drive stick shift in a parking lot. Our last stick shift lesson was almost twenty years ago. This one went better than the last time, in the same way that . . . well, you’ll just have to supply your own joke about something that was a miserable disaster the first time, but then was fine the second time. Then we got Chinese food (I had hot and sour soup, a dragon roll, and a silly drink called a Fog Cutter) and a little walk and a little drive in the dark. I do love that man.

And I love having kids who can put together a meal at home! They cooked, ate, cleaned up, changed the baby, and organized tooth brushing before we got back. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. All you need is five teenagers.

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THURSDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, hot pretzels

I was completely wiped out by dinner time, so I asked the kids to deal with it. It seems I forgot to buy extra bread for sandwiches, so dinner was on the feeble side. Oh, well. We were supposed to have string beans from the garden, but nobody felt like picking them except for the really incompetent ones.

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FRIDAY
I think spaghetti.

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And it’s time to start thinking about last hurrah of summer meals! Or maybe special eclipse meals. Or Perseid meals. Whatcha got?