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
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp 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 and give each one several diagonal slashes with a sharp knife. This will allow the loaves to rise without exploding.

  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. Put the pans in the oven and throw some ice cubes in or spray some water in with a mister, and close the oven quickly, to give it 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.

 

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. 196: CAKE OR PIE?

Merry Christmas! Merry merry Christmas! I hope you are still celebrating the season by finding stray candy canes in the couch cushions, and I hope some of them are the good rainbow kind.

I don’t seem to have done a food post last week, so before we get to Christmas ridiculousness, here are a few of the more notable things we had:

Harvest chicken salad, which I thought was delicious. 

It was greens with  . . . listen, I had kale for mine. I really like kale. I don’t know why people have to act like it’s going to refurbish your entire immune system, remove generational curses, and restore the childhood enamel to all your molars; but I also don’t know why people have to act like it’s some kind of undigestible, grotesque torture food. It’s just got a nice ribbony texture and a pleasant, slightly sweet flavor. It’s just a kind of salad guys, yeesh. Now if you want to talk about frisee lettuce, there is some nasty, bitter stuff that should not be ingested. Ptui. 

So over the kale, I had roasted chicken breast, bacon, chopped dates, chopped pecans, green apples, feta cheese, and a honey mustard dressing. Very tasty.

I like to fill the house with the heavenly aroma of frying bacon, and then chop it up for salad. It reminds the kids I have the power of life and death over them. 

I also made a meal that was sort of Thanksgiving But With Pork, with pork chops, stuffing, mashed butternut squash, and cranberry sauce. I always feel like Thanksgiving is so exhausting, I don’t fully appreciate the stuffing, so I wanted some more stuffing, with plenty of butter, mushrooms, onions, celery, and of course butter. Sidenote: Due to shoddy work ethics among textile workers, my pants are all tight. 

This was the day I launched into December’s rendition of that wonderful song “You People Don’t Appreciate What I Do For You,” which had enough choruses to last me right up until Christmas. I did shut up eventually, but I feel like I could start again at any moment. 

Oh, and Benny had a birthday party and I made her this Starfire cake, which pleased her:

For a snacktivity, I gave the party guests a bunch of fruits and veggies, soft cheeses, nutella, etc, and they made little bugs. These kids are 8 years old, which is apparently the perfect age for this activity. They had such a good time. 

As long as I’m dumping all the food pictures, at some point we had a snow day and seized the opportunity to make buckeyes:

We only had time to make the peanut butter balls and freeze them, to be dipped in melted chocolate later. We still have not dipped them in chocolate. They are still in the freezer. Many of my kids thought buckeyes are supposed to be eaten frozen, which will tell you how often we get to this stage and then stall out. 

Oh, I also made a ton of chocolate pretzel snacks for the kids’ school party. I have become completely resigned to the fact that I just don’t make good cookies, at all, so this is fine. You just put a Hershey’s Kiss on a pretzel, put it in the oven for a few minutes, and then press an M&M into it, then freeze it. 

I guess that’s really all we had that was interesting. There was some kind of stew I remember eating, but that was 400 years ago. Onward. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Steak, chips

I misread the flyer and thought it was some kind of chuck roast on sale, so I planned sandwiches or whatever. To my delight, it turned out to be steak for $1.99 a pound! I bought so many pounds. Damien seasoned it heavily and broiled it in the oven. Corrie said, “The red part is the good part!” and I ogree. 

We all got to confession on Saturday, so that was a relief, although I must say that was the most misbegotten travesty of a confession line I’ve ever seen. Nobody knew where to go and everyone was being so terrible! In the confession line! Why can’t they just put a sign? 

SUNDAY
Ham, mashed potatoes, peas

This meal was half convenience, half wish fulfillment. Benny and Corrie consider this to be the ideal meal, and who can blame them? It was also very easy to set up ahead of time and eat when we got home late from the musical of A Christmas Carol, in which Moe was Bob Crachit. Moe did great. I’m not gonna lie, it was kind of a weird production. I did not expect the Ghost of Christmas Present to go into a razzle dazzle soft shoe number with a chorus line of sexy puddings, but, you know what, this paragraph is like a gift that you think is going to be a fun cool robot, but it’s actually a STEM kit that you have to put together yourself. Acting. Ham. You put it together, kid; Mama needs more coffee.

Sunday was also the first night of Hanukkah. We’ve been lighting the candles and saying the prayers, but have postponed latkes and other more elaborate fun until after Christmas. 

MONDAY
Pizza

So at some point in December, I promised two of my daughters that I’d take them out dress shopping. On Monday, I remembered about one of them. (I didn’t remember the other one until we were getting ready for Christmas Mass and she reminded me that I never did take her dress shopping. She also reminded me that she had reminded me several times throughout the month. I am sorry. I am sorry about many things.) So we went to . . . .seven stores. And found a dress! It was a nice dress. Damien made the pizzas, and they were good. 

I think it was Monday that we did a final gift reconciliation survey and discovered that we had screwed the pooch and given one kid something that was on her sister’s list. So Damien did the one thing he swore he wouldn’t do this year: He went to GameStop. Greater love hath etc. etc. It all worked out in the end.

Also on Tuesday we finally got the tree lights up. We started putting lights up before Thanksgiving, because it’s so freaking dark and nobody likes that. I’ve been gradually adding strands, and by Christmas eve, the general theme was “LOOKIT ALL THE LIGHTS.” 

TUESDAY
Deli sandwiches, fries, shrimp cocktail, White Russians

At some point during the day, I had decided it was Very Important to have new homemade decorations for the tree, so I sliced up a bunch of lemons and clementines and put them in a 170 oven to dry for several hours.

Promising, right? They smelled great, and I ran out to the store for miscellaneous whatnot and also the food items for the St. Vincent de Paul giving tree that I had completely forgotten about. I also lost the tags, so I grabbed a big bunch of stuff that I would have wanted when I was poor. I also for some reason promised Corrie a new dress, which we miraculously found at Walmart. It was a ridiculous Anna dress with a little tulle cape and she looked both regal and puffy, which she does every day. So of course I forgot the citrus slices were in the oven, and most of them burned, especially the lemons.

This is why you come to this site: So I can go, “Look at my burned lemons!” and you can go, “This is why I come to this site.” I did salvage a few of the orange slices and made some dubious items with embroidery thread, ribbons, beads, and star anise. 

Sometimes you finish stuff just so you can say you freaking finished something for once.

That evening, we decorated the tree. Actually Damien told me to go lie down, and the kids decorated the tree while singing “Monster Mash.” Works for me. We went to the 10 PM Mass (they don’t have midnight Mass in our area), and to be honest I spent most of it crying because apparently that’s what I do now. Here we are with our goons:

Yes, this is the best picture of the lot. No, Corrie was not sleepy. FAR FROM IT.

But we did pack them off to bed eventually and did all the final preparations

and then collapsed. 

WEDNESDAY
CHRISTMAS!

Our traditional Christmas breakfast is eight pounds of bacon, dozens and dozens of cinnamon buns, grapes and cherries, eggnog, and orange juice. 

I made Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls earlier in the week and froze them, then defrosted them overnight in the fridge. I made so many rolls that I baked the second batch for lunch and made some more juice and we started all over again. 

For dinner . . . Well.  We have been ordering a pu pu platter for 15 from the restaurant down the road for something like 11 years. Never any problem. But hours after we placed this year’s order, shortly before we were supposed to pick it up, they called us and said there had been some miscommunication between the front desk and the kitchen and they couldn’t accommodate us! Hate speech!!!  They said that they could only take orders for pu pu platters for five. Damien asked if three of us could call and order pu pu platters for five, and the poor woman mumbled that it was “a gray area.” I have no idea what kind of big trouble was going on in that little Chinese restaurant, but we shook the dust from our feet and heroically called the other Chinese restaurant down the other street, and ordered a pu pu platter for 15. I think we squeaked in just under the wire. When we came in to pick up the food, half the staff was close to hysteria, and the other half was all in. A family came in after us and the waitress screamed, “NO! NO COME IN! NO ROOM!” and flapped a stack of styrofoam takeout trays at them until they ran away.

But we were the lucky ones, and we collected our fragrant bags and left. It turns out this particular restaurant doesn’t consider egg rolls to be part of a pu pu platter, but it was still good. This meal fills my heart with gratitude for a family that would really, truly rather have Chinese takeout than an elaborate homemade feast. 

Christmas day was just wonderful. Everyone was happy, everyone was nice, everyone got along. It was great. The worst thing that happened was that one kid got a Godzilla toy that he already had, but luckily his parents are so insane, they had a spare Godzilla present in their bedroom just in case, to save the day. Here is a bit of Christmas morning, in which we fulfilled the sacred ancient ritual of Cake or Pie? (You will want the sound on.)

I could explain it, but I don’t think you’d come away knowing any more than you do right now. It’s my favorite part of Christmas morning. 

THURSDAY
There were many, many leftovers from the day before, so I made a pot of rice and Damien picked up some egg rolls and sushi from the supermarket and we did it all again. 

FRIDAY

I honestly don’t know what we’re having for supper today. We do have some crackers and mascarpone, smoked salmon, and caviar that I somehow thought we’d have room for on Christmas day, but we did not. We’re still drowning in cinnamon buns, and I vastly overestimated how much eggnog twelve people could ingest.

It’s a good thing that, as Catholics, we understand that the main point of Christmas is eating. I think we nailed it. 

Ooh, maybe we’ll have latkes tonight. 

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. 

***

4 from 1 vote
Print

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. 147: Kimchwho?

When I sat down to plan my weekly menu, I looked through all my recipe emails, supermarket flyers, my bank account, and my calendar.

They all said in chorus: You will be eating a lot of chips and frozen food this week. And so it came to pass.

SATURDAY
Hamburgers and chips

That is what we had. Not even the pretense of a vegetable.

Oh, I forgot, though, I have a pretty cake to show you! This was Friday, and I was pooped. I had finished two essays, sent off invoices, did an interview, prepped dinner and did not strangle the toddler, even she was super asking for it.  Time to go! As I grabbed up my keys to launch into afternoon errands before I could go home and collapse, I suddenly realized . . .

I had to do another interview and make a birthday cake.

The sound that escaped the gates of my teeth was not a happy sound.

But I made my excuses for the interview, filled my pockets with fruit snacks, dragged the toddler where she needed to be dragged, and made all my stops, including buying cake stuff. (Just a box cake and a tub of icing. I am not a masochist.) Got that thing baked, cooled, frosted, and decided it was going to be an autumn tree cake. Not well-thought-out, but look! It’s bright!

The leaves are hard candy that was smashed, melted into thin sheets, cooled, and re-smashed.

I put waxed paper on a pan and sprayed it with cooking spray. Then I put butterscotch and cinnamon hard candies in bags (double bags, because the seams break) and smashed them with a can, because I couldn’t find a hammer. Then I spread the pulverized candy in the pan and put it in a 250 oven for . . . sorry, I don’t know how long. Maybe 20 minutes, until it was melted. I let it cool, then snapped it into jagged little bits for leaves. It would have been better if I had had more colors and had let them mix more. I also sprinkled little red balls and gold sugar over it to give it more texture. This actually works better with Jolly Ranchers, but they weren’t in the colors I wanted.

I have used this technique for a campfire cake

I think I may have shared these cake pictures before, actually. Oh well. I have also made some cakes with sugar glass, which I made from scratch, but now I’m wondering if I could just use those terrible clear minty hard candies and save a lot of work. Anyway, kids are always impressed. Here is a Frozen cake, with sugar “ice”:

and a “broken glass” cake, with food coloring blood:

We also use crushed and melted hard candy for stained glass cookies, very pretty.

and — ooh, this is an old picture! That baby is Benny — for  a”make your own lollipop” party activity.

 

SUNDAY
Sausage subs with onion and pepper, onion rings, ghost pops

Sunday is usually the day I’ll make a more complicated meal, but we went apple picking after Mass. You think I’m going to have a ton of apple recipes now, but no. The apples were kinda spotty and weird. But there was a horse!!!!!!!!!!

Knowing we’d be home late, I opted for an easy and crowd-pleasing dinner. Lot of sweet Italian sausages browned up and cut lengthwise, lots of onions and green peppers sauteéd in olive oil, served on rolls with pasta sauce and parmesan. Frozen onion rings.

I had the older kids supervise the younger kids to make rice krispie ghost pops.

This picture kills me. Look at Benny’s face. Look at Corrie’s ghost’s face.

Hee hee.

It was a kit that came with ghost-shaped molds, icing, and sticks, but it would be pretty easy to make these without a kit, she said while lying on the couch and telling other people what to do. Pretty easy indeed.

MONDAY
Hot dogs and fries

I don’t remember Monday. I never remember Mondays. I think there was a cross country meet. I think it rained and froze and the morning glories died. I think I cleaned out a closet and found what was making that dead mouse smell (a dead mouse).

TUESDAY
Chicken burgers and chips

There was a concert on Tuesday. I liked it, and no one was beatboxing, so I didn’t have to say “boo-urns” under my breath while I clapped.

WEDNESDAY
Greek chicken salad with toasted pita

Wednesday was a bit less busy, so I bestirred myself a bit for supper. I coated some chicken breasts with olive oil, and put on plenty of salt and pepper, garlic powder, and dried basil and oregano so they were really crusty with seasonings, then roasted and sliced them, and served that over salad with various olives, feta cheese, cukes, grape tomatoes, diced red onions, and hummus.

I also made up a batch of yogurt sauce with Greek yogurt, lemon juice, minced garlic, and salt, and I cut pita bread into triangles and toasted it in the oven with olive oil, garlic powder, and salt.

Toasted, salty, garlicky pita bread triangles, with crunchy tips and warm, chewy insides are way more delicious than they have any right to be.

Although if you put olive oil, salt, and garlic powder on dead leaves and toasted them, I’d probably eat that, too.

THURSDAY
Korean beef tacos with kimchi and Sriracha mayo, and rice

Bit of a chance here. I tried a new recipe from Damn Delicious. Much of the family likes the Korean Beef Bowl recipe, and this beef is basically that, but not quite as sweet. I cooked it in the morning and then put it in the crock pot for the rest of the day.

Okay, so, kimchi. I’ve never had kimchi before, but have long enjoyed a sort of low-simmering curiosity about it. I didn’t think most of the family would like it, so it didn’t seem worth making myself; so I bought a jar. I was a little alarmed at the warning on the cap:

Hm, bulge. My mother had always regaled us with horrible stories of people whose cans of lima beans were bulging, but they ate them anyway, and then they had to have their legs amputated or something. If you even smell it, it could kill you! Your eyeballs would go bursting out of your skull with a sickening pop! Or something. I wasn’t really listening, because I didn’t like lima beans at the time. Anyway, this jar was definitely bulging. Sure, it said it was supposed to be, but what if it was intentionally bulging and botulism bulging? How would I know?

I figured I would taste a little bit, and if I died, well, at least I would die knowing what kimchi tastes like. So I leaned carefully over the sink, draped a napkin over the lid as suggested, and twisted as hard as I could . . .

even harder . . .

sheesh, hard lid to get off . . .

. . . GRRRRRRRRR . . . . .

. . . RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

–and then KABLAMMO! The cabbage came surging out like a living thing! Like the violent urgency of life itself! I’m telling you, this kimchi needed a Rite of Spring soundtrack!

It also got on my shirt, bleh.

So I sauteéd it up with some sugar in a pan, and we had tortillas with beef, caramelized (okay, it didn’t really caramelize. It never really caramelizes) kimchi, mayonnaise with Sriracha stirred in, and a bunch of cilantro and fresh limes. It was . . . a little challenging. It was sort of like when an Afro-Cuban bembé comes on the radio and you’re like, “Oh, this is neat! This is so — wait — it’s — what? — help!” because you really want to dance to it, but you’re just too damn white. What I’m trying to say is, I liked it, but I also only ate one.

Actually, I made a bunch of rice, and I had extra rice with lime juice and kimchi. I’m like Area Grandmother. Very familiar with rice, thanks.

FRIDAY
Tuna boats

So I went to my new spiritual director and he asked how I was, and I said I was pretty good, and he said, “Oh, we won’t be needing these today!” and he jokingly took the tissues away, but then I cried anyway. And that’s what kind of food blog this is. Natural bubbling and pressure. Just lay a napkin over the top, it’s fine.

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. 103: Kitten pie, Mr. Tweedy

Sad story, short version: I was sitting in the bathroom, half-watching Corrie paddle around in the tub, half-writing something or other. Enter the kitten, who strolls in placidly, sniffs at my feet, checks out a little toothpaste smear on the cabinet, and then propels himself into my lap with the force of a rocket and anchors himself to my thigh with his claws. I jumped up, knocked over my seltzer, and killed my laptop dead dead dead.

I tried putting it in rice for 48 hours. No dice. Maybe I should have put it in dice.

Here is the kitten, by the way. I KNOW. He’s very cute.

“Please, please, master, don’t make me into pie! I’ll be ever so good!”
We’ll see, cat. We’ll see.

We’re working on getting a replacement computer. We have probably fourteen internet-enabled devices in this house, but I can’t get any of them to work well with WordPress or uploading images, and the hilarious podcast we recorded, using a new program on my husband’s notebook? It turned out it wasn’t recording. I’m setting up as much as I can on the weekend, and hoping it won’t be long before I get a replacement.

But food still fooded! Here is what we ate last week:

FRIDAY
Birthday party!

I think we probably had pizza. This was so, so long ago. I made my first and last gorgon cake

and magically transformed the dining room into ancient Macedonia by . . . tacking some leaves up.

Look, it was short notice. It definitely looked different from how it usually looks.

***

SATURDAY
Fish tacos

I forgot to buy limes, and I did buy cilantro, but I forgot to serve it. Oh well. Batter fried fish fillets on flour tortillas with salsa, sour cream, shredded cabbage, and sliced avocado. Still quite good.

***

SUNDAY
Italian Food in the Middle of October Day!

Suppli, pork ragù with fettucine, bruschetta with basil, tomatoes, and provolone, and many kinds of olives; garlic bread, pears with prosciutto, and cannoli with shaved chocolate and cherries, and lemon ices.

We briefly considered salad, but only briefly.

My husband used the fabulous Deadspin recipe for pork ragù.

This has milk in it, not tons of tomato, surprising carrots, and a kind of meaty fluffiness that you really have to experience to understand.

Here is my suppli recipe, which I have updated to include information on how many suppli you will actually end up with. I made thirty suppli the size of goose eggs, and we froze a dozen of them.

If our family keeps shrinking like this, we won’t even be able to drain an entire lake dry by each taking one little lap of water with our little pink tongues. Mew mew!

Well, they turned out quite lovely. I didn’t crowd them in the pot or rush to take them out, so they held their shape. Refrigerating the risotto is vital.

Nice and melty on the inside? This is why they’re sometimes called “suppli al telefono”: because the cheese looks like telephone wires.

I have been to Italy, and their telephone wires look very much like that.

I didn’t even try to find empty cannoli shells this year. I got some of those anise pizzelle waffle cookies and topped them with cheese filling, then shaved chocolate and a maraschino cherry. I used about 32 oz. of whole fat ricotta cheese, maybe 3/4 cup of powdered sugar, and a tablespoon or more of vanilla extract. You don’t want it too sweet.

Well, the food was fantastic. As you may have noticed, the photos get worse as the food gets better. So we’ll close with a day-after shot of the cat eating the cannoli my husband was saving for later.

And that’s how it goes.

***

MONDAY
Hot dogs? I think?

I think I put blue cheese and buffalo sauce on mine. I can never decide if it’s pretentious to write “bleu cheese” instead of “blue cheese,” so I alternate.

***

TUESDAY
Meatloaf, roast red potatoes, salad

I used dear old Fannie Farmer’s meatloaf recipe, and then vandalized the loaves with a lot of ketchup. Nobody wants to admit that they like eating chewy, hot ketchup varnish, but they do, they do.

I put things in the potatoes. Come on, you know how to make potatoes. Oil and spices, hot. Kinda burnt, oh well.

***

WEDNESDAY
Cuban sandwiches, cheez puffs

They lost the valve to my Instant Pot again, so I was reduced to cooking the pork in the oven like an animal. I forgot to get some of that nice Mojo marinade, too, so I just put some frickin spices on it and put in a shallow pan, fat up, at 425 for maybe 35 minutes.

Then I ate all the fat. You think this is disgusting, and I’m not saying it wasn’t, but it was also crisp, golden, savory, and sizzling, and some people’s destinies look like that.

I had some amazing sourdough bread from Aldi, and made ten enormous sandwiches with mustard, Swiss cheese top and bottom, sliced pork (I cooked it in the morning, then sliced and heated it in the microwave in the evening), sliced ham, and sliced pickles.This is one of those sandwiches that you lean into while cooking it, as well as while eating it. I put them in the oven for a bit to make sure the cheese was all melted.

It was. 

***

THURSDAY
Spicy pork with vegetables and rice

I had a little gochujang in the house, so I mixed it up with the other stuff I happened to have, which was a little soy sauce, a little sugar, and a lot of maple syrup. And garlic, of course. I will let myself run out of arms and legs before I run out of garlic.

I cut the pork into little nuggets and let it marinate all day, then cooked it up in a shallow pan with the sauce. I heated up frozen veg in the microwave and added that to the meat, and served it over rice. I don’t know why I’m explaining all this. You cook the thing. You eat the thing. It was fine.

***

FRIDAY
Penne with jarred sauce

My husband came home late and lightly sauteed the cooked penne in a pan with olive oil and minced garlic, and added just a tiny bit of sauce, and it looked fantastic. Gonna try it that way next time.

***

SO ANYWAY, now I have to give this computer back to my husband, who selfishly wants to take it to work with him, the swine. If you were a little bit on the fence about maybe you should or shouldn’t make a pledge to support my site, this would be a great time to YES YOU SHOULD. Or you could use my Amazon links! Or you could come over and kidnap this cat before he gets made into pie.

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.

***

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.

***

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.

***

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.

***

FRIDAY
I think spaghetti.

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 76: You say potato, I say tomato

What’s new in my kitchen? WELL, halfway through a week positively bristling with extra activities, I was seized with a terrible compulsion to completely rearrange the room. And I did a good job!

I now have a dedicated potato shelf. Didn’t realize how much I wanted that. And a special bowl just for cabbage and power cords. And you no longer have to take the toaster off the shelf and put it on the stove and plug it in when you need toast forty-six times a day. And the cooking utensils are now next to the stove, in case you want to, like, have them when you’re cooking. And I pulled the sharp, rusty, fluorescent light fixture down, so now instead of getting your scalp sliced open, you’re only in danger of being electrocuted in the head.

My gin collection is no longer constantly tumbling into the sink. The window isn’t blocked with a Basket Full O’ Misc. The most-used pots are sitting on a shelf, instead of endlessly tumbling backward through that black hole where the corner cabinets, which block 85% of the heating vent, were installed to maximize space wastage.

I threw out the giant Sony radio/CD player/cassette player and two enormous speakers that we won in a raffle in 1998 and which hasn’t worked since 2013. Best of all, I kicked the Rubbermaid sock and underwear dresser out of the room. (Yes, I literally kicked it.) It’s my kitchen, dammit.

So, three walls are much, much improved, with future improvement feeling manageable. There is still one Wall of Shame, where I keep three overflowing laundry baskets, several belts, aprons, and fly swatters, two tote bags of tights, dozens of reusable shopping bags, a felt First Communion banner or two, four broken lunch boxes, wrapping paper, eleven cowboy hats, some glow sticks, flags, Christmas decorations, 750 ml of homemade vanilla extract, and misc. And that one movable cabinet is now over the other 15% of the heating vent. And you can’t plug in the microwave anywhere.

As my therapist would say, “Let’s talk about that next time.”

Oh, right, food blog. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips, hummus and carrots, root beer floats

NTR.

***

SUNDAY
One-pan “chicken bruschetta” with parmesan potatoes; garlic bread; salad; rice krispie treats

I love these one-pan meals. Sometimes they come together as astonishing revelations, like the bacon, brussels sprouts, and fried eggs with balsamic, honey, and hot pepper one.

Other times, like with the chicken bruschetta meal, they don’t really meld, and they feel a tiny bit gimmicky, but still: Here is a panful of different kinds of hot food that is yummy. What’s to complain?

(Hey, did you see that map that shows the boundary line between Potato Europe (top) and Tomato Europe (bottom)? (There are other maps, too, but this one went right to my heart.)

Them tomatoes were good, though. I would have been happy with actual bruschetta, skip the chicken.

Oh, dessert. A few weeks ago, I bought a couple of pan for making miniature shaped cakes on clearance, similar to these, but way cheaper. In my head, I had visions of elbowing a startled Nigella Lawson aside in my haste to sift a fine shower of cocoa powder over the tops of these elegantly turned-out confections, or possibly concocting a shimmering lemon-and-rosewater glaze using only my left pinkie.

Well, we made rice krispie treats. They turned out fine, if not completely commensurate with the picture in my head.

And thus the god of low expectations was appeased for another week.

***

MONDAY
Chicken burgers, fruit plate

I do love chicken burgers, especially with a little horseradish sauce. The fruit was cantaloupe, grapes, and strawberries.

Purty. It may be #&*^$*# snowing outside, but strawberries are on sale.

***

TUESDAY
Spaghetti and meat sauce, salad

I fried up a couple of pounds of loose sausage and a couple of pounds of sliced mushrooms, then added them to some jarred sauce. Good enough for a rainy day.

***

WEDNESDAY
Tacos, tortilla chips

Wednesday was the day I went berserk with the kitchen layout, so I have no memory of actual dinner. Just a bunch of running around in little circles, clasping my hands, and mooing throatily, “It just feels like there’s more space! It really does!”

Someone started a rumor that there were avocados, but there weren’t.

***

THURSDAY
Honey mustard lemon chicken, cole slaw, frozen corn

This is a fine, easy recipe, good for potlucks or picnics. Coat some chicken drumsticks or wings in oil with salt and pepper, and roast them until the skin is crisp.
Make a sauce out of honey, mustard, and lemon juice, in whatever proportions seem nice to you, and mix the chicken up with the sauce while it’s still hot. Refrigerate several hours or overnight, and eat it cold. Very tasty, if messy.

I actually made the chicken on Wednesday, hoping to persuade myself that I had value as a human being because I can cook chicken ahead of time. On Thursday, I woke up and went running before I had my coffee, and felt terrible about myself all day, but good about my kitchen. Which just goes to show that you think you know a person, but you don’t. Even if that person is you. Then I got a haircut.

***

FRIDAY
Tuna boats with cheese, maybe risotto, green peppers?

I suppose I will put tuna in hot dog buns, drape them with American cheese, and put them in the oven? Is that how you do that?

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 75: Garlic will save the world

Good grief, Vol. 75? What do you know about that?

The little rats stole my chalk, so my weekly menu blackboard isn’t telling me anything. Here’s the best I can recall:

SATURDAY
Calzones; birthday cake

We had four extra 13-year-old boys in the house for a sleepover, and the birthday boy requested calzones for dinner. Easy enough! I used premade pizza dough, and divided each ball into four calzones. Roll ’em out, add a scoop of filling, fold the dough over and pinch it closed. We made twenty calzones, plus an extra pizza for weirdos who don’t like calzones, plus a gluten-free pizza for that one guest. This is one of the benefits of being used to cooking for twelve. You  might as well cook for sixteen, and you might as well also make cupcakes, plus special cupcakes, plus this, plus that, why not. Your life is already ruined anyway.


For the filling, I used either eight or twelve cups of shredded mozzarella, probably eight, and 32 oz. of ricotta, plus a bunch of parmesan. After you crimp the edges shut, you can press on them to distribute the filling more evenly. Lay them in a greased pan with space to expand (I put three on a full-sized cookie sheet), and brush with egg wash.

Bake for about 20 minutes in a 450 oven. Serve with warm tomato sauce for dipping.

The cake was just one disaster after another. It was supposed to be chocolate, but I got yellow mix. So I was going to add cocoa powder, but we were out. So I told him I’d make chocolate frosting. Then I somehow bought cream cheese frosting. Then I reversed the colors on the design by mistake; then the sugar sheets I bought were too dry to use, so I piped in the designs with frosting in a sandwich bag that I bit a hole in.
But, I did NOT spell his name wrong.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the cake I was trying to copy and the cake I eventually presented to my beloved son:

Ehhh, whaddaya whaddaya. He liked it. We also made a Super Smash Ball pinata, which turned out just as malformed and blobby as the cake, even though a Smash Ball is just a round ball with different colors all over it. He liked that, too. We like him!

***

SUNDAY
Spaghetti carbonara; salad; garlic bread; ice cream sundaes

Unaware that the Solemnity of St. Joseph was moved to Monday, we went ahead and celebrated with bacon and ice cream on Sunday. A not-great photo of a terrifically yummy meal here:

If you’re not familiar with carbonara, it’s easy and wonderful. You fry up some bacon and cut it into bits, then cook up a bunch of pasta. Drain it, add in the bacon and a truly ridiculous amount of parmesan, butter, and tons of pepper, and mix it up. Then, you stir in a bunch of raw egg, which cooks itself right onto the strands of pasta, melding with the cheese and the bacon. Heavenly.

Here’s the recipe from Fannie Farmer. Please note that the very next recipe is for Spaghetti with Lima Beans. This shows that even the great Fanner Farmer has her limitations.

***

MONDAY
Beef barley soup; garlic knots

A tiny bit disappointing, but I’m not sure why.
I cut up the beef (chuck roast or something) into cubes and sauteed it in the Instant Pot along with diced onions and garlic. When it was almost all browned, I added diced carrots, a can of diced tomatoes and juice, some beef broth and red wine, and most of a little pouch of mixed grains.

I couldn’t find barley anywhere, and last time I asked a stock boy for help, he was a huge jerk about it, and I was mad for ten days. I just want barley! You work at a supermarket! Do you even understand that you wouldn’t have a job if people like me didn’t need things like barley? Maybe I’ll just go home without buying anything, and then you can have your ideal work day of nobody bringing money into your place of employment! That seems like a solid business model! Jerk.

I pressed the “soup” button, because I was making soup and feeling belligerent, and didn’t feel like checking if that’s how you’re supposed to do it. Looking back, there was a lot of belligerent cooking this week. Hence all the garlic, I guess.

The soup was fine; it just didn’t live up to the Platonic ideal of beef barley soup, and this grieved me. Should’ve added more garlic.

For the garlic knots, I used readymade balls of pizza dough. Cut each ball into twelve pieces, roll them into snakes, tie them in a knot, and top each one with garlic or garlic powder, parmesan cheese, and a little salt. Bake on a greased pan at 425 for . . . I dunno, eleven minutes. Always a hit.

***

TUESDAY
Hot dogs; cucumber salad

There are suddenly these giant, beautiful cucumbers for really cheap, so I bought . . . kind of an inappropriate number of giant cucumbers. They just looked good, okay?

Tito Edward’s eye just started ticcing, and he doesn’t even know why.

I sliced them pretty thin and mixed them with a dressing made of plain yogurt, tons of minced garlic, a little lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and salt. Wish I had had some parsley and red onions. It was tasty and interesting, although it probably wasn’t necessary to add nuclear holocaust levels of garlic; but I’ll probably do it again next time.

I took a picture, which I’m adding only because I forgot to take a picture of the next meal, which was actually good to look at.

The other day, my son woke up and couldn’t find any clean jeans or khakis, so he was forced to put on dress pants. He evened it out by wearing a ratty T-shirt.

***

WEDNESDAY
Pepperoncini beef sandwiches with provolone; french fries; raw stringbeans

A swell and laughably easy meal in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.

You just dump a hunk of beef in, empty a jar of pepperoncini in with the juice, and let it cook until it’s tender. I’ve always made this dish in the slow cooker, and it comes out ready to fall apart, like pulled pork. This time, I used the “slow cook” button on the IP, which runs for four hours. It wasn’t quite done when I checked, so I pressed the button again, and let it run for another hour-and-a-half. It wasn’t shreddy, but nicely tender, so I sliced it. I think I prefer it that way. Less time probably would have worked even better.

I forgot to cut the tops off the peppers before adding them to the pot, so it was only mildly spicy.

I served the meat on ciabatta rolls with sliced provolone and horseradish sauce. Tragically, I had snacked so much before dinner, I wasn’t hungry enough to eat it. But it smelled fab-u-lous.

Stringbeans finally look decent again. Just popped the stems off and served them raw. Spring is coming, dammit. We can have juicy green things again.

***

THURSDAY
Roasted chicken on salad; grapes

We were home for a total of about eleven minutes on Thursday, so it’s a miracle I got dinner made. I doused the chicken breasts with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and shoved them under the broiler for 25 minutes or so, then sliced it up and served it on bagged greens. Bagged greens will save the world.

***

FRIDAY
Eggs and risotto and . . . frozen peas? Salad? Maybe green peppers?

It’s been a week without risotto so far! This aggression will not stand, man. (For more on risotto and how it alone can justify the purchase of an Instant Pot, see last week’s post.)

***

What’s for supper at your house? What’s the longest you can go without garlic?