What’s for supper? Vol. 312: It’s butternut squash season, martha martha

Sometimes I can’t believe a whole week has passed. This time, I believe it. 

Here’s what we had this week. Some very tasty food, that’s what! including some highly seasonally appropriate dishes.

SATURDAY
Pizza! and then lobster!

Saturday was busy-busy-busy, so we decided to try out the new Domino’s in town and see how their pizza is. You might think that of course all Domino’s will be the same, but I always remember how my grandparents went on a safari in Kenya in the 80’s and went to the Kentucky Fried Chicken there, and the chicken tasted very different, because the chickens had a very different diet! So you never know.

I sat here for a few minutes trying to figure out if this story is racist in some way, but I’m 90% sure it’s just stupid, so I’m going to leave it. The last Domino’s, you may recall for some reason, burned down back in January. For a college town, there are shockingly few places to get terrible take-out pizza, so now the order of the universe has been restored a bit. 

Then, to restore it even more, Lena, who works at the meat counter and fish counter of the supermarket, brought home three hefty steamed lobsters, and butter, lemons, and crusty bread, and a shrimp ring with cocktail sauce.

I made a complete goblin of myself with my lobster while the kids looked on in horror and disgust, which is just the way I like it. Some of my kids think I’m horrifying, some of them bring me lobsters. Balance. 

SUNDAY
Hobbit party!

Clara threw herself a belated birthday party and invited some friends. This is the first time she’s planned and cooked an entire meal, and she did a spectacular job, and everyone had a lovely time. The menu: 

Cinnamon garlic chicken
Roast potatoes
Stuffed bread with cheese and mushrooms
Mulled cider
Olive oil rosemary cake

Here’s my recipe for the chicken (she made two). 

Jump to Recipe

Turned out great, juicy and flavorful. It’s a very simple recipe but the flavor really permeates the meat. 

The hobbit bread recipe is in this post, and this time she did follow the recipe for the bread from scratch. The recipe is from An Unexpected Cookbook. Sometimes Clara makes large loaves, but this time, everyone got their own little loaf.

Stuffed with onions, mushrooms, herbs, and cheese. 

Amazing.

I don’t think there was a recipe for the potatoes. She just added good things to chopped potatoes until it looked tasty, then roasted them. I didn’t manage to get any good pictures of much of anything, but here is the mulled cider and the roast potatoes. 

We just tossed some cinnamon sticks and orange slices in with the cider and heated it up. Cider is expennnnnnsive this year, oh my!

And finally the cake!

The cake was a lemon rosemary olive oil cake from Parsley and Icing. This is a light, spongy, gorgeously-scented cake with plenty of rosemary in it. Clara used the icing in this recipe, except she used rosewater instead of vanilla. 

So pretty. 

We were going to set off a few fireworks I found under the bed, to make it a true hobbit party, but so many people were wearing cloaks and tops with long, flowing sleeves, we decided to go ahead and not set anything on fire. 

And it was a great party! 

MONDAY
Pork ramen 

Some of the kids absolutely delight in this meal, and I’m partial to it myself. I fried up some boneless pork chops in sesame oil in the morning, then sliced them up and reheated the meat in the evening with a lot of soy sauce. This isn’t a recipe so much as a confession, but darn it, I like soy sauce. 

I also boiled a bunch of eggs and then completely massacred them trying to get the shells off. I seriously lost at least 40% of the egg material in the process, and the more careful I was, the worse it got. I know you’re going to give me your tips about how to slide the shells off in one easy piece, just as simple and peaceful as a spring morning, and all you have to do is simmer them for three minutes and forty seconds in a copper-bottom pot with enamel sides with the lid 2/3 of the way on, fitted with a little cone made of parchment paper (not wax paper) to redirect the steam, then quickly dump the eggs into an iron crock that is standing on the floor with coffee grounds in the bottom, cover it with newspaper, rap sharply on the lid five times with a wooden spoon and shout “AWAY! SHELLS, AWAY!” in a commanding voice, and then, if you recall Sonata form, you just sort of shake the whole pot in that pattern, but don’t burn yourself when you get to the recapitulation! Everyone does. But it’s easy, and then just like that, the shells come off, easy.

I like my way better, though. I like throwing away most of the egg and getting pieces of shell in with the food, and swearing a lot. So we had the eggs, and the pork, and also some crunchy noodles, sugar snap peas, baby spinach, sesame seeds, sriracha sauce, and hmmm I guess that’s it. Oh, I fried up some leftover mushrooms from the Hobbit bread.

I lined the bowl with spinach before ladling the hot broth over it. Oh, it was good. Salty supermarket bulk purchase good. 

TUESDAY
Tacos

Couldn’t get regularer. I just fried up a bunch of ground beef with salt, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, chili powder, and onion powder, and served it on tortillas. I had mine with jalapeños and sour cream. 

I remember thinking I should put salsa on, but then thinking I didn’t want heartburn, and then putting jalapeños on. It really just wasn’t a very good taco, but it was undeniably a dinner. 

WEDNESDAY
Chinese pork roast, rice, mango and pineapple

Started the pork marinating the night before. I made it while the tacos were cooking. It really is easy as can be: Just equal parts of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, sweet red wine (alas, I had no Manischewitz), and then a good scoop of Chinese five spice, and a large hunk of fatty pork. 

Jump to Recipe

I got it in a 300 oven about noon (I poured all the marinade in with it), and let it cook for five hours. I wish I had covered it, because it got fairly grisly looking. If you have been to the La Brea Tar Pits, it was like that, but it smelled much better. I made an effort to baste it, which you’re supposed to do throughout the sixth hour of cooking, but the marinade had gotten so thick and sticky, it was a lost cause. Behold, the Chinese roast wooly mammoth:

Still, you bash the side open, and my goodness, it was juicy and tender inside. 

The outside is crazy rich, and a little goes a long way. I served it with just plain white rice (again, if I had covered it halfway through cooking, I would have had some of the marinade to serve as a sauce, but did I cover it, no), and then some pineapple and mango on the side. 

Pretty popular meal. I had some complaints myself, but everyone else was pretty happy. This would be great meat to serve over something else, like ramen or bibimbap, but it was good on its own. Could have used some sauce.

THURSDAY
Harvest chicken salad and roast butternut squash

The first butternut squash of the season! And first, a butternut squash tip. They’re just about impossible to peel raw, but if you cut the ends off and stab them all over with a fork and microwave them for three minutes, they become possible. 

I peeled and seeded the squash and cut it into thinnish chunks, tossed it with olive oil, honey, a little kosher salt, and kind of a lot of chili powder, spread it in a pan, and shoved it under a hot broiler. It let it blister a tiny bit and then turned it once and moved it down lower in the oven, so it would be cooked all the way through and also done on both sides. Turned out perfect. 

Sweet and tender with a little fire. Just great. 

I’ve been putting off the salad part of meal for three weeks now. I guess I’m a little burnt out on salads. But the time had come, and it actually turned out really delicious. Roast chicken breast slices on salad greens with your choice of blue cheese or feta cheese crumbles, toasted walnuts (toasted in the microwave for three minutes), and dried cranberries, with a creamy Italian dressing. Diced red onion would have been good, but I forgot to get any.

This was a good meal! It had all those sweet and smoky autumnal flavors, like a Thanksgiving dinner, but without being too heavy. Very satisfying. Here’s another picture, just because it was pretty. 

FRIDAY
Fish burgers

I got some frozen battered fish fillets of some kind, some sort of soft, rich rolls whose name escapes me at the moment, and . . . that might be it. We must have pickles somewhere, and no doubt I can throw together some tartar sauce. I wonder what I bought to go with it. What do people like me buy? Chips? That seems likely. 

And we have a four day weekend, with some kind of workshops on Friday and then Columbus/Indigenous what-have-you on Monday. I do believe we’re contractually obligated to go apple picking this weekend, even though we’re already up to our bum bums in apples around here. And we did manage to buy pumpkins (they sold out absurdly early last year), and maybe we’ll plant some bulbs, and it’s well past time to change over the skeledecor. I’m so embarrassed, they’re still holding American flags, and they should be fighting a giant spider with swords by now. And now we’re off to try to trade in two bad cars for part of one okayish car, and make it back in time for adoration. Wish us luck! 

Cinnamon garlic roast chicken

This is the chicken we usually serve at passover, but of course you can make it any time of year. Faintly sweet and nicely cozy, it's popular with kids and tastes good cold.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 lb whole chicken
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 500.

  2. Mix the spices together and rub them all over the outside of the chicken.

  3. Stuff the cavity with the garlic.

  4. Put the chicken breast side down on a rack and roast for 15 minutes.

  5. Reduce heat to 450 and roast for another 15 minutes.

  6. Turn chicken breast side up, baste with pan drippings, reduce heat to 425, and continue cooking for another thirty minutes or until temperature reads 180.

  7. Let chicken stand 20 minutes before carving. Also can be refrigerated and carved later, to be eaten cold.

 

Chinese pork roast

Marinate the meat overnight, and leave six hours for cooking. Serve over rice

Ingredients

  • 10 lbs pork
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup sweet red wine
  • 1 Tbsp Chinese five spice

Instructions

  1. Mix the marinade ingredients together and marinate the meat overnight.

  2. Drain the marinade and put the meat on a pan with a lip. Cook at 300 for five hours. Cover with tinfoil if the meat is cooking too quickly.

  3. After five hours of cooking, pour the reserved marinade over the meat. Every ten minutes for an additional hour, baste the meat.

  4. Let the roast rest for ten minutes before carving.

What’s for supper? Vol. 311: In which I go astray with lemons

Apparently it is Friday! I had no idea. Follow me for more organizational tips. 

Like most of the country, we’re feeling a bit pinched financially, so I’m trying to pare things down a bit. I stuck to my usual method (looking up the supermarket flyers and basing the menu around the meat and produce that’s on sale), but I was a little more severe about it than usual, and managed to slice quite a bit off the grocery bill this week, so that felt good. We still ate pretty well. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Fancy chicken sandwiches, raw broccoli, fake Pringles

Just regular chicken burgers, but on ciabatta rolls, with red onion, tomato, aioli mayo, and smoked gouda (which was on sale). A very pleasant, flavorful sandwich. 

If you are wondering what the difference is between aioli and mayo, aioli is made with garlic and olive oil and and mayo is made with egg yolks and canola oil. I suppose aioli mayo is made with eggs, olive oil, and garlic, although I didn’t check the label. Just slathered that stuff on.

SUNDAY
Apple pancakes, sausages, OJ; gingerbread cake with lemon frosting

Damien had to go to Florida for a quick business trip, so we did the ol’ “Daddy’s away, let’s just have pancakes” routine. You know how, when you’re making pancakes, the first batch turns out terrible? This was like that, except all the other batches were also terrible. I have no idea what my problem was, but I absolutely massacred these pancakes. I also got very frugal and chopped up and threw in some quite elderly apples that I probably should have just let go in peace. The kids were very gracious, though, and ate everything up. 

I had more success with dessert, which was a belated birthday cake for Clara. I used the King Arthur gingerbread cake recipe. I am a pretty poor baker, prone to mid-recipe panics and irrational sulks, but King Arthur has saved my bacon more than once, and I recommend them if you are a baker who lacks confidence.

This is a classic gingerbread cake recipe, with coffee, plenty of molasses, and all the cozy autumn spices.

I made a double recipe and baked it in silicone rounds, and they turned out lovely. 

You’re supposed to serve gingerbread with just a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, or maybe some whipped cream, or possibly a light glaze, but this was a birthday cake, so I went whole hog and made a big batch of thick lemon buttercream frosting. I followed this Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe (it’s just a basic buttercream recipe, made with heavy cream, plus fresh lemon juice and lemon zest), and that, too, turned out lovely, very rich and lemony, and a pleasant pale yellow (more so than it looks in the photo below). Here I have just tossed a handful of lemon zest on top. 

Then I got the brilliant idea to candy some lemon slices for garnishes. I have candied lemon peel before, for lemon meringue pie, but I wanted something a little more flashy, so I bought a bunch of hard lemon candies, smashed them with the marble rolling pin I got at the dump

and — okay, here is where I went astray. 

First I sliced up some lemons and laid them on a pan on parchment paper. My first mistake is I should have laid them on paper towel, or something absorbent, because lemons do weep. My second mistake is that I smashed the candies and then decided I would melt them in the microwave and pour the melted candy over the lemon slices. This . . . kind of worked. 

But the candy started sort of boiling before it was completely melted all the way through, and I was afraid of ruining it, so I didn’t have a lot to work with. 

What I should have done, maybe, was sprinkle the crushed candy bits over the lemon slices and put the pan in the oven to melt it all together that way. I think. You can see that I also didn’t take out the seeds. I remember making the decision not to do this, and telling myself it would be more authentic or something, but obviously I just didn’t feel like picking the seeds out. 

Anyway, I ended up with more or less candied lemon slices that were a tiny bit floppier than I would have liked, and a little bit weepy. As someone who got a little bit weepy over a Gary Larson cartoon yesterday, I really cannot judge the lemons for this. 

Then I watched my ten millionth video on how to frost a cake, frosted the cake, loused it up completely like I always do, and decorated it with sort-of candied lemon slices, marigolds (which are edible), and some candied ginger slices. I also threw on some candy squiggles that I had the foresight to make, once I realized that the candy was going to end up squiggly whether I wanted it to or not. And it turned out kind of pretty!

Weird, but pretty. The candy squiggles give it a bit of a doctor’s signature look, which I always think is nice. And see, you can see how the lemons are weeping.

There there, lemons. 

Actually, I think it’s the lemon candy that’s weeping. It’s too bright to be lemon juice. I don’t know. Well, the cake itself was good. Moist and dense, but still tender, and not gummy.

The lemon frosting was maybe a little too sweet, but that’s buttercream for you. A successful cake overall, I thought. 

MONDAY
Pasta with meat sauce

Damien was still away, so I reverted to an old kid-friendly meal: twisty pasta with jarred spaghetti sauce and ground beef. I did fry up a chopped onion, but I think that’s as far as I went with the seasoning. And wow, was it bland. I used to cook like this all the time.

TUESDAY
Pizza

Tuesday was a little experiment: I made just three pizzas, to see if it would be enough. In our heyday, I would make six extra-large pizzas, and there would only be scanty leftovers. As the family shifts and the birdies fly the next, I keep decreasing how many pizzas I make, and this week I had to acknowledge that, when I make four pizzas, there are leftovers hanging around all week long. So I made three, and there were three or four pieces left after everyone ate. This does not sit right, but the data is in. 

Here is a pie chart demonstrating how much pizza our family ate:

Tee hee. (Then we ate the rest of it.)

WEDNESDAY
Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits

Last week, while frying chicken for the chicken biryani, I thought to myself that I really ought to try frying chicken for a main course again, because it was surprisingly simple and easy, and why not? 

So, the answer to this question is: Frying up six or seven pieces of chicken to go in a larger dish later in the day is one thing. Frying up 24 pieces of chicken while everyone hungrily waits for dinner on a school night is quite another. It was not simple! It was not easy! And also I forgot that only one of the big burners on the stove works properly, and the other one just stays on high and burns everything, and the other two are tiny and useless. So, that’s why not. 

I don’t have regrets, though. But I’m starting much earlier in the day, next time. I more or less followed this recipe, except that I dredged the milk-soaked chicken in regular flour seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. I have to admit, it was frrrrrreaking delicious. 

I over cooked it somewhat, so the outside wasn’t exactly beautiful, but it was tasty as heck, the meat was juicy, and all the kids said it was great and I should make it again. So that’s a win! Here’s my unbeautiful but tasty plate:

As you can see, I also made garlic mashed potatoes that were kind of not great. They were very small potatoes and I was rushing, so I decided not to peel them, which works okay if you are going to mash them very thoroughly, which I did not. Oh well. I make mashed potatoes infrequently enough that the kids consider them a treat and were happy to have them. Here’s the recipe, if you want to do it right:

Jump to Recipe

I also made a few dozen biscuits that turned out pretty well.

I have a reliable biscuit recipe that calls for cream of tartar and egg, and the biscuits come out rich and fluffy, with a fragile, buttery crust.

Jump to Recipe

Overall a popular meal. Gravy would have been great, but I just ran out of time. I also wished I had some sauteed spinach, but again, time. 

THURSDAY
Leftover fried chicken, fries, corn

I was planning (well, “planning”) Greek chicken something something yogurt sauce I dunno, but there was a lot of fried chicken left over, so we just picked up some frozen fries, heated up some frozen corn, and had chicken again. 

You can see that the coating adhered nicely, even unto the second day, so I’ll definitely stick with this recipe next time. Maybe even make some gravy.

FRIDAY
Quesadillas, chips, salsa

And then, like I said, apparently it is Friday! At least that’s what it says here. And now I’m headed to the windowsill. 

Garlic parmesan mashed potatoes

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

moron biscuits

Because I've been trying all my life to make nice biscuits and I was too much of a moron, until I discovered this recipe. It has egg and cream of tartar, which is weird, but they come out great every time. Flaky little crust, lovely, lofty insides, rich, buttery taste.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, chilled
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.

  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar.

  3. Grate the chilled butter with a box grater into the dry ingredients.

  4. Stir in the milk and egg and mix until just combined. Don't overwork it. It's fine to see little bits of butter.

  5. On a floured surface, knead the dough 10-15 times. If it's very sticky, add a little flour.

  6. With your hands, press the dough out until it's about an inch thick. Cut biscuits. Depending on the size, you can probably get 20 medium-sized biscuits with this recipe.

  7. Grease a pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

What’s for supper? Vol. 302: “Blueberry” is a complete sentence

Around 3:30 a.m., I thought of a really good joke to begin today’s post. I considered writing it down, but then I realized that it was so good, there was no way I would forget it. 

Welp. Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
BLTs, Boba Fett cake

Saturday was Lucy’s birthday. She frolicked at the beach and came home to have BLTs. If you are wondering what it looks like when you slowly and methodically burn five entire pounds of bacon, wonder no more. 

Happily, the cake turned out better. When I asked what kind of cake she wanted, she just said “Boba Fett.” When I asked for more details, she said, “His slappable bald head,” which is a little strange, and I may or may not take these lines out before I publish.  What I came up with is Boba Fett in his luxurious bacta tank/Polynesian spa. You guys, I spend way too much time online.

But check out this cake:

It is made of one flat, rectangular cake for the base, one cake baked in a loaf pan for the tanks, and for the rounded end pieces, a small circular cake baked in a glass dish in the microwave (which I only recently found out you can do) and cut in half. A microwaved cake turns out rather dry, but if you need a cake in a particular shape and you don’t have an oven-safe pan in that shape, this could be your solution. 

I used gum paste for Mr. F

and for a few of the trimmings on his tank, with some chocolate details dabbed on, and the rest is frosting from a can and melted candy wafers piped with a sandwich bag with a hole bitten in one corner, I mean hygienically cut with scissors that I can easily find. 

Lots of toothpicks in there. Gum paste dries fairly quickly, and you can fix mistakes somewhat by getting it wet and rubbing them out, but … only somewhat. Not my favorite medium. I only got it because it was a dollar cheaper than fondant.

But this is one of the few times a cake turned out exactly like the picture in my head. (In my head, I also only have butter knives, baggies, and toothpicks to work with.) 

I briefly considered making some kind of transparent lid, or even a shaped dome of “water” to shield Mr. Fett’s modesty, and even went so far as to buy a package of unflavored gelatin, but I came to my senses in time. 

A success!

SUNDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips

Sunday I went shopping, and Elijah grilled the sandwiches for me. 

MONDAY
“Souvlaki,” dolmas, pita crackers and feta, cherries

Pork was very cheap this week, so I bought to large, boneless pork loins. What to do? I had written “Greek pork” on the menu, but I don’t really know what that is. I ended up cutting the pork into long, thin strips and marinating in for several hours in olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, garlic powder and oregano, and a big handful of lemon pepper seasoning. Then I threaded it on skewers and broiled it.

It was, as expected, okay, not amazing. I wish I had made some garlicky yogurt sauce. That would have made it delicious. It also would have been great grilled outside, which we can try some other day. 

I did have fun making stuffed grape leaves with Benny. The grape vine has ramped all over the side of the yard and the leaves are nice and juicy, so she went out and picked 40 or so. 

I boiled some water and poured it over the leaves and let them sit for two minutes, then drained the water and added ice water. Then we drained that, trimmed off the stems, and died the leaves off for stuffing. Fresh grape leaves are slightly rubbery, but have a mild but distinct tart taste, like wood sorrel. 

I know some people roll their dolmas with raw or perhaps sauteed rice, and let it cook entirely by steaming, but the house was already incredibly hot and steamy, and I didn’t want to have a pot on the stove for hours and hours. So I halfway cooked the rice, then added some chopped scallions, plenty of fresh mint leaves (also from the yard) chopped up, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. If you want a recipe for no-meat dolmas, here is one we kinda sorta followed, but not really

We lined the bottom of a heavy pot with about a dozen grape leaves to keep it all from sticking, and then we rolled the rest. You put the leaf on your work surface, bottom side up, points facing you, and put a heaping tablespoon or so of rice mixture in the middle. Fold in the sides, fold up the bottom, and roll it up as tightly as you can, from the points up.

This startlingly patriotic picture is brought to you by the fact that I wanted to put away the giant flag we hung up for the 4th of July, but it kept raining in between the searing heat waves, and I had to dry it somehow. 

It was, as I mentioned, very hot, and we were rushing a bit, so these are pretty sloppy, but they did hold together.

I added about a cup-and-a-half of water, a big slosh of olive oil, and a big squeeze of lemon juice on top, loosely covered it, and let it simmer for about 40 minutes. 

You’re supposed to eat them chilled or room temperature, but we ate them right out of the pot. I put out a plate of lemon wedges and squeezed that all over everything on my plate, including the cherries. 

 Again, it would have been really nice to have some yogurt sauce, but with the crackers and cheese and cherries, it made a very pleasant summer meal.  Corrie said, “Mama’s really outdone herself this time!”

TUESDAY
Shepherd’s pie

I had to go out of town on Tuesday, and Elijah volunteered to make something he’s apparently been craving: Shepherd’s pie. His version uses mixed frozen vegetables, condensed cream of mushroom soup, and Worcestershire sauce, and he sprinkled cheddar cheese on top of the potatoes, and added chopped bacon in with the ground beef. 

If you take your left hand and stretch it out as far as it will go, and then hold it there and take your right hand, and stretch it out as far as it will go in the other direction, that’s how much shepherd’s pie I ate. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken thighs, cherry tomatoes, peppers, and onions tray bake

Wednesday continued extremely hot, and I just gave up trying to get anything done, and took the little girls to the pond. Wonderful, wonderful, cool, cool pond. 

My original plan had been this recipe from Sip and Feast, but there was no fennel to be found at the store, and I certainly didn’t feel like de-boning anything, so I just put the chicken thighs on a pan, sprinkled cherry tomatoes in between them, threw some chopped Bell peppers and red onions in there, drizzled it all with olive oil, sprinkled it heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, and cooked it in a hot oven until the chicken was done. 

Not sophisticated or dazzling, but it was fine. I do love blistering hot cherry tomatoes. 

THURSDAY
Spiedies

Oh look, another sand worm, I mean boneless pork loin! I cut it into chunks and marinated it for several hours in a marinade of oil, lemon juice, wine vinegar, fresh mint, lots of crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, and a little sugar.

This is an actual recipe that you can follow, if you so desire.

Jump to Recipe

At dinner time, I spread it on a pan and broiled it

then served it on toasted rolls with mayonnaise, with chips and salsa and a big bowl of just plain blueberries, because it is July, and like my therapist is always saying, “Blueberries is a complete sentence.”

(Nobody is actually saying that.)

A slightly weird but not bad meal.  People went to Burger King anyway, but I take comfort in the fact that this is not actually a reflection on my cooking; it was done solely to hurt my feelings. And it worked! 

FRIDAY
Bag o’ tentacles lo mein 

This “mixed seafood” lo mein turned out really well last time, so I got the pouch of frozen ocean misc. from Aldi again.

Here’s my lo mein recipe:
Jump to Recipe

Pretty sure there is some tuna in the cabinets for people who don’t like it when their dinner waves at them. They have no idea how easy they’re getting. Off. Gosh, I cannot get that sentence to work out right. Well, goodbye. 

pork spiedies (can use marinade for shish kebob)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup veg or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup red or white wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4-5 lbs boneless pork, cubed
  • peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, cut into chunks

Instructions

  1. Mix together all marinade ingredients. 

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

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

    Serve in sandwiches or with rice. 

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 5 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 tsp sugar

for the rest

  • 32 oz uncooked noodles
  • sesame oil for cooking
  • add-ins (vegetables sliced thin or chopped small, shrimp, chicken, etc.)
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar (or mirin, which will make it sweeter)

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

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

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

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 279: We don’t talk about shiitake mushrooms

What a short week, and how unproductive! And how stupidly cold. And stupid in general. We did have a few good meals, though. Here’s what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Buffalo chicken salad

Those pesky shupply change issues came for the frozen buffalo chicken, and I couldn’t find any, so I bought some regular chicken. So we had greens with chicken, grape tomatoes, shredded pepper jack cheese, crunchy fried onions (the kind that come in a canister), blue cheese dressing, and then some buffalo sauce on that. 

Tasted great. I think buffalo chicken is too hot anyway. 

SUNDAY
Museum 

Sunday, I took Sophia and some of her friends to the Worcester Art Museum for her birthday. We masked all the way there in the car, and then stopped to grab some lunch, and I looked in the rear view mirror, and they were sharing an ice tea. Two honor students, one straw. ANYWAY, the museum was great. You can check out some of the photos I took here. (They’re not really a representative sample of their excellent collection! I’ve been there many times and didn’t snap pics of their more famous works. If you’re in the area at all, you should go. It’s small enough that you can see absolutely everything in under three hours, but there’s plenty worth seeing, and the descriptive cards are top notch, very informative.)

Afterward, I offered to take them to a restaurant of her choice, and she chose Chili’s. I support this. Chili’s offers reliably B- food with reliably B+ service, and the floors are usually not gritty. I swear I would have taken her somewhere fancier, but it had been a long day and I totally understand her choice. (I had shrimp tacos and they were kind of weird, to be honest. I guess I didn’t read the description and wasn’t expecting them to be absolutely baggy with coleslaw, but that’s what you get.) 

I believe they had some kind of pasta with red sauce, peppers, and sausage at home. 

MONDAY
Pork ribs, garlic mashed potatoes, honey balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts with walnuts

This was a low-skill, popular meal. The pork ribs were just plenty of salt and pepper, roasted on both sides under the broiler. The mashed potatoes were made with an entire peeled head of garlic boiled and mashed in with the potatoes. And the Brussels sprouts, I trimmed and halved, drizzled with olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, lots of honey, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and a large handful of chopped walnuts, and roasted under the broiler. 

I LOVE roast vegetables with nuts. This is how kings eat their vegetables. Real kings, not stupid kings. 

I wish I had let everything cook a tiny bit longer, but we were all so hungry. It’s been so cold, and all I want to do is eat. 

TUESDAY
Bugogi dubap (garlic soy beef on rice) 

A much-anticipated meal. Strips of garlicky, gingery beef, with onions, scallions, and mushrooms served over rice. Somewhat sweeter than many similar recipes I’ve tried. Not like a sweet and sour dish, but just a little fruity. 

I slightly adapted the recipe from Cook Korean! by Robin Ha. It turned out very well, although next time I will put less of the marinade in with the meat when I cook it. It was just too pulpy, and I would have liked a little more of a sear on the meat.

The marinade includes kiwi, which is what provides the acid to tenderize the meat, and wow, it works well. It was . . . there isn’t really a synonym for “tender” that works well for meat, so I guess we’ll stick with that. (When my little brother was about 5, he couldn’t remember the word for “chicken tender,” so he told the waitress he wanted “chicken softies.” So you see what I mean.) 

It’s served, as I said, over rice with scallions and sesame seeds. Tons of flavor, nice and bright, with loads of garlic and fresh ginger. 

Next time I will not bother paying for shiitake mushrooms. I’m sure some people can taste the difference, but I sure can’t. I can taste the difference when they’re raw, but not when they’re cooked! (Not to mention that the first batch of mushrooms I bought got moldy, so I had to run out and buy more, and I was late picking the kids up from Dungeons and Dragons, so I decided to go to the co-op for my replacement shiitake mushrooms, rather than the supermarket, and . . . you know what, we’ll just let a shiver pass through our system one last time and then quietly turn the page in the ledger and not think about that part of the food budget anymore.)

The recipe in the book calls for soju, a dry Korean rice liquor, but it doesn’t mention what to do with it. Presumably you throw it into the marinade, but possibly you’re supposed to deglaze the pan with it. In any case, I didn’t have any. I was planning to substitute vodka, but I forgot. So now you know as much as I do. Possibly it would have cut the sweetness slightly. 

Verdict: Definitely making this recipe again, with cheaper mushrooms, less marinade and more room and heat in the pan. Loved the garlic and ginger and kiwi, loved how simple it was, adored how tender it made the beef.  A very good way to treat a cheap cut of beef. 

WEDNESDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Nothing to report, other than that the burgers turned out long, for some reason. This is what passes for entertainment around here.

THURSDAY
Muffaletta sandwiches, tater tots

Not true muffaletta sandwiches, no doubt. You’re supposed to have a specific kind of bread, specific meats and cheeses, and a particular blend of olives. We had all the deli meats I felt like paying for (some ham, a few kinds of salami, a little bit of capicola and a little bit of prosciutto) and a delightful salad made of things that fell out of my cupboard into my food processor.

I think I used three cans of black olives, two skinny jars of green olives, maybe six little pepproncini, half a jar of capers, some olive oil, and a little wine vinegar. I would have put some giardiniera salad in there, but I couldn’t find it. Our refrigerator is a travesty. Parsley would have been good, but we had none. 

This picture makes me laugh because the sandwich appears to be eating itself. Monch monch.

We ate very early because Sophia had an art show. They made it fancy, with a little jazz band, and the whiter the kids were, the harder the adults in the audience bopped their heads, as if they could will rhythm into existence with their necks. The good will in a room full of parents listening to their teenagers playing jazz solos will save the world. 

I thought Sophia’s self portrait was pretty good!

Although as you can see, in real life she doesn’t actually have a mouth or nose, so she had to use her imagination. Strange times. 

While we were gone, Clara whipped up a Bruno and Rat cake, as one does. 

I still haven’t seen Encanto, but this seems like a good cake to me. 

Best rat cookies I’ve seen in quite some time. 

I’m not sure what these are for.

Some kind of interactive element? I guess we will find out when the kids come home from school today. 

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

I didn’t even buy any cheese. I can feel how much cheese there is in this house. By the end of the day, God willing, there will be less. 

In conclusion, I just noticed I have tagged this post both “olive salad” and “olives salid,” and I guess that’s fine. 

Bulgogi dupap (soy garlic beef)

A Korean dish of tender strips of sweet and savory garlicky beef, served over rice. Adapted from Cook Korean! by Robin Ha

Ingredients

  • 4-5 lbs beef chuck, sliced as thinly as you can
  • 3 onions (divided)
  • 1-1/2 heads garlic (20 cloves or more)
  • 3 inches fresh ginger
  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup sesame oil (divided)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions, divided
  • 12 oz mushrooms

cooked rice

sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine 1.5 of the onions, the garlic, the ginger, the kiwis, the soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of the sesame oil, and the sugar and pepper. Combine until blended. Marinate the sliced beef in this for at least three hours.

  2. Cut the mushrooms and the remaining 1.5 onions into thin slices. Cut most of the scallion (green parts) into three-inch pieces. Save out a few and slice thinly for a garnish.

  3. Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet and sauté the beef until it's just slightly browned, then add the onions, scallions, and mushrooms and continue cooking until the meat is fully cooked. You may have to cook in batches to avoid crowding the pan.

  4. Serve meat and vegetables over cooked rice. Top with scallion garnish and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

What’s for supper? Vol. 243: Teen Titans and other captivating compositions

Hi! Food! Here we go:

SATURDAY
Hot dogs, chips

I did buy hot dog buns, but not nearly enough. I’m new here and have no way of knowing how to shop for food. But of course you can turn a mediocre meal into something very different, with the right presentation. 

I’m tempted to enter this in Eva Kosmas Flores#captivatingComposition challenge but she seems like a nice lady and I don’t want to upset her.

SUNDAY
Roast pork ribs, peas, pink risotto

Pretty good meal, but I ran out of white wine for the risotto and had to add some red, and I really just don’t prefer it that way. Can’t beat white wine, butter, and onions. Oh, I also used beef broth instead of chicken, because I couldn’t find my chicken bouillon cubes. Several years ago, I switched from using bouillon cubes to using a giant jar of powdered chicken bouillon. YEARS ago. But I hid this information from myself for some reason, and also somehow didn’t see the giant jar of powdered chicken bouillon I keep on the counter. So I was forced to use beef.

It’s a good recipe, when you follow it!

Jump to Recipe

 

The pork ribs, I just seasoned heavily with salt and pepper and shoved them under a hot broiler, turning once, and they always turn out juicy and nice. The hardest part is running over to turn off the smoke alarm when you turn the ribs over. The whole meal tasted better than it looks. We’re getting some more light these days, but still not enough to make food look good in the evening. 

MONDAY
Mexican beef bowls

Everybody’s favorite meal this week. I adore this meal. The marinade is only a few ingredients, and then you just have to roast the meat for 40 minutes or so, slice it up, and put in a little time prepping the other toppings — not really more work than prepping for tacos or something. 

 

Jump to Recipe

The only hitch was I only had three cups of rice; but I had picked up these silly taco shell boats (“Fiesta Flats“) on a whim, and was dubbed Mother Hero for my efforts. We had fried onions and sweet peppers, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, plenty of cilantro, black beans + tomatoes and chili (one can of each, drained and dumped together), and some sweet corn charred in a pan with olive oil. And lime wedges and corn chips. 

This meat is so good, so tangy and savory. My current favorite thing to do to beef when it goes on sale. Whenever we make this meal, I scoop up plenty of the gravy and pour it over the whole thing. I firmly believe this is good for my heart and will enable me to live forever, a Gravy-filled Hero Mother forever.

TUESDAY
Nobody knows what we ate on Tuesday. I don’t have any pictures, so it probably wasn’t very good. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches, fries

A fine meal. I took some chicken breasts, drizzled them with olive oil, and heavily seasoned them with salt, garlic powder, and oregano and dried basil and rosemary, and roasted them, then sliced them thin. February tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, freshly ground sea salt and pepper. Toasted buns. Very nice.

We ate late because I had spent a good part of the day shopping for Corrie’s birthday party, putting her presents together, and baking a ridiculous cake, as you will see.

THURSDAY
Domino’s pizza

Corrie’s birthday! We’re still not having guests, so we made it as festive as possible with just us chickens, considering that several of us chickens had to work during the day.

She requested a Teen Titans cake, and drew this helpful diagram for me:

Sure, kid.
So I did what any loving mother would do: I begged one of my other kids to deal with it. I did bake a cake, and decorate it so it looked sort of like a sort of comic book city at night, sort of:

And then Clara made EXTRAORDINARY cookies of the Teen Titans. She printed pictures of the characters, cut them out, traced them in dough, cut the cookies out, and then I guess just freehanded in the design with icing.


Note, her decorating equipment consisted of plastic sandwich bags with a little hole cut in the corner.

The most amazing part was that she worked on them all day, and then when it was time to serve the cake, she didn’t even wince as we went ahead and ATE them. Two of them played wishbone with Beast Boy’s legs. 

So, Corrie loved her cake, loved her presents (well, except for the one she opened after waking up shortly after dawn, and it wasn’t exactly the way she expected, and she did not love that), loved the piñata Irene made for her, loved her Teen Titans decorations

and pretty much liked her party games. She had asked for a balloon shooting game with a stuffed animal for the big prize and then bad prizes for the rest of the prizes. It turns out that a combination of darkness and snow and a very old BB gun and balloons is . . . less than ideal.

The balloons wouldn’t pop! We had to bring the game inside and stab the balloons with a knife. Coincidentally, Corrie won the big prize, and everyone else got bad prizes, which included some seltzer and a can of tomato paste. 

Phew. That was some day. I honestly think it would have been easier and more relaxing to invite a bunch of kindergarteners over for a few hours. 

FRIDAY
Elijah’s mac and cheese

I had the brilliant idea to get the kids to pick a favorite meal and cook it for everyone during vacation week. But I didn’t shop until Tuesday, and then we had various things going on that confused me, and now vacation is just about over, and here it is Friday. So today, Elijah is going to make mac and cheese. 

I think we can squeeze some kid-made dinners out over the weekend, too. Irene is going to make stuffed shells, and Lucy is going to make breaded mozzarella sticks. Sophia earned some side eye by volunteering to make English muffin pizza, but dinner is dinner. Clara already earned her stripes with the Teen Titan cookies, and Lena was going to make the caprese chicken sandwiches but I forgot and made them myself by mistake.  Moe has been doing inventory at work and I didn’t have the heart to ask him to cook, too. 

Okay, that’s it for this week! Here’s some recipe cards for yez. And stay tuned, patrons, for a new podcast episode! This week Double Feature with the Fishers tackles Master and Commander and Appaloosa

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. 

 

Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

  2. Pour over beef, sliced or unsliced, and marinate several hours. If the meat is sliced, pan fry. If not, cook in a 350 oven, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. I cook the meat in all the marinade and then use the excess as gravy.

What’s for supper? Vol. 224: Gentle woman, serviceable dove

Oh dear, I skipped another week! We’ll do a highlights reel of last week before moving on to this week.

Cumin chicken thighs and chickpeas  with yogurt sauce and lemony onions

An easy meal, pleasant and tasty, even though I forgot to buy pita bread.

Jump to Recipe

There were a few leftover wraps in the house, so that was fine. 

I sure do like roasted chickpeas. So nice and salty and savory, with a little crisp ridge outside and a chewy inside. Mmm.

Pizza

Nothing much to report except that my favorite meatless topping combo is now fresh basil, fresh garlic slices, thin red onions, ricotta cheese, and red pepper flakes baked right into the ricotta cheese. Yuhm. We’ve had several frosts, but I brought all six basil plants inside and found homes for everybody, so we should be set for a while. Also plenty of geraniums to get us through the winter. Mmm, geraniums.

Lemon garlic chicken, oven roasted potatoes, mashed acorn squash

It was SUPPOSED to be beef barley soup day.

Jump to Recipe

Some of the kids have been begging for beef barley soup, and it was finally cold enough. I really gave it my all. First I burned the onions, then I burned my hand on steam, and then I went ahead and burned the entire pot of soup, probably six quarts of it. I was distraught, let me tell you. But Damien drained off the liquid and portioned it out, and the dog has been feasting on cold burned beef barley soup for breakfast all week, and he couldn’t be happier.

Luckily, we had some chickens thawed, so he made this wonderful lemon garlic roast chicken from Ina Garten, which calls for stuffing the bird cavity with halves of lemon and entire heads of garlic cloven (har har) in half, with onions on the outside.

Oh my friends, it was so juicy and flavorful. I can’t imagine going back to normal roast chicken. Here’s the inside, so you can see I’m not kidding about the garlic.

Oh yes, I helped myself to some of that garlic.

I made two giant trays of oven roasted potatoes (skin-on potato wedges, olive oil, and misc seasonings, roasted until slightly crisp) and cooked a couple of acorn squashes in the Instant Pot, and Damien mashed the squash and added I think butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar. A lovely early autumn meal. 

 

Manicotti and garlic bread, Holy Spirit cake or whatever

The original plan was to get three of the kids confirmed, but, covid. So we stayed home and I decided to go ahead with the meal plans, which were for stuffed shells (one of the more festive meatless meals I can manage on a weekday). Well, I don’t know if Chrissy Tiegen made something with stuffed shells and caused a panic or what, but there was exactly one box of pasta shells in the store (which is definitely not enough for our family). So I got manicotti, and man, there is a reason I don’t usually make manicotti. I boiled the pasta tubes in water with oil, rinsed them, and carefully laid them in layers between parchment paper to keep them from sticking together. Guess what, they stuck together. And none of the stuffing systems I rigged up (pastry bag, fake pastry bag, soda bottle extruder) worked. So I ended up carefully spooning cheese filling into 40 stuck-together pasta tubes that kept tearing, and I did not enjoy that. 

It tasted good, though. I just followed the recipe on the box, plus I added a little nutmeg to the cheese mixture.

And there was tons of garlic bread. Which I burned half of, because why not.

I also made a cake, to signify the way in which the Holy Spirit will someday allegedly descend with seven gifts for the kids. It was supposed to be just a giant fire cake, with flames made of hard candies melted on parchment paper in a low oven, cooled, and shattered into flame shapes for a dramatic three-dimensional stained glass effect. This does work! I’ve done it before! I won an award from the Boy Scouts for my flame cake! But somehow none of the stores I went to had the right kind of candy. So I ended up with cinnamon discs and butterscotch discs, which melted very sluggishly and stayed thick and cloudy. I bashed them up anyway and made a kind of ember effect around the outside of the cake,

and piped in a serviceable dove on top, and spooned on a bunch of yellow sugar.

I love that song, don’t you? Gentle woman . . . serviceable dove . . . teach us wisdom . . . here’s a cake. Anyway, we had cake and people were kind of jerks about it, to be honest. I guess we’re all tired.

SATURDAY
Korean beef bowl, rice, sesame roast broccoli

Korean beef bowl:
Jump to Recipe

Sesame broccoli:
Jump to Recipe

 

My lovely assistant helped with the broccoli,

which was made with sesame oil, soy sauce, a little salt, and some sesame seeds, and then roasted slightly crisp

Always a popular meal, and very easy.

SUNDAY
Chinese pork roast, rice, pineapple, string beans; lemon meringue pie

Here’s a recipe suggested by John Herreid.

Jump to Recipe

It was very easy and very popular, but you have to have a big chunk of time to cook it. I marinated the roast for a full 24 hours and then cooked it for a total of six hours, basting every ten minutes for the last hour. It looked a little less grisly in person

and next time I will cover it while it’s cooking at least part of the time, so the crust isn’t quite as crusty. But oh man, it was tasty. The outside was so savory and rich, and once you bashed through to the inside, it was tender as heck. I could have cut it with a wooden popsicle stick.

I made a ton of rice and cut up some pineapples. I just plain ran out of steam by the time it was time to think about string beans, so we just had them raw. I do like raw vegetables to balance out a really rich meat anyway. 

THEN, those of us who have been reading Amelia Bedelia had a sudden yen for lemon meringue pie, but I didn’t have a yen for all that work, so I found a cheaty recipe, which I modified a bit.

Jump to Recipe

I made the crust by whirring up our vast animal cracker reserves, and then mixing the crumbs with a ludicrous amount of melted butter and a little brown sugar. It made a good crust, maybe a bit too thick, but with a pleasant taste, and sturdy.

I guess it’s just me, but I really value sturdiness in desserts. I’m always so embarrassed when my desserts slump and slosh and wallow around in the pan, which they almost always do. But this was one stand up pie! The lemon part was more opaque and custard-like, less glisten-y than you normally see in lemon meringue pie, and the meringue did relax a bit, because I left it on the hot stove for a few hours, duh; but overall, LOOKIT THIS DAMN PIECE OF PIE, IN THE SHAPE OF A PIECE OF PIE.

Totally hit the spot, and it was way, way less work than a more authentic lemon meringue pie.

MONDAY
Chicken quesadillas, corn chips

Kinda lackluster. I just threw some frozen chicken into the Instant Pot with a cup of water and, when it was shreddable, I shredded it and sprinkled on some chili lime powder. Hey, it was hot. I burned one, but we happen to have one kid who likes burned food, so there. 

TUESDAY
Chicken soup with matzoh balls, challah; birthday cake

Tuesday was Clara’s birthday, and she requested chicken soup with matzoh balls, which I normally only make on Passover, but why not? And I made two pneumatic challahs, very pretty, if slightly bland.

Jump to Recipe

I eyeballed the salt and I think I under salted it, so go ahead and measure the salt.

I started the soup in the morning and cooked it all day, and made the matzoh balls right before supper. Everyone was pleased, and the house smelled so happy.

She couldn’t decide what kind of cake she wanted, so I went with an Over the Garden Wall theme.

It was a box cake mix, but I made a royal icing to decorate it, and it hardened up nicely. I forgot how easy it is to make (it’s just egg whites and sugar and a little lemon juice).

Jump to Recipe

You can make it thinner if you want to pour it over cookies or petits fours or something, or thicker if you want to spread it or pipe it, which I did. It would have come out smoother if I had added less sugar. Next time! You can also run over it with a hot hairdryer if you really want a smooth surface, but it’s a little perilous. 

WEDNESDAY
Aldi pizza

Heck yes. 

THURSDAY
Beef barley soup for real this time

Jump to Recipe

I tried again, and I didn’t burn it! Nice and chonky. I also had some hot pretzels in the freezer, but I forgot all about them.

FRIDAY
I believe the kids are having their choice of tuna noodle or boxaroni, and Damien and I are running away from home (and then coming right back again after we eat). 

Hokay! That’s a lot of food. Here are the recipe cards. 

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. 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 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. 

Korean Beef Bowl

A very quick and satisfying meal with lots of flavor and only a few ingredients. Serve over rice, with sesame seeds and chopped scallions on the top if you like. You can use garlic powder and powdered ginger, but fresh is better. The proportions are flexible, and you can easily add more of any sauce ingredient at the end of cooking to adjust to your taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar (or less if you're not crazy about sweetness)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 inches fresh ginger, minced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 lb2 ground beef
  • scallions, chopped, for garnish
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef, breaking it into bits, until the meat is nearly browned. Drain most of the fat and add the fresh ginger and garlic. Continue cooking until the meat is all cooked.

  2. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes the ground beef and stir to combine. Cook a little longer until everything is hot and saucy.

  3. Serve over rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. 

 

Sesame broccoli

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.

    Toss broccoli spears with sesame oil. 

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

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

Chinese pork roast

Marinate the meat overnight, and leave six hours for cooking. Serve over rice

Ingredients

  • 10 lbs pork
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup sweet red wine
  • 1 Tbsp Chinese five spice

Instructions

  1. Mix the marinade ingredients together and marinate the meat overnight.

  2. Drain the marinade and put the meat on a pan with a lip. Cook at 300 for five hours. Cover with tinfoil if the meat is cooking too quickly.

  3. After five hours of cooking, pour the reserved marinade over the meat. Every ten minutes for an additional hour, baste the meat.

  4. Let the roast rest for ten minutes before carving.

Cheater's lemon meringue pie

I like a pie shell made from several cups of animal cracker crumbs whirred into a sandy texture, mixed with a stick of melted butter and 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a dash of salt. Mix well and press into the pan.

Ingredients

  • 1 pie shell

For the lemon layer:

  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

For the meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350

  2. Mix together the condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well combined. Pour the mixture into the pie shell.

  3. Bake 10-15 minutes until the mixture has a little skin.

  4. While it's baking, use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to beat the egg whites until it has soft peaks. Then gradually add the sugar until it has stiff peaks.

  5. When the lemon layer comes out of the oven, spread the meringue over the top and make a little peaks all over it with a fork or spatula.

  6. Return the pie to the oven and bake for another ten minutes or so until the meringue is slightly browned.

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.

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.

 
 
5 from 1 vote
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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. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 221: You can count on food

Gah, I missed another week! So first, here are the food highlights from last week:

Oooh, bibimbap!

I cooked some sliced pork in a gochujang sauce 

Jump to Recipe

and made a big pot of rice, and set out the pork, pea shoots, crunchy noodles, spinach, and whatnot, and everybody put together what they wanted and then reported to me for a fried egg. I like to put the spinach under a layer of something hot, so it wilts a bit. The egg seeps down and the meat sauce seeps up, and it’s pretty great.

I also sprinkled something called “balsamic crispy beets” on top of mine, along with hot sauce and sesame seeds. They were maybe a little too sweet and balsamic-y for this dish, but I liked the taste in general, and will probably get them again. They would be great on top of a salad with chicken. I always felt like I am destined to enjoy beets, but I never do, so this beet form is a little bonus.

Uhhhhh clams steamed in beer, chicken and pepper fajita deconstructobabs, bread, and more spinach

An incoherent but tasty meal 

I sautéed some onions in lots of butter, then added red pepper flakes and a few cans of beer and then the clams, and let them simmer for a bit until the shells opened, then squeezed some lemon over them. Yum yum yum. 

The plan was to make fajita chicken kebabs, but when it came down to it, I did not feel like threading anything on skewers, and Damien did not feel like grilling. So after I marinated the meat and peppers for a few hours, I just spread them on a pan and broiled them in the oven, and it was most definitely good enough.

The marinade was, I don’t know, oil and lime juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic, salt, etc. Just standard “weakly Mexican.” Served with salsa and sour cream to dip. 

Drumsticks, potato salad, and peach salad
Two salads, no greens! The kids were very impressed.  Or possibly they were mocking me. 

So, here we have an odd duck: a recipe that didn’t really need the prosciutto. It was sliced peaches, chopped fresh mint, crumbled feta cheese, and torn up prosciutto dressed with a honey lemon sauce, and it was super summery, fresh and full of vivid flavors.  

So vivid that the prosciutto didn’t really stand out, and therefore wasn’t necessary. What do you know about that.

I thought the potato salad was also nice, not too gloppy. Potatoes with the skin on, hard boiled eggs (which I cooked in the same pot as the potatoes, much to the amazement of one easily-amazed kid), and scallions, with a dressing of mayonnaise, cider vinegar, salt, and plenty of pepper. 

Dora was supposed to stop by for dinner, but she had car trouble and Damien had to rescue her, so she got here. She’s no longer in our bubble, and we needed to keep the visit outdoors, so to prolong the outdoorness of the evening, I made a fire and we toasted marshmallows, which I have apparently been buying every week for the last five weeks, intending to someday have a campfire. 

Here is Lena telling Corrie a ghost story. 

Just the right amount of funny and scary. This particular spooky story was about a green, hairless gorilla who lives in the sewer.

And Friday was pizza with fresh basil and slices of garlic, and ricotta, and red pepper flakes, WHICH. I. RECOMMEND. I want to make this same pizza except with also eggplant, or possibly even broccoli. 

And now for this week, here’s what we ate:

SATURDAY
Party!

Irene’s birthday was back in April, right when everything started closing down, so we finally had her party last weekend at the town pond before school starts and everything closes down again.

I did not cover myself in glory with birthday cakes this week. She wanted a Gravity Falls cake with Bill Cipher made of rice krispies. I got off to a bad start by referring to him as Cyber Bill, even though I am not 67 years old. Then his arms kept falling off, and then it was kind of downhill from there. Please don’t give me any advice on how to do it better. I know how to do all things well, and sometimes I just choose to do them poorly, for personal reasons.

But she liked it! And there were thunderstorms right up until an hour before the party, and then the sun came out. The party kids had deli sandwiches; I forget what the people back home had.

SUNDAY
Party!

Lucy’s birthday was back in July back when everything etc. etc. so we finally had her party while etc. She asked for a cake with All Might from My Hero Academia on it. This was pre-doomed to failure even before I discovered we don’t own any food coloring and I would have to color everything with sugar and leftover icing. All Might is a weird looking dude and this was a weird looking cake, so, there you go. 

But, she liked it, and there were thunderstorms that stopped before the party.  

And they got their parties in before everything gets locked down etc. etc. etc.  The party kids just had snacks; I forget what the people back home had.

MONDAY
Koftas with yogurt sauce, pita, Jerusalem salad

The first time I made koftas I thought they were SO tasty, but they kept falling off the sticks when Damien grilled them. So this time I just made a bunch of big meatballs and broiled them, with yogurt sauce to dip them in. Good stuff, with the added bonus of not looking so much like giant turds.

Oh, I also made a big bunch of Jerusalem salad while tomatoes are still king. Cucumber, tomato, red onion, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt. A cooling, easy side dish to lighten up a savory main dish.

If anyone makes koftas on the grill and knows how to keep them from falling apart off the stick, I’d be glad to know it.

TUESDAY
Chicken and salad, fruit

I got home soooo late from shopping. I just sprinkled the chicken with olive oil and Italian seasoning and broiled it, then served it in pieces over greens with Caesar salad dressing from a bottle. We had strawberries and blueberries, plus some pineapple that I forgot to serve last week. 

WEDNESDAY
Dino nuggets, chips, veg and dip for kids, restaurant for adults

Many months ago, maybe even a year ago, Damien was out of town and my car was in the shop and OF COURSE somehow Lucy ran out of insulin. So we had to call Dora and get her to leave work and go the pharmacy for us, and bring the insulin home, and then it was somehow the wrong insulin (“somehow” meaning CVS, which we briefly used because it has a 24-hour drive thru; but also does stuff like gives you the wrong insulin and then lies about it), so she had to leave work again and get the other insulin and bring it home and then go back to work, and she was very nice about it. So, we said we would take her out to dinner. 

And we did!

Like a year later.

I myself had an insane amount of food: Fried calamari, minestrone soup, and veal piccata, not to mention a bit of Dora’s bruschetta and a bit of Damien’s gondola bread; and some kind of cocktail with bitter orange. It’s actually getting nippy here at night (hence the soup), so they had these neat patio heaters among the tables with a giant flame enclosed in a glass pillar. I guess I’m a country mouse; I was impressed. I’m not saying I would follow it into the desert, but it was a very nice flame. 

THURSDAY
Philly cheesesteak

I don’t know what is going on with cows, but steak is still $2.99 a pound. One of the fringe benefits of my kitchen reno (which is still not done. I have to finish painting and then install the ceiling tiles, and then I will take pictures!) is I finally found the little column that holds up the disc cutter on my food processor, so I sliced a ton of peppers and onions and then the steak. 

IS there some way of shredding steak in a food processor without having to constantly stop the motor, take the top off, and drag out the meat that gets wrapped around the central pin thingy and caught between the blade and the cover? I did freeze the meat a bit first, but it was still very soggy going. It took a long time, but the results were good. Nice and shreddy, just like in Philly, as far as I can recall. 

Honest to goodness, I took pictures of my sandwich, but they look gross. You all know what a good cheesesteak looks like, so picture that. 

FRIDAY
Eggs migas with refried beans

Here is a picture of the migas I made last time. SO GOOD. 

Did I share a recipe for simple migas? I cut a bunch of corn tortillas into strips and fried them in oil until crisp, then scrambled a bunch of eggs into them, and served them with hot sauce and standard taco fixings. I love this meal. You know who would have loved it? My mother. Heck, maybe I can actually make it for her at some point, once the nursing home stops being locked down, etc. etc. 

And there it is. School starts on Monday. We’ll see how long it lasts, etc. 

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. 

 

koftas

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground beef
  • 3 onions
  • 1 head (head, not clove) garlic
  • 2 bunches parsley
  • 5 slices bread
  • salt and pepper
  • 1.5 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp zataar

Instructions

  1. Put the wooden skewers in water to soak for about thirty minutes before you plan to form the kebabs.

  2. Put the onions, garlic, and parsley in a food processor and chop it.

  3. Put the meat in a large bowl and add the chopped onion mixture to it.

  4. Toast the bread, then put it in a bowl with warm water to soften it. Squeeze the water out and add that to the bowl with the meat.

  5. Add in the seasonings and squish it up with your hands until all the ingredients are well combined.

  6. Using your hands, form logs of meat around the skewers. They should be about an inch and a half in diameter.

  7. Grill over coals if you can. If they fall apart too much, you can cook them on a hot oiled griddle, or broil them. Turn to brown all sides.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 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. 

 

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
  • 5 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.

 

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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. 

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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.

 

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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.