What’s for Supper? Vol. 378: In which nobody goes to the emergency room

In haste! In haste! For today is a half day, and I have to go get my punkass kids. It is the final day of teacher appreciation week, and I love that they’re topping it off by making all the kids go away. Truly the gift from the heart. 

Speaking of gifts from the heart, this week having been mother’s day week, I decided to make all foods that I like this week. It was a very tasty week! But also very stupid, as you will see. 

SATURDAY
Hot dogs, chips

Well, I do like hot dogs, but this was more about convenience on a shopping day. But I do like hot dogs. And convenience!

SUNDAY
Italian sandwiches, fries, lemon meringue pie with strawberry compote

Damien shopped for and put together these excellent sandwiches (toasted baguettes with red pesto, olive oil, and vinegar, with provolone, prosciutto, capicola, sandwich pepperoni, tomatoes, and fresh basil), and made fries

and Clara made some wonderful pies, using my pie crust recipe

Jump to Recipe

and the filling and meringue from Sally’s Baking Addiction,

plus, as you can see, a layer of homemade strawberry compote between the lemon and meringue

Absolutely splendid. Perfect. I wish I had gotten pictures from the morning, when she made it, because by dessert time it had gone the way meringues tend to go, but it was still airy and wonderful. 

All the kids came over, and showered me with thoughtful and delightful presents. I spent most of the day following my heart, which meant working on my bog bridge. I worked on it off and on throughout the week, when I had 45 minutes to spare and it wasn’t raining, and it’s almost ready to put in place! I AM VERY EXCITED. In fact, at one point I got a little over-excited. As you will see. 

MONDAY
Fajita beef bowl, pineapple

London broil was on sale, so I got a bunch and sliced it up thin and marinated it most of the day in this yummy marinade

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I did all the prep work in the morning: Sauteed some sweet peppers, roasted some corn, chopped cilantro, cut up some limes, and found the shredded cheese, sour cream, and corn chips, and I prepped the rice in the Instant Pot. Sometimes we also have black beans with this dish, but we just had them last week and I just wasn’t bean ready yet. We also usually have chopped scallions, but I forgot. 

Before dinner, I cranked up the broiler and (to be honest, slightly over)cooked the meat

and I piled up my bowl with rice and meat and toppings and ate outside with the birdies. 

Oh, I also cut up the pineapple I meant to serve last week. Lovely meal, very popular. 

TUESDAY
Two pizzas, not three

On Tuesday, I was super busy all day with I don’t even remember what, so I as soon as I got home in the afternoon, I made three pizzas very fast. One olive, one half plain and half Hawaiian using the leftover pineapple from Monday, and one pepperoni using leftover pepperoni from the Italian sandwiches. We had a lot of pepperoni left, so I was pretty lavish with the toppings on this.

Feeling very brisk and accomplished, I preheated the oven, set the pizzas on the counter, and asked Elijah to put them in at 5:10. Then I went outside to work on my bridge. 

I was slapping wood stain on as fast as I could, and even though I was increasingly covered with wood stain and blackfly bites, feeling pretty great about life in general, when Elijah comes out and says, “You don’t have to come inside or anything, but how many pizzas are there?”

I say there are three. I’m the tiniest bit annoyed, because it’s not like it’s a big kitchen or something. Three extra large pizzas, pretty much front and center, can’t really miss them. Definitely three pizzas. 

He says, “Okay, I can only find two. And there is an empty pan.” 

So of course I go inside, and he is correct. Two pizzas which are now in the oven, and one pizza pan, still on the counter, with smears of grease and flour on it.

WHAT COULD HAVE POSSIBLY HAPPENED TO IT? 

What indeed.

Now, you know I’m sharing this story because the dog did not die. I will also confess that we did not take him to the vet. If we took that dog to the vet every time he ate something stupid, we’d be investigated by GoFundMe for an implausible number of emergencies. 

And to be honest, we weren’t 100% convinced it was the dog who made the pizza disappear. First we searched all over the house in case it somehow . . . left. Which sounds dumb, but it was very strange! The pan was there, the pizza was gone. We thought of the cat, who does steal whatever food he can carry and has no conscience at all. And we thought of, uh, other possibilities

And the dog seemed fine! He wasn’t bloated or uncomfortable or acting like his butt was any more haunted than usual.

But we couldn’t think of any other place the pizza might have gone, besides down his gullet. He does have very poor impulse control, even for a dog. 

The danger is that the dough would expand in his tummy and do terrible twisty things to his innards, or that it would produce alcohol and poison him from the inside out. Soooo Damien stayed up until 2 a.m. observing him. That makes nine full hours after the dog apparently ate the raw pizza. He did burp. And that was all. 

Friends, this is the almighty power of a boxer’s digestive system. You can judge us if you want for not taking him to the ER, but Sonny himself would give you some side eye for that. 

Well, maybe not a side eye, because his eye placement doesn’t really allow for that, but he would do his best. Sonny always does his best. As do we all. 

WEDNESDAY
Sweet spicy Korean meatballs, sweet pepper lo mein

New recipe! I came across this recipe for gochujang meatballs with apricot glaze and couldn’t look away. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I used fresh ginger instead of powdered. Super easy, and it was fab. Tasted like party food. You just mix up the meatball ingredients and bake them, and then roll them around in the heated glaze which is just three ingredients, and serve.

I had already served rice that week and I was planning to do it agin, so rather than making rice as a side, I made a vegetable lo mein, as you can see. I usually make lo mein with linguine or fettuccine, but this time I had some very thin Chinese noodles I had grabbed at the International Market. They boiled up in no time, like two minutes, which was fun. I did my easy lo mein sauce

Jump to Recipe

I sauteed up some minced ginger and garlic, then added the leftover sweet peppers, then a little mirin, then the noodles and sauce and heated it all up. Delicious. The whole meal came together, start to finish, in like 45 minutes (moving fast). 

Definitely making these meatballs again. They tasted like party food. They would also be good, maybe even better, with ground turkey.

THURSDAY
Chicken biryani, giant taboon

I’ve had biryani on my mind for a few weeks, so today was the day. This recipe calls for chicken thighs, and that really is the superior kind of chicken for it, but what was on sale was chicken ribs, so that’s what I used. 

I also used actual basmati rice, which I sometimes am too cheap for. I had forgotten this, but it cooks up much faster than short grain white rice; so if you struggle with getting the rice cooked all the way through with biryani, it definitely helps to have the right rice! Anyway I anticipated undercooked rice, so I made the biryani in the morning and put it in the slow cooker for the rest of the day, which generally takes care of any chompy rice by dinner time. 

Turned out great. This being Mother’s Choice week, I did not omit the golden raisins, which the kids don’t like. But they’re easy to pick out, so that’s what they did.

And maybe I went around after dinner and ate up all the little plump, savory, leftover golden raisins on their plates, who can say. Maybe I’m the one who ate the pizza!

(I did not.) So, the chicken breast was a little bit dry, as I expected. Still a wonderful dish. I keep thinking I might try a different biryani recipe, but everyone likes this one, so why. 

At the last minute, I decided to make a Giant Taboon. My naan is kind of hit or miss, mostly miss, and it was too late to start it anyway, but taboon is fast and easy and delightful. Five minutes to put the ingredients together, an hour to rise, ten minutes to rest the dough, and 10-15 minutes to bake. I called everyone down for supper, and then I pulled this lovely pneumatic lady out of the oven:

I made it with a big rolled lip out of force of habit, because I usually make tabboon to go along with mussakhan (Palestian chicken with sumac and red onions) and you serve the chicken right on top of the bread

and I like to make a little lip to keep the juices in. Aghh, I gotta make mussakhan again. It’s so good. 

Oh, I’m almost at the end of the week and I didn’t tell you about my leetle misadventure with wood. The short version is that I had already cut away the rotten wood, replaced it with sound wood, and attached cross pieces on, and stained the underside; and also retrieved the pieces I already laid into the swamp before I realized I really needed to stain them. So then I wanted to flip the two long pieces over so I could stain the other side; but I couldn’t do it the horizontal way, which is easier, because I didn’t want to snap the cross pieces off

So I did what any mother would do: I dragged the kids into it. Four of us hoisted up one short end and carefully walked our hands down until it was basically standing on its end. Then I was like, “Okay, now just me and Lena, and everyone else get out of the way, and Lena, you stand to the side, because it might leap out!” 

You know this is a dumb story. Dumber than the dog eating the whole raw pizza, because his excuse is that he is a dog, whereas I am a college graduate and this was a very dumb idea. 

So we gave it a big shove, and of course it did leap out, but not like I expected, and it thwacked both me and Lena so hard that we both fell down and its fwiggen lucky we didn’t both have multiple broken bones. Do you want to see my leg?? 

Well, I just spent kind of a long time trying to figure out how to insert some code for one of those “click to see image” things, but I’m too full of raw dough, I mean I can’t figure it out, but for some misbegotten reason I really want to show you my leg, which isn’t even that bad. Lena’s is much worse. I’ll put the image at the end of the recipes, and if you are really motivated, you can scroll all the way down and see my leg. I find bruises fascinating, and this one kind of looks like a leaping rabbit. Madeline would be proud.

Oh, so then the long piece was somehow suspended in the air like this

I slapped a bunch of stain on it and dragged a tarp over it just as it began to rain, because I may be an idiot, but I’m not really sure how this sentence is supposed to end.

Damien promised that, when I was ready to flip the second long piece over, I should call him and he he would come over and say, “No, not like that! You’ll get hurt!” (He also said he would help flip it over.) This is what you call traditional marriage roles, and I didn’t even have to become a football player to figure it out. 

P.S. The dog did go to the vet today for his shots, and they confirmed that he is fine, and just likes pizza. Who among us. 

FRIDAY
I don’t know. 
I was planning tuna boats, but Moe and Eliora are coming over, so maybe I will take it up a notch. Or maybe not! Maybe I will throw some wood at them and pretend I thought they ate the pizza. This is MY WEEK, and I can do what I want! Which always turns out well. 

 

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.

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

taboon bread

You can make separate pieces, like pita bread, or you can make one giant slab of taboon. This makes enough to easily stretch over a 15x21" sheet pan.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 4 packets yeast
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.

  2. While it is running, add the olive oil. Then gradually add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. You may not need all of it. Let it run for a while to see if the dough will pull together before you need all the water. Knead or run with the dough hook for another few minutes.

  3. Put the dough in a greased bowl, grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for at least an hour until it has doubled in size.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400. Put a greased pan or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.

  5. If you are making separate pieces, divide it now and cover with a damp cloth. If you're making one big taboon, just handle it a bit, then put it back in the bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let rest ten minutes.

  6. Using a little flour, roll out the dough into the shape or shapes you want. Poke it all over with your fingertips to give it the characterstic dimpled appearance.

  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until it's just slightly browned.

 

WATCH OUT, HERE COMES A PICTURE OF MY LEG 

Probably not as bad as you were expecting, with all that build-up. But doesn’t it look like a rabbit? 

What’s for supper? Vol. 377: In which we make it through the week in one piece

Happy Friday! I truly don’t know what I did this week. It felt dramatic and exhausting, and yet I don’t have very much to show for it. Unlike the natural world, which is putting on a completely spectacular show this spring. Every last little thing is absolutely laden with blossoms. We’re still not quite safe to plant most things outside, here, but I’ve been starting all the seeds I can get my hands on indoors. When I finally move everything into the garden, the house is going to feel huge and empty! 

Someone was asking me WHERE I put all these open pots of soil, and the answer is: On windowsills, on countertops, on chairs,

and on shelves that I’ve cleared off and stuffed all the former occupants in bags. Of. But the real answer is, I don’t have babies or toddlers. That turns out to be the solution to a lot of things! Simply have ten children, rest up for nine years, and then you can start some seeds.

The other answer is that I’ve been using the cold sowing technique indoors, as well as outdoors, meaning I use juice bottles and milk jugs and salad and  strawberry cartons, add drainage holes if necessary, cut the top 2/3 off but leaving a hinge, fill the bottom with soil and plant some seeds, water it, and then tape it shut. This not only makes it harder to spill if someone knocks it over (we do have an extremely naughty cat, who doesn’t mind walking on toothpicks), but if you’re bad at remembering to water seedlings, this is the method for you.

It’s basically a little terrarium, and you do need to water it occasionally when you notice no droplets condensing on the top, but none of this “keep soil evenly moist” nonsense. 

Anyway, this year I have started: Marigolds, sunflowers, zinnias, creeping veronica, cosmos, and morning glories; basil, garlic, pumpkins, butternut squash, and eggplants; and I just put some gladioli and clematis in the ground, plus a Sarah Bernhardt peony root.  I have sugar snap peas and glass gem corn that will probably do better if I sow it directly outside. May 30 is the magic day! But this weekend, I will take the straw covering off my strawberries and asparagus. And the rhubarb is visibly growing day to day. The Brussels sprouts survived the winter, but I think I’ll pull them out, because I’m a little tired of them. Definitely doing more collard greens this year. I am also going to direct sow more sunflowers, marigolds, and cosmos with the rest of the seeds I saved from last year. I know some people do ten times this much every year, but this is by far my most elaborate planting effort, and I’m pretty excited!

Anyway, five paragraphs in, let’s talk about food. Here is what we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Chicken salad with blueberries and almonds

Saturday, shopping day. Nothing spectacular, but a pleasant salad of roast chicken breast on greens with almonds and blueberries. This salad is better with feta cheese or goat cheese, diced red onion, and some buttery croutons, but I made up for that by eating it outside, which is the butteriest crouton of them all

in a certain sense. 

I need to figure out what’s going into the St. Joseph garden once the tulips and daffodils pass by. It’s shaded about half the day by the peach tree, and I’d love some suggestions for a bright perennial or two I can plant on top of/alongside bulbs!

SUNDAY
Chicken shawarma, pita

Sunday was Cinco de Mayo, but I hadn’t planned anything spectacular, and Clara is home for the summer and Moe was over to learn how to change oil, so I changed it to Shawarma de Mayo.

Same old yummy shawarma recipe

Jump to Recipe

except maybe I bumped up the hot pepper flakes a little, because it did taste a little peppier than usual. No complaints! Boneless, skinless chicken thighs is the best kind of chicken for this dish.

I also decided to make pita, and I’m not really happy with the recipes I’ve tried in the past, so I tried a new one, because I was enthralled by the sheer puffiness of the photo in this recipe. This one had you fry the pita for thirty seconds on one side, then thirty seconds on the other, then brush it with oil and fry another five minutes, flipping it frequently. I thought six minutes sounded excessive, but I’m trying to swear off going straight from “why does my food never turn out like the picture” to “she’s crazy, I’m not doing that” to “why does my food never turn out etc etc,” so I did it by the timer. 
GUESS WHAT? The pita burned. 

This doesn’t look too burned, because I wised up about halfway through and decreased the time and temperature, but I’m telling you. I have some kind of middle eastern curse on me, and my pita just never turns out, no matter what I do. I mean everybody ate it and said nice things about it, but I was a little sad. 

Can’t be too sad when you’re eating shawarma with tomatoes and cucumbers and olives and feta cheese and parsley and garlicky yogurt sauce, though. 

Simply can’t! 

MONDAY
Shepherd’s pie

Speaking of Cinco de Mayo, the local supermarkets seem to have noticed that there’s some trickiness around an overwhelmingly white population suddenly making a lot of tacos and margaritas on May 5 because it’s the Fourth of July or something; so they hedge their bets by putting ground beef on sale and suggesting some chili recipes, but not saying why. 

It’s possible I’m overthinking this, but I do spend a lot of time looking at supermarket flyers, and I know I’m right. The upshot is that I bought quite a bit of ground beef, and for Cuatro de Mayo I made shepherd’s pie. 

I remembered that I had written a wonderful recipe for this

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so I checked it out, and discovered that you guys are very polite, and never mention how terrible my recipes are. I didn’t, for instance, feel the need to write down ANY MEASUREMENTS. The recipe is basically, “Hey, remember how good shepherd’s pie is? You should make that! With corn.”

Sorry about that. Anyway, I did make that.

But for some reason I can’t remember, I put tin foil on the top and then left the house. I texted one of the kids to remove the tinfoil toward the end, and when I got home, I turned on the broiler to brown it up. This gave the potato top a nice crisp top, but unfortunately the inside had kind of steamed inside the foil, so it was just so gloppy when I served it up. 

Or maybe I made the white sauce for the meat too thin because I hadn’t written down any proportions, who can say. It tasted great. Just kinda gloppy. 

Also on Monday, I suddenly faced a truth I had been avoiding: The wooden ramps I was planning to make into the bog bridge has some very rotten spots on it.

So I dragged out the reciprocating saw, which is a truly terrible tool. It seems designed, in a way that other power saws aren’t, to turn on you and carve you up. So I was talking out loud to myself, as you will not be surprised to learn that I do, and I said, “Oh, I hate this machine. I’m always afraid I’m going to hurt myself” and then immediately whacked myself in the eyeball with the end of the power cord. 

This minor injury apparently propitiated the power tool gods, and I didn’t lose any limbs or even digits. I did cut off a bunch of rotten wood, which was satisfying

and then got out the drill, which doesn’t scare me as much, and screwed on a long beam to replace the part I had removed. Got that on nice and tight.

Then I noticed that the new beam also had a rotten part.

Then I said some other things out loud to myself, and went inside. 

TUESDAY
Burgers, party mix, corn, birthday cake

Tuesday was Moe’s birthday, and he requested burgers. That’s a can do. 

He asked for a chocolate cake and to be surprised with the decoration, even knowing what . . . mixed . . . results this can sometimes yield. But I had a brain wave and remembered that he used to be absolutely crazy about One Piece. I remember some rides home from school where it was nothing but him shouting “AND THEN THE MONKEY WHO HAS BILLIARD BALLS FOR HANDS ATE THE MAGIC TOOTSI FRUITSI BEAN AND HE GOT THE POWER TO MAKE PEOPLE THINK HE WAS A POTTED PLANT EVEN THOUGH HE WASN’T ACTUALLY AND THAT’S HOW HE DEFEATED THE SEWING MACHINE CLAN THAT LIVES ON THE ISLAND OF PICKLE JUICE” while I just focused on not driving off a bridge. Apparently it’s actually a fairly tragic story, but that part eluded me, because of all the shouting. 

The thing I do know about One Piece is that is has a logo that is mostly made of circles. So I says to myself, I says, this is a job for fondant. I haven’t really used fondant before, and it turns out they are not kidding when they say you should wash your hands a lot. Which I did, but it was still one of my smudgier cakes. But he liked it!

I liked working with fondant. Gum paste is good for molding 3D figures, but the fondant was super easy to roll and cut flat shapes. I was rushing, so I didn’t make it as smooth or even as I might have, but I know how to if I have time next time!

And I, perhaps alone in the world, like the taste of fondant. So there. 

Oh, it was just a box cake, but for the chocolate frosting, I used this King Arthur recipe, which turned out well. 

WEDESDAY
Tacos and beans

For Seis de Mayo, we had tacos. (For those keeping track, this is ground beef incident #3 for the week.) I seasoned the meat with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. I also made a pot of black beans in the Instant Pot

Jump to Recipe

and they looked so good to me, I just had beans on tortilla chips. 

Thinking about those beans. 

Also on Wednesday, I faced the fact that I really truly need to put some kind of waterproof stain on the bog bridge, if I don’t want it to go right back to being rotten, or more rotten, or rotten fixed with things that also turn out to be rotten. Truth be told, I’m feeling a little bit down about stuff in general! Ah well. 

So I bought some stain and got the kids to move them into an upright position for me, and that is as far as that’s gotten. 

THURSDAY
Pizza

Nothing to report, except that I wanted to use up some sandwich pepperoni, so I cut that into fourths and put it on the pizza, and then filled in the gaps with normal small, round pepperoni. The result was something that struck me as slightly rad, somehow. 

Doesn’t this look like an early 90’s pizza? Like a Rugrats pizza or something? I don’t know. I’m disabled, I got attacked by a reciprocating saw and I’ve never been the same. 

FRIDAY

Mac and cheese, I suppose. We have to go see the endocrinologist so the doctor can say the kid’s numbers are good, and I can pretend that’s somehow due to my attentive maintenance, rather than sheer luck. And then there is a family dance party this evening that Corrie desperately wants to go to, and she is planning to wear her dress with the mushroom print and her green cloak. I love that she goes to a school where this is FINE. People will say “cool cloak!” and that is all. 

I think the last time I danced was . . . yes, at my own wedding. Maybe I’ll wear a cloak, too. 

Chicken shawarma

Ingredients

  • 8 lbs boned, skinned chicken thighs
  • 4-5 red onions
  • 1.5 cups lemon juice
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 entire head garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Mix marinade ingredients together, then add chicken. Put in ziplock bag and let marinate several hours or overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425.

  3. Grease a shallow pan. Take the chicken out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan, and top with the onions (sliced or quartered). Cook for 45 minutes or more. 

  4. Chop up the chicken a bit, if you like, and finish cooking it so it crisps up a bit more.

  5. Serve chicken and onions with pita bread triangles, cucumbers, tomatoes, assorted olives, feta cheese, fresh parsley, pomegranates or grapes, fried eggplant, and yogurt sauce.

 

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. 

 

Leftover lamb shepherd's pie

This recipe uses lots of shortcuts and it is delicious.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.

  2. Prepare the mashed potatoes and set aside.

  3. Heat and drain the corn. (I heated mine up in beef broth for extra flavor.)

  4. In a saucepan, melt the butter and saute the onion and garlic until soft. Stir in pepper.

  5. Add the flour gradually, stirring with a fork, until it becomes a thick paste. Add in the cream and continue stirring until it is blended. Add in the cooked meat and stir in the Worcestershire sauce.

  6. Add enough broth until the meat mixture is the consistency you want.

  7. Grease a casserole dish and spread the meat mixture on the bottom. Spread the corn over the meat. Top with the mashed potatoes and spread it out to cover the corn. Use a fork to add texture to mashed potatoes, so they brown nicely.

  8. Cook for about forty minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the meat mixture is bubbly. (Finish browning under broiler if necessary.)

Instant Pot black beans

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 16-oz cans black beans with liquid
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Put olive oil pot of Instant Pot. Press "saute" button. Add diced onion and minced garlic. Saute, stirring, for a few minutes until onion is soft. Press "cancel."

  2. Add beans with liquid. Add cumin, salt, and cilantro. Stir to combine. Close the lid, close the vent, and press "slow cook."

What’s for supper? Vol. 375: Laurus! Eagle! Burger!

Happy Friday!

First order of business: I am asking your prayers for a dear person who should be just about out of cancer surgery right now. There is a very good prognosis, but still! Thank you!

And here is our week. 

I didn’t look up a single recipe this week. Most of the kids were on April Vacation and I had it planned out down to the half-day, according to everyone’s work schedule and my to-do list and the weather forecast in two states. My friends, I did every single thing I meant to do. I am very proud of myself, and I had a really nice week with the kids.

The downside is, when I stop using recipes, I relapse straight into “hot meat topped with hot cheese” territory. Which is not necessarily a bad thing! Just, you know, not very vegeteful.  

SATURDAY
Bagel, egg, cheese, and sausage sandwiches

Saturday of course I went shopping, then did a ton of yard clearing. I picked up SO much trash, including burnt-out fireworks from July 4th, and hacked away a bunch of wild blackberry canes (and I do mean wild. I’m still digging thorn tips out of my skin), and I cleared out a bunch of flower beds, mostly stuff that is just barely coming up and is still just green babies, but also some stuff I put in while utterly loopy with Covid

The tulips are done, but the daffodils will keep on multiplying for years to come. Sometimes when you’re out in the woods, you’ll see the remains of scattered stone walls, and you can guess that this was once pasture land, back when New Hampshire was wall-t0-wall sheep. Or sometimes you will even see the remnants of a root cellar or the foundations of the house, all smothered and overgrown with greenery, and you will think, “This grove of pines is standing right where someone used to have their kitchen.”

Or sometimes, there will be only a few stray rocks, and it’s hard to tell if they were set there on purpose by human hands, or just by the slow rearranging of the world by the push of water and crumbling earth. But then you see daffodils, evenly spaced, and that is all that is left of someone’s home. They’re not as easy to get rid of as something temporary like a homestead! So, this is why I plants lots and lots of daffodils every fall. 

I also put together an extremely chimpy little potting station

which might not look like much, but now I have a PLACE for things. I’m not saying I WILL put my trowel and my clippers and my zip ties away when I’m done with them, but now I CAN. 

And then I came in and sorted shoes, threw away many, many ragged, stinky pairs, and matched up 90% of the boots and put them away, started washing the winter jackets and snow pants, and bagged the hats and gloves. Whew! So then we had a quick, easy dinner.

The kids claim not to like duck eggs, but they eat them as long as I don’t tell them they’re duck eggs. As if you can’t tell! Look at that giant yolk. 

SUNDAY
Blackened chicken thigh sandwiches with peppers and cheese

Sunday I did a ton of writing and then we had spicy chicken thigh sandwiches with shishito peppers, melted cheese, red onion, and barbecue sauce, using this recipe from Sip and Feast.

I usually make this recipe when boneless, skinless chicken thighs are on sale, but this time I got plain thighs and skinned and de-boned them myself. I was surprised to find that they take much longer to cook this way, probably because . . . something something muscle fiber integrity and moisture retention, I don’t know. Just something to know for the future.

You just season them heavily (I used Tony Chachere’s) and fry them slowly in oil on both sides. When they were finally cooked, I shifted them into one pan and laid the cheese on to melt, while blistering up the peppers and toasting the buns.

Served them with BBQ sauce and raw red onion, yum yum.

I made a giant raw vegetable platter and we had that with dip. 

That evening, we had a long-promised fire and roasted marshmallows. I often struggle with building fires, so I was really happy to discover that I do fine with wood and kindling I have gathered myself. I just struggle with lighting fires from gross, waxy chunks of wood with a plastic handle stapled to it that I purchased at the supermarket. 

I HATE buying wood. I might build a little shelter and spend an afternoon gathering up a summer’s worth of dry wood, just for marshmallow purposes. But this was a fine fire. 

Then we doused it with water and stirred it with a stick. 

MONDAY
Pizza

Monday I did more writing and more flowerbed clearing and forgot to take the pizza dough out of the freezer in time, so I had to defrost it in the microwave, which produces less-than-satisfactory results. It wasn’t inedible, but definitely not the finest crust. 

I made one olive pizza, one pepperoni, and one misc refrigerator discoveries: Leftover shishito peppers, leftover red onion, some fresh garlic, and some ricotta cheese. 

Pretty tasty, even with the bum crust. 

TUESDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Tuesday, some of the kids and I set out to explore Otter Brook Dam. Damien and I have kayaked on the lake, and sometimes Damien and Moe go fishing there, but we’ve never tried out the hiking path. Excellent day. 

 

And we saw a bald eagle! When I was growing up, there were zero nesting pairs in NH, and I never thought I’d see an eagle in the wild. Now there are about 100 active nesting pairs, and they’re all over! Amazing. I love a good recovery story. 

I figured we’d be hungry after hiking, so we had hamburgers again. I make burgers in the oven under a hot broiler, using 70% lean beef. The fattier ground beef is much easier to handle and shape, and it’s cheaper, too; and then you cook them over something with drainage

and they turn out juicy but not greasy. 

Burgers and chips, yay!

I think this was the night we watched Men In Black. That movie is hilarious and really holds up. 

WEDNESDAY
Pan fried chicken, fries

Wednesday was rainy, and I girded my loins and we cleaned Corrie’s half of the room. No power under heaven could make me show you a “before” or even an “after” picture, but we cleaned that room. She agreed it was time to pass along the rocking horse known as “Toe Crusher” to some other lucky family, and I found one (1) bag of corn (previously frozen, now thawed and halfway to moonshine). And it turns out she DOES have pants. I told her she had pants. 

I had been planning to make chicken cooked in this yakitori sauce, plus rice and maybe fried eggplant, but I ran out of time, so I just seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder, and slowly fried it in hot oil. 

and I cooked a bunch of frozen fries. Not spectacular, but I was running so late, everyone was starving by supper time. For the amount of time it took, I could have made breaded and oven-fried chicken, which is a tasty recipe

Jump to Recipe

but the oven was full of fries. It was good enough!

THURSDAY

On Thursday we took advantage of the free kid’s ticket deal at Old Sturbridge Village, which is, in fact, like the 1830’s except without the racists, and I bet you five bucks Taylor Swift went to Old Sturbridge Village in fourth grade just like I did. I remembered exactly two things from that trip: The lady making cookies on a fire, and the gift shop. So I wasn’t actually sure how much fun it would be, but it was great! We met my friend Theresa

We strolled around for several hours. Bunch of pictures here:

 

Really good day, and everyone enjoyed it. We stopped at McDonald’s on the way home. I wanted to listen to the Trump trial on the way there, but on the way back, Lucy took charge and we were treated to her curated Box Social Playlist, which includes De La Soul, The Killers, The Beastie Boys, a little French Electroswing, and so on. My kids are all such interesting monsters. 

I stayed up super late because we went to bed around midnight and then I thought I would read for ten minutes or so to help me drift off to sleep, and the book I picked up was Laurus, and the part I was up to was the part where he meets Ustina . . .

So, if you have read this book, you will know that I did not drift off to sleep. I read for two hours with my eyes bugging out and other parts of me clenched, and when I finally forced myself to put the book down and go to sleep, I had some weird frickin dreams. NO SPOILERS PLEASE. I’m only on page 101!

FRIDAY
Ravioli

Ravioli is what they wanted, so ravioli they shall get. And maybe I will do something with that eggplant. 

We’ve had a certain amount of duck drama this week. Spring is an emotional time for ducks, especially drakes, and EJ and Coin had some interpersonal issues to work out; and then, in an unrelated incident, EJ hurt his leg, so he’s been spending his nights in the infirmary, which happens to be Damien’s office. But he’s doing much better and hobbling around and looking good (I mean EJ, not Damien. Damien always looks good, but he was not hobbling!), which is a relief, because if I was going to kill and eat anyone, I would really prefer it to be Coin.

And now Ducklings Annie and Bebe are outside for the first time in their lives, so get ready for a bunch of duckling content while we work on integrating them with the big ducks! Corrie just went to get some peas, and not one but two of my kids intercepted her to nab some frozen peas for themselves before the ducks got them. So, stay tuned for increased vegetable content this coming week, too, I guess. 

Oven-fried chicken

so much easier than pan frying, and you still get that crisp skin and juicy meat

Ingredients

  • chicken parts (wings, drumsticks, thighs)
  • milk (enough to cover the chicken at least halfway up)
  • eggs (two eggs per cup of milk)
  • flour
  • your choice of seasonings (I usually use salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and chili powder)
  • oil and butter for cooking

Instructions

  1. At least three hours before you start to cook, make an egg and milk mixture and salt it heavily, using two eggs per cup of milk, so there's enough to soak the chicken at least halfway up. Beat the eggs, add the milk, stir in salt, and let the chicken soak in this. This helps to make the chicken moist and tender.

  2. About 40 minutes before dinner, turn the oven to 425, and put a pan with sides into the oven. I use a 15"x21" sheet pan and I put about a cup of oil and one or two sticks of butter. Let the pan and the butter and oil heat up.

  3. While it is heating up, put a lot of flour in a bowl and add all your seasonings. Use more than you think is reasonable! Take the chicken parts out of the milk mixture and roll them around in the flour until they are coated on all sides.

  4. Lay the floured chicken in the hot pan, skin side down. Let it cook for 25 minutes.

  5. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes.

  6. Check for doneness and serve immediately. It's also great cold.

What’s for supper? Vol. 374: In which we all forge ahead

Happy Friday! Pretty straightforward meals this week, because everything else was complicated enough. Spring is undeniably here, finally, even though there are still a few sodden, grimy hills of snow lurking about here and there. Every tree has a little halo of high green or red, right on the verge of exploding into true green. I see my peonies wriggling their peculiar dark red stalks up out of the soil, and the first of the daffodils have bloomed, and most of the crocuses. The tulips are biding their time, and so are the day lilies, irises, and lilies of the valley. The lupines are back, and maybe they’ll even flower this year. Sedum is raring to go, cat mint is forging ahead, and I’m forcing myself to wait before I uncover the strawberries and asparagus, but I have high hopes. Lots of buds on the apple trees and the mock orange and the lilacs, and yes, on the peach tree! 

I made a little progress on my wattle fence, this time trying a bunch of aspen saplings. The first row was a variety of things, grapevine and misc., and those turned out to be too thin. I probably should have pulled that part out and started over, but I just compressed the first row and started weaving branches on top of it. The result would definitely get me kicked out of even the least discerning medieval guild, but it is SO MUCH FUN, and it is sturdy, so I think it will keep soil in, which is my goal.

My compost heap looks rich and lovely, and I have squash, pumpkin, eggplant, and pea seedlings ready to move once the danger of frost has passed (in about a month!), and I think I bought some gem glass corn seeds, and probably a bunch of other stuff I bought on whims. I have to go out and cut down a ton more wood for the fence, which is also extremely enjoyable. Tromping around on the old, dry sticks of last year and seeking out what’s new and useful for the spring, wow. Sonny comes along and frolics, which he believes to be helpful, which it kind of is. I bought some more grape vines and some blueberry bushes on clearance at Walmart (what a world), too. Go go go!

I also got some poppy roots, and I feel like this year is the year I will finally be able to grow poppies, unlike the other six times I attempted it. I’ve been using my most excellent hori hori garden knife to plant things

which was a birthday or Christmas present, I forget which. I love this thing so much. It bites right into the ground and you give it a little twist and excavate a precise little hole, exactly where you want it. As you can see, it’s marked with measurements so you can get to the right depth. Wonderful tool.

SATURDAY
Aldi pizza

Saturday I just went shopping and we had Aldi pizza for supper. Damien spent his weekend writing and working on various cars. We don’t have babies anymore; instead, we have ducks and cars. 

SUNDAY
Chicken enchiladas

I was toying with the idea of putting enchilada filling in empanadas, but the kids told me that when I take a meal that everyone likes and then MESS with it, it’s upsetting. So I just made enchiladas. My enchiladas are what they are. Every time I mention them, someone who grew up near the southern border expresses polite amazement that I am calling these “enchiladas,” so instead I will call then “my kids eat theses.” Which is what I was going for!

Anyway, I basically follow Pioneer Woman’s recipe, except I use flour tortillas and I don’t brown them. So it’s just seasoned chicken (I actually used thighs, not breasts) browned up

and then shredded (don’t forget you can use your mixer to shred meat)

and then a ton of onions,

which I cooked slowly in the chickeny pan (and yes, PW is one of those people who directs you to caramelize onions in 4-5 minutes. I will never do this to you. It took at least half an hour, and I hurried it).

Then I shredded a bunch of cheese, dipped the tortillas in enchilada sauce, and rolled up the chicken, onions, and cheese in the tortillas, and laid it in a saucy pan, and then poured more sauce on top, and then sprinkled more cheese and cumin and chili powder on top. 

I think you’re supposed to just roll up enchiladas, but I always forget this and tuck the ends in as I roll, like for a burrito. Whatever. I made a whole bunch of them, some red, some green, and served them with cilantro and sour cream, and they were yummy. 

It was a chilly, rainy day, and these Authentic Mexican Kid-eat-ums hit the spot.

MONDAY
Kielbasa, potato, and Brussels sprouts one-pan meal; adults went out

Monday I heard the cry of my people for kielbasa, and made this easy and popular one-pan meal 

Jump to Recipe

In the morning, just to signal to myself that I was serious, I put out the bag of red potatoes, the packages of Brussels sprouts, and the kielbasa, and the savage and carnivorous cat immediately pounced on . . . 

the Brussels sprouts. Beware, o thou cruciferous ones! There will be no peace for you with this mighty hunter prowling abroad. 

I made up the honey mustard garlic sauce, which you can add halfway through cooking, or reserve for dipping at the end. Or you can put half of it on halfway through cooking and use the rest for dipping. Be like the cat and follow your heart. 

I made two big pans. This is both pans combined; you will want them to have more space to cook when you’re making it. 

You can also make this dish with wedges of cabbage, which I prefer; but the kids like Brussels sprouts better. I didn’t get a vote because Damien and I went out to eat, which we haven’t done in a WHILE. We wanted to try this newish taco place in town, but it closed at 8, which, what do I know. Maybe that’s a reasonable time for a taco place to close. So we went to Mi Jalisco, which has decent Mexican food but sometimes incredibly slow service. I mean like a few times when we went, we honestly thought they forgot about us. Anyway this time it was slowish, but not terrible. Gosh, this is a boring story. 

Anyway, Damien got carne asada and I got some kind of shrimp and mushroom dish, which was tasty. 

I wasn’t quite sure how to pronounce the name of this dish, which I confessed to the waiter, and he said he didn’t either. Let us all take a moment and salute the intrepid white guy working at a Mexican restaurant, just sweating and doing his best and forging ahead. 

TUESDAY
Chicken on salad

Tuesday I felt the need to reintroduce the family to green vegetables, so we had roast chicken on salad, with feta cheese, toasted almonds, and dried cranberries. 

A decent meal that was elevated by IT BEING WARM ENOUGH OUTSIDE TO EAT OUTSIDE. 

There are lilies popping up in those planters, and I have a bunch of marigold and morning glory and zinnia seedlings waiting to be transplanted. ALMOST. ALMOST time. 

On Wednesday night, I prepped some pork for tomorrow’s meal, so it could brine itself overnight. I mixed together a cup of sugar and a cup of salt and rubbed that all over a hunk of fatty pork shoulder, wrapped it up, and put it in the fridge.

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, pineapple

Around noon, I unwrapped the pork and put it, uncovered, in a pan in a 300 oven. I was so pleased with myself for planning this out, because I had an interview in the morning, and then the afternoon was …. well, it took many revisions, but the final form was:

Damien takes the kids to school, Elijah takes my car to class and on the way home, picks up Lucy who had early release because of PSATs; Lena takes Damien’s car to work; Damien takes my car and drops off me and Elijah at U-Haul; I drive the rented truck back and Elijah drops my car off for Damien; Lucy and Elijah and I go and get the free wood, and stop and get ice cream because I felt bad about ruining their day, because that wood was frickin heavy; Sophia walks to work; Corrie goes into aftercare and Benny goes to the library, and Lena drives herself home from work and then picks them both up; I stop home and dragoon Irene, who got home on the bus, into helping to unload the wood; then I return the truck and Elijah picks me up at U-Haul with my car, I text Lena to press the “rice” button on the Instant Pot, and we pick up Sophia from work and then we GO HOME. 

My car now has FOUR warning lights lit up, and one of them is flashing, but WE WILL GET TO IT. By which I mean Damien. My job is to wring my hands and fret, and then Damien fixes the car while I think about fun projects I can do.

Anyway, by the time we all got home, the rice was just about cooked, and the meat was ready for its final step, which is just a little extra sauce and then high heat for ten minutes. 

I lost my phone, so I don’t have a pic, but here’s a previous finished bo ssam:

Here’s the whole recipe, such as it is, in one spot: 

Mix together a cup of sugar and a cup of salt, and rub this all over a fatty pork shoulder.
Wrap it up in plastic and put it in the fridge overnight. 

Six hours before you want to eat, turn the oven to 300, line a pan with at least two layers of tin foil and put the pork in, fatty side up. (Don’t bother to transfer all the salt and sugar, except what’s clinging to the meat.)
Cook the meat, uncovered for six hours.
Ten minutes before you want to eat, mix together seven tablespoons of brown sugar, two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and a sprinkle of sea salt, and rub this paste all over the top of the meat and crank the oven up to 500.
Serve whole, and people can pull off bits and shreds of meat and wrap it in lettuce, with rice. 

If you want a more detailed recipe and you want to make a truly delicious sauce and sides to go with it, check out My Korean Kitchen’s recipe. This dish is VERY salty and sweet, so it’s good to have rice and something cooling to go with it, like mango. I had pineapple, which was decent (although I’m one of those “wow, I love pineapple, but it’s crazy how it’s such a popular fruit even though makes everyone’s mouth itchy and their lips swell up” people. Don’t care, love pineapple, forging ahead).

So, the WOOD I got used to be a small deck and a wheelchair ramp. So I now have three long, thin sections which will go a long way toward the bog bridge I keep talking about, to bridge this area, which is much wetter than it looks

and the rest of the wood is three or four square sections which I think will make a lovely pool deck. Right now, there are two ways to get into the pool: On a rickety ladder that is embarrassingly slightly narrower than my hips, or via a cannibalized wooden swing set I put together a few years ago. The swing set thing has worked well enough — mainly I wanted something I could sit on and act as lifeguard, without having to be in the pool myself — but it does have some structurally necessary pieces of wood that make it extremely awkward to enter and exit. SO, I’m going to add some legs to the square pieces and bolt them onto the lifeguard thing, and IN THEORY, we will have an actual deck. Or not. Probably yes, though! 

Anyway, it turns out I am old, and driving a gigantic scary truck for two hours and lugging extremely heavy wood around is my limit for the day, and I was chatting with Benny after dinner and apparently dozed off mid-sentence, and she turned off the light and tiptoed away, and I spent the next hour drooling all over my own face until the evening screaming and quacking brought me back to the land of the living. 

You know what, those ducklings are jusssssst about old enough to move outside. I really like them, but dang, they are loud, and smelly. 

Look how big they got! Annie is the one with the mostly white chest, and Bebe is the one with more spots.

Annie started to quack a few days ago, but Bebe is still meep-meep-meeping. The cat is okay with them (I encouraged them from day one to spend time together, because it seemed like less work than constantly being on alert to keep them from killing each other; and yes, they were all equally at risk), but I think he will be relieved when they move out. 

THURSDAY
Hamburgers and chips

Nothing to report. Actually I have to report that the Dollar Store version of Pringles are really, really terrible. 

And they’re not even a dollar! Everything is $1.25 now, except there is also an aisle where things are $3 or even $5. What a world (derogatory).

The burgers were fine, though. We ate really early because we had one final family faith formation parent meeting for the year. I was kind of scratching my head over why we didn’t manage to make it to more meetings, and then I realized we spent the year getting Corrie prepped for first confession and first communion and confirmation, which is not all supposed to be in one year! So we ended up missing a lot of the classes which were directed at families who were not prepping kids for sacraments.

This is our first year doing whole family faith formation, and I must grudgingly admit that it’s kind of brilliant. Gonna write that up in a bit. 

FRIDAY
Quesadillas, chips and salsa

Or maybe we will all just go outside and graze on free wood. I sure have a lot of free wood. This is the view from my bedroom window:

No ragrets! But I might treat myself to a cordless impact driver, which Ryan says I will want, and Ryan is usually right. 

I am HOPING to have one or both of these projects (bog bridge and pool deck) done by July 4th, but if I had to pick one, I would pick the bog bridge; but I think MAYBE I can do both. I did manage to get my brick patio done by July 4th last year, if you’ll recall. (Yes, I was laying bricks in the dark while weeping on the evening of July 3rd, but I did get it done!) I got this wood from a fellow who said he had been planning to make a koi pond in his back yard, but never got around to it, so I’m gonna forge ahead on his behalf. 

Okay, I think that’s it. I shall pray for all you cheesebags at adoration (right after I swing by the school and drop off the overnight bag I forgot to pack for the kid who’s going on a sleepover, oops). 

UPDATE: Corrie remembered on her own to pack bags! Three of them! Meep meep meep! All the ducklings growing up. Everybody forging ahead. 

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

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

Ingredients

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

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

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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. 

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

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

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

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

    Serve hot with dressing and parsley for a garnish. 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 371: St. Joseph’s Pizza!

Happy Friday! I’m going through my food photos and noticing that we are not doing great with the part of Lent where you don’t eat a lot. But really, there are two whole other important pillars of Lent. To wit: Praying, and giving alms. And those are going very, you know what, mind your own business.

Here’s what we had this week: 

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

Saturday I went shopping, of course, so we just had chicken burgers and chips for supper. I did make a second batch of maple syrup, even smaller than the last one, though.

Annnd I may have overcooked it a skosh. 

I was planning an Irish breakfast for Sunday, which was St. Patrick’s day. But I couldn’t find sourdough bread at either supermarket, so I decided to try making my own. In my usual thorough researchly fashion, I Googled “sourdough bread without a starter” and clicked on the first recipe that popped up. Started the dough and set it to rise in a warm spot (in the box of socks in the laundry room, which is over a heating vent) overnight. 

I also, feeling very pleased with myself for all the things I was getting done, put both ice cream bowls in the freezer for the next day.

I also rented a pickup truck for the next day, so I could pick up an amazing offer from Facebook marketplace: Two docks, one 8×8 feet, one 16×4 feet, and the long skinny one had a handrail!!! Free!!!! And only about half an hour away. 

The reason I wanted these was because I’m planning to build a bog bridge over the swampy area of the yard so we can get to the stream more easily. I had thrilling plans of using the long dock as a sturdy entrance point to the bridge, and the square one as a sort of floating deck halfway there, and I was thinking of adding birdhouses and solar-powered lights and geraniums in terra cotta pots, and a couple of tasteful deck chairs, and it would be such a lovely little project that would really transform that part of the property, and I was feeling incredibly lucky to have been the first one to jump on the offer, and they were really well-made, solid docks with no rotten wood, and it was all coming together!

You can probably tell, based on how excited I am about this, that it all went to hell. It really, really did. Read on! 

SUNDAY
Irish breakfast, maple walnut ice cream

Sunday we went to Mass, I started some maple walnut ice cream going, using the syrup I had made yesterday, which I warmed up in a pot of water until it was soft enough to stir. (Here’s a similar ice cream recipe, and just ignore the part about coconut cream, and instead add 1/4 cup maple syrup, and then stir in some chopped walnuts after you churn it)

Jump to Recipe

I also made a batch of chocolate chip ice cream (same base, but add chocolate chips). Jammed those in the freezer and headed out to get my wonderful docks. 

Okay. So. I really can’t stand to revisit every last horrible detail, but it included a woman screaming “STOP!” and a man shouting, “What are you DOING??” and then when we got past that part and found the right field instead of the Very Wrong Field, there was a long spell where Damien and I were standing in the rain in that field, coming up with every last possible scenario we could that might possibly end up with us loading up these docks and bringing them home.

When we got to the part where I suggested going back home, getting our mini chainsaw and as many teenagers as we could find, and then using all our might to load the hacked-up pieces of dock into the truck and making maybe five or six trips to get it home, and then returning the pickup truck to U-Haul on time, we just kind of looked at each other and said, ” . . . Yeah, no.”

It was sad. It was tragic. But the fact is, we really needed a winch and a flatbed for this job. I did call a flatbed company and had a short argument with the dispatcher, but when they finally called back, I missed the call, and that was the final chapter in a long and stupid story called “It Was Just Not Meant To Be.”

So I went home and cried a little bit, to be honest with you, because I really wanted those docks, and also I felt like I was the dumbest person in the world because nothing every works out, boo hoo hoo, and the maple syrup was all my fault, and I had forgotten to buy potatoes for the Irish breakfast, and then I fetched the dough for the alleged soda bread that had been rising for 20 hours, and it was . . . in keeping with the rest of my efforts that day.

 

HOWEVER, I baked what I had, and they turned out somewhat reminiscent of bread.

Damien made the bacon, and we actually had a really tasty meal. I roasted some mushrooms with — I don’t remember, probably garlic, salt, pepper, butter, oil, and then some lemon juice at the end, and I roasted some tomato halves with olive oil, salt, and pepper. 

 I cut the bread into thick little wedges

and I heated up some baked beans, and then I fried a bunch of duck eggs in bacon grease, and yes, all together it was delicious. 

Even without potatoes. 

But! The ice cream didn’t freeze! I don’t know why! Maybe my freezer is overstuffed and the bowls are not getting sufficiently chilled. What can one say. Begorrah. We definitely ate it anyway, but it was more like a thin milkshake than ice cream. 

MONDAY
Mussel lo mein

Monday I was pretty ready to have everything go better, and it did. Aldi was selling pouches of cooked mussel meat for $3 a pound a while back, so I pulled those out of the freezer and let them defrost while I did yoga. My sprained (or whatever) ankle was finally feeling well enough to do a full class again, so that was nice; and the cat stole one of the bags of mussels but did not manage to open it, so that was also nice!

At dinner time, I boiled three pounds of linguine, and started the lo mein with minced garlic and ginger, then added diced red onion and sugar snap peas, and then the mussels,

and then I put in 2/3 of the pasta and the sauce, and it was a lovely lo mein.

I served the rest of the pasta plain, for people who prefer that. 

The lo mein was so good. I adore this recipe. It’s so fast and easy, and just delicious, and you can put whatever you want in it. 

TUESDAY
Pizza, cannoli 

Tuesday I had to face the fact that, even though I love St. Joseph very much, I had just plain forgotten that it was his feast day. Most years, we do a big Italian feast, but we were pretty zonked this week, so I just made pizza. 

I did make a pretty deluxe pizza for the wild card one (I generally make one pepperoni, one plane, and one wild card pizza): Fresh garlic, roast tomatoes (left over from the Irish meal), spinach, anchovies, artichoke hearts, and black olives. 

Ahem: 
 
I can see a new horizonUnderneath the blazin’ sky.I’ll be where the sauce is flyin’(Not Srebenica!)

Gonna be your mom in motionAll I need’s this bag of cheese.Take me where my future’s lyin’St. Joseph’s pizza! 

Look, the original song doesn’t make any sense, either. 

We also happened to have cannoli shells in the house, which Damien grabbed months ago because they aren’t always in stores, so you get them while you can. I made a basic filling (ricotta cheese, vanilla, cinnamon, and powdered sugar) and piped it into the shells, then decorated them with rainbow sprinkles. 

Not actually very swanky (I didn’t have time to let the filling drain, so it was kinda wet), but heyyy. St. Joseph. Not Srebenica. 

WEDNESDAY
Butter chicken, rice, dal

Wednesday was duckling day! We ordered them a while back, thinking they would arrive after Easter when things had “”””””calmed down a little,”””””” but in fact they came on Wednesday. Here they are, noisily waiting in the post office to be picked up

The last batch of ducks we got were named after some of Damien’s great uncles, E.J., Coin, Fay, and Ray; so these ones are named after my paternal grandmother, Annie, and her sisters Mickey and Bebe.

They’re a little confused

but quite winsome

Here’s a couple of videos from the first and second day, meeting the rest of the animals. 

They are Black Swedish ducks, and their personalities are somewhat different from the last little flock we got, which are pekin ducks. They are less sleepy and more jumpy, and they already look more duck-shaped than the pekins did at this age. (The pekins were just fuzzy blobs for about a week, but these guys have discernible necks already.) 

Last time, we got a straight run, meaning nobody had figured out yet what sex they are. We ended up with two boys and two girls, which is not ideal (there are some power struggles). So this time we paid extra to get them sexed, and these are all girls. They’re supposed to be friendly and cold-hearty and good foragers, and the shells of their eggs will be a darker, bluish shade. This is what they will look like as adults

One of my upcoming projects is to make a better fence, because our current flock finds it very easy to escape, and they’ve been roaming all over the property and also off the property, and we’re not really sure if everyone else finds them as charming as we do. They do get plenty of exercise this way, and nobody has eaten them yet. 

Anyway! Still had to make supper, and the menu said butter chicken and dal. I’ve never had or even seen, much less made dal before. I followed the recipe in Julie Sahni’s cookbook, except I think I had the wrong kind of lentils. It said yellow or pink, and I had ones that were kind of orangey and are called “football lentils.” 

Anyway it was a super easy recipe. You just simmer the lentils in water with turmeric until they’re tender,

whisk them until they’re blended (that was fun), and then at the end, add some oil that you’ve browned a bunch of sliced garlic in.

I think it came out much thicker than it’s supposed to be — more of a paste than anything you could conceivably sip — but it was DELICIOUS. 

The butter chicken is also so easy. You just have to start early (or the night before) so it can marinate, but then I followed this recipe from RecipeTinEats, except I accidentally bought vanilla yogurt instead of plain, so I used sour cream instead. Worked great. You just cook up the chicken, then put in your tomato, cream, salt, and sugar, and let it simmer a bit longer.

I ended up with a lot more sauce than we needed for the chicken (possibly it was thinner because it was sour cream instead of yogurt? I don’t know), but better too much than too little. 

I sure wish I had some naan or some other kind of bread, but I was — well, to be honest, I was tired because I was so excited about the ducks. So I just made a big pot of rice to go with it. Set out some more cilantro and there it was. 

Such a nice, lovely meal. I ate so much.  Just about everybody likes butter chicken. The dal was not a huge hit, but I myself loved it, so I’m probably going to try again on a day when I can also make naan, and maybe I can talk them into it that way. 

THURSDAY
Banh mi, Doritos

Thusday we had banh mi, which we haven’t had for quite some time, because the smell is a bit of a trial for some people who live in this house. 

I made a very slight tweak in the marinade

Jump to Recipe

(running the cilantro through the food processor, rather than just chopping it up coarsely) and I liked it, so I’ll do it that way from now on.

I quick-pickled some carrots 

Jump to Recipe

and did the ol’ glass-skull-full-of-pickled-carrots maneuver 

I just cut up the cucumbers and left them unpickled, because there are so many sharp, attention-getting flavors in this sandwich already. 

The meat turned out extremely tender.

I had my sandwich with pickled carrots and fresh cilantro and some sriracha mayo, but I forgot to add cucumbers and jalapeños. I did toast the rolls, though, which I don’t always bother to do. 

Magnificent. This is truly one of the great lights in the universe of sandwiches. My only regret was the pickled carrots were too sweet, but (so) the kids liked them a lot. We also had Doritos, which were a surprisingly good accompaniment to this sandwich. Or maybe I just like Doritos. 

Late Thursday night, we lost one of the ducklings. I mean it died, we didn’t lose track of it. They were only a few days old and I don’t really know what happened. It just happens sometimes. The other two seem pretty hale and hearty, and now . . . I have to figure out which name I should assign to the one who didn’t make it, which is an unforeseen pitfall of naming brand-new ducklings after real people!

Ah well. 

FRIDAY
Bagel, egg, cheese sandwiches

Friday was Benny’s school conference (Corrie’s was Thursday afternoon), and we made a stop afterwards at a favorite thrift store, where Benny found an absolutely lovely, brand new dress that fits her like a dream, and I found eighteen matching tiny wine glasses for $4. Perfect for Passover, which we will be celebrating on Holy Saturday as usual. Which is . . . .coming right up, isn’t it. There isn’t much in the way of Passover food to be found in the supermarkets, because actual Passover isn’t for more than another month, but I’ll figure it out. 

Deep down, I’m glad I’m not frantically trying to figure out what to do about the two docks that are in my driveway right now. It just took a couple of days to realize I felt that way. 

It is snowing.

Ben and Jerry's coconut ice cream

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whipping cream or heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 15 oz coconut cream

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs for two minutes until fluffy.

  2. Add in the sugar gradually and whisk another minute.

  3. Pour in the milk and cream and coconut cream (discarding the waxy disk thing) and continue whisking to blend.

  4. Add to your ice cream maker and follow the directions. (I use a Cuisinart ICE-20P1 and churn it for 30 minutes, then transfer the ice cream to a container, cover it, and put it in the freezer.)

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.

5 from 1 vote
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Pork banh mi

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs Pork loin
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 minced onion
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 tsp pepper

Veggies and dressing

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • cilantro
  • mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce

Instructions

  1. Slice the raw pork as thinly as you can. 

  2. Mix together the fish sauce ingredients and add the meat slices. Seal in a ziplock bag to marinate, as it is horrendously stinky. Marinate several hours or overnight. 

  3. Grill the meat over coals or on a pan under a hot broiler. 

  4. Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread. 

 

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

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

Ingredients

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

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

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

Instructions

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

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

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 370: Meatball style

Happy Friday! I’m sitting outside the library typing in my car, because it has been and continues to be That Kind Of Week. Despite the week’s worst intentions, we did manage to have a few tasty meals, though. Read on!

SATURDAY
Hot dogs and chips

Into every life, a little hot dog must fall. I happen to love hot dogs and would serve them once a week if I could get away with it. Alas. 

But piping hot, natural casing hot dogs are just so good. The only thing that could make this better is a little sauerkraut and the square kind of bun with the ends all torn up and inhabiting a space just barely this side of food, rather than some kind of cotton batting. And the bun should be steamed like at a baseball game. And I guess maybe a plate, but that is negotiable.

SUNDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad

On Sunday, I faced my fate and made dinner for the youth group. Actually I made the meatballs Saturday night, because everything always takes longer than it should, and I wanted to have that part squared away. 

As you can see, I put them on baking racks and cooked them in the oven, which is the fastest and tidiest way to make a large amount of meatballs. 

On Sunday, I chopped up a bunch of carrots and cucumbers and made a bunch of garlic bread and a quadruple batch of brownies, and then I dragooned Clara into helping me lug it over to the church basement, where I started a giant pot of water heating up, and prepped everything. 

It was completely delightful to be back in an industrial kitchen. The dank smell of propane and the sharp smell of stainless steel, the faint milky stank of the giant refrigerator, the no-nonsense aprons, the vast rolls of plastic wrap, the capacious ladles, the quantity of tongs. I don’t even know how many kitchens I’ve worked in, but it’s a lot! My natural habitat. 

HOWEVER, it’s been a while, and I did forget just how long it takes for one of those massive pots of water to boil. It was a nail-biter (not literally. We are very sanitary here, and we keep our paws out of our mouths), but I did get the pasta cooked just in the nick of time.

The church hall, where the kitchen is, has some bathroom issues they’re working on, so the group was eating in a separate building on the second floor, rather than next to the kitchen. So we lugged over a big pot of sauce and meatballs, a big bowl of spaghetti, the pans of garlic bread, the salad, several jugs of juice, salad dressing and grated cheese, and a big platter of frosted brownies. They offered to have us eat with them, but we decided instead to skulk back to the kitchen and clean it in peace, and then we went home to eat. I did sign up to make another meal in a few months, but I think I’m gonna serve something cold next time. I can cook or I can lug, but I don’t want to do both. 

I had also made spaghetti and meatballs for the people at home, and the best way to describe the situation we found ourselves in at the end of that day is: That sure was a lot of meatballs.  

MONDAY
Meatball subs, raw vegetables

Truly, a lot of meatballs. I had been planning to make spiedies this week, but I put the pork back in the freezer and used the rolls for meatballs subs. 

And I made a giant platter of raw vegetables, because I’m half rabbit these days. 

TUESDAY
Pizza

Tuesday I had a longish trip in the morning and came back feeling pretty floppy, so Damien made these pizzas: One pepperoni, one cheese, and one, you’ll never guess, or maybe you will guess: meatball. 

This may or may not have been the last of the meatballs. Either the last of them went on the pizza, or the last of them pissed someone off and they threw them away. Doesn’t matter which one. I feel like justice was served, meatball style. 

Also on Tuesday, I started boiling my maple sap. I made some dumb mistakes storing it, and I don’t want to talk about it, but I found myself at a crossroads, so it was boil or nothing, and for various other reasons that I also don’t want to talk about, it was also boil inside or nowhere. I started out with about four gallons

and let them simmer for several hours, until it was time to go to bed, and I had this:

and then the next morning, I started boiling it again until it reached 220 degrees, and I got this:

Nice color, intense flavor, plenty thick, not much of it! I’m still collecting sap and hope to have a second boil this weekend, and I’m thinking of making what I’ve got into maple walnut ice cream. 

WEDNESDAY
Italian wedding soup, pumpkin muffins

And now for something completely different! A  . . . different kind of meatball!!!!

Ground turkey was $3/lb., so I made a one-and-a-half recipe of this Sip and Feast version of Italian wedding soup. The changes I made were: Skipped the celery because I accidentally ate it all (see: rabbit), I used kale instead of escarole because I remembered the recipe wrong when I was shopping, and I used orzo because I did buy acini de pepe specifically for the soup, but it disappeared when it came home and nobody knows how. 

It’s oh such a pleasant, nourishing soup, though. First I made the meatballs, which I baked on parchment paper. Then you chop and sauté your veggies. (I threw the onion and carrots in the food processor, which doesn’t make the most elegant results, but it does the job.)

Then add chicken stock. You’re supposed to add the pasta now and then the meatballs and then serve, but I was making soup in the morning and didn’t want the pasta to get mushy, so I put the meatballs in and let it simmer all day, and then added the orzo shortly before dinner. Turned out perfect. Lovely, lovely soup. 

It would have been great with hot, crusty bread or some garlic knots, but what I had on hand was muffin ingredients, so I made a batch of these pumpkin muffins 

Jump to Recipe

This recipe makes two loaves or 18 muffins, and I have made dozens of times, and it only turned out bad one time that I can recall. 

They are just tender and pleasant, nothing earthshaking, but reliable and a great way to round out a meal. 

Sometimes you want something that is the same all the way through. No tricks! Just muffin. 

I had a little more parmesan cheese to top the soup (the meatballs also have grated parmesan in them) and it was a very fine meal. 

Also MILLIE came home on Wednesday! so I brought her a few muffins and she gave me a sewing machine. So nature has been restored. 

THURSDAY 
Japanese chicken thighs, rice, cucumbers; strawberry rhubarb pie and peach pineapple pie

Thursday some of the kids had dentist appointments, and the driving situation was such that I decided it made more sense to just keep those kids home for the rest of the day. Which they thought was a great idea until the middle schooler realized she was missing the Pi recitation contest at school, because March 14 is Pi Day, and she hadn’t exactly been working hard to memorize pi, but she had definitely been stressing out about it, and now she was missing it. So I was more or less forced to make a couple of pies. 

The truth is, I’m almost always on the verge of making pies, and it takes very little to push me over the edge. 

First I made a sauce for the chicken, though. It’s nice and easy – you just throw everything into a pan and get your resident nine-year-old to stir it for you until it thickens up. This particular child approaches cooking just like I do: Recipes are all very well, and of course it would be nice to end up with something that tastes good, but the main part is staring at the pan and thinking about why bubbles are like that. 

This is the recipe I used, which is intended for chicken yakitori, which is pieces of chicken on skewers. Someday I will actually make that, but in the mean time, the sauce is top notch. I actually double the amount of fresh garlic and ginger, and I stand by that. When it was close to dinner time, I lined a pan with parchment paper, tossed the chicken thighs in the sauce so they were all coated, and just cooked them in a 350 oven for maybe thirty minutes. 

Juicy and delicious. If I had been cooking the chicken by itself, I probably would have turned the heat up, and maybe broiled it at least at the end, but I was also baking some pies, so we all had to make some compromises. The chicken was great, I just would have liked the skin a little more crisp. 

The flavor was tremendous, though. As you can see, I made some rice and cut up a bunch of plain cucumbers. I had made a triple batch of the sauce and saved out a third of it, and served it on the side for dipping and for the rice.

Make the sauce! It’s so good.

So now the pies. I made a double recipe of this pie crust

Jump to Recipe

and made the mistake of thinking to myself, “My pie crust always turns out so good. I should make a video to show people how I do it.” So of course you know what happened. The frickin’ stuff would not hold together, and it was just a crumbly mess. No idea why. (I do know why:  Not enough water. The mystery is, why didn’t I add more water? I don’t know.)

I managed to roll out two bottom crusts and get them in pie plates, and then I had to figure out the filling. I did NOT want to go to the store, so I found a can of sliced peaches and a can of crushed pineapple in the cabinet, drained them, and added a cup of sugar, half a cup of flour, some cinnamon, a little lemon juice, a little vanilla, and some butter on top

You can see the raggy-ass crust I was dealing with here. I did manage to piece together a lattice top, which looks difficult but is super forgiving once it’s baked, especially if you brush it with egg and sprinkle it with sugar. 

Then I dragged out the rhubarb I threw in the freezer last summer and chopped that up.

I toyed with the idea of a rhubarb pear pie, and I still think that sounds good, but also like a good way to go to a lot of trouble making a pie that only you eat, which doesn’t serve anybody’s purposes, except possibly — no, really nobody’s. 

So I settled on strawberry rhubarb, and asked Damien to bring home some strawberries. This does not count as going to the store, because we also needed milk, and half-and-half, and various things, and a little Spongebob figurine for the sea monkey tank, and so on. I more or less followed the Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe for the filling. I have such mixed feelings about old Sally. She gives you SO much detail, and she’s so bossy about every little thing, but on the other hand, she indisputably knows what she’s talking about. I bet she never gets stuck with meatballs for four days.

I only had a little crust left because, well, I had eaten a lot of the dough. So I rolled it out and, remembering how pretty the elite pita turned out last week, I used the swirly embossed rolling pin, thinking it might turn out decorative and ornate, maybe? 

Probably if the dough had been more supple, I would have had something, but as it was, the crust just came out looking less decorative, and more like I don’t know how to make pie crust, which allegations I cannot beat. 

Blorp.

It was delicious, though. Sweet and tart and tender, and honestly the crust was great. Not beautiful, but very flaky and tender. 

The peach pineapple one came out looking a little more respectable, except I overbaked it by a few minutes

And it tasted . . . exactly like what it was. If I were trying to sell this recipe, I’d say it was a nostalgic throwback to those cans of fruit cocktail that mom used to serve for lunch. Not bad! Just not terribly sophisticated. No regrets, because we had pie. 

My other big excitement on Thursday was that I got a big load of pressure treated wood from Facebook Marketplace. I’m really gonna make that walkway across the marsh!

Here’s the spot I want to span:

and here’s the two piles of wood I have to work with:

Some of the short pieces are pretty thick, so I might be able to use them as supports to go underneath; or I might scout around and see if I can find a fallen tree, and cut that into sections; OR, I might get some barrels and use those. It’s about sixty feet of space and I really think I can do this, and then the stream will be so much more accessible. Right now it’s an adventure with thorns and muck, and it’s worth it, but sometimes you just can’t make yourself do it. 

But imagine if I had a lovely wooden walkway, and maybe a string of lights and a birdhouse or two? Maybe.

FRIDAY
Tuna burgers, tater tots

There is some kind of terrible dance recital this evening. I would really just as soon stay home with the kids and make precious memories of watching TV, but that’s not how you get a free T-shirt, so I guess we’re going. 

If I have time, I will make tuna burgers, which is one drained can of tuna, one egg, and half a cup of breadcrumbs, plus whatever seasonings you want, and then you form them into four patties (or possibly two, per can? I haven’t made this in a long time), and fry them gently in oil until they are brown on both sides and hot all the way through. I think exactly two people in the family like tuna burgers. I did buy tater tots, so that should get me something. 

This will only be possible if we can get the car started, though. I’m currently outside the library sitting in a dead car, waiting for Damien to come rescue me again. Such. Is. Life. At least we had plenty of meatballs.

Pumpkin quick bread or muffins

Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 367: I knead you so badly

Happy Friday! We’ve been eating a little too well for Lent. Don’t tell my bishop. Or, actually go ahead and tell him. I went and got fired from the diocesan magazine already last week, so do your worst. (I don’t really know why it happened, other than that I am annoying. It’s fine. Something else always turns up, and I can go be annoying to a slightly different subset of readers, inshallah.)

Anyway, here’s what we had this week, which was February vacation for most of the kids:  

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips

Usually, for grilled cheese, I buy a few loaves of sourdough bread that comes in very large pieces, but they were out of them at Aldi, so I got some pleasant-looking Italian loaves that seemed likely. Dinner time comes along, I open the bag, and here is what the individual slices look like:

and I’m like, huh. Possibly I’m a pervert, but this feels slightly awkward. Maybe they will look more normal if I put mayonnaise on them

Ah well, we’ll just call it theology of the body and fry ’em up. 

Yes, they all looked like this. 

So everyone got one and we also had pickles and let us never speak of this again. Definitely not to the bishop. 

SUNDAY
40 garlic whole chickens, orzo al limone

I have mentioned in the past how allergic I am to cooking whole chickens, because we had them SO often when we were super poor and they used to be like 49 cents a pound, and I just feel so gloomy and oppressed by whole chickens now. But I’m trying really hard to shop the sales, so I made a tremendous penitential Lenten effort and bought two whole chickens for cheap, which I prepared using this recipe for 40 garlic clove chickens

You melt butter and oil in a dutch oven and brown the chickens on all sides, take out the chicken and drain off some of the fat, and stir in the garlic cloves. Yes, we peeled 80 cloves of garlic.

In fact, it was after we peeled about 65 cloves of garlic that I more carefully read the recipe I was going to use, and discovered that it calls for unpeeled garlic. So I quickly switched to the recipe I linked above, which doesn’t specify. No, I will not read to the end of a recipe before starting it! You can’t make me!!

So then you put the chicken back in along with a little water, and lemon juice, salt, thyme (it calls for dried but I had fresh), and pepper, cover the dutch oven, and bake it in the oven for 90 minutes.  I don’t actually have a dutch oven, so I browned the chicken in a pot and then transferred it to a giant oven pan, covered it with tinfoil, and then put a second pan on top. 

Good enough! When I opened it up, the chickens were [Danny Kaye doing his drooling Clever Gretel voice] nicely cooked

I cooked them breast-side-down in “humble frog” position, because I knew the skin wasn’t going to be the star of this chicken anyway, and I really wanted the meat to be juicy. It was not the most visually stunning chicken I have ever met, but it was extremely juicy and full of flavor. I actually used quite a bit more lemon juice than it called for, and I have no regrets.

Before I made the chicken, I started on the orzo. I was using this recipe from delish, and if it sounds tasty to you (and it will), I recommend taking a screenshot, because they limit how many free page views you get. I assemble the ingredients and knew this would be a winner. Just look:

It’s basically the same as risotto. Sauté some garlic, then lemon zest, and oops, I threw my chives in there too soon 

then add your orzo with salt and pepper and toast it a bit. Then you add chicken broth, a bit at a time, so the orzo slowly absorbs it.

Yeah man. 

When it’s cooked, stir in the cheese (it called for Pecorino Romano, but I had parmesan) and the parsley, lemon juice, and chives. 

I actually cooked the orzo first and then put it in the slow cooker, and then got to work on the chicken.

They were SO nice together. 

Some asparagus or spinach would have put this meal over the top, but it was pretty great as it was. The cloves of garlic were as soft as boiled potatoes, so what I did was just fork-mash them onto my chicken 

and we were all in garlic heaven. “We” being the chicken and the orzo and me. 

The orzo is amazing. I loved it so much. It was rich and creamy and cozy, but also piquant and sharp with the garlic and lemon and herbs. Some of the kids did not like the texture, probably because they are used to risotto and it’s not the same. But Damien and I thought it was great. 

On Sunday, I also did some winter sowing, which is something I only recently discovered. The idea is that you can start seeds outdoors in late winter even if it’s cold and snowy out, because you’re planting in milk jugs that act as little greenhouses; and then when the frost is past and your seedlings are big enough to transplant into the ground, you don’t have to harden them off, because they’re already acclimated. I have never successfully hardened seedlings off, because I take it too personally and all I can think is that nobody ever carried me in and out and in and out because my little leafies might get cold. 

You cut the milk jugs about four inches up from the bottom, leaving the last bit intact for a hinge. Fill the bottom with seed starter material, plant your seeds, water, and put the top back and tape it shut. That’s it. 

I was delighted to find a sack of seed starter I had bought on clearance last year, so I got out my saved seed stash and did three jugs of eggplants, three of pumpkin, and two butternut squash; and I did two jugs of morning glories for my friend Millie, who is in the nursing home again. And I got some more spiles and tubing for maple sugaring! But I used up all the milk jugs, so we have to build up some more supply before I can get going on that.

MONDAY
Spicy chicken sandwiches, fruit salad

Monday I went to see Millie in the morning. If you could keep her in your prayers, please, I’d appreciate it! She’s going to be 90 the first week in March and she’s hoping to be able to get back to her house and garden soon. 

I had some boneless, skinless chicken thighs I had stashed in the freezer when they were on sale a few weeks ago, and I made these wonderful sandwiches that everybody likes. They come together really fast. You just season the chicken thighs with Cajun seasoning — actually I used Tony Chachere’s, which is creole, but close enough — and then pan fry them on both sides. While they are cooking, you cut up some shishito peppers (just cut the tops off) and slice some red onions. When the chicken is done, you blister up the peppers in another pan, and lay some American cheese on top of the chicken and put a lid on it so it melts. 

(I didn’t actually cook the chicken this close together; I used two pans, and then transferred the chicken to one pan for the cheese treatment.)

Layer the chicken, peppers, and onions on brioche buns, with BBQ sauce top and bottom. Boom, amazing sandwich.

I just love this sandwich because it’s so SIMPLE. One bottle of spice, one step with the peppers, easy sliced cheese, bottled sauce. You really couldn’t improve it if you made it complicated and fiddly (although I’m sure Sam Sifton would like to try). 

You can see that I made a fruit salad, which we haven’t had for a while. Strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and kiwis. Nice to have some color. 

TUESDAY
Beef barley soup, french bread

Beef was on sale, so I got a likely-looking hunk and made some soup. Garlic, onion, and carrots, chunks of beef, tomatoes, beef broth, mushrooms, and barley, and plenty of pepper. So good. 

Jump to Recipe

This is the soup I sometimes make in my head when I can’t sleep. 

While that was simmering, I thought it was high time to test out my lovely new marble countertop, which I purposely installed lower than the rest of the counter, to make it easier to knead dough. (I’m kind of short; I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this.)

IT WAS PERFECT. Made such a difference. I never realized I was struggling with dough on the higher countertop, but now that I have a lower one, it was so much easier. 

Here is the simple french bread recipe I use:

Jump to Recipe

It makes four long loaves — or, in this case, three long ones and three shorties, because I was sending some food over to one of the kids. 

I do love rolling the loaves out. Zoop!

Then I set them for a second rise and managed to drop BOTH pans as I was moving them, so they got kind of wadded up, but they baked up well enough. 

They had a really nice thin little shattering crust on the outside, and they were soft and tender on the inside. Good stuff. 

So we had the soup and the bread

and at this point I’m just dragging the narrative out because I have more pictures. 

And now I’m done!

WEDNESDAY
Korean beef bowl, rice, raw veg, crunchy rice rolls

Wednesday we had a bunch of errands – haircuts and what have you – and I started supper late, but it was a quickie: Good old Korean Beef Bowl. I had bought extra ground beef when it was on sale for the Super Bowl, and this is a fast, easy recipe, even if you do go for fresh garlic and fresh ginger, which I did. 

Jump to Recipe

So I put the cooked beef in the slow cooker, and made some rice in the instant pot, cut up some cucumbers and took out the packages of crunchy rice rolls I had been saving. 

Tasty little meal. The beef has sesame seeds and chopped scallions for garnishes. I don’t know why I feel the need to point that out, but there you are. 

On Wednesday I cut up the leftover chicken and made a simple chicken salad (just mayo, I think maybe lemon juice or cider vinegar, salt and pepper, celery, and green apple), and then I made soup with the rest of the carcasses, just so as not to waste it. I had a brainwave and realized I could freeze it all and get a jump start on Passover cooking this year! I really hate making the chicken soup some years, so I’m delighted to have this already done. I will need to add parsley and dill, but it already has the chicken, carrots, celery, and onion in it

THURSDAY
Pizza

The kids had mainly been playing board games all week (including Dixit, which was a Christmas present, and turned out to be a hit) for vacation week, but I did promise/threaten a trip to an art museum; so five of the kids and I went to the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester. Great stuff. Admission is reasonable (one adult, two students, two youth, and a kid got in for $35) and their descriptive cards are good, providing enough context and explanation to help you see, but without leading you too much. They have a really solid, varied collection for a small museum.

Interesting things happening in the contemporary art world! There is still a certain amount of “hoo HOO, I bet THIS transgressive bit of plastic really pushes your conventional little buttons, DOESN’T IT??” getting churned out, but also some far more interesting stuff. (Yes, I realize I opened this post with some penis sandwiches, so maybe I should shut my yap about who’s childishly transgressive. On the other hand, they were just sandwiches.) I was especially taken with two large works by Kara Walker, who will have an entire exhibit there soon, but there were other thoughtful, skilled, intriguing, moving contemporary pieces as well. I shared a few images on Facebook:

It is a small museum, so we did a thorough tour in two hours. Then we hit a few thrift stores just for fun, and then we got pizza and talked about art. Lovely day with my lovely kids. On the way there, they played an ice breaker game (“If you were an animal, what kind would you be? What is your favorite movie” etc.), but they played as different characters, so everyone had to guess who they were. Let me tell you, if we had run out of gas, we could have made it home under the sheer white hot heat of the quantity of in-jokes flying around. I had no idea what was going on, but they had fun. 

FRIDAY
Tilapia tacos and guacamole

I don’t really have a solid plan for this fish, but I’m tired of having it in my freezer. It was on clearance at Walmart quite some time ago, and I don’t want to look at it anymore. Hoping the avocados I got aren’t totally overripe by now. 

And I need to make a cake! A Squirtle cake! For tomorrow is Corrie’s birthday party. It’s going to be Pokémon-themed, and Sophia is making a treasure hunt and Irene is making a piñata. This has honestly been one of our nicest February vacations, despite some trials which, nay, I shan’t mention. Love seeing my kids enjoy being with each other. 

My other thing is that I’m a little frustrated with yoga lately, partially because I managed to injure both knees (one by falling on the ice, one by doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING; the little fucker just started hurting for no reason, and now I go up and down stairs looking like I imagine Strega Nona would, on stairs), so I have started pilates. I kind of hate it, but it keeps my attention because you have to be SO SPECIFIC about what muscles you’re using, so at least it’s not boring. I did one random class on YouTube and then I found this lady, Banks (that’s how she refers to herself, as “Banks”), and I have done three of her thirty-minute core classes for beginners. Tough stuff, but I’m hanging on. She is very specific about what you’re supposed to be doing and how it’s supposed to feel, which I appreciate, and she’s not especially annoying. So, now you know everything I know. 

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. 

 

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.

 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 364: Char who?

In haste! In haste! I am running out to buy a new (to me) cabinet and countertop from Facebook Marketplace. Where will it go? There are several reasonable possibilities, but I have my eye on this spot:

which is . . . fine. I JUST cleaned the floor a couple days ago, and it already looks like this again because of that huge gap, and there is an immobile piece of wood that makes it really hard to get pans in and out, and the open shelves mean everything is constantly filthy, and the whole thing wobbles, and SO ON. But it’s fine. 

The countertop itself is also kind of

. . .not the worst thing I have ever seen. HOWMEVER, I am pretty excited about the new piece! A cherry cabinet WITH DOORS and little sliding drawers on the shelves, and a marble countertop. Don’t tell me anything bad about marble. I cannot hear it right now. Tell me later. 

Okay, here’s what we ate this week!

SATURDAY
Turkey wraps, hot pretzels

Slightly weird combination of things that we either happened to have, or happened to be on sale: Turkey, salami, capicola, some kind of cheese, and lettuce. 

I guess that’s not actually that weird. I had mine with ranch dressing and it was pretty tasty. The wraps are allegedly spinach-flavored, but this was not discernible. 

SUNDAY
Jambalaya, corn bread

Kielbasa was on sale and I found a bag of shrimp in the freezer, and I thought there might be leftover chicken in the fridge. There turned out not to be, but I made the jambalaya anyway

Jump to Recipe

which is my own cobbled-together recipe, and is reasonably spicy and easy. I did start out with the “holy trinity” of onions, pepper, and celery, and here’s that with the kielbasa and shrimp added: 

Purty. 

I had a little corn meal, so I made a corn bread just following the recipe on the bag: 

Que bella luna!

Then I finished up the jambalaya and took a rather arty photo of it:

It was a little dry, but not bad. 

MONDAY
Bagel, egg, and cheese sandwiches with sausages, OJ

What’s not to like? 

and yes, American cheese is the correct cheese for this meal. 

TUESDAY
Oven fried chicken, mashed potatoes, terrible kale

Oven fried chicken delights again. I got the thighs and drumsticks soaking in milk, egg, and salt in the morning, and made a bunch of mashed potatoes and put them in the slow cooker to stay warm. Then I tried to figure out what the third thing would be. I settled on kale cooked in the manner of collard greens

This . . . should have worked. I sauteed up the garlic and onions and spices and added in the cider vinegar, and then started stuffing in the kale

and then I stirred in the broth and liquid smoke. Then my Instant Pot had a fit, and started exploding steam (I just about caca’d myself, let me tell you) and then started burning, so I had some doubts about how it would come out. I think it could have survived those things, but I made some kind of fatal error with measuring, and it tasted FOUL. Hard to believe, when it has such an exquisite appearance, I know:

but take my word for it, it was disgusting. It tasted like rotten greens soaked in penny juice, with gym socks. Bleh.  

However, the oven fried chicken turned out great. Did I put the recipe yet? Here it is:

Jump to Recipe

then seasoned the flour and dredged the soaked chicken in in. I put a pan in the oven with the oil and butter. I took a picture of this for some reason, so here’s that: 

and then you just lay the chicken down in the heated-up pan, and you have to turn it one time, but otherwise it just takes care of itself

Comes out really nice. Crisp skin, juicy meat. What’s not to like. 
The potatoes were good, too. I took this picture before I realized what I was in for, kale-wise:

Can’t win ’em all. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken burgers, guacamole and chips

I had a bunch of avocados I had bought for the wraps, but they weren’t ripe, so I made some guacamole

Jump to Recipe

and picked up some tortilla chips.

Boop, dinner. 

THURSDAY
Cheater char siu . . . bowls? 

I don’t know what to call this. The plan was bibimbap, but I just had this hunk of pork without a specific recipe in mind, and Thursday instantly revealed itself to b a crazy-go-nuts day. So I threw the pork in the Instant Pot along with this easy sauce I invented

Jump to Recipe

and cooked it for I think 25 minutes. I also cut up some cucumbers, dished up some raw sugar snap peas, and quick-pickled some carrots. 
Here’s my recipe for quick-pickled vegetables

Jump to Recipe

but I was rushing too much to look it up, so I did a cup of white vinegar, a cup of water, and probably 1/4 cup white sugar, and it turned out fine. 

I won’t bore you with the details, but we had an insane afternoon (the low point was me yelling into the phone in the hospital lobby, “Well, they must have somebody else’s blood, then!” [they didn’t]), so I asked Damien to take the meat out of the IP and start some rice cooking; and when I got home, I sliced/shredded the meat and put it in a pan on the stove along with most of the sauce, and simmered and stirred it until the sauce thickened up and coated the meat

it took probably 25 minutes. Would have gotten thicker and stickier if I had kept going, but everyone was hungry! I fried up some eggs for anyone who wanted one (including the dog, because we’ve had some sharp words lately, and I had regrets).

For an insane day, it was a really good meal!

I don’t know what it was, exactly, but I’m not going to argue with a hot bowl of tasty things. 

FRIDAY
Pizza

Oh, and Corrie’s box turtle came! In the mail! He’s just a baby, and is about the size of a half dollar.

This is her early birthday present, and she was and is absolutely smitten.

His name is Captain Cheez Whiz. 

Here he is getting a tender and loving bath:

He’s surprisingly charming! He marches around intrepidly and is quite alert and bright-eyed, and when he gets tired, he just goes into his corner and buries himself. We all agreed that he may be onto something. 

Okay! That’s it! 

bastardized jambalaya

completely inauthentic, just things that seem tasty to me

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 rope jambalaya, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 5 stalks celery, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp cajun seasoning
  • raw shrimp
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 5 cups raw brown or long grain rice
  • 10-oz can diced tomatoes with chilies

Instructions

  1. In a heavy pot, heat up the oil. Brown up the kielbasa. Add in the onions, celery, and green pepper and continue stirring and cooking over medium heat until the vegetables are somewhat soft.

  2. Add in the garlic and spices and cook a few minutes more. Add in the raw shrimp and stir.

  3. Pour in the chicken broth, rice, and tomatoes with any juice. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until rice is cooked.

 

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

Oven-fried chicken

so much easier than pan frying, and you still get that crisp skin and juicy meat

Ingredients

  • chicken parts (wings, drumsticks, thighs)
  • milk (enough to cover the chicken at least halfway up)
  • eggs (two eggs per cup of milk)
  • flour
  • your choice of seasonings (I usually use salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and chili powder)
  • oil and butter for cooking

Instructions

  1. At least three hours before you start to cook, make an egg and milk mixture and salt it heavily, using two eggs per cup of milk, so there's enough to soak the chicken at least halfway up. Beat the eggs, add the milk, stir in salt, and let the chicken soak in this. This helps to make the chicken moist and tender.

  2. About 40 minutes before dinner, turn the oven to 425, and put a pan with sides into the oven. I use a 15"x21" sheet pan and I put about a cup of oil and one or two sticks of butter. Let the pan and the butter and oil heat up.

  3. While it is heating up, put a lot of flour in a bowl and add all your seasonings. Use more than you think is reasonable! Take the chicken parts out of the milk mixture and roll them around in the flour until they are coated on all sides.

  4. Lay the floured chicken in the hot pan, skin side down. Let it cook for 25 minutes.

  5. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes.

  6. Check for doneness and serve immediately. It's also great cold.

Quick Chinese "Roast" Pork Strips

If you have a hankering for those intensely flavorful strips of sweet, sticky Chinese roast pork but you don't want to use the oven for some reason, this works well, and you can have it in about an hour and a half, start to finish. You will need to use a pressure cooker and then finish it on the stovetop.

Ingredients

  • 4+ lbs pork roast

For sauce:

  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp Chinese five spice

Instructions

  1. Blend all sauce ingredients together. Put the pork in the Instant Pot, pour the sauce over it, close the lid, close the valve, and set to high pressure for 22 minutes.

  2. When pork is done, vent. Remove pork and cut into strips, saving the sauce.

  3. Put the pork in a large sauté pan with the sauce and heat on medium high, stirring frequently, for half an hour or more, until sauce reduces and becomes thick and glossy and coats the meat.

5 from 1 vote
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quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

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

Ingredients

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

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

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

Instructions

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

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

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 362: Add sugar and stir

Happy Friday! I just ordered oil (we are out), set up a car inspection (it is trash), started some evaluation forms for some of the kids (just plain nuts), and I bought new batteries for my hungry hungry ClearBlue monitor, and wrote a RATHER DIRE scripture reflection about how if you are faithless, your children are gonna get burned up in demon fire; so I’m all ready to have a nice weekend now. How are you? I’m thinking of getting into winter sowing. I know there will be flowers because I’m planting seeds blah blah blah. Well, there will be squash, anyway. And I just got new glasses, and I feel like someone cleaned out my tank. 

We had some decent food this week. One new recipe and a few variations on old recipes. Read on, and please applaud for how much leftover food I thriftily used up!

SATURDAY
Rotisserie chicken and pizza rolls for kids; Mexican food for grownups

First, before getting thrifty, we all needed a little break, so I got some kid-pleasers for the kids, and Damien and I went to the local Señor Tadpole’s, where we were seated quickly, but they seemed to be a bit understaffed. About half an hour later the waitress brought over my taster’s plate and part of Damien’s order, and nervously explained that someone else had taken his fajita.

Which was unfortunate, because he had actually ordered a chimichanga. ANYWAY, eventually he got his food, and fellas, let me tell you something: A hungry man being kind and patient and understanding toward a harassed waitress is a really good way to impress a lady, for instance your wife. 

SUNDAY
Chicken cutlet sandwiches, chips

The plan for Sunday was caprese chicken burgers, easy peasy lemon squeezy; but they were out of chicken burgers, difficult difficult lemon difficult. But chicken breasts were on sale, and I was determined not to blow the budget this week, so I somewhat grumpily bought some chicken breasts, sliced them, pounded them flat, egged and breaded them, and oven fried them. 

Jump to Recipe

They turned out good, maybe a little greasier than I would like.  

Actually I tried a slightly different technique this time. I was a little short on breadcrumbs, and I was afraid the chicken might be bland; so rather than seasoning the breadcrumbs, I heavily seasoned the meat itself, and sort of massaged it in with a rubber spatula. Then I dipped it quickly in the egg mixture so the seasonings would stay on, and breaded it.

It worked great! I don’t know if it would work with chicken that has the skin on, which is what I usually use for oven frying; but chicken breast, especially if it’s been tenderized with a mallet, is basically a sponge for flavor, so why not. Get them spices in there.

I sliced up a bunch of baguettes and served the chicken with sliced tomatoes and basil, sliced cheese, and olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and it was a pretty popular meal. 

MONDAY
Japanese chicken thighs, sesame broccoli, rice 

I have this nice recipe for yakitori chicken, which is pieces of saucy chicken on a skewer. I had a bunch of thighs and definitely didn’t feel like de-boning it and threading it on sticks, but I did pull the skin off and make this lovely, easy sauce.

I divided the sauce, and coated the chicken in some of it and broiled it, and used a bit more to brush on when it was halfway cooked. I added sesame seeds and chopped scallions when it came out of the oven.

Savory, sweet and sticky, and really good! I sure wish I had thought to line the pan with parchment paper, though. But the chicken came out moist and delicious. I’ve made this recipe with the chicken grilled outside, and that’s even better; but the broiler did a pretty good job. 

The other part of the sauce, that I saved out, I put into the amazing gravy boat/pitcher/pouring vessel Clara made for me. Check it out:

But wait, check out the inside:

Boogie boogie boogie! I heartily recommend having artistic children with ancient tastes, to dress up your Japanese chicken. 

 

 

I made a tray of quick sesame broccoli

Jump to Recipe

and it was a good little meal, with just a little prep work and tons of flavor. 

The sauce was really great on the rice and broccoli, too. I may make a big batch of it and just keep it on hand for all-purpose Asian use. 

TUESDAY
Pork meatball soup, fried rice, steamed buns

Tuesday, I was set to give blood, so I did my cooking in the morning. I’m sorry if this is pushy and obnoxious, but PLEASE GIVE BLOOD IF YOU CAN GIVE BLOOD. There’s a horrible shortage and there’s just . . . not a substitute for blood. 

Anyway, I took the leftover pork dumpling filling out of the freezer, where I put it on New Year’s Eve. Here’s the pork dumpling recipe, and I discovered that if you forget to drain the extra moisture out of the cabbage, it still turns out fine, so you can probably skip that step. Just another service I provide by being dumb!

So I had decided I didn’t have time to make dumplings, but I did have time to fry up little meatballs. But I had used up all the breadcrumbs making the chicken cutlets, so they were a little slumpy, and not really “balls” in any meaningful sense. 

Still tasty, though, and that’s what counts. I made the soup more or less following this recipe using the leftover matchstick carrots from last week’s gochujang bulgoki. I’m determined to use up more leftover food and not throw so much out.

When the soup was simmering, I started on the fried rice. I’m so smart, I deliberately made extra rice for the previous day’s meal, so I would have some leftover for this day. I had also saved last week’s ham, which I diced up. I chopped up some carrots and the white part of the bok choy (the greens went into the soup) and a bunch of ginger and garlic, and sauteed it up in sesame oil.

Then I dumped on some brown sugar and continued heating and stirring until the sugar got a little dark

then I threw in the diced ham and the leftover rice, and then I sloshed on a lot of oyster sauce, a medium amount of soy sauce, and a little fish sauce. I also scrambled up some eggs and threw those in, and some leftover scallions. 

This is very much American Chinese food. Sometimes that’s what the people want! It’s delicious. 

Then I ran around trying to catch up with my dumb schedule, and I almost decided to just leave the meal at that, but at the last minute I decided to go ahead with my plan to make steamed buns, partially because I had bought a bamboo steamer at a thrift store. Yes, this is my third bamboo steamer, what of it? Some people use heroin, I collect bamboo steamers. 

I followed this recipe, which using baking powder instead of yeast.

And I suddenly realized I’ve been using my steamers wrong, slightly. I’ve been setting them inside larger pots or skillets of water, but really they should be on top of a vessel with a smaller diameter than the steamer, so all the steam goes into the steamer. Duh! So I did that.

The buns turned out. . . goodish? The kids liked them. The dough did not get as tender and soft as the recipe said it would, and I definitely didn’t make them as round and smooth as you’re supposed to. I think they were a little too dense; but they did get cooked all the way through (I was afraid they’d be wet and doughy). This was one of the smaller ones; some of them were puffier: 

They are sweet (but you can decrease the amount of sugar if you want) and I think it’s fair to describe them as tender. They have a lot of cornstarch in them, which gives them a silkier texture, so they’re not biscuit-like. Definitely easy, and you just have to let the dough rest for a bit, not do a full rise, so you can make it late in the day. I dunno. Will probably take another shot at them at some point. [Verna Maroney voice:] I GOT THE STEAMERS.

So all in all, a good meal, especially considering I was out of the house most of the day. 

I don’t think I said anything about the soup. It was pretty good. The meatballs were a little soft, but all the flavors were there. I left the ginger in, so it was beautifully gingery. Just a sort of non-specific Asian soup, hey. 

 

WEDNESDAY
Deli sandwiches, potato puffs, veg and dip

Wednesday, I don’t even know how we arrived at this point, but I had a strange combination of deli meats and some brioche buns, so that’s what I served. I also, as you can see, cooked some tater tots, and cut up a bunch of raw vegetables. 

And that’s my story! Thursday turned out so stupid in the afternoon, I was ridiculously consoled by those ketchup-drenched tater tots. 

THURSDAY
Chicken quesadillas, HINT OF LIME chips and salsa

You’ll never guess: Thursday was also stupid. But I did remember to take the bag of shredded chicken out of the freezer (leftover from that nice Persian chicken barley soup from two weeks ago), and fried up a bunch of chicken quesadillas.

The real kicker was the Hint of Lime tortilla chips, which for some reason are rarely available around here. I don’t know why they’re so good, when they’re clearly just doused with some kind of horrific citric acid solution. But they’re just so good. 

FRIDAY
Spaghetti with Marcella Hazan red sauce

I haven’t started it yet, but here’s the stupid-easy, three-ingredient recipe:

Jump to Recipe

or if you like it in picture form, here’s that:

Last time I made this, I did it in the Instant Pot, forgetting that you really need this to simmer and reduce on the stove; so it came out really thin and soupy, rather than rich and savory. Oh well! You live and learn, and then forget, and feel bad about it, take it out on the dog, try again, and eventually end up with some decent pasta. 

I am going to try to go to this women’s retreat in Plymouth with Danielle Bean, which is … tomorrow. Ooh, that snuck up on me! It looks like there are still spots, though, so maybe if you’re nearby, you can come? That would be nice. Danielle is the real deal and I haven’t seen her in quite a while. 

I also finished a thirty-day plank challenge. It took me forty-three days, but did you hear that I FINISHED it? I started a little Facebook group to support and encourage each other, very low-key, no pressure. I’m thinking about starting a new challenge, but if you’re interested, you can take a look at the group, and join if you want to know when the next challenge starts. These things are always so much easier to stick with when there’s other people also suffering, I mean supporting and encouraging each other. 

Oven-fried chicken

so much easier than pan frying, and you still get that crisp skin and juicy meat

Ingredients

  • chicken parts (wings, drumsticks, thighs)
  • milk (enough to cover the chicken at least halfway up)
  • eggs (two eggs per cup of milk)
  • flour
  • your choice of seasonings (I usually use salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and chili powder)
  • oil and butter for cooking

Instructions

  1. At least three hours before you start to cook, make an egg and milk mixture and salt it heavily, using two eggs per cup of milk, so there's enough to soak the chicken at least halfway up. Beat the eggs, add the milk, stir in salt, and let the chicken soak in this. This helps to make the chicken moist and tender.

  2. About 40 minutes before dinner, turn the oven to 425, and put a pan with sides into the oven. I use a 15"x21" sheet pan and I put about a cup of oil and one or two sticks of butter. Let the pan and the butter and oil heat up.

  3. While it is heating up, put a lot of flour in a bowl and add all your seasonings. Use more than you think is reasonable! Take the chicken parts out of the milk mixture and roll them around in the flour until they are coated on all sides.

  4. Lay the floured chicken in the hot pan, skin side down. Let it cook for 25 minutes.

  5. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes.

  6. Check for doneness and serve immediately. It's also great cold.

 

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. 

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

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

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 360: A secret soup that Simcha made and pleased the group

I lied. I lied for the sake of a title. It only pleased about half the group. But it was a wonderful soup! Read on. 

SATURDAY
Domino’s pizza, birthday cake

Saturday was Benny’s birthday party, finally. She asked for a Gravity Falls-themed party, but she is old enough that her friends basically entertained each other, so I just did decorations and a cake and then let them go. So, just a bunch of red, yellow, and gold balloons, and a Bill Cipher zodiac tablecloth

plus a levitating, rather wrinkly Bill Cipher, who was still dripping glue when the guests came

and then outside, I set up a nice propane fire with a hot chocolate station and a s’mores station.

and that was that. Nobody’s been happy about the so-far-almost-snowless winer, but it does make it easier to throw a party!

The cake was well-received.

Just a chocolate box mix cake with frosting from a tub, decorated with details made of gum paste and colored with edible gold spray. 

Gum paste stiffens when it’s exposed to air, much more so than fondant, and you can roll it very thin, so it’s a good choice for small or flat decorations. Some day, I’m gonna make gum paste roses. If my kids ever stop asking for weird cakes (challenge: impossible).

Then Damien picked up Domino’s pizzas and the guests jumped on the trampoline in the dark and screamed a lot, and it was a good party! I ran out to clean everything up off the patio afterward, because I knew there was a storm coming, and I managed to knock a glass bowl full of mini marshmallows onto the bricks. Smash! Marshmallows! Candy canes! Shards of glass in the darkness! Really wished I had made friends with the ants and the sparrows, but you always think of these things too late. Did not go to the ball. Instead dozed off on the couch while drinking seltzer and watching NYPD Blue, which was just as good. 

SUNDAY
Corn dogs, chips

Sunday it snowed alllll day, and it had been snowing all night, so we were prepared. Damien went to the vigil Mass on Saturday and then got up early to clear the driveway, and the rest of us went to the late Mass on Sunday, which was Epiphany. We were prepared for the strident guitars and the off-pitch, hairy-sounding violin and the whitest tambourine in the western hemisphere. We were not prepared for A RETELLING OF THE ENTIRE CHRISTMAS STORY SET TO LEONARD COHEN’S HALLELUJAH. 

Epiphany indeed. Usually I sternly tell my kids not to criticize the Mass because it’s the Mass, but I am not made of stone. I did shut it down when they started proposing new liturgically-appropriate lyrics for “Blood On the Tracks.” 

Anyway, we had corn dogs. 

But you don’t really care for mustard, do ya?

MONDAY
Bacon cheeseburgers, Doritos

I still hadn’t gone shopping, because of the snow and I am a delicate flower, so Damien shopped for and made bacon cheeseburgers.

And very good they were, bacon cheeseburgers.

TUESDAY
Oven roasted pork ribs, mashed potatoes, peas

I planned a simple make-ahead meal for Tuesday, because three kids had dentist appointments. One got sick the night before, so we cancelled her appointment, one got sick that morning, so we cancelled hers and then then dentist said they didn’t super duper want to get in the mouth of the remaining kid with two sick siblings. Fair. It was still nice to have an easy meal. I made the mashed potatoes in the morning and then put them in the slow cooker to stay warm, and made the pork ribs heavily salted and peppered and roasted until sizzling under the broiler. 

I had mine with mango chutney, yum yum. 

WEDNESDAY
Oven fried chicken, chips, veg and dip

Wings were 1.99 a pound, so I got a bunch of wings and drumsticks and made oven fried chicken. Finally got around to making a card for this recipe, which is so easy and honestly comes out better than when I try to pan fry chicken. 

Jump to Recipe

I know this because I ran out of room in the sheet pan in the oven, and I didn’t want to make a second pan dirty, so instead I pan fried a few pieces (because it’s okay to make a second pan dirty as long as it’s on the stove? I don’t know) and I burnt the hell out of them, like I always do.

The oven ones turned out perfect, though. 

This is a terrible picture. I’m just including it to show that it actually was just cooked in the oven, easily peasily. The chicken was actually amazing, and SO gratifying because I knew how hands-off it was. 

Yes, I served chips for the third time this week. And also vegetables! With dip. 

But do try oven fried chicken. It makes everybody happy, and you don’t end up with grease spattered everywhere.

THURSDAY
Persian chicken and barley soup, pita

Thursday I knew dinner time was going to be crazy, because the kids had to be at the gallery to set up their life-sized Barbie house at 5 PM, and then the show actually opened at 6, so it was a great reason to try this soup I’ve had my eye on: Persian chicken barley soup. I followed the recipe exactly as written, except that it called for two chicken breasts and I was doubling it, and I only used about 2/3 of the chicken, and it was still the most chickenful soup I’ve ever encountered. I’m just saying, the chickens who contributed these breasts were on track to dominate at Sharky’s wet t-shirt contest at Hampton. So I ended up throwing a bag of shredded chicken in the freezer, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing about it again. 

I also lost my phone and didn’t take any process photos, but it was an enjoyable soup to make. You fry up onions and then add garlic and shredded carrots (holding some back to add in later). I didn’t soak the barley, as suggested, because I knew I’d be simmering the soup all day. 

Oh, I also turned out not to have any celery. You know, I don’t think I really followed the recipe all that closely. But usually when I make a soup, I just saute some stuff and then dump everything else in and just walk away, and this was a tiny bit more involved than that! Anyway I did pull some of the soup out and whir it up in the food processor and then add it back in, as suggested. I stirred in Greek yogurt, and used fresh cilantro and freshly-squeezed lemon juice. 

I moved it to the Instant Pot and used the “keep warm” feature, and it thickened up even more, as I expected, with all that barley. 

I threw some more cilantro on top, ground some pepper over it and squeezed on a little more lemon juice when I served up a bowl, and I put out some store-bought pita and rolls. 

Heavens to betsy. What a charming soup. It’s just as nourishing and comforting as any chicken soup ought to be, but it had just the merest thread of complexity because of the cilantro and lemon. It was thick but not gluey or pasty or even heavy. Just . . . nice. A nice soup, through and through. Will absolutely make again. The recipe makes a lot, too.

Speaking of a lot, here are the girls in front of the Barbie house!

You can see some more pics of the interior here:

 

This was for their 3D art class, and the assignment was to make something using materials you find lying around. They acknowledged that the original task kind of got lost in the pink fever dream, but it was extremely impressive. So much work, and very nicely designed. 

Oh, but speaking of soup, I meant to remind you that you can use your standing mixer (or a hand-held mixer, I suppose!) to quickly and evenly shred cooked chicken. For some reason I hate shredding meat, even when it’s nicely cooked and comes apart easily. The standing mixer takes care of it in a very short time. Hallelujah. 

FRIDAY
Poke bowls

I recalled when we made sushi a few weeks ago that ahi tuna is actually not prohibitively expensive, at least not in a world where everything is prohibitively expensive. And when everything is prohibitive, nothing is prohibited. So I bought a bunch of frozen ahi tuna from Walmart, and today we’re having poke bowls, which is just diced raw fish along with whatever you want, as far as I can tell.

I am, in fact, still in bed (I basically work from bed in the winter, so sue me) and haven’t even taken the fish out of the freezer yet, but this is a super easy meal to throw together. Look!

I got some mangos that should be ripe by now, and we still have some nice short-grain rice left over from New Year’s Even, and I bought a pouch of those yummy chili lime cashews from Aldi, plus pea shoots and sugar snap peas, and people can just add whatever they want from the various bottles and jars of red and yellow and brown sauces rolling around in the fridge. 

I think I also got some frozen shrimp, so I’ll probably just sauté that up in sesame oil or chili oil with a little salt and lime juice.

And even if it all goes wrongI’ll stand right here like a big ding dongWith nothing, nothing on my tongue but What’s for supper?

What’s for supper? What’s for supper?
What’s for supper? 
What’s for suuuuuuu

perrrrrrrrr

rrrrrrrrrr.

Leonard Cohen is a novelty act, there I said it. 

Oven-fried chicken

so much easier than pan frying, and you still get that crisp skin and juicy meat

Ingredients

  • chicken parts (wings, drumsticks, thighs)
  • milk (enough to cover the chicken at least halfway up)
  • eggs (two eggs per cup of milk)
  • flour
  • your choice of seasonings (I usually use salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, and chili powder)
  • oil and butter for cooking

Instructions

  1. At least three hours before you start to cook, make an egg and milk mixture and salt it heavily, using two eggs per cup of milk, so there's enough to soak the chicken at least halfway up. Beat the eggs, add the milk, stir in salt, and let the chicken soak in this. This helps to make the chicken moist and tender.

  2. About 40 minutes before dinner, turn the oven to 425, and put a pan with sides into the oven. I use a 15"x21" sheet pan and I put about a cup of oil and one or two sticks of butter. Let the pan and the butter and oil heat up.

  3. While it is heating up, put a lot of flour in a bowl and add all your seasonings. Use more than you think is reasonable! Take the chicken parts out of the milk mixture and roll them around in the flour until they are coated on all sides.

  4. Lay the floured chicken in the hot pan, skin side down. Let it cook for 25 minutes.

  5. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes.

  6. Check for doneness and serve immediately. It's also great cold.