Raise your hand if you’ve been falling asleep on the couch every night. Not that hand, you’re still holding a glass of wine! Oh well, those were old pants anyway.
Before we go any further, here is some Creedence, with Keep On Chooglin’.
Good for any old time, but especially when you have set yourself up to make 160 little rugelach and every time someone comes into the kitchen, they comment that you just keep on rugelin’, which is true.
Here’s what else we ate this week:
Loaded baked potatoes, onion soup
I made this meal mainly so I could stop wondering how this meal would go over, even though I knew the answer would be: Okay. I baked a bunch of giant potatoes and set them out with bacon, sour cream, french onion dip, chili, cheese, scallions, and I forget what else. And I made a pot of onion soup just so they couldn’t say I only fed them potatoes for supper.
I honestly believe this was just as filling and interesting as any meal I make, but some people just couldn’t get past the mental roadblock of having a side dish as a main dish. So now I can cross that off my “how to be a monster” list, and get back to serving real meals of meat and potato, rather than fake meals of potato and meat.
They didn’t really complain, but they definitely pondered and discussed for longer than absolutely necessary. Some people don’t remember when the dinner we could afford was oatmeal soup, and it shows! Come to think of it, I don’t really have a problem with that.
Here is my basic onion soup recipe.Jump to Recipe
I made it in the Instant Pot just to keep it out of the way, which is legitimately handy sometimes, but there was no other advantage to using the IP instead of the stove to caramelize onions, despite what lies people may tell. You have to let the pot come to pressure, then cook the onions, then release the pressure, and then finish them up on sauté anyway, so it takes exactly as long. I guess there is a little less stirring, but it definitely isn’t a time saver.
Beef fajita bowls
Last time I made this dish, I went on autopilot and accidentally cut up the meal before marinating it, and then pan fried it. That was very tasty, but this time, I marinated the roasts whole, and oven roasted them (350 for about 40 minutes) and then sliced them up.
(Sorry, I know it’s Friday.)
A vast improvement to an already delicious dish. My goodness, it was so tender and juicy and flavorful. This is a really tangy, savory marinade.Jump to Recipe
I had mine with rice, meat, guacamole, beans and tomatoes with chili peppers, cilantro, sour cream, fresh lime, and corn chips, and I scooped up some of the sauce from the meat pan and gave everything an extra little gravy baptism, mmmmm hmmmmm.
Somehow I’ve gone most of my life without using Worcestershire sauce, and I did not associate it with Mexican food at all, probably because of the. name. When you live in rural NH, you have to figure these things out the hard way (by reading recipes on the internet). Well, I’m a big fan now! Not quite up to putting it on my pizza, but a fan nonetheless.
The guacamole was definitely B grade guacamole. Canned tomatoes, garlic powder instead of fresh, canned jalapeños instead of fresh, and the avocados were overripe, so I had to mash them pretty hard, rather than leaving some nice chunks. Here’s my recipe for decent guac:Jump to Recipe
Hot dogs, chips, beans
Monday was shopping day, so we needed something fast and easy. I used to buy cheapo hot dogs and then a few Hebrew National or something yummier for people who cared. Then I discovered people who care prefer natural casing hot dogs to Hebrew National, so I bought a few of those. Then more people started caring, so I started buying more natural casing hot dogs. But I had it in my head that there needed to be an alternative hot dog, so now I buy a big box of natural casing hot dogs plus a small package of terrible cheap weenies. A few people asked me why, and I had to admit that I did not know.
Ravioli, chocolate strawberries
Tuesday was Benny’s birthday. We’re having an at-home party on Saturday, but she really wanted to do some special stuff on the actual day, so she chose dinner (frozen ravioli, can do) and we made chocolate-dipped strawberries. Actually I made one, and then I left the room. This is generally the best way to ensure the kids have a fun kitchen experience.
She opened one of her presents, Moe made her french toast, and then we played hooky from virtual school and got Wendy’s for lunch, which we attempted to eat on the bridge by the waterfall
but it turned out it’s December, so we finished our meal in the heated car. Which is where I found out that she thought a Baconator was pronounced “buh-CON-ah-torr,” like “matador,” so that was a little present for me, too.
Then we went to Walmart and bought a new zipper pull for her jacket and a Mickey Mouse balloon, and then Dora stopped by the house with a present of a stack of books she liked when she was that age. Benny ended up having a wonderful day, because she is a wonderful kid.
Chicken thighs with chickpeas
This is one of my favorite meals. I got up and got the chicken thighs marinating in the yogurt marinade pretty early, and also got the yogurt dipping sauce and the onion salad made; so when it was time to eat, all I had to do was open a bunch of cans of chickpeas and throw it all on a pan to cook.
If you like shawarma, you will probably like this meal. If you like crispy, toothsome chicken skin, you will adore this meal.
We had plenty of pita bread and I was so happy, tearing off bits and dunking it in the yogurt sauce and scooping up a little bright, lemony red onion and cilantro. The chicken just falls off the bone, and the salty chickpeas are a little chompy on the outside and tender and mealy on the inside. So good. The yogurt sauce came out so garlicky, my breath was glowing in the dark.
Salad with chicken
Bit of a lackluster meal. I was planning a hearty, harvest-y salad, like this one, maybe with candied yams on the side, but I ended up just roasting some chicken breast and serving it on greens with dried cranberries and crumbled goat cheese. Oh, I did make a big batch of croutons from our vast collection of stale rolls and hot dog buns.
I didn’t even end up eating dinner, because I got caught up in a sudden baking frenzy. I made rum balls and, because it was the first night of Chanukah, three kinds of rugelach.Jump to Recipe
(this is an updated recipe card, with step by step pictures, simplified and improved from the previous version I’ve shared)
Let me tell you about rugelach. To me, they taste normal and cozy when the bottoms are absolutely burnt to hell, like this:
This is because, no matter how thinly you spread the filling on the dough, it oozes out, pools around the pastry, and then burns. Normal, but so frustrating.
I always say I hate baking, but really what I hate is feeling stupid, and baking almost always makes me feel stupid. But this one time, I felt smart! I made a big batch of rugelach dough, enough for eight batches, and I kept on experimenting until I figured out how to get golden brown rugelach without a burned bottom.
You line a pan with parchment paper to contain the mess, but you put a baking rack on top of that, spray it with cooking spray, and bake the rugelach on the rack, and then the filling still oozes out, but it oozes onto the parchment paper below
leaving your rugelach unburnt!
Then you move the rugelach off the rack onto a lined tray as soon as they come out of the oven. If you wait, they will just cement themselves to the rack, and they won’t burn, but the bottoms will get torn up. I find a butter knife is the best tool for this job, and you will absolutely burn your fingers, oh well.
I made three kinds: Apricot walnut (my favorite)
blueberry, which for some reason doesn’t brown up as much,
Lovely. This recipe is labor intensive, but requires very little skill. The dough comes out light and tender, but it’s much, much easier than pie crust or other kinds of pastry dough. It holds together very well and doesn’t need a light touch. It’s just butter, cream cheese, and flour, and then you roll it in tons of sugar. Spread your filling on, cut it in triangles, roll them up, and bake, doop! Here’s the recipe again:Jump to Recipe
Some fruit fillings ooze more than others, but you won’t really know until you try them. I really love rugelach. They are so cute and nice, and they freeze well, too, so you can make a bunch and give them out as gifts.
Oh, the rum balls, I made using this recipe, but I used chocolate wafers rather than vanilla ones, because that’s what they had at Aldi. I can’t taste them because migraine, but the kids said they were good. I made some rolled in powdered sugar and some rolled in little candy balls. Wishing I had done some in finely-chopped nuts, but I have no idea where I put the nuts.
And don’t you forget it! I got some olives and artichoke hearts and we’ll just have to see what’s nessa.
Okay, here are the recipe cards! We made it through another week, and good for us.
Simple French onion soup
Serve with a piece of toasted baguette at the bottom of each bowl. Finish with cheese on top.
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 4 cups onion, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 4-6 cups beef broth (can also use chicken broth or a combination of water and white wine)
- parmesan or mozzarella cheese
In a heavy pot, melt the butter and then add the onions. Cook very slowly over a low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and somewhat darkened.
Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Stir in the flour and mix to coat.
Add the broth (or water and wine). Add pepper to taste and simmer for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.
Serve with a hunk of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl. Sprinkle cheese on top, and if you have oven-safe dishes, brown under the broiler to form a skin on top of the soup.
Beef marinade for fajita bowls
enough for 6-7 lbs of beef
- 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
Mix all ingredients together.
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.
White Lady From NH's Guacamole
- 4 avocados
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1 medium jalapeno, minced
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 limes juiced
- 1 tsp chili powder
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 red onion, diced
Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two.
Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.
Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly.
chocolate-dipped strawberries (or chocolate-dipped anything)
Basic chocolate dip for just about anything. The shortening makes it smoother and helps it harden into a shell, rather than remaining gooey. Do not use Aldi chocolate chips! They melt very badly. Also be sure to dry strawberries thoroughly, or the chocolate won't adhere well.
- 1 lb strawberries, washed and dried thoroughly
- 12 oz chocolate chips
- 2 Tbsp shortening
In the microwave or the top pot of a double boiler, heat the chocolate chips and shortening until they are melted, stirring frequently until the mixture is smooth.
Grasping the strawberries by the leaves, dip them in the melted chocolate and shake them gently to get excess chocolate off.
Lay them on a tray covered with wax paper or parchment paper and let them harden in a cool spot for an hour. If you leave them in the refrigerator for more than a day, the chocolate will begin to separate slightly from the strawberry.
Cumin chicken thighs with chickpeas in yogurt sauce
A one-pan dish, but you won't want to skip the sides. Make with red onions and cilantro in lemon juice, pita bread and yogurt sauce, and pomegranates, grapes, or maybe fried eggplant.
- 18 chicken thighs
- 32 oz full fat yogurt, preferably Greek
- 4 Tbsp lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp cumin, divided
- 4-6 cans chickpeas
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 red onions, sliced thinly
- 2 red onions sliced thinly
- lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- a bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 32 oz Greek yogurt for dipping sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
Make the marinade early in the day or the night before. Mix full fat Greek yogurt and with lemon juice, four tablespoons of water, and two tablespoons of cumin, and mix this marinade up with chicken parts, thighs or wings. Marinate several hours.
About an hour before dinner, preheat the oven to 425.
Drain and rinse four or five 15-oz cans of chickpeas and mix them up with a few glugs of olive oil, the remaining tablespoon of cumin, salt and pepper, and two large red onions sliced thin.
Spread the seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on two large sheet pans, then make room among the chickpeas for the marinated chicken (shake or scrape the extra marinade off the chicken if it’s too gloppy). Then it goes in the oven for almost an hour. That’s it for the main part.
The chickpeas and the onions may start to blacken a bit, and this is a-ok. You want the chickpeas to be crunchy, and the skin of the chicken to be a deep golden brown, and crisp. The top pan was done first, and then I moved the other one up to finish browning as we started to eat. Sometimes when I make this, I put the chickpeas back in the oven after we start eating, so some of them get crunchy and nutty all the way through.
While the chicken is cooking, you prepare your three garnishes:
-Chop up some cilantro for sprinkling if people like.
-Slice another two red onions nice and thin, and mix them in a dish with a few glugs of lemon juice and salt and pepper and more cilantro.
-Then take the rest of the tub of Greek yogurt and mix it up in another bowl with lemon juice, a generous amount of minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
- 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)
Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc.
These are tender little pastries for Chanukah or any time. Use whatever kind of filling you like: Jams, preserves, cinnamon sugar, nutella, etc. These are time consuming, but don't take much skill, and they freeze well, so they make pretty little gifts.
- half pound butter
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup or more sugar, for rolling
- 1/4-1/2 cup preserves or other filling
- 1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
In a food processor, combine the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add in the flour and keep mixing until smooth. You can do this by hand, but it will take a while! The dough should be fairly stiff and not sticky when it's done.
Divide the dough into 8 balls. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400.
Prepare a pan by lining it with parchment paper, then spraying a baking rack and putting the rack on the parchment paper. Line a second pan with parchment paper, to which you will remove the rugelach when they come out of the oven.
Use the sugar to cover your work space, and use a rolling pin to roll a ball of dough into a round shape the size of a large plate. It should be thin enough to flap a bit when you give it a shake. If your rolling pin sticks, sprinkle more sugar on. You can turn the dough over to make sure both sides get sugared. It doesn't have to be perfectly round, as it will be cut into pieces.
Spread the jam or other filling over the dough, leaving an open space in the middle. If you're adding nuts, sprinkle them over the filling.
Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 16-20 triangles.
Roll each triangle up from the outside in. Place each rolled rugelach on the sprayed baking rack on the pan, with the skinny point down. They puff up a bit, so leave the space of one rugelach in between.
Repeat for each ball of dough.
Bake for ten minutes. If the dough isn't golden brown, give it another two minutes. These go from perfect to burnt very quickly, so be alert.
When they bake, the filling will ooze out and pool and burn on the parchment paper, but the rugelach will not burn.
When the rugelach come out of the oven, immediately use a butter knife to transfer them to another pan or rack to cool.
Once they are cool, they can be wrapped in plastic and kept in the freezer for weeks without harm.