What’s for supper? Vol. 212: The best things in life are jiggly

This week, I cleaned a lot and ate a lot, and now you people are gonna hear about it. 

SATURDAY
Aldi pizza

Since I’m no longer shopping on Saturdays, I decided I had time to tackle The Middle Room, which has four girls in it. I normally pretend the upstairs doesn’t exist at all, but every so often, it demands to be recognized, usually by whispering phrases like “fire hazard” and “child protective services” into my psyche at 3 a.m.

I had the kids take everything downstairs. EVERYTHING.

We did it this way because if I go upstairs to sort, I end up drowning in guilt and throwing up with dust, and the rage and disgust and regret overwhelm me before I get to the bottom of things. So I make them bring the mess to me, and then I have to push through and finish the project no matter how bad it feels, or I don’t get my living room back. Maybe someday I’ll finish a task without deliberately entrapping myself, but not today.

So they lugged everything downstairs in bags and boxes, and they stripped that room like we were planning to move out. Then we moved the furniture, and vacuumed everything, and wiped it all down. Then everything they own got a pass or fail (the older kids were allowed to have crates of belongings that I didn’t personally sort through, as long as they were reasonably contained and didn’t smell of rotten fruit). Then we sorted out what was left and put it all back again. 

Guys, we threw out thirteen bags of junk. And we bought a new mattress, and new lights, and new storage tubs and crates and shelves, and new hanging organizers. And a new vacuum cleaner. We finished around 8:45 p.m. The finished bedroom still looks like most people’s “before,” but I’m pleased. And we got our living room back. 

Oops, this is a food blog. Well, Damien exerted his husbandly authority and commanded me to let him pick up some frozen pizzas. 

SUNDAY
Mac and cheese with kielbasa, sausage rolls

Mother’s day! I was showered with truly wonderful homemade gifts and treats, and visited my favorite local nursery to pick out some peonies and lilies of the valley. The original plan was to go on a hike and a picnic, but it was windy and nippy out, so we settled for a picnic in the back yard with strawberries and giant sandwiches Damien made with all kinds of special meats and cheeses, and it was a lovely day all day.

I made my normal mac and cheese (just basically a ton of white sauce with whatever cheese we have lying around melted into it), but added sliced up kielbasa.

As with so many people, more and more of our meals are the result of whatever we could find in the stores, so they are getting weird. I liked the mac and cheese with kielbasa, though. It tasted like exactly what it was.

I also made a tray of sausage rolls. 

 

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Last time I made this recipe, I used puff pastry, and that’s a better choice than the phyllo dough I used this time. (This was the very last roll of phyllo dough left over from the time I made baklava for the Dead Theologians Society. Yes, packaged phyllo dough really keeps that long in the fridge.) 

These are savory little pastries stuffed with sausage and onions, brushed with egg and topped with “everything” seasoning. They were very tasty, and I was amazed all over again that the kids didn’t want them. They are quite easy to make, and would be great for party snacks, or for when it’s mother’s day and you can make what you like and people aren’t going to be jerks for once. 

MONDAY
Different Asian meatballs with lime sauce, rice

Last time I mentioned this moderately popular Asian meatball recipe I make

 

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someone recommended a recipe that included a different, more exciting dipping sauce made with sesame oil, lime, and cilantro. Fool that I am, I messed with moderate success and also tried the new meatball recipe that went along with the new sauce.

Those meatballs were not great. Also, I had some medium-bad migraine brain and repeatedly confused teaspoons and tablespoons, and also I didn’t read the recipe all the way through, and had put all the ingredients in with the meat, including the ingredients which any feeble minded cat would have known were for the sauce, and weren’t supposed to be mixed in with the meat. So I had to scrape a bunch of wet crap off the meat and start over again.

The sauce was good, though! Eventually! I’ll make the sauce again, with the superior meatballs, once we recover from our unpleasant associations with this meal. I also got it into my head to scrub the hell out of the bathtub on Monday, so the day wasn’t a total loss. Nothing beats good old fashioned Comet.

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, fries

I went grocery shopping on Tuesday. My strategy is: a mask to protect other people, my sacred heart necklace to remind me of who I am so I don’t murder anyone, and an extra dose of Buspar to seal the deal. Then I got home and collapsed like a bunch of broccoli and Damien made hot dogs and fries. I feel like there was some vegetable, but that may have been a hallucination.

WEDNESDAY
Bibimbap and berry cheese cake

Earlier in the week, I had bribed Corrie with cake-making videos while I braided her hair. She likes the recipes that involve either morbidly peppy blonde ladies who don’t know when to stop, or else extremely together Asian women making deft little movements with specially-shaped spatulas in their little glass bowls, and then boop! They produce a magical raindrop cake with a flower made of strawberries suspended inside. So I got it in my head that we needed to make our own fantastical dessert of some kind. Here is what we came up with (there were two of them):

They were . . .  intriguing. Even compelling. And wiggly. All the best desserts are wiggly. We used the no-bake cheesecake part of this recipe, but only because I was going for oven avoidance rather than taste; and for the top, we used clear gelatin sweetened with ginger ale. I’ll include the recipe for how we made the Jell-o part, mainly because I went to the trouble of writing it up. 

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The graham cracker base partially fell apart because I used silicone pans, because I have a permanent grudge against springform pans; and the one jell-o mold that came out of the bowl intact had a textured surface, so it wasn’t crystal clear. At this time, I am accepting zero advice about how to get better results next time, as there will be no next time. The kids had fun, I ate some cheesecake, and that’s what we were going for. Ta dah!

I think Wednesday was also when I decluttered and reorganized the kitchen. Maybe? The days are running together. Someone definitely cleaned my kitchen, and I remember being mad, so it was probably me. Spring cleaning hit hard this year, you guys. And I found the bag of powdered milk that I bought when I first realized that this corona thing wasn’t going to just blow over. I guess I’ll hold onto that. 

For the bibimbap, I made a big pot of rice, and cooked up some sliced-up pork and onions in a gochujang sauce

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Clara made some quick pickled carrots

 

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and I set out raw spinach, crunchy noodles, chopped scallions, and miscellaneous sauces and sesame seeds and whatnot. Everyone took what they wanted, and then lined up for their fried egg on top. 

 

Gosh, I love this meal. I like to fry my egg until it’s crisp on the bottom, then flip it over just for a second, then flip it back and slide it on top of the spinach, so it wilts the greens a little. Then some hot sauce. 

You got the cold crunchy carrots and noodles with the egg yolk running into it, you got the meat sauce slowly sinking into the rice. Great meal. I’ve tried many different sauces, but I think I’ll stay with the gochujang one from now on.

THURSDAY
Quicken quesadillas and chips with pico de gallo

These were, of course, chicken quesadillas, not quicken. I may still have a migraine, and also part of my tooth fell off again. Nevertheless, Thursday was yet another big cleaning project: The Dining Room Heap. It was an ugly afternoon, but I only discovered one backpack full of rotten fruit in the process. And now no one has to crab-walk to get to the dining room table. Such luxury!

And boy, dinner tastes good after you’ve been working hard. 

Clara roasted up the chicken and Lena made the pico de gallo

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and I shredded the cheese and finally succeeded in coaxing Corrie out of a 48-hour snit by shouting, “HAVE SOME CHEESE, RAT!” and throwing cheese at her. 

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

Today I open up the bag of avocados and see how I did. I am inordinately proud of my skill at choosing avocados for their ripeness stage. I also have some pineapples and mangoes I’ve been avoiding all week.

Okay, that’s it! I gained forty-three pounds this week, how about you? 

Sausage rolls

Servings 36 rolls

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs sausage, loose or squeezed out of casings
  • 1 lg onion
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil for cooking
  • 1.5 lbs puff pastry dough (1.5 packages)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • "Everything" seasoning, if you like

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.

  2. Dice the onion and sauté in the olive oil until it's slightly browned

  3. Put the raw, loose sausage in a bowl. Beat two of the eggs and add them to the bowl along with the cooked onions. Mix thoroughly.

  4. Cut the puff pastry into six long strips. On a floured surface, roll them out until they're somewhat thinner.

  5. Divide the sausage mixture into six portions and spoon it out into a long rows down the middle of each strip of puff pastry

  6. Form the sausage mixture into a tidier strip, leaving a margin of dough on each side.

  7. With a pastry brush, paint the dough margins on both sides.

  8. Fold the pastry up over the sausage on both sides, to form a long roll.

  9. Flip the roll over and lay it in a greased pan with the creased side down.

  10. Cut each roll into six smaller sections. (You can make them whatever size you like, really.) Leave a little space in between rolls on the pan.

  11. Brush each little roll with the rest of the beaten egg. Sprinkle with "everything" seasoning if you like.

  12. Bake for 20 minutes until the sausage is cooked and the rolls are golden brown. Serve hot or cold.

 

Vaguely Asian meatballs with dipping sauce

Very simple meatballs with a vaguely Korean flavor. These are mild enough that kids will eat them happily, but if you want to kick up the Korean taste, you can serve them with dipping sauces and pickled vegetables. Serve with rice.

Servings 30 large meatballs

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed finely
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup minced garlic
  • 2 bunches scallions, chopped (save out a bit for a garnish)
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground pepper

For dipping sauce:

  • mirin or rice vinegar
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

  2. Mix together the meat and all the meatball ingredients with your hands until they are well combined. Form large balls and lay them on a baking pan with a rim.

  3. Bake for about 15 minutes.

  4. Serve over rice with dipping sauce and a sprinkle of scallions.

 

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.

 

2 berry domes for cheesecakes or just for excitement

Ingredients

  • 8 envelopes clear unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 lbs strawberries
  • 6 oz blackberries
  • 6 oz raspberries
  • 6 cups gingergale (about 3.5 cans)

Instructions

  1. Slice the strawberries. Mix them up with the other berries.

  2. Spray a large bowl or two smaller bowls with cooking spray. Put the berries in and try to arrange them as far up the sides as possible. Set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, mix together the gelatin and the sugar.

  4. Boil the water and whisk it into the gelatin and sugar until the gelatin is dissolved.

  5. Add the ginger ale and stir to combine.

  6. Carefully pour the gingerale-gelatin mixture into the prepared bowls of berries.

  7. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours until firmly set.

Gochujang bulgoki (spicy Korean pork)


Ingredients

  • 1.5 pound boneless pork, sliced thin
  • 4 carrots in matchsticks or shreds
  • 1 onion sliced thin

sauce:

  • 5 generous Tbsp gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 cloves minced garlic

Serve with white rice and nori (seaweed sheets) or lettuce leaves to wrap

Instructions

  1. Combine pork, onions, and carrots.

    Mix together all sauce ingredients and stir into pork and vegetables. 

    Cover and let marinate for several hours or overnight.

    Heat a pan with a little oil and sauté the pork mixture until pork is cooked through.

    Serve with rice and lettuce or nori. Eat by taking pieces of lettuce or nori, putting a scoop of meat and rice in, and making little bundles to eat. 

Pico De Gallo

quick and easy fresh dip or topping for tacos, etc.

Ingredients

  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced OR 1/2 serrano pepper
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/8 cup lime juice
  • dash kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients together and serve with your favorite Mexican food

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

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

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

On to the food.

SATURDAY
Birthday party!

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

None of this:

Just fun! Fun fun fun!

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

***

MONDAY
Cilantro lime chicken, rice

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

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

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

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

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

***

TUESDAY
Deconstructed pork shish kabob, watermelon

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

WEDNESDAY
Kids had fish tacos, we had Chinese

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

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

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

***

THURSDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, hot pretzels

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

***

FRIDAY
I think spaghetti.

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