What’s for supper? Vol. 220: Livin’ it up on top

Hola, amigos. What gives? I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but there’s been all sorts of craziness going on.  But enough about me. Here’s what we cooked this week:

SATURDAY
Pizza

Oh, well, we didn’t actually cook this, as it was Aldi pizza. I mean, we put it in the oven. Saturday was when we got home from our splendid ocean vacation.

Wait, I have a few last pic from last week! Friday was our last full day at the ocean, and after one final swim, the kids stayed at the house and had grilled cheese and candy, I believe, and Damien and I found a restaurant with a breezy terrace

and had llllllllobster. Note my expert technique.

You will find it much easier to crack open a lobster once you’ve had three cocktails made of lemonade, soda water, and blueberry vodka. It just makes you more dextrous overall. Oh, we also had fried calamari and seared tuna.

Dammit, I was okay with not being at the ocean, and now I want to go back. Ah well. I still can’t believe we got to go!

Four of the older kids didn’t come on vacation with us, and they had been implored and entreated and cajoled and importuned not to ignore bad food smells and not to let my flowers die and not to let the puppy become too egregious, and they listened! So it was a pretty easy re-entry. The pool had taken on a vibrant emerald hue, unfortunately, and Damien is still battling the algae. As of today, it’s only chartreuse, which is progress. 

SUNDAY
Burgers and hot dogs

I think? One of our kids was moving into her own apartment on Sunday, and there was some kind of secondary hullabaloo. It’s a duck blur (duck not included). Damien cooked supper.

MONDAY
Pesto chicken pasta

I finally actually cooked something, if not using an actual a recipe. I cooked the chicken breasts in the instant pot and cubed/shredded it and mixed it with farfalle. Then I added a sauce in I made in the food processor with lots of fresh basil, lots of fresh garlic, lots of olive oil, lots of grated parmesan, salt and pepper, and — here’s the secret ingredient — two jars of pesto. 

Not terribly photogenic, but pretty tasty!

While I’m on the subject, did you know you can make pesto out of all kinds of things? The most traditional kind is pine nuts, garlic, basil, parmean, salt, and olive oil, but you can use other herbs and other nuts. I once made a spinach walnut pesto that was fab.

Jump to Recipe

 

I need to revisit various pesti while we’re still livin’ it up on top. [sighs until dead]

Made it to the town pond around sunset for an hour or so.

We still have a few weeks left, right?

TUESDAY
Honey balsamic Brussels sprouts with bacon and eggs

A great one-pan meal which I think is suitable for any time of the day.

Jump to Recipe

It’s a simple recipe, and only a time consuming if you have to make vast quantities, mainly in trimming and halving all those Brussels sprouts, but it’s absolutely a crowd pleaser and takes no particular skill.

I wished I had had some crusty bread, but it was so good. 

I didn’t even follow the recipe for the sauce, just sloshed together a bunch of honey, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder because I was too lazy to crush garlic, and salt and pepper. Mix it up with the sprouts and some chopped bacon, cook it all until the bacon is done, then crack some eggs over it, cook a bit more, and top with parmesan and hot pepper flakes. And I guess a sprinkle of holy water, if that’s the kind of day you’re having:

WEDNESDAY
Tortas, grilled corn

A new dish for us! I had told Damien steak was on sale, and he said, “WAIT.” and sent me some recipes. I checked them out and it idea seems to be “Mexican things, but with bread!” Can do. 

Damien seasoned the steaks heavily with chili lime powder and grilled them rare, then cut them in slices. I found some soft rolls, and I set them out with the meat, refried beans, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, lime wedges, sour cream, mayonnaise, and queso fresco. I toasted my roll.

Damien also grilled some corn in the husks over the coals, and I had mine just with lime juice. At some point I guess you could assemble the sandwich and grill the whole thing, but you’d need some kind of containment system. This was a huge shambles of a sandwich. I ate mine outside because it was cooler and also so nobody could see me ravaging it. 

THURSDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches

On Thursday I finally got around to excavating the jungle of my container garden, and was glad I had chosen to buy some extra basil just in case. The slugs are so bad this year. Next year I’ll . . . do better. Take care of stuff. Or whatever. Anyway, the sandwiches were good. I guess I forgot to take a picture, so here is a chicken caprese sandwich of ages past:

I heavy seasoned the chicken breasts with salt and “Italian seasoning” (I think it’s just basil and oregano) and olive oil and roasted and sliced them. We had plenty of tomatoes, basil, and leftover queso fresco, ciabatta rolls, olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. 

We were supposed to go to the drive in movies to see Inside Out and Monty Python Holy Grail, and possibly stay for The Big Lebowski, but I somehow misread the schedule, and they were showing It and Harry Potter and the Part Where It Starts Getting Crappy. So we went mini golfing instead. Corrie got the highest score, which means she won.

And now we are all set with mini golf for another eleven years.

Gosh, I hope drive in movies make a comeback because of the pandemic. Wouldn’t that be neat? The first drive in movie I remember seeing was Superman. I was wearing footie pajamas, and my father put the back seat down in the orange Subaru, and kept it down on the drive home so we could sleep. 

FRIDAY
Tuna boats, curly fries

And that’s it! Hey, I know this sounds stupid because I clearly have a very rich, full, and lucky life, with photographic evidence and everything, but I am actually massively depressed and have been for several weeks and I’m having a hard time climbing out of this hole. Please pray for me and I’ll pray for you, because I know I’m not the only one. Thanks. Duck blur over and out. 

 

5 from 2 votes
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Spinach walnut pesto

You can play with the proportions to get the consistency you like. This version is cheaper than using pine nuts and all basil. Makes 2-3 cups of pesto for adding to pasta or spreading on bruschetta.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cups fresh baby spinach (can include radicchio, etc.)
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 3 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 8 oz grated parmesan
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Whir nuts in food processor until crumbed. 
    Add basil and greens, and whir until blended. 
    Slowly add olive oil and blend again.
    Add salt, garlic, and parmesan cheese and blend again until it's the consistency you like. 


5 from 2 votes
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Bacon, eggs, and brussels sprouts in honey garlic balsamic sauce

Adapted from Damn Delicious.  An easy and tasty one-pan meal that would work for any meal. Great with a hearty bread like challah. 

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 3 lbs uncooked bacon, cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces
  • 18 eggs
  • oil for greasing pan
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed

Garnish (optional):

  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease two large oven sheets. 


  2. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Mix Brussels sprouts and bacon together, spread evenly in pans, and pour sauce all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Cook until bacon is almost done (almost as crisp as you like it) and Brussels sprouts are very slightly browned, 18-20 minutes.

  4. Pull the pans out of the oven and carefully crack the eggs onto the Brussels sprouts and bacon, here and there.

  5. Return pan to the oven and cook a few minutes longer, just enough to set the eggs. The yolks will get a little film over the top, but don't let them cook all the way through, or you'll have something resembled hard boiled eggs, which isn't as good. You want the yolks to be liquid so you can dip forkfuls of fod into it.

  6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes and serve. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 172: Sweet sweet summertime (almost)!

Summer, almost! Summer foods, yes! Grilled corn, fresh fruit, fresh basil, smoked meats! I’m very excited about summer food. And other warm weather things.

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips

The local garden club had their annual sale and I stocked up on things that we all know are supposed to grow in this area, because that is where they are from, so there is no excuse. 

We had burgers cooked outside on the grill, which are the best burgers. Even better, burgers eaten outside while I squint menacingly at the stuff I just planted.

Mmmm, squinting. 

SUNDAY
Pizza and ice cream

On Sunday, we went to see my mother in the nursing home.

I got a bit of eye contact and she held my hand, which was more than I was hoping for. It is a beautiful spot on top of a hull, full of trees and birds. 

Then my father took us out for pizza and ice cream down by the river.

A good day!

MONDAY
Hot Dogs Of Many Nations, potato salad, sorta-elotes, fruit salad

You can sing “hot dogs of many nations” to the tune of “look for that silver lining” if you want to. Children find it very irritating and pretend they don’t hear you, but I know they hear.

I didn’t go all out and do all the possible hot dog toppings, but we had a good assortment of mustards and whatnot. I had a buffalo dog (blue cheese, hot wing sauce, and scallions) and Damien had a Chicago hot dog (chopped onion, pickle relish, pickled peppers, tomatoes, a dill pickle, mustard, and celery salt). 

Don’t they look nat-u-ral together? Just like two Essem franks should be. 

Dora made some tasty potato salad, and I put together strawberries, blueberries, and kiwi in this Walmart leaf dish which I’m inordinately fond of. It makes me feel like Mowgli.

I also got mangoes, but they were still hard as a rock.

Damien roasted the corn over the coals with the husks still on, which makes the corn tender and sweet. Then we sprinkled them with parmesan cheese and chili lime powder and squeezed on some lime juice. 

Next time, I want to roast the corn after shucking it, so it chars a bit, and maybe I will make up a kind of paste to rub onto the cooked corn. Anyway, first corn of the season a success!

And we went to the beach! Oh lovely beach. Here are some mermaids:


 

TUESDAY
Smoked roast beef sandwiches, chips, raw string beans

Damien actually did the roast beef the previous day in the smoker, while the hot dogs were cooking. He dried it off, slathered it with A1 sauce, then sprinkled it with chili, plenty of kosher salt, and some onion powder and garlic powder, and then he smoked it for two or three hours until the meat thermometer showed between 120-130, so it was rare. 

I sliced it as thin as I could, and it was fantastic.

The smoky flavor permeated the whole thing. I put pickled pepper rings on my sandwich. I mixed a little horseradish into mayo, and we toasted some kaiser rolls and I picked up some decent provolone from the deli. I have finally sadly concluded that Aldi provolone is the right color and the right shape and definitely the right price, but it doesn’t actually taste like anything at all. It’s not bad, so it’s not really convolone, but I guess overall a neutralvolone.

WEDNESDAY
Bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken, pasta salad

On my quest to insert every possible edible substance into chicken, this week’s installment turned out quite nicely. I cut the chicken breasts in half and folded each half over a scoop of jarred spinach artichoke dip, then wrapped each folded chicken breast in three strips of bacon. Tasty! Recipe card at the end. 

I laid out two strips of bacon and put the chicken on top of that, and spread a scoop of dip on top

then folded the chicken in half and wrapped the bacon up and over the top

and secured it with two toothpicks through the top. I was going to leave it at that, but I was afraid the dip would leak out when it cooked, so I took a third strip of bacon and laid it crossways over the top, then tucked the ends underneath. This made a nice little packet. 

I put the wrapped chicken on a rack on a pan lined with tinfoil. I hoped having the heat circulate underneath would make the bottom bacon cook well. It wasn’t flabby or gross, so that was good, but it wasn’t as crisp as you want bacon to be, either. 

Still a cute and tasty meal. This would be a great dish to make ahead and then shove in the oven later, if you have company. It wasn’t really hard to make, and I made the chicken and the pasta salad, start to finish, in under an hour. 

Ah, the pasta salad. For the first time in the history of my pasta salads, there was no leftover pasta salad. I used cavatappi, julienned sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese, freshly-grated parmesan . . . 

Wait. I just wanted to make sure you heart that. FRESHLY-GRATED PARMESAN. I like grating it big, almost shredded. It’s just so sharp and wonderful. Okay.

. . . and some raw kale just to show who’s boss around here, and some spicy dry salami bits, and a dressing I made from fresh basil, fresh garlic, olive oil, and a little red wine vinegar, and then just a little kosher salt. 

Next time I will make three times as much. It was a really zippy salad. I know this isn’t exactly a groundbreaking idea, but using fresh ingredients makes such a difference. 

THURSDAY
Bibimbap, mango

Benny has been asking for bibimbap, possibly mostly for the name, but at least partly for the rice and the egg. I made a slightly different sauce to cook the pork in this time, and I think I’ll stick with it. I’ll put the recipe at the end. I just dumped a hunk of pork in the Instant Pot with the sauce and used the meat button, then shredded it and cooked it a little longer. I think for texture I prefer pork that’s been cut into bits and then cooked on the stovetop, rather than shredded, but it was a good flavor. 

We got home late and I didn’t have a lot of fixings prepared, so I just made some rice, and we had pea sprouts, cucumbers, crunchy noodles, sesame seeds, and of course a runny fried egg on top. I had raw spinach and tabasco sauce with mine.

The mangoes I bought for Sunday finally ripened up, and they made a good accompaniment for this meal. Also a good meal to prep early (especially if you have two slow cookers) and then throw together at dinnertime, as long as you have time to fry a few eggs up. 

FRIDAY
Pasta, I guess?

I feel like I have put in my kitchen time this week, and now pasta will be fine. Gonna post this now and circle back later to put the recipe cards in. Tell me about your favorite things to do with roasted corn, though!

Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 24 oz cavatappi or other pasta
  • 7 oz sun dried tomatoes (I like julienned)
  • 4 oz crumbled feta
  • 1 cup freshly shredded parmesan, loosely packed
  • lg handful kale, chopped
  • 6-8 oz dry salami, chopped

for the dressing:

  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • kosher salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta in salted water and drain. 


    Make the dressing by whirring the basil and garlic in the food processor until you get a paste, then slowly add the olive oil and vinegar. If it's not thin enough, add more olive oil. 


    Mix the rest of the ingredients into the pasta. Salt to taste. 

Korean sauce for bibimbap or other dishes with meat

A sweet, spicy, savory Korean sauce for cooking, marinating, or brushing on to grill. Susceptible to many adjustments if you like it sweeter or spicier, thicker or thinner. This recipe makes enough to cook 4-5 lbs of meat.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar or plain vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients together. If you're cooking in the Instant Pot, you may want to add 1/4 cup water or so to make sure there is enough liquid to prevent burning. 

 

Chicken stuffed with artichoke dip and wrapped in bacon

I mean. 
This is actually fairly easy to put together, and you can make it far ahead of time and then put it in the oven when guests come over. One large chicken breast yields two servings. 

Of course you can make your own spinach artichoke dip, but using jarred dip keeps it simple.

Ingredients

  • 6 large chicken breasts
  • 36 slices bacon
  • 2 cups spinach artichoke dip
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Line a large pan with tin foil and put a rack on it, so the bacon can drain while it cooks. 
    Preheat oven to 375.

  2. Cut the chicken breasts in half, so each one yields two flat breasts.

  3. Lay two strips of bacon side by side and lay a chicken breast on top of it. Spread a scoop of artichoke dip on the chicken.

  4. Carefully fold the chicken in half to enclose the artichoke dip. Then fold the bacon up and over the chicken. Secure it all with two toothpicks. 

  5. Take a third slice of bacon and lay it crosswise over the top of the chicken. Push it down onto the toothpicks, and carefully tuck the two ends underneath the chicken. 

  6. Cook the chicken at 375 for 25 minutes or more, until it is cooked all the way through. 

  7. If the bacon isn't browned sufficiently, turn on the broiler for a few minutes to finish it off. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 131: Paint with all the colors of the food!

Lots of pretty summer food this week! Here’s what we had (carbs at the end). I struggled mightily with the photos in this post. If they turned out sideways or upside down, it’s because WordPress is evil, and no other reason.

SATURDAY
Burgers, chips, salad

No pics, but mighty tasty, cooked on the grill.

SUNDAY
Grilled clams in wine sauce, grilled chicken, grilled corn; ice cream and berries

This was a glorious meal. Damien went out for chicken and corn to grill, and discovered that clams were a dollar a pound, so he bought many pounds.

Here cleaned the clams, then made this sauce:

Coarsely chop a big onion, and saute it lightly in a little olive oil and a small pinch of red pepper flakes. Add salt and pepper. Once cooked, add a 1/4 bottle of white wine and two sticks of melted butter.

Then put the clams on the grill and let them cook, without turning them, until they pop open. Then put them in a bowl and cover them with the sauce.

You guys, they were so good. I’m predisposed to any kind of seafood, but the flavor of that sauce was out of this world.

The chicken was also fabulous! A sweet char on the outside, juicy on the inside, and the combination worked well. Really good outdoor food.

Here’s the rub he made, for 20 chicken thighs:

1.5 cups brown sugar 1.5 cups
.5 cups white sugar
2 Tbs chili powder
2 Tbs garlic powder
salt and pepper

Then he grilled it all!

 

The corn, you can grill right in the husks until they’re charred, and it comes out so very sweet and juicy.

We buttered it and sprinkled it with chili lime powder.

Look at the carnage. Look at that lake of butter and wine! I completely shamed myself with the number of clams I scarfed down.

We had it with cans of Narragansett Beer, Made On Honor.

Dessert: vanilla ice cream with blueberries and strawberries. Oh sweet, sweet summertime (almost).

MONDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, apple-cabbage-broccoli slaw, steak fries

This meal looked nicer in person, I promise. I put a pork shoulder in the crock pot with a can of beer, half a jar of jalapeno slices and juice, some minced garlic, and salt and pepper. Possibly an onion.

I really wanted to use my new used food processor, but all the recipes for broccoli slaw that I found online started with “take one bag of broccoli slaw,” and people who write stuff like that should feel bad about themselves. I guess they can follow up with a cake recipe, with first ingredient: cake. Then they can mentor some young people and advise them that the best way to find a job is to make up a resume in which they describe their current successful career. Bah!

So I took slaw matters into my own hands and made this:

I fed into the food processor:

Half a head of red cabbage
one pound of broccoli, stem and florets
two cored green apples with skin on

Then I mixed that up with:

1/3 cup mayo
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup white sugar
chili lime seasoning
It didn’t strictly need the sugar, with the apples in there, and I’ll probably skip it next time. I thought it went very well with the pulled pork, and Damien liked it, too. The rotten kids wouldn’t even try it, even though I told them about the sugar.
TUESDAY
Sausage, mushroom, and cheese omelettes; hash browns

Normally, I can make omelettes. The trick is not to turn it too soon, but the real trick is to have a decent pan, either nonstick or stainless steel. Then I go through a stage of self-recrimination where I demand to know why I thought it would be quick and easy to whip up twelve omelettes to order. But normally, I can make omelettes.

Well, not today! The damn things just wouldn’t hold together. This was the very best one I made, and it’s a tough little beast:

Then Damien came home and had pity on me, so he made his own. Guess what? This is how his turned out:

I think it was the eggs. I think they froze and then thawed, and they turned against us. We need this entire generation of eggs to die out before we can ever have omelettes again.

WEDNESDAY
Pork ramen

Chicken ramen with sliced pork, mixed vegetables, sriracha sesame seeds, soft boiled eggs, and a little dulse (seaweed), with crunchy noodles. Good stuff.

I took some boneless pork chops and sauteed them in olive oil. When they were almost done cooking, I gave them a good dousing with soy sauce, then finished cooking, and sliced them thinly.

THURSDAY
Chicken drumsticks; homemade tortilla chips with corn and bean salad

We had to be out around dinner time, so I made the food ahead of time and served it cold. The drumsticks, I just drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them.

 

I still have a ludicrous backlog of tortillas, so I cut them into triangles, tossed them with olive oil, and sprinkled them with chili lime powder. I spread the triangles in shallow pans and baked them for . . . I dunno, a while. A good idea, but the execution left something to be desired. These really need more room, and more shuffling around, then I had time to give them. Still, not bad. I made them as a delivery device for this pretty corn salad I made:

I mixed together:

12 oz sweet corn
a can of black beans (1.5 cups)
a bunch of chopped cilantro
a 10 oz Ro-Tel diced tomatoes with chili, lime juice and cilantro
1/2 small red onion, diced (1/3 cup)
plenty of salt, pepper,  and chili lime Taijin seasoning
and probably 1/4 cup of lime juice
and set it to cool in the fridge for a few hours.
I thought it was really good! Lots of flavor and crunch, and a refreshing way to eat vegetables. Sweeter than I expected. I would not be ashamed to bring this to a potluck, either.
FRIDAY
Tuna noodle casserole

Shh, don’t tell the kids. We’re making steaks and eating them all by ourselves, in honor of the Sacred Heart.

Here come the carbs!

HAMBURGERS:

hamburger: 0

ketchup 1 Tbs 5g
mustard: 0
pickles:0
bun: 23
15 chips: 16
mixed greens: 1

PULLED PORK:

pork: 1

1/2 deli roll (L’Oven Fresh center split deli roll): 19.5
10 steak fries: 36
ketchup 2 Tbs: 10

OMELETTES:

2 Season’s Choice hash browns: 42

ketchup: 2 Tbs, 10
eggs: 0
butter: 0
sausage: 0
1/4 cup cheese: 1g

RAMEN:

1 package Top Ramen, chicken flavor: 26
Pork cooked in olive oil and sesame oil: 0

soft boiled egg: 0
1/4 cup mixed asian veg: 2

CHICKEN, CORN SALAD:

chips:

2 medium tortillas, 16 chips: 48

olive oil: 0
Tajin seasoning: 0
drumsticks:
chicken, oil, salt, pepper: 0
bean and corn mix:
12 oz sweet corn: 64
black beans,1.5 cups: 72
cilantro: negligible
10 oz Ro-Tel diced tomatoes with chili, lime juice and cilantro: 15
1/2 sm red onion (1/3 cup): 16
salt, pepper: 0
lime juice: 0
Taijin seasoning: 0
Makes about 4.5 cups;
64 + 72 + 15 + 16 = 167
18.55g per half cup

TUNA NOODLE:

1-1/4 cups dry egg noodles: 38
tuna: 0
cream of mushroom: 1/2 c : 11
1 oz chips: 16
1-1/2 cups corn flakes: 39

mayo:0
ketchup,  1 Tbs: 5
vinegar: 0