What’s for supper? Vol. 307: If you’ll just step this way, sir

My sincere apologies for not getting anything up on the site this week. We started school again this week, and we are all exhaustipated. I knew that would happen, so last weekend, I pulled up a bunch of old back-to-school essays I had written, thinking I could dust them off and re-publish. But the funny ones were so dated, and the earnest ones were so naive, it really didn’t help with my little moroseness problem. I really hate this time of year. Like old Emily says, there is this fucking slant of light. I wish everything would just die and get it over with, rather than dragging us all through this long, drawn-out process where everything explodes into one final flame of exquisite color but it’s clearly the final fever ignited by the face of death. What kind of system is that, sheesh. Maybe I’ll hire a tour bus to come and look at it and buy postcards, that seems nice! I don’t know what is the matter with people. Yes I do.

Anyway, as I say, it was our first week of school, so I wanted to cook foods that everybody likes, because even a good first week of school is challenging, and comfort food helps. Here is what we had:

SATURDAY
Various

Lena actually took me out to eat to Thai Garden in Keene, and the people at home had hot dogs. I didn’t get pics of the delicious appetizers, which included golden triangles, but I did capture my main course, which the waitress recommended. I forget what it was called, but it was some kind of chicken coconut curry with lots of vegetables and two kinds of noodles, some soft, and then some crunchy fried ones on top. Very tasty. 

I wish to compliment the Thai people on their brilliance. So good. We always have a nice time at Thai Garden. Fast, friendly service, tasty, hot food, and decent prices, and if you dither long enough, the waitress will just tell you what to order, and she will be correct. 

SUNDAY
Sandwiches at the beach

Sunday was the last possible day for me to fulfill my annual pledge to take them to the pond and stay as long as they wanted to stay and have dinner there and eat as much candy as they wanted. We packed grapes, watermelon, and blueberries, baguettes, meats, and cheeses, bags of chips, and most importantly, lots and lots of candy.

Hardly anyone else was there. It was a little on the cool side, and it turns out we don’t have quite the beach staying power we once did. We used to play-play-play until after the sun went down, but this year, we only made it about three hours, had an early dinner, and packed it in. But not before Corrie made herself exactly the sandwich she wanted:

And then we said goodbye to the beach for the year. We always say we can keep going a few more times even if vacation is over, but it never works out. 

MONDAY
Pizza

I made four pizzas, one pepperoni, one plain, and then two that I’ve been wanting to try: One Greek, with black olives, fresh garlic, black olives, feta, ricotta, fresh spinach, and tomatoes from the garden

I also bought a jar of marinated red peppers, but I forgot to put them on. It was pretty good!

But the other one was really the star. First I made a little salad with arugula, red onion, fresh lemon juice, good olive oil, and salt and pepper, and set it aside. I cooked the pizza with just sauce and mozzarella, fresh garlic slices, and fresh rosemary from the garden, and some more olive oil and a little extra salt and pepper. Then when it came out, I topped it with lots of torn-up prosciutto and the arugula salad.

I planned to add some freshly-shredded parmesan to the top, but the parmesan mysteriously disappeared. The pizza was full of flavor as it was. Really excellent. I loved the combination of raw and cooked elements, savory, tart, peppery and . . . herbaceous. The arugula did wilt a tiny bit from the heat of the pizza, so it all just melded together beautifully.

Most definitely making this pizza again. Aldi prosciutto and parmesan make it very affordable. 

And now, since Moe moved out and the family continues to dwindle, I’m making my first tentative efforts to face the idea that four pizzas is too many. We used to polish off six extra large pizzas! 

TUESDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs

Nothing special. In fact the sauce was a little skimpy, as you can see. 

No complaints, though. It was too hot for spaghetti and meatballs, but it was the first full day back, and everyone was very happy for this comfort meal. 

Jump to Recipe

I made five pounds of meatballs and added lots of Worcestershire sauce.

WEDNESDAY
Pork ribs, peas, risotto

Pork ribs: just lots of salt and pepper, roasted up under the broiler until they are juicy. Possibly the tastiest possible meat with the littlest effort.  

The risotto, I goosed so much, I’m almost ashamed. I’m including my recipe below

Jump to Recipe

but I added 50% more butter, 50% more parmesan cheese (which mysteriously reappeared. My refrigerator has portals or something), and — this is a little gauche, but I made the chicken broth with at least double the amount of bouillon powder. So it was very intensely flavored and very salty, which is how the kids like it. And so do I. It was absolutely gooey

You know what? I make no apology. Don’t run away from your feelings. We’re all doing it!

(Yes, my entire excuse is because I said “gauche.”)

Speaking of things you may not find attractive, here is my pork and risotto, which was not especially photogenic, but it’s on my camera, so here you go. 

If you want kids packing risotto in their lunches and staying up late to microwave a little extra for themselves before bed, this is how to do it. 

THURSDAY
Kielbasa, cabbage, and red potato sheet pan bake; hot pretzels

This is a kind of cute recipe we haven’t had for a while. I used three 12-oz ropes (that’s what they’re called) of kielbasa, a large cabbage, and about four pounds of red potatoes. It’s super easy. You just cut everything up, douse it with olive oil and salt and pepper, put your thick slices of cabbage in there with more oil and salt and pepper, and cook it all. You flip everything at some point, and it takes about half an hour.

Jump to Recipe

You can see that I got lazy and just flipped the cabbage, and let the potatoes and kielbasa be, so they only really got browned on one side, but it was fine. 

I did chop up some parsley and make the nice garlicky mustard sauce with red wine vinegar. 

We also had a bunch of hot pretzels. 

Once things settle down a bit, I’m going to make homemade hot pretzels again. They turned out pretty nice when I tried them back in February, and they’re not difficult. According the the King Arthur people, you can make the dough in the morning and keep it in the fridge, then form the pretzels and bake them later in the day. Or you can make them completely but slightly underbake them, and then heat them up when it’s dinner time —  probably more realistic for a weekday. 

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle casserole

The final installment in the “comfort, o my people” meal plan. Our tuna noodle is canned tuna and canned cream of mushroom soup mixed with egg noodles, cooked in a casserole dish with a topping of corn flakes and potato chips, with a dressing made of mayo, ketchup, and vinegar. Damien, who grew up with an entirely different set of monstrous casseroles, is talking about making spaghetti and clams, though. 

And that’s it. Sorry about all the whining. 

Meatballs for a crowd

Make about 100 golf ball-sized meatballs. 

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground meat (I like to use mostly beef with some ground chicken or turkey or pork)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 8 oz grated parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, basil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.

  2. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until it's fully blended.

  3. Form meatballs and put them in a single layer on a pan with drainage. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or more until they're cooked all the way through.

  4. Add meatballs to sauce and keep warm until you're ready to serve. 

 

Suppli (or Arancini)

Breaded, deep fried balls of risotto with a center of melted mozzarella. 
Make the risotto first and leave time to refrigerate the suppli before deep frying. 

Ingredients

  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 8 + 8 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 4 cups raw rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

To make suppli out of the risotto:

  • risotto
  • 1 beaten egg FOR EACH CUP OF RISOTTO
  • bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
  • plenty of oil for frying
  • mozzarella in one-inch cubes (I use about a pound of cheese per 24 suppli)

Instructions

  1. Makes enough risotto for 24+ suppli the size of goose eggs.


    Set chicken stock to simmer in a pot.

    In a large pan, melt 8 Tbs. of the butter, and cook onions slowly until soft but not brown.

    Stir in raw rice and cook 7-8 minutes or more, stirring, until the grains glisten and are opaque.

    Pour in the wine and boil until wine is absorbed.

    Add 4 cups of simmering stock and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the liquid is almost absorbed.

    Add 4 more cups of stock and cook until absorbed.

    If the rice is not tender by this point, keep adding cups of stock until it is tender. You really want the rice to expand and become creamy.

    When rice is done, gently stir in the other 8 Tbs of butter and the grated cheese with a fork.

  2. This risotto is wonderful to eat on its own, but if you want to make suppli out of it, read on!

  3. TO MAKE THE SUPPLI:

    Beat the eggs and gently mix them into the risotto.


    Scoop up about 1/4 cup risotto mixture. Press a cube of mozzarella. Top with another 1/4 cup scoop of risotto. Roll and form an egg shape with your hands.


    Roll and coat each risotto ball in bread crumbs and lay in pan to refrigerate. 


    Chill for at least an hour to make the balls hold together when you fry them.


    Put enough oil in pan to submerge the suppli. Heat slowly until it's bubbling nicely, but not so hot that it's smoking. It's the right temperature when little bubbles form on a wooden spoon submerged in the oil. 


    Preheat the oven if you are making a large batch, and put a paper-lined pan in the oven.


    Carefully lower suppli into the oil. Don't crowd them! Just do a few at a time. Let them fry for a few minutes and gently dislodge them from the bottom. Turn once if necessary. They should be golden brown all over. 


    Carefully remove the suppli from the oil with a slotted spoon and eat immediately, or keep them warm in the oven. 

 

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. 143: Septemberbot

Ah, September, the time of year when you could easily replace me with a robot that does two things: Driving people places, and complaining about driving people places. The deluxe version of Simchabot also stares wistfully at the silvery, dry grasses at the side of the road and feels bad about everything dying. We did have food, but mainly the food of sadness, rabbit, mainly the food of sadness.

SATURDAY
BLTs

It seems like we would have had a special reason for making BLTs, which are generally classified as party or treat food, but hell if I can remember what was going on Saturday. The only bit of information I can offer is that we have sworn off Aldi bacon, which barely has a taste at all.

SUNDAY
Chicken quesadillas with lime crema; tortilla chips

Do you know, it’s hard to take interesting pictures of quesadillas? They are so flat.

All the pictures this week are pretty sub-par, as supper kept getting pushed back until after the sun was down, and I haven’t figure out how to take pretty food pics with artificial light. The quesadillas were tasty, though, if not photogenic.

I put the chicken breasts in the Instant Pot with some water on high pressure for eight minutes, then I shredded it and mixed in some chili lime powder. We had our quesadillas with your choice of cheddar cheese, chicken, chopped scallions, and jalapeno slices from a jar.

We also had lime crema, which is fine crema.

It’s just sour cream with some lime zest and juice, plus salt and garlic, but it elevates meals like you wouldn’t believe. (recipe card below) And yes, I reserved some lime zest for garnish, because I am a golden god.

MONDAY
Butter chicken, mashed potatoes, salad

This week’s installment from Kyra’s Bag o’ Peculiar Foods. I had three packets of butter chicken curry paste

and was determined to try butter chicken, which I’ve heard described as an Indian food entry meal. (Of course I like naan, but you can’t be human and not like naan, so that doesn’t count.)

So. I tried butter chicken. To be fair, I did mess up the recipe. I cooked the chicken in oil, and then added the butter later, after asking myself, “Well, if it’s called ‘butter chicken,’ then when does the butter –oh.” I threw it all together and then put it in the slow cooker all day, rather than simmering it. And it turned out we were out of rice, so I made some last-minute mashed potatoes for a side, instead.

Buttttt, despite all these deviations, I didn’t like it for completely other reasons — specifically, curry reasons. The seasoning came from the pouch, so whatever else I screwed up, the taste is the taste, and I guess I just don’t like curry? It tastes like a dessert taste to me, and I just can’t get it to make sense with meat dishes.  I feel guilty about this just in case an hour of the day should pass without me feeling guilty about something.

However, a couple friends recommended a recipe for quickie, yeastless naan, which I believe I will try. Because I (human) do like naan!

Oh, also, I was sure most of the kids wouldn’t like the curry, so I made up a batch of pan-fried chicken. I dredged it in flour and everything. I put it in the fridge and then, half an hour before dinner, I put it back in the oven to warm up. But, rabbit, I did not turn that oven on. Also, I hadn’t cooked the chicken all the way through, and Irene took a big bite of raw meat and promptly threw up. Can’t blame the Indians for that, I suppose.

TUESDAY
Fish tacos

Tortillas with sour cream (sadly, the lime crema had all been lapped up), finely shredded cabbage, avocado slices, fresh lime, cilantro, and of course fish sticks. I also got some lime chipotle salsa from Aldi, and it was pretty good, although a little mushier than I like.

Some day I will make this meal with fresh, pan fried fish, but not today, rabbit. Not today.

WEDNESDAY
Kielbasa, red potatoes, sweet peppers, and onions with mustard sauce

This meal was easy and attractive, but a little low on flavor, because I put all my effort into hacking things up and none into sprinkling things on. It was a bunch of kielbasa, red potatoes, onions, and sweet peppers, chunked them on a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper and whatnot. Then I put it under the broiler and forgot about it until it was almost too late.

At the last minute, I put together a dressing that saved it (or would have, if I had made enough). Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and minced garlic. It looked like tarry sludge, but had a good, zippy flavor.

THURSDAY
Chicken nuggets and that is seriously it.

One of the kids asked me why I didn’t make anything else, and I didn’t even know. I remember thinking, “. . . .eggs? . . . . ” at some point mid-morning, but that’s as far as it got. I assume they all eat vegetables at school or something, so that’s fine.

FRIDAY
Pasta primavera and fresh bread

I bought some frozen bread dough which is defrosting right now, because I told myself ninety-three times during the week that I was probably going to forget to defrost it. I have made pasta primavera before, but can’t seem to find the recipe. Basically you just want pasta with a light cream sauce, plenty of parmesan and garlic, and an assortment of fresh vegetables.  I have no intention of blanching things and then putting them in and out of ice water. Remember, yesterday it was too hard to bring hard boiled eggs from potentiality to actuality. We keeps the expectations low, precious.

Lime Crema

Keyword Budget Bytes, crema, lime, lime crema, sour cream, tacos

Ingredients

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 3 limes zested and juiced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. 

Recipe Notes

So good on tacos and tortilla chips Looking forward to having it on tortilla soup, enchiladas, MAYBE BAKED POTATOES, I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

What’s for Supper? Vol. 89: Hot dogs and hamburgers all the way down!

What did we eat this week? I thought you’d never ask.

SATURDAY
Hamburgers and hot dogs, chips, birthday cake and ice cream

My son turned 15 (actually it was kind of a while ago), and his wingspan, from fingertip to fingertip, is now six feet. He can almost touch the floor and the ceiling at the same time. We have low ceilings, but still. Size 14 shoes. Boxing lessons. Life is strange, and fast.

He wanted to go to the beach with his friends and then home for a hamburger and hot dogs cookout, and so it was done. He also requested, SIGH SIGH SIGH, a laundry bag cake.

This is from the new MST3K series, where the invention exchange includes a Carvel Cake Wheel of all the possible cakes one could make with a Carvel Whale Cake Pan. Including a laundry bag cake. Considering I don’t have a whale cake pan, I thought this cake designed to look like a cake designed to look like it’s made despite owning a whale cake pan turned out pretty good.

***

SUNDAY
Curried chicken salad

I chucked a bunch of chicken breasts in the Instant Pot (YES, MY HUSBAND FOUND THE MISSING VALVE COVER BEHIND A PHALANX OF LAUNDRY BASKETS!) with a can of coconut milk and a little water, and pressed the “poultry” button.

I mixed a tub of unflavored yogurt with plenty of curry powder and added the cooked, cubed chicken to that. One of the kids chopped up the salad greens nice and small, so as to, I don’t know, make it more exotic. The recipe called for raisins or grapes mixed into the curry sauce, but I didn’t like the sound of that, so we had grapes on the side, plus chopped walnuts.

It was a pretty okay dish. The people who liked curry liked it, the people who didn’t like curry didn’t like it, and there were a couple who kept asking what curry was, but refusing to taste it, so I threw them out the window. Anyway, it was easy. I also gave two of my teenage daughters a driving lesson, and then unrelatedly headed briskly to the liquor store.

***

MONDAY
Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, chips

There was a Big Clean a-comin’, so we had a simple meal Monday. Actually we had already pressed everyone into servitude getting the house ready for the last party, not to mention the one before that, so there wasn’t all that much left to do. Relatively speaking. You set your standards to “Low Low Low,” pretend it’s okay not to own a vacuum cleaner, and off you go.

We went to the town fireworks display that night, didn’t get into any fights with any yahoos, and came home with the right number of kids in the dark, so that was a success. Corrie proclaimed the fireworks “orange” and then fell asleep.

***

TUESDAY
July 4th Cookout!

What a spectacular day. We had something like forty people, including my one and only cousin whom I haven’t seen in twenty years. Everyone brought something to eat or drink, and my father brought fireworks and read the Declaration of Independence

and handed out sparklers. The kids played in the stream and swung on swings, everyone gorged on watermelon and meat, the entire neighborhood filled up with smoke, we played Johnny Cash, and it was swell. A really happy day.

We had hamburgers, hot dog, and pork spiedies, chips, potato salad, pasta salad, corn on the cob, watermelon, cookies, and brownies. There was no end of beer and soda, plus Dark and Stormies (dark rum, ginger beer, and lime). And cigars. Actual conversation, one of many similar types of conversations:

Damien: We need fifty pounds of ice. No, sixty. Better get a hundred.
Me: Are you sure?
Damien: The bags are five pounds.
Me: You sure you want me to get twenty bags of ice?
Damien: I don’t know, I’m crazy.
Me: That just seems like a lot. I’ll get ten bags.
Me, loading ten bags into cart: This doesn’t seem like enough. I better get some more. [loads several more bags into cart]
Husband texts me to say there is not going to be enough beer, so I stop at another store to buy more beer.
Me at the next store: I don’t know if we have enough ice. Here, grab that bag for me. No, the twenty-pound one.
Husband texts me to say never mind, we have plenty of beer.
WHICH WE CERTAINLY DID. Then it turned out basically everyone at the party had some reason for not drinking, so we were stuck with enough beer to float a free boat off Craigslist in, and the quantity of Dark and Stormies I personally consumed turned into Three Days of Darkness and Stormies, all with lime. I do what I can.

The spiedies were insanely good, if I do say so myself. I got about sixteen pounds of pork loin and my husband cut them into hefty chunks, which we marinated overnight in this marinade. We soaked the wooden skewers in water to keep everything moist, and my husband grilled them veddy nicely. So juicy and flavorful! There really isn’t anything better you can do for pork.

I forgot to take pictures of any food. That’s how good of a party it was!

***

WEDNESDAY
Cookout leftovers

The kids started the day eating cold pork and hamburgers, so we were reduced to leftover hot dogs and watermelon by dinner time.

***

THURSDAY
One-pan honey garlic chicken and red potatoes, salad

This is a great recipe from Damn Delicious. It tastes even better if you have not allowed the chicken to go bad. Blehhh. We all had one bite, spit it out, and ended up eating potato puffs and scrambled eggs for supper. Boo.

***

FRIDAY
Pizza

I said to my husband this morning, “I don’t know what we’re having next week, but it definitely won’t be hamburgers or hot dogs.” Then he reminded me we’re camping next week.

So . . . who’s got camp food ideas besides hamburgers and hot dogs?