You did it! You made it to Friday! In lieu of a treat, here is a little food post.
Grilled ham and cheese, chips
I think people may be well and truly burnt out on grilled ham and cheese, even with the good sourdough bread. We had a good run. I’ll try again in May or so. Or next time I cannot think of literally any other kind of food that people eat for dinner.
We were supposed to go apple picking on Saturday, but people were too busy, and then Sunday, but then someone threw up, so, no.
We did go ahead and make the long-promised giant garbage bag spider. As the name implies, this is made with garbage bags, plus packing tape zip ties. The legs are stuffed with giant weeds, and the body is stuffed with a slightly deflated pool floatie. It looks . . . fine.
It’s just not what I was hoping. I think if I make a second big round part and make that be the head, and put a lot more eyes on it, and maybe fangs. And maybe give the skeletons some swords, or maybe a fly swatter. I don’t know. It’s just a little lackluster. But I did get it done, and being able to cross “giant garbage bag spider” off your list is not nothing.
Beef barley soup, pumpkin empanadas
Nobody was throwing up, so we thought maybe possibly we’d go apple picking on Monday, because nobody had school, except a few people did, and then also oops, I had therapy, but we could still go after that, but then it rained. It was also only about 50 degrees and windy, and driving an hour and half in the afternoon to pick wet apples in the cold wind and then driving home in the dark honestly just did not sound like a lot of fun, even by our standards, even if we stopped to plant crocus bulbs on my parents’ grave, which, yes, was part of my fun-fun plan. So we didn’t do any of that, and instead I stayed home and made soup and empanadas, and that was actually quite nice.
First beef barley soup of the season. Pretty popular meal in a family that is fairly soup skeptical. It’s just so full of tasty things, and it’s so cozy and colorful. Plenty of carrots and onions and garlic, beef and mushrooms, tomatoes and barley, and the broth is made with red wine. Super easy and if give it plenty of time to cook, the beef gets wonderfully tender.
This recipe has instructions for stovetop and Instant Pot.
Jump to Recipe
I got some empanada dough discs at the supermarket, after the NYT comments section clued me in that Goya frozen dough was just as good as homemade, and it’s like $2 for a package of ten. The Goya dough discs are very easy to work with. They go from totally frozen to workable within about twenty minutes, and they stretch well and don’t tear easily. You can bake or fry them.
For the filling, I sorta followed this recipe, which is just canned pumpkin, vanilla, brown sugar, and pumpkin spice. (I think I used cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.) I decreased the amount of sugar by about 25% and it was still a bit sweeter than I thought was necessary. You just cook it in a pot for a few minutes, then spoon a heaping spoonful onto the discs, seal them up with a fork, brush them with egg wash, and bake them on parchment paper.
I was a little concerned that the empanadas wouldn’t hold together, because the filling was the consistency of thick homemade applesauce. I briefly considered adding egg or flour, but it didn’t seem like a good day for winging anything, and in the end they didn’t leak. I do think something more solid would have been a bit more appealing, though. Here’s the inside:
This isn’t a flaw of the recipe, it just wasn’t exactly what I wanted (even though it was exactly what I made, duh). They certainly were easy to put together, and they came out of the oven glossy and cheery. This particular dough is flavored with annatto, which gives it a very mild peppery taste and a pleasant ruddy color.
Corrie has been having homemade empanadas for breakfast and packing them in her lunch all week, which I am telling myself offsets the fact that it took me three days to notice her lunchbox is moldy.
Someone said something about pineapple empanadas, and this intrigues me! And I did, in fact, buy another several packs of empanada discs to keep in the freezer for next time. Maybe pineapple empanadas next time we have chili verde, or tacos al pastor. Maybe apple empanadas next time we go apple picking. Which we’re going to do if it kills us.
Ham, peas, mashed potatoes
We are contractually obligated to have this exact meal at least three times a year. I know it’s because they like to make little sculptures with it, and I don’t care, because it’s a damn tasty meal. Ham, peas, and mashed potatoes.
Also, last time I made mashed potatoes, they came gross, because I left the skins on and then slightly undercooked and undermashed them, so this was my chance to redeem myself.
I also redeemed myself by having leftover soup for lunch.
This is a very specific kind of redemption, redemption soup. Limited in its way, but also very tasty, and full of carrots. All I ever have, / redemption soup.
Yes. Yes. Gyro time. In the morning, I cut up a big, cheap pork shoulder into thin strips and marinated it. I made the marinade with honey, wine vinegar, olive oil, fresh garlic, red onions, fresh rosemary and oregano (the very last from the garden), and then some dried oregano, too, just to be on the safe side. This is a pleasantly mild, somewhat sweet, herby-tasting marinade, and it makes the meat nicely tender.Jump to Recipe
At dinner time, I just spread it in a shallow pan and roasted it with the marinade, stirring it up a bit halfway through to keep it from burning
while cooking some french fries in a second pan. I sliced up some more red onions, then cut up some tomatoes and cucumbers, and made a big dish of garlicky lemony yogurt sauce, and gathered up plenty of big pieces of fresh wild mint.
AND THEN WE FEASTED.
I skipped the french fries in mine and just went for plenty of yogurt and hot sauce. A perfectly satisfying meal, the tender juicy meat and hot sauce and the cool, garlicky yogurt all playing so nicely with the crunchy fresh vegetables. Just couldn’t be better. The fresh mint leaves really put it over the top.
Meatball subs, veg and dig
I often make the meatballs in the oven, but this time I felt like frying them, which really does make them better. I just browned them in a pan in batches
with the help of a supervisor
and then let them finish cooking in the oven, went to pick up the kids, and then moved the meatballs to a pot of red sauce to continue heating up until supper.
Nothing extraordinary, but good for a rainy fall day.
Shrimp lo mein
For some reason, the price of frozen shrimp has remained the same while everything else has expanded to … the opposite of shrimp-like, in price size.
That reminds me, Corrie is very interested in opposites lately. She wanted to know the opposite of optimistic, and when I told her, she informed me that Sonny is optimistic, but the cat is pessimistic. Which is true.
Then the next day, she forgot the word “pessimistic” and referred to something as “eptimistic,” and was embarrassed; so we decided that eptimistic was a perfectly good word that must mean the opposite of being inept. Like if you know how to cook, you’re pretty eptimistic in the kitchen. Let’s make this happen, everybody. Let’s eptimistically whip up a quick little lo mein sauce, and make a surprisingly simple, tasty dinnerJump to Recipe
with a couple pounds of store brand fettuccine and maybe some chopped up zucchini and yellow bell pepper. Won’t that be pretty? I’m feeling fairly optimistic about it.
And we are going to go apple picking this weekend if it kills us. And it will!
Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)
Makes about a gallon of lovely soup
- 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
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.
Add the cubes of beef and cook until slightly browned.
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.
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.
Before serving, add pepper to taste. Salt if necessary.
honey garlic marinade for gyros
Marinate thin strips of pork for several hours, then grill or broil. This is a mild, somewhat sweet marinade that makes the meat quite tender.
- 4-5 lbs pork shoulder or butt, sliced into thin strips
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- small bunch fresh rosemary, chopped
- small bunch fresh oregano, chopped
Meatballs for a crowd
Make about 100 golf ball-sized meatballs.
- 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.
Preheat oven to 400.
Mix all ingredients together with your hands until it's fully blended.
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.
Add meatballs to sauce and keep warm until you're ready to serve.
basic lo mein
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)
Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.
Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.
Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.
Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.