What’s for supper? Vol. 298: Pack of goons

It’s summer! Today is officially the first full day of summer vacation. The feeling I felt when I turned off the alarm before going to bed last night . . . well, it was a good feeling. 

We had a pretty hectic (although not as hectic as last week, which was HECCIN hectic) final week of school, with a field day, a birthday party invite, a trip to Six Flags, a graduation, and then a half day with a beach trip, so if you’re looking for elaborate recipes, turn back! We had a few decent warm-weather meals, though. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Baseball!

Damien took the kids to a colleague summer league baseball game

where I believe they had burgers, fries, popcorn, and Crackerjacks (not to mention balloon animals, glitter tattoos, slime with little treasures in it, pencils, stickers, and so on!).  Everyone at home (including me) just scrounged for dinner. I think I had restaurant leftovers. And very good they are, restaurant leftovers.

SUNDAY
Pizza

I spent most of Sunday decolonizing the front yard. There are two or three rhododendrons that have slowly been getting swallowed up by invasive oriental bittersweet, and I worry about it every time I see it, which is 426 times a day. So I finally snipped and chopped and dug and tore it all up, and the paid the girls to carry it all away on tarps and dump it in a part of the property I don’t care about. Gonna have to do it all again in a month or so, but the rhododendrons are looking around blearily, blinking in the sunlight, straightening their backs, and even gingerly putting out some new leaves at this late date, so I feel pretty good. 

Damien made some gorgeous pizzas while I worked. One pepperoni, one olive, one sausage and mushroom

and one fennel, onion, feta, and anchovy

If I remember correctly. Magnificent.

MONDAY
Strawberry chicken salad

One of my favorites. I broiled the chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then cut it in to chunks. Served over mixed greens with toasted almonds, feta cheese, diced red onion, and sliced strawberries. 

I bought a special strawberry poppyseed dressing, but nobody could open the bottle, so I just had wine vinegar. 

TUESDAY
Chicken “enchilada” “bowls”

Some people start out with a vague idea for a meal and then, under the wizardry of their expert, uh, spatula, it blossoms into something ingeniously delectable. (I deliberately said “blossoms” even though we’re talking about food because that’s just how magical these people are.)
I, on the other hand, groaningly open up the supermarket website, see that chicken is on sale, and say to myself, “So . . . I guess. . . chicken, um, um, um . . . .chicken enchiladuuuuuhhhhhhhh . . .. . uh, chicken enchilada BOWL!” And I write that down, because it sounds like a thing. 

Then actual dinner time comes around, and I have nooo idea. I ended up de-boning some chicken breast and pan frying it in olive oil with lots of chili powder, cumin, and salt, and then kind of squonching it with a wooden spoon. So far so good. Then I diced up a shit ton of onions and fried them in the chicken pan. Also fine.

Then I got involved in this project where I am attaching hardware cloth to the inside of a garbage enclosure I built out of pallets to keep the raccoons away, and I was getting all sweaty, and there were a lot of flies, and I ran out of nails, and some of that wood is really hard, and I was thinking about the price of heating oil, and how my metabolism is changing, and other cheerful thoughts, and next thing you know, it was after 5:00. So I zip-zip made a pot of rice, re-heated the chicken and onions, opened up a couple of cans of tomatoes, found some sour cream that wasn’t frozen, dug out some bags of shredded cheese, chopped up some cilantro, and hurled it all in the direction of the dining room table.

It was then that I realized I had never even taken the cans of enchilada sauce out of the cabinet, much less combined the sauce with the chicken in any way. Hence: “enchilada” “bowls.”

My husband complimented this meal so repeatedly and earnestly that I’m afraid it must have been pretty bad. I was hungry, though (see: garbage enclosure raccoon pallets hammering), so it was fine. Kinda salty, though. 

WEDNESDAY
8th grade graduation!

Kids at home had chicken nuggets in the shape of dinosaurs, and Damien and Lucy and I went to her 8th grade graduation, and then to Local Burger

which is as advertised. They certainly give you plenty of fries. We ate outside and saw a pretty good dog show on the sidewalk.

We also had ice cream at a place I suggested, which I variously called Boondoggle’s, Hasenpfeffer’s,  Hammacher Schlemmer, and Hamantaschen before they acknowledged they knew I was talking about Humdinger’s. I guess Boondoggle’s was semantically the closest, but it wasn’t very close. I think all ice cream places should just be called “That Ice Cream Place, You Know, The One With the Wooden Horse” or “That Ice Cream Place Where We Hit That Crazy Lady’s Car.” Just for clarity. My brain is not getting any more elastic, here. 

And so now we have SEVEN children who are high school aged or higher. Good grief.  When Irene was five, she told me, “You know, you go into my kindergarten cwass and fink, ‘What a wovewy bunch of kids.’ But you get to know them better, and they’re just a big pack of goons.”

 
I think about that a lot. Just a big pack of goons, all the way down. 
 

THURSDAY
Burgers, chips, carrots

Damien took the pack of goons to the beach and then made supper.

I, on the other hand, couldn’t even figure out how to make the photo above into a gif without exceeding the upload size of this site. I honestly don’t even know what it is I do around here. Just look pretty, I guess. 

FRIDAY
Spaghetti?

Damien is making supper. I must go curl my eyelashes now. 

Oh, speaking of pretty, here’s one final photo from that awards dinner last week. Don’t we look nice? That’s because we are nice! For a couple of goons. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 260: In which I say tomatermorts

It’s been a while! We’re in a bit of a summer fun frenzy and going on a lot of day trips and side quests, so I’m busy and confused. There are only a few food photos on my phone and lots of zoo, planetarium, concert, birthday, swimming, yard project, and campfire photos (along with flat tire, dumb dog, flooded basement, calamitous kitchen, and ER parking lot photos). We also bought a used ice fishing house and Damien’s converting it into an office. More on that later, you bet.

I’ll just do highlights of the last few weeks’ suppers, to bring us up to speed. And you know, I’m pretty impressed at what yummy meals I made. My secret is that now I have more time and more money. And that’s my secret. 

Here’s what we had:

Buffalo chicken wraps

Another meal-turned salad-turned wrap, like the chicken caesar wrap of last edition. I cooked some frozen buffalo chicken tenders and served them on pita with tomatoes, lettuce, crunchy fried onions, and blue cheese dressing. I think there was also shredded pepper jack cheese. 

Not mind-blowing, but tasty, and a good addition to the rotation. 

Taquitos and cowboy caviar

Aldi’s chicken taquitos are really tasty. They include discernible bits of meat and the flavor is nice, and they get crisp in the oven. Plus they are called “Casa Mamita” which makes me laugh, because you have to say all their food names with a German accent. 

I made a big bowl of what’s apparently called “cowboy caviar,” which is one of those completely unnecessary cultural phenomena, like a Polaris Slingshot, or neufchatel cheese, or the state of Arizona. Cowboy caviar itself is delicious, but I’m talking about that name. They should have named it literally anything else. The zoo has an anteater named “Giacomo,” so that proves we have more freedom than we may realize. 

Anyway, I made it with  . . . well, I didn’t write it down, but squinting at this photo, it looks like tomatoes, avocado, green peppers, scallions, corn, black beans, and red onions. Probably cilantro. I think I made the dressing with white vine vinegar and olive oil, but I honestly don’t recall. There are tons of variations of this dish, so if you mooch around on Google, you’ll get the idea.

I skipped the chips and just had extra cowboy caviar. No ragrets.

I also tried not one but two TikTok recipes. I’m too old to be on actual TikTok, but I found websites that describe what may be found there, without any danger of having to see sassy nurses dancing and pointing to things. I went with the tomato feta pasta bake and the suggested cream cheese sausage balls.

The first was a win. It’s a very easy dish to make. You throw all your vegetables in a pan with a few seasonings and olive oil. As you can see, I added onions and basil. 

Then you chunk some feta and stuff on top and just bake it. People tell me the secret is to use the kind of feta that comes in brine, so it melts well.

It’s done when the tomatoes are squashy and the feta is toasty.

While that’s cooking, you make a big pot of pasta and then throw it all together and mix until the feta is a creamy sauce, and throw some lemon zest in there just for nice. 

I wish I had roasted it just a tiny bit longer to make those tomatoes really piping hot and collapsed, but it was very, very good. Tonys of melty flavor, very filling and pleasant. I might add the basil after cooking next time, so more of the flavor comes through. 

The little meatballs, made of sausage, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and bisquick, were easy enough to make (although it took a LONG time to get the ingredients blended), and they were fine.

but if something is going to taste, and be, that fatty, it really needs to be magnificent, and these were just fine. (To be fair, I didn’t make the suggested dipping sauce, so maybe that would have made a big difference.)  We only ate half, and I froze the rest so I’ll have a quick meal on hand, but I won’t bother making these again. The feta pasta was a hit, though. Very happy to have a new meatless meal, with tons of variations possible.

Chicken shawarma again!

Well met, old friend.

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I marinated the chicken overnight and just threw the onions on top of the meat before I cooked it. This is the way. 

Served with pita, garlicky yogurt sauce,

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feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives. Still the tastiest low-skill meal around.

Mexican beef bowl

Actually, all the bowls were dirty, so we had Mexican beef plate. This is sounding less and less like an actual recipe, and more like one of those foods that can’t quite bring itself to be specific. I wish I could remember what I saw, but it was something like “chewy munch snacks” and it did not inspire confidence. But anyway, this is an actual recipe and quite a delicious one.

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The marinade is simple but excitingly tangy and rich. 

I served the marinated meat strips with rice, fried peppers and onions, a mixture of tomatoes and chili peppers and black beans, slightly charred corn, and cilantro, sour cream, and lime wedges. It was so much food I forgot to eat corn chips, which is saying something. 

Looks like I have one more photo: 
Chicken caprese sandwiches

Grilled sliced chicken on baguettes with tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and freshly-ground salt and pepper. If your stupid refrigerator freezes your cheese, you can defrost it gently by submerging the sealed package in warm water for a while. The vital part of this dish is the fake Pringles in a violent shade of orange. This is the way. 

***

Chicken shawarma

Ingredients

  • 8 lbs boned, skinned chicken thighs
  • 4-5 red onions
  • 1.5 cups lemon juice
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 entire head garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Mix marinade ingredients together, then add chicken. Put in ziplock bag and let marinate several hours or overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425.

  3. Grease a shallow pan. Take the chicken out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan, and top with the onions (sliced or quartered). Cook for 45 minutes or more. 

  4. Chop up the chicken a bit, if you like, and finish cooking it so it crisps up a bit more.

  5. Serve chicken and onions with pita bread triangles, cucumbers, tomatoes, assorted olives, feta cheese, fresh parsley, pomegranates or grapes, fried eggplant, and yogurt sauce.

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

 

Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

  2. 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.

What’s for supper? Vol. 258: There’s always enough food. What if there’s not enough food?

I have an overwhelming desire to talk about cheese! Who’s with me?

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Pizza

I took myself by the scruff of the neck and bought a mere four balls of pizza dough, with which to make a paltry four pizzas for our diminished little miniature family of eleven. We just can’t eat six pizzas anymore. There’s so much left over, it’s ridiculous. We are ridiculous with food. 

We had one olive pizza, one pepperoni, one cheese, and one with red and yellow peppers, salami and pepperoni, and fresh mozzarella. Made me want more salami, red pepper, and fresh mozzarella in my life. I would eat that on a sandwich, wouldn’t you?

SUNDAY
July 4th cookout!

We didn’t get to have this party last year because of covid. Cancelling it was especially hard, not just because it’s much-anticipated annual family reunion, but because it was supposed to be the party in lieu of a wake for my dad, which we also couldn’t have because of covid. So, this year, we did it! Almost all my siblings were there, many of their children, and also a dear friend from college that I haven’t seen in something like ten years. It was a wonderful, wonderful day.

Plenty of food, great weather, tons of sparklers and kind of a lot of fireworks, and poppers and glow sticks and tiki torches, temporary patriotic tattoos, candy, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and everything. 

The only thing approaching a disappointment was that my brother’s dog didn’t like our dog. Our dog was too dumb to realize this, though, so he, at least, was spared the disappointment. I did make frozen ham balls for both of them (you put ham and various dog treats in a bowl or bag of water and freeze it, and licking it it keeps them entertained and cool at outdoor events), but that wasn’t enough to forge a friendship over. 

We do a basic American cookout food, no fancy tricks with fish sauce or shallots or bechamel anything. Hamburgers, hot dogs, brats and sausages, veggie burgers and dogs, and smoked chicken thighs. Damien also made some clams in white wine and lemon juice just for fun, and we had pasta salad, and potato salad, veggies and hummus, chips and dip, and watermelon, and more store brand soda than you could shake a stick at (oh yes, there was Dr. Perky and Mountain Lion), and cheap domestic beer, and dark and stormies. For dessert, we had ice cream cups, chocolate and vanilla pudding cups, and red and blue jello cups with whipped cream. U.S.A!. U.S.A! It was a good, good party. Nobody even got burned or drowned.

I think we ended up with about 4o people. Damien got a bird’s eye view with his drone. You can see the kids lining up to get their sparklers lit.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0245.JPG

I didn’t get a lot of food photos. The potato salad was potatoes, mayo with cider vinegar and sugar, fresh dill, celery, and salt and pepper. The pasta salad was farfalle, fresh basil and parsley, red onions, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, black olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper and oregano, and fresh parmesan. 

MONDAY
Leftover chicken, hot dogs, and brats, and salads

So, maybe we made too much food. Plenty of leftovers.

Oops, I forgot to share the smoked chicken recipe. Here:
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TUESDAY
Leftover burgers, chips

Yep, still plenty of leftovers. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches, watermelon

Hoping to avoid an insurrection, we threw out the rest of the leftovers and had chicken sandwiches with provolone, tomato, and basil on ciabatta rolls.

There was some leftover watermelon, but I craftily cut it into chunks, rather than serving slices.  They weren’t fooled, though, and I had to eat most of it myself. 

THURSDAY
Steak and blueberry salad with lemon feta crisps; cherry pie

Something completely different. Steak was on sale, so Damien made a sugar-salt rub, grilled them and sliced them, and I served the meat on salad greens with blueberries. 

I wanted to try making cheese crisps, which I have heard are very easy. Well, they were easy, but I would not call them crisp in any way. Cheese disks, I guess. Cheese blips. 

It was probably the type of cheese I used. I crumbled some feta cheese and mixed in some shredded mozzarella and the zest of a few lemons, put the mixture in little piles on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper, and baked for 6-7 minutes. I tried 375 and 400, but they really just came out chewy, even after they cooled on a rack for a few hours. The flavor was excellent, though, and really perfect to go with the steak and blueberries. Next time I will try just parmesan and see how that goes. 

We had some guests and I was a tiny bit concerned there wasn’t enough food (even thought there is always always always enough food. There is always too much food), so I decided to make some cherry pies. I was planning a lattice crust, which I usually manage without any trouble, but I was rattled due to trying to make a lattice crust while simultaneously getting embroiled in one of the wildest goose chases I’ve been in in years, involving Facebook marketplace and some wooden pallets, heavy rain, an allegedly disgruntled ex-tenant (not mine), a security camera, LOTS of screenshots, at least two people taking photos of each other’s license plates, and the police force in two different towns; and the kids were playing Dungeons and Dragons very loudly the whole time, which is not to say this was their fault, but it definitely did not help. I may possibly write it up at some point, but the short version is I never did get my pallets. We saw a nice turkey family on the way there, though, and some pretty fawns on the way home. I never got any pie. 

And look! I have a video of Benny showing us how to pit cherries with nothing but a bottle and a chopstick (and a cherry). This must be about a year old, because it’s shortly after Benny’s haircut, but before I painted the kitchen yellow. And it’s cherry season.  

Anyway, I ended up making one pie with a sort of twisted spiral crust

and one rather tacky flower one.

Did I mention I never got any pie? Too embroiled. I hope there is some leftover. (Of course there is some leftover. THERE’S [waves arms like deranged orchestra conductor] ALWAYS ENOUGH FOOD AND THERE’S ALWAYS SOME FOOD LEFT OVER.)

FRIDAY
Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce and pasta, garlic bread

Marcella Hazan to the rescue. 

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It’s still raining. I believe we’re having another dinner guest. What if there’s not enough food? Maybe I should run out and get more food. I would hate to not have enough food. 

Smoked chicken thighs with sugar rub

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • .5 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 chicken thighs

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let marinate until the sugar melts a bit. 

  2. Light the fire, and let it burn down to coals. Shove the coals over to one side and lay the chicken on the grill. Lower the lid and let the chicken smoke for an hour or two until they are fully cooked. 

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, FROZEN
  • 1/4 cup water, with an ice cube

Instructions

  1. Freeze the butter for at least 20 minutes, then shred it on a box grater. Set aside.

  2. Put the water in a cup and throw an ice cube in it. Set aside.

  3. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the shredded butter and combine with a butter knife or your fingers until there are no piles of loose, dry flour. Try not to work it too hard. It's fine if there are still visible nuggets of butter.

  4. Sprinkle the dough ball with a little iced water at a time until the dough starts to become pliable but not sticky. Use the water to incorporate any remaining dry flour.

  5. If you're ready to roll out the dough, flour a surface, place the dough in the middle, flour a rolling pin, and roll it out from the center.

  6. If you're going to use it later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep it in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months, if you wrap it with enough layers. Let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out!

  7. If the crust is too crumbly, you can add extra water, but make sure it's at room temp. Sometimes perfect dough is crumbly just because it's too cold, so give it time to warm up.

  8. You can easily patch cracked dough by rolling out a patch and attaching it to the cracked part with a little water. Pinch it together.

Cherry pie filling for TWO pies

Keyword cherries, cherry pie, desserts, fruit desserts, pie

Ingredients

  • 7 cups cherries pitted
  • 2-2/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp butter

Instructions

To pit cherries:

  1. Pull the stem off the cherry and place it, stem-side down, in a bottle with a narrow neck, like a beer bottle. Drive the blunt end of a chopstick down through the cherry, forcing the pit out into the bottle.

To make the filling:

  1. Mix together the pitted cherries, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl and let it sit for ten minutes or so until they get juicy. 

  2. Stir the almond extract into the cherry mixture and heat in a heavy pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, for several minutes. Stir in the butter.

  3. Let the mixture cool a bit, then pour into pie shells. 

Recipe Notes

This would also be fine over ice cream. 

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes, broken up
  • 1 onion peeled and cut in half
  • salt to taste
  • 5 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

  4. I'm freaking serious, that's it!