Everyone is sick and mopey and overworked, and there is frost on the windshield in the morning. And we’ve decided that Corrie is watching far too much TV, so we are doing a little detox there, which is hard on everyone. So I focused on cozy, unchallenging meals for this week. Here’s what we had:
Steak, hot bread, salad
Well, London broil. That’s a steak, right? Everyone looked so droopy and sad, I thought we could all use some steak, and it happened to be on sale. Damien seasoned and broiled them, and I bought a few of those pull-apart bread rings and threw them in the oven right before supper. I put out some salad but it remained largely unmolested.
The pictures are lackluster but the meat was great. Much better than the other way around, as sometimes happens.
Grilled ham and cheese, chips
Sunday we went to Mass and I led my first faith formation class, which went great! Overall. Some of those kids know a lot and some of them know hardly anything, but they are all interested in Jesus! And why not? He is an interesting guy.
We came home for lunch and some of us were clever enough to fix ourselves steak and cheese sandwiches.
Then we met my dad and went apple picking at our absolute favorite orchard, Wellwood Orchards in Springfield, Vt. It’s way up in the mountains where the air is so clean and good. You buy your bags and then get into a wagon, and a tractor pulls you wherever you want to go. We wanted mostly Macintosh, Macouns, and Cortlands, although some of the younger and more naive children were swayed by the deceit of that apple that calls itself “delicious.”
This orchard has a little farm animal petting zoo, with cute little goaties and fancy ridiculous chickens, and the sun shone down, and the air smelled like apples, and it was just a good day. There are a bunch of pictures on my FB page. Here’s my favorite:
We also stopped at the Vermont Country Store and spent more money on candy than I have ever imagined it was possible to spend on candy. Irene bought wax lips with fangs, because Monday is school picture day and she’s not made of stone.
French toast casserole, sausages, plums, OJ
Continuing the theme of “life is cold; here is some food that is hot.”
I’ll do my best to make a recipe for french toast casserole, but it turns out different every time. It’s definitely a good meal for kids to help you make. Although I would not recommend letting your very contagious four-year-old mix the orange juice in the other room. We ended up making a whole separate batch for those who did not wish to drink plague juice.
I browned up some frozen breakfast sausages and set out a bowl of sweet little plums, lovely, dusky little plums.
Pork and ricotta meatballs on spaghetti with Marcella Hazan’s sauce
Sometimes you see a recipe and you just know. This one, from the NYT, calls for ground pork, ricotta, parmesan, bread crumbs, eggs, and salt and pepper, and that’s it. You bake them, so it’s nice and easy.
They don’t look like much, but they are delightfully fluffy and so full of flavor (although I thought the amount of salt it called for was way too much), with little creamy pockets of cheese. I ended up using three pounds of pork and one pound of ground beef, and more parm than the recipe called for, and panko bread crumbs; so I guess that’s a good enough reason to make up my own recipe card. I had to cook them ahead of time and then heat them up in the sauce, but next time I want to cook them right before we eat them, so they can be as light as possible. They did soak up a lot of the sauce, which was unexpected. Possibly because of the panko bread crumbs.
I made Marcella Hazan’s miraculous three-ingredient sauce in the morning in the crock pot.
Boy, does it not look like it’s going to be delicious. BUT IT IS.
This was a popular meal, and we have been snacking on meatballs all week. In fact, the other day, I was working and thinking about meatballs and asked Benny to snag me a couple. This is what she brought me:
Hot dogs, beans, fries
This meal was just a gift to myself. I actually asked Benny and Corrie to make it for me, and they somehow didn’t do a very good job, but still.
Again, no culinary adventures, but everyone was happy. I spread tortilla chips in a pan, spread cooked, seasoned ground beef over that, and sprinkled it heavily with shredded cheddar, and then topped it with chopped scallions. The scallions were third gen, if anyone cares.
I had mine with salsa and sour cream. And very good they are, nachos.
I splurged on batter-fried frozen fish instead of the breaded kind. We have tortillas, shredded cabbage, cute li’l cherry tomatoes, lime wedges, sour cream, and ooops, I forgot to buy avocados.
Here’s the recipe cards!
French toast casserole
An easy, kid-pleasing meal, pleasant and cozy for breakfast, brunch, or brinner. Use any kinds of bread you have in the house. You can also add raisins, slices of apple, or whatever sounds good.
I'm not putting measurements in, because you can make this so many different ways, so it's more pastry-like or more custardy. Use the same proportions you'd use to make regular french toast and it will be good.
- bread, torn up
- dash of salt
- white or brown sugar
Grease a casserole dish or cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350.
Tear the bread up into chunks and spread them in the buttered pans.
Mix together the eggs, milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla, and pour the batter over the bread. Stir up the bread so all of it is wet.
If you like, you can let the casserole sit for a few hours to let the egg soak in, but it's not essential.
Sprinkle the top with more sugar and cinnamon, if you like. Bake for 40 minutes or so, until the egg is all cooked and it's a little toasted on top. Serve in wedges and drizzle with syrup, sprinkle with powdered sugar, or serve with jam or fruit toppings.
Pork and ricotta meatballs
Adapted from a NYT recipe, found here. Very easy to put together, and the extra creamy, fluffy, cheesiness make these remarkable.
- 1 lbs ground pork
- 1 lb ground beef or turkey
- 2+ cups panko bread crumbs
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 32 oz ricotta
- 8 oz grated parmesan cheese
- 4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 4 tsp kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 425.
Lightly mix together all ingredients in a bowl. The ricotta doesn't need to be completely incorporated. Form into balls. This makes about 75 walnut-sized meatballs.
Grease a rimmed baking sheet and arrange the meatballs on it.
Bake for about half an hour, until the meatballs are slightly browned.
Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce
We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people.
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes, broken up
- 1 onion peeled and cut in half
- salt to taste
- 5 Tbsp butter
Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.
Simmer at least 90 minutes.
Take out the onions.
I'm freaking serious, that's it!