What’s for supper? Vol. 241: What gets blossomed next?

And a happy Friday to you, week who just about killed us. We’re very glad most of the kids are back in school in person, but YEESH. We Fishers do not excel at transitions; we certainly do not. It didn’t help that we had lots of Nighttime Diabetes Excitement, which is one of my least favorite kinds of excitement. 

Pretty good food, though. Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Meatball subs

I always say “nothing to report” when I make meatballs, but guess what? I have something to report! I have been under seasoning them. I bumped up all the seasoning by maybe 20%, and then I added a healthy glug of red wine. So nice! Just a little more savory and rich. I didn’t take a photo, possibly because of being busy eating.

I used the leftover sauce from Friday’s spaghetti with Marcella Hazan’s magical sauce. And that was a good meal. 

SUNDAY
Hot chicken wings, beer brats, bloomin’ onions, a vast assortment of crunchy snackeroos and dips

Super Bowl food! Damien made his easy peasy hot chicken wings with blue cheese dip, and lots of beer brats with onions three ways (cooked in beer with onions and served with sautéed onions and raw onions); and, fearing that wasn’t enough onions, I made three bloomin’ onions. 

The hot wings were fantastic, as usual. Damien used full wings, rather than wingettes (gosh I hate that word), which I actually prefer. 

The bloomin’ onions were probably more fun to make than they were to eat. People were obliging, but we only ended up eating about half. I guess I had it in my head that it was a party since it was the Super Bowl, so I made three giant onions. 

Here I am demonstrating the lovely job my little onion blossomer does:

I didn’t show this part, but because the onion sits on a little base that’s lower than the blades, the “petals” are still attached at the root end when you take it off the cutter, which is how you can fry the onion all in one piece.  Now I’m wondering what else I can use this device to cut. Definitely a cantaloupe. We will have melon blossoms come summer, let me tell you, with little berries here and there. And maybe . . . potatoes! I’m seriously considering making some deep fried potato blossoms for Valentine’s Day.

And I’m almost ashamed to tell you this, but what I really want to try is a pork blossom. I’ll get a nice piece of lean, boneless pork, maybe marinate it for a while, and then freeze it for an hour or two to firm it up, and then . . . VOOM. Pork blossom. I guess I could deep fry if after that.  THIS IS BIG BRAIN TIME, EVERYBODY. I feel like there is some disadvantage to my plan, or some wrinkle I’m not anticipating, but I also feel like it’s going to happen anyway. 

I took so many damn pictures of these onions at various stages, I might as well share them.

Onions in ice water, firming up:

Onions coated in seasoned flour:

Onions coated in seasoned flour, then dipped in egg batter, then seasoned flour again, waiting for the oil to heat up:

Onion merrily frying in oil:

You have to fry them upside down first, shoving them down pretty hard in the pot to force the petals open; then flip it over and finish cooking it right side up. Then you can pull it out . . . 

drain it, and set it on a plate with a little dish of sauce.

Then you pull the petals off and dip. 

I used the flour, batter, and sauce recipes on this page, but next time I make this, I’ll use more ketchup and less horseradish in the sauce, which tasted a bit harsh. A bloomin’ onion should be nothing but fun and delight, no harshness at all. 

MONDAY
Turkey bacon avocado wraps; leftovers

I figured there would be lots of leftovers, and I was very right. So we had what passed for a light meal (supplemented by wings and brats): Spinach wraps, deli turkey, bacon, avocado, and Swiss cheese, with honey mustard dressing.

I don’t know why wraps feel like more of a treat than sandwiches, but they do. Maybe because I always used to order one after giving birth, and I associate them with having room service (and that first meal you eat after you have a baby is just indescribably delicious). Now I just need my own chipped ice machine and I can live that swanky hospital life every day. 

TUESDAY
Golden rice with salmon; egg rolls

New recipe. Frozen salmon is actually fairly cheap if you’re not making a giant slab of salmon your main course. We didn’t have any furikake. I don’t even know what furikake is (okay, I looked it up, and it sounds neat), but I thought the rest of it sounded delicious enough that we could limp along without it. 

Alas, this dish was not a hit, despite lots of fresh ginger and garlic and both parts of the scallion. You cook the rice, then coat it with egg yolk before stir frying it.

Also you fry up the egg whites in the pan separately and then add them into the rice. This recipe has an awful lot of putting things into the pan and then taking them out again and then adding them back in, then making a little space in the middle of the thing you’re cooking and cooking something else in there, and then combining it with the other thing . . . to be honest, I was a little relieved that it wasn’t a popular dish, because it was too much work and I don’t want to do it again!

It wasn’t bad, just bland. Needed furikake, no doubt. I also crowded the pan when cooking the salmon, so the fish part was kind of soggy, rather than crisp and toasted, which is sad. We ended up adding soy sauce and/or hot sauce. I did like the egg-coated rice, and will probably adopt that for another recipe. It gave the rice a nice richness, plus of course a cheery yellow color. And I did like the addition of the fluffy egg whites in with the rice. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken shawarma

I was going to make this over the weekend, but it seemed like everyone needed cheering up mid-week, so I made shawarma, which everyone loves. 

We had these cute little mini pita breads, which aren’t really better than normal pita, but they are cute. Tons of various kinds of olive, feta, cucumbers and tomatoes, parsley, yogurt sauce. So much garlic in everything, my lips were fizzing. So good. 

I usually put the onions in with the chicken to marinate, but I just didn’t feel like dealing with onions first thing in the morning, so I just spread them over the chicken right before I cooked it, and it turned out fabulous.

Probably do it that way from now on. There is plenty of flavor in the meat, and I liked having the onions a bit more crisp. 

THURSDAY
Pork nachos

Another successful meal that I decided on at the last minute. I’ve made John Herreid’s carnitas many times, and everyone likes them, but I was going to be driving around all day, so I chunked a piece of fatty pork into the Instant Pot with a bottle of Mexican coke, some cinnamon sticks, a quartered orange, some bay leaves, a splash of canola oil, and tons of oregano, salt, and pepper, and pressed the “meat” button. This still cracks me up. YOU MAKE MEAT NOW. *boop*

It cooked it on high pressure for 35 minutes, and then I left it on warm for a few hours until dinner, when I took the meat out and shredded it, then spread it over tortilla chips and sprinkled it with shredded cheese, and broiled it.

My land, it was good. Really tasty and tender, middling spicy and warming but not too sweet, with no need to add additional seasoning. I had mine with scallions and sour cream.

FRIDAY

I think we are having migas. The kids are having their Valentine’s Parties at school, so I’m hoping they’ll be full of hygienic store-bought individually wrapped treats and won’t care very much that it’s migas for supper, which they don’t like because they are culinary fools. 

(Pictured: Past migas)
I may make some beans and rice, but then again, I may not. Maybe I’ll just have some Pixy Stix.

Hey, don’t forget to leave your suggestions for what gets blossomed next around here! Although we all know it’s going to be a potato. (And yes, I looked up “getting blossomed” on Urban Dictionary to make sure it’s not a kink of some kind. It is not.)

Here’s the recipe cards!

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. 

 

Hot chicken wings with blue cheese dip (after Deadspin)

Basic, tasty hot wings with blue cheese sauce

Ingredients

  • chicken wingettes
  • oil for frying

For the hot sauce:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/8 cup tabasco sauce
  • 1/8 cup sriracha sauce
  • salt
  • vinegar (optional)

Blue cheese sauce:

  • sour cream
  • blue cheese
  • optional: lemon juice, mayonnaise
  • celery sticks for serving

Instructions

  1. Fry the wingettes in several inches of oil until they are lightly browned. Do a few at a time so they don't stick together. Set them on paper towels to cool.

  2. Melt the butter and mix together wit the rest of the hot sauce ingredients. Toss the wings in the hot sauce.

  3. Mix together the sour cream and crumbled blue cheese. Use a food processor or whisk vigorously to break up the blue cheese. You can add lemon juice or a little mayonnaise to thin it.

  4. Serve with blue cheese dip and celery sticks.

 

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 sliced or quartered onions and 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 and onions out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan. 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
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 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. 

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 240: If I’m going to eat salad…

This week’s menu was designed with weight loss in mind. All you have to do is completely avoid these seven meals, and the pounds will simply melt away, ho ho ho.

Here’s what we had:

SATUDAY
Monte Cristo sandwiches with honey

I’ve tried croque monsieur sandwiches, which are similar, except they have a cheese sauce on the outside, and I thought they were kind of gross. These are also ham and cheese but dipped in seasoned egg before frying, so they are hearty but not gloppy.

Some people serve these with powdered sugar and I just couldn’t get my brain to accept powdered sugar that close to mustard. But I did drizzle my sandwich with honey, and that bridged the gap between sweet and savory very nicely.

I didn’t invest in gruyere, but just bought a bunch of Swiss. I did buy a nicer ham and some niceish bread. So I spread mustard on one slice and mayo on the other, then cheese, ham, and more cheese, and you dip the whole thing in beaten eggs, then fry in plenty of butter. I thought they were delicious, definitely more of a treat than plain old grilled ham and cheese.

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I feel like I must have served a side dish. Maybe an apple? 

SUNDAY
Cheesy pepperoni chicken breast rolls, french bread

Love making keto recipes and then baking four loaves of french bread to go with it. 

The chicken turned out fine. It tasted like exactly what it was: Chicken breasts cut in half, pounded thin, and rolled up around pepperoni and mozzarella, then baked with marinara sauce. I have a very nice picture of it, where you can really see how the pepperoni is peeking out from inside the cheese layer and it’s all wrapped up in chicken breast, but a little bird tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Simcha, that’s not pepperoni chicken. That is yoni chicken.” And the bird was right. So here’s a different picture instead, without so much sacred feminine in it.

As you can see, I secured the chicken with a wooden skewer to keep it in place, and that worked fine. Oh, I guess I sprinkled a bunch of fresh-grated parmesan on top before baking. I covered it with tin foil for most of the baking time, then took it off toward the end. 

It was pretty quick to make, and if I were ever going to attempt to fuel a work crew for hammering out a tunnel through a mountain, and they needed a lot of protein and calories, I would definitely make it again. But not otherwise. It was just too . . . HERE, MEAT.

I don’t know. I like meat, but I don’t need a wall of meat. 

Sophia was interested in learning how to make bread, so I mostly just advised her while she made this easy french bread recipe. 

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Turned out great! It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing you can make a decent loaf of bread.

MONDAY
Sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches on bagels

Nothing to report. We were out of butter, so I fried the eggs in oil, which does make the whites bubble up a bit more, and gives them a neat little crust.

Everyone was pretty excited about the orange juice. 

TUESDAY
Hamburgers, veggies and dip

Nothing to report. Ground beef was on sale because of the Super Bowl, so the burgers were Rather Large. I did manage to serve broccoli before it went bad, which is the first time in months. I throw out broccoli like it’s my job.

We also had chips, but I heroically abstained from eating any. Just kidding! I ate them before I took the picture. 

WEDNESDAY
Buffalo chicken quesadillas, guacamole and chips

Something a little different. I bought a few bags of frozen buffalo chicken tenders (also on Super Bowl sale) which I cooked and cut into strips and fried in quesadillas with cheddar cheese. I was going to sprinkle in some crumbled blue cheese, but do you know, it’s really hard to tell if very old blue cheese is too old or not, so I made a few people smell it and then threw it away. 

I also chopped up a bunch of scallions but then randomly got mad and didn’t feel like adding them. I still wanted to get blue cheese in there, so I added some blue cheese dressing to some sour cream, and it was . . . not actually delicious. Maybe I just don’t like blue cheese, I don’t know. 

Anyway, ths quesadillas variation was very tasty and I will definitely make it again.  Look, you can see my pretty new flower-shaped dishes! I found a set of 8 in various sizes at the Salvation Army. Some are white, some are green, and some are yellow. 

Made a ton of guacamole (avocados 49 cents, courtesy of football!)

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and everyone was happy. 

THURSDAY
Chicken salad with feta, green apples, red onions, and candied walnuts

The original plan for this meal was a nice salad with chicken, blueberry, feta, red onions, and almonds. I get to the store and they are all out of blueberry. Fine, we decide to have green apples instead. A child earnestly requests croutons, and I agree, because I’m feeling bad about the blueberries. Oh no, all the old bread is moldy! This salad is going to be a salad of sadness! I realized we had tons of walnuts in the house from Christmas treats I never got around to making, so I made candied walnuts.

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Very simple recipe — you just stand there stirring walnuts, butter, and sugar in a pot until the butter and sugar melt and coat the nuts, and then you spread it in a pan and break it up so they don’t clump, and that’s it. It turns out this takes KIND OF A LONG TIME if you’re sextupling the recipe. But they turned out great. 

These would be useful for any number of salads, or just for snacking on, and you could fiddle with the seasonings and add chili powder or cinnamon or whatever. 

Look how pretty the salad was! 

I had mine with balsamic vinegar. Very filling. If I’m going to have a salad for dinner, there has to be serious detritus at the bottom of the plate.

FRIDAY
Marcella Hazan’s red sauce with spaghetti

The real reason I wanted to make this is so I could get a second giant can of whole tomatoes and make some stilts for Corrie. Because we need more clomping and falling down, I don’t know. We used to have giant coffee cans in the house all the time, used mainly for stilts, banks, and crayon cans. The smells of crayons and coffee are forever wedded in my head. 

If you haven’t tried this sauce yet, I beg of you. The time has come. It has three, count ’em, THREE ingredients, plus a pinch of salt; it requires no skill, and it tastes like you slaved over it for hours. The recipe says to take out the onion before serving, but we have at least one kid who prefers to keep the onion, for purposes of devouring it whole.

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Oh, here’s my post with four recipe ideas for your Super Bowl party which you are having with people who already live in your house! Sausage rolls, potato tornados, a deli meat sandwich bake, and hot wings with blue cheese (if of course you like blue cheese). 

Here’s the recipe cards for the week.

Monte Cristo sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 2 slices sturdy white bread
  • 4 slices cheese (gruyere is traditional, but use what you like)
  • 3 slices ham
  • mayonnaise
  • mustard
  • egg
  • salt and pepper
  • butter for frying
  • honey for serving

Instructions

  1. Beat up the egg and add a little salt and pepper.

  2. Spread one slice of cheese with mayonnaise and one with mustard. Make a sandwich with cheese, then ham, then cheese.

  3. Dip the entire sandwich in the beaten egg.

  4. Fry the sandwich in butter, turning once.

  5. If the cheese isn't completely melted, slide it into the oven for a few minutes.

  6. Drizzle with honey and serve.

French bread

Makes four long loaves. You can make the dough in one batch in a standard-sized standing mixer bowl if you are careful!

I have a hard time getting the water temperature right for yeast. One thing to know is if your water is too cool, the yeast will proof eventually; it will just take longer. So if you're nervous, err on the side of coolness.

Ingredients

  • 4-1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 10-12 cups flour
  • butter for greasing the pan (can also use parchment paper) and for running over the hot bread (optional)
  • corn meal for sprinkling on pan (optional)

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, put the warm water, and mix in the sugar and yeast until dissolved. Let stand at least five minutes until it foams a bit. If the water is too cool, it's okay; it will just take longer.

  2. Fit on the dough hook and add the salt, oil, and six of the cups of flour. Add the flour gradually, so it doesn't spurt all over the place. Mix and low and then medium speed. Gradually add more flour, one cup at a time, until the dough is smooth and comes away from the side of the bowl as you mix. It should be tender but not sticky.

  3. Lightly grease a bowl and put the dough ball in it. Cover with a damp towel or lightly cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until it's about double in size.

  4. Flour a working surface. Divide the dough into four balls. Taking one at a time, roll, pat, and/or stretch it out until it's a rough rectangle about 9x13" (a little bigger than a piece of looseleaf paper).

  5. Roll the long side of the dough up into a long cylinder and pinch the seam shut, and pinch the ends, so it stays rolled up. It doesn't have to be super tight, but you don't want a ton of air trapped in it.

  6. Butter some large pans. Sprinkle them with cornmeal if you like. You can also line them with parchment paper. Lay the loaves on the pans.

  7. Cover them with damp cloths or plastic wrap again and set to rise in a warm place again, until they come close to double in size. Preheat the oven to 375.

  8. Give each loaf several deep, diagonal slashes with a sharp knife. This will allow the loaves to rise without exploding. Put the pans in the oven and throw some ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, or spray some water in with a mister, and close the oven quickly, to give the bread a nice crust.

  9. Bake 25 minutes or more until the crust is golden. One pan may need to bake a few minutes longer.

  10. Run some butter over the crust of the hot bread if you like, to make it shiny and even yummier.

 

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

 

Candied nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Ingredients

  • 6 cups nuts, whole or in large pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter

optional:

  • any spices or seasonings, you want: cinnamon, cayenne pepper, etc.

Instructions

  1. Line a large pan with parchment paper.

  2. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot and cook on medium, stirring frequently, until the butter and sugar are melted together and the nuts are all coated. Be careful not to let them burn.

  3. Pour the sugared nuts onto the prepared pan and immediately break them up so they don't clump. Let them sit for several minutes so the sugar coating hardens.

  4. Eat immediately or store them in an airtight container for several weeks.

 

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!

What’s for supper? Vol. 237: Follow me for more potatoes with butts

Hey, the world didn’t end! Per se! And I didn’t even pack up to go live at the P.O., although I was tempted. Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
One pan chicken thighs with squash and potatoes

Old reliable. This is even better when you have a big variety of vegetables, but just potatoes and squash is good, and it’s stupid easy to make, and nice, honey garlic, mmm. In conclusion, you may think it’s easy to be a food writer, but it’s actually hard, with words, booo. 

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Speaking of stupid, it was only some technical difficulties that prevented me from starting a Twitter account called @potatoeswithbutts.

I uhhhh have a collection. This poor fellow appears to have a pilonidal cyst, which is unusual in potatoes, and you can see by his posture that it’s really getting him down. Yes, I have work to do, what do you mean?

SUNDAY
Chinese roast pork and vegetable lo mein

Here was something new I tried, because I’m bored to death of all my pork recipes. You marinate the meat in chunks in a simple sauce, then roast it over a pan of water, then cut it up. 

I had mine with some excellent pepper jelly we got for Christmas, and it was a great match. It would also be good with that super strong Chinese mustard, or any number of sauces. 

This is most certainly an Americanized Cantonese recipe, and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you don’t like five spice because, try as you might, you just can’t get used to *ptui* anise.  I’ll go ahead and write up a recipe card

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but I expect to change it a bit. Next time I will buy fattier meat and cook it in bigger chunks before slicing it. It was a tiny bit dry. If I make those changes, I’ll be able to cook it longer and work up a little crust on the outside. The boiling water made it tender and taste was good, though, if slightly bland. It would also be great cut up and added to stir fries or lo mein. 

SPEAKING OF LO MEIN, this continues to be a popular dish around here. I had bought some flat rice noodles intending to try some kind of Vietnamese noodle bowl (which is what I bought the pork for), but for once in my life I listened to the “nobody’s going to eat that” alarm going off in my head, and made lo mein instead. The only vegetable in the house was green pepper, so I added that, plus some red onion and . . . and this was a most excellent choice . . . some fresh minced ginger, which I’ve started keeping in the house routinely. 

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I was careful not to overcook the vegetables, so they were still crunchy. Man, what a high-yield dish for flavor, with very minimal effort. Sometimes I will add a little fish sauce or oyster sauce, but it’s honestly fine without. 

MONDAY
Tacos, tortilla chips

I do not remember making or eating tacos. I do remember people saying, “You should have made this on Tuesday for taco Tuesday!” and me going “bahhhhhh” in a growly voice. 

TUESDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches, grapes

Tuesday was grocery shopping day this week, so I needed something very easy. Aldi had big cartons of frozen breaded chicken cutlets, so there was my answer. 

We had basil from the Vietnamese noodle bowls I never made, and no end of cheese from various cheese adventures. I was planning to make a shortcut version of the lovely chicken cutlets Damien makes for special occasions, but while shopping, I became confused, and bought a large amount of tomatoes, so we had caprese chicken sandwiches, which I usually make with grilled chicken, but it turned out nobody cares about the arbitrary chicken rules in my head, especially when it’s very late and everyone’s hongry.

WEDNESDAY
Meatball subs, raw broccoli and hummus

Again, nothing special, but always a popular meal. 

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This was my third day of watching Bridgerton for a review, and let me tell you, if you have to lock yourself in your bedroom and watch four episodes of Bridgerton in a row, getting up and making eighty meatballs is a good antidote. 

THURSDAY
Beef barley soup and pumpkin muffins

A couple of the kids have been begging for this meal. Benny and Corrie were done with their school work early, so they made the muffins with just a little supervision. This is a good recipe, very reliable.

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This is a light, tender pumpkin bread, not some kind of challenging artisinal loaf-log. It has a hearty flavor but is pretty fine-grained. We made a double recipe which gave us 18 muffins plus a small loaf. 

You can add all kinds of things to these muffins (or bread) — oats, nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips if you’re a monster, sunflower seeds, chunky sugar, etc. You can add more sugar to make them more dessert-y, but as is, they make a fine dish dish.

The soup was good, too.

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Although, as you can see, I couldn’t find the barley, so I used pasta rings instead, because I happen to have a lot of different kinds of pasta in my cabinets. Which immediately led the kids to assume I had WASHED OFF SPAGHETTIO-S AND PUT THEM IN THE SOUP. I told them I had not and would not, but they just stared at me. And that’s why, if I lived at the P.O., why. 

The other reason I might live at the P.O. is that, before Christmas, I bought about nine boxes of different kinds of pasta in various shapes, because I made myself believe we were going to make Christmas tree ornaments out of pasta, hot glue, and gold spray paint, and now here we are in January and I can’t find the barley because my cabinets are crammed with pasta. Shut up, it’s a good craft. We just didn’t do it, that’s all. Hey, have you seen my potato butt? And my food writing? It’s very good. 

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle casserole and Brussels sprouts

That’s a little weird, but that’s what the blackboard says. I feel like the Brussels sprouts were expensive, too, so I better actually make them. And you know what, maybe tuna noodle can be made with pasta rather than egg noodles. Because I have–

Aw, skip it. Here’s the recipe cards: 

One pan honey garlic chicken thighs with fall veg

Adapted from Damn Delicious 

Ingredients

  • 18 chicken thighs
  • 2 lbs broccoli in spears
  • 4-5 lbs potatoes in wedges, skin on if you like
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

sauce:

  • 6 tbsp honey
  • 6 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp dijon or yellow mustard
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • olive oil for drizzing

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Prepare the sauce. 

  2. In a large, greased sheet pan, spread the potatoes and squash. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 

  3. Lay the chicken thighs on top of the potatoes and squash. Brush the sauce over the chicken skins. 

  4. Roast the chicken for thirty minutes or more until they are almost cooked.

  5. Add the broccoli, arranging it on top of the potatoes and in between the chicken. Return the pan to the oven and let it finish cooking another 10 -20 minutes so you don't die. The skins should be golden and the broccoli should be a little charred. 

Chinese Roast Pork

This is a recipe in progress, but it's easy and reasonably tasty as is. Serve with any number of sauces.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 lbs boneless pork
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbsp bean paste
  • 2 tsp salt
  • RED FOOD COLORING, DO IT

Instructions

  1. Cut the pork into long chunks

  2. Mix together all the sauce ingredients and marinate the meat for several hours or overnight.

  3. Preheat the oven to 375

  4. Boil some water (I used a tea kettle)

  5. Line a large roasting pan with tin foil and put cake racks over it. Lay the meat on the racks, put it in the oven, and then carefully add the boiling water to the pan.

  6. Roast for an hour or more, adding water if it cooks away. Turn meat once during cooking. The outside of the meat should be dark and glossy.

  7. Slice and serve hot or cold.

basic lo mein

Ingredients

for the sauce

  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar

for the rest

  • 6 oz uncooked noodles
  • sesame oil for cooking
  • add-ins (vegetables sliced thin or chopped small, shrimp, chicken, etc.)
  • 2 Tbsp mirin

Instructions

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

  2. Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.

  3. Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.

  4. Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.

  5. Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.

 

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. 

 

Pumpkin quick bread or muffins

Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins

Ingredients

  • 15 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup veg or canola oil
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • oats, wheat germ, turbinado sugar, chopped dates, almonds, raisins, etc. optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter two loaf pans or butter or line 18 muffin tins.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture and mix just to blend. 

  4. Optional: add toppings or stir-ins of your choice. 

  5. Spoon batter into pans or tins. Bake about 25 minutes for muffins, about 40 minutes for loaves. 

 

Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)

Makes about a gallon of lovely soup

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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. 


  2. Add the cubes of beef and cook until slightly browned.

  3. 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. 

  4. 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. 

  5. Before serving, add pepper to taste. Salt if necessary. 

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 235: In which we fight in the shade

Today, we are having potato latkes and noodle kugel, as described here. This is because, being only Jewish, I thought today was the last night of Chanukah. It was actually Thursday night, as we discovered when we ran out of candles on Thursday night. Oops! But there’s definitely no rule you can only have latkes and kugel during Chanukah, so away we go.

I’m about to put my kugel in the oven. I goosed my childhood recipe with apple bits and blonde raisins soaked in rum, and a little of this and that, and I think it’s going to be delicious. The kids are positively disposed toward it, because “kugel” is a silly word. 

Latkes recipe:

Jump to Recipe

Kugel recipe:

Jump to Recipe

Here’s what else we had this week:

SATURDAY
Lasagna, birthday cake

Speaking of delicious, we had Benny’s birthday party this weekend, and she requested Damien’s famous lasagna.This is a Burneko recipe and he really puts you through your paces, with a béchamel sauce, a pork ragu, fresh mozzarella and parmesan, and the works. It takes about 300 hours to make and it is heavenly. I always get bad pictures, but it is pure bliss. 

Slightly better picture from the next day, when I had leftovers for lunch:

Since we couldn’t invite people over for a party, we had a spa day in the living room. I decorated with yards and yards of tulle, and we hung paper birds from threads, and blew up dozens of balloons.

We had assorted fancy snacks (mini eclairs, chocolate kiss pretzel bites, chocolate covered cherries, etc.) and grape soda with bendy straws, and then we proceeded to put on terrifying facial masks and tried to balance chilled cucumbers on our eyes.

When we had enough of that, we painted each other’s nails while listening to Taylor Swift. It was everything a spa day ought to be.

Benny and I made some birds out of marzipan, which is harder than I expected. We colored them with gel food coloring and watercolor brushes. Then we made little nests out of melted chocolate and shredded coconut. The end result was . . . really something.

Anyway, we had fun, and Benny was happy. Here she is wearing her new bird dress and wearing the glasses that make rainbow hearts appear around light sources, including birthday candle flames. 

Oh, we also made these cute little caprese ladybug snacks. A cracker, a slice of mozzarella, a basil leaf, and a tomato half with an olive head. 

The dots are, unfortunately, icing. We need to figure out something savory that clings like icing. 

SUNDAY
Meatloaf, roast potatoes and squash

I honestly don’t remember Sunday. We were definitely running around. Damien made the meatloaf

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and I cut up some butternut squash and questionable potatoes, and roasted them with olive oil, salt and pepper. 

Yes, we are eating meatloaf on paper plates. I started using paper plates when I was pregnant, and oopsie, never stopped. 

I feel like I always say this, but just in case: To easily cut and peel butternut squash, stab it several times with a fork and the microwave it for 4 minutes. This doesn’t cook it, but loosens it up enough that you can process it without needing a machete or chainsaw.

MONDAY
Nachos

Easy peasy. I cooked up some ground beef with orange powder from some envelopes, sprinkled it over tortilla chips, and topped it with shredded cheese from a bag, then heated it up. I set out red and green salsa, sour cream, and jalapeño slices, and I think that’s it. Bloop.

I also have this little jar of corn queso that I keep taking in and out of the fridge. I’m afraid to open it and heat it up, because what if nobody wants it, and it goes to waste? So I put it out on the table unopened, and if someone wants it, they can open it. Of course they don’t, because it’s not open, and they’re afraid I’ll yell at them for opening it. Then, after everyone’s eaten, I put it back in the fridge. I wish there were some way of getting paid for being this stupid. At this point, it’s an actual achievement. 

TUESDAY
Sandwiches, carrot cake

Tubesday was my birthday! I only had a little work to do and barely lifted a finger, while Damien did all the driving and meal prep. He made (and, this is important: shopped for) the delicious sandwiches I requested.

He splits some baguettes and gives them a good olive oiling, then lays on — I don’t even know what, prosciutto, capicola, salami, provolone, fresh basil, sun dried tomatoes, and misc. They are delicious.

He also bought an assortment of frozen appetizers, and some excellent carrot cakes. 

Well, first, for reasons unclear to me, the girls brought in an invisible cake

then Damien brought in the carrot cake

and I managed to blow out the candles with only eleven tries

Now I am 46. I had a lovely day and am happy to be alive with this family for another year!

WEDNESDAY
Pepperoncini beef sandwiches, fries, pomegranates 

A very tasty meal with minimal effort. You chunk some roasts into the slow cooker with a jar of pepperoncini and juice and shake in a good amount of Worcestershire sauce. I’m very excited about Worcestershire sauce these days. Cook, shred the meat,

pick out a few peppers, and serve on crusty rolls with provolone and mayonnaise.

A fine sammich. 

THURSDAY
Hamburgers and chips

It was supposed to be a meal of summery picnic food (honey mustard chicken drumsticks, biscuits, coleslaw), but we all spent the day digging out of two feet of snow, so I switched to something heartier. I did make a big pot of hot chocolate, and we also fed the birds (recipes in the post). We got our first junco yesterday! We’ve had lots of chickadees and tufted titmice, plus regular visits from wrens, nuthatches, cardinals, and the occasional bluejay. We like to watch birds, and we also like to watch the dog watching the cat watching birds. At least it’s an ethos. 

If that stimulus money ever comes through, we may actually buy a snowblower this year. There was so much snow, I was reduced to actually helping with the shoveling, and I’m too old, dammit. I have a horrible feeling a snowblower is going to be one of those things you spend more time fixing than using, but it can’t be worse than shoveling your driveway by the light of the headlights. 

FRIDAY

Today, the potato latkes with sour cream and applesauce, and noodle kugel with rum raisins and apple! I’m waiting for the boy to come back from the store with eggs. Yes indeed, another child with a license. 

Word on the street is you can rinse your shredded potato in cold water and that will prevent them from turning grey. I always thought they had to be actually covered in cold water to prevent discoloration, which makes them harder to squeeze out properly. I will report my findings. I don’t actually care if the potatoes turn grey — it doesn’t affect the taste, and they turn golden brown when they cook — but it would be nice not to frighten the children. 

And that’s it! It’s the kids’ last day of school. We’re all going to confession, and then I’m taking the little girls Christmas shopping. This feels like the wrong order of events. I may sedate myself first.

Potato latkes

Serve with sour cream and/or apple sauce for Hanukkah or ANY TIME. Makes about 25+ latkes

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs potatoes, peeled
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 6 Tbsp flour (substitute matzoh meal for Passover)
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Grate the potatoes. Let them sit in a colander for a while, if you can, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 

  2. Mix together the eggs, salt and pepper, and flour. Stir into the potato mixture and mix well. 

  3. Turn the oven on to 350 and put a paper-lined pan in the oven to receive the latkes and keep them warm while you're frying. 

  4. Put 1/4 to 1/2 and inch of oil in your frying pan and heat it up until a drop of batter will bubble.  

  5. Take a handful of the potato mixture, flatten it slightly, and lay it in the pan, leaving room between latkes. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, making several batches to leave room in between latkes. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Eat right away or keep warm in oven, but not too long. 

  6. Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce or apple slices. 

Noodle kugel with apple and rum raisins

A cozy baked noodle custard. Some people make savory kugels, but this one is decidedly sweet.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raisins, regular or blonde
  • 1 cup spiced rum
  • 1 lb egg noodles
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 lbs cottage cheese
  • 4 cups sour cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 12 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 apples peeled, cored, and cut into bits

Instructions

  1. Put the raisins and rum in a dish and let them soak for at least half an hour.

  2. Preheat the oven to 375.

  3. While the raisins are soaking, boil and strain the noodles.

  4. Strain the raisins. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and stir in the raisins, then stir in the drained noodles.

  5. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes or more, until the custard is set and the top is golden brown.

Meatloaf (actually two giant meatloaves)

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ground beef
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 8 eggs
  • 4 cups breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup milk OR red wine
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

plenty of salt, pepper, garlic powder or fresh garlic, onion powder or minced onions, fresh parsley, etc.

  • ketchup for the top

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450

  2. Mix all meat, eggs, milk, breadcrumbs, and seasonings together with your hands until well blended.

  3. Form meat into two oblong loaves on pan with drainage

  4. Squirt ketchup all over the outside of the loaves and spread to cover with spatula. Don't pretend you're too good for this. It's delicious. 

  5. Bake for an hour or so, until meat is cooked all the way through. Slice and serve. 

 

5 from 1 vote
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Beef pepperoncini sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1 hunk beef
  • 1 jar pepperoncini
  • several glugs Worcestershire sauce
  • rolls
  • sliced provolone

Instructions

  1. Put the beef in a slow cooker with a jar of pepperoncini and the juice. If you like, cut the stems off the pepperoncini. If there isn't enough juice, add some beer. 

  2. Cover, set to low, and let it cook for several hours until the meat falls apart when poked with a fork. 

  3. Shred the meat. If you like, chop up a few of the pepperoncini. 

  4. Serve meat on rolls with mayo if you like. Lay sliced provolone over the meat and slide it under the broiler to toast the bread and melt the cheese. Serve the juice on the side for dipping. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 233: The secret ingredient

Back in the saddle again! I didn’t do a WFS on Friday because I already did a Thanksgiving recipe round-up, and the rest of the week was just basic food made while prepping for Thanksgiving. If you twist my arm, I can share some pie photos, though:

This is my hugs and kisses salted bourbon pecan pie, with which I hoped to ingratiate myself with the eight-year-old (it worked):

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This is my “oh no, this pie is full of buttons or something” apple pie, which I made while Damien was telling me something upsetting about the Legion, and which made me forget that I was making pie, so I just slapped a plain crust on and then slashed at it a bunch of times. When I calmed down, I tried to make it less of an anger pie, so I made some long slits at an angle and folded the triangles down, then stuck a bunch of dough circles into the openings. It certainly was a pie.

I also made some pumpkin pies, a chocolate cream pie, and another apple pie, but they weren’t much to look at. 

I will share my cranberry brie tart recipe again, because it’s a great one for Christmas or New Year’s, too – very pretty, and easy to make. I messed mine up eleven different ways, including thinking I had phyllo dough when really it was puff pastry, and I ran out of honey, and just screwed it up generally. They just weren’t as nice, and I overbaked them, so the brie kind of vanished into the dough. Still nice, though. Just not top notch.

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This year, we also had the best gravy I’ve ever made. I have no idea what made the difference, but it was just so rich, dark, and delicious. And salty. Probably that was it. I really like salt. 

One final picture: We didn’t have guests and didn’t set a formal table, but I did ask a child — a child who is old enough to drive! — to open up some cans of cranberry sauce and arrange them so they look fancy and nice. This is what he did:

Onward and upward! Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Aldi pizza

Friday we had Thanksgiving redux, and Saturday we were ready for something completely different but very easy. Aldi pizza it was. 

SUNDAY
Roast beef sandwiches, chips

I had bought a couple of roasts when they were on sale a while back, and forgot to take them out of the freezer in time to roast them Sunday, so they weren’t fully thawed. It turns out this is actually a life hack, and keeps the center nice and rare like we like it.

I had mine on a toasted roll with horseradish sauce, provolone, and some tomatoes. 

MONDAY
Chicken parm sandwiches, cheesy bread sticks

I went shopping on Monday, rather than the weekend, for fear of the plague rats, I mean fellow human beings who are worthy of being treated with dignity but dammit, it’s December and masks are now officially keeping your face warm so just WEAR THEM for crying out loud, sheeeesh, and we got home extremely late. We had ciabatta rolls with frozen chicken patties, topped with a slice of provolone and a scoop of warm sauce.

If you, too, were wondering, it is fine to call this chicken parm even though there is no parm involved, as the dish was originally from Parma, Italy, which is coincidentally where Aldi was invented. Check here if you are still reading: ___ YES ____NO

Not a spectacular meal, but quick and somewhat more satisfying than just frozen chicken burgers. 

TUESDAY
Ham, peas, garlic mashed potatoes

The favorite meal of a surprising number of Fishers. I did get a pre-cooked ham, which makes it super easy, but forgot my (literal) ham hack, which is to cut it up while it’s cold and then heat it in the oven. So boo hoo, so people had to heat theirs up in the microwave. 

I made ten whole pounds of mashed potatoes, and boiled an entire peeled head of garlic along with the water, and then dumped in a whole canister of parmesan along with the butter and milk. RECOMMENDED, as long as you like being fat, which, you know, [ragged panting sounds] evidently. 

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I also recommend using Aldi’s sweet and spicy mustard on your ham. It’s nicely tangy and really dresses it up. 

WEDNESDAY
Pork ribs, risotto, roasted acorn squash rings

A pretty good meal that could be thrown together in about half an hour, if you have an Instant Pot. Hwitch I do. And which now sports this amazing steam-breathing dragon, thanks to my friend Laura.

 

 

(It’s actually a useful device because the valve sends steam straight up in the air, so if your IP is under a cabinet, it can wreck things. This diverts the steam to the side. There are several cute styles for sale on Amazon.)

Sadly, I only had a little white wine in the house (somebody drank it, me), so it was a tiny bit bland. Great texture, though, very melty and creamy. I’ve updated my recipe to include butter and a longer cook time, and it’s a vast improvement. 

The pork ribs, I just sprinkled heavily with salt and pepper on both sides and broiled them, turning once. 

Actual footage of me, turning once:

 

via GIPHY

I tried a new recipe for acorn squash, and it was okay, not amazing. You cut the top off and scoop out the seeds, then cut the squash into thin rings. This is the neat part, as they come out looking like 70’s flowers. 

Then you brush the rings with maple syrup, olive oil, sriracha, and salt and pepper, and broil them. I don’t know, they were just kind of greasy and spicy. I wanted to like them, but either they need different proportions, or better quality syrup, or something. You were supposed to sprinkle cilantro over the top, but I don’t see how that would have helped. I thought the kids would like them because they were at least cute to look at, but they simply admired them from afar while shoveling in more risotto. 

THURSDAY
Bibimbap

It’s bibeen too long! I got the pork sliced nice and thin and marinating in a gochujang sauce in the morning

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and set some carrots to pickling

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and even measured out the water and rice in the IP ahead of time. None of the stores had alfalfa sprouts or pea shoots, so I grabbed some baby spinach and bok choy, plus some crunchy noodles. Then I lost the spinach I bought, but it was still lovely. I love this meal. Fry up them eggs in hot oil and give them a crunchy edge, but leave the yolks runny. 

I don’t know if I was especially hungry or what, but this was the best bibimbap I’ve ever made. I made myself a second egg when I was halfway through, just to prolong the experience.

The runny egg yolk with the spicy tender pork and the fluffy rice and the crunchy noodles and bok choy — oh boy. We’ve had a lot of rainy, dreary days and this hit the spot. This is a popular meal because people can pick whatever they want and assemble their own bowls. One kid just has rice and egg, and that’s fine with me.

FRIDAY

Friday I drove up north a ways to go see my mom in the nursing home, then did some Christmas shopping, and when I got home I was so wiped out, I just made a plate of scrambled eggs and a tray of toast, and burned it all. The kids were very nice about it. There was also some leftover risotto, which helped. 

Oh, about the title. The secret ingredient is salt. Oh, and after most of the kids went to bed, Damien and I sliced up a baguette and toasted it with olive oil and freshly ground salt and pepper, then topped it with brie, smoked salmon, and cheap caviar. [heart explodes]

Here’s some recipe cards! Have fun, you crazy kids, and don’t forget the salt. 

Salted bourbon pecan pie filling

This pecan pie is somewhat more mellow and less screamingly sweet than some. A one-crust pie, but it's nice if you have some extra pie dough to make leaf or other shapes to arrange over the top.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp bourbon
  • 1-2 cups raw pecans (whole)
  • sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.

  2. In a standing mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until well combined.

  3. Add eggs one at a time until well combined. Then add the maple syrup, salt, vanilla, and bourbon. Continue mixing until well combined.

  4. Add half of the pecans and stir in with a fork. Pour the filling into an unbaked pie shell.

  5. Carefully arrange the rest of the pecans over the top of the filling.

  6. Bake pie for 45-55 minutes. Center will still be slightly jiggly when it comes out of the oven, but it will firm up.

  7. Cool completely. Sprinkle with sea salt before serving.

 

Cranberry brie tarts

This recipe looks complicated, but you can simplify or alter it however you like. Basically you want some kind of pastry, brie, cranberries with sugar, and honey, and an herb on top. A delicious and beautiful little appetizer, great for Thanksgiving or Christmas parties.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 roll phyllo dough
  • 6-8 oz brie
  • small bunch fresh sage or thyme, coarsely chopped

cranberries:

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • dash salt
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter for cranberries

honey mixture:

  • 2 Tbsp butter for honey mixture
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425

  2. In a little pot, combine the honey, the butter, and the extract. Heat through and set aside.

  3. In a bowl, mix the cranberries with melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a dash of salt. Set aside.

  4. Cut brie into 24 equal pieces and set aside.

  5. Prepare a 24-hole mini cupcake pan with butter or spray. You can also use a full-size cupcake pan, but the tarts will be a little unwieldy and won't hold together as well.

  6. Unroll the phyllo dough and cut it into twelve equal stacks. Cover the dough with a damp cloth while you're working so the dough doesn't get brittle.

  7. Pull out one stack of phyllo dough squares and use half the squares to line a cupcake tin, fanning them out to make a little cup. Make sure the bottom of the tin has several layers of dough, so it won't fall apart when you take it out of the pan.

  8. When you have arranged all the pastry cups, drizzle them with half the honey-butter mixture.

  9. Lay a piece of brie in the bottom of each cup, then put a scoop of sugared cranberries on top of that. Drizzle with the rest of the honey-butter mixture.

  10. Bake for 15 minutes or so until the pastry is just golden brown.

  11. Top each cup with a bit of chopped herbs.

  12. Let the tarts sit in the pan for five minutes before serving. Serve hot.

 

Garlic parmesan mashed potatoes

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs potatoes
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 8 oz grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel the potatoes and put them in a pot. Cover the with water. Add a bit of salt and the smashed garlic cloves.

  2. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer with lid loosely on until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

  3. Drain the water out of the pot. Add the butter and milk and mash well.

  4. Add the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste and stir until combined.

 

5 from 3 votes
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Instant Pot Risotto

Almost as good as stovetop risotto, and ten billion times easier. Makes about eight cups. 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups rice, raw
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • pepper
  • 1.5 cups grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Turn IP on sautee, add oil, and sautee the onion, garlic, salt, and sage until onions are soft.

  2. Add rice and butter and cook for five minutes or more, stirring constantly, until rice is mostly opaque and butter is melted.

  3. Press "cancel," add the broth and wine, and stir.

  4. Close the top, close valve, set to high pressure for 9 minutes.

  5. Release the pressure and carefully stir in the parmesan cheese and pepper. Add salt if necessary. 

 

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. 

 

quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

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. 186: The world is cold, but food is warm.

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:

SATURDAY
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. 

SUNDAY
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. 

MONDAY
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. 

TUESDAY
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:

WEDNESDAY
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. 

THURSDAY
Nachos

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. 

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

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!

 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

Ingredients

  • bread, torn up
  • eggs
  • milk
  • dash of salt
  • white or brown sugar
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla

Instructions

  1. Grease a casserole dish or cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350.

  2. Tear the bread up into chunks and spread them in the buttered pans.

  3. 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. 

  4. If you like, you can let the casserole sit for a few hours to let the egg soak in, but it's not essential.  

  5. 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. 

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

  2. 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. 

  3. Grease a rimmed baking sheet and arrange the meatballs on it. 

  4. 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. 

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!

What’s for supper? Vol. 183: Sandwiches, sandwiches, barely even human

Dramatization of me making the menu for the week:

Me: Okay, now, concentrate! What’s for supper all week long? Let’s make a list! Good! Fun!
Me: Can’t.
Me: Yes, you can! 
Me: Can’t.
Me: Yes you can. This is your job, and it’s easy. Just think of what people like to eat. What do people like to eat?
Me: I mean . . . I guess . . . food?
Me: Yes, good! And what kind of food? Can you think of some?
Me: Like . . . like . . . the kind you put in your . . . mouth?
Me: Good! You’re doing so well! And what kind of food do we put in our mouth?
Me: Like . . .
. . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . sandwiches?

Me: YES.

[feebly writes down “sandwiches” several times, lets pen loll out of fingers. Late August housefly coasts in and lands on my shopping list. It marches across the page with arrogance and disdain. A single tear of weariness leaks out of my eyeball and trickles down my cheek and onto the paper, zig-zagging across the crumpled page until it seems to spell out b-a-c-k-t-o-s-c-h-o-o-l.]

SATURDAY
Pizza

Saturday, Damien had a hunting safety course all day and I had a planning session for faith formation (I’m going to teach second grade, hoop de doo!); and then I drove Lena back to college. We both got home quite late, and Damien got pizza of some kind, either Domino’s or Aldi. 

I tried bubble tea for the first time. I had sesame matcha. I will tell you, if the very idea of bubble tea repels you, then bubble tea itself will definitely repel you; but if you’re thinking to yourself, “I could go for some gummy black blobs in my beverage right about meow,” then you will love it. I loved it.

Sending your kids off to college is bullshit, though. SIGH SIGH SIGH.

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, chips, cannoli

Sunday Damien had more training and I had to do the shopping I didn’t do Saturday. I had a hunch we’d be pretty wiped out and I was not wrong, so I bought pre-made burger patties, because such are the blessings of capitalism, and who am I to turn them down? 

It was Elijah’s shopping turn, and as fall approaches, a young man’s fancy turns to cannoli. We didn’t see cannoli shells, so we got some pizzelle. I made very simple cream filling with ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and we had a scoop of cheese on the cookie topped with shaved chocolate and maraschino cherries. I know I have almond extract somewhere, but it was hiding. 

MONDAY
Sandwiches, chips, watermelon, candy

Monday was the very last day of summer vacation, and it’s become our tradition to spend “all day” at the beach. In practice, this meant running around like a maniac doing errands all morning while the kids focused on being disgruntled, and then heading out to the town pond around 2:00. We did spent about four hours there, which is definitely long enough to get that “no one tells me what to do” feeling. We had the place to ourselves, except for a few silent, stringy old people and many, many dragonfly engaged in l’amour

Sometimes I think my kids are getting spoiled and worldly, and then I realize at least half of them still think it’s a huge treat to get the really big jar of pickles and to be allowed to just stick their hands in their and wipe them off on the grass. So we are doing okay. 

I took many pictures, but this one sums up the tone of the meal pretty well:

I texted Damien that we were on our way home, so he started a fire in the firepit, and we gathered around and told moderately spooky stories in the sorta-getting-dark. I did this knowing full well that it was exactly the kind of thing that would immediately become a Very Important Tradition That We Always Do. 

TUESDAY
Pork ramen

So Tuesday school finally happened. We have two in college, one taking a gap year and working on a big illustrating job, two in high school, and the rest are in 8th, 6th, 5th, and 2nd, and Corrie is home. I actually expect this year to be somewhat easier than last year. When I ask myself why, I’m not sure, but even thinking so is a pretty good sign. According to my therapist. What does he know, the giant weirdo. 

I keep forgetting it’s a food blog today. Let’s see, I cut up some boneless pork chops and sautéed them in oil, then sliced them and dashed in some soy sauce and finished cooking them. I chopped up some scallions and sugar snap peas, and I soft boiled a bunch of eggs. I sliced some mushrooms and sautéed them in the pan with the porky oil. We had crunchy noodles, sesame seeds, and hot sauce for toppings.

Everyone came home hungry and they were happy with a big pot of ramen and pork.

WEDNESDAY
Banh mi

Oh look, sandwiches! But to be fair, these are the greatest sandwiches known to mankind. I made the marinade and sliced a boneless pork loin in the late morning and let it marinate the rest of the day. I quick pickled a bunch of carrots, but decided to let the cucumbers just be plain, so there was a cool taste with all the bitey tastes. I chopped up a bunch of cilantro, and made some spicy mayo (I couldn’t find sriracha, so I just used hot sauce. Not as good). And I had a jar of jalapenos. 

I did toast the bread, which I hate doing, for some reason, but it makes a big difference for these sandwiches. Gosh, I love this meal. I prepped everything in the morning, and then before supper I just had to fish the meat out of the marinade, spread it on a pan, and broil it.

If you haven’t made these sandwiches before, they’re delicious way out of proportion to how hard they are to make. However, when you’re cooking the meat, it smells horrendous way out of proportion to . . . anything. Really, nothing this side of hell should smell like that. But it’s worth it! Recipe card at the end.

Wednesday was also the day this happened:

We had to leave to pick up the kids, but Corrie didn’t want to get out of the bath. I did everything I could think of to get her out, and she ended up on the floor, screaming and writhing. She’s amazingly heavy and strong, and when she’s wet, she’s just about impossible to pick up and hold, much less dry off and get dressed. I was getting madder and madder, so I stepped away to collect myself, and when I came back and opened the door, the stool and wastebasket were knocked over, the towels were all dragged onto the floor, and I could hear violent splashing.

I thought, “Oh great, she’s back in the tub and I’ll have to start all over again.” But when I pulled back the curtain, she wasn’t in the tub.

And that’s when I realized she was so mad, she had jumped right into the toilet.

THURSDAY
Grilled pizza sandwiches

We used to have these a lot, but haven’t for a while, so the kids were pretty excited. I was honestly not at my best as a chef by Thursday. We’re still staying up stupidly late, but now waking up stupidly early. I like to spice things up in the middle of the night by stupidly worrying about stupid things for a while, too. Put it all together, and you get someone who is not going to do a great job flipping heavy sandwiches stuffed with shredded cheese. 

Even the sandwiches look skeptical.

This particular one actually looks kinda like Attorney General William Barr, shown here with Lamar Alexander, who is also full of cheap cheese:

Office of Senator Lamar Alexander [Public domain]
Office of Senator Lamar Alexander [Public domain]
I feel like I haven’t sufficiently made my case here. Look at this:

Maybe? 

I know you want to know how to make these wondrous grilled Wiliam Barr sandwiches, so here is how: Sourdough bread spread with sauce, then cheese, then pepperoni, then topped with another piece of bread spread with sauce. Then the outsides are brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with garlic powder and oregano, then fried in a pan with more butter. It’s actually better to spread them with softened butter with garlic powder and oregano mixed in, but I accidentally melted it.

It would also be a heck of a lot easier to manage if it had slices of mozzarella, rather than wads of shreds, but did I think of that when I was shopping? Nopey.

I grill them and then slide them in the oven for a few minutes to make sure the cheese is melted and can prosecute on behalf of our Lord, the King. This is a attorney general joke and it’s the best I can do right meow.

FRIDAY
Quesadillas, chips and salsa

Not technically a sandwich! And we made it through the first week. There were no guarantees.

***

Pork banh mi

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs Pork loin
  • 1 cup fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 minced onion
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1.5 tsp pepper

Veggies and dressing

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • cilantro
  • mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce

Instructions

  1. Slice the raw pork as thinly as you can. 

  2. Mix together the fish sauce ingredients and add the meat slices. Seal in a ziplock bag to marinate, as it is horrendously stinky. Marinate several hours or overnight. 

  3. Grill the meat over coals or on a pan under a hot broiler. 

  4. Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread. 

quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

What’s for supper? Vol. 175: The rain it raineth every day

So, last time I did an AMA, and every time, a few people ask about how to get kids to eat better food and how to cook decent food when you have little kids. It is clearly a constant source of worry and frustration for so many parents; and oh how clearly I remember that worry and frustration. I remember reading about other moms who were always trying new and exciting recipes and serving side dishes that don’t come out of a greasy bag with a comical pig on the outside, and wondering what was wrong with me. 

So I just wanted to remind everyone:

I have two adult children and four teenagers living at home right now. They all help me cook, or help me with other stuff while I cook. My husband works from home, and he often helps me cook, or helps me with other stuff while I cook, or he cooks dinner outright. He even looks up recipes and shops for ingredients. 

I don’t have any babies, and am not massively sleep deprived; and I’m not nursing anyone, so I can regularly sit down and do a task from start to finish without a thousand interruptions. 

And even despite all these advantages, if I took a few weeks off writing about food, my routine would slide really quickly back into chicken nuggets and frozen peas, and I certainly wouldn’t be arranging it on the plate so it looks as pretty as possible. Part of the purpose of Friday food posts is to force me to try harder with food. It propels me to find new and interesting things to cook, so I don’t die of boredom or shame.

Just a little disclaimer, in case you needed it. Here is my explainer for why I refuse to worry about what my kids eat for dinner. In general, I firmly believe that if you’re keeping your family alive and no one has rickets or scurvy, it is perfectly okay to have other priorities besides making pretty plates and mixing up adventurous marinades. Sometimes, there are other things that are more important than interesting food, and you can’t make everything a priority. You just can’t. 

Okay, now on to the food! Which was decent this week, but not especially adventurous, except for Sunday. 

SATURDAY
Fish tacos

I get home pretty late on Saturdays from shopping (which takes 3+ hours and often includes confession, haircuts, shoe shopping, etc.), so it has to be something fast, but I’m awfully tired of serving grilled ham and cheese or hamburgers on Saturdays. Fish tacos is fast, as long as you use frozen fish and don’t get too fancy with salsas and slaws and whatnot. 

Looks like I forgot a picture, but mine had sour cream, salsa, avocado, shredded cabbage, and fresh lime juice on a tortilla with batter fried fish of some kind. Please don’t ask if I got scrod. That information is private, and open only to subscribers.

I heard this thing on the radio about mango salsa, and I forgot all about mango salsa. ‘Tis the season, isn’t it! I think next week will be mango week. Just not on Saturday.

SUNDAY
Fadder’s Day cookout!

My own fadder was out of town visiting other family members, so we had a nice quiet day at home. By which I mean Benny had a fever, so Damien got up and went to the early Mass so he could stay home with the little guys while I took the others to a later Mass, because Elijah was serving. Hey, it was better than the father’s day he spent scrubbing poop out of the mesh sides of a port-a-crib. We did have a nice little brunch.

For dinner, one of the kids bought two enormous steaks for Damien and me — one a sirloin, and one a flank steak, which we’ve never had before.  Damien made a rub for the sirloin out of kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and a little chili powder.

So, flank steak is lean and somewhat tough, so it needs marinating, but it has an extraordinary flavor. After it marinated several hours in olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and brown sugar, he seasoned it with kosher salt and pepper, then he seared both steaks on the grill in the rain. I don’t know if rain was a necessary ingredient, but it always seems to be present on grilling days. 

The sirloin was great. The flank steak was out of this world. The texture was startling to me — very lean and fibrous, but you cut it across the grain thinly and it has a very intense flavor I can only describe as . . . meaty. I know that’s not helpful, but it’s like ever-so-much-more-so beef.  This is not a great photo, but you can see the texture:

We also had little rolls, guacamole and chips, and strawberries and cream on angel food cake. 

The guac turned out okay (recipe card at end), although the store had put up a sign that said “avocados ripe today!” but really, agreed the lady in the store and I as we sorted and squeezed, they meant “avocados ripe yesterday;” so it was a little mushier than I like it.

The strawberries and cream were just as one would hope. Lightly mashed strawberries with a little sugar, freshly whipped cream with a little sugar, and store bought angel food cake.

Moe gave Damien some good chocolate and a gift card for a cigar shop, but he wrapped it in a “live animal” box from Petco. Because if you can’t almost give your father a heart attack, is it even really father’s day?

Also on this day, Corrie helped herself to no one knows how many chocolate-covered espresso beans, so it was ever-so-much-more-so Corrie until pretty late at night. 

Oh, to make the day even more special, we rearranged the living room so we could settle the piano in.

Did I tell you I bought a piano? I know you’re supposed to never pay for a piano, but what if it’s a nice lady raising money for Kiwanis and she delivers, eh? We still had to rent ramps and Damien still hurt his back (this was last week), but it’s a lovely little instrument in good condition, and it fits into our miniature living room, which is close to miraculous. I bought the Bastien book for Older Beginners, and I finished the first unit last night. I’m excited! There’s life in the old dame yet.

MONDAY
Bagel sandwiches

There was also tons of leftover steak, so, for duty and humanity, I had cold flank steak over baby spinach for lunch. 

For supper, we had bagel sandwiches with sausage, egg, and cheese. 

A cozy little meal for, you guessed it, a rainy day.

TUESDAY
Berry chicken salad

Just a great summer dish, and good for those days when everyone comes home to eat at different times.

Chicken breast roasted in the oven with olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning, and then cooled and sliced; mixed greens, strawberries and blueberries, feta cheese, and toasted almonds. 

I bought some kind of fancy pants berry vinaigrette, which disappeared long before Tuesday. No one ate it; it just disappeared. So I had balsamic vinegar, which was fine. I hope balsamic vinegar is good for you, because I have it on everything. 

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, chips

Last day of school! It was a half day and then the school has an unofficial final field trip to the local beach. I spent most of the time standing on the shore, thinking about how much easier life is now that the kids are older, and I don’t have to freak out and panic the entire time they’re in the water.

Then we got home and, my voice hoarse after shouting, “Corrie, come back, that’s deep enough! Corrie, come back, that’s deep enough! Corrie, I said COME BACK NOW!!!!” forty-six thousand times, I collapsed. Actually, come to think of it, it’s fricking exhausting to be at the beach with kids, even if they are older. It would have been easier if I had gone in the water with them, but my body positivity project hasn’t gotten up to the chapter where you’re okay with taking off your clothes in front of all the other parents. 

Then we came home and had hot dogs and chips. Actually Damien made them. I was too busy still collapsing hoarsely. 

THURSDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, curly fries, coleslaw

We haven’t had pulled pork for a while. I meant to start it in the slow cooker early in the morning, since the cut I had was not the most tender. I forget what I had, but it’s the kind you get from Aldi all cryogenically wrapped so it looks like a Sandworm.

But suddenly it was afternoon. So I hacked in half and chunked it in the Instant Pot, had Corrie dump in a can of Coke, and, after a fruitless search for some kind of pepper or whatnot, I just sealed up the lid and pressed the “meat” button. When it beeped, I shouted at someone to press the “meat” button again. Close to dinner, I got a “burn” message, because I didn’t put it enough liquid. I opened it up and it looked awful. The liquid was all gone, and there was this dark sludge on the bottom. I nervously pulled the meat out with tongs and sniffed it. Okay, not actually burnt, but surely it will be tough as leather.

Dude, it was perfect. It fell apart with the mere thought of a fork. I scraped up all the sludge from the bottom, and dumped in a bottle of Carolina BBQ sauce, and it was moist, tender, and delicious. 

So remember: Dump, meat, meat, burn, sludge, scrape, glug. That’s my recipe, and I’m sticking to it.

I also made some quick coleslaw with cabbage, carrot, mayo, vinegar, sugar, and pepper, and we had seasoned curly fries, and I ate outside in the rain, which was just a little rain.

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese, string beans

I’ve been avoiding these string beans all week, but I think the time has come. Dora brought me home a treasure trove of cheese ends from the deli. Some of that cheese has speckles in it. Speckles! And it’s barely even raining today. 

***

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 171: A whole new world (feat. Chicken)

In this year of our Lord 2019, I, Simcha Fisher, am born anew, for it was on this week that I discovered how easy it is to stuff things inside chicken breasts. Interested, dear reader? Then READ ON. 

SATURDAY
Sugar rub chicken thighs, beer brats, chips and dip

Damien cooked stuff on the big grill he built out of cinder blocks. I’ll put his sugar rub recipe at the end. It makes extremely juicy chicken with a fantastic skin, with tons of warm, spicy flavor.  You can see that I did manage to include something green in this meal for once.

He made a ton of chicken, because he can’t help himself, and I ate them for lunch for several days.

He boils the brats in beer with onions, then grills them and also grills up the onions.

We ate outside after a long day of yard work. And that has made all the difference. 

SUNDAY
Caprese stuffed chicken breasts, salad, garlic bread

I was just delighted at how well this turned out. I saw the recipe in the NYT and tweaked it a bit. I’ll add a card at the end. Basically you cut open chicken breasts and stuff mozzarella, cherry tomato halves, and basil leaves inside, then brown them up a bit in olive oil and garlic, then finish cooking them in the oven. I used toothpicks to hold the edges together, and I was surprised at how well it worked.

I thought everything would fall out and it would be a yummy but ugly meal, but I worked slowly and didn’t crowd the chicken, and it turned out great, although there was a lot of liquid in the pan after baking, so next time I will use a pan with higher sides. 

I used the garlicky oil to make a sauce to spoon over it, and I actually thought the sauce was the star of the show. Would make a great bruschetta topping.

 

Damien thought it was a little too sweet, but I thought it was a nice complement to the chicken. The breasts were big ‘uns, so it was good to have a sauce so there were no bites without a lot of flavor. 

I used the oil and garlic I cooked the chicken in plus more garlic, and simmered it until I stopped worrying about food poisoning. Then I added several glugs of balsamic vinegar and the rest of the tomatoes, and simmered that until the vinegar got thick and the tomatoes fell apart and darkened. I scraped the pan to incorporate the browned bits of garlic and spooned this over the chicken, and served extra to sop up with the garlic bread. Smell this!

And now I’m thinking about all the other lovely things you could stuff inside chicken breasts. Maybe brie and apricots.  Maybe bacon and apple slices and cheddar. I need to make more friends just so I can stuff things into chicken breasts for them. If I really like them, I’ll remind them to take the toothpicks out before eating.

MONDAY
Korean beef bowl and rice, pineapple, snap peas

Apparently I haven’t made this dish in a long time, because everyone was just thrilled and delighted. I was really taken aback. I like this meal fine. It’s a bit sweet for my tastes, but I guess that answers why everyone else likes it so much. Recipe card at the end. 

This is definitely a good recipe to have in your back pocket. It comes together very quickly. Basically as long as it takes to brown up ground beef and cook a pot of rice, that’s how long it takes. I used fresh garlic and fresh ginger, but you can totally get away with using ground ginger and garlic powder. Increase or decrease the sugar and hot pepper flakes as you like. 

TUESDAY
Pork ramen with pickled veg

Another easy one, although you can certainly make it complicated if you add enough toppings. We had our with pork, soft boiled eggs, chopped scallions, pickled ginger, mushrooms in soy sauce, sesame seeds, pea sprouts, and pickled carrots and cucumbers, and a little hot sauce. 

I sautéed the pork in sesame oil, then cut it into slices and cooked it a little longer with some soy sauce. I’ll put the pickled veg recipe card at the end. 

WEDNESDAY
Wendy’s Copycat Harvest Chicken Salad 

Well, kinda. Wendy’s has greens, chicken, candied walnuts, blue cheese, cranberries, green and red apples, and bacon, and some kind of vinaigrette. I forgot about the bacon, and I didn’t candy the walnuts. In fact I burned them. Still a nice meal, and good for a day when people were going to be eating dinner at all different hours.

I made the chicken by drizzling it with olive oil and shaking a generous amount of lemon pepper seasoning over it and cooking it under the broiler, turning once. 

I snuck away and ate mine outside, even though it was drizzling. 

I chunked my plate on the table where I had been potting flowers, and then I thought, “Ooh, it looks like one of those real food blogger photos.” It also makes it appear that I was eating my supper with a trowel, which is sometimes the case; but today I did have a fork. 

I had mine with some diced red onion and just plain red wine vinegar for a dressing. Oh, and when I opened the little tub of blue cheese, Corrie gasped and said, “Ohhh, FANK you, Mama!” and gave me a hug. Kid likes cheese. 

THURSDAY
Sausage subs with sweet peppers

We had the final school concert of the year, so this was a good meal to prepare ahead of time and eat quickly before we left. I snacked so much, I didn’t even want a sandwich, but here are some cooking pics.

Corrie stirred in some jarred sauce, and I sliced up some mozzarella. 

I did give in to the little nagging voice in my head and look up whether charred foods really give you cancer, and it turns out scientists are currently fairly meh on the connection, so I shall continue to char. 

FRIDAY
Giant pancake and scrambled eggs

Do you know about giant pancake? You take the simplest kind of pancake mix, where you just add water, and you add enough water to the whole box to make batter. You can stir in blueberries or chocolate chips or whatever. Pour the batter into a buttered pan and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or so. Cut into wedges. GIANT PANCAKE. And that’s how you know your mother has had about enough. 

Okay, so tell me, what would you stuff inside chicken, given half the chance? You can use a pseudonym if you’d rather, but I really want to know. 

Here are the recipe cards:

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. 

 

Caprese stuffed chicken with garlicky tomato balsamic reduction

This dish doesn't require a lot of skill to make, but it's a bit time consuming, especially if you're making a lot of it. But it's packed with flavor and pretty impressive to look at. Serve with garlic bread to sop up any extra tomato sauce. 

Ingredients

  • 12 boneless chicken breasts (one per person)
  • large bunch of basil, stems removed
  • 2 lbs mozzarella in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
  • 2-3 pints cherry tomatoes or other tomatoes, halved or sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil for cooking
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, sliced or minced

For the balsamic reduction (sorry, the proportions are just whatever you like)

  • the leftover oil you cooked the chicken in. Pour off some if it seems like too much.
  • balsamic vinegar
  • whatever tomatoes are left
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, sliced or minced

Instructions

The chicken:

  1. Trim the fat off the chicken, dry it, and slice a pocket into each breast, not cutting all the way through.

    Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper

    Stuff a slice or two of cheese, a few basil leaves, and 3 tomato halves or slices into each breast.

    Try to pull the edges together to enclose the stuffing. You can secure it with a few toothpicks, but don't forget to warn people!

    Preheat the oven to 400.

    Heat up the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the garlic until it's slightly browned.

    Add the chicken, a few breasts at a time, leaving plenty of room, and brown them lightly on both sides, turning carefully. They won't be cooked all the way through. It's great if some garlic sticks to the chicken!

    Transfer the chicken to an oven pan and cook for about 20 minutes until they're cooked all the way through. Turn on the broiler for the last few minutes if necessary to brown up the tops.

For the balsamic reduction, to spoon over the chicken:

  1. While the chicken is in the oven, continue cooking the oil and garlic that you cooked the chicken in, adding more garlic if you like, and simmer for a while until you stop worrying about food poisoning. Then add several glugs of balsamic vinegar and the rest of the tomatoes, and simmer until the vinegar reduces and the tomatoes fall apart and darken. Scrape the pan to incorporate the browned bits of garlic. Serve this over the cooked chicken. Comes out very sweet.

    Serve with garlic bread with any extra balsamic tomato sauce

Recipe Notes

12 boneless chicken breasts

large bunch of basil

2 lbs mozzarella, sliced

salt and pepper

olive oil

8 cloves of garlic, sliced or minced

2-3 pints cherry tomatoes (or other tomatoes)

for the sauce:

more garlic if desired

balsamic vinegar

the rest of the tomatoes

Trim the fat off the chicken, dry it, and slice a pocket into each breast, not cutting all the way through.

Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper

Stuff a slice or two of cheese, a few basil leaves, and 3 tomato halves or slices into each breast.

Try to pull the edges together to enclose the stuffing. You can secure it with a few toothpicks, but don't forget to warn people!

Preheat the oven to 400.

Heat up the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the garlic until it's slightly browned.

Add the chicken, a few breasts at a time, leaving plenty of room, and brown them lightly on both sides, turning carefully. They won't be cooked all the way through. It's fine if some garlic sticks to the chicken!

Transfer the chicken to an oven pan and cook for about 20 minutes until they're cooked all the way through. Turn on the broiler for the last few minutes if necessary to brown up the tops.

While it's cooking, continue cooking the oil and garlic that you cooked the chicken in, adding more garlic if you like, and simmer for a while until you stop worrying about food poisoning. Then add several glugs of balsamic vinegar and the rest of the tomatoes, and simmer until the vinegar reduces and the tomatoes fall apart and darken. Scrape the pan to incorporate the browned bits of garlic. Serve this over the cooked chicken. Comes out very sweet.

Serve with garlic bread with any extra balsamic tomato sauce

quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

 

Korean Beef Bowl

A very quick and satisfying meal with lots of flavor and only a few ingredients. Serve over rice, with sesame seeds and chopped scallions on the top if you like. You can improve the flavor by using fresh garlic and fresh ginger, but powdered works fine, too. The proportions are flexible, and you can easily add more of any sauce ingredient at the end of cooking. 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (or less if you're not crazy about sweetness)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil (you can skip this, really, or use olive oil, but it adds flavor)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (or 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed (or 3/4 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • scallions, chopped, for garnish
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat the sesame or other oil in a skillet. Lightly cook then garlic, then add the ground beef and cook, breaking into bits, until the meat is all browned. Drain most of the fat. 

  2. Mix together the brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce, and pepper flakes, and add to the ground beef. Or you can actually just chuck everything in the pan and stir it up right there. Cook a little longer until everything is combined and hot. 

  3. Serve over rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.