Oh dear, I skipped another week! We’ll do a highlights reel of last week before moving on to this week.
Cumin chicken thighs and chickpeas with yogurt sauce and lemony onions
An easy meal, pleasant and tasty, even though I forgot to buy pita bread.Jump to Recipe
There were a few leftover wraps in the house, so that was fine.
I sure do like roasted chickpeas. So nice and salty and savory, with a little crisp ridge outside and a chewy inside. Mmm.
Nothing much to report except that my favorite meatless topping combo is now fresh basil, fresh garlic slices, thin red onions, ricotta cheese, and red pepper flakes baked right into the ricotta cheese. Yuhm. We’ve had several frosts, but I brought all six basil plants inside and found homes for everybody, so we should be set for a while. Also plenty of geraniums to get us through the winter. Mmm, geraniums.
Lemon garlic chicken, oven roasted potatoes, mashed acorn squash
It was SUPPOSED to be beef barley soup day.Jump to Recipe
Some of the kids have been begging for beef barley soup, and it was finally cold enough. I really gave it my all. First I burned the onions, then I burned my hand on steam, and then I went ahead and burned the entire pot of soup, probably six quarts of it. I was distraught, let me tell you. But Damien drained off the liquid and portioned it out, and the dog has been feasting on cold burned beef barley soup for breakfast all week, and he couldn’t be happier.
Luckily, we had some chickens thawed, so he made this wonderful lemon garlic roast chicken from Ina Garten, which calls for stuffing the bird cavity with halves of lemon and entire heads of garlic cloven (har har) in half, with onions on the outside.
Oh my friends, it was so juicy and flavorful. I can’t imagine going back to normal roast chicken. Here’s the inside, so you can see I’m not kidding about the garlic.
Oh yes, I helped myself to some of that garlic.
I made two giant trays of oven roasted potatoes (skin-on potato wedges, olive oil, and misc seasonings, roasted until slightly crisp) and cooked a couple of acorn squashes in the Instant Pot, and Damien mashed the squash and added I think butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar. A lovely early autumn meal.
Manicotti and garlic bread, Holy Spirit cake or whatever
The original plan was to get three of the kids confirmed, but, covid. So we stayed home and I decided to go ahead with the meal plans, which were for stuffed shells (one of the more festive meatless meals I can manage on a weekday). Well, I don’t know if Chrissy Tiegen made something with stuffed shells and caused a panic or what, but there was exactly one box of pasta shells in the store (which is definitely not enough for our family). So I got manicotti, and man, there is a reason I don’t usually make manicotti. I boiled the pasta tubes in water with oil, rinsed them, and carefully laid them in layers between parchment paper to keep them from sticking together. Guess what, they stuck together. And none of the stuffing systems I rigged up (pastry bag, fake pastry bag, soda bottle extruder) worked. So I ended up carefully spooning cheese filling into 40 stuck-together pasta tubes that kept tearing, and I did not enjoy that.
It tasted good, though. I just followed the recipe on the box, plus I added a little nutmeg to the cheese mixture.
And there was tons of garlic bread. Which I burned half of, because why not.
I also made a cake, to signify the way in which the Holy Spirit will someday allegedly descend with seven gifts for the kids. It was supposed to be just a giant fire cake, with flames made of hard candies melted on parchment paper in a low oven, cooled, and shattered into flame shapes for a dramatic three-dimensional stained glass effect. This does work! I’ve done it before! I won an award from the Boy Scouts for my flame cake! But somehow none of the stores I went to had the right kind of candy. So I ended up with cinnamon discs and butterscotch discs, which melted very sluggishly and stayed thick and cloudy. I bashed them up anyway and made a kind of ember effect around the outside of the cake,
and piped in a serviceable dove on top, and spooned on a bunch of yellow sugar.
I love that song, don’t you? Gentle woman . . . serviceable dove . . . teach us wisdom . . . here’s a cake. Anyway, we had cake and people were kind of jerks about it, to be honest. I guess we’re all tired.
Korean beef bowl, rice, sesame roast broccoli
Korean beef bowl:
Jump to Recipe
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My lovely assistant helped with the broccoli,
which was made with sesame oil, soy sauce, a little salt, and some sesame seeds, and then roasted slightly crisp
Always a popular meal, and very easy.
Chinese pork roast, rice, pineapple, string beans; lemon meringue pie
Here’s a recipe suggested by John Herreid.Jump to Recipe
It was very easy and very popular, but you have to have a big chunk of time to cook it. I marinated the roast for a full 24 hours and then cooked it for a total of six hours, basting every ten minutes for the last hour. It looked a little less grisly in person
and next time I will cover it while it’s cooking at least part of the time, so the crust isn’t quite as crusty. But oh man, it was tasty. The outside was so savory and rich, and once you bashed through to the inside, it was tender as heck. I could have cut it with a wooden popsicle stick.
I made a ton of rice and cut up some pineapples. I just plain ran out of steam by the time it was time to think about string beans, so we just had them raw. I do like raw vegetables to balance out a really rich meat anyway.
THEN, those of us who have been reading Amelia Bedelia had a sudden yen for lemon meringue pie, but I didn’t have a yen for all that work, so I found a cheaty recipe, which I modified a bit.Jump to Recipe
I made the crust by whirring up our vast animal cracker reserves, and then mixing the crumbs with a ludicrous amount of melted butter and a little brown sugar. It made a good crust, maybe a bit too thick, but with a pleasant taste, and sturdy.
I guess it’s just me, but I really value sturdiness in desserts. I’m always so embarrassed when my desserts slump and slosh and wallow around in the pan, which they almost always do. But this was one stand up pie! The lemon part was more opaque and custard-like, less glisten-y than you normally see in lemon meringue pie, and the meringue did relax a bit, because I left it on the hot stove for a few hours, duh; but overall, LOOKIT THIS DAMN PIECE OF PIE, IN THE SHAPE OF A PIECE OF PIE.
Totally hit the spot, and it was way, way less work than a more authentic lemon meringue pie.
Chicken quesadillas, corn chips
Kinda lackluster. I just threw some frozen chicken into the Instant Pot with a cup of water and, when it was shreddable, I shredded it and sprinkled on some chili lime powder. Hey, it was hot. I burned one, but we happen to have one kid who likes burned food, so there.
Chicken soup with matzoh balls, challah; birthday cake
Tuesday was Clara’s birthday, and she requested chicken soup with matzoh balls, which I normally only make on Passover, but why not? And I made two pneumatic challahs, very pretty, if slightly bland.Jump to Recipe
I eyeballed the salt and I think I under salted it, so go ahead and measure the salt.
I started the soup in the morning and cooked it all day, and made the matzoh balls right before supper. Everyone was pleased, and the house smelled so happy.
She couldn’t decide what kind of cake she wanted, so I went with an Over the Garden Wall theme.
It was a box cake mix, but I made a royal icing to decorate it, and it hardened up nicely. I forgot how easy it is to make (it’s just egg whites and sugar and a little lemon juice).Jump to Recipe
You can make it thinner if you want to pour it over cookies or petits fours or something, or thicker if you want to spread it or pipe it, which I did. It would have come out smoother if I had added less sugar. Next time! You can also run over it with a hot hairdryer if you really want a smooth surface, but it’s a little perilous.
Beef barley soup for real this time
I tried again, and I didn’t burn it! Nice and chonky. I also had some hot pretzels in the freezer, but I forgot all about them.
I believe the kids are having their choice of tuna noodle or boxaroni, and Damien and I are running away from home (and then coming right back again after we eat).
Hokay! That’s a lot of food. Here are the recipe cards.
Cumin chicken thighs with chickpeas in yogurt sauce
A one-pan dish, but you won't want to skip the sides. Make with red onions and cilantro in lemon juice, pita bread and yogurt sauce, and pomegranates, grapes, or maybe fried eggplant.
- 18 chicken thighs
- 32 oz full fat yogurt, preferably Greek
- 4 Tbsp lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp cumin, divided
- 4-6 cans chickpeas
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 red onions, sliced thinly
- 2 red onions sliced thinly
- lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- a bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 32 oz Greek yogurt for dipping sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
Make the marinade early in the day or the night before. Mix full fat Greek yogurt and with lemon juice, four tablespoons of water, and two tablespoons of cumin, and mix this marinade up with chicken parts, thighs or wings. Marinate several hours.
About an hour before dinner, preheat the oven to 425.
Drain and rinse four or five 15-oz cans of chickpeas and mix them up with a few glugs of olive oil, the remaining tablespoon of cumin, salt and pepper, and two large red onions sliced thin.
Spread the seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on two large sheet pans, then make room among the chickpeas for the marinated chicken (shake or scrape the extra marinade off the chicken if it’s too gloppy). Then it goes in the oven for almost an hour. That’s it for the main part.
The chickpeas and the onions may start to blacken a bit, and this is a-ok. You want the chickpeas to be crunchy, and the skin of the chicken to be a deep golden brown, and crisp. The top pan was done first, and then I moved the other one up to finish browning as we started to eat. Sometimes when I make this, I put the chickpeas back in the oven after we start eating, so some of them get crunchy and nutty all the way through.
While the chicken is cooking, you prepare your three garnishes:
-Chop up some cilantro for sprinkling if people like.
-Slice another two red onions nice and thin, and mix them in a dish with a few glugs of lemon juice and salt and pepper and more cilantro.
-Then take the rest of the tub of Greek yogurt and mix it up in another bowl with lemon juice, a generous amount of minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
- 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)
Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc.
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.
- 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
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.
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.
Serve over rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.
- broccoli spears
- sesame seeds
- sesame oil
- soy sauce
Preheat broiler to high.
Toss broccoli spears with sesame oil.
Spread in shallow pan. Drizzle with soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds
Broil for six minutes or longer, until broccoli is slightly charred.
Chinese pork roast
Marinate the meat overnight, and leave six hours for cooking. Serve over rice
- 10 lbs pork
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 3/4 cup honey
- 3/4 cup wine
- 1 Tbsp Chinese five spice
Mix the marinade ingredients together and marinate the meat overnight.
Drain the marinade and put the meat on a pan with a lip. Cook at 300 for five hours. Cover with tinfoil if the meat is cooking too quickly.
After five hours of cooking, pour the reserved marinade over the meat. Every ten minutes for an additional hour, baste the meat.
Let the roast rest for ten minutes before carving.
Cheater's lemon meringue pie
I like a pie shell made from several cups of animal cracker crumbs whirred into a sandy texture, mixed with a stick of melted butter and 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a dash of salt. Mix well and press into the pan.
- 1 pie shell
For the lemon layer:
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 lemon, zested
For the meringue:
- 3 egg whites
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
Preheat oven to 350
Mix together the condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well combined. Pour the mixture into the pie shell.
Bake 10-15 minutes until the mixture has a little skin.
While it's baking, use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to beat the egg whites until it has soft peaks. Then gradually add the sugar until it has stiff peaks.
When the lemon layer comes out of the oven, spread the meringue over the top and make a little peaks all over it with a fork or spatula.
Return the pie to the oven and bake for another ten minutes or so until the meringue is slightly browned.
Challah (braided bread)
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup oil
- 2 eggs
- 6-8 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1.5 tsp yeast
- 2 egg yolks for egg wash
- poppy seeds or "everything bagel" topping (optional)
- corn meal (or flour) for pan, to keep loaf from sticking
In a small bowl, dissolve a bit of the sugar into the water, and sprinkle the yeast over it. Stir gently, and let sit for five minutes or more, until it foams.
In the bowl of standing mixer, put the flour (starting with six cups), salt, remaining sugar, oil, and eggs, mix slightly, then add the yeast liquid. Mix with dough hook until the dough doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl, adding flour as needed. It's good if it has a slightly scaly appearance on the outside.
(If you're kneading by hand, knead until it feels soft and giving. It will take quite a lot of kneading!)
Put the dough in a greased bowl and lightly cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for at least an hour, until it's double in size.
Grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle it with flour or corn meal. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll three into "snakes" and make a large braid, pinching the ends to keep them together. Divide the fourth piece into three and make a smaller braid, and lay this over the larger braid. Lay the braided loaf on the pan.
Cover again and let rise again for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 350.
Before baking, make an egg wash out of egg yolks and a little water. Brush the egg wash all over the loaf, and sprinkle with poppy seeds or "everything" topping.
Bake 25 minutes or more until the loaf is a deep golden color.
An icing that dries hard, so you can use it to glue pieces together, or use as a flat surface to decorate. Add less sugar to make it thinner and pour over cookies or petits fours; add more sugar to make it more thick for spreading or piping. It will be stiff enough to decorate over within about half an hour, and it will be like cement in four hours.
- 4 egg whites
- 6 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
- 2 tsp lemon juice
In an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on high until they are opaque and foamy.
Add the sugar a little scoop at a time, continuing to whisk on high. Add the lemon juice.
Keep whisking on high until the icing is as thick as you want it. Adjust how much sugar you add to make it as thick as you want.
Keep the icing covered tightly, with plastic wrap touching the icing, until you're ready to use it because it starts drying out immediately.
Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)
Makes about a gallon of lovely soup
- olive oil
- 1 medium onion or red onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2-3 lbs beef, cubed
- 16 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- 6 cups beef bouillon
- 1 cup merlot or other red wine
- 29 oz canned diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice) with juice
- 1 cup uncooked barley
- salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a heavy pot. If using Instant Pot, choose "saute." Add the minced garlic, diced onion, and diced carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and carrots are softened.
Add the cubes of beef and cook until slightly browned.
Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the beef broth, and the merlot, plus 3 cups of water. Stir and add the mushrooms and barley.
If cooking on stovetop, cover loosely and let simmer for several hours. If using Instant Pot, close top, close valve, and set to high pressure for 30 minutes.
Before serving, add pepper to taste. Salt if necessary.