What’s for supper? Vol. 190: Beef barley soup! Pumpkin cranberry walnut muffins! And more!

We have hurtled through another week! I did a few site updates, so let’s see if the new “jump to recipe” thing works:

Jump to Recipe

Works? I think it works. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Nachos, pineapple

Easy peasy. Damien cooked the ground beef and added some sort of proprietary blend of seasonings, and I dumped it over some chips and shredded a bunch of cheese over it and slid it in the oven. We had salsa and sour cream and cilantro. 

If you squint, it looks sort of like salad. 

SUNDAY
Roast beef sandwiches, onion rings, veg and dip, strawberry shortcake

I had worked up a wonderful migraine overnight, which turned me into a blob of glup, so I stayed in bed for most of the day while someone covered my faith formation class and Damien took the kids to Mass and made dinner. He seasoned the roasts and sauteéd them in a pan, then put them in the oven to roast slowly. We had the sliced meat on rolls with provolone and horseradish sauce and tomatoes.

I put mine in the oven to toast up. If I were running away from the Visigoths and had a sandwich with me and someone said, “Would you like that toasted?” I would take the extra time to toast it.

My MIL came over with strawberry shortcake. It looked very promising, but my head was just starting to recover by evening, and I didn’t want to jinx it with anything sugary. 

MONDAY
Beef orzo soup, pumpkin cranberry walnut muffins

A much-loved cold weather meal in this house. Jump to Recipe

This was supposed to be beef barley soup, but I forgot to get barley, so I subbed orzo, which was a little disappointing in the texture department. Beef, carrots, onions, tomato, garlic, wine, beef broth, salt and pepper, mushrooms, some kind of grain, and that’s it. Bay leaf if you’re fancy. Always a hit.

I had it for lunch as the week went on, and the orzo got bigger and bigger.

When it becomes one single mighty grain of orzo having within it all soupiness, then it’s time to rinse out the pot and start over. 

The kids have also been clamoring for pumpkin muffins. Jump to RecipeI made 12 regular:

and 12 with dried cranberries and chopped walnuts. I may have gotten a little carried away with the stir-ins.

They turned out more like cranberries and walnuts trifles with a light coating of muffin.

TUESDAY
Pizza

One cheese, one pepperoni, one pepperoni with leftover provolone, one olive, and one mushroom, onion, olive, and provolone. Corrie has been very, very busy in the kitchen this week, and cut up a bunch of mushrooms of her own initiative. Come to think of it, that explains why I discovered an entire garlic clove, still in its wrapper, baked right into the cheese. (Yes, I ate it.)

WEDNESDAY
Cheesy chicken chili with bacon, corn bread

This is one of those recipes that has “crack” in the title, and yet doesn’t contain any cocaine at all. I think they mean “bacon, cheese, and ranch flavoring” and I will acknowledge that that is a fine combination, but that is as far as it went. 

Chicken, tomato with chilis, corn, black beans, pieces of bacon, cream cheese, ranch dressing powder, and some seasonings. Dump it all, cook, shred the chicken, and put shredded cheddar on top. I wasn’t expecting it to taste sophisticated, but it definitely looked easy and flavorful. The most labor intensive part was cooking and chopping the bacon. 

This is a crock pot recipe, but it was almost 5:00 before I got started, so I used the Instant Pot. Which would have been fine, except I chose 15 minutes, and that wasn’t quite long enough. So I put it in for another 8. The thing about the Instant Pot is that if you cook something for 8 minutes, that means waiting about 10 minutes for it to come to pressure, then cooking it 8 minutes, then releasing the pressure for another 5 minutes. This is fine, as long as it’s what you’re expecting. It’s less fine if you are winging the recipe and have to go through the process twice so you don’t die of salmonella. 

Of course there was little chance of that happening since not one of the kids even tasted it, even though it had bacon in it. I thought it tasted pretty good. It definitely had that “everyone at the potluck wants my recipe, tee hee hee!” flavor to it. 

I also made corn muffins, for reasons unclear. It used to be that only I was the one who liked corn muffins, but my taste for them has decreased over the years, possibly soured by loneliness and crumbs. It also doesn’t help that every time I say “corn muffins” someone says “OH HONEY YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE SAYING” and I get a long treatise on  pre-industrial revolution corn and how sugar factored in to perceptions of class, and how people who don’t use cast iron corn-shaped molds can just go straight to hell, bless. Just let me make my bad muffins and then throw them away, okay? 

Here are my muffins: 

I like to run a little butter over the top while they’re still hot, so they will be shinier in the garbage. 

THURSDAY
Hot dogs, smiley fries, pomegranates

We had parent teacher conferences, and then I spent the rest of the day driving around like a silly person and then finally getting going on Halloween costumes. This year we have Scooby Doo and Daphne, Star from Star Vs. the Forces of Evil, Naruto and Kakashi or something, and some Dragonball whathaveyou. And I think an Autumn Fairy. I leaned on the kid whose costume was giving me the most trouble, and she made dinner. I also taught one kid how to use the sewing machine! I foresee a whole new generation of lopsided cloaks, puckered curtains, and pillowcases that are a tiny bit too small.

FRIDAY
Boxaroni for the kids. 

We’re going out, because it’s our anniversary! 22 years. A few months ago, I needed some nighttime reading and grabbed Turgenev off the shelf, and this photo was tucked in the pages.

 

1997. (Yes, it looks like we had just had a roll in the hay, but the photo surface is just scratched up. My goodness, you people.) 

A friend remarked that we looked so joyful and innocent, and didn’t I want to kind of warn the people in the picture that life is coming for them?

I responded, “Do you know, I think I was more cynical then. I didn’t know how hard things could be, for sure, but I also had no idea how good things could be.” We have had some really hard and awful times. Some of them were not that long ago. But still, it feels like the joy and innocence we have together are building, not waning. I don’t know if it was dumb luck or if we can take any credit at all for finding and choosing each other, but it was the best thing we ever did.

Well! Here are the recipe cards:

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. 

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. 

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 188: A week of truly fast, truly easy, mostly decent meals

Today’s post will be pretty bare bones, as I have cleverly arranged my schedule so that every time I say, “Whew, that big thing is done!” I suddenly remember I now have to do the other big thing. At least I was smart enough to plan quick and easy meals for this week. Everything on this list goes from cold kitchen to hot food on the table in about half an hour, if you don’t shilly shally (and that takes into account that I’m making massive amounts of food, which you are probably not).

Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Domino’s

This wasn’t actually the plan. The plan was to use the huge collection of french bread we forgot to make into garlic bread last week, and turn it into french bread pizza. But the “last week” part turned out to be important, and the bread was all moldy. So we got Domino’s.

SUNDAY
Beef stroganoff and caramel apples

Nice simple recipe, which I actually prefer to stroganoff made with good beef that you have to cut up and cook slowly. I cooked up a bunch of chopmeat in a heavy pot (does anyone else call ground beef “chopmeat?” Or is that just something my mother would say, like “dungarees?”), then took the meat out and drained out most of the fat, then sauteéd up some chopped onions and garlic (pre-minced garlic from a jar, thank you very much) in the fat. Then I put the meat back in, added some beef broth, wine, salt, and pepper, and sliced mushrooms, and let it cook down a bit, and got some egg noodles cooking.

Just before serving, I stirred in a bunch of sour cream to the meat, and served it over the noodles. Very tasty and filling, if not photogenic. 

The caramel apples were made with those caramel wrap sheets, and the kids handled it after I demonstrated one.

You just stretch the wraps over the apple, jam in a stick, and put them in a warm oven for a few minutes, and you become an Accomplished Autumn Homemaker, so you can check that off the list for the year.

MONDAY
Chicken burgers, roast brussels sprouts, grains and veg, chips

Cut them stems off the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on plenty of salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven until they are slightly charred. So good. I fleetingly considered mixing them with some dried cranberries I happened to have, but I didn’t want a mutiny on my hands. I still think it would have been good, though. 

As you can see, I bought some kind of frozen thing with various grains and vegetables mixed in, that just needed to be heated up in a pan. It wasn’t very good, but it made me feel better about serving chips. 

TUESDAY
Chicken stir fry on rice

I set a bunch of rice cooking in the Instant Pot using the 1:1 method, which makes it turn out sticky and good. 

I cut up a bunch of chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. I cut up a bunch of broccoli into bite-sized pieces. I cooked the chicken in sesame oil in a big pan, drained out the moisture that accumulated, then added the broccoli and cooked it just lightly. Then I dumped in a few bottles of sauce and heated it through. 

I used something called Citrus Ponzu Sauce, which claimed to be “Japanese inspired.” It was, as advertised, a blend of bright citrus, savory soy sauce, and red chili peppers. I also sprinkled some red pepper flakes on top of mine. 

WEDNESDAY
Giant pancake, bacon, eggs

You know about giant pancake. Even the NYT now knows about giant chocolate pancake, and they have the nerve to put it behind a paywall. (They also did a thing about how neat Funfetti is a few weeks ago, so I don’t know why I ever feel bad about anything I cook.) You preheat the oven to 350, take a whole box of “just add water” pancake mix, and add enough water that it looks like, you know, pancake batter. Then you can stir stuff in. I had a bag of chocolate chips on hand, so, boop. You butter a pan and throw it in the oven for about half an hour until it’s a little brown on top. Cut it into wedges and be adored. Your degenerate children will want to put syrup on it, and you will let them.

While it was baking, I fried up five pounds of bacon and scrambled a few dozen eggs. While I was cooking, Irene goes, “It’s funny, they call it ‘breakfast for dinner,’ but I never have bacon or eggs for breakfast.”
“Yeah,” I said; “If it were breakfast, we’d be having–”
“Cold Pizza,” she said. “Cold cake. Or nothing.”

So, I need to step up my breakfast game, then.

Or they can get out of bed when I tell them to get out of bed, how about that. 

THURSDAY
One-pan kielbasa, cabbage, and red potato

This one may have taken a little longer than half an hour, because you have to cut three things and also make a dressing, but it’s stupid easy. Recipe card at the bottom. It’s delicious. 

I did buy parsley and chop some up for the top, and it still qualifies as stupid easy. 

FRIDAY
Macaroni and cheese, my dudes. 

There may even be a vegetable of some sort in the fridge, who can say. 

***

 

One-pan kielbasa, cabbage, and red potato dinner with mustard sauce

This meal has all the fun and salt of a wiener cookout, but it's a tiny bit fancier, and you can legit eat it in the winter. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs kielbasa
  • 3-4 lbs red potatoes
  • 1-2 medium cabbages
  • (optional) parsley for garnish
  • salt and pepper and olive oil

mustard sauce (sorry, I make this different each time):

  • mustard
  • red wine if you like
  • honey
  • a little olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. 

    Whisk together the mustard dressing ingredients and set aside. Chop parsley (optional).

    Cut the kielbasa into thick coins and the potatoes into thick coins or small wedges. Mix them up with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in a shallow pan. 

    Cut the cabbage into "steaks." Push the kielbasa and potatoes aside to make room to lay the cabbage down. Brush the cabbage with more olive oil and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. It should be a single layer of food, and not too crowded, so it will brown well. 

    Roast for 20 minutes, then turn the food as well as you can and roast for another 15 minutes.  

    Serve hot with dressing and parsley for a garnish. 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 184: Treasures of the sea and other travesties

And just like that, it was fall. Crisp weather, slanted light, ripening apples and towering corn, ragged mists rising slowly over the fields of goldenrod, people dealing inappropriately with the stress of transition. It’s glorious. 

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Burgers, chips

I was gloomily making my shopping list, thinking about the rising tide of autumnal stews and squashes and other cold weather foods, and then I saw that lobsters were on sale. And a very good sale it was! Seized with a sudden urge to possess something carefree and summery, I boldly decided we would end our week with fresh steamed lobsters, and who could blame us?

But when I got to the store, they were all gone. So I ordered some for Sunday and arranged to pick them up before dinner, which felt somewhat less impetuous and madcap, but still. Lobster. 

We had hamburgers and chips on Saturday. 

SUNDAY
Lobster, risotto, corn, strawberries, chicken nuggets

Finally lobster time! But when I got to the store on Sunday, they wanted to charge me Sunday’s price, which was most assuredly not on sale. I was disappointed, and was about to go away sad, but then I said to myself, “I’m a grown woman. It’s not unreasonable for them to accommodate a loyal customer and give me the price I was expecting to pay. At very least, it couldn’t hurt to ask.” So I spoke up, using the kindly brontosaurus technique, and the fish man talked to his manager, and it worked! I got four 1.5-pound Sunday lobsters for a Saturday price.

They offered to steam them for me, but again, I didn’t want to settle for second best and let them get all rubbery on the ride home, so I took them alive. I felt very alive. Lobsters!

You know, when you get to be in your mid-forties, you find out you can do all kinds of things that used to seem scary. You can very often just take a deep breath, push your way through, and do the thing, and it turns out it doesn’t kill you after all. It’s very liberating to find out how strong and capable you actually are. 

Still, I was a little nervous about those lobsters, so I gave myself plenty of time. I set a big pot of salted water to heat up, melted a bunch of butter, and cut up some lemon wedges. I made the risotto in the Instant Pot, and I shucked the corn. The bag of lobsters sat quietly on the counter. I set out plates on the table and counted forks. 

Then lobster water began to boil. It was time. I peeked into the bag and those lobsters seemed really docile and resigned, and were only waving their antlers around a little bit. They were clearly alive, but not, you know, like, alive. I knew I could handle this, and I really do love steamed lobster. I gathered up all my womyncourage and dumped the bag out into a bowl so I could see what I was up against. 

Well, those horrible little fuckers started flopping around and scrabbling and trying to organize a mutiny in my kitchen. So I did the only thing I could do for an accomplished adult in my station in life: I screamed and ran away and stood in a corner and refused to talk to anyone. Then I sent one of my sons in to deal with the horror, one of my giant hulking sons who towers over my head, and he tried with some tongs, but then he also screamed and ran away.

So Damien had to do it. I was so proud of all of us. 

The lobster was delicious. I don’t know what else to say. It’s kind of liberating to eat lobster? Because it tastes good? I was glad I only bought four, because most of the kids were horrified and traumatized by the whole thing, not sure why. They had chicken nuggets. 

Oh hey, I’ll put my risotto recipe at the end. Because I’m a grown woman and I’m not afraid to use a pressure cooker. 

MONDAY
Chicken thighs with squash and Brussels sprouts

Normally a well-liked one-pan dish for cool weather. I don’t know where I went wrong, but it just wasn’t that great. I skipped potatoes, for one thing. That was wrong. Never skip the potatoes. 

Anyway, I’ll put my recipe at the end, and probably you’ll do it better. It’s just big pieces of hearty vegetables in a simple balsamic sauce with roast chicken thighs on top. It’s usually good, I promise! Maybe it’s supposed to have honey in it? I don’t know. 

TUESDAY
Chili and corny corn bread

Damien made chili. I’ll get his recipe when he gets home. I like chili, but I gave up making it many years ago, because nobody else liked it; but Damien’s cooking style is so different from mine, I thought there was a shot they would like his. I felt guilty about not cooking on a weekday, so I decided to make cornbread. Also nobody likes cornbread, but I figured it would be a fun and easy baking project for me and the little girls. 

Well, they wanted to play Just Dance instead. So I made the cornbread by myself. I had the bright idea to add some fresh corn from the leftover corn from Sunday, and then I threw in some chili powder. How did it turn out? Bad, that’s how. Flabby and weird, just like the rest of us. Hooray!

Damien and I liked the chili. Nobody else did. Hooray!

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

Everybody likes pizza. Here’s a picture of pizza. 

THURSDAY
Carnitas and rice

I took a half pork loin and put it in the slow cooker with a can of beer and a can of peppers in adobo sauce. By evening, it was falling apart. I fished the meat out, shredded it, and spread it in a pan and broiled it so it was slightly crisp. 

I had been planning beans and rice, but I realized the meat was quite spicy, and the kids would be sad if they didn’t have anything bland and white to eat. So I just served white rice.  Then for some reason I decided to put leftover chili on the tortilla along with the pork. I also had sour cream and cilantro, but the whole thing was just confusing.

I mean, I ate it, but I was confused. 

FRIDAY
Pizza?

My aunt and uncle are coming for a visit and they did say they would bring pizza.

In conclusion: Yes, I know I said “lobster antlers.” Fight me. 

***

 

Instant Pot Risotto

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

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups rice, raw
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 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 cook for five minutes or more, stirring constantly, until rice is mostly opaque.

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


  4. Close the top, close valve, set to high pressure for 8 minutes.

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

One-pan balsamic chicken thighs and vegetables

A true one-pan dish that works well with lots of variations of seasonings and vegetables

Ingredients

  • 18 chicken thighs with skin and bone
  • 1 butternut squash in cubes
  • 3 lbs red potatoes in cubes
  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 2 lbs brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt (preferably kosher)
  • pepper
  • oregano
  • basil

Instructions

  1. Grease a large, shallow pan. Preheat the oven to 400.

  2. Mix together the olive oil and vinegar with a tablespoon of salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in the pan, pour the mixture over them, and stir them up to coat, then spread them out again. 

  3. Lay the chicken breasts on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle more salt and pepper, basil and oregano over the whole pan. 

  4. Cook for 30 minutes or more, until vegetables and chicken are cooked through and chicken skins are golden and crisp. 

  5. If necessary, broil for a few minutes to add a little char. 

 

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. 

***

5 from 1 vote
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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. 151: Sauté, girls, sauté!

Oh lordy, I’m running so late. But we finally did a podcast! Did you hear our podcast? You might like it! I thought it was pretty funny, and we have a name, a logo, and new mics, and are taking a slightly different approach. This one is free, and we’re working on moving toward getting the archives on iTunes. I know I say this every few months, but this time I mean it!

But you’re here for the food, and that’s cool, that’s cool. Here’s what we had this week.

Oh wait, before I forget: Would it be easier if I made a second page for each Friday food post, just for recipe cards? I know it’s a pain to scroll down, but I want to keep them together, and not intersperse them in the post. Let me know.

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Nothing to report. Running around like maniacs, as usual.

SUNDAY
Salad with chicken and giant croutons

I slathered the chicken breasts with oil and seasoned them liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano, then roasted them and sliced them. Served on mixed greens with dried cranberries, crumbled feta, diced red onion, and toasted almonds.

I feel like such an adult when I put out bowls of things for salad. No particular reason. I just like bowls of things.

Reminder: Nuts toast up very nicely in the microwave. Spread them on a plate and set it for two minutes. Easy peasy.

We also made croutons from some rolls I accidentally bought. Cut bread into cubes, pour melted butter on top, season however you like, and spread them in a pan. Leave at least 40 minutes or more to toast them slowly in a 300 oven or so, so they dry out completely. Confession: If you are in a rush, you can just turn it up and toast them on the outside, and they will be chewy and bready on the inside, and not a single person will complain, because here is a pan of hot buttery bread cubes.

MONDAY
Croque monsieur, fries, pomegranates 

Okay. So this has been on my list to make for a few weeks. It’s apparently French pub food, and is really just a hot sandwich of nice ham and nice cheese with cheese sauce on top. But I read a few recipes a few times, and couldn’t figure out what the hell they were talking about. I can follow complex recipes, but I guess the fact that it was complex and yet still just a cheese sandwich was too much for my pea brain.

Anyway, I finally watched an Ina Garten video, and then it made sense. You trim the crusts off white bread, put shredded gruyere and ham and dijon mustard inside, then put cheese sauce made with gruyere and parmesan on top, then a bit more shredded gruyere, then bake, then broil. Here is what they look like before baking:

And here they are, fresh out of the oven:

Damien loved them, and the kids thought they were good. I wasn’t crazy about them. I never thought I’d say this, but it was just too much damn cheese. I like cheese a lot, but I don’t want to feel like cheese is the air I breathe, and that’s how croque monsieur made me feel. Anyway, if this looks appealing to you, you could totally use cheddar instead of gruyere.

“Croque monsieur” means “crunch sir,” if you’re wondering. If you put a fried egg on top, that makes it a “croque madame,” and that’s why French kids don’t have ADHD, if by ADHD you mean “All Done Having Dairy.” Please don’t think about this joke. It doesn’t deserve your time.

TUESDAY
Regular tacos, tortilla chips, guacamole

The kids requested regular tacos, with regular ground beef seasoned with regular spices that come in a regular little packet. No fish, no spicy cabbage, no lime or cilantro or kimchee or Korean-inspired nonsense, just regular tacos. Fine.

Dora made the guacamole. Avocados were 59 cents each! Cheapest I’ve ever seen, so we made plenty. Recipe card at the end. I don’t seem to have taken any photos.

WEDNESDAY
Pulled pork Bibimbap

I do love bibimbap, but I’m never sure about the meat and sauce part. I’m fairly sure I haven’t hit on an authentic recipe yet. I had some boneless pork ribs, so I put them in the Instant Pot with the sauce from this recipe. It was quick and easy, and they came out looking good:

and shredded up very well.

The taste was not my absolute favorite, though. It was a little harsh and had a weird, tomatoe-y taste to it, somehow, despite not having any tomatoes in it. Still a fab meal. I’ll probably use the Instant Pot to make shredded pork for bibimbap in the future, just not with that sauce.

I put rice in the bowl, then the meat and sauce on that, and then baby pea shoots, quick pickled carrots and cukes, and a lovely, runny fried egg on top, with sesame seeds, Sriracha sauce, and some crunchy noodles.

Party in a bowl! I meant to sauté some mushrooms and spinach, but I was too tired. This is a popular dish at our house because everyone can build their own meal. Everyone likes at least two things, not counting the egg.

If you live in a town with a restaurant that serves authentic bibimbap, please talk to your pastor about hiring me to speak at your thing, so I can have some bibimbap.

Sidenote: every time I sauté something, I have to Google it and cut and paste the e with the accent over it, because I don’t know how to do it on my computer. I could learn how, but I’d forget, and then I’d just have to look that up each time. And then I wouldn’t have the fun of rediscovering one more time (really, I cannot overemphasize how poor my memory is) that a sauté is also a ballet thing, where you jump off both feet and land in a hot pan with a little olive oil.

THURSDAY
Beef barley soup, pumpkin mumkins

Irene has been dying for beef barley soup, so I saved her life. The mushrooms had gone bad (my husband wanted to know how that was even possible, since they are already fungus. He’s from Barcelona), so there was more broth than I usually like, but it was still mighty tasty.

 

And Irene got to live.

I also made a huge batch of those foolproof pumpkin muffins (24 muffins and an oversized loaf from a double recipe). Corrie helped me, and I think we somehow got significantly more eggs into the batter than I intended to, but they still turned out fine, tender and a little spicy.

 

Corrie started calling them pumpkin mumkins, and if you think anyone corrected her, you’re out of your gourd. She advised us: “You put your pumpkin mumkin into your soup, and den, BOOM, you EAT your pumpkin mumkin!”

FRIDAY
Instant Pot mac and cheese

Dora promised to bring me a bag of cheese ends from the deli, but she forgot! It’s fine, I still love her. But I won’t forget.

 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

 

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. 

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. 

 

5 from 1 vote
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Instant Pot macaroni and cheese

Adapted from a CopyKat recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds raw macaroni
  • 2 tsp hot sauce
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2-3 pounds cheese of your choice
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1-2 cups buttered bread crumbs for topping (optional)

Instructions

  1. Put macaroni in Instant Pot with enough water to barely cover. Put hot sauce, and mustard on top and mix it well. Mixing may be superstitious; not sure. 

  2. Set IP to high pressure for six minutes. Do quick release. 

  3. Drain any excess water. Add milk, butter, and cheese, and mix until macaroni is coated. 

  4. Serve as is; or butter a pan and pour the macaroni into it, top with buttered bread crumbs, and heat in oven until breadcrumbs are toasted. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 150: Now and forever, let it be meat

I see this is a milestone edition, #150. The only conclusion I can draw is I’ve finally hit upon a surefire way to make sure I stick with something: Let it be meat.

A little music, maestro!

I bless the day I found food
I want to stay around food
And so I beg you,
Let’s go and eat.
 
Don’t take this bacon from one
If fat must cling to someone
Now and forever,

let it be meat.

Each time we eat, love
I find complete love
Without this meatloaf, 
what would life be?
 
So never leave me starving
Tell me that’s beef you’re carving
And that you’ll always
Let me go eat.
Ahem. Excuse me. Here’s what we had this week:
SATURDAY
Sugar rub chicken thighs, brats, chips

Damien made supper. Good stuff. Chicken rub recipe card below.

SUNDAY
Cuban sandwiches, cole slaw, mangoes

Something I’ve been thinking about for a while, Cuban sandwiches. Damien roasted the pork in a low oven, and then I sliced it and layered it on sourdough bread with mustard, Swiss cheese, ham, pickles, and more Swiss, and then grilled and pressed it. YUHM.
The cole slaw was very basic, just cabbage, mayo, vinegar, sugar, and pepper. I just needed to not serve chips or fries for once. The mangoes were good.

Overall, too much sweet in this meal, but I somehow forced myself to eat it.
MONDAY
Sausage, mushroom, and cheddar omelettes, home fries
I occasionally make omelettes to order, which is a pain in the neck, but it’s the only way I can come up with a decent omelette for me and Damien: By screwing up many, many other omelettes first. It seriously takes at least seven tries before I know what I’m doing. The first one, I’m like, “Hurr? Is the egg supposed to be in the shell or out of the shell? And is this a pan that one operates with one’s elbows?”
But by the time I get up to the adult omelettes, I am clear: You let the pan heat thoroughly before dropping on plenty of butter; you tilt it to spread the egg out evenly; you sprinkle your fillings on the side that’s less cooked, so you can flip the more-cooked side over more easily; you wait a little bit longer than you think you should have to before folding it over; and you approach the folding part with confidence, even arrogance. Eggs know when you are frightened, and they retaliate by splurting, damn their eyes. Ha!! Because “ei” in German is “egg,” and . . . that’s not a joke. Never mind.

The home fries or oven potatoes or whatever you want to call them are always a hit: Scrub and cut potatoes into wedges, cut some onions into big wedges, and mix it all up with olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic powder, paprika, whatever. Roast ’em up.

TUESDAY
Zuppa toscana, apple pie

Tuesday was, of course, (ptui ptui) election day, and the sky wept. It was drizzly and gusty and miserable and so were we all, so it was a good day for soup. It’s such a simple recipe, and you can add whatever you like. I liked olive oil, sausage, onions, red potatoes, plenty of kale, mushrooms, chicken broth, plenty of pepper, and half-and-half thickened with flour. (Recipe card below.)
After I made the soup and read some political commentary, I felt an urgent need to make some apple pie. I used the Fannie Farmer crust recipe, and had some help from my trusty pastry assistant.
Fannie Farmer is usually an honest gal and a straight shooter, but when she says “enough dough for a nine-inch two crust pie,” she’s lying through her teeth. I know this, and yet that’s the dough I made anyway. So I ended up making an open-face apple pie and covering the apple’s nakedness with ice cream.
Thanksgiving is coming. Do you know the pie crust secret? You chill the butter and then grate it on a cheese grater. This makes it so easy to incorporate into the dry ingredients without overworking it. Of course some of us prefer to overwork it.
I don’t really have an apple pie filling recipe. We peeled, cored, and sliced apples until it looked like enough, then added some flour, sugar, and cinnamon and a little salt, then stirred it up and piled it into the dough in the pan.
Then we added some dots of butter on top.
I covered the pie with a metal bowl for most of it so it wouldn’t dry out, and then took it off for the final ten minutes or so to brown up the edge crust.

You know what, let’s call it a galette. That galette got et.

WEDNESDAY
Grilled chicken on salad greens with almonds, feta, and cranberries Dominos

Guess who splurged on boneless skinless chicken tenders to cook up easily, and then never put them in the freezer? Hillary! I mean me. I did it. And it went bad. So I sent Damien out for pizza. We all agreed that whatever it is they sprinkle on their crusts (it’s garlic salt), it’s delicious and wonderful. It’s garlic salt.

THURSDAY

Spaghetti and meatballs
I have five pounds of ground beef, but the moths had gotten into the breadcrumbs. That’s what I get for laying up for myself breadcrumbs on earth. So I used what panko crumbs I had, and then made up the rest with an entire jar of parmesan cheese. Yeah, I’ll be doing that from now on. Yuhm.
I make my meatballs in the oven on a pan with drainage (this is an old pic, but it demonstrates how much grease you miss out on when you cook the meatballs this way)
then I transferred them into the IP on slow cook with the sauce, and let it simmer all day.

I also threw in a bunch of leftover sliced mushrooms and some leftover sausage, and life was good, at least while we were eating.

FRIDAY
Quesdillas with jalapenos and scallions

Actually, we’re probably headed to Applebees, since my son is in Mama Mia and I remember how important the after-show party at Applebees is, but I sure don’t want to drive into town and back one more stinking time.
Oh, we also made soul cakes last week. It’s supposed to be for All Soul’s Day, but from what I hear, dead people stay dead all throughout the month of November, so we made them late. (recipe in link above)
Someone remarked that she’s impressed at how often I let the kids help out in the kitchen.
This is something of an illusion, like when you take a picture of yourself on the rare days your hair looks awesome, and then years later you look through pictures and think, “Aw, my hair used to look so awesome all the time!” I will let the little guys grate cheese or mix stuff occasionally, and I will lean on the older kids to finish up meals if I’m out of the house, but in general, I find it very stressful to have kids in the kitchen when I’m cooking.
However, I remember how it was The Fun To Crown All Funs to cook and bake when I was little, so I do force myself to do it occasionally.
We do soul cakes once a year, and I approach it as an activity for the kids that I help with, not as a baking project that I let them help me with. Soul cakes is a good recipe to do this with, as they really aren’t very good, so the stakes are not high. They are basically thick, soft cookies, and have a mildly spicy, cider-y taste. They’re not bad, but they’re just, you know, brown. Sift a little powdered sugar on top and eat them hot.
Anyway! Here are some pictures of the kids making them, which I am posting to make you feel like an inferior mother. They are pictured wearing their church clothes. Usually they dress in stained rags with trashy sequins and immodest Walmart leggings with holes in the knee. Still feel bad? Blame Hillary, why the shit not.
Here’s the recipe cards for the week:

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. 

Cuban sandwiches

A spectacular way to use up leftover pork, but also worth cooking pork just to make these sandwiches

Ingredients

  • sturdy bread. We like sourdough
  • olive oil for grilling
  • pork roast, sliced thickly
  • sliced ham
  • mustard
  • Swiss cheese, sliced
  • sour pickles, sliced thinly

Instructions

  1. Make sandwiches in this order:
    Bread, mustard, cheese, ham, pork, pickles, cheese, mustard, bread.

  2. Brush grill and bread with olive oil. Grill sandwich for a bit, then press hard with something heavy. Turn and do the same on the other side. 

  3. If cheese isn't completely melted, put sandwich in a medium oven for a while. 

Coleslaw

Ingredients

  • 1 head cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 5 radishes, grated or sliced thin (optional)

Dressing

  • 1 cup mayp
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Mix together shredded vegetables. 
    Mix dressing ingredients together and stir into cabbage mix. 




Zuppa Toscana

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. sweet Italian sausages
  • 1-2 red onion(s), diced
  • 4 medium red potatoes, sliced thin with skin on
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups kale, chopped
  • 4 cups half and half
  • 9 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • olive oil for cooking
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour

Instructions

  1. Squeeze the sausage out of the casings. Saute it up in a little olive oil, breaking it into pieces as it cooks. When it's almost done, add the minced garlic, diced onion, and sliced potatoes. Drain off excess olive oil.



  2. When onions and potatoes are soft, add flour, stir to coat, and cook for another five minutes. 

  3. Add chicken broth and half and half. Let soup simmer all day, or keep warm in slow cooker or Instant Pot. 

  4. Before serving, add chopped kale and sliced onions and cook for another ten minutes (or set Instant Pot for three minutes) until kale and mushrooms are soft. Add pepper. Add salt if necessary, but the sausage and broth contribute salt already. 

  5. This makes a creamy soup. If you want it thicker, you can add a flour or cornstarch roux at the end and cook a little longer. 

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. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 149: Scrumble

In haste, for I am once again leaving for the weekend for purely social reasons!

SATURDAY
Brats cooked in beer, chips

Damien likes to make brats because they have almost no carbs and Lucy can eat as many as she likes without worrying about it. He boils them in beer and onions and then grills them, and very good they are, brats boiled in beer and onions and then grilled.

We did something else on Saturday, hell if I know. I guess we were carving pumpkins and sewing costumes and — oh yes, there was the town rummage sale. Last year, I got the day wrong, and we missed it, so the kids have been reminding me repeatedly throughout the year that I owe them a rummage sale. I owe them a rummage sale! More than once, I offered them a yard sale, but they said it had to be a rummage sale — yes, even if they rummaged around in the yard sale.

So we went to the rummage sale, and by some unprecedented miracle, everybody found something neat that made them happy. So we dragged all our stuff into the car, and everyone got strapped in, and I got my keys, and I said happily, “And now I don’t owe you a rummage sale anymore!”

And they said, “Yeah, but we were gonna go to that one anyway, so . . . ” So apparently, I still owe them a rummage sale.

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, carrots and dip

Sunday we went to the Pumpkin Festival. I’d long been promising to make caramel apples, and today was finally the day. I used caramel apple making as a bribe to get them away from the Pumpkin Festival, to be honest. So we get home and it turns out I bought the packets of powder, rather than those stretchy caramel wraps that are ten thousand times easier.

But a promise is a promise, so I gritted my teeth and started hunting for my candy thermometer, while warning the kids that I’m terrible at making candy and they would probably turn out awful. Happily, I couldn’t find the candy thermometer, at all. It happens I bought some ghost-shaped marshmallows in case I needed to bribe them to do something else; so I got them to agree that, if I melted down the ghost marshmallows to make rice krispie treats, then we’d have haunted dessert, and that was way better than caramel apples. Whew!

MONDAY
Chimichurri chicken and rice

I saw this one-pot recipe on Budget Bytes, but couldn’t quite bring myself to actually follow the directions, which looked like a lot of work. I just kind of glanced at it like oh yeah, chimichurri, yep, chicken, oh sure, rice, well, well, tomatoes. You’re supposed to cut the chicken into little bits and brown them up in oil or some shit, but I just chucked them in the Instant Pot for 22 minutes with some wine vinegar, then shredded it. I made rice in the Instant pot, then sauteed some onions and tomatoes, added the chicken to that, stirred the chicken into the rice, and folded the chimichurri in at the end.

It was tasty and filling, but not all that exciting. We had some ideas to fix it: We could have some kind of small pasta, like little shells or pastine, or even farro, rather than rice. Or, we could add beans and cheese and wrap it in a tortilla. What I ended up doing was eating the leftovers for lunch the next day with that universal savior, chili lime salt, and then I moved on with my life. Kind of waste of chimichurri.

TUESDAY
Instant Pot chicken tortilla soup and corn muffins

My friend Miriam sent me this recipe, which for once in my life I followed almost exactly, so I won’t bother making a separate recipe card. Normally I use Pioneer Woman’s recipe, which is also good, but different, with more distinct components. This was more brothy with a spicier, more complex flavor.

You blend up all the vegetables together first

then thicken them up in the pot, then add the liquids and chicken.

The hotsy totsy part puts on a little show, but then the rest of the flavors came through. In some spicy things, you take a spoonful that seems fine but then the slow burn creeps up on you. How? Food is magic.

Here’s the soup as just soup:

and here it is all dressed up in its finery, with tortilla strips, avocados, cilantro, and sour cream:

I burned the hell out of the corn muffins, because I forgot to set the timer

which was sad. I burned a lot of things this week. The kids gamely pulled the insides out and had corn muffin bits as a side.

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs and fries

Halloween, of course. We always have hot dogs on Halloween because that way I know they had at least a few cubic inches of protein-based solids in they begin filling every corner and crevice of their interiors with sugar.

You may ask, how did our diabetic kid do on Halloween? She did fine. She eats her candy a bit at a time and totes up the carbs and gives herself insulin. She’s amazing.

Oh, I’m in such a rush! I’ll have to put up the kids’ Halloween costume pics later.

THURSDAY
Pizza

Damien made the pizzas while I was . . . lying down? I don’t remember. We had two olive, two pepperoni, and one cheese. He started out slicing the olives, but ended up just scrumbling them to pieces with his fingers, which is what I always do. This is artisanal.

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle

And away I go!

What’s for supper? Vol. 148: Meat and other good ideas

Pretty meat-heavy week. When my imaginative powers run low, the default is just meat. I did end up altering a few recipes for the better, though (and utterly ruining a very familiar recipe for no reason at all). Here’s what we had (recipe cards at the end):

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, cheezy weezies

Nothing to report. Damien and Dora were on a road trip to Maryland, Moe and Clara were helping their cousin with a theater fundraising auction (and come home with the revelation that rich people really, really care about two things: trees, and alcohol), and Elijah was volunteering at a haunted hay ride. And of course Lena is at college. Which meant that I was home with five children for a very long time.

Guess what? It turns out I haven’t become more patient or calm over the years; not at all. I have just gotten used to having another adult and five teenagers around to help me. Take them away, and it’s just all yelling all the time! Oh well. That’s an abnormal state anyway, to be the only adult caring for five kids. It’s a skill no one should have to develop.

SUNDAY
Pork ribs, risotto, string beans

Oven roasted pork ribs still give the biggest return for the least amount of work. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper on a pan with drainage, put under a hot broiler, and turn once, and eat them with BBQ sauce while they’re sizzling hot. So good. We are fans of Carolina style BBQ sauce lately, which is lighter and tangier than the dark brown, thicker kind we usually get.

With the memory of arancini fresh in my head, I wanted risotto again. I made Instant Pot risotto, but changed the recipe a bit, and it came out great. Maybe not quite as good as stove-cooked risotto, but creamy and flavorful. Recipe card at the end.

The string beans, I just trimmed and steamed and served bare. I suppose I could have put butter or pepper on them, but hey, vegetable.

MONDAY
Ham, mashed potatoes, and peas

Benny has been begging for this, her ideal meal, for weeks now. We got home super late for some reason, but I had bought a pre-cooked ham, and I finally realized you can slice it first, then heat it up, and it gets hot much faster than the other way around.

Then I started peeling potatoes and chucking them in the Instant Pot for some quick mashed potatoes. But I somehow underestimated the time, and when I opened the lid, a few of the bigger potatoes were still half raw. This was so upsetting that I looked up whether you can cook milk in an Instant Pot, and I learned that you cannot, because it foams and spurts and curdles and burns. This was even more upsetting, so I put milk in, closed the lid, and set it to cook for a few more minutes. Then I got the “burn” message!  This was very upsetting! So I opened the lid, put in some butter, and tried crushing the still-half-raw potatoes sitting in burned milk, which works even less well than you’d think.

Happily, it was extremely late by this time, and everyone was starving. So they ate the salvageable part of the potatoes, the overcooked peas, and the ham, which was really quite hot by this time, without complaint. Excelsior! I’d do it again, too.

TUESDAY
French toast and sausages

Nothing to report. I bought frozen OJ, but forgot to make it.

WEDNESDAY
Pork nachos

Pork was on sale, but I’m awfully tired of the same old pork things. So this time, I put a pork shoulder in the slow cooker with salt, pepper, minced garlic, and beer in the morning and let it cook all day. It was super tender and shreddy by evening. I spread the shredded pork in a shallow pan with lots of cumin and chili lime seasoning and browned it under the broiler.

Then — this is the part that was different — I spread tortilla chips in a pan, spread the meat over than, and topped it with shredded cheese, and put it back in the warm oven to melt. I forgot sour cream, but we had a nice lime salsa, fresh cilantro, and more chili lime powder, and I thought it was fantastic. So much interesting than my regular nachos, with just ground beef, but barely any extra work.

Maybe the meat was a little overcooked, so next time I’ll either brown it while it’s on the chips, or brown it less before returning it to the oven to melt the cheese. But I would seriously accept these as fancy party snacks, if they were dished up separately as hors d’oeuvres.

I’m very grateful that I like cilantro, and I’m not one of those unfortunate souls who think it tastes soapy. How often can you spend $1 and ten seconds chopping, and turn a meal from fine to wonderful?

THURSDAY
Cheesy chicken and red potatoes

All week, I was planning to make this slow cooker garlic parmesan chicken and potato dish. But this is the last full week before Halloween, and that means we don’t live at home anymore; we live at the Salvation Army and Walmart, and we come home feeling sad and panicked and most of all angry at your mother, who now gets to get dinner started at 5 pm. Not really the time to try out a new slow cooker recipe.

So I made up something, and I thought it was swell. I put the chicken and red potato wedges in a pan, drizzled them with olive oil and seasoned them, and then suddenly remembered I have a canister of fried shallots from Kyra’s magical bag of weird Canadian food. So I added a healthy layer of those, and then slud it into a hot oven for about an hour. When it was all browned, I suddenly remembered we had a wedge of sharp provolone, so we shredded that and sprinkled it on, then added a thick layer of grated parmesan

and put it back in the oven to melt. Then I suddenly remembered I had bought a little jar of fancy whole grain mustard, and plus I had some fresh parsley, I don’t even know why.

All together, it was wonderful. Again, it was extremely late by this time, so maybe it wasn’t as good as I thought; but the crunchy shallots, the sharp, snappy cheese, the mellow mustard, and the fresh parsley really played nicely together.

The skin was wonderfully crisp and the chicken was moist. If you have dried minced onions, that would be almost as good as the shallots.

Furthermore, I went to lie down for a while afterwards, and Corrie came in with a bowl of parsley and insisted on feeding me “eating flowers.” It was very cute, and I felt very privileged, but on the other hand, it’s easier than you might think to eat too much parsley.

So, this mustard. I grabbed up this little jar of whole grain mustard at Aldi a few weeks ago. It’s so good! More mild than I was expecting, and the texture is more like relish.

This will dress up sandwiches and cold meats nicely, and I can see serving it with kielbasa or even roast beef.

FRIDAY
I believe we’ll just have rigatoni or something.

Yesterday was our actual anniversary (which we celebrated in style a few weeks ago) and after a week of school conferences, doctor appointments, unexpected car repairs, mysterious furnace issues, and miscellaneous adult bullshit, we were too wiped out to make a fuss, but we did force ourselves to drink at least some of our massive champagne stockpile. Resolved: We really just don’t like champagne. Some people take twenty-one years to figure this out, that’s all. The marriage, however, has been a good idea from the beginning.

Speaking of the best man of all men, I don’t think I mentioned the nice little snack Damien rustled up the other day. You have a little slice of crusty bread, then a slice of smoked salmon, then a dab of creme fraiche, and then, um, some caviar on top. If you have any lying around. Or you could use sour cream, and maybe a little sprig of dill. I know it’s hard to believe, but this tastes really, really good, and, um, we keep buying it. We feel that buying caviar and pouring champagne down the sink pairs well with a lifestyle that also includes massively overcooked ham, and I stand by that.

Instant Pot Risotto

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

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups rice, raw
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 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 cook for five minutes or more, stirring constantly, until rice is mostly opaque.

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


  4. Close the top, close valve, set to high pressure for 8 minutes.

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

Cheesy one-pan chicken thighs and red potatoes

An easy and tasty dish. Serve with whole grain mustard and fresh parsley. 

Ingredients

  • chicken thighs
  • red potatoes, cut into wedges
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, oregano
  • fried shallots or minced, dried onions
  • parmesan cheese
  • shredded sharp cheese

Serve with whole grain mustard and chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450

  2. Lay chicken thighs in pan, and add the potato wedges in between the chicken. Drizzle both with olive oil and season generously. Sprinkle on fried shallots (or dried onion)


  3. Cook for 40 minutes or more until chicken is done and potatoes and chicken skins are crisp.

  4. Sprinkle cheeses on chicken and potatoes and return to oven for a few minutes to melt cheese. 

    Serve with whole grain mustard and fresh parsley. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 146: Tutto il Formaggio

What did we eat this week? Oh, wait till I tell you.

Recipe cards at the end.

SATURDAY

On Friday and Saturday, l’uomo and I went away! We did! It’s our anniversary this month. Twenty-one years, my friends, and it gets better and better. We had three days and two nights at the beach — longer than we’ve ever been kidless together since the day we got married — and enjoyed ourselves immensely. But I’m only gonna tell you about the food.

First night, he had the surf and turf

and I had about a bathtub’s worth of lobster formaggio.

Sharp, creamy, and wonderful. We also had lobster-stuffed mushrooms and lobster rangoon. We, um, we like lobster. I only ate half and then of course accidentally left my leftover package in the restaurant, rather than bringing it to the hotel and then accidentally leaving it in the mini fridge.

We staggered back to our room, with its sweet little ocean view balcony and there were champagne and strawberries waiting for us, plus a lovely little plate of cheeses and fruits

I’m finding it hard to believe that we ate this that same night, to be honest, after all that lobster. Maybe we ate it the next day? I do recall having a hearty breakfast the next day, and then we spent a lot of time clambering around on rocks gawking at tide pools and snickering over the people waiting in line to get into the Social Distortion concert. Someone had written BRIANNA I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU on one of the shuttered souvenir shops. And then there was this:

This has been my approach, as well, and it’s worked well for me. Hey, it’s the off season. And then more tide pools! Tide pools are the best. Look at all those little baby mussels!

We weren’t ready for dinner, as such, but a little light snack sounded all right, so we had some cocktails with a dozen oysters with plenty of horseradish, and a charcuterie board. I didn’t know what that was, but food that comes on boards has never yet disappointed me. This one was exceptionally good, with various dried meats, roast beef, pickled vegetables, sharp and tender cheeses, hot crusty bread, honey, fig paste, and the most amazing mustard.

It seems silly, but I can’t say enough about this mustard. It just transformed everything. Tell me about fancy mustards that you know about! I don’t even know what to search for, but I have a food processor and I want to be a part of this.

I think maybe it was now that we brought the strawberries out? And the other cheeses? What I’m trying to say is, salt air really gives you an appetite. We didn’t drink the champagne, because we never drink the champagne. We now have three bottles of champagne in the refrigerator, left over from last Valentine’s Day and also our 20th anniversary. I honestly don’t know why we keep buying it. If you want it, you can come over and get it. The mustard is all gone, though, so don’t get your hopes up.

Anyway, we had a nice time. Such a nice time. I love that man.

SUNDAY
Vermonter sandwiches

Back to life! Back to sandwiches without even a little bit of lobster in them. These particular sandwiches are a favorite around here. Slices of roast chicken or turkey, slices of tart green apples, bacon, thick cheddar cheese, and honey mustard on ciabatta rolls.

You can toast the whole thing for a few minutes if you like. Yum yum.

MONDAY
Various antipasti; suppli; linguine with ragu; lemon ices; pizzelle cannoli

So, on some random Monday in early October, we have a day off school for no reason and eat Italian food. Fine, it was for Columbus Day. Fight me.

We start with suppli, also sometimes called arancini. These are breaded, deep-fried balls of risotto with a core of melted mozzarella. YEAH, SORRY ABOUT COLUMBUS DAY. I’m so glad you don’t celebrate Columbus Day, because then you don’t have to eat suppli. They’re really not very good. They aren’t the food of the gods or anything. You wouldn’t wet yourself because of how meltingly fabulous they are. Don’t be silly.

When they’re frying, you don’t have to physically restrain yourself from reaching into the hot oil to grab a wonderful golden ball of glory

They don’t rest on the plate, fragrant and smiling, inviting you to break through the tender, crisp shell into the creamy risotto within

and when you break it open you won’t whimper with delight as the mozzarella meltingly swoons across your plate

It’s just food. It can’t possibly be that good, my stars. Get ahold of yourself.

We also had an assortment of antipasti, into which I put very little effort, because making suppli is exhausting, man. I cut several Bosc pears into wedges and wrapped them with paper-thin prosciutto, and that was nice. We also had various olives and marinated vegetables, cheeses, salamis, breadsticks, artichoke hearts, pesto, sun dried tomato bruschetta, and whatnot. Very pretty.

I knew I shouldn’t eat another suppli, but I did it anyway.

The night before, Damien had made his magnificent ragu, which is a tomato-less meat sauce with ground pork and beef, celery and carrots, garlic, lots of red pepper flakes, and tons of anchovies that just sort of melt. We briefly considered grinding up some pancetta, but life suddenly seemed short, so we went with a mere two meats. I haven’t written up a recipe card yet, so I’ll just link to the Deadspin recipe for now. You must try this. It’s so simple and so amazingly good.

Does it look like much? No, it does not.

But it smells and tastes like if pasta went to heaven, and this is who it gets to spend eternity with: ragu. I don’t know where me eating it fits into this cosmology, but there you are.

I had made a desultory supermarket search for cannoli shells, but quickly gave up and bought those snowflake-shaped pizzelle cookies

(photo from Wikimedia Commons)

and topped them with a scoop of simple cheese filling (ricotta with confectioner’s sugar and a little almond extract), shaved dark chocolate, and a few maraschino cherries. Nobody complained! But I forgot to take a picture.

And! I just found out this minute that you can actually make cannoli shells using pizzelle cookies. You put them in the microwave on high for 30-40 seconds and quickly roll them around something round, like a broom handle. They harden right up, and then you can fill them. What do you know! Next year in Jerusalem or what have you.

TUESDAY
More ragu on spaghetti and garlic bread

We had so much leftover food, I didn’t even need to cook more pasta. I just boiled some water and dunked the cooked leftover linguine in for a minute, swished it around, and then drained it. Good enough for the likes of us. We even had leftover garlic bread, which is unheard of in these parts.

WEDNESDAY
Pork ramen and roasted Brussels sprouts

I’ve never had “real” ramen, but it’s on my list, and in the meantime, this is a happy little meal. In the morning, I sliced up a bunch of carrots on the wide blade of the cheese grater and put them in a bowl covered with vinegar and sugar. Then I soft boiled a dozen eggs, and then cooked up some boneless pork chops in olive oil until they were almost done, then sliced them thin and finished cooking them with soy sauce.

When it was dinner time, I re-heated the pork in the microwave and cooked up a big pot of ramen, and served it with the pork, the carrots, the eggs, plus some hot sauce (where did my sriracha sauce go? I don’t know) and sesame seeds and crunchy noodles. Good stuff. So many nice variations for Fancy Ramen Nite.

The Brussels sprouts were actually supposed to be part of the Italian meal, but the very idea of green vegetables had been forced vehemently out of my head by vengeful and jealous risotto god. I trimmed them and cut them in half, then mixed them up with plenty of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them in a shallow pan. Oh gosh, the crisp little charred leaves on the outside. Magnificent.

Roasting is by far my favorite way to prepare Brussels sprouts. You could add bacon or balsamic vinegar or honey, but it doesn’t really need it.

THURSDAY
Beef barley soup and pumpkin date muffins

It suddenly got chilly and rainy after a weirdly hot and humid week, so I was glad I had put off making soup until Thursday. I do a nice, basic recipe: garlic, red onion, carrot, and beef, then beef broth, red wine, and diced tomatoes with the juice, then mushrooms and barley toward the end. You can make the whole thing in the Instant Pot pretty quickly, if you can’t leave it simmering on the stovetop.

 

I also made pumpkin muffins, the first of the season. These are so fast and reliable, with a cozy, spicy flavor, and you can add all kinds of friendly toppings — oats, almonds, wheat germ, or turbinado sugar. This time, I stirred some chopped dates that were lurking about in the cabinet for some reason.

These muffins always turn out wonderfully tender and moist. I got the original recipe from Allrecipes, but I use half the sugar it calls for, and they’re still quite sweet. We usually have these as a quick bread along with soups, or to put in lunches so I feel like a good mother, but you could increase the sugar (or not) and add cream cheese frosting for a pleasant dessert.

Of course you can use this recipe to make loaves, as well. We do muffins because it’s easier to keep track of carbs that way. Speaking of which: T1D kid has over six months under her belt and we haven’t killed her yet! High fives all around! She’s even running cross country now, the maniac.

FRIDAY
Pizza

We have a birthday! I have made some vague promises of a cake. We shall see.

Suppli (or Arancini)

Breaded, deep fried balls of risotto with a center of melted mozzarella. 
Make the risotto first and leave time to refrigerate the suppli before deep frying. 

Ingredients

  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 8 + 8 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 4 cups raw rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

To make suppli out of the risotto:

  • risotto
  • 1 beaten egg FOR EACH CUP OF RISOTTO
  • bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
  • plenty of oil for frying
  • mozzarella in one-inch cubes (I use about a pound of cheese per 24 suppli)

Instructions

  1. Makes enough risotto for 24+ suppli the size of goose eggs.


    Set chicken stock to simmer in a pot.

    In a large pan, melt 8 Tbs. of the butter, and cook onions slowly until soft but not brown.

    Stir in raw rice and cook 7-8 minutes or more, stirring, until the grains glisten and are opaque.

    Pour in the wine and boil until wine is absorbed.

    Add 4 cups of simmering stock and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the liquid is almost absorbed.

    Add 4 more cups of stock and cook until absorbed.

    If the rice is not tender by this point, keep adding cups of stock until it is tender. You really want the rice to expand and become creamy.

    When rice is done, gently stir in the other 8 Tbs of butter and the grated cheese with a fork.

  2. This risotto is wonderful to eat on its own, but if you want to make suppli out of it, read on!

  3. TO MAKE THE SUPPLI:

    Beat the eggs and gently mix them into the risotto.


    Scoop up about 1/4 cup risotto mixture. Press a cube of mozzarella. Top with another 1/4 cup scoop of risotto. Roll and form an egg shape with your hands.


    Roll and coat each risotto ball in bread crumbs and lay in pan to refrigerate. 


    Chill for at least an hour to make the balls hold together when you fry them.


    Put enough oil in pan to submerge the suppli. Heat slowly until it's bubbling nicely, but not so hot that it's smoking. It's the right temperature when little bubbles form on a wooden spoon submerged in the oil. 


    Preheat the oven if you are making a large batch, and put a paper-lined pan in the oven.


    Carefully lower suppli into the oil. Don't crowd them! Just do a few at a time. Let them fry for a few minutes and gently dislodge them from the bottom. Turn once if necessary. They should be golden brown all over. 


    Carefully remove the suppli from the oil with a slotted spoon and eat immediately, or keep them warm in the oven. 

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Vermonter sandwiches

Ingredients

  • ciabatta rolls
  • grilled chicken or turkey, sliced
  • crisp bacon
  • Granny smith apples, cored and sliced
  • cheddar cheese, sliced thickly
  • honey mustard sauce

Instructions

  1. Layer all sandwich elements on roll. If you like, toast the sandwich before adding the apple slices and honey mustard. 

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Cannoli filling

Use to fill cannoli shells, or put a scoop on top of pizzelle cookies. Top with shaved chocolate, rainbow sprinkles, maraschino cherries, etc. 

Ingredients

  • 32 oz ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp almond extract or vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients together and refrigerate until you're ready to use it.

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. 

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. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 145: If you give a mouse prosciutto

Lots of variety this week! Rich tapestry of life and so on. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers and chips

Saturday seems like so long ago. I think Damien bought and cooked the burgers while I . . . did something? You guys, he has this new job where he gets to do the work he likes, he gets paid more, and he’s home. He’s home for supper, home for track meets, home for bedtime. It’s fantastic. It’s the best thing that’s happened to our family in years and years, and I’m very happy!

SUNDAY
A CONFUSING FEAST

My daughter works at a deli. One afternoon, we had this exchange:

And that was all I knew. A present? Better than cheese? The suspense! It turns out that what she had was a pound of top quality prosciutto! But it was unsliced, as it was an end piece. $4 a pound for meat that goes for $14.99 a pound. Grocery bargains are my love language.

Prosciutto happens to be my other love language (I’m a bit of a polyglot, to be honest. Will also accept love via pork belly, steak, just about any variety of cheese, shrimp, pie, more cheese, crusty breads, soft breads, herbed butter, most fruits, all types of puddings, custards, and flans, creamy soups, clear soups, middle eastern food, Columbian food, Thai food, Greek food, anything with basil, anything with garlic, hot pretzels, fried pickles, cheese cake, smoked meats, raw oysters, sun dried tomatoes . . .

I’m sorry, I’ve lost my focus. We were talking about the prosciutto. I solicited recipes online, but eventually decided that just plain bruschetta would be best.

Bizarrely, two stores were out of baguettes, so I bought ready-made crostini with olive oil and flaky salt, and I sharpened my best knife and sliced the prosciutto as thin as I could, which was not very thin.

I had collected some creamy fresh mozzarella, and also some gouda, and huge clusters of juicy, dusky grapes. And we also needed fig paste. I had originally been planning to save this treat as an adults-only evening snack, but I had to admit that I had bought kind of a lot of food for two people, so I started planning a family meal around it.

It . . . kind of got out of control.

Oven roasts were still on sale, and as I previously mentioned, I scoff at rigid categories of cuts of meat. Someone had mentioned chimichurri, which I can’t believe I didn’t already know about. It turns out to be really easy to make. You just stuff the things in the food processor, run in a bunch of olive oil, and there it is.

So I sliced the meat into wide strips and threaded them accordion-style onto skewers for Damien to grill outside with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, to be dredged through the chimichurri.

And also a batch of pickled red onions in vinegar, sugar, and cilantro. There were also some lovely tender peas in pods looking for a home, so I set those out in a bowl just as they were. And some salami, and some herbed, braided mozzarella that I forgot I got. And a little bowl of just plain olive oil. And some wild grapes we found while we were gardening. And some more cheese that I forgot I got.

It may be the best meal I ever served. Technically this was a Mediterrani0-Argentinean Travesty with Cheddar and Peas, but it worked, my friends. It worked so well. The cheap meat with simple seasonings sizzling on their skewers with the lively, verdant chimichurri. The salty prosciutto with the creamy mozzarella on a bit of salty bread and a dab of dark fig paste. Cleanse the palate with a few fresh pea pods and grapes, then back for more meat, this time with pickled onions and cheddar. Oh, it was so good. Damien and I ate outside and shouted for the kids to bring us beer and napkins.

The only thing I have to add to this happy food story is that, when I type “chimichurri,” my phone thinks maybe I mean “chili horrible,” which I do not.

I also did a bit of gardening on Sunday, and we got sixty daffodil bulbs, forty irises, and a dozen fancy tulips into the ground. I always think gardening with children is going to be sweet and lovely and wholesome, and it always ends up being . . . not. There’s a lot of bitey ants and moldy mulch and falling on rakes and shouting. But we did get those bulbs in the ground, because I’m always willing to believe that spring will come again. Here is a pictorial version of how gardening starts and ends:

I also gave a kid a driving lesson, and we did not fall off the side of the mountain

and I bleached and kid’s hair and dyed it blue.

Child has SO MUCH HAIR. What a day!

MONDAY
Bagel sandwiches with fried eggs, pepper jack cheese, and ham.

I had in my arsenal two new cast iron skillets they had as a special at Aldi. Cooking in shifts to feed everyone is the bane of my existence, so I was pretty hyped at the idea of making everyone’s eggs all in one go.

Well, it turns out I’ve been spoiled by nonstick pans. I’ve completely lost the knack of cooking on cast iron. I’ll get it back! But these particular eggs were not top notch. Not top notch at all. I didn’t burn the bagels, anyway.

TUESDAY
Carnitas, beans and rice, tortilla chips, guacamole

My husband, who is from Los Angeles, raaaaved about this meal, which made me feel great! In the morning, I took a pork shoulder and put it in the slow cooker with a can of beer and let it go all day on low. At dinner time, I shredded it and sprinkled it liberally with cumin, chili powder, and salt, then spread it in a shallow pan and put it under the broiler.

My carnitas have always been bland in the past, and overly dependent on toppings, no matter what I cook the meat with. I like this method of deliberately cooking it bland and then seasoning it afterward. Works great.

For the beans and rice, I made rice in the Instant Pot, then added black beans, diced canned tomatoes and some juice, minced red onion, minced garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper, chili powder, and cumin, then reheated it. I meant to add some diced jalapenos, but I forgot. I wish I had written down the proportions, because it turned out so tasty and lively, which is not always the case.

For the guacamole: Four avocados, fresh tomato, diced fresh jalapeno, minced garlic, diced red onion, cilantro, salt and pepper, chili powder, and the juice of two limes. I usually mash half the avocados and chop the other half, but they were a little hard, so I sliced them very thin. Yum.

So then we had flour tortillas with sour cream, the seasoned meat, beans and rice, and guac all together. It was fantastic.

I’m very sad for my past self and my lackluster carnitas. Onward and upward.

WEDNESDAY
Salad with chicken, cranberries, cheese, and nuts

Not a thrilling meal, but decent. I cooked the chicken breasts in the Instant Pot on high pressure for eight minutes in just plain lemon juice. When it was cool, I sliced them and served them over salad greens, along with sliced almonds, dried cranberries, and crumbled feta cheese. I bought a bottle of “black garlic pepper vinaigrette,” whatever that is, but I forgot to try it. I also meant to add sliced Granny Smith apples, but didn’t even realize till this minute that I forgot that, too.

I seem to have forgotten to take a picture, as well. What was I doing all week? Not taking food pictures, I guess. Here’s an old pic of a similar meal:

My family will not eat salad greens as a side dish, but they eat tons of it if it’s part of a main course loaded salad. Works for me!

THURSDAY
English muffin pizzas, pepperoni and black olive

I again forgot to take a picture, but this is what sets me apart from other food bloggers, right? Other food bloggers would torture you with eleven photos of hand-pitted black olives and hand-cured pepperoni that they procured at the pepperoni ranch down the road, laid out artfully on a wooden trencher with lavender and quince hanging around for some reason, interspersed through seven paragraphs about how, on a jaunt to Iceland, they popped into out of the driving rain into an adorable little English muffin shop where the grandmother sat on a two-legged stool in the back, absolutely grinding the flour with her authentic gums while the patrons patiently hung around holding sacks under her jaw, and that’s why Icelandic kids don’t have ADHD.

Not me! I just wrote “pizza” and called it food blogging. In my defense, I did install a thingy so now you can pin images, if you’re into that. Flailing toward solvency, that’s my game.

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese

Easy, cheesy, glutenful: Mac and cheese. I use an Instant Pot recipe. If I’m feeling fancy and I feel like everyone’s blood glucose can take it, I transfer it to a buttered pan and put buttered breadcrumbs on top.

And now it’s almost 12:30 and I haven’t had breakfast yet. I’m loading up all these food pictures and absolutely dying. Gonna go grab some lunch and then get back to you with the recipe cards!

Guess who’s sitting on the couch next to me? My husband. He’s working from home today. You guys.

5 from 1 vote
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Chimichurri

Dipping sauce, marinade, you name it

Ingredients

  • 2 cups curly parsley
  • 1 cup Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano (or fresh if you have it)
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients except olive oil in food processor. Whir until it's blended but a little chunky. 

  2. Slowly pour olive oil in while continuing to blend. 

Beef skewers

We used a cheap cut of oven roast and it turned out just great (but I'm sure steak would be good, too!). Serve with chimichurri and pickled onions for a wonderful treat. 

Ingredients

  • beef
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Soak wooden skewers in water for at least half an hour before skewering meat. 

  2. Slice beef across the grain into wide strips, trimming off fat if necessary. Thread them, accordion style, onto the skewers.

  3. Build the fire and let it die down to coals. 
    Just before cooking, drizzle the skewers with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then lay the skewers over the grill, turning occasionally, until they are sizzling. 

  4. Serve with chimichurri and pickled red onions. 

 

Pickled red onions

A nice side dish for beef skewers with chimichurri

Ingredients

  • 2 red onions, sliced thin
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup red wine or cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • water

Instructions

  1. Dissolve sugar into vinegar. Add onions and cilantro. Add water if necessary to cover onions. Cover and let sit for several hours before serving. 

 

5 from 2 votes
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Slow cooker carnitas

Serve on tortillas with sour cream, guacamole, beans and rice, salsa, cilantro, or whatever you like.

Ingredients

  • 1 pork shoulder
  • 1 can beer (or soda)
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Put pork shoulder in slow cooker with beer. Cook on low for five hours or more, until pork falls apart when poked. 

  2. Preheat broiler. 

  3. Shred meat, mix together with spices, and spread in a thin layer on a shallow pan. Broil for a few minutes until meat is slightly crisped.  

  4. Serve on tortillas with whatever additions you like. 

 

Beans and rice

A good side dish, a main course for meatless meals, or to serve inside carnitas, etc.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 15-oz cans red or black beans, drained
  • 1 20-oz can diced tomatoes with some of the juice
  • 1 diced jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook rice. Add rest of ingredients, adjusting spices to taste. If it's too dry, add more tomato juice. 

 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

 

5 from 1 vote
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Instant Pot macaroni and cheese

Adapted from a CopyKat recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds raw macaroni
  • 2 tsp hot sauce
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2-3 pounds cheese of your choice
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1-2 cups buttered bread crumbs for topping (optional)

Instructions

  1. Put macaroni in Instant Pot with enough water to barely cover. Put hot sauce, and mustard on top and mix it well. Mixing may be superstitious; not sure. 

  2. Set IP to high pressure for six minutes. Do quick release. 

  3. Drain any excess water. Add milk, butter, and cheese, and mix until macaroni is coated. 

  4. Serve as is; or butter a pan and pour the macaroni into it, top with buttered bread crumbs, and heat in oven until breadcrumbs are toasted.