Well, it’s snowing.
Our house sports Halloween decorations covered with snow every year, but usually that’s because it’s December and we’re lazy, and not because the sky has lost its damn mind.
But guess what? I knew last night that it was going to snow, so I took the boots and hats and mittens out before bedtime. Who has two thumbs and isn’t going to get a gentle reminder from the teachers that New England weather is unpredictable and children should be dressed appropriately for cold weather?
Also I finally broke down and visited the special respiratory clinic where everyone is dressed like an astronaut and I’m there in jeans and a cloth mask, and I have bronchitis again, or I guess still, and frankly just about everything I care about most in life is getting extremely wobbly. But at least we have food. And I’m doing another round of Prednisone, so we’ll see what gets cleaned around here, grr.
Here’s what we ate this week:
Chicken quesadillas, guacamole
Our freezer situation is mostly terrible, and is full of frozen nightmares, frozen regrets, frozen negligence, and peas. BUT, it also had a bag of shredded chili lime chicken in it. So I nuked that and Damien made a bunch of quesadillas with it.
I also made a big batch of guacamole, and Damien mentioned how much he appreciates that I’m not one of those mayonnaise guacamole women. He’s right, I’m not.Jump to Recipe
The kids made French toast casserole and orange juice, and Damien and I went out for the whole day for our 23rd anniversary, and had a lovely day. We had some errands up north, then went to a shooting range, and ended up with some Chinese dinner boxes, which we ate outside in the cold, for duty and humanity.
Here’s a tip for all you young ladies: After 23 years of marriage, it never hurts to remind your husband you can handle a Glock.
One-pan kielbasa, red potato, and cabbage dinner
A nice easy meal. You can do all the prep work ahead of time and throw it in the oven half an hour before dinner for a tasty meal, with dressing, even!Jump to Recipe
Discs of kielbasa, discs or wedges of red potato, and rounds of cabbage roasted together, with a balsamic honey mustard dressing.
No one complained that I forgot the parsley.
This is such a weirdly photogenic meal.
Isn’t it neat? I love it.
Grilled ham and cheese, Jerusalem salad
I prepped this ahead of time, too. I’ve been an absolute dinner machine this week. Here’s a “cooking for a crowd” tip: If I don’t have room in the fridge for a giant pan of prepped food, I lay a second pan over the top and distribute ice packs over it. Brilliant, or just bacteriogenic? Why not both?
I like sourdough best for grilled cheese, with a little skim of mayo on the outside of the bread, and fried in butter. I fry it just to toast up the outside, then I slide the sandwiches into a warm oven to make sure the cheese is melted. Then I serve up the whole panful of sandwiches all at once, rather than dishing them out as I make them.
Jerusalem salad is tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, lemon juice and olive oil, and salt and pepper, and then parsley and/or mint. I discovered I only had yellow onions, and it made a much bigger difference than I expected. It just wasn’t that good, and hardly anyone ate it, and then I planned to have it for lunch all week, but the refrigerator froze it. Oh well.Jump to Recipe
It’s really more of a refreshing warm-weather dish anyway, I guess. I was just tired of serving chips.
One-pan honey balsamic chicken thighs with roast vegetables
You’ll never guess: I prepped this ahead of time. I had a couple of pounds of brussels sprouts, a pound of baby-cut carrots, and a weird stubby little butternut squash. It would have been good with some red potato wedges, too, but as me old grandmither used to say, ye canna always hae the red potatoes.
Just kidding. Me old grandmither used to say “Gay kaken ofn yahm,” as I recall.
So you make a little sauce and mix it up with the vegetables, spread them in a pan, nestle the chicken thighs in there, and season the whole thing, and roast it. That’s it.Jump to Recipe
I also had some random broccoli, which I added in the last 12 minutes or so, so it wouldn’t get overcooked. The vegetables soak up the sauce and get slightly caramelized on the bottom, and it’s very cozy and good.
The trick to peeling and cubing raw butternut squash is you cut off the ends and microwave it for three or four minutes. Then it’s much, much easier to peel and cut. And when you pull it out of the microwave, some of the juice has oozed out over in little glistening beads, and it’s just nice.
I swear I have made this dinner a dozen times, and everyone thought it was fine or whatever. This time, everyone acted like it was a brilliant innovation the likes of which they’d never seen before, and they gobbled it up! I was astonished, and so pleased.
Hamburgers, chips, carrots and dip
Verily I made the hamburgers patties ahead of time. I normally skip chips, but I was discouraged at how fat I am, so I had chips, and cheese on my burger. You understand.
I’ve been plugging away at Halloween costumes all week, which is part of the reason I’ve been doing so many make-ahead meals: So we can eat early and have the evening free for some hot glue action. Some of the kids have been entirely making or buying their own costumes, and only need to be driven to Michael’s 46 times; but I did make a Grunkle Stan fez for Irene
some armor and a sword for Jim from Troll Hunters for Corrie (still needs some neatening up and finishing touches)
and a dragon fairy princess costume for Benny, and they all turned out well, especially the dragon. This is the only one I have a photo of yet, and she’s not wearing her rubber hands and you can’t see her tail, but it’s pretty rad.
It’s built off a baseball cap, so she can take it on and off fairly easily, and it doesn’t block her vision as much as a whole head mask would.
The secret I discovered this year is EVA CRAFT FOAM. You can bend it, you can cut it, you can glue it with super glue or hot glue, you can etch it, you can crush it, you can score and fold it, you can make designs with hot glue and then spray paint over them. You can even sew it, if you glue some fabric on to reinforce it. You can hot glue or super glue just about anything to it. It’s light and flexible but rigid, and it comes in several different thicknesses. Just exactly what I’ve needed all these years. You can buy it by the roll or by the sheet, white or colored.
I have also discovered you can make serviceable gems with hot glue, hardened, trimmed if necessary, and painted with nail polish. You can see some on Corrie’s sword:
I still have to trim off the excess glue, but she loves it.
Also, the kids are having their school parties today, but since everything has to be store bought and pre-packaged this year, I excused my creative ass from getting involved.
Shrimp lo mein
Last week’s veggie lo mein was such a success, we’re having it again, but with shrampies. Gonna leave the sauce exactly as is, because it was good!
Here’s what it continues to do outside right now:
It’s like even the clouds are trying to skip ahead to the end of 2020.
Oh speaking of thinking ahead, Elisa from Door Number 9 jut came out with a most excellent new product: An all-in-one Advent traditions box. It includes:
– 4 12-inch Advent Candle tapers
– Scriptural Advent Calendar
– Magnetic Jesse Tree *OR sticker Jesse Tree plus magnetic Nativity Scene
– 4 organza pouches filled with 3 chocolate coins each
– An activity putting “straw” into a “manger” for Baby Jesus (all these items included)
– Full color instruction cards for each item explaining the tradition’s origin and/or how to use the items
And it all packs up in a reusable box for next year. I love products designed by moms. $59.99 with free shipping!
Okay, here are the recipe cards:
White Lady From NH's Guacamole
- 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
Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two.
Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.
Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly.
One pan honey garlic chicken thighs with fall veg
Adapted from Damn Delicious
- 18 chicken thighs
- 2 lbs broccoli in spears
- 4-5 lbs potatoes in wedges, skin on if you like
- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1/3+ cup honey
- 1/3+ tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp dijon or yellow mustard
- 9 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp dried basil
- salt and pepper
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- olive oil for drizzing
Preheat oven to 400. Prepare the sauce.
In a large, greased sheet pan, spread the potatoes and squash. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Lay the chicken thighs on top of the potatoes and squash. Brush the sauce over the chicken skins.
Roast the chicken for thirty minutes or more until they are almost cooked.
Add the broccoli, arranging it on top of the potatoes and in between the chicken. Return the pan to the oven and let it finish cooking another 10 -20 minutes so you don't die. The skins should be golden and the broccoli should be a little charred.
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.
- 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):
- red wine if you like
- a little olive oil
- salt and pepper
- fresh garlic, crushed
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.
basic lo mein
for the sauce
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 5 tsp sesame oil
- 5 tsp sugar
for the rest
- 32 oz uncooked noodles
- sesame oil for cooking
- add-ins (vegetables sliced thin or chopped small, shrimp, chicken, etc.)
- 2/3 cup rice vinegar (or mirin, which will make it sweeter)
Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
Boil the noodles until slightly underdone. Drain and set aside.
Heat up a pan, add some sesame oil for cooking, and quickly cook your vegetables or whatever add-ins you have chosen.
Add the mirin to the pan and deglaze it.
Add the cooked noodles in, and stir to combine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.