What’s for supper? Vol. 177: Don’t call it a barbecue!

What a week! Summer is officially underway, emitting showers of sparks as it comes. If I finally figured things out, this post contains two videos.

Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese on sourdough

Saturday was twelve years ago. Let’s see if I took a picture of my sandwich. 

Oh yeah!

Sometimes you takes the trouble to plates your dinner, sometimes you don’ts.

SUNDAY
Chicken shawarma with vegetables, pita, and yogurt sauce; frozen grapes

It’s been too long since we shawarma’d. I marinated the meat in the morning and cooked it under the broiler, since it was too rainy to grill outside. We had the meat and onions with black and kalamata olives, feta, parsley, pita and yogurt sauce, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Frozen grapes are a splendid way to clear your head when you’re feeling hot and grumpy. Just remember to dry them off before you freeze them, or they will get a little jacket of ice. 

MONDAY
Hamburgers

I also feel like there was some vegetable involved, but I can’t prove it. What I did do was add my little portion to the worldwide onslaught of senseless food videos.

The occasion was that we have new knives like rich people, but I suffered a relapse and bought a meat chub like a poor. See, Damien and I discussed how we are now so wealthy, we no longer have to buy ground beef in opaque plastic printed with a photo of the meat allegedly inside, but can now treat ourselves to meat you can see! But on the other hand, this meat chub was so cheap.  So I tried to make the best of it.

Watch the video if only to hear Damien yelp as I severed the chub.

TUESDAY
Chicken nuggets, cheezy weezies, snap peas

We were supposed to have this meal on Wednesday, so we could do party shopping and cleaning, then have a quickie meal, and then run off to see the city fireworks. But I spent so long prepping Tuesday’s meal, I ran out of time to cook it. So we had the nuggets. I amused myself by plating it nicely. 

I AM AMUSING.

WEDNESDAY
Sesame lime chicken, cucumber salad, cherries

This chicken was a NYT recipe I simplified and messed up a little. It was tasty. Not quite as razzle dazzle as I expected, what with the lime zest, fresh ginger, and fish sauce

but a pleasant, robust flavor. I’ll put a recipe card of my version at the end. 

What made the meal was a lovely cucumber salad (recipe at the end), which I’ll be making more often throughout the summer. I really enjoyed the cool, vinegary cucumbers together with the warming honey and hot pepper. A great match for the lime and fish sauce in the chicken. 

And the cherries, first of the season, were rewardingly luscious. 

If you look closely, you can see that Corrie had put a bowl of blue Jell-o on top of her head, and then, upon hearing that I would be needing to wash her hair, she crushed a bunch of soap into her scalp to wash up. That girl tries. 

THURSDAY
July 4th cookout!

Honestly, this is the best day of the year. As many cousins as possible come, and we have three times as much food as we need.

Here’s the leftover meat, after we all ate until we went insane:

I daringly ate my burger with pepper jack cheese, and jalapeños instead of pickles. 

It’s not a barbecue, though. I have finally learned that you can’t call it a barbecue unless you spend 172 hours smoking a brisket made of an entire herd of long-horned steer. If you call anything else a BBQ, the ghost of Sam Houston will appear and strangle you with a bolo tie. Me so sorry, me just dumb New Englander who not understand what meat is! All we had was hamburgers, hot dogs, beer brats, sugar rub chicken thighs, and mahogany clams, and it was just a cookout. We also had potato salad (recipe card at the end), an avalanche of chips, watermelon, all sorts of beverages and all sorts of desserts, and Clara made so many chocolate chip cookies that, if you stacked them all up on top of each other, they’d be enough for all the cousins. All the cousins, I say!

The potato salad turned out well. People who don’t usually eat it ate it (recipe card at the end).

As many people reassured me, the kids absolutely did not care that my patriotic layered Jell-o cups didn’t turn out like the picture on the internet. I also made frozen pudding and cream cups, and we had about a bushel of corn on the cob we completely forgot to roast, and ice cream we forgot to eat, and marshmallows we forgot to toast and another watermelon that I don’t even know what happened to it.

And the table top I classily made out of cardboard didn’t even collapse. 

I ate a ludicrous number of steamed clams drenched in butter, onions, white wine, and lemon juice, and then wallowed around in Dark and Stormies for a while (dark rum, ginger beer, ice, and fresh lime).

And it was perfect. A wading stream and a trampoline, sparklers and glow sticks, American flags and twinkling lights, guitars, hammocks, salamanders and bug spray, fireflies, tiki torches, cheap beer, and fireworks, and my beloved family. Everyone should be so lucky.

Here’s the whole gang:

FRIDAY
Leftovers, I do believe. 

Okay, gotta go drive people around for a bit, and I will come back with the recipe cards this afternoon! 

 

Chicken shawarma

Ingredients

  • 8 lbs boned, skinned chicken thighs
  • 4-5 red onions
  • 1.5 cups lemon juice
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbs, 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic

Instructions

  1. Mix marinade ingredients together, then add sliced or quartered onions and chicken. Put in ziplock bag and let marinate several hours or overnight.



  2. Preheat the oven to 425.

  3. Grease a shallow pan. Take the chicken and onions out of the marinade and spread it in a single layer on the pan. Cook for 45 minutes or more. 

  4. Chop up the chicken a bit, if you like, and finish cooking it so it crisps up a bit more.

  5. Serve chicken and onions with pita bread triangles, cucumbers, tomatoes, assorted olives, feta cheese, fresh parsley, pomegranates or grapes, fried eggplant, and yogurt sauce.

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

 

sesame lime chicken

Adapted from a NYT recipe. Serve with cucumber salad for a wonderful summer meal, with rice. 

Ingredients

  • 16 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or 8 breasts pounded thin)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 6 inches fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • 12 garlic cloves crushed
  • 8 limes zested and juiced (you need both)
  • 1/4 cup peanut or sesame oil
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • diced chiles (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken. Let marinate at least four hours. 

  2. Remove from marinade. Grill over coals or broil in oven, turning once. 

  3. Serve with cilantro garnish and chiles, if desired. 

 

spicy cucumber salad

A spicy, zippy side dish that you can make very quickly. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cucumbers, sliced thin (peeling not necessary)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1+ tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Optional:

red pepper, diced

  • 1/2 red onion diced

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Serve immediately, or chill to serve later (but the longer you leave it, the softer the cukes will get)

potato salad

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs potatoes, scrubbed (peeled if you like)
  • 3 ribs celery, stringed and chopped
  • 1 med red onion, diced
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1/8 cup olive oil

for dressing:

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Put potatoes and the three eggs in pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down, cover loosely, and simmer until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork (15 minutes or so) 

  2. Drain the potatoes. Fish out the eggs, peel, and chop them.

  3. When they are cool enough to handle, cut them into bite-sized pieces and mix them up with the olive oil. 

  4. Add the chopped eggs, celery, onion, and parsley. 

  5. Mix together the dressing ingredients and add to potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate and serve cold.  

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. 

 

Grilled clams or mussels in wine sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 white or red onion
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • live clams or mussels
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups white wine
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Prepare sauce: Coarsely chop the onion and sautee it in the olive oil with the red pepper flakes. Add salt and pepper. 


  2. Add two sticks of butter and let them melt. Add the wine and lemon juice. 

  3. Light the fire and let it burn to coals. While it's burning down, sort and clean the shellfish, discarding any damaged or dead ones. (If they're open, tap them. If they don't close, they're dead. If they're closed, they're fine.)

  4. Lay shellfish on grill until they pop open. The hotter the fire, the shorter the time it will take - five minutes or more. 

  5. Add shellfish to sauce and stir to mix. 

What’s for Supper? Vol. 89: Hot dogs and hamburgers all the way down!

What did we eat this week? I thought you’d never ask.

SATURDAY
Hamburgers and hot dogs, chips, birthday cake and ice cream

My son turned 15 (actually it was kind of a while ago), and his wingspan, from fingertip to fingertip, is now six feet. He can almost touch the floor and the ceiling at the same time. We have low ceilings, but still. Size 14 shoes. Boxing lessons. Life is strange, and fast.

He wanted to go to the beach with his friends and then home for a hamburger and hot dogs cookout, and so it was done. He also requested, SIGH SIGH SIGH, a laundry bag cake.

This is from the new MST3K series, where the invention exchange includes a Carvel Cake Wheel of all the possible cakes one could make with a Carvel Whale Cake Pan. Including a laundry bag cake. Considering I don’t have a whale cake pan, I thought this cake designed to look like a cake designed to look like it’s made despite owning a whale cake pan turned out pretty good.

***

SUNDAY
Curried chicken salad

I chucked a bunch of chicken breasts in the Instant Pot (YES, MY HUSBAND FOUND THE MISSING VALVE COVER BEHIND A PHALANX OF LAUNDRY BASKETS!) with a can of coconut milk and a little water, and pressed the “poultry” button.

I mixed a tub of unflavored yogurt with plenty of curry powder and added the cooked, cubed chicken to that. One of the kids chopped up the salad greens nice and small, so as to, I don’t know, make it more exotic. The recipe called for raisins or grapes mixed into the curry sauce, but I didn’t like the sound of that, so we had grapes on the side, plus chopped walnuts.

It was a pretty okay dish. The people who liked curry liked it, the people who didn’t like curry didn’t like it, and there were a couple who kept asking what curry was, but refusing to taste it, so I threw them out the window. Anyway, it was easy. I also gave two of my teenage daughters a driving lesson, and then unrelatedly headed briskly to the liquor store.

***

MONDAY
Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, chips

There was a Big Clean a-comin’, so we had a simple meal Monday. Actually we had already pressed everyone into servitude getting the house ready for the last party, not to mention the one before that, so there wasn’t all that much left to do. Relatively speaking. You set your standards to “Low Low Low,” pretend it’s okay not to own a vacuum cleaner, and off you go.

We went to the town fireworks display that night, didn’t get into any fights with any yahoos, and came home with the right number of kids in the dark, so that was a success. Corrie proclaimed the fireworks “orange” and then fell asleep.

***

TUESDAY
July 4th Cookout!

What a spectacular day. We had something like forty people, including my one and only cousin whom I haven’t seen in twenty years. Everyone brought something to eat or drink, and my father brought fireworks and read the Declaration of Independence

and handed out sparklers. The kids played in the stream and swung on swings, everyone gorged on watermelon and meat, the entire neighborhood filled up with smoke, we played Johnny Cash, and it was swell. A really happy day.

We had hamburgers, hot dog, and pork spiedies, chips, potato salad, pasta salad, corn on the cob, watermelon, cookies, and brownies. There was no end of beer and soda, plus Dark and Stormies (dark rum, ginger beer, and lime). And cigars. Actual conversation, one of many similar types of conversations:

Damien: We need fifty pounds of ice. No, sixty. Better get a hundred.
Me: Are you sure?
Damien: The bags are five pounds.
Me: You sure you want me to get twenty bags of ice?
Damien: I don’t know, I’m crazy.
Me: That just seems like a lot. I’ll get ten bags.
Me, loading ten bags into cart: This doesn’t seem like enough. I better get some more. [loads several more bags into cart]
Husband texts me to say there is not going to be enough beer, so I stop at another store to buy more beer.
Me at the next store: I don’t know if we have enough ice. Here, grab that bag for me. No, the twenty-pound one.
Husband texts me to say never mind, we have plenty of beer.
WHICH WE CERTAINLY DID. Then it turned out basically everyone at the party had some reason for not drinking, so we were stuck with enough beer to float a free boat off Craigslist in, and the quantity of Dark and Stormies I personally consumed turned into Three Days of Darkness and Stormies, all with lime. I do what I can.

The spiedies were insanely good, if I do say so myself. I got about sixteen pounds of pork loin and my husband cut them into hefty chunks, which we marinated overnight in this marinade. We soaked the wooden skewers in water to keep everything moist, and my husband grilled them veddy nicely. So juicy and flavorful! There really isn’t anything better you can do for pork.

I forgot to take pictures of any food. That’s how good of a party it was!

***

WEDNESDAY
Cookout leftovers

The kids started the day eating cold pork and hamburgers, so we were reduced to leftover hot dogs and watermelon by dinner time.

***

THURSDAY
One-pan honey garlic chicken and red potatoes, salad

This is a great recipe from Damn Delicious. It tastes even better if you have not allowed the chicken to go bad. Blehhh. We all had one bite, spit it out, and ended up eating potato puffs and scrambled eggs for supper. Boo.

***

FRIDAY
Pizza

I said to my husband this morning, “I don’t know what we’re having next week, but it definitely won’t be hamburgers or hot dogs.” Then he reminded me we’re camping next week.

So . . . who’s got camp food ideas besides hamburgers and hot dogs?

Games, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, Illuminations, and Potato Salad

Having mixed feelings about celebrating liberty today? Here’s an excerpt from a letter from John Adams to his wife on July 3, 1776:

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

That’s good enough for me. We’ll read the Declaration of Independence, grill three kinds of meat, hand sparklers to children who have no business wielding sparklers, and set off all the gloriously-named fireworks we can afford.

We’ll serve frozen ham balls to all our doggy guests. We’ll secretly be relieved that the grass is way too dry to even consider lighting Brillo pad fire wheels of spectacular death.We’ll open up that lovely, heavy carton from the liquor store.

We’ll spend the other 364 days of the year reflecting, brooding, maybe mourning what we’ve lost, maybe strategizing about how to regain what we once fought to win.

But today? Ring a bell! Light a bonfire! Run around, make a fuss, live it up! John Adams says so. We spend a lot of time discussing what our founding fathers intended for our country, and what they would say if they were alive today. And here it is: have a damn party. It’s good to be an American.

What’s for supper? Vol. 70: The Instant Pot and the Wild, Wild West

Better late than never, eh? Sorry about no post on Friday. It’s a long, tiresome story full of technical details that I don’t understand at all. If you’re reading this, it means my brother fixed it because he is great. If you’re not, then it means that there is no reason at all for WordPress to be dominating the market the way it does. NO REASON AT ALL.

Here’s what we had last week.

SATURDAY
Birthday party! Pizza, ice cream sodas, birthday cake

Kid asked for a Wild West party for her 11th birthday, and I jumped at opportunity to not try and replicate some trademarked character. I got a bunch of cowboy hats from the dollar store, searched “player piano music” on YouTube, and set up an ice cream soda bar with a This End Up chair and a wooden shelf. My son was the bartender.

We also made a few “Wanted” signs for photo ops.

wanted signs

We also dipped some pretzel rods in green candy melt to make cactuses, which I understand were a big feature of the wild, wild west. They would have been better with some needle-shaped sprinkles, but all I could find was sugar crystals. I made a few with arms and stuck them on the cake.
Oh, the cake! A full week ahead of time, I thought, “I’ll get ahead of this for once, and I’ll get some cake mix now, and then I can make the cake whenever I have a chance, and freeze it.” So smart!
The night before the party, I finally had a chance, and guess what? It was three boxes of brownie mix. So I ran out to the store in the morning and bought three more boxes of cake mix.
And they were brownie mix, too. So my husband went out to the convenience store and paid, I don’t know, $11.99 each for three boxes of actual cake mix from 1992. And lo, there was cake.
 
The child had her heart set on a cake with the silhouette of a galloping horse wearing a cowboy hat. I was actually pretty pleased with the way the background turned out:
sunset cake

I took a picture before it was done, because I said to myself, “Self, you are about to wreck up this cake.”
The horse itself . . . well, you can see it has a hat on.

cowboy cake

I stuck on some cactuses and Hanukkah candles (BECAUSE I FORGOT TO BUY CANDLES) and called it good.
We also got together a bunch of cards and poker chips, but when it came down to it, Sophia and six of her closest friends honestly just wanted to paint each other’s nails. And that’s what became of the wild, wild west.

SUNDAY
Hot dogs; chips, carrots, and dip; cheesy bacon bread; brownie sundaes

Sunday was the Superb Owl, and I completely ignored all of your delicious recipes and just made that swell bacon cheddar ranch garlic bread again. No complaints! We had tons of leftover ice cream from the party; and for some reason, we had a lot of brownies in the house — like, six boxes worth — so we had brownie sundaes for dessert.

MONDAY
Beef daikon soup; white rice; brownies

This is where I start to question my dedication to my pre-planned weekly menu. Guess how many stores in our area carry daikon? That’s right, one. Guess how many daikons that one store had in stock? That’s right, also one. Guess how big that one daikon was?
Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 11.16.10 AM

That’s right, the size of a newborn child.

I followed the recipe in this very cool cookbook, Cook Korean!
Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 10.43.45 PM
It’s “a comic book with recipes,” and nice and easy to follow, very attractive (which is why I haven’t used it yet. The kids keep stealing it). Here’s the page with the recipe I used, to give you an idea of the layout:
korean cookbook

Very clear and encouraging, full of neat little details.
The soup went together really fast. I made it on the stovetop, but kept it warm in the slow cooker all day. THEN, all on fire with TRYING NEW THINGS, I went ahead and tried making rice in My Instant Pot.
The two pots, small, dark, and slow and big, shiny, and fast, sat together on the stovetop and looked at each other.
instant pot and slow cooker
It was a little awkward.
“Now I am needed no longer,” thought the little black Crock Pot. “My pot is so little and this one so big! Perhaps they will give me up. Perhaps they will unplug me. Perhaps they will give me to the baby to fill with chewed-up fruit snacks and chewed-up legos.” It stood waiting and waiting. It felt glum and anxious and queer.
But the Instant Pot was like, “Get over it, crocky. You keep soup hot, I’ll make the rice, and then the kids do the dishes. Each to his own place, little brother!”  And if you don’t believe it, you can come by my house and see for yourself, and then you can do the dishes, too.
It was marginally easier to make rice in the Instant Pot than it is to make it on the stovetop. It takes about the same amount of time, if you factor in the time it takes to build up pressure and the time it takes to vent it afterwards. (I LOVE VENTING STEAM, by the way. It’s just fun!) The rice turned out quite sticky, which isn’t a bad thing. It would probably be much better if I ever get around to making sushi. Here’s a pic, to give you the general idea:
instant pot rice
The soup was yummy. It’s not a complex soup, but it’s quite nourishing, and the taste is pleasant, not too spicy or strong.
beef daikon soup pot
I’ll definitely make it again. Although the doctor says it’s idea to wait at least a year before trying for more daikon.
Boy, that joke just never came together. Ah, well.

TUESDAY
Pulled pork, fries, mashed butternut squash

Back to the slow cooker for pulled pork. This time I made it with a can of Coke and some salt and pepper. It’s never going to not be delicious.
Now, butternut squash is a pain in the neck. It’s a great taste, but I have the worst time peeling it. Everyone tells me to buy one of these-type peelers
Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 10.59.29 PM
to make it easier.  But do I listen? No, I do not. So instead, I just hacked the two squashes in half and scooped out the seeds, chunked them in the Instant Pot on top of the rack, added a cup of water, and set it on “manual” for about 15 minutes. I let it do its thing, vented that sucker, and opened the lid to find squash that was perfectly cooked and that separated so obligingly from the skin, I wanted to cry.
squash instant pot
I scooped the flesh away and mashed it up with butter, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. So good, and significantly easier than other cooking methods. Next time, I’m going to cook it for a shorter time, cut it into cubes, and then roast them. We’ll see how that goes.

WEDNESDAY
Bagel, egg, and sausage sandwiches

Nothing to report. I was mad about something, I forget what, so I didn’t make any vegetables.

THURSDAY
Grilled pretzel brat sandwiches; roast cauliflower

I got the idea for these sandwiches on one of those lists of “Grilled Cheese Sandwiches That Are Better Than a Boyfriend.” My husband and I agreed that we’d definitely rather have this sandwich than a boyfriend. The recipe calls for cutting the pretzel in half to make the two “bread” pieces of the sandwich, but that seemed like it would lead to heartache, so I just used two pretzels for each sandwich.

I let the frozen pretzels thaw completely, then made sandwiches from pretzels and muenster cheese, and fried them in butter just enough to brown up the pretzels a bit. Then I put them in a warm oven to let the cheese finish melting. I put sliced, grilled, smoked brats, mustard, and sauerkraut on the table, and let people make their own combinations.
Check it out:
pretzel sandwich
It’s ridiculous, I know. But don’t you want some, right now?
Because brats and cheese and sauerkraut wasn’t farty enough, I also cut a head of cauliflower into florets, tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika, and roasted them in a shallow pan in the oven. Then I blasted off to the moon and didn’t come down until the next day, where I found a Facebook message reminding me that I am vulgar and should be ashamed.
So far, that method has not worked, but I guess you can keep trying, Jacinta.
The sandwiches were very good, and so was the cauliflower.

FRIDAY
Instant Pot macaroni and cheese, salad

I do like homemade mac and cheese, but it somehow fills the entire kitchen with gummy pots and pans. So I looked up a mac and cheese recipe for, you’ll never guess, the Instant Pot. I found this one from Copy Kat, but I made a few changes. Here’s my recipe:

Put in the IP:
two pounds of raw macaroni
eight cups of water
two tablespoons of hot sauce
a good squirt of mustard

Set IP to manual for four minutes.
Get distracted by public radio, hear pot beeping, forget how to work it, decide you might as well vent it now.
Look on in horror as IP sends plume of greasy orange water at the ceiling.

A frothing, foaming, white-hot plumy, greasy, geyser of orange water, and it goes on,
and on,
and on,
and on,
and on.

Finally it stops. Gingerly open the lid, stir up the macaroni.
Discover that the Monterey jack has gone moldy.
Add eight cups — well, seven and a half cups. The baby has made off with a handful of cheese — of shredded mozzarella and a cup of milk. Forget to add butter. Add in a bunch of salt and pepper.

Mix well. Pour into casserole dish, forgetting to butter it first. Spread buttered bread crumbs on top, put in 350 oven until top is toasted.
SUCCESS.
mac and cheese IP
It tasted at least as good as the kind with lots more steps, and it was way faster. And it did not fill the kitchen with dirty pots and pants. The ceiling . . .
yellow ceiling

well, you can always wash the ceiling.

And that’s what became of the wild, wild, wild wild wild west.

What’s for supper? Vol. 62: So near, and yet so farro

I’m fat, it’s cold, my dreams are all tragic, and nothing ever gets done. Must be December. Come along with me, won’t you?



SATURDAY

Pizza, birthday cake 

Birthday party! Birthday girl asked for pizza after a Frozen-themed party. This was pretty easy to pull off, thanks to the Dollar Tree’s seasonal aisle. Decorations were blue table cloths, white tissue paper garlands and cotton balls strung on thread to make snow:

benny-and-ainslie

and some blue punch in my spectacular new $2 punch bowl from the Salivation Army.

I got a bunch of plastic and foam snowflakes, plus blue and white plastic gems, sparkly pipe cleaners, and a bunch of spools of ribbon, and the kids made snowflake wands.

wand-craft

I like doing a craft at the beginning of a party, to help break the ice and give the kids something to do while they’re waiting for everyone to show up. It’s also nice when your sister drives three+ hours to get to the party, and then you immediately hand her a hot glue gun.

Or, it gives you something to be haughty and suspicious about, depending on your mood.

corrie-frozen-party

Some of the guests had wheat allergies, so we made two cakes and decorated them with marshmallow creme, mini marshmallows, sparkly decorator’s sugar, and “broken glass” candy for ice.

So, marshmallow creme is very easy to use, and makes a lovely, smooth, alpine surface, very much like a heavy snow kissed by the wintery sun. The only catch is that it’s such a smooth surface, it tends to keep slowly flowing long after you’ve already achieved the effect you like.

cake-2

Bloop. This can be passed off as intentional when it’s just the top layer that’s in motion, but when the marshmallow is between layers, the top tier of cake may just migrate right off the plate and onto the floor, tra la la. So you may want to secure the the tiers in place with dowels or skewers or

cake-3

whatever you have on hand before you finish decorating it.

Here’s the other cake, which is chock full of splintery skewers and cussing:

cake-1

These cakes were supposed to have little Frozen figurines on top, but of course the only one we could find on party day was Sven, who happened to be headless. So we just shoved some candles in and sang louder. Kid loved it.

The broken glass candy is a pain in the neck to make (it’s not hard to make, but it takes forever to get up to the right temperature), but it’s useful for all kinds of things, like a campfire cake:

campfire-cake

or just a general angst cake:

broken-glass-cake

And actually that’s probably about it.

It’s really hard to get it to come out clear, so it’s best to plan to add food coloring. Now you know how I spend my evenings, besides drinking.


SUNDAY
Hamburgers, chips

This is our standard “don’t worry about supper” meal from Mr. Husband when we’re super busy. Hamburgers are good.


MONDAY
Chicken tortilla soup, corn bread

I liked Pioneer Woman’s chicken tortilla soup very, very much, and was pleased to see that she has a slow cooker version. SO EASY. You throw the chicken breasts in raw and whole, along with everything else, and shred them up after the soup is done cooking. Just delicious. I skipped the adobo chipotle peppers, because the kids are getting sick of spicy food.

tortilla-soup-and-cornbread

I ran out of cumin, so I used a premixed packet of taco spice for one pot. The non-premade-spice pot was slightly nicer, but they were both good. I used two breasts per recipe, not the three she calls for, and it was plenty chickenfull.

This is the cornbread recipe I use. I run a pat of butter over the top when it comes out of the oven, to give it a pretty sheen.

Can I just? Spellcheck has no problem with “chickenfull.” Hey, fork yuo to, spellchick.


TUESDAY
Grilled ham and cheese pita pockets, salad, cheezy weezies

I love grilled pita pockets. So nice. I fried them in a little olive oil, and they get the thinnest little bit of crunch on the outside, but stay chewy on the inside. So nice.


WEDNESDAY
Cheesy chicken rice broccoli casserole

On the menu this week was chicken farro salad with beets and feta. I’m telling this so you will understand how well I do, considering I spend most of my days working around this long, deep, and wide streak of idiocy I have.

See, I know perfectly well that I’m the only one in the house who likes beets, and even I don’t like them very much. Plus, the recipe calls for you to include the beet greens, and you have to blanch them first. I want to go to my grave without ever having blanched anything.

But in case my death-without-blanching doesn’t keep me busy enough, I’d also like, please, to spend a certain amount of time waiting for the hipster supermarket stock boy to decide that he’s ignored me for long enough, and now he can smirk stupidly and agree that, yup, it’s pretty hard to find farro, smirky smirk.

I left in a snit, cherishing the fantasy that, even though I couldn’t find farro on my three-hour, four-store shopping trip, I could probably just zip by Farro-B-Us and easily pick some up on the way home from school at some point.

Which I could not. Pasta, then! But we had no pasta. Fine, then rice will do.

Well, we are out of rice, aren’t we.

So I borrowed some rice from the Christmas box my daughter was planning to deliver to Vincent de Paul. Yes, I did. Then I took the overpriced beets out of the refrigerator, thought one last time about blanching, and threw them away. Vincent de Paul would have been so proud.

Then I cooked up a bunch of rice, poached a bunch of chicken, and mixed it together with some leftover steamed broccoli I found in the back of the fridge, and then searched around for the Cream of Anger soup I knew there must be in the back of the cabinet. There wasn’t. SO I WENT TO THE STORE ANYWAY, and bought two cans (one cream of chicken, one cream of mushroom, because apparently I can’t read), and also some more broccoli, because I noticed that the broccoli I had already mixed into this misbegotten casserole from hell had gone spoiled, making the entire kitchen smell like an olfactory illustration of my state of mind.

Then I shredded in some cheese, spread buttered panko crumbs on the top, and crammed it in the oven.

And guess what? It looked like this:

casserole-2

but it tasted exactly like this:

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-10-18-05-am

Everyone loved it, which made me feel even worse.

I’m not mad at anyone. I’m just mad, okay?


THURSDAY
Hot dogs, cookies

I already told you about Thursday.

Oh, the cookies my daughter made were these foolproof sugar cookies that you can roll and cut and which require no refrigeration. She put a thumbprint in each one and added a spoonful of jelly, but you can all kinds of things with these cookies. They don’t taste like much, but they make a great smooth canvas for decorating.

The original plan was to make stained glass cookies. You make standard sugar cookies with a cut-out in the middle, and bake them until they are set, but not browned. Then you carefully spoon crushed hard candies into the cut-out and finish baking for the last few minutes. The candy is supposed to melt and make a stained glass effect.

But it turned out we didn’t have parchment paper to line the pan, so I shut that down. Last time we made these, I thought tin foil would work. Which it does, as long as you like foily cookies that wake up your tooth nerves.

I had already crushed up the candy, though, so I funnelled it into a bowl for later use. This morning, I found Corrie sitting at the table with said bowl and a spoon, having a fine, crunchy breakfast for herself.


FRIDAY
Fish tacos; tortilla chips

Fish sticks, shredded cabbage, avocados, lime juice, cilantro, sour cream, and salsa on tortillas.

I just realized I forgot to buy avocados. Well, goodbye.

What’s for supper? Vol. 10: ‘At’samatta for you?

whats for supper

 

SATURDAY
HOBBIT BIRTHDAY!

Roast chicken, asparagus, braided stuffed bread, and roast apples; hot cider; birthday cake and ice cream.

One of my four teenagers had a birthday. Fine, her birthday was last month. But when we finally got around to having a party, it was pretty good. It was a dinner party very loosely based on The Hobbit.

food blog hobbit cake

You thought the Peter Jackson version was bad? This is the version where the cake is basically just crumbs held together with damp coconut, and everything else is made out of store bought icing squeezed out of sandwich bags, and the director has severe PMS and is just trying not to get tears in the food.

Mommy blogging alert and disclaimer. I like making crafts, decorating cakes, and crap like that. It is fun for me. If you hate crafts and stuff, and reading about crafts and stuff makes you feel bad, just tell yourself, “Yeah, but her house smells like pee andlooks like the hynena cave in Lion King!” And it will be true. Or, if you’re much better at crafts and cake decorating and stuff than I am, just go suck an egg. See? Everyone’s happy.

We had a giant garbage bag spider with a captured Felicity dwarf in its web lurking in one corner

food blog spider

and I attempted to make Bilbo’s door out of streamers, but it didn’t look that great, mainly because the my Cheapskate Brain overpowered my Regular Brain and persuaded me that we could afford to buy green streamers, but not colored paper for the bricks.

food blog hobbit door

Benny was very impressed, though, when I used matches to distress the “no admittance” sign.

I used a match because it's from The Hobbit, back when everything was burnt on the edges.

I used a match because it’s from The Hobbit times, back when everything was burnt on the edges.

That was all decorating we had time for. We had a campfire, the kids played at the stream, and we made dragon eggs. Yes, the dragon in LOTR is a boy dragon, but you know what? This is a party activity which teenagers are not too cool to do (if you can put up with a lot of shrieking over how gross the egg-blowing is). Here’s theinstructions, and here are a few the kids made:

food blog dragon eggs

 

 

If you make a little circle of hot glue on one end, they will stand up on their own.

We have An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery (actually, we couldn’t find our copy; but not one but two friends were kind enough to get their hands on the ebook version and send me the recipe!), which is full of tasty things we need to make someday. Because we were rushed, we just chose the braided braid stuffed with onions, mushrooms and cheese. I’m not great with yeast breads, and in desperation picked up five pouches of pizza crust mix from Walmart, and it turned outspectacular. My daughter made four large loaves. There were shouts of, “MAKE THIS EVERY DAY FROM  NOW ON.”

I also roasted a couple of big chickens, steamed some asparagus, and made two big pans of roasted apples, and it was a very fine meal, if only vaguely Hobbity.

food blog hobbit meal

We had hot cider, non-mulled, because I’m the only one who likes it mulled. I like some wine in it, too, but it wasn’t that kind of party.

food blog irene campfire

Or was it?

Roasted apples, by the way! Yes. So easy and delicious. A quick, easy side dish that would go with lots of cold weather foods.

food blog roasted apples

 

 

SUNDAY
Yummy things without kids!

Sunday was our 18th anniversary. The kids had hot dogs or something, and we packed a bottle of wine and an assortment of tasty things and ate the by a little fire down by the stream, which is just out of sight of the house, and we had a lovely time.

food blog fire wine

So then I realized it was time to start the week, and I hadn’t gone shopping yet, and had also somehow unexpectedly run out of money. Like, all of it. So the rest of the week went like this:

You’ll note there was no actual falling down, but there was a lot of falling. I never actually made a meal plan or went grocery shopping in any organized way; I just flailed around in the store on the way home from school several times, and then flailed around in the kitchen until there was something hot on the table.

 

MONDAY
WILD TURKEY SURPRISE

There was so much grousing about lack of good lunch food, I thought I should make an effort for dinner, so I made sauce out of all the stuff we had in the house, which turned out to be peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, wine, and ground turkey. I like making homemade sauce, because how fancy is it to add sugar to something that is not supposed to be sweet, because you’re so smart, you know you have to cut the acidity of the tomatoes? I feel like such an insider.

An’ a little bit l’ wiiine . . . and that’s my secret.

Of course the end result is less Godfather and more Tasmanian Devil

But the end result was actually pretty good, mainly because we were starving by the time I got dinner on the table.

 

TUESDAY
???

Maybe frozen chicken burgers? I forget.

 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken drumsticks; macaroni salad; frozen peas

I was planning to make rice, but there was no rice, so I scraped together this macaroni salad recipe, which tasted fine.

 

THURSDAY
Braised pork with red wine over noodles

I was determined to make something interesting this week. This was not bad.

food blog braised pork

It is something new to do with pork, anyway, and pork keeps on being cheap.  I let it boil too fast for too long, so the meat was a little tough; but the gravy was fantastic. I could have eaten just the noodles with gravy and been happy. It’s definitely easy, and you can do it in a crock pot if you like.

Also, it turns out I didn’t know what “braised” means.

FRIDAY
???

I have no idea. Probably more noodles. I have to finish up Halloween costumes. I’m really counting on the kids being full of candy from their parties today, and thinking less about supper and more about (sigh) gutting and carving ten pumpkins.

This looks like a happy childhood, right?

This looks like a happy childhood, right?

My therapist says that people underestimate the profound effect of not getting enough sleep. Well, I don’t. Or, I do. I mean, I’m really tired. I feel bad even saying it, because my husband keeps getting up with the kids so I can sleep, but nevertheless.

Question of the week: ‘Attsa matta, you no like-a, HEY, ‘attsamatta for you?