What’s for supper? Vol. 161: Taste the rainbulgoki

Lots of color this week! It didn’t stop being February, though. Here’s what we had this week. Recipe cards at the end.

SATURDAY
Burgers, chips, salad

Nothing to report. Except that I had mine without salt, because of my fershlugginer blood pressure. Next time I’ll either put a little salt, or skip the burger and just go straight to the blasted heath.

SUNDAY
Beer can chicken, berries, home fries

Damien made a couple of beer can chickens, using more or less this recipe. He wasn’t happy with how it turned out, but I’m not sure why. I thought it was delicious and very juicy.

It could be just that ineffable essence of someone-else-cooked.

You know, the first box of blueberries I picked up at the store popped open and blueberries spilled all over the place, and all I did was just make an actual, audible growling sound, like a possum, and kick them under the shelf. When did I become a terrible person? Probably longer ago than I realize.

MONDAY
Gochujang bulgoki, rice, roast sesame broccoli

You put in some effort mixing up the sauce and slicing the meat and carrots and onions in the morning or even the night before, and boy does it pay off. This dish will warm you up inside from your guggle to your zatch.

Gochujang (fermented pepper paste) is now one of the thing we always have in the house. It is ready to please. Well, ready to grab you by the scruff of your neck and then please.

The broccoli dish is nice and easy, too. Just chop it up and toss it with sesame oil, drizzle on soy sauce, sprinkle on sesame seeds, and roast. Yum.

I made the rice in the Instant Pot using the 1:1 method. You can make this meal with either seaweed sheets or lettuce leaves, and make little bundles of rice and meat to pop in your mouth. It’s so good.

TUESDAY
Beef barley soup, pumpkin mumpkins

Not everyone in my house like beef barley soup and pumpkin muffins, but those who do love it so very dearly. I put a few minutes into trying to work up some kind of extended King Lear/Cordelia grateful child joke here, to follow up on the barely-perceptable Shakespeare joke in the first paragraph, but nothing happened. Hey look, soup.

Bizarrely, we were out of wine, so the broth was based in beef broth and tomato juice. It was still good, but wine would have been better. For my heart.

The pumpkin muffins turned out perfect, as always. These are the most tender, cozy muffins imaginable. I skipped the toppings this time.

I made thirty-six of them, and Benny ate probably thirty herself. She kept taking another muffin, cramming it in her mouth, and then shouting, “People keep eating all the muffins!” and we kept shouting, “You’re the one who keeps eating all the muffins!”

WEDNESDAY
Roast chicken and salad

A DIY meal, with mixed greens, grilled chicken, cucumbers, feta cheese, toasted almonds, diced red onion, blueberries, and tomatoes.

The blueberries and tomatoes didn’t really go together, but they were both so cheap, I couldn’t resist.

I toasted the almonds in the microwave. Spread on a plate, two minutes, stir, one more minute.

Perfectly fine salad. I had mine with wine vinegar.

THURSDAY
Shish kebob, except not; pineapple, rice

Pork was super cheap, so I bought three large hunks of it. The first went to the bulgoki, and the other two were destined for shish kebob. But it’s a lot of trouble to thread all that stuff on skewers, so I was gonna do deconstructed shish kebob, and just roast them under the broiler. I expressed this plan by writing “deconst-o-bob” on the dinner blackboard. I did this because the kids were already treating me like an idiot, but I felt like this would be a good means of getting them to treat me even more like an idiot, and it worked!

So when I preheated the broiler, the heating coil made a thrilling blue flash and a puff of magical smoke, and then it — oh, I can’t resist — it shuffled off this mortal coil. Ha.

So I decided to mix up some quick spiedie marinade and just mix it up with the peppers, onions, mushrooms, and meat, and cook it on the stovetop. I know from experience that it gets less pretty after cooking, so I took some lovely meat rainbow pics while it was raw.

Cooked it up in a little oil, and it was fine. Nothing to write home about, but a decent meal. We had some pineapple and rice on the side.

We spent the rest of the evening addressing the concerns of children who had eaten more pineapple than their soft palates were prepared to handle.

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

Gonna go shuffle off to the kitchen and make this now. I’ll keep it basic, just frozen batter-fried fish on tortillas with avocados, shredded cabbage, sour cream and cilantro. I feel like I bought some salsa.

Here’s the recipes for the things that aren’t self-explanatory:

Sesame broccoli

Ingredients

  • broccoli spears
  • sesame seeds
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.

    Toss broccoli spears with sesame oil. 

    Spread in shallow pan. Drizzle with soy sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds

    Broil for six minutes or longer, until broccoli is slightly charred. 

Gochujang bulgoki (spicy Korean pork)


Ingredients

  • 1.5 pound boneless pork, sliced thin
  • 4 carrots in matchsticks or shreds
  • 1 onion sliced thin

sauce:

  • 5 generous Tbsp gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 cloves minced garlic

Serve with white rice and nori (seaweed sheets) or lettuce leaves to wrap

Instructions

  1. Combine pork, onions, and carrots.

    Mix together all sauce ingredients and stir into pork and vegetables. 

    Cover and let marinate for several hours or overnight.

    Heat a pan with a little oil and sauté the pork mixture until pork is cooked through.

    Serve with rice and lettuce or nori. Eat by taking pieces of lettuce or nori, putting a scoop of meat and rice in, and making little bundles to eat. 

Chicken berry nut salad

Any number of variations. Use whatever fruit is in season and whatever nuts are on sale. Dried fruit is also fine. 

Ingredients

  • chicken breast, seasoned, cooked, diced
  • salad greens
  • blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, fresh or dried
  • toasted walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.
  • feta or blue cheese, crumbled
  • diced red onions
  • balsamic vinegar or other light dressing

Instructions

  1. To toast the nuts: Spread them in a single layer on a plate and microwaving them on high for three minutes. This is the easiest, most reliable way to toast nuts, which improves the flavor and texture immensely for salad. 

    You can also toast them in the oven in a single layer on a pan in a 350 oven for 6-7 minutes, but watch carefully, as they burn 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. 

 

pork spiedies (can use marinade for shish kebob)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup veg or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4-5 lbs boneless pork, cubed
  • peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, cut into chunks

Instructions

  1. Mix together all marinade ingredients. 

    Mix up with cubed pork, cover, and marinate for several hours or overnight. 

    Best cooked over hot coals on the grill on skewers with vegetables. Can also spread in a shallow pan with veg and broil under a hot broiler.

    Serve in sandwiches or with rice. 

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 160: Fleischschande and You

Hey, it’s still Friday! Here’s a food post!

SATURDAY
Caprese salami sandwiches

A simple favorite. Ciabatta rolls with Genoa salami, tomato, basil, and mozzarella, with olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t have pictures, and then I remembered Damien and I went out! We went to Chili’s and spent a lot of the time talking about why it’s so much better than Applebee’s. It really is, but you wouldn’t understand.

SUNDAY
Hot wings, brats, Italian sausage, guacamole, chips, homemade hot pretzels, jalapeño cheese dip, and king cake

Of course that warr the Super Bowl. The best part of the night was when what’s his name took off his shirt and all my kids spontaneously booed and laughed at him.

The friendly and mellow Fr. Matt from Louisiana came by on the way to visit family, and he’d had two king cakes from Rouses delivered. He made the mistake of listing the possible fillings, so my inauthentic children chose apple, Bavarian cream, caramel, and chocolate. Nobody ate the babies!

Damien made the wings by frying them in oil, then rolling them around in a combination of bottled hot sauce (one bottle) and melted butter (one stick). You can add a squirt of Sriracha sauce if you can find the bottle, which you can’t because some lunatic has stuffed your fridge to the gills.

He also made a quick dipping sauce with sour cream and crumbled blue cheese, and we had celery just like in a fancy restaurant like Applebee’s or Chili’s or something.

I made this jalapeño popper dip, easy and yummy, but it turns out that I was correct in my concern that I was the only one who likes it. Diced jalapeños, sour cream, cream cheese, garlic, cheddar, and parmesan, all heated up with bread crumbs on top. Mmm.

For the beer brats, he poured about four pints of Narragansett beer and a few chopped onions, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes into a bot, brought it to a boil, the simmered the brats in that for about fifteen minutes. Then he grilled them on the stovetop. Then he put them in the oven lest we all die of brats that have only been cooked two ways instead of three.

He also made a marinara sauce for the Italian sausage with some olive oil and chili pepper flakes, get that hot, throw in a diced onion and a bunch of diced garlic, and cook that up. Then throw in a can of tomato paste, stir, and add a can of tomatoes and about 6 ounces of red wine and a teaspoon of sugar. I read this paragraph over and have decided it’s in the diminished pluperfect mood, warmed over a hot past pretense.

I got it into my head to make homemade hot pretzels, which I adore. Even though my baking never, ever gets better, and guess what? This time I didn’t get any better. I used this Alton Brown recipe and ended up adding so, so, so SO so so much more flour than it said it would need, and then it was just a mess from then on. I’l spare you the details because I can’t remember them. Against all odds, a few of the pretzels turned out good:

But many more of the were pretty grisly looking.

They have a sort of Laocoön look to them, don’t they? A few of the kids liked them, but mostly they just hung around the house in a bag, getting flabbier and flabbier. The pretzels, I mean, ho ho ho ho ho ho ho.

MONDAY
Superleftovers

I mean really. Also Damien bought oysters which we forgot to eat, so we had those, and I also got frozen pirogies that I forgot to cook. Those are still in the freezer because I was experiencing fleischschande (meat shame) and couldn’t bear to make even more food.

It was also Monday that I took this picture in my car:

You know what, February is not my favorite month.

TUESDAY
Carnitas with rice and salsa verde

I took a big hunk of pork and put it in the slow cooker. Seized with ennui, I poured in a bunch of lime juice, sprinkled it with chili pepper flakes, and called it good. It cooked for eight hours, then I shredded it, spread it in a shallow pan, and sprinkled it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin, and browned it up under the broiler.

I made salsa verde in my food processor.

My recipe called for 3/4 tsp of sugar, and that seemed like it couldn’t possibly be enough, so I used 3/4 cup. Allow me to state for the record that that is to much frickin sugar. Pbbbttt. I mean, I ate it, but still.

WEDNESDAY
Chicken burgers, fries, blueberries

Nothing to report.

THURSDAY
Meatball subs, salad

I make serviceable meatballs.

I cook them in the oven in a pan with drainage, then put them in a slow cooker with sauce, lest we die of meatballs cooked only one way.

FRIDAY
Quesadillas, guacamole and chips

I also make really good guacamole

and I only burned one quesadilla, and one of my kids likes them burnt! Ha!

Welp, here are some recipe cards. Onward and upward.

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

5 from 1 vote
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Salsa verde

Ingredients

  • 10-12 tomatillos
  • 3 jalapeno peppers
  • 10 cloves garlic with wrappers on
  • 1-2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • olive oil for cooking

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler. 

  2. Put unwrapped tomatillos, whole jalapenos, garlic cloves with wrappers on, and peeled, quartered onions in a shallow pan, and broil until slightly blackened - about 5 minutes. 

  3. Let the vegetables cool. Pull the wrappers off the garlic, cut the tops off the jalapenos (but leave the seeds and insides), and trim the ends off the onions.   

  4. Put all vegetables inside a food processor, and add a big handful of cilantro and 3/4 tsp sugar. Blend until it's pulpy. It will be runny.

  5. Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan and add the vegetable mixture. Heat, stirring, until it thickens up a bit. 

  6. Add 3/4 cup chicken broth and 1/4 cup lime juice and continue heating, stirring from time to time, until it thickens up again. 

 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

 

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. 158: And there it is.

In this space, I will skip the part where I complain about how tired I am and what a long week it is and how busy we all are. Food is good! Here is food:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Nothing to report. Actually Damien tried frying some of the burgers up in an iron frying pan in butter, rather than broiling them in the oven on a slotted pan like we usually do. It was good, I didn’t think it made that much difference. I asked him if he just likes me fat and he said yes.

SUNDAY
Caprese salad, garlic bread, pork roast, strawberry almond cream cake

Damien and Clara made supper. Or, more accurately, they made three suppers, but we ate it all in one night. And oh, what a three meals it was!

He made a red sauce from this Deadspin recipe, and the pork roast after a NYT recipe. I’ll make a recipe card for the end, because I think it’s behind a paywall, and he just picks the fattiest pork he can find, and we can never find fennel fronds, so that makes it a brand new recipe! Look how scrumptious.

You make a kind of paste out fennel seed, rosemary, sage, crushed garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and olive oil and rub it in good. Damien made it the night before and I don’t know if it was the long marinating time or what, but it absolutely fell off the bone. So insanely juicy and tender, and the fat crisped up into this wonderful crust that would have been a meal in itself. Man.

The pasta sauce was also wonderful. It’s unexpectedly spicy and sweet.  You really should try it.

Clara based the cake on a recipe from An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery. Lena also made a heart-shaped chocolate cake with Benny and Corrie, apparently because she’s vying for sainthood. I didn’t get any dessert pictures, but I did catch this in medias pasta picture that captures the scene nicely.

Yep, we still have Christmas lights up outside. They are on a timer. It’s cold and icy out there. I do believe we’re just going to get used to them.

MONDAY
Split pea soup, hot pretzels

We’ve read Owl at Home many times and we’ve watched A Christmas Carol many times, and yet at least half the kids have never shuffled themselves backward into a wingback chair with a bowl of hot split pea soup in their laps. So I made some. Most of them didn’t eat it, because, well, you know. It tastes great, but it sure looks like it has already made the acquaintance of someone’s digestive tract and then retraced its steps right back into the bowl.

Tasted good, though! I didn’t have leftover ham and couldn’t find a ham hock, so I just bought a big ham steak, chopped it up, and chucked it in. Damien and I both thought it would have been even better with bacon instead of ham. So let it be written! Recipe card at the end.

TUESDAY
Egg and sausage sandwiches on bagels, hot chocolate

I had a sudden need to be loved, so I made a big pot of hot chocolate. My basic recipe per cup: One Tablespoon of cocoa powder, two tablespoons of sugar, heated and stirred into syrup with a little water. Then add milk and finish heating. We also happened to have moshmeddows in the house.

WEDNESDAY
Oven-roasted pork ribs, honeyed Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes

Corrie and I prepped the veg and potatoes in the morning so we could have a tea party with a clear conscience. She is a big help as long as you are not in any kind of hurry.

Such a simple, satisfying meal. We made the mashed potatoes in the morning and then heated them up in the microwave at dinner time.
The Brussels sprouts, I trimmed and halved, spread in a pan, and drizzled with olive oil, honey, and wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and roasted until they were a little charred; then I moved the pan to the bottom of the oven so they could finish cooking while the pork took a turn under the broiler.

I understand that some people don’t have a broiler in their oven. I am so sorry.

THURSDAY
Roast beef sandwiches, tater tots, sweet peppers and onion dip

All week, I was planning to make ropa vieja, a beef stew with peppers, which is the national dish of Cuba. This led to a long, frustrating conversation about what Cuba is. Corrie is three. She has a lot of questions.

Anyway, I somehow forgot to buy both pimientos and roasted red peppers, and I had my doubts about this meal anyway. I would definitely eat it, but for everyone else, it looked like a big pot of disappointment with olives, smoked paprika or no. So at the last minute, I decided to just make sandwiches, which everyone likes.

I crusted the chuck roasts heavily with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and browned them on all sides in a heavy pot in very hot olive oil. Then I put the roasts in a pan in the oven at 350 for half an hour or so. I let them sit for a bit, then sliced them up and spread the meat in the pan and slid it back in the oven for a few minutes to bring it from way too rare/quite rare to medium-rare.

I’m actually embarrassed at how many sexy pictures of roast beef I took. If I went blind, I bet I would lose fifty pounds.

Boy, I’m glad I didn’t make ropa vieja. We had the slices of hot beef on long boys with horseradish sauce and provolone, toasted up a bit in the oven, with tater tots and sweet peppers with french onion dip. Look at these peppers!

Hashtag no filter! Take that, January evening with wet ice falling out of the sky!

FRIDAY
Pasta, garlic knots

Usually I put butter, salt, garlic powder, and parmesan on the dough before baking, but Staša suggested I bake them first, then toss them up with herbed, garlicky butter.

I melted butter and olive oil together and added garlic (powder; couldn’t find the garlic press for fresh), salt, and chopped-up basil and let that sizzle up a bit. I liked it? Not sure if it was better than the other way, but definitely a good way to do it. I mean, I ate three of them, whatever.

And that’s a week! Whadja have? Anything good? I need to start all over again.

Pork Roast

Ingredients

  • 6-8 lb fatty hunk of pork
  • 1/4 cup rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tsp chopped sage leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 lemon, zest thereof
  • 1-1/5 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Score pork all over. 

    In a food processor, blend all the rest of the ingredients together, adding oil in last. 

    Rub paste all over pork. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least six hours, preferably overnight. 

    Bring pork out of refrigerator an hour or two before cooking. Preheat oven to 450.

    Put pork in shallow, rimmed pan and cook for 35 minutes. 

    Reduce heat to 325 and cook another 3 to 4 hours. (Boneless roasts will cook faster.)

 

Split Pea Soup

Looks terrible. Tastes perfect. 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 butter
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 pound dried split peas, rinsed and sorted
  • 1 ham hock (can get away with skipping)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 6 cups chicken broth (+ 2 cups water)
  • 1 cup diced ham OR 1/2 lb bacon, fried crisp and broken into bits

Instructions

  1. In the pot, (using sauté button if using Instant pot) melt the butter and sauté the carrots, onion, and celery until soft.

    Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.

    Add bay leaf, thyme, split peas, and ham bone and stir.

    Add the broth. If using stovetop, bring to a boil, turn to low, cover loosely, and simmer for an hour until peas are soft and soup is thickened. Add diced ham in last fifteen minutes of cooking.

    If using IP, cover, close valve, press "cancel" and then press "soup/broth." Cook, do natural release, open lid, add diced ham, and press "slow cook." Let cook for 15 minutes.

    Remove ham bone, if you used one. Stir in plenty of pepper. Leave the bay leaf in because whoever finds it gets good luck or whatever. 



What’s for supper? Vol. 154: Ragu! Sing it with me! Raguuuuuuu!

I think Corrie speaks for all of us when she says:

Here’s what we ate this week (with some links to Christmas baking and candy recipes at the end):

SATURDAY
Birthday! Stuffed shells, garlic bread, veg and dip, birthday cake

Sweet Benny wanted a rose-themed birthday. Easy enough. We made some giant paper flowers and hung them from the ceiling. Here it is, halfway decorated:

and the night before, Benny and I made some fruit roll roses.

She’s a wonderful kid to work with, and she never gets offended if you say, “Sweetheart, Mama’s ears are tired. Can you stop talking for a few minutes?” She just laughs and says, “Yeah, I like to talk.” Then she keeps talking.

I couldn’t find the Fruit by the Foot strips I was looking for, so we got regular fruit roll-ups, unrolled them, cut them into four strips, and pinched the ends together to make one long strip. Then we started rolling it up in a tight roll to make the center of the rose; then we rolled up the rest loosely, twisting and occasionally folding and smooshing the strip. I don’t know if I can describe it better than that. Some of the turned out more rose-like than others!

Then we stuck toothpicks in the bottoms and stuck them in the cake. I used a Wilton leaf tip to make the leaves, and added some dots for garlands on the sides. My first leaves, not too shabby!

She was delighted with her cake. When Damien put it in front of her, she just sat there, smiling and smiling.

She requested stuffed shells. I didn’t have my recipe in front of me, so I checked out the box. Let’s see . . . cottage cheese . . . zucchini . . . yeah, okay, this box is fired. I went and found my recipe. Recipe card at the end.

For a party activity, we made flower crowns. These were first graders, and they definitely needed some help from the moms, but I bet they could do it on their own the second time around. We made circlets out of wired pine garlands, then made standard tissue paper flowers with a little bell at the center, threaded through the pipe cleaner. (Yes, I still call them pipe cleaners instead of chenille stems. Take that!) We attached the flowers on with the pipe cleaners, then tied wisps of tulle to both sides of the flower just to add some poofiness, then tied ribbons to hang down the back. I didn’t get any good pics, but can probably do a tutorial if anyone is interested. Not a bad party activity, and the girls looked adorable, and ready for the Kentucky Derby.

SUNDAY
Roast beef sandwiches, chips

Damien roasted a couple of chuck roasts. He covered them in salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and seared them in very hot oil, about three minutes per side, then roasted them in a 325 oven for about 90 minutes. Then he let them rest for a bit, then sliced it up. We put it on rolls with horseradish sauce and provolone, and put them in the oven for a few minutes to toast up. I also had tomatoes in mine.

I had a jar of sliced pepperoncini, but they were a weird color, so I threw them out. Aren’t you glad I’m so tired I thought that was worth writing down?

MONDAY
Ham, mashed potatoes, peas, roast brussels sprouts

Me, sadly flipping through supermarket flyers: So . . . do you guys . . . maybe . . . want ham?
Benny: HAM. HAM. HAMANDMASHEDPOTATOESANDPEAS.
Me: Okay! But how about Brussels sprouts instead of peas, just to mix things up a little? Brussels sprouts are on sale right n-
Benny:

So that’s what we had. I also roasted some Brussels sprouts, because they were on sale and I like them.

Benny was irate.

TUESDAY
Sweet and sour chicken stir fry, rice

Clara had been asking for this meal, which I make very authentically by cutting chicken into pieces and cooking them, then adding steamed vegetables from a bag and sauce from a jar, and schlorping the whole thing over rice.

It was extra schlorpy, because I didn’t drain the vegetables sufficiently. I even found a few cans of water chestnuts in the cabinet. I took them out of the cans and everything.

Oh, I cooked the rice in the Instant Pot using the 1:1 method. Works every time. I like the IP for rice because it comes out nice and sticky, and you can make it ahead of time and just let it stay warm until you’re ready.

WEDNESDAY
Ragù on fettuccine, garlic bread

Damien started making his amazing ragù the night before, and this was the ragù that surpassed all previous ragùs. He uses this Deadspin recipe, and this time, he used a pound of pork, a pound of veal, and . . . hold onto your butts . . . a pound of pancetta, which he ground by hand.

He ran a bunch of onions, celery, and carrots through the food processor, and threw in a bunch of anchovies, wine, and olive oil, and a little tomato paste, and let it cook a good long time. I gained eleven pounds just smelling it.

It was fantastic.

I know it doesn’t look like much in this pic, but it’s one of those foods where the flavor just blooms inside your mouth. Can’t figure out if that’s a creepy thing to say or not, but it sure was exciting. Also, every time the kids asked what was for supper, I would sing out, “ra-GUUUUUUUUUU!” to the tune of Veggie Tales “Cebu,” and it really annoyed them. Ha ha!

THURSDAY
Pork ramen

Sometimes this gets pretty elaborate, but this time it was just cheapy ramen, some boneless pork ribs sautéed in olive oil with soy sauce and sliced, some sautéed mushrooms, chopped scallions, and soft boiled eggs. Oh, and crunchy noodles. Spicy sesame seeds and hot sauce.

I was starving, and this tasted like heaven. Salty, salty heaven.

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle for kids, possibly bouillabaisse for me.

I got some kind of frozen mixed seafood whatnot for like $4 a few weeks ago, and it’s calling to me.

Okay, that’s a wrap! Now, how about Christmas baking? Got anything good? I haven’t even thought about it yet, but I’ll probably make chocolate caramel nuts, which make good token presents. Here’s my post with a photo guide to the recipe from Smitten Kitchen. You really need a photo guide, because it goes through something like eleven alarming stages before things turn out fine at the end. This post includes links to other helpful basic December recipes, including fudge, nut brittle, buckeyes, and rum balls.

Hanukkah is over, but that’s no reason not to make rugelach, so here is my recipe and photo guide for that.

Finally, if you feel like you have to decorate cookies, here is a recipe for sugar cookie dough that you do not have to refrigerate. You can also use this dough recipe for beautiful stained glass cookies, which always impress. This post has some photos of the process.

 

Stuffed shells

Just a basic recipe. You can add meat to the sauce or spinach to the cheese, or anything that strikes your fancy. Serves about 10.

Ingredients

  • 2 12-oz boxes jumbo shells
  • 2 32-oz tubs ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 4-5 cups pasta sauce

Instructions

  1. Cook the shells in salted water, drain, and rinse in cool water. Mix them up with olive oil so they don't stick together.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350. Mix into the ricotta cheese all the seasoning, the parmesan, and 3 of the cups of mozzarella.

  3. Spread a little sauce in the bottom of an oven-proof pan or dish. Stuff each shell with about 1/2-1/3 cup of cheese filling and lay the stuffed shells close together.

  4. Top with the rest of the pasta sauce, and sprinkled the remaining mozzarella on top of that. Cover loosely with foil and cook for 45 minutes or longer, until it's bubbly. 

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. 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 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.

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 

5 from 1 vote
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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. 139: Cashew! Gesundheit.

Looking back, I’m shocked at how much actual hot food I prepared, considering how hot and steamy it was all week. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips, strawberries

That’s what it says on my menu blackboard. I have no memory of Saturday. What a long week.

SUNDAY
Smoked ribs, cole slaw, biscuits

I got two huge racks of pork ribs, and Damien put a rub on them the night before with mustard, then smoked the ribs on the grill for several hours.

This is our first attempt at smoking meat. Big success! Very juicy and flavorful.

Although cutting up the ribs afterwards is always such a struggle.

Is there some special trick or tool to make this part easier, or do you just have to hack away until it’s done?

I made biscuits using Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I had my doubts about these biscuits, because someone had put a bunch of pink chalk in the bottle of vinegar. I’m pretty good at ignoring things that people have put into my food, but chalk seemed like something that might change the chemical balance of vinegar, I dunno. Luckily, it wasn’t an issue, because even though I can read, I didn’t read the part where they are called “self rising biscuits” or the part where it called for self-rising flour, and I used regular flour. And those biscuits self stayed flat. I mean, I ate four, but they were flat.

We also had a good, snappy cole slaw that Lena made. Recipe card at the end.

My father came over, much to Corrie and Benny’s delight. They traded magic tricks, and my father provided this impressive multi-cake.

MONDAY
Deli sandwich bake

New recipe! A friend recommended this Italian Layer Bake, which calls for crescent roll dough top and bottom, with deli meats and cheese and egg layered inside. I like the idea of it, but was somewhat skeptical about all that egg, so I modified it to be less casserole-like and more sandwich-like.

So I just spread out crescent roll dough (and it turns out that, sometime in the last few years, I’ve changed from being someone who gets a kick out of popping open those cardboard tubes into someone who trembles in fear and then shrieks involuntarily when they burst open. I don’t like carnival rides anymore, either. I guess real life is thrilling enough. Anyway, I’m drinking more) in a pan, then layered all kinds of deli meats and cheese

then put more dough on top. When I say “put,” I mean I unrolled two cans without much trouble, but the third one was a travesty, all shredded and stuck together, so I just stretched out the bits as best I could to cover everything up.

Then I glopped some beaten egg on top (I would say “brushed, but I couldn’t find either of my pastry brushes, and the kids acted like my using that combination of words was the last bit of evidence they needed for my involuntary commitment; so I glopped it on) and sprinkled it with garlic powder and dried minced onion. I considered poppy seeds, too.

Then I put it in the oven covered for about 20 minutes, then uncovered for another 15-20 until it was a little brown on top.

It was very tasty! The pieced-together dough on top was not a problem at all. I cut it into twelve squares for twelve people, and then sliced the squares into, you know, slicees. Very filling and yummy, a very cheery food.

Definitely more brunchy than dinner-y, but definitely not breakfast-y. This would make great party food, and you can make just about any alterations you like. Everyone liked it. It was a little hard on my stomach, to be honest, but I’m old and digestively fragile. Please don’t tell me about probiotics. I’d rather suffer.

TUESDAY
Cashew chicken lettuce wraps and rice

‘Nother new recipe! This one was more popular with the older set. Pretty easy: You just cut up chicken and sauté it, dump in a simple sauce sauce and let it thicken, throw in the nuts, and spoon everything into lettuce leaves. Throw some chopped scallions on top.

It calls itself wraps, but it was too messy for any real wrapping, so we just ate it out of the lettuce. It was quite flavorful and didn’t really need the sriracha sauce I added at the end. Good basic Asian sauce, wonderful texture, easy to make ahead and then cook in a few minutes before dinner. Will probably make again. I simplified the ingredients and cooking process from the Better From Scratch recipe above.

I made the rice in the Instant Pot while the meat was cooking. I adore the Instant Pot on hot, muggy days. You can just tell it what to do and then get the hell out of the kitchen.

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

Taught another kid how to make pizza. We are now a five-pizza family, did I mention?.Two pepperoni, two cheese, and one half-and-half, because I forgot to buy olives.

We like to sprinkled garlic powder, oregano, and parmesan cheese on top before baking. I go back and forth on the merits of putting the pepperoni and other toppings under the mozzarella. I do like having a juicy surprise waiting under the cheese (and yes, that will be the opening sentence in my upcoming book, entitled It’s A Mystery Why I’m Fat), but the little crisp edges of pepperoni are also very fine. What a world.

THURSDAY
Pulled pork, steak fries, cole slaw, buffalo chicken salad, chocolate cake

Another self-imposed incoherent potluck meal. I put a pork in the crock pot with a can of beer and half a jar of jalapenos and juice, but I started too late, and it wasn’t really shreddy by dinner time, so I put it in the standing mixer, which got me something like cat food.

Dora wanted more buffalo chicken salad, so she won the honor of making it. I’ll add a recipe card at the end, but here’s what it looks like from a previous meal:

She also wanted to make chocolate cake with the little girls, and who am I to stand in the way of progress? I forgot to take pictures, though.

FRIDAY
Tuna burgers

We’ve recommitted to strict meatless Fridays, as a mild penance for our diocese. This is more of a penance for me, as it means I’ll go to the trouble of making tuna burgers and getting my hands all smelly, and they kids will throw them away and eat cereal. So I’m propping up the diocese and General Mills. Let God sort it out.

And here are the recipe cards. I can see that the categories are a little wonky on some of these, but I’m too pressed for time to fix them now! I’ll get the hang of this. We like the cards, yes?

 

5 from 1 vote
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Smoked pork ribs with mustard rub

Ingredients

  • 2 racks pork ribs

Pork rub

  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • Yellow mustard
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. The night before or several hours before dinner, mix together the rub spices. 



  2. Spread yellow mustard all over the rack of ribs and apply the rub. Cover and refrigerate. Let it come back to room temp before cooking.

  3. Light the fire and let it die down. Put the meat on the grill off to the side, where it will get indirect heat. Put the cover down and let it cook at least four hours. 

  4. Add salt and pepper, then separate the ribs and enjoy. 

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. 




5 from 1 vote
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Deli brunch sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 6 8-oz. tubes crescent rolls
  • 3/4 lb sliced ham
  • 1/2 lb sliced Genoa salami
  • 3 oz Serrano (dry cured) ham
  • 33 slices Swiss cheese
  • any other meats and cheese that seem yummy
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 2 tsp garlic powder, minced onions, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.

Unroll 3 of the tubes of crescent rolls without separating the triangles, and fit the dough to cover an 11 x 25-inch pan.

  1. Layer the meat and cheese, making it go all the way to the edges of the pan. This part is subject to any kind of variation you like. 

  2. Unroll the remaining 3 tubes of crescent rolls and spread the dough to cover the meat and cheese. It's okay if you have to stretch and piece it together. 

Beat 2-3 eggs and brush it over the top of the dough, and sprinkle with garlic powder, onions, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc.

  1. Cover pan loosely and bake for 20 minutes. Then uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes until dough is slightly browned and egg is completely cooked. 

5 from 1 vote
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Cashew chicken lettuce wraps

Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 6.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, with salt and pepper
  • 2-3/4 cups cashews

romaine lettuce or other broad-leaf lettuce

  • 1 bunch scallions
  • Sriracha sauce (optional)

2 Tbsp sesame oil for cooking

Sauce

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 6 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 6 Tbsp corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder or minced garlic

Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken into small pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  2. Make the sauce by mixing all the ingredients together. 

  3. Heat the sesame oil in a large pan and add the chicken. Cook until it's done (duh)

  4. Add the sauce to the chicken and cook at a medium heat, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the cashews.

  5. Spoon chicken mixture into lettuce leaves. Add chopped scallions to top, plus sriracha sauce if you like. 

5 from 1 vote
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Buffalo chicken pasta salad

Servings 10

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 36 ounces dry pasta. Radiatore (ruffled spirals) is good, but anything with texture will do.

Dressing

  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 10 oz blue cheese dressing (or mayo with blue cheese)
  • 1/2 cup buffalo sauce
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook the chicken.
    Instant Pot instructions: Put chicken in Instant Pot with a cup of water. Set to "high pressure" for seven minutes. Do quick release. Allow chicken to cool, then dice it. 

Cook pasta and drain (duh)

Peel and chop four stalks of celery.

Mix together sauce ingredients.

  1. Put pasta, chicken, and celery in a large bowl. Stir in the dressing and mix to coat. 

Tuna burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 can tuna
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • seasonings, minced onion, etc.
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Drain the tuna.

  2. Mix tuna thoroughly with egg, bread crumbs, and whatever seasonings you like. Form into two patties. 

  3. Heat oil in pan. Fry tuna patties on both sides until golden brown. 

What was for supper last week? Vol. 137: Ah’m a-splurgin’!

It was vacation week! We ate like kings!

SATURDAY
Steak and lobster

We had a lot of kid activities planned, so Damien wanted to make sure we had one fine grown-up meal. (The kids had hot dogs and chips at home.) He packed up a cooler and we went here:

We swam for a while, with nobody else in the entire pond except for some loons and a bunch of amorous dragonflies. Then he made a fire and we had bread and cheese, strawberries and blackberries while the flames died down.

He put some steaks and lobsters over the coals:

The lobster only needed a few minutes on each side, and we ate it with herbed butter and lemons while the steaks finished cooking. I’ve never had grilled lobster before. The sweet flesh with a smoky edge is completely wonderful. The steak had a simple rub of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and came out insanely tender with lots of juice.

 

Also, having visible cooking marks on the lobster really helps me get over that last psychological “you are cracking apart and devouring an entire creature here, you psychopath” obstacle. It just looks more like food. Score another point for charring your food! I’ll take my charred lobster cancer like a man.

We also brought some peaches to grill (most desserts are out for me because they are migraine triggers), but we were both stuffed to the gills and couldn’t eat any more.

And that is how you kick off vacation week!

SUNDAY
Buffalo chicken salad, fries, cherries

One of my kids has a job in a deli, and she’d been hungrily eyeing their buffalo chicken salad. I couldn’t find an exact recipe, but since she had never actually tasted it, I didn’t think I could really get it wrong.

I cooked a few pounds of pasta (I believe it was radiatori. Here is a nice guide to pasta shapes), then I took 3 large chicken breasts and put them in the Instant Pot with a cup of water, high pressure for 7 minutes. I cut the cooked chicken into chunks and mixed it together with the pasta and:

4 stalks celery diced
3/4 cup sour cream
10 oz blue cheese dressing
1/2 cup buffalo sauce
2 Tbs paprika
It was pretty good. Not knock-your-socks-off, but if you like buffalo sauce, it’s something a little different, and it sure was easy to make. It’s supposed to have carrots, but I don’t think that would have added much (but you definitely want the celery in there, for texture and to cool your tongue from the hot sauce). I also made plain pasta, which is what most of the kids ate, which is why there was enough left over for me to eat lunch all week.
I hadn’t really planned out any sides. I have a hard time coming up with sides to pasta salads. It’s like when my grandmother went to the pet store asking for food for her daughter’s Sea Monkeys, and the man said, “Lady, Sea Monkeys are food.” So I ended up with a kind of self-inflicted one-family potluck meal of buffalo chicken salad, french fries, and cherries. Well, they ate it!
MONDAY
Chicken caprese sandwiches

Now this was a good idea. I had more chicken breasts (I guess they must have been on sale), so I roasted them under the broiler with salt and pepper, then sliced them. Then we laid out chicken, sliced mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, prosciutto, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and let people build their own sandwiches.

I also put out some mayonnaise and pesto sauce, but I didn’t end up using it. This was an extremely tasty summer sandwich, very fresh and pleasant and filling. I should have used Italian bread instead of Kaiser rolls, was the only thing. Next time!

TUESDAY
Ocean!

Tuesday was ocean day. New Hampshire really only has one beach, about two hours from us, and it’s terribly trashy at night, but gorgeous during the day. We brought along subs, nectarines, chips, and cookies from the supermarket for lunch, and managed to eat most of it before the very bold seagulls had their way with it. I love the ocean.

It was a completely wonderful day. We didn’t bring any shovels or buckets or kites or floaties or anything. Just played in the cold waves and the fresh breeze and the glittering sun for hours and hours. Irene got lost and we, um, forgot to bring Lucy’s insulin. But the lifeguards found Irene again and Damien squeezed some insulin out of a local pharmacy and it was still fun. I love the ocean.

For dinner, I had my heart set on eating somewhere that served food in plastic baskets and had sand in the bathroom, so that’s what we did. It was called Swampy’s Sea Shack or Chunko’s Squid Hut or something along those lines. There were a bunch of drunken louts singing “Sweet Caroline” over their beers. I had the calamari platter. The coleslaw was terrible. I love the ocean.

WEDNESDAY
Deconstructed shish kabob; pineapple cucumber salad; Tweezlaires

I took a big hunk of pork and cut it into big cubes and mixed it up with wedges of red onion and green pepper. I had mushrooms, too, but they had gotten all slimy, alas. I stirred it up with a marinade of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes and let it sit for a few hours.

We briefly considered putting the food on skewers and grilling it outside, but we were still exhaustipated from the beach, so I just spread the meat and veggies in a shallow pan and put it under the broiler until it was a little blackened. Good stuff.

Again I needed a side dish, but hadn’t made solid plans. My friend Jennifer suggested this pineapple cucumber salad, which calls for pineapple and cucumber, which I had, and lime zest and fresh cilantro, which I didn’t. So I used bottled lime juice and chili lime seasoning. It was nice! Just something different. May try again when I have cilantro.

We also had Tweezlaires, because that’s what I told the kids we were having before I found the pineapple recipe.

THURSDAY
Bibimbap

Oh son. If you haven’t made bibimbap, then this is your time. It is absolutely the party that your mouth deserves to have.

I sliced up some pork as thin as I could and set it to marinate in gochujang sauce, which I made with gochujang, honey, sugar, garlic, and soy sauce (proportions here).

I also sliced up a bunch of carrots and cucumbers very thin with the wide end of a cheese grater, because someone has absconded with the spindle part of my food processor. I set them to pickle in water with some white vinegar and sugar mixed in.

I made a ton of rice in the Instant Pot. It comes out good and sticky when you use the 1:1 method. When the rice was almost done, I fried up the meat in a skillet, and sliced and sauteed some mushrooms.

Then, when the rice was done, everyone put some in a bowl, and piled on their choice of pork, pickled vegetables, pea sprouts, and mushrooms, with sesame seeds, soy sauce, and wasabi sauce. And then a fricken fried egg on top. It’s so good. The various juices trickle down through the rice and you just have to focus on not passing out with joy before you get to the bottom.

FRIDAY
Canobie Lake Park!

Friday was our long-awaited trip to the excellent amusement park that’s a couple of hours away. We went with the Girl Scouts, who picked up a big part of the tab, so we splurged on actual park food for lunch, and then we had monstrous ice cream sundaes around dinner time.

We stayed eleven hours. Would have been longer, but there came a crashing, thundering downpour and they had to close the park and evacuate everyone. We made our way to Papa Ginos. I don’t care what you say, it’s really quite good pizza. Also, we only ever seem to eat there when we are wet, exhausted, and completely starving. But I still think it’s good pizza!

And that’s what we did on our summer vacation.

What’s for supper? Vol. 136: Charlotte was neither

Something something food something! Ho ho, Sam Sifton, aioli. Remoulade, cabanas with that wonderful old-fashioned smell of hot canvas, and gin rummy. At any rate, then we all popped over to Sonya Yoncheva’s flat, where the most amusing thing happened with some lobster knuckles, ho ho ho. Then here’s what we had the rest of the week:

SATURDAY
Giant grilled ham and cheddar cheese, strawberries, chips

We normally have these sandwiches on sourdough bread, but Aldi had this ludicrously big loaves on sale. I forget what it’s called — something Italian — but those were some hearty sandwiches, let me tell you. For size reference, this is a twelve-inch pan they’re cooking in:

Nice summer meal, yum.

If you don’t know the trick of skimming a little mayo on the outside of your grilled cheese before frying it in butter, you should. It’s a good trick.

SUNDAY
Cookout!

We usually have a huge family reunion party on July 4th, but too many people couldn’t make it, so we rescheduled for the 8th — and then a bunch of people got sick and couldn’t make it. So we had the party anyway, with a small but cheerful group, and we’re shooting for Memorial Day to get the band back together.

We had burgers and hot dogs and chicken, chips, watermelon, potato salad, ice cream, and cookies, with sparklers, fireworks, and the Declaration of Independence. Three cheers!

MONDAY
Pork ribs, rice, string beans

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as supper at 5, but by 5:45, we had oven roasted pork ribs, white rice, and raw string beans. Pork ribs with salt and pepper in a pan with drainage, slide under a hot broiler for maybe 8 minutes, turning once. Rice using the 1:1 method in the Instant Pot. String beans thrust at unwilling children for stem removal, standards lowered as necessary. Boom, dinner. I had mine with gochujang sauce to make it even more boom.

TUESDAY
Apricot chicken salad

I had a recipe, but I didn’t like the looks of it, so I invented something brand new not to like. The recipe called for greens and cooked chicken, fresh apricots, celery, blue cheese, and some kind of peculiar buttermilk dressing. We all agree that buttermilk is problematic, because we’ve all read Charlotte’s Web and now expect buttermilk to taste like ambrosia, rather than bad milk, and it never does. (We also have some inappropriate notions about potato peels and old cabbage cores, but never mind.) So I skipped the dressing, and happened upon some white balsamic peach vinaigrette dressing at Aldi, which, it turns out, is only offered for a short time for a reason, the reason being that it is yucky.

Well, apricots aren’t quite in season yet, it turns out, so I bought dried apricots. Just like you can substitute raisins for grapes, okay? It’s the same thing!

So, the salad was okay. We ate it. I could redo it when apricots are in season, I guess, but I think we’ll just move along [shakes fist at passing spider].

WEDNESDAY
Pizzas by Irene

For our child-led dinner series (which I say because I’ve forgotten how to talk), Irene chose pizza. So, you know how some parents watch their children get all upset and stressed out while trying to accomplish something tricky, and they respond to that stressed-out child by shouting, “Calm down! Just take it easy, okay? Calm down!” and you know how that’s not helpful at all?

Well, you go ahead and watch the world’s least chill 9-year-old attempt to stretch somewhat cold pizza dough over five extra large pans, and see what happens when she gets a hole in the dough and it’s the ennnnnnnnnd of the world. You see what comes out of your mouth!

Anyway, she actually did very well. We all did very well. Yes. [shakes fist at passing spider]

THURSDAY
Carnitas with salsa verde

We just had carnitas last week, but I wanted to try some new toppings for it. I had big plans, but ended up settling for just one new thing: salsa verde. Oh my stars, this was a good choice.

I took about fifteen tomatillos and unwrapped them, and put them on a pan with three medium jalapenos, a quartered onion, and about ten cloves of garlic. I roasted them for a few minutes until they were a little charred.

Look how dramatic the onions got!

Then I cut the stems off the jalapenos (I left all the seeds in), pulled the wrappers off the garlic cloves, and trimmed the ends off the onions, and shoved everything in the food processor with a big handful of cilantro and about 3/4 tsp of sugar. I blended it until it was pulpy.

Then I heated up a frying pan with a little olive oil and put the salsa mixture in, and heated it, stirring, until it was a bit thickened. Then I added about 3/4 cup of chicken broth and about 1/4 cup of lime juice; then I let it simmer for another 15 minutes until a lot of the liquid was absorbed.

I will admit that I have only tasted salsa verde once before in my life, but I do believe this is how it’s supposed to taste. Sweet and hot and greeeeen. So very nice.

It was a wonderful accompaniment to the pork, which I made in the slow cooker with a can of beer and two cans of diced tomatoes with chiles. When the meat was tender, I trimmed off the considerable fat, shredded it, and spread it in a shallow pan to be browned up under the broiler.

The meat came out a bit bland, but the salsa verde more than made up for it. I had my carnitas with salsa verde, sour cream, raw red onions sliced thin, and a little fresh lime juice. More fresh cilantro would have been nice.

FRIDAY
Penne and sauce

Oh, we had a birthday in there, too. Sonny wanted to go have pizza with his friends and then sleep in the yard in a tent, so my main contribution was this . . . thing.

Look, he wanted a cake with a bearded dragon wearing a top hat, and that’s what he got. In real life, bearded dragons are even stupider-looking. [shakes fist at passing spider]