What’s for supper? Vol. 92: Never trust a man who skimps on garlic

Time’s a-wastin. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Apple chicken pecan salad

A fine summer meal. I mixed up the chicken with bottled Italian dressing, then broiled it and sliced it. I served the warm chicken over salad greens along with diced green apples, bleu cheese, dried cranberries and toasted pecans.

I bought a bottle of raspberry vinaigrette. I love the combination of the tart apple and sour creese with the sweet cranberries and dressing.

Always toast your pecans! It makes the texture so much more pleasing, and brings out the flavor so much. Just run them into a medium oven in a shallow pan for 8-10 minutes, until the color darkens. So worth it.

***

SUNDAY
Garlic chicken thighs, bread, asparagus

I was agonizing over an essay about Pope Francis for an upcoming book, so I abandoned Damien with some trays of chicken thighs and two bags of asparagus. He proceeded to drive me insane with the aromas of paradise (namely, roasted garlic) as he prepared Roasted Garlic Clove Chicken from Food Network. He even sent me tantalizing pictures to distract me from my work:

Never trust a man who skimps on garlic.

The chicken was very good, the garlic was scrumptious, but the sauce was out of this world.

The bread was essential in that it stopped me from putting my face in the plate and doing unspeakable things with that sauce. Just remarkable. I’m definitely going to permit him to make this for us again.

***

MONDAY
Hot dogs, beans, chips

I have no memory of Monday.

***

TUESDAY
BBQ Korean pork ribs, mangoes, pasta

Another splendid meal. We spent the afternoon clambering about in a deep, romantic chasm of a local gorge. Gorges are my favorite kind of landscape. They have everything you need. I forgot to take pictures, though.

I had a bunch of country style pork ribs, so I mixed them up with gochujang, honey, sugar, soy sauce, onions, and fresh garlic (I found a spare head quaking in fear behind a bottle of corn syrup. It alone was spared in the great Garlic Massacre of Husband Cooking), and let them marinate most of the day. My husband cooked them up on the grill in the evening. Superb. The best possible meal for hungry gorge-clamberers.

We were supposed to have rice on the side, but we had run out, so I cooked up a bunch of plain noodles, thinking half the kids wouldn’t want spicy Korean pork anyway. The little creeps gobbled that meat up! I do remember wishing they would develop more sophisticated palates, but on the other hand, they are now eating all my spicy Korean pork. They ate the noodles, too.

We also had sliced mango, which was a wonderful, cooling side dish for the pork.

***

WEDNESDAY
Fish tacos, chips

The kids were excited about this meal, because then they could go, “Mmm, fish dinner!” in a creepy voice for a reason for once. I was a bit disappointed because I forgot so many of the ingredients, and plus the cabbage turned out to be a head of lettuce. A lot of guys were shouting stuff.

***

THURSDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad

My sister and her kids came for a visit, hooray! We took ten pounds of ground beef and two pounds of ground turkey (you know, for our health), a dozen eggs, breadcrumbs and seasoning and  . . . well, then I left the house, and my oldest daughter magically transformed it into untold meatballs. I can’t believe she didn’t count them, but here is a blurry picture, pre-cooking:

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I need to again empower you to free yourself from the tyranny of individually-fried meatballs. Put them in a hot oven on shallow pans on something that allows the fat to drain, and there you are.

***

FRIDAY
French toast

So let it be written; so let it be done.

I asked on Facebook for ideas for chicken thighs, and got tons of them, including the one Damien made on Sunday. Anyone interested in a separate post with just yummy-looking recipes for chicken thighs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

SUNDAY
Curried chicken salad

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

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

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

***

MONDAY
Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, chips

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

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

***

TUESDAY
July 4th Cookout!

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

WEDNESDAY
Cookout leftovers

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

***

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

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

***

FRIDAY
Pizza

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

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

What’s for supper? Vol. 88: Ach du lieber clafoutis

Alles ist weg. 

SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

On Saturday afternoon, I put Coke, onions, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and a nice fatty pork shoulder in the Instant Pot, only to discover that someone had made off with the valve cap. Why? Probably in revenge for all those countless nights I lay awake feeding them with my own body and expending the last few ounces of my strength singing them lullabys.

So I put the pork and stuff in a ziplock bag — well, first I yelled a little, and then I bagged it up and put it in the fridge, and we had chicken burgers.

***

SUNDAY
Carnitas, tortilla chips, watermelon, clafoutis

On Sunday, the family pulled together and found not one but three small, heavy, metal and black plastic machine components floating around the house. They all looked important. I have no idea what any of them were, except that they were definitely not pressure cooker valve caps. I filed them away in a box marked “The whole world is covered with buttons.”

I dredged out the old slow cooker and got that pork going in the morning. By dinner, it was shreddy and wonderful — and then, my friends, we spread it out in a thin layer on a baking pan and tucked it up under the broiler on high, till it was crisp. Fantastico.

We served it on tortillas with sour cream, salsa, and cheese, with the first watermelon of the year on the side.

For dessert, we some some clafoutis using this recipe from Epicurious. Clafoutis is a kind of baked custard with fruit in it, and you can use just about any kind of fruit, and you can serve warm or cold, with or without powdered sugar, or cream, or whatever you like. In the past, we’ve used cherries, and once I made a chocolate plum clafoutis with cardamom.

Clafoutis is really, truly easy. You just lay the fruit in a dish, mix up the custard and pour it over, and slide it in the oven. (I got good results by sifting the flour into the other ingredients, so it’s less lumpy.) I’m on the prowl for another six ramekins so I can make individual servings for everyone — partly just for nice, but mostly because no one will know if the custard holds together or not.

You know what’s not easy? Finding a photo you took of clafoutis, a photo which is either on your phone, your husband’s phone, your son’s phone, or your iPad, and which you actually emailed to yourself several days ago so you wouldn’t lose it, but which you have whimsically titled “claw fruity,” because that’s what Benny calls it.

Anyway, I found it.

Ain’t it purty? I don’t recommend using silicone pans like I did, though, unless you want to custardize the inside of your oven.

***

MONDAY
Omelettes with havarti, mushrooms, and salami

Or bacon for adults! The kids made their own dinner while we went for an evening run, and when we got back we rewarded ourselves with leftover father’s day bacon, plus bagels and cocktails. I lost three more pounds, so I don’t want to hear about it.

***

TUESDAY
Cobb salad

I had high hopes for this meal. It was a huge hit last time

and so pretty; but things were already in chaos by Tuesday, so we had a more chaotic version of the above, and I can’t find the photo anyway.

Basic Cobb salad is bacon, lettuce, avocados, grilled chicken, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, chives, and bleu cheese dressing. I still hadn’t found the ratzer fratzin’ Instant Pot valve cover, so I was reduced to cooking the eggs in the pot and the chicken in the oven like some kind of farmer. It was awful. We also had no chives, and the avocados had gone slimy.

***

WEDNESDAY
Fish tacos with spicy cabbage slaw, corn chips

We usually have fish tacos with sour cream, salsa, avocados, lime, and shredded cabbage, but I thought to dress it up with this recipe from The Kitchn for “Quick Cabbage Slaw,” which includes jalapenos, garlic, and lime juice along with more typical coleslaw ingredients. I have a bone to pick with that name, but it’s not a very big bone. The slaw was tasty and spicy.

Hey, see my pretty new plates? One of the kids complimented me on them. I said, “Thanks! I got them at the Salvation Army!” And Benny, who is five, said, “It looks like you got this food at the Salvation Army.”

This is what happens when you have five teenagers in the house along with little guys who are just learning how to think and express themselves. You get six teenagers.

***

THURSDAY
Korean beef bowl, rice, raw string beans

Always a hit, especially when supper is an hour and a half late. They gobbled up every speck, even though I had to make the rice on the stovetop like a peasant, because I still can’t find the duck plucking valve cover.

Here’s the recipe from Six Sisters Stuff. If you think the photo shows broccoli but I distinctly mentioned eating string beans, that’s on you. I can’t find my valve cover! Haven’t I suffered enough?

***

FRIDAY
Shakshuka! and pita

from Epicurious. You make a slightly spicy tomato sauce with peppers, then cook some eggs into the top. Szo naice.

Photo above is the ghost of shakshuka past. I don’t know why I feel compelled to admit this. I could rob a bank run by orphans, but I’d feel guilty about not wiping my feet on the mat as I left.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 87: Mango, Mango! Can’t trust that day!

And we’re off! Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Pancakes with strawberries, sausages

That’s what the kids at home made and ate. Damien and I took our latest high school graduate out to eat for a celebration meal, and we all ate long past the point of regret. Someone’s gonna put fresh, hot bread and herbed olive oil, seafood chowder, fried calamari, and shrimp scampi in front of me, what am I gonna do? I’m not made of stone. But I said no to the berry mascarpone torte, mainly because I was still finishing my beer.

My daughter made us proud all through high school, and graduated with honors in math (MATH!). Here is her crowning achievement:

Isn’t she cute?

***

SUNDAY
Burgers, hot dogs, chips, brownie sundaes

This was Father’s Day, and maybe not our best effort. Something about everyone feeling about as peppy and energetic as a, a, a thing that is tired and having a hard time coming up with interesting descriptions. So he cooked up meat on the grill and it was good.

***

MONDAY
Turkey avocado provolone wraps, raw veggies and hummus, grapes

For some reason, everyone was super enthusiastic about this meal. We had some leftover rolls and a bunch of leftover tortillas, which I set out with deli turkey and salami, avocados, onions, provolone, and various kinds of dressing. I chose honey mustard, which doesn’t even go.

I mean, it didn’t taste bad or anything, but I wasn’t prepared for the choruses of hosannas. I think it may have been the grapes, actually.

Here is a moment that Benny wanted to memorialize:

***

TUESDAY
Blueberry chicken salad

I intended to use this recipe, but ran out of time to make the special dressing or chop anything small, so we had chicken, mixed bagged greens, bleu cheese, sliced almonds, red onions, and blueberries, with balsamic vinegar. I can’t seem to find the picture I took, so here’s the pic from last time:

Again, I was taken aback at how delighted everyone was. I do love these hearty salads with nuts, cheese, meat, and fruit. Very pretty and filling.

***

WEDNESDAY

It was the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL FINALLY, and we went to the beach, and by the time we got home, I had zero interest in making dinner, and 100% interest in letting the kids make French toast while I languished on the couch. Then I got up and ate scrambled eggs and the ice cream I virtuously declined on Sunday.

***

THURSDAY
Pork kebabs, white rice, mangoes

I was planning to make oven pork gyros using this NYT recipe, but I was just too lazy to try a new recipe with that many steps.

Instead, I put together a triple recipe of this teriyaki sauce and mixed it up with cubed pork and big wedges of onion, and let that marinate a few hours. Then I put the meat and onions on a pan with a rack and shoved it up right under the broiler, turning it once. Yummeh.

The rice, I made in the Instant Pot (affiliate link) using the 1:1 method and the rice button. I don’t understand why you have to rinse the rice, but it always comes out perfect, so I won’t argue.

We had five large mangoes which I peeled and cut up in no time using a metal cup. You try to figure out which way the pit lies and then cut the “cheeks” off the mango, leaving the pit inside a flat section of fruit.

Then you take a glass or metal cup with a thin rim and just, vooooop, slide the cup rim just under the skin and scoop the flesh right out in one piece.

Very satisfying and efficient.
It’s a little tricker to trim the rest of the flesh off the pit, but overall, this method makes mangoes worth eating, rather than an exercise in sticky, pulpy futility.

Because I must always be shilling something, and because I’m as sick of hearing about the Instant Pot as you are, these are the aluminum cups we have (affiliate link):

My damn wiener kids do lose them and bend them, but they do not break them! Ha!

***

FRIDAY

Child requested tuna noodle casserole. So let it be written, so let it be done. My husband despises this food, but he will be out picking up my oldest kid from the airport, hooray! We sure missed her.

Okay, the Fourth of July looms! We’ll probably do burgers and hot dogs and pork spiedies using this recipe, plus chips and corn on the cob (maybe fancy corn on the cob with lime, paprika, and parmesan), watermelon, and potato salad. As predictable a menu as Thanksgiving, but with food you actually want to eat. Who has exciting ideas for a picnic dessert for a big crowd? Or some kind of razzle dazzle side dish that kids would like?

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 81: How very Montessori

Yipe, it’s late! Never mind the introduction where I mention that we were extremely busy this week. Here’s what we ate:

SATURDAY
Pizza and birthday cake

Another birthday! Actually, this birthday was last month, but we finally got around to having the party and sleepover. Child requested calzones, but I bargained her down to pizza. The cake, I refuse to show you. Turns out it’s very possible to go very, very wrong with a simple Deathly Hallows symbol.

A few of the decorations turned out pretty good, though. Here are the candles floating over the table:

They are rolls of cardstock with electric tea lights stuck in one end, hanging from threads.

Other quickie Harry Potter party ideas: We drew banners for the four houses on poster board, and drew on white balloons to make them look like owls. We printed out “wanted” signs for the villains and tacked them up, and also printed out and cut out a photo of Moaning Myrtle, and taped that to the toilet. We wrote “The chamber of secrets has been opened” in lipstick on the front window.

Party food was not super inspired – just orange soda labelled “pumpkin juice” and lots of gourmet jelly beans labelled “Bertie Bott’s.” For an activity, the kids dipped pretzel rods in candy melt and then decorated them with various sugars and sprinkles, for wands.

***

SUNDAY
Bacon cheeseburgers, chips, ice cream sundae cones

This was the actual birthday of #1 Son, who requested this fine meal. I want to say there was salad, but I don’t think there was. We got hot fudge and hot caramel, and put one in the bottom of the cone and one on top of the ice cream. Birthday!

***

MONDAY
Oven roasted pork ribs, roast mushrooms, fruit salad

Still the best way to make ribs if you can’t grill them outside. Salt and pepper on a rack in a real hot oven until they’re sizzling hot. So good.

Mushrooms were 79 cents for eight ounces, so I bought six packages and went to town. Here’s the recipe from Deadspin (which means it’s rambling and profane and oddly endearing). This picture is from my very worst camera, but — oooh, that smell.

Strawberries and blueberries were also on sale, so we mixed them together and pretended it wasn’t a weird side dish.

I’m trying to get away from serving potatoes all the time. Not because I have some kind of theory about dietary starches, or because I’m ashamed of my Hobbit forefathers, but . . . I don’t know why, I guess I’m just bored.

***

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, onion rings, corn on the cob

Remember how we had hot dogs last week? Well, this week, we had hot dogs again.

The corn on the cob was first of the season, and middle-of-May corn tastes a lot like “too soon.” But setting the kids to shuck some corn is a quick way to redeem part of one day from what has lately become a discouraging stream of rushing in and out of the car, gobbling pre-packaged junk food, and realizing Sophia the First and her very unlikely rabbit friend have been gabbling away for four hours straight. Here! Shuck some good old corn! Be wholesome for a minute! Maybe we can string wooden beads later, or even — stop me if this sounds crazy — go outside.

So I get them set up with twelve ears of corn and, as I go about my business in the other room, I hear the honest, timeless sound of happy, unspoiled children hard at work at the domestic arts, up to their elbows in the fruits of the earth, smelling green smells, rediscovering the joys of industry. Then I hear,

Corrie is up on the table and she has nothing on her bottom! THE CORN! IS GOING! TO TASTE! LIKE BOTTOM!!!”

Sure enough. How very Montessori.

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken apple salad, risotto

This meal was a copycat version of a salad I often get at Wendy’s. I got a few bags of mixed greens and let the kids choose their combination of warm grilled chicken, crumbled bleu cheese, diced green apples, sweet dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, and some bottled berry vinaigrette dressing. (Wendy’s version has two kinds of apples, sugared pecans, and pomegranate vinaigrette.)

Fancy!

It’s totally worth the quick extra step to toast the nuts. Put them in a single layer in a baking pan in a 350 oven for about ten minutes. I know everyone is always talking about how this and that brings out the flavor of this and that, but toasting really does bring out the flavor of nuts. It also makes them, I don’t know, more pleasing to the teeth. It turns them into interesting, adult nuts instead of stupid, immature nuts. Just do it!)

I made the chicken by marinating it all day in a bag with some bottled Italian dressing, then roasting it under the broiler on a pan with some drainage. This meal was a big hit. Definitely making it again.

We also had magic Instant Pot (Amazon Affiliate link!) risotto using this recipe (skipping the squash). I’m including a picture because it looks like a lovely little cumulous butt floating through the sky.

Imagine if butts were made with sauteed onions and parmesan cheese. What would they rain down? Pure joy, that’s what.

***

THURSDAY
English muffin pizzas

We were home for about twelve minutes in between school and a concert, so English muffin pizzas did the trick. We made about 45 of them with what turned out to be, oops, cheddar cheese.
Here’s an after-concert group portrait:

Back row: My Mother Made Me Wear This Shirt and It Burnssssssss
Front Row, Left to right: Pretty Much Always Having a Wonderful Time; Angry Because Mama Said We Can Swing On the Swings Anytime, But Not Right Now; This Skirt Is Not Who I Am; and Kind of a Violin Prodigy, Kind of Over Having Siblings

***

FRIDAY
Fish tacos and corn chips

Just frozen fish sticks, shredded cabbage, jarred salsa, sour cream, and limes on tortillas, and maybe some guacamole if I can still lift my arms by the end of the day.