What’s for supper? Vol. 193: Baklava! Shawarma! Rice pilaf! Banh mi! Italian wedding soup! Pumpkin bread! AND MORE!

Hello! You may remember me from that time you used to get an email from me every time I posted. But then, several weeks ago, WordPress stopped sending emails; but I didn’t realize until recently. I’ve been plugging along, wondering where 40% of my readers went. My brother fixed it for me last night. Sorry about that! I think it happened when we updated WordPress.  I believe some people got an email called “test,” and also some people got one with lots of links (I have no idea why that one random post was chosen to be sent out).

Would it be helpful to have a round-up post with links to all the posts you may have missed for the last several weeks? Or should we just move along? 

Anyway, here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Nachos

Damien made three platters of nachos, including one with lots of jalapeños and queso. I hardly ever buy a jar of queso, because I am completely shameless. I could be actively dying of a heart attack and I would bat away the defibrillator so I could run my finger around the inside of the queso jar one more time. But it’s okay, because I went to the Y a couple weeks ago.

SUNDAY
Shawarma! Rice pilaf! Baklava!

So, I’m not pregnant, we have no babies or even really toddlers, Damien’s home for dinner most nights, we’re not drowning in poverty, nobody’s having a health crisis, and we can finally relax a bit. So what do we do? We sign up for All The Things. This week, it was the themed dinner for the Dead Theologians Society youth group. If you have this in your parish, you should totally sign up! Really neat program, especially for kids who are allergic to LifeTeen stuff. The kids have a social time, then they learn about a saint, then they have prayer time, and then they eat a meal related to the saint. This week it was Mary Magdalene, who apparently comes from a region of Israel renowned for its pickled fish. 

Coward that I am, I settled on shawarma. (And now I’m imagining swooping in and settling, bat-like, on a pan of shawarma to devour it noisily, which is, in fact, what happened.) I thought there would be about 25 people, so I prepared 20 pounds of chicken. Terrified it wouldn’t be enough food, I made about a barrel full of rice pilaf and loaded up the church kitchen counter with pita, tomatoes, cucumbers, stirred up a bunch of yogurt sauce, dished out so many black and red olives and so much feta cheese and parsley, and chopped up some pomegranates, and then I made baklava for dessert. I did buy store-bought hummus.

Yeah, so, it was enough food. This is about half of what I made. 

I surveyed a bunch of rice pilaf recipes, and ended up just winging it. It was fine, if a bit bland. I cooked up a bunch of basmati rice, then stirred in blonde raisins, pepitos, parsley, curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, and whatnot. I didn’t get a great pic, but it was kind of meh anyway. It smelled fantastic, though. 

Pepitos, it turns out, are pumpkin seeds without the outer shell. I thought they were squash seeds! Now I know something. 

I got the baklava recipe from Pioneer Woman, and I followed it slavishly, so I won’t make my own recipe card. I did use almond extract along with the vanilla, and that was nice. I also used less of the syrup than it called for, since I always find baklava way too sweet and sticky. It was still very sweet, but not monstrously so.

You can definitely make baklava! It’s a little time-consuming, but not difficult, and it would make good Christmas treats. Basically you brush a ton of sheets of phyllo dough with butter and spread a few layers of chopped walnuts and cinnamon in between some, then bake it and cut it, then pour a hot syrup of honey, butter, sugar, and extracts over that (and the sizzling is a lot of fun), and let it sit. 

I started pouring the honey over the butter and then though, “Ooh, other people are gonna want to see this.” I’ve never had so much honey in one place before. 

 

 

If you listen carefully, you can hear me breathing heavily, and if you listen really carefully, you can hear my heart saying, “Really? After our little talk about all that queso, really?”

Once it was thoroughly soaked, I put the pieces in cupcake papers. I ended up with about 50 large pieces of baklava from a double recipe.

It was pretty popular!

Next time, I will experiment with adding different things to the walnuts. Maybe some bits of candied citrus, hmmmmm. 

I didn’t get any pics of the shawarma itself, but I’d call the meal a success. I’ll put the shawarma and yogurt sauce recipe cards at the end 

*****Note! The recipe cards are on a second page! You will need to click on the little 2 in a box to get to the next page and see the recipe cards! Unless the Jump to Recipe thing is magically working today*****

and harass you one last time to make some shawarma. It’s so easy — just make a simple marinade for chicken and onions, and you slide it into a pan, cook, and then chop it up — and the flavor is out of this world. Dish up a bunch of cheerful little toppings so picky people can pick what they like, and you get one happy evening. 

MONDAY
Chicken sandwiches with basil, tomato, and mozzarella; chips

This is what I was planning for Sunday, somehow not realizing we’d have a mountain of shawarma leftovers. Damien picked up some frozen herb and parmesan-crusted chicken breasts, and we had those on ciabatta rolls with tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella. 

I make mine with plenty of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and freshly-ground salt and pepper, as you can see. So good, even though November tomatoes are rather weary. 

Also, check out my pretty new drinking glasses! A great score at the Salvation Army. I’m slowly replacing our plastic ware with ceramic, glass, and steel before we all grow phthalate tails out of our faces.

TUESDAY
Banh mi

Another dish that used to seem intimidating and now is routine but delicious. You slice up the pork and get it marinating in the morning and quick pickle some carrots, and by evening all you have to do is throw the meat in a pan and broil it, and you have an amazing sandwich just exploding with flavor.

Jump to Recipe

It helps if you have a little bear to help you with the carrots. 

I shared this on Facebook and several people pointed out that it’s not necessary to peel carrots, if you give them a quick scrub. Never occurred to me! I wonder how many of my kitchen habits are outmoded. It seems to me carrot peels used to be tougher and dirtier, but I really don’t know. I’m thinking of the woman whose husband asked her why she always cuts the ends off roast beef before she cooks it, and she said she learned it from her mother. So they asked her mother, and she said she learned it from her mother. So they go visit old granny at the rest home, and she says, “Oh, it’s because the only pan I had was too small to fit a whole roast.” 

Anyway, it kept Corrie busy for a good ten minutes, so that’s a good enough reason for me. I also had some luck with a bag of dried beans and a cupcake pan. This bought me over half an hour!

What was I talking about? Oh, banh mi. I like my sandwich on toasted bread, with plain cucumbers, a bunch of cilantro, and some mayo with sriracha sauce stirred in. 

The kids don’t even complain about the smell of fish sauce anymore! Or maybe they all just have colds. Anyway, I’m drinking more. 

WEDNESDAY
Italian wedding soup, pumpkin muffins

I didn’t really have a recipe for this. I just surveyed a bunch of recipes and figured I had the basic idea. I’ll add my recipe card at the end (Jump to Recipe), but you can definitely put your own spin on this. 

I made about 70 meatballs with ground turkey, parmesan, and fresh parsley. You could also use pork or a combination of ground meats. I boiled them in chicken broth, but I may bake them in the oven next time before adding to the soup, as they got a little blurry. 

So it’s just chicken broth with bunch of tasty little meatballs, and then I threw in a few handfuls of ance di pepe (that is pasta in little nubbins; other small pastas would work fine) and a ton of torn-up spinach, and let it simmer. You can top it with more parmesan and some fresh pepper. I thought it was great, and so easy. 

We had pumpkin bread (Jump to Recipe) because I promised Benny, but I would rather have had a more bready bread with this dish. Still, a cozy, hearty meal for a sniffly, drizzly day. 

THURSDAY
Pizza

I flexed my pizza muscles a bit and made one cheese pizza, two pepperoni, one olive, and one *ahem* olive, garlic, feta, tomato, spinach, and parmesan.

Veddy good.

FRIDAY
Spaghetti

And that’s that. I’m going to put the recipe cards on page 2! If you wish to see the recipe cards, then you must click on the little box with a “2” in it! Here is a screen shot of what will be at the bottom of the page. Please click on the 2!

Oh, and one more thing: I have sooo much phyllo dough left over from the baklava. Might as well use it for Thanksgiving. What’s your favorite phyllo dough recipe that isn’t baklava? Could be dessert or a side dish, like an asparagus tart or whatever.

Also, what’s the verdict on a “here’s what you missed” post, for people who weren’t getting my emails? Yes or no?

What’s for supper? Vol. 186: The world is cold, but food is warm.

Everyone is sick and mopey and overworked, and there is frost on the windshield in the morning. And we’ve decided that Corrie is watching far too much TV, so we are doing a little detox there, which is hard on everyone.  So I focused on cozy, unchallenging meals for this week. Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Steak, hot bread, salad

Well, London broil. That’s a steak, right? Everyone looked so droopy and sad, I thought we could all use some steak, and it happened to be on sale. Damien seasoned and broiled them, and I bought a few of those pull-apart bread rings and threw them in the oven right before supper. I put out some salad but it remained largely unmolested. 

The pictures are lackluster but the meat was great. Much better than the other way around, as sometimes happens. 

SUNDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips

Sunday we went to Mass and I led my first faith formation class, which went great! Overall. Some of those kids know a lot and some of them know hardly anything, but they are all interested in Jesus! And why not? He is an interesting guy. 

We came home for lunch and some of us were clever enough to fix ourselves steak and cheese sandwiches. 

Then we met my dad and went apple picking at our absolute favorite orchard, Wellwood Orchards in Springfield, Vt. It’s way up in the mountains where the air is so clean and good. You buy your bags and then get into a wagon, and a tractor pulls you wherever you want to go. We wanted mostly Macintosh, Macouns, and Cortlands, although some of the younger and more naive children were swayed by the deceit of that apple that calls itself “delicious.” 

This orchard has a little farm animal petting zoo, with cute little goaties and fancy ridiculous chickens, and the sun shone down, and the air smelled like apples, and it was just a good day. There are a bunch of pictures on my FB page. Here’s my favorite:

We also stopped at the Vermont Country Store and spent more money on candy than I have ever imagined it was possible to spend on candy. Irene bought wax lips with fangs, because Monday is school picture day and she’s not made of stone. 

MONDAY
French toast casserole, sausages, plums, OJ

Continuing the theme of “life is cold; here is some food that is hot.”

I’ll do my best to make a recipe for french toast casserole, but it turns out different every time. It’s definitely a good meal for kids to help you make. Although I would not recommend letting your very contagious four-year-old mix the orange juice in the other room. We ended up making a whole separate batch for those who did not wish to drink plague juice. 

I browned up some frozen breakfast sausages and set out a bowl of sweet little plums, lovely, dusky little plums. 

TUESDAY
Pork and ricotta meatballs on spaghetti with Marcella Hazan’s sauce

Sometimes you see a recipe and you just know. This one, from the NYT, calls for ground pork, ricotta, parmesan, bread crumbs, eggs, and salt and pepper, and that’s it. You bake them, so it’s nice and easy.

They don’t look like much, but they are delightfully fluffy and so full of flavor (although I thought the amount of salt it called for was way too much), with little creamy pockets of cheese. I ended up using three pounds of pork and one pound of ground beef, and more parm than the recipe called for, and panko bread crumbs; so I guess that’s a good enough reason to make up my own recipe card. I had to cook them ahead of time and then heat them up in the sauce, but next time I want to cook them right before we eat them, so they can be as light as possible. They did soak up a lot of the sauce, which was unexpected. Possibly because of the panko bread crumbs.

I made Marcella Hazan’s miraculous three-ingredient sauce in the morning in the crock pot.

Boy, does it not look like it’s going to be delicious. BUT IT IS. 

This was a popular meal, and we have been snacking on meatballs all week. In fact, the other day, I was working and thinking about meatballs and asked Benny to snag me a couple. This is what she brought me:

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, beans, fries

This meal was just a gift to myself. I actually asked Benny and Corrie to make it for me, and they somehow didn’t do a very good job, but still. 

THURSDAY
Nachos

Again, no culinary adventures, but everyone was happy. I spread tortilla chips in a pan, spread cooked, seasoned ground beef over that, and sprinkled it heavily with shredded cheddar, and then topped it with chopped scallions. The scallions were third gen, if anyone cares. 

I had mine with salsa and sour cream. And very good they are, nachos. 

FRIDAY
Fish tacos

I splurged on batter-fried frozen fish instead of the breaded kind. We have tortillas, shredded cabbage, cute li’l cherry tomatoes, lime wedges, sour cream, and ooops, I forgot to buy avocados. 

Here’s the recipe cards!

 

5 from 1 vote
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French toast casserole

An easy, kid-pleasing meal, pleasant and cozy for breakfast, brunch, or brinner. Use any kinds of bread you have in the house. You can also add raisins, slices of apple, or whatever sounds good. 

I'm not putting measurements in, because you can make this so many different ways, so it's more pastry-like or more custardy. Use the same proportions you'd use to make regular french toast and it will be good. 

Ingredients

  • bread, torn up
  • eggs
  • milk
  • dash of salt
  • white or brown sugar
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla

Instructions

  1. Grease a casserole dish or cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350.

  2. Tear the bread up into chunks and spread them in the buttered pans.

  3. Mix together the eggs, milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla, and pour the batter over the bread. Stir up the bread so all of it is wet. 

  4. If you like, you can let the casserole sit for a few hours to let the egg soak in, but it's not essential.  

  5. Sprinkle the top with more sugar and cinnamon, if you like. Bake for 40 minutes or so, until the egg is all cooked and it's a little toasted on top. Serve in wedges and drizzle with syrup, sprinkle with powdered sugar, or serve with jam or fruit toppings. 

Pork and ricotta meatballs

Adapted from a NYT recipe, found here.  Very easy to put together, and the extra creamy, fluffy, cheesiness make these remarkable. 

Ingredients

  • 1 lbs ground pork
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 2+ cups panko bread crumbs
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 32 oz ricotta
  • 8 oz grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.

  2. Lightly mix together all ingredients in a bowl. The ricotta doesn't need to be completely incorporated. Form into balls. This makes about 75 walnut-sized meatballs. 

  3. Grease a rimmed baking sheet and arrange the meatballs on it. 

  4. Bake for about half an hour, until the meatballs are slightly browned. 

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes, broken up
  • 1 onion peeled and cut in half
  • salt to taste
  • 5 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

  4. I'm freaking serious, that's it!

What’s for supper? Vol. 183: Sandwiches, sandwiches, barely even human

Dramatization of me making the menu for the week:

Me: Okay, now, concentrate! What’s for supper all week long? Let’s make a list! Good! Fun!
Me: Can’t.
Me: Yes, you can! 
Me: Can’t.
Me: Yes you can. This is your job, and it’s easy. Just think of what people like to eat. What do people like to eat?
Me: I mean . . . I guess . . . food?
Me: Yes, good! And what kind of food? Can you think of some?
Me: Like . . . like . . . the kind you put in your . . . mouth?
Me: Good! You’re doing so well! And what kind of food do we put in our mouth?
Me: Like . . .
. . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . sandwiches?

Me: YES.

[feebly writes down “sandwiches” several times, lets pen loll out of fingers. Late August housefly coasts in and lands on my shopping list. It marches across the page with arrogance and disdain. A single tear of weariness leaks out of my eyeball and trickles down my cheek and onto the paper, zig-zagging across the crumpled page until it seems to spell out b-a-c-k-t-o-s-c-h-o-o-l.]

SATURDAY
Pizza

Saturday, Damien had a hunting safety course all day and I had a planning session for faith formation (I’m going to teach second grade, hoop de doo!); and then I drove Lena back to college. We both got home quite late, and Damien got pizza of some kind, either Domino’s or Aldi. 

I tried bubble tea for the first time. I had sesame matcha. I will tell you, if the very idea of bubble tea repels you, then bubble tea itself will definitely repel you; but if you’re thinking to yourself, “I could go for some gummy black blobs in my beverage right about meow,” then you will love it. I loved it.

Sending your kids off to college is bullshit, though. SIGH SIGH SIGH.

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, chips, cannoli

Sunday Damien had more training and I had to do the shopping I didn’t do Saturday. I had a hunch we’d be pretty wiped out and I was not wrong, so I bought pre-made burger patties, because such are the blessings of capitalism, and who am I to turn them down? 

It was Elijah’s shopping turn, and as fall approaches, a young man’s fancy turns to cannoli. We didn’t see cannoli shells, so we got some pizzelle. I made very simple cream filling with ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and we had a scoop of cheese on the cookie topped with shaved chocolate and maraschino cherries. I know I have almond extract somewhere, but it was hiding. 

MONDAY
Sandwiches, chips, watermelon, candy

Monday was the very last day of summer vacation, and it’s become our tradition to spend “all day” at the beach. In practice, this meant running around like a maniac doing errands all morning while the kids focused on being disgruntled, and then heading out to the town pond around 2:00. We did spent about four hours there, which is definitely long enough to get that “no one tells me what to do” feeling. We had the place to ourselves, except for a few silent, stringy old people and many, many dragonfly engaged in l’amour

Sometimes I think my kids are getting spoiled and worldly, and then I realize at least half of them still think it’s a huge treat to get the really big jar of pickles and to be allowed to just stick their hands in their and wipe them off on the grass. So we are doing okay. 

I took many pictures, but this one sums up the tone of the meal pretty well:

I texted Damien that we were on our way home, so he started a fire in the firepit, and we gathered around and told moderately spooky stories in the sorta-getting-dark. I did this knowing full well that it was exactly the kind of thing that would immediately become a Very Important Tradition That We Always Do. 

TUESDAY
Pork ramen

So Tuesday school finally happened. We have two in college, one taking a gap year and working on a big illustrating job, two in high school, and the rest are in 8th, 6th, 5th, and 2nd, and Corrie is home. I actually expect this year to be somewhat easier than last year. When I ask myself why, I’m not sure, but even thinking so is a pretty good sign. According to my therapist. What does he know, the giant weirdo. 

I keep forgetting it’s a food blog today. Let’s see, I cut up some boneless pork chops and sautéed them in oil, then sliced them and dashed in some soy sauce and finished cooking them. I chopped up some scallions and sugar snap peas, and I soft boiled a bunch of eggs. I sliced some mushrooms and sautéed them in the pan with the porky oil. We had crunchy noodles, sesame seeds, and hot sauce for toppings.

Everyone came home hungry and they were happy with a big pot of ramen and pork.

WEDNESDAY
Banh mi

Oh look, sandwiches! But to be fair, these are the greatest sandwiches known to mankind. I made the marinade and sliced a boneless pork loin in the late morning and let it marinate the rest of the day. I quick pickled a bunch of carrots, but decided to let the cucumbers just be plain, so there was a cool taste with all the bitey tastes. I chopped up a bunch of cilantro, and made some spicy mayo (I couldn’t find sriracha, so I just used hot sauce. Not as good). And I had a jar of jalapenos. 

I did toast the bread, which I hate doing, for some reason, but it makes a big difference for these sandwiches. Gosh, I love this meal. I prepped everything in the morning, and then before supper I just had to fish the meat out of the marinade, spread it on a pan, and broil it.

If you haven’t made these sandwiches before, they’re delicious way out of proportion to how hard they are to make. However, when you’re cooking the meat, it smells horrendous way out of proportion to . . . anything. Really, nothing this side of hell should smell like that. But it’s worth it! Recipe card at the end.

Wednesday was also the day this happened:

We had to leave to pick up the kids, but Corrie didn’t want to get out of the bath. I did everything I could think of to get her out, and she ended up on the floor, screaming and writhing. She’s amazingly heavy and strong, and when she’s wet, she’s just about impossible to pick up and hold, much less dry off and get dressed. I was getting madder and madder, so I stepped away to collect myself, and when I came back and opened the door, the stool and wastebasket were knocked over, the towels were all dragged onto the floor, and I could hear violent splashing.

I thought, “Oh great, she’s back in the tub and I’ll have to start all over again.” But when I pulled back the curtain, she wasn’t in the tub.

And that’s when I realized she was so mad, she had jumped right into the toilet.

THURSDAY
Grilled pizza sandwiches

We used to have these a lot, but haven’t for a while, so the kids were pretty excited. I was honestly not at my best as a chef by Thursday. We’re still staying up stupidly late, but now waking up stupidly early. I like to spice things up in the middle of the night by stupidly worrying about stupid things for a while, too. Put it all together, and you get someone who is not going to do a great job flipping heavy sandwiches stuffed with shredded cheese. 

Even the sandwiches look skeptical.

This particular one actually looks kinda like Attorney General William Barr, shown here with Lamar Alexander, who is also full of cheap cheese:

Office of Senator Lamar Alexander [Public domain]
Office of Senator Lamar Alexander [Public domain]
I feel like I haven’t sufficiently made my case here. Look at this:

Maybe? 

I know you want to know how to make these wondrous grilled Wiliam Barr sandwiches, so here is how: Sourdough bread spread with sauce, then cheese, then pepperoni, then topped with another piece of bread spread with sauce. Then the outsides are brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with garlic powder and oregano, then fried in a pan with more butter. It’s actually better to spread them with softened butter with garlic powder and oregano mixed in, but I accidentally melted it.

It would also be a heck of a lot easier to manage if it had slices of mozzarella, rather than wads of shreds, but did I think of that when I was shopping? Nopey.

I grill them and then slide them in the oven for a few minutes to make sure the cheese is melted and can prosecute on behalf of our Lord, the King. This is a attorney general joke and it’s the best I can do right meow.

FRIDAY
Quesadillas, chips and salsa

Not technically a sandwich! And we made it through the first week. There were no guarantees.

***

Pork banh mi


Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs Pork loin
  • 1 cup fish sauce
  • 12 Tbs sugar
  • 1 minced onion
  • 4 Tbs minced garlic
  • 1.5 tsp pepper

Veggies and dressing

  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • cilantro
  • mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce

Instructions

  1. Slice the raw pork as thinly as you can. 

  2. Mix together the fish sauce ingredients and add the meat slices. Seal in a ziplock bag to marinate, as it is horrendously stinky. Marinate several hours or overnight. 

  3. Grill the meat over coals or on a pan under a hot broiler. 

  4. Toast a sliced baguette or other crusty bread. 

quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sale, preferably kosher

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

What’s for supper? Vol. 182: It’s still summer, dammit

Here’s what we ate this week!

SATURDAY
Caprese chicken sandwiches

We are awfully tired of grilled ham and cheese for dinner on Saturdays, but I get home from shopping so late, and then it takes eleven hours to put away all the food, so Saturday has to be something quick and easy. This was quickish and easy.

The chicken was just broiled with olive oil, salt, and pepper. We had ciabatta rolls with tomatoes and fresh basil, mozzarella, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. It’s still summer, dammit!

This sandwich posed a bit of a challenge when assembled, but I just unhooked my lower jaw and dominated it.

Here is another sandwich picture, since I have it:

As you can see, I like plenty of balsamic vinegar. I like to put the dressings and salt and pepper on several layers of this sandwich, and use freshly-ground pepper and salt if I can get it. Mmmmm.

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, potato salad, broccoli and dip, blueberry pie with whipped cream

Damien’s mom came over, so Dora and I decided we would celebrate with potato salad. I said, “I’m so excited you’re making potato salad!” And she said, “Oh. I was so excited you’re making potato salad.” So I made the potato salad, and guess what? It wasn’t very good. It was just kind of bland, and also I forgot I was cooking potatoes, so they cooked into mush. Oh well.

I realized I’d gone all summer without making any fruit pies, and that aggression will not stand, man. The pie had some structural problems when we cut it, but look how pretty!

When I served it up, what people got was less a slice of pie and more of a . . . pie area. Everyone got a pie area with whipped cream. It tasted good, anyway. I don’t use a ton of sugar either in the pie or in the whipped cream. I didn’t have enough dough for a lattice crust, so I rolled little balls of dough and stuck them around the edge, then flattened them with a fork. If I had remembered to do a sugared egg wash, it would have been like little cookies.

My pie crust trick is that you freeze the butter, then shred it on a vegetable grater. Then it’s easy to incorporate into the flour without overworking it. I use Fannie Farmer’s basic pie crust recipe, and I honestly don’t remember what I used for the filling. Blueberries, flour, sugar, lemon juice, salt, butter, I guess. Probably I should have used corn starch instead of flour. 

MONDAY
Chicken berry salad

I actually don’t remember eating this meal. It’s possible I skipped it and just ate leftover pie for supper. It’s still summer, dammit. 

Here’s an old picture of this meal: Roast chicken breast sliced up, mixed greens, diced red onion, feta cheese, toasted almonds, and a vinaigrette dressing. 

The trick is to serve salads with chicken just a little too often, and then people are really raring for some squash and Brussels sprouts and stews by the end of summer. 

TUESDAY
Taco Tuesday

Hweat! Tuesday Clara and I abandoned our family and drove away to New York City to see Hadestown on Broadway for her birthday, as I mentioned. I’m immensely proud and still slightly baffled that I drove to New York City, found our hotel in Hell’s Kitchen, found a place to park, found the theater, didn’t have any problems with the hotel reservations or tickets, didn’t get lost, didn’t get into any accidents, had zero combat with rats, roaches, or bedbugs, didn’t create any international incidents with furriners, didn’t get mugged, didn’t throw up, didn’t cry except during the show, and kept us fed and on schedule, and even tipped the parking lot attendant appropriately. Not bad for a country mouse

Clara was not terribly interested in exploring any restaurants that smelled of curry or sumac, so we went for good old American food. She had a burger and fries and I had a Reuben. This is a place called Jax BBQ on 9th avenue. I guess we were supposed to order barbecue, but we do what we like. 

We were pretty wiped out, so we went back to the hotel room (we stayed at the Casamia 36 hotel, where I got a pretty good price through AirBNB. It was small and very much no frills, but very clean and pleasant enough) where Clara worked on her Hadestown drawing

At home, they had tacos. 

WEDNESDAY
Spaghetti with Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce and sausages, garlic bread

Wednesday morning, we set out for make sure we knew where the Walter Kerr theater was, about a mile away. It was nice traveling with someone who has almost the exact same anxieties as me. We had a lot of conversations that went, “Okay, I know this is crazy, but can we just…” — “Oh, sure, sure, I completely understand!” So we found the theater, then decided that we could check out Times Square without getting too lost. It was . . . well, it was different from home. 

Despite my best efforts, we did see the apparently famous Naked Cowboy. We saw a lot of people who had persuaded themselves it made sense to buy national brands of clothing and jewelry in Times Square, even though you could easily find the exact products online or in, you know, Biwabik, Minnesota. It was very hot and muggy smelled like different kinds of garbage, and sounded like Hell. I know New York City has innumerable nicer things to offer than Times Square, but we really didn’t want to get lost, so we lurked about for a while with our eyes bugging out, and then had lunch at a deli. Look, here is my sandwich:

Damn fine pickle. Then it was time to head over to the theater! And that’s when things really got great! I was expecting something extraordinary, and it was even better than I expected. 

After the show and after Clara got a few autographs on her drawing, it started pouring rain, so we schlopped the mile back to the parking garage. Okay, we got a little bit lost, but that’s because my phone sometimes insists on showing me upside down maps. We did pop into a little Greek grocery and bought some olive oil soap and some kind of honey apple pastries to bring home. There was a nice orange cat and some Greek men who thought it was pretty cute how wet we were. And then we retrieved our car, I recovered quickly at the shock of how much it costs to park your car for 24 hours in New York City (SO MUCH. OH MY FRIENDS. SO MUCH.) and away we went! We stopped in Connecticut to put dry clothes on.

It was a pleasure to travel with an art student as we zipped over and under all those spectacular stone bridges on the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut. They are all different, and some of them even have two different sides! Normally I don’t care for art deco, but when it’s mitigated by creeping vines and those lovely trees on the median of the highway, it’s great. (They are not all art deco, of course, but that’s the easiest style to identify when you’re driving under it.) Here’s someone who did a 60 MPH drawing challenge. When I was little and we would drive to NY or NJ to visit family, we would always look forward to the one with wings

Back home, they had Marcella Hazan’s miraculously simple and confoundingly delicious tomato sauce, with sausages and spaghetti and garlic bread. Recipe card at the end. 

THURSDAY
Pork spiedies, fries, pineapple

On Thursday, I made some spiedie marinade (recipe card at the end) in the morning, but half the pork had gone bad. So I set what I had to marinate, and then threw raw meat-tainted oily marinade all over the inside of the refrigerator for no reason at all! Then I went out for more pork and had some pharmacy adventures (not in the fun way), set the rest of the meat to marinate, and took the kids to the beach, because holy crap, it may still be summer, but not for long. 

Got home, shoved the pork under the broiler, and we had the meat on toasted rolls with mayo, plus pineapple and fries.

This is a good marinade. You can adjust it as you like, and it really tenderizes the meat.

You can see that I had leftover broccoli instead of fries. This may seem virtuous, but you have to remember that I had consumed about a cubic yard of meat in the last 48 hours. Also, the kids ate all the fries while I was toasting my bun. 

FRIDAY
Tuna?

It says “tuna.” I may want to run to the store. Actually we are going out to shop for school supplies today. This is actually the last possible day to do it, because we start on Tuesday and we’re going to the beach one last time on Monday. It’s still summer, dammit. 

***

 

Chicken Caprese Sandwiches

Keyword basil, chicken, mozzarella, prosciutto, provolone, sandwiches, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • Ciabatta rolls, Italian bread, or any nice bread
  • Sliced grilled, seasoned chicken
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Sliced prosciutto
  • Sliced mozzarella or provolone
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • Optional: Pesto mayonnaise

Instructions

  1. Preheat broiler. Drizzle chicken breasts with olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, whatever. Put chicken on shallow pan with drainage, and shove under broiler, turning once, until chicken is browned on both sides. Let cool and slice thickly, you animal. 

  2. Toast bread if you like. Spread pesto mayo on roll if you like. Slice tomatoes. 

  3. Pile chicken, tomatoes, basil, cheese, and a slice or two of prosciutto, sprinkling with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper a few times as you layer. 

Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce

We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people. 

Keyword Marcella Hazan, pasta, spaghetti, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes, broken up
  • 1 onion peeled and cut in half
  • salt to taste
  • 5 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.

  2. Simmer at least 90 minutes. 

  3. Take out the onions.

  4. I'm freaking serious, that's it!

 

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. 179: Stuffed grape leaves and Käsewegfall

Let’s have a pahty! Here’s what we ate this week (and don’t miss the video of Benny and Corrie rolling grape leaves like pros):

SATURDAY
Hamburgers and chips

I know I always say I have no memory of Saturday, but this time I really mean it. 

SUNDAY
Chicken sandwiches with basil and tomato

This was supposed to be chicken caprese sandwiches, but I tragically forgot to buy mozzarella. They were still good, but the Käsewegfall loomed large. I had mine with salt and plenty of pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil on ciabatta bread.

I also like this sandwich with salami instead of roast chicken, which makes it even easier and cheaper.

Then we went to see Toy Story 4 at the drive in movie, where we discovered, as we re-discover each year, that my vehicle simply will not play the radio with the lights off. The movie was just okay anyway. Our popcorn game, though, was on point. 

MONDAY
Pork ramen

Meh. Sometimes this is a really enjoyable meal, but it fell a little flat. Maybe it was just too humid for ramen. I sliced the pork thin and sautéed it lightly in sesame oil, then finished cooking it in soy sauce. We had soft boiled eggs, scallions, crunchy noodles, pickled ginger, and sesame seeds.

Anyway, I produced hot food. Two cheers!

TUESDAY
BLTs and tiramisu

Birthday! The birthday girl requested BLTs and tiramisu. I can’t claim we have any particular family recipe for BLTs, except that I think we’re up to seven pounds of bacon, which seems excessive to me, especially since I didn’t get the memo that it was okay to take more bacon because somebody went out and bought two more pounds. 

Damien made the tiramisu using this recipe. Pretty tickled that the kids often choose this as their birthday treat. When I was that age, my heart’s desire was a cake in the shape of Garfield. My mother rented a pan and spent an entire day following a guide for where to put little blobs of icing in Garfield colors. Man, I hope I thanked her. 

Here’s an unglamorous shot of the tiramisu in the middle of being demolished.

People added shaved chocolate to their individual pieces.

WEDNESDAY
Pork gryos, fried eggplant, stuffed grape leaves

It had been a big week of being hunched over a computer screen, so I was really glad to throw myself into a big kitchen project. 

I’ve been wanting to make stuffed grape leaves forever. The wild grapes in the yard are having quite a year, so the kids had no trouble finding some fine, clean specimens. We followed this recipe from Saveur, more or less, which makes 60 grape leaves. It’s not hard, but there are many steps. You have to make the rice filling and let it cool, then boil the grape leaves, dunk them in ice water, and dry them, then roll them, then steam them. 

Here is Benny gathering mint, which, as always, is also having quite a year:

And here she is drying off the grape leaves:

The girls did so well rolling them! I was truly impressed at how good they are with their little paws, and also how good Benny is at explaining what she’s doing. At one point, Corrie shouts, “I have a idea! Let’s have a pahty!” She says this several times a day, every day, just in case. Check out her proud smile at the end. 

You know, we’re all having quite a year.

The recipe says to put three layers of leaves in the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching, but I had run out, so I used parchment paper instead. We only made about 30, since I didn’t think people would eat them. 

They turned out so well! You squeeze a little lemon juice on top and have them with yogurt sauce. These are not perfect grape leaves, but they held together and tasted good, and we had a nice time making them. 

I don’t know how to describe the flavor of grape leaves. Not cabbage, not asparagus. They have a sort of cool, woody, herby taste, and they are much more tender than I was expecting. The filling we used was packed with herbs, and the whole thing was somehow both oily and refreshing. I’d like to start making these at least once a year, when the leaves are abundant.  

We also had pork gyros. I marinated the meat in the morning and Damien cooked it outside on the grill. So zippy and tasty. I’ll add a recipe card for the marinade at the end.

I used up all the tomatoes in the marinade, so we had the meat wrapped up in pita with just cucumbers, french fries, yogurt sauce, and hot sauce. Tasted perfect to me. Although honestly I have never gotten used to french fries being in there, and will probably skip it next time. So sue me. My mouth thinks it’s weird to have fries and bread in the same bite. But overall, this was a stupendous meal.

While he was cooking the meat, I fried some eggplant. You have to cut and salt the eggplant ahead of time to draw the moisture out, but the batter is simple and they fry quickly. I love this recipe because it tastes a little bland with the first bite, but this amazing warmth starts to sneak up on you until it’s quite a little pahty in your mouth. Wonderful texture, too — crisp and knobbly, with soft, tender eggplant inside. Very, very fond of fried eggplant. Recipe card at the end. 

THURSDAY
Tuna noodle

I promised the kids tuna noodle, but then realized we’d be out of town on Friday. But a promise is a promise. Damien and I went out for an evening run at dinner anyway, so I really wasn’t hungry when we got back. I think I had beans and pita bread and a plum or something around 10 PM. Summah! 

FRIDAY
And away we go. Oh, there are still adults in the house, so there, robbers. 

Here are some recipe cards:

Fried eggplant

You can salt the eggplant slices many hours ahead of time, even overnight, to dry them before frying.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • salt for drying out the eggplant

1/2 cup veg oil for frying

2 cups flour

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp veg oil
  • optional: kosher salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Cut the ends off the eggplant and slice it into one-inch slices.
    Salt them thoroughly on both sides and lay on paper towels on a tray (layering if necessary). Let sit for half an hour (or as long as overnight) to draw out some of the moisture. 

  2. Mix flour and seasonings in a bowl, add the water and teaspoon of oil, and beat into a batter. Preheat oven for warming. 

  3. Put oil in heavy pan and heat until it's hot but not smoking. Prepare a tray with paper towels.

  4. Dredge the eggplant slices through the batter on both sides, and carefully lay them in the hot oil, and fry until crisp, turning once. Fry in batches, giving them plenty of room to fry.

  5. Remove eggplant slices to tray with paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt if you like.. You can keep them warm in the oven for a short time.  

  6. Serve with yogurt sauce or marinara sauce.

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Marinade for pork gyros

Marinate thinly-sliced meat for several hours, then grill over the coals or broil in the oven. Serve wrapped up in pita with cucumbers, tomatoes, french fries, hot sauce, and yogurt sauce. This marinade is enough for about five pounds of meat. 

Ingredients

  • 4 medium tomatoes diced and smashed a bit
  • 2 onions grated
  • 2 Tbsp oregano (or a large handful of fresh oregano, chopped)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 12 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • kosher salt and pepper

What’s for supper? Vol. 178: Food, lol

Here’s what we et this week:

SATURDAY
Cookout leftovers

You’ll never believe it, but we made too much food for July 4th. Good thing, too, as Saturday turned out to be one of those ridiculous days of sudden downpours, changes in plans, awkward encounters with strangers, and a shopping trip that started five hours late and then ended before any food was purchased, because I locked my keys, phone, and wallet in the car. But don’t worry! I also locked in the snacks, so when Lucy got an urgent low blood sugar reading while we waited for AAA, all I had to do was contemplate going back into Aldi (where, recall, I had not done any actual shopping) to say, “Hey, thanks for letting me use your phone three times. Now can we have some free food so my kid doesn’t pass out?” But IT ALL WORKED OUT. But I didn’t do any shopping. So I was happy we had plenty of leftovers in the house to eat. 

SUNDAY
Berry chicken salad

It’s a damn fine salad. I think the family is tired of it, but I’m not!

Roasted chicken breast, mixed greens, toasted almonds, feta cheese, blueberries and strawberries, and a balsamic vinegar dressing. 

MONDAY
Bacon, eggs, and Brussels sprouts in balsamic honey

An old favorite we haven’t had for a while. I got the idea from Damn Delicious, where you will find plenty of simple and tasty one-pan dinner ideas.

I adjusted the proportions and cook time, so I’ll put a recipe card at the end. 

You sprinkle it with parmesan and hot pepper flakes. If you don’t overcook the egg, you can break open the yolk and dip forkfuls of bacon and Brussels sprouts in it. RECOMMENDED. 

This meal would be great with a hearty bread like challah. (I didn’t actually make challah. It’s way too hot for that But it would have been good!)

TUESDAY
Muffaletta sandwiches, onion rings, pineapple

When I was drawing up my shopping list, I asked Facebook for sandwich ideas. The first one that caught my eye was muffaletta sandwiches, but if you want some other ideas, there are 82 comments on this thread!

What I made was probably more muffaletish sandwiches than anything else. You’re supposed to have softer bread and far more meat and oil, and you’re supposed to wrap it up and let the olive salad juices seep into the bread before eating. Me, I just slapped it together and wolfed it down. We used salami, ham, capicola, and provolone on ciabatta rolls with olive oil and olive salad. 

The sandwich here looks like it was shouting, but it wasn’t really, except for that silent cry of “EAT ME” that so many sandwiches convey.

Wait, wait, here:

Have I told you I’m an award-winning writer? It’s true. 

I made the olive salad with black and green olives, some giardiniera vegetables, some capers, and a little olive oil, chopped up in the food processor. In a stunning and radical departure from my typical habits, I made way too much of it; so later in the week, I gobbled up the rest for an evening snack with crackers. And that’s why they make ranitidine. WORTH IT. 

On Tuesday we finally had a long-promised campfire with marshmallows and spooky stories.  Corrie told a short but terrifying(?) story about werewuffs:

 

Not everyone likes onion rings, so I got some, well, I got some emoji potato things. 

The package said that they mash and season potatoes and form them into fun shapes and then cook them and YOU WILL BE PROUD TO SERVE THEM TO YOUR FAMILY. Like, they came right out and made that assertion. I guess it’s normal to feel defensive when we see clearly what we’re doing.  

WEDNESDAY
Meatball subs

Wednesday was one of those miraculous “how is this my life” days, so I made sure to relish it. Damien got all his work set up in the morning and then took the kids to the beach for several hours to write, and Lena made meatballs while I sat in my room in front of a fan, writing my stupid little heart out with only the cat to interrupt me. 

I’ll post my basic meatball recipe at the end. The only thing unusual about it is that I cook them in a hot oven on a broiler pan, then transfer them to a pot or crock pot with sauce. It’s so much easier, neater, and faster then frying or boiling. 

I had accidentally bought two sizes of roll, and Wednesday was the day I discovered it’s amusing when your aging mother makes reference to “long bois,” but distressing when that same mother goes on to offer you a bag of short bois. The ways of the young are shrouded in mystery. 

THURSDAY
Pork nachos with lime crema

I put a half pork loin in the crock pot with a can of Coke and let it cook all day. Actually, I turned the crock pot on and then, a few hours later, my husband asked me if I had intended to plug it in. I told the kids I would take them out for their free 7/11 Flushies, but we ended up making something like five stops first, and I felt so bad about dragging them around in the hot car, we went to the playground. 

Man, it’s been too long since we went to the playground. We used to go five days a week! Walking over a mile with the double stroller and the back carrier to while away the long, long hours, desperate to see another adult and do something besides mop up juice and wipe bottoms. Now it’s more like five times a year that we find time to go to a playground in between errands and everyone’s work schedules. This playground is cool and piney, with a little stream, and lots of trees to climb and rocks to scramble up and hills to roll down, and no end of places to hide.

After a somewhat contentious game of hide and seek, they resurrected their old Billy Goats Gruff game, using the wobbly bridge on the play structure, and man oh man, life is so different now, I just don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I guess I’ll cry. Not that I want things to go back the way they were. But still. 

Some things haven’t changed, though, and one of those things is that children would rather die than give you a decent photo, even if you bought them Flushies. Well, free Flushies. 

Just kidding. I love this. I love how Corrie has the same patient, forbearing expression as Elijah. 

Anyway, by the time we finally got home, it was quite late and I suddenly had some unexpected editing to do, so I asked Damien to finish up supper. He shredded the pork, seasoned it heavily with chili lime powder, and put it in a pan under the broiler to brown up. So we had tortilla chips with shredded meat and melted cheese, with the option to add jarred jalapeño slices and corn, salsa, and lime crema.

Recipe card for lime crema at the end. I thought it was a pretty swell meal. I vastly prefer pork to beef on nachos. 

FRIDAY
I unno.

It says “pasta” on the blackboard, but it feels too hot for that. Maybe we will just have popcorn, made in the microwave. The microwave, which we can now use again, after they told me it broke, and I asked them several times if it was maybe just not plugged in, and they swore up and down that it was truly broken, so after being annoyed about it for a month, I bought a new microwave, and when we went to plug it in, we discovered . . . well, you know what we discovered.

Yeah, I think they’re getting popcorn. 

 

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. 

 

 

Bacon, eggs, and brussels sprouts in honey garlic balsamic sauce

Adapted from Damn Delicious.  An easy and tasty one-pan meal that would work for any meal. Great with a hearty bread like challah. 

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 3 lbs uncooked bacon, cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces
  • 18 eggs
  • oil for greasing pan
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed

Garnish (optional):

  • parmesan cheese, grated
  • red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Grease two large oven sheets. 


  2. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Mix Brussels sprouts and bacon together, spread evenly in pans, and pour sauce all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Cook until bacon is almost done (almost as crisp as you like it) and Brussels sprouts are very slightly browned, 18-20 minutes.

  4. Pull the pans out of the oven and carefully crack the eggs onto the Brussels sprouts and bacon, here and there.

  5. Return pan to the oven and cook a few minutes longer, just enough to set the eggs. The yolks will get a little film over the top, but don't let them cook all the way through, or you'll have something resembled hard boiled eggs, which isn't as good. You want the yolks to be liquid so you can dip forkfuls of fod into it.

  6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes and serve. 

 

Lime Crema

Keyword Budget Bytes, crema, lime, lime crema, sour cream, tacos

Ingredients

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 3 limes zested and juiced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. 

Recipe Notes

So good on tacos and tortilla chips Looking forward to having it on tortilla soup, enchiladas, MAYBE BAKED POTATOES, I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

What’s for supper? Vol. 175: The rain it raineth every day

So, last time I did an AMA, and every time, a few people ask about how to get kids to eat better food and how to cook decent food when you have little kids. It is clearly a constant source of worry and frustration for so many parents; and oh how clearly I remember that worry and frustration. I remember reading about other moms who were always trying new and exciting recipes and serving side dishes that don’t come out of a greasy bag with a comical pig on the outside, and wondering what was wrong with me. 

So I just wanted to remind everyone:

I have two adult children and four teenagers living at home right now. They all help me cook, or help me with other stuff while I cook. My husband works from home, and he often helps me cook, or helps me with other stuff while I cook, or he cooks dinner outright. He even looks up recipes and shops for ingredients. 

I don’t have any babies, and am not massively sleep deprived; and I’m not nursing anyone, so I can regularly sit down and do a task from start to finish without a thousand interruptions. 

And even despite all these advantages, if I took a few weeks off writing about food, my routine would slide really quickly back into chicken nuggets and frozen peas, and I certainly wouldn’t be arranging it on the plate so it looks as pretty as possible. Part of the purpose of Friday food posts is to force me to try harder with food. It propels me to find new and interesting things to cook, so I don’t die of boredom or shame.

Just a little disclaimer, in case you needed it. Here is my explainer for why I refuse to worry about what my kids eat for dinner. In general, I firmly believe that if you’re keeping your family alive and no one has rickets or scurvy, it is perfectly okay to have other priorities besides making pretty plates and mixing up adventurous marinades. Sometimes, there are other things that are more important than interesting food, and you can’t make everything a priority. You just can’t. 

Okay, now on to the food! Which was decent this week, but not especially adventurous, except for Sunday. 

SATURDAY
Fish tacos

I get home pretty late on Saturdays from shopping (which takes 3+ hours and often includes confession, haircuts, shoe shopping, etc.), so it has to be something fast, but I’m awfully tired of serving grilled ham and cheese or hamburgers on Saturdays. Fish tacos is fast, as long as you use frozen fish and don’t get too fancy with salsas and slaws and whatnot. 

Looks like I forgot a picture, but mine had sour cream, salsa, avocado, shredded cabbage, and fresh lime juice on a tortilla with batter fried fish of some kind. Please don’t ask if I got scrod. That information is private, and open only to subscribers.

I heard this thing on the radio about mango salsa, and I forgot all about mango salsa. ‘Tis the season, isn’t it! I think next week will be mango week. Just not on Saturday.

SUNDAY
Fadder’s Day cookout!

My own fadder was out of town visiting other family members, so we had a nice quiet day at home. By which I mean Benny had a fever, so Damien got up and went to the early Mass so he could stay home with the little guys while I took the others to a later Mass, because Elijah was serving. Hey, it was better than the father’s day he spent scrubbing poop out of the mesh sides of a port-a-crib. We did have a nice little brunch.

For dinner, one of the kids bought two enormous steaks for Damien and me — one a sirloin, and one a flank steak, which we’ve never had before.  Damien made a rub for the sirloin out of kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and a little chili powder.

So, flank steak is lean and somewhat tough, so it needs marinating, but it has an extraordinary flavor. After it marinated several hours in olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and brown sugar, he seasoned it with kosher salt and pepper, then he seared both steaks on the grill in the rain. I don’t know if rain was a necessary ingredient, but it always seems to be present on grilling days. 

The sirloin was great. The flank steak was out of this world. The texture was startling to me — very lean and fibrous, but you cut it across the grain thinly and it has a very intense flavor I can only describe as . . . meaty. I know that’s not helpful, but it’s like ever-so-much-more-so beef.  This is not a great photo, but you can see the texture:

We also had little rolls, guacamole and chips, and strawberries and cream on angel food cake. 

The guac turned out okay (recipe card at end), although the store had put up a sign that said “avocados ripe today!” but really, agreed the lady in the store and I as we sorted and squeezed, they meant “avocados ripe yesterday;” so it was a little mushier than I like it.

The strawberries and cream were just as one would hope. Lightly mashed strawberries with a little sugar, freshly whipped cream with a little sugar, and store bought angel food cake.

Moe gave Damien some good chocolate and a gift card for a cigar shop, but he wrapped it in a “live animal” box from Petco. Because if you can’t almost give your father a heart attack, is it even really father’s day?

Also on this day, Corrie helped herself to no one knows how many chocolate-covered espresso beans, so it was ever-so-much-more-so Corrie until pretty late at night. 

Oh, to make the day even more special, we rearranged the living room so we could settle the piano in.

Did I tell you I bought a piano? I know you’re supposed to never pay for a piano, but what if it’s a nice lady raising money for Kiwanis and she delivers, eh? We still had to rent ramps and Damien still hurt his back (this was last week), but it’s a lovely little instrument in good condition, and it fits into our miniature living room, which is close to miraculous. I bought the Bastien book for Older Beginners, and I finished the first unit last night. I’m excited! There’s life in the old dame yet.

MONDAY
Bagel sandwiches

There was also tons of leftover steak, so, for duty and humanity, I had cold flank steak over baby spinach for lunch. 

For supper, we had bagel sandwiches with sausage, egg, and cheese. 

A cozy little meal for, you guessed it, a rainy day.

TUESDAY
Berry chicken salad

Just a great summer dish, and good for those days when everyone comes home to eat at different times.

Chicken breast roasted in the oven with olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning, and then cooled and sliced; mixed greens, strawberries and blueberries, feta cheese, and toasted almonds. 

I bought some kind of fancy pants berry vinaigrette, which disappeared long before Tuesday. No one ate it; it just disappeared. So I had balsamic vinegar, which was fine. I hope balsamic vinegar is good for you, because I have it on everything. 

WEDNESDAY
Hot dogs, chips

Last day of school! It was a half day and then the school has an unofficial final field trip to the local beach. I spent most of the time standing on the shore, thinking about how much easier life is now that the kids are older, and I don’t have to freak out and panic the entire time they’re in the water.

Then we got home and, my voice hoarse after shouting, “Corrie, come back, that’s deep enough! Corrie, come back, that’s deep enough! Corrie, I said COME BACK NOW!!!!” forty-six thousand times, I collapsed. Actually, come to think of it, it’s fricking exhausting to be at the beach with kids, even if they are older. It would have been easier if I had gone in the water with them, but my body positivity project hasn’t gotten up to the chapter where you’re okay with taking off your clothes in front of all the other parents. 

Then we came home and had hot dogs and chips. Actually Damien made them. I was too busy still collapsing hoarsely. 

THURSDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, curly fries, coleslaw

We haven’t had pulled pork for a while. I meant to start it in the slow cooker early in the morning, since the cut I had was not the most tender. I forget what I had, but it’s the kind you get from Aldi all cryogenically wrapped so it looks like a Sandworm.

But suddenly it was afternoon. So I hacked in half and chunked it in the Instant Pot, had Corrie dump in a can of Coke, and, after a fruitless search for some kind of pepper or whatnot, I just sealed up the lid and pressed the “meat” button. When it beeped, I shouted at someone to press the “meat” button again. Close to dinner, I got a “burn” message, because I didn’t put it enough liquid. I opened it up and it looked awful. The liquid was all gone, and there was this dark sludge on the bottom. I nervously pulled the meat out with tongs and sniffed it. Okay, not actually burnt, but surely it will be tough as leather.

Dude, it was perfect. It fell apart with the mere thought of a fork. I scraped up all the sludge from the bottom, and dumped in a bottle of Carolina BBQ sauce, and it was moist, tender, and delicious. 

So remember: Dump, meat, meat, burn, sludge, scrape, glug. That’s my recipe, and I’m sticking to it.

I also made some quick coleslaw with cabbage, carrot, mayo, vinegar, sugar, and pepper, and we had seasoned curly fries, and I ate outside in the rain, which was just a little rain.

FRIDAY
Mac and cheese, string beans

I’ve been avoiding these string beans all week, but I think the time has come. Dora brought me home a treasure trove of cheese ends from the deli. Some of that cheese has speckles in it. Speckles! And it’s barely even raining today. 

***

5 from 1 vote
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White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 173: The pineapple gets the works

Today, I bought dental insurance. That has nothing to do with what’s for supper. I just wanted to tell someone. I’m pretty excited, as this is basically me and Damien:

SONY DSC

(Image by William Murphy via Flickr )

Why dental heath is not included in regular health, I’ll never know. I guess it’s because teeth are just inside your head and your skull, so how important could they be. Anyway. Onward! 

SATURDAY
Regular tacos

This is my meal when I’m feeling merciful toward the kids. No fermented vegetables, no sprouts, no seasonings with diacritical marks in their names. Just ground beef with orange powder from a little packet, sour cream, salsa from a jar, and shredded cheddar cheese. Completely unchallenging food has its charms.

I had to put greens on mine because I am a mom and that’s the rule.

SUNDAY
Spiedies, raw peppers, blueberry tart

This recipe is really, really good if you have the time to zest lemons and chop fresh mint and such, marinate the meat overnight, skewer it, and cook it over the coals. It’s still quite nice if you just slosh in a bunch of stuff, chop some cheap pork into chunks, let it marinate for a few hours, and shove it under a hot broiler.

Serve the meat on toasted rolls with a lot of mayo. It comes out tender, juice, and a little spicy. 

The original recipe is a NYT one which is currently behind a paywall. The quickie one I threw together was olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, kosher salt, oregano, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes. Basically Italian dressing but with extra lemon juice and red pepper flakes. 

For dessert, Clara made a blueberry tart. Every single last damn time I go to write “tart,” I type “tard” first. I choose to believe this is because I have watched so much Dr. Who, and not because I don’t deserve to live in the 21st century. Anyway, here’s the picture.

If you zoom in, you can see that I accidentally sprinkled yarrow pollen all over it while trying to get an Instaworthy photo. If I could figure out the right SEO for this post, I could probably form a partnership with Gwyneth Paltrow and pass it off as a cure for yarrow allergies, uterine prolapse, and ennui. 

Clara and I worked on this together, and it certainly did highlight the difference between our cooking styles; it certainly did. She is more of a “wait, stop, what is seven eights of a cup times two and a half?” baker, and I’m more of a “just mash faster, no one will know” baker.

Between the two of us, we came up with something tasty, anyway, although it was reluctant to leave the pie plate. To appease the Visigoths, we chose the kind of whipped cream that comes squirting out of a can.

I’ll get the recipe link from her when she gets home.

MONDAY
Chicken enchilada rice bowls, corn chips, pineapple

This meal looked better than it tasted. I was going for a “all the ingredients you love in Mexican food, but without a tortilla, for some reason” kind of meal. So I cooked up a pot of rice, then roasted some chicken with lots of chili lime powder. Then I cut up the chicken and cooked it again in green enchilada sauce from a can. I mixed together some black beans, chili beans, and diced tomato with chili peppers in it. We had limes, cilantro, sour cream, and shredded cheese, and corn chips.

It was. . . fine. I will just go ahead and make enchiladas next time. 

The exciting part was I finally bought a pineapple corer from Aldi for like $3, and it was so cool! I thought it would just extract the core so you can peel it and get rings, but it cores and peels it, and leaves you will a continues spiral of pineapple. Corrie and I made a video, and we hope it blows your mind. 

This is my first attempt at including a food video, and I hope it’s not terrible, because people keep telling me this is the only way to make some money, and if you can’t make money sharing a video of yourself testing a $3 pineapple corer, than is this even really America? 

TUESDAY
Pizza

Tuesday was the final school concert of the year. If you wish to hear my views on school concerts, I can make that happen. This time, I dropped the kid off, nipped over to the liquor store and picked up some liquid courage in small bottles, and zipped back to my seat before the curtain. And now I have a brand new plan for school concerts.

I made a few pizzas before I left. There was a limited edition “everything dough” available, so I got some. It wasn’t everything, per se, but it certainly had poppy seeds in it.

Oh. You know about the “Make me one with everything” joke, right? This remains my favorite moment ever recorded on video. Especially the part where he leans in and goes, “Know what I mean?”

It’s so beautiful. 

Oh, here are the pizzas. I only made four, for some reason. 

WEDNESDAY
Chicken burgers

What was I even doing on Wednesday? I think I was writing like a maniac while Damien brought Lucy to the pediatric endocrinologist and then rock climbing. And that’s what chicken burgers are for. 

THURSDAY
Deli sandwiches, fruit salad, chips, cookies

Actually, that was lunch. I had planned cumin chicken thighs, yogurt sauce, pita, and tabbouleh for supper, but in lieu of that, I took a nap, and everyone just ate more lunch. But what a lunch it was! One of my favorite families in the whole world, John and Aletheia Herreid and their wonderful kids were in town. The weather was great, Clara made a ton of cookies, we have a trampoline for bouncing and stream for floundering, John and my older kids swapped sketch books, Aletheia brought sunshine to the whole world as she so often does, and they brought cheese and beer and a luchador mask, and it was just swell. 

FRIDAY
Ravioli

Just frozen ravioli. Not one of my most thrilling culinary weeks, but it was a good week. And thorough. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 172: Sweet sweet summertime (almost)!

Summer, almost! Summer foods, yes! Grilled corn, fresh fruit, fresh basil, smoked meats! I’m very excited about summer food. And other warm weather things.

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips

The local garden club had their annual sale and I stocked up on things that we all know are supposed to grow in this area, because that is where they are from, so there is no excuse. 

We had burgers cooked outside on the grill, which are the best burgers. Even better, burgers eaten outside while I squint menacingly at the stuff I just planted.

Mmmm, squinting. 

SUNDAY
Pizza and ice cream

On Sunday, we went to see my mother in the nursing home.

I got a bit of eye contact and she held my hand, which was more than I was hoping for. It is a beautiful spot on top of a hull, full of trees and birds. 

Then my father took us out for pizza and ice cream down by the river.

A good day!

MONDAY
Hot Dogs Of Many Nations, potato salad, sorta-elotes, fruit salad

You can sing “hot dogs of many nations” to the tune of “look for that silver lining” if you want to. Children find it very irritating and pretend they don’t hear you, but I know they hear.

I didn’t go all out and do all the possible hot dog toppings, but we had a good assortment of mustards and whatnot. I had a buffalo dog (blue cheese, hot wing sauce, and scallions) and Damien had a Chicago hot dog (chopped onion, pickle relish, pickled peppers, tomatoes, a dill pickle, mustard, and celery salt). 

Don’t they look nat-u-ral together? Just like two Essem franks should be. 

Dora made some tasty potato salad, and I put together strawberries, blueberries, and kiwi in this Walmart leaf dish which I’m inordinately fond of. It makes me feel like Mowgli.

I also got mangoes, but they were still hard as a rock.

Damien roasted the corn over the coals with the husks still on, which makes the corn tender and sweet. Then we sprinkled them with parmesan cheese and chili lime powder and squeezed on some lime juice. 

Next time, I want to roast the corn after shucking it, so it chars a bit, and maybe I will make up a kind of paste to rub onto the cooked corn. Anyway, first corn of the season a success!

And we went to the beach! Oh lovely beach. Here are some mermaids:


 

TUESDAY
Smoked roast beef sandwiches, chips, raw string beans

Damien actually did the roast beef the previous day in the smoker, while the hot dogs were cooking. He dried it off, slathered it with A1 sauce, then sprinkled it with chili, plenty of kosher salt, and some onion powder and garlic powder, and then he smoked it for two or three hours until the meat thermometer showed between 120-130, so it was rare. 

I sliced it as thin as I could, and it was fantastic.

The smoky flavor permeated the whole thing. I put pickled pepper rings on my sandwich. I mixed a little horseradish into mayo, and we toasted some kaiser rolls and I picked up some decent provolone from the deli. I have finally sadly concluded that Aldi provolone is the right color and the right shape and definitely the right price, but it doesn’t actually taste like anything at all. It’s not bad, so it’s not really convolone, but I guess overall a neutralvolone.

WEDNESDAY
Bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken, pasta salad

On my quest to insert every possible edible substance into chicken, this week’s installment turned out quite nicely. I cut the chicken breasts in half and folded each half over a scoop of jarred spinach artichoke dip, then wrapped each folded chicken breast in three strips of bacon. Tasty! Recipe card at the end. 

I laid out two strips of bacon and put the chicken on top of that, and spread a scoop of dip on top

then folded the chicken in half and wrapped the bacon up and over the top

and secured it with two toothpicks through the top. I was going to leave it at that, but I was afraid the dip would leak out when it cooked, so I took a third strip of bacon and laid it crossways over the top, then tucked the ends underneath. This made a nice little packet. 

I put the wrapped chicken on a rack on a pan lined with tinfoil. I hoped having the heat circulate underneath would make the bottom bacon cook well. It wasn’t flabby or gross, so that was good, but it wasn’t as crisp as you want bacon to be, either. 

Still a cute and tasty meal. This would be a great dish to make ahead and then shove in the oven later, if you have company. It wasn’t really hard to make, and I made the chicken and the pasta salad, start to finish, in under an hour. 

Ah, the pasta salad. For the first time in the history of my pasta salads, there was no leftover pasta salad. I used cavatappi, julienned sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese, freshly-grated parmesan . . . 

Wait. I just wanted to make sure you heart that. FRESHLY-GRATED PARMESAN. I like grating it big, almost shredded. It’s just so sharp and wonderful. Okay.

. . . and some raw kale just to show who’s boss around here, and some spicy dry salami bits, and a dressing I made from fresh basil, fresh garlic, olive oil, and a little red wine vinegar, and then just a little kosher salt. 

Next time I will make three times as much. It was a really zippy salad. I know this isn’t exactly a groundbreaking idea, but using fresh ingredients makes such a difference. 

THURSDAY
Bibimbap, mango

Benny has been asking for bibimbap, possibly mostly for the name, but at least partly for the rice and the egg. I made a slightly different sauce to cook the pork in this time, and I think I’ll stick with it. I’ll put the recipe at the end. I just dumped a hunk of pork in the Instant Pot with the sauce and used the meat button, then shredded it and cooked it a little longer. I think for texture I prefer pork that’s been cut into bits and then cooked on the stovetop, rather than shredded, but it was a good flavor. 

We got home late and I didn’t have a lot of fixings prepared, so I just made some rice, and we had pea sprouts, cucumbers, crunchy noodles, sesame seeds, and of course a runny fried egg on top. I had raw spinach and tabasco sauce with mine.

The mangoes I bought for Sunday finally ripened up, and they made a good accompaniment for this meal. Also a good meal to prep early (especially if you have two slow cookers) and then throw together at dinnertime, as long as you have time to fry a few eggs up. 

FRIDAY
Pasta, I guess?

I feel like I have put in my kitchen time this week, and now pasta will be fine. Gonna post this now and circle back later to put the recipe cards in. Tell me about your favorite things to do with roasted corn, though!

Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 24 oz cavatappi or other pasta
  • 7 oz sun dried tomatoes (I like julienned)
  • 4 oz crumbled feta
  • 1 cup freshly shredded parmesan, loosely packed
  • lg handful kale, chopped
  • 6-8 oz dry salami, chopped

for the dressing:

  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • kosher salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta in salted water and drain. 


    Make the dressing by whirring the basil and garlic in the food processor until you get a paste, then slowly add the olive oil and vinegar. If it's not thin enough, add more olive oil. 


    Mix the rest of the ingredients into the pasta. Salt to taste. 

Korean sauce for bibimbap or other dishes with meat

A sweet, spicy, savory Korean sauce for cooking, marinating, or brushing on to grill. Susceptible to many adjustments if you like it sweeter or spicier, thicker or thinner. This recipe makes enough to cook 4-5 lbs of meat.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar or plain vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients together. If you're cooking in the Instant Pot, you may want to add 1/4 cup water or so to make sure there is enough liquid to prevent burning. 

 

Chicken stuffed with artichoke dip and wrapped in bacon

I mean. 
This is actually fairly easy to put together, and you can make it far ahead of time and then put it in the oven when guests come over. One large chicken breast yields two servings. 

Of course you can make your own spinach artichoke dip, but using jarred dip keeps it simple.

Ingredients

  • 6 large chicken breasts
  • 36 slices bacon
  • 2 cups spinach artichoke dip
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Line a large pan with tin foil and put a rack on it, so the bacon can drain while it cooks. 
    Preheat oven to 375.

  2. Cut the chicken breasts in half, so each one yields two flat breasts.

  3. Lay two strips of bacon side by side and lay a chicken breast on top of it. Spread a scoop of artichoke dip on the chicken.

  4. Carefully fold the chicken in half to enclose the artichoke dip. Then fold the bacon up and over the chicken. Secure it all with two toothpicks. 

  5. Take a third slice of bacon and lay it crosswise over the top of the chicken. Push it down onto the toothpicks, and carefully tuck the two ends underneath the chicken. 

  6. Cook the chicken at 375 for 25 minutes or more, until it is cooked all the way through. 

  7. If the bacon isn't browned sufficiently, turn on the broiler for a few minutes to finish it off. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 171: A whole new world (feat. Chicken)

In this year of our Lord 2019, I, Simcha Fisher, am born anew, for it was on this week that I discovered how easy it is to stuff things inside chicken breasts. Interested, dear reader? Then READ ON. 

SATURDAY
Sugar rub chicken thighs, beer brats, chips and dip

Damien cooked stuff on the big grill he built out of cinder blocks. I’ll put his sugar rub recipe at the end. It makes extremely juicy chicken with a fantastic skin, with tons of warm, spicy flavor.  You can see that I did manage to include something green in this meal for once.

He made a ton of chicken, because he can’t help himself, and I ate them for lunch for several days.

He boils the brats in beer with onions, then grills them and also grills up the onions.

We ate outside after a long day of yard work. And that has made all the difference. 

SUNDAY
Caprese stuffed chicken breasts, salad, garlic bread

I was just delighted at how well this turned out. I saw the recipe in the NYT and tweaked it a bit. I’ll add a card at the end. Basically you cut open chicken breasts and stuff mozzarella, cherry tomato halves, and basil leaves inside, then brown them up a bit in olive oil and garlic, then finish cooking them in the oven. I used toothpicks to hold the edges together, and I was surprised at how well it worked.

I thought everything would fall out and it would be a yummy but ugly meal, but I worked slowly and didn’t crowd the chicken, and it turned out great, although there was a lot of liquid in the pan after baking, so next time I will use a pan with higher sides. 

I used the garlicky oil to make a sauce to spoon over it, and I actually thought the sauce was the star of the show. Would make a great bruschetta topping.

 

Damien thought it was a little too sweet, but I thought it was a nice complement to the chicken. The breasts were big ‘uns, so it was good to have a sauce so there were no bites without a lot of flavor. 

I used the oil and garlic I cooked the chicken in plus more garlic, and simmered it until I stopped worrying about food poisoning. Then I added several glugs of balsamic vinegar and the rest of the tomatoes, and simmered that until the vinegar got thick and the tomatoes fell apart and darkened. I scraped the pan to incorporate the browned bits of garlic and spooned this over the chicken, and served extra to sop up with the garlic bread. Smell this!

And now I’m thinking about all the other lovely things you could stuff inside chicken breasts. Maybe brie and apricots.  Maybe bacon and apple slices and cheddar. I need to make more friends just so I can stuff things into chicken breasts for them. If I really like them, I’ll remind them to take the toothpicks out before eating.

MONDAY
Korean beef bowl and rice, pineapple, snap peas

Apparently I haven’t made this dish in a long time, because everyone was just thrilled and delighted. I was really taken aback. I like this meal fine. It’s a bit sweet for my tastes, but I guess that answers why everyone else likes it so much. Recipe card at the end. 

This is definitely a good recipe to have in your back pocket. It comes together very quickly. Basically as long as it takes to brown up ground beef and cook a pot of rice, that’s how long it takes. I used fresh garlic and fresh ginger, but you can totally get away with using ground ginger and garlic powder. Increase or decrease the sugar and hot pepper flakes as you like. 

TUESDAY
Pork ramen with pickled veg

Another easy one, although you can certainly make it complicated if you add enough toppings. We had our with pork, soft boiled eggs, chopped scallions, pickled ginger, mushrooms in soy sauce, sesame seeds, pea sprouts, and pickled carrots and cucumbers, and a little hot sauce. 

I sautéed the pork in sesame oil, then cut it into slices and cooked it a little longer with some soy sauce. I’ll put the pickled veg recipe card at the end. 

WEDNESDAY
Wendy’s Copycat Harvest Chicken Salad 

Well, kinda. Wendy’s has greens, chicken, candied walnuts, blue cheese, cranberries, green and red apples, and bacon, and some kind of vinaigrette. I forgot about the bacon, and I didn’t candy the walnuts. In fact I burned them. Still a nice meal, and good for a day when people were going to be eating dinner at all different hours.

I made the chicken by drizzling it with olive oil and shaking a generous amount of lemon pepper seasoning over it and cooking it under the broiler, turning once. 

I snuck away and ate mine outside, even though it was drizzling. 

I chunked my plate on the table where I had been potting flowers, and then I thought, “Ooh, it looks like one of those real food blogger photos.” It also makes it appear that I was eating my supper with a trowel, which is sometimes the case; but today I did have a fork. 

I had mine with some diced red onion and just plain red wine vinegar for a dressing. Oh, and when I opened the little tub of blue cheese, Corrie gasped and said, “Ohhh, FANK you, Mama!” and gave me a hug. Kid likes cheese. 

THURSDAY
Sausage subs with sweet peppers

We had the final school concert of the year, so this was a good meal to prepare ahead of time and eat quickly before we left. I snacked so much, I didn’t even want a sandwich, but here are some cooking pics.

Corrie stirred in some jarred sauce, and I sliced up some mozzarella. 

I did give in to the little nagging voice in my head and look up whether charred foods really give you cancer, and it turns out scientists are currently fairly meh on the connection, so I shall continue to char. 

FRIDAY
Giant pancake and scrambled eggs

Do you know about giant pancake? You take the simplest kind of pancake mix, where you just add water, and you add enough water to the whole box to make batter. You can stir in blueberries or chocolate chips or whatever. Pour the batter into a buttered pan and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or so. Cut into wedges. GIANT PANCAKE. And that’s how you know your mother has had about enough. 

Okay, so tell me, what would you stuff inside chicken, given half the chance? You can use a pseudonym if you’d rather, but I really want to know. 

Here are the recipe cards:

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. 

 

Caprese stuffed chicken with garlicky tomato balsamic reduction

This dish doesn't require a lot of skill to make, but it's a bit time consuming, especially if you're making a lot of it. But it's packed with flavor and pretty impressive to look at. Serve with garlic bread to sop up any extra tomato sauce. 

Ingredients

  • 12 boneless chicken breasts (one per person)
  • large bunch of basil, stems removed
  • 2 lbs mozzarella in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
  • 2-3 pints cherry tomatoes or other tomatoes, halved or sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil for cooking
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, sliced or minced

For the balsamic reduction (sorry, the proportions are just whatever you like)

  • the leftover oil you cooked the chicken in. Pour off some if it seems like too much.
  • balsamic vinegar
  • whatever tomatoes are left
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, sliced or minced

Instructions

The chicken:

  1. Trim the fat off the chicken, dry it, and slice a pocket into each breast, not cutting all the way through.

    Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper

    Stuff a slice or two of cheese, a few basil leaves, and 3 tomato halves or slices into each breast.

    Try to pull the edges together to enclose the stuffing. You can secure it with a few toothpicks, but don't forget to warn people!

    Preheat the oven to 400.

    Heat up the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the garlic until it's slightly browned.

    Add the chicken, a few breasts at a time, leaving plenty of room, and brown them lightly on both sides, turning carefully. They won't be cooked all the way through. It's great if some garlic sticks to the chicken!

    Transfer the chicken to an oven pan and cook for about 20 minutes until they're cooked all the way through. Turn on the broiler for the last few minutes if necessary to brown up the tops.

For the balsamic reduction, to spoon over the chicken:

  1. While the chicken is in the oven, continue cooking the oil and garlic that you cooked the chicken in, adding more garlic if you like, and simmer for a while until you stop worrying about food poisoning. Then add several glugs of balsamic vinegar and the rest of the tomatoes, and simmer until the vinegar reduces and the tomatoes fall apart and darken. Scrape the pan to incorporate the browned bits of garlic. Serve this over the cooked chicken. Comes out very sweet.

    Serve with garlic bread with any extra balsamic tomato sauce

Recipe Notes

12 boneless chicken breasts

large bunch of basil

2 lbs mozzarella, sliced

salt and pepper

olive oil

8 cloves of garlic, sliced or minced

2-3 pints cherry tomatoes (or other tomatoes)

for the sauce:

more garlic if desired

balsamic vinegar

the rest of the tomatoes

Trim the fat off the chicken, dry it, and slice a pocket into each breast, not cutting all the way through.

Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper

Stuff a slice or two of cheese, a few basil leaves, and 3 tomato halves or slices into each breast.

Try to pull the edges together to enclose the stuffing. You can secure it with a few toothpicks, but don't forget to warn people!

Preheat the oven to 400.

Heat up the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the garlic until it's slightly browned.

Add the chicken, a few breasts at a time, leaving plenty of room, and brown them lightly on both sides, turning carefully. They won't be cooked all the way through. It's fine if some garlic sticks to the chicken!

Transfer the chicken to an oven pan and cook for about 20 minutes until they're cooked all the way through. Turn on the broiler for the last few minutes if necessary to brown up the tops.

While it's cooking, continue cooking the oil and garlic that you cooked the chicken in, adding more garlic if you like, and simmer for a while until you stop worrying about food poisoning. Then add several glugs of balsamic vinegar and the rest of the tomatoes, and simmer until the vinegar reduces and the tomatoes fall apart and darken. Scrape the pan to incorporate the browned bits of garlic. Serve this over the cooked chicken. Comes out very sweet.

Serve with garlic bread with any extra balsamic tomato sauce

quick-pickled carrots and/or cucumbers for banh mi, bibimbap, ramen, tacos, etc.

An easy way to add tons of bright flavor and crunch to a meal. We pickle carrots and cucumbers most often, but you can also use radishes, red onions, daikon, or any firm vegetable. 

Ingredients

  • 6-7 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 lb mini cucumbers (or 1 lg cucumber)

For the brine (make double if pickling both carrots and cukes)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar (other vinegars will also work; you'll just get a slightly different flavor)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sale, preferably kosher

Instructions

  1. Mix brine ingredients together until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

  2. Slice or julienne the vegetables. The thinner they are, the more flavor they pick up, but the more quickly they will go soft, so decide how soon you are going to eat them and cut accordingly!

    Add them to the brine so they are submerged.

  3. Cover and let sit for a few hours or overnight or longer. Refrigerate if you're going to leave them overnight or longer.

 

Korean Beef Bowl

A very quick and satisfying meal with lots of flavor and only a few ingredients. Serve over rice, with sesame seeds and chopped scallions on the top if you like. You can improve the flavor by using fresh garlic and fresh ginger, but powdered works fine, too. The proportions are flexible, and you can easily add more of any sauce ingredient at the end of cooking. 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (or less if you're not crazy about sweetness)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil (you can skip this, really, or use olive oil, but it adds flavor)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (or 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed (or 3/4 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • scallions, chopped, for garnish
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat the sesame or other oil in a skillet. Lightly cook then garlic, then add the ground beef and cook, breaking into bits, until the meat is all browned. Drain most of the fat. 

  2. Mix together the brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce, and pepper flakes, and add to the ground beef. Or you can actually just chuck everything in the pan and stir it up right there. Cook a little longer until everything is combined and hot. 

  3. Serve over rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.