Hola, amigos. I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya. I actually wrote quite a bit this week, but ended up doing whatever the digital version is of crumpling up the paper, and whatever the sitting on your ass version is of stomping off to go stand in a corner and sulk. This has not been a wonderful week for (a) a Jew who (b) has been following the Catholic sex abuse scandal closely for years and (c) lives next door to Maine. You know what doesn’t help? When the 12-year-old public radio host who is reading the headlines suddenly puts on her raggedy, tormented sad kitty voice and says, “Hope you’re taking care of yourself today. Deep breaths, everybody,” before abruptly perking up and announcing that it will be sunny this weekend and there will be a punkin festibal. I’ll sunny you! Good heavens.
Anyway, I’ve been making steady progress with Halloween costumes this week, so I’ve got that going for me. I managed to almost completely avoid sewing this year. LOTS of duct tape, lots of hot glue, and a tremendous number of zip ties, though. Corrie is going to be Dalek Sec, with a light-up helmet
and Benny is going to be Classic Green Goblin.
They both needs more work, but we’re in pretty good shape for Oct. 28.
The oven broke on Sunday (just the bottom heating element) and we haven’t had a chance to fix it yet, but I lucked out and happened to have planned a menu that can be made with the broiler, the stovetop, and of course the Instant Pot. Here’s what we had this week:
Pulled pork sandwiches, chips
On Saturday we went to a rummage sale in the morning. We love rummage sales. Corrie has been losing just dozens of teeth lately, so she had a glass jar stuffed with bills to spend. The first thing she bought was, practically, a wallet. She then transferred her money to the wallet and went on an incredible spending spree. She was buying Crayola Glow Domes, she was buying Christmas earrings, she was buying t-shirts bragging about our Bernese Mountain Dog. Zero regrets.
I myself bought a leather motorcycle jacket for some reason (well, the reason was that it was $12) and a bunch of kitchen wares. The duality of mom.
Then we came home and I got some pulled pork going in the Instant Pot
and then we all went to the Pumpkin Festival in Keene.
it was raining, but we had a pretty good time. The theme this year was “Please Do Not Light Any Cars on Fire” and with an undertone of “How Much Can We Charge For Fried Dough and Still Sleep At Night?” and they nailed it.
We all got home pretty wet and tired, so I was mighty pleased to have a hot pot of pulled pork waiting. We had sandwiches and chips.
I made up a new card for the new way I make pulled pork.Jump to Recipe
I like the flavor so much, I don’t even put BBQ sauce on my sandwich. You definitely can, but it’s plenty flavorful by itself. This is a rare recipe of mine that doesn’t have any garlic in it! Behold, it can be done! It has a wonderful, warming, autumnal taste with the apple cider, apple juice, cumin, and cloves. You can remove the jalapeño seeds and/or membranes to make it less spicy, but it’s not overpowering as is, just perky.
Chicken burgers, nacho chips
Sunday was when we noticed the oven was broken, and also when we discovered you can broil frozen chicken burgers and they turn out fine.
English muffin pizzas
We used to have this alllllll the time. It’s been several years, I think, and it’s a meal a few of the kids have been agitating for. Damien was going to be out of town, so I took the opportunity. I even got little bitty mini pepperonis to make it cute
I don’t really miss this meal, but it wasn’t terrible. I feared and hated the sourness of English muffins when I was little, and I still have to consciously flip a switch in my head to enjoy the taste of them.
Chicken tortilla soup, quesadillas
I had some leftover rotisserie chicken from last week I had chucked into the freezer, so I used that to make one of my favorite soups. The recipeJump to Recipe
calls for cooking the raw chicken directly into the broth, and I wasn’t going to do that, so I added extra chicken bouillon to make sure it had some flavor. It also calls for chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, and I couldn’t find that at all in the three stores I went to. So I just added more of all the other ingredients.
The result was . . . honestly, pretty bland soup.
Pretty, though. Aldi had these fancy tri-colored crunchy tortilla strips for toppings, so I grabbed a bag of those, and I also topped mine with avocado and cilantro. I made a bunch of quesadillas. It was fine. Not an amazing meal, but it wasn’t the recipe’s fault.
Mexican beef bowls, pineapple
On Wednesday, I re-burnished my reputation somewhat with a meal everybody likes: Mexican beef bowls.Jump to Recipe
Roast beef was on sale, so I made the lovely, piquant marinade in the morning and sliced the meat thinly, and let it marinate all day
When it got to be close to supper, I made a pot of rice, sliced up a few pineapples, shredded some cheese, roasted some corn, chopped some cilantro, cut up some limes, and dug up some sour cream, and then I broiled the meat
Honestly I overcooked it, because I forgot how thin it was, but it was fine.
So yummy. Tons of flavors.
Earlier in the day, I also made a pot of black beans. Actually I only had one can of beans and one can of kidney beans, so that’s what we had.Jump to Recipe
Only a few people like beans, so I added as much spice and garlic as I wanted, which was a lot. I’m a huge bean fan. (I realize that’s a slightly ambiguous sentence. I mean it all the ways.) So much so that the kids stored the leftovers in a ziplock bag, and I ate cold bagged beans as a snack the next day and managed to feel guilty about the opulent luxury of it all.
Blackened shishito chicken sandwiches; veggies and hummus
This is one of my favorite sandwiches, quite popular at our house. This time I had Tony CHachere’s seasoning, rather than some kind of generic “cajun seasoning,” and I forgot how salty Tony CHachere’s is! So they were a little overly aggressive, salt-wise. Still so tasty, though.
This is a Sip and Feast recipe. You season the chicken thighs and cook them slowly and thoroughly in hot oil
(this pan is one of my rummage sale finds! A lovely multi-ply stainless steel pan, very sturdy. I love stainless steel the best)
and then you top them with American cheese and let that melt
and while those keep warm, you quickly blister up the shishito peppers in the pan that you cooked the chicken in
and serve it all on toasted or untoasted brioche buns with barbecue sauce and red onion slices
and it’s just a damn fine, sloppy, tasty, delicious sandwich, even if you burn the buns like I did.
On Friday, we had already been a million places, and we had a million places to be, so all signs pointed to spaghetti with sauce from a jar. And that’s my story! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with some Dalekanium and a hot glue gun. I suggest taking shallow breaths and being hard on yourself, and writing legally actionable hate mail to your local public radio host. But you know yourself.
Clovey pulled pork
- fatty hunk of pork
- salt and pepper
- oil for browning
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2/3 cup apple juice
- 3 jalapeños with tops removed, seeds and membranes intact
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 Tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp ground cloves
Cut pork into hunks. Season heavily with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in heavy pot and brown pork on all sides.
Move browned pork into Instant Pot or slow cooker or dutch oven. Add all the other ingredients. Cover and cook slowly for at least six hours.
When pork is tender, shred.
Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Adapted from twosleevers.com. This is a very flavorful chicken soup. It has a little hotsy totsy burst of spice with the first taste, and then the more complex flavors come through slowly. Magic.
It's fairly brothy, and then you heap up all the garnishes you want on top.
This is a little over a gallon of soup.
- 2 med onions
- 1 lb (4 medium) tomatoes
- 5 cloves garlic
- 3 chiles in adobo sauce plus some of the sauce
- 1 jalapeño pepper (include seeds for more heat)
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- salt to taste
- garnishes: avocado slices, sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, tortilla strips, chopped scallions
Cut the onions and tomatoes into chunks so they will fit in the blender or food processor. Put the onions, tomatoes, jalapeño, chili pepper and sauce, garlic and cilantro into a blender or food processor and blend it until it's a thick sauce. You may need to do it in batches, or just keep poking the big pieces down so everything gets blended in.
Add enough oil to the Instant Pot pot to cover the bottom. Press "sauté" and let the oil heat up for a few minutes.
Pour in the tomato mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes, until any liquid is mostly absorbed. You may need to press "sauté" again to keep it hot.
Cut the chicken breasts into pieces and put them in the pot. Add six cups of water.
Close the top, seal the valve, and press "pressure cook," then the + button until it goes to 20 minutes. When it's done cooking, let it naturally release for 10 minutes, then release the remaining pressure manually.
Open the top and fish out the chicken. Shred it and return it to the pot. Add salt to taste.
Serve the soup with garnishes: avocado slices, sour cream, tortilla strips, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, and chopped scallions.
Beef marinade for fajita bowls
enough for 6-7 lbs of beef
- 1 cup lime juice
- 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 head garlic, crushed
- 2 Tbsp cumin
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp hot pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 tsp pepper
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
Mix all ingredients together.
Pour over beef, sliced or unsliced, and marinate several hours. If the meat is sliced, pan fry. If not, cook in a 350 oven, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. I cook the meat in all the marinade and then use the excess as gravy.
Instant Pot black beans
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 16-oz cans black beans with liquid
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
Put olive oil pot of Instant Pot. Press "saute" button. Add diced onion and minced garlic. Saute, stirring, for a few minutes until onion is soft. Press "cancel."
Add beans with liquid. Add cumin, salt, and cilantro. Stir to combine. Close the lid, close the vent, and press "slow cook."