What’s for supper? Vol. 98: Sometimes a hot dog is more than a hot dog

Well, let’s see.

SATURDAY
Spaghetti carbonara, caprese salad

A lovely meal that comes together very quickly. For our newly shrunken family, I used a scant two pounds of pasta and two pounds of bacon, which turned out to be almost enough. I followed this simple carbonara recipe from that noted Italian chef, Fannie Farmer.

For the caprese salad, we visited our squalid little garden and got the last of the basil and the few tomatoes that the woodchuck missed, and supplemented it with supermarket tomatoes. Package of mozzarella pearls, some olive oil and vinegar, some freshly-ground salt and pepper.

So yummy, and easy enough that you can shout some vague directions toward your lovely daughter as you fry the bacon, and she throws together a lovely dish with no trouble.

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SUNDAY
Deconstructed shish kebab, corn on the cob

On Sunday, we had a sudden break in the dark, rainy, oppressive weather. The sun came out, the water sparkled, a fresh breeze came up, and we headed to the beach for one last happy wallow, bringing strawberries, grapes, and the traditional Giant Bag of Candy with us.

Before we left, I cut up a bone-in pork shoulder(?) into chunks and set it to marinate. I wanted to use the spiedie marinade in the NYT, but I guess I looked up that recipe too many times, and it’s now behind a paywall for me. (I know you can clear cookies or switch browsers, but that feels stealy.) So I put together lemon juice, white wine, wine vinegar, oregano, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and dried basil. Pretty darn close.

When we got home, I cut up peppers, red onions, and mushrooms, mixed them with the pork, and spread it out in my two giant sheet pans [Amazon affiliate link]. I set the oven to broil, and when the first pan was a little charred, I took it out and moved the other one up.

So juicy and delicious. We ate it on potato rolls.

I also boiled up some corn, just plain old, good, good-bye-summer corn.

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MONDAY
Hot Dogs of Many Nations, chips, root beer floats

My father came over and we played stinky pinkies until we couldn’t stand it anymore. For supper, I got a bunch of natural casing hot dogs and a bunch of Hebrew National Hot Dogs. It was raining again, so we skipped the outdoor grill, but laid out every kind of hot dog topping that seemed good.

We had ketchup, yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, sauerkraut, chili, pickle relish, chopped onions, buffalo sauce, bleu cheese, chopped scallions, pickled peppers, pickles, tomatoes, cheese sauce, and a cute little bulbous jar of onion chutney. I didn’t really know what chutney was. It turns out it’s some kind of purple nightmare jelly. I still don’t know what it’s for, except not for hot dogs.

My two favorite combos: The Chicago hot dog (“dragged through the garden), which is topped with chopped onion, pickle relish, pickled peppers, tomatoes, a dill pickle, mustard, and celery salt:

and even better, the buffalo dog, which has bleu cheese, scallions, and buffalo sauce:

This is a really swell combination. Makes the hot dog worth eating. I think we have a new Labor Day tradition, and it’s not very laborious.

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TUESDAY
English muffin pizzas

Nothing to report.

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WEDNESDAY
Oven roasted pork ribs, roast potatoes, cole slaw

The only interesting thing to report is that a bag of shredded cabbage mixed with carrot is sometimes cheaper than a whole cabbage. What a world.

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THURSDAY
Chicken breast and salad

By 5:00, my life force was hanging down around my ankles like a pair of decrepit underwear. I had a package of chicken and several bags of greens. The greens went in a bowl; the chicken went on a pan, and then, o my friends, I sprayed it with butter-flavored cooking spray. With my last scrap of integrity, I flung some salt and pepper in its general direction and nudged it toward the oven with my foot. We also had cheez puffs.

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FRIDAY
Giant chocolate pancake!

In which our heroine pours an entire box of pancake mix into a bowl, adds enough water to make it spreadable, stirs in a bag of chocolate chips, butters a pan, dumps in the batter, and chucks it in a medium oven. We are ditching the school BBQ today because Mama Can’t, so maybe I will take the critters out for ice cream instead.

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Well, I notice that we are nearing VOLUME 100 of this What’s for Supper feature. How should I celebrate? As you may know, I am open to ideas of every kind, including and even giving pride of place to stupid ideas.

What’s for supper? Vol. 75: Garlic will save the world

Good grief, Vol. 75? What do you know about that?

The little rats stole my chalk, so my weekly menu blackboard isn’t telling me anything. Here’s the best I can recall:

SATURDAY
Calzones; birthday cake

We had four extra 13-year-old boys in the house for a sleepover, and the birthday boy requested calzones for dinner. Easy enough! I used premade pizza dough, and divided each ball into four calzones. Roll ’em out, add a scoop of filling, fold the dough over and pinch it closed. We made twenty calzones, plus an extra pizza for weirdos who don’t like calzones, plus a gluten-free pizza for that one guest. This is one of the benefits of being used to cooking for twelve. You  might as well cook for sixteen, and you might as well also make cupcakes, plus special cupcakes, plus this, plus that, why not. Your life is already ruined anyway.


For the filling, I used either eight or twelve cups of shredded mozzarella, probably eight, and 32 oz. of ricotta, plus a bunch of parmesan. After you crimp the edges shut, you can press on them to distribute the filling more evenly. Lay them in a greased pan with space to expand (I put three on a full-sized cookie sheet), and brush with egg wash.

Bake for about 20 minutes in a 450 oven. Serve with warm tomato sauce for dipping.

The cake was just one disaster after another. It was supposed to be chocolate, but I got yellow mix. So I was going to add cocoa powder, but we were out. So I told him I’d make chocolate frosting. Then I somehow bought cream cheese frosting. Then I reversed the colors on the design by mistake; then the sugar sheets I bought were too dry to use, so I piped in the designs with frosting in a sandwich bag that I bit a hole in.
But, I did NOT spell his name wrong.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the cake I was trying to copy and the cake I eventually presented to my beloved son:

Ehhh, whaddaya whaddaya. He liked it. We also made a Super Smash Ball pinata, which turned out just as malformed and blobby as the cake, even though a Smash Ball is just a round ball with different colors all over it. He liked that, too. We like him!

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SUNDAY
Spaghetti carbonara; salad; garlic bread; ice cream sundaes

Unaware that the Solemnity of St. Joseph was moved to Monday, we went ahead and celebrated with bacon and ice cream on Sunday. A not-great photo of a terrifically yummy meal here:

If you’re not familiar with carbonara, it’s easy and wonderful. You fry up some bacon and cut it into bits, then cook up a bunch of pasta. Drain it, add in the bacon and a truly ridiculous amount of parmesan, butter, and tons of pepper, and mix it up. Then, you stir in a bunch of raw egg, which cooks itself right onto the strands of pasta, melding with the cheese and the bacon. Heavenly.

Here’s the recipe from Fannie Farmer. Please note that the very next recipe is for Spaghetti with Lima Beans. This shows that even the great Fanner Farmer has her limitations.

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MONDAY
Beef barley soup; garlic knots

A tiny bit disappointing, but I’m not sure why.
I cut up the beef (chuck roast or something) into cubes and sauteed it in the Instant Pot along with diced onions and garlic. When it was almost all browned, I added diced carrots, a can of diced tomatoes and juice, some beef broth and red wine, and most of a little pouch of mixed grains.

I couldn’t find barley anywhere, and last time I asked a stock boy for help, he was a huge jerk about it, and I was mad for ten days. I just want barley! You work at a supermarket! Do you even understand that you wouldn’t have a job if people like me didn’t need things like barley? Maybe I’ll just go home without buying anything, and then you can have your ideal work day of nobody bringing money into your place of employment! That seems like a solid business model! Jerk.

I pressed the “soup” button, because I was making soup and feeling belligerent, and didn’t feel like checking if that’s how you’re supposed to do it. Looking back, there was a lot of belligerent cooking this week. Hence all the garlic, I guess.

The soup was fine; it just didn’t live up to the Platonic ideal of beef barley soup, and this grieved me. Should’ve added more garlic.

For the garlic knots, I used readymade balls of pizza dough. Cut each ball into twelve pieces, roll them into snakes, tie them in a knot, and top each one with garlic or garlic powder, parmesan cheese, and a little salt. Bake on a greased pan at 425 for . . . I dunno, eleven minutes. Always a hit.

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TUESDAY
Hot dogs; cucumber salad

There are suddenly these giant, beautiful cucumbers for really cheap, so I bought . . . kind of an inappropriate number of giant cucumbers. They just looked good, okay?

Tito Edward’s eye just started ticcing, and he doesn’t even know why.

I sliced them pretty thin and mixed them with a dressing made of plain yogurt, tons of minced garlic, a little lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and salt. Wish I had had some parsley and red onions. It was tasty and interesting, although it probably wasn’t necessary to add nuclear holocaust levels of garlic; but I’ll probably do it again next time.

I took a picture, which I’m adding only because I forgot to take a picture of the next meal, which was actually good to look at.

The other day, my son woke up and couldn’t find any clean jeans or khakis, so he was forced to put on dress pants. He evened it out by wearing a ratty T-shirt.

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WEDNESDAY
Pepperoncini beef sandwiches with provolone; french fries; raw stringbeans

A swell and laughably easy meal in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.

You just dump a hunk of beef in, empty a jar of pepperoncini in with the juice, and let it cook until it’s tender. I’ve always made this dish in the slow cooker, and it comes out ready to fall apart, like pulled pork. This time, I used the “slow cook” button on the IP, which runs for four hours. It wasn’t quite done when I checked, so I pressed the button again, and let it run for another hour-and-a-half. It wasn’t shreddy, but nicely tender, so I sliced it. I think I prefer it that way. Less time probably would have worked even better.

I forgot to cut the tops off the peppers before adding them to the pot, so it was only mildly spicy.

I served the meat on ciabatta rolls with sliced provolone and horseradish sauce. Tragically, I had snacked so much before dinner, I wasn’t hungry enough to eat it. But it smelled fab-u-lous.

Stringbeans finally look decent again. Just popped the stems off and served them raw. Spring is coming, dammit. We can have juicy green things again.

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THURSDAY
Roasted chicken on salad; grapes

We were home for a total of about eleven minutes on Thursday, so it’s a miracle I got dinner made. I doused the chicken breasts with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and shoved them under the broiler for 25 minutes or so, then sliced it up and served it on bagged greens. Bagged greens will save the world.

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FRIDAY
Eggs and risotto and . . . frozen peas? Salad? Maybe green peppers?

It’s been a week without risotto so far! This aggression will not stand, man. (For more on risotto and how it alone can justify the purchase of an Instant Pot, see last week’s post.)

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What’s for supper at your house? What’s the longest you can go without garlic?