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.