What’s for supper? Vol. 154: Ragu! Sing it with me! Raguuuuuuu!

I think Corrie speaks for all of us when she says:

Here’s what we ate this week (with some links to Christmas baking and candy recipes at the end):

SATURDAY
Birthday! Stuffed shells, garlic bread, veg and dip, birthday cake

Sweet Benny wanted a rose-themed birthday. Easy enough. We made some giant paper flowers and hung them from the ceiling. Here it is, halfway decorated:

and the night before, Benny and I made some fruit roll roses.

She’s a wonderful kid to work with, and she never gets offended if you say, “Sweetheart, Mama’s ears are tired. Can you stop talking for a few minutes?” She just laughs and says, “Yeah, I like to talk.” Then she keeps talking.

I couldn’t find the Fruit by the Foot strips I was looking for, so we got regular fruit roll-ups, unrolled them, cut them into four strips, and pinched the ends together to make one long strip. Then we started rolling it up in a tight roll to make the center of the rose; then we rolled up the rest loosely, twisting and occasionally folding and smooshing the strip. I don’t know if I can describe it better than that. Some of the turned out more rose-like than others!

Then we stuck toothpicks in the bottoms and stuck them in the cake. I used a Wilton leaf tip to make the leaves, and added some dots for garlands on the sides. My first leaves, not too shabby!

She was delighted with her cake. When Damien put it in front of her, she just sat there, smiling and smiling.

She requested stuffed shells. I didn’t have my recipe in front of me, so I checked out the box. Let’s see . . . cottage cheese . . . zucchini . . . yeah, okay, this box is fired. I went and found my recipe. Recipe card at the end.

For a party activity, we made flower crowns. These were first graders, and they definitely needed some help from the moms, but I bet they could do it on their own the second time around. We made circlets out of wired pine garlands, then made standard tissue paper flowers with a little bell at the center, threaded through the pipe cleaner. (Yes, I still call them pipe cleaners instead of chenille stems. Take that!) We attached the flowers on with the pipe cleaners, then tied wisps of tulle to both sides of the flower just to add some poofiness, then tied ribbons to hang down the back. I didn’t get any good pics, but can probably do a tutorial if anyone is interested. Not a bad party activity, and the girls looked adorable, and ready for the Kentucky Derby.

SUNDAY
Roast beef sandwiches, chips

Damien roasted a couple of chuck roasts. He covered them in salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and seared them in very hot oil, about three minutes per side, then roasted them in a 325 oven for about 90 minutes. Then he let them rest for a bit, then sliced it up. We put it on rolls with horseradish sauce and provolone, and put them in the oven for a few minutes to toast up. I also had tomatoes in mine.

I had a jar of sliced pepperoncini, but they were a weird color, so I threw them out. Aren’t you glad I’m so tired I thought that was worth writing down?

MONDAY
Ham, mashed potatoes, peas, roast brussels sprouts

Me, sadly flipping through supermarket flyers: So . . . do you guys . . . maybe . . . want ham?
Benny: HAM. HAM. HAMANDMASHEDPOTATOESANDPEAS.
Me: Okay! But how about Brussels sprouts instead of peas, just to mix things up a little? Brussels sprouts are on sale right n-
Benny:

So that’s what we had. I also roasted some Brussels sprouts, because they were on sale and I like them.

Benny was irate.

TUESDAY
Sweet and sour chicken stir fry, rice

Clara had been asking for this meal, which I make very authentically by cutting chicken into pieces and cooking them, then adding steamed vegetables from a bag and sauce from a jar, and schlorping the whole thing over rice.

It was extra schlorpy, because I didn’t drain the vegetables sufficiently. I even found a few cans of water chestnuts in the cabinet. I took them out of the cans and everything.

Oh, I cooked the rice in the Instant Pot using the 1:1 method. Works every time. I like the IP for rice because it comes out nice and sticky, and you can make it ahead of time and just let it stay warm until you’re ready.

WEDNESDAY
Ragù on fettuccine, garlic bread

Damien started making his amazing ragù the night before, and this was the ragù that surpassed all previous ragùs. He uses this Deadspin recipe, and this time, he used a pound of pork, a pound of veal, and . . . hold onto your butts . . . a pound of pancetta, which he ground by hand.

He ran a bunch of onions, celery, and carrots through the food processor, and threw in a bunch of anchovies, wine, and olive oil, and a little tomato paste, and let it cook a good long time. I gained eleven pounds just smelling it.

It was fantastic.

I know it doesn’t look like much in this pic, but it’s one of those foods where the flavor just blooms inside your mouth. Can’t figure out if that’s a creepy thing to say or not, but it sure was exciting. Also, every time the kids asked what was for supper, I would sing out, “ra-GUUUUUUUUUU!” to the tune of Veggie Tales “Cebu,” and it really annoyed them. Ha ha!

THURSDAY
Pork ramen

Sometimes this gets pretty elaborate, but this time it was just cheapy ramen, some boneless pork ribs sautéed in olive oil with soy sauce and sliced, some sautéed mushrooms, chopped scallions, and soft boiled eggs. Oh, and crunchy noodles. Spicy sesame seeds and hot sauce.

I was starving, and this tasted like heaven. Salty, salty heaven.

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle for kids, possibly bouillabaisse for me.

I got some kind of frozen mixed seafood whatnot for like $4 a few weeks ago, and it’s calling to me.

Okay, that’s a wrap! Now, how about Christmas baking? Got anything good? I haven’t even thought about it yet, but I’ll probably make chocolate caramel nuts, which make good token presents. Here’s my post with a photo guide to the recipe from Smitten Kitchen. You really need a photo guide, because it goes through something like eleven alarming stages before things turn out fine at the end. This post includes links to other helpful basic December recipes, including fudge, nut brittle, buckeyes, and rum balls.

Hanukkah is over, but that’s no reason not to make rugelach, so here is my recipe and photo guide for that.

Finally, if you feel like you have to decorate cookies, here is a recipe for sugar cookie dough that you do not have to refrigerate. You can also use this dough recipe for beautiful stained glass cookies, which always impress. This post has some photos of the process.

 

Stuffed shells

Just a basic recipe. You can add meat to the sauce or spinach to the cheese, or anything that strikes your fancy. Serves about 10.

Ingredients

  • 2 12-oz boxes jumbo shells
  • 2 32-oz tubs ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 4-5 cups pasta sauce

Instructions

  1. Cook the shells in salted water, drain, and rinse in cool water. Mix them up with olive oil so they don't stick together.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350. Mix into the ricotta cheese all the seasoning, the parmesan, and 3 of the cups of mozzarella.

  3. Spread a little sauce in the bottom of an oven-proof pan or dish. Stuff each shell with about 1/2-1/3 cup of cheese filling and lay the stuffed shells close together.

  4. Top with the rest of the pasta sauce, and sprinkled the remaining mozzarella on top of that. Cover loosely with foil and cook for 45 minutes or longer, until it's bubbly. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 125: Tuesday is the new Friday

Sorry for the delay! Last week was a week of great stupitude and everything is late. Here’s what we had. Carb counts at the end.

SATURDAY
Chicken quesadillas, tortilla chips, strawberries

I drizzled a bunch of chicken breasts with olive oil and dusted them thoroughly with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder, then broiled them, let them cool a bit, and sliced them.

People could choose a combination of cheddar cheese, chicken, jalapeño slices, and chopped scallions for their quesadillas.

Served with sour cream and salsa, strawberries on the side. Lovely.

SUNDAY
Chicken sandwiches with bacon, green apple, and cheddar on sourdough; spicy fries

A very fine sandwich. My husband used olive oil, salt, and pepper and broiled the chicken, then cut it into thick slices. Each sandwich had chicken, a few pieces of crisp bacon, a slice or two of Granny Smith apple, and a thick slice of sharp cheddar, all on thick, toasted sourdough bread with honey mustard dressing. So good.

We had spicy fries, from frozen, on the side.

MONDAY
Ramen with pork and pickled vegetables

In the morning, I set some carrots and baby cucumbers pickling. I sliced the cukes into thin coins, and used a horizontal vegetable peeler to make wide ribbons of the carrots. I put them in a bowl with some white vinegar and a quarter cup or so of sugar. Pickled vegetables add a wonderful crunch and brightness to otherwise dull food.

Before dinner, I dusted some thick pork ribs with salt and pepper and sautéed them in olive oil. While they were cooing, I soft boiled a bunch of eggs, chopped scallions, and started some ramen cooking. Then I sliced the pork thin and served everything in separate bowls, along with sesame seeds, sriracha sesame seeds, wasabi sauce, and soy sauce.

And how delighted I am to be eating dinner while the sun is still up. HOW DELIGHTED.

TUESDAY
Stuffed shells, salad

Benny has been begging for lasagna, and I have a real mental block about making lasagna. I always end up like the Three Stooges in the one where they’re hanging wallpaper. So I made stuffed shells instead.

I cooked two 12-oz boxes of jumbo shells, and stuffed them with this filling:

2 32-oz tubs of ricotta cheese
8 oz. grated parmesan
4 beaten eggs
1 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs dried basil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 cups of shredded mozzarella

I put sauce in the casserole dish, then put in the stuffed shells, then added more sauce and topped it with another cup of mozzarella cheese. I covered it and put it in a 350 oven for maybe 40 minutes. I forgot to eat that day, so I almost devoured my own hand in my haste to put stuffed shells inside my face. The kids who weren’t starving also thought they were quite good, too.

WEDNESDAY
Hamburgers, spicy roast cauliflower

I’m trying to serve chips less reflexively, so I tried cauliflower. Because I happen to like cauliflower, and not because I think it’s some kind of magical hylomorphic substance that can be browbeaten into becoming anything your carb-loving heart desires. Yes, I know that’s not what hylomorphic means. Don’t care. I just like cauliflower.

So I broke it into florets and mixed it up with olive oil, salt, pepper, tons of minced garlic, and some hot pepper flakes, and shoved the pan under a hot broiler until the cauliflower was a little charred. It was okay. I thought it would be exciting, but it was just kind of hot. I forgot to take a picture, but you can probably imagine.

THURSDAY
Pizza and birthday cake

A sleepover party with I don’t even know how many little nine-year-olds. Guess what? They were so much better behaved than the three high school kids who slept over the night before. Land.

This party was a pirate party. We’ve thrown a lot of parties, and my greatest tip is: Have a few bucks to spare so you can just run out and buy a bunch of crap right before the party. I spray painted a skull and crossbones on a plastic tablecloth and blew up balloons, and that was decorations.

I cut a watermelon into a pirate ship full of fruit salad, which is honest to goodness not that hard if you stay calm. Look at the little carrot cannons! The girls supplied little clay mermaids to lounge here and there.

You cut the melon in half lengthwise and slice the fruit in the bottom like a grid and scoop it out with a big spoon. Then scoop out the top rind and trim it into a few sail shapes, and put it together with wooden skewers for masts. I had to put some extra shell bits in the bottom to anchor the skewers. I also cut holes in the side for baby carrot cannons, and taped a little flag to the top. In other lifetime, I’ll go nuts with scrolling and scrimshaw and little flags and spars and rope ladders, but not this lifetime.

Then I made a treasure chest cake! Sort of!

It looks a little bit like a clam eating Oreos, but it also looks a little bit like a treasure chest, don’t you think?

I made a double recipe, and used about 1/4 of the batter to make a round base, which I frosted and then sprinkled with crushed graham cracker for sand (pirate sand). Then I poured the rest of the batter into a large loaf pan, to make the chest. When it was cool, I sliced the rounded top off for a lid, and frosted the bottom.

I used gold food grade spray (affiliate link!) to make gold coins out of Oreos. I have no idea why I didn’t use yellow Oreos, but I didn’t. (There were also gluten free cupcakes, and I topped them with GF chocolate chip cookies sprayed gold, to be gold nuggets, I guess.

Piratey! It took two cans of spray to cover all the cookies on both sides.) Then I arranged the coins on the bottom/chest part of the cake with a plastic necklace, put the top “lid” back on, and frosted that.

Then I added the trim.

If I had had more time, I would have mixed different shades of chocolate frosting together to make the chest look like wood, and I would have used chocolate chips for the rivets. Next time! I thought it turned out well, though, and the birthday girl was pleased.

The kids made their own pizzas. This is a great party activity, as it’s both project and meal.

Everyone had a red pirate head scarf ($1 each at Walmart) and an eye patch (which I bought in bulk here – affiliate link!). To make pirate scarves, fold the kerchief into a triangle. Lay it over the head, fold the two side corners in, tucking in the folds that makes, and tie a knot at the nape of the neck. Works best for kids without a cubic yard of curly hair.

They played “walk the plank” down by the stream. I don’t know what that entails, but everyone did come back.

FRIDAY
Blintzes and grits

Yep, that’s what we had. As befitted such a meal, I didn’t take any pictures.

***

So here’s the carb counts, more or less:

Chicken apple sandwiches:

Sourdough bread – 23 carbs per slice – 46 for sandwich
Chicken 0
Bacon 0
Honey Mustard dressing – 6 carb per 2 tablespoons
alternate:
Mustard – 0
Mayonnaise – 0

Spicy fries – 21 carbs per 14 fries
Ketchup – 10 carbs per two tablespoons
***

Chicken quesadillas:

Pueblo Lindo large burrito size tortilla: 34

Chicken with olive oil, cumin, pepper, salt, chili powder: negligible
Cheddar cheese: negligible
jalapenos: doesn’t want

scallions: doesn’t want

Clancy’s restaurant style tortilla chips: 14 chips, 38 carbs

salsa: doesn’t want
sour cream 2 Tbs: 2
4 medium-large strawberries: 4
orange cream bar: 17
___
total: 95
***

Pork ramen:

1 package Top Ramen, chicken flavor: 26
Pork cooked in olive oil and sesame oil: 0

soft boiled egg: 0
one 7″ carrot and 1 mini cuke, pickled in vinegar and sugar: 10
scallions: 1.1 per scallion
(sauteed mushrooms, 4 medium sliced: 2.4)
spinach: 1.1 per cup, raw
sesame seeds: .7 per teaspoon
(soy sauce: .8 per Tbs.)
sriracha sauce:

iced tea: 34 grams per two cups of Lipton lemonade/iced tea mix

***

Stuffed shells:

  • 2 32-oz tubs of ricotta cheese, approx 8 cups: 45 per container, 90 total recipe
  • 8 oz grated Parmesan cheese: 0
  • 4 eggs: 0
  • 1 Tbs garlic powder: 7
  • 2 Tbs dried basil: 4.2
  • 2 tsp salt: 0
    1 tsp pepper: negligible
    4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese: 16
  • Makes about 9 cups cheese filling: 117.2 total
    2 boxes of Jumbo Shells, 12 oz each: 246 per box,
  • carbs in six shells:
    41 g per six pasta shells
    Reggano marinara sauce, 1/2 cup (divided top and bottom): 13
    cheese filling, i cup: 13.02
    _______
    67.2 per six shells
salad made of iceberg, spinach, and greenleaf lettuce: 2 c, about 2 carbs
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar: 2.7
 
TOTAL MEAL: 71.9
***

Pizza and cake:

260 total ball of Portland Pie white dough

1/4 of a pizza:

65 carbs for 1/4 ball pizza dough
1/4 cup Hunts sauce: 5.5
1/2 cup shredded cheese: 2
72.5 for 1 mini pizza
cupcake:
1 of 12 Live GF yellow cake : 37
frosting:20
oreo: 866138.5 total meal
***

Blintz and grits:

blintz 13

grits, 3 Tbs: 29
apple: 15
granola bar: 19
milk, 2 cups: 24
—–
100