Here please insert a joke about carnitas, carnal desires during Lent, incarnation, whatever.
Waffles, scrambled eggs, sausages, hash browns, OJ
Nice and easy.
Carnitas, pico de gallo, guacamole and chips, honey sriracha pineapple
This is a recipe from John Herreid, who posted it as an extra on his Facebook art account, J.R.’s Art Place, which you should definitely be following. He shares a very wide range of fine art, things you’ve never seen before, often with illuminating or amusing little tidbits of information. You should follow it!
The carnitas recipe was very easy. You just chunk up some pork, sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and oregano, and cook it in a pot with a cup of oil and Mexican Coke or some other soda containing cane syrup; and orange wedges, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves, and simmer for several hours. Take out everything but the meat and cook it a bit longer, until it gets a dark, glazey crust. Then shred it and you’re set. John’s recipe said to drain it, but the meat I made had absorbed just about all the liquid by the time it was done.
Oh my land, the smell.
It just got better and better, and the flavor was intense and wonderful.
I couldn’t find Mexican Coke and ended up using root beer, so it had a sort of anise-y tinge to it. Most definitely making this recipe again.
I made up a big batch of simple pico de gallo
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and also a big batch of guacamole.
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Fantastic meal. I had resorted to cooking bland pork and seasoning it after shredding, because I just couldn’t seem to get much flavor into the meat itself. Those days are gone, my friends.
I served one pineapple raw and just grilled (actually broiled) a few pieces, because Lena and I are the only ones who really like it, and I suspect Lena’s just being polite. I made a little sauce of olive oil, honey, and sriracha, and rolled the pineapple spears around in it, then put them under the broiler, turning once, for a few minutes.
You get a little caramelization on the charred ends, and it’s just nice.
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Hot dogs, potato salad, string beans
A few of my kids are pretty passionate about potato salad. So I made some, partly to assuage my guilt for serving hot dogs. Then I ruined everything by accidentally drowning it in pepper.
It wasn’t actually ruined, but it kind of separated the men from the boys.
I don’t really have a potato salad recipe. I throw a few whole eggs in with the potatoes to boil. I made a dressing out of mayo, apple cider vinegar, salt, and of course pepper. I like it with diced red onion and celery or even some diced pickles, and fresh dill, but no one else likes any of those things, the monsters. At least I managed to make a sane amount this time around, so it was gone by day 2, rather than lingering around getting icy in the back of the fridge and then getting thrown out by a wrathful child who is the onnnnnnnly one who ever throws things away around here.
Spaghetti and meatballs, fresh bread
I sort of got tricked into making bread.
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Lena is home from college this week, and she and Corrie made some plans over the weekend to make bread. I said Tuesday would be a good day, since we’re having spaghetti. But when it came down to it, Corrie didn’t really want to stop watching Scooby Doo, so it was left to Lena, who doesn’t actually know how to make bread. So I showed her, but I had to keep leaving the house and shouting vague instructions as I went out the door. The upshot was that the rising loaves got moved around from pan to pan a lot, which is not something that rising loaves enjoy. So we ended up with some rather dense, earthy bread.
You know what, fresh, hot bread is fresh, hot bread! No ragrets.
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Tuesday’s meal was really a ruse to make leftover meatball pizza on Wednesday. Meatball pizza is unreasonably delicious.
Chicken tortilla soup
I really like this recipe, which I have adapted from Two Sleevers.
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You make a puree in the blender or food processor
(uh, it might be smarter to do this in batches)
then cook the puree up in oil for a bit, add the water and chicken, and pressure cook it. (Of course you can easily adapt this for the stove top; just simmer, rather than pressing buttons.) Fish out the chicken, shred it,
and throw it back in, and there it is. I wish I had cooked the puree a little longer to develop the flavor, but it was still pleasantly spicy and warming.
Tortilla soup is, um, supposed to have tortillas in it. You’re supposed to use corn tortillas, which thicken the soup up. But I just don’t like corn tortillas. They taste bad and sour and gritty to me. So instead, I made spicy, crunchy flour tortilla strips and put them on as a topping, along with sour cream, shredded cheese, scallions, and cilantro. I really wanted avocados, which I used up making guacamole earlier in the week, but I had this overwhelming, passionate need not to stop at Aldi on a Thursday afternoon.
Oh no, you’re onto me, I’m not a real Mexican!
I made the tortilla strips by cutting them into slices, drizzling them with olive oil and sprinkling them generously with Tajín chili lime seasoning, which is just chili powder, sea salt, and dehydrated lime juice, so if you can’t find it in stores because of COVID-19, you can easily make your own by running some limes through your dehydrator three days previously and then pulverizing it with your butt. Write this down, it’s important. Then you spread them on a pan and bake them slowly in a medium oven, stirring occasionally, and then you burn them. Every. Single. Damn. Time.
Everyone still liked them, though.
Today is Elijah’s birthday. His birthday almost always lands in Lent, but this year is special, as it’s a Friday in Lent. Also, he has to stay after school to do some work with his math teacher. It’s hard out there for an Elijah. We’ll whoop it up on Sunday, though.
Pico De Gallo
quick and easy fresh dip or topping for tacos, etc.
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced OR 1/2 serrano pepper
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/8 cup lime juice
- dash kosher salt
Mix ingredients together and serve with your favorite Mexican food
White Lady From NH's Guacamole
- 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
Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two.
Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.
Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly.
Spicy honeyed pineapple with ice cream
You could drizzle this with a caramel rum sauce and maybe sprinkle with pralines, but it's good just with fruit and ice cream, too. You can also serve the pineapple as a side dish (without ice cream!) for many Mexican foods.
- 1 pineapple, cut into spears or rings
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 1/8 cup honey
- sriracha sauce to taste
Preheat the broiler; or, if grilling outside, let coals die down.
Mix olive oil, honey, and a few dashes of sriracha sauce, and slather the sauce all over the prepared pineapple.
Spread in single layer on pan or over grill and cook, turning once, until it's slightly charred.
Serve hot with a scoop of ice cream.
Meatballs for a crowd
Make about 100 golf ball-sized meatballs.
- 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.
Preheat oven to 400.
Mix all ingredients together with your hands until it's fully blended.
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.
Add meatballs to sauce and keep warm until you're ready to serve.
Makes four long loaves. You can make the dough in one batch in a standard-sized standing mixer bowl if you are careful!
I have a hard time getting the water temperature right for yeast. One thing to know is if your water is too cool, the yeast will proof eventually; it will just take longer. So if you're nervous, err on the side of coolness.
- 4-1/2 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
- 1-1/2 Tbsp salt
- 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
- 10-12 cups flour
- butter for greasing the pan (can also use parchment paper) and for running over the hot bread (optional)
- corn meal for sprinkling on pan (optional)
In the bowl of a standing mixer, put the warm water, and mix in the sugar and yeast until dissolved. Let stand at least five minutes until it foams a bit. If the water is too cool, it's okay; it will just take longer.
Fit on the dough hook and add the salt, oil, and six of the cups of flour. Add the flour gradually, so it doesn't spurt all over the place. Mix and low and then medium speed. Gradually add more flour, one cup at a time, until the dough is smooth and comes away from the side of the bowl as you mix. It should be tender but not sticky.
Lightly grease a bowl and put the dough ball in it. Cover with a damp towel or lightly cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until it's about double in size.
Flour a working surface. Divide the dough into four balls. Taking one at a time, roll, pat, and/or stretch it out until it's a rough rectangle about 9x13" (a little bigger than a piece of looseleaf paper).
Roll the long side of the dough up into a long cylinder and pinch the seam shut, and pinch the ends, so it stays rolled up. It doesn't have to be super tight, but you don't want a ton of air trapped in it.
Butter some large pans. Sprinkle them with cornmeal if you like. You can also line them with parchment paper. Lay the loaves on the pans and give each one several diagonal slashes with a sharp knife. This will allow the loaves to rise without exploding.
Cover them with damp cloths or plastic wrap again and set to rise in a warm place again, until they come close to double in size. Preheat the oven to 375.
Put the pans in the oven and throw some ice cubes in or spray some water in with a mister, and close the oven quickly, to give it a nice crust.
Bake 25 minutes or more until the crust is golden. One pan may need to bake a few minutes longer.
Run some butter over the crust of the hot bread if you like, to make it shiny and even yummier.
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.