What’s for supper? Vol. 370: Meatball style

Happy Friday! I’m sitting outside the library typing in my car, because it has been and continues to be That Kind Of Week. Despite the week’s worst intentions, we did manage to have a few tasty meals, though. Read on!

SATURDAY
Hot dogs and chips

Into every life, a little hot dog must fall. I happen to love hot dogs and would serve them once a week if I could get away with it. Alas. 

But piping hot, natural casing hot dogs are just so good. The only thing that could make this better is a little sauerkraut and the square kind of bun with the ends all torn up and inhabiting a space just barely this side of food, rather than some kind of cotton batting. And the bun should be steamed like at a baseball game. And I guess maybe a plate, but that is negotiable.

SUNDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad

On Sunday, I faced my fate and made dinner for the youth group. Actually I made the meatballs Saturday night, because everything always takes longer than it should, and I wanted to have that part squared away. 

As you can see, I put them on baking racks and cooked them in the oven, which is the fastest and tidiest way to make a large amount of meatballs. 

On Sunday, I chopped up a bunch of carrots and cucumbers and made a bunch of garlic bread and a quadruple batch of brownies, and then I dragooned Clara into helping me lug it over to the church basement, where I started a giant pot of water heating up, and prepped everything. 

It was completely delightful to be back in an industrial kitchen. The dank smell of propane and the sharp smell of stainless steel, the faint milky stank of the giant refrigerator, the no-nonsense aprons, the vast rolls of plastic wrap, the capacious ladles, the quantity of tongs. I don’t even know how many kitchens I’ve worked in, but it’s a lot! My natural habitat. 

HOWEVER, it’s been a while, and I did forget just how long it takes for one of those massive pots of water to boil. It was a nail-biter (not literally. We are very sanitary here, and we keep our paws out of our mouths), but I did get the pasta cooked just in the nick of time.

The church hall, where the kitchen is, has some bathroom issues they’re working on, so the group was eating in a separate building on the second floor, rather than next to the kitchen. So we lugged over a big pot of sauce and meatballs, a big bowl of spaghetti, the pans of garlic bread, the salad, several jugs of juice, salad dressing and grated cheese, and a big platter of frosted brownies. They offered to have us eat with them, but we decided instead to skulk back to the kitchen and clean it in peace, and then we went home to eat. I did sign up to make another meal in a few months, but I think I’m gonna serve something cold next time. I can cook or I can lug, but I don’t want to do both. 

I had also made spaghetti and meatballs for the people at home, and the best way to describe the situation we found ourselves in at the end of that day is: That sure was a lot of meatballs.  

MONDAY
Meatball subs, raw vegetables

Truly, a lot of meatballs. I had been planning to make spiedies this week, but I put the pork back in the freezer and used the rolls for meatballs subs. 

And I made a giant platter of raw vegetables, because I’m half rabbit these days. 

TUESDAY
Pizza

Tuesday I had a longish trip in the morning and came back feeling pretty floppy, so Damien made these pizzas: One pepperoni, one cheese, and one, you’ll never guess, or maybe you will guess: meatball. 

This may or may not have been the last of the meatballs. Either the last of them went on the pizza, or the last of them pissed someone off and they threw them away. Doesn’t matter which one. I feel like justice was served, meatball style. 

Also on Tuesday, I started boiling my maple sap. I made some dumb mistakes storing it, and I don’t want to talk about it, but I found myself at a crossroads, so it was boil or nothing, and for various other reasons that I also don’t want to talk about, it was also boil inside or nowhere. I started out with about four gallons

and let them simmer for several hours, until it was time to go to bed, and I had this:

and then the next morning, I started boiling it again until it reached 220 degrees, and I got this:

Nice color, intense flavor, plenty thick, not much of it! I’m still collecting sap and hope to have a second boil this weekend, and I’m thinking of making what I’ve got into maple walnut ice cream. 

WEDNESDAY
Italian wedding soup, pumpkin muffins

And now for something completely different! A  . . . different kind of meatball!!!!

Ground turkey was $3/lb., so I made a one-and-a-half recipe of this Sip and Feast version of Italian wedding soup. The changes I made were: Skipped the celery because I accidentally ate it all (see: rabbit), I used kale instead of escarole because I remembered the recipe wrong when I was shopping, and I used orzo because I did buy acini de pepe specifically for the soup, but it disappeared when it came home and nobody knows how. 

It’s oh such a pleasant, nourishing soup, though. First I made the meatballs, which I baked on parchment paper. Then you chop and sauté your veggies. (I threw the onion and carrots in the food processor, which doesn’t make the most elegant results, but it does the job.)

Then add chicken stock. You’re supposed to add the pasta now and then the meatballs and then serve, but I was making soup in the morning and didn’t want the pasta to get mushy, so I put the meatballs in and let it simmer all day, and then added the orzo shortly before dinner. Turned out perfect. Lovely, lovely soup. 

It would have been great with hot, crusty bread or some garlic knots, but what I had on hand was muffin ingredients, so I made a batch of these pumpkin muffins 

Jump to Recipe

This recipe makes two loaves or 18 muffins, and I have made dozens of times, and it only turned out bad one time that I can recall. 

They are just tender and pleasant, nothing earthshaking, but reliable and a great way to round out a meal. 

Sometimes you want something that is the same all the way through. No tricks! Just muffin. 

I had a little more parmesan cheese to top the soup (the meatballs also have grated parmesan in them) and it was a very fine meal. 

Also MILLIE came home on Wednesday! so I brought her a few muffins and she gave me a sewing machine. So nature has been restored. 

THURSDAY 
Japanese chicken thighs, rice, cucumbers; strawberry rhubarb pie and peach pineapple pie

Thursday some of the kids had dentist appointments, and the driving situation was such that I decided it made more sense to just keep those kids home for the rest of the day. Which they thought was a great idea until the middle schooler realized she was missing the Pi recitation contest at school, because March 14 is Pi Day, and she hadn’t exactly been working hard to memorize pi, but she had definitely been stressing out about it, and now she was missing it. So I was more or less forced to make a couple of pies. 

The truth is, I’m almost always on the verge of making pies, and it takes very little to push me over the edge. 

First I made a sauce for the chicken, though. It’s nice and easy – you just throw everything into a pan and get your resident nine-year-old to stir it for you until it thickens up. This particular child approaches cooking just like I do: Recipes are all very well, and of course it would be nice to end up with something that tastes good, but the main part is staring at the pan and thinking about why bubbles are like that. 

This is the recipe I used, which is intended for chicken yakitori, which is pieces of chicken on skewers. Someday I will actually make that, but in the mean time, the sauce is top notch. I actually double the amount of fresh garlic and ginger, and I stand by that. When it was close to dinner time, I lined a pan with parchment paper, tossed the chicken thighs in the sauce so they were all coated, and just cooked them in a 350 oven for maybe thirty minutes. 

Juicy and delicious. If I had been cooking the chicken by itself, I probably would have turned the heat up, and maybe broiled it at least at the end, but I was also baking some pies, so we all had to make some compromises. The chicken was great, I just would have liked the skin a little more crisp. 

The flavor was tremendous, though. As you can see, I made some rice and cut up a bunch of plain cucumbers. I had made a triple batch of the sauce and saved out a third of it, and served it on the side for dipping and for the rice.

Make the sauce! It’s so good.

So now the pies. I made a double recipe of this pie crust

Jump to Recipe

and made the mistake of thinking to myself, “My pie crust always turns out so good. I should make a video to show people how I do it.” So of course you know what happened. The frickin’ stuff would not hold together, and it was just a crumbly mess. No idea why. (I do know why:  Not enough water. The mystery is, why didn’t I add more water? I don’t know.)

I managed to roll out two bottom crusts and get them in pie plates, and then I had to figure out the filling. I did NOT want to go to the store, so I found a can of sliced peaches and a can of crushed pineapple in the cabinet, drained them, and added a cup of sugar, half a cup of flour, some cinnamon, a little lemon juice, a little vanilla, and some butter on top

You can see the raggy-ass crust I was dealing with here. I did manage to piece together a lattice top, which looks difficult but is super forgiving once it’s baked, especially if you brush it with egg and sprinkle it with sugar. 

Then I dragged out the rhubarb I threw in the freezer last summer and chopped that up.

I toyed with the idea of a rhubarb pear pie, and I still think that sounds good, but also like a good way to go to a lot of trouble making a pie that only you eat, which doesn’t serve anybody’s purposes, except possibly — no, really nobody’s. 

So I settled on strawberry rhubarb, and asked Damien to bring home some strawberries. This does not count as going to the store, because we also needed milk, and half-and-half, and various things, and a little Spongebob figurine for the sea monkey tank, and so on. I more or less followed the Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe for the filling. I have such mixed feelings about old Sally. She gives you SO much detail, and she’s so bossy about every little thing, but on the other hand, she indisputably knows what she’s talking about. I bet she never gets stuck with meatballs for four days.

I only had a little crust left because, well, I had eaten a lot of the dough. So I rolled it out and, remembering how pretty the elite pita turned out last week, I used the swirly embossed rolling pin, thinking it might turn out decorative and ornate, maybe? 

Probably if the dough had been more supple, I would have had something, but as it was, the crust just came out looking less decorative, and more like I don’t know how to make pie crust, which allegations I cannot beat. 

Blorp.

It was delicious, though. Sweet and tart and tender, and honestly the crust was great. Not beautiful, but very flaky and tender. 

The peach pineapple one came out looking a little more respectable, except I overbaked it by a few minutes

And it tasted . . . exactly like what it was. If I were trying to sell this recipe, I’d say it was a nostalgic throwback to those cans of fruit cocktail that mom used to serve for lunch. Not bad! Just not terribly sophisticated. No regrets, because we had pie. 

My other big excitement on Thursday was that I got a big load of pressure treated wood from Facebook Marketplace. I’m really gonna make that walkway across the marsh!

Here’s the spot I want to span:

and here’s the two piles of wood I have to work with:

Some of the short pieces are pretty thick, so I might be able to use them as supports to go underneath; or I might scout around and see if I can find a fallen tree, and cut that into sections; OR, I might get some barrels and use those. It’s about sixty feet of space and I really think I can do this, and then the stream will be so much more accessible. Right now it’s an adventure with thorns and muck, and it’s worth it, but sometimes you just can’t make yourself do it. 

But imagine if I had a lovely wooden walkway, and maybe a string of lights and a birdhouse or two? Maybe.

FRIDAY
Tuna burgers, tater tots

There is some kind of terrible dance recital this evening. I would really just as soon stay home with the kids and make precious memories of watching TV, but that’s not how you get a free T-shirt, so I guess we’re going. 

If I have time, I will make tuna burgers, which is one drained can of tuna, one egg, and half a cup of breadcrumbs, plus whatever seasonings you want, and then you form them into four patties (or possibly two, per can? I haven’t made this in a long time), and fry them gently in oil until they are brown on both sides and hot all the way through. I think exactly two people in the family like tuna burgers. I did buy tater tots, so that should get me something. 

This will only be possible if we can get the car started, though. I’m currently outside the library sitting in a dead car, waiting for Damien to come rescue me again. Such. Is. Life. At least we had plenty of meatballs.

Pumpkin quick bread or muffins

Makes 2 loaves or 18+ muffins

Ingredients

  • 30 oz canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup veg or canola oil
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • oats, wheat germ, turbinado sugar, chopped dates, almonds, raisins, etc. optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter two loaf pans or butter or line 18 muffin tins.

  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture and mix just to blend. 

  4. Optional: add toppings or stir-ins of your choice. 

  5. Spoon batter into pans or tins. Bake about 25 minutes for muffins, about 40 minutes for loaves. 

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, FROZEN
  • 1/4 cup water, with an ice cube

Instructions

  1. Freeze the butter for at least 20 minutes, then shred it on a box grater. Set aside.

  2. Put the water in a cup and throw an ice cube in it. Set aside.

  3. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the shredded butter and combine with a butter knife or your fingers until there are no piles of loose, dry flour. Try not to work it too hard. It's fine if there are still visible nuggets of butter.

  4. Sprinkle the dough ball with a little iced water at a time until the dough starts to become pliable but not sticky. Use the water to incorporate any remaining dry flour.

  5. If you're ready to roll out the dough, flour a surface, place the dough in the middle, flour a rolling pin, and roll it out from the center.

  6. If you're going to use it later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep it in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months, if you wrap it with enough layers. Let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out!

  7. If the crust is too crumbly, you can add extra water, but make sure it's at room temp. Sometimes perfect dough is crumbly just because it's too cold, so give it time to warm up.

  8. You can easily patch cracked dough by rolling out a patch and attaching it to the cracked part with a little water. Pinch it together.

What’s for supper? Vol. 343: Duck eggs and fox nuts

Happy Friday! Today I am here to make you feel relatively stable and sane. 

Here’s what we ate:

SATURDAY
Regular tacos

Nothing to report. I took this picture mainly to remind me what we ate on Saturday, but best practice is to include lots of photos in the post, so here ya go.

Oh, I guess I actually have to report that I wasn’t paying attention when I sprinkled in the hot pepper flakes, and a lot of people made “wooooo!” sounds when they tasted the meat, which I took as a compliment. 

SUNDAY
Pizza

Sunday was freeeeeaking hot. I made myself do some gardening anyway, because I know that, by the time it’s time to plant bulbs, I’m going to have strep throat or tendonitis or the cold robbies something, and I won’t be able to manage it. So I prepped the little patio St. Joseph garden, which had gotten to look like this:

and now it looks like this

Now it just needs to get a little colder, and I can stuff the mulched area full of daffodil, tulips, and crocus bulbs. This will be nice in the spring, but it’s mostly to give me something to think about all winter, so I don’t kuh-kuh-kuh-kay em ess. 

I’ve also been gathering cosmos and marigold seeds. I’ve been deadheading my marigolds several times a week, and putting the heads up to dry for a week or so, and then pulling the seeds out, which is fun. LOOK how many seeds I have. 

And there’s more to come! Next year, I will have an UNSPEAKABLE amount of marigolds. 

Then, after gardening, it was time to make pizza! One olive, one pepperoni, and one arugula and prosciutto. I guess it’s time to make up a recipe card for this pizza. Here you go: 

Jump to Recipe

I actually had a mix of arugula and spinach, and I have to say, I prefer just arugula for this pizza. It stays a little snappier in texture, and the peppery flavor is nice. I also couldn’t find the olive oil. We have had a week of Everything Breaking, and one of the more minor things that broke was the shelf where I keep all my bottles, daily pills, and most-used measuring cups and spoons

Just came crashing down,

and it’s proved strangely difficult to put it up again (as you can see by the variety of screws, anchors, and adhesive whatnot on display now). So everything is here and there and not to be found, which is aggravating.

Despite these handicaps, it was still very delicious pizza. I did not hold back with the parmesan.

I had two pieces and didn’t really want a third, but I really, really wanted some more pizza crust, which I mentioned wistfully, so Damien got another piece and ate it except for the crust, which he offered to me. Find yourself a man who etc. etc.

MONDAY
Burgers and brats

Monday, Labor Day, we executed a plan we had . . . sort of worked out. That is to say, we’d been planning to do it for about a week, and had thought about the details up to a point, but maybe not quite as granularly as we mights have. Which is to say we left five hours later than we meant to, and it turns out two kayaks and a canoe are not really enough boats to get ten people to an island, unless your husband is willing to paddle back and forth a ridiculous number of times, dragging empty kayaks behind him.

The other part of the plan was that we would visit the island, then go get ice cream, and then get home at a normal time and have a little cookout, but I had already made various other errors during the week, and already used up some of Monday’s burger meat to compensate for those errors, but was then so overwhelmed by Boat Happenstances that I forgot this had happened, so, you know whattt, mistakes were made. Basically Dora was at our house for three hours playing with the cat and waiting for us to get home and give her a burger, and she eventually gave up and went home, and then the rest of us went and got ice cream in the dark, except for me because I was still in a swim suit, because my clothes were sopping wet because I have forgotten how to get in and out of a boat without falling in the water; and Damien went home and cooked not-quite-enough-burgers in the even darker, and the rest of us went home and ate them. Good thing it’s just labor day and not a real holiday!

Anyway, while we were on the island, we met a family with a little girl named Elise, maybe four years old, who was VERY ADAMANT THAT WE REMEMBER HER. Her name is Elise, and don’t you forget it. She blew us several kisses as her somewhat weary-looking mom paddled her away. They, too, seemed to be running a bit behind schedule on this, the most laborious of holidays. 

TUESDAY
Tuna and shrimp poke bowls, tropical fruit, and caramelized lotus pods

This was quite a delicious meal. Last time I made poke bowls, they were so good, I saw no reason to try any other variation, so I just recreated them: A big pot of rice, raw ahi tuna cut into little chunks, shrimp sautéed in chili oil with minced garlic and a little lime juice,

and chili lime cashews, and pea shoots and raw sugar snap peas, and some Polynesian sweet hot sauce. 

Boy, it was good. I also made a platter of watermelon, mango, and papaya, which accidentally formed itself into an Eye of Sauron, but was mostly harmless

The other thing was the lotus pods. Also known as — no, not monkey nuts. Foxnuts. Wow, if you knew how many things I had to stop and look up today, you would wonder if I were still fit to be Senate Minority Leader. Anyway, Clara gave me a couple packets of lotus seed pods,

and I thought the most popular thing to do would be to candy them, so that’s what I did, forgetting for the moment that I’m an idiot and do really poorly with caramelizing anything. 

So I followed this recipe, mainly because I had bought some jaggery quite a while back and really wanted to use it. The author, Ruchi, introduces her page by saying, “Welcome to my incredible food paradise! If you are passionate about food, this is the right place to explore exquisite recipes. From tasty starters, delicious meals, and blissful sweet delights, here you will find everything to please the gourmet in you.” Which, I will be honest, I was just not in the mood for. My therapist wants me to keep a food journal, and write down how I feel and what I think when I eat more than I plan to, and even though I am passionate about food, getting welcomed to an incredible food paradise by Ruchi with her foxnuts is just not helping anything.

I mean, yes, I realize that, as usual I realize that [waves arms dramatically like an exasperated orchestra conductor], I’m the one choosing to do all of this, but it still pissed me off. All of it. The cooking, the new recipe, the fox nuts, the therapy, everything. Whatever. If you had seen me trying to get out of a kayak while everyone was watching, maybe you would alter your opinions of exactly how much I’m in control of my actions. 

Anyway, I fucked up the fox nuts. I burned them, and then I added coconut and burned the coconut, too. Then I switched pans, to get away from the burny taste a little bit. That wasn’t a terrible idea, but then I still had to get the jaggery to the right temperature, and I’m really just awful at making candy, and it was also extremely humid out. So I ended up with this:

It may look like a platter of snacky bits, but it’s all one solid piece. You can break off individual pods, but they were hard as rocks. YES I ATE THEM ANYWAY. What do you take me for. 

And it was a delicious meal. What’s that? How did I feeeeel while I was eating it? I felt great! Eating makes me feel great! That’s why I do it all the time! Stupid question. Boring conversation anyway [shoots food journal].

WEDNESDAY
Kielbasa, potato, Brussels sprouts with honey mustard sauce

Wednesday, I somehow managed to forget that I had to make dinner altogether until it was almost five o’clock. This is what’s called “learning moderation.” And that’s what sheet pan meals are for! 

Every time I make this meal, I veer further and further away from a recipe. This time, I preheated the oven to 425 and trimmed and halved three pounds of Brussels sprouts, sliced five pounds of red potatoes (that were mysteriously the same price as yellow potatoes), and three ropes of kielbasa. I spread all the pieces of everything on two big sheet pans, drizzled it with oil, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and chunked it in the oven for twenty minutes. 

While it was cooking, I mixed up a bunch of honey, some wine vinegar, some salt and pepper, and some stone ground mustard (after floating the idea that stone ground mustard is the boba tea of mustards, which is disgusting but kinda true), and decided I was too lazy to crush up any garlic. When twenty minutes was up, I poured half the sauce over one pan, and then decided I wanted to take a pretty picture in the afternoon light, so I poured on a little more

and then realized I didn’t have enough left for the second pan. So I just drizzled on a bunch of honey and glopped on some mustard and swazzled on some wine vinegar on that one, mixed everything up so it wouldn’t stick, and threw both pans back in the oven, switching the top and bottom pans. Cooked it for another ten minutes or so.

When it came out, I mixed both pans together to even out the sauce situation

Maybe it was the boba mustard or maybe it was the “oops, I forgot to eat today,” but this was a very popular meal, even among husbands who don’t really like kielbasa. 

Wait, that can’t be it, because we had lunch! We had lunch of DUCK EGGS.

That’s right, Wednesday was the second day SOME of our pets started to finally pull their weight around here. 

Not them.

To be fair, I don’t think even I would eat a dog egg. Fox nuts, yes. But I have my limits. 

Gosh, I just talk talk talk. Anyway, our dear lady ducks, the interchangeable Fay and Ray

finally started to lay eggs on Tuesday,

and they did it again on Wednesday  

and again on Thursday

so I guess it’s gonna be a thing! What do you know about that! I was halfway convinced they were either just do-nothing ducks, or else laying secret eggs in the woods somewhere, and we were never going to find them; but they actually just lay them demurely in the hay in the corner of their duck house first thing every morning before breakfast. Amazing. 

On Wednesday, I made fried eggs for lunch for me and Damien. Fresh eggs are always head and shoulders above supermarket eggs. They just cook up better and the whites are fluffier. Duck eggs are like that, and they’re also bigger than chicken eggs, and the yolks are extremely rich. 

I was so proud of the ducks, I gave them some watermelon, which they devoured with great splurting violence. One of these days I will give them some cherries or beets or pomegranates, and I will film it in low light, and I will win a Sam Peckinpah award. 

THURSDAY
Mexican beef bowl again … OR WILL I???

Everybody liked it last time, so I’m a-makin’ it agin. Actually we had leftovers from the steak and cheese subs last week, so I stashed it in the freezer, with the intention of using the power of Worcestershire sauce and lime to thriftily transform it into Mexican beef bowls.

Jump to Recipe

But I took a look at how much meat it is this morning, and, through the magic of not wanting a repeat of Monday, I realized it it’s not as much meat as I thought! Need more. 

So I was dropping the kids off at school and thought I would just quickly nip into the supermarket for a little more beef, so I asked the kids if I could shop dressed the way I was. They said, “With your shirt inside out?” This was news to me, because I thought I only had my skirt on inside out. I then became aware that I also had no shoes on, and also no underwear. FOXNUTS! 

UPDATE: I wrote the above paragraph on Thursday morning. By Thursday afternoon, it was in the 90’s and super humid, more than one person was mad at me (???) because we had to pick up a kid at soccer, and my desire to not cook several different foods had reached a tipping point, so I just got Aldi pizza.

No ragrets.

FRIDAY
Salmon tacos

Regular fish tacos with cheapo fish sticks was the plan, but sometimes having a kid who works at the fish counter pays off, like when they can text you about a flash sale because someone ordered way too much salmon.  So I picked up a big filet and I am going to try Ina Garten’s recipe for roasted salmon tacos, which looks pretty tasty. I have everything but dill, and there are even some cucumbers very ready to be picked from the garden right meow. As soon as I get off the couch. 

Just one duck egg this morning! Maybe somebody had a bad dream. 

Oh, last chance to enter the giveaway for the new Tomie dePaola book

Okay, I really think that’s everything. Going to adoration this afternoon, bringing all yer lousy intentions with me.

Prosciutto arugula pizza

Ingredients

  • oil or butter and flour for pan
  • pizza dough
  • sauce
  • shredded mozzarella
  • olive oil
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • rosemary (fresh or dried)
  • prosciutto, torn up
  • arugula
  • fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450. Grease and flour the pizza pan, stretch the dough over it, pierce it with a fork, spread the sauce, sprinkle the cheese as usual.

  2. Spread the garlic and a little rosemary on the cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil if you like. Cook as usual.

  3. While it is cooking, make a salad of the arugula, lemon juice, and a little olive oil, plus salt and pepper.

  4. When the pizza comes out, lay the torn-up prosciutto over the top and throw the arugula on top of that. Top with parmesan cheese. Let it sit for a few minutes before slicing, to let the arugula wilt slightly.

 

Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

  2. 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.

What’s for supper? Vol. 338: Please refer to the affidavit

Happy Friday! I have been bumbling around with a migraine all week, and I managed to lose my freshly-refilled bottle of migraine meds before I got any of it. It wasn’t the worst headache in the world, but I was CONFUSED and CONFUSED and also did not know what was going on. So a few of these meals are a little ,,, irregular. 

You may also notice that most of these photos are either outside or on my bed, because I was hiding from everybody all week. I love them all but they are fricken LOUD. 

I feel so much better today, though, thank the Lord. I woke up this morning with no headache, dizziness, nausea, jaw pain, tooth pain, or photophobia to speak of, and I am so glad. So glad!

Although I just got through all my photos, and finished uploading the last one of the Teenage Mutant Ninj’ Turtle cake with all the buttercream icing, and I’m remembering how much icing I ate and . . . I think maybe I know where my headache started. Huh. 

Well, here is what we had: 

SATURDAY
Chicken caprese burgers, chips

Just frozen chicken burgers on buns with tomatoes, basil from the garden, sliced cheese, salt and pepper, olive oil and vinegar. 

I wanted to be a hero, so I bought salt and vinegar chips. Works every time. 

SUNDAY
Turkey bacon wraps, chips; blueberry rose tarts with candied lemon

On Sunday, we had promised to take the kids kayaking, which we did! Benny and Corrie had their first experience paddling on their own, and they did great. 

 

But first, I got it into my head that I needed to make blueberry pie, which I haven’t made yet this summer. So I planned an easy dinner because I knew dessert was going to be time consuming. 

Damien fried the bacon, and we had sliced turkey (actually I think it was chicken), some leftover fancy salami from opera nite, and on mine I skipped cheese and had spinach and ranch dressing, and the wrap was allegedly spinach flavored, but this was not discernible. I think I put cheese out, but I skipped that. 

I love wraps. Probably if we had them more often, they wouldn’t seem like such a treat, but I find them so enjoyable to eat, so festive and friendly. 

I cut up a bunch of peppers and broccoli and set out baby carrots and dip.

For dessert, I thought it would be fun to make separate blueberry tarts, rather than two big pies. I made a double recipe of this reliable pie crust recipe

Jump to Recipe

But I was super hot and getting a little flustered, and it took much more water than usual, for some reason, so I was struggling. I eventually got eleven large ramekins lined with pastry dough, and then made the filling using the recipe on this site. I had my doubts, because it calls for lemon zest, which is good, but also both flour and corn starch, which sounds STODGY; but I followed it. 

My original plan was to make individual lattice tops, but I had eaten so much raw pie dough that there wasn’t enough left for that. So instead, Benny and I made some dough roses. 

Roses are quite easy to make. You just cut out 4-5 discs, stick them together in a line, roll them up, cut the rolled-up cylinder in half, and pinch the flat edge together; then carefully tease open the other end, to open up the petals. Here’s the site where I learned to do it

Our roses were a little bit chunky because we were lough on dough and made them out of only four circles each, rather than five. I also rolled them out a little too thick. My baking style can best be described as — remember that Doctor Who episode where Mickey gets changed into a plastic guy and his hands are just big mallets and he goes lurching around the room whacking things? That’s how I make little pastry roses. 

So I baked them, and I thought they needed a little dressing up, so I made some candied lemon slices. I followed the very simple recipe here. Basically you just cook up some sugar water with a little lemon juice in it and simmer the lemon slices in it for 15 minutes, and then fish them out and let them dry.

They don’t dry completely, but stay a bit tacky. But they are very good and very pretty. The peels are edible, but most definitely still lemon peels (delicious if you like lemon!). If you wanted to make them sweeter and more candy-like, I imagine you could roll them in sugar when they come out of the pan; but that would ruin the stained glass effect of the candied pulp. 

So when the tarts came out, I sort of twisted up the lemon slices and tucked two into each one, to make little leaves or wings. 

Awfully pretty in the afternoon sun.

I took several pictures, and now you people are gonna hear about it. 

So they were definitely cute, but I saw room for so much improvement. The ramekins just weren’t the right vessels for this dish. I should have made them in cupcake tins or something with slanted sides, so I had some shot at pulling them out of the pans. I also didn’t roll the dough thin enough, so the roses were just kind of wads, and too much dough for people to eat. I also meant to brush the roses with egg white and sprinkle them with sugar, to make them shiny and sweeter, but I forgot. And I meant to make the edges more decorative, at least pressing them with a fork, rather than just leaving them ragged, but I forgot that, as well. 

But the biggest problem was the blueberry filling. It was just bland and too thick. You want fresh blueberry pie to be juicy and messy and luscious. This almost tasted store-bought. I was really disappointed! BUT THEY WERE PRETTY. Oh well. I made some whipped cream, which was good. Honestly, everyone liked these pies and ate them up, so this is just me complaining. 

Anyway, blueberry season isn’t over, and I will probably take another crack at this. I loved the candied lemon thing. Blueberries and lemons forever, man. Maybe I will make a blueberry lemon panna cotta! Who will stop me!

Or I still have some rhubarb in the freezer. Maybe I’ll make a blubarb pie. Maybe I’ll make a UNICORN blubarb pie. 

This one looks like . . . cherry and strawberry, actually? I don’t remember. But it looks like I remembered to glaze and sugar the dough, anyway. 

MONDAY
Mexican beef bowls

Beef was on sale, which it rarely is these days, so I got several hunks, sliced it up, and marinated it in this lovely sauce with lots of lime juice, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. 

Jump to Recipe

Normally, I make this meal with rice, beef, charred corn, maybe some fried onions and sweet peppers, and then things like salsa, sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, etc., and I often make a pot of delicious black beans, too

Jump to Recipe

But I was just so spacey while I was shopping. It turned out we only had a little rice in the house, so I cooked a few cups of rice, and people filled out the dish with tortilla chips or corn chips. I did buy beans, but I was too tired to cook them. I forgot corn altogether. It was still a tasty meal, just a little irregular. 

Oh, I see there were avocados and lime wedges! That actually looks really good. Anyway, this marinade is very tasty and you should try it. 

TUESDAY
Pulled pork grilled cheese; veggies and dip

Last week, the phrase “pulled pork grilled cheese” popped into my head, and I knew there was only way to get it out again. This was probably the most planned meal of the week, and oddly it was a little disappointing. 

The pulled pork part of it turned out great, though. I hacked up a fatty hunk of pork loin or something and seasoned it heavily with salt and pepper, some oregano and lots of cumin, and browned it on all sides in hot oil.

Then I moved it into the Instant Pot and added about 3/4 -1 cup cider vinegar and one juice box of apple juice, three fresh jalapeños with the seeds, a chopped onion, some red pepper flakes, and a lot of ground cloves. 

I closed the valve and hit the “meat” button, and then let it do a natural release and keep warm for the rest of the day. When I was ready to make the sandwiches, I pulled the meat out, and it absolutely shattered to pieces under the fork. It was very tasty, spicy and warming with the jalapeño and cloves, but not fiery hot, and worked really well with the cumin and apple. (The oregano was pointless and I will skip it next time.) 

I had meant to buy American cheese, because I wanted something kind of bland and very melty, but I forgot. And the convenience store didn’t have any! So I used what we had in the fridge, which was extra sharp cheddar. I had sourdough bread, which I spread with a little skim of mayonnaise and then fried in butter. 

It was good. But the cheese completely overpowered the flavor of the pulled pork, and it just tasted like a highly textural grilled cheese sandwich. Next time I will use American cheese, and I will maybe add fried onions or jalapeños. 

Or I’ll just make this version of pulled pork on its own, because it was really good!

I also made a bowl of unremarkable coleslaw. 

Onward!

WEDNESDAY
Pizza

One pepperoni, one plain, and one with leftovers from various other meals, which turned out to be: Feta, red onion, black olive, pesto, sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, and some fresh parmesan shredded over the top.

I forgot to buy pepperoni for the pizza, but we had some sandwich pepperoni from some sandwiches last week, so I sliced it up and put it on the other pizza. This is what passes for ingenuity at our house!

THURSDAY
Ramen with some kind of chicken situation

Usually when I make “fancy ramen,” we have some kind of pork, but for some reason I bought chicken; and I usually get some kind of crunchy Chinese noodles, but I forgot. So I ended up drizzling the chicken breasts with olive oil, sprinkling them with Chinese five spice, and then heaping some brown sugar on top, and then roasting them.

It tasted . . . fine? It was a little unsettling, because it was hard to shake the “why isn’t this pork” sensation, but it didn’t taste bad. It certainly got supper on the table fast.

I chopped up a bunch of scallions, and set out raw spinach, and I sliced up some giant mushrooms and sautéed them in olive oil and soy sauce, and when I cooked the ramen, I threw some eggs in the pot, and if people wanted an egg, they had to fish it out and shell it themselves like absolute peasants. 

Not a bad meal, considering I had zero plan and went from cold kitchen to dinner time in about 25 minutes. I also put out sugar snap peas and some kind of hot yuzu sauce, which I didn’t end up yuzing myself. 

Here’s another picture, because I have two pictures and I’ve lost my ability to make small decisions:

Look at that fricken mushroom. I actually could have made a full meal of just the broth, the spinach, and the mushrooms. Aldi has two big portobello mushrooms for $1.49 or something crazy, and I think I need to buy them more often. Mushrooms are such a gift. 

FRIDAY
Tuna sandwiches, fries

No tricks, just tuna sandwiches. Tuna sandwich and no headache; I’ll take it! 

Oh wait, I forgot to share pictures of the TMNT cake I made last Friday after the food post went up! I more or less followed the coconut cake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, which is pretty easy and turned out well, tender and moist. I made three rounds and about a dozen cupcakes. I stacked up two of the rounds and then sort of dug holes for the cupcakes, which I anchored with toothpicks.

I used fondant to cover the bottom and buttercream on the cupcakes, with candy eyeballs and fondant masks.

At this point, I stopped, and thought pretty hard about what shape turtles’ heads actually are. I thought about how hot it was in the kitchen, and about the limits of buttercream, and then I went into the other room and basically made the kid sign an affidavit that she understood and acknowledged that her mother did try.

Then I put the third round on a circle of cardboard, to keep it from cracking, and set it on top of the cupcakes, stuck it on with buttercream, and covered that with fondant as well. 

And then I made a series of mistakes and irreversible bad decisions involving black sugar and continued hot kitchen, which seemed funnier and funnier to me as they devolved. I ended up using a paintbrush to paint the cake with black icing from a tube, and it looked really neat for a while, but then I ruined it, because I was very hopped up on icing and had no judgment left. These turtles were absolutely leering at me, and I couldn’t stop laughing and making it worse. 

I ended up deciding to make a logo out of fondant and more brushwork, which was a pain in the neck, but fairly effective. Except I knew I should sketch out the letters with a toothpick first, to make sure there was room; I knew I should. But I just didn’t want to. So it says “TEENAGE MUTANT NINJ'” because I ran out of room.

But there were turtles!

Or, or something. Anyway there were four green entities, with red, yellow, blue, and purple . . . . things. 

I feel like it’s a cake the Teenage Mutant Ninj’ Turtles themselves would have appreciated, anyway. (And Lucy liked it, too, even though it continued to slide and melt after I took these pictures, and then it turned out the candles I got were actually trick candles, and she had to blow them out about fifteen times and then finally dunk them in water. Please refer to the affidavit.) 

 

Basic pie crust

Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, FROZEN
  • 1/4 cup water, with an ice cube

Instructions

  1. Freeze the butter for at least 20 minutes, then shred it on a box grater. Set aside.

  2. Put the water in a cup and throw an ice cube in it. Set aside.

  3. In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Then add the shredded butter and combine with a butter knife or your fingers until there are no piles of loose, dry flour. Try not to work it too hard. It's fine if there are still visible nuggets of butter.

  4. Sprinkle the dough ball with a little iced water at a time until the dough starts to become pliable but not sticky. Use the water to incorporate any remaining dry flour.

  5. If you're ready to roll out the dough, flour a surface, place the dough in the middle, flour a rolling pin, and roll it out from the center.

  6. If you're going to use it later, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. You can keep it in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months, if you wrap it with enough layers. Let it return to room temperature before attempting to roll it out!

  7. If the crust is too crumbly, you can add extra water, but make sure it's at room temp. Sometimes perfect dough is crumbly just because it's too cold, so give it time to warm up.

  8. You can easily patch cracked dough by rolling out a patch and attaching it to the cracked part with a little water. Pinch it together.

 

Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

  2. 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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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."

  2. Add beans with liquid. Add cumin, salt, and cilantro. Stir to combine. Close the lid, close the vent, and press "slow cook."

What’s for supper? Vol. 327: Yay, poke!

First, a word from Fay, Ray, EJ, and Coin: Peep! Peep-peep! Peep-peep-peepWONKpeep-peep-peep.” Yes, they have begun to quack. Just a bit, and it’s mostly Coin and EJ, and it’s more muttering than quacking, but it’s hilarious. They’re very good ducks, and I think you should get some. Or you can just check out my Facebook page which has been overrun with ducks. 

And here’s what we ate this week!

SATURDAY
Sushi, etc. 

On Saturday, Lena graduated from college! We are SO proud of her. 

 

Most of the kids had various frozen foods for dinner, and Damien and Lena and I went and checked out the newish Japanese restaurant in town, Kurama Omakase. I had a salmon skin salad and tried some of Lena’s takoyaki, which is some kind of breaded balls of I-don’t-know-what with bits of octopus inside, deep fried and topped with some other I-don’t-know-what. Terrible pictures (dark restaurant) but the takoyaki was STUPENDOUS. 

I also ordered the “Trust the Chef Lite” sushi and sashimi assortment, and it was lllovely.

Very nice place. The only other customers was some kind of gathering of a dozen or more men who didn’t already know each other, but were in the same business. Maybe car salesmen? After their meal they took a picture of all of their watches. After they left, I heard the waitress tell the bartender, “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” DO  tip your waitress!

SUNDAY
Maybe burgers? 

Sunday was fun! After a week of rain, the weather finally cleared, so I worked on digging up the ground for my patio, and Damien worked on the duck house. I paid kids to shake soil out of the sods for my new raised gardens, and there were plenty of worms for everyone

The dog had the greatest day of his life, AGAIN. 

Damien grilled burgers, if I remember correctly. 

MONDAY
Normal tacos

I didn’t shop on the weekend, because of the graduation, and did only a partial shop on Monday, because I didn’t feel like it, and came home with a wretched frozen log of beef that needed to be constantly scraped and flipped while it cooked. 

I tried to tell myself it was sort of like when they have a leg of lamb on a spit and they’re shaving bits of meat off for shawarma, but no dice. 

(I know there are various ways of defrosting meat, but honestly they’re only slightly less laborious than standing there scrabbling at the frozen wad as it fries, so you might as well suffer.)

TUESDAY
Bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwiches; OJ

Tuesday I went shopping again, for real this time. Destiny! Destiny! No escaping that for me!

Maybe by the end of the summer, we’ll have duck eggs! Or not. We don’t even know if we have girl or boy ducks yet. We definitely have ducks. Boy do we have ducks. 

WEDNESDAY
Bo ssam, rice, pickled radishes

Pork shoulders were 99 cents a pound, and I had got a big, giant one, and started it with the salt and sugar rub on Tuesday night. I put it in the oven around 10:30 on Wednesday morning, and then right before dinner, I poured the extra little cider vinegar brown sugar sauce on:

and let it finish up. Truly a grisly yet magnificent beast basking proudly in the setting sun. 

Everything the light touches belongs to you, bo ssam.

I also pickled some radishes and made a pot of rice, and cut up some romaine lettuce for wrapping. The meat shredded at the mere sight of a fork, the skin was intense and caramelized to the hilt, and it was a pretty good meal. 

And only pretty good. This is the first time bo ssam hasn’t absolutely rocked my world, and I don’t know what happened. The pickled radishes were only so-so, too. Annnnd just now writing this, it occurred to me that I’m probably sick, and the food actually tasted fine, and it’s me. Crap. OH WELL. 

THURSDAY
Poke bowls

As is our habit, we were talking about other food while we were at the restaurant, and we got to talking about poke bowls, which Damien and I have never had before. It certainly sounded like something we’d be into. Aldi carries ahi tuna steaks that are frozen at sea, so I bought a few packages of those (I think six little steaks in total), and also a pouch of raw shrimp that happened to be on sale. They also had some kind of Polynesian sweet hot sauce that looked likely, plus some chili lime cashews. I also got five ripe mangoes and two packages of sugar snap peas at Aldi.

Then at the other supermarket (when you shop at Aldi, there’s always going to be a second supermarket, and you must just accept this), I got pea sprouts and rice (Aldi rice cooks weird). 

So I just basically chopped everything up, cooked up a big pot of rice, and cut the fish into half-inch cubes. I sautéed the shrimp with some minced garlic in chili oil, and then squeezed a lime over it. 

(The glass with the root in it isn’t some exotic tincture; I’m just trying to keep a rose cutting alive after the plow knocked one of my flower beds all out of whack, and I haven’t gotten around to replanting it yet.)

I was planning to make sushi-style rice, but I didn’t have any rice vinegar, so I left it plain. I put out a jar of mango chutney and some red pepper flakes.

Here was my bowl:

Wow, it was delicious. Sweet mild fish and greens and rice, syrupy mango, and then the hot jangly sauce and nuts. Very satisfying and entertaining, kind of like the dinner version of an ice cream sundae — not in taste, of course, but in the experience. I threw some shrimp in there, too, just because I’m not gonna say no to shrimp.

I was surprised at how many of the kids liked the raw tuna! Everyone found something they wanted, even if it was just rice and mango, and I’ll definitely be making this again. Yay, poke! 

Now tell me about your poke bowls. I understand there are countless variations. What are your favorite combinations?

FRIDAY
Pizza

Today has turned into a stupidly complicated day because a bad light came on in my car, but the mechanic can’t look at it until next week, and lots of people still have to be in lots of places, and Lucy needs to be trained on her new insulin pump system at the doctor which is an hour away, and I bought tickets to Peter and the Wolf which is also an hour away, but you’ll have to take my word for it that it all just doesn’t quite work out. But I’m gonna try! But I’m gonna make those pizzas right meow. 

Ugh, I didn’t put any recipe cards. Do you want recipe cards? Tell me if you want some and I’ll put them. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 307: If you’ll just step this way, sir

My sincere apologies for not getting anything up on the site this week. We started school again this week, and we are all exhaustipated. I knew that would happen, so last weekend, I pulled up a bunch of old back-to-school essays I had written, thinking I could dust them off and re-publish. But the funny ones were so dated, and the earnest ones were so naive, it really didn’t help with my little moroseness problem. I really hate this time of year. Like old Emily says, there is this fucking slant of light. I wish everything would just die and get it over with, rather than dragging us all through this long, drawn-out process where everything explodes into one final flame of exquisite color but it’s clearly the final fever ignited by the face of death. What kind of system is that, sheesh. Maybe I’ll hire a tour bus to come and look at it and buy postcards, that seems nice! I don’t know what is the matter with people. Yes I do.

Anyway, as I say, it was our first week of school, so I wanted to cook foods that everybody likes, because even a good first week of school is challenging, and comfort food helps. Here is what we had:

SATURDAY
Various

Lena actually took me out to eat to Thai Garden in Keene, and the people at home had hot dogs. I didn’t get pics of the delicious appetizers, which included golden triangles, but I did capture my main course, which the waitress recommended. I forget what it was called, but it was some kind of chicken coconut curry with lots of vegetables and two kinds of noodles, some soft, and then some crunchy fried ones on top. Very tasty. 

I wish to compliment the Thai people on their brilliance. So good. We always have a nice time at Thai Garden. Fast, friendly service, tasty, hot food, and decent prices, and if you dither long enough, the waitress will just tell you what to order, and she will be correct. 

SUNDAY
Sandwiches at the beach

Sunday was the last possible day for me to fulfill my annual pledge to take them to the pond and stay as long as they wanted to stay and have dinner there and eat as much candy as they wanted. We packed grapes, watermelon, and blueberries, baguettes, meats, and cheeses, bags of chips, and most importantly, lots and lots of candy.

Hardly anyone else was there. It was a little on the cool side, and it turns out we don’t have quite the beach staying power we once did. We used to play-play-play until after the sun went down, but this year, we only made it about three hours, had an early dinner, and packed it in. But not before Corrie made herself exactly the sandwich she wanted:

And then we said goodbye to the beach for the year. We always say we can keep going a few more times even if vacation is over, but it never works out. 

MONDAY
Pizza

I made four pizzas, one pepperoni, one plain, and then two that I’ve been wanting to try: One Greek, with black olives, fresh garlic, black olives, feta, ricotta, fresh spinach, and tomatoes from the garden

I also bought a jar of marinated red peppers, but I forgot to put them on. It was pretty good!

But the other one was really the star. First I made a little salad with arugula, red onion, fresh lemon juice, good olive oil, and salt and pepper, and set it aside. I cooked the pizza with just sauce and mozzarella, fresh garlic slices, and fresh rosemary from the garden, and some more olive oil and a little extra salt and pepper. Then when it came out, I topped it with lots of torn-up prosciutto and the arugula salad.

I planned to add some freshly-shredded parmesan to the top, but the parmesan mysteriously disappeared. The pizza was full of flavor as it was. Really excellent. I loved the combination of raw and cooked elements, savory, tart, peppery and . . . herbaceous. The arugula did wilt a tiny bit from the heat of the pizza, so it all just melded together beautifully.

Most definitely making this pizza again. Aldi prosciutto and parmesan make it very affordable. 

And now, since Moe moved out and the family continues to dwindle, I’m making my first tentative efforts to face the idea that four pizzas is too many. We used to polish off six extra large pizzas! 

TUESDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs

Nothing special. In fact the sauce was a little skimpy, as you can see. 

No complaints, though. It was too hot for spaghetti and meatballs, but it was the first full day back, and everyone was very happy for this comfort meal. 

Jump to Recipe

I made five pounds of meatballs and added lots of Worcestershire sauce.

WEDNESDAY
Pork ribs, peas, risotto

Pork ribs: just lots of salt and pepper, roasted up under the broiler until they are juicy. Possibly the tastiest possible meat with the littlest effort.  

The risotto, I goosed so much, I’m almost ashamed. I’m including my recipe below

Jump to Recipe

but I added 50% more butter, 50% more parmesan cheese (which mysteriously reappeared. My refrigerator has portals or something), and — this is a little gauche, but I made the chicken broth with at least double the amount of bouillon powder. So it was very intensely flavored and very salty, which is how the kids like it. And so do I. It was absolutely gooey

You know what? I make no apology. Don’t run away from your feelings. We’re all doing it!

(Yes, my entire excuse is because I said “gauche.”)

Speaking of things you may not find attractive, here is my pork and risotto, which was not especially photogenic, but it’s on my camera, so here you go. 

If you want kids packing risotto in their lunches and staying up late to microwave a little extra for themselves before bed, this is how to do it. 

THURSDAY
Kielbasa, cabbage, and red potato sheet pan bake; hot pretzels

This is a kind of cute recipe we haven’t had for a while. I used three 12-oz ropes (that’s what they’re called) of kielbasa, a large cabbage, and about four pounds of red potatoes. It’s super easy. You just cut everything up, douse it with olive oil and salt and pepper, put your thick slices of cabbage in there with more oil and salt and pepper, and cook it all. You flip everything at some point, and it takes about half an hour.

Jump to Recipe

You can see that I got lazy and just flipped the cabbage, and let the potatoes and kielbasa be, so they only really got browned on one side, but it was fine. 

I did chop up some parsley and make the nice garlicky mustard sauce with red wine vinegar. 

We also had a bunch of hot pretzels. 

Once things settle down a bit, I’m going to make homemade hot pretzels again. They turned out pretty nice when I tried them back in February, and they’re not difficult. According the the King Arthur people, you can make the dough in the morning and keep it in the fridge, then form the pretzels and bake them later in the day. Or you can make them completely but slightly underbake them, and then heat them up when it’s dinner time —  probably more realistic for a weekday. 

FRIDAY
Tuna noodle casserole

The final installment in the “comfort, o my people” meal plan. Our tuna noodle is canned tuna and canned cream of mushroom soup mixed with egg noodles, cooked in a casserole dish with a topping of corn flakes and potato chips, with a dressing made of mayo, ketchup, and vinegar. Damien, who grew up with an entirely different set of monstrous casseroles, is talking about making spaghetti and clams, though. 

And that’s it. Sorry about all the whining. 

Meatballs for a crowd

Make about 100 golf ball-sized meatballs. 

Ingredients

  • 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.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.

  2. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until it's fully blended.

  3. 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.

  4. Add meatballs to sauce and keep warm until you're ready to serve. 

 

Suppli (or Arancini)

Breaded, deep fried balls of risotto with a center of melted mozzarella. 
Make the risotto first and leave time to refrigerate the suppli before deep frying. 

Ingredients

  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 8 + 8 Tbs butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 4 cups raw rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

To make suppli out of the risotto:

  • risotto
  • 1 beaten egg FOR EACH CUP OF RISOTTO
  • bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs
  • plenty of oil for frying
  • mozzarella in one-inch cubes (I use about a pound of cheese per 24 suppli)

Instructions

  1. Makes enough risotto for 24+ suppli the size of goose eggs.


    Set chicken stock to simmer in a pot.

    In a large pan, melt 8 Tbs. of the butter, and cook onions slowly until soft but not brown.

    Stir in raw rice and cook 7-8 minutes or more, stirring, until the grains glisten and are opaque.

    Pour in the wine and boil until wine is absorbed.

    Add 4 cups of simmering stock and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the liquid is almost absorbed.

    Add 4 more cups of stock and cook until absorbed.

    If the rice is not tender by this point, keep adding cups of stock until it is tender. You really want the rice to expand and become creamy.

    When rice is done, gently stir in the other 8 Tbs of butter and the grated cheese with a fork.

  2. This risotto is wonderful to eat on its own, but if you want to make suppli out of it, read on!

  3. TO MAKE THE SUPPLI:

    Beat the eggs and gently mix them into the risotto.


    Scoop up about 1/4 cup risotto mixture. Press a cube of mozzarella. Top with another 1/4 cup scoop of risotto. Roll and form an egg shape with your hands.


    Roll and coat each risotto ball in bread crumbs and lay in pan to refrigerate. 


    Chill for at least an hour to make the balls hold together when you fry them.


    Put enough oil in pan to submerge the suppli. Heat slowly until it's bubbling nicely, but not so hot that it's smoking. It's the right temperature when little bubbles form on a wooden spoon submerged in the oil. 


    Preheat the oven if you are making a large batch, and put a paper-lined pan in the oven.


    Carefully lower suppli into the oil. Don't crowd them! Just do a few at a time. Let them fry for a few minutes and gently dislodge them from the bottom. Turn once if necessary. They should be golden brown all over. 


    Carefully remove the suppli from the oil with a slotted spoon and eat immediately, or keep them warm in the oven. 

 

One-pan kielbasa, cabbage, and red potato dinner with mustard sauce

This meal has all the fun and salt of a wiener cookout, but it's a tiny bit fancier, and you can legit eat it in the winter. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 lbs kielbasa
  • 3-4 lbs red potatoes
  • 1-2 medium cabbages
  • (optional) parsley for garnish
  • salt and pepper and olive oil

mustard sauce (sorry, I make this different each time):

  • mustard
  • red wine if you like
  • honey
  • a little olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh garlic, crushed

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. 

    Whisk together the mustard dressing ingredients and set aside. Chop parsley (optional).

    Cut the kielbasa into thick coins and the potatoes into thick coins or small wedges. Mix them up with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in a shallow pan. 

    Cut the cabbage into "steaks." Push the kielbasa and potatoes aside to make room to lay the cabbage down. Brush the cabbage with more olive oil and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. It should be a single layer of food, and not too crowded, so it will brown well. 

    Roast for 20 minutes, then turn the food as well as you can and roast for another 15 minutes.  

    Serve hot with dressing and parsley for a garnish. 

 

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 248: Chomp!

If you look closely, you will see that I got some new plates from the dump. Look closely, I say!

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Buffalo chicken on salad

Buffalo chicken (from frozen) cut into strips on salad greens with tomatoes, shredded pepper jack cheese, crunchy fried onions, and blue cheese dressing. It’s just a good, fast, easy meal, and always more filling than I expect.

(Why I expect breaded chicken, cheese, and creamy dressing not to be filling is another question.)

SUNDAY
Pizza

As I promised myself I would do, I only made five extra-large pizzas. There were still leftovers, but only for 24 hours or so, so I’m on the right track.

I made two pepperoni, one cheese, one olive, and one with anchovies, sliced garlic, little blobs of pesto, red pepper flakes, and freshly-grated asiago, which is my new jam. I mean, it’s not jam, it’s cheese. 

Divine. Or at very least, numinous. 

MONDAY
Omelettes, sausages

According to tradition, I made nine lovely, tidy, fluffy half-moon omelettes to order for all the kids, and then a couple of sloppy, runny egg heaps for me and Damien. I don’t know why this is, but it’s how it happens every time. 

Tasted good, though. I had my egg heap with mozzarella, ham, and fried onions, with sausages on the side. 

I also got some help in the kitchen making the sausages. 

Corrie really seems to have a knack for cooking, and it seems to calm her hot little brain, which is no small feat. 

TUESDAY
Cold roast beef sandwiches, coleslaw

I had my sandwich with tomatoes and horseradish mayo. The coleslaw was just a basic mayo, sugar, cider vinegar, pepper deal.

I seasoned the roasts heavily with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and seared them all over in hot oil in a heavy pot. Then I put them in a baking dish with a little water and cooked them at 375 until they were done rare. It was much easier to cut the meat thinly after it had chilled for several hours, so that was nice. I’m a terrible meat cutter.

I skipped provolone on my sandwich so I could have coleslaw, if that makes sense. My current plan is to count calories during the day, and then have a dinner that isn’t insane. I’m giving it a month, and if I haven’t lost enough weight that way, I’ll FUCKING COUNT DINNER CALORIES IF THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES. Excuse me. 

WEDNESDAY
Korean beef bowl and rice; sautéed asparagus and sugar snap peas

This is a popular dish. It has that savory Korean BBQ taste but it’s sweet and not too spicy, so the kids like it. Comes together very quickly, and it’s cheap. 

Jump to Recipe

While the rice was finishing cooking, I rummaged around and found some asparagus and sugar snap peas, and they ended up tasting great together with just a little salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.

Jump to Recipe

They have a good springtime crunch and made a nice greeny side for the medium-spicy meat. Pretty, too. 

You can certainly substitute in all manner of vegetables. I totally forgot I had some red peppers, and those would have been a lovely addition. 

If we have time this weekend, we’re going to see if we can forage some fiddleheads, which taste a lot like asparagus. Although apparently if you undercook them, you spend the rest of your life pooping. Well, maybe I’ll just stick to store-bought asparagus. 

THURSDAY
Spaghetti and meatballs

I was making supper and thinking about this and that when suddenly I looked down into the bowl and had no idea what I was cooking. I had just been throwing random things into the bowl and thinking about this and that. I pulled myself together before anything too weird made its way in, and just made sure there was plenty of sauce. And that’s-a my secret. 

That, and shredded asiago. 

Here’s my meatball recipe, for when you’re aware that you’re making meatballs. Jump to Recipe

FRIDAY
Tuna sandwiches, chips

I feel like the kids actually requested this meal, but I may be deluding myself. I do remember that I nabbed some $4 smoked salmon and $3 brie not too long ago, but the kids definitely don’t need to know about that. 

5 from 1 vote
Print

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 use garlic powder and powdered ginger, but fresh is better. The proportions are flexible, and you can easily add more of any sauce ingredient at the end of cooking to adjust to your taste.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar (or less if you're not crazy about sweetness)
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 inches fresh ginger, minced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 lb2 ground beef
  • scallions, chopped, for garnish
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef, breaking it into bits, until the meat is nearly browned. Drain most of the fat and add the fresh ginger and garlic. Continue cooking until the meat is all cooked.

  2. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes the ground beef and stir to combine. Cook a little longer until everything is hot and saucy.

  3. Serve over rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. 

 

5 from 1 vote
Print

Sautéed asparagus and sugar snap peas

a simple vegetable side dish you can make in a few minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 3/4 lbs sugar snap peas
  • 2 tsp oil for cooking
  • salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the white ends off the asparagus and chop it into 1-inch sections

  2. snip the stems off the sugar snap peas. Cut them in half if you like.

  3. In a pan, heat up the oil. Add the vegetables and cook them on high heat, and add salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Cook and keep the vegetables moving in the pan until a few of them are browned, but they are still crisp.

 

Meatballs for a crowd

Make about 100 golf ball-sized meatballs. 

Ingredients

  • 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.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.

  2. Mix all ingredients together with your hands until it's fully blended.

  3. 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.

  4. Add meatballs to sauce and keep warm until you're ready to serve. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 222: Back to Zuul

Sorry, there will be no follow-up Ghostbusters reference in this What’s For Supper. I just ran out of title ideas. We did go back to school, though. 

If you look closely, you’ll notice that all the food photos this week were taken either outside, or in my bedroom. This is because I’m spending half my time pining for the kids because they’re at school, and the other half hiding from them because they’re home.

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Pork ribs, mashed potatoes, corn

Damien made his lovely sugar rub for the pork ribs, and cooked them on the grill. Scrumptious as always. Great little char, great caramelization, a little sweet, a little hot, nice and juicy inside.

You could make a big batch of this sugar rub and have it on hand in a baggie for just about any kind of meat, and it really makes it special. 

Jump to Recipe

I made seven pounds of mashed potatoes, and it wasn’t enough. Next time, a full ten. I also remembered too late about garlic parmesan mashed potatoes, where you boil the garlic cloves right along with the potatoes and then mash them in, then embarrass yourself with how much cheese you add.

 

Jump to Recipe

Next time! 

SUNDAY
Spaghetti carbonara

Always popular.

Damien made dinner while I languished or something. Oh, wait, I was doing school supply shopping! Really down to the wire this year. I remember the first year I did school shopping, when we were SO broke and having SO much culture shock after years of home schooling. I remember being so heartbroken and outraged that I was expected to buy a thumb drive for my innocent sixth grader. It seemed like they were trying to turn her into a faceless drone, enslaved to technology and commercialism. So, this year, Corrie got a P.J. Masks backpack and Frozen II water bottle and a shiny gold Wonder Woman dress and Lion King socks and whatever the hell else she wanted. And all Crayola, no Rose Art at all. You can judge for yourself if that’s progress or not. Anyway, Damien made dinner.

 

Jump to Recipe

MONDAY
Aldi pizza

For the first day of school, a nice, easy meal was in order, especially since I had somehow made myself believe school was still a full week away, so we had zero acclimatization to the new bed times. 

School is . . . okay. The kids are okay with masks. The school has set up tents for outdoor classes and lunch, and the kids sit on yoga mats, and no one spends more than 45 minutes in a room with other people, and they have fans going all the time. They do temperature checks every morning. They ask my five-year-old if she’s been out of the country (and I always listen closely for her answer, because you never know). It is okay. I have no idea if they’re learning anything. Corrie has learned a dinosaur song and a fishie song and has a friend named Greta. She has a classmate named Oliver who is silly. We have no idea how long this all will last, but for now, it’s okay. 

Mirabile dictu, no one in the school has life-threatening allergies this year, so we can pack whatever we want for lunch, so there’s that. In a few weeks, we’ll add in hybrid public high school and Catholic high school, and eventually the college kids will go back to college. Moe is in quarantine. It’s been several days since anyone called Clara “Hitler” for enforcing mask rules in the store.  Walmart is selling unscented hand sanitizer again, so you don’t have to go around smelling like fermented cranberry fart. It’s okay. How are you?

TUESDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, carrots and hummus, broccoli salad

I cleaned out the cabinet and discovered I’ve been diligently stocking up on sunflower seeds and dried cranberries, for some reason. So I poked around and found a recipe that uses both of them, along with broccoli and a basic dressing (mayo, white vinegar, sugar, pepper). 

Everyone liked it well enough, and it was a nice change from coleslaw. Vaguely autumnal. Some people also add bacon, but I was trying to pretend it was a vegetable. You could also put minced red onion.  Maybe a little blue cheese. But it was nice in its simple form. 

WEDNESDAY
Steak teriyaki stir fry, white rice

Feeling unambitious, I bought two bottles of ginger teriyaki sauce. I’m often unhappy with my stir fries because they are watery and the vegetables are overcooked, because I crowd the pan and overcook some ingredients while others are catching up. So this time, I cooked the food in batches and in stages. I heated up some sesame oil and cooked the strips of beef in batches until just barely not pink, then took the meat out of the pan. Then I cooked the broccoli in the meaty pan until just barely done, and then I added the red peppers and cooked them just a little. Then I put the meat back in and added the sauce and just stirred everything up quickly so it was heated through, and served it over rice.

Good results! The vegetables were crunchy, the meat wasn’t chewy, and the sauce did not get watery. I made a bunch of rice in the Instant Pot, and it was a tasty, pretty meal. 

Steak continues to be cheap, and I’m running out of ideas! We’ve had steak and cheese, steak salad, steak steak, and tortas. What else do you make with steak? Never thought I’d have this problem

THURSDAY
Carnitas with guacamole, corn on the cob

Not the very fine carnitas from J.R.’s Art Place that you cook in a pot until the meat’s all lacquered and lovely, but still not bad. I put a giant bone-in pork picnic in the Instant Pot with a can of Coke, some cinnamon sticks and bay leaves, orange quarters, salt, pepper, and oregano, and cooked it for 35 minutes on high. It wasn’t really tender, so I gave it another 35 minutes. It still wasn’t as tender as I wanted, but I was out of time, so I pulled the meat out and shredded what I could, and cut the rest off. Then I spread it in a pan and sprinkled it heavily with chili powder and salt, and crisped it up under the broiler.

I flirted with the notion of beans and rice, but it seemed hard, so we just had the meat with guacamole, and cheese, sour cream, salsa, lime wedges, and cilantro. 

I made some rather tomato-heavy guacamole with the few avocados that didn’t turn out to be all sad and grey inside. What the heck is wrong with avocados lately? They’re not overripe, they’re just blighted or something. What do you expect: These are Joe Biden’s avocados. Ask yourself if you’re really prepared for four more years of Joe Biden’s avocados.

FRIDAY
Tuna burgers, cheesy tomato soup

This may just be a fantasy. Most likely, people will request plain tuna with mayo. But I will offer the option of tuna burgers.

 

Jump to Recipe

And I will offer tomato soup from a can, and they can put cheese in it. Or they can act like it’s not even exciting that it’s finally almost soup season. But it is exciting! It is. 

 

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. 

 

Garlic parmesan mashed potatoes

Ingredients

  • 5-6 lbs potatoes
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 8 oz grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel the potatoes and put them in a pot. Cover the with water. Add a bit of salt and the smashed garlic cloves.

  2. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer with lid loosely on until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

  3. Drain the water out of the pot. Add the butter and milk and mash well.

  4. Add the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste and stir until combined.

 

Spaghetti carbonara

An easy, delicious meal.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs bacon
  • 3 lbs spaghetti
  • 1 to 1-1/2 sticks butter
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • lots of pepper
  • 6-8 oz grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Fry the bacon until it is crisp. Drain and break it into pieces.

  2. Boil the spaghetti in salted water until al dente. If you like, add some bacon grease to the boiling water.

  3. Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pot. Add the butter, pieces of bacon, parmesan cheese, and pepper and mix it up until the butter is melted.

  4. Add the raw beaten egg and mix it quickly until the spaghetti is coated. Serve immediately.

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

 

Tuna burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 can tuna
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • seasonings, minced onion, etc.
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Drain the tuna.

  2. Mix tuna thoroughly with egg, bread crumbs, and whatever seasonings you like. Form into two patties. 

  3. Heat oil in pan. Fry tuna patties on both sides until golden brown. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 156: Cutthroat Fishers

Pretty good week of food! Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Regular-person tacos

Every once in a while, I like to treat the kids to just regular old tacos with ground beef, orange spice from a little envelope, pre-shredded Mexican-style cheese, and so on. No fish sauce or pickled carrots or Asian pears or microgreen nonsense.

SUNDAY
Drunken noodles with beef

We have taken to watching Cutthroat Kitchen (currently streaming on Hulu) on family laundry-folding night. I love this show. It’s just mean and weird enough to be entertaining, but you also get some good food ideas. Also, Irene has taken to describing anything terrible as “going for more of a rustic feel.” Their favorite episode was the one where that guy made berry muffins that were just a sticky pile of crumbs. They talk about it all the time. The only part I don’t like is where they make the winner do a little money dance at the end, and 99% of them clearly do not want to be dancing for the camera.

Anyway, Damien is a big fan of drunken noodles (which, to my surprise, are not made with alcohol. They are called that because they are so spicy, they make you want to drink a lot), so I figured I would look up the recipe by Jet Tila, who is often a judge on the show. Turns out the recipe I chose is significantly different from what Damien’s been ordering, but he absolutely loved what I came up with. I used beef rather than the shrimp the recipe called for, so I’ll go ahead and rewrite it as I made it. I also chose to make it less spicy than it might have been, because you can always add heat after cooking, but you can’t really take it away. So we just sprinkled some red pepper flakes on top, and that was good, and brought out the other flavors nicely.

There are several steps to this recipe and a certain amount of slicing, but it’s not difficult, and it was so good. Damien and I both found ourselves eating our first helping as quickly as we could so we could get up and get another helping.

Because I used regular basil instead of Thai basil, and I trimmed out the pepper seeds and membranes, it had a slightly Italian taste in combination with the tomatoes. This blended shockingly well with the sweet, spicy Asian sauce. I made a ton of it

and it got gobbled up.

Definitely adding this to the rotation, and I foresee endless variations, too. Next time, I hope I can find wider rice noodles.

MONDAY
Blueberry chicken salad with homemade croutons

Blueberries were on sale, so I chose this always-popular meal. I opted to cook the chicken breast in the Instant Pot with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, which wasn’t the absolute best. Roasted would have been better.

I cut the chicken into chunks and served it over mixed greens with toasted almonds (toast them easily in the microwave for two minutes), feta cheese, diced red onion, the blueberries, and some lovely croutons I made with the mountain of stale hamburger buns I’ve been collecting.

To make croutons, cut the bread into cubes, drizzle them with melted butter, and season them heavily with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, or whatever else you like. Spread them in a shallow pan and toast them in a 325 oven for half an hour or more, until they are crunchy all the way through.

I had mine with just balsamic vinegar, and it was very good.

TUESDAY
BLTs and tiramisu

Damien made this for his b*rthd*y. Some of the January tomatoes were what Corrie would call “puffetic.”

But most of them were okay, and we had a lovely meal.

Damien made a gigantic tiramisu following this recipe,but he added grated chocolate to the top along with the cocoa powder.

WEDNESDAY
One-pan roasted chicken thighs with balsamic vegetables

A true one-pan dish, none of this “sauté this, then braise that, then toast these, then whirl that through your food processor, reduce, deglaze, make a roux, roll out crust to top, pour into springform pan, steam, release, take it for a nice walk down to the park in a sieve, perform reverse osmosis on the juices and run the resulting curds through your KitchenAid centrifuge, and then simply put in one pan!” stuff. You prep the vegetables, put them in the pan, add balsamic and olive oil, salt and pepper, mix it up in the pan, put the chicken on top of the vegetables which are in the pan, and season the chicken that is in the pan. Then put the pan in the oven. Then get one of your stronger kids to drag it out for you while following her with a camera.

(Actually I made two pans’ worth.)

It turns out so tasty. Not everyone liked all the vegetables, but everyone had something. I made this version with red potatoes, brussels sprouts, a butternut squash, and baby carrots. The vegetables draw up the sauce very nicely and take on a kind of glaze, without you having to do anything but put the pan in the oven and turn it on.

So, the butternut squash has been hanging around my kitchen for a good six weeks now, starting balefully at me and sending out almost-audible hoots of derision. So I showed it! I cut its ends off with my newly-sharpened knife and tossed that sucker in the microwave for three minutes. Then I scooped out the seeds, peeled it, and cut it into chunks.

No, I lied. First I held it against my sinuses for an unseemly amount of time.

 

I briefly considered sharing this as a tip for other migraine sufferers, but then I remembered what happened last time I shared a picture of myself becoming overly familiar with a vegetable

Tito Edwards unfriended me, that’s what happened. And that’s why I live at the P.O.

Oh, if you’re wondering, it’s totally fine to eat a 6-week-old butternut squash. Keep it in a cool, dry place and don’t let anyone stab it, and they keep for a really long time. In fact, they get sweeter and sweeter as they age, unlike people who live at the P.O.

Hey, who wants to talk about my kitchen ceiling? Nice, isn’t it? I think it’s nice.

THURSDAY
Beef stroganoff

I was under the impression that Damien didn’t like this dish, so I planned it for when he was going to be away covering a meeting. As it turns out, he does like it, and also I decided to go to the town meeting with him, because I like him. So I threw together the stroganoff ludicrously quickly — really, it was like a Betty Boop cartoon, except not horrifyingly sexy — and we all ate at 4:30, then we went to the meeting. Which turned out to be a dud — just another Cranky Yankee night — but we did stop for a couple of pints on the way home.

Oh, here is the strogranoff.

Not much to see, but it was tasty, if a little lacking in creaminess. I forgot to buy sour cream, so I used Greek yogurt, which should have worked, except I didn’t really have enough. It really was still tasty, though! I can’t quite bring myself to write up a recipe card for this, but the basic idea is:

Chop up a bunch of onions and fry them in oil, then add a bunch of ground beef and cook it up in the onions, crumbling it up into bits. Then glug in a ton of red wine and a huge heap of sliced mushrooms, plus salt and pepper. Then stir in a big tub of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Serve over egg noodles.

In closing: The decision to grab a little bit more cold stroganoff before heading to bed at 1 a.m. after a delayed bedtime due to diabetic nuttiness? Turned out to be a poor decision. Which I learned and re-learned repeatedly throughout the night.

FRIDAY
Tuna burgers, fries, broccoli

One of the kids surprised me by actually asking for tuna burgers. Or maybe just mentioning tuna, and me figuring out a way to make it into something the kids won’t enjoy.

 

Drunken noodles with beef (after Jet Tila)

This is a less-spicy version. For more heat, use jalapenos or other hotter peppers, leave the membranes and seeds in and add red pepper flakes before or after cooking. 

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 6 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 6 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 9 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha or hot sauce
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 6 oz fresh basil leaves in a chiffonade (sliced into thin ribbons)
  • 30+ oz wide rice noodles

canola oil for cooking

  • 8 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 8 eggs beaten
  • 6 serrano chiles or jalapeños, seeded and sliced thin
  • 2 lg onions, sliced thin
  • 4 oz fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 pints grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3-4 lbs roast beef, sliced as thinly as possible

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice noodles according to directions, and set them aside. 

    Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. 

    Heat a very large sauté pan with oil and brown the minced garlic. Add chiles and beaten eggs, and scramble in the pan until the eggs are in cooked bits. 

    Add onion and sliced beef and cook until beef is barely browned. 

    Add cooked noodles, tomatoes, chopped basil leaves, and sauce. 

    Keep stirring and combining until everything is saucy and hot. Serve immediately. 

One-pan balsamic chicken thighs and vegetables

A true one-pan dish that works well with lots of variations of seasonings and vegetables

Ingredients

  • 18 chicken thighs with skin and bone
  • 1 butternut squash in cubes
  • 3 lbs red potatoes in cubes
  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 2 lbs brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt (preferably kosher)
  • pepper
  • oregano
  • basil

Instructions

  1. Grease a large, shallow pan. Preheat the oven to 400.

  2. Mix together the olive oil and vinegar with a tablespoon of salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables in the pan, pour the mixture over them, and stir them up to coat, then spread them out again. 

  3. Lay the chicken breasts on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle more salt and pepper, basil and oregano over the whole pan. 

  4. Cook for 30 minutes or more, until vegetables and chicken are cooked through and chicken skins are golden and crisp. 

  5. If necessary, broil for a few minutes to add a little char. 

Tuna burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 can tuna
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • seasonings, minced onion, etc.
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Drain the tuna.

  2. Mix tuna thoroughly with egg, bread crumbs, and whatever seasonings you like. Form into two patties. 

  3. Heat oil in pan. Fry tuna patties on both sides until golden brown. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 113: Just pretty much all the food. All of it.

First a prayer request: My father is in the hospital, waiting for heart surgery. He’ll have a triple bypass, or possibly a quadruple bypass, on Tuesday. We’re very glad this surgery is available, and have high hopes he’ll start feeling better than he has in a long time once he’s recovered; but of course the recovery is long and hard, especially since he is 75 and has other medical issues. He lives alone, close to where my mother’s nursing home, but an hour or more away from all his children, so the logistics are a little daunting.
Thank you!

And now the food! We ate so much ridiculously good food this past week:

SATURDAY

Gosh, this seems like so long ago. Saturday we went ice skating and came home to have hot chocolate, popcorn, and grilled ham and cheese. Corrie was very very enthusiastic about skating and won all the races.

I did a lot of skating with Benny, until the moment came when I leaned too hard on the skating frame and it collapsed. Le sigh.

***

SUNDAY
New Year’s Eve. We pretty much ate all the food that is available to the known universe. 

Some friends sent a huge, spectacular hamper packed with luxurious treats, so we hauled out all the various tea sets you accumulate when you have eight daughters, and had a sort of rolling English tea party. Tragically, I forgot to take pictures of my own, but you must take my word for it that it was fancy beyond all reason:

If you don’t have extraordinarily generous friends who send you luxury hampers, I recommend getting some right away.

While everyone continued feasting and being fancy, my husband casually strolled into the kitchen to prepare, you know, a little sauteed scallops topped with shredded duck and Hollandaise sauce.This photo miserably fails to capture how rich and sumptuous this dish is.

If you don’t have a husband who likes to casually stroll into the kitchen and make your dreams come true, I recommend getting one right away.

This dish is not an obvious combination of flavors, but it makes so much sense once you’re shoveling it into your mouth.I thought duck would be more or less like dark turkey meat, but it’s really almost closer to lamb. So good. A wonderful meal for a special treat. (Aldi has both duck and scallops on sale every so often!)

And now the sushi! Yes, we had a sushi party on the same day as our English tea and our duckstravaganza. It made sense at the time.

First, I bought good rice and several packages of nori, soy sauce, rice vinegar, wasabi, pickled ginger, a little jar of roe, tuna steaks that were frozen at sea, some seared and seasoned tuna, canned salmon for the sissies, fake crab legs, toasted sesame seeds, avocados, mangos, carrots, cucumbers, and chop sticks, which we forgot to use.

I bought a sack of Nishiki rice, which is just gorgeous, like mother of pearl. It is expensive, but definitely worth it for a treat. I used the sushi rice recipe in this post (after skimming, with growing horror, through numerous other recipes that discussed whether it was more auspicious to rinse the rice 54 or 128 times before cooking), except I didn’t use quite that much salt. I cooked six cups of raw rice in the Instant Pot, which makes good sticky rice.

While the rice was cooking, I peeled the carrots into strips and pickled them, and we stirred some hot sauce into some mayo, and sliced the tuna as thin as I could, and the kids helped prep the avocados, mangoes, and cucumbers. It was all so lovely.

Now that I have ramekins, I use them all the time. Ramekins!

When the rice was done, I carefully sprinkled the vinegar mixture over it (I sextupled the recipe, but didn’t need that much) and then Benny’s moment of glory came: She used her special gold lace fan to vigorously fan the rice while I carefully turned it:

I guess you fan it to evaporate the vinegar, so the rice takes on the flavor without getting mushy. It worked!

We couldn’t find the rolling mat, so we opted for sushi cones, where you break a panel of nori in half, set the rice and fillings on one side, and roll it up diagonally. It took a while to get the hang of it, and they were not dainty, but on the other hand, NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM.

We kept the rice covered while everyone took turns building their sushi cones.  A few variations:

It was fantastic. Just about everyone found some combination to their liking. Some of the kids skipped the nori altogether, and made deconstructed sushi; some of them just used rice and vegetables; some of them (okay, me) just parked themselves in front of the tray and systematically worked through eleven different combinations.

We’re doing this every New Year’s Eve from now on. What ingredients would you add?

***

MONDAY
Birthday! Baby New Year turned twelve and requested calzones. 

To make twelve calzones, I used three balls pizza dough divided into fourths, then made the cheese filling (this was more than enough):

32 oz ricotta
3-4 cups shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup parmesan
1 Tbs garlic powder
2 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

I stretched the dough portions into the size of small plates, then added a ball of cheese mixture, plus whatever fillings were requested. I folded the dough over and pinched the ends tightly shut, then pressed the calzone to spread out the filling evenly.

We greased two baking trays with shortening and sprinkled them with corn meal, laid the calzones on (with a few inches in between, as they puff up), and brushed the with egg yolk beaten with a little water.

I baked them at 450 for — okay, I don’t remember how long. Maybe 15 minutes?

 

Then we served them with ramekins (ramekins!) of hot marinara sauce for dipping.

We made this one-bowl chocolate cake recipe. I didn’t taste it, as chocolate is a huge migraine trigger, but it looked pretty good. Decorations courtesy of the 90% off shelf after Halloween. I’m a saver.

We made chocolate frosting with a recipe on the side of the cocoa powder can. I think it was just shortening (we had run out of butter!), chocolate, and powdered sugar.

My son took a few pictures of his sister blowing out her candles, and then Google helpfully and spontaneously merged them into this horrifying glimpse into the spirit realm of birthdays:

I don’t want to know what that creature wished for.

***

TUESDAY
Chicken enchiladas and beans and rice

One of the college girls offered to make chicken enchiladas before she flies away again. They were so good. She used boneless chicken thighs with Pioneer Woman’s recipe,   and made thirty nice enchilada longbois, some red and some green.

I made some quickie beans and rice. Cooked up a few cups of rice and added a can of black beans and a can of chili kidney beans, drained, a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes, some jarred jalapenos, and a bunch of cumin, chili powder, and salt.

***

WEDNESDAY
Pork ramen

We just had this, but I like it. I browned up some boneless pork ribs in olive oil, then sliced them thin, and then I cooked up some frozen stir fry veggies in the pork pan. I made a dozen or so soft-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot. The trick is to do a quick release after cooking, then dunk them in ice water, and then shells slide right off, almost in one piece. Not necessarily easier than using the stove, but a good trick if the stove is in use or if you really want unblemished whites.

 

I served a big pot of cheap ramen and let people choose pork, veggies, and eggs, plus sesame seeds, hot sauce, soy sauce, and chopped scallions.

Do you make fancy ramen? What do you add? I like this meal, but would like some more variety in the add-ins.

***

THURSDAY
French toast?

I am not sure. We had a pretty good storm going, and school was cancelled, but we got the news in the morning that my dad was going to need heart surgery, and was going to meet with the surgeons on this day.

So Damien and I rolled slowly north through the storm to the hospital while the kids managed at home. We had a good visit (the only thing my father requested was The Odyssey, Fagles translation) and I like the surgeon.

We thought we’d have to spend the night, but the snow slowed down toward evening, so we pushed ahead to get home, stopping only for Five Guys, because where else would you go on your way home from a visit to the cardiology wing?

I know this isn’t the popular opinion, but while their fries were quite good, I thought the burgers were just okay. The meat was kind of mealy, and the buns were just too greasy to be enjoyable. Huge portions, though. You can see that I am not complaining.

Then we trundled the rest of the way home through the last of the storm, and Damien installed me on the couch with a lot of red wine and The Big Lebowski. 

***

FRIDAY
I think we are having beef stew.

We’ll say an extra decade of the rosary because it’s Friday, but I have this big hunk of beef going unheeded in the fridge, and it has been quite a week.

QUITE A WEEK. Here is a picture of my dad from this summer, talking (possibly about the Declaration of Independence) with my brother Joe:

My father’s name is Phil, if you’d care to mention him in your prayers! Thank you.

What’s for supper? Vol. 99! The best meal in town!

Not really. Do they have The 99 Restaurant and Pub where you live? Do I have a jingle stuck in my head that no one else remembers? I can’t recall if I’ve ever eaten a meal there, but I have definitely been there, and it did not feel like the kind of place at which the best meal in town could possibly be provided.

I just Googled “The 99 the” to see if the slogan in my head is still in current use, and here is what I got:

Now you know as much as I do.

***

SATURDAY
Grilled cheese with ham and apple on sourdough, chips, Siberian pickles

Got the idea from a Kraft ad on Facebook. Deli ham, cheddar cheese, and granny smith apples on sourdough bread, with lots of mayo spread on the outside before grilling. Really delicious (made by Damien). I seem to have lost the photo, though.

I don’t know if they were really specifically Siberian pickles, but my husband was visiting #1 daughter at college, and they popped into a Siberian market, as one does. He brought home pickles, pumpkin seeds, and . . . something. White, poofy balls, sort of like gritty meringue marshmallows. My cyrillic is not up to speed. I ate one and got a blinding headache, so I stuck with the pickles.

***

SUNDAY
Beef bourguignon, fresh bread

I’ve been hearing about beef bourguignon for years, and didn’t really know what it was. It turns out it’s . . . stew.

This is exactly how I make stew. I followed this Sur La Table recipe, designed for the Instant Pot, and served it over noodles, and baked three loaves of bread from readymade frozen dough.

It was good, and the meat was very tender, but not blow-your-face-off-amazing, as I’d been led to expect. And it did taste better than my regular stew, which kind of ticked me off.

I think it’s the same principle at work as when someone loses weight and feels more energetic, and their skin clears up, when they start eating acai berries or rubbing charcoal in their armpits or whatever stupid bullshit people are doing now.

It’s not that the thing itself is especially effective. It’s that once you’ve done some research and bought some products and committed to using it, you’re signalling to yourself that you’re worth the effort, and that makes you feel better, which triggers other good self-care habits. And those are what’s making you feel better, but you paid money for it, so you’re like, “Wow, this acai charcoal is changing my life!”

In this case, I was actually following a recipe for something with a French name, rather than just schlepping around my kitchen making some fwiggin’ stew; and that prompted me to take the trouble to slice the garlic thin and patiently brown each piece of meat, or whatever. So it tasted better than stew. Whatever.

We had chocolate pudding with cool whip for dessert. I was planning to make tiny, individual pie shells by cutting flower shapes out of pie crust and folding up the petals before baking, but I forgot I had to write a thing, so I ran out of time. No one complained about pudding that wasn’t in piecrust flowers. I heroically didn’t have any dessert, but then I ate the leftover cool whip for lunch the next day. I did use a spoon, even though no one was watching.

***

MONDAY
Hamburgers, broccoli

That’s what it says. I have no memory of Monday. Oh wait, here’s a picture:

I do remember! It tasted so good, because we went running in the dark, and then Damien cooked me a burger and made it all gloppy with ketchup and mustard, just the way I like it. It was good.

***

TUESDAY
Hot dogs, hot pretzels, grapes

We had fixings left over from our Hot Dogs O’ Many Nations buffet, so I really had to buy more hot dogs. I had a buffalo dog with bleu cheese, scallions, and buffalo sauce. It did not disappoint.

***

WEDNESDAY
Kids had pork ramen, we went running and then went to Chili’s

I haven’t adjusted to having two fewer teenagers in the house yet, so I bought way too many pork ribs last week, and then sliced up the leftovers and froze them. On Wednesday, I heated the meat up in a little water while the ramen was cooking. Cooked up some frozen spinach and boiled a bunch of eggs, and put it all on the table in separate bowls with sesame seeds and crunchy chow mein noodles, which were the most expensive part of this meal.

Because my special gift is ordering food a restaurant doesn’t specialize in, I had Chili’s unfamous clam chowder and fresca salad, plus about eleven cubic yards of those hot, thin, salty, greasy tostada chips, and a couple of margaritas.

***

THURSDAY
Meatball subs, watermelon

I used about five pounds of beef and a pound of ground turkey, six eggs, three or four cups of breadcrumbs, and whatever seasonings were in the front of the Clementine box. I put the meatballs on a double pan with drainage and put them in a 450 oven for probably 25 minutes, then moved them to a baking pan with tomato sauce to warm them up before supper.

I hope this is the last watermelon of the year. The kids insisted on buying it, but it makes me sad because you can’t find watermelons with seeds anymore. I like watermelon, but it’s so sad that it doesn’t have seeds.

Probably I should note that on my chart. “CD 26: Fatigue; irritability; food cravings; thinks it’s sad that watermelons don’t have seeds anymore.”

***

FRIDAY
The ever longed-for tuna noodle casserole.

Tuna fish, cream of mushroom soup, and egg noodles, topped with crushed potato chips and corn flakes, drizzled with a sauce of ketchup, mayo, and vinegar. If you didn’t grow up eating it, you’ll never enjoy it. If you grew up eating it, it will make you feel five years old again, in a good way.

***

Guess what? I just remembered it’s actually “The 99! The best deal in town!” not the best meal in town. That explains a thing or two.