What’s for supper? Vol. 301: I speak for the food

Friday again! With so little warning, too. 

With food prices so high, I’m making a big push to shop the sales, to think about what food we already have in the house, and to plan the menu pretty strictly around that. So we ended up with some slightly peculiar meals, and a few really spectacular days. I think I ended up saving a little bit of money. You’d think it would be easy to tell, but somehow it’s not. 

Here’s what we ate this week:

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips

Damien cooked the burgers while the kids swam in the pool. I didn’t get any food pics, but I did catch this quintessential big brother-little sister moment

SUNDAY
Pizza at Hillsborough HOP

Sunday we went the Polar Caves in Rumney, NH, which we’ve been talking about doing for years. I haven’t been since I was seven, and to my delight, they are really, really caves. You clamber down into these holes in the ground, and you’re absolutely surrounded by rock, some of it dripping wet, and you have to clamber back up out of another hole. One cave had ice in it! It’s very exciting. You can feel the cold breath of the earth coming up at you as you get close, so you know right away it’s going to be a weird experience. 

Having recently done a tiny amount of wood working, I was also vastly impressed by the catwalks, staircases, balconies, and other wooden pathways built directly onto the side of the mountain, in and around the rock. Of course I got zero photos, but the work is beautiful and ingenious. At the same time, they just made it accessible, and no more, and didn’t turn the caves into rides. The kids all had a good time and said it was worth a two-hour drive each way. 

They also have a small animal park with deer and waterfowl, and a little playground and games like cornhole so you can stretch your legs and wait your turn. The cave tours are timed for two hours. There is also a clean, pleasant picnic area, and the bathrooms are also clean. Overall, highly recommended!

We stopped for pizza on the way home at Hillsborough House of Pizza. Tasty food, cheerful service. (We saw they have a drive-thru pizza window, which is fun.) My choice was a Greek pizza with spinach, feta, olives, and tomatoes. Quite tasty. 

MONDAY
Muffaletta sandwiches, deviled eggs, fruit salad

This sandwich has strayed pretty far afield from authenticity, but it (a) was easy to make on the day after a big trip,  (b) was yummy, and (c) used up some of the Tremendous Cheese Hoard that’s clogging up my fridge. 

I made the olive salad in the food processor with green and black olives, a few pepperoncini, some banana peppers, some scoops of red hot pepper relish, I think maybe some pesto, some olive oil and wine vinegar, and misc. Oh, and a handful of fresh parsley from something or other.

We had a few kinds of salami, some ham, and I think there was also some deli turkey, which is definitely not muffaletta-approved. And we had it on kaiser rolls. 

I don’t know if people have different recipes for deviled eggs. Mine is pretty basic: About 2 parts mayo to one part mustard, a little salt and pepper, and some paprika on top (and some more parsley).

You can see that I got a little carried away with the presentation for a Monday afternoon, but frankly I had a lot of bullshit in my head that needed clearing away, and working on deviled eggs for a while is as good a way as any to do a little mental tidying-up. 

I also made a lovely mid-July fruit salad. Watermelon, blueberries, blackberries, and peaches. The blackberries in the yard are still green, but these juicy monsters were on sale. I forgot how much it adds to a fruit salad to have peaches in it! Must get more peaches in life in general. 

Altogether, a very pleasant summery meal, which I ate outside next to a patch of milkweed, Queen Anne’s Lace, and black eyed susans. Very July.

A hummingbird stopped by and acted like a little weirdo before zipping off. A seaplane passed over the yard. Very July indeed.

TUESDAY
Maiale al latte with leeks and bread

Pork shoulder was 99 cents a pound, so I got the biggest, fattiest one I could find and away we went. This recipe is from my new favorite site, Sip and Feast. Maiale (say “my-ALL-lay”) al latte just means “pork with milk,” and the thing to know is that the milk is supposed to curdle as it cooks. You end up with these scrumptious, savory curds in the sauce that honestly do not look especially deluxe, but they are delicioso, and you do not want to skip over them when you scoop up the sauce.

This meal was lots of fun to make. And I think I have discovered a General Principle: The worse a dish looks, the more pictures I will take, in an effort to capture and convey how yummy it is. This is because I am a friend of food. I want you to like it. I am the XXXX.* I speak for the food. 

You start off browning the seasoned pork all over in olive oil on the stovetop

and then you take the meat out and add in some wonderfully fragrant ingredients: Butter, lots of rough-cut garlic, thick peels off a lemon, lots of sage (sadly I couldn’t find leaves, so I used ground sage), bay leaves, and chili flakes. Cook that up, add some white wine,

cook it down some more, and add in plenty of milk, and then the pork goes back in.

you cover it, and it goes into the oven for a few hours. That’s pretty much it.

Hello! Look at the little curds clinging to it. 

You can add some leeks into the sauce and cook them up right at the end, to serve with the meat. And that is what we did, and we also warmed up some baguettes to sop up that toothsome sauce.

Gosh, the sauce was wonderful. You can imagine how fortifying and rich it tasted, with those ingredients. I did up hot pepper flakes and garlic quite a bit from the suggested amount, and so it was on the spicy side, but really just mostly just savory and cozy. And I did go back for seconds of just sauce and curds. 

I ended up cooking the meat a little longer than I meant to, because I had to run out and pick up a kid who wasn’t needed at the yogurt shop after all because they were predicting hail, so the meat came out of the oven shreddy, rather than sliceable. Look how it fell apart.

Nobody complained! But next time I will take it out a little sooner. 

Now let’s talk about leeks. I have never cooked with leeks before, that I can remember, so I had to look up how to prepare them. They are large and a little intimidating, like oversized scallions.

They grow right in the soil, so they need some pretty aggressive cleaning. This site suggested cutting off the root and tough green ends, slitting them up the side, dunking them in water, and then agitating them, so I filled a pot with water, plunged the leeks in, and shouted, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN THERE DAY AND NIGHT? WHY DON’T YOU GET OUT OF THERE AND GIVE SOMEONE ELSE A CHANCE?”

This is why I’m so popular!

But just about everybody in the family liked this meal. Several of them also carefully mentioned that it would be an especially delicious meal if it were, for instance, cold out, and not, for instance, 84 degrees and humid; and I had to agree. The weather report said it was going to rain! And hail! Oh well. It was still a wonderful dish, and I’ll make it again soon, when the price of pork and the temperature drop. And I do like leeks, even if they are bathroom hogs. 

WEDNESDAY
Meatball subs, watermelon

Ground beef still on sale from July 4th, I guess. Nobody complains about my meatball subs. I put plenty of Worcestershire sauce into the meatballs, which is an easy way to make sure they don’t come out bland.

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25 minutes or so on a broiler rack on a pan in a very hot oven, and then I moved them to the crock pot with some sauce for the rest of the day. 

And finally, the final half of the final watermelon I bought and forgot to serve on July 4th has been consumed, amen. 

THURSDAY
Gochujang smoked chicken thighs, Asian cucumber salad, grilled sweet potatoes, pineapple

My friends, this was a queen among meals. I could not have been more pleased about how all of it came together. 

The chicken and the sweet potatoes are new recipes for us. We’ve made gochujang pork a number of times, but chicken thighs were on sale and Damien was willing to cook outside, so this from My Korean Kitchen sounded good. Same website I got my bo ssam recipe from

I started the meat marinating the night before (and had a tiny adventure when I blindly grabbed for ginger in the basket where I keep ginger, and AUGH)

Initially, I marveled at the cleverness of whoever put little Wicket or Weechee in there, artfully matching its brown and furry trunk-like legs with the bulbous limbs of the ginger root as a devilish little prank for some unsuspecting cook; but I quickly realized they actually put it in there because it is a basket, and if I leave a basket out, people will stuff random things in it.

The marinade was pretty dramatic in itself.

It has Sprite in it, which apparently makes an appearance in a lot of Korean recipes. I started to hunt around for some background on this topic, just so everyone gets their money’s worth, and was right on the verge of clicking on a story called “Korean cold noodles for gay men,” and then I thought, you know,,,not right now.

The recipe calls for chicken filets, but I bought bone-in thighs and just pulled the skins off. I also bought a few drumsticks because What If There’s Not Enough Food? And so wages the eternal battle between the thrifty mom who wants to save money and the anxious mom who wants to stuff everyone’s face.

Well, they were fantastic. Fiery spicy, but with a good layering of flavors, and wonderfully juicy. Really perfect. Here’s my plate:

We prepared the sweet potatoes very simply, and I really liked how they turned out. I just cut raw sweet potatoes in thick slices (I tried to cut them the long way, to get the largest pieces possible), brushed both sides with olive oil, and sprinkled both sides with sea salt and pepper. They were medium-small sized potatoes and I got about five slices per potato. 

Then Damien grilled them along with the chicken, about 3-4 minutes per side, until they were soft all the way through. 

They made a really nice change from our usual Asian side dishes of rice or coleslaw. Very popular with me. 

I cut up a couple of pineapples, and I made a cool little quasi-Asian cucumber salad. (I also cut up some cucumbers plain for the babies.) This is a great little salad.

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It takes about five minutes and it’s got so much flavor, and always strikes me as rather sophisticated. 

Cucumbers, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, red onion, sesame seeds, and a little kosher salt. Sweet, slightly tangy, and refreshing, and also pretty. You do want to eat it the same day, because it’s best when the cucumbers are still fresh and crunchy. 

FRIDAY
Salmon burgers

I discovered that you can buy one bag of chopped-up frozen breaded pollock-or-whatever patties, and that won’t be enough for the family, or you can buy two bags, and it will be way too much and you’ll feel terrible throwing out all that wadded-up uneaten fish, OR, for the same amount of money as too much pollock, you can buy just the right amount of frozen salmon portions. So what the heck, I’m not made of stone, and I was tired of standing there with my head in the Aldi refrigerator thinking about it. I got the salmon, and some burger buns and tartar sauce.

I will probably just pan fry the fish in butter and squeeze some lemon juice on top and call it good. Yeah, it was a good week!

*For this joke, I consulted the rhyming dictionary to find a funny substitute for “Lorax,” and the best one I could come up with was “Withholding Tax,” which is not very, you know, what do you know about Korean cold noodles for gay men? Because maybe it’s time. 

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. 

 

 

5 from 2 votes
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Gochujang bulgoki (spicy Korean pork)


Ingredients

  • 1.5 pound boneless pork, sliced thin
  • 4 carrots in matchsticks or shreds
  • 1 onion sliced thin

sauce:

  • 5 generous Tbsp gochujang (fermented pepper paste)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 cloves minced garlic

Serve with white rice and nori (seaweed sheets) or lettuce leaves to wrap

Instructions

  1. Combine pork, onions, and carrots.

    Mix together all sauce ingredients and stir into pork and vegetables. 

    Cover and let marinate for several hours or overnight.

    Heat a pan with a little oil and sauté the pork mixture until pork is cooked through.

    Serve with rice and lettuce or nori. Eat by taking pieces of lettuce or nori, putting a scoop of meat and rice in, and making little bundles to eat. 

 

5 from 3 votes
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spicy cucumber salad

A spicy, zippy side dish that you can make very quickly. 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cucumbers, sliced thin (peeling not necessary)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1+ tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Optional:

red pepper, diced

  • 1/2 red onion diced

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Serve immediately, or chill to serve later (but the longer you leave it, the softer the cukes will get)

What’s for supper? Vol. 287: In which I mislead my children about the Irish

Rather pretty photos this week! I love being able to eat dinner while the sun is up, but a close second is being able to take food photos while the sun is up. 

Here’s what we cooked this week: 

SATURDAY
Italian sandwiches, fries

Wow, Saturday seems like a long time ago. I think we had various salamis, capicola, prosciutto (Aldi prosciutto. We’re not millionaires) and provolone, with some red pesto. Looks like I was too hungry to take a photo. 

 

SUNDAY
Ina Garten’s roast chicken and vegetables

Damien made this gorgeous chicken that is absolutely packed with flavor and looks like the true feast it is.

The chicken is stuffed with lemon halves, entire heads of garlic, and sprigs of thyme,

and then you have beautiful heaps of roasted, caramelized carrots, onions, and fennel. Damien also added ten sliced potatoes.

Very moist and scrumptious. I just sat there eating fennel and carrots like a complete vegetable goblin. 

MONDAY
Chicken burgers, chips, crispy shredded Brussels sprouts

Shredded Brussels sprouts is a new-to-us thing. I preheated the oven to 425, cut the stems off two pounds of Brussels sprouts, and sliced them thinly with the food processor, then spread them in a thin layer on two large parchment paper-covered pans with olive oil, honey, salt, and lots of red pepper flakes, and chopped walnuts.

Then I forgot about them and parts of them burned a little, so I switched pans and stirred them up a bit and cooked them a bit more, and they turned out . . . pretty good.

I was hoping for something a little more crunchy, and this didn’t quite get there, but reminded me a little bit of coleslaw. Probably if I had spread it out more thinly, they would have gotten more crisp. Damien thought it was great as it was, and I did like the flavor a lot. Nice to have something new for a side dish, and I can imagine tons of variations in what you add to the Brussels sprouts. It’s also a great way to stretch a small amount of vegetables. I can imagine adding in carrots. 

TUESDAY
Mexican beef bowls 

Kind of an inelegant photo, but a very tasty meal. 

One kid said, “Wow, I never tried this food before. I just assumed it was gross. But it’s delicious!” What do you know about that. Wait till you find out I was right about everything else, too. 

There wasn’t a ton of meat, so I wanted to make sure there were plenty of other good toppings. Namely, yummy beans. I made them in the instant pot, and I thought they were quite toothsome. 

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I also sautéed up a bunch of sweet pepper and put out sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, scallions, and skillet roasted (skillet roasted? Is that a thing) corn with Taijin seasoning, some corn chips, and a big pot of white rice. I forgot to put out the lime. wedges. The star of this meal is the wonderful gravy from the meat, and the star of the gravy is Worcestershire sauce, which I love even more now that I know it has tamarind in it.

Very rich and piquant meal. 

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WEDNESDAY
Cumin chicken with chickpeas, onion salad, homemade pita

Last time I made pita bread, I complained about what a huge amount of work it was. I think that was mostly due to the newness of the recipe (I have massive baking anxiety, and every step feels monumental), and the fact that I quadrupled it. I gathered up my courage and tried this recipe again, and it was actually very simple. You just stir up the dough and knead it well, let it rise once,

divide it, roll the pieces into rounds,

and slap them in a hot oven for threeish minutes, and hope they puff.

It takes a long time if you are making 32 of them and can only fit three on a pan, but there are far less pleasant ways to spend a morning than rolling and baking 32 pieces of pita bread. 

I did try pan frying one, and it turned out so flat and rubbery, I went back to the oven method, which was working well enough. While I was complaining about it, I apparently triggered a smart speaker command, so the next three-minute alarm that went off wasn’t just a chime; it was a perky woman’s voice saying “Three minutes the last one fried in the pan turned out really rubbery!” NOBODY ASKED YOU, PERKY KITCHEN ROBOT. 

Anyway, everybody liked the pita. Next time I will bake them right before supper, because they are divine when they are piping hot; but even several hours old, they were still nice. (The same child who was amazed the Mexican beef wasn’t disgusting complimented me on the pita, saying he loved how tough and chewy it was. I did not murder said child, because soon enough he will be eating his own cooking, and then we’ll all see what’s tough.)

The whole meal was so good.

 

The cumin chicken is super easy. You stir up a simple yogurt marinade for the chicken in the morning (I used thighs and drumsticks), and then about an hour before dinner, spread some seasoned chickpeas in a pan, nestle your chicken in it, maybe throw some onions on top, and shove it in the oven. 

The skin on this chicken is so great. The meat turns out really tender, but the best part is the skin, and it takes zero skill. 

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Also, Clara was juicing lemons for some reason, so she had some freshly-squeezed juice to spare for the onion salad, and wow, I forgot what a difference it makes over bottled.

It’s just red onions, lemon juice, chopped cilantro, and some salt and pepper, but it’s so bright and fresh, it’s really wonderful with the earthy flavors of the cumin in the chickpeas and chicken.  

Make a nice bowl of garlicky yogurt sauce,

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and it’s a perfectly balanced plate of flavors. Cool, bright, sharp, earthy, and then the sour-floury pita brings it all together.

Lovely. 

THURSDAY
Irish breakfast

Damien heroically took the three middle girls into Boston on the evening of St. Patrick’s day to see Conan Gray. They ate at one of Guy Fieri’s restaurant because if there’s one thing those kids can do, it’s commit to the bit. 

We at home continued our tradition of acknowledging we don’t really like corned beef, and we had what may or may not be an authentic Irish breakfast instead. The Irish sausage wasn’t too popular last year, so we skipped that and had bacon, thick sourdough toast, roast potatoes, fried mushrooms, baked beans, roasted tomatoes, and eggs fried in bacon grease. 

This meal gave the kids the impression that the Irish eat very well indeed. Oops.

I had some trouble getting so many different things hot at the same time, so I fudged it a bit, and the mushrooms (mushrooms, parsley, salt, bacon fat) started out well

but got a bit overcooked, and then I decided to broil the tomatoes in the oven

and long before they got any kind of char, they really collapsed. I don’t know if there’s another method of cooking sliced tomatoes so they don’t fall apart, or if that’s just how it be. They were good, just surprisingly fragile, kind of like the Ir–I’m sorry, somebody was shouting and I lost track of what I was saying. 

I’ll let this hero round out the day for us all.  

FRIDAY
Vietnamese garlic noodles

Gonna try this simple recipe from the NYT, which says it’s a San Francisco dish. Butter, lots of garlic, oyster sauce, soy sauce, spaghetti, parmesan, and scallions. How often does the NYT run a recipe using ingredients you already have! I’ll let you know how it turns out. Garlicky, I’m guessing. 

And we have St. Joseph’s day coming right up tomorrow! Although we’ll probably celebrate on Sunday, just because Saturday is always so crazy-go-nuts. Thinking of an antipasto of pickled vegetables and cheeses and cured meats,

suppli (maybe made by Lucy, since they turned out so well last time),

spaghetti and meatballs (probably made by Damien),

and Clara may make zeppole, which is the traditional St. Joseph’s Day dessert, and which I mangled pretty severely when I tried.

I would like to try pannacotta with fruit (haven’t settled on a recipe yet), just so the kitchen doesn’t forget whose kitchen it is. We just finished The Great British Baking Show and a lot of Giuseppe’s recipes seemed highly desirable to me. But that is a lot of cooks in a small kitchen, so I think today we’ll plan out who makes what when. 

This is also a lot of tasty food for the middle of Lent, but St. Joseph has been mucho helpful for our family and the least we can do for him is eat a lot. Just like the Irish. 

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."

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.

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

Cumin chicken thighs with chickpeas in yogurt sauce

A one-pan dish, but you won't want to skip the sides. Make with red onions and cilantro in lemon juice, pita bread and yogurt sauce, and pomegranates, grapes, or maybe fried eggplant. 

Ingredients

  • 18 chicken thighs
  • 32 oz full fat yogurt, preferably Greek
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp cumin, divided
  • 4-6 cans chickpeas
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 red onions, sliced thinly

For garnishes:

  • 2 red onions sliced thinly
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • a bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 32 oz Greek yogurt for dipping sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

Instructions

  1. Make the marinade early in the day or the night before. Mix full fat Greek yogurt and with lemon juice, four tablespoons of water, and two tablespoons of cumin, and mix this marinade up with chicken parts, thighs or wings. Marinate several hours. 

    About an hour before dinner, preheat the oven to 425.

    Drain and rinse four or five 15-oz cans of chickpeas and mix them up with a few glugs of olive oil, the remaining tablespoon of cumin, salt and pepper, and two large red onions sliced thin.

    Spread the seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on two large sheet pans, then make room among the chickpeas for the marinated chicken (shake or scrape the extra marinade off the chicken if it’s too gloppy). Then it goes in the oven for almost an hour. That’s it for the main part.

    The chickpeas and the onions may start to blacken a bit, and this is a-ok. You want the chickpeas to be crunchy, and the skin of the chicken to be a deep golden brown, and crisp. The top pan was done first, and then I moved the other one up to finish browning as we started to eat. Sometimes when I make this, I put the chickpeas back in the oven after we start eating, so some of them get crunchy and nutty all the way through.

Garnishes:

  1. While the chicken is cooking, you prepare your three garnishes:

     -Chop up some cilantro for sprinkling if people like.

     -Slice another two red onions nice and thin, and mix them in a dish with a few glugs of lemon juice and salt and pepper and more cilantro. 

     -Then take the rest of the tub of Greek yogurt and mix it up in another bowl with lemon juice, a generous amount of minced garlic, salt, and pepper. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 234: In which I discover how to make rugelach without burnt bottoms!

Raise your hand if you’ve been falling asleep on the couch every night. Not that hand, you’re still holding a glass of wine! Oh well, those were old pants anyway.

Before we go any further, here is some Creedence, with Keep On Chooglin’. 

Good for any old time, but especially when you have set yourself up to make 160 little rugelach and every time someone comes into the kitchen, they comment that you just keep on rugelin’, which is true.

Here’s what else we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Loaded baked potatoes, onion soup

I made this meal mainly so I could stop wondering how this meal would go over, even though I knew the answer would be: Okay. I baked a bunch of giant potatoes and set them out with bacon, sour cream, french onion dip, chili, cheese, scallions, and I forget what else. And I made a pot of onion soup just so they couldn’t say I only fed them potatoes for supper. 

I honestly believe this was just as filling and interesting as any meal I make, but some people just couldn’t get past the mental roadblock of having a side dish as a main dish. So now I can cross that off my “how to be a monster” list, and get back to serving real meals of meat and potato, rather than fake meals of potato and meat. 

They didn’t really complain, but they definitely pondered and discussed for longer than absolutely necessary. Some people don’t remember when the dinner we could afford was oatmeal soup, and it shows! Come to think of it, I don’t really have a problem with that.

Here is my basic onion soup recipe. 

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I made it in the Instant Pot just to keep it out of the way, which is legitimately handy sometimes, but there was no other advantage to using the IP instead of the stove to caramelize onions, despite what lies people may tell. You have to let the pot come to pressure, then cook the onions, then release the pressure, and then finish them up on sauté anyway, so it takes exactly as long. I guess there is a little less stirring, but it definitely isn’t a time saver.

SUNDAY
Beef fajita bowls

Last time I made this dish, I went on autopilot and accidentally cut up the meal before marinating it, and then pan fried it. That was very tasty, but this time, I marinated the roasts whole, and oven roasted them (350 for about 40 minutes) and then sliced them up.

(Sorry, I know it’s Friday.)

A vast improvement to an already delicious dish. My goodness, it was so tender and juicy and flavorful. This is a really tangy, savory marinade.

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I had mine with rice, meat, guacamole, beans and tomatoes with chili peppers, cilantro, sour cream, fresh lime, and corn chips, and I scooped up some of the sauce from the meat pan and gave everything an extra little gravy baptism, mmmmm hmmmmm.

Somehow I’ve gone most of my life without using Worcestershire sauce, and I did not associate it with Mexican food at all, probably because of the. name. When you live in rural NH, you have to figure these things out the hard way (by reading recipes on the internet). Well, I’m a big fan now! Not quite up to putting it on my pizza, but a fan nonetheless. 

The guacamole was definitely B grade guacamole. Canned tomatoes, garlic powder instead of fresh, canned jalapeños instead of fresh, and the avocados were overripe, so I had to mash them pretty hard, rather than leaving some nice chunks. Here’s my recipe for decent guac:

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MONDAY
Hot dogs, chips, beans

Monday was shopping day, so we needed something fast and easy. I used to buy cheapo hot dogs and then a few Hebrew National or something yummier for people who cared. Then I discovered people who care prefer natural casing hot dogs to Hebrew National, so I bought a few of those. Then more people started caring, so I started buying more natural casing hot dogs. But I had it in my head that there needed to be an alternative hot dog, so now I buy a big box of natural casing hot dogs plus a small package of terrible cheap weenies. A few people asked me why, and I had to admit that I did not know. 

TUESDAY
Ravioli, chocolate strawberries

Tuesday was Benny’s birthday. We’re having an at-home party on Saturday, but she really wanted to do some special stuff on the actual day, so she chose dinner (frozen ravioli, can do) and we made chocolate-dipped strawberries. Actually I made one, and then I left the room. This is generally the best way to ensure the kids have a fun kitchen experience. 

She opened one of her presents, Moe made her french toast, and then we played hooky from virtual school and got Wendy’s for lunch, which we attempted to eat on the bridge by the waterfall

but it turned out it’s December, so we finished our meal in the heated car. Which is where I found out that she thought a Baconator was pronounced “buh-CON-ah-torr,” like “matador,” so that was a little present for me, too.  

Then we went to Walmart and bought a new zipper pull for her jacket and a Mickey Mouse balloon, and then Dora stopped by the house with a present of a stack of books she liked when she was that age. Benny ended up having a wonderful day, because she is a wonderful kid.

WEDNESDAY
Chicken thighs with chickpeas

This is one of my favorite meals. I got up and got the chicken thighs marinating in the yogurt marinade pretty early, and also got the yogurt dipping sauce and the onion salad made; so when it was time to eat, all I had to do was open a bunch of cans of chickpeas and throw it all on a pan to cook. 

If you like shawarma, you will probably like this meal. If you like crispy, toothsome chicken skin, you will adore this meal. 

We had plenty of pita bread and I was so happy, tearing off bits and dunking it in the yogurt sauce and scooping up a little bright, lemony red onion and cilantro. The chicken just falls off the bone, and the salty chickpeas are a little chompy on the outside and tender and mealy on the inside. So good. The yogurt sauce came out so garlicky, my breath was glowing in the dark.

THURSDAY
Salad with chicken

Bit of a lackluster meal. I was planning a hearty, harvest-y salad, like this one, maybe with candied yams on the side, but I ended up just roasting some chicken breast and serving it on greens with dried cranberries and crumbled goat cheese. Oh, I did make a big batch of croutons from our vast collection of stale rolls and hot dog buns.

I didn’t even end up eating dinner, because I got caught up in a sudden baking frenzy. I made rum balls and, because it was the first night of Chanukah, three kinds of rugelach. 

Jump to Recipe

 (this is an updated recipe card, with step by step pictures, simplified and improved from the previous version I’ve shared)

Let me tell you about rugelach. To me, they taste normal and cozy when the bottoms are absolutely burnt to hell, like this:

This is because, no matter how thinly you spread the filling on the dough, it oozes out, pools around the pastry, and then burns. Normal, but so frustrating. 

WELL.

I always say I hate baking, but really what I hate is feeling stupid, and baking almost always makes me feel stupid. But this one time, I felt smart! I made a big batch of rugelach dough, enough for eight batches, and I kept on experimenting until I figured out how to get golden brown rugelach without a burned bottom.

 You line a pan with parchment paper to contain the mess, but you put a baking rack on top of that, spray it with cooking spray, and bake the rugelach on the rack, and then the filling still oozes out, but it oozes onto the parchment paper below

leaving your rugelach unburnt!

Then you move the rugelach off the rack onto a lined tray as soon as they come out of the oven. If you wait, they will just cement themselves to the rack, and they won’t burn, but the bottoms will get torn up. I find a butter knife is the best tool for this job, and you will absolutely burn your fingers, oh well. 

I made three kinds: Apricot walnut (my favorite)

blueberry, which for some reason doesn’t brown up as much,

and Nutella.

Lovely. This recipe is labor intensive, but requires very little skill. The dough comes out light and tender, but it’s much, much easier than pie crust or other kinds of pastry dough. It holds together very well and doesn’t need a light touch. It’s just butter, cream cheese, and flour, and then you roll it in tons of sugar. Spread your filling on, cut it in triangles, roll them up, and bake, doop! Here’s the recipe again:

Jump to Recipe

Some fruit fillings ooze more than others, but you won’t really know until you try them. I really love rugelach. They are so cute and nice, and they freeze well, too, so you can make a bunch and give them out as gifts. 

Oh, the rum balls, I made using this recipe, but I used chocolate wafers rather than vanilla ones, because that’s what they had at Aldi. I can’t taste them because migraine, but the kids said they were good. I made some rolled in powdered sugar and some rolled in little candy balls. Wishing I had done some in finely-chopped nuts, but I have no idea where I put the nuts.

FRIDAY
Pizza

And don’t you forget it! I got some olives and artichoke hearts and we’ll just have to see what’s nessa. 

Okay, here are the recipe cards!  We made it through another week, and good for us. 

Simple French onion soup

Serve with a piece of toasted baguette at the bottom of each bowl. Finish with cheese on top.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 cups onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 4-6 cups beef broth (can also use chicken broth or a combination of water and white wine)
  • pepper
  • parmesan or mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. In a heavy pot, melt the butter and then add the onions. Cook very slowly over a low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and somewhat darkened.

  2. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Stir in the flour and mix to coat.

  3. Add the broth (or water and wine). Add pepper to taste and simmer for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.

  4. Serve with a hunk of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl. Sprinkle cheese on top, and if you have oven-safe dishes, brown under the broiler to form a skin on top of the soup.

 

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.

 

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. 

 

chocolate-dipped strawberries (or chocolate-dipped anything)

Basic chocolate dip for just about anything. The shortening makes it smoother and helps it harden into a shell, rather than remaining gooey. Do not use Aldi chocolate chips! They melt very badly. Also be sure to dry strawberries thoroughly, or the chocolate won't adhere well.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb strawberries, washed and dried thoroughly
  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp shortening

Instructions

  1. In the microwave or the top pot of a double boiler, heat the chocolate chips and shortening until they are melted, stirring frequently until the mixture is smooth.

  2. Grasping the strawberries by the leaves, dip them in the melted chocolate and shake them gently to get excess chocolate off.

  3. Lay them on a tray covered with wax paper or parchment paper and let them harden in a cool spot for an hour. If you leave them in the refrigerator for more than a day, the chocolate will begin to separate slightly from the strawberry.

 

Cumin chicken thighs with chickpeas in yogurt sauce

A one-pan dish, but you won't want to skip the sides. Make with red onions and cilantro in lemon juice, pita bread and yogurt sauce, and pomegranates, grapes, or maybe fried eggplant. 

Ingredients

  • 18 chicken thighs
  • 32 oz full fat yogurt, preferably Greek
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp cumin, divided
  • 4-6 cans chickpeas
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 red onions, sliced thinly

For garnishes:

  • 2 red onions sliced thinly
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • a bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 32 oz Greek yogurt for dipping sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

Instructions

  1. Make the marinade early in the day or the night before. Mix full fat Greek yogurt and with lemon juice, four tablespoons of water, and two tablespoons of cumin, and mix this marinade up with chicken parts, thighs or wings. Marinate several hours. 

    About an hour before dinner, preheat the oven to 425.

    Drain and rinse four or five 15-oz cans of chickpeas and mix them up with a few glugs of olive oil, the remaining tablespoon of cumin, salt and pepper, and two large red onions sliced thin.

    Spread the seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on two large sheet pans, then make room among the chickpeas for the marinated chicken (shake or scrape the extra marinade off the chicken if it’s too gloppy). Then it goes in the oven for almost an hour. That’s it for the main part.

    The chickpeas and the onions may start to blacken a bit, and this is a-ok. You want the chickpeas to be crunchy, and the skin of the chicken to be a deep golden brown, and crisp. The top pan was done first, and then I moved the other one up to finish browning as we started to eat. Sometimes when I make this, I put the chickpeas back in the oven after we start eating, so some of them get crunchy and nutty all the way through.

Garnishes:

  1. While the chicken is cooking, you prepare your three garnishes:

     -Chop up some cilantro for sprinkling if people like.

     -Slice another two red onions nice and thin, and mix them in a dish with a few glugs of lemon juice and salt and pepper and more cilantro. 

     -Then take the rest of the tub of Greek yogurt and mix it up in another bowl with lemon juice, a generous amount of minced garlic, salt, and pepper. 

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

Rugelach

These are tender little pastries for Chanukah or any time. Use whatever kind of filling you like: Jams, preserves, cinnamon sugar, nutella, etc. These are time consuming, but don't take much skill, and they freeze well, so they make pretty little gifts.

Servings 80 rugelach

Ingredients

dough

  • half pound butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup or more sugar, for rolling

filling

  • 1/4-1/2 cup preserves or other filling
  • 1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, combine the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add in the flour and keep mixing until smooth. You can do this by hand, but it will take a while! The dough should be fairly stiff and not sticky when it's done.

  2. Divide the dough into 8 balls. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat the oven to 400.

  4. Prepare a pan by lining it with parchment paper, then spraying a baking rack and putting the rack on the parchment paper. Line a second pan with parchment paper, to which you will remove the rugelach when they come out of the oven.

  5. Use the sugar to cover your work space, and use a rolling pin to roll a ball of dough into a round shape the size of a large plate. It should be thin enough to flap a bit when you give it a shake. If your rolling pin sticks, sprinkle more sugar on. You can turn the dough over to make sure both sides get sugared. It doesn't have to be perfectly round, as it will be cut into pieces.

  6. Spread the jam or other filling over the dough, leaving an open space in the middle. If you're adding nuts, sprinkle them over the filling.

  7. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 16-20 triangles.

  8. Roll each triangle up from the outside in. Place each rolled rugelach on the sprayed baking rack on the pan, with the skinny point down. They puff up a bit, so leave the space of one rugelach in between.

  9. Repeat for each ball of dough.

  10. Bake for ten minutes. If the dough isn't golden brown, give it another two minutes. These go from perfect to burnt very quickly, so be alert.

  11. When they bake, the filling will ooze out and pool and burn on the parchment paper, but the rugelach will not burn.

  12. When the rugelach come out of the oven, immediately use a butter knife to transfer them to another pan or rack to cool.

  13. Once they are cool, they can be wrapped in plastic and kept in the freezer for weeks without harm.