Sorry it’s been quiet on the site this week. There were so many people saying so many things that I just. . . kept shutting up. Anyway, thirty Helens agree: It’s time to talk about what we ate this week!
Hamburgers and chips
I think maybe we had burgers on the actual outside grill? I have no memory of Saturday.
Deli sandwiches, onion rings, spicy honeyed pineapple with ice cream
Mother’s day! I was showered with gifts and flowers and treats all day, as is truly right and just. We were supposed to go hiking, but it was crummy out, so instead I wandered around Home Depot and picked out some wonderful peonies. And I requested deli sandwiches for my special mother’s day dinner because, dammit, I like deli sandwiches. I think I had roast beef, smoked provolone, bacon, and onions. Mmm. And one of the boys, in addition to giving me a homemade present, ceremoniously threw out his most egregiously ratty sweatpants right before my eyes. *grateful tears*
For dessert, we had caramelized pineapple with vanilla ice cream.
I made some of the pineapple sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar before it went under the broiler, and some dressed with a mixture of honey, olive oil, and tabasco sauce. I had the latter, and I thought it was scrumptious. Some of the fruit crystalizes, and the hot juice mingles gorgeously with the ice cream. Great texture. I absolutely adore sweet, spicy, and creamy flavors together. Next time I will make some rum caramel sauce and maybe sprinkle with pralines, but it was very good as is. (Recipe card at the end.) I should add that I was the only one who liked it, but oh well.
. . . for the poor unfortunate souls at home. I went skippingly off to the city to meet three friends from college for dinner, and I had such a nice time, I didn’t even take a picture of my food. I did, however, ask if the waitress if had Blue Moon on tap, even though I was sitting directly in front of seven ceiling-high copper brewing vats that wordlessly proclaimed, “We are a brew pub, you witless bumpkin.” Anyway, I had a Cuban panini and sweet potato fries and . . . some kind of beer that was good.
Kielbasa, cabbage, and red potato with mustard vinaigrette; asparagus
A few kids have been asking for this dish, and I’m happy to comply, as it’s a nice easy meal with very little prep work. (Recipe card at the end.) Chop kielbasa and red potatoes and slice up some cabbage, and it’s all in one pan, and the dressing is easy and tasty as well.
This meal is better if you let it brown up longer, but we were starving.
I also had some asparagus which I just sautéed in olive oil. A little bland, but this is my favorite way to prepare asparagus for texture.
Bacon tomato bisque; grilled cheese
Wednesday was the first day we finally emerged from the damp, shivery, blustery outrage of late spring in NH. I had to cover my new peonies and geraniums to protect them from the freezing rain. But Wednesday was fair and mild, verging on balmy. So of course I whipped up a heavy, creamy soup.
Honestly, all weather is soup weather, as far as I’m concerned. Last time I made this soup, I used canned tomatoes. This time, I had fresh. I briefly considered blanching them and maybe seeding them, but then I decided that the extra work would render me too exhausted to enjoy the soup, so I just chunked them in, skins, seeds, and all, and pressed on the food processor button a little bit longer.
Here’s the magical moment where I added the bacon, rosemary, and cream cheese-tomato puree to the pot:
Yeah, no complaints from anyone. Long live the bisque. Although I think I might add the bacon it at the end, next time, so it stays crisp. The onions and garlic get cooked in bacon fat, so the flavor would still be there.
Cumin chicken and chickpeas with red onion and pita
Every single person in my family likes this dish. A few of the kids only eat the chicken, but most of them went for the chickpeas as well. It’s another easy, one-pan dish, and I highly recommend marinating it as long as you can, because the skin is just stupendous.
I don’t necessarily recommend wearing a bright purple shirt in the evening sun when you take your food photos, though. In real life, the food was far less psychedelic. But the chickpeas gleamed like pebbles in a brook. I don’t know how I lived so much of my life without roasted chickpeas.
As you can see, we had pita and onions with lemon juice and cilantro (and you can see I was still wearing that purple shirt), and I also made a big tub of nice garlicky yogurt sauce. I probably could have made a meal out of just the pita, yogurt, chickpeas, and onions.
Mac and cheese
I think I’ll once again return to making a white sauce with cheese in a pot, then adding it to the macaroni and baking that in the oven, rather than using the Instant Pot for everything. I somehow never got the hang of adding the right amount of liquid to the IP so pasta reliably comes out cooked. Still love it for some things, just not this.
And now it’s the weekend! I ran the optional hill today, so I am feeling pretty impressed with myself, and shall almost certainly reward myself with food. Hey. It’s an ethos.
- 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)
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.
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
Tomato bisque with bacon
- 1/2 - 1 lb bacon (peppered bacon is good)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 35 oz can of whole tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 46 oz tomato juice
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- salt and pepper
- crispy fried onions (optional garnish)
Fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, chop it up, and drain out all but a a few teaspoons of grease.
Add the diced onion and minced garlic to the grease and sauté until soft.
Add tomatoes (including juices), bay leaves, rosemary, and tomato juice, and simmer for 20 minutes. Save some rosemary for a garnish if you like.
With a slotted spoon, fish out the bay leaf, the tomatoes, and most of the rosemary, leaving some rosemary leaves in. Discard most of the rosemary and bay leaf. Put the rest of the rosemary and the tomatoes in a food processor with the 8 oz of cream cheese until it's as smooth as you want it.
Return pureed tomato mixture to pot. Salt and pepper to taste.
Heat through. Add chopped bacon right before serving, and top with crispy fried onions if you like. Garnish with more rosemary if you're a fancy man.
Spicy honeyed pineapple with ice cream
You could drizzle this with a caramel rum sauce and maybe sprinkle with pralines, but it's good just with fruit and ice cream, too. You can also serve the pineapple as a side dish (without ice cream!) for many Mexican foods.
- 1 pineapple, cut into spears or rings
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 1/8 cup honey
- sriracha sauce to taste
Preheat the broiler; or, if grilling outside, let coals die down.
Mix olive oil, honey, and a few dashes of sriracha sauce, and slather the sauce all over the prepared pineapple.
Spread in single layer on pan or over grill and cook, turning once, until it's slightly charred.
Serve hot with a scoop of ice cream.
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.
- 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):
- red wine if you like
- a little olive oil
- salt and pepper
- fresh garlic, crushed
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.