What’s for supper? Vol. 107: I’m chicken my privilege

This week, I managed to use leftovers from a previous meal in every single new meal. Some of this was planned, some was felicitous. Some was just scallions.

Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Fancy hot dogs, chips, salad

It’s amazing how a few toppings can transform a hot dog meal from shameful to splendid. I got cheapo hot dogs for the kids and Nathan’s for them as appreciate Nathan’s, and I set out ketchup and mustard, of course, and also diced cucumbers, thin-sliced pickles, diced tomatoes, pickled peppers, diced onions, and celery salt for Chicago-style hot dogs, and crumbled blue cheese, hot sauce, and chopped scallions (left over from last week) for Buffalo dogs. Yum yum.

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SUNDAY
Chicken enchiladas, beans and rice

#1 son has been asking for this dish for a while, and not just so we can quote Dr. Marvin Rubdown.

I use Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I cooked six giant, recklessly seasoned chicken breasts in olive oil

and, after shredding them, set aside the meat from two of them for later. I had thirty-two large tortillas, and, because the gods are cruel, enough fillings for thirty-one enchiladas.

In my neverending but alwaysfutile quest to have more than enough onions for the enchiladas, I diced and sautéed seven onions. I rushed them a bit, so they didn’t really caramelize, but they were still luscious. You cook them up in the chickeny oil, using the same pan.

I shredded up about two pounds of cheddar cheese, which wasn’t quite enough. The enchiladas were a little skinny, to be honest; but also to be honest, I actually like eating up the slightly soggy folded ends of tortillas.

We went through two large cans of green enchilada sauce and two large cans of red. Some tomatoes, sour cream, and cilantro on the top. Or maybe it was scallions, I forget.

Lackluster photo, completely delicious food. I had other plans for Sunday, but the all-devouring enchiladas ended up taking all day to make. Next time, I may try stacked enchiladas, where you use the same ingredients, but just layer them in a pan, rather than rolling them. I want enchiladas, but I want my life back, too.

We had leftover rice from last week, so I mixed it up with a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes with chiles and some of the juice, a can of drained black beans, some jarred, sliced jalapeños, and bunch of cumin, chili powder, and salt. I feel like there must have been other ingredients, but I sure can’t remember them now. It was tasty, and I was proud of not just throwing down a bag of chips.

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MONDAY
Ham, baked potatoes, peas

Monday is our crazy-go-nuts day, and so we had a meal than involved taking things out of the bag and making them hot. No complaints.

Oh, and we had some yogurt sauce left over from last week’s turmerific chickepea chicken. It smelled okay, so I daringly slathered it on my baked potato with some scallions, and holy cow, it was so good. It was Greek yogurt with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

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TUESDAY
Chicken tortilla soup, leftover enchiladas

Feeling like a genius, I took the leftover chicken out of the fridge and vaulted straight through to the quick and easy part of this recipe from Pioneer Woman. I didn’t have any masa or cornmeal, so I just decreased how much water I added, and it was plenty thick. Only one child refused to eat it because it turned out the tortilla strips weren’t noodles. Avocado on soup is a revelation.

There were, as I expected, still some enchiladas left, so we had those instead of the rice or corn bread I’d usually make as a side dish. It was a lot of the same flavors as the soup. Not a problem.

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WEDNESDAY
Grilled pizza sandwiches with olives and pepperoni

Sometimes these turn out delicious, and sometimes they’re kind of bleh. This time the gods ordained that we should have bleh. I used sourdough bread, but I think a softer bread, like potato, would have worked better.

You brush the outside of the sandwich with butter mixed with garlic powder and oregano or basil, and then the inside of the sandwich is sauce on both slices of bread, with cheese and toppings (well, fillings) in the middle. I think I was just yelling so much on Wednesday that nothing was going to taste good. Anyway, I made supper.

For very thick grilled sandwiches, I like to grill them until they look right on the outside, then slide them into the oven for a while so the cheese melts all the way and everything’s hot enough.

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THURSDAY
Fancy ramen

Yep, I planned a weekly menu that included both “fancy hot dogs” and “fancy ramen.” We’re just that fancy!

I’m always amazed at how popular this dinner is, how cheap, and how fast. It took less than half an hour from stepping into the kitchen to saying grace.

I had a few pounds of boneless pork ribs, and I just browned them in olive oil, then sliced them in thin squares. Then I soft-boiled a dozen eggs and heated up some frozen stir fry vegetables. Then I cooked up a bunch of chicken ramen, just using the little flavor packets, and set the ramen out with all the other stuff in separate bowls, plus some leftover chopped scallions. Tasty and satisfying.

This is a photo from previous ramen. I forgot to get the pics of current ramen off my son’s phone.

Sometimes we add soy sauce, hot sauce, sriracha sauce, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, or crunchy chow mein noodles, or stir in some spinach. You can make all kinds of fancy sauces and add extra seasonings for the pork, but simple is also great.

This kind of choose-your-own-adventure meal is a great way of compromising with kids. You prepare all kinds of wonderful foods, but set them out separately, and let the kids choose what they like. That way, you don’t have to cook a separate meal for picky people, but you don’t have any horrible battles over “just try one bite.” I generally offer what I consider food every single time, and the picky kids gradually, casually decide on their own to start trying it, even if only because they don’t like feeling left out.

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FRIDAY
French toast?

I’m sort of pre-resting on the laurels I’ll win next week for Thanksgiving, so I don’t care what’s for supper today.

I will probably skip What’s For Supper? next Friday, because everyone is eating more or less the same thing, right? Here’s the planned menu so far:

Turkey with stuffing and gravy
Cheesy mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes stuffed with dates, blue cheese, and walnuts
Cranberry walnut bread
Parker house rolls
Cranberry sauce in the shape of a can
Olives and pickles
Apple pie, pumpkin pie, maybe salted bourbon pecan pie, and chocolate cream pie with ice cream and fresh whipped cream
Wine and apple cider
And don’t forget! Pie crust is a million times easier and better when you freeze the butter and shred it before incorporating it into the flour.

What’s for supper? Vol. 75: Garlic will save the world

Good grief, Vol. 75? What do you know about that?

The little rats stole my chalk, so my weekly menu blackboard isn’t telling me anything. Here’s the best I can recall:

SATURDAY
Calzones; birthday cake

We had four extra 13-year-old boys in the house for a sleepover, and the birthday boy requested calzones for dinner. Easy enough! I used premade pizza dough, and divided each ball into four calzones. Roll ’em out, add a scoop of filling, fold the dough over and pinch it closed. We made twenty calzones, plus an extra pizza for weirdos who don’t like calzones, plus a gluten-free pizza for that one guest. This is one of the benefits of being used to cooking for twelve. You  might as well cook for sixteen, and you might as well also make cupcakes, plus special cupcakes, plus this, plus that, why not. Your life is already ruined anyway.


For the filling, I used either eight or twelve cups of shredded mozzarella, probably eight, and 32 oz. of ricotta, plus a bunch of parmesan. After you crimp the edges shut, you can press on them to distribute the filling more evenly. Lay them in a greased pan with space to expand (I put three on a full-sized cookie sheet), and brush with egg wash.

Bake for about 20 minutes in a 450 oven. Serve with warm tomato sauce for dipping.

The cake was just one disaster after another. It was supposed to be chocolate, but I got yellow mix. So I was going to add cocoa powder, but we were out. So I told him I’d make chocolate frosting. Then I somehow bought cream cheese frosting. Then I reversed the colors on the design by mistake; then the sugar sheets I bought were too dry to use, so I piped in the designs with frosting in a sandwich bag that I bit a hole in.
But, I did NOT spell his name wrong.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the cake I was trying to copy and the cake I eventually presented to my beloved son:

Ehhh, whaddaya whaddaya. He liked it. We also made a Super Smash Ball pinata, which turned out just as malformed and blobby as the cake, even though a Smash Ball is just a round ball with different colors all over it. He liked that, too. We like him!

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SUNDAY
Spaghetti carbonara; salad; garlic bread; ice cream sundaes

Unaware that the Solemnity of St. Joseph was moved to Monday, we went ahead and celebrated with bacon and ice cream on Sunday. A not-great photo of a terrifically yummy meal here:

If you’re not familiar with carbonara, it’s easy and wonderful. You fry up some bacon and cut it into bits, then cook up a bunch of pasta. Drain it, add in the bacon and a truly ridiculous amount of parmesan, butter, and tons of pepper, and mix it up. Then, you stir in a bunch of raw egg, which cooks itself right onto the strands of pasta, melding with the cheese and the bacon. Heavenly.

Here’s the recipe from Fannie Farmer. Please note that the very next recipe is for Spaghetti with Lima Beans. This shows that even the great Fanner Farmer has her limitations.

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MONDAY
Beef barley soup; garlic knots

A tiny bit disappointing, but I’m not sure why.
I cut up the beef (chuck roast or something) into cubes and sauteed it in the Instant Pot along with diced onions and garlic. When it was almost all browned, I added diced carrots, a can of diced tomatoes and juice, some beef broth and red wine, and most of a little pouch of mixed grains.

I couldn’t find barley anywhere, and last time I asked a stock boy for help, he was a huge jerk about it, and I was mad for ten days. I just want barley! You work at a supermarket! Do you even understand that you wouldn’t have a job if people like me didn’t need things like barley? Maybe I’ll just go home without buying anything, and then you can have your ideal work day of nobody bringing money into your place of employment! That seems like a solid business model! Jerk.

I pressed the “soup” button, because I was making soup and feeling belligerent, and didn’t feel like checking if that’s how you’re supposed to do it. Looking back, there was a lot of belligerent cooking this week. Hence all the garlic, I guess.

The soup was fine; it just didn’t live up to the Platonic ideal of beef barley soup, and this grieved me. Should’ve added more garlic.

For the garlic knots, I used readymade balls of pizza dough. Cut each ball into twelve pieces, roll them into snakes, tie them in a knot, and top each one with garlic or garlic powder, parmesan cheese, and a little salt. Bake on a greased pan at 425 for . . . I dunno, eleven minutes. Always a hit.

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TUESDAY
Hot dogs; cucumber salad

There are suddenly these giant, beautiful cucumbers for really cheap, so I bought . . . kind of an inappropriate number of giant cucumbers. They just looked good, okay?

Tito Edward’s eye just started ticcing, and he doesn’t even know why.

I sliced them pretty thin and mixed them with a dressing made of plain yogurt, tons of minced garlic, a little lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and salt. Wish I had had some parsley and red onions. It was tasty and interesting, although it probably wasn’t necessary to add nuclear holocaust levels of garlic; but I’ll probably do it again next time.

I took a picture, which I’m adding only because I forgot to take a picture of the next meal, which was actually good to look at.

The other day, my son woke up and couldn’t find any clean jeans or khakis, so he was forced to put on dress pants. He evened it out by wearing a ratty T-shirt.

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WEDNESDAY
Pepperoncini beef sandwiches with provolone; french fries; raw stringbeans

A swell and laughably easy meal in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.

You just dump a hunk of beef in, empty a jar of pepperoncini in with the juice, and let it cook until it’s tender. I’ve always made this dish in the slow cooker, and it comes out ready to fall apart, like pulled pork. This time, I used the “slow cook” button on the IP, which runs for four hours. It wasn’t quite done when I checked, so I pressed the button again, and let it run for another hour-and-a-half. It wasn’t shreddy, but nicely tender, so I sliced it. I think I prefer it that way. Less time probably would have worked even better.

I forgot to cut the tops off the peppers before adding them to the pot, so it was only mildly spicy.

I served the meat on ciabatta rolls with sliced provolone and horseradish sauce. Tragically, I had snacked so much before dinner, I wasn’t hungry enough to eat it. But it smelled fab-u-lous.

Stringbeans finally look decent again. Just popped the stems off and served them raw. Spring is coming, dammit. We can have juicy green things again.

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THURSDAY
Roasted chicken on salad; grapes

We were home for a total of about eleven minutes on Thursday, so it’s a miracle I got dinner made. I doused the chicken breasts with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and shoved them under the broiler for 25 minutes or so, then sliced it up and served it on bagged greens. Bagged greens will save the world.

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FRIDAY
Eggs and risotto and . . . frozen peas? Salad? Maybe green peppers?

It’s been a week without risotto so far! This aggression will not stand, man. (For more on risotto and how it alone can justify the purchase of an Instant Pot, see last week’s post.)

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What’s for supper at your house? What’s the longest you can go without garlic?