What's for Supper?

What’s for Supper, Vol. 69: Instant Pot! Superbowl recipes! and stomach bug.

If I had to sum up this week in single word, it would be: I tried.

SATURDAY
Grilled chicken and salad

chicken-and-salad

Mr. Husband made this while I did something or other, probably drawing kittens on the backs of Corrie’s hands, or maybe just drinking. Under my evil influence, he cracked open another box or two of stolen poor person’s bacon and sprinkled that over the salad. It tastes a little bit better each time, if you were wondering.

I would like you to notice that, in an attempt to dress up this terrible, terrible food photo, I spread some paper bags under it. Then I moved them around a little to hide the bar codes, and then I decided I would just eat my food.

SUNDAY
Pork roast; oven roasted potatoes; cole slaw

I stabbed the pork all over, decided I was too lazy to mess around with garlic cloves, and rolled the meat around in Goya Mojo Criollo Marinade and let it wallow all day. We cooked it at 375 for a couple of hours and sliced it up.  Look how juicy! The flavor went right through to the middle, yum yum.

pork-potatoes-cole-slaw

The potatoes are mixed up with oil and some standard seasonings and slid into the oven for forty minutes or so.

Lena made cole slaw, which was a tiny bit of an odd pairing with the pork and potatoes, but it’s such a good, snappy cole slaw recipe, there will always be a spot on my plate for it.

MONDAY
Chicken burgers, chips, salad

Probably someone somewhere could think of something to say about this meal, but not me, not now.

Oh, wait! It is good with horseradish sauce. There.

TUESDAY
Fish tacos; tortilla chips

Irene careened into the kitchen on roller skates and started flailing around, knocking all the fish to the floor. But it was all right, because, she explained, it was already battered.

irene-fish

This February vacation, she’ll be bussing tables in the Catskills. Please tip generously, and let us know if you hear anything.

Fish, shredded cabbage, avocados, salsa, sour cream, and lime juice on flour tortillas. Can’t believe I went my whole life without knowing fish tacos were a thing.

fish-taco

I had cilantro, too but it mysteriously rotted away into pulp.
UPDATE: Corrie turned the refrigerator to 2, the stinker.

WEDNESDAY
Pizzas

Olive and pepperoni. One briefly and mysteriously burst into flame when all I did was drop it onto the heating coil, sheesh.

pizza-flambe

Oh, check it out: Benny is so good at making pizzas, she is now taking on apprentices.

pizza-apprentice

I know this is a blurry picture, but that expression of overwhelmed-by-cuteness, plus pride, just killed me. Good thing we had Corrie! Benny was born to be a big sister.

THURSDAY
Roast chicken thighs and potatoes; sweet peppers and hummus; chocolate rice pudding

This is the closest thing I came to trying a new recipe this week, and I didn’t come close enough to actually make it.

A dear lady sent me AN EIGHT-QUART INSTANT POT!!!!! It gleams and it is enormous and beautiful. Even Mighty Joe Young is impressed.

corrie-instant-pot-back

I’ve been hearing all about the life-changing magic of pressure cooking, so I was super excited and made plans for this pressure cooker butter chicken recipe. But then I recalled that we had spent the week frolicking with a stomach bug, and tomato sauce and garam masala did not seem like the best choice, not after a week full of things like battered fish and pork in citrus sauce. Not that I ended up making something light and bland instead of butter chicken, but at least there was no tomato sauce.

(I put the chicken thighs in a shallow pan with a bunch of sliced potatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and rosemary, and cooked them at 375 for about thirty-five minutes, then turned on the broiler to brown them up a bit. Very easy and surprisingly tasty.)

I also discovered that I’ve been stockpiling peppers and hummus, so I sliced them all up and made a pretty rainbow pepper plate, thinking my kids would be delighted. I keep forgetting that they are not all four years old.

Anyway, they ate some vegetables.

colored-peppers

The van was in the shop all day, so I had some more time at home and was casting around for something to make in my brand new bella machina. With the ingredients I had on hand, and ignoring ideas like “but that doesn’t go with this meal in the slightest,” I settled on creamy rice pudding.

chicken-potato-peper-rice-pudding

I skipped the raisins because my family are a bunch of inauthentic swine and don’t care for raisins in things, and added some cocoa paste to the milk to give it a mild chocolate flavor. Very nice! Just like rice pudding should be, creamy and fragrant. We ate it warm and claimed it was for Candlemas, whatever that is.

The Instant Pot is FUN. Okay, releasing the steam valve is FUN. I showed the kids lots of pictures of pot lids embedded in the ceiling and pot bases embedded in the countertop, and now they are all properly terrified of it and will let me play with it all by myself.

FRIDAY
I got some heart-shaped pasta, thinking it would please Benny.
I . . . think it did?

benny-pasta-face

Not sure.

***

Okay, so I have TWO questions for you, with some likely overlap.

1.There is that Sportsball thing coming up on Sunday. Hit me up with your favorite Sportsball party recipe, please. I tend to shy away from things like devilled eggs compressed into football shapes, or ham sandwiches trimmed into rectangles and dyed green to look like a football field. My one and only surefire Sportsball recipe is Jalapeno Popper Dip, which is completely disgusting, and has enough calories to light up the Eiffel tower, and you will suddenly notice that you accidentally ate all of it without chewing.

Oh, probably that bacon ranch crack bread stuff we made would go over well, too. This is the kind of food I’m looking for: Food that makes you feel equal parts shame and defiance the whole time you’re gobbling it down, and then it’s so salty that you require beer.

Second question: Whooooo has spectacular Instant Pot recipes for me — things for which the IP is just a godsend? I have been browsing through all the sites, and I joined a group, but you are the ones I trust. Main dishes, side dishes, veggies, soups, desserts, I want to know!

And finally, thanks again to the dear lady who sent me the Instant Pot! I would like you to know that, as I was reading through the manual, Corrie took a look under the lid, stuck her face right into the shiny inner pot, and then shouted with delight, “It ME!”

corrie-instant-pot-reflection

I don’t know how I’m ever going to top that dish, but I will try.

What's for Supper?

What’s for supper? Vol. 68: A peaceful transfer of power, yum yum

At least we still have food.

I cooked my little heart out this week. No particular reason. Next week, it’ll be all hot dogs and heavy drinking, and then we’ll see who transfers what.

Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Bagel, egg, cheese, and sausage sandwiches, frozen hash browns

 

bagel-sandwiches

Great meal for a busy day. I love it.

SUNDAY
Broccoli, cheese, chicken pockets, French onion soup

broccoli-cheese-pockets

There was a recipe, but I made a ton of substitutions, so I’ll just tell you how I made it.

Put oil, salt, and pepper on some chicken breasts and roast them, then slice them.
Cut broccoli into small florets and steam them.
Mix together a tub of French onion dip, a few cups of shredded cheddar cheese and 3/4 cup of pepper jack, and about 1/4 cup of mayo.
Mix the broccoli and chicken in with the cheese mix, then stuff pita pockets with the mixture. (If you open the pita pockets by cutting them open in a straight line, they are more likely to tear, so cut them in a curved line.)

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat up some oil in a skillet and fry the pockets on both sides just until the pita bread is golden brown. Then move the pockets onto a pan in the oven and heat them up until the cheese is melty and nice.

This recipe would make a lot more sense if you already had leftover chicken, which I did not. Kind of a pain in the neck to do all those steps, but it sure tasted good. The kids didn’t like them, probably because I worked hard on them.

We also had sorta French onion soup. I should have done more than glance at the recipe, and I used chicken broth instead of beef, which was a mistake. I forgot to add sugar, and I couldn’t find any cheese, and I was too lazy to make croutons. Still, I spent over an hour hanging out in the afternoon sun, babysitting a heap of onions as they cozied up with melted butter. I regret nothing.

MONDAY
Zuppa Toscana, pumpkin bread

zuppa-toscana

See how it shines? That’s how soup is supposed to look. A shining soupy on a hill.

I fried up some sweet sausage (after squeezing it out of the casings, blushing faintly and calling upon Paul VI for aid and comfort) and fried it up with diced onions and minced garlic. Then I added in some diced up bacon (I still have five boxes of Christmas bacon that I now refuse to give to the poor. Let them start a tax-free savings account and withdraw their bacon from that, the lazies) and some thinly-sliced potatoes with the skin on. Red potatoes would have been good, but regular Idaho whatever was fine.

Then I added in several cups of chicken broth and let it simmer until the potatoes were soft.
Then a ton of half-and-half, and a bunch of chopped-up kale, and more simmering until the kale was soft. I had some mushrooms, but they didn’t seem quite right for this soup, so I skipped them.
A little salt and pepper at the end, and it was really swell. The bacon was fine, but it didn’t actually add much.

Here’s the recipe for pumpkin bread. The crumbs ran off with my can opener, so I was reduced to chopping the can open with a knife that I tapped with the other can of pumpkin, since the crumbs also ran off with my hammer. (Here are directions for how to open a can with a knife.)

pumpkin-bread-fox-plate
Since I needed one can to open the other can, I could only make one can’s worth of bread. This was actually good luck, because, as I always forget, a single recipe makes three loaves of bread. I sprinkled steel cut oats on the top, which was pleasantly crunchy.

This is a sweet, moist, fluffy bread, really almost cake. I usually reduce the sugar somewhat and put nuts or oats on top, so as to pretend it’s not cake.

TUESDAY
Shakshuka, pita 

Shakshuka has been on my radar forever, so I finally tried it. I guess it is Israeli, or maybe North African.

My husband came home unusually early, just in time to see me stirring feta cheese into the tomato sauce. The skepticism in the air was so thick, you could cut it with a knife and then fry it up with garlic, cumin, paprika, pepper flakes, onions, peppers and tomatoes and stir feta cheese into it, then crack some eggs on top and slide it into the oven, then overcook the eggs by just a minute or two, sprinkle parsley and a little hot sauce on top, and serve with pita.

shakshuka

Even my skeptical husband thought it was tasty, and several kids said it was better than they expected it to be, which is sky high praise. It didn’t rock my world, but it was good, very filling, and cheap. Next time I have the time, I’ll make challah. That would be a splendid meal.

Hey, now we have another meatless meal for the rotation, so that’s a win.

WEDNESDAY
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad

I honestly can’t tell if this meatloaf picture looks amazing or horrifying. Look how it glistens!

 . . . look how it glistensssss . . . 

two-meatloaves

Pictures of food are weird.

I more or less followed the Fannie Farmer recipe (using five pounds of ground beef and two pounds of turkey). Feeling impulsive and jazzlike, I embellished the whole thing with ketchup before I put it in the oven. Baked ketchup tastes good on meat. (This is why you read my food posts: Because I have the guts to say stuff like that.) It’s like meat ketchup taffy. (Too far?)

We also had ten pounds of mashed potatoes, which, to my relief, turned out to be too much. Sometimes I feel like there can be no such thing as enough food, but there can.

Here is Corrie coaching Benny on proper mashing technique:

girls-mashing-potatoes

“It HAHHHT!” she counsels. So young, such wisdom.

THURSDAY
Roast chicken drumsticks, rice made with chicken broth, salad, mangoes

chicken-rice-salad-mango
Nothing thrilling, but I felt very good about going from zero to hot meal with vegetable in about 35 minutes. Mangoes keep being on sale.

FRIDAY

Corrie got into this week’s raw pasta, too, so we’ll see.

 

What's for Supper?

What’s for supper? Vol. 67: Tiramiswho?

It’s a race against time as my battery dies, so never mind the intro, here’s the weekly menu:

SATURDAY
Nachos, root beer floats

Very basic. Tortilla chips, seasoned ground beef, cheese on top, served with sour cream and salsa. No complaints. Oh, I happened to have some cilantro, which I used copiously.

nachos-with-cilantro

I even took some off before taking the picture, because I’m not kidding about the copious, but then I put it on again before eating it. I try hard to taste cilantro as soapy, but it just tastes like freshness, hope, and summertime to me. You are all crazy and I refuse to affirm your stupid life experience.

SUNDAY
Antipasto, fettucine with ragu, garlic bread, tiramisu

Sunday was my husband’s birthday, and he wanted nothing more than to spend the day cooking, so I let him. I also let him take the kids sledding. My generosity is boundless.

The antipasto dish was nothing inspired, just some fresh mozzarella, dry salami, and olives and marinated artichoke hearts, served with pita chips.

The ragu, however, was completely amazing. He used two pounds of ground pork and one of beef, and by the time it was done cooking, the meat was velvety. You will read this recipe and think, “Well, this is just a meat sauce,” but it’s not. Try it, trust me. It’s heavenly.

ragu

 

You could almost feast on the smell alone, but then you also get to eat it! This picture is so sadly inadequate. The worst thing about winter is that by the time it’s dinner time, it’s too dark to take a decent picture with my rotten camera. YES, it’s the WORST THING.

Here is the tiramisu recipe he used. He made it the day before, so it soaked all night. Benny helped him by putting on a tutu and licking the beaters.

benny-licking-mixer

He also grated a chocolate bar over the top before serving.

tiramisu

The tiramisu was perfect. Never had better anywhere. I woke up in the middle of the night with a horrible stab of guilt because I forgot to put birthday candles on it, but I suspect I am the only one losing sleep over that.

MONDAY
Beef vegetable soup, beer bread

This was supposed to be beef barley soup, but I forgot to put barley in. It had a great flavor, but it was weird to have an obvious missing ingredient. It was like listening to someone with a not-unpleasant speech impediment. It doesn’t bother you, but it’s hard not to keep noticing it.

I fried up minced garlic with diced onions and carrots in a little olive oil, then added strips of a chuck roast or something, and fried that until it was almost done.
Then I added a can of diced tomatoes, a few cups of beef broth, a bunch of red wine, and a bunch of sliced mushrooms and some pepper, and let be cozy in the slow cooker all day.

We also had two loaves of beer bread, which I got my teenage daughter to make. For reasons I trust I don’t need to explain, we had some leftover chocolate bock (ptui, ptui) in the house. I mean that I trust I don’t need to explain the “leftover,” as in “undrunk,” as in “not ever,” as in “chocolate? Why would you do that to beer?” part. I can explain why it was in the house in the first place, but my battery is dying fast and I don’t have a charger today. So I’ll just give you the recipe and let you know that beer bread tastes fine with chocolate bock, and getting baked for an hour is a fitting sentence for the crime of being chocolate bock.

TUESDAY
Chicken nuggets, baked potatoes, peas

All undercooked! I like to have a theme.

WEDNESDAY
Slow cooker sweet and sour chicken mango wraps, rice

This was my new recipe for the week, from A Year of Slow Cooking. I liked it! I’m predisposed to like this website because she’s got several recipes tagged as “flops,” to warn you away from trying them. I appreciate that approach to cooking and to blogging.

I made one crock with just the jam and soy sauce, for very mild chicken for timid children, and one with all the stuff, jalapenos and ginger and everything. The flavor was great. I took a terrible picture which will probably dissuade you from trying it, but I recommend this dish.

chicken-mango-wrap

It would, as the website says, make a nice light summer meal. I also bought some spinach-imbued wraps for those who can’t see their way to clear to wrapping up meat in lettuce, and those were good, too.

THURSDAY
Quesadillas, chips, carrots

I had “grilled ham and cheese” on the menu, but I bought shredded cheese, apparently thinking of quesadillas, so that’s what we had, because there are always millions of tortillas in the house. Benny insisted on grilled ham. No cheese, just hot bread with ham in it.

FRIDAY
Giant pancake, scrambled eggs

 

BYE, WEEK. I HATED YOU.

And now I have a yen for some new kind of meat soup. Who’s got something exciting for me to try?

What's for Supper?

What’s for supper? Vol. 66: Food is magic

We certainly ate a lot this week! Here’s what we had:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips, carrots and dip

Saturday we were winding up vacation, so we took the kids ice skating and to a Chinese buffet for lunch, where we proceeded to eat so much that most of us swore off food forever. That didn’t last, so we had grilled cheese for supper. For some reason, I took a picture of it.

image4

At the buffet, I thought briefly of viruses and plagues and a citizenry innocent of basic hygiene practices, and then I threw caution to the wind and loaded up on stuffed mushrooms, sushi, and tapioca, because if you’re going to die, you might as well have some stuffed mushroom, sushi, and tapioca first.

It was a pretty good spread, with crab legs, barbequed ribs, and probably more than a hundred other yummy items to choose from, all you can eat. The most popular choice with the kids? That ancient and venerable dish of the far orient: Banana halves with strawberry syrup on them. They also each ate their weight in Oreos.

We had a pretty good time ice skating, but nothing lodges in my mind like last time we went ice skating, about six weeks before Corrie was born:

benny-on-ice

An attendant came over and told us to get off the ice. I almost kissed him.

Here’s Corrie now, with her widdle nose pushed up against the glass.

corrie-watching-ice-skating

She then had hysterics and had to be driven around the byroads of rural Vermont until she fell asleep, and she and my husband hung out in the van while the rest of us did a year’s worth of damage to muscles that we normally don’t even acknowledge.

At home, we salved our pain with hot chocolate and popcorn. Gosh, we eat a lot. Sometimes, I think, “Shouldn’t we be encouraging the kids to learn how to mark happy occasions, respond to strong emotions, and pass the time, day and and day out, with something other than food?” And then I think, “There, there, you seem overwrought. Here, did you know there was leftover goat cheese?”

Look, food is magic. It just is.

SUNDAY
Calzones

Birthday! Damien took the kids sledding at the stupendous sledding hill over by the town dump:

sledding-hill

and then the birthday girl very brilliantly suggested pepperoni and olive calzones for supper.

Yes ma’am! I used three balls of pizza dough to make twelve calzones, and followed this recipe for the filling, only I never heard tell of putting breadcrumbs in calzone filling, so I skipped it.

This is an easy meal, but it takes forever. When you make twelve of them, anyway. The thing to remember about calzones is you can manhandle them pretty badly before they go into the oven (say, if you want to get the cheese distributed more evenly after you have crimped the edges) and they will still puff up beautifully anyway. The other thing to remember is don’t crowd them, because they need room to puff up!

image2

 

YUHM. Heat up a little sauce for dipping, and you have yourself a lovely birthday meal. We also happened to have some salami and muffaletta salad in the house, so those went out too. Would have been better with some bruschetta and maybe some cheese, but it was a good companion dish.

image3

The birthday girl requested cheesecake for dessert, but I thought that would be . . . I’m sorry for what I’m about to say . . . too much cheese for one meal. So we had banana splits instead. With cheese!

MONDAY
Hot dogs, chips, salad

No memory of Monday.

TUESDAY
Pulled pork o’ my heart

We were a little low on beer, so I cooked the pork in the slow cooker with salt, pepper, and a can of Coke. GOOD CHOICE. I hear that Dr. Pepper is also a winner with pork.

I did buy rolls for sandwiches, but then I realized that I could make a sort of pyre of tater tots, pile some juicy pork on top of that, drizzle it with dreadful hot cheese from a jar, scatter some winsome red onions on top, and launch the whole thing off to a toward a delirious dream of the afterlife by blessing it with a final smattering of barbeque sauce. Of course those jerks had loosened the top, so most of the bottle fell out onto my plate, but I did not care. I didn’t even use a fork. Good heavens, it was good.

Food. Is. Magic.

WEDNESDAY
Pork posolish, corn bread

The plan was to make pork posole with this recipe, but it turns out that hominy is some kind of corn, I guess? And not really the same as polenta, which is what I had. Also, I forgot to buy chile peppers. So I made some soup this way:

I fried up a bunch of diced red onion and several diced garlic cloves in olive oil. Then I threw a bunch of leftover pulled pork, a can of drained black beans, a can of diced tomatoes with juice, a can of tomato paste, some cumin and chili powder, and several cups of beef broth, and a little water.

I let it cook for several hours, and then served it with chopped cilantro and sour cream, and some fresh lime juice squeezed over the top. The lime was a great addition. The soup tasted a lot like the chicken tortilla soup I made the other week (duh, lots of the same ingredients), but it was sturdier, almost like a pot roast, and very warming. I was the only one who ate it, of course. The jerks had toast.

There is a photo of this fine soup on my daughter’s phone, but I’m writing this at 11 PM and I don’t want to message her to send it to me, because that would make her phone buzz and would wake her up, and I’m a good mother. Not only do I make them soup, I let them sleep while I write about it. A+ And what do they do? They laugh at me when I get half a bottle of barbeque sauce slopped all over my pulled pork prye. F-.

The cornbread was terrible. I didn’t check the temp and baked it at too low of a heat, so it was dense and mushy. Bleh. I mean, I ate it, but it wasn’t magic.

THURSDAY
Beef and cabbage stir fry, rice, raw broccoli

I love this recipe from Budget Bytes. I made the sauce and shredded the veg ahead of time, and then it went together so fast when we got home stupid late. Very tasty.

image1

Very satisfying, and the ginger, garlic, and sriracha cleared up everyone’s stuffy noses at least for the dinner hour.

FRIDAY
Pastahhhhhhhh?

Corrie has actually taken to eating raw ziti when she can get her hands on it, so we’ll see what’s left.

What’s magic at your house?

What's for Supper?

What’s for supper? Vol. 63: Nuh-no.


SATURDAY
Chicken burgers, chips

Nothing to report. I do remember asking my husband if we should have salad, and he said no, and I took that to mean that we should just sort of avoid vegetables all week. This, we accomplished.


SUNDAY
Gochujang bulkgoki with nori, rice, roast broccoli

This is such a swell recipe. I cut up the pork and set it to marinate the night before, so on Sunday we had our normal busy day and still had a great supper at a normal hour. Here’s the recipe:

per 1.5 pounds sliced pork:

1 bag matchstick carrots
1 white onions sliced thin

5 generous Tbs gochujang
2 Tbs honey
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbs soy sauce
5 cloves minced garlic

Mix the sauce together and then combine it with the meat, carrots, and onions, and then let it sit in the fridge overnight. Then fry it up in a little oil and serve it with rice. You can make nice little bite-sized bundles on your plate with lettuce or nori.

gochujang-plate

And now I have a caucasoid confession: this time, I used way, way less gochujang than the recipe calls for. Some of my kids are super tired of spicy food, and I really wanted them to eat it; so I cut it by a third. Mistake. It was still spicy by kid standards (duh: even a little fermented pepper paste is still fermented pepper paste), but it just tasted so diminished. Never again. I am so sorry.

The broccoli was also not great. I cut it up small and put it on baking sheets with olive oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, and sesame seeds and put it under the broiler. I used too much soy sauce, and it tasted kind of harsh, and damp. Bleh. I mean, it was a pretty good meal, but it could have been so much better!


MONDAY
Pepperoncini beef rolls

Well, all the sadness and regret of the past was washed away with Monday’s meal, also from my friend Elizabeth, who gave me the bulgoki recipe. So you take some cheap chuck roast and put it in a crock pot along with some jarred pepperoncini with the stems cut off. Let it cook all day. And that’s it!

pepperoncini-beef-in-pot

Shred and serve on rolls with cheese and horseradish sauce.

I used potato rolls because they were cheap, but crusty bread would have been even nicer. I put the rolls under the broiler for a minute to toast them up a bit before adding the meat and cheese. I had swiss cheese, which was perfect, but provolone or havarti would be good, too.

pepperoncini-beef-sandwiches

Don’t forget to save some juices for dipping, because he who dips hot sandwiches into meat drippings is happy indeed. So toothsome, so fulfilling, so gratifying for all your senses.

This goes right into the rotation, no question. YUM.


TUESDAY
Taco Tuesday!!

I snuck a pound of turkey meat, which was on sale, in with the beef, and no one noticed.


WEDNESDAY
Sausage, egg, and cheese muffins

I didn’t burn the muffins! I think this might be the first time ever. I also am thrilled all over again with my two-burner nonstick griddle.

muffins-eggs-and-sausages

I can make dinner for twelve in two batches, instead of in five or six. Maybe I was just hungry, but these tasted so good, I was offended all over again when I thought about last time I had breakfast at McDonald’s.


THURSDAY
Chicken Olé! and chips; cake and cake and cake

Chicken thighs were on sale, so I had this great idea to put them in the crock pot with a bunch of jarred salsa verde, and then just sit back and let deliciousness happen.

Cold, hard, chicken facts had other plans.

First, utterly predictably, I had the infuriating job of trying to de-bone piping hot chicken thighs. And then, as I know perfectly well but forgot, thighs don’t really shred very well; they just kind of separate into slabs, and a low, slow heat makes them kind of slimy. Also, the salsa verde got very thin from cooking all day. So I was left with a kind of greenish soup.

We drained the meat and piled it on tortillas with lots of cheese, sour cream, and jarred jalapenos, but it was not great.

chicken-ole

Oh well! It was easy! This would have been a fine combination of flavors; it just wasn’t great in the crock pot. Live and learn. Maybe someday, I’ll look up an actual recipe.

Thursday was my birthday, and my dear husband had a stray use-it-or-lose-it vacation day, so he made a cake with the preschoolers while I loafed around eating Skittles and watching Clash of the Titans.

benny-mama-cake

(Abba, check out the apron! I forgot to tell you, she loves it. She did write a thank-you note, but the picture on it was so alarming and weird, I couldn’t bring myself to send it. She is a strange child.)

The cake came directly out of a five-year-old’s imagination. So cute.

my-cake

Then, my friend Roberta stopped by with the cake and cupcakes from her office party. There was a lot. I let the kids just eat all the cupcakes they wanted all day. I’m telling you, there were a lot of cupcakes. After I decided they had had enough, I made a huge rookie mistake and left the box on the table. So Corrie went back

corrie-cake-2

and, bearlike, helped herself one last time

savaged-cake

I asked her what she was doing, and she explained very earnestly, “I nuh-no, Mama!”

corrie-cake-3

And I believe her. I nuh-no what happened to that giant bag of Skittles, either.


FRIDAY
Says here “spaghetti.” I think I can manage that. 


Oh, I meant to tell you, I found a quite easy recipe that we’re making as token gifts for various people. It’s chocolate caramel crunch almonds from Smitten Kitchen, and you have to scroll way down to the end of the page to get to it. It’s technically candy, but you don’t need a candy thermometer. This recipe won my heart with this line:

Once the liquid has fully evaporated, it will become sandy and you will think something has gone wrong; it has not.

And guess what? It got sandy, and I thought to myself, “Oh, it’s just like she said! I won’t worry, because this is supposed to happen.” Then it stayed sandy for way longer than I thought it should, and I went ahead and thought something had gone wrong after all. But then it changed into caramel. Amazing.

You can get nice, cheap almonds at Aldi, but do not use Aldi chocolate chips to coat the almonds! Aldi chocolate chips do not melt! Weird, but true.

Making or baking anything neat for Christmas? I wouldn’t mind a second recipe to go with the almonds. I was thinking of candy cane fudge, but I’m pretty tired of fudge.

 

What's for Supper?

What’s for supper? Vol. 61: Mango Unchained

According to tradition, I didn’t do a food post last Friday, because it was the day after Thanksgiving and you already know the drill.

For the record, here was our menu:

Turkey with stuffing and gravy
Cheesy mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes stuffed with dates, bleu cheese, and walnuts
Roasted brussels sprouts and butternut squash with a honey balsamic dressing
Hobbit bread
Cranberry walnut bread
Hot rolls (from frozen)
Cranberry sauce
Olives
Apple pie, pumpkin pie, salted bourbon pecan pie, and chocolate cream pie with ice cream and fresh whipped cream
Wine and apple cider
Very nice meal, and the house was packed to the gills with family. We began with a prayer:
kids-table
I wasn’t on the ball enough to send people home with leftovers much, but my father did score a loaf of Hobbit bread, which pleased him:
abba-hobbit-bread
A few cooking tips from this year:

You can make the gravy ahead of time and keep it warm in the crock pot, but don’t count on the crock pot to heat up cold gravy in a few hours! Heat it up first.

My mezzaluna knife justifies its existence through cranberry bread alone. The mixing bowl from my KitchenAid (it’s narrow and has a handle) and this knife keep the nuts and cranberries from bouncing and rolling all over the place.

Also, I can never get zesters to work, so I zested the orange using the fine side of the cheese grater, and then got the zest off by using a pastry brush. Fine, I couldn’t find my pastry brush, so I used a paint brush.

To make light, supple pie dough, freeze the sticks of butter and then grate them into the flour using a cheese grater. It’s so much easier to lightly incorporate it into the flour mixture this way.

I’ve never made chocolate cream pie before, and I’m not a fan of slopping chocolate pudding into a crust, but this recipe was very different: immensely rich, thick, and wonderful. The stirring part takes some patience, but is worth it.

I can’t find the pics I took of our lovely pies, but my daughter made a very pretty effect. For one, she cut out dozens and dozens of simple leaf shapes and laid them out overlapping in concentric circles, so the pie looked like a chrysanthemum. For another, she used a flower cookie cutter and covered the pie with flowers, leaving a few gaps. For the pecan pie, I left a wide lip with the bottom crust, which she snipped into strips with scissors; then she folded the strips over each other in pairs, so they made little x’s all around the pie, like a basket. Here’s a short video with 20 ideas for pie crust:

Before baking the pies, I brushed the crusts with beaten egg yolks, for extra color and shine, and then sprinkled them with coarse sugar.

People with tiny kitchens and no storage space can always have recourse to the dryer.

desserts-on-dryer
I guarantee you, this is more sanitary than the kitchen of a typical four-star restaurant, which yes I have worked in.
My husband, who is usually the Thanksgiving turkey man, had to work part of the day. I hate having to baste the damn thing every half hour when I’m busy running around moaning, “I need another oven! I need another oven!” so I assigned the job to my sons, who are at the perfect age to be . . .
moe-basting
 . . . natural master basters.
Sorry.
As you can see, I cook the turkey breast down for 3/4 of the time, then flip it over and finish cooking it that way. You still get nice, pretty skin, but it’s jucier overall if you let it cook mostly upside down. It does have an “executed frog” look in the oven, though.
I can offer zero “what to do with all that leftover turkey” recipes, because I only bought a 21-pounder, ::shame shame::, so we only had enough leftovers for sandwiches the next day; and then I did what I always do with the meaty carcass: I lost track of it. I think it’s still lurking in the back of the fridge. That’s the smell of Advent in our house: Fresh pine boughs, candles burning gently, and somewhere, somewhere, hidden sheltered in the night, a rancid turkey carcass.
The rest of the week was our normal crazy schedule plus what I can only describe as an extended crisis in my extended family, so we didn’t try anything fancy in the kitchen. I would appreciate any prayers you could spare for resolution! It’s been a very tough year.
Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Aldi pizza

Thank God for Aldi.


SUNDAY
Korean beef bowl, rice, chopped salad

Korean beef bowl from Damn Delicious is such a reliably yummy recipe, and so simple.

Aldi had these chopped salad kits on sale for 75 cents, so I bought three. It had a bag with various chopped-up greens and cabbage, and separate packets of some kind of zesty citrus dressing, plus crunchy noodles and maybe almonds, I forget.

korean-beef-bowl-2

Very flavorful, and a nice change from the usual broccoli or string beans that I usually make for a side with this dish.


MONDAY
Pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw, frozen french fries

Once again, the crock pots are worth the purchase price and counter space just for pulled pork alone. Chuck it in the pot with a can of beer and some salt and pepper and garlic powder, and just walk away.

pulled-pork-crock-pot

I made about 4.5 pounds of pork in two crock pots, and let the kids add BBQ sauce if they wanted.

My cole slaw recipe is here.


TUESDAY
HAM NITE!!!!!!! Also mashed potatoes (we ate ten pounds of potatoes without batting an eye), spinach AND peas

You know what makes an easy meal even easier? Slice up the cooked ham before you heat it up.

ham-sliced-ahead

It warms up faster and you can just throw ham at people without them hounding you while you slice it. And then they go ahead and make Food Santa anyway.

irenes-food-face

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow.
It’s made from a slab of ham fat, you know.


WEDNESDAY
Giant pancake! Sausages, and mangoes.

To cut up mangoes! Here is how you do it: Make your best guess which way the pit is situated, and cut off the “cheeks,” getting as close to the pit as you can. Then take a glass or a metal cup with a thin edge, and use it to scoop the flesh out of the skin, rather than trying to get the skin off the flesh. Then you can trim the skin away from the rest and use a paring knife to cut the rest of the flesh off the pit. You get much more intact fruit this way.

Giant pancake is not something I’m proud of, but it’s an okay  meal in a pinch. Mix up one full box of pancake mix. Dump it into a greased pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or so. You can add whatever you want: cut-up apples, raisins, chocolate chips, honey, cinnamon, etc. You could even stir in some jam, or maybe even sausage bits. Cut into wedges and call it a meal.


THURSDAY
Chicken burgers, chips, carrots and hummus

Every time I make chicken burgers, I remember when I used to remove the breading from chicken burgers because I didn’t need the extra calories. Well, now I do. Winter is coming. It is nature’s way. I need chips, too.


FRIDAY
Ravioli and salad

I intend to boil the ravioli in a big pot of water. Bon appwhatever to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What's for Supper?

What’s for supper? Vol. 60: A good week, and thorough

Hooray for Friday! It only took eleven years getting here. Here’s what we had this week:

SATURDAY
Deli sandwiches for 9 kids at home; a variety of foods for parents and Corrie on the road

On Saturday, we were at the excellent Bridgeport Catholic Women’s Conference, being well-fed spiritually and foodily. Note to other conference organizers: they offered a nice, long breakfast, and then snacks and drinks were available until lunch, and then snacks were available until dinner. That is how you have a women’s conference.

corrie-roll

We weren’t able to stay to hear the third speaker, and Corrie was so buggy that I only heard part of the second speaker, Damon Owens. I went to chat with him afterwards, and said how disappointed I was not to hear the final third of his speech. He said, “Oh, it was like the first two thirds, except louder.” Heh. (Great speaker, by the way. Don’t miss an opportunity to hear him.)

On the way home, we stopped at a restaurant which always intrigued me, because it’s called “The Marina On the Water.” It’s a good name. And thorough! Do they also serve bread rolls, and will the waiter see you to a chair seat in the sitting area?

It turns out that the waitresses were friendly, the water view was spectacular, the food was mediocre, and it cost and arm and a leg and another arm. And Corrie spent most of the time on the foyer and bathroom floor, screaming “NOT NOT NOT, MAMA!” and pouring water into her lap. Here she is in happier times (right after and right before screaming):

corrie-and-mama-restaurant

I think my face conveys something of how much we enjoyed that meal. Anyway, we both ordered grilled swordfish sandwiches with pesto mayo and sweet peppers. I had coleslaw. The overwhelming sensation conveyed by every aspect of our food was: Do not forget that you are in Vermont.

Let’s just say our taste buds not only refused to tingle, they all yawned elaborately and muttered something about turning in early.


SUNDAY
Pan-seared salmon burgers with pesto mayo; sweet potato fries; cole slaw

Yep, I decided to redeem the previous day’s meal, and I succeeded. I bought a dozen of those individually-wrapped, frozen salmon steaks from Aldi (they are wild-caught) and pan-fried them according to this method from The Kitchn. They were swell. Ooh, that crisp seared skin.

salmon-cooking

I mixed tons of bottled pesto into some mayonnaise, and served it on toasted rolls with spinach.

salmon-burgers

My daughter made the coleslaw, nice and tart. Her recipe:

1 cup Mayo
1 cup White vinegar
Half cup Lemon juice
Half cup Sugar
1 head cabbage
A few carrots
4-5 Radishes

Mix wet ingredients.  Add wet to shredded cabbage.  Add sugar and stir.  Grate carrots and radishes and stir in.

Very satisfying meal.


MONDAY
Hamburgers, chips, salad

I have no memory of Monday. On Mondays, my world is restricted to whatever I can see through a clean spot in the grimy windshield of the van.


TUESDAY
Sausage, pasta, and onions with meat sauce and parmesan

As usual, I made enough to feed a battalion of marines. As usual, they ate enough to make an almost-visible dent. I don’t even know why I made this dish.


WEDNESDAY
Grilled Cuban sandwiches

This has been on my list forever. I’ve never had a Cuban sandwich, so I guess we can call this a New England version. First I roasted a pork using this simple, tasty method from Cook The Story (which I will use again. It turned out moist and flavorful, and would have been great as a stand-alone dish.

I used thick sourdough bread, and assembled the sandwiches in this order:
Buttered sourdough bread
Mustard
Swiss cheese
Sliced ham
Roast pork
Pickled peppers
More Ham
More Swiss Cheese
Mustard
Buttered Sourdough bread

I grilled them on both sides, then pressed them hard with cans and grilled them again.

cuban-sandwich

I like how the recipe suggests using a kitchen press, or a brick. I think they are trying to sound tough. “Yeahhh, just grab one’a dem bricks you got lyin’ around yer kitchen, ya know? Or brass knuckles, yeah, dat would do da trick, too.”


THURSDAY
Chicken nuggets, carrots and cukes, hardboiled eggs

I put this one the table and then went to go close my eyes for a minute for three hours. Then I got up, had a mug of wine, and went back to sleep for another eight hours. Don’t hate me. I’m so far behind on sleep, I’d have to spend 23 hours a day sleeping and live to be 125 years old before I got caught up.


FRIDAY
Quesadillas, tortilla chips and salsa, mangoes

That’s the plan, anyway.

Tell me about your lackluster restaurant meals, especially ones you redeemed at home!