What’s for supper? Vol. 5: Shut up, bouillon cubes. You don’t know me.

What’s for supper? Vol. 5: Shut up, bouillon cubes. You don’t know me. September 18, 2015

whats for supper

First, I just wanted to check in with you guys, because I worry.

The last thing I wanted to do was make one more place on the internet where women go to feel bad. That’s not what these posts are, are they? It was just supposed to be a place to talk about food: the triumphs, the tragedies, the baloney sandwiches. Not a place to feel bad!

If you don’t feel like listing/aren’t capable of remembering/are too ashamed to admit what you ate this week, here’s a quick way to participate, without even going into your weekly menu:



What is the kitchen task you absolutely hate, whether there’s a good reason or not?

Me? I hate unwrapping bouillon cubes. Maybe it’s because if I’m making some kind of meal that requires broth, I feel like it should be quick and easy because I’m cheating by using bouillon cubes; but it’s impossible to unwrap ten bitsy little cubes quickly, and I resent every last second of it.

The solution is, of course, to buy powdered bouillon, but I don’t want to, okay?
The other solution is . . . BENNY!

food blog bouillon
Benny loves to unwrap bouillon cubes. I recommend getting a Benny of your own. In other news, this is the week I finally started going to therapy, because I’ve decided that forty years of getting overwhelmed by things like unwrapping bouillon cubes is about enough. (Probably doesn’t help that my mug says “Looks like it’s time to hang it up!” Shut up, mug. You don’t know me.)

And now, onto the weekly menu.



When Iron Man says, “I don’t know what shawarma is, but I’ve always wanted to try it,” I thought, “Me, neither. And ME TOO!”

Most days, I’m the lady in black tights mopping up (except that I never mop), but this Saturday, we all got to be the Avengers.

Oh, the shawarma. You guys, it was easy to make, and it was one of those foods that makes you feel like your head is going to fall off because it just can’t handle this level of deliciousness, but you pull yourself together because you made ten pounds of it but it’s going fast.

food blog shawarma
I was so disappointed in how this picture turned out. It just looks like food lying on a plate. The reality was . . . so much more.

I used this recipe from the New York Times Cooking page: Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma. True shawarma is meat roasted on a spit, but it’s hard to imagine it tasting any better than this. I didn’t have any tumeric, but the internet tells me you can live without tumeric, and so we did.

The recipe for fried eggplant, it turns out, is basically this: Take some eggplant, and fry it. For a few more details, here’s the recipe I used, from “Almost Turkish Recipes.”
The sauce for the eggplant, which was also great on the shawarma, was plain yogurt with some mayonnaise mixed in, plus fresh garlic and lemon juice.

I had to restrain myself from buying anything that looked delicious and vaguely middle eastern, but I settled for several kinds of olives, chopped cucumbers, triangles of pita, and a hummus party tray from Aldi. It really could have used some feta cheese, and something with tomatoes to go with all the spicy, savory and creamy stuff. Either just tomatoes, or a tomato-based sauce.

We were a little baffled about dessert. Something authentic would probably have involved dates or sesame seeds, and no one was too enthusiastic about that. So we went with root beer floats. Perfect.

This is definitely going on the rotation. It’s fairly time-consuming (especially since I had ten pounds of chicken thighs to skin, bone, and trim), and you need to plan ahead to marinate everything, and the side dishes got pricey in large quantities; but everyone loved it, and in would be fantastic for a dinner party. We ate every last scrap.



Saturday was one of those “I’m glued to the steering wheel” days, so I threw the Fannie Farmer meatball recipe at my 14-year-old daughter and her friend, and they did a great job turning five pounds of meat into 80 meatballs, which we served on rolls with jarred sauce and fried onions. Fried green peppers would have been good, too, but we ran out of time.

food blog meatballs and onions

Rather than frying up the meatballs, I put them on broiler pans and cook them at 400. It’s much easier and faster if you’re making a lot, and the grease drains off, and you don’t fill the kitchen with smoke. They also keep their round shape, which is important to me for some reason.

food blog meatballs

If you are feeling ambitious, the greatest meatball recipe in all the world is from Henry Hill from Goodfellas. Damien makes these sometimes, and they are heavenly, assuming heaven involves meatballs, which it does.



Great make-ahead dinner. Already-cooked ham was 89 cents a pound, so I bought a big one and sliced it up ahead of time and put it in a casserole dish to be reheated. Made about eight pounds of mashed potatoes and put that in another casserole dish to be reheated. Two bags of frozen string beans, and you have a dinner that looks like dinner is supposed to look, even though I was on the radio at dinner hour.

A nice way to cook string beans is to steam them, then toss with pepper, lemon juice, and sliced almonds. Easy and delicious.



This is a “You guys go eat, Mama’s going to go lie down and let the baby hit me in the face for a while” meal. Does the trick.

mama and corrie are tired



Because it’s fall, so we can have soup! 87 degrees, but still, fall!

I make soup all wrong, but I don’t care. Also, I used steak instead of stew meat, because it was cheaper. To satisfy my thrill-seeking gene, I play fast and loose with rules about cuts of meat.

Basic beef barley soup recipe:

2 lbs beef
two carrots
one large onion
six cloves of garlic
two small cans of diced tomatoes
3/4 cup wine
eight cups of beef broth
red wine
about a pound of mushrooms
2/3 cup uncooked barley

I diced the meat and threw it in a heavy pan with some olive oil, diced onions, diced carrots, and crushed garlic.
When the meat was almost done, I put it in a pot, and added a bunch of beef broth, some water, two cans of diced tomatoes with the juice, and a few glugs of wine, plus sliced mushrooms, then let it simmer all day.
About 40 minutes before dinner, I added the barley, then seasoned it before serving.

Remember, barley isn’t like rice or pasta — it needs extra time to get tender. This soup is also great with farro, or you could add small pasta, like orzo, or even rice.
This does NOT need extra salt, because the broth is salty; but lots of pepper and maybe some red pepper flakes are nice. You could also add celery, string beans, or whatever vegetables you have lurking about.

food blog beer bread

Here’s the recipe for beer bread. This turns out great every single time. I mixed the dry ingredients ahead of time, and added the beer right before it was time to put in the oven, so it felt like it took no time at all to make.

Benny saw me pour a half cup of butter over the batter, and said, “Oh, dat is beautiful.” Dat’s my girl.



Another “Mama’s dying; here’s some meat” day. This time, one of my other teenage daughters saved the day.
Slice up a bunch of pork, saute it, drain the juice, steam a bunch of frozen veggies, mix them together with some bottled teriyaki sauce, and serve with white rice.

food blog stir fry

She took this picture. Is it just me, or do those fancy-cut carrots look like they’re looking down on me? Shut up, carrots. You don’t know me.



This is what’s on the menu today.

Tuna burger recipe:
One can of tuna, drained, plus half a cup of bread crumbs and one beaten egg.
Mix together, form into two patties, fry in a little oil.

Dense and serviceable; suitable as bachelor chow. I’m sure you can fancy this up in some way with chives or what have you, but I’ll let you figure that out.

I noticed that last week, the InLinz link-up didn’t include thumbnails, and you had to click through to see other links. That’s what I get for not reading the fine print. Should be fixed now! Thanks to everyone who forged ahead and left a link anyway. I am really enjoying these windows into other people’s kitchens. Because I like to look into other people’s windows. Shut up, you don’t know me!

Leave a comment or a link, and don’t forget to link back here! And don’t let the bouillon cubes get you down. They don’t know you.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Amanda

    I don’t stress! I have little shame, even if I pretend to be embarrassed about food choices. To answer the question, I hate breaking down/doing anything with bone-in chicken. Just hate it. I even hate working with boneless skinless chicken thighs because there’s still so much fat and vein clumps to trim. It just grosses me out. So I cop out most of the time and buy boneless skinless chicken breasts, minimal fattiness to deal with. I really like the looks of the chicken shawarama recipe though and will try it the next time I end up buying chicken thighs because they’re on sale and chicken breasts are not and even though I hate working with them I only buy sale meat.

    Our week in meals:

    Saturday: Loaded Baked Potato Chicken

    Sunday: meant to actually make real dinner, but it ended up being a frozen chicken nuggets and french fries tossed in the oven night.

    Monday: Made my burgers with goat cheese, green chiles, and candied bacon again with a side of homemade crispy potatoes and corn on the cob.

    Tuesday: Was supposed to be a crockpot recipe, but ran out of time to actually get everything in the crockpot so I pulled out the rest of the meatballs from the freezer, whipped up the sauce, and we did meatball subs again.

    Wednesday: The recipe I meant to make Tuesday: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2011/10/crock-pot-asian-pork-with-mushrooms.html My husband was very enthused about this one. I did add in spinach at the end, I retained and served all the broth (wasn’t sure why I would get rid of it, it was delicious), we served it over rice noodles, and topped with chopped green onions and sriracha (no cilantro, we don’t like it).

    Thursday: This recipe for Italian sausage quiche: http://www.cooks.com/recipe/cl1o49ra/italian-sausage-quiche.html. Was pretty good, tasted more like a breakfast dish than dinner but that’s fine. The crescent roll dough made it taste kind of sweetish but it wasn’t terrible. Also had a caesar salad from one of those bagged kits on the side; the more bitter taste of the lettuce just made the main dish taste even sweeter so I probably wouldn’t serve a salad as a side if I made this again.

    Friday: We’re going to see how the Catholic young adult group in our area likes us bringing our toddler with us to a happy hour meetup at a bar and grill. :-p It’s open to married as well as single, and we’re all Catholic and presumably pro-life/pro-family, so hopefully no one minds the kid. No family or friends to babysit nearby and we’d both like to get out in this new area we’ve just moved to and meet people. So dinner will probably be some variety of happy hour appetizer specials like spinach artichoke dip and pretzel bites dipped in cheese.

  • Reading this comment about meatballs, I want to affirm the clear and everlasting teaching of the Church that there will indeed be meatballs in heaven. (And a lake of beer)

    Thanks for a fun post.

  • Find some decent rolls.
    Slice and put pesto on each side.
    Put a little spinach (previously frozen), a cooked chicken breast, and a slice of provolone in the bun.
    Wrap in foil and put in oven for ~10-15 minutes.
    Pull them out and tell the kids to put some sliced tomato in them before eating.

  • Lydia

    I was very proud of my not quite Rosh Hashana crockpot pot roast. Unexpected relatives threw off all my plans, so on Monday I dried up some onions with chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano and thyme and spread it on a chuck roast. I mixed ketchup, beef broth and Heinz chili sauce together and poured it over everything and several hours later there was a vaguely celebratory hunk of meat. I also made challah, because it’s been a year since I made it and my seven year old reeeeeaaaallly wanted some. I served it with a big salad and roasted potato wedges, which were made by tossing the wedges with olive oil, garlic powder, lemon juice and a bit of Parmesan. The meat served for the base of shepherds pie the next day, and we had leftover pie the day after that. I’m definitely making shawarma! That sounds amazing.

  • Suzanne Emery Andrews

    Fell off the dinner planning wagon this week, but I don’t feel bad a bout it. Will try next week maybe with that awesome looking Shawarma–and I already have turmeric!

  • I love barley soup! Thank you for that recipe.

  • Eileen

    These posts might stress me out a little, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I do need to up my culinary game a bit and putting our weekly meals out there keeps me honest. On weeknights, my husband normally eats two or three hours after the rest of us and genuinely doesn’t care if he eats reheated dinner or just pulls some chicken salad out of the fridge. And the boys would be happy to eat processed crap every night so reporting my meal plan has been a good thing for us.

    Saturday: My husband and I went to Chili’s. Kids grazed at home.
    Sunday: I made one of my favorites – roast beef w/ potatoes au jus and roasted asparagus. Really only 3 of us love this, so there was tons of meat left over. Tastykakes for dessert.
    Monday: I bought some kaiser rolls and we had either hot roast beef (w/gravy from a jar) or chicken salad sandwiches. I made cheese fries, topped with my new BFF’s the Costco Bacon Crumbles. Cole Slaw for our green
    Tuesday:Chicken and broccoli in a white sauce. Didn’t have cream or half and half so I just used 2% milk. Sauce is a little thinner, but it’s fine. For the boys, I served it with pasta to stretch the meal out – teenage boys eat like horses, but my husband and I don’t need the carbs. I also mixed in one of those jars of Barilla white sauce with the pasta..
    Wednesday: Shake and Bake chicken with rice a roni. This is a perennial favorite in our house. I served a spinach salad with some tomatoes from our garden, which only my husband and I and one of our sons ate.
    Thursday: Chicken vegetable stir fry. It looks a lot like the pork stir fry in the picture. I precook my chicken so it literally takes about 10 minutes to throw together this meal. By popular demand I made cheese fries for the boys again.
    Friday: Probably frozen pizza for the kids. My husband and I are going to a beef and beer fundraiser.

    My least favorite cooking task is a repetitive job that must be done standing up. Like frying bunuelos or ChickFilA copycat nuggets. Ugh, I must have bad posture because my back ends up hurting.

  • Jenna

    Thing I hate: cleaning up. But I like having a clean kitchen. sigh.

    We’re vegetarian, and this is what our week looked like:

    Saturday: homemade pizzas – various veg. toppings
    Sunday: veg chili and a baguette – since it’s September and we can and all
    Monday: 3-Bean Loaf (that I had made ahead and defrosted the night before), salad
    Tuesday: pumpkin and rice soup
    Wednesday: Veggie and chickpea curry on rice with naan
    Thursday: pumpkin/corn/chickpea risotto
    Friday: cheese tortellini, various veg.

  • Not making me feel bad 🙂 Actually I feel empowered to fess up to our nights of hot dogs and ramen soup, because I see other families sometimes have nights like that too. A famous secular parenting blogger just shared a photo of her kids eating chocolate cereal for dinner. It’s all good feelings and inspiration in my opinion!

  • TheReluctantWidow

    This week

    Monday: I forget.

    Tuesday: Lemon Rosemary chicken thighs with Parmesan & butter spaghetti with steamed broccoli, prepped ahead of time by me and cooked up by my 14-yr old son.

    Wednesday: Grandma’s Mac-n-Cheese (my grandma’s recipe), peas sauteed in olive oil with onion, steamed broccoli & cauliflower.

    Thursday: Hot dogs on buns with steamed broccoli. Are you seeing a theme on the veg? Broccoli is the one veg that all my kids will eat.

    Friday: We are going to Jersey Mike’s (sub shop). It’s been a week.

    Saturday: Taco soup with tortilla chips. Using this recipe http://allrecipes.com/recipe/13336/taco-soup-iv/

    • Eileen

      We’re a broccoli heavy family too! Some weeks we have it every night except Friday (pizza night). The only other green veggies all my kids will eat are peas (if they’re mixed in with corn and carrots) and maybe celery, but some of them will only eat that with peanut butter.

  • Tori

    I really, really hate processing bone-in meat. Just despise it. I’ve done it for years because frugality, but the time it takes just feels like such a waste of my precious hours right now. So I’ve been getting a lot more boneless meat lately, and it does show in the budget 🙁 On the other hand, I love the nice pile of cubes boneless, skinless breasts make vs. the sad little pile of thigh scraps that make me go “That’s it???” when I’m done.

    Our week in Food!

    Saturday: Rotini with sausage and tomato cream sauce. Like the Williams Sonoma recipe, but much less fancy. Plus salad. http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/cavatappi-with-sausage-and-tomato.html?cm_src=RECIPESEARCH

    Sunday: Baked Ziti at my parents’ house.

    Monday: Red beans and rice with smoked sausage. Which did include veggies, though my week was really week on veggies.

    Tuesday: Leftover Ziti, hooray for leftovers.

    Wednesday: Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.

    Thursday: Scarborough Faire chicken and rice. Four guesses why I call it that 😉 It is pretty much the same as what I use for Chicken and biscuits. And Chicken pot pie. Because we have an Ariadne and it was St. Ariadne’s feast day, I made an apple crisp. We don’t normally do dessert during the week but I’m trying to make little exceptions.

    Friday: Cheater’s Chiles Rellenos, because stuffing each one is the pits. I bread and fry the roasted chiles, then layer them in a casserole dish with cheese. So much easier. http://going-greene.blogspot.com/2013/08/cheaters-chile-rellenos.html

    • Amanda

      Literally, as I was reading the first couple sentences of this post I thought, “Wait, disqus screwed up, that’s my post, that’s what I wrote!” lol. Processing bone-in meat is the worst!

      • Tori

        Haha! It really is the worst.

  • Elizabeth Nichols

    I love hearing what other families do. I have Celiac Disease, so we eat gluten free/ I eat gluten free. Least favorite kitchen task: cleaning the oven and trying to clean grout. I do clean the oven a few times a year, but it isn’t self-cleaning, so it just never gets that clean. I’ve basically given up on the grout, just focus on cleaning the tile,but once a year during lent I get on my hands and knees and scrub scrub scrub.
    Saturday: Beef tacos with lots of toppings, salad (because we had guests who were a little anti-taco, I think)
    Sunday: On our way back from the 40th anniversary of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s canonization in Maryland we stopped at Wegmann’s (is that how you spell it?) and I ate very random mix of anything I could find that was gluten free. Kids had sandwiches and fruit, husband ate sushi.
    Monday: Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s Stir fry chicken with peppers, carrots and pineapple over rice. Made double and froze some for extra points. 🙂

    Tuesday: Porkchops pan fried with butter, salt and pepper, and Rachel Ray’s Creamy corn. I personally find her very annoying and yet her recipes are usually really delicious. This one is sautéed red bell pepper, celery and onion, add corn with some cream or half and half and thyme, sweet and savory.
    Wednesday: Hot dogs, baked beans from a can, fruit
    Thursday: Left overs and some people wanted soup, too, so we added tomato soup. Pacific brand makes gluten free tomato soup! Yay!
    Friday: Pasta from a box, tomato sauce from a jar, green beans which no one ate.
    Thanks to everyone else who posts! This series has been very helpful to get me thinking and motivated and also not ashamed to admit that, yes, hot dogs are part of our regular rotation of dinners.

    • Eileen

      If I ever cleaned my oven, I’d probably hate it too. 🙂

      • Elizabeth Nichols

        Haha. Your comment was a much needed light note at the end of a loooong day.

  • Maurisa Mayerle

    Oh my goodness! Thanks for the barley soup recipe. My husband will love it! I really hate the actual menu planning and grocery shopping process. But, we’ve gotta eat, right?

    • Leah Joy

      I don’t know–I keep saying that life would be so much simpler if we just didn’t eat, but I keep getting outvoted. . .

  • Anna

    I keep trying to convince the 3 y-o that those bouillon cubes aren’t chocolates. He’s into smelling everything in the pantry right now and I can never find any of my spices and extracts. I loathe deboning chicken and usually just end up buying a lot of chicken breast when it’s on sale and freezing it. But when husband brings home the extra roosters from his uncle’s farm, we can’t turn down the free food, even if I wince seeing a leftover feather here and there when I get ready to cook it.
    Sat: burgers grilled by husband. Carrot sticks and watermelon.
    Sun: leftover burgers and fries. The leftovers wouldn’t usually happen, but the older three were down with fever and sore throats (best kind of illness! No bodily fluids!) so they didn’t eat much Sat. or Sun.
    Mon: husband (poor man, once the twins arrived, his wife became useless in the kitchen) fried deer meat and fries. Most kids made sandwiches because for some reason they wouldn’t eat deep fried meat.
    Tues: husband was at the farm, so we had chicken nuggets (the kind from a bag, not the “make your own yummy healthy chicken nuggets!” kind) and apples. Husband picked up a Little Caesar’s pizza on his way home late at night.
    Wed: Pepperjack’s because ballet lessons and p.t. appointments and kids eat for $1 on Wednesdays.
    Thurs: made that Pasta Bracciola that Ezbs posted here a couple weeks ago and everyone loved it and garlic and bacon ftw. And we had carrot souffle and watermelon and brownies. So, a dinner that actually was a real dinner and I made it!
    Fri: back to usual form, shells and cheese from a box and tomato soup from a can. Leftover carrots and apple slices too.
    I love this weekly affirmation and I want to try that shawarma. My kids surprised me by loving curried chicken when I made that last winter, so that recipe might go over well too.

  • Rebecca Anderson

    I hate grating cheese. I don’t like cheese (except melted on pizza). It’s the texture, the smell, the way it gets under your fingernails. Plus it takes foooooorrrrreeevvverrrr.

    • Amanda

      Good one, I forgot about it. I love cheese, and I wholeheartedly believe freshly grated cheese tastes better, but man do I hate grating it. Cheese is freshly grated for only very special occasions and reasons, otherwise I buy the big bags of already shredded cheese, despite the fact that they’re vaguely stiff and powdery from the anti-caking agents added in.

  • stacie

    This all sounds amazing! Also, I’m not sure I’m ready for my own Benny, but I would be grateful to borrow yours occasionally, if she’s got time in her busy schedule to unwrap bouillon cubes for me. 🙂

  • Karyn

    I got stuck on the five pounds of meat for the meatballs. Right now, my six kids are 12 and under, so I can still get away with two pounds of beef most of the time. But I guess not for long and not with at least one more baby on the way. I’m just not going to think about how to pay for that much food 😛

    Simcha — how about a “what’s for breakfast and/or lunch” edition?

    • Rebecca Anderson

      Yes! It’s school holidays here in Australia and they’re not happy to eat two pieces of fruit / sandwich / treat at home…

  • Cordelia

    Benny always steals the show! My two-year-old, Thomas, just discovered how much fun it is to peel off the papery skins of onions.

  • Lani

    Shwarma and beef bread recipes sound great! Already printed for future use!

    Our week’s meals:

    Saturday: Don’t remember

    Sunday: Sweet and Sour chicken (not good)

    Monday: Shrimp pasta in tomato cream sauce

    Tuesday: Clam Chowder (America’s Test Kitchen Quick Clam Chowder; really delicious!)

    Wednesday:Chickpea spaghetti

    Thursday: Our Favorite Baked Mac and Cheese (from Epicurious)

    Friday: Crab cakes and tomato risotto. The crab cakes were a disaster. Will not make them again.

  • CatherineS

    I think these posts are great! They are giving me lots of ideas. Please keep it coming. The kitchen task I most hate is peeling garlic

    • calvinandhobbesforever

      Agreed! I do it with my fingers and then my nails stink of garlic for days, no matter how much scrubbing I do.

  • calvinandhobbesforever

    I get so defeated abou meat that isn’t chicken or ground beef. Somehow it doesn’t cook right for me, and I have neither the time nor the money to make roasts except for holiday dinners. But those tuna patties? Yeah that’s talkin my language.

  • Suzanne Emery Andrews

    I hate, hate, hate cutting up or otherwise dealing with raw chicken. That’s my least favorite kitchen task.

  • I enjoyed this more than I thought I would! I miss cooking….!
    And OH! The BULLION CUBES! I used to hate peeling them, too, until my mother showed me a trick where you take a wide, flat knife (or anything that you can crush things with) and press them until they are semi-flat (or at least slightly smooshed instead of hard.) Don’t smoosh them all the way, or you’ll get a powdery mess! BUT, when they are slightly crushed, they are easier to peel, and being a bit softer I believe they dissolve easier as well!!!
    File that away for when Benny demands a wage hike 🙂

  • Erica S

    I love how preschoolers have a thing for unwrapping bullion cubes. My Lena does the same thing and I love her for it. Also, I’m really enjoying these posts.

  • JoAnn

    I love the look of concentration on Benny’s face. Little kids are great that way. My mother always broiled the meatballs (she’s Sicilian), and so do I. I use “fresh” Italian bread that I pulverize in the food processor — I use about 1/2 loaf (8 oz loaf, that is) per pound of meat. As you said, it gets them all done quickly, the fat drains off into the broiler pan, and they keep their shape. I also don’t cook them all the way through, since they’ll be cooking in the sauce for another hour or two. The beef barley recipe looks awesome. Your picture with Baby Cornelia is also adorable. I love reading your posts!

  • Nancy Nurse

    I don’t see any mention of crock pots!! Honestly, they come really big, and save so much time and work. and as for the meatballs staying round, since they simmer so gently in the crock pot, they stay together. and if you want to make shredded pork sandwiches, just buy a butt pork roast, dump it raw into the crock pot, covered in jarred BBQ sauce…then just pull it out, and shred or slice it..easier to shred though, since it usually falls apart. you can “Hawaii” it up, by adding some crushed pineapple, and in the last hour, some cut up red bell peppers. If you put the bell peppers in too soon, they melt..oh, and you can add sliced red onions when ypu dump in the pork