What’s for supper? Vol. 12: O mangi questa minestra o salti dalla finestra

What’s for supper? Vol. 12: O mangi questa minestra o salti dalla finestra November 14, 2015

whats for supper


We left for Syracuse on Friday around noon. The first thing I did that morning was say, “What kind of paint?”

What kind of paint, that is, did the dog spill, o son who is knocking on my bedroom door first thing in the morning? And was there any possible way I could wait until the sun was up before I got up and started cleaning up the dog paint tracks that covered four rooms as he dashed around in a guilty panic? Was it, perhaps, tempera paint? Or even watercolors?

It was wall paint. Expensive wall paint, which I had been storing in a cabinet, behind which our dog apparently heard a mouse. And there had been damn near a full gallon of this paint left, and the whole can was lying on its side in a giant puddle while the kids stood around in open-mouthed horror.

dog prints 3

dog prints 2

dog prints 1

The way you clean a giant puddle of paint up, by the way, is with a dustpan. You use it like a scoop, and then you sop up the rest with your worst bath towel, and then with a second towel that is wet and soapy. Then baby wipes. You crawl around the house with baby wipes, scrabbling at the floor like an insane woman and thinking, over and over and over again, “He didn’t even catch the mouse. He didn’t even catch the son of a mother-grabbing mouse.”

And I wasn’t even packed yet, for the five-hour-ride I was planning to take with an eight-month-old baby who hates being in her car seat.

We got going kind of late that morning.

But eventually we did get there. I didn’t get much in the way of pictures from the conference, which was wonderful; but here is one of Corrie in the hotel room, trying to figure out how much to tip the pizza guy:

food blog corrie hotel

My legs only look fat in this picture because I have fat legs.



Kids had Chinese food cooked by my wonderful mother-in-law, Helen Mary. In Syracuse, Damien and Corrie and I had a fabulous meal on Friday, hosted by the conference organizers, of zucchini cakes in a spicy sauce, pea and crab risotto, and salmon with mango and asparagus. The lunch served at the conference itself was really nice, too. Grilled chicken on greens with apple and almonds, potato salad, and a scrumptious chocolate mousse with raspberries. The presentation was just gorgeous, and everything was very fresh.

I mention this because, if you’ve ever been to a women’s conference, you may or may not have found yourself muttering, “Well, I guess I came here to feed my soul, after all, but still . . . ”



Got home just before dinner; picked up some Aldi pizzas.

They are good.



Hot dogs; chips; ice cream sandwiches we forgot to tell them they could eat on Sunday

Hero mother. 


I don’t even remember. I did finally get around to roasting all those pumpkin seeds. It’s tragic that we only get these once a year.

food blog pumpkin seeds

In Rome, many of the bars serve little bowls of pumpkin seeds for free. I had it in my head that there was a funny Italian phrase about pumpkin seeds, but instead I found this:

O mangi questa minestra o salti dalla finestra: You eat this soup or you jump out the window.

This, friends, is what you call “foreshadowing.”


Then came the muffins.



Turkey meatball soup; pumpkin muffins

I had signed up to bake 48 pumpkin muffins for a school fundraiser. I chose an easy recipe, made sure I had all the ingredients on hand, put several reminders into my online calendar, and preened myself on having a special baked goods carrying case for just such an occasion.  I used to bake all the time, and would bring in fruit kabobs cut into heart shapes for Valentine’s Day parties, and cupcakes topped with rose buds cunningly fashioned out of fruit roll ups. I recently made a Cinderella coach out of bread and stuffed with onion dip for a princess party, and when my kids want a cake with a three-dimensional volcano spurting candy fire in one corner and stegosaurus taking a cooling drink from a pool made of blue Jell-o in the other, I do not bat an eye, but I smile, and I make with the dinosaur cake.

So a bunch of muffins? No sweat, daddy-o. I could make them with my eyes closed.

Well, the muffins.


To ruin.

My life.

It’s hard to even describe how this happened, but this is pretty much what it looked like:


I feel like I have described this pumpkin bread recipe as “idiot proof” or “impossible to screw up.” It turns out the exception to this rule is when you . . . well, again, I don’t exactly know what happened, other than that I definitely forgot the baking powder, and I definitely burned the hell out of them, and I am definitely an idiot. And also, there was no food in the house, because we had been gone all weekend. The place was trashed, because we had been gone all weekend. It was raining. There were mice. The baby screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeemed whenever I put her down. We had doctor appointments, and drama club, and babysitting. I was trying to save money, so my plan was to “whip up a quick soup with the ingredients I have on hand, after I whip up some muffins.”

And I was just having one of those days where I had idiot hands. The only way you know how to do anything, suddenly, is the idiot way, and you lurch around your idiot kitchen with your idiot brain, like a poorly designed robot set to “IDIOT LEVEL:  HIGH.”

I thought I would salvage things by asking my three-year-old (who may possibly have gotten unjustly yelled at earlier in the day by . . .  somebody) if she wanted to help. She did want to. She wanted to help by anointing all her limbs with flour.

food blog benny flour

When questioned, she explained, “I am not doing anyfing.”

So, did you catch the part where I made a triple recipe (and a single recipe makes two loaves, so this was, like, a bathtub worth of batter) but forgot the baking soda? And then burned it all anyway? Yarr.

food blog burnt muffins
Here are my muffins, school! Now sell them, and make money!

And it took all day. ALL DAY to  make these misbegotten, inedible, gelatinous, pumpkin spice doorstops. (The dog thought they were great.)

But wait, I have to make supper, too, and it’s almost time to go pick up the kids! I shall throw together a soup! What kind of soup? Oh, I don’t know.

I don’t know.

It tasted like hot, angry carrot with a chaser of canola oil.

The good news is, I made TONS of it.

I also made a salad, which they ate. I tried to make the soup nicer by adding some fancy striped noodles we got on sale, but it just kind of made the whole thing sadder, like when the put a festive bow tie on a corpse. One kid complimented me on the soup, saying, “I really like the broth, Mama. It’s so oily, and salty. Nice broth.”

Let us draw a veil over Wednesday.



I consult my meal plan, which I have designed to save myself time and anxiety, and what do I see? This is the day that Idiot Robot has ordained would be Try an Exciting New Recipe Day!  So I took a look at the recipe, which is too spicy for most of the family to eat, and which involves not only ingredients I do not have, but kitchen implements I do not own.  

Right. What’s in the freezer?

On the twelfth day of November, my freezer gave to me:

6 bean burritos,
5 limp taquitos,
4 chicken burgers,
3 mini pizzas,
2 crushed pierogies,
and a lonely miniature chicken pot pie.

I fit them all on two pans, too. Thanks, Tetris!

And yes, I made more pumpkin bread and muffins. With baking soda. I only yelled at everybody a little bit, and it only took about four times as long as it should have. And they turned out fine. See?

food blog good pumpkin bread

Look at that designated baked goods carrying case! Look at it, damn your eyes! *sob*

Oh, so here is my recipe for pumpkin bread. It’s really easy; practically idiot proof, really.



Pepper jack quesadillas; rice.

If you saw me doing anything weird on Facebook on Friday evening, it was because I was drinking a lot. Okay?

O mangi questa minestra o salti dalla finestra. Run around the house in that, you useless, hairy, muffin stealing son of a bitch.
Hey, I’m doing a real link-up again! Click the button to leave a link to your “what’s for supper?” post, and please don’t forget to mention my blog when you’re writing.

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  • Anna

    My muffin recipe has me preheat the oven to 500 (I usually wimp out and do 450) and then turn it down to 400 when I put the muffins in. Usually I remember that crucial bit about turning it down, but not when I make a double batch to bring to other people who I’ve signed up to bring a meal to. So I feel you, but I’m not hilarious when I write about it. Your kid’s compliment sounds like my eldest: “Well, it’s not terrible…I can stand it” is about as high as her praise gets. I think she doesn’t want to be held to liking it the next time I serve whatever it is.

    Sat.: I forget
    Sun: took my parents out to a local Italian buffet. Good times were had by all, especially the three-year-old who mostly ate sugar packets. Once, when driving across the country when he was 1, we dipped our finger in a sugar packet and let him suck it off to keep him quiet in a restaurant along the way. Since then, he believes sugar packets to be integral to the dining-out experience. We’re not lax in our parenting, I swear; he’s absolutely not allowed to ask the waitress to bring more.

    Mon: ribs, smoked by my husband and then slowly baked with some bbq sauce. Rice and probably a vegetable.
    Tues: chicken and rice casserole from my mom
    Wed: leftover chicken and ribs.

    Thurs: leftovers, though I also made almond muffins since my sister came over for dinner. Did I mention that we got about 400 pounds of beef and were having a hard time fitting it all in the freezer so my husband just cooked all the ribs from the previous beef, the current beef, and one last package of pork ribs we had too? It was a lot of ribs, even though all the kids loved them (though the six-y-o got weepy because it was *just so hard* to separate the meat from the fat).

    Fri: husband headed out to deer hunt so Kraft shells and cheese made the kids happy and me happy too b/c it took no effort.

  • Dinner this week. Sandwiches (if you count burgers and tacos) 3 nights out of 7, 4 for me since I ordered a sandwich at the diner on Saturday! http://franciscanmom.com/2015/11/13/7qt-whats-for-supper-nov-6-12/

  • Amanda

    Saturday: our favorite loaded baked potato chicken casserole.

    Sunday: Chicken tikka wraps in naan bread(from Aldi’s; haven’t braved the waters of making my own yet) with homemade tzatiki. Fresh spinach and tomatoes on the wraps so that definitely counts as vegetables!

    Monday: I cannot for the life of me remember what we had on Monday.

    Tuesday: Ordered Chinese takeout; I had hot and sour soup with cream cheese crab fried wontons and my husband had his favorite sweet and sour chicken.

    Wednesday: My husband had a night out with some coworkers so I just ate a pan fried quesadilla with pepperonis on it, was starving about a half hour later, and then ate a full sized bag of popcorn with extra melted butter on top all by myself. :-p

    Thursday: Penne vodka

    Friday: Curried carrot soup, or as I like to call it, magic soup, because my insanely picky toddler drops everything to eat this soup when I make it. It is pretty much the only time I feel like a decent mom in the realm of food as she eagerly gulps down something healthy. I use this recipe, put the curry powder in from the start with the carrots and onions, only use the initial 4 cups of stock, skip the sour cream and chives and fancy spiderweb decoration, and just dump in half and half or heavy cream at the end. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/curried-carrot-soup-recipe.html

  • Okay I’ll try to link up an actual post again next week because I have been painfully neglectful of my blog during our move… but we are getting settled in now, so, goals.

    Here’s this week!

    Monday: I don’t remember! I feel like it was something healthy, but it could have been pork chops. Ah well, let’s just move right along to…

    Tuesday: Homemade pizza, yum. I did make the dough this time too, using a Betty Crocker recipe. I love my Betty Crocker, it is my go-to reference cook book. I did different toppings on different parts of the pizza, so different sections were combinations of pepperoni, mushrooms, and olives. My Aldi bag of salad was wettish, somewhat brown and yucky smelling, so we just had the pizza. Mushrooms and olives count as veggies!

    Wednesday: Burgers sans buns, homemade sweet potato fries, peas I think? Bodie had been craaaving beef and asking for it and I caved. My theory is he needs iron or zinc or something, his theory is that he is a man and men need meat. He had been asking for it for awhile, so I finally caved and made a dinner I knew he’d love. The sweet potato fries are easy, just slice ‘em into fry like shapes, toss in olive oil+salt+pepper, and roast on 400 til they look done. Bonus points because they weren’t TOO burned, and they weren’t impossible to get off the tin foil.

    Thursday: Dinner failure. I put a frozen chicken in on 325 convection at 2:30pm… and at 5 it was not at all ready for us to eat. I’m going to blame the recipe I found online that said this would be possible, and also oven which seems to be having issues relighting itself. So I pulled chicken nuggets out of the freezer and we had them with peas and ketchup and corn bread that Miriam and I made. I used this recipe http://www.food.com/recipe/the-best-jiffy-cornbread-247394 which is amazing, and froze some of the batter to make more later.

    Friday: Roast chicken! We finally got to eat our poor chicken. I even carved it before I set it on the table. We had it with salad and butternut squash that had to join us most of the way through dinner because my oven has issues. Or baked butternut squash just takes an hour, not the 45 minutes I thought it did.

    Saturday: Guests! I had no idea if one friend was coming over, or 4, so I made the biggest pot of spaghetti that I have ever made. Like stock pot full. It ended up being just our one friend, but we had a delicious feast of spaghetti with ground beef, sausage, and sauce from a jar. For sides we had salad, homemade (okay, bread machine) French bread, and salad. Dessert! Store bought pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and egg nog + scotch.

    Sunday: Leftovers, maybe I’ll make a fresh loaf of bread since we’ve gone most of the way through the one from last night.

  • anna lisa

    “I mention this because, if you’ve ever been to a women’s conference, you may or may not have found yourself muttering, “Well, I guess I came here to feed my soul, after all, but still . . . ”

    Even if you don’t like Opus Dei, go for the food on the three day retreats. I’m serious.

  • anna lisa

    Mothers who have more than four kids should have a school fundraiser exemption. Your entire life is a charity event.

    • Eileen

      I like to bake too and I’m known for my confections. When I sign up to bake something and it becomes too stressful to follow through, I’ve resorted to the Pillsbury slice and bakes or brownies from box mixes. It probably happens 10 to 25 percent of the time. I used to be really embarrassed about it, but now I don’t give it a second thought. Middle age has really broken my give a damn meter. 😉

      • anna lisa

        Haha my give a damn meter has been overwhelmed by the survival instinct. I’ve been known to feel violent feelings when the word “bake sale” comes to my in-box. I’d rather give money. We once had a “let’s pay up to get out of a bake sale fundraiser” at the kids’ school.

        For a long time I wouldn’t even keep baked goods in the house because I knew I would eat them. It actually worked, because I lost my taste for sweets completely. If I bake a cake, I might not even try a bite. I hate the way I feel after them anyway, and I can tell refined sugar changes my body chemistry. What about the poor kids? –I have eased up. ( I just bought a tub of Madelines. )There used to be a cupcake store down the road.

        Now that we live in a family compound, there are never ending birthday parties. Everyone loves my signature cake which is the Trader Joe’s brownie mix with an extra egg, cream cheese frosting with strawberries in the center and butter cake (box kind w/ butter instead of oil) with homemade chocolate frosting. Half of my little bon vivants ask for that $25 fruit tart from Whole Foods, or the $30 pear almond tart from the French bakery (so, so good, so, so thin and so, so bad on the wallet). I blame their high standards entirely on my husband, because I grew up on sheet cakes (that my Mom would cover with candy), Rice Krispie treats, Red Vines and Snickers bars . I’d suck up sugar in any form. My husband was all judgey, when he stumbled upon this horror and looked down on us imperiously like we were white-trash. I guess desert-wise, we kind of were! We come from a long line of non-bakers.

        My idea of a decadent treat is going for Happy hour. Yesterday we went alone to our favorite place on the beach and ate $2 green chili and pork tacos, steamed clams, and had $4 glasses of Chardonnay, (that our favorite bartender switched up for a really. good. label–which makes me feel guilty–but we don’t ask him to do it!!)

        • Eileen

          Yup – sugar, HFCS, and Nutrasweet are all physically addictive. I gave all of it up for Lent and I thought I could go back to eating it on weekends, but the truth is I was jonesing every Monday morning for more refined carbs. So, now I save it for special occasions. I ate two full size Milky Ways on Halloween and I got a terrible headache and then crashed into an unnatural sort of sleep.

          I don’t monitor what the kids eat. They make much healthier choices than I did as a child. There’s also this whole psychological thing with adopted kids and food. I think they’re well past all that stuff, but I’ve got this long history of letting them all (adopted and bio) eat whatever they want so it would be weird to change now. Plus, it’s a big relief that they can eat pasta on a regular basis as it’s so cheap, but I’m not sure it’s any better than Milky Ways.

          Someone posted about the crappy food and toxins making us moms feel even more tired and I agree with her. And it’s a vicious cycle. The more crap you have in you, the more your body wants it.

          • anna lisa

            My kids make *much* better choices, with the exception of Charlotte who goes over to my mother’s fridge/freezer, and my sister’s too. She worries me–very thin, and always on the look out for sugary garbage. When I tell her why she wants to hurl she repents, but then goes back and does it again. I was just as bad at her age. I remember the days when I would get up early on Saturday mornings, and would measure out three heaping tablespoons of sugar on my Cheerios. After that I would eat the gray sugar sludge at the bottom. Gross! My Mom would have me pack my lunches. She was on a health kick, so she thought peanut butter and jelly, apple juice and fruit rolls was better than the nitrates in preserved meats, so for years I ate sugar with my sugar . No wonder I had an exploding appendix! I could have died in South America, I was so thin and frail.

            Then there’s–
            OKAY I *apologize* in advance!
            –you know what I’m talking about!
            Yes, *that’s* what I’m talking about.
            Yeast infections get in the way of a LOT of things, if ya know what I mean.
            One might say that sugar has taken out a few marriages. –Definitely NOT worth it… :/

          • Eileen

            Hah! I think yeast infections are one of those genetic things. Believe it or not, I’ve never had one but my sister used to get them at the drop of a chocolate chip cookie! I’ve come to be a big believer in candida and I definitely am prone to getting overgrowth of it in my gut, but for some reason, not down there. No doubt about it – sugar causes inflammation. It just looks different on different people. Did you ever start taking a probiotic? A good one helps keep the candida in check.

          • anna lisa

            Thanks be to God, I haven’t had one in many years, but if I have a chocolate chip cookie, a croissant the next day and I’m on a post “day 14” bread calorie free-for-all, I will get pre-symptoms which say “we’re here and ready to attack.”.
            Don’t laugh when I say that wine might be helping because I didn’t drink more than once a week until my late 30’s. I had stomach pain my entire life and was too skinny until I discovered wine.

            I get the probiotics in good quality yogurt and Kefir. If things get crazy in the gut I go pop one of my Mom’s arsenal of high end pro-biotic capsules that she keeps in the fridge. I have to do it with stealth or she’ll try to make me take a bunch of other stuff too. That was always a squirmy confrontation because I used to be worried I was pregnant and didn’t want to admit why I wouldn’t take a handful of her remedies, (some herbs are sketchy for early preg.) Now, I’m pretty sure that I don’t have much to fear, but I have residual anxiety about it. I *am* a believer in traditional remedies though.

          • Eileen

            Oh, man, if you can drink that kefir, you’re a true believer! My daughter doesn’t mind it too much and I actually think I could develop a taste for it, but with probiotics so easy to take, it hardly seems worth the trouble. I switched to the refrigerated probiotics about two months ago and am healthier for it. I really think all the antibiotics in our meat and eggs is destroying our collective health and probiotics is part of the recovery. The established medical community is finally catching up. Alternative medicine has been screaming it for years. I began seeking out the antibiotic and hormone free meat and eggs when I was pregnant with my 8 year old. Sometimes budget (and expediency) dictate otherwise, but my youngest kids haven’t had nearly the exposure to the chemicals in their food that my older kids have.

          • anna lisa

            I’ve pretty much followed the same path as you, (poor older kids!) — I just do my best as far as buying the healthiest meats, but still can’t bring myself to spend an arm and a leg on a Whole Foods “air chilled” chicken unless it’s on sale. I wish I could raise my own chickens (we have an old coop that’s filled with cobwebs, spiders and vines on a far corner of the property, but I doubt the neighbors would put up with a rooster at 5 a.m.! Our last flock (decades ago) was massacred by some evil critter, which devastated us because they had all turned into pets with names. ;( –which just goes to show that we wouldn’t have the heart to wring any necks anyhow lol.
            Did you happen to catch the news about that Chinese scientist who won the Nobel prize? The ancient Chinese remedy proved to be more effective in fighting malaria than any drug big Pharma could muster up. Fascinating stuff. I wish the medical community here wasn’t so binary in their approach.

          • Eileen

            I would love to have a chicken coop! Our property is way too small, although some nearby friends – who have quite a bit more land – had some chickens. A fox, which I didn’t even know lived around here, ate them. I would think our dog would keep a fox away, but you never know.

            I hadn’t heard about the malaria thing, but I’m not surprised. I used to get UTI’s all the time. Then I learned I could cure them with D-Mannose instead of antibiotics. Works much better, way less side effects, and no $40 co-pay for the doctor. I think the world’s coming around. My high risk OB for my last two babes was open to alternative therapies for common ailments. We have one doc now for the whole family and he knows I’m nuts, but at least he works with me. He may not agree with me but at least he acknowledges and respects my belief that a lot of chronic health issues are the result of bad gut bacteria and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Even my husband, who used to tease me mercilessly, will come to me now when he’s got a complaint – “do you have anything in your stash for x? ” i usually do. 🙂

          • anna lisa

            Haha you remind me of my Mom. She springs into action if I sneeze. Even my SIL consults her before her Mom, and her Mom is a seasoned physician. I have to hide any or all symptoms from her, or she makes me sniff/swallow stuff. I guess I’d miss it if it wasn’t there anymore. She IS smart and reads boatloads of stuff. She skims over the parts about exercise though.

            Now I have a bee in my bonnet to resurrect that chicken coop! I was thinking I’d make my husband do the wringing, but just remembered how he wept over killing a duck that took up residence in our yard a few years ago. He was trying to scare it off but kind of nailed it with the pellet gun.
            He’ll get over it. He has a tender heart but hasn’t been squeamish a day in his life.

  • anna lisa

    Our dog is a big oaf too. She runs like an idiot, and sometimes collides with the ping pong table when she turns to make sure where her goddess is without reducing speed. If I yell at her, she sits down, raises one massive paw to plead with me, and then gives me derp d derp face until I pet her.
    She looks so adorable with the long fluffy hair, but I hadn’t even considered the


    Dingleberry removal is a man’s job.

  • lissla_lissar

    I feel like we must have eaten food this past week. I must have done some cooking, right? Oh, yeah, there was frozen pizza and I think chili. This whole eating thing is slowly wrecking my sanity. Do you think my three year old twins could take over the cooking?

    (Looks at picture of Benny again)

    Maybe not.

  • Eileen

    This is the week our budget was supposed to be back on track and we were supposed to get back to clean, healthy eating for the whole family. That was before we got hit with a $1000 kick in the teeth. So, it was back to the freezer and pantry which means a lot of frozen food and pasta and sauce from jars for the boys. My husband and I ate some uninspired but healthy version of chicken and frozen veggies most nights.

    I did cook a huge batch of vegetable beef soup in the crock pot. I never made it before but it was much easier than beef stew because I didn’t have to brown the meat. Everybody liked it and the boys ate it for two nights with grilled cheese sandwiches. Every recipe I found called for a bay leaf. I didn’t have any. I just threw in the beef, some onions, beef broth, frozen veggies, some crushed tomatoes, a little water, and some oregano. Easy peasy.

    • anna lisa

      I’m about to make a version of that right now. Don’t have bay leaf either. I’ll pick some Thyme instead.