The Ryan Table

What We Ate Last Week (March 11th-17th)

I have been suffering from a mild cold all week. A pregnant mild cold still feels like being hit by a truck cold. Annoying. The last thing in life that I want right now is to be slowed down even more than I already am. However, people must eat and family meals must go on — even if I can’t smell them.

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Sunday: Corned Beef and Cabbage

Our church throws down for St. Patrick’s Day complete with dinner, Irish dancers, and bagpipes. However, I still wanted to make corned beef and cabbage at home, even though we were sure to get it at the end of the week. And so on Sunday, we did a St. Patty’s dinner a bit early. I cooked the beef in the traditional way of simmering over a few hours and adding the veggies at the end. However, I ended up with a particularly grizzly piece and the kids were not quite sure how to handle the fat stuck to everything. (Next time I will buy the corned beef in a package I can see through to ensure a better cut!) This was not my family’s favorite meal I have ever made, but I intend to make it again next year.

Next time around, I plan to make a few changes. I will roast my veggies rather than cook them with the meat. You can’t really beat roasted veggies. I am going to tenderize (simmer it over three hours) the beef in a stout beer and add some extra pepper and bay leaves. Then, after I slice it cross grain, I am going to place it in an oven-safe dish and make a paste with brown sugar and spicy brown mustard. I am going to put the paste on top of the meat and let it sit under the broiler for a few minutes so that it can have a fun and flavorful crust — I did this when we had leftovers and the kids loved the sweet-salty combination.

I know this is not traditional, but I don’t care. It’s going to be so good.

Monday: Breakfast Sandwiches (w/avocado and fresh fruit)

On Sunday we went in hunt of really good bagels. These can be hard to find in North Carolina. We hit upon a spot that looked like it might deliver. Apparently, everyone else in Charlotte thought so too. I stood in line for twenty minutes in a jammed packed little joint filled with people, pastries, and of course, bagels. I could not believe how many people were there and happily waiting in line. Once the thirty people in front of me were served, I grabbed a dozen bagels and some cream cheese. I finally ran through the rain with a bag of cold bagels and a cup of hot coffee to a vehicle full of hungry people. We ate the bagels on the way home and while they were good, the lack of toasty goodness taunted me.

We used the leftover bagels on Monday night for toasted breakfast sandwiches. Sliced and toasted bagels, bacon, egg, cheese, (and avocados for those who like them) makes for a great dinner. Unfortunately, I didn’t store the bagels very well and they were slightly stale and chewy. I didn’t have a lot of food wins this week. However, I stand by breakfast sandwiches for dinner. It’s a treat my family thoroughly enjoys.

Tuesday: Leftovers

I had a lot of leftovers from Sunday. This time around I roasted the corned beef and potatoes with some brown sugar sprinkled over the top. So that we could have something fresh, I made some broccoli and bacon salad. Whenever I am unsure how leftovers will go over, I try to add a peace offering to the plate. Leftover corn chips filled this role beautifully. Hey listen, it’s leftover night so anything goes. And everything did go! The kids liked the corned beef much better this way, they ate the broccoli salad, and loved the treat of chips with dinner.

Wednesday: Stirfry

I found a few bags of stirfry veggies on my favorite produce rack (the one at Harris Teeter where everything is still good but only costs a dollar or less). This inspired me to make stirfry for dinner with a side of rice. I browned some ground turkey I needed to use, thew all the veggies and meat into my largest skillet (I don’t have a wok), and seasoned with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. Well, I would have used soy sauce but I didn’t notice we were out until dinner was almost ready. I substituted with Worchester sauce, some sugar, and other random things to try and make it taste alright. Soy sauce would have been much better. Tough week around the Ryan table.

Thursday: Cereal and fresh fruit

Yup. I fed my family Cheerios and oranges for dinner. We put everything out in pretty serving dishes. The kids were thrilled. It’s amazing how serving dishes can raise the level of any meal — even a meal made of Cheerios! I started collecting bowls and platters for pennies at yard sales a few years ago and I love hunting for them at thrift stores. A few pretty dishes can improve almost any meal.

Friday: Quiche and Salad

This is not something I had ever made before! I have eaten it plenty of times but never made it. I started with my perfect pie crust. I baked this ahead of time (this is called a blind bake – you put parchment paper over the plated lie crust and then fill with dry beans or something else to hold the crust in place, then you take it out about 10 minutes before it is completely baked and brown).

The secret to a great quiche is keeping it moist. We used eggs with heavy cream and experimented with different kinds of cheese in our three pies. We added various toppings changing it a bit with each quiche. Some of the fillings we used included roasted red pepper, red onion, spinach, and cream cheese. We didn’t use a recipe. We just blended tasty things with the eggs, cheeses, and cream. We baked the quiche at 350 for 40 minutes. They were wonderful. I can’t wait to try them again and play around with more fillings.

If you have never made a quiche don’t afraid. It’s pretty easy and store-bought pie crust works just fine when going for quick and easy. I was glad to have the homemade crust on the finished product, but I wasn’t super glad while I was making it. My cold was hitting full throttle halfway through making dinner and I just wanted to go to bed. If you have the time and energy — go for the homemade crust. If not, then be grateful they make it packaged in a store and just go with it.

Saturday: St Patrick’s Day

As I said in the Sunday section, we planned to go to the St. Patrick’s celebration for dinner. With my cold still hitting me I couldn’t face getting everyone dressed and out the door. We had box pizza. Good thing we had our fill of corned beef earlier in the week. I made tacos for my friend earlier in the week and so on the meal plan Saturday will show tacos or board pizza.

Funny story about those tacos . . .  My friend had twins a few weeks ago. I asked her what sounded good and we came up with tacos. I then proceeded to tell her I would bring chocolate chip cookies too. Wow. I am such a good friend. Except then I completely forgot about the cookies. I didn’t make them. I didn’t buy them. I didn’t bring them. Is there anything crueler in life than being promised cookies when nursing two babies and then not receiving them? Oh, so cruel. I think I will need to make some cookies once my cold is gone and bring them over. #worstfriendever

Thoughts on this week’s meals

So remember my friends: If you ever have a bad week with your dinners — you are not alone. As far as I am concerned the only night we had a decent dinner this week was on Friday (with the quiche). I guess the leftovers were okay too. I didn’t let hint to anyone how stupid the dinners were though, in fact, my favorite meal was the least liked by the family — they would take cereal over something I slaved over any night! They were happy with cheerios, the board pizza, and the chewy breakfast sandwiches. They still set the table nicely, we didn’t talk about the food, and we ate together. Julia Child says that when you are not happy with your dish you just have to suck it up. Okay, she actually says it much better than that:

“Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. Eh bien, tant pis. Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.”
― Julia Child

So there you have it. I hope your meals were more successful than mine last week. Even though my meals didn’t work out the way I intended, I have made a meal plan to go with our week’s eats. This is a great plan for a busy or hectic week. Just make sure you have soy sauce for the stirfry and bagels that are not stale!

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