Magic Oreos, Crowning a Kroger Chip King, and other Summer Eats
I'm Back! And still eating stuff!
Hello friends and Internet strangers,
I am back after a verrrrry long hiatus from FOOD & STUFF to share more of what you subscribed to this extremely periodic newsletter for: recipe recommendations, food thoughts, and other little tidbits that I sprinkle in like the flaky salt you should be sprinkling on top of the first summer tomato you grew, bought at a farmers’ market, or pillaged under the cover of night from your neighbor’s garden.
I’m sorry it’s been so long since I last sent a newsletter; I don’t really have a good reason for not sending it other than I forgot about it for a few months and then just did other stuff, like sit on my deck in my plastic Adirondack chair and drink Aldi-brand La Croix while contemplating the chaotic nature of existence. I trust and hope that you have not been doing the same, but instead have been doing something more fun, like eating delicious meals prepared without my expert* guidance! But in case you’re looking for some fresh food inspiration, I will try to provide a few ideas for ya today :) Here we gooooooooo
*biased, Midwestern palette
Where I share recipes that I have eaten lately!
Chipotle Pineapple Pork Skewers with Cilantro Chipotle Yogurt
This was a recipe from the cooking club I’m in, and it was simply a delight. I’ll say it: don’t count out a lil’ bit of charred fruit served alongside your meat, folks. Do not count it out!! I still am afraid of pineapple pizza, but these skewers and Argyle from Stranger Things Season 4 might make me reconsider. These skewers are fun, festive, and I recommend serving them alongside a punchy slaw of some sort — I did a fennel and finely-chopped broccoli slaw with a lemon & dijon simple dressing. Eat it all with the smoky yogurt sauce and BOOM — you’ve leveled up your summer eats.
For the Skewers
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
2 tbsp adobo sauce (from the can/jar)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 lbs boneless pork loin or chicken, cut into 1.5” pieces
3 cups (½-¾” thick) pineapple slices
For the yogurt sauce
1 cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt
1 cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped (about ½ cup chopped)
2 tbsp reserved marinade
½ tsp kosher salt
Heat your grill on high for at least 10 minutes, then reduce the heat down to medium.
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, maple syrup, tomato paste, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, garlic, salt, and pepper until smooth. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the marinade into a small bowl (we’re using it to make the yogurt sauce). Add the pork to the large bowl and use a spoon or your hands to toss to coat.
Assemble your skewers! Alternate between pork and pineapple (sometimes I double up on the pork if the pieces are smaller). Grill them for about 3-5 minutes per side (there will be about 3 sides, so you’ll have to turn them three times), or until it has nice grill marks and is cooked all the way through (145F). If it’s sticking to the grates when you try to turn them, use a spatula to loosen them first, then turn them using metal tongs.
Meanwhile, in the bowl with the reserved marinade, add the yogurt, cilantro, and salt and mix until combined.
Serve the skewers with the yogurt sauce on the side for dipping (along with the slaw and cornbread!).
To get the perfect bite, get these things on your fork or in your mouth at the same time: a piece of grilled pineapple, pork, crunchy slaw, and yogurt sauce.
This was a recipe from an issue of Bon Appetit from the fall, but the issue got buried in a pile of mail and I unearthed it a few weeks back when I had a friend coming over for dinner that I knew would appreciate some spicy cuisine. The recipe did indeed make me exclaim: “Mamma Mia, that’s a spicy meatball!” Not really, because these meatballs are definitely not falling into the Mamma Mia genre of recpies, but they were spicy and they were delicious, and I can’t remember if they gave me heartburn but if so, they were worth it and I’d make them again.
2 medium shallots
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp. garam masala
½ cup finely chopped cilantro, plus leaves for serving
2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. ground pork (or chicken/turkey)
1 Tbsp. plus ¼ cup refined coconut oil, room temperature
⅓ cup harissa paste
1 13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
Finely chop shallots and garlic. Combine garam masala, half of the shallots, half of the garlic, ½ cup cilantro, and 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt in a large bowl; season with pepper. Add pork and mix gently until just combined. Divide into 12 pieces and roll into balls.
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook meatballs, turning occasionally, until browned in spots, 5–8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Reduce heat to medium; cook remaining shallots and garlic in skillet, stirring often, until garlic is softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in harissa paste, coconut milk, and 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt; season with pepper. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until slightly thickened, 6–8 minutes.
Nestle meatballs into sauce; cover and cook 10 minutes. Turn meatballs over; cook, uncovered, occasionally spooning sauce over, until sauce is about the consistency of marinara, 8–10 minutes. Serve over rice or mashed white beans with cilantro and a generous plop of lemony yogurt.
Smitten Kitchen ice cream toppings
Later in this newsletter, I discuss my hatred of using the oven in the summer (if you’re an oven user in the summer, I believe you should go right to jail). That being said, I am finding new ways to enjoy the best meal of all: dessert. Last night, I made two of my favorite ice cream toppings—hot fudge and salted caramel— and served them with ice cream and sprinkles. They were delicious, they were easy, and best of all: they only required a couple of minutes on the burner.
Just Eat It
I don’t know if this will be a recurring section of the newsletter, but I felt like “JUST EAT IT” was the phrase that captured the spirit of what I wanted to feature here. Also, any folks remember this Weird Al cover?! We had it on cassette tape and definitely played it in the family minivan. I remember being particularly charmed by the little toot noises at the beginning. Has it held up? Probably not. But I’ll let you decide.
The Case for Midwestern No-Bake Desserts
Listen: you know I love a dessert. A cookie, a cake, a torte, a pie: I love them all. But what I don’t love is turning on my oven in the summer when it is a blazing inferno outside already!! Not for me. So this summer, I’ve really been leaning into my midwest roots and going back to some simple, calorically-dense, desserts that deserve a place in every church potluck and on your Ikea kitchen table, too. You do not bake them! You just make them, and eat them! So easy! We love that.
Two recipes here:
Oreo Ice Box Cake: A couple of weekends ago, I was invited to a four-year-old’s birthday party, where his parents served what can only be described as a “magical Oreo dessert.” I came to discover that this dessert only has four ingredients, yet it made my tastebuds sing. If you like good things that don’t make your house hot and sad, then try out this easy no-bake Oreo icebox cake. I’m telling you: IT IS GOOD.
Peanut Butter Bars: Back in high school, my Spanish class would have quarterly “fiestas,” which basically was just a reason to socially justify eating Doritos at 10 am. This was before my days of cooking and baking, so I always liked to prepare no-bake peanut butter bars. I made a Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe of these bars last week for a Bible study, and the women gobbled those bars up with enthusiasm and delight. Highlllyyyy recommend!
A Seat at my Table
Where I highlight something that I gladly keep around in my kitchen and encourage you to do so, too.
In the summer of 2020, I went on a questionable vacation to Hilton Head in the midst of a spike of Covid cases in that area and by the grace of God, I did NOT get Covid and I DID meet the greatest chip of all of time. On one of our daily trips to Kroger, I discovered these sweet potato tortilla chips, and I just need you to run, not walk, if you live near a Kroger and buy yourself a bag, two bags, twenty-seven bags! They are SO GOOD. I recently took a trip to Nashville to visit my brother and bought two bags to take home with me. They are my most cherished possession. I love these chips. Please buy them and tell me that you love them, too.
This month’s & Stuff section features a fun tweet I saw a few weeks back.
I would love to throw a question back to you—the readers at home: what is the strangest food item you have transported and eaten in public? I am partial to the time I was going to a concert with my friend and his dad, and his dad brought an entire blueberry pie with him to the concert. Honestly, everyone was jealous of our pie and we had pie, so it was a wonderful idea, IMO. Cheers to that kind of spirit this summer: the spirit that rejects the constraints of what we can and cannot bring to a picnic, the beach, the ball field, the movie theater, and anywhere else you might find yourself enjoying food and doing stuff this summer.
Thanks for reading all the way through, especially after I sort of abandoned this newsletter for many months! I am glad we’re back. I’d love to hear what you’ve been cooking, drinking, and snacking on lately. Do pass this newsletter on to friends that would be into this kind of thing, too! So that they can enjoy food and stuff, too. Because food and stuff is for me, for you, for everyone!