I asked JeffreyW to send me some ideas for comfort foods and he included this photo. Yum.
I hope everyone had a good holiday. Now it’s time for the Christmas rush. But before I start with those recipes, I thought we’d revisit comfort foods. When things get crazy busy, I fall back on easy comfort foods: soups, mac-n’cheese, slow-cooker meals.
What sparked this idea was a recipe for Macaroni and Cheese Bacon Cups. No, seriously, someone thought of putting macaroni and cheese into cups made of bacon and baking it in the oven. If you’re daring and want to try your hand at it, JeffreyW has the recipe for Bacon Cups here and two Macaroni and Cheese recipes are here and here.
The photo above is easy to recreate (JeffreyW recommends frozen shoestring fries), but he has a recipe for even more elaborate Chile Cheese Fries, click here for recipe and mouth-watering photos.
When cold weather hits and my schedule is full, I want Spicy Potato Soup and Biscuits, recipes here.
Starting next week, I’ll move into holiday recipes, both for the meals and gift giving. For the animal lovers, there is a Bixby update here, but be forewarned when you click through, HE. HAS. GROWN. Although he doesn’t seem to realize it.
What’s on your menu for the weekend? How is the holiday shopping coming along?
Tonight’s feature recipe is very simple and quick to put together.
Slow-Cooker Tangy Roast Beef w/Potatoes & Carrots
- 2 to 3 lbs boneless chuck roast
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 onion, quartered
- 4 red potatoes, halved
- 4 carrots, peeled & quartered
In order, place items in Slow-Cooker. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions (usually 8-10 hours on low). Couldn’t be simpler. But if you don’t want tangy, just substitute a good red wine for a richer flavor. If you have time, it’s worth it to brown your roast on all sides before tossing in the slow-cooker. Lightly flour all sides, heat oil in a skillet and brown quickly. I usually use tongs and brown the sides as well.
That’s it for this week. Next week we’ll tackle holiday treats for gift giving or to take to parties. – TaMara
I’m travelling this weekend, but didn’t want to leave you without a recipe exchange two weeks in a row. This is a repeat from several years ago (have we really been doing it that long?). My life is pulling me in twelve different directions right now and only a few do I have control over. That probably means between now and the big holidays, we’ll have more repeats. Once I move into my new house, I’ll be back into the cooking groove…and in a better kitchen that doesn’t make feel all stabby and want to throw things.
I have a couple of recipes that I made recently that I’ll try and put together for next week. But no promises, if next week unfolds anything like this week.
No Bixby update this week, but a few pictures of how much he’s grown, here. There is no hiding his Great Dane lineage now. BTW, in case you didn’t know it, Mrs. J works at the local shelter and JeffreyW always has lots of photos of the residents. This is a particularly cute bunch.
On to the recipes:
Chicken is our default theme tonight.
First up, Quick and Easy Barbecue Chicken, recipe here.
Grilled Lime Chicken, and additional marinade ideas, here.
JefferyW is fond of Chicken Marsala, photos and recipe here.
I’ll be out trick or treating with eight year olds tonight. What are you scaring up for the weekend? Cooking up anything good in your cauldron?
Tonight’s featured recipe:
Braised Italian Chicken
- 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin on
- Olive oil
- Dried: basil, oregano, rosemary, cayenne pepper, pepper, salt, thyme
- 6-8 green onions, chopped
- 1 small zucchini cubed
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 4-6 button mushrooms, washed and sliced
- 2 tsp crushed garlic or equivalent
- 1/2 cup good red wine
- 6 oz can of tomato paste
- 14 oz can of diced tomatoes or equivalent (I use unsalted)
- 2-15oz cans of tomato sauce (again, I use unsalted)
- 2 tsp dried basil (or fresh equivalent)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (opt)
- Pinch of rosemary
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 10-16 oz of favorite pasta (I like angel hair with this dish)
Bowl, Saucepan, Skillet, Baking dish or Dutch oven
In a bowl, mix together about 2 cups of flour and a good amount of the spices. Wash and dry thighs. Dredge in flour and fry in large skillet in about 1/2 cup of olive oil (I start with skin side down and do not touch it until it moves easily when I nudge it with a fork, then I flip it). When browned on both sides, remove to a plate with paper towels to drain a bit. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of oil and add diced vegetables, cook until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute, then add wine, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to mix well. Let simmer, covered, on the stovetop while chicken browns.
In baking dish, add enough sauce to come 1/2 way up the side of the baking dish. Nestle chicken in the baking dish, skin side up. Now here is the important part, ladle additional sauce AROUND the chicken as needed, but DO NOT cover the top. Leave enough room for the browned top of the chicken to remain above the sauce. This lets it braise and the skin still stay crispy. Bake, UNCOVERED, for 1 hour and 30 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, check to make sure the sauce is barely bubbling, if it is boiling, reduce heat to 300 degrees. Chicken is done when it gives easily, but not falling off the bone.
Leave remaining sauce on the stove to simmer on low while the chicken cooks, you’ll probably want extra for the pasta. Prepare pasta just before chicken is done. Serve with salad or green beans and a nice deep red wine.
Prep time is a lot on this meal, so I suggest it for weekends or special guests. I also doubled the sauce and froze 1/2 for another meal.
That’s if for this week. Have a safe Halloween. Boo! – TaMara
Photo by JeffreyW
I’m going to repeat some favorite soup recipes tonight. I’m working on a few new pumpkin recipes, but they are not ready for prime time this week. So you’ll have to make do with repeats.
When I’m busy, soup is the thing. I make big batches and they are quick and easy to reheat and add a sandwich or a piece of grilled chicken for a fast dinner or lunch. I could eat soup everyday during cold weather. JeffreyW is no slouch in the soup department either, so there are over 200 recipes on the blog of the soup variety.
For tonight, here are some soups worth repeating:
Cream of Chicken Soup, recipe here.
Two Broccoli Cheese Soup variations are here.
Tomato-Spinach is one of my favorite hearty winter soups, recipe here.
And combining two recent recipe exchanges, JeffreyW does Bean Soup in a Frybread Bowl, recipe and yummy photos here.
For the pet lovers, there is a Bixby diary this week. He’s four months old now and takes up most of my spare time. Which explains why I’m more often outside and not in the kitchen cooking. Also, I’m having great success with both dog and cat food dispenser/toys, that make them work for their food, story here, in case you are looking for a good way to entertain your pets.
What’s on your menu for this beautiful fall weekend? Do you have a favorite way to make grilled cheese? Do you grill any other types of sandwiches – either the grown-up panini style or something of the more guilty pleasure type, like grilled peanut butter and jelly?
Tonight’s feature recipe was one of the first menus I ever published…and also the first time I made my own tomato soup.
Hearty Tomato Soup
- 28 oz canned tomatoes*
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 8 oz carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 3 green onions, including greens
- 1 tsp basil
- ¼ tsp oregano
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 cups milk
- 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 quart saucepan
In a blender, mix tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery & onions. Blend until liquid. In saucepan, combine tomato mixture with spices, heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let bubble (don’t let boil or use high heat, it will scorch) for 5 minutes. Add flour to cold milk, blend until smooth, add to soup. Let bubble again, reduce to low heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
* This is the time to use up any left over garden tomatoes, instead of canned. Blend until you have 4 cups of crushed tomatoes.
Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese
For each sandwich:
- 2 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
- Enough favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, etc. to cover bread (about 3 slices)
- Sliced Jalapeños (if you want some heat)
- 1 large slice of tomato w/dash of salt
- 1-2 tsp Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
- Spray Oil
Spread salad dressing on both slices of bread and add ½ of the cheese to one slice of bread, place tomato & jalapenos on the cheese and top with remaining cheese and the other slice of bread, this keeps bread from getting soggy from the tomato. Lightly butter outside of both sides of the sandwich and grill in skillet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled on medium heat until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. While it is grilling, press down hard with a spatula, “squishing” the sandwich. We don’t know why, but this makes them taste better. :-)
I’m having difficulty typing this because at the moment I’m sitting on the couch with a Great Dane draped over my shoulders like Grandma’s shawl. I’m not sure why, just where he landed this morning. And…now he’s snoring. I will do my best.
Sometimes JeffreyW and I have this odd blogging-psychic link and end up cooking similar meals days apart. I knew I was going to do a chili themed recipe exchange as soon as there was a chill in the air and football/baseball/hockey were in full swing (it’s like sports Christmas). So I wasn’t terribly surprised when I opened up the blog earlier this week to see he had created a chili themed post.
Chili is one of those recipes that appears to be capable of causing intense debate, so consider the following as our entries into that debate. Then you can discuss amongst yourselves the merits of your old family recipe for chili. Beans, no beans, fritos, no fritos, vegetarian, spicy or mild. And while your are at it, what’s else is on your plate for the weekend?
Super easy chili, recipe here.
JeffreyW’s Chorizo Chili here.
Even this week’s Dinner menu involved chili: Kid Friendly Chili-Mac, menu and recipes here.
For some great ideas to do with your leftover chili, see Jeffrey’s photos here.
For tonight’s featured recipe, a different take on chili:
White Chicken Chili. For JeffreyW’s version, picture above, click here.
White Chicken Chili
- 3 lbs chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 jalapeno peppers, chopped
- 3 poblano chiles, chopped
- 3 anaheim chiles, chopped
- 2 onions, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- Salt and Ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1½ tsp ground coriander
- 3 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 limes, minced fresh cilantro leaves and sour cream for garnish
Dutch oven, blender
In the Dutch over, heat oil and brown chicken thighs, skin side down, until the skin is crisp. Remove to a plate. Pour off all but 1 tbsp of chicken fat, heat and add chiles and onion to the Dutch oven and sauté until soft, then add the garlic and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Remove half of the sautéed mixture to the blender.
Add 1 can of beans and the chicken broth to the blender. Puree beans and onion mixture until smooth. Add puree to the Dutch oven, along with remaining ingredients, except garnishes. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and add those to the chili and let simmer, covered, at medium heat until the chicken is cooked through and pulls easily from the bone, about 30 to 45 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
Remove chicken to a plate and let cool enough to remove the meat from the bone and rough chop. Add the meat back to the chili and simmer until chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately with fresh lime juice, cilantro and sour cream for each bowl.
That’s it for this week – hopefully I’ll have a Bixby update for you next week! – TaMara
We have a city apple orchard. I’ve cycled by it for years, didn’t give it much thought except to wonder what the city did with them every year. This year I found out. Seems the weather has created a bumper crop so the city put out a reminder that these apples were there for everyone, they were pesticide free and please, please, please come pick some because there were so many they were breaking branches.
We headed over and picked a few last weekend and I decided that apples would make the perfect topic for tonight’s recipe exchange. I’ve got some old favorites and some old favorites with a new twist, including tonight’s featured recipe, Caramel Apple Crisp, pictured at top.
Let’s start with one that is perfect around this time of year when mini chocolates abound, Baked Snicker Apples, recipe here.
mouth-watering is the only way to describe, Mrs. J’s Famous Apple Pie, click here.
I have bourbon, I have apples, seems I need to make some Bourbon Baked Apples, recipe here.
Totally not apple related, the weekly menu this week was Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, recipes and shopping list here.
What’s on your menu? Now that the weekend means autumn is official, what are some of your favorite fall recipes?
For tonight’s featured recipe, I wondered what would happen if I added caramels to my favorite apple crisp. It was amazing. Great flavor without being too sweet. I reduced the sugars to adjust for the caramels. I’ll do this one again:
Cast Iron Caramel Apple Crisp
- 2 lbs apples – mix of sweet and tart (about 3 apples)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- dash of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to taste
- 10 caramels, unwrapped
- 2 tbsps of cream
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
- 1 cup flour
10 inch cast iron skillet and small mixing bowl
Core and cut apples into small pieces (about 1/2 inch). Peeling is optional, but with this method the peels cook nice and soft, so it isn’t necessary.
Melt butter in skillet, add apples and sugar, stir until apples are well coated. Cover and cook on medium heat until apple mixture is soft and caramelized, stirring occasionally. About 20-30 minutes.
While the apples are cooking, melt the caramels and cream over medium heat, stirring until smooth. If you spray the pan with cooking oil before melting caramels, cleanup is easier. Pour over apples just before adding crumble mixture.
In mixing bowl, stir together butter, sugar, flour and oats, mix until crumbly. Crumble over the apple mixture. Bake for 10-15 minutes in a 400 degree oven, just until top is crispy golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes and serve warm.
What makes this so good is that because the apples are cooked on the stovetop, you can use a much higher heat in the oven and get a good, crisp top without drying the whole mixture out or under cooking the apples. Really, this is one of the best apple crisps I’ve made.
Alternately, if you don’t have an oven-proof skillet, you can transfer the cooked apple mixture to a glass baking dish, add topping and bake that way.
No Bixby Diary this week, I’ll make up for it next week. Until then….TaMara