Tag Archives: comfort food

Chicken Pot Pie…sort of…

Ah January, the time of year when everyone tries to eat better, exercise, and hit the gym. Those New Year’s resolution guilt us into at least a few weeks of behaving. While I certainly understand the need for some less decadent options for dinner, with the cold weather and hopefully threat of snow, comfort food still seems necessary. One of my favorite comfort foods on a cold night is chicken pot pie.

There is definitely a debate around chicken pot pie. Sure, there is the Marie Callender’s version that I would beg my mom to buy, which never happened by the way, with the delicious pie crust and succulent burning-hot filling. But, perhaps since I’m from Pennsylvania and not far from Amish country, there is another version that I find far superior. The Amish style chicken pot pie is more like a stew with floury, tender noodles in a rich broth, and it’s delicious.

Of course, for chicken pot pie, you need chicken. I already had a stock to use, so I roasted about 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts with just salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and some chopped rosemary. Roast at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes until cooked through. If you don’t have a stock made, you can make stock with bone-in chicken parts then use the cooked chicken in the pot pie.chickencookwsFor this recipe, you want a rich broth. I had turkey stock from my Thanksgiving turkey, but feel free to use any chicken stock you have or make your own. You’ll need 10 cups chicken stock. To start, heat a stock pot over medium heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Chop 1 medium onion, 4 stalks celery, and 4 peeled carrots. Cook in the oil for about 10 minutes until they are all softened and beginning to turn brown. Add 1 cup white wine and deglaze the pan, scrapping up any cooked or browned bits from the pot. Boil for a few minutes then add the stock. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste. This is what you’ll use to cook the noodles.olive oilonionscelerycarrotswinestockOn a recent trip to the grocery store, I saw these ready-made chicken pot pie squares from San Giorgio and thought I had to try. The end result was not exactly what I was hoping for, more like an egg noodle than dough, but they were easy. Next time, I’ll make the noodles instead. Either way, you’ll want to add the noodles to the boiling stock to cook. The bagged noodles I found cooked for about 10 minutes, but if you want to do it the right way, make the noodles.pot pie squaresStart with 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Add 1 tablespoon shortening or butter, cut up into pieces. Use a fork to combine so you have small pieces of shortening in the flour. Combine 1 egg and 2/3 cup water. Stir into the flour mixture and form a dough. Divide in two and roll half the dough on a floured surface until about 10 inches square. Cut into 2 inch squares. Repeat with the remaining dough. Add to the boiling stock and simmer for about 15 minutes until cooked through and tender.noodles cookedOnce the noodles are cooked, add the cubed chicken. And don’t forget to add all of the juices that are left in the pan from the chicken…delicious! Check the seasoning, and add salt or pepper if needed. Ladle this delicious mixture into big bowls and enjoy! Happy Winter!adding chickenliquid gold

Fall Weather and Beef Stroganoff…the Perfect Saturday!

Today was downright cold. Since it was a beautiful morning with leaves slowly falling and the sun shining, I decided to enjoy my breakfast on the deck. It was perfect, except, after a few minutes, I was freezing. Summer is definitely over. But, the cold temperatures made me think of what else…food…and not just any food…comfort food. Yes, not only is fall perfect with falling leaves, warm blankets, and amazing pumpkins, but it’s also the perfect excuse for warm, cozy comfort food like beef stroganoff!falling leaves

To start, cut 2 1/2 lbs. steak into chunks. I used sirloin, but feel free to use whatever cut you like. You want the pieces to be bite size. Salt and pepper the steak. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. If you’re like me, you may not have a pan big enough, so feel free to use a stock pot. Once the oil is hot, cook the steak until brown and mostly cooked through, a few minutes on each side. With this large amount, you want to cook the steak in batches, probably about three. Otherwise, the pan will be too full, and the meat will just steam, not brown. As the meat cooks, remove to a bowl.beefolive oilcookingbrowningcookedIn the same pan, add more olive oil if there isn’t any remaining. You want about a tablespoon total. Add 1 large onion, chopped. Cook for about 5 minutes until brown, then add 3 garlic cloves, minced. Cook for another minute, then remove to a bowl.onionsgarliconionsbrowningAdd 2 tablespoons butter to the pan. Once hot, add 1 lb. mushrooms, chopped. Again, you will want to do this in batches so the mushrooms brown. I cooked them in two batches.mushroomscookingalmostdoneOnce the mushrooms are all cooked, add the onions, garlic, and rest of the mushrooms back to the pan. Add 1/2 cup red wine, and deglaze the pan. Boil for a minute while scraping the bottom of the pan. Add 4 tablespoons flour, stir, and cook for another minute. Slowly add 4 cups beef broth, stirring to combine. The mixture will be thick as you start adding the broth. Add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes to combine.wineflourcookingthickeningDijonBefore serving, add 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and 1 cup sour cream. Stir to combine. Boil egg noodles according to package directions, and serve the stroganoff over the noodles.parsleyaddedsour creamdoneI hope you enjoy this comforting meal as much as I did. I can’t wait for more as the fall keep coming!

Easy and Delicious Pot Roast for those Cold Nights!

olive oilOne of the best things about the winter months is making big, hearty meals that warm your body and your soul. Those comforting meals do wonders in the cold, dreary months. It’s been cold here, and somewhat dreary. While I’m still waiting for a big snow storm, we’ve had lots of little ones! So, this week, it was the perfect week to make a simple and delicious pot roast.

To start, you need a 3 lb chuck roast. I look for one that has good marbling but isn’t too fatty. In a dutch oven that’s heated over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sear the roast on all sides, about 5 minutes on each side until nicely browned. Then set the roast on a plate to rest while you continue with the vegetables.chuck roastseared chuck roastIn the same pot, brown 3 medium onions, chopped. I like to use sweet onions, but whatever you like, or have on hand, is fine. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until brown and soft. Next, add 4 celery stalks, chopped, 8 small carrots (4 large, although I keep getting small ones at the store), peeled and chopped, and 6 cloves garlic, minced. Cook all of the vegetables together for about 5 minutes.onionscooked onionscarrots and celerychoppedgarliccookingOnce the vegetables are ready, add the roast back to the pan, on top of the vegetables, along with 1 cup red wine, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and 2-3 cups beef broth. You want the liquid to just cover the meat. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot, and set in a 375 degree oven for about 2 1/2-3 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when the meat can be pulled apart with a fork.tomato pasteready for ovenWhile the pot roast is cooking, quarter 24 oz button mushrooms. You’ll also need 4 tablespoons butter. Add 1 tablespoon butter to a saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook 1/4 of the mushrooms in the butter until brown. Continue with the rest of the butter and mushrooms, cooking in 4 batches.mushroomsquarteredbuttersauteing mushroomssauteed mushroomsWhen the pot roast is done, remove from the oven. Take out the meat and shred with two forks. Be careful to remove any large pieces of fat. Add the meat back to the pot along with the mushrooms.shreddingbeefIt’s warm, rich, meaty, and delicious! I hope it keeps you warm on these cold winter nights!

Stuffed Peppers-A Classic!

pepper cupsAs the days keep getting shorter and the temperature keeps dropping, I keep gravitating towards warm, comfort foods for dinner.  One that I’ve been craving for a while is stuffed peppers.  I didn’t really have a recipe for traditional stuffed peppers, with meat and rice, so I went looking.  I have to tell you, there are a ton of stuffed pepper recipes out there, but not a whole lot that are like the classics.  After reading tons of reviews and a bunch of recipes, I came up with this recipe.  It’s the classic combination of rice, ground meat, and tomato sauce stuffed in a pepper, and they are delicious!

chopping topsI was feeding a crowd so I made a double batch of these.  Since you probably don’t need 12 peppers, I’m posting the single version!

Start with your peppers.  Cut off the tops, but just the tops.  I found if you cut just where the sides start to curve, you can then just pop out the stem to discard.  Then you can chop the top pepper pieces to add to the stuffing.  Cut the tops off and clean 6 peppers.  Add them to a pot of boiling salted water, and boil for just 5 minutes, to start the cooking.  Don’t worry, they won’t look very cooked (and they shouldn’t), but this helps them to soften in the oven.  When you take them out of the water, put them in a bowl with cold water and ice to cool.  Set aside.cooked pepperscold peppersFor the stuffing, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan.  When hot, add the chopped onions and pepperstops of the pepper, and cook for 5 minutes, until they start to soften.  Next, add 1 medium onion, chopped, and 3 cloves garlic, minced (or just use that garlic press).  Cook these for about 10 minutes until the onions start to brown and soften, and they start turning brown.  Pour the vegetables into a bowl, and return the pan to the stove.

Next for the saute pan, add 1 lb ground beef and 1/4 lb sausage meat (without the casing).  Stir to break apart the meat, and cook until the mixture is no longer pink, then add to the vegetables.  Add 1 cup cooked rice to the mixture, and 1 cup marinara sauce, 1/2 beef and sausagetablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon ground peppers, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.  Allow the mixture to cool a bit, then add 1/2 cup Parmigiano cheese and 1 egg.  Stir everything to combine.

Another tip here, if you’re tasting for salt and pepper (and you really should), be sure to taste before you add the egg.  Once you feel the seasoning is right, then add the egg. This way you get the seasoning right without having to worry about eating raw eggs.

rice mixtureall combinedstuffingNext, take a 13×9 casserole dish and start stuffing your peppers.  You want to stuff them pretty full, and line them up in the pan.  You should have more stuffing than you need, but just scatter it around the peppers in the pan.  Finally, top the peppers with another 1 cup marinara sauce, cover with foil, and cook at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until hot throughout.

These really are delicious, and I hope you enjoy them.  I also hope you’re getting some inspiration from the fall.  What are you making these crisp fall nights?ready for the oven

One of My Favorite Fall Comfort Foods-Butternut Squash Lasagna!

peeledMany years ago, back in 2005, Martha Stewart published a recipe for Acorn Squash Lasagna in her Everyday Food magazine.  As soon as I saw the recipe, I knew I had to try it.  I love anything fall, and anything pasta, so it was a must.  And, true to form, it was delicious.  However, in my never-ending quest to perfect recipes, when I’ve made it in recent years, I’ve made some tweaks that I think make it even better.

First and foremost, I swap out acorn squash for butternut squash.  There is just something perfectly fall about butternut squash, and this recipe is perfect with it.  I also use a Dave's Gourmetjarred sauce and mix it with the roasted butternut squash.  I know, I know, jarred!  But, if you’ve ever tried Dave’s Gourmet Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce, you’ll understand.  If you haven’t, you need to drop everything and try it right now.  It is absolutely fantastic.  I get it at my local Wegmans, and I’ve even seen it at Marshalls, but I’m not sure who else carries it.  It has the delicious butternut squash with bell peppers, and it’s creamy and delicious.  It’s perfect for this lasagna!

To start, take 1 small to medium size butternut squash and chop it into about 1 inch cubes.  If you haven’t cooked with butternut squash, it’s very easy.  Just peel it, then cut it in half.  choppedClean out the rounded end of any seeds and soft insides, similar to a pumpkin.  Then, just slice and chop what’s left. Sprinkle the squash with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, until soft.  Once soft, mash and combine with Dave’s Gourmet Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce, or any butternut squash sauce you like, to make 8 cups total.  I used 2 jars of the sauce, but it really depends on how much butternut squash you cook.

In another bowl, combine 32 oz ricotta cheese with 1 cup Parmigiano cheese, 1 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Stir to combine then set aside.

cheeseTo make the lasagna, I used an 11×15 inch Pyrex pan, but a 13×9 would work too.  You’ll also need a 16 oz pack of no-bake lasagna noodles.  Spray the pan, and put a layer of pasta on the bottom.  It should be 4 across.  Then add half the butternut squash mixture and another layer of noodles.  Next add half of the cheese mixture and another layer of noodles.  Continue with squash, then noodles, and finish with the cheese.  Sprinkle 1 cup Parmigiano cheese over the top.

ready for the ovenCover the lasagna with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes, until it’s nice and golden on top.

If you haven’t had something like it, give this lasagna a try.  It’s delicious.  You can also half the recipe and make it in an 8×8 pan, but why wouldn’t you want leftovers???