Tag: comfort food

Bobby’s Big-Batch Eggplant Parmesan — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, February 10th, 2014

Eggplant ParmesanWhether you’re cooking for one, feeding a family of four or entertaining a crowd, preparing big-batch dishes is a good idea not only to ensure you don’t run out (especially if you’re entertaining guests), but also so that you’ll have enough left over to enjoy tomorrow. The secret to easy meals is having ready-to-go ingredients on hand, and that includes already-cooked dishes just looking to be reheated. So if you prepare a hearty stew or casserole one day, guarantee quick-fix lunches and easy dinners for the next few days by making a bit extra.

Bobby Flay‘s top-rated Eggplant Parmesan (pictured above) has leftovers built right into it, as this recipe feeds up to a whopping 12 people. Made with a simple red pepper-laced tomato sauce, crispy fried eggplant and layer after layer of creamy cheeses, this hearty Parmesan is the ultimate in Italian comfort food. After simmering the sauce for a bit, Bobby begins building the casserole, starting with a smear of sauce in the pan, then adding crispy fried eggplant, and a combination of mozzarella, Pecorino Romano and fontina cheeses before repeating the process and baking. It’s best to let the Parmesan sit for a few minutes after you’ve taken it out of the oven; this will help prevent the sauce and gooey cheeses from oozing out once you’ve sliced it.

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Chili for a New Jersey Winter

by in Food Network Chef, February 8th, 2014

Chili for a New Jersey WinterI’m writing this from the cozy comfort of a hotel room in a small town in New Jersey. Outside the trees are covered in snow. Having gone to college in Vermont, I’m used to the freezing temps and white-covered streets and sidewalks.

After I checked into the near-empty hotel, with only the small room service menu as my sustenance for the next 18 hours, I peeled off my puffy jacket and turned to the in-room dining page in the hotel binder. In seconds, I found exactly what I would order: the homemade chili and a green salad. (See my Starting a New Habit in 2014: Eat a Salad a Day post from last month — are you still eating salad? I am.)

Bundled up in my new pajamas (a Christmas gift from my daughters) and eating better-than-I-expected chili (and a salad) — all is right with my world. Why? Because there are certain foods that truly bring me comfort in the dead of winter: chili, onion soup and stew top my list. And while I can make those dishes any time, there is something magical about eating them on a snowy day. I think these comforting dishes remind me of my college years at The University of Vermont. My mom would visit me and we’d go on New England road trips, eating steamy soups and stews to thaw the chill (she went through a photography stage involving a lot of outdoor postcard-type shots, which she would subsequently frame and hang in our home).

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New-South Chicken and Dumplings — Down-Home Comfort

by in Recipes, February 7th, 2014

New-South Chicken and Dumplings — Down-Home ComfortWhy is it that so many comfort food classics start with a chicken in a pot? Chicken and dumplings is quite possibly the best cold-weather comfort food combination — thick, hearty stew married with fluffy, tender dumplings. There are two primary schools of thought when it comes to dumplings: dropped or rolled. Dumplings are essentially biscuits simmered in broth. The broth flavors the dumplings and the flour from the dumplings helps to thicken the stew.

My grandmother’s dumpling recipe was basically her recipe for biscuit dough rolled out and cut into strips. She started with a whole chicken and the entire process took a couple of hours; it was time-consuming. Frankly, when I am in need of comfort food, I often find my patience can wear a bit thin and I’m not into “time-consuming.”

Dumplings can be a bit tricky. It’s easy to wind up with heavy, pastelike dough balls. Ugh. There are recipes out there using canned biscuits, but with these easy-breezy dump-and-stir drop dumplings you can have wholesome, homemade, down-home comfort in a snap — made with ingredients you can pronounce. The secret is using warm milk. The heat expands and sets the flour so that the dumplings don’t as readily absorb the chicken stock in the stew.

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Winning Chicken Dinners — Comfort Food Feast

by in Recipes, February 6th, 2014

Winning Chicken DinnersChicken got its crown as the darling of the dinner table for a reason. It’s lean, versatile and easy to cook, and it also lays the foundation for some of our favorite comforting recipes. Your mother’s chicken noodle fixes you up like nothing over the counter ever could, and a spicy Slow-Cooker Chicken Chili proves that comfort foods don’t have to be dull. Whether you’re cutting into a full chicken, nibbling it by the wing or taking in tender shreds with a spoon, these comforting chicken recipes are stick-to-your-ribs good.

This time, what’s comforting is what’s crunchy. Pat and Gina’s Oven-Fried Chicken skips the deep-fry dunk for a lighter dose of home-cooked goodness — without forsaking that vital crispy exterior. For another oven-baked main, Ina’s bright Lemon Chicken Breasts are boneless, but she keeps the skin intact for added flavor.

When it comes to comfort, a big bowl of soup is the name of the game. For some, a steaming bowl of Matzo Ball Soup or Ree’s Chicken and Noodles is a weekly necessity. For others, Southern-style recipes like Sunny’s Easy Chicken and Dumplings bring it all home.

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Vanilla Pudding, Six Ways

by in Recipes, February 5th, 2014

6 Vanilla PuddingsWhether it’s an after-school snack or a silky spoonful of dessert, vanilla pudding is always a sentimental treat that can instantly channel the flavors of childhood. To re-create this creamy comfort food from scratch, toss out the powdery boxed mix and whip up Food Network Kitchen’s old-fashioned Vanilla Pudding recipe that tastes just like Mom’s used to. Once you’ve whisked together this sweet bowl full of nostalgia, start experimenting with mix-ins to give your pudding a modern twist. From crushed cookies to ice cream-inspired candy combos, these imaginative additions only enhance the basic pudding, allowing the classic flavor to shine through.

Rocky Road PuddingYou won’t have to worry about this bowl of rocky road melting: Vanilla pudding stands in for the ice cream scoop but delivers the same classic flavors when mixed with semisweet chocolate chips, toasted walnuts and miniature marshmallows.

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Best 5 Biscuit Recipes

by in Recipes, February 5th, 2014

Southern BiscuitsWhether you’re a true Southern sweetheart who enjoys biscuits every Sunday morning or you only encounter biscuits atop the occasional pot pie, there’s no denying that these buttery, flaky beauties are a comfort food classic that can shine in meals anytime of the day. The secret to baking up light, moist biscuits is not overworking the dough. When you’re incorporating ingredients, take care to mix them only until they’re combined; any more than that and they run the risk of being too tough. Check out Food Network’s top-five biscuit recipes below to find crave-worthy bites from some of your favorite Food Network chefs, like Giada, Trisha, The Pioneer Woman and Alton.

5. Nonna’s Lemon-Ricotta Biscuits — Featuring a few drops of almond extract, plus creamy ricotta cheese and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, Giada’s quick-fix biscuits are topped with sliced almonds for subtle crunch and can be served either warm or at room temperature.

4. Daddy’s Biscuits — Trisha’s 30-minute biscuits are made with only a handful of ingredients and can turn out as soft or crisp as you like depending on how close together or far apart you bake them.

Get the top-three recipes

Beer Mac and Cheese — The Weekender

by in Recipes, January 31st, 2014

Beer Mac and Cheese - The WeekenderMy husband’s birthday is coming up and to celebrate I’m throwing a little birthday party. It won’t be a fancy gathering — just some easy food, a Funfetti cake (I am not a fan of boxed cakes, but it’s his favorite), and a bunch of our friends and their kids.

Part of my easy food plan involves several pans of macaroni and cheese. Scott loves the stuff, it’s easy to make in large quantities and the opportunities for making it more interesting are pretty darn endless.

As the plan stands right now, I’ll make one pan of basic, no-frills mac and cheese for those who can’t stand anything beyond noodles in a creamy cheese sauce. I’m still shopping for a recipe to serve the more adventurous eaters, however.

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Super Sliders — Comfort Food Feast

by in Entertaining, January 30th, 2014

Triple Pork Sliders for the Big GameEven with boatloads of nachos, nonstop chicken wings and all the guacamole you can sink your chips into, there’s one game-day dish that a football fan — or commercial aficionado — can’t live without. It’s a little sandwich we like to call the slider. Champion of the happy hour menu and bite-size rendering of a national favorite, these wee sandwiches are a mandatory competitor in your big-game spread.

To keep it simple, kick it off with Ina Garten’s classic beef sliders. With only the kiss of a grill, these mini burgers don’t need a fancy sauce — just that obligatory squeeze of ketchup. If sauce is what you’re after, Bobby Flay’s Sliders with Chipotle Mayonnaise are finished with a semi-homemade swipe of smokiness.

How can the Neelys’ Triple Pork Sliders (pictured above) pack in three types of pork, you ask? Each little sandwich features ground pork, fresh Mexican chorizo and crisp, smoky bacon. Now that’s a combo worthy of a championship.

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Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Kale and Mushrooms — Meatless Monday

by in Recipes, January 27th, 2014

Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Kale and MushroomsRich, hearty and deliciously creamy, macaroni and cheese may be the ultimate comfort food, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up the everyday casserole with some healthful additions. Whether you round out the meal with juicy tomatoes, mild-tasting cauliflower or bright-green broccoli, there are indeed ways to incorporate fresh flavors without losing the decadence of the traditional recipe.

Food Network Kitchens put its spin on the indulgent classic with Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Kale and Mushrooms (pictured above), a big-batch supper that’s simple enough to make on a weeknight. After making a triple-cheese sauce with cheddar, Gruyere and cream cheese, mix in the pasta and add garlic-laced kale, plus meaty sauteed shiitakes. “Don’t be alarmed by how much kale you start with for this recipe,” the Kitchens chefs write. “It will cook down quite a bit and pairs deliciously with the creamy pasta and shiitake mushrooms.” Finish the casserole with seasoned breadcrumbs and bake it for just a few minutes until the topping is crispy, and the cheese is gooey and bubbly. Just like with any baked mac and cheese, it’s important to not overcook the noodles in the water, since they’ll finish cooking in the oven. It’s best to remove them when they’re al dente, so they don’t turn mushy when they’re baked.

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The New Age of Casseroles — Comfort Food Feast

by in Entertaining, Recipes, January 23rd, 2014

Sloppy Joe Macaroni CasseroleThe casserole doesn’t necessarily have the most-fashionable rep around. (Tuna casserole, we’re lookin’ at you.) But don’t let that misconception hold you back. The modern casserole really is a one-dish wonder, one that comes nice and bubbly from the oven. It can take you from oven to table with no effort at all. And when you’re buried under scarves and sweaters, the thought of easy-to-access comfort food should warm you on its very own.

Classic lasagna may be the most-popular Italian one-dish wonder, but just consider it a starting point. Trisha fixes her vegan Black Bean Lasagna by layering black beans, homemade tofu ricotta and fire-roasted tomatoes between sheets of lasagna noodles.

Many casseroles come with a base of rice, but Rachael’s Make-Ahead Paella Casserole is definitely the most vibrant. For a one-pan dose of Spanish comfort, Rachael simmers rice in an infusion of saffron before joining it with chicken, chorizo, fish and even shrimp.

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