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My Comfort Food Falling Out

For some reason, we are convinced that with the onset of fall and winter, we should be eating comfort food…delicious, stick to the ribs (and everywhere else)…filling, satisfying, fattening food. Then comes spring and we wonder why our shorts don’t fit and our feet have gone up a half size. 

Try a bowl of shepherds pie laced with buttery mashed potatoes or how about a nice slice of mac and cheese stuffed meatloaf? These are truly amazing. 

So, my question is this: Is it comfort food season, or are we stress eating because it will soon be snowy and cloudy for the next six months??

If I sound like a bah humbug about fall and winter, it’s no accident. That being the case, I have made a diligent attempt to find seasonal recipes that limit the fat but keep the comfort.

And by the way, shortcuts of all kinds in my recipes are more than acceptable. Trader Joe’s is stocked with affordable and organic choices for meal prep goodies. Costco is another great place if you are feeding a large crowd. 

PS…I will absolutely post those amazing comfort food recipes as well. No reason not to…

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD WITH PORT VINAIGRETTE

FOR THE BUTTERNUT SQUASH

  • 1 Butternut Squash, cut in small pieces
  • 8 shallots, peeled, halved
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • Sprinkle of onion salt (I like the Trader Joe’s)

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup port wine
  • 1 T. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

FOR THE SALADS

BUILD EACH SALAD WITH

  1. 1 cup spring mix salad greens
  2. Roasted butternut squash and shallots
  3. 2 T. Port Vinaigrette
  4. 2 T. crumbled blue cheese
  5. 2 T. toasted walnut pieces

 

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Toss the butternut squash and shallots in olive oil in a large roasting pan. Lightly sprinkle with onion salt (or sea salt).

Roast in the lower oven for 15 minutes.

Prepare the vinaigrette:

Combine vinegar, honey, port, ginger, and rosemary. Pour this syrup over the roasting squash and return the pan to the oven; roast for 10 more minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer squash and shallots to a bowl.

Pour syrup into a measuring cup and whisk in enough oil to make 11/4 cups vinaigrette, season, and set aside.

 

Build each salad starting with greens.

Top with squash and shallots, and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese and toasted walnuts.

*If you aren’t a fan of butternut squash, try using pears for a delicious twist. Roast them or use them sliced raw.

Dear Friends,

Sorry it has been so long. Summer has taken me away from my computer but I am back to share.

Always on a search for delicious EASY winners and I am happy to search for ones you are looking for. Email or send a txt.

Cheers to celebrating simple things every day and cherishing friends and loved ones.

🍷 Laura

PS…Check out my latest Trader Joe’s obsessions! Just one click away!

 

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Trader Joes(16 fl oz) Coconut Certified Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil by Trader Joes by Trader Joe’s $13.49 + Free Shipping!

TRADER JOES COCONUT OIL

Cook with it, mix it with your peanut butter, or use it on your skin! I can’t get enough of this!

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TRADER JOE'S FOUR SPICES

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TRADER JOE'S SWEET PEPPER JELLY

This is a staple if you entertain! Mix it with cream cheese + serve with crackers for an easy and delicious appetizer!

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Keep this by your sink and wear it every day to help keep those wrinkles away!

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LOVE LOVE LOVE this gentle facial cleanser. I even use it to soak my bathing suits after swimming!

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ALL CLAD ROASTING PAN

This is literally, the BEST roasting pan! Large enough for everything and super easy to clean!

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Comfort….

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Today I learned of a friend’s passing.  A tearful whisper in the wind.

My friend was kind, cheerful, giving and loving, to her family and to her friends. Everyone knew the cancer had returned, but her heart wouldn’t allow her to share the burden she carried when hope turned to prayers and words turned to tears.

Visiting her Pinterest boards today, it became clear that words of inspiration and thoughts reach deeply into our hearts and minds.

With tears in my eyes, I wanted to write..

“My dear Friend,

I wish I could have shared your pain and kept your private fears and tears close to my heart. I pray that your pain is gone and you are at peace.”

These are some of her posts….

Geralyn's words

Comfort comes with time and we hope that time does heal, although the pain never really goes away. Comfort comes in many ways and opening our hearts to comfort during difficult times can help.
Geralyn

My upbringing always brings me to food. Growing up, food was always the center of happiness, sadness and just about anything in between. My Steve always says that dining with family is an experience….they are the only people he knows who can be discussing what they want for the next meal while they are eating…too true:)

So for me, comfort food is just that, and I have found this delicious twist on stroganoff with just the right amount of heat and the right amount of comfort. Enjoy!

CAJUN CHICKEN STROGANOFF

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  •  8 oz. dry wide egg noodles

  • 8 oz. kielbasa, sliced 8 oz. button mushrooms, quartered 4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

  • 11/2 lb. chicken breast tenders

  • 1/2 tsp. each cayenne pepper, paprika, black pepper, kosher salt, dried basil, dried thyme, and dried oregano

  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste

  • 2 tsp. minced fresh garlic

  • 1/2 cup dry sherry

  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • Sliced scallions

DIRECTIONS

Cook noodles in a pot of boiling salted water according to package directions; drain.

Sauté kielbasa and mushrooms in 2 Tbsp. oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until browned, 5 minutes; transfer to a bowl.

Combine chicken with seasonings, tossing to coat, then dust with flour. Sauté chicken in remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in same sauté pan over medium-high heat until nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Push chicken to the side of the pan, stir in tomato paste and garlic, and cook 1 minute.

Deglaze pan with sherry, scraping up any brown bits; simmer until nearly evaporated. A

dd broth, Worcestershire, and reserved kielbasa and mushroom mixture, bring to a simmer, and reduce by half, about 5 minutes.

Off heat, stir in sour cream.

Serve stroganoff over noodles and garnish with scallions

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3 ULTIMATE COMFORT FOOD RECIPES

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So, what exactly is comfort food? Is it fattening delicious food that sticks to your ribs (and everywhere else) leaving you sitting on the sofa in a wonderful food coma? Is it food that conjures up warm childhood memories of Sunday night dinners in Mom’s kitchen while the snowflakes fall to the ground? Quite possibly both.

I kiddingly crown my husband, Steve, the Comfort Food King. Meatloaf, fried bologna sandwiches, anything covered with melted Velveeta cheese, fried chicken with mashed potatoes, and beef jerky are among his faves. Oh…and pies, and cookies, and don’t forget the layered jello mold! He does, however,  eat pretty healthy for the most part.

It is interesting to hear other’s definition of comfort food. The topic of conversation during various parts of my step class typically ranges from food to shopping. During our cool down the other day, comfort food was the topic.  Lisa, who recently moved here from England, had never heard of meatloaf or fried bologna sandwiches, but she was quick to recommend macaroni and cheese which we all hummed with approval. Gina and Barb showed deference to the bologna sandwiches, and Gina chimed in with her Italian ancestry voted for pasta. Barb offered a grilled muenster cheese sandwich with tomato soup. All the ladies agreed that comfort food is actually  just that; ‘feel good food.’

Recently, Steve and I attended a friend’s comfort food dinner party. Each guest was asked to bring a comfort food dish.  The variety was an interesting range of everything from beef short ribs with polenta to chicken noodle soup. I came to the conclusion, after my quite unscientific study of comfort food, that it is personal.

Today, I have a distinct inner conflict about dinner as I watch the snowflakes fall at the very beginning of spring. Do I look forward to the coming of summer and my commitment to try to fit into last summer’s clothes by exploring dinner salad recipes or say screw it and make a delicious cheese stuffed meatloaf with mashed potatoes worry about the clothes later..? The meatloaf wins as well as some other comfort food faves to add to the list as well as two wonderful pot pies; seafood & chicken. Check these out….

 

MOZZARELLA STUFFED MEATLOAF

Flavorful ground beef stuffed with ooey gooey mozzarella cheese.
Serves 4 to 6

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Ingredients
1 pound ground beef (85%)
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ cup milk
2 TB worcestershire sauce
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 cup ketchup
¼ cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1 TB worcestershire sauce
1 TB red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
⅛ tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper

LET’S MAKE ITI

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a glass baking pan (9×13) with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine ground beef, bread crumbs, basil, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, milk, and worcestershire sauce.
  • Divide meat in half. Shape one half of the meat into the bottom half of the loaf and place in prepared pan.
  • Place mozzarella slices down the center, leaving ½ inch around the ends and sides.
  • Shape remaining half of meat as the top half of the loaf, sealing the edges. This is a free-form loaf so it doesn’t need to be perfect.
  • In a small mixing bowl whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper. Pour half of this mixture over the meatloaf, reserving the remaining half for later.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.
  • After 45 minutes, remove from oven and pour the remaining sauce over the loaf.Increase temperature to 400 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

SEAFOOD POT PIE with PUFF PASTY

FOR THE BROTH

COMBINE:

  • 2  lobster tails (5–6 oz. each)
  • 3  oz. large shrimp
  • 1/2 cup russet potato, peeled, diced 1/4 cup carrot, diced

FOR THE FILLING

SWEAT IN 2 T. UNSALTED BUTTER

  • 1/4 cup leeks, diced
  • 1 t. garlic, minced

WHISK IN:

  • T. all-purpose flour

DEGLAZE WITH; ADD:

  • 2 T. dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup reserved seafood broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas

 

REMOVE FROM HEAT AND STIR IN:

  • Reserved seafood and vegetables
  • 2 oz. lump crab meat
  • 1 t. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 t. chopped fresh tarragon
  • Salt, white pepper, and cayenne to taste

FOR THE PASTRY TOP

BRUSH WITH:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed 1 egg, lightly beaten with
  • 1 T. water

 

  • Preheat oven to 425°; line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Prepare lobster tails, cutting both sides of the shell (not the meat) down to the fan. Remove meat, reserving shells for broth. Peel and devein shrimp, then halve lengthwise; reserve meat and shells.
  • Combine seafood shells, potato, and carrot in a saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer until vegetables are fork tender, 10–15 minutes. Drain, reserving vegetables and 1/2 cup broth; discard shells and remaining broth.
  • Sweat leeks and garlic in butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until leeks are translucent, about 5 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Deglaze with sherry. Add reserved broth, whisking until smooth and thickened; stir in cream and peas.
  • Off heat, stir in reserved seafood and vegetables, crab, lemon juice, herbs, and seasonings. Mixture will be very thick.
  • Prepare puff pastry, rolling out on a floured surface to 1/8″ thick. Trim around a 21/2-cup ovenproof dish so the pastry is 3/4″ larger than the diameter of the dish.
  • Cut vents in the pastry with a knife so steam can escape. Transfer filling to the dish and top with the pastry piece. Trim excess pastry, crimp edges, then brush dough with egg wash.
  • Bake pot pie on the prepared baking sheet until top is golden and filling is bubbly, 20–25 minutes.

TURKEY POT PIE with PHYLLO CRUST

Makes 4 servings

CHICKEN POT PIE

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz.cremini or button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flouR
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  cup whole milk
  • 2  tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Salt, black pepper, and dry
  • sherry to taste
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed and patted dry
  • 4 Tbsp. each unsalted butter and olive oil
  • 16 sheets phyllo dough, thawed to room temperatureMAKE IT!
  • Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Cook mushrooms and thyme in 6 Tbsp. butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until browned and liquid nearly evaporates, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute.
  • Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup sherry; cook until nearly evaporated. Whisk in broth and milk; cook until thickened to desired consistency, 10–12 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice; season with salt, pepper, and sherry.
  • Transfer mushroom mixture to a large bowl. Stir in turkey, mixed vegetables, and onions.
  • Divide mixture among four  baking dishes arranged on prepared baking sheet.
  • Heat 4 Tbsp. butter with oil in microwave until butter melts. Place a phyllo sheet on a flat surface; cover remaining sheets with a damp towel to keep them from drying out.
  • Lightly brush phyllo sheet with butter-oil mixture; roll into a loose tube. Repeat brushing and rolling with 3 more phyllo sheets, then starting at outer edge, place 4 phyllo tubes end to end in a spiral pattern on top of filling. Repeat phyllo steps for each pot pie. Drizzle any remaining butter- oil mixture over phyllo or coat with nonstick spray.
  • Bake pies until crust is golden and filling is bubbly, about
    20 minutes. Let pies cool 5–10 minutes before serving.

Depending upon the width of your dishes, the number of phyllo sheets needed may vary by one or two.

Dear Friends,

Thanks for swing by today. I hope you give these recipes a try. As always, I encourage you to take advantage of all the shortcuts; frozen veggies, rotisserie chicken, but never substitute butter. The substitutes are packed with artificial ingredients, have the similar fat content and zero flavor.

On another note, I have finally launched my ladies’ boutique….FOLIO TRENDS!  Great shopping, great finds, free shipping + incredible prices! Until next time….fullsizeoutput_1ddd

🍷Cheers! Laura