Quarantine Cooking: A Comfort Food Field Guide

March 25, 2020

So, if you’ve taken a gander at the grocery store shelves, it can be a little intimidating.

I have a lot of confidence that grocery stores will return to normal in a month, though this event does give us a peek at the importance of permaculture and sustainability and why local farms are so important. I’ve never been so thankful for my egg guy and my chicken family and my beef farmer that raises grass-fed beef in the hills of Vermont. I keep wishing some green things were already growing in my back yard. But keep shopping local because if food supply chains are ever disrupted we will need them. And it also makes me want to stock up on pantry basics that I can turn into a great dinner, so this post is filled with recipes that use staples I tend to have on hand.

Cooking is a mixture of hope and gratitude at the moment. I find myself so thankful for what we have and yet looking at our supplies thinking about what we would do if we ran out of that. I found myself down to 1 active yeast packet and nearly panicked when I couldn’t find more anywhere, then I found a small jar in my pantry and was irrationally happy. So bread baking and pizza dough making can commence.

I find myself turning to a handful of recipes that feel like survival necessities and even though I know they aren’t, they can help to pass these days with a bit of comfort and sweetness.

  1. The best chocolate chip cookie recipe -My daughter has been keeping us supplied with a pan of this chocolate chip cookie that we slice like a pie every few days. I can get used to having kids around if they will cook like this. If butter becomes scarce we’ll have to wean ourselves. We keep telling her she broke all other chocolate chip cookies for us because they’re so good.
  2. Hot Fudge Sauce  – I make this at Christmas every year and hand it out to teachers and neighbors. My next door neighbor (hi Jen!) told me she just takes a bite out of the jar every so often and it magically wills her to live joyfully on her hardest days, so I gifted her with another jar at the start of all this. Then I realized that I had my own jar in the fridge, and I can tell you she is right. A little bite in between math and writing will help even the most challenging homeschool/remote learning day.

2. Sourdough Bread – My favorite recipe has been this Rustic Sourdough, and we also like this Basic Sourdough for sandwich bread (pictured below). Like most things I am panicked about how much starter we have so I’ve made extra and I’m handing it out to neighbors.

3. Pizza dough – I am all about the 30 minute pizza dough. It is faster than delivery around these parts. And I know I’ve written and even done a video on our beloved tomato sauce but I’m giving it to you again because I care.

4. Chicken Taco Bowls & Chicken Tortilla Soup – All those cans of corn and black beans and frozen chicken breasts can be turned into the yummiest dinner. I probably talk about this dish too much but its just because it takes 5 minutes of prep, a few hours in the slow cooker, and it’s tastes and feels so good every time we have it.

5. Instapot Beef Stew-

Bad photos but a super yummy recipe. I made this last night from frozen cubed meat and a drawer full of winter veggies. It is fast prep and cooks in 50 minutes to the most tender beef ever.

6.  Chicken BLT Pasta Bake – Something to do with all that pasta you grabbed off the shelves.

7. Beef Stroganoff – My husband has had lots of time to grill (yay) and we have had a ton of steak leftover. I made this tonight for dinner and it is such a great way to use up beef leftovers. The kids kept saying, ‘yum, I love this dinner’ the whole time. I usually make it up as I go with beef broth, sour cream and dijon mustard but I have followed Rachel Ray’s recipe too (and you don’t have to use filet mignon, I have even used left over pot roast.) You can also serve it over all that pasta – we love it on egg noddles.

8. Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps – I made these for lunch today with a rotisserie chicken. It was pretty easy to just throw the rice cooker on and everyone had hot meal. So so good and everyone loves them. My personal tip is to eat it piping hot, and you may want to warm it up in the microwave if you don’t have rice hot off the rice cooker.

9. Instapot White Chicken Chili – This is also so easy and the pressure cooker gives it a ton of flavor. Great with pantry and freezer staples. The leftovers make such an easy lunch too while homeschooling, which basically feels like proctoring + toddler wrangling.

10. Slow Cooker Noodle Bowls – I can’t wait to make this! One of my favorite recipes on the blog. I have the toppings in my fridge but even if I only had the chicken and broth with the noodles which I tend to keep on hand it is amazing and comforting and loved by my kids.

 

Ok, off to keep kids alive. Wish me luck, and Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

My Mom’s Irish Soda Bread

March 5, 2020

Ah, food memories.

Thinking about them because I am finally sharing my mom’s recipe for Irish Soda Bread!

This sweet goodness starts showing up a few weeks before St. Paddy’s Day around her house. If you have been around this blog long enough, you know I grew up in a family of ten with a mom who was a great cook. I learned way more about good eating than good cooking living in her house, but as soon as I was married, those food memories followed me and through lots of phone calls and dog-earred recipe cards, I managed to get recipes for many of them.  This one has been at the top of my list these last few years, and now it’s here.

When I was in college, I went abroad in London I bought Irish Soda Bread at the grocery store and it tasted like sawdust. I had no idea it could be a whole wheat loaf, so coarse and dry, since my thoughts of soda bread are light, fluffy, moist and sweet with bits of dried fruit and a sweet glaze on top. Because that’s the soda bread my mom made growing up.

I love the combination of the caraway seeds with the little bits of apricot and golden raisins she usually uses. And the buttermilk makes it taste so tender. It is wonderful toasted with a little butter for breakfast. It’s such a wonderful food memory for me now, and such a distinctive combination of flavors. (It’s hard to go wrong with flour and butter and sugar right?). I’m so glad I am going to always have it here on the blog (one of my favorite parts of food blogging – my favorite recipes are so easy to find!).

I love that this serves as such a nice gift for others too, and you can buy little paper or wooden bread pans for easy distribution.

I like to use the mini loaf sizes too, and you can usually cut the cooking time in half for the smaller loaves, just keep watching it until the edges are brown. I hope you try this, and it becomes one of your family traditions too.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Mom’s Irish Soda Bread

4 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

2 ½ teaspoons salt

1 stick of butter (room temperature)

2 eggs

2 cups buttermilk, divided

1 Tablespoon caraway seeds

1 cup raisins, golden raisins or other dried fruit like cranberries or apricots, diced if large

 

For glaze:

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

water

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients and butter together so it’s like a pie crust. Add raisins or dried fruit. Add caraway seeds and mix. Add eggs and 1 cup of the buttermilk and mix well. Add remaining cup of buttermilk and mix well.

Bake in 2 greased loaf pans for 50-60 minutes, until edges look browned.

While the bread bakes, mix together confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough water to form a glaze.

Remove from oven and then take out of bread pans. Drizzle with glaze while bread is warm.

 

 

Valentine’s Ideas

February 14, 2020

It’s Valentine’s Day! Which if you have kids means you need to make lots of cards for your kid’s classmates and then attend lots of parties with sugared up kids.

Maybe you’re lucky enough to go out (we’re going out Sunday!) or maybe you’re cooking at home this Valentine’s Day. Either way I’ve found some recipes on the www that will make your weekend just a little bit sweeter.

  1. Whipped Goat Cheese with Baked Figs – This dish looks beautiful! My husband loves goat cheese and figs too.
  2. This baked goat cheese dip also looks amazing.
  3. Here is a video on how to make the perfect Filet Mignon at Delish and here is a red wine reduction – one of my favorite since it has a ton of flavor and its so fast & easy to make.
  4. If your husband loves chicken (looking at you Jeffrey) then this pan-roasted chicken with cream sauce might be perfect.
  5. Speaking of Jeffrey, Ina made him this Crispy Mustard Chicken and I have always wanted to try it. With white wine, dijon and bread crumbs with herbs, sounds like lots of flavor.
  6. If you have some time to slow cook this Beef Bourguignon looks heavenly…
  7. This dijon crusted rack of lamb looks so yummy. If you have trouble finding rack of lamb I have great luck at BJs and Trader Joes.
  8. Oh let’s do Sidecars with Dried Cherries, yes please!
  9. Can we finish with this 4-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse too? It seems like this was what Nutella was destined for.
  10. One of our favorite local dishes to order is at Surf in Portsmouth, and it is lobster truffle sushi. I think we should just make it lobster truffle mac and cheese at home.

Going to hang with my Valentine now. Hope you all have a loving weekend, happy eating! xoxo Katie

Better Than Takeout Stir-Fried Udon Noodles

February 6, 2020

 

When I get a chance to hang out with other moms, we always end up comparing notes about what dinners everyone has loved in our families lately. That’s where this dish was discovered.

My friend Julie (hi Julie!) is a great cook and is very sweet to always tell me what dishes her family loves from The Humble Onion (Mini Meatloaves are their favorite).  She told me her husband and kids have also been loving this stir-fry udon dish from Bon Appetit, and that it is a) easy and b) delicious.  Word of mouth is my favorite.

I was excited to put the frozen ground pork in my freezer to work, and I usually keep a head of cabbage on hand for one of my husband’s favorite Friday night dinners, Ahi Tuna Wraps (which is just low carb tortillas, seared ahi tuna, sliced, spicy mayo, and some cabbage thinly sliced and tossed with rice wine vinegar). I also LOVE these Crispy Oven Roasted Cabbage Wedges from Alexandra Cooks. In case you were wondering why I just happened to have a head of cabbage on hand.                                                                                                                                                                           You want to start by browning your sesame seeds and get your chopping prep work done with the cabbage, the scallions, and the ginger.

Two tips about ginger: 1) I love storing it in the freezer so it doesn’t go bad and just thawing it in the microwave when I need it and 2) Our old sitter Emily (hi Emily!) spent a lot of time in Vietnam with her dad, and said that they use a spoon to peel ginger skin off. It really comes off so easily I can’t believe I ever tried to do it with a knife.

Stir frying the cabbage first gives it a flavor and texture like the inside of an egg roll.

Then you brown the pork with ginger and the light green and white parts of scallions, then add the mirin and soy sauce.

I have been loving these Udon Noodles which you can find on Amazon (and we never run out of sesame oil thanks to this giant bottle I got at BJs):

 

  

Then you toss the udon noodles with the cabbage, sesame oil, and finally the pork mixture.

I discovered this dish is good hot or cold when I couldn’t stop eating the leftovers out of the container while my plate warmed up for lunch the next day.

Lastly – the recipe calls for mirin but I didn’t have any so I substituted rice wine vinegar but used a little less.

If you’re looking for an easy new dish to put on the weekly menu that everyone will love, than try this one! And let me know how it goes.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Better Than Take Out Stir Fried Udon Noodles

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 cups very coarsely chopped green cabbage (from about ¼ medium head)
  • 2 7-ounce packages instant udon noodles, flavor packets discarded
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 5 scallions, white and pale-green parts coarsely chopped, dark-green parts thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger (from a 1-inch knob)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ⅓ cup mirin (or 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar)
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, plus more for serving

DIRECTIONS:

  • Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add cabbage and cook, tossing often, until edges are browned, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, tossing often, until thickest parts of cabbage leaves are tender, about 4 minutes longer. Remove from heat and set skillet aside.

  • Place udon in a large heatproof bowl (or pot if you don’t have one) and cover with 6 cups boiling water. Let sit 1 minute, stirring to break up noodles, then drain in a colander. Transfer noodles back to bowl and toss with sesame oil. Transfer cabbage to bowl with noodles. Wipe out skillet.

  • Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in same skillet over medium-high and add pork, breaking up and spreading across surface of pan with a spatula or tongs. Cook pork, undisturbed, until underside is brown, about 3 minutes. The pork will never brown if you’re fussing with it the whole time, so when we say “undisturbed,” that means keep your paws off it and let the heat of the pan and the pork do their thing. When pork is browned, break up meat into small bits. Cook, tossing, just until there’s no more pink, about 1 minute. Add chopped scallions (the pale parts), ginger, and red pepper. Continue to cook, tossing often, until scallions are softened and bottom of skillet has started to brown, about 1 minute. Add udon mixture, mirin, and soy sauce and cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are coated in sauce (be sure to scrape bottom of skillet to dissolve any browned bits), about 45 seconds. Remove from heat and fold in 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds and dark-green parts of scallions. Top with more sesame seeds before serving.

    Recipe from Bon Appetit

Balsamic Pulled Chicken

January 27, 2020

 

I love the ease of cooking pulled pork or chicken for a crowd. Cook, shredded, mix with sauce, add some coleslaw. Done.

But when I saw this recipe for Balsamic Pulled Chicken, I instantly craved it. And as I put together the sauce, I realized it is actually very similar to the ingredient list for BBQ sauce, just with balsamic vinegar’s depth of flavor and richness, and without BBQs sticky sweetness.

Which makes it amazing.

It’s a great twist on a classic and my new favorite go to to feed a crowd.

It is a major plus that this whole thing comes together in less than 30 minutes. I made it for a recent family get together and it was so easy, the chicken baked away in the oven while I made the sauce. When I shredded it, it was super tasty on its own (go garlic power, salt and pepper for making baked chicken breast super yummy).  If I made this for a party I would probably make it according to these directions and then keep it warm in a crock pot.

It’s good to have options.

I served it on Ciabatta rolls but for low carb romaine lettuce or Bibb lettuce slices work or even topping a salad with the shredded sauced chicken and some blue cheese crumbles would be perfect.

Ok, lets talk cole slaw! The recipe calls for a slaw made with aioli and canned pineapple. I don’t love canned pineapple, and so I made my favorite cole slaw recipe which is mayo, milk, celery salt, celery seed, a splash of white or apple cider vinegar and  a pinch of sugar.  This coleslaw recipe from Bon Appetit is really close to how I make it, though I add some milk to thin it.

And I think it is fine to sub mayonnaise for the greek yogurt and aioli. But maybe unlike me you do have some aioli nearby.

I loved it with this coleslaw but maybe your crew would like the sweet version so it is listed below with some tweaks.

This one is definitely a keeper when you need to cook for a crowd. I tripled the recipe for leftovers and easily fed 10.

(FYI, my little kids liked it in a hotdog roll with American cheese and no slaw.)

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Balsamic Pulled Chicken

INGREDIENTS

CHICKEN

  • 1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

SAUCE

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/2 cup boiling water 
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce/ketchup 
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

SLAW

  • 14 oz slaw mix
  • 8 oz. can pineapple pieces in juice
  • 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened yoghurt (or mayo)
  • 1/3 cup aioli (or mayo)
  • 2 Tbsp juice from canned pineapple
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

TO SERVE

  • 4-8 rolls or burger buns
  • 4-8 slices cheese, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. COOK CHICKEN

    Preheat oven to 375ºF fan bake. Place a large piece of foil on an oven tray. Place chicken on top. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle garlic powder over the top and season well with salt and pepper. Wrap up in the foil to enclose. Bake for 25 minutes, until chicken is completely cooked through.

  2. MAKE SAUCE

    While chicken cooks, place oil, vinegar, water, tomato sauce, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, crumbled stock cube and garlic powder in a small non-stick saucepan. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until thickened (should be about the same consistency as tomato sauce/ketchup). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  3. MAKE SLAW

    Combine slaw and pineapple (reserve the pineapple juice!) in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together yoghurt, aioli, pineapple juice and mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add approximately two thirds of the dressing to the slaw and toss to combine.

  4. ASSEMBLE AND SERVE

    If you prefer the rolls warm, place in the oven for a few minutes. Remove chicken from foil, place in a shallow dish and use two forks to roughly shred. Pour balsamic sauce over the top (adjust quantity to suit your tastes) and toss to combine.

  5. Cut rolls in half, spread with remaining slaw dressing, add slices of cheese and top with slaw and chicken. Sandwich together. Serve with extra slaw on the side (the slaw is nice topped with any extra chicken too).

    Recipe adapted from yourultimatemenu.com

Chorizo + Gouda Stuffed Peppers (Gluten Free)

January 15, 2020

 

Hi there all you wonderful readers! I’m going to send hopeful thoughts that when I don’t have two-year-old twins I will give you many more original recipes than I currently can, because it is completely my favorite part of food blogging. Still love sharing recipes that pass my big family test too, but new recipes are so fun.

I have one for you today and it is SO GOOD.

We make a lot of stuffed peppers in our house, and I usually make them with sautéed onion + garlic, ground beef/turkey, Rao’s tomato sauce, rice, diced tomatoes, and plenty of parm + mozzarella. Easy peasy, didn’t even blog about them because I usually make the recipe up as I go and I think there are already a ton on the internet. Such as here and here.

But then I was trying to think of healthy dinners that were also crave-worthy, and I thought the stuffed pepper routine could use some jazzing up. I mean, the possibilities are endless, aren’t they?

My thoughts kept returning to flavorful sausage, and how it infuses soups like my Sausage, Kale and Lentil Stew and rice dishes like Jambalaya (I use Zatarans  with chicken, shrimp and andouille or chorizo, which you could also use to stuff these peppers with if you’re in a hurry).

So I let some brown rice mix with some sautéed onions, garlic and chorizo…

Added some chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and black beans and corn…

And then added some smoked gouda because smoked cheese + smoked meat is a match made in heaven.

 

 

My twelve year old daughter and I actually tasted tested cheddar, mozzarella, and monkery jack along with the gouda to see which cheese tasted the best. She just put down her little taster ramekin and said, “You have to go with the gouda, it’s is delicious. The other ones don’t even come close.” I kind of think they came a little close, and you could use any of them, but the gouda did take it to the next level.

Also – you will probably have some filling left over. It is delicious on its own or you can find some extra veggies to stuff like zucchini or tomatoes. It’s funny I almost always make zucchini boats when I make stuffed peppers.

These are no ordinary stuffed peppers – the chorizo infused them with so much flavor I barely needed to add any seasonings! It does make it spicy, which my big kids love, but full disclosure the youngest had mac + cheese with hot dogs and corn. Still, it might be worth making the beef/tomato/rice ones for the littles and these spicy ones for the bigs if you have the patience for two pots going. You could also go with kielbasa which is smoky but not spicy and just add hot sauce or tabasco. But there are some amazing flavors in chorizo sausage that made this so yummy, and we all thought the spicy kick was amazing.

We tried to keep it on the healthier side with brown rice and less cheese but FEEL FREE to add more cheese on top and cook for 10 extra minutes with the tin foil off.

I hope you get to try these spicy beauties! They make the BEST leftovers too…

Chorizo + Gouda Stuffed Peppers:

2-3 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 pound chorizo, diced
2 cups rice
4 cups chicken broth (can mix broth + water to get to 4 cups of liquid)
2 cans fire- roasted tomatoes
1 can black beans
10 oz. frozen corn
S&P
8 peppers, combo of red & green
4 oz smoked Gouda, grated

Garnish options: sliced green onions, melted cheese

Heat 2 T. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions for 4-5 minutes, then add garlic for one more minute, then add chorizo. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil. Add broth, lower to a simmer, then put a lid on a simmer for 35 min. or until rice is tender.

When cooked, stir in tomatoes, beans, corn, and salt and pepper if needed.

Slice peppers in half vertically and remove white parts and seeds. Lay in two 9 x 12 baking dishes. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Add gouda to rice mixture and stir, then scoop rice mixture into peppers and fill so it is heaping a bit. Cover dishes with foil.

Bake at 400 for 35 minutes with tin foil on top. Serve with green onions on top.

If desired you can add more cheese on top like mozzarella, cheddar, or Monterey jack. Cook for 10 more minutes with foil removed to melt cheese.

Serve immediately or reheat leftovers.