Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Comfort Food

Sometimes you are in the mood for some good'ol comfort food. For me, when I think of comfort food main dishes, a meal of baked ham, scalloped potatoes (see my post about "The Glorious Potato" for this recipe), baked beans and homemade (well, bread machine 'homemade') bread and apple crisp! Mmmm. Or even a Shepherd's Pie or homemade Mac'n'Cheese. Those are my comfort foods. :) Here are some of my favourite comfort food recipes ...

Baked Beans
This is a recipe that my Dad throws together whenever the Grandkids ask for "Poppa's Beans". :) They are a family favourite and the recipe changes each time he makes it! This is one of those dishes you have to keep tasting as you make it to make sure it's 'just right'.

2-28oz cans Libby's beans in tomato sauce
2 large squirts Ketchup
1 large squirt Mustard
1 onion, chopped
To taste Molasses (I use approximately 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup Salsa (we've also used our favourite hickory BBQ sauce instead of the salsa)

Mix the ingredients together and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes to allow the excess moisture to leave the beans otherwise they may be watery.

Note: You can also put these in a crockpot on low for 4 hours or until the onion is soft.

Shepherd's Pie
This shepherd's pie has a lot of flavour compared to the standard pie with creamed corn as the middle layer. You can either bake it in a deep dish pie shell or in a casserole dish.

3 Large potatoes, cut in pieces
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs Ground beef
1 Medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup Carrots, diced
1/2 cup Celery, diced
2 tbsp Flour
1 cup Beef broth
1/2 cup Frozen peas
1 tsp Thyme, dried
1/2 tsp Rosemary, dried
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
Sprinkle Nutmeg
2 tbsp Butter or margarine
1/2 cup Milk or cream
1/2 tbsp Parsley (optional)
1 deep dish pie crust (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F. Boil the potatoes and garlic in water until potatoes are soft, approximately 20-30 minutes. While potatoes are boiling, in a skillet over medium-high heat, saute ground beef, onion, carrot and celery until the meat is no longer pink. Drain fat.

Stir flour into the meat mixture. Add broth and reduce heat to simmer. Add frozen peas, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Simmer about 5 minutes, stirring a few times.

While meat mixture is simmering, drain potatoes. Add butter, milk and parsley (if using). Mix with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Spoon meat mixture into a 9" deep pie shell or casserole dish. Spread potatoes evenly over meat. Swirl top of potatoes with tines of a fork to create peaks. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings

Macaroni and Cheese
This is a staple in our house. With three kids who can have their picky moments this Mac'n'Cheese is always on their wish list. I have made it so often I no longer need a recipe.

2 cups Elbow macaroni noodles, uncooked
1/4 cup Butter or margarine
1/4 cup Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Dry mustard
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
2 cups Milk
2 cups Sharp cheddar cheese, grated OR old white cheddar cheese
3 tbsp Butter
1/2 cup Dry bread crumbs
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated (the real stuff preferrably!)
1/2 tsp Garlic powder
1/4 tsp Fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Cook macaroni as directed on package. While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in a large skillet over low heat. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, dry mustard and Worchestershire sauce. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add milk. Return skillet to burner and heat until boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Stir in cheese. Keep over heat until cheese has melted.

Drain macaroni. Gently stir macaroni into cheese mixture. Pour into an ungreased 2-quart casserole dish.

Make crumb topping: In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter. Add bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and pepper. Mix well. Sprinkle over top of macaroni evenly. Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Tip: Add extra pep to this dish by using jalapeno-flavoured cheese or add some Cajun spice to the bread topping for some zip.

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