Posts tagged comfort food

Toad in the Hole

Yay! I finally got it to puff up. I think what I did wrong the last time is that the batter was a little too thick. You can blame that on my propensity for never following recipes. Although this time, I still hesitated to make it too oily, as it’s done traditionally. So, I simply used cooking spray to grease the pan, and it worked just fine.

Surprisingly, toads taste great served both sweet and savory. Along with the leftover colcannon from the previous meal, I made a simple onion gravy and smothered it on one toad.

And I slathered another one with homemade raspberry rhubarb jam that a friend of mine just gave me. Yum!

I have to admit, though… they’re definitely not the prettiest looking dish. I had to shove the sausages down so they don’t stick up. Kinda embarrassing. Hee hee! But comfort food is simple and isn’t meant to look pretty, right? Just taste good. And taste good, it does!

Give it a whirl sometime. You won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients (Serves 3-6):
3 Fresh Sausage Links
2/3 cup All-Purpose Unbleached Flour
3 Large Eggs
2/3 cup Low-Fat Milk
3 tbs. Unsalted Butter, melted
Salt & Pepper
2 tbs. Fresh Thyme Leaves

Place a 6-cup large muffin baking pan inside the oven and preheat it to 450F. Meanwhile, sear the sausages in high heat until half done. Cut each link in half and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with a dash of salt & pepper. Mix in the melted butter, milk and thyme. Finally, add the flour and keep whisking until well combined. The batter should be on the thin side, unlike pancake. Add a little water if it needs thinning.

Once the oven reaches 450F, take the pan out (be careful, it’s screaming hot) and quickly spray the cups with cooking spray, pour the batter about 2/3 full and add a half sausage piece to each cup. Do this very quickly and stick the pan back in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Do not open the door until then or it might not puff up like it should.

Serve either with gravy or fruit jam or preserve.

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Chicken & Dumplings

Here’s my version of the ol’ Southern staple. Greatly simplified and healthier but just as flavorful.

Ingredients (4-6 servings):
2 Chicken Breasts, diced into bite size pieces and salt & peppered
4 Frozen Buttermilk Biscuits, halfway thawed and sliced into thin strips
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup, low-sodium/ low-fat
1 can Cream of Celery Soup, low-sodium/ low-fat
3 cups Low-Sodium Chicken Stock (NOT broth!)
4-6 Garlic Cloves, minced
2-3 Celery Ribs, finely diced
1 small Onion, finely diced
2 Tbs. Canola Oil
Salt & Pepper
Finely chopped Fresh Chives (optional)

Prep everything before cooking. Also, make sure you slice the biscuits on a flour-dusted surface or they will stick.

Using a medium-heated large pot or dutch oven, saute chicken pieces in oil until brown, about 5 minutes. Then, throw in the onions and celery and cook for another 5 munites. Now, stir in minced garlic for another couple of minutes. Mix in the soup and stock, salt and pepper to taste.

When it starts to boil, drop the biscuit strips into the soup a few pieces at a time, spreading it out evenly then reduce heat to medium-low. Make sure that all of them are fully immersed in the liquid, but don’t stir. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked and no longer doughy. By this time, it should have an almost chowder-like consistency.

Ladle on a soup bowl and garnish with chives, if you want.

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Bison Noodle Soup

First of all, this will be my last recipe post for this year. Starting tomorrow, I will be embarking on a road trip that’ll have me circling around the rocky mountains for two weeks straight. I’ll be eating out for a change! But I will be back in my kitchen in the new year. See you then.

Okay, honestly, I just wanted a simple chicken noodle soup to warm me up on a cold winter night before I begin my trip. But I’ve got a ton (well, more like a quarter pound) of ground bison meat left over from making the lettuce wraps last week. This has got to go now!

I remember back in the day when my mom would often prepare creamy macaroni soup with ground beef. It was total comfort food. So, I thought of making something similar using the leftover bison meat. Definitely, a healthier version on every side.

Wow! That took me back in time. Except that I had to be aware that I’m working with a bland meat here and that seasoning is key to extracting as much flavor as possible. My mom would always make the soup so creamy but I didn’t want to rely too much on the cream so I only put a few tablespoons of milk. And I even use low-fat. You can use whole milk or even half and half and a little goes a long way with those.

A couple handful of Egg Noodles
1/4 lb. Ground Bison (or any ground meat)
1/2 Frozen Peas & Carrots (or any diced vegetables)
1/2 Shallot (or onion)
2-3 Cloves of Garlic
Low-Sodium Chicken Stock (or whatever stock/broth you prefer)
Olive Oil
Finely chopped Parsley (or Scallions)
Salt & Pepper
Milk (or Half & Half)

In a pot or dutch oven, cook ground bison in olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper along the way. When the meat is almost done, add the garlic and some parsely and cook through for a few more minutes. Then add as much frozen peas & carrots as you want and pour in the stock, just enough to make the right amount of soup. When it starts to boil, add some egg noodles making sure that they’re all submerged enough to cook evenly. Just eyeball it, either add more stock or add less egg noodles. Stir and let it boil uncovered, until noodles are cooked, about 8 minutes. Re-season as needed. Turn off the heat and gradually pour in as much milk as you need. This depends on how creamy you want your soup to be. Ladle soup in a bowl and garnish with more parsley.

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Chicken Fried Steak

Another high scorer in the comfort food factor, chicken fried steak was something I got used to eating a lot of when I lived in the south years ago. Although, a lot of times, for most of us, it is only relegated to Sunday brunch visits at country-style restaurants. I’ve always wanted to do one myself since I didn’t think it was complicated at all. I don’t do it often now, especially since I’ve been really mindful of healthy habits these days but every once in a while, it is still good to find some of that good ol’ southern comfort on your plate. And this dish most definitely delivers.

It’s easy to make this dish and so many different ways to do it. Take your pick.

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