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Posts from the ‘Comfort Food’ Category

Dinners…that don’t look much like dinner!


Have you ever had so many events and nights out that all you want to do is just veg on the couch at home?  Obviously you need to eat, but putting much effort into dinner…especially anything that would typically look like a dinner, is just way to hard.

We’ve had a lot going on this last month or so…in fact sometimes May/June tends to feel a lot like the holidays when you find yourself eating nibbles from the hors d’oeuvres tables and cookies and having perhaps a few more drinks during the week than you planned…when following an ‘eat healthy plan’ seems all but impossible.

Our solution – popcorn, apples and cheese.  My husband grew up with this meal as a Sunday night tradition.  It’s easy, feels like a treat and doesn’t require a lot of planning or shopping!

As mentioned here, I crave salty snacks…and popcorn is one of my favorites.  In fact, I would dare say that our air popper is one of our most used small kitchen appliances.  This particular evening, I popped up 3/4 cup of popcorn, drizzled it with melted salted butter and sprinkled it with salt.  I sliced up a Gala apple and some Dubliner cheddar cheese and settled in on the couch to watch some indulgent reality TV.

It is the perfect antidote to an overly busy social calendar…and feels somewhat healthy too!

What is your go-to, quick fix, alternative-to-typical-dinner meal?

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DLW: Pasta Carbonara!


May is always a very busy month…and this one has been no exception.  Two college graduations, a multitude of birthdays (including my own), leaving my 8 to 5’ish job, and having visitors  – all of a sudden I cannot believe that it is almost June!  Many meals have been light snacks or potlucks, happy hours or small bites late in the evening.  We did manage to get this some-what homemade meal on the table a week or so ago…and it is one of my favorite quick dinners.

This particular evening, we used 1 package of fresh pasta (from the refrigerated section of the grocery store), half a package of bacon, 2 eggs and some grated parmesan cheese.  First – cook the bacon using whatever method you like the best.  When the bacon is close to being done, boil some water and salt it heavily.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions and then drain it, but make sure to keep 1-2 cups of the cooking liquid.  Meanwhile beat the eggs and season with salt and plenty of fresh cracked pepper  I throw the pasta back into the pot (make sure the heat is off) and then add 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of the cooking liquid and stir a bit.  Next you are going to slowly pour in the beaten eggs into the very warm pasta and the heat from the pasta helps cook the egg a bit and the starchy pasta water helps turn it into a delightful sauce.  It will thicken quite a bit, so don’t be shy with the pasta water.  Sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and the crumbled bacon and top with some fresh chopped parsley or thinly sliced green onions and another hit of black pepper.  Serve immediately.

Dinner is done!

DLW :: Whatever-is-in-the-fridge Calzones


Sometimes we’re fancy around here and spend a lot of time and effort planning and cooking a meal…and others…it is just about filling your stomach for the evening.  These are the evenings when having some random ingredients in the fridge and pantry comes in handy!

Although pizza dough is incredibly easy and relatively quick to make…every so often I grab a bag of dough from the refrigerated section of Trader Joe’s – it can be so versatile.  So…we happened to have one just waiting to be used.

Throw in a leftover half an onion, some green olives and some roasted red peppers and whatever remnants of cheese you have along with some herbs and seasoning…and all of a sudden, you’ve got a delicious calzone.  I tend to leave the sauce out of the calzone and serve it warm on the side…otherwise, it can make everything a bit soggy.  We split this one between the two of us and it was a nice light meal.

What are your go-to pantry meals and creations?

Mom’s Oatmeal Comfort Cookies


You know the days when all you want to do is come home to some cookies made by someone who loves you, and enjoy them just out of the oven while you sit there and complain vent discuss your crappy day…?

I seem to have had more than my fair share of those lately.  Why wait for someone to come along and cheer you up…when you can just make some yourself.  (This has the added bonus…that maybe, just perhaps, no one knows exactly how many cookies you made and therefore can’t accuse you of eating the whole batch…just saying!)


Mom’s Oatmeal Cookies*

1 cup rolled oats
¾ cup flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (room temp.)
¼ sugar
1 egg
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. vanilla

Beat living crap out of sugar and butter, add egg and everything but flour and oats, then flour, then oats.  (Mom usually doubles, or even quadruples the recipe.)

Spoon onto baking sheets.  Bake at 375° for 12 minutes (‘though Mom finds this too long sometimes).  Be generous with sugar for more thin/lacy/crunchy cookies.

{*recipe is taken word for word from the Connelly Family Cookbook (my maiden name)}

Quick tip…when my mom was making cookies regularly for the 5 of us to nibble on after school…sometime during the day, she would plop the stick of butter into the Kitchenaid bowl on the counter and by the time she started the cookies, the butter was room temperature and ready to mix!

There was strong disagreement in our house growing up about whether oatmeal cookies should inherently contain raisins.  I think of oatmeal cookies like cake…there are many kinds and they can all be good for different reasons.  Coffee cake vs. red velvet vs. chocolate decadent vs. ice cream cake – the list goes on.  My Dad is on team raisin  and my Mom – her opinion is that adding raisins to these cookies is ‘just wrong’.  I’ll let you decide.  (and I promise, I won’t hold it against you!)

Perfect cookies to enjoy with just a small glass of milk!

{I actually had trouble eating less than two okay three anytime I walked by the cookie jar!}

What is your go-to comfort cookie?

 

 

Cuban Sandwich :: Porky & Delicious!


So last week…we had some pork and later last week…we needed to eat up what little was left and what better way than to make the traditional Cuban sandwich!

According to my sources (the interwebs of course – nothing but the best for you readers!), all Cuban sandwiches contain roast pork, ham, pickles, swiss cheese and a spread of mustard and are always served hot off the presses. Sounds like a pretty pungent sandwich, right? Wrong…it’s delicious, strongly flavored…but apparently many wrongs make a right!

Do you live near a Trader Joe’s? Good! We find that using the mini-ciabatta loaves which are only par-baked and ready to be crisped up before serving are perfect for any panini. Soft enough to let the panini press squish it a bit and grill up the outside but not so much that when you take a bite, you either get all bread or only the filling.

Moving on…slice the bread and spread with mustard on both sides, we happen to be fans of this one from Sierra Nevada Brewing. We also like their beer…but that’s another post! Layer a few slices of ham on the bottom side of the sandwich, cover with slices of the roast pork.

Having only dill pickle spears in the house…which I thought too difficult to slice lengthwise, I was relegated to many little slices of the spears.

Ready for the swiss cheese, layer it on and give a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. (Remember rule #4 – season at every step! – It’ a rule…maybe not rule #4…but it’s a rule.)

Top with the other half of the bun and get it into your panini press stat…or fry pan…or whatever works for you.

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Once the cheese is melty, the bread toasty, and the filling delicious-looking…pull it off the grill and cut in half. (Also…make a giant mess for just one sandwich!)

Serve with crunchy potato chips and a pickle on the side.

Dig in (and then wish you had a little more leftover roast pork).

In lieu of additional pork…throw together another sandwich with ingredients found in your fridge!

Filled with sliced roast turkey, roasted red peppers, arugula, mozzarella cheese and some sprinklings of garlic dried Italian herbs.

I love panini night…you never know what might make it into a sandwich! Do you have a favorite filling?

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DLW :: Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Risotto & Sautéed Kale


Roast a pork tenderloin, make some risotto, sauté some kale and top it all with a little Parmesan…and poof – dinner appears!

Okay, it wasn’t actually that quick, but it was delicious and we had some leftover pork for a meal later in the week!  (stay tuned for details on that…)

What did you eat last week?

 

Pheasant & Waffles


Every year should start with pheasant!

{or at least something that looks this delectable!}

and waffles…and herbs…and…all manner of delicious things, really!

Although this was not the first meal of 2012…it is worthy of the first post!  It all began back in November of 2011…actually, to really get to the beginning…we have to go back to July 21, 2006…

That’s the day I officially became a gun owner (having never in my life , thought that I would own a gun!)  The next day I got married…and soon(ish) I put that gun to use and became a (bird) hunter.  Let’s not get carried away here…I’m no Ted Nugent…however, I do believe that you should be honest about your relationship with food and be willing to (at least once) participate directly in acquiring meat  for you table that normally comes cleanly packaged with nary a hint of it’s life before Styrofoam, refrigeration and shipping.

While we are being honest…my husband was the hunter who shot the birds for this meal…and our dog is the one who joyfully retrieved them for us…I just cooked them up and took a lot of photos!

We visited family over the Thanksgiving break and spent some time near Heber, UT…the weather was brisk but certainly not cold!  Woody skipped out on a morning of thanksgiving prep and took Cleo (our Braque Français (French Pointer) bird-dog) out to the plains on the south-west side of Utah Valley to hunt for pheasant.  He returned smiling with a couple of birds.

Cleo rested in the sun-warmed truck while Woody took to ‘breasting’ the birds.  Essentially cutting the skin at the breast bone and exposing both breasts and cutting them out without having to pluck the bird as the feathers make it a very messy process.

I think feathers are one of nature’s great beauties…so intricate, light, complex and impressive!

Woody started with a hen.

Then moved on to the rooster pheasant – much more brightly colored.

Pheasants are stunning and happen to taste delicious as well!

This is Pippa very interested in the bird, but not quite sure what to do with it.

Now Golden Retrievers normally retrieve, but Molly, Pippa and Sam have not had opportunities to do so other than with their balls and toys…and that is more for the fun of it than for any real purpose.  Woody was attempting to coerce a retrieval out of at least one of the gold squadron…but it was not a show-stopping performance.  All dogs got very excited at the prospect of something being thrown…and would go right to it…and then sniff and look up confused as to what was supposed to happen next.  Urban retrievers…what are you going to do???…really!

Fast forward a day or so…after gorging ourselves with thanksgiving dinner and playing some cranium late into the evening, the cooking begins!

Start with sautéed onions (never a bad idea)!

Luckily, there were still odds and ends of unused vegetables from the turkey day feast!  Rough-chopped mushrooms – throw them in the pan as well…

Let those soften and cook down a bit, I think I de-glazed the pan with a bit of white wine and some water, and then go ahead and add the smattering of herbs!

Sage and thyme!

I added some heavy cream si it could be gin to thicken and reduce while the pheasant and the waffles get cooking.

The pheasants resulted in a wonderful little nuggets with a few larger breast pieces…which were kept wrapped in wax paper in an unsealed ziplock in the fridge in between being extracted from the birds and making to the hot pan.

Each piece was salted and peppered and coated in seasoned flour.

Knock off any excess flour and place in a hot pan with melted butter and a little oil to increase the smoke point.

Don’t crowd the pan…it’ll cool off to quickly and the breast won’t brown properly.

Continue to check on the ‘gravy’ to make sure it doesn’t thicken up too much.

Waffles were already on the menu for the morning…and the batter was nicely balanced – not too fluffy or sweet.  Start making waffles!

Here’s the kicker…start cooking a fried egg.  In butter.   (you’ll thank me later)

Check on gravy!

Here is where the fun really begins.

1.  Put crispy, toasty waffle on plate.

2.  Top with fried egg (yolk still soft).

3.  Place delicious pheasant breast on top of egg and waffle.

4.  Spoon herby, onion mushroom creamy gravy over the top.

5.  Top with sprigs of fresh herbs!

Voila!

{you know you want to eat this!} {now…right now!!!}

{drool}

2011 Meals in Review | part two


as promised…

2011 Meals in Review | part two

July

Gorgonzola Chicken Pasta Salad (a la D’Amico & Sons)

German Potato Salad

Summer Tomato Caprese Stacks

Bastille Day & a Little Liberté with Scallion and Chive Smoked Salmon Spread

 

August

Sour Cream Verde Enchiladas

 

September

Heirloom Tomatoes Bread Salad with Burratta

Zucchini, Summer Squash and Brown Rice Casserole

 

October

Tomato and Gruyere Tart

served with a little salad

Fresh Linguine with Mizithra Cheese and Lightly Dressed Arugula

Traditional Beef Empanadas (made mini!)

A little sampling of delicious items…cheese, olives, toasts, etc.

Niçoise Salad

 

November

Pumpkin Pecan Biscotti

Brioche French Toast

No-Knead Bread

Gougeres

Red Tea, Beef & Sweet Potato Stew

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

Excuse the phone photo…but that’s what’s left of a scrumptious braised rabbit with pappardelle from this place.

Chestnut Pancetta Stuffing for Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving plate…and no I didn’t overdo it!

Couldn’t be complete without a slice of pecan pie!

The morning after was no let-down with Pheasant and Waffles topped with a Fried Egg and Mushroom Thyme Gravy!!!

 

December

A weekend trip up north found us eating at the Culinary Institute of America’s restaurant in St. Helena.  The Tasting included 5 delectable bites to whet our appetites.

The polenta sitting under the magnificently cooked piece of beef was quite possibly the best thing on the table.

Duck Confit with a Poached Egg and Frisee

Krumkake Christmas Cookies

Christmas Eve bites including Cremenelli Salami – a little hometown pride!

Christmas Dinner – Tenderloin of Beef, Creamy Dill Carrots and Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Turkey Tetrazzini

The BEST use of leftover beef ever…sliced beef tenderloin topped with a cold Bernaise sauce

And last but not least, Short Ribs Italiano served over Pappardelle!

 

We’re making some artichoke dip and about to head over to friends to ring in the new year!  Tonight is for looking back and tomorrow, we start fresh.

A Whole New Year!

Happy New Year!

2011 Meals in Review | part one


As I’m a bit behind these days, I noticed while perusing my photos from the past year in search of a couple photos for a new year’s card to send out, how many delicious moments we had in 2011.  What follows is not only what we made, but what we enjoyed! 

The delicious moments of 2011…


January

Rosemary Sea Salt Dinner Rolls (recipe credit: Pioneer Woman)

Creamy Pheasant and Wild Rice Soup

Orechiette with Pheasant, Bacon and Spinach

Butternut Squash, Shallot and Goat Cheese Pizza

Pot Roast…good the first time, better the second…

Cumin-scented Butternut Squash with Onions and Wild Rice

Pot Roast Ravioli

Homemade Fettuccini

Boboli’s done right…!  (yes, you are correct…that is an egg cracked on top peeking out from underneath the arugula and parm!

 

February

yummm…pancakes

Delicate Scrambled Eggs with Truffle Salt

A Birthday dinner at Bouchon

Cod Brandade with Tomato Confit and Fried Sage Leaves

Frisée aux Lardons et Oeuf Poché

Croque Madame

Back at home…Cheese Soufflé

Lump Crab Cakes

Valentine’s Day Cheese Fondue

Tempura and Cold Soba Noodles

Baby Artichoke Gratin (recipe credit: latimes.com)

 

March

Fancied-Up Burgers

Seared Scallops with Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Welsh Rarebit

 

April

April brought with it a trip to Vienna for Woody’s work…

Käsekrainer – near perfect street food

Beef Tartare with all the appropriate accoutrements

Veal Medallions

Finally in the homeland…a full plate of spätzle just for me!

A celebratory meal at Meinl am Graben began with a Veal Carpaccio for Woody

Tortellini with Consommé and Crisped Prosciutto

Honestly…I can hardly remember what exactly this course entailed…but I DO remember that it  was incredibly amazing!

The third course of our prix fixe…again…perfection!

Although I can’t say the name of the place…the fare was delicious

A trip to Vienna without Viennese coffee would be a crime!

Back at home…Pacific Spiny Lobster with Fava Beans and Meyer Lemon

Grilled Cheese Invitational…who says no to that…?

Burrata with Cherry Tomatoes…there were plenty more sandwiches and a lot more cheese, but most disappeared before I could get a shot!

And of course, an annual batch of Deviled Eggs for Easter!

 

May

Fried Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese

Onion & Bacon Tart

Minted English Pea & Lemony Feta Crostini

Another birthday was cause for a trip to the Los Olivos region, some wine tasting and of course a meal or two…

Bistro Burger

Spring Vegetable Pot Roast

Ebelskivers

Savory Lentil Salad

House guests meant a trip to the Original LA Farmer’s Market and an Oyster Po’ Boy

June

Chicken Garlic Sausage & Swiss Chard Flatbread

Potato Salad – Two Ways

Poppyseed Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone Frosting

Part two coming soon…

Welsh Rarebit


You may have never heard of such a dish, but Welsh Rarebit was a standard (although not super-frequent) dinner when I was growing up.  First, I thought the name was amusing and goofy…like when children eat pasghetti and meatballs for dinner…and on top of it…even if it was called Welsh Rabbit instead, it was very confusing because there is no rabbit or meat involved in the dish whatsoever.  It is a dinner version of the typical ploughman’s lunch of cheddar and chutney with bread.  And the best and simplest explanation is straight from Wikipedia…”It might also be understood as a slur against the Welsh: if a Welshman went rabbit hunting, this would be his supper.”  Ha!

Woody has been asking me to make Welsh Rarebit for quite a while now…and if I am being totally honest…it is not one of my favorite dishes.  I’ve tried and tried and it just isn’t friends with my taste buds.  But I knew it was a dish that Woody would adore!  We compared recipes, and Alton Brown’s is shockingly similar to my family recipe and we went with his version – thinking it would be much easier for all you readers to get your hands on, if you are so inspired.

Alton Brown’s Welsh Rarebit

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup porter beer
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces (approximately 1 1/2 cups) shredded Cheddar
  • 2 drops hot sauce
  • 4 slices toasted rye bread

Directions

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook, whisking constantly for 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to brown the flour. Whisk in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add beer and whisk to combine. Pour in cream and whisk until well combined and smooth.

Gradually add cheese, stirring constantly, until cheese melts and sauce is smooth; this will take 4 to 5 minutes. Add hot sauce.

Pour over toast and serve immediately.

Next time:  Buck Rarebit – same dish…but add a poached egg!

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