Showing posts with label comfort food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comfort food. Show all posts

30 June 2014

Meatless Monday: Cubed Cold Beets with Sour Cream, Dill and Chives

I love borscht. I've never made it, you understand, but I will some winter day when I am seeking comfort. It has provided comfort for me from the start, and has never disappointed me, even though our interactions have been few and far between.

07 August 2012

Zucchini Stuffed with Eggplant and Peppers

Between mid-2010 and mid-2011, my husband endured two surgeries for two life-threatening conditions while I underwent physical therapy and medication for a painful and debilitating injury.

We lived our life as normally as we could, but we tired easily. During this time, we moved my mother to an assisted living facility. There was emotional as well as physical pain to deal with. Frankly, comfort food helped us cope.

We prepared old favorites like roast beef, meat loaf, roasted chicken, burgers and sloppy joes. Good food, certainly, but not always the best for you on a daily basis.

We have come through the fire, and we look at life much differently now. We are happy with less. Nothing rattles us too much, and we both have more patience.

And, one hopes, more wisdom.

We still enjoy comfort food, but we are trying to eat healthier, fresher foods and fortunately, that's easy to do in summer, especially this one. We had a warm March, giving local growers a head start, followed by a typical April and slightly warmer May. It's been warm now since early June, and we've managed to escape the most of the drought that's hurting crops to the south.

Zucchini abounds, as it usually does, and peppers seem to be flourishing this year. Tomatoes are holding their own. Eggplant, maybe not so much.

I had the makings for ratatouille. Only I don't make it. I made Zucchini Stuffed with Eggplant and Peppers instead.
Here's what you need:

  • 1 small red pepper, roasted
  • 3 average-size zucchini, hollowed out with a melon baller
  • sea salt and pepper
  • butter
  • herbes de Provence 
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup eggplant, cubed
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, cubed
  • 1-2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2/3 cup grated cheese to melt on top 

Preheat oven to 350.

Trim red pepper. Cut into one-inch strips and drizzle with oil, roasting for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Set aside when finished; allow to cool.

While pepper is roasting, chop onion, eggplant and green pepper and into small cubes. Sauté lightly. I added small chunks of seasoned chicken sausage; this is optional. Cover and set aside.

Pour olive oil into skillet and add minced garlic, cooking under moderate heat until garlic begins to turn gold. Add the other vegetables, stirring frequently. Cut the red pepper into small squares and add it to the skillet mix. I did not skin mine; I think this is a matter of preference.

Meanwhile, using a knife and a melon baller or grapefruit spoon, hollow out 2-3 zucchini so they look like little canoes (as my husband observed as he watched). Mine were rather average in size, but you could do this with one Monster Zucchini. Season the hollowed-out part of the "canoes" with a dab of butter, salt, pepper and a dash of herbes de Provence.

Partially cook the zucchini, covered, in a microwave. I cooked them for a total of about 5 minutes, testing frequently. The zucchini must remain firm throughout.

Once the zucchini is semi-cooked and the filling is lightly sauteed, allow both to cool slightly to make handling easier. Stuff the filling into the hollowed out zucchini, placing in a shallow baking dish.

(I had some of the mixture left over, and that's what I ate while my zucchini baked.)

Cover with foil and bake for 30-50 minutes, testing frequently. Do not allow the zucchini to get mushy.

Sprinkle with grated cheese before removing from the oven, and give the cheese a chance to melt before removing from the oven.

Total comfort food! And pretty darned healthy, too. The zucchini was bland enough to make you feel good and seasoned enough to be interested.

30 January 2007

Macaroni and Cheese with Gruyere and Gouda

Some days are just rough.

I really have very little complain about. Some of my blogger friends have dealt with loss lately, and so far, I have not, not yet, not this year. So I feel guilty complaining.

But it was a stressful day. For one thing, I had to spend a considerable amount of time in a conference room with my bosses and my husband’s bosses, who are working on a joint project.

Then I taught my class. I have a lively group of 18 and 19 year olds, who want to know why they can’t write newspaper stories using obscenities. Well, they can of course; I am no fan of censorship. But why do they want to? They have yet to learn that using four-letter words only destroys their credibility and dilutes their message. I had to learn the same lessons, of course.

I love them, I truly do. But some days they exhaust me.

Tuesday, I was too tired to stop at the grocery store and too tired to cook. My husband was too tired to take me to dinner.

Luckily, there is macaroni and cheese. I know what you’re thinking: I probably used a package and did my usual tweaking.

Readers, I made it from scratch. Undeterred by last week’s chocolate truffle failure, I turned again to my friends at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and borrowed one of their recipes. A couple of months ago, a lot of bloggers featured mac-cheese recipes so I knew there was a pool of good ideas out there, but I thought I'd give a MMB recipe another shot. I was not disappointed.

Easy Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2 cups Gruyere, shredded
  • 2 cups Gouda, shredded
  • 2 cups Mozzarella, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup cream
  • 1 pound macaroni
  • 1 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
  • dash red pepper seasoning

Cook pasta according to directions until al dente.

Add butter and cream. Sprinkle with Parmesan and brown slightly under the broiler. Sprinkle with red pepper seasoning.