Time to Cook!

Inspiration for wholesome weeknight & weekend cooking.

Posts tagged ‘comfort food’

I love this veggie — it’s healthy and tasty (almond coating adds a nutty taste to the vegetables) and each bite offers a different flavor: carrot, parsnip or sweet potato.  Note: you can grind the almonds in a mini prep processor or I have an extra coffee grinder that I dedicate to grinding nuts and spices only.  I double this recipe (you’re going to want more!) and roast on two baking sheets (you don’t want to crowd the veggies).

Root Vegetable Fries

Recipe from cookbook “The Little Paris Kitchen.”

Baked Vegetable Fries

Ingredients:

3 1/2 tablespoons ground almonds

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 sweet potato, cut into thin strips

1 parsnip, cut into thin strips

1 large carrot, cut into thin strips

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix together the ground almonds, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper.  Toss the vegetables in the mix and then spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp, shaking the sheet halfway through.

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This is a fun recipe because it’s easy to make, yet looks so elegant!  My kids like this (they think the stack is fun) or it could also make a nice side dish to a fancier dinner if you are entertaining.  It’s so delicious…

Personal Potato Gratin Stacks

Recipe from blog Witty in the City, which was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food.

Personal Potato Gratin Stacks

Ingredients:

  • Baking potato – 1 (for 2 servings)
  • Gruyère cheese
  • Cream
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

To make these potato gratins, preheat your oven to 400ºF. Use a mandoline to slice a baking potato into 1/8th of an inch slices. Make sure the slices are all the same size so that the potatoes cook evenly. One potato makes about 6 gratin stacks. Two stacks per person is probably sufficient for most people, but we each ate 3 and wanted more!

Coat a muffin tin with non-stick spray. Put 2 potato slices into each of the cups, and season them with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on some shredded Gruyère cheese. Repeat this process until your muffin tins are full, about 2 more times/4 more slices.

After you’ve salted and peppered the top potatoes, pour 1 tablespoon of cream into each cup. Sprinkle more shredded cheese over the tops.

Bake the potato gratins for 30 minutes or until the cheese is brown and the potatoes can easily be pierced with a fork. Run a small knife around the edges of the stacks to break them free from the muffin tin, and pop them out. I don’t know what happens to the cream, but these potato stacks aren’t liquidy at all.

The top layer is crisp from the cheese and the heat, and the bottom layer is crisp from touching the hot metal muffin tin. And the in-between layers are perfectly soft and cheesy. You can pick these stacks up with your fingers and take bites out of them (me), cut them with a fork and knife like a civilized person (David), or peel each layer apart for more individualized attention (also me). I want another one right now.

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This is hands-down my favorite chocolate cake recipe.  It’s rich and moist and delicious.  Apparently, the cake is better when made the day before (so I’ve always done that).  The chocolate frosting is delicious too (although not pictured below).  This recipe makes two 8 inch round cakes, which you can stack with a layer of frosting in between – or one single layer rectangular cake.  Enjoy!

Mom's Chocolate Cake

Recipe from Food & Wine (contributed by Marcia Kiesel.)

Mom’s Chocolate Cake

This is a real old-fashioned American chocolate layer cake. It’s very moist, very chocolatey, a snap to make and best baked the day before serving. Marcia Kiesel acquired the recipe from her friend Joyce Cole, who got it from her mother.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 8-by-1 1/2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with wax paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves; then pour into a large bowl. Add the chocolate and butter and let sit, stirring occasionally, until melted and slightly cooled. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Beat the eggs into the chocolate mixture at medium speed until combined. Add the dry ingredients all at once and beat at medium speed until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed lightly and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans for about 25 minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
  4. Set one cake, right-side up, on a serving platter. Using a metal spatula, spread one-third of the Chocolate Frosting evenly over the cake. Top with the second cake and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Chocolate Frosting recipe also from Food & Wine (contributed by Marcia Kiesel.)
Servings: Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

The inspiration for this frosting technique comes from dessert maven Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (Alfred A. Knopf).

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 stick (4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and sugar to a boil over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces slightly, about 6 minutes. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and add the chocolate, butter, vanilla and salt. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are melted.
  2. Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the frosting on medium speed, scraping the sides occasionally with a rubber spatula, until thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Use at once.
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This is how my Mom prepared acorn squash growing up.

Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar

Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar

Serves 2 – 4 (2 halves or 4 quarters).

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar

Directions:

Rinse the entire squash and place it in a baking dish, resting in about 1 inch of water.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Insert knife into squash to make sure it is cooked (knife should slide in easily).  Remove squash from oven and let cool slightly on a cutting board.  Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds and toss.  Top the acorn squash halves (or quarters) with butter and brown sugar.  Serve immediately.

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This is one of my favorite Ina Garten recipes (and that’s saying a lot!)  It’s so versatile – you can serve to kids for a casual, weeknight dinner or with a fancier meal if you are entertaining.  You can also make them ahead and reheat them in the oven if you need to.  I don’t know about you, but our family can’t get enough of sweet potatoes, so this is a fun way to mix it up.  Note: I slice my sweet potatoes a little thinner than Ina and I always double the recipe!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Baked Sweet Potato “Fries”

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Level: Easy
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and cut each half into 3 long spears. Place them on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil. Spread the potatoes in one layer. Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper and sprinkle on the potatoes. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn with a spatula. Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Sprinkle lightly with salt (if needed) and serve hot.

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My mother-in-law “Cille” made this for our family when she was visiting and we loved it.  It’s healthy and tasty, it’s a meal in and of itself, it doesn’t make a huge mess in your kitchen, it can be made ahead (I love this!), and you can easily freeze extras for a future dinner.  She used to make this all the time for her four hungry boys growing up (they loved this in high school).  I thought I would take a crack at updating this classic.  For the bell peppers, I substitute yellow and orange peppers for the traditional green peppers (I still make a green one for my husband who is nostalgic!)  Instead of hamburger meat, I use ground bison (it’s healthier and I think tastes so much better).  Instead of white rice, I use farro (it has a nice chewy texture and is fiber rich and is full of minerals) and you can also use pearl barley (also a great source of fiber and can lower cholesterol) or just brown rice.

Meat Stuffed Bell Peppers

Adapted from my mother-in-law Cille’s recipe and one from Emeril Lagasse.

Meat Stuffed Peppers

Serves 6.

Ingredients:

6 bell peppers (try a mix of colors), tops cut away and seeds removed

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup onion, finely chopped

1 pound ground Bison meat (can substitute turkey)

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

pinch of red pepper flakes

2 cups cooked farro or pearl barley (or brown rice)

8-ounce can tomato sauce (Muir Glen Organic)

shredded cheese (mozzarella or cheddar)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pot of boiling water, parboil the peppers until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and dry on paper towels.

In a large saute pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the bison meat, garlic, parsley, salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes. Cook until the meat is browned, stirring with a heavy wooden spoon to break up the lumps, about 5 minutes. Pour off any excess fat. Add the farro or barley and tomato sauce and stir well. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste.

Pour enough water into a baking dish to just cover the bottom, about 1/8-inch deep. Stuff the bell peppers with the rice mixture and place in the baking dish. Top each pepper with plenty of shredded cheese. Bake until the peppers are very tender and the filling is heated through, 30-35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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