Comfort Food is Food that warms the body and the soul. It makes you feel good and satisfied after eating it. I think Comfort Food is different for different cultures and different people but there are variations within the dishes that we call ‘Comfort Food’. The differences are not so much in the main ingredients but in the preparation techniques and the seasonings used. Here is another great Comfort Food that really warms you inside – Vegetable Soup – it can be served as a complete meal with the addition of some protein and delicious fresh bread. It can also be served as a first course and the leftovers are great for lunch.
I love to make Vegetable and it is one of my favorite ways of cleaning out the Vegetable in my refrigerator. If you have ever wondered what you are going to do with all those vegetables that you just can’t seem to getting around to use or even if like I do, you have little bits and little bits of that, Vegetable Soup is the perfect vehicle for using up those items. So when I taught school, I taught my students how to make ‘Clean Out the Refrigerator’ Vegetable Soup.
What you will need is a large pot and some Olive Oil and whatever you can forage from your refrigerator. If you don’t have items in your refrigerator that you can use, you can always visit your local Farmer’s Market or Grocery Store to pick up whatever you wish to put in your soup. For the last batch I made, I used Onions, (a must), Celery, Carrots, Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Tomato Paste, Frozen Peas and Corn. For the batch before this one I used a Sweet Potato and Spinach. Visit vegetable-soup for the complete recipe.
Saute your Vegetables (starting with the Onion and Mushrooms) in Olive Oil. I always salt the Mushrooms as they do need and it helps to leech out some of the water in their pores. Once they have cooked and started caramelizing add the remaining fresh Vegetables and dried herbs. For the liquid I use either de-fatted Turkey, Chicken or Beef Broth, depending on what is in my freezer. Vegetable Soup does not need to cook for a long time – you do not want really mush vegetables. It is much better to have some texture left to bite into. About 10 minutes before serving bring the soup up to boiling and add about 1 cup uncooked Pasta. Once the Pasta is ‘al dente’ add fresh Herbs (in this case two kinds of Basil), and frozen Peas and/or Corn if you are going to use them. A couple of minutes is all you need for these frozen Vegetables.
To make a complete meal out of your Vegetable Soup, add some Protein such as Tofu (for Vegans), Chicken, Sliced Hot Dogs or Sausage or Turkey. Any one of the above make a great addition to your soup which is also delicious without it. Just serve it with some Hot Fresh Bread.
Comfort Food is Food that warms the body and the soul. It makes you feel good and satisfied after eating it. I think Comfort Food is different for different cultures and different people but there are variations within the dishes that we call ‘Comfort Food’. The differences are not so much in the main ingredients but in the preparation techniques and the seasonings used.
There are also variations in Winter Weather throughout the world and there are not many days that we can call Winter Weather in Sunny Southern California but this year , January is definitely Winter and Cold it is! Wet and Cold that is! Not complaining as we need the rain and cold can be fun for a little while, but all that aside, what do you eat when it is cold. Our normal Salads and Vegies and light meals don’t work when the weather is cold. We have to resort to old ‘Standbys from Childhood and our Mother’s favorites. One of these in our family is Stuffed Cabbage. Put together Green Cabbage, Seasoned Ground Beef and Tomatoes in a Sweet and Sour Sauce and serve with rice or pasta and you have a delicious bone warming meal.
So this is what I did the other night. I made Stuffed Cabbage but cheated a little bit as I had preformed Meatballs in the freezer. Having raised five sons I have a difficult time cooking small quantities of food for the 2 of us who make up our household now, so I usually make large quantities and freeze what we don’t eat for future use. The Meatballs were frozen in a single layer so as to make it easy to remove them and use them as needed. If I didn’t have the Meatballs I would have made the complete recipe from scratch as per the directions in the recipe itself. http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/stuffed-cabbage/ Here are the step by step directions and photos for preparing this delicious and ‘heart warming’ dish.
First of all make sure you have all the ingredients. If you have to shop for some of them, check your staples and seasonings before going to the market.
In addition to Ground Beef (or Chicken or Turkey) you will also need Tomato Sauce, Lemons, Brown Sugar and Salt and Pepper. Instead of Tomato Sauce as per the recipe, I used ground Tomatoes which have much more flavor and body. Shown below is one of my favorite tomato products.
If you don’t use the whole can place the leftovers in a covered container and refrigerate until needed. They should keep up until a week depending on how cold your refrigerator is.
In order to roll the meat in the Cabbage Leaves you will have to soften them. The best way to do this is to:
1 – Core the Cabbage and remove any bad outer leaves.
2 – Bring a large pot of water (shown belown) to the boiling. Add the whole head of Cabbage, turn the heat down to simmer and leave the cabbage in the simmering water for about 5 minutes or until the outer leaves soften enough to be able to roll them.
3 – Remove the Cabbage from the hot water (I use a colander for this) and remove as many leaves as have softened or as many as you will need if the whole head has softened.
4 – If need be, return the head to the simmering water and remove as needed.
5 – Place the leaves on a cutting board and cut out the hard part that was closest to the core.
6 – Place a scoop of meat on each leaf and wrap the leaf around the meat mixture. Use clean Kitchen String to tie the rolls so they don’t fall apart in the cooking process.
Coarsely slice some of the remaining cabbage and place in the bottom of the vessel you are going to cook the Cabbage Rolls in. This will serve as a bed for the rolls. Next place the rolls on top of the sliced cabbage and then pour the sauce over all.
Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then turn the heat down to medium. Cook for about 45 minutes or longer, depending on the size of the rolls. Use Kitchen Shears to cut and remove the string before the next step.
I like to add an additional Vegetable and in this case I added sliced Carrots. They only need to cook for about 5 minutes or until they are barely fork tender. The residual heat will continue to cook them once the vessel is removed from the heat. If you use peas or corn, the cooking time will be shorter.
Serve with Rice, Pasta or Couscous. This is a delicious heart-warming and body warming dish that is perfect for winter weather. Vegans can also make by using a Barley or Rice in place of meat in the filling.
Today is ‘National Waffle Day’. Here are some Waffle Treats for you to make for your friends and/or family.
Sweet Potato Waffles – a great way to use leftover Sweet Potatoes or just to use your Sweet Potatoes. Good for Breakfast and or Dinner instead of Potatoes.
Gingerbread Waffles – this is definitely a ‘makeover’ using leftover Gingerbread pieces. This may not be appropriate for ‘National Waffle Day’ in August but keep it mind for your Winter Breakfasts or Desserts!
Hong Kong Waffles – a favorite of mine – fun to make and fun to eat. These Waffles are sold as ‘Street Food’ in Hong Kong but can easily be made with your Belgian Waffle Iron.
More Waffles – just an overview of the types of Waffle Irons and recipes available today!
Try one or more of these today or for your weekend Brunch, Lunch or Supper
May 10th is ‘National Shrimp Day’. Shrimp are absolutely one of my favorite seafood in any form or style. Below are a few recipes for you to try – one or all. Enjoy preparing them and then enjoy eating them.
Grilled Shrimp – marinated in Garlic, Basil, Lemon Juice and Olive Oil. These shrimp are delicious as an appetizer, main dish or in a salad. Good for any time, not just National Shrimp Day.
Coconut Fried Shrimp – great for a Backyard Luau or any Summer/Spring Meal. Served with an Orange-Lime Sauce.
Shrimp Fritters – a delicious and different way to eat Shrimp. For those of us who love Shrimp and who Fritters, this is the perfect dish. Shrimp Fritters can be served as an appetizer with Cocktail Sauce or as a main dish with a salad and or vegetable.
Cinco de Mayo will be here in 2 hours or earlier for East Coasters. Here are a few recipes you can use for your Celebrations tomorrow.
We will start with Appetizers including Salsas and conclude with Rice, Empanadas and Lemonade.
Mango Salsa which makes use of fresh Mangoes, Limes, Red Bell Peppers and Jalapenos if you wish.
Nachos – start with good quality chips, Cheese Sauce with Jalapenos (if desired) and serve with Salsa and Guacamole.
Salsa Cruda – incorporates diced fresh Tomatoes, Jalapenos or Serranos, Cilantro, Lime Juice and a little Salt.
Beef Empanadas are more traditionally an Argentine Dish but they can also be found in Mexican Cooking. The Empanada can be filled with whatever you please – diced Steak or Chicken or Ground Beef along with Tomatoes, Onions, Cheese and maybe some Chilies.
Sparkling Lemonade – we first had this in Acapulco and I have been making Lemonade this way every since. It is delicious, refreshing and a great accompaniment to any meal.
Categories: Beverages, Condiments, Cooking for Kids, Dinner Ideas, Family Fun, Food Festivals, Holiday Ideas, Holiday Meals, Holiday Tidbits, Main, Mexican, Tropical, Tropical Food Tags: Appetizers, Avocadoes, Chlies, Cinco de Mayo, family dinner, holiday recipes, kids cooking, Limes, Mexican, National Food Days, Rice, Tomatoes
Baking is one of my favorite things to do and during the Winter Holidays I make Gingerbread Houses and I teach other people how to make Gingerbread. This past December, in addition to my classes I baked and built four different houses. One for the Cancer Support Community’s Holiday Boutique, one for a sample for my class, one for home and one as a gift. There are two ways to bake the houses – one is to cut out the pieces from the unbaked dough and the other is to bake the dough first before cutting out the pieces. The advantage of the second method is that the pieces will all fit together without additional trimming after the baking process. The disadvantage is that there are going to be a lot of sections of cookie that will not be big enough for any house, except for the chimney and how many of those do you need? Now we do love to eat the leftovers but when there are a lot of leftovers, you can only so much.
As I said, Baking is one of my favorite things to do, but another one of my favorite culinary activities is to turn leftovers into new products and that is what I did with the leftover Gingerbread pieces. I pulverized them to a fine crumb in my Food Processor and turned them into a Waffle Batter. If you like Gingerbread, then you certainly will like Gingerbread Waffles. Here is how I did it.
- Break up the leftover Gingerbread pieces into sections that will fit in your Food Processor that has been fitted with the Chopping Blade. Use the Pulse Button to break up the pieces into small pieces and then turn it on to finely chop the Gingerbread pieces. You should end up with a medium to fine crumb.
- Measure the Crumbs – 2 cups of Gingerbread Crumbs will make enough waffles for 3-4 people.
- Use your Food Processor (do not wash out the bowl) or a large mixing bowl. Beat 3 Eggs until well mixed and then add 1 1/2 cups Buttermilk and blend together.
- Combine the Gingerbread Crumbs with 1 1/2 cups of All-Purpose Flour, 1 tsp. Cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger and 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda. Add to the Buttermilk/Egg mixture and Pulse, just until mixed. If doing in a bowl, with a whisk, just mix until the Ingredients are blended – DO NOT OVER-MIX! (Over-mixing Waffle, Pancake or Muffin Batter will make the product tough.
- Stir in 1/4 cup Melted Butter.
- Heat your Waffle Iron until the indicator light tells you the Iron is hot. If necessary, lightly oil or spray the surface of the Iron.
- Pour approximately 1/2 cup of Batter on each section of you Waffle Irons Grids (this will vary, depending on the size and shape of our Waffle Iron)
- Close and Bake until the steaming stops. Keep the baked Waffles warm in a low oven until you are ready to serve them.
- Serve with Fruit Compote and or Maple Syrup and melted Butter. The Waffles in the Feature Photo are served with crisply cooked bacon.
- For the Fruit Compote,I melted about 2 Tbsps. of Butter along with Brown Sugar (2-4 Tbsps.). I then added pitted and halved Cherries, Blackberries and fresh Pineapple pieces. This will work with just about any fruit – Apples are great with Gingerbread as well as Bananas, Mango or Papaya.
And this is how you use leftover Gingerbread to make Waffles! As a convenience, I have also listed the ingredients below.
2 CUPS Gingerbread Crumbs
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground Ginger
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 cups Buttermilk
1/4 cup melted Butter
Unlike most of the rest of the country, Sunny Southern California offers its Farmer’s Markets all year long.
One such market is the Ventura Farmer’s Market which takes place on Saturday mornings. I made a trip out there from Thousand Oaks (about 30 miles) because I needed to purchase Eggs from my favorite Egg supplier (Canyon Meadow Farms). I usually purchase the eggs from them at the Thousand Oaks Farmers Market but from the week before Thanksgiving until the week after New Years, the Thousand Oaks Farmer’s Market gets displaced because of the Holiday Season. ( The space they use is needed for parking at the Mall).
One of the Vendors at the Ventura Market included sold California Produced Olive Oils which were made from olives grown in Northern California. Their stock included sizes from pints to gallons and gift packs including cooking oils and bath and body soaps and oils. I purchased a Gift Pack of a variety of oils which ranged from mild tasting to a very strong olive taste. I am a lover of Olives and Olive Oil and I think the stronger the taste the better. I think the recipient of this gift will feel the same way. Pictured below are some of the Oils that were being sold.
When you have Olive Oil, you start thinking about Salads and the fresh lettuces and other produce that were available were irrestible. They were bright green and purple and many other colors. The lettuce was perfect for Salads and I could not resist buying several bunches. I also purchased Chinese Spinach from Underwoods Family Farm Booth. Underwoods have two locations, one in Somis on the 118 and the other in Moorpark right off of Tierra Rejada. When Ik want fresh produce, I do not have to wait for the Farmers’ Markets, however it certainly is a little bit easier for me to purchase my produce at the Oaks Farmer’s Market when it is open. Unfortunately, it is not open during the Christmas Holiday Season.
Some additional Vegetables that were being sold were Leeks, Onions, Garlic and a variety of fresh Herbs which I love to cook with!
For years now Strawberries have been grown year-round in Southern California. The varieties differ from season to season, but the taste of our locally grown berries is delicious and sweet no matter what time of year they are grown in. Even though I had recently purchased several boxes of Blackberries at our local market I still couldn’t resist the Strawberries that were on display. I only bought one box however, just for eating out of hand.
All in All, it is worth a trip to your local Farm or Farmer’s Market to get fresh, delicious produce, especially if it is grown without chemical additives and pesticides! Most of the Vendors at the local Southern California Markets have become Certified Organic Farmers which means that they do not use chemicals!
SO, LOOK, SHOP, COOK & EAT!
Below are the directions for the common method of roasting your turkey. Following is the overnight method. I have done the overnight method for over 20 years and the turkey comes out juicy, tender and delicious. An added benefit is that you don’t have to rush to get the turkey in the oven on Thanksgiving morning. One note though, this method is good if you are going to have an early dinner, say by 3 PM. If your Thanksgiving Dinner is going to be in the evening, then follow the traditional method.
Also, most recipes will tell you to roast the turkey with the breast side up – if you do this whatever fat and juices (and there won’t be much) will drip down to the bottom of the bird and into the pan. If you roast your turkey, breast side down, the juices from the dark meat (and there will be plenty) will drip into the breast. Just turn it over 1 hour before completion to brown the skin.
- Remove giblets and wash turkey inside and out.
- Rub with Olive Oil or Butter and a combination of sage, white pepper and paprika (garlic optional), inside and out.
- Stuff if desired. Close the openings to keep stuffing from falling out.
- Truss turkey by tying together the legs and wings.
- Place on roasting rack in pan, breast side down.
- Roast at 325 degrees according to the time table on package.
- One hour before it should be done, remove from the oven and turn the turkey over, breast side up.
- Return to oven and continue roasting until the breast is brown and the turkey is done. (175 degrees on meat thermometer)
- Allow to sit at least half hour before carving. (This will set the juices)
- Follow directions 1 through 5 above.
- Place in oven set to 200 degrees just before going to bed. (Preferably, not before midnight.
- About 1 ½ hours before serving time, increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees and follow steps 7 through 9 above.
Mrs. Cubbison’s Stuffing Mix
Sauté all or some of the following in ¼ lb. Butter:
Diced Onion (at least one)
Several ribs of celery, diced
You can also add a peeled and chopped apple, a little curry powder (about 3 Tbsps.), raisins or nuts and a couple of beaten eggs.
Do not add any liquid as the dressing will absorb moisture from the vegetables and the turkey.
DO NOT PUT THE STUFFING IN THE TURKEY until you are just ready to cook it.
REMOVE ALL THE DRESSING FROM THE TURKEY AFTER IT IS ROASTED. (If the dressing is left in the turkey, food poisoning can result)
Since Thanksgiving is almost here, most people are probably already purchasing their turkeys and storing them until the big dinner. Here are some guidelines to help you prepare a safe Thanksgiving Meal.
- Wash your hands before and after handling raw Turkey.
- Keep raw turkey wrapped and separate from other foods to eliminate the possibility of cross contamination.
- Don’t return cooked turkey, or any food, to a plate or container that held raw turkey.
- When finished preparing turkey, clean all working surfaces with a solution of one part bleach to four parts water. Leave solution on surfaces for 5 seconds before rinsing well with cold water.
- Cook turkey until juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a fork.
- Cook turkey at 325ºF until the internal temperature of the thigh shows 185ºF on a meat thermometer. The dark meat takes longer to cook than the white meat.
- Never leave cooked or raw turkey at room temperature for more than one hour. Refrigerate it promptly because bacteria that can make you sick grow quickly at room temperatures!
Note: These guidelines apply to all poultry products
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and while everyone is trying to think of ways to use the turkey leftover from the Holiday Dinner how about different ways in which to use Pumpkin. Pumpkin itself, does not taste particularly good but when you add spices and sugar and cream and eggs it turns into something wonderful. Here are a list of recipes featured in this blog that you can try for your own Thanksgiving Dinner or for Breakfast or Dessert on Thanksgiving Weekend.
When cooking or baking with Pumpkin be sure to use the Sugar Pie Variety. The larger Pumpkins do not lend themselves to baked or cooked recipes.
DOUBLE DUTY PUMPKIN WAFFLES
PUMPKIN MUFFINS made from the
Easy to do, just add a little more flour.
The Ravioli can be made with Pumpkin or Butternut Squash or any Squash of your choice. The dark leaves on top of the Ravioli are Sage.
The Pumpkin Pie in Pecan Crust looks dark, but it is actually not burned. In this case, the oven was too high and it baked at a much faster pace than it should have. Luckily I took it out before it was actually burned. Everyone loved it and it was gone by the end of dessert time.
To make the Pumpkin Pie in a Pastry Crust, use the same filling recipe as the Pie in Pecan Crust. Simply substitute a pastry crust of your choosing.
For the ultimate dessert try my pumpkin-cheesecake recipe