Category Archives: comfort food

What we ate in November (Part 1)

potluck bountyWe were part way through sharing our descriptions of nearly 20 dishes for our “cold weather comfort food” gathering and we were collectively shocked and dismayed that not one of us had made mac n’ cheese. Somehow we had all thought that someone else would surely be making it. Then there was a knock at the door, and two more newcomers entered the kitchen. One was carrying a crockpot. It looked heavy. I strained to see through the steam-shrouded lid into a bubbling sea of orange.

“Is that Mac and Cheese?” I demanded as a way of greeting.

“Yup.”

The boisterous cheer went up, and our new members received an immediate understanding of what our demure little club is all about. Namely, EATING ALL OF THE THINGS.

Cold weather comfort food

A massive thanks to Jean for hosting one of our largest gatherings at her house and allowing us to take over both her kitchen and living room. One of my favourite things is Jean’s collection of beautiful tea cups. Despite feeling rather clumsy when I try to drink from them (my paws are made for mugs), I adore tea cups, especially when then are displayed together like the little works art that they are.

Tea cups!

dominion ciderDespite there being more than 20 dishes, there wasn’t one duplicate! Also, thanks to the lovely Laura, we were among the very first people to sample cider from Summerland’s brand new Dominion Cider Company. Oh, my it was good. Talks are in the works to have a meetup there is 2016. Woo-hoo!

Below are a few of the recipes from last month. I’ll follow up with the remainder of the delicious photos for the next post. 🙂

Evelyn’s (now famous) Creamy Crockpot Mac’N’Cheese

mac n cheese

  • 16 oz. COOKED Shell Macaroni (cooked) OR 4 c. UNCOOKED Shell Macaroni
  • 1/2 c. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 2 c. Half & Half
  • 1/2 tsp. White Pepper
  • 10 3/4 oz. Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup (1 can)
  • 4 c. Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 tsp. Ground Dry Mustard

OPTIONAL SUBSTITUTION for condensed cheddar cheese soup:

  • 3 T. butter
  • 3 T. flour
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 c. cheese, Cheddar

Cook macaroni according to box directions; drain.

Place cooked shells in a 5-quart lined or greased slow cooker; add margarine and stir. Cover.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine soup and the half & half, stirring until smooth and creamy.

Add the eggs and dry mustard; stir.

Add cheese and stir until melted. Sauce should be smooth.

Pour cheese sauce over the shells in the crock.

Cover & Crock on LOW for about 2-4 hours.

Season with pepper or top with bacon bits, if desired, before serving.

Optional Substitute Recipe for Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup

(NOW included in main recipe ingredient list as a Optional Substitution for Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup):

Melt 3 T. butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat; add 3 T. of flour and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 cup of milk. Return to the saucepan and bring contents to a gentle boil. (keep whisking until thickened) Add 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Salt to taste. Use this in replacement of the Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup called for in this recipe.

NOTE: It is important to know that I like to add spices outside of the recipe. I used sweet chili cheese in the soup recipe with old sharp cheddar and some laughing cow cheese. I also added our homemade dried hot peppers, homemade dried garlic, some salt and pepper, and some paprika.

Charlie’s Mexican Corn Dip

There is always one dish that I fail to get a decent photo of. I chalk it up to being so beside myself with excitement that I can’t hold the camera straight and it turns out blurry. Several people have asked for this recipe since our gathering. Needless to say, there wasn’t much left at the end of the evening.  Enjoy!

  • 1 can kernel corn
  • 1 cup salsa (Mrs. Renfro Black Bean Salsa)
  • 1/2 cup Miracle Whip
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • Jalepeno peppers to taste (2 jalepenos)

Mix all ingredients together. Serve nachos.

NOTE: Tastes better when it sits for a couple of hours or overnight. Also you may add regular salsa however it makes the salsa watery.

Jennifer’s Pumpkin spice shortbread (from jocooks.com)

Cold weather just isn’t the same without some good, buttery shortbread to help create extra body insulation.

Pumpkin spice shortbread

Premix pumpkin spice:

  • 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1½ cups salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar (icing sugar or powdered sugar)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin spice

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 F degrees.

Blend butter and pumpkin spice until smooth in a large bowl using an electric mixer set at medium speed. Slowly blend in the icing sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and combine thoroughly. Add flour and mix at low speed until well blended.

Pat dough into an ungreased cookie sheet. Alternatively you can roll out the dough so that it’s about ¼ of an inch in thickness and cut them to your desired shape. I placed parchment paper on my cookie sheet and rolled my dough into flattened balls.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until just done (slightly golden in color). Do not let it get brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with colored sugar or other sprinkles if desired. Cut into squares if you haven’t pre-cut them and place cookie sheet on wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and enjoy!

Belinda’s Butter Chicken with Cumin Rice (4 servings)

She may have brought a massive pot of this curry, but in the end there were no leftovers. Nothing. Barely a grain of rice. We ate the lot.

butter chicken with cumin rice

  • 1 lb. boneless chicken cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Apply mixture of red chilli powder, lemon juice, and salt to the chicken pieces and set aside for half an hour in the refrigerator.
  • For the marinade:
  • 1/2 cup of greek yogurt (I use 2% greek yogurt)
  • 2 tsp ginger paste (use a rasper)
  • 2 tsp garlic paste (use a garlic press)
  • 1/2 tsp chili pwd.
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala pwd.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp mustard oil (use olive oil if you cannot find mustard oil).
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter

Hang the yogurt in a muslin cloth (I use a flat bottomed coffee filter) for 15 – 20 min to remove extra whey. Then add the ginger and garlic pastes, chilli pwd, salt and garam masala pwd to the yogurt, mix well and apply this marinade to the chicken pieces and place in fridge for 3 – 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400F. String the chicken onto skewers and cook in preheated oven for 12 – 15 minutes until almost done.

Baste with melted butter and cook for another 3 – 4 min. Remove and set aside

To make the Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 green cardamom seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 green chilli deseeded and chopped fine
  • 1 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1/2 tsp Kasoori methi (fenugreek leaves)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

In a med pan heat the 2 Tbsp. butter, add the green cardamon seeds and chopped garlic, saute for a few minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and saute till tomatoes are plump and soft.

In a separate small pan, heat the 3 tbsp butter, add the ginger paste and green chilli and saute for a few minutes till the mixture softens. Add this mixture to the tomato mixture. Add the sugar/honey 1/2 tsp kasoori methi and salt to taste. Cook for a few minutes and then puree the tomato mixture with a hand blender. When everything is completed pureed, add the heavy cream, simmer gently. Add chicken pieces off the skewer to the sauce and mix well. Taste for seasoning, add additional chilli pwd and salt if required.

p.s. If the mixture appears too thick, thin it down with a little water.

Val’s Gingerbread Cake

Welcome to our other new member Val, who seemed to know instinctively to include lashings of whipped cream with her cake. Smart lady.

gingerbread

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter and flour an 8 inch (20 cm) square pan with 2 inch (5 cm) sides. (You can also use a 9 inch (23 cm) round pan with 2 inch (5 cm) sides.)

Gingerbread Cake:

  • 2 cups (260 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (3 grams) ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (3 grams) ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Zest of 1 lemon (outer yellow skin of lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon (10 grams) finely chopped fresh ginger or 1/4 cup (30 grams) finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) (130 grams) unsulphured molasses (To prevent the molasses from sticking to the measuring cup, first spray the cup with a non stick vegetable spray.)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk, at room temperature

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, lemon zest, and grated ginger (if using).

In bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the molasses and beat to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the dry ingredients (in three additions) and the milk (in two additions), alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Beat just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. If desired, frost with the Lemon Icing.

Lemon Icing: Mix together the sifted confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth. (The icing should be thick but still spreadable.) Pour the icing onto the center of the cake and spread with an offset spatula.

This cake will keep for several days at room temperature. Can serve with softly whipped cream, lemon curd, or slices of apples sauteed in a little butter and sugar.

Makes about 9 servings.

There is also a demonstration of this recipe on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3MRc7WfUpw

Lemon Icing: (Optional)

  • 1  1/2 cups (170 grams) confectioners’ (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
  • about 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Note: For the glaze I used dried figs, lemon juice, honey. Tablespoon of ginger marmalade. Boiled together, spread over cake and sprinkled with icing sugar

Lori’s “Hillary Clinton’s Chocolate Chip Cookies”

Mrs Clintons cookies

These were so decedent, owing mostly to Lori’s excellent decision to add obscene amounts of chocolate chips. The original recipe is from http://clinton2.nara.gov/WH/EOP/First_Lady/html/cookies.html and Lori made several adjustments, including adding 1 cup of dried cranberries, substituting butter for the shortening, and using jumbo chips instead of regular chocolate chips.

Dorthea’s Thai Curried Butternut Squash Soup (Vegan!)

Who brings not one, not two but THREE optional toppings for an already amazing soup? The lovely Dorthea, of course! This is one of those winter soups that makes everything right with the world.

Thai Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Original recipe from http://cookieandkate.com/2014/thai-curried-butternut-squash-soup/

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil (I used olive)
  • 2 pound butternut or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small ½-inch pieces (about 3 cups) (my butternut squash was a little over 2 lb, peeled.)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste* (Thai Kitchen is good)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander (I didn’t have this but used curry powder instead.)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (up to ¼ teaspoon for spicier soup) (I used cayenne rather than flakes)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
  • ½ cup full fat coconut milk for drizzling on top (I stirred some into the soup before serving, plus some of the side for stirring. )
  • ½ cup large, unsweetened coconut flakes** I just used unsweetened coconut.

Handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add squash, onion, garlic, curry paste, coriander, cumin, salt and red pepper flakes to skillet. Stir to combine.

2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until squash is soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. (I let my cook for about 30 minutes.)

3. While the soup is cooking, toast the coconut flakes in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden on the edges. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Transfer coconut flakes to a bowl to cool. (I also used toasted pumpkin seeds as a garnish.)

4. Once the squash mixture is done cooking, taste and add a little more Thai red curry paste if it’s not quite flavorful enough for you. Remove the soup from heat and let it cool slightly.

Purée the mixture until smooth.

— Use an immersion blender to puree in the pot, or use a blender:

To use a blender to puree the soup: Working in batches, transfer the contents pan to a blender (do not fill your blender past the maximum fill line!). Securely fasten the lid and use a kitchen towel to protect your hand from steam escaping from the top of the blender as you blend.

Transfer puréed soup to a serving bowl and repeat with remaining batches.

5. Stir the lime juice into the blended soup. Taste and season with additional salt if necessary. Ladle soup into individual bowls. Use a spoon to drizzle coconut milk over each bowl, then lightly swirl the spoon through the topmost layer for a pretty design. Top the soup with toasted coconut flakes (or/and pumpkin seeds) and a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro.

Sandra’s Baby Mocha Cheesecakes

Just look at it. It’s cute as a button. If buttons were made of chocolate and awesome.

baby mocha cheesecake

CRUST

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) ground hazelnuts or almonds
  • 2 T sugar
  • 3 T butter melted
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

CHEESECAKE

  • 1 – 8oz (250 g) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 T sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 2 oz (60 g) good quality dark chocolate (callebaut), melted
  • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 2 T coffee liqueur or 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 12 chocolate covered espresso beans for garnish

METHOD

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Prepare a 12 cup mini cheesecake pan by greasing. Mix cookie crumbs, nuts, sugar, melted butter and cinnamon together.

Divide mixture evenly among the 12 cups. Press the mixture firmly into the bottoms of the pans and about 1/3 of the way up the sides.

Place the room temperature cream cheese and sugar in a food processor or the bowl of your mixer and whip up until smooth and creamy.

Add the sour cream, egg, melted chocolate, espresso powder, coffee liqueur (or vanilla extract) and salt. Mix well to combine.

Put the mixture in a jug or measuring cup with a spout for pouring, or use a spring-loaded cookie scoop to get all the mixture into the 12 cups.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. The cheesecake will puff up a little in the oven and fall when you cool them.

Remove from the oven and cool until set (about 30 minutes). Remove from the pans by pushing up each cup from underneath then sliding a knife between the disc and the little cake.

Garnish with a chocolate covered espresso bean or a drizzle of dark chocolate.

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