Food, Glorious Food:

Comfort Food 

Mac & Comfort Food - Cheese - Grilled Cheese Sandwich - Soup
Ok, it’s still cold and dreary and when I get home after work, sometimes a nicely dressed salad just isn’t enough to warm – or fill - me up. That’s when I turn to some favorite comfort food dishes. You know what I’m talking about: noodles, cheese, meat, pot pies, cake -- and a few garlicky green beans thrown in for good measure.

So sit back, fire up the stove and let’s eat.



Comfort Food - Baked Spaghetti


1 ½ lb. ground round or sirloin
2 twelve oz. cans tomato paste
onion flakes salt & pepper
sugar ground fennel
8 oz. spaghetti

1. Brown 1½ lb. of ground beef with onion flakes, salt and pepper. Drain oil.

2. Add 2 medium (12 oz.) cans of tomato paste
and 2 cans of water per can.

3. Add some sugar to taste, salty and ground fennel. (Freshly ground is best.) Let the sauce come to a boil. Then simmer for at least 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti noodles. Oil – or Pam - bottom and sides of a round, oven-proof casserole dish. Drain spaghetti and place in casserole. Toss the noodles with a pat of butter.

5. Take ladles of sauce and slowly mix into the spaghetti noodles. Finally ladle a layer of sauce over the mixed spaghetti and sauce mixture. Sprinkle the top layer with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

6. Bake uncovered in a preheated over at 400 degrees for approx. 30 min. or until a crispy layer had formed on the top.

(My family has always called this dish Pasta Timbale, but a true timbale involves a pasta mold and often a béchamel sauce. So it is more accurate to simply refer to this as Baked Spaghetti. And if you prefer another sort of noodle to spaghetti, then feel free to use other Italian pasta noodles such as mostacholi, macaroni, penne, etc.
Sharon Pisacreta)

Comfort Food - Valentine's Day Cheesecake


This is an easy recipe, and traditional since my mom always made it for my sister’s birthday. With the bright red cherry pie filling as a topping, it would make a lovely, not too heavy or sugary Valentine’s Day dessert. You can substitute light cream cheese and sour cream also. The large tub of cream cheese is 10 oz., so use the last bit on a bagel or two.
9 oz. of cream cheese
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar

Cream together, pour into a graham cracker crust and bake for 23 minutes at 350 degrees.

While it’s cooling, mix together
2 cups sour cream
3T sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Spread this on top to edges of the cheese layer. Bake 12 more minutes. Let COOL. Add 1 can (or 1 and a half cans, to really pump up the fruit) of cherry pie filling. Or strawberry pie filling, if you prefer, but the cherries are brighter red. You can also thaw a bag of frozen strawberries and cook with 1 ½ tablespoons of cornstarch until clear and use that as a topping. Enjoy!
(Meg Mims)

Comfort Food - Chicken Pot Pie


This is also a quick supper recipe for a snowy, wet and cold night. Easy as pie, especially if you have leftover chicken breasts and vegetables!

Mix together 1 can each of cream of chicken and cream of celery soup. Add at least two cooked, cut up chicken breasts. Throw in chopped celery, a bag of frozen peas and carrots (rinse them in a strainer under hot water) plus a small chopped onion. Add a can or two of drained white potatoes, plus salt and pepper. Place an unrolled pre-made pie crust over top and slit vents. Bake for at least 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees. Can also make this minus crust in a crock pot, or on stop of the stove and serve with biscuits. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. (Meg Mims)

Comfort Food - Poppy Seed Casserole


1 lb. raw ground chicken or turkey
1 chopped onion
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
½ tsp salt ¼ tsp pepper
1 8 oz. pkg wide egg noodles
1 8 oz. pkg. Neufchatel cheese
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
½ - 1 cup plain non-fat or low-fat yogurt
1 tbsp poppy seed (optional)

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine yogurt, cottage cheese, Neufchatel cheese (which you must slice or tear into smaller pieces) and poppy seed.

2. In a large skillet, cook the turkey or chicken and onion until meat is no longer pink and onions are soft.

Comfort Food - Poppy Seed Casserole - saute the chicken and onions

3. Drain off excess liquid. Stir in tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Simmer for several minutes.

Comfort Food - Poppy Seed Casserole - finish the meat sauce

4. Meanwhile cook noodles. Drain.

5. Toss the cheese mixture into the hot noodles.

Comfort Food - Poppy Seed Casserole - mixing the noodles and cheese

6. Layer ¾ of the noodle mixture in a 13x9x2 baking dish. Spoon the meat mixture over the center of the noodles, leaving a border.

Comfort Food - Poppy Seed Casserole - noodles and sauce in pan for baking

7. Layer the remaining noodle mixture over the center of the meat.

8. Bake covered at 375 degree for 30 minutes. Uncover the casserole and bake an additional 5-10 minutes

(This is a wonderful low-fat dish. I came across this recipe years ago in a low-calorie/low-fat cookbook when I was trying to come up with something healthy and new to serve for dinner. It became a family favorite. The original recipe called for ground turkey, but I started using ground chicken and prefer the taste. Either one results in a wonderful dish. Btw, in the photos of this dish on this page, there are no poppy seeds in the sauce. Although I like poppy seeds, other family members prefer it without.
Sharon Pisacreta)

Comfort Food - Garlic Green Beans

1 ¾ lb. fresh green beans
4 garlic cloves
¼ stick butter
cayenne pepper
salt, pepper, sugar
chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, etc.

1. In a skillet, toast 4 crushed garlic cloves and a pinch of cayenne pepper in melted butter.

2. Add green beans. Season with salt and a pinch of sugar.

3. Cook 2 minutes.

4. Add ¼ cup water, cover pan and cook 6 minutes.

5. Uncover pan, and boil until water evaporates.

6. Toss with chopped nuts. Season with salt and pepper, Serve immediately.

Comfort Food - Garlic Green Beans - saute the mix

(Don’t recall if I found this recipe in a magazine or on the internet. But it’s fast, simple and delicious. While cooking, season according to your own tastes. I prefer more cayenne pepper and sugar than others might, so I add a little extra. And my favorite chopped nuts are almonds or pecans, but you may like walnuts or pine nuts instead. Sharon Pisacreta)

Comfort Food - sliced Banana Bread


The scent of this bread baking in the oven is worth the time spent making it—although it doesn’t take long! Perfect when you have spotted brown bananas too old to eat. Just mash them up and use in this recipe! Soured milk is also easy to make, just add a touch of vinegar to the milk and let it sit while you’re gathering the rest of the ingredients. A fresh loaf sliced and spread with butter—mmmm.

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup margarine or butter
2 eggs
3T soured milk

Blend together and set aside while mashing bananas to make 1 cup of fruit. Add to wet mixture. In a separate bowl, blend dry ingredients:

1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 cups flour

Slowly add dry to wet mixture. Optional: add ½ cup chopped walnuts. Pour into a
greased 9 X 5 loaf pan. Let stand 20 minutes before baking for 55 minutes at 350 degrees. TEST for doneness to make sure the middle is baked through. Cool before slicing – recipe can be doubled, because one will be gobbled up within a day. (Meg Mims)

Feb - Mar '11