Comfort food is different for everyone. For me, my go to is a delicious Italian meal. It brings back loving memories of my grandmother’s Italian kitchen. There is nothing like a pot of homemade gravy (Not Sauce!) that has been simmering for hours poured over some homemade pasta with meatballs. I make a respectable meatball but I have yet to perfect my grandmother’s gravy recipe. (She never wrote anything down). However, I am getting closer. In truth, I am not sure anything I create would live up to the memory of my grandmother’s cooking.
Quarantine has given me time to experiment with some new recipes and time to perfect old ones, like my grandmother’s gravy. My husband and I both enjoy cooking and we have found some great new recipes. We are enjoying the ritual and routine of preparing the meal because we are not rushing to eat and run out the door.
One silver lining of being in quarantine is all three of my children are home and we have time to enjoy our family meals. My children are 17, 20 and 23. Under normal circumstances, we don’t have the opportunity to sit together for a meal as often as we would like. When we are all home and have dinner together, someone is usually rushing out the door right after the meal to get to a practice or a social event. Now, since we have little else to look forward to during the day, dinners have become an anticipated event for everyone in my house. We are able to savor the meal and spend time in conversion afterward. The slower pace of life allows us reminise, laugh more and appreciate each other’s company. (Parents of young children...there is hope. One day you will be able to sit through an entire meal. That day will come more quickly than you think.)
Below we have listed some recipes we hope will provide you comfort and enjoyment. If you have a recipe you would like to share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you are experiencing food insecurities due to current circumstances, please see Food Resources under the Covid-19 Resources section of this blog.
From the Kitchen of Stacey Kerno….
Italian Tortellini Soup with White Beans
3 Italian turkey sausage links (4 oz each)
1 medium diced
6 garlic cloves minced
32 oz Chicken broth
1- 1/2 cups of water
1 can (14-1/2 oz) diced tomatoes
1 package (6 oz) cheese tortellini (or any favorite)
1 small zucchini chopped
6 oz of fresh spinach chopped
2-1/2 teaspoons of minced fresh basil or 3/4 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
Dash of crushed pepper flakes or to taste
1/4 cup of white wine (optional)
1. Crumble sausage into a dutch oven, add onions. Cook over medium heat until meat is a golden brown. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute longer. Deglaze the pot with optional wine. Add the broth, water and tomatoes and bring to a boil.
2. Add tortellini and zucchini, cook for 7 to 9 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the spinach, basil, pepper and pepper flakes. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Serve with parmesan cheese if desired.
From the kitchen of Judy (and Joe) Clay….
Balsamic Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
This is a newer go-to recipe for my family. Even if you are not the biggest fan of brussel sprouts, you may find you enjoy this recipe. As the saying goes “Everything's better with bacon.” Remove the bacon and this is a tasty vegetarian recipe.
1 32 ounce bag of brussel sprouts, washed, trimmed and halved
½ of one medium sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
6 pieces of pan or oven cooked bacon crumbled (or as a shortcut, 3- 4 tablespoons of Hormel real bacon pieces)
2 tablespoons of bacon grease
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Add the bacon grease and olive oil to a pan on medium heat. (We freeze bacon fat after the occasional Sunday brunch and reuse it in various recipes. For this recipe it allows us to use the bacon bits as a shortcut without having to cook the bacon.)
Add the diced onion. As onions begin to carmelize, reduce the heat and add the minced garlic. Add balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan.
Add the brussel sprouts and increase the heat back up medium high. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
Continue to cook the brussel sprouts on medium heat, stirring occasionally, allowing them to brown and crisp in the process. If the bottom of the pan browns, deglaze with a tablespoon water.
Add the bacon (or bacon bits) and continue to cook for several minutes until brussel sprouts are tender and browned.
Recommended by Sharon DeBardino (from Facebook). Kate McGurk gives it two thumbs up!
Apple Fritter Loaf
⅓ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅔ cup white sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
½ cup milk
2-3 apples, peeled and chopped (any kind), mixed with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a 9x5 inch loaf pan and spray with non-stick spray to get out easily for slicing.
Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, beat white sugar and butter together using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended in; add in vanilla extract.
Combine and whisk flour and baking powder together in another bowl and add into creamed butter mixture. Stir until blended.
Mix mild into batter until smooth.
Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan; add half the apples and half the brown sugar cinnamon mixture.
Lightly pat the apple mixture into the batter. Pour in remaining batter and top with remaining apples and brown sugar/cinnamon.
Lightly pat apples in batter: swirl brown sugar mixture through apples using knife or spoon.
Bake the 350 degree oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf come out clean, approximately 60-75 minutes. Baking time will vary according to your oven and the kind of pan you use.
Allow to cool on a baking rack for several minutes then carefully remove from loaf pan. If desired, top with cream cheese glaze before serving.
Cream Cheese Glaze
2 ounces cream cheese softened
2 tablespoons butter softened
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup powdered sugar (You can make powdered sugar by pulsing granulated sugar in a food processor until fine.)
Mix ingredients until smooth. Warm until pourable and allow to set before serving.
From the kitchen of Judy Clay…..
Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips
This recipe is one that I have been baking for decades. My own children now make it for themselves. It originally came from The Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook which I received as a wedding shower gift. Instead of throwing away overripe bananas, I freeze them to use in this recipe.
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
⅔ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2-3 mashed ripe bananas (about 1 cup)
⅓ cup shortening, margarine or butter
2 tablespoons milk
½ cup chocolate chips (or a little more if you like)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8x4 loaf pan and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl combine 1 cup flour, the sugar, baking powder and baking soda, and salt.
Add mashed bananas, margarine or butter, and milk. Beat with a mixer until blended.
Add eggs and remaining flour and beat until blended.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into the greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 55 to 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Baking time may vary for your oven and the pan you use.
Remove loaf pan from oven and place on a wire baking rack to cool for several minutes before removing the banana bread from the loaf pan.