Tag Archives: comfort food

Fried Egg and Avocado Sandwich

Fried egg sandwiches are one of my favorite foods.  Not only are they delicious, but they have great sentimental value for me.  My Grandma and Grandad both made them for me when I was young.  My mom made them for me (and occasionally still does).  It was one (if not THE) first foods I cooked for myself. And now, whether I’m dieting or not dieting, sad or happy, it’s one of my favorite things to make.  Breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I don’t eat them every day, but when I do, I enjoy every single bite.

At my favorite fruit stand today, I discovered a new thing, a Bacon Avocado!  Now you, like me, may be all excited about the seeming hybrid of bacon and avocado, but alas, that is not the case (although that would be awesome). They are just named after somebody named Bacon who discovered them.  But, although they have nothing to do with actual bacon, they are really, really delicious!  Very creamy and good.  And more importantly, they paired beautifully with a fried egg on my sandwich.

My mom might be appalled that I’m messing with the traditional fried egg sandwich, but then again, she’s an avocado fan, so she may go for this one.

Fried Egg and Avocado Sandwich

Fried Egg and Avocado Sandwich

Fried Egg and Avocado Sandwich

2 pieces good bread (I prefer rye or sourdough)
1-2 large eggs
1 tsp. mayonnaise (optional)
1/2 avocado
Salt & pepper

Heat small skillet over medium heat.  When pan is hot, rub the surface with a bit of olive oil or butter.  Break egg(s) into pan.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.  Cook a minute or two on each side, until they are done to your liking. I like mine over easy, still yolky in the middle.

While the eggs are cooking, smear a little mayo on the bread if you like that sort of thing.  Slice up the avocado and spread out on one side.

Yummy avocado!

Yummy avocado!

Gently place the egg on top of the avocado, top with the other piece of bread and dive into bliss!

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Crunchy Vinegar Pork Chops

I know generally it’s a bad thing to feed an addiction.  And I am an addict.  I admit I have a terrible weakness for cookbooks.  But since I have no desire to quit, I’m happy when my friends and family feed my little habit with gifts and recommendations.  When a friend of mine recommended, Dinner: A Love Story, I just had to check it out.  Literally.  I checked it out.  From the library.  Call it a taste test drive.

After bookmarking at least a dozen recipes to try, this is the first one I settled on.  It was an easy choice.  Not only was it the first one that caught my eye (it’s early in the book) but I also had all of the ingredients to make it.  It was meant to be, right?

These were amazing.  The vinegar and lemon zest add a tangy twist and the panko gives it a beautiful crunch, while leaving the pork juicy and delicious.  Take it from me.  You need to make these.  And get this cookbook.  I’ve got two more recipes planned this week out of this baby and I can’t wait.

Crunchy Vinegar Pork Chops

Crunchy Vinegar Pork Chops

Crunchy Vinegar Pork Chops
(adapted from Dinner: A Love Story, by Jenny Rosenstrach)

4-6 pork loin chops
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups panko
Zest from one lemon
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
Olive oil

Arrange pork chops in a single layer in a large baking dish and cover with the vinegar.  Let sit for one hour at room temperature.

In a small bowl combine the panko, lemon zest, thyme, oregano and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Set up your dredging station, one dish for the panko mixture you just mixed, one dish for the flour, and one dish for the beaten eggs.

Dredging station

Dredging station

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2-3 tbsp. of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Using a fork, dredge each chop first in the flour, then the egg, then in the panko, making sure to coat all sides.  Place the chops in the hot oil, working in batches if needed.  Cook until crispy, about 4 minutes per side, until cooked through.  Remove from pan and eat hot!

Crunchy Vinegar Pork Chops

Crunchy Vinegar Pork Chops

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Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

I’m always on the lookout for interesting side dishes.  Anything to keep dinner fun, right?  I came across a recipe for Twice-Baked Cauliflower on Pinterest.  I believe it was called that because it’s reminiscent of twice-baked potatoes, but you don’t actually bake the cauliflower twice so that title is a tiny bit misleading.  I originally saw this touted as a “healthier” substitute for the potato dish, but seriously, with all the cream cheese, cheese and sour cream in it, I don’t think I can call this a healthy recipe and keep a straight face.  It is lower carb, I’ll give them that.  I just made it because I like cauliflower.  And cheese.

You could make this a little lighter by using the lower fat versions of the dairy products (don’t use the fat-free products, they do weird things when they are cooked).  I don’t personally care for the lower fat versions (and I don’t really think they are any better for you).  I prefer to use the full fat stuff but I use a little less than the original recipe calls for.  In fact, I could probably cut it back even more than I did here.

This was a huge hit with my kids.  True, they like their veggies, but I’m betting even veggie haters will like this one.  It’s a pile of cheesy goodness.  I don’t think anyone will actually be fooled into thinking it’s potatoes, but they might change their minds about liking cauliflower.

I paired this with my Apple-icious Pork Chops and the sweet and salty combo was amazing.  I highly recommend it.

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

1 large head of cauliflower
4 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 cup green onions
1/2 tsp. black pepper
6 strips of bacon
1/3 cup cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350˚.  Chop up the cauliflower and boil until tender.  While it is boiling, cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp and drain on paper towels.  Drain the cauliflower and mash with a potato masher.  I left quite a few chunks for texture.  Add cream cheese, sour cream, parmesan, green onions and pepper.  Mash or stir together until well combined.  Add 2/3 of the bacon and stir in.  Spray a small baking dish with cooking spray.  Spread cauliflower mixture in the dish.  Sprinkle with the remaining bacon and the cheddar cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10 minutes.  Serve hot.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Perfect on the side of just about anything!

Perfect on the side of just about anything!

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April’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I don’t have any cookies in my house at the moment.  If I had them, I would eat them.  I have no self-control when it comes to cookies.  So I don’t make them often.  When I do, they do a very quick disappearing act, because they are (if I do say so myself) spectacular.

These are one of my favorite cookies to make.  My little spin on your basic chocolate chip cookie.  I used to use half butter and half margarine or butter flavored crisco to make them a little fluffier.  But these days, I’m using less and less “fake” food, which margarine is in my book (did you know it’s chemically very similar to plastic?) so now I use all butter.  I think they taste better, but they do tend to come out a bit more flat.  I don’t really have a problem with that, although they are not quite as pretty.  But they still taste wonderful and I would happily sit down and eat a whole plate of them, were they here.  It might be time to bake another batch.

Right now, I’m craving a cookie.

A stack of cookie love.

A stack of cookie love.

April’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup butter (2 sticks, slightly softened)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. finely grated orange rind
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
6 squares Bakers bittersweet chocolate, chopped up
1/2 – 1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375˚.  Combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt & cinnamon) in a small bowl.  Set aside.  In a large bowl beat or stir butter, sugar and brown sugar until creamy.  Add eggs, vanilla, and orange rind.  Beat until combined.  Gradually beat or stir in flour mixture about 1/3 at a time.  Fold in chocolate and nuts.

Chopped bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate.  You could use chocolate chips if you want, but I love how you get varying sizes of chocolate bits with this method.  Some big chunks, some tiny slivers, and a little chocolate dust to flavor the dough.

Chopped bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate. You could use chocolate chips if you want, but I love how you get varying sizes of chocolate bits with this method. Big chunks, tiny slivers, and a little chocolate dust to permeate the dough.

Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.  If you prefer you can line your baking sheets with parchment for easier cleanup.  Bake 8-10 minutes until just barely brown around the edges.  Remove from oven.  Using a spatula, transfer cookies to wax paper or cooling racks to cool.  Try not to eat them all at once.

The perfect addition to any tray of treats.

The perfect addition to any tray of treats.

 

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Bring Me My Turkey Pot Pie!

I woke up to snow falling this morning.  Well, sort of snow.  More like slush.  But it’s Portland, Oregon, and I’ll take whatever snow I can get.  I caught a flake on my tongue and it didn’t taste like rain.

What to do on a snowy/rainy evening?  Whip up a little comfort food of course.

I grew up eating frozen chicken or turkey pot pies.  You know the little individual ones I mean.  I always liked them, even though I burned the roof of my mouth every dang time.  For some reason, I don’t ever buy them.  Probably haven’t eaten one in 20 years.  But in this case, no frozen pie was needed.  I made my own and it was even better than I remember.  I still burned the roof of my mouth.  Sometimes you just can’t wait.

One of the things I don’t like about most turkey pot pies is the mushy crust on the bottom.  Problem solved by not using one.  I used a top crust only and it was every bit as delicious.  Not to mention a little more healthy since the crust is the most fattening part of the whole thing.  I am not a pie crust expert, so I used a refrigerated roll up crust by Pillsbury.  One of the best convenience products ever invented in my opinion.  This was a huge hit in my house.  Hope it is in yours as well.

turkeypotpie4

Turkey Pot Pie

2 cups cooked turkey or chicken
3 medium potatoes
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup frozen peas
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
2 tbsp. chives
1/2 tsp. creole seasoning
1 refrigerated pie crust

Stab the potatoes and microwave for 5 minutes or so, until fork tender.  Remove, let cool a bit and dice.  Add a drizzle of olive oil to a skillet and add carrots, onion and mushrooms, along with a pinch of salt & pepper.  Saute until veggies are tender.  Add frozen peas and toss with the other vegetables.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk flour into the butter until it’s all absorbed and mixture is smooth.  Whisk in milk gradually, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.  Continue to whisk until mixture is bubbly and thickened.  Remove from heat.  Stir in a big pinch of salt & pepper, chives, and creole seasoning.  Combine sauce in a large bowl with vegetables, potatoes, and turkey.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Preheat oven to 375˚.  Prep a casserole dish with cooking spray.  Add your turkey and vegetable mixture.  Cover with a pie crust and tuck around the edges.  Make a few slices in the top for steam to escape.

That is a beautiful pie crust that I didn't make.

That is a beautiful pie crust that I didn’t make.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown on top.

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Perfect Turkey Pot Pie

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And the cutaway shot, showing all the yummy goodness lurking underneath that crust. Note the absence of gooey gross bottom crust.

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Shepherd’s Pie Goes Veggie

Yesterday I posted about an amazing Shepherd’s Pie I made with pulled pork.  It was delicious.  But what I didn’t tell you is that I made a vegetarian version at the same time since I had a friend over who doesn’t eat pork (or anything else with a face).  It was easy enough to layer things in two dishes instead of one.  This is one of the things that I really like about this recipe.  Since you prepare the ingredients separately, it’s very easy to customize to different tastes.  You could even do individual servings if you wanted to really go crazy.

I have to say, I love the vegetarian version just as much as the meat version.  But then, there ARE mashed potatoes involved, and how can you go wrong there?  Want the meaty version?  Click here for the recipe.

Shepherd's Pie Goes Veggie

Shepherd’s Pie Goes Veggie

Shepherd’s Pie Goes Veggie

8 oz. (or more) sliced mushrooms (I used a mix of button mushrooms and shiitake)
1/2 cup pearl onions (I use the frozen, peeled ones because I hate peeling these things)
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped into 1-2 inch pieces
2-3 medium red potatoes, with skin on
1-2 cloves garlic
Salt & pepper
1-2 tbsp. butter
1/4- 1/2 cup milk
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Quarter the potatoes and cover with water in a large sauce pan.  Throw in the whole, peeled cloves of garlic.  Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes or so until fork tender.  Drain the water.  Add butter, milk and salt & pepper to taste and mash with a potato masher.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a skillet saute mushrooms in a little butter or olive oil with fresh thyme and a pinch of salt & pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes until softened and set aside.  Put green beans and pearl onions in a glass bowl with a little water, cover with a plate or plastic wrap (undone a bit to let steam escape) and microwave for a 2-3 minutes.  Drain water.  (You could alternatively boil these on the stove for 3-4 minutes if you prefer).

Preheat oven to 375˚. Assemble your pie by mushrooms in the bottom of a casserole dish.  Top with green beans and onions.  Pile on the mashed potatoes and spread out to cover everything evenly.  Sprinkle with green onions and parmesan.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Pop it in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until everything is hot and mashed potatoes are starting to brown on top.  Dig in!  Makes 2-3 servings.

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One Pork Roast, 3 Dinners. Day 3: Shepherd’s Pie

The grand finale of pork week was Shepherd’s Pie.  While it’s a humble dish at heart, the presentation is beautiful and it was oh, so delicious.  I’ve never made it before, but having eaten it I knew that the basic recipe was a meat something, topped with a veggie something (usually peas) and then lots of yummy mashed potatoes.  Could you go wrong with that?  I didn’t think so, and it seemed simple enough that I decided to wing it without a recipe.  I already had leftover pulled pork and it was the perfect base for my pie.  And you thought pork pies were just an English thing, didn’t you?

Interested in Day One and Two of my pork roast saga?  Click here for BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Shredded Pork & Black Bean Tacos.  If you’re stretching the dollars, these are three easy meals that were very nice to my food budget.

porkroastpie

Shepherd’s Pie. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Shepherd’s Pie

2 cups (or so) Basic Pulled Pork
4-6 oz. mushrooms (I used a mix of button mushrooms and shiitake)
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped into 1-2 inch pieces
4-5 medium red potatoes, with skin on
3-4 cloves garlic
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. butter
1/4- 1/2 cup milk
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Quarter the potatoes and cover with water in a large sauce pan.  Throw in the whole, peeled cloves of garlic.  Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes or so until fork tender.  Drain the water.  Add butter, milk and salt & pepper to taste and mash with a potato masher.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a skillet saute mushrooms in a little butter or olive oil with fresh thyme and a pinch of salt & pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes until softened and set aside.  Put green beans in a glass bowl with a little water, cover with a plate or plastic wrap (undone a bit to let steam escape) and microwave for a 2-3 minutes.  Drain water.  (You could alternatively boil these on the stove for 3-4 minutes if you prefer).  If your pork is cooled in the fridge, warm it up slightly in the microwave.

Preheat oven to 375˚. Assemble your pie by spreading pork (and any pork juices there might be) in the bottom of a casserole dish.  Top with mushrooms.  Then spread green beans over the top.  Pile on the mashed potatoes and spread out to cover everything evenly.  Sprinkle with green onions and parmesan.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Pop it in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until everything is hot and mashed potatoes are starting to brown on top.  Dig in!  Makes 4-6 servings.

porkroastpie4

Cutaway View of Shepherd’s Pie. Also known as my lunch the next day.

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Paprika Chicken

Long before I owned any cookbooks of my own, I borrowed them from the library and copied recipes by the dozens.  Every once in a while I pull out my little black recipe box and grab an oldie but goodie.  You can always tell it was a good one if the little card is all splattered and gross and hard to read.  I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I had made Paprika Chicken until my daughter told me she didn’t remember ever eating it before.  But it was so delicious that we’ll be making it again soon!

Paprika Chicken

Paprika Chicken

Paprika Chicken

2-3 strips bacon
1 pound chicken, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup pearl onions (fresh or frozen)
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup sour cream

Cook bacon until crisp.  Set aside on paper towels to drain and cool.  Discard excess bacon grease.  Add chicken to the pan and saute until browned.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add onions and mushrooms to pan and saute a few minutes until onions are tender.  Add 2-3 tbsp. water to the pan and scrape up the browned bits.  Return chicken to the pan and add paprika, salt & pepper.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook for about 10 minutes until chicken is completely cooked through.  Stir in sour cream and cook on low 1 minute longer until heated through.  Do not boil.  Sprinkle with crumbled bacon.  Serve over rice if desired.

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Beef Stroganoff

One day when I was a teenager, I had an amazing revelation at my friend Bethany’s house.  My life has never been the same.  Until that day I dreaded the vile substance that was beef stroganoff.  Seeing that nasty Hamburger Helper box at my house made me quake in my shoes.  Yuck.  When I found out that Bub’s mom (tops among friend moms) was making beef stroganoff for dinner, I steeled myself to be polite and choke it down.  But then a miracle happened.  It was delicious!  As it turns out, beef stroganoff does not really come from a box at all!

One of my huge regrets is that I never got her recipe.  But over the years I have done my best to recreate that tasty experience.  I know mine is not exactly the same, but I think I’ve hit the high points.  Lean chunks of beef, creamy sauce, fresh ingredients.  Yum. Thanks, Mrs. S!

Beef Stroganoff!

Beef Stroganoff

1 pound sirloin sliced into bite sized pieces (or you can use beef cut up for stew or stir fry if you’re in a hurry)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 cup sliced onion
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp. butter
1 1/4 cup beef broth
3/4 cup sour cream
Noodles or rice

In a ziplock bag or bowl combine flour and seasonings.  Toss beef with flour mixture until all pieces are well coated.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add one tbsp of butter and swirl around to coat the pan.  In 2 or 3 batches, add the meat to the pan, leaving space in between each piece. Brown for a minute or two on each side, then remove to a plate while you do the next batch (add a little more butter to the pan for each batch).  After the meat is done, add onion and mushrooms to the pan.  Cook and stir a few minutes until onion is soft, scraping all the little bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add beef back into the pan.  Add beef broth.  Turn heat down and cover.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.  During this time you can cook the rice or pasta to serve with it. Stir in sour cream and heat through, but don’t boil.  Serve over rice or pasta.  I actually prefer rice, but the kids love it over curly egg noodles.  I always get outvoted!

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Rustic Chicken Chowder

So it’s been a long day, and you stop and get one of those tasty rotisserie chickens from the grocery store deli, dig in like a ravenous beast and throw the leftovers (if any) in the fridge.  Now if you’re like me, you think, “don’t throw that away, you can make something out of it like your grandma would!”  I’ll be honest.  Sometimes I just throw it away.  But sometimes I get industrious and soup happens the next day.

I know it SOUNDS like a lot of work, but what it really is is throwing everything in a pot and letting it simmer while you’re having a lazy day at home. I love how the chicken just falls off the bones in little shreds that permeate the whole soup.  You just don’t get that when you cut chicken up in neat little bites.  You end up with something that tastes rustic and homey, and honestly tastes like you slaved over it, when maybe you just know how to boil.  And if that’s the case, it’s okay, because it’s still going to be awesome.

Rustic Chicken Chowder

Rustic Chicken Chowder

Leftover roasted chicken (with the bones if you have them)
6-8 cups water or chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
4-5 russet potatoes, diced
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt & pepper
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. paprika
1-2 tsp. chicken bouillon (optional)
2 tsp. cornstarch (optional)

Put the whole chicken carcass in a soup pot (including any meat left on it and the weird jelly-like stuff in the bottom of the pan or package) and cover with water.  Add bay leaves and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down, cover and simmer for a couple of hours.  (If you want to skip this step, you can always use prepared chicken broth and add cooked chicken).  Before adding the other ingredients, remove the bones and skin and return broth and chicken to the pan.

Add onion, celery, potatoes and corn.  Cook for 30 minutes or more until veggies are all soft.  Add cream and seasonings.  If you want more intense chicken flavor, add some chicken bouillon (I like the “better than bouillon” paste stuff) for an extra punch.  I like my soups to be soupy but if you prefer a thicker, more “chowder-like” consistency, mix some cornstarch with water until it dissolves and stir into boiling soup to thicken.

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