comfort foods

Turkey Taco Spaghetti Squash Boats

Why oh why is this winter dragging its heels?  We got a taste of spring a couple weeks ago that got me so excited about digging in the dirt again, but then it all changed lickety-split!  Just like that!   I’m so glad Bert and I escaped to Jamaica for 10 days last month to feel the warm sun and luxuriate on that tropical island.  We came back renewed and relaxed hoping that winter would be gone by the time we returned.  Surprise!!  Winter was still here and IS still here.    It’s just wonderful to be able to take a trip to sunny shores when winter is around don’t you?  I think from now on, since these old bones refuse to co-operate, I’ve advised my husband that we need more trips in the winter time.  He’s not a snowbird type, but going away in the winter is a good compromise – 2 weeks is all I need in the throes of winter.  Why go away in the summer when it’s sunny and hot everyday in our little corner of the world?  Well, I suppose being retired has its advantages 🙂  Well stay tuned my friends, the post on Jamaica should be up pretty soon.

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Crock pot Thai chicken with spicy peanut sauce

There’s no dearth of ethnic recipes in my menu repertoire when winter rolls around.  What is it about the cold weather that draws us to these comfort foods?  The advantage of this dish is the crock pot method.  It’s a boon for busy families that don’t have time to fuss about dinner during the work week, or perhaps even on a weekend when all the activities get in the way.  I’ve been recently cooking Indian curries in the crock pot for a few months now, and honestly I’ll have to say I’m just chuffed with the results.  I seldom cook a curry in the summer time as I don’t wish to heat up the kitchen, but the crock pot method should definitely change that.  I did not even have to brown the chicken before putting it in the pot.

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Goan Curried Fish Stew

From Goa, a tropical paradise on the south west coast of India, where palm trees dot the landscape and seafood is in abundance, comes this flavorful and succulent fish stew.  Goa was ruled by the Portuguese for many years,  it remained a Portuguese territory till 1961 when it was annexed back to India.  The Portuguese influences are still evident all over Goa from the architecture, to the religion, from the language and dress to the cuisine.  Goans even have Portuguese last names as a result.  Typically the Goan curries are made with fresh coconut, and an array of spices blended with vinegar, which gives some of the curries that distinctive tangy taste.  Mostly every Goan (that’s what the the locals are referred to), has a fondness for fresh fish.  This particular dish does not have the vinegar, but rather tamarind to render the tangy taste.  I’ve used mussels, salmon, and prawns in this recipe, but you can use any fish you have on hand.  I do think the addition of mussels give this curry a nice contrast against that bright yellow, don’t you?

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Comfort food at its best!

During the winter months I can cook any amount of curries in my kitchen and feel completely satiated.  Not so in the summer time; the thought of cooking an Indian meal is far from my mind when the weather turns hot and humid.  I’d have to say though that Indian/Goan cuisine has probably got to be one of my favorite (biased of course) although I do cook a variety of other cuisines too.  There is nothing more satisfying and comforting than a plate of curry and rice or rotis during the winter.  Today I’m presenting Keema (a dry ground beef curry) and a Lemon Saffron Rice.  I served it with a raita (cucumber yogurt salad), not pictured.  Keema is also popular as a breakfast dish with rotis, it is also used to fill samosas and for biryani.  It is usually cooked until dry.

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A sumptuous Indian Vegetarian feast!

I’ve been blogging for just over a year and a half now and in that time, I’ve come to appreciate fellow bloggers from near and far.  You could be following someone’s blog in Turkey, Spain or Argentina, but also blogs from folks who live on the same continent as yourself.  There are just so many facets that make up the blogging world, but one that I’m most passionate about is continuing to learn about the various cuisines around the world and forging friendships via a common medium.  I’ve come across so many amazing blogs (mine pales in comparison), it definitely is a learning curve when all is said and done.  There are a few favorite Indian bloggers that I follow, and I’ve got to say, whenever a dish strikes my fancy, I bookmark it and try it out.  Today, I’m featuring Indian vegetarian cuisine.

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Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie

This is the ultimate comfort food in my opinion.  Just oozing with delicious juices, melt in your mouth pastry, and a whole lot of goodness in the ingredients.  I usually make chicken pot pie after roasting an entire bird.  With all that leftover meat and broth, it’s a whole other meal in itself.  But this time, I had some chicken breasts in the freezer waiting to be used, so I cooked the chicken when making the gravy.  Winter is still wintering away, but there has to be a light at the end of that long, dreary tunnel.  In the meantime, let’s just enjoy more comforting foods like the above, and remember that spring is around the corner.  This recipe was given to me by a dear friend and ex-neighbor, Susan Dixon.  When I first tried it at her house, I just had to replicate it.  I’ve since adapted it and put my own mark on it :).  This is hubby’s favorite dish, so when he knows there’s chicken pot pie on the table, I gain extra brownie points 🙂

Ingredients (6 to 8 servings)

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3 large shallots minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken  broth ( I usually make my own)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups baby carrots halved lengthwise
  • 3 cups chicken breast meat
  • 1 (10oz) package mushrooms quartered
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup pearl onions
  • 1 bay leaf

Method

  1. Melt butter in large deep skillet over medium low heat.  Add shallots, celery and carrots – cook for four minutes.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Stir in flour, sage, thyme, bay leaf, mushrooms, Herbes de Provence.
  4. Increase heat, add chicken, broth and milk.
  5. Bring to a boil, stirring to break up any lumps of flour.
  6. Add peas, pearl onions and frozen corn.
  7. Pour into a baking dish or casserole.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 deg.  Cover with pastry.  Brush with egg.
  9. For the pastry, I used 2 cups flour, a teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 cup 2% milk.   Form ball, and roll between 2 pieces of wax paper, turning it in a circular direction each time to form a circle.
  10. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes or until top is golden brown and filling is hot and bubbly.

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There you have it.  A rustic, flavorful, hearty chicken pot pie.  I’ll guarantee you’ll go back for more :).

I’m off to party at Fiesta Friday #57.  Thanks Angie for hosting these great soirees; just so much fun visiting and taking in all the talent out there.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale & Potato Soup)

Caldo Verde, a Portuguese national favorite.  It is a simple yet hearty soup made with potatoes, kale and chorizo.  Caldo Verde can be found all over Portugal, from Lisbon’s most luxurious hotels to the humblest of country homes.   A powerhouse for minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, kale is the healthiest food on the planet. When the cooler weather rolls around, I am always on the hunt for new and unusual soup/stew recipes, and this one quickly became quite popular in our house.  Caldo Verde is sure to banish away your winter woes.  It is an ideal cool weather, downright satisfying comfort food, that will have you coming back for seconds.  The chorizo adds some spiciness and slight heat to the soup, the pureed potatoes in the soup is wonderfully filling, whilst the greens make it healthy and worthwhile.   A small cup for starters or as a main meal, Caldo Verde is just tickety-boo!  When preparing this soup, pour yourself some port, it helps to get you in the mood 🙂 Serve it with some rustic bread and wallow in praise :).

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