What Are You Looking For in a Meal?

For busy home chefs, chances are most of us are looking for one or more of the following attributes in a meal:

  • Easy to make
  • Make ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze for later use
  • Easy-to-find ingredients found in grocery stores
  • Produce-based and/or meatless (for those concerned about eating healthy and locally)
  • Reliable (your family will like it)
  • Comfort food

Comfort Food

What do you think of when you hear the words ‘comfort food’? Perhaps food rich in flavor, unpretentious, and that makes you feel good? Maybe it reminds you of favorite meals at Grandma’s house, or times spent around the table with family and friends.

Research has shown that food likes and dislikes follow us our entire lives, which may be why we have such a strong emotional attachment to comfort foods and may be why we want to bring familiar tastes and flavors back into our kitchens.

500 Best Comfort Food Recipes

500 Best Comfort Food Recipes contains all your favorite comfort food recipes – plus many more new ones! With the great variety offered, this cookbook is sure to be the one home cooks turn to the most when preparing everyday meals, special get-togethers, and holiday celebrations. Author Johanna Burkhard received a degree in Food Science and Nutrition from the University of Western Ontario. She is a food writer, having contributed to a variety of publications, and is the author of seven cookbooks.

What’s In The Book?

The first section provides an introduction as well as information on basic equipment, easy steps for preparing a recipe, making the most of your shopping trip, time-saving kitchen strategies, and ways to streamline your kitchen. Whether you are a young adult starting out on your own or a “seasoned” home chef, it’s always nice to read an expert’s thoughts on some of these topics. I bet you will learn a few handy tips!

Recipes

The recipes in the book are divided into 15 chapters:

  • Breakfast and Brunch
  • Sandwiches and Light Suppers
  • Appetizers
  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Stews, Pot Roasts, and One-Pot Simmers
  • Main Dishes
  • A Pound of Ground
  • Pasta
  • Rice, Beans, and Grains
  • Vegetables
  • Breads and Muffins
  • Cookies, Bars, and Squares
  • Cakes and Pies
  • Desserts

Example of Types of Recipes

Here are just a few of the mouth-watering, familiar, favorite comfort foods that are included in the book:

  • Stuffed French Toast with Ricotta and Blueberries
  • Breakfast Hash Brown and Sausage Bake
  • Tuna Cheddar Melt
  • Greek Chicken Pitas
  • Creamy Spinach Dip
  • Always Popular Layered Bean Dip
  • Caesar Salad
  • Greek Pasta Salad
  • Cheese-Smothered Onion Soup
  • Turkey Vegetable Chowder
  • Pulled Pork
  • Old-Fashioned Beef Stew
  • Sunday Roast Beef with Wine Gravy
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu
  • Kids’ Favorite Spaghetti Pie
  • Turkey Chili with Macaroni and Vegetables
  • Best-Ever Macaroni and Cheese
  • Creamy Tuna Pasta Bake
  • Wild and Brown Rice Pilaf
  • Quinoa with Almonds
  • Classic Scalloped Potatoes
  • Teriyaki Vegetable Stir Fry
  • Sticky Cinnamon Buns
  • Yorkshire Pudding
  • Gingersnaps
  • Easy Chocolate Cupcakes
  • Bananas Foster Bread Pudding

International Comfort Foods

Along with classics, there are also soul-satisfying international comfort foods sure to please, such as:

  • Spanakopita
  • Tandoori Chicken
  • Pad Thai
  • Jamaica Rice and Peas
  • Lebanese Chicken Kebabs
  • Indian-Style Lentils

My Thoughts

This is an absolutely delightful cookbook; my mouth was watering as I flipped through the recipes! I think I will be busy with new recipes for quite awhile! What a problem to have, huh?! 😉 Here are a few other things that stood out to me:

  • Color Photos: There are several gorgeous color photos of some amazing recipes! That’s a great place to start when trying a new cookbook!
  • Healthy: I was impressed by the author’s dedication to using real ingredients.
  • Two units of measure: For each recipe, the measurements are in English units and metric.

Great Gift Idea

I really love this book and was thinking that it would make a great gift for many people or occasions:

  • Wedding: With such a wide variety of recipes, this would be great for a young couple starting out. It would be neat to combine a related item from the gift registry and this cookbook.
  • Birthday: This would be a great gift for a fellow foodie, or for someone who is hard to buy for, or who already has everything!
  • High School/College Graduate: Since it contains a little of everything, 500 Best Comfort Food Recipes is ideal for young people just starting out on their own.

Where to Buy

You can find 500 Best Comfort Food Recipes on Amazon.com. I’ve also added it to my Amazon.com store in the ‘Books for Parents’ category.

As a bonus, I can share with you several recipes from the book!

Sharing Some Recipes

Need a make-ahead breakfast bake? How about a meatless meal? Or maybe a “winner” for the kids? Here are three recipes from the book that your family is sure to love!


Yummy Parmesan Chicken Fingers – Makes Four Servings

What a relief to know when you come home frazzled from a day at work, you can count on these tasty chicken fingers stashed away in your freezer. Round out the meal with rice and a steamed vegetable, such as broccoli, for a dinner that’s on the table in 30 minutes.

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C)
  • Rimmed baking sheet, with greased rack

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup finely crushed soda cracker crumbs (about 16 crackers) (125 mL)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (75 mL)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves (2 mL)
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram leaves (2 mL)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (2 mL)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (2 mL)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper (1 mL)
  • 4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp butter (30 mL)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, combine cracker crumbs, Parmesan cheese, basil, marjoram, paprika, salt and pepper. Process to make fine crumbs. Place in a shallow bowl.
  2. Cut chicken breasts into four strips each. In a bowl, beat egg; add chicken strips. Using a fork, dip chicken strips in crumb mixture until evenly coated. Discard any excess egg and crumb mixture. Arrange on greased rack set on baking sheet. In small bowl, microwave butter and garlic at High for 45 seconds or until melted. Brush chicken strips with melted butter.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until no longer pink in center. (If frozen, bake for up to 25 minutes.)

Tips:

  • You can also make extra batches of the crumb mixture and store in the freezer.
  • Instead of boneless chicken breasts, prepare skinless chicken drumsticks in the same way but bake in a 375°F (190°C) oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until tender.

Spanish Vegetable Paella – Makes Four Servings (as a main course) or Six (as a side dish)

Traditional paella is made in a wide shallow pan, but today’s nonstick skillet makes a very good substitute and reduces the amount of oil needed for this dish.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups assorted prepared vegetables (1 L) (see Tip, below)
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (875 mL)
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads, crushed (1 mL)
  • Pinch hot pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (30 mL)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups short-grain white rice, such as Arborio (375 mL)

Directions:

  1. Cook vegetables (except peppers and zucchini) in a saucepan of boiling, lightly salted water for 1 minute. Rinse under cold water to chill; drain well.
  2. In the same saucepan, bring stock to a boil. Add saffron and hot pepper flakes; season with salt to taste. Keep warm.
  3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add green onions and garlic; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add vegetables to skillet; cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes or until lightly colored. Stir in rice and hot stock mixture. Reduce heat so rice cooks at a gentle boil: cook, uncovered, without stirring, for 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Cover skillet with lid or foil. (If skillet handle is not ovenproof, wrap in double layer of foil.) Bake for 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Remove; let stand, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.

Tip:

Try a variety of different vegetables, including bite-size pieces of broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, bell peppers and zucchini.


Breakfast Hash Brown and Sausage Bake – Makes Four Servings

Need a breakfast dish for company? Or maybe just a special change from your regular breakfast? This wonderful breakfast bake is easy to make – and can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

The author states, “Make-ahead dishes are always appreciated for a special breakfast or brunch. I doubled this recipe and also prepared a vegetarian version to serve at a post-wedding brunch. The dishes were baked just before the guests arrived, and the food stayed nicely warm on the buffet table. Leftovers the next day were just as delicious!

Variation:

For a vegetarian version, omit sausage and add 1 diced red bell pepper along with hash browns and onion in skillet.

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
  • 8-inch (20 cm) square baking dish, well greased

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz lean pork or chicken sausages, casings removed (250 g)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (15 mL)
  • 3 cups frozen diced hash brown potatoes (750 mL)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried crumbled sage (2 mL)
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves (1 mL)
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (250 mL)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk (250 mL)
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese (30 mL)
  • 1 green onion, finely sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage, breaking up meat with back of a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any fat. Let cool. Chop sausage meat, using a knife or pulsing in a food processor.
  2. Return skillet to medium-high heat and add oil. Cook potatoes, onion, sage and thyme, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until potatoes are nicely browned. Arrange potato mixture in prepared dish. Top with sausage and Cheddar cheese.
  3. In a bowl, beat together eggs, milk, Parmesan cheese and green onion. Season with pepper. Pour over cheese layer. (Can be prepared ahead. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.)
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes (10 minutes longer if refrigerated) or until top is golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Tips:

  • This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 13- by 9-inch (33 by 23 cm) baking dish for 45 to 50 minutes.
  • Personal note: When we made this, we used shredded hash browns (instead of diced)

Photos and recipes excerpted from 500 Best Comfort Food Recipes by Johanna Burkhard © 2010 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

[Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher Robert Rose Inc. With that being said, the comments and opinions above are purely my own.]

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Wendy – ParentingTips365.com

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