When the weather starts getting chilly and grey, I really want to just curl up and hibernate until spring. Cloudy skies, cold drizzle (or, worse yet, SNOW) and short daylight are not conducive to a cheery mood and abundance of energy… at least not for me! But I do realize that hibernation is not a realistic option for a person who has a job, bills to pay, and enjoys eating on a very routine basis. So, I indulge one of my other cravings that cold weather causes – cooking. Specifically, comfort food.
Everyone has their own definition of what “comfort food” is, I think. Mine is usually something that’s served hot, has plenty of carbs, fills you up, and maybe even makes you a little sleepy. I don’t think, however, that is has to be unhealthy (though a massive serving of mac ‘n cheese can sometimes really improve a day). One of my favorite meals during the winter is a big bowl of chili or soup, and a hunk of homemade bread with roasted garlic spread on it. If I’m feeling extra virtuous, I’ll throw in a nice salad, too.
So I thought I’d share some recipes for my kind of comfort food. Here’s the bonus: the main dish can be made in a slow cooker.
First, the roasted garlic. You may not believe me, but it is super-easy, and very mild and creamy when it’s done.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Take a couple heads of garlic, and cut off the tip so that the top of the cloves inside are all exposed – about ¼ to ½ an inch. Then put each head of garlic in the middle of a small sheet of foil – one sheet per head. Drizzle it with about a tablespoon of olive oil, and rub to coat. Bundle the garlic up in the foil, place it in the oven, and leave it for 45 min. to an hour (it doesn’t need to be exact). When it’s done, you can just use a butter knife or squeeze the garlic from its skin with your fingers. It is really fantastic on pretty much any non-sweet bread. Or crackers. Or biscuits. Or stale croutons.
image from ecurry.com
For the main dish, I highly recommend this chili. It came from allrecipes.com, submitted by Danelle. In my own version, I omit the celery, and will mix up the variety of beans I use based on what’s in the pantry.
SLOW COOKER CHILI II
|1 pound ground beef3/4 cup diced onion3/4 cup diced celery3/4 cup diced green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (10.75 ounce) cans tomato puree
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans with liquid
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans with liquid
|1/2 tablespoon chili powder1/2 teaspoon dried parsley1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
|1.||Place the beef in a skillet over medium heat, and cook until evenly brown. Drain grease.|
|2.||Place the beef in a slow cooker, and mix in onion, celery, green bell pepper, garlic, tomato puree, kidney beans, and cannellini beans. Season with chili powder, parsley, salt, basil, oregano, black pepper, and hot pepper sauce.|
|3.||Cover, and cook 8 hours on low.|
image from www.thekitchn.com
So what’s YOUR favorite food for cold, gloomy days? Please dish!
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