COLD WEATHER COMFORT (FOOD)

8 Nov

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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 mcCormick.com
And for the bread… well, if you are lucky enough to own a breadmaker, drag that thing out, dust it off, and get something going (but remember you need a good 3 hours to get it done)!  If you lack a breadmaker – or bread flour and yeast – make a quick bread instead.  This blog has a terrific basic recipe that you can change up based on what you’ve got in the house and what kind of bread you’re looking for – sweet, savory or otherwise.  (Bonus tip: if you don’t happen to have buttermilk in the house, don’t worry!  You can fake it by using regular milk + lemon juice.  Put 1 TBS of lemon juice in a measuring cup; top off with milk until you’ve got 1 cup.  Let sit a couple minutes, and boom! There’s your buttermilk.)

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-buttermilk-quick-bread-with-10-different-variations-164621

image from www.thekitchn.com

So what’s YOUR favorite food for cold, gloomy days?  Please dish!

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3 Responses to “COLD WEATHER COMFORT (FOOD)”

  1. Antonio L. Lopez November 8, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    LOVELY

  2. Kelley November 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    I love a good bowl of gumbo! My favorite is the one served up by Brew Kettle, which is located in Strongsville, Ohio. I also am a fan of chorizo stew – which is not as thick as stew but not quite a soup; the chorizo gives it a kick! Slice up chorizo and cook it throughouly; add 1 can of chicken broth & 1 can diced tomatoes. Throw in as much onion, carrot, celerey & potatoes that you want and cook until veggies are done to your liking. Season with salt, pepper & thyme.

    • woomeggie November 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      Ah, I’ve been to the Brew Kettle, Kelley! But I’ve never tried their gumbo (enjoyed the odd but tasty combo of their barbeque spaghetti, though). The chorizo stew sounds awesome for a cold day – I’ll look forward to giving that recipe a try!

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