Saturday, January 26, 2013

Comfort food for the Winter

One of the best defenses I have against Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is making comfort food during Winter.  And while we're almost out of Winter (thank the Gods!) I'm still making comfort food.  Cuz the SAD doesn't go away until the Spring sun breaks through.  So here are some of my favorite comfort foods to get through the Winter.

Shepherd's Pie

2 medium onions, chopped (or 1 large onion)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1.5 pounds ground lamb (I sub either beef or turkey)
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
1 heaped tablespoon flour
1/2 cup white wine (not cooking wine, something you would actually drink)
1/2 cup water
seasonings to taste:  parsley, thyme, salt, & pepper
1/2 teaspoon terragon
3 large potatoes, peeled (this does mean LARGE potatoes.  Use twice as many small potatoes
                                            to get the right consistency.)
1 stick butter (I use light butter to make myself feel healthier)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup cooked corn (I use either canned or frozen)
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
Colby/Jack shredded cheese (use however much you want to top the mashed potatoes)

Cook onions, garlic, and ground meat together until meat is browned.  Drain off fat & add tomato paste, chicken stock, & flour.  Cook for about a minute then add wine & water.  Add seasonings to your taste then simmer gently for 15 minutes (or until your potatoes are done boiling.)  Boil potatoes while the meat mixture is cooking.  Mash potatoes then add butter & milk & salt and pepper to taste.  Put meat mixture in a large greased backing dish (circular is better to get a good platform for the mashed potatoes.  I have a cast iron stock pot that I do the whole thing in.)  Spoon the corn & carrots over the meat mixture and spread mashed potatoes on top so the meat & veggies are completely covered.  Sprinkle with cheese & bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Another favorite is chili & here's an awesome recipe for Chicken Chili

Southwestern Chicken Chili

And finally, an all veggie stew you can make in your crock pot

Ratatouille Bean Stew

1 cup dried garbanzo beans
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 14.5 ounce can of chicken broth
1 4.5 ounce jar sliced mushrooms, drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 medium red or green bell pepper, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning (or to taste)
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian style herbs, undrained

Soak beans as directed on package for 6 - 8 hours

In 3.5 to 4 quart slow cooker combine garbanzo beans, onion, garlic, broth, mushrooms, & salt.  Mix well.

Cover, cook on low setting for 10 to 12 hours.  About 35 minutes before serving stir in zucchini, bell pepper, Italian seasoning, and tomatoes.  Cover, cook on high setting an additional 35 minutes or until veggies are tender.

(Because this last one is a crock pot meal you can be really versatile with the timing.  You can do the large part of the cooking overnight, put the inner part of the crock pot in your fridge, then pull it out about an hour before you want to do the last part of the cooking.)

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