Tag Archives: comfort food

Pozole Verde de Pollo

I’mmm baack….with my awesome “Spanglish” in the kitchen!  Which, more often than not, means that something yummy is cooking up!  So today, mi amigos, I bring you a Carly rendition of pozole (or posole, depending what side of the tracks you’re on)!

In translation, pozole means “hominy”, which is basically a large, soft corn kernel.  This hominy is then stewed with a meat, peppers, and broth and served with various toppings for your taste bud’s enjoyment.

Now, typically, I like to make the rojo (red) version with seared pork chunks, but today I went out of my comfort zone and opted for verde (green) and chicken!  I must say, though quite different flavor profiles, this one is equally amazing!  A bit tart from the tomatillos, but the charred peppers and garlic yield that smokiness you want and they both pair wonderfully with the slightly salty broth and tender shredded chicken.

In closing, winter is not yet over (but please hurry up) and we still crave that bowl of warm soup on a cold day.  So next Domingo (that’s Sunday to my non Spanglish friends), try out this pot of yumminess!  It will not disappoint!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb tomatillos, husked, rinsed & halved
  • 4 poblano/Anaheim chiles (you can mix and match if desired)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 6 cloves garlic, in skins
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, with stems
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2+ teaspoons cumin
  • 2+ teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2-3 lbs chicken thighs, boneless/skinless, cut into rough chunks
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth/stock
  • 28oz can white hominy, drained
  • 4-8oz can chopped green chilies, drained

Garnish ideas

  • Radishes, thinly cut into matchsticks or sliced
  • Avocado, sliced or 1/2″ chunks
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • Mexican crema/ sour cream
  • Pickled onions
  • Lime wedges
  • Peppitas, toasted
  • Tortillas, warmed

Verde Sauce

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with the tomatillos (cut side down) and also place the poblano/Anaheim and jalapeno peppers along with the whole garlic cloves (still in husks) beside them.

Place your baking sheet on top rack, 6-8″ from the broiler and turn the warm oven to HI Broil.  Watch closely with oven door cracked, but allow the tomatillos to brown and soften and the peppers to bubble up and char, turning with tongs as needed.  Remove and place all of the charred peppers in a large zip lock gallon bag.  Close and allow peppers to steam for 15-20 minutes.  Once time is up, peel off the pepper’s skin and stems and scrape out the seeds from each.  You can also squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skin.

In a blender, combine 1/2 cup of chicken broth with the now roasted tomatillos (and any sheet pan juices left behind), steamed chilies and peppers, garlic cloves, cilantro, cumin,  Mexican oregano, lime juice and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  *If you like a thin broth, you can now strain this through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and discard any extra skins/seeds.  However, I like the rustic’ness of it all and do not strain.

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In a large Dutch oven pot (with lid), heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat.  Add in the cut up chicken thighs and sear and brown all sides; also add in the diced onion.

Once seared, pour the remaining chicken broth over the browned poultry to deglaze the pan; scrape up all of the brown bits on bottom of pan with a wooden spoon.  Flavor right there!

Next, pour in the Verde sauce you made in your blender along with the drained hominy and green chilies (I also like to add another teaspoon or so of cumin and Mexican oregano here again).  Stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, drop way down to a simmer and cover.  Let cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours.  Slightly shred chicken chunks, if desired.

Serve

Ladle into bowls and top with your desired garnishes, serve with warm tortillas.  Enjoy!

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Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Potatoes

If you’ve ever been to my casa for a get-together you know I love to make this spinach artichoke dip (bubbling hot in a cast-iron skillet with torn fresh baguette and tortilla chips…insert drooling), because I know that you love to eat it!

So while one night with just my family of 4 at home and the “diet-angel” on my shoulder telling me to NOT make just a skillet of this with spoons for our dinner, I figured I would stuff a fluffy potato with my party go-to!  Also worth noting, my husband must eat meat with every meal, so I shredded some blackened chicken in the mix and yessss mam!!

*If extra occurs, please keep!  Warm and serve with veggies, bread or tortilla chips…or that trusty spoon! 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 4-6 Large russet potato’s
  • Olive or canola oil
  • Kosher/rock Salt
  • 4 Tbsp butter, (1/2 stick) unsalted
  • 14oz can artichoke hearts, drained, rough chop
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves (can use 10oz frozen, just thaw and drain)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 2 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 16oz light sour cream
  • 4oz can diced jalapenos, chopped
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (topping, optional)
  • Chicken, cooked and shredded/chopped (optional)

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Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and poke holes in your rinsed and patted dry potatoes with a fork.  Rub the olive oil and salt all over the outside of the potato.  Place directly on the top rack of your hot oven.  *Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch any drippings.  Bake for 45 minutes or until tender; depends on size of potato.   You’ll have crispy, salted potato skin and a fluffy interior.

Cook your chicken now as well (grill, blacken, bake, simmer and shred, etc) if desired.

Spinach Artichoke Filling:

In a skillet over medium heat, melt together 8oz cream cheese, 16 oz sour cream, 1/2 stick butter, 2 cups parmesan cheese, and minced garlic, stirring frequently until melted and an even consistency.

Stir in coarsely chopped artichoke hearts, drained jalapenos and fresh or drained spinach (remember to remove excess water).  Finally, stir in the cooked chicken (if using).

Serve:

Cut a slit in the top of your potato and I prefer to scoop out a bit of the flesh.  Fill with a large ladle full of Spinach Artichoke filling and if desired, top with some shredded mozzarella and place on the baking sheet in a 375 degree oven until cheese is melted.  Enjoy!

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Braised Red Wine Pot Roast with Cheesy Potato Pierogis

Pot roast is notorious for being a family favorite.  It’s a hearty meal that taste like you’ve slaved over the stove all day, yet is easy to prepare while still being affordable for the working man and woman.  So basically, we like to have this meal often, especially as the weather cools down.  I love Fall and Winter.

Now, that being said, growing up and into my 20’s it was such the same, old-fashioned “pot roast”.  I am an advocate for the saying, “don’t fix what isn’t broken”, but I also like to change things up.  So THIS is a roast that has all of the same qualities as mentioned in my opening, BUT is spruced up just enough that it is absolutely wonderful for a holiday get together or dinner party!…plus, you can finish that bottle of red at dinner!  Did you see the potato pierogi’s instead of your typical cut russets??  Yes!!!  Doooo iitttt friends….

*Can be made in your slow-cooker, no problem!  If you would like to take an extra step, you can sear the meat (add to slow cooker), followed by sautéing the vegetables and scraping up the brown bits with the liquids while on a low boil.. Pour into your slow cooker, over the roast, add seasonings and cover on low for 7-8 hours.  High, 5-6.

**It can also be braised in a large covered pot (same directions) on your stove top on medium-low (simmer).

The Starting Lineup

  • 4-5 lb chuck roast, seasoned all over with kosher salt & ground pepper
  • 2 Tablespoon oil (i.e. canola, vegetable, olive)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups mushrooms (I prefer whole, but you can slice)
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup beef or chicken stock (or broth)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups dry red wine (i.e. cabernet)
  • 2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Fresh thyme & rosemary, bundle/”Bouquet Garni”
  • Parmesan cheese, hand grated, garnish
  • Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped, garnish
  • *To thicken sauce, if needed: 1 Tbsp cornstarch + 2 Tbsp milk (optional) per cup of juice, once removed from the oven.

Quick Pierogis

  • 1 package potato and cheese pierogis, frozen (12-16 count)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

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Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

In an oven-safe Dutch Oven pot, heat to medium-high and add in the oil.  Sear all sides of your roast till browned on the outside (about 12-15 minutes).  Transfer roast to dish and set aside.

To that same pot, add in the onions, carrots, mushrooms and garlic, add a bit more oil if needed, cook down for 4-5 minutes.  Next, add in your tomato paste, broth, wine and water.  Bring to a boil while scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of your pot with a wooden spoon.  Soooo much flavor there!!

Turn off your burner, add back in the seared roast (plus any drippings from the dish it was resting on) along with the bay leaf, thyme & rosemary.  Cover and transfer to the oven for 2 1/2-3 hours.


When your roast has almost finished being fork tender, bring a large stock pot of salted water to a boil.  Add in your pierogis and cook to package directions/drain.

On a large serving platter, lay out the cooked, hot pierogis and top with the cheddar cheese (melts beautifully!).  Place your roast and veggies right in the center along with a couple ladles of the rich, beefy red wine gravy over top.  Sprinkle on the parsley and grate some fresh parmesan cheese over top.  Enjoy!!

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Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Cheese Soup

Growing up in my home, my parents and I being from the mid-west, comfort food was key.  Warm soups, braises, steak and potatoes, you get the idea…Yes, even in the hot Arizona desert, I knew I was at the right address when the smell of meatloaf waft towards the drive as the street lights turned on.

Now, when we did have the occasional dinner out, we loved Marie Callendars.  Remember that place?  It has since closed so, so many of its doors that it makes me literally sad.  So many memories growing up eating their comforting dinners after cheer and football practices, dance recitals, a great report card…which was always followed by one of their fantastic slices of homemade pie!  *Sorry Marie, I love you but your frozen meals and pie do not hold a candle to your restaurant staples I enjoyed as a child.

That All being said, I was apparently craving my comfort food!  The warm, always delicious potato cheese soup I would just short of lap up from Marie’s salad bar was on my mind.  Now they didn’t garnish theirs as I do mine (I win here), but the flavor is so close that I no longer have to mourn my childhood chain restaurant…well, that is until I figure out their Frisco Burger and Lemon Cream Cheese Pie.

*I really recommend buying chicken STOCK vs chicken broth.  It’s just a bit more in cost but thousands more in flavor!

The Starting Lineup

  • 5-6 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2″ chunks
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I love Velveeta’s new original shredded)
  • a HEFTY pinch of kosher salt and a pinch of pepper

Garnish

  • Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Green onions, sliced
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (I love Velveeta’s new shredded Cheddar)

potatosoup

Spray your slow-cooker with a bit of non-stick spray.  Next place in the peeled chunks of potatoes, diced onions, sliced celery and minced garlic.  Pour the chicken stock directly over top and add in that salt and pepper!  (The stock will not fully cover the potatoes..and that’s perfect!)

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Cover and set to low for 8 hours!  ..here is where you head off to work, tend to the home and loved ones or take yourself a nap and relax!

About 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat you will remove the lid of the now tender potatoes and with a potato masher, mash away!  I like to leave a bit of chunks in mine however for texture.

To this, stir in the heavy cream along with the 2 cups of shredded cheese.  Replace the cover and allow to come back up to heat (20-30 minutes).

While it is heating, if desired, crisp up some bacon and slice the green onions and shred your cheddar (if not pre-shredded).

Ladle into large bowls (trust me…no need to get up for seconds when you have a big bowlful!) and top with your favorite garnishes!  Serve alongside warm crusty bread with softened butter and you will have you and your family quite the comfort meal!

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Smokey Gnocchi Toscana 

Who doesn’t love Olive Garden’s famous “Zuppa Toscana”?  It’s a delicious blend of sausage, kale and potatoes in a creamy broth…my only small problem with the soup (more so my family’s problem) is it will not fill my hearty boys and husband’s appetite up!  Nope, soup in general just won’t cut it!

Now since I was craving a big bowl of Toscana comfort, I had to figure out a way to change it into something a bit more substantial if it were to be mine.  I have to say, it came pretty easy to me..thank goodness.  How about we make the broth into a rich, more flavor packed cheese sauce and amp up the potato texture by using those fluffy pillows from heaven, otherwise known as gnocchi.  Hey, gnocchi’s are in fact made from potato flour..I do have a little bit of genius left in me.  My boys tend to suck it out of me at times.  I also made sure it was chocked full of (not too) spicy sausage and healthy kale.  Yep, with all those Italian flavors going on, even my boys will slurp up the greens!

Last, but not least, I topped it all off with some crispy, crumbled bacon for another layer of smokey flavor…drooling…

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb Hot Italian Sausage, removed from casing
  • 1 package Gnocchi 
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4+ cups Kale (a Kale/Spinach blend would work too)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 heaping Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk, plus more to thin cheese sauce if needed
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided 1:1
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided 1:1
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • A pinch each of salt and pepper
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and chopped for garnish


First and ALWAYS foremost is prepping your ingredients to have at the ready!!  Chop and mince the garlic and shred the cheese if it hasn’t already been done for you.  I’ll be taking sous chef applications soon 😉

Now onto the cooking part my multi-tasking friends!  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and on a foil lined baking sheet, lay out the bacon and cook till slightly crisp (about 15 minutes, rotating once in the oven).  Remove to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

Keep the oven on, but drop the temperature to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot of salted water up to a boil (for the Gnocchi) and in a separate large pan, heat up the olive oil to medium heat and begin browning the sausage, chopping up with a spoon as you go.

Water boiling: add in Gnocchi and cook for about 2-3 minutes, until they float to the top.  Drain and set aside.

Sausage: once cooked through and slightly crumbled, remove from pan and drain the grease slightly.  *leave about a tablespoon of grease please.

In the same pan that the sausage cooked in add in the onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Add in the kale and garlic and allow to wilt down.  Once quickly wilted, add the sausage back in along with the Gnocchi.  Remove from heat.

Pesto cheese sauce: in a medium sauce pan melt the butter and then whisk in the flour till it makes a rue (paste).  Now you will whisk in the milk for about 3 minutes till starts to thicken.  Add in the pesto, 1/2 of each the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses and a pinch of salt and pepper.  *It may get a little thick here, so just thin by whisking another couple tablespoons of milk in at a time until you reach your desired consistency.



You’re at the finish line now!  In a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray, spoon in the Gnocchi, sausage and kale mix.  Pour that super cheesy pesto sauce ALL over and top with the remaining cheeses.  Cover with foil and place in the 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.  

Bump up the oven to 425 degrees and pull the foil off, allowing to bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the cheesy top gets nice and brown.  Remove from oven and relish in the “it smells soooooo good in here” praises!  Make sure to top it all off with the crumbled bacon..NEVER forget the bacon!  *Let rest for 5 minutes before serving..remember it’s going to be hot!  

Serve with a simple salad, warm bread sticks and you have yourself a hit!  

Blackberry Cobbler

In the world of easy (yet impressive) desserts, the cobbler may just take the…umm..cake??.  You know what I mean.  It’s so delicious, so easy and insanely comforting.  

On these chilly winter nights, it’s so simple to whisk together a few on hand ingredients, fresh OR even frozen fruit and pop into the oven.  Besides baking time, this MAY take you all of 10 minutes to prepare..c’mon, you know you can handle that!  Finally, if you’re like myself, you’ll pour yourself a big old glass of spiked sweet tea along with this cobbler ala-mode-style and sit on your porch taking in the southern cool night..

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 cups blackberries 
  • 2 cups sugar, divided 1:1
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup flour 
  • 2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Pinch of salt  

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place the stick of butter into a 9×13 rectangular baking dish.  While the oven is STILL preheating, transfer the dish to the oven, swirling it around once it starts to melt (watching so as not to burn).

In a large bowl, combine the lemon zest and 1 cup of the sugar with the fruit. Toss to coat and set aside.  *If using frozen fruit, allow to defrost, drain and pat dry any excess water.

Next, remember to watch your baking dish and the melting butter, whisk together the flour, remaining cup of sugar, baking powder, vanilla/almond extract, milk and a pinch of salt in a separate large bowl. 

Remove the preheated buttered baking dish from the oven and pour in your batter.  Top, fairly evenly, with the sugared blackberries overtop of the batter.  *The batter will rise and bake around the fruit.

Place back in the oven and cook for 50-60 minutes until a beautiful, slightly crunchy golden brown color is achieved. I prefer to bake mine a little on the longer side as I love the crunchy bits on the edges.
Once time is up, remove from oven and serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, enjoy!! 

Mexican Tater Tot Casserole

Some parts call this a casserole, others call it a hot-dish..but I simply call it goodness!  Growing up we ate many a meal where you would add meat, a cream of something soup, cheese and vegetables mixed in and it was always good.  However, it was always the same.  Same, same, same.  So now that we live in a more foodie inspired world (I know, the word “foodie” would gasp to hear her name in regards to a casserole), I thought we could take the standard, cream of mushroom tater tot casserole, up a notch or 5!

Like always, feel free to tweak to your likeness.  Swap out the beef for ground turkey or chicken, the pinto beans for black beans and corn, or change up the cheese a bit!  Just don’t change it too much or you will no longer have that comforting classic we all grew up with and loved!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb ground beef, lean
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 15oz can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 4oz can diced green chiles
  • 1 pckg Mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • 1 pckg tater tots, enough to cover evenly

Spices (You can also easily use a taco seasoning packet)

  • I used a mix of cumin, chili powder, coriander, mexican oregano, salt, chipotle chili powder and whisked together.

Garnish (optional)

  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeños
  • Black olives
  • Green onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Salsa



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a baking dish (9×13 or similar) with non-stick spray.  Place on top of a baking sheet to catch any sauce drippings or melty cheese!
Next, bring a large skillet to medium/medium-high heat and add in the ground beef, chopped onion and the seasoning packet/spices, followed by the minced garlic for the last minute.  If necessary drain the grease from here.  I, however, used a very lean beef to avoid this one extra step. 😉  Cook through.

To that same skillet with the now cooked ground beef, add in the pinto beans, green chiles, half of the cheese and half of the enchilada sauce.  Stir to combine and then carefully pour into the casserole dish. Top with them taters!

Drizzle the remaining enchilada sauce overtop the taters and place in the oven (uncovered to get crispy) for 40-45 minutes.

Time is up, so sprinkle on that last bit of cheese overtop and allow to melt in the oven, about 3-5 minutes.  You can even broil it if you like that extra crispness!  

Once to your liking remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 5 minutes…this thing is HOT!!!

Finally top with the garnishes of your choice and serve up!  Enjoy!  **I recommend the sour cream once served as it’s quite hot and will melt quick! 😉 

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