Category Archives: Comfort food

Cracker-breaded baked pork chops & roasted vegetables

Pork chops are one of the cheaper meats these days, and I’ve previously professed my love of oven-roasted vegetables. Roasting any veggie in the oven makes it softer, sweeter, and more delicious in my opinion. You can’t go wrong with several cups of veggie chunks and olive oil at 350 for 25 minutes…

Ingredients:
1/2 cup crushed butter crackers
2 tbsp garlic salt and black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2-4 pork chops
2 cups diced onion, potato and carrot
2 tbsp olive oil

 Step 1: Coat the chops in egg on both sides. A shallow plate is best for this.

 Step 2: Butter crackers really make this crust tasty! Smash up about a cup in a plastic baggie. I then added some garlic salt and black pepper too. Coat both side of the chops and place on a sprayed baking pan.

 Step 3: Put the pork in the oven at 375 and set a timer to 45 minutes. While they bake, dice up your veggies.


 I had recently gone to a farm market and they had heirloom colored carrots, so of COURSE I had to buy some. Purple carrots, turns out on the inside they are still orange. Disappointing but ok. The white ones really were white though. I added half an onion and one large russet potato.

 Step 4: Place diced veggies in an oven-safe pan, mix in 2 tbsp vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt. When the timer reads 30 minutes, put the veggies in the oven too. Cover with foil if you want, I didn’t this time.

 Halfway through cooking (at about 15-20 mins left) flip the chops and mix the vegetables around.

Then enjoy! The cracker crust is buttery, salty and delicious. A perfect compliment to the hearty pork, sweet carmelized onions and carrots and earthy potatoes. Yum!

Faster breakfast skillet: Corned beef hash & eggs

This is the short-cut version of my breakfast skillet recipe. Because sometimes we have an extra 10 minutes in the morning, but not 30. By using canned beef & potatoes you eliminate the time needed to dice up and pre-cook the potato.

Ingredients:
1 can corned beef hash
2 eggs

sprinkle shredded cheese

 Step 1: Open the can and put it in a frying pan. Doesn’t that look tempting? Haha… but we will eat it anyways!

 Cook the beef and potatoes about 5 minutes, until the potatoes start to crisp and turn brown. Put half the mixture into a bowl and save the other half.

 Step 2: In the same pan, spray with cooking spray and crack 2 eggs. Cook a minute until the whites harden. Flip the eggs and cook on the other side. If you like runny yolks, you can cook just a minute and place on top of your beef hash. I like my yolks cooked through so I left it in the pan about 5 minutes total.

 Step 3: Slide the eggs on top of the hash and sprinkle on some cheese if you like.

I’m sure the health level of this is questionable at best, but you can’t beat it for a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast in only 10 minutes!

Sneaky bean & beefy pasta

In an effort to not only be healthier but also use up canned goods, I decided to take the old student standby of pasta with meat sauce and kick it up a notch. I had a half jar of Ragu from a few days ago, so I just used a small can of tomato sauce to round it out, and a can of chickpeas. (You could probably use any bean here, but chickpeas were what I had, plus they blend better than pinto or black) I didn’t just want chunks of beans in my sauce, so I blended them. Makes the sauce thicker and adds protein and fiber.

Ingredients:
1/2 jar pasta sauce
1 can tomato sauce
1 can chickpeas
1 box pasta noodles of your choice
1 pound ground beef
Handful spinach

Step 1: Open the can of beans and drain half the liquid. Pour the rest and the tomato sauce into blender and liquefy it. Add extra water if it’s too thick.

Step 2: Fill a large pot half full of water, add salt if you want. Bring to a rolling boil, and cook the pasta 5-8 minutes. While cooking, complete step 3. Drain when al dente (aka soft but not mush).

Step 3: Brown the ground beef in a frying pan. You want to make sure it’s fully cooked. Then add the handful of spinach and cover. Cook for 3 minutes to wilt the spinach. Pour the sauce on top, mix well and cook on medium, covered, until heated through.

The beans makes the sauce thick and gives it a certain depth of flavor without being too obvious. You could also blend in the spinach once cooked so you don’t even know it’s there. Mixed with the plain Ragu pasta sauce and ground beef, it isn’t too noticeable. This is a good way to sneak extra nutrition past whiny kids and picky hubbys. Those adjectives are probably also interchangeable. Just saying.

Country style breakfast skillet

Weekends are great for me, because I can both sleep in AND have lots of time for cooking awesome breakfasts. I’m not normally a ‘breakfast person’, but sometimes the mood strikes and I want something big and filling and delicious in the AM. I had plenty of potatoes, that’s usually a staple in my breakfast favorites. I also had some frozen turkey bacon (go ahead and groan, any males reading this, but it tastes delicious. As long as you don’t expect ‘real’ bacon taste) and ground beef. Kind of just making it up as I went, I came up with a restaurant-worthy breakfast skillet.

Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound turkey bacon (go ahead and use real if you have it)
1/2 cup corn or other veggie (if you like that kind of thing)
2 potatoes, diced
1/2 onion, diced
4 eggs
Spray on vegetable oil or 2 tbsp oil

Step 1: Dice up the potato and onion, spray the pan with oil. Microwave the potato for 5-8 minutes to soften. Cook on medium heat for at least 10-15 minutes, until the onion and potato chunks are soft.

 Step 2: Cut up the bacon and add it and the ground beef to the pan. Cook until the ground beef is thoroughly browned. Add vegetables if you’re using any. Transfer the cooked skillet to another bowl and keep warm.

 Step 3: Spray the pan again and add 2 eggs. Let them cook a few minutes, until the whites thicken. Carefully flip them to cook the other side.

 Step 4: Put about a cup of the skillet mix into a bowl, slide the cooked sunny-side up eggs on top. Viola!

This was amazingly delicious, hearty and filling. If I had the time, I’d make breakfast like this every day! But then I’d also probably weigh 50 pounds more than I do now… Anyways, enjoy!

Slow cooker chili con carne with beans

I love my Slow Cooker. Not that I’ve ever tried to keep that a secret, I just wanted to put it out there. Slow cookers are amazing for so many reasons: it’s super easy, takes little to no time/work on your part, and makes meals so much cheaper. You just prep, throw all the ingredients in, then go do whatever you want. You can buy cheap ingredients in bulk and turn them into a zillion different types of meals. If ever I meet the inventor of the Crock Pot I will hug them.

I know, some of you are thinking, but wait it’s August in Colorado, why are you making winter food? While it is true the Rocky Mountain blizzards haven’t yet begun (and thank god for that! stay away as long as possible please…) it has been rainy/overcast here. Weird, right? Isn’t Colorado basically a really high-up desert? That’s what I was told. Someone lied to me, because we’ve had some serious torrential downpours recently. It’s far too late to save my porch plants, but at least maybe they’ll lift the fire ban and allow fireworks again soon…

Anyhow, so I was craving some chili. After an in-depth discussion with my boyfriend, who is from Texas, arguing the general attitudes of some people towards the many different types of chili (with beans, never beans, meat types, heat level, sweetness, over noodles, etc) I decided on a thicker, meatier kind of chili with minimal fuss, not sweet and with beans.

Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef (as you can see, I popped mine right in there from the freezer)
1 can pinto beans
1/2 onion, diced small
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 small can V8 or tomato sauce
Garlic salt
Coriander
Chili powder

 Step 1: Put meat in crock pot, add all canned ingredients. Dice up the onion, add that and spices to taste. I don’t measure, as a general rule. I like garlic salt, so that’s probably about 3 tbsp worth, coriander comes out slow so maybe 1-2 tbsp, chili powder is kinda key so I’d say I used maybe 1/4 cup worth.

 Step 2: Put that sucker on low overnight. In the morning, break up the meat chunk into smaller bite size pieces. Leave on low all day too. You can taste it to see if it needs more spice of any kind, and add extra liquid (tomato sauce/juice is best) if it needs it.

 Coming home from work to the knock-your-socks-off smell of chili just can’t be beat on a cold, rainy day!

I made some corn bread muffins to go with it, (I totally cheated and used a 50 cent Jiffy mix, no judgment) as well as serving it with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. It was amaaaaaaaaazing. And makes plenty for several servings and leftovers too.

Leftover chili is great on its own, or over hot dogs as chili cheese dogs, over cooked pasta, or on a baked potato with extra cheese, sour cream and or avocado. I’ve even seen it as pizza! (Which I will need to try making someday soon).

Enjoy!

Potato Skins

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A game-day classic, potato skins are always a hit. A friend was having a football party, I had a 5 pound bag of potatoes, guess what I made! They are very simple, though time-consuming.
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Ingredients:
6-12 potatoes, washed and cut in half
Butter/margerine
Sea salt
1/2 pound bacon or turkey bacon
Cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Salsa
Green onion/chives

Step 1: Rub potatoes with oil, and poke holes in them with a fork. Microwave potatoes on high for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Cut potatoes in half, cover outside and insidewith butter and sea salt. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Step 3: Hollow out the potatoes. Flip upside down, bake for another 20 minutes. You can use the scooped-out part for mashed potatoes, soup, or just eat them because they’re warm and salty and delicious.

Step 4: Flip back over, brush with more butter and bake a final 20 minutes. You’re now ready to top them.

Step 5: Cook the bacon on both sides until brown. Drain on paper towels and break/cut into small pieces. Sprinkle a healthy tbsp into each potato skin. Cover with cheese, a dollop of sour cream, salsa and/or green onion.

Made in your own home and not deep-fried, these are healthier for you than if you ordered them from a bar or restaurant. Leave off the bacon for a vegetarian treat.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Simple and filling, tuna noodle casserole has been a mainstay throughout my childhood. With very few ingredients, it is a great fall-back weeknight dinner for when I don’t feel like cooking something extravagant. And it also is a great dorm food, believe it or not. I used to make a super-poor version as an undergrad student all the time! You can use a microwave and a pack of Ramen noodles to make delicious tuna noodle casserole. Just heat the noodles in the microwave for 5 minutes, let cool a bit and drain. Add a can of drained tuna and a can of cream of mushroom, mix it up and enjoy! If you get the soup on sale it can cost less than a dollar. This is the grown-up version, bulked up with extra veggies and baked to a crispy finish!

Ingredients:
1/2 pack egg noodles
2 cans tuna, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 celery rib, diced
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup peas & carrots
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Garlic salt

Step 1: Open & drain the tuna, mix it in a bowl with the cream of mushroom soup.

Step 2: Boil the noodles for ~8 minutes. Add the diced celery in the last 5 minutes of cooking. Drain the noodles and celery.

Step 3: Mix the noodles into the tuna mush, and add the peas & carrots.

Step 4: Spray an 8×8 casserole dish and pour the mixture into it. Add the 1/2 cup milk and let it sink in.

Step 5: Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and garlic salt on top.

Step 6: Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown on top.

Makes roughly 4 1 1/2 cup servings. Warm and homey, this is a great easy dinner. You can add whatever veggies you feel like, or dried onion and other spices.

Easy Mashed Potato Pirogi

As a Hungarian-Slovak-Polish American, pirogi are a critical part of many holidays. And any day of the week really. I had never attempted making them, but since my boyfriend had recently made FIVE POUNDS of mashed potatoes, I decided to give it a try with the leftovers. Since the potatoes are not my recipe, I can’t put the mashed potatoes on here, but they were great! I know it involves sour cream, cream cheese, cheddar cheese and butter…. Anyways, start with any mashed potatoes as the filling. And the dough is super-easy to make!
Ingredients:
1 16oz tub of sour cream
3 cups of flour
Mashed potatoes (~1 cup)
1/2 stick butter
1/2 onion, diced
Seriously, it’s that easy!

 Step 1: Mix the flour and sour cream well until it forms a dough. Roll it out on a floured surface.

 Step 2: Using a small cup or other cutter, cut out ~3inch circles of dough. You can re-roll the pieces about 4 times.

 Step 3: Place ~1 tsp of mashed potatoes in the middle of the circle of dough. Press the sides together to make a half-moon shape. Crimp the edges with a fork.

 Step 4: Drop into boiling water and simmer for about 5 minutes to cook the dough. Drain.

 Step 5: Melt a half stick of butter (or as much as your arteries can handle!) and cook the onions until translucent and slightly browned.

Step 6: Fry the pirogi in the butter & onions about 3 minutes, until yellow-brown on both sides. Enjoy!

They weren’t quite as good as my grandma’s or mom’s, but pretty darn good for a first attempt! And I have the rest of forever to perfect my techniques.

Extra Creamy Ham & Scalloped Potatoes

So I had bought a small chunk of ham for sandwiches, and still had a few slices left. I wanted to use them up, and I also had some potatoes, of course my first thought was ham & scalloped potatoes! It’s one of my favorite baked dishes, and sounded like a good idea. In order to get my boyfriend to eat it, I added his favorite ingredient: sour cream. To rationalize it to myself as healthy, I added veggies: green onion and corn.
Ingrdients:
2 small potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1/4 cup flour
1 cup ham, cubed
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 container sour cream
1/2 cup corn
1/4 cup sliced green onion
Natures Seasoning, or salt & pepper to taste
Step 1: Peel the potatoes and slice as thinly as possible. Lay half in the bottom of a greased 8×8 dish. Sprinkle the flour and seasoning over them.

 Step 2: Layer on the diced ham. Spread a thin layer of sour cream, sprinkle in some green onion and corn kernels.

 Step 3: Repeat potato, ham, sour cream and veggie layers.

 Step 4: Cover with the rest of the sour cream & cheddar cheese. Pour in the milk.

 Step 5: Cover with aluminum foil, bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover, bake another 15-20 minutes, until browned and bubbly.

 Step 6: Serve and enjoy!

This is a perfect hot & hearty full meal for cold fall/winter days. Great for after major holidays too, when ham goes on sale!

Hungarian Chicken Paprikush

 

This is in my top 5 favorite meals of all time!

A Hungarian (or maybe Slovak?) recipe handed down from my grandmother and mother. It is simple to make, just a few ingredients. It does take a bit of time and some labor-intensive steps, however the end product is so worth it!

Finished Chicken Paprikush

The noodles can of course be bought, but making your own noodles is well worth the effort. They taste so much better than any store bought noodles ever could.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Water
  • Sour cream
  • Flour
  • Paprika
  • Salt & pepper
For this I used 4 chicken leg quarters, because dark meat gives the soup a richer flavor. You can use white, dark, or a mixture of both. Put the chicken in a pot and cover it with water plus a little bit extra. Maybe a gallon and a half of water.
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Boil for at least 2 hours or until chicken is no longer pink at all. Take the chicken out and pull all the meat off the bone. Throw the bones, skin, fat, and any other non-edible parts away and return the meat to the pot. I did this step the night before and refrigerated it until the next day but you can also just continue right into the next step.
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The second step is creating what I think is called a “zapraska”.
This is how you mix in the sour cream without it curdling. The sour cream should be left out at room temperature. Mix about 1 cup sour cream with 2 tbsp. flour (omit the flour if you want watery soup) in a separate bowl. Then slowly add soup to it while mixing continuously.
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The soup will slowly warm up the sour cream. Continue adding and mixing well until it is warm. Then you add the zapraska to the main soup bowl and mix it all together. Add paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
And now for the fun part! You get to make your own noodles. Trust me, it is super duper easy. Honestly, cleaning up afterwards probably takes longer than making them.
Noodles:
  • Eggs
  • Flour
The ratio will depend on how many noodles you need to make. I only needed a small amount, so I used 6 eggs and approximately 1 cup of flour.  You will also need a noodle maker, we call it a “shusher’. I don’t know what it actually is called. If you don’t have one of those, you can always drop the dough with a spoon into the water; this will create larger dumpling like noodles.
Scramble the eggs in a large bowl. Mix the eggs and flour together a little bit at a time. Keep adding flour until it has a doughy consistency. A spoon left in it should basically be able to stand upright.
Get a big pot of water to a rolling boil. Then pour the dough into the top basket of the shusher. Push it back and forth so the dough drips through into the boiling water.
Make sure to stir a few times throughout so that the noodles don’t all stick together. Keep going until all the batter is used up. Drain the noodles completely.
These will be the sweetest, saltiest, most eggy and delicious noodles you may ever have had! Put some into a bowl, and pour the soup and chicken on top. You can add some extra paprika or salt to taste.

 

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