Thursday, January 27, 2011

Game Day Favorites Recipe Swap - Italian Heroes

I'm taking a brief break from the comfort food series to participate in a Game Day Favorites Recipe Swap with The recipe below is a super easy and great for large gatherings. I am fortunate to live near a wonderful bakery that makes a large ring-shaped loaf of Italian bread that easily serves 15 people. If you are not so fortunate to have that bread available, simple substitute to regular loaves of Italian bread. And obviously, feel free to substitute any of the deli meats with your favorites.

1 large Italian bread ring
1/4 lb genoa salami
1/4 lb sliced pepperoni
1/3 lb deli ham
1/2 lb sharp provolone cheese
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/3 cup pimento-stuffed olives, chopped fine
1/3 cup pitted black olives, chopped fine
1/3 cup celery, chopped fine
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing

  • Mix garlic, olives, celery and salad dressing.
  • Slice the top half of the bread off.
  • Spread the olive mixture on the bread.
  • Layer the deli meats.
  • Replace the top half of the bread.
  • Slice into sandwich portions.
  • Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Comfort Foods - Mac and Cheese

In my post last week about comfort foods I received a few recommendations for people's family favorite recipes. One suggestion was something I've never made before - crockpot lasagna. It sounds like a great idea. I found this recipe for slow cooker spinach lasagna over at the Raise Healthy Eaters blog and plan to give a try soon.

But for now, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite recipes for a comfort food classic, Mac and Cheese. I have made my fair share of the blue box mac and cheese over the years, but have happily moved my family away from that ~ although my youngest still gets excited about a monthly treat of Easy Mac (I'll have to write more on that later). Below are two recipes for Mac and Cheese: one that I prefer and one that my kids prefer.

Kids Mac and Cheese
adapted from a recipe in Family Circle
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 cup milk
8 ounces sliced American cheese from the deli (not the cellophane wrapped singles)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar

  • Prepare macaroni according to package directions.
  • While pasta is cooking, break American cheese slices into small pieces and shred cheddar if it not already shredded.
  • After you've drained the pasta, add the milk to that same pot. 
  • With the pot on medium heat, add in the cheeses.
  • Whisk together the milk and cheeses until the mixture is smooth.
  • Return the macaroni to the pot and stir to combine.
My Preferred Mac and Cheese
adapted from a recipe from Rachael Ray

1 T olive oil
2 T butter
3 T flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni

  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Preheat broiler.
  • Heat oil and butter in a large skillet at medium heat.
  • When butter is melted, add flour and whisk together.
  • Cook for a few minutes until flour mixture is smooth.
  • Slowly add the milk while continuing to whisk.
  • Continue to cook until milk thickens a bit.
  • Add in 2 cups of the cheddar, stirring until smooth.
  • Add in nutmeg and cayenne.
  • Stir the cooked pasta into the sauce.
  • Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
  • Place baking dish in broiler. Cook until cheese on top is melted.

Anyone else have any favorite mac and cheese recipes to share?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blue Monday and Comfort Food

My family got together with some friends this past Monday, and we were informed by our host that it was "Blue Monday," the most depressing day of the year. I had never heard that before, but I could definitely relate! These cold, dark days with snow and ice have me longing for spring. Yet there is something that I love about hunkering down during winter. It's also a great time for comfort foods.

I think it's interesting to learn what people's comfort foods are. Culture and family history play such an important role in determining what is comforting to each individual person. For me, many of my favorites include pasta and cheese (e.g., homemade mac and cheese, lasagna). For my youngest daughter, I know it's beef stew.

I'd like to include some family-friendly comfort food recipes on this blog in the next few weeks and would love some suggestions. What are your favorite comfort foods? What recipes would you like to see?