A return to new comfort food

As many of my readers might know, I’m trying to slowly domesticize myself; namely, I’m trying to learn how to cook.  While crazy challenging dishes are probably within my reach, I’m currently trying to conquer basic dishes that I love and can eat almost any of the week.  Comfort food, but minus insane proportions of macaroni and cheese, and mashed potatoes (even though I still love me some mashed potatoes…mmm).

For a novice cook, though, I’m thankful that summer is over.  Fall and winter are the best seasons for easy cooking, what with all the pasta and soups.  This week, with Joel out of town, I’ve been jumping into fall cooking feet first.  And can I say that with the “man” out of the house, this woman has been homemaking all over the place.  Here are my favorite fall recipes (so far):

Chicken and Rice Soup

This recipe is actually called Creamy Turkey and Rice Soup, but since chicken is cheaper than turkey (and I was using chicken later this week), it became chicken soup.  And because I didn’t want to buy sour cream JUST for this soup (since I don’t like sour cream and Joel’s not here to eat it…on tacos, or whatever), the creamy part was nixed as well.  But the soup turned out just as awesome, so I’m not worried.  Plus, that’s the beauty of cooking, right?  This is also the full recipe; I halved it because I was cooking for one tonight, but I still had tons of leftovers.  Better Homes and Gardens says this recipe will feed six.

4 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 10-oz package frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup quick-cooking white or brown rice
2 cups chopped cooked turkey or chicken
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons refrigerated basil pesto

Combine the broth, Italian seasoning, and pepper in a 3-quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in veggies and rice, and return to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer with the lid, for about 8-10 minutes or until the veggies are tender.  Stir in turkey or chicken, drained tomatoes, and pesto, and heat through.

This recipe was great because it was homemade, but made easy with a few easy substitutions.  It’s difficult to keep chicken broth on hand; unless you freeze it or use it quick, I’ve had it go bad on me.  So I bought a jar of chicken bouillion cubes for $1.25, which can make up to 12 cups of broth.  Woo! I had also bought a six-pack of chicken breasts (for other meals this week and next), and so the meat part of the dish wasn’t expensive either.  I had to throw the other half of the can of diced tomatoes in a ziplock bag and freeze it, because I wasn’t sure what to do.  But when the soup comes out looking this, you whatever trouble I did take didn’t matter:

Shredded Potatoes With Sausage and Apple

This dish said “fall” to me more than anything I’ve ever made, and I know I’ll be making it a LOT more this fall and winter.  It was also incredibly easy, and though I didn’t get any pictures, it’s pretty self explanatory.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
5 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 tablespoon snipped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 oz cooked smoked sausage, coarsely chopped (I used summer sausage)
1 medium apple, cored and cut into thin wedges

In a 10-inch skillet, heat oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat.  Add potatoes in an even layer.  Cook about 8 minutes or until light brown, stirring occasionally.  Stir in half of the thyme and pepper.  With a wide spatula, press down firmly.  Cook for about 8 minutes more or until potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, in an 8-inch skillet, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.  Add sausage and apple.  Cook about 10 minutes or until apple is tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in remaining thyme.

Slide potatoes onto a cool plate, cover with another plate and flip the plate over.  Remove the top plate.  Spoon sausage-apple mixture over the potatoes.

Um, there’s other way to describe this but AMAZING.  I’ve been known to be weird about sweet fruit in savory dishes, but this was wholly satisfying.  And coupled with a mug of hot apple cider with a bit of cinnamon mixed in?  Heaven.

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2 thoughts on “A return to new comfort food

  1. Pingback: Sunday Salon: October 10, 2010 « Paperback Fool

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