Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Comfort Foods

Doesn't this time of year get you in mood for some cozy comfort food? You know what I mean, those dishes that make you feel warm whether it be hot chili or sweet treats with cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices. So, keeping with the theme of my favorite season, I wanted to share some cozy recipes that I love to make this time of year. 

First is a family favorite - Apple Cake. Nothing says fall like apples. I have made this recipe from Bakerella for the past several years and it is a BIG hit at our house. I already have a request from my parents to make this when they come to visit in a couple weeks. 

Apple Cake
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups oil
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups diced apples
1 cup chopped dates rolled in flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and cinnamon and set aside.
Combine sugar and oil using a mixer until blended.
Add eggs and vanilla, mixing until combined.
Add flour mixture and mix well.
Stir in nuts, dates and apples. The batter will be very thick.
Pour into a greased and floured 9 X 13 pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until done.
Cool cake and using a skewer, poke holes in cake.
Cook topping ingredients on stove until mixture bubbles.
Pour topping over cake.

Source: Recipe from Bakerella

This cake is delicious! And that topping....Oh. My. Goodness. I think we have decided that you could put it on just about anything and it would taste good. We haven't actually tested that theory, but on the cake it is simply divine! Trust me, you need to try this cake!

Moving on to something a little more savory. I could eat something sweet just about every meal of the day, but a little balance does a person good. And how cozy is chili. It's one of those curl up with a blanket or eat in front of a football game kind of dishes. I found this chicken chili recipe on Annie's blog, Annie's Eats. She has so many great recipes. Her blog is definitely on my daily must read list. This is a chicken chili recipe is delicious. I modified it a bit because I'm not much of a spicy fan. Hubby is the exact opposite but I figure he can just add extra heat to his bowl. I also have tried this recipe with a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. This makes the recipe quicker/easier for me on a week night.

Chicken Chili

1 rotisserie chicken (pre-cooked)
Salt and pepper
4 cups chopped yellow onion (2-3 onions)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 bell peppers (I used 1 red, 1 orange and 1 yellow)
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 (28 oz.) cans diced peeled tomatoes in puree, not drained
2 (15 oz.) cans beans, drained and rinsed (I used 1 can black and 1 can pinto beans)
cheddar cheese and Fritos for topping (optional) 

Shred or chop rotisserie chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Sauté the onions 10-15 minutes, or until tender and translucent.  Add the garlic to the pot and sauté just until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Mix in the chopped bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, oregano, and kosher salt.  Cook 5 more minutes.  Add the tomatoes with the puree to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the shredded chicken and the beans, and allow to simmer for another 20 minutes.
Top with cheddar cheese and Fritos. Yum!

Source: Modified from Annie's Eats 

Next is a classic. Chicken Pot Pie. My husband loves it. But every time he would say, "I really like chicken pot pie" I would change the subject. It scared me. It seemed too difficult. I think it was this picture of a cute individual pot pie that changed my mind. 

Isn't that adorable? It won me over. I decided to be brave. I think mine turned out pretty pretty if I do say so myself. :)

I will warn you, homemade pot pies are time consuming. But its actually pretty easy if you just follow the recipe. And totally worth every minute.

Chicken Pot Pie


3 tablespoons butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 rotisserie chicken
1 cup frozen peas and carrots  
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and ground white pepper

1 cup (2 sticks) chilled butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
10 ounces chilled cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 large egg

    For the Filling: Melt the butter in a large sauté pan set over medium heat. Add the onion and potato; sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms and sauté about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the crushed red pepper and add salt and pepper to taste.
    While the vegetables are sautéing, skin the chicken, pull the meat off the bones, and shred the meat or cut into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
    Place the green beans in a microwave-safe bowl, and add enough water to cover. Cover the dish and microwave on high power about 10 minutes, until the beans are tender. Drain thoroughly.
    Stir the beans, peas, and chicken into the vegetable mixture. Set the filling aside.
    For the Sauce: Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the chicken stock and cook the sauce over medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of a cream soup. Add the cream, hot pepper sauce, and salt and white pepper to taste.
    Pour the cream sauce over the chicken filling and stir to combine.
    Fill individual 1 1/4-cup capacity oven-safe bowls three-quarters of the way to the top with the creamed chicken filling.
    For the Crust: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the butter into 16 pieces. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the butter and flour until crumbly. Add the cream cheese, salt, and white pepper. Continue pulsing just until the dough forms a ball.
    Set the dough on a flat surface dusted with flour. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Measure the diameter of the pot pie bowls–mine are about 4 inches across–and cut out dough rounds that are 1 1/2 inches larger in diameter. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Lay the dough rounds on top of the pot pies, making sure the dough hangs evenly over each bowl. Brush the dough lightly with the beaten egg. Bake the pies for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.

    Source: Recipe and picture Ezra Pound Cake

    Now I can't talk fall and comfort food without mentioning one of the most important fall ingredients, Pumpkin. We are huge pumpkin fans in our house. I made these muffins a few weeks ago and boy are they good. They are a little more difficult and time consuming but well worth it. There is a little surprise inside each one. So yummy! :)

    Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
    For the filling:
    8 oz. cream cheese, softened
    1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    For the muffins:
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1 tsp. ground nutmeg
    1 tsp. ground cloves
    1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
    1 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. baking soda
    4 large eggs
    2 cups sugar
    2 cups pumpkin puree
    1¼ cups vegetable oil
    For the topping:
    ½ cup sugar
    5 tbsp. flour
    1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
    4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours.
    To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated
    To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.
    To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.
    Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. 
    Source: Recipe and picture from Annie's Eats

    Whew, that was a mouthful of comfort food. Now that I mention it, I'd really like a mouthful of comfort food right now! :) Maybe I'll whip up one of these recipes tonight! What about you, do you have any fall favorites?

    Happy Wednesday everyone! 

    The Doyles

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