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log cabincomfort foodSo here we are, stuck in the middle of a “real” winter.  You know what I mean.  There is snow and cold and ice and cold and freezing rain and cold.  Oh – and did I mention, cold…?  For me, being the lover of all things SPRING & FALL, I need coping mechanisms to help me…  well…  COPE!  Enter comfort food. LOTS of comfort food.  With every impending storm, the grocery stores swell with high strung, desperate shoppers.  I was literally on my hands and knees getting cans of beef stock from the deep, dark crevasses on the bottom shelf last week… Seriously.  Lucky for me, I buy the “low sodium” beef stock, which is (surprisingly, Ha!) all that was left.   If you are looking for bananas, milk, a rotisserie chicken or fresh bread… forget it.  Don’t even bother venturing out into the craziness.  I do, however, find it quite interesting to see what people “stock up” on when they are in a state of panic… (OK – I know that I am not the ONLY one checking out other people’s baskets!!  I’m just admitting to it!)  So what have I spied in the checkout lane???  Well, let’s see… Oreos, Fruity Pebbles, hotdogs, Hamburger Helper, taco seasoning packets, chips and ice-cream.  Hmmm…

So, having survived trips to every grocery store in a 10 mile radius over the past week or so, I must tell you that I am well stocked, to say the least.  I have been cooking non-stop.  Again… a coping mechanism.  C’mon.  They call it “comfort food” for a reason.  Since it’s still flu season, I had to make more homemade Chicken Noodle Soup for the freezer, just in case.  And then I had to make more homemade chicken STOCK, just in case we all get sick and deplete the current supply of frozen chicken noodle soup!  And then I made Tomato Basil Soup… White Chili… Curry Chicken Chickpea Soup/Stew… Steak Soup… Blueberry Muffins… Chocolate Chip Cookies….  I know.  Crazy, huh? OK – so before you pass judgement on my “ways of coping”, just know that I have an open door policy for meals… If you have a good pair of boots or a 4 wheel drive and have a way to make it to my door – there will be food.  And a fire in the fireplace.  And wine.  Plenty of wine.  And you are ALWAYS welcome to pull up a chair and join us!!  Just understand that there may not be any fresh bread with your soup.  Or Fruity Pebbles, for that matter…

comfort food 1

White Chili

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (or more, to taste)
  • 2 (4 ounce) cans chopped mild green chilies (or more, to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 (16 ounce) cans great northern beans
  • 6 cups chicken stock/broth
  • 6 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 3 cups grated monterey jack cheese (optional)

Directions:

  • Heat oil in large pot over medium high heat.
  • Add onions and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in garlic, chilies, cumin, oregano, and cayenne and saute 2 minutes.
  • Add beans and stock and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and add chicken & (optional) cheese.  Stir until cheese melts.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper and ladle into bowls.
  • FOR FREEZING: Pour soup into a rigid container (or freezer bag), label and freeze. To reheat, thaw in refrigerator overnight or simply put frozen soup into a large pot and gently heat, with lid on and stirring often, till heated through.

Curry Chicken Chickpea Bowl   (Feeds about 6)

  • 3 c. cooked rice (I use whole grain)  Great way to use leftover rice!!
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 lg. sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 2 T. curry powder
  • 1 c. plain yogurt
  • 2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 14.5 oz. cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • cilantro, chopped (optional)

Directions:

  • Add olive oil to a medium hot skillet and brown chicken.
  • Add onion & cook, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes.
  • Add garlic and curry powder and saute another minute or so.
  • Add yogurt and simmer gently for about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in tomatoes & chickpeas, season, to taste, with salt & pepper and remove from heat.
  • Divide rice & chickpea mixture among bowls & garnish with minced cilantro, if that’s your thing!  (Or just be lazy and mix the rice right in to the chickpea mixture!)

Steak Soup (Plaza III version…!) 

*** See below for my notes…!)

  • 8 T. margarine
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 40 oz. beef broth
  • 1/4 c. (each) fresh carrots, onions & celery, diced
  • 1/2 c. diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 T. browning sauce (Kitchen Bouquet)
  • 3/4 t. seasoning salt
  • 1/4 t. coarse black pepper
  • 5 oz. mixed frozen vegetables
  • 1/2 lb. ground chuck, chili grind, browned & drained of fat
  • Place the butter in a soup pot & melt without browning.  Add flour and stir to form a smooth paste.  Cook the mixture (roux) over med. heat without browning, for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add broth to the roux and stir until smooth and lightly thickened.  Bring to a full boil.
  • Add the vegetables, tomatoes and seasonings; return to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are just barely tender (20-30 min).
  • Add the frozen vegetables and the browned ground chuck.  Simmer an additional 15 minutes, or until the flavors become well blended.

*** OK – so Plaza III Steak Soup is a Kansas City tradition, so I included the recipe “as is”, but the real beauty of this recipe is that you can really do whatever you want!  I never, ever use 8 T. of margarine… I use a combo of olive oil and beef broth.  Works just fine.  I also double (or more) the amount of beef.  That’s how “my boys” like it!  And the best part is that you can add whatever you want in the way of veggies! I do whatever combo of fresh & frozen that works that day.  Some of my favs are fresh carrots, celery & onions and frozen peas, edemame & fire roasted corn (Trader Joe’s).  This soup is a great way to use leftover veggies!

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