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Autumn comfort food to warm your heart

Written By | Oct 12, 2019

Autumn Comfort (Courtesy of melkhagelslag of Pixabay)

FORT WORTH, Texas October 12, 2019 — Summer finally broke its hold on North Central Texas this week. The temperature is finally below 60˚ signaling the arrival of Autumn. We can at last pull out our cold weather comfort food recipes.

You know those special recipes on worn 3×5 cards from our mothers and grandmothers that bring back pleasant memories of family and warm meals that nourish our souls. You can almost smell the fragrance of home-cooked love permeating the air.
Exchanging recipes is a favorite hobby of mine, especially comfort food. You learn a lot about people from what they eat. Here are three warm and easy-to-make recipes your families will love.
A huge thank you goes out to my lifelong friend and fellow writer Julie Goralka who shared a special dish for this article.

Julie’s Pumpkin Stew
2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 1” cubes
3 TBSP. cooking oil, divided
1 cup water
3 large potatoes, peeled & cut into 1” cubes
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 large green pepper, cut into ½ “ pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons instant beef bouillon granules, or bouillon paste
1 can (14 ½ oz.) cut tomatoes, undrained
1 pumpkin (10-12 lbs.)

Gather together all ingredients and cookware you will need to create this delicious dish. Chop vegetables and meat into bite-sized pieces. Dry meat with paper towels as much as possible. The excess moisture on the meat makes it more difficult to brown it properly.

Worn 3×5 cards from our mothers and grandmothers that bring back pleasant memories

Next, in Dutch oven, brown meat in two tablespoons of oil. Brown in batches if necessary, as overcrowding the pan will keep the meat from browning as well. Add water, potatoes, carrots, green pepper, garlic, onion, salt & pepper. Cover and simmer two hours then stir in bouillon and tomatoes.

Wash pumpkin; cut a 6-8-inch circle at a 45˚ angle around top stem. Remove top & set aside; discard seeds & loose fibers – or roast your seeds.
Place pumpkin in a shallow sturdy baking pan. Spoon stew into the pumpkin; replace top.
Brush outside of pumpkin with oil.
Bake at 325°for two hours or just until the pumpkin is tender. Do not over bake; the pumpkin should stay firm, but fork tender.
Serve stew from pumpkin, scooping out a little pumpkin with each serving. This is sure to become a family favorite comfort food. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Pumpkin Stew (Courtesy of Ann Larie Valentine/Flickr)

Grandma’s Risotto
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch celery stalks and leaves, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
About 6 or 7 baby carrots (or 1 whole) chopped in food processor
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-pound ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Uncle Ben’s™ rice (Grandma made me swear I would only use this)
2 cups chicken stock, simmering
1 – 2 8oz. can tomato sauce (depending on preference)

Gather together all ingredients and cookware you will need. Chop vegetables, set aside. In Dutch oven brown the ground beef until pink is gone, breaking up to small pieces with wire whisk; drain, set aside in separate dish. In the same Dutch oven soften celery, onion, green pepper and carrots in olive oil until onion is transparent. Add ground beef and garlic to vegetables. Add salt. Stir with wooden spoon. Add rice. Stir.

The comforting fragrance of home-cooked love permeates the Autumn air

Incorporate simmering stock to mixture one ladle at a time. Stir in tomato sauce. Turn heat to low and cover. Cook, until all liquid is absorbed, and the rice is fork tender. Serve with your favorite shredded hard cheese such as Romano, Parmesan or Asiago. After a long day this is the perfect comfort recipe for those cold nights and is easy to put together. Yield: 8 servings.

Sautéed Vegetables and Spiralized Zucchini Pasta
Spaghetti Squash – Creative Commons Image
1 lb. your favorite pasta or 2 spiralized zucchinis*
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
4 button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 or 3 chopped plum (Roma) tomatoes
Chopped black or green olives (optional)

Gather together all ingredients and cookware you will need. Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s instructions; wash all fresh vegetables. If using zucchini (or both,) cut into spaghetti-sized ribbons using spiralizer; chop or slice the rest of the vegetables.
Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, eggplant and green peppers and cook until onion starts to soften. Add the rest of the vegetables. Toss with a wooden spoon. Turn heat to medium and cover. Simmer about 5-10 minutes, tossing once or twice, until vegetables are soft.
Top with your favorite sauce and/or cheese: Parmesan, Romano or Asiago.
*Don’t be afraid to use the zucchini or spaghetti squash in place of the pasta. Besides being a healthy alternative, it tastes just as good, if not better than real spaghetti.
Read more of Claire’s work at Feed the Mind, Nourish the Soul in the Communities Digital News.
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Photos courtesy of: Ann Larie Valentine;
melkhagelslag / 98 images

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Claire Hickey

Claire Hickey was born the last year of the Baby Boom and spent the first half of childhood in Chicago. She has always loved to write but wanted to create pieces worth reading. Her curiosity and love of research lead her to create her column based on the “garbage in garbage out” theory to provide interesting and thought-provoking pieces that enrich her readers. She also believes life is a banquet and loves to learn new things. Her professional pedigree includes Cosmetology, Surgical Technology, and the Culinary Arts. When not working she loves to spend time with family and friends. She lives in Fort Worth.