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Autumn Comfort Food Recipes: Pumpkin stew, risotto and pasta

Written By | Nov 7, 2017

FORT WORTH, Texas November 7, 2017—Temperatures have been way above normal this autumn but are finally headed in the right direction. That means we can pull out our cold weather comfort food recipes. 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.

Homemade Pumpkin Stew (Ann Larie Valentine/Flickr)

Julie’s Pumpkin Stew
2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 1” cubes
3 TBSP. cooking oil, divided
1 C water
3 large potatoes, peeled & cut into 1 in cubes
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 large green pepper, cut into 1/2 in pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 t salt
1/2 t (I use 1/4) pepper
2 T instant beef bouillon granules
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) cut tomatoes, undrained
1 pumpkin (10-12 lbs.)
In Dutch oven, brown meat in two tablespoons of oil. Add water, potatoes, carrots, green pepper, garlic, onion, salt & pepper. Cover and simmer two hours. Stir in bouillon and tomatoes. Wash pumpkin; cut a 6-8 inch circle 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.

Grandma’s Risotto

2-3 TBSP. 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 tsp. 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)

In Dutch oven soften celery, onion, green pepper and carrots in olive oil until onion is transparent. Meanwhile cook ground beef until pink is gone, breaking up to small pieces with wire whisk; drain. Add to vegetables with garlic.

Add salt. Stir with wooden spoon.

Add rice. Stir.

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
Comfort Food Recipes

Spaghetti Squash – Creative Commons Image

1 lb. your favorite pasta or 2 spiralized zucchinis*
3 TBSP. 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 (roam) tomatoes
Chopped black or green olives (optional)

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 and Greater Fort Worth Writers Group.

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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.