FORT WORTH, Texas November 2, 2015 —Temperatures are supposed to drop to the 50s overnight this coming weekend. Woo! Hoo! The mercury hasn’t been that low around these parts for about six months.
That means cold weather comfort foods are on our tables once again. We all have those special recipes from our mothers and grandmothers that spell L-O-V-E and bring back pleasant memories of crisp autumn days and warm meals that nourish our souls.
Exchanging recipes is a favorite hobby of mine. 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 Julia Goralka who shared a special dish for this article.
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 in circle around top
Remove top & set aside; discard seeds & loose fibers – or roast your seeds.
Place pumpkin in shallow sturdy baking pan. Spoon stew into pumpkin; replace
top. Brush outside of pumpkin with remaining oil. Bake at 325°for two hours or just until the pumpkin is tender. Do not over bake.
Serve stew from pumpkin, scooping out a little pumpkin with each serving. Yield: 8-10
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
2 heaping TBSP. minced garlic from jar
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 into rice. Serve with your favorite hard cheese such as Romano, Parmesan or Asiago. Yield: 8 servings.
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
2-3 heaping TBSP. minced garlic
2 or 3 chopped plum (roma) 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 on medium high heat. Add onions, eggplant and green peppers and cook until onion starts to soften. Add the rest of the vegetables. Toss them with 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 in place of the pasta. Besides being a healthy alternative, it tastes just as good, if not better than real spaghetti.