My Comfort Foods
I have an old cigar box full of my grandmother Spencer's recipes, an old tin box full of my father's, and a wooden one full of my own. I'll post the ones that mean the most to our family history.
I love a hot breakfast. Cold cereal is ok for a snack, but I want something warm in my tummy to face the day. This is a recipe that I use when company is coming for the weekend, or when I help cook breakfast at church. Putting the casseroles together the night before and then cooking in the morning works well. The flavors seem to blend better, and it cuts down on clean-up after breakfast.
1 lb frozen southern hash browns, thawed
¼ cup soft butter
1 can cream of chicken soup (can be low-fat, works fine)
4 oz cheddar, grated (ditto)
4 oz sour cream (can be fat-free, works fine)
½ teaspoon salt
½ onion, chopped
1 cup cornflakes, crushed (or bread crumbs, or whatever)
½ stick butter (or squeeze butter, or Benecol)
Line 13X9 pan with potatoes. Mix next 6 ingredients well. Spoon over potatoes. Top with cornflakes. Slice or squeeze butter over the top, covering as much as you can. (Can refrigerate at this point to bake in the morning.
Bake at 350 for 50 min. Might need to use a bigger pan as it sometimes runs over. This is very rich and creamy, everyone loves it!
This recipe is from my mother, who was a good cook, but didn't start cooking until she married my father. Her mother was such good cook that Mama, fifth of six kids, didn't even learn how to boil water until a bride.
4 cups Water
1 cup Quick Grits, Uncooked
¼ t. Salt
1 Egg, Beaten
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese (sharp is best)
2 T. Margarine
1/8 t. Garlic Powder or one crushed clove garlic (optional)
1 dash Red Pepper Sauce or Ground Red Pepper (Optional)
Directions : Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 1-1/2 quart casserole or baking dish. Prepare grits according to package directions.
Add small amount of grits to beaten egg. Return grits mixture to pan. Add remaining ingredients. Cook over low heat an additional minute or until cheese is melted. Pour into prepared casserole. (You can refrigerate at this point, and bake in the morning.)
Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until top is set and lightly puffed. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
This is my favorite thing to take to covered dish suppers, and it always disappears quickly. With some fruit, it's a complete meal for lunch, and good for brown-bagging or picnics. You can use fat-free products, and it's ok, but I've never found a fat-free cheese that was truly "sharp". This recipe is from my late father, J. T. Powell, a NASA engineer who was the best cook I ever knew. Daddy started learning to cook around age 10 or 12. You see, GrandPowell, his mother, was the worst cook this side of the Mississippi. She hated cooking, so she did it very badly. He figured if he was ever going to grow up, he had to learn how to cook food fit to eat. He did a lot better than that!
2 cups cooked rice, cooled
1 cup shredded cheese, I like sharp Colby best
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup diced green onion
1/3 cup diced bell pepper (any color)
4 oz can chopped mild green chiles, drained
4 oz can sliced black olives, drained
4 oz jar pimientos, drained
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
Mix together well. Serve at room temperature.
I've never made this in vegetarian mode, with TVP instead of beef. If someone tries it that way, let me know if it works. I have, however, made it with all low-fat and no-fat products and it turns out fine. When my Spencer grandmother (Mimi) made this dish, her biscuit dough was made from scratch. My mother used Bisquick. I use canned biscuits, rolling together 5 of them each for the top and the bottom. Another sign that civilization as we know it is coming to an end....
1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
4 oz cheese
1 cup sour cream
one recipe biscuit dough
Brown beef, vegetables and garlic. Drain. Mix with sour cream.
In a greased square pan or deep pie plate, put one-half the biscuit dough. Top with beef mixture. Top with cheese, either grated or sliced. Cover with remaining biscuit dough. Bake at 400 about 15 or 20 minutes, until biscuit topping is done. Yes, you may eat it with catsup!
Chicken and Dumplings
I'll admit it: I could eat C&D all year long. All DAY long, for that matter. So I didn't learn to make it until recently, because I knew I'd eat up the whole pot myself. Then I got this Tyson newsletter, with a recipe for "Guilt-Free Chicken and Dumplings". It has (gasp!) bottled gravy and (oh my!) canned biscuits, but you know what? It's GOOD! So here's the Chicken and Dumplings I eat now.
4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1 small onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped celery
2 TBS flour
1 cup 1/3-less-sodium chicken broth
1 jar 98% fat free chicken gravy
1 cup fat-free half and half or skim milk
1/2 cup frozen peas, optional
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp black pepper
PREPARATION: Rinse chicken with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Flatten each biscuit to 1/8-inch thick and cut each into 6 pieces.
COOK: Spray nonstick Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Add chicken, onion, and celery. Cook and stir 6 to 8 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and celery is tender. Blend flour into chicken broth. Stir broth and remaining ingredients, except biscuits, into chicken mixture. Bring to a boil. Add biscuit pieces to chicken mixture. Cover tightly. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 10 to 15 minutes or until dumplings are fully cooked and broth is thickened. Remove and discard bay leaf.
SERVE: Ladle chicken and dumplings into individual serving bowls. Top off the meal with your favorite dessert, if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.
Luncheon Top Hats
My grandmother Mimi saved this recipe from a newspaper. The clipping says it is from Vera Kirkpatrick, one of the owners of the Post Street Cafeteria in San Francisco. Because all recipes are only inspiration, never gospel, I would use Vidalia onions, an egg instead of cream and I would substitute olive oil for butter, to go with the tomato and onion better.
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup cream
2 T butter
8 slices mild onion
8 slices tomato
8 slices cheddar
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel and slice eggplant into 8 slices. Dip the eggplant in crumbs, then cream, then crumbs again. Fry in butter until golden brown. In a baking dish, layer browned eggplant, onion, tomato, cheddar and salt and pepper. Bake in 350F oven for 25 minutes and serve at once.