Sunday, April 11, 2010

Comfort Food

Saturday, March 20, 2010
Hosted by: Matt and Erin
Theme: Comfort foods.... with a twist

This month's theme centered around comfort foods.... but we twisted them up a bit. The results were delicious!

Our main dish was a twist on burgers. We made meat-free grain burgers, served on Boston lettuce leaves (a la a wrap), accompanied by a variety of homemade condiments.

Grain Burgers
Courtesy of: Erin and Matt

1/2 c uncooked brown rice
1/2 c uncooked bulgur
2 c water
2 c finely chopped fresh mushrooms
3/4 c old-fashioned oats
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 c finely chopped onion
1/2 c cottage cheese
2-3 eggs (may vary to get proper consistency)
breadcrumbs, as needed
2 T minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • In a saucepan, combine the rice, bulgur, seasoning (we did a variety of oregano, basil, rosemary, etc. use whatever you like or have on hand!), and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from the heat; cool completely. Refrigerate.
  • In a large bowl, combine the mushrooms, oats, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, and onion. In a blender or food processor, process cottage cheese and eggs until smooth; add to the mushroom mixture. Stir in the parsley, salt, basil, and chilled rice mixture. Shape 1/2 cupfuls into patties. (We also added breadcrumbs to the mixture... you're going for a consistency that will stay together in patties. It may take a little experimenting to get it right.)
  • In a large nonstick skillet, cook four patties in 1 tsp. oil for 5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned and crisp. Repeat with remaining patties and oil.
recipe courtesy of "A Taste of Home" Reader's Digest Cookbook (with alterations)

We also made a variety of sauces to top the burgers.... it was hard to choose our favorite!

Roasted Red Pepper Aioli
Unfortunately, this one is a family secret.... but a delicious one!

Spicy Mustard

½ c tarragon or cider vinegar
½ c water
¼ c olive oil
2 T prepared horseradish
½ tsp. lemon juice
1 c ground mustard
½ c sugar
½ tsp. salt
  • In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients: cover and process for one minute. Scrape down the sides of container and process again for 30 seconds.
  • Transfer to a small saucepan and let stand for 10 minutes. Cook over low heat until bubbly, stirring constantly. Cool completely. If a thinner mustard is desired add tablespoons of water to reach desired consistency.
  • Pour into small containers with tight fitting lids for refrigerator storage.
recipe courtesy of "A Taste of Home" Reader's Digest Cookbook

Cilantro Cream Sauce

1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 c. sour cream
salt, to taste
fresh lime juice, to taste
  • Blend cilantro and garlic in a blender until smooth (do not use a food processor). Remove from blender and whisk into sour cream. When well blended, season with salt and lime juice. Keep cold until needed.
recipe courtesy of

Tomato Topper

1 16 oz can whole tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1 hot or bell pepper, chopped
1 c granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the tomatoes, onion, and pepper until onion and pepper are tender. Add amount of sugar preferred. Cook until thick.
  • We blended ours in a food processor to make it smoother and more like a ketchup.
recipe courtesy of

Spring Vegetable Bundles

4 green onions
1 c water
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed
1 medium sweet red pepper, julienned
1 medium sweet yellow pepper, julienned
2 medium carrots, julienned
12 thyme sprigs
1 and 1/3 c white wine
3 T butter
  • Trim both ends of the onions; cut the green tops into 7 in. lengths. In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add onion tops; boil for 1 minute or until softened. Drain and immediately place onion tops in ice water. Drain and pat dry. Chop white portions of onions and set aside.
  • Divide asparagus, peppers, and carrots into 12 bundles. Top each with a thyme sprig. Tie each bundle with a blanched onion top.
  • In a large skillet, place wine, chopped onions, and vegetable bundles. Bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are tender and liquid is reduced by two-thirds. Carefully remove bundles with a slotted spoon to a serving plate. Add butter to skillet, cook, and stir until melted. Spoon over bundles.
recipe courtesy of

Spring Macaroni and Cheese
Courtesy of: Sarah and Brad

1 bunch (about 12 oz.) asparagus
2 leeks
4 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
12 ounces dried orecchiette pasta
3/4 cup frozen petite peas
2 slices sourdough bread
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
6 ounces fresh chèvre (goat cheese)
1 1/2 cups shredded romano cheese
  • Preheat oven to 400°. Snap tough ends off asparagus; cut spears into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut root ends and tough green tops from leeks; cut leeks in half lengthwise and rinse well under running water, then thinly slice crosswise.
  • In a medium pan over medium-high heat, stir the asparagus with the leeks, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook until the asparagus is just tender, about 7 minutes, then remove from pan and set aside.
  • In a large pan over high heat, bring about 3 quarts water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions; stir in peas at the end. Drain and return to pan.
  • Meanwhile, tear bread into chunks and put in a food processor with 1/2 tablespoon butter. Whirl until crumbs form.
  • In the medium pan over medium-high heat, melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Add the flour and thyme; stir until smooth and bubbling, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in milk and stir until boiling and thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add lemon peel, mustard, pepper, and remaining teaspoon salt. Remove from heat and add goat cheese and 1 cup romano; stir until smooth.
  • Pour sauce over drained pasta and peas. Add asparagus mixture and stir well. Scrape mixture into a 2 1/2-quart baking dish and spread level. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup romano and the bread crumbs. Bake until sauce is bubbling and bread crumbs are browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
recipe courtesy of

We concluded the night with a special treat- Guinness chocolate cupcakes! It was a perfect way to end the evening.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
Courtesy of: Nicole and Jerel

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
  • Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Baileys Frosting

3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)
  • Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.
recipe courtesy of SmittenKitchen

Next month we head to another Mediterranean country.... Greece!

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