Dinners Week 5: Family Comfort Food




Spaghetti Pie: recipe adapted from Woody aka Elizabeth Biber
For crust:
8oz cooked spaghetti noodles
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tsp dried basil
1 clove minced garlic
 For filling:
1 T olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 (26oz) jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I use Ragu Traditional)
8oz sour cream (I use light)
8oz shredded mozzarella

Saute onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add ground beef and brown.  Add spaghetti sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Combine ingredients for crust and press into the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish (I usually melt the butter and let it sit so that it cools a bit and run the noodles under cold water so that the cheese doesn't melt.)  Top that layer with layer of sour cream.  Top that layer with the filling.  Top with shredded mozzarella.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until bubbly.

NOTES:  The picture shown is how much of this was eaten by my family plus one extra 5 year old...I hadn't even eaten yet!!  You could half this recipe and put the other half in the freezer, but I'm glad I didn't do that this time!!  I cooked the noodles in the morning and left them out to cool.  Then, around lunchtime I browned the ground beef and let it simmer with the tomato sauce.  I went ahead and assembled the spaghetti pie so that I could just pop it in the oven around 5:00 (aka witching, I mean happy hour.)   You could make this a couple of days ahead as well, as it's one of those dishes that just gets better over time.

SERVE WITH: Proscuitto Wrapped Asaparagus left oven from the birthday party (by the way, these were the only things left besides a little bit of fruit!)



Chicken Corn Chowder: (Recipe from The Perfect Setting, Aiken, South Carolina)
3 T butter
4 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups half n half
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
2 (14.75oz) cans creamed style corn
1 (4.5oz) can diced green chiles, undrained
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp salt
2 T chopped cilantro

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add chicken, onion, and garlic, and saute 10 minutes.  Stir in half n half, cheese, corn, green chiles, hot sauce, salt, and cumin; cook over low heat, stirring often for 15 minutes.  Stir in cilantro.  Serve garnished with additional cilantro if you like.

NOTES:  This soup is really pretty quick to make.  I actually made it before school one morning, let it cool a little and popped it in the fridge for later that night. (I am a morning person, so if you are not, I would suggest cutting the chicken, chopping the onion and garlic, and shredding the cheese the night before to make it super fast when it's dinner time.)  You really do have to keep stirring this soup during cooking time, or the cheese will stick to the bottom.  This happened when I was reheating the soup that night because I was distracted chasing kids around :)  My pot is still soaking in the sink 2 days later!!

SERVE WITH: This is a great soup to share with friends, which is exactly what we did (actually the mamas shared it and the kids ate fruit and cheese quesdaillas!,)  so invite some over, and ask them to bring a simple salad to share!!



Mini Shrimp Calzones: Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, found HERE.

NOTES:  If you want to make your own pizza dough like Giada suggests, by all means, go for it! (And bring me some too!!)  I picked up a ball of fresh dough from the Harris Teeter deli section (they also sell it at Trader Joe's and Publix, and I know that most pizza places will sell their dough also.)  I used the whole wheat dough this time, and, I must say, it was good, but it was not nearly as good as the white dough that I've used in the past.  The premade dough will make 4 (4oz) calzones rather than 6, so I kept the recipe the same except for I cut the cheese to 2 cups so that all of the filling would fit into just 4 calzones.  The thing that takes the longest about this recipe is peeling the shrimp, so I would suggest doing that the night before or earlier in the day, so that dinner literally takes less than a half hour to prepare.

SERVE WITH: Your favorite marinara or pizza sauce and Roasted Asparagus:  Cut ends off of a bunch of asparagus, add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil, and sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper.  Roast in 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.




Crockpot Green Chili (from CovCom Cooks!) Tacos
3T oil
2 lbs pork stew meat, cubed (I use boneless country style ribs)
1 (32oz) jar green chile sauce (I use Rick Frontera's Green Chile Enchilada Sauce)
1 (16oz) jar green chile salsa (I use Herdez Salsa Verde)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish (I omit)

Hard and/or soft shell tacos
Fresh tomatoes - diced
Avocados - diced
Angel Hair Cole Slaw (or shredded cabbage)
Salsa
Whatever else your heart desires for taco/nacho/quesadilla night!

Heat oil in large saute pan.  Brown pork (in batches if necessary - do not crowd) until browned on all sides.  Place in slow cooker.  Add sauce and salsa.  Mix well.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until meat is tender.  Serve garnished with cilantro (optional.)

NOTES:  You can skip browning the meat if you are crunched for time before throwing it the crockpot in the morning, but it will give it a little more flavor if you take the time for the browning step.  This recipe makes a lot of sauce and can be eaten as a stew served over chips and garnished like you would a tortilla soup (sour cream, cheese, etc,) but I use a slotted spoon to serve the meat and serve it as tacos, nachos, or quesadillas.  This is one of my husband's favorite meals, it takes very little effort, it is great as leftovers, and it freezes well.

SERVE WITH:  For the kids, I just made quesadillas using flour tortillas, tomatoes, and shredded Monterrey Jack cheese.  Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes, until cheese melts. (Make sure you put them on a cookie sheet so that the cheese doesn't run down into your oven...that has clearly never happened to me :)) My husband and I had hard tacos with angel hair cole slaw, diced tomatoes, diced avocado and salsa.  YUM!  This makes enough food for our family for two nights.  It is delicious as leftovers for tacos or even better with lots of cheese melted over the meat as nachos!!



I am writing these recipes out a little earlier than usual because I am heading to see my precious, pregnant sister tomorrow for the weekend (and my brother-in-law and my dad and a few of my best friends)...if we make something fun, I'll add the recipes toward the end of the weekend :)

Happy Cooking!!




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