One of my favorite pastimes, especially during fall and winter, is eating. Okay, it might be my favorite pastime during any season, but the cooler weather always makes me want to cuddle up with a bowl of soup or pasta. Anything with cheese and carbs, really.
So, to honor my cravings and give you new ones, I’ve decided to share some comfort food recipes for you to indulge. How does a multi-cheese mac ‘n cheese sound to start?
The ingredients you’ll need include: salt, vegetable oil, 1 pound elbow macaroni, 1 quart milk, 1 stick unsalted butter, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 4 cups Gruyère (grated), 2 cups extra-sharp cheddar (grated), 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small), and 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed).
First step: preheat the over to 375-degrees. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water and add the macaroni to cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain the pasta well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes as you stir it with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyère, cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
You can’t read that and not be craving that cheesy deliciousness now. Next is a soup that I discovered and couldn’t pass up after seeing the picture of it: bacon and egg soup. What’s better than breakfast for dinner?
The ingredients are as follows: 1/2 pound slab or thick-cut bacon (cut into 1/4-inch cubes), 4 slices rustic Italian bread (cut into 1/2-inch cubes), 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, 2 cloves garlic (smashed), 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, 1 1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese (plus 1 small piece of the rind), 4 tablespoons torn fresh parsley, and 4 large eggs.
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees and cook the bacon in a medium pot over medium heat until crisp, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-covered plate with a slotted spoon, and then discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings from the pot. While the bacon cooks, toss the bread cubs with the olive oil on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden and crisp, about 8 minutes.
Add the garlic to the bacon drippings and cook until slightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth, 1 ½ cups water, the parmesan rind and 2 tablespoons parsley; then season with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.
Adjust the heat so the broth is barely boiling. One at a time, crack each egg into a small bowl and gently slip into the broth. Poach until just set, about 2 minutes. Transfer the eggs with a slotted spoon to individual soup bowls. Stir 1 cup parmesan and the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley into the broth and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the broth into the bowls and top with croutons, bacon and the remaining ¼ cup parmesan.
Pretty unique, huh? I’m definitely going to be trying to make it very soon! As much as comfort food resounds savory dishes to me, I have to include a dessert. I’m such a sweets lover and my go-to comfort dessert is Ree Drummond’s (of The Pioneer Woman) chocolate sheet cake.
For the cake you will need 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 4 tablespoons cocoa, 2 sticks butter, 1 cup boiling water, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 2 whole beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
For the frosting, you will need 1/2 cup finely chopping pecans, 1 3/4 stick butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa, 6 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 pound (minus 1/2 cup) powdered sugar.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa and stir together. Next, add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.
In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.
While cake is baking, make the icing. Chop pecans finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.
Cut into squares, eat, and celebrate the fact that you’ve just made the best chocolate sheet cake. If you don’t plan on making any of these, I understand, but it’s worth a try! If not, you can always come over and help me eat them. Enjoy!