Apple crisp and comfort foods

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 perfect apple crisp

Perfect Apple Crisp

If ever there was a perfect time for our family to gorge ourselves on comfort foods, that time would be now. As a child my mom would give me cinnamon toast to “make the boo-boo go away”. I could  use that cinnamon toast now but in its place I suppose I have my apple crisp recipe and I have apples.

I use Granny Smith apples which gives this crisp just enough sweetness, but any baking apple will do. It is one of our favorite fall desserts. I hope you like it too!

Mary’s Apple Crisp Recipe

24 ounces granny smith slices (I like mine pretty thin)
4 tbsp. brown sugar
1/8 cup plus 2 tsp. white sugar
5/8 tsp. cinnamon (I like Saigon)
2 tbsp. flour for thickening

Mix filling ingredients and place in a buttered 8 or 9 inch glass baking dish and cover with topping below: 

3/8 cup flour
3/8 cup quick oats (not instant)
1/4 cup butter (I prefer this to margarine but margarine would do)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Blend the flour and butter with a pastry blender until crumbly. Add the remaining ingredients mixing well. Place on filling and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly and lightly toasted on top.

Note: At times I’ve added some dried cranberries which is a great tart addition!

If only I knew how to make my camera freeze all of the bubbling because the crisp was bubbling along nicely when I snapped this shot. Maybe next time I’ll do a video!

Carnita and Chimichurri Stew (aka spicy comfort food)

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Carnitas and Chimichurri Stew

Carnitas and Chimichurri Stew

Hello Monday and no cooking for a couple of days! I love when I can make something that everyone likes AND gets better and better each day. The already rich taste of this stew continues to mature from one day to the next. I can’t wait for dinner tonight!

Usually I am not much for convenience foods. Don’t get me wrong, I Iove the convenience, I just usually don’t care for the flavor of many or the price. I do find, however, that thanks to Trader Joe’s my convenience food ‘ban’ is slowly being lifted. The stew above was based on one of the samples they were giving out one day. The chicken broth was my addition and as time goes on I will probably continue to tweak it. I just can’t seem to help myself!

The base for this stew is Trader Joe’s Organic Tomato and Roasted Pepper Soup. In truth, it is not a favorite of mine if eaten by itself. I find it a bit too sweet. However, add some chicken broth, some flavored rice, and shredded pork carnitas and wow, instant comfort food. Prep time is about 5 minutes and the price for all of the ingredients is not too bad! I keep the makings handy for a quick, warm-your-bones winter meal.

Carnita and Chimichurri Stew
Spicy, thick, and just the right amount of richness!

Trader Joe’s Organic Tomato and Roasted Pepper Soup, 32 ounce carton in the soup aisle
Trader Joe’s Chimichurri Rice, 16 ounce freezer package
Trader Joes Traditional Carnitas- 12 ounce package in the refrigerated section
1- 1 1/2 cups Trader Joe’s Organic Free Range Chicken Broth
salt to taste

Pour soup in large saucepan, and package of rice, and the package of carnitas (shredded). Add one to one and a half cups of chicken broth to desired consistency. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and enjoy! You can add a dollop of sour cream if you want, but I prefer it as is! It is also wonderful with TJ’s Tuscan Pane to dip into it.

You could also substitute pre-cooked shredded chicken meat instead of the pork.

Bierocks or Beerocks, they are wonderful by any name!

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Homemade Bierocks

Homemade Bierocks

I have been making these for nearly 30 years and they never fail to get an OMG! exclamation from anyone that tries them. When my youngest son played in Little League and we had an evening game, I would reheat them, wrap them in foil and then layers of newspaper to keep them warm and take them along for a snack. When it came time to eat, anyone within close proximity of us immediately became less interested in whether their son would make a momentous play and more interested in what in the world we were eating. The smell is almost as amazing as the taste. The ones pictured are the snack size.

There are tons of recipes for Bierocks on the net if you do a google search (also called beerocks) and most, but not all, call for hamburger and frozen bread dough. Even though it is very time-consuming I like to make my own dough (slightly sweet and salty) and use shredded beef for the filling, usually a well-marbled chuck roast.

I can’t really comment on how the others taste since I have never tried any other version and most times I wing it regarding the ingredient amounts. Basically the entire filling is comprised of beef, onion,cabbage, salt and lots of pepper. The ratios change each time I make them but somehow they always turn out the same. Such a simple selection of ingredients but it tastes amazing.

Comfort food at its best!

Lemon Creme Dream Bars

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Lemon Creme Bars Recipe

Lemon Creme Bars

Lemon Bars are a favorite in our household and I have a recipe that I have tweaked and used for years. We all love it. When I have a sure-fire hit I am always hesitant to try another version. Why mess with success? However, in this case I am SO glad I did. Everyone agreed that the recipe was amazing (and VERY rich). The filling is more of a custard filling than my lemon bar recipe so it is not a replacement, but it is a very excellent alternative.

The original recipe is here and I altered it very little. I used Meyer lemon juice and unsalted butter and found it lemony enough without the lemon extract. I also pressed the bottom layer of crumbs very gently. When it was firmly pressed it became like granite to cut after being chilled.

My “Go To” easy comfort food

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Dump Soup

We all have our favorite foods to help cure the ails of cold and damp weather. This is one of my family’s favorites. I especially love how quick it comes together and how easy it is to modify to suit your tastes or what you have on hand. With soup weather quickly closing in on us, I thought it was a good time to share the recipe with you.

It originated from a recipe I found years ago but can no longer recall where or what it was called. I have changed and added to it many times and generally make it with whatever I have on hand. I have made it both with ground turkey and ground beef for ease of preparation, but if you are vegetarian it would still be great without meat I believe. I have added diced potatoes, cooked pasta, rice, and sliced cook carrots if I have them on hand, just to name a few of the add-ins I have tried. I have substituted other canned soups, types of beans, and used frozen or canned corn. No matter what I do it has been a winner, and like so many other comfort foods it is even better on the second day.

Pantry Pleasing Crockpot Comfort Soup (converts easily to vegetarian)
1 pound lean hamburger or ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped (I like to use fresh but have also substituted chopped garlic in a jar)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste (I generally don’t add pepper if I use Rotel tomatoes, but I add 1 tsp salt.)
2 cans minestrone soup (I usually have Progresso on hand)
1/2 can corn or equivalent amount of frozen, (I have made it with both drained and undrained)
1 can Rotel original tomatoes with peppers
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans beans, not drained (basically whatever I have on hand, pinto, black, small white, Ranch-style, etc. but I use two different beans for variety. Personally I like the addition of a can of Ranch Style beans as one of the beans)
1 cup water

If you are adding meat, cook it breaking into small pieces and drain the fat. Set aside. Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil. Add the meat, onion and garlic and remaining ingredients to your crockpot. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Be sure you have a wonderful loaf of french bread on hand to sop up the last drops. Enjoy!