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Cool weather, warm dishes bring back memories of childhood

Cool weather, warm dishes bring back memories of childhood

BBQ Pork Mac 'n Cheese

POSTED October 1, 2013 10:28 p.m.

Autumn is here and along with those cool, crisp days comes a craving for something warm and delicious.

Comfort food goes hand-in-hand with cool weather. Something about seeing the trees change colors ignites flashbacks of childhood days spent playing outside up until the very last ray of sunshine and mom yells "dinner time!"

Because comfort food is synonymous with childhood memories, the actual dishes that evoke warm feelings vary, depending on where one grew up and the type of food mom or dad cooked.

My comfort foods include, chili (no noodles), homemade spaghetti sauce with lots of garlic and baked apples topped with cinnamon. One whiff of a bubbling pot of chili or marinara sauce and I'm back at my childhood home in Indiana.

The following are a few comfort food recipes to try, but if they don't stir up those memories, then make sure to call mom or dad and ask for the secret to their signature dishes!


BBQ Pork Mac n' Cheese

Yield: 6 servings, plus extra pulled pork as leftovers

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 8 hours and 10 minutes (8 hours in slow cooker)

2-3          pounds pork shoulder, cut into 3 pieces

1              (18-ounce) bottle BBQ sauce

                Kosher salt

12           ounces macaroni or other small pasta

1              tablespoon olive oil

1/2         red onion, finely chopped

3/4         cup half and half

1 1/2      cups shredded Fontina cheese or white cheddar

                Black pepper

Place pork shoulder and sauce into slow cooker. Cover and place on low heat for 8 hours.

Using two forks, shred pork while still in slow cooker. Once shredded, let rest in slow cooker with remaining sauce.

Bring large pot of heavily salted water to boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water and drain pasta.

Return pot to stove over low heat and add olive oil. Once oil is warm, add onion, season with salt and cook until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in half and half. When mixture just begins to simmer, add cheese and whisk until smooth.

Once cheese has melted, add pasta and stir to coat. If macaroni and cheese seems thick, add few tablespoons of reserved pasta water and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Evenly distribute pasta in 6 serving bowls and add serving of pork on top of pasta and serve. Reserve extra pork for leftovers.

Serving suggestion: An arugula or spinach salad is a fresh accompaniment to savory macaroni and cheese. 


Note: You can also use your favorite pre-packaged pulled pork in lieu of making it in the slow cooker.


Hearty Chili

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

                1              pound ground beef

                1              medium onion, chopped

                3              celery ribs, chopped

                3              garlic cloves, minced

                3              cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes with green peppers and onions

                2              cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

                1              can (14.5 ounces) beef broth

                1              can (6 ounces) tomato paste

                2              tablespoons brown sugar

                2              tablespoons chili powder

                1              tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

                2              teaspoons ground cumin

                1/2         crushed red pepper flakes

                                Cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)

In large saucepan, cook sausage and ground beef over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add onion, celery and garlic. Cook and stir for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes, beans, broth, tomato paste, brown sugar, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, cumin and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese if you like and serve immediately.


Mini Baked Pumpkin Pie Spiced Donuts with Vanilla Glaze

Serves: 15


2              cups all-purpose flour

1/4         cup granulated sugar

2/3         cup milk

1              egg, lightly beaten

1              tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1              teaspoon pumpkin pie spice


Vanilla Glaze:

4              cups confectioners' sugar

1/2         cup milk

11/2       teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Maple Glaze:

4              cups confectioners' sugar

1/2         cup milk

1              teaspoon imitation maple flavor


Mocha Glaze:

8              ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2         cup heavy cream

1              tablespoon pure coffee extract


Preheat oven to 325°F. For donuts, spray mini donut pan with no-stick cooking spray. (If you do not have mini donut pan, use mini cupcake pan to make donut holes. You may also use an electric donut maker. Prepare as directed.) Set aside. Mix all ingredients in medium bowl until well blended. Spoon batter into prepared pan, using 1 tablespoon batter for each donut.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, for glaze, mix all ingredients in large bowl until smooth. Remove donuts from pan. Immediately coat in glaze. Place donuts on wire rack set over baking sheet or waxed paper to cool.


Heavenly Sweet Potato Casserole

Servings:  8

2              pounds (3 large) sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed

3/4         cup apple butter

2              eggs

1/4         cup heavy cream

1/4         cup honey

1/4         cup melted butter

1/3         cup brown sugar

1/2         cup pecans, chopped, optional

2              tablespoons butter, melted

Place potatoes in medium saucepan; add about 1 inch of water. Cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain very well. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 1 1/2-quart casserole with cooking spray. Mix apple butter, eggs, cream, honey and 1/4 cup melted butter. Add potatoes and beat by hand or with electric mixer until mashed and well mixed. Spoon into casserole.

Mix brown sugar, pecans and remaining butter in small bowl. Sprinkle over potatoes. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.






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