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Puttin' on The Mitts: Foods to wrap you in comfort

Even though the temperatures have been unusually warm for this time of year, once we enter the fall season, I automatically start to crave and want comfort foods, even if it is 65 degrees.

Mixed Mushroom Shepherd's Pie
Mixed Mushroom Shepherd's Pie
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Even though the temperatures have been unusually warm for this time of year, once we enter the fall season, I automatically start to crave and want comfort foods, even if it is 65 degrees.

No matter what time of year, there's something to be said for pasta dishes, especially when they're smothered in cheese. To me, pasta is satisfying, comforting and fulfilling. That's everything you want this sour cream noodle bake to be.

I discovered this recipe via social media. A few of my friends shared it and the picture caught my eye.

After reading the ingredients, I knew I wanted to give it a try. Once I tasted it, I was sold. It's similar to lasagna in that it's layered but it changes things up with some sour cream and green onion. The combination adds a great pop of flavor. It's creamy, saucy and cheesy. That's comfort in a dish right there!

 

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SOUR CREAM NOODLE BAKE

(from Ree Drummond, "Pioneer Woman," FoodNetwork.com)

  • 1 1/4 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper
  • 8 ounces egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 cups small curd cottage cheese
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions (less to taste)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Brown the hamburger.

Drain the fat, add the tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and plenty of pepper.

Stir and then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Boil the egg noodles until al dente.

Drain and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the sour cream and cottage cheese.

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Add plenty of pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Add to the noodles and stir.

Add the green onions and stir.

Layer half of the noodles in a baking dish.

Top with half the meat mixture and then sprinkle on half the shredded cheddar.

Repeat with noodles, meat and then a final layer of cheese.

Bake until all the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.

--DeLynn

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OK guys.

Reason No. 1 for why comfort food is a good plan right now: it might snow tonight.

Reason No. 2: Maybe you have the post-election blues.

Reason No. 3: You don't really need a reason-do you?

Sometimes warming, savory and starchy foods are just the key to putting a smile on one's face. Shepherd's pie could not be a more quintessential example of said comfort food, in my opinion, although I'm certainly committing some kind of blasphemy with my meatless, mushroom-based version here.

I take several departures from the traditional British meat pie, actually. Inspired by a recipe from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Deborah Madison, I incorporated turnips and goat cheese into the mashed potatoes, using turnip greens in the mushroom filling.

It's important to mention there are two somewhat expensive ingredients as written-the dried mushrooms and the goat cheese. If preferred, leave the dried mushrooms out of the recipe entirely and substitute mushroom, vegetable or meat stock for the soaking liquid. If you've never used them before and don't mind dropping the cash, I highly recommend including them. They add a depth of flavor that's difficult to acquire through other means. You could also substitute sour cream or cream cheese for the goat cheese if desired.

Just as with many layered casseroles-and with many of my from-scratch recipes, admittedly-this dish is somewhat labor intensive. But that's my style. I enjoy project cooking and trying new things, and I hope I've inspired you to do the same.

This recipe makes a wonderful vegetarian main dish served with a salad, but would also be outstanding as a side dish with beef, pork or the Thanksgiving turkey. You'll feel proud once this golden, creamy and satisfying dish comes out of the oven. As always, feel free to add 1 pound roasted or cooked ground meat of your choice in place of half of the mushrooms.

 

MIXED MUSHROOM SHEPHERD'S PIE

  • 1 ounce dried chanterelle mushrooms
  • 20 ounces Yukon gold potatoes, washed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 20 ounces turnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 16-ounce bag chopped turnip greens
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 large shallot or 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise and sliced in half-moons
  • 3 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 1/2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups reserved mushroom soaking liquid
  • 1 cup broth or water
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan

 
Start bringing to a boil about 2 1/2 cups water in a small saucepan and a large pot about half full.

Once small saucepan is boiling, remove from heat.

Submerge dried mushrooms in boiled water and set aside for a half hour or more, until softened.

Remove mushrooms and chop finely, reserving 2 cups soaking water.

When large pot is boiling, salt the water and put the turnip greens in.

Return to a boil and turn down heat to a simmer, partially covered, for about 45 minutes.

Drain greens and chop once cooled.

FOR MASHED POTATOES:

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cover the potatoes and turnips in cold, salted water.

Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, until vegetables are cooked through.

Reserve 1 to 2 cups potato cooking liquid and place potatoes and turnips in a large bowl.

Mash them roughly with a potato masher or fork, or use an electric mixer. (Be careful not to overmix, or potatoes will become gluey.)

Add all the goat cheese and potato cooking liquid, 1/2 cup at a time, until desired consistency is achieved, and taste for salt.

FOR FILLING:

Heat cooking spray in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add shallots, carrots and celery and saute for 7-10 minutes, until softened.

Add the sliced fresh mushrooms and continue to saute for 3-5 minutes more.

Add the chopped garlic, chopped dried mushrooms and chopped turnip greens, cooking for 2-3 minutes more.

Turn the heat down to medium and add flour, stirring to coat.

Add the mushroom liquid and broth or water, bringing to a simmer.

Simmer and stir until mixture thickens into a gravy. Remove from heat and taste for salt.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (if making all at once, otherwise the pie can be assembled a day ahead).

Spray a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Pour filling into baking dish.

Scoop the mashed potatoes in small scoops across the top of the filling and spread to cover.

Bake for 15 minutes on the center rack of the oven, uncovered.

Sprinkle the potatoes with Parmesan and bake for about 40 minutes more, until potatoes are browned.

Allow to cool on a baking rack for 15 minutes or more, and serve.

Makes 10-12 servings.

-- Chelsey

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Related Topics: RECIPESFOOD
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