Saturday, August 9, 2008

What are YOUR comfort foods?

Comfort Foods

by Tracy Ruckman

Saturdays are now fun days, so you’ll read many different subjects in the coming weeks. As I was thinking about the today's topic, food kept coming to mind, and I decided that “comfort food” is something we all identify with.

What are your comfort foods? Making most people's lists are mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, meatloaf, banana pudding. But one day years ago, my mom, siblings, and I were discussing our own comfort foods and I realized the only thing our lists had in common were none of our choices were the same as others!

Top comfort foods for me are:

  • my homemade spaghetti (recipe and photo below)

  • pizza - all different kinds, but I especially like thin crispy crusts with double pepperoni!

  • Chinese food from Peking Palace – specifically Moo Goo Gai Pan, Wonton Soup, and an egg roll. When I'm in Georgia visiting my boys, I try to get by Ming Moon in Cartersville - Tony makes the BEST Chinese food ever made!

  • Russia tea (recipe below)

  • My “Italy” hot chocolate (recipe below)

Hope you enjoy my recipes. Share with us some of your own comfort foods, and I may be in touch with you to share YOUR recipes!

Tracy’s Homemade Spaghetti

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion,chopped
Garlic Powder
2 cans, 14-15 oz., diced tomatoes
2 cans, 14-15 oz., tomato sauce
Salt & pepper, to taste

Brown and drain the ground beef, add onion, and cook until soft. Add the seasonings next. I purposely didn’t put amounts, because I don’t use regular measures. For the garlic powder, sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons over the ground beef and onions. Add more if you like lots of flavor. For basil and oregano, pour about a teaspoon of each, one at a time, into the palm of your hand, and crush before putting in the pot. I do this three times for each herb. Crushing the dried herbs brings out more flavor, and heating them quickly with the browning meat flavors the meat before mixing in the sauces. After the seasonings have been added, stir for a couple of minutes to mix and heat, then add tomatoes and sauce. Stir well, then cook on low heat a minimum of two hours, but three to four is even better. Longer than that, you’ll want to add about ¾ of a can of water when you add the tomatoes, otherwise the sauce will get too thick. Serve over your choice of pasta.

Grandma’s Russian Tea

½ cup instant tea (I try to get lemon-flavored, unsweetened if possible – not just sugar-free, but completely unsweet)
2 cups Tang
1 package of Country Time lemonade (or equivalent powder from canister to make 2 quarts)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix all ingredients together and store in airtight container. For each serving, place 2-3 teaspoons of mixture in cup and add boiling water. Stir until mixed well.

When I visited Venice, Italy several years ago, I chose hot chocolate for breakfast the very first morning and I was hooked. Their version was so rich, so thick, so creamy – I could ALMOST stand my spoon up in it. Every day for a week, I drank it, and when I got home, I started having withdrawals.

I searched online for recipes and went to work in my testing lab. Nothing compared. I do realize atmosphere might have something to do with it, but FINALLY, I created a version very close in taste to the original. I realize the only resemblance to the real thing is the heat, but the taste satisfies me just the same.

Tracy’s “Italy” Hot Chocolate

½ cup Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup Splenda
Heavy whipping cream

Mix the cocoa and Splenda together in a container or plastic bag to use as needed. For each cup of hot chocolate, put 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa mixture in a pot and one tablespoon of water. Stir over low heat until blended well. Add one cup (I usually measure it in the cup I’ll drink out of so the amount of milk is just right) of heavy cream for each serving, and heat to desired temperature, stirring frequently.

Hope you enjoy my recipes. If you try them, let me know what you think!

Share with us some of YOUR comfort foods in the comments below, and I may feature you and your recipes in an upcoming column!


kc said...

My comfort foods don't need a recipe. :) They are: Hershey's chocolate bar and Twizzlers. Movie theater popcorn is good, too.

Jessica said...

Man, I'm hungry.
Anything chocolate is comfort food for me.

scw1217 said...

I like anything chocolate. My mother's chocolate sour cream cake is tops! Then my grandmother's cornbread dressing and a good baked ham are on up there too!

Tracy Ruckman said...

Yep - Hershey bars are one of my faves, too. And rocky road ice cream.

I'm hungry now, too, Jessica!

Thanks for sharing!

Suzanne, maybe you can post the recipes for that chocolate sour cream cake and cornbread dressing some Saturday. (Does she use lots of sage - I put too much in mine for my family's taste, but I love it!)