Family-Style Comfort Foods

Family-Style Comfort Foods


by Amy Elisa Keith, September 13, 2013

Family-Style Comfort Foods

Hearty soups, roasted vegetables, savory stews: Fall has finally arrived. As the temperatures drop and the seasons change, there is no better time for some down-home goodness like Big Momma used to make.
“My mother and grandmother used to always say, ‘Boy, sit down and eat this hearty meal,’” recalls Food Network chef Pat Neely. Today, the Memphis dad calls daughters, Shelbi, 18, and Spenser, 24, to the dinner table, even though they’re grown.  “Hearty meals [such as] pork chop soup, braised cabbage or the turkey meatloaf ward off colds and prepare our kids to have a strong, healthy day.”

As a working mom, Pat’s wife, Gina, empathizes with parents who are too overwhelmed with to-do lists and busy schedules to whip up a full spread on a weeknight. Gina and Pat recommend grocery shopping for the week on Saturday, using a slow cooker to cook throughout the day, and even chopping potatoes and carrots to store in plastic bags, cutting down on mid-week cook time. Although fresh vegetables are always best, the Neelys also keep frozen green beans and peas on hand as a backup they can count on. “When you buy fresh produce, it doesn’t keep as long,” says Gina, who will toss frozen veggies into chicken or beef broth for a quick soup base. “But it’s going to give [the food] a great flavor and keep the family healthy.”

Here are some cold-weather weeknight dinners to warm up the whole family:

1|BBQ Turkey Meatloaf
Serves 6 to 8

1 tablespoon Neelys’ BBQ Seasoning  (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon crab boil seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cups Neelys BBQ Sauce, reserving  cup for the top (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 pounds lean ground turkey
1 cups bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix BBQ seasoning, crab boil seasoning, soy sauce, beaten egg, 1 cup of the BBQ sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Add onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper and garlic. Sauté until tender. Remove from heat and add to wet barbecue sauce mixture.
Pour mixture into bowl with the ground turkey. Add bread crumbs, and mix all together with your hands.
Transfer the meat mixture to a cookie sheet or baking pan. Using your hands, form the meat into an oblong or rectangular shape. (Note: Alternately, you can pat the meat into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and pour  cup of BBQ sauce on the top of the loaf.)
Bake for 35 minutes. Remove and add the reserved  cup of BBQ sauce to the top and continue to bake for 20 more minutes.

2|Neelys BBQ Seasoning
makes 2 cups

1 cups paprika
cup sugar
3 tablespoons onion powder

Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir until combined. Keep in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

3|Neelys BBQ Sauce
Makes 3 1/2 cups

2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons sugar
tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
tablespoon onion powder
tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently,  for 1 hour 15 minutes.

4|Broccoli Pasta Slaw
Serves 3 to 5

pound bow tie pasta, cooked and cooled
1 (16-ounce) bag shredded broccoli slaw
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup dried cranberries
cup lowfat plain yogurt
cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
teaspoon cayenne
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Cool.
Combine pasta, broccoli slaw, slivered almonds and dried cranberries in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise, cider vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Add the dressing to the pasta mixture and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

5|Pat & Gina’s Oven Fried Chicken
Serves 8

Olive oil nonstick
cooking spray
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons salt
teaspoon ground
black pepper
teaspoon smoked paprika
teaspoon cayenne pepper
teaspoon garlic powder
1 (3-pound) chicken
cut into 8 pieces, skin removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fit a sheet tray with a wire rack and

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