All the snowy, cold weather we had not long ago left me in search of warm, cozy recipes. And just watching the news of all the blizzards in the rest of the States leaves me bundled up by the fire!
This past week, I made a large pot of Chili, a large pot of Beef-Barley Vegetable Soup, and a casserole of creamy, cheesy Enchiladas; all great dishes for staying inside and watching the snow and ice, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes! And there was plenty of all of that throughout the world!
The good thing about living in the South is that even though snow and ice (mostly ice) may come in roaring like a lion and cripple our activities, it is just a day or so before it is gone; however, the cold lingers around longer than I prefer.
Anyway, I am craving “comfy” foods. Foods that smell up the whole house as they cook and make you feel good all over! Foods that, after you have eaten them, you get the warm, comfortable feeling you used to get after a large family meal at Grandma’s house with all the brothers, sisters, and cousins. Foods, that as a child, your mom would cook just for you when you were ailing with a cold or the flu. You know – those foods. And this week, I have two delicious recipes for you!
One of the best foods for stirring up some of those emotions is bread. I don’t bake too many breads these days, even though I have a very nice bread machine that enables making a loaf dummy-proof. It is just easier to pick up a loaf at the local bakery. However, I do have a great recipe that I want to share, and by the way, have recently made. And yeah, it was yummy and smelled up the whole house with its goodness!
This bread is wonderful, hearty bread you can serve with just about anything – even if you just toast it and slather butter all over it. It’s healthful too, with all the oats and stuff. You can make it even healthier by using an artificial sweetener (like Truvia) and a heart-healthy butter substitute.
The second recipe is one that my sister, Kathy, made for my mother one day last week, and then my mom shared it with me. It is another comfort food casserole.
Kathy didn’t have a particular name for it other than Chicken Noodle Bake, which sounds ok, but we decided that if we named it after the type of pasta that you used, then it would sound more exciting. So, since she used Campanelle, which is a small tuba shaped pasta, then the perfect name would be Campanelle Chicken Bake. That sounds much more interesting, huh? Regardless of the name, it was a delicious casserole.
I wrote an article about the sweeteners Truvia and Stevia a few years back. These were big in the Chinese and Japanese markets and at that time, they were just making their way into the American market. There were no advertisements and the only places you might possibly find them was in health food stores. Both remained somewhat anonymous until the manufacturing biggie, Cargill, managed to pick-up Truvia. Now you can find both of them at most any store.
So what is the difference between the two? Read on …
Stevia is either the name loosely used to refer to the stevia plant itself, or the supplements/sweeteners made from stevia. Rebiana is the name given to the best tasting ingredient of the plant. Truvia is a brand of zero-calorie sweetener, manufactured using the compound, rebiana. Truvia, manufactured by Cargill, comes from Paraguay and China, where the stevia crop is harvested. It tastes like sugar and has no after taste.
Another sweetener derived from the stevia plant, stevioside, was developed by the Japanese in the late 1970’s, and now controls about 40 percent of the sweetener market in Japan. The sweetness of stevioside lasts longer than sugar, but at higher concentrations, and has a bitter aftertaste.
That is about all, of the cozy, hearty, and sweet little facts I have right now. I’m going to take a break and go eat a slice of toasted, (heart-friendly) buttered, homemade bread!
Oatmeal-Pecan Loaf Bread Machine Recipe
1-1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons dry milk
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
Measure carefully, placing all ingredients in bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Set crust color at Light or Medium.
Campanelle Chicken Bake
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 ounces sour cream
1 can chicken broth
1 package Campanelle pasta
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded chicken
(I used the lemon-parmesan rotisserie chicken from
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Boil pasta to al dente and drain. Add all remaining ingredients except 1 cup of the cheese and mix well. Spread remaining cheese on top. Bake until bubbly and cheese has melted.
*Note: this was an excellent casserole, but when I made it, I sautéed 2 cloves garlic and one cut-up zucchini to put in mine. I have to make sure hubby eats some vegetables!
Kay Bona is a staff writer for the Hamilton County Herald and an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at email@example.com.