Posts tagged ‘mashed potatoes’

June 6, 2017

Five Rainy Day Comfort Foods

With wave after wave of rain falling this year, I want some rainy day comfort food on hand. What’s rainy day comfort food? That’s today’s exploration.
When I look outside and see a wall of clouds and soaking drizzle, I don’t immediately think ahhh I want a grilled steak. I don’t feel much like eating a salad either. A baked potato, on the other hand, sounds good. Macaroni and cheese sounds even better. Cozy, comforting food preferences seem to accompany gloomy days. But when heat and rain arrive together, my snuggly, comfort food preferences are slightly different than during a winter snow storm.

So, what are my top five comfort food choices for rainy summer days?

Grilled cheese and tomato juice
While hot soup may not sound good on a warm day, a grilled sandwich can still be appealing. In the summer, I like to top gluten-free grilled cheese with spinach or arugula & pair it with cold tomato juice instead of hot tomato soup. A Reuben sandwich also entices on a rainy day, but I rarely have the ingredients available. That means it doesn’t make the list of staples I reach for when rain is in the forecast.

B,L,T and kohlrabi pickles
Another comforting sandwich is bacon and tomato. My grandmother offered these with perfectly crisp bacon, homegrown tomatoes, and a little mayonnaise. She never bothered with lettuce. Bacon, tomato, & lettuce or avocado on toasted gluten-free bread leaves my mouth watering just typing the words. Kohlrabi pickles from the fridge served alongside add the perfect bright spot on a dreary day.
Mashed potatoes with chives
Sometimes I reach for potatoes on a rainy June day. Even though potato salad might be the expected summer preparation, I choose mashed potatoes and leave them a little chunky. Flavored with butter, a couple of tablespoons of half and half, and chives, there’s no need for the added heaviness of gravy.

Pasta with Parmesan
I always keep a package of gluten-free pasta in the pantry. While it’s cooking according to the package directions, I melt a tbsp or two of butter in a skillet or sauté pan. Then I add 1/2 to 2/3 cup of milk, half and half, or cream. I just use whatever I have handy. Once the sauce is warm and begins to bubble, I sprinkle it with garlic powder, salt, coarse black pepper, and add shredded or grated Parmesan. When it’s done, I drain the pasta and stir it into the sauce. The whole process takes less than 15 minutes and the cheesy goodness wraps your insides in comfort.

To make this dish an entrée, I add frozen English peas to the pasta during the last 5 minutes of cooking, then drain and add them to the sauce along with the pasta. If I have leftover chicken, I chop or shred it and warm it in the sauce as well. Chicken, peas, pasta, and cheese makes a complete, satisfying meal.

Ice cream, frozen yogurt, or gelato
I love ice cream any time of year, but I could live on it in the summer when it’s 114 outside and I’m afraid my tires will melt driving down the highway. Even on a rainy day, ice cream makes me feel happy. Sometimes the selection in my freezer leaves me choosing from frozen yogurt bars or black raspberry and chocolate chip gelato. That’s not a bad thing. They’re definitely cold, sweet, delicious little rays of sunshine shewing the dark clouds away.

Those are today’s five winners!

You may have other rainy day favorites – chicken and rice, Pizza Margherita, movie popcorn, or a frozen candy bar. On years like this one, it’s good to keep a few favorites on hand cause the rain keeps popping up, or more appropriately stated – pouring down, in spite of the forecast.

Maybe after our ice cream, we’ll see a rainbow! That sounds delicious.

February 22, 2014

Give Me Another KISS – The Keep It Simple Stupid Kind

A few days of cooking in a kitchen with a meager pantry selection has reminded me that Keep It Simple Stupid can be a valuable rule when cooking. If you are easily overwhelmed by long lists of ingredients or complicated techniques, save those for special occasions or for people who like to cook more than you do.

It’s possible to make tasty food with a short list of ingredients. In the past week, I made nachos, baked tilapia, pork loin roast, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, several salads, and salad dressing in a kitchen that had a pantry stocked with only salt, garlic powder, paprika, lemon pepper, Emeril’s Seasoning, and honey. The refrigerator contained ground beef, tilapia, lemons, American Cheese Singles and prepared mustard. The “chip” food group was available with a sufficient supply of tortilla chips, potato chips, pretzels, and Cheetos®.


I knew none of this in advance. I only knew I was staying with a friend who recently moved and that it was important to me to eat gluten-free, eat at regular intervals, and spend as little as possible on tasty, satisfying food. With these goals in mind, I made a stop at Whole Foods on the way from the airport. It would have been a stop at The Fresh Market, but Siri and I had a fight or two after she sent me in circles through a snow covered neighborhood with no grocery stores. During one of the grand loops, I happened to notice a Whole Foods sign.

At Whole Foods I purchased an onion, broccoli, some Yukon gold potatoes, bananas, blackberries, a quart of plain yogurt, a pint of half & half, maché, feta cheese, raw almonds, a small pork loin roast, some gluten-free pretzels, and local handmade pimento cheese. This gave me foods for breakfast and snacks for several days plus at least one meal. Satisfied that I was sufficiently prepared, I headed for a coffee shop to await my friend’s return from work.

As dinnertime approached, I became the designated preparer of host-requested nachos. Looking through the cabinet, I was concerned about my ability to pull this off without chili powder, cumin, or any kind of butter or oil to keep the meat from sticking. Nonetheless, I grabbed a large nonstick skillet, the ground beef and gave it a shot. Seasoned with salt, garlic powder, a sprinkle of Emeril’s Seasoning (not sure if it was Emeril’s Essence or Steak Rum) and paprika, then topped with American cheese, the nachos turned out surprisingly tasty and satisfying. I turned mine into a salad of sorts by serving them over maché.

The next day, my friend marinated tilapia in lemon pepper and white wine. I baked the marinated fish and served it with cheesy mashed potatoes. After boiling large chunks of clean, but unpeeled potatoes in water, I drained them then took a fork and mashed them right in the pan. I added a sprinkle of salt and enough half & half to make them moist and creamy. I ripped some American cheese slices into smaller squares and mashed them into the potatoes, stirring until the cheese melted and was evenly distributed. Yukon gold potatoes have a buttery flavor, so the lack of butter in the refrigerator went unnoticed in the finished product. The potatoes weren’t perfectly smooth or whipped, but that’s how I prefer mashed potatoes so I was happy with the result.

And so it went for the rest of the week. I made a honey mustard glaze for the pork loin roast. Yogurt, lemon juice and seasoning served as salad dressing. The broccoli was adorned with only salt. Once I knew what I had to work with, I never felt limited. In fact, there was something refreshing about the simplicity of having fewer choices. And because the flavor of the fresh ingredients varied, the food all tasted different even though the seasonings were similar.

I love complex of layers of flavor, but I love simple too. It was good to have that reminder. It always comes back to a KISS, doesn’t it?

What’s your favorite way to cook simply?


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”