Tag Archives: tasty

Comfort Foods for the Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it’s my favorite time of the year too! One of the aspects of the holiday season I love the most is simply having wholesome meals with my friends and family. For me, every meal with people I love during the holiday season is a celebration. I cook something warming and comforting, I turn on the Christmas lights, I play the Christmas tunes, and we have ourselves a merry time. So I wanted to share with you some of the comforting dishes I like to make around this time of year. Explore below!

Easy Bolognese

Bolognese 9

 

As an Italian-American, I find few dishes more comforting than pasta with a chunky red sauce. Bolognese is a classic sauce you can use for pasta, gnocchi, polenta, spaghetti squash, or by itself with crusty bread. My recipe for Bolognese is simple and warms from the soul outward.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

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This is the one to make when you are looking to impress your guests. Sweet, savory, and spicy, Stuffed Acorn Squash is an indulgent, gourmet-style dish that has everything going for it. Get the recipe here.

Butternut, Brussels, and Bacon Pizza

Butternut Brussels Bacon Pizza 1

I love making seasonal artisan pizzas. For Fall and Winter, my go-to pizza is this Butternut, Brussels, and Bacon Pizza. Truly, this is one of the best pizzas ever. This is great for a weekend night in with friends while watching a Christmas movie. Get the dough here. 

Honey Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup

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This soup is a great easy weeknight meal served with salad and bread or can be used as an appetizer course. Both sweet and savory, this soup feels very seasonal and like something you would have in a Christmasy cottage somewhere in a fairy-tale. Learn to make it here. 

Johnny’s Tomato Soup

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Sometimes, tomato soup just cannot be beat. While tomato soup isn’t the fanciest of dishes, it is often a great choice on a busy weeknight or when your guests are wanting to still eat healthy while also eating cozy. My Tomato Soup is warming, earthy, and slightly spicy and is completely vegan. I will serve this with a nice winter salad and some crusty bread and before you know it you have a full holiday meal. Get the recipe here. 

Christmas Biscotti

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I am not much of a baker, but once a year I get in the kitchen and whip up a batch of my Christmas Biscotti. These biscotti have the flavors and colors of the season with cranberries, pistachios, orange zest, vanilla, Amaretto, and dark chocolate. These are an incredibly festive dessert and are also a great baked good to bring to potlucks or even present as a food based gift. Learn to make them here. 

Whatever you decide to cook for your loved ones this year, I hope that you have a very merry and tasty holiday season!

Meatloaf Calabrese

The word “Meatloaf” often harkens traumatic images of your mom’s signature recipe for the nights where she literally didn’t give a _________ and threw some protein, carbs, and other questionable fixings into a bowl, baked it, and called it dinner.

ewwww

She’s making meatloaf again???

And so, sadly, meatloaf often gets a bad rap. I, however, can assure that not all meatloafs are created equal. I grew up on my mom’s meatloaf and always jumped for joy when I found out that she was cooking it. But of course, my mother is Italian so the meatloaf was undeniable phenomenal. Well, now you can have phenomenal meatloaf too because I am gifting the recipe to you!

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Italians do everything better.

Yummm

This is Meatloaf Calabrese. My Italian family is from Calabria in Italy (things from Calabria are called Calabrese) and this recipe comes from there. Actually, the base of this recipe is for our Stuffed Bell Peppers which are a tad more elegant. Of course, when they came to America, they created a meatloaf incarnation of the dish that was more convenient for busy American weeknights. You will notice that this recipe calls for raisins in addition to beef, red pepper flakes, and other such ingredients; so you are probably thinking, “What in the damn hell?”

raisins and beef

Raisins and beef!?

Trust me, it is delicious. Savory beef and herbs, spicy red pepper and onion, and sweet raisins and tomato all work to complement, contrast, and balance each other PERFECTLY. This meatloaf could honestly be fed to royalty and they would knight the cook.

Now, about the “recipe”. Remember when I started this blog and I told you that not all my recipes provide precise measurements because of the Italian tendency to just feel the dish out as you go? Yeah, well that applies here. This is a recipe that you just have to touch and feel, adjusting as you go. I’ve never been able to get a straight answer about measurements for this dish.

just feel it

Just touch it…

I ask, “How much tomato sauce?” The response I get is, “I don’t know, you just have to touch it and you will figure it out!” So that is what I do and so I have never found myself able to fully break down the recipe. Sometimes I find it needs a touch more this or that. I look, I touch, I feel, I sense, I am guided by my great nonna Isabella. So this recipe is for those who feel pretty confident in the kitchen and are open to a little experimenting with out provided precise measurements.

Here’s the trick though, you’ve got to cook it with love for the people you are cooking for and passion for the quality ingredients you are using to nourish your body and satisfy your soul. If you infuse the food with this love and positive energy, it’s going to turn out great no matter.

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Let me know it goes! Buona Fortuna and Buon Appettito!

Meatloaf Calabrese

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound grass-fed, organic ground beef
  • About ½ cup diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • ½ large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • About ¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices of bread
  • Splash red wine
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • ¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 zucchini shredded or 1 Portobello mushroom thinly sliced
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375̊ F.

Put the beef, tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the marinara, onion, garlic, parsley, Italian seasonion, red pepper flakes, a ¼ teaspoon of both salt and pepper, 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese, the wine, and the egg in a large bowl.

Toast the bread, lightly wet with water from the sink. Remove the crusts and squeeze the liquid out until you are left with a mushy crumble. Throw in the bowl with the other ingredients.

Mix by hand until ingredients are well combined. Add the raisins and mix again until the raisins are well distributed.

Grease a meatloaf dish with olive oil. Add ½ of the meat mixture. Layer on the zucchini or mushrooms over the meat. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella cheese over the vegetables. Add the rest of the meat mixture. Over with ¼ cup of the marinara. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese

Bake for 1 hour until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve with additional marinara sauce as desired. Enjoy!