Get over a loss with comfort food for fans

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Last week, I wrote about the excitement building in our house for the NCAA basketball tournament and March Madness. This week all I hear is the horrible sound of tournament brackets being shredded as the boys of the house have watched upsets far beyond their wildest imaginations. The top teams chosen to finish in the end are nearly all gone, and Scott is just hoping to come out staying ahead of his all-time loss record for the tournament.

I think it is pretty comical. What is my function in all of this, you ask? It is to provide their favorite foods as sheer comfort while they are in so much agony. The night North Carolina lost, we had the ceremonial removal of the Tar Heel flag from the front of our house like someone had passed away.

I hope you, as well as they, find some enjoyment in these recipes today.

Lettuce Wraps

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root

18 to 24 wooden skewers that have been soaked in water

Peanut sauce:

1 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/3 cup peanut butter


Boston Bibb lettuce leaves

2 cups julienned carrots

2 cups peeled, seeded and diced cucumbers

1 cup peanuts

Cut the chicken into strips. Mix the peanut oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, honey, garlic and ginger in a medium bowl. Add the chicken and mix until coated. Prepare the grill. Thread the chicken onto skewers and place on hot grill. Discard the marinade. Grill for about 10 minutes or until juices run clear. Turn frequently. Bring broth, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add the peanut butter and stir until well-blended. Arrange the grilled chicken on skewers on a platter lined with Boston Bibb lettuce leaves, julienned carrots, diced cucumbers and peanuts. Wrap ingredients as desired in the lettuce leaves. Serve with the hot peanut sauce for dipping.

These muffins are so great to make and have on hand. They keep well and are so moist you will want to have them on hand often for a treat anytime during the day.

Morning Muffins

2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups grated carrots or zucchini

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup undrained crushed pineapple

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 12-cup muffin tins with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, combine the flour with sugar, cinnamon, soda and salt. In a small bowl, mix the eggs and oil and add to the flour mixture. Stir the batter until the dry ingredients are moistened. Fold the carrots, pecans and pineapple into the batter. Stir until blended. Pour the batter into prepared muffin tins and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes before removing. Makes about 24 muffins.

In this recipe for kabobs, a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables may be used to obtain equally tasty results.

Pork Kabobs

1 pound pork tenderloin

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

4 fresh nectarines, cut into wedges

2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 onion, cut into wedges

Cut the tenderloin into 1-inch cubes. In a medium bowl, stir together the soy sauce, oil, honey and ginger. Place the pork cubes in the mixture; cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove the pork, reserving the marinade. Thread the pork cubes, nectarines, zucchini, and onion onto the skewers. Place the reserved marinade in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat to boiling; boil 2 minutes. Place the kabobs on a grill over medium-hot coals; brush with the marinade, and grill 5 to 7 minutes on each side, just until pork is done. Makes 4 servings.

This side dish is so simple to stir together, and with only three ingredients, you can keep them on hand for use in a moments notice.

Snappy Applesauce

3 cups applesauce

6 ounces sweetened dried cranberries

1 cup sliced almonds

In a small serving dish, layer the applesauce, then the cranberries, and then the almonds. Chill until serving time. Yields 6 servings.

Chicken and Broccoli Au Gratin

1/4 cup margarine

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon curry powder, more if desired

Dash of pepper

8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 (4 ounce) can sliced mushrooms

1 (13 ounce) can evaporated milk

1 (10 ounce) pkg. frozen broccoli spears, cooked and drained

1 chicken, cooked, skinned and cut into large cubes, or boneless, skinless, chicken breasts

Melt butter in skillet. Saute onions until transparent. Remove from heat. Stir in flour, salt, curry powder and pepper. Drain mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Add enough water to the mushroom liquid to make 1/2 cup liquid. Gradually stir into flour mixture in skillet. Blend in evaporated milk until smooth. Add mushrooms. Cook and stir over medium heat until sauce begins to thicken. Arrange broccoli spears and chicken on bottom of a 13-by-9 inch baking dish. Pour sauce over top. Top with shredded cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until bubbly around edges. Cool 15 minutes before serving. Yields 6 servings.

Quick Beef Stroganoff

1 pound round steak sliced diagonally as thin as possible into 1/8 by 2-inch strips

1/4 cup margarine

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 (4 ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained

1 can condensed beef broth

1 cup dairy sour cream

2 1/2 tablespoons flour

Trim fat from meat. Cut into strips diagonally across the grain. Brown meat and onions quickly in margarine. Push meat to one side of skillet and add mushrooms. Cook 1 minute. Add broth and heat just to boiling. Blend sour cream and flour together in separate bowl. Gradually blend sour cream and flour mixture into skillet, stirring until mixture thickens. Season to taste. Serve over hot buttered noodles or rice. Yields 4 servings.

I hope you find some usefulness in this variety of recipes today. Sometimes it is fun to just open up the recipe drawer and see what pops up. As you try new recipes or rediscover old favorites, be sure to send those in to share with other recipe collectors and regional cooks.

Until next week, happy cooking.

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