More Winter-Warming Comfort Foods: Sausage Bake

Sausage bake with full sausage links.So, winter is finally here because we got snow. Everyone around us has gotten pummeled but we just got a light dusting — still, it’s the white stuff, so winter is here. With winter, as I’ve said previously, I crave comfort foods. Now, for me, comfort foods aren’t necessarily foods I had as a child, but things that are just… comforting. Some, yes, are childhood favourites and some are newer favourites that have made their way into my kitchen in more recent years.

My hubby brought home a double-pack of honey-garlic sausages from Walmart, as they were on sale for really cheap. Typically, we’ll throw those on a pan in the oven and bake them off then serve on hotdog buns. I wanted to do something else. Something not relying on the bready-buns would be preferable. So I kind of poked around the internet, didn’t find what I was looking for, then went looking through the cupboards and fridge to see what I could concoct.

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Mom’s “Hamburger Hash (stew)”, made my way

hamburger-hash-stew

This one’s an old family favourite for me. It’s one that we had very frequently as kids and I always looked forward to it. It wasn’t until recently that I said my mom, “Remember when you used to make hamburger hash for us? I used to love that and haven’t had it in years!” My mom told me she had, ironically, just made it a few days prior. So I asked her, “How do you make it??” I said, “Do you first brown the meat–?” She cut me off and said, “Oh, god no! That’s too much work!” or something very similar. She told me how she did it all those years ago and now I’m going to share with you how I made it recently for my hubby and myself.

Oh, but wait. What is hamburger hash, you ask? Oh! It’s not like a breakfast hash made with potatoes. It’s more like a ground beef stew that’s poured over mashed potatoes. When I was a kid, it was made with onion and ground beef and was in a really thick gravy. I imagine it was a favoured dish because it was relatively cheap and easy to make — which of course made it really easy to feed a family of four on a budget and without having to spend hours in the kitchen. Here’s what I did…

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Jamie Oliver-inspired cooking: slow-cooked beef stew

Jamie Oliver-inspired Slow Cooked Beef Stew in a bowlI have always made stew the same way: saute onions in some oil, then brown some flour-covered beef in batches, deglaze, add the rest of the veggies and liquid and bake for an hour or two, then try to thicken it up on the stove-top with a flour-slurry, because it just  never seemed to thicken in the oven.

I’ve never been happy with this so I’ve been poking around, looking for a better technique.

Then I stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Jools’s favourite beef stew. In it, he talks about how it’s really not necessary to brown the meat in batches, as so many chefs would have you do and that he actually prefers the taste and texture of  the stew when he doesn’t pre-brown. He simply sautes his onions, then throws in the floured, seasoned meat, the liquids, vegetables and then brings it to a boil on the stove before throwing a lid on it and forgetting about it in the oven for 3-4 hours. Let me tell you, when I followed these instructions, I preferred the outcome. The taste and texture was indeed better than any stew  I’ve made in the past and the meat was perfectly tender (it’s been tough in the past).

So here’s what I did this time around for my best ever slow-cooked beef stew…

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A hearty breakfast favourite, done a little differently: Curried Potato & Turkey Bacon Breakfast Hash

curried-breakfast-hash

I know I’ve posted a lot of dishes today. I’m trying to make up for some lost time, in truth. I’m off work this week and so Family Day seemed to be a good day to just get a little caught up. All of the posts put up today are dishes I’ve made since the beginning of the new year. I’m sorry if you’ve all been disappointed by the lack of activity as of late! Also, none of these have any nutritional data right now. I might be able to add them later. Keep checking back.

Some of these are better for you than others. Many are comfort foods. Keep in mind that my cooking is usually a balance between comfort and healthy — sometimes a recipe is more comfort-food than anything and sometimes, it’s made with healthy-eating in mind. But due to a seven-week illness, I haven’t been focusing upon low fat, low-carb, low calories or anything of the kind.

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Beef vegetable soup with a kick

Beef vegetable soup with a kick in a white bowl

We’ve had cooler weather as of late, so I’ve been craving more and more soup and stew. After having the hearty goulash soup from the Black Forest Inn upped my cravings for beef soup, specifically one I would consider to be hearty. I already had a large eye of round roast cooking in the slow cooker, so I thought why not use half of that for a soup and slice up the rest for sandwiches?

Then I considered what I wanted in the way of a flavour profile. I knew I wanted something deeper in flavour than usual and maybe something that cleared the old stuffy sinuses a bit. So here’s what I did…

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Kitchen sink… soup!

A bowl of chicken-based soup with veggies.

What do you do when you have a whole lot of bits and bobs in your fridge that need to get used up? Make soup!

I was faced with this dilemma this weekend while fighting off a bit of a bug of some sort. all I wanted was soup. So I looked around and found that I had a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but not a lot of anything that seemed useful, until I started pulling things out of the fridge. I like to call my soup creations that are made in this fashion “kitchen sink soups”. You just throw everything you have, sometimes including the kitchen sink! 🙂

Here’s what I did with this one…

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Barbecue chicken barley soup

A bowl of barbecue chicken barley soup

The summertime isn’t a usual time for soup, I’ll admit, but since I’ve been on this lower carb kick, I’ve been eating a lot of soups and stews. Avoiding too much pasta cuts out a lot of casseroles, right? So I had a pre-cooked barbecued chicken in the fridge from the grocery store. But honestly, I am not a fan of chicken noodle soup. I think I got sick too many times when I was a kid, so I’m just not a fan of one of the best home remedies in the world. I’ll eat it if I’m sick, but I’m not going to eat it “just because”.

So, I thought, why not make something heartier? Why not make something more flavourful? I still had barley in the cupboard and a lot of veggies in the fridge and freezer that could be used up. Why not? Before long, I was saying to myself, “Soup’s on!” I’ll warn that since I don’t use a lot of salt anymore, my soups are getting heavier and heavier in the seasonings department. But don’t worry, it’s worth it, and it’s not as bad as it looks.

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