Friday Link Love: Comfort Food

Chicken and Dumplings

Sweet Kolaches

Candied Walnuts

This chicken…no words

A sandwich built for comfort

Clever take on chicken parm

Pumpkin + Cornbread…need I say more?

Pizza, Pizza!

Chili Goodness!

Speechless…

Happy Friday my loves!
So, as I mentioned last Friday I woke up really sick. I NEVER get sick, but when I do, it’s once a year, usually around the beginning of Fall when the pollen/crap in the air count is higher than the sky. Anyway, I was just waiting to get sick, and BAM, like a stealth bomber…I got hit! Luckily, I was only down for two days. If you know me I always have to be on the go, so being confined to my bed for more than two days is like an anxiety attack just waiting to happen. The only upside to being sick is that I definitely had the chance to catch up on my sleep, watch re-runs of Real Housewives of New Jersey online, and my favorite, live off of warm “sick foods.” I associate sick foods with anything comforting, usually a big bowl of chicken noodle soup, a stack of saltine crackers about a mile high, and nearly burnt toast with a heaping tablespoon…or two of butter. I was definitely in sick heaven. Also, big shout out to Jason’s Deli for making one of the best chicken noodle soups I have ever had in my life (the girl at the to-go register was staring at me like I was going to kill over…of course I didn’t help the situation when I stumbled in to Jason’s around 11 in my pajamas and holding my stomach like I was going to faint…what can I say? I was sick!). Moving on, there is a chill in the air this morning and I feel like Fall is actually on it’s way here to Texas, but then again I could definitely be wrong and next week we could be back in the 100’s with no rain, griddling eggs on the pavement. With Fall around the corner I am taking out my stretchy pants because to me Fall screams comfort food! I am telling you, there is nothing better than a bowl of chili on a cold Fall day while watching the leaves change colors. Well, maybe that’s just me, then again…chili in Texas is like the ultimate comfort food. For this Friday Link Love I would enjoy nothing more than to pay homage to, you guessed it, my Top Ten Comfort Food Dishes. Bring on the chili and pass the cornbread, I am ready! I hope y’all are too!

Top Ten Comfort Food Dishes:
1. Chicken and Dumplings by The Pioneer Woman: I know I said I love Chicken Noodle Soup, but Chicken and Dumplings is a close second for one of my fave comfort foods. My grandma pretty much makes the best Chicken and Dumplings and I know to request just that when I visit on a cold day. I mean c’mon who doesn’t love hearty chunks of stewed chicken in a slightly creamy broth with yummy veggies and o yea…did I mention the heaping lumps of homemade dumpling dough that simmers in the pot until moist perfection? Heaven! I really love this take on Chicken and Dumplings by The Pioneer Woman b/c she uses apple cider in the broth…how innovative, then again, she is Ree Drummond and she does no a thing or two about comfort food!
2. Kolaches by Homesick Texan: Okay, so I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I am part Czech…this comes from my mother’s side of the family. It’s not that I am biased or anything, but the reason that I never talk about Czech food is because I am not accustomed to having it as often, and have never really been taught how to make it. However, I would love to learn. Those Czech’s, like Italians, know how to throw and party and have a good time. My grandmother, or my Mawmaw, as I call her knows how to throw down a mean homemade po’boy sandwich. Now, that is not necessarily Czech food, but what I am saying is the woman has mad kitchen skills and one thing that we have always connected on is the topic of food. I enjoy listening to her stories about her mother, my great grandmother, who I hear was one bad mamma jamma in the kitchen, cooking up Czech specialities, and most notably kolache’s. Now, as a child I knew one kolache, and one kolache only, that was the Big Earl at Shipley Donut’s, which is basically an oversized piece of sausage with melted cheddar cheese that has been wrapped in a dense blanket of dough for the handheld taking. On occasion, this was my breakfast fuel as a child on my way to school. Don’t get me wrong, Shipley’s definitely knows how to make some pretty fantastic kolaches, but nobody, and I mean nobody, does kolache’s as well as the Czech’s do kolache’s. I may have spoken before about my favorite place to get kolache’s in Texas, it’s this place called Hruska’s Store and Kolache Bakery , located off of Hwy 71 in Ellinger, Tx. Now, i frequent this place on my travels back and forth to Houston to visit the fam. The first time I stopped at Hruska’s, it was to fill up the car with gas. Little did I know that I was about to walk into a convenience store with a full bakery that had been making up kolache’s since 1912. I love the scenery at Hruska’s, you walk into a convenience store with tables lined up against the windows where the local Knights of Columbus men sit and enjoy their hot coffee, fresh kolache, read the local newspaper, and occasionally heckle the old women behind the counter. You feel right at home as you walk into the store and are greeted by the cashiers with a good ole’ “Welcome, y’all!” Then, you stop, and take in a breath of those sweet smelling kolache’s that are baking off in the oven. Your plan may have been to stop off for some gas, a restroom break, and a soda, but instead, your feet take you over to the bakery counter, where you encounter huge glass cases filled with fresh baked kolache’s, some sweet, some savory. The best part is the old women behind the counter, who look like they have been baking up these homemade treats their entire lives. Seriously, I just think of these women as my other grandmothers, their hospitality is priceless, it’s always the same sweet, alluring tone of voice, “Can I get you something, dear?” and I reply, “Well, watcha got that’s fresh?” The first time I said this the lady helping me burst into laughter, and said “Hun, everything here is always made fresh.” So, naturally I took a dozen of my own mixture of kolache’s. My favorite are the sweet, fruit filled kolache’s, particularly the apple variety, but really, they are all just as good! Don’t forget to load up on some homemade cookies while you are at it (hey, you might need a little snack later, right?). Kolache’s are one of my favorite comfort foods, and a perfect breakfast treat for Fall that will warm your heart from the inside out! I cannot wait to learn how to make these!
3. Brown Sugar Rosemary Walnuts by 101 Cookbooks: Now, I know what you are thinking…what, walnuts as a comfort food? C’mon now, Chelsy, puh-lease! What you don’t know, is that any nut that is coated in a glaze of brown sugar and rosemary, tossed with sweet dried figs, and roasted in the oven can surely be one of the best comfort foods around. I love any type of candied nut…I still long for the days where I visited New York. I trotted up and down the Avenues in the below zero temperatures, constantly in search of something to keep me warm. Coffee was definitely not doing the trick, and then I stumbled on a quaint little street cart called “Nuts for Nuts” (little did I know, there were several of these carts in NYC). The sweet smell of roasted nuts was so alluring, it practically carried me over the cart where I was greeted by a nice Spanish speaking man. Anyway, between the language barrier I was able to sway him with my “just because I ain’t from New York doesn’t mean I don’t know how to lower the price” Southern charm and I walked away with two large bags of roasted honey glazed pecans, 2 for $5, thank you very much, that’s how we do it in Texas, y’all! Anyhoo, I add candied nuts to just about any salad that I make and I would suggest that you do the same, or you could just eat them alone. But however you do it, do it now!
4. Chicken al Mattone by The Parsley Thief: I don’t know about y’all, but I am a sucker for chicken, especially roasted chicken. There is nothing like coming home after a long day at work and being greeted by the smell of a roasted chicken coming from the oven. It is pure comfort, screaming for a side of mash potatoes just to make it that much better. But this chicken stands alone, no need for the mashed potatoes, me and this chicken will do just fine by ourselves thank you very much. All I need is a fork and knife and I am ready to go to town. This recipe for Chicken al Mattone translates into Chicken “under a brick,” which is the method that is used to cook the chicken. It can be done on the grill outside, or in a pan on the stove, but however it is done, this is the way I want my chicken from now on! So, moist, so fragrant, so buttery, OMG I can taste it already!
5. Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Sandwiches by Ezra Pound Cake: So, I don’t care what anyone says, but I love goat cheese, it’s tangy, and creamy, and paired with warm, grilled vegetables, toasted ciabatta bread, and drizzled with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette, you can’t go wrong! Mangia!
6. Gluten-Free Chicken Parmesan by Espresso and Cream: This is for you Leslie! Chicken Parmesan is an awesome Italian chicken dish, that is usually coated in breadcrumb/Parmesan cheese/seasoning mixture and pan-fried. With each bite you should savour a slightly crisp exterior from the crust and a moist, succulent chicken. Top with a homemade tomato sauce and you have reached perfection. I like mine with extra Parmesan on top. This, however, is a perfect gluten-free rendition and I will be creating my own version soon enough.
7. Pumpkin Cornbread by Sugar Crafter: Pumpkin+Cornbread, I mean, How could you go wrong? The flavors of fall mixed with the traditional flavors of a dense southern cornbread, give me a hearty bowl of chili and I will go to town! This is the ultimate comfort food!
8. Chili Con Carne by Simply Recipes: Beans or no beans, that tis the question! However, you like your chili (I prefer mine w/out beans, that’s just how we do it down here in Texas y’all), there is nothing better than a hot bowl of steaming chili loaded with ground chuck, hearty tomatoes, fresh chili peppers, garlic, and maybe a slab of bacon (at least this recipe calls for it). Don’t forget the fixins’, shredded cheddar cheese, red onion, and a dollop of sour cream if you like. I eat mine with tortilla chips!
9. Tomato Basil Pizza by David Lebovitz: I always say the thinner the crust, the better! To me, pizza is one of the best comfort foods around, especially when it’s done right. I am not talking about Domino’s here people. It’s gotta be that perfect balance of thin crispy crust, fresh tangy tomato sauce, warm melted cheese, and seasoning that together makes for a rock star combination. David Lebovitz definitely knows how to achieve that perfect balance with this pizza recipe.
10. Stuffed Poblano’s by Martha Stewart: You know I couldn’t talk about comfort food without including a Mexican inspired dish. That just wouldn’t be right. Anyway, roasted poblano peppers +black beans+ cornmeal mixture+ roasted tomatoes+shredded Monterrey Jack cheese= you get the picture, right?

MANGIA!!!