Recipes: Easy autumn comfort foods

Easy recipes for a warm and comfortable meals on crisp Autumn evenings. Photo: Dining Delight

FORT WORTH, Texas October 1, 2013 — Temperatures are supposed to drop to the 50s overnight this coming weekend. Woo! Hoo! The mercury hasn’t been that condensed in North Central Texas for about six months.

Now that the 100+ degree days are gone Fall decorations are going up and recipes for cold weather comfort foods are coming out. We all have those special recipes from our mothers and grandmothers that spell L-O-V-E and bring back pleasant memories of crisp Autumn days and warm meals that nourish our souls.  

Savory Pumpkin Stew (photo: Ann Larie Valentine)

Exchanging recipes is a favorite hobby of mine. You learn a lot about people from what they eat. Here are three warm and easy-to-make recipes your families will love. A huge thank you goes out to my lifelong friend and fellow writer Julia Goralka who shared two of her recipes to go with mine.

To save time wash and cut up vegetables ahead of time. This way you can get right to the cooking.

Julia’s Pumpkin Stew
 2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1 in cubes
 3 T cooking oil, divided
 1 C water
 3 large potatoes, peeled & cut into 1 in cubes
 4 medium carrots, sliced
 1 large green pepper, cut into 1/2 in pieces
 4 garlic cloves, minced
 1 medium onion, chopped
 2 t salt
 1/2 t (I use 1/4) pepper
 2 T instant beef bouillon granules
 1 can (14 1/2 oz) cut tomatoes, undrained
 1 pumpkin (10-12 lbs)
 In Dutch oven, brown meat in 2 T oil. Add water, potatoes, carrots,
 green pepper, garlic, onion, salt & pepper. Cover & simmer 2 hrs. Stir
 in bouillon & tomatoes. Wash pumpkin; cut a 6-8 in circle around top
 stem. Remove top & set aside; discard seeds & loose fibers. Place
 pumpkin in shallow sturdy baking pan. Spoon stew into pumpkin; replace
 top. Brush outside of pumpkin with remaining oil. Bake at 325 for 2
 hours or just until pumpkin is tender. Do not over bake. Serve stew from
 pumpkin, scooping out a little pumpkin with each serving. Yield: 8-10



 Grandma’s Risotto

2-3 TBSP. Olive oil

1 bunch celery stalks and leaves, finely chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

½ to ¾ green pepper, finely chopped

About 6 or 7 baby carrots (or 1 whole) chopped in food processor

2 heaping spoons minced garlic from jar

1 pound ground beef

1 tsp. salt

1 cup Uncle Ben’s™ rice (Grandma made me swear I would only use this)

2 cups chicken stock, simmering

1 – 2 8oz. can tomato sauce (depending on preference)

In Dutch oven soften celery, onion, green pepper and carrots in olive oil until onion is transparent. Meanwhile cook ground beef until pink is gone, breaking up to small pieces with wire whisk; drain. Add to vegetables with garlic. Add salt. Stir with wooden spoon. Add rice. Stir. Incorporate simmering stock to mixture one ladle at a time. Stir in tomato sauce.  Turn heat to low and cover. Cook until all liquid is absorbed into rice. Serve with your favorite hard cheese such as Romano, Parmesan or Asiago.  Yield: 8 servings.

Risotto made with my grandma’s recipe (Photo: Claire Hickey)



 Julia’s Cream of Zucchini Soup

1 lb. *zucchini, cut into 1/2-in slices

2 C water

1 medium onion, chopped

1 t chicken bouillon granules (I sometimes use a Ramen Noodles packet)
1/2 t seasoned salt

2 cans (one 12 oz, one 5 oz) evaporated milk

1 T butter

In a large saucepan, combine zucchini, water, onion, bouillon and seasoned salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer 5 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Cool slightly.

If you don’t have a stick blender, use a regular blender to blend contents of pan. Cover and process soup in batches until pureed. Return all to the pan. Add milk and butter; cook and stir until butter is melted. Serve immediately or transfer to freezer container and freeze up to 3 months. Yield: 5 servings.

Cream of Zucchini Soup (credit/Wentzy)

Read more of Claire’s work at Feed the Mind, Nourish the Soul in the Communities @ The Washington Times and Greater Fort Worth Writers.

Join her on Twitter; Facebook; Feed the Mind, Nourish the Soul FB Page; Greater Fort Worth Writers Group FB Page



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Claire Hickey

Claire has held a Texas Cosmetology License, Certification in Surgical Technology and has decorated cakes professionally. She believes that life is a banquet to be experienced and wants to learn and do as much as possible while she’s here. This Stay @ Home Mom has always loved to write and thanks to the Communities @ The Washington Times has got her chance. Her curiosity and writing lead her to create her column based on “garbage in garbage out” theory to provide interesting and thought provoking pieces that enrich her readers. A proud member and Treasurer for the Greater Fort Worth Writer’s Group she is currently working on her first novel.  


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