Here in New England, it's almost time to turn the heat on in the house. I say almost, because for many, pride, gumption, and just plain being ornery determine how long you go before actually flipping the switch.
September is out of the question. Early October, maybe, if you have trouble with your back or knees. You're generally pretty safe confessing to warming the house to 65°F once Halloween rolls around.
No frost? Don't bother to load the wood stove, sonny. No rime of ice on the edge of the duck pond? Leave that thermostat off, junior. If you can see your breath in the kitchen, go put on a sweater. Better yet, get busy baking and cooking, and you'll be warm in no time. If right about now you're picturing Granddad in his flannels and woolens, you've got it just right.
I've already turned my heat on, and yes, been called a wimp. I guess those name callers will just have to sit out in the cold while I bake away in happiness, making our favorite fall comfort foods to share with family and friends – no mittens and gloves required at the table.
Come see what's on the menu.
Comfort food #1: Hot Popper Dip
Perfect for warming up after soccer practice or nibbling during the game, our Hot Popper Dip features roasted fresh jalapeño peppers, rich cream cheese, and perky Parmesan. It blends together in a snap and bakes up while you gather your foam finger and vuvuzela to cheer on the team. Gooooooooaaaaaaal!
Comfort food #2: Cheesy Pepperoni Bites
Craving pizza but looking for a shortcut? These Cheesy Pepperoni Bites are baking powder quick, no waiting on yeast. A bowl of soup, a platter of bites, and Netflix can be the perfect Friday night chill chaser. Unless of course you're enjoying a classic horror movie – then bring on the chills, and a good Chianti.
Comfort food #3: Soft Bread Sticks
While chatting with my brother's lady love the other day, she mentioned that "he'd be happy with a plate of bread and a bowl of pasta sauce for dinner." And here I thought I was the black sheep of the family. Who knew we still had so much in common?
To me, a good marinara or meat sauce scooped up with Soft Bread Sticks is a perfect lazy-day meal. I'll bookmark this for sure for the next time big brother Andy and Shirley come to town.
Comfort food #4: Classic Scalloped Potatoes
You can't think of comfort food without thinking potatoes. French fries may reign supreme with summer burgers, but once fall rolls around, it's all about Classic Scalloped Potatoes. You'll be happy to know our recipe makes enough to feed a hungry dozen at least. Roast that chicken, bake that ham, and relax knowing everyone will have their fill.
Comfort food #5: Garlic-Herb Mac & Cheese
Ah-ha! And here you thought I wasn't going to mention mac and cheese! Perish the thought, and pass the pasta. If you're looking to perk up your usual side dish, try our Garlic-Herb Mac & Cheese. The bread crumb topping full of rosemary and garlic bakes to crunchy perfection, making a hearty dish you can be proud to serve at the back-to-school open house. Open house? Open wide!
OK, OK, now's your chance. I know you're itching to say "I can't believe you forgot ______." " What?! No _______ on the list?" Please, fill up the comment section below with your favorite comfort foods; we'd love to see them and share, too.
By the way, there's one dish out there that's so beloved, so classic, it has even has its own Wikipedia page. It's been around since the 1700's, but you'll never catch me making it. I've tried to like it for years with no luck; I just can't! Take a guess if you'd like – I'll let you turn on the furnace if you get it right.