Guilty Pleasures: Comfort Foods

Comfort food may be a universal concept, even among people who eat to live rather than living to eat, but what kinds of food are comforting may vary from person to person.

There are some universals there too, of course: even the haughtiest of purveyors of haute cuisine may once in a while crave a mac and cheese.

We’d wager, though, that most folks don’t think (as we do)of raw okra first when contemplating a snack, or brussels sprouts in butter (as we also do) for a light repast.

But what is comfort food, anyway? Is it a nosh or a meal? Definitions understood by most women will differ rather sharply from those offered by most men, since even today the division of labor in the home still generally leaves food preparation in the woman’s domain.

There are many exceptions and men who cook will define comfort food much as women will: apart from its comforting and sometimes nostalgic aspects, comfort food needs to be easy to fix.

For a person who doesn’t cook, that means holding out his or her hand after someone else has fixed it, easily or not!

Let’s assume, for the purpose of this discussion, that comfort food’s ease of preparation actually involves preparation, even if preparation means unscrewing the lid of a jar (or in our case, rinsing the okra and putting it in a bowl).

Nostalgia apparently plays a large, if not completely defining, role in identifying a comfort food.

Peanut butter and jelly (we like both title components chunky, and the bread has to be whole grain), macaroni and cheese, and grilled cheese sandwiches (sometimes with sliced tomato and often accompanied by a bowl of hot tomato soup) are popular American comfort foods.

They take very little time to prepare (even if you bake the macs after their six-minute boil, the addition of simple seasonings and real cheese — not powdered cheese sauce — and the sprinkling of a bread crumb topping) and one bite can reduce the maturest matron or the most staid senior sir to blissful babyhood.

There are, of course, comfort foods that are an acquired taste, and yet enough people have acquired that taste to pin them to the general yearning map.

Dips, for example, are not necessarily a childhood indulgence, since they tend not to be sweet, but there is barely an adult that doesn’t like to dip a chip or a pretzel into something creamily savory.

Read about cheap food here.

Our most comforting discovery is the accurately named Helluva Good Dip; we’re partial to bacon horseradish and jalapeno cheddar, and we prefer to dip pretel rods.

Even a homemade dip takes but a few minutes; season some plain, unsweetened yoghurt, sour cream or a mixture of the two, then add horseradish, crumbled bacon, chopped onions, minced garlic, melted cheese, chopped tomatoes and/or bits of whatever you generally like in a dip.

One taste we have acquired is for Gjetost, pronounced yeah tohst. This is a Danish cheese byproduct, marketed in the United States by Ski Queen, that somehow tastes a lot like caramel.

It’s as rich as halva (a Jewish comfort candy — which remind us that for any Jew who didn’t somehow skip childhood, matza ball soup is comfort food plus) and should be eaten in minute amounts, to be savored as long as possible.

Kozy Shack rice pudding has won our hearts as well; rice pudding is nostalgic but before Kozy Shack released its comfortingly preservative-free product, exquisite rice pudding was mainly to be had in diners, where if one was very lucky one could also enjoy a black and white egg cream.

Heart healthy? Likely not. Soul-nourishing? Definitely!

Note how much dairy is involved in this litany of comfort foods. Perhaps this derives from the first comfort food most of us ever had: mother’s milk. Certainly that comfort involved more than mere satisfaction of hunger; it combined nourishment, satiation and affection.

No wonder so many people are addicted to food, and little surprise we turn to food when we need to feel pampered.

Is this, then, a sign of human weakness? We think not. It’s okay to love your mother, and as long as you don’t overdo it (or substitute food for other needs — be they physical or otherwise — there is nothing wrong with a bit of indulgence. You may take comfort in that!

Fun Heart Shaped Foods for Kids This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is all about love. Make your kids feel extra special by turning their meals into hearts. All you need are some heart shaped cookie cutters and you are on your way. Your kids will like it so much, that it will become a tradition for years to come.

I started it back in 1993 with my kids, and it has become a tradition ever since. Here are my suggestions for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert:

Breakfast – toast, pancakes, French toast

After making one of the above items, let them cool, and then cut out with your heart shaped cookie cutter. Shake red sprinkles onto the pancakes for a more festive flare, or add red food coloring to your pancake mixture. This breakfast is sure to be a big success.

Lunch – grilled cheese

After the grilled cheese has cooled a bit, cut out with your heart shaped cookie cutter.

If you can find a mixture of big and small cookie cutters, you can make a grilled cheese, heart tower.

This lunch is sure to delight even the pickiest eaters.

Snacks – cookies

Make sugar cookies in the shape of hearts with your cookie cutters. Let your kids decorate them with white, pink and red frosting. Be sure to have Valentine’s Day sprinkles on hand too. Not only is this a great snack, but a great activity as well.

Snacks – jello

Follow the jello jiggler recipe on your box of cherry or strawberry jello, and use your heart shaped cookie cutters. Cupids would work nicely as well.

Read about fast food here.

Dinner – quesadillas, pizza

  • For quesadillas, cut out heart shaped tortillas before baking.
  • For pizza, make heart shaped crust before baking.

Both of these dinners will make your children glow.

Dessert – brownies

After brownies cool, cut into heart shaped pieces. Add cool whip that you turned red with food coloring as the final touch. Food processors will make cooking easier.


Must Have Food Items for Low Income Families

Money doesn’t come easy for many. Many families find that the well runs dry way before their next paycheck is due. This becomes a problem when there are mouths to feed at home. Adults can starve a bit and go without a meal or two but it is the children who suffer the most.

Must Have Food Items for Low Income Families

Children have a much harder time missing meals and because their tiny bodies require so much fuel from food their nutritional level becomes easily affected and they get malnourished easily.

While it may not be easy to pull yourself above the heap of poverty and eat decently month to month, meal planning can be made easier by stocking or purchasing certain foods to keep in the home.

If you are a family struggling to put dinner on the table take a look below at some of the inexpensive foods you can stock up on and make it last.

Bread – you will find bread to be very valuable; it can be equally fulfilling and versatile. It is best purchase the whole wheat bread which is thicker, more fulfilling and healthier than the white bread.

You may be able to purchase a store brand loaf of white bread for $1.30 but the store brand wheat bread may run a bit more at around $2.29 per loaf. It all depends on where you shop but wheat bread is usually a tad bit higher in price than white bread.

It is alright if you have no choice but to purchase the white bread time and time again because it can be paired and eaten with healthier foods thus increasing its nutritional value.

You can buy bread in volumes and freeze it to keep it fresh and defrost a few slices and eat as often as you need it. Bread can be eaten all times of the day and can be toasted, warmed, grilled, or eaten fresh out of the bag.

You can eat your bread with peanut butter, peanut butter and jelly, margarine, cheese and meats, or just on the side.

  • Canned or frozen veggies – are ideal to have around the home. You may say that your children do not like vegetables but if you spice it up just right and incorporate them in other foods you might find your children gulping them down in no time.

The great thing about canned and frozen veggies is that the canned vegetables often have a lengthy expiration date and can be kept fresh for a considerable amount of time as long as they are not opened. Foods in cans that are open should be refrigerated and eaten within 3 days.

It is best to remove the contents of the can and store it in an airtight bowl as opposed to leaving it in the open can. Frozen veggies can be kept in the freezer for a considerable amount of time but can get freezer burn.

You can purchase volumes of frozen veggies and place them in Ziploc freezer bags and store them in the freezer and take portions out and defrost them whenever you need to eat them.

  • Dry Pasta – dry pasta is easy to store and easy to cook and when it is cooked it makes decent proportions.

Pasta comes in all different varieties:

  1. macaroni
  2. spaghetti
  3. macaroni shells
  4. rotini
  5. ziti
  6. fettuccine
  7. linguini
  8. tri colored
  9. wheat

Pasta can be very fulfilling when prepared with sauce and whole tomatoes and if your family eats meat you can place tiny pieces of hamburger or meatballs in there.

  • Onion and Garlic – you should purchase a handful or a few handfuls of onion and garlic (or whatever herb you like to add flavor with) to store in your fridge.

It is crucial to have some type of flavoring agent around because it will make eating the same foods over and over again more tolerable and it will spice up plain foods. A little bit of garlic and onion can give foods complete makeovers.

Onion and garlic can be kept for some time without getting old. It is advised to always cover your cut onion to keep it from drying out. Garlic takes a longer time to dry out but onions can dry out quickly. When onions dry out they lose their flavor.

You can place onions and garlic in your pasta, or on your grilled cheese sandwich. They can be sautГ©ed with almost anything. Although fresh vegetables such as pepper are nice to have around they are a tad bit expensive and usually do not last that long when cut.

  • Margarine or oil – you will need these around the home to fry and even sometimes bake your foods. You can freeze margarine and oil stays fresh for a long time. You cannot cook much food without a greasing agent.
  • Potatoes – potatoes aren’t too expensive. They taste great, are versatile, and can be easily stored. They also have a decent shelf life. Potatoes can also be eaten any time of the day and added on the side to make meals more fulfilling.
  • Peanut Butter – peanut butter is extremely fulfilling, it can be eaten any time of the day and is inexpensive. In some supermarkets, the name brand peanut butter can cost anywhere from $2-$4 depending on size.

When purchasing peanut butter try to purchase two jars of the largest size possible. Peanut butter when opened can stay fresh for some time and can last 9-12 months outside of the refrigerator. It does not have to be stored in the refrigerator.

Many families rely on peanut butter sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to keep their children’s’ hunger at bay.

  • Rice – Rice is a staple food in Asia and used by many groups and cultures of people worldwide. The great thing about rice is that it is plentiful. A small bag a rice can make a large pot of rice which can serve anywhere from 5-10 people.

Brown rice is the best rice to purchase and has a high nutritional value, and for that reason has a higher price. If you cannot purchase the brown rice you can still purchase the white rice and beef up its nutritional value by serving it with more nutritious foods such as vegetables or beans.

  • Dry beans – as with rice, a small bag of dry beans can feed plenty. Dry beans are great to stock in the home because; they are easy to store, have a high shelf life, are high in nutritional value, are not too expensive and come in many different varieties.

There are dry black and red beans, kidney beans, chick peas, peas, black eyed peas, lentils — it may take some trying out to find the kind of beans that is best for your family.

  • Noodles – Noodles are the way most college students feed themselves through college. They really aren’t that bad when eaten a certain way and are great to stock up on because they are inexpensive, easy to store, come in different varieties and have a long shelf life.

It is best to purchase the noodles such as Maruchan Ramen and Top Ramen that include the seasoning inside the package because you cam omit the seasoning and use your own or apply as much as you want to the noodles.

If you purchase the noodles with season inside (just add water) you may over water them and dull down the taste or you may find that you have made it too salty.

  • Tuna fish – tuna fish is great to keep in the home but at $.069 – $1.09 a can, can add up. It is best to purchase a couple of cans of tuna fish here and there on your shopping trips and store in the cabinets. Tuna fish has great protein in it and can be kept in the can for years before spoiling.

New Trends in Catering Are Towards Food Coordinating

Anxieties and tensions run high when advance are large enough to accommodate the services of a caterer. Events such as weddings are extremely personal and need the communication of the two participants more than anything else.

However, with other events, the need is to be anything but personal. This can lead to a great deal of confusion over whom to hire for the catering position.

Of course, one of the main problems that most even planners will face our budgetary. The economy has forced many people to try and do everything on a shoestring budget. Wise caterers have been quick to adjust their suggested menus.

Here you will find devices for easier and cheaper cooking.

They have also learned to present with in service plans and itemization of services.


Caterers I interviewed are quick to point out that they are essentially foodservice coordinators. Most people who were planning events may not be experienced in all details that go behind each catered party.

Every person that consults with a caterer should be able to get to quality and value within reason of a budget.

Itemizing a budget does not need to be an overwhelming process. Once benefits and necessary services are coordinated, a plan can go into effect. One way that an event planner can save money is to do some of the catering work.

In general, most even planners are saving money by suggesting that the event is catered but food server options are eliminated. This means that buffet style food can be presented to the guests. There are also options for a family style meal served at large tables from serving dishes.

Read about comfort food here.

Just the ‘fats’, Ma’am: Fast Food Restaurants to Keep Piling it on for 2019

We’re pigs.

Yup, America, face it and embrace it. We’re pigs. Porkers. Oinkers. Sows. Occasionally, we moo. We are animals who will pretty much eat anything put in front of us.

Who decided that we’re gluttons? U.S. fast food companies, of course

It was only a few years ago that many of the top fast food companies jumped on the health conscious bandwagon and tried to produce low calorie versions of their most popular offerings and new items that leaned toward the lean side.

Salads, low-fat unbreaded chicken, tea, fruit cups to replace French fries for kids.

McDonald’s did it, introducing grilled chicken and low-calorie iced tea to their menu. Burger King put out a grilled chicken sandwich of their own, albeit it slathered in mayo that kind of took the edge off the whole low calorie attempt.

And then there was the whole Subway and Jared Show that had people walking and eating foot-long sandwiches at the same time.

But no more. America has apparently spoken, or at least opened their mouths indicating they are requesting that something deep-fried be shoved inside. And judging by the food being offered by fast food restaurants, they’re more than happy to oblige.

There are restaurants that offer foot-long hamburgers, pizzas that come with their own appetizers built right into the crust, sodas that openly brag about the amount of sugar they contain (hello, Red Bull), coffee drinks that have more in common with candy bars than coffee.

And, of course, there is the infamous KFC Double Down sandwich, which repulsed some and made others salivate.

You know the one: two slabs of breaded chicken that take the place of the bun, between which Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and two pieces of bacon have been stuffed. It tipped the scales at 540 calories, 32 grams of fat and 1,380 milligrams of sodium.

Their “healthy” grilled chicken version mysteriously managed to have even more sodium.

Yes, the message from fast food restaurants to Americans is simple: Come and get it, you fat bastards. We know what you want. Waddle on in here and get a meal that has as many calories as you’re supposed to eat all day.

According to a recent article on new fast food items, the pretense of supplying healthy food is over.

Whether it’s our desire for heaping helpings of sodium and calories they’re responding to or some concerted effort on their part to make us want it, the viewpoint of fast food companies is clear: There’s gold in them thar bellies.

The motto of fast food companies in 2011 is apparently “Go Big or Go Home”. Sandwiches are getting bigger. Fries are getting bigger. Desserts are getting bigger. And, yes, calorie counts are also getting bigger.

Read about Catering here.

Burger King, which delivered a big “FU” to doctors and the weight conscious among us this past year with a menu that includes a Double Whopper, Triple Whopper, BK Triple Stacker and a BK Quad Stacker, is apparently trying to top itself and plans to offer the “Ultimate Breakfast”, a first-thing-in-the-morning meal consisting of scrambled eggs, sausage, three pancakes (with syrup), hash browns and a biscuit.

Enough starch to iron every white shirt on “Mad Men”. The meal clocks in at 1,310 calories, 2490mg of sodium and 73 grams of fat.

For the record, most medical experts recommend a daily calorie count of 2000 calories a day and no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day for an average adult. Which means this breakfast should be your only meal of the day. But we know that’s not going to happen, don’t we?

Dunkin Donuts plans to stick something called Pancake Bites into your mouth, which are sausage links wrapped in maple-flavored pancakes, just like mom (or rather MomCo Inc., a subsidiary of Mother Products) used to make.

Taco Bell will cross the border into breakfastland with a sausage skillet burrito, Cinnabon Delights and their own sausages wrapped in pancakes. Nothing says authentic Mexican food like a Cinnabon and a pancake-wrapped sausage.

When lunchtime rolls around (emphasis on “rolls”), BK continues the caloric onslaught with their new Funnel Cake Sticks, fried sticks of dough dusted with powdered sugar and with a cup of icing dipping sauce on the side.

Yes, that’s right: powdered sugar AND dipping sauce (11 grams of fat, 30 grams of sugar), proving once again that BK apparently hates your heart. The tagline for the new product? “Get a taste of the circus anytime, all day long.”

Exactly! Who among us has been trapped in an office meeting and thought, “You know, a seal with a ball on his nose would be perfect right now. Oh, and a funnel cake.”

Papa Johns, meanwhile, answers the age-old question, “What’s better than five cheeses and one kind of bacon?” with their new six-cheese, double bacon pizza, while drive-through burger joint Sonic will attempt to clog your arter…er, tickle your tastebuds with a Red Velvet Cheesecake Blast (“blast” being an apparent reference to the motion of your belt buckle and its progress across the room after consuming one of these).

The concoction is an amalgam of red velvet cake batter (they apparently said to hell with cooking it), ice cream, cheesecake pieces, whipped topping and more cheesecake on top of that.

Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), McDonald’s doesn’t have any McMonster Burgers in their plans (though, to many, they still have the stain of the McRib on their hands).

In keeping with their low calorie, sorta health-conscious products of recent years, they plan on adding oatmeal to their menu, which can include fresh fruit and dried cranberries. Throw in brown sugar on top and the calorie count hits a manageable 290 calories.

But these are only the new menu items they have announced to the press. Documents recently discovered in a Dumpster behind the various fast food corporate headquarters reveal a number of products that are waiting in the wings.

While we can’t verify these products are actually in the works, who knows, maybe they’ll read about them here and get to work on it.

  • Following up with the “success” of the Double Down, KFC will stick with the “life’s a gamble, eat fatty food theme” and unveil the KFC Blind Bet. Customers will simply reach into a bag of bird meat (chicken, duck, emu, ostrich and penguin) and whatever they pull out, KFC workers will fry it up and wrap it around a slice of cheese, no matter the type of meat or the amount.
  • Taco Bell will soon move north of the border as well with its new maple-flavored moose steak burrito, the Cheesey Bullwinkle Burrito. It’s a full pound of moose meat, marinated in maple syrup, covered in rice, beans and melted Ontario gouda, all wrapped in a soft tortilla. Add a cup of Tim Horton coffee for only 99 cents more.
  • *with the new Savory Sausage Donut: a Bismark filled with sausage that has been ground and mashed to a smooth consistency, then injected into a light, fluffy chocolate-covered Bismark for a taste that has been described as “indescribable” (and with other words the company has chosen not to include in its campaign).
  • Attempting to outdo Papa Johns, Domino’s Pizza will offer a new 32-cheese pizza. Rising five inches from the crust, the pie will include such non-traditional pizza cheeses as Blue Castello, Brebis du Puyfaucon, Casciotta di Urbino, Hubbardston Blue Cow, Oschtjepka and Moose milk cheese, recently announced as the most expensive cheese in the world at $500 a pound. One family sized pizza will cost a mere $150.
  • Sonic will unveil their Car Full O’ Cake. Skating carhops will roll up to your vehicle with a large hose and fill the seating area of your vehicle with a cake and whipped cream mixture, forcing you to eat your way out to survive. In test markets, the product has proven to be a hit with high school students who rent limos on prom night, with only one fatality reported.