TASTE: Hearty food, bold flavors and cravings | Free sharing

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Mmaybe it’s the cold weather. Maybe it’s because we’ve been stuck indoors lately. Or maybe it’s because drive-through dinners, meal subscription services, or leftovers lying around in the freezer have lost their appeal. Sometimes hearty foods that warm our bellies and satisfy our hunger are what we crave.

Italian beef bread

A savory and savory twist on the family’s favorite meatloaf, fresh mozzarella elevates the overall flavor of this Italian-inspired version.

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained of oil and chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

½ teaspoon freshly minced garlic

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup fresh breadcrumbs (use Italian, wheat or French bread)

½ cup seasoned croutons, crushed

1 (8 ounce) ball of fresh mozzarella, chopped

1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce, divided

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

2.25 pounds lean ground beef, uncooked

In a large bowl, combine the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, onion, garlic, eggs, breadcrumbs, crushed croutons and chopped Mozzarella cheese. Stir in ½ cup tomato sauce and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beef and mix with your hands; season with additional S&P.

Line a large baking sheet (with rims) with nonstick aluminum foil. Place the beef mixture in the center of the skillet and shape into a large loaf. Pour ¾ cup of tomato sauce on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Remove from oven and pour ¼ cup tomato sauce on top and bake for an additional 5-8 minutes.

Optional: Sprinkle baked bread with fresh basil or grated cheese before serving.

Brunswick stew or burgoo

Burgoo is a traditional thick stew that dates back to Civil War times and is made with three meats, often including squirrel, pheasant, or rabbit, and fresh vegetables, such as peas, tomatoes, beans and potatoes. The only difference between the two recipes here is the tradition of using two meats for Brunswick stew and three meats for burgoo.

¼ cup salted butter

1 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups diced potatoes, cooked

1 can (15 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained

1 (15 ounces) creamed corn

1 (15 ounces) small diced tomatoes

8 ounces of tomato sauce

¼ cup ketchup

2-3 tablespoons hickory flavored barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

¼-½ teaspoon hot sauce

¾ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon of salt

2 cups frozen lima beans (optional)

To make the Brunswick stew: Use a total of 2 ½ pounds of cooked chicken and pork (combined) (use leftover cooked chicken or roast chicken; I buy a pound of pork from a local barbecue restaurant.)

To make Burgoo: Use both meats above and add 1 lb of lean beef tips to the recipe.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat; add onion and garlic and cook until tender. For the burgoo, increase the heat and add the beef tips to the pot with the onions and garlic and cook until tender. Stir in cooked chicken and pork, cooked potatoes, corn, tomatoes, tomato sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, pepper, salt and lima beans. Reduce heat and cover; simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

To note: I microwave the potatoes (lightly cooked but not soft inside), remove the skin and dice.

Sesame Honey Chicken with Peppers and Pineapple

Cooking with friends is so much fun! Recently we were invited to cook with our friends, Sherri and Tim, and we made this Joanna Gaines inspired recipe as our main course.

8 skinless chicken thighs (at least 2 pounds total)

½ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup of honey

4 tablespoons salted butter, melted

1 cup ketchup

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 ¼ cup red pepper strips (1 large)

2 cups diced fresh pineapple

1 ¼ tablespoon sesame seeds (lightly toasted)

Fresh parsley to garnish

cooked white rice

Position the top oven rack so that it is within 6 inches of the broil element. In a bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar, honey, melted butter, ketchup, and minced garlic until combined, and set aside.

Place chicken thighs on a baking sheet; drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (or to taste). Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place the peppers and pineapple along the sides and ends of the pan. Baste the chicken with ¾ cup of sauce and bake for 12 minutes.

Turn oven to broil and broil until chicken begins to char slightly, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove skillet from oven and transfer chicken, peppers and pineapple to serving platter; toss with ½ to ¾ cup of the remaining sauce.

Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds and chopped parsley. Serve with cooked rice and any remaining sauce.

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