Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Simple (Cheap) Comfort Food

I've been told that my cooking is intimidating.  And I've noticed a certain tendency amongst my friends and family to look to me when cooking as if I were a food wiki.  Apparently it's thought that I eat divine, complicated foods all of the time.  This is simply untrue.  I want to tell a quick tale of a wife who didn't really know how to cook much.  Who taught herself out of sheer determination (and more than a little desperation).  But also learned to fake it till I can make it.  My husband couldn't cook either, and his parents hadn't been huge cooks so it was easy to please him with basic home cooked things like spaghetti with meat sauce using jarred pasta sauce and a roast that I could only make after getting extremely detailed instructions from my maman and praying I didn't mess it up.  (we won't mention the overly salted noodles and gravy I made while we were dating because dear maman failed to mention the necessity of diluting the broth.)  

So as a newlywed I made things that were simple, easy, and my husband would eat, including sausage boats that we made in college.  Basically it's this:  take smoked sausage, top with boxed mashed potatoes, shredded cheese, and bake until heated.  We normally had this with a green veggie.  Tonight I made it for the first time in a long time, and I'm going to show you how!  It's super easy, can be done in parts, and tastes delicious.
I didn't use boxed mashed potatoes this time.  We had 4 small potatoes from our CSA left, so I threw those in the oven to bake at 400F for a few hours while we went for coffee and to the store for fruit.  We came home and they were pretty dang done.  Soft, easily smashable, and I didn't have to do much.  I figured baking would leave more nutrients than boiling anyway (my Irish ancestors are gasping....we seem to boil everything!).  I hand mashed them, added a couple tablespoons of butter and some half and half (we're out of milk).  A dash of garlic powder, some salt, some parsley and they were smelling pretty tasty. 
We used turkey kielbasa from Trader Joes (I really should become their spokesperson), and cut it into 4 parts.  Then took each part and cut down the middle, just until the end (so it opens up).  Plop the potatoes on top, take some shredded cheese (G grated some aged British cheddar) and sprinkle, covering the top of the potatoes.  Put into oven to heat.
We ate it with brussels sprouts.  If you're new, please visit this post on how we cook them and why they are so good we sometimes fight over who gets more.  No, I'm not kidding.  They're super duper delicious!  I also slices some of the last tomatoes of the season that we've had ripening in a brown paper sack from our CSA.
It was the perfect, simple, comfort food.  And here's the breakdown of why it's not only good for you food and delicious, but also affordable:

*Turkey Kielbasa:  $3.99, split into 4 servings
* Potatoes: estimated at about $0.25 a serving
*Cheese: $3.99, used about half for 4 servings
*Brussels Sprouts: $3.49 for stalk, used 1/2 for 4 serving
*Tomatoes: about $1 for 2 servings
*Seasoning and oils I had on hand

*TOTAL: less than $2.75 a serving!  You can't eat that cheap even at McDonalds!

So hopefully I've convinced you that comfort food can be a little different, really tasty, and completely affordable!  And it will look impressive, I promise:


  1. That has 'comfort' written all over it! My husband would love that meal (sans the Brussels Sprouts, which I would gladly finish for him).
    I love finding inexpensive ways to eat well. Thank you for this idea.

    Now I'm hungry....

  2. I miss our sausage boats nights.

  3. Um, Can I marry you!!??! lol

    I only wish I had the time, ability oh ya, and desire to cook.

    Looks and sounds Delish!!

  4. I didn't know brussel sprouts came that way. Just this week I've seen at the grocery store got some them. The way you made them makes me want to try some soon! Love the post!

  5. I love simple cooking. Sometimes it is the best.

  6. You crack me up! Aged British Cheddar... that's as simple as you get... ;D

    I kid. Your husband is lucky to have you.


  7. p.s. I forgot to tell you that when I saw your blog title in my reader I mentally pronounced it correctly! Woo Hoo - I have been trained well. :)

  8. Adrienne, my daddy hates brussels sprouts, but after telling him about these he said he might be willing to try them. They're unlike anything I've ever tasted, and even good cold the next day! The trick is to keep them a little firm.

    Heather, thank you!

    T, Me too. Perhaps next time you're in town?

    Ashley, ha! Thanks!

    Ping, Yep, I hadn't seen them that way until the markets in England. I think it's quirky though and makes me want to buy them in season.

    Bobbi Janay, you said it!

    Kaira, :P And congrats! We'll have you speaking French in no time!

  9. Oh double yum. I like the sound of sausage boats I love brussel sprouts cooked well too. I normally steam until still crunchy and bright green, then toss in extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. But then I do that to all vegetables (apart from salad of course).

  10. Oh look at those brussels sprouts!!! I love them roasted with garlic, like, I eat the WHOLE pan!!!!