By Marian Pierson


What could be better to eat in October than comfort food? Sure, Triangle temperatures are in the 60s and 70s. But chilly autumn weather is sure to move in.


Plus, everywhere you go from Raleigh to Durham, there are signs of the holiday season – Halloween pumpkins, Thanksgiving decorations and, yes, even Santa Claus stuff.


When the wind is blowing and the sky is overcast, there are very few things that can pry us out of our sweatpants. These recipes pair perfectly with fuzzy socks and slippers.



Soup Night
Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup










Pumpkin Chicken Chowder
2 tablepoons canola or vegetable oil
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves,
cut into bite-size pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken broth
2 (16-ounce) cans pumpkin purée
1 cup frozen corn
2/3 cup uncooked rice
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chicken, onions, bell peppers and garlic. Sauté until the chicken is no longer pink, 6-8 minutes.


Add the broth, pumpkin, corn, rice, basil, salt and pepper. Stir well and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.


Makes 6-8 servings




Butternut and Acorn Squash Soup
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sliced yellow onion
2 cups peeled and diced acorn squash
2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
Sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 ounces (3/4 cup) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Optional seasonings: ground nutmeg, honey, cayenne, minced fresh ginger


Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the acorn and butternut squash and sauté until soft, maybe 10 minutes.


Season the squash mixture with salt and pepper, add the broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes.


Transfer the soup to a blender and purée until smooth. For extra-satiny smoothness, pass the soup through a fine sieve after it's puréed.


Return the soup to the pot, and add the cream and the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Simmer.


Wrap the thyme in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with string to make a little bundle. Add it to the simmering soup and let it infuse for 10 minutes, then remove.


Add the cheese and mix gently until incorporated. Add optional seasonings as desired and serve hot.


Makes 6-8 servings




The Taste of Home Cookbook

Best-Loved Recipes From Home Cooks Like You
Taste of Home









Quinoa Turkey Chili
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
3-1/2 cups water, divided
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro


In a large saucepan, bring quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 12-15 minutes or until water is absorbed.


Remove from heat; fluff with a fork and set aside.


Meanwhile, in a large saucepan coated with cooking spray, cook turkey, onion, red pepper and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender; drain. Stir in chili powder, cumin and cinnamon; cook 2 minutes longer.


Add black beans, tomatoes, zucchini, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, bay leaf, oregano, salt, pepper and remaining water. Bring to a boil.


Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in corn and the quinoa; heat through. Discard bay leaf; stir in cilantro.


Makes 9 servings




Potato Sausage Casserole
1 pound bulk pork sausage
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups sliced peeled potatoes

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
Minced fresh parsley, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain and set aside. Combine soup, milk, onion, salt and pepper.


In a greased 2-quart baking dish, layer half of the potatoes, soup mixture and sausage. Repeat layers.


Cover and bake 60-65 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with cheese; bake, uncovered, 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.


Garnish with parsley if desired.


Makes 6 servings



Dishing Up Virginia

145 Recipes That Celebrate Colonial Traditions and Contemporary Flavors
Patrick Evans-Hylton









Thalhimer's Deviled Crabs
2 pounds crabmeat, special grade*
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup horseradish
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup hot sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon paprika
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


Mix the crabmeat, mustard, horseradish, eggs, hot sauce and pepper together in a large bowl. Add just enough mayonnaise to bind.


Divide the crabmeat mixture equally among eight ramekins and sprinkle each serving with 1/8 teaspoon paprika. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through and slightly golden on top. Serve immediately.


Makes 8 servings


*Special grade crabmeat: Small bits of white meat from the body cavity give flavor to baked dishes and recipes with sauces.




Brunswick Stew
1 large (4-5 pound) boiler chicken
1 large onion, unpeeled and quartered
3 carrots, unpeeled and quartered
3 celery stalks, quartered
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled and crushed
1 small bunch fresh Italian parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sea salt

4-6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
3 pounds new potatoes, quartered
2 medium onions, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups stewed or canned crushed tomatoes
2 cups prepared lima beans
2 cups corn kernels
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground red pepper
4 tablespoons butter


Make the chicken
Place the chicken in a large stockpot and cover with water. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns and sea salt. Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow boil and cook until the chicken is tender and the meat is falling off the bone, 45-90 minutes.


Remove the pot from the heat and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate or cutting board to cool; do no discard the broth.


Debone the chicken and shred or chop the meat. Strain the broth; cool, and skim off the fat.


Make the stew

Cook the bacon, stirring frequently, in a large stockpot over high heat until cooked. Add 4 cups of the reserved chicken broth to the stockpot. (If you don't have 4 full cups, use additional chicken or vegetable stock or water to make up the difference.) Add the potatoes and onion, and bring to a boil. Continue boiling until the potatoes begin to soften, about 10 minutes.


Stir in the tomato paste. Add the reserved chicken. Reduce to a simmer and add the tomatoes, lima beans, corn, sugar, salt, black pepper and red pepper. Stir well and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add additional broth or water if needed, but the stew should be thick.


Remove the stew from the heat. Stir in the butter until it melts and serve immediately.


Makes 8-12 servings



Downtown Italian
Recipes Inspired by Italy, Created in New York's West Village

Andrews McMeel








Braised Short Ribs With Polenta
4 (12-ounce) portions beef short ribs, with bones
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
Freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2-1/2 cups medium dice Spanish onions
3/4 cup medium dice carrots
1/2 cup medium dice celery
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups dry red wine (such as Cabernet)
1 (28-ounce) can whole or chopped Italian tomatoes, with juice
1 bay leaf
Polenta for serving (recipe follows)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)


To make the short ribs, let the ribs sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Season the ribs generously on all sides with a large amount of salt and pepper.


In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, gently place the short ribs in the skillet. Do not touch the short ribs. Let them caramelize. When the short ribs have a dark brown color on the bottom (about 4 minutes), gently turn them to sear another side. Continue this process until all of the sides of the short ribs are dark brown, about 10 minutes total. Remove the ribs from the skillet and set aside.


Place the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onions, carrots, celery and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a large, ovenproof Dutch oven. Sauté the vegetables over medium-high heat until the vegetables are soft and begin to caramelize, 5-8 minutes. Add the tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add the wine to the Dutch oven, and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt to the Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer. Place the short ribs in the Dutch oven. Cover tightly and place in the preheated oven. After 30 minutes, gently turn the ribs over. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes; gently turn the ribs again.


Continue cooking the short ribs, checking them periodically, until a thin metal skewer slides easily in and out of the ribs (there should be no tension at all) and the meat comes easily off the bone, 1-1/2 to 2 hours total. Be sure to test each rib in multiple areas. Depending on the size of the ribs, some will cook more quickly than others. As soon as they are tender, remove them from the oven; overcooked short ribs will be dry and unappealing.


Meanwhile, make the polenta. When the ribs are done, remove from the oven and decrease the oven temperature to 200 degrees. Keep the polenta in the 200-degree oven, covered, until ready to serve.


Remove the bay leaf from the rib sauce and discard. Gently remove the short ribs from the sauce. Spoon off and discard any excess fat.


Purée the sauce in a food processor or blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Return the sauce to the Dutch oven. Remove and discard the short rib bones. Trim the fat and extra cartilage from the short ribs. Return the ribs to the Dutch oven with the sauce. Hold in warm, 200-degree oven until ready to serve, up to 1-1/2 hours.


Before serving, warm the serving bowls. Whisk the polenta; if it appears to be too thick, thin it out with a little water. Otherwise, ladle a 1/2 cup portion of polenta into each warm serving bowl. Place 1 portion braised short ribs in each dish. Ladle a generous amount of sauce over the short ribs. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.


Makes 4 servings



— — Polenta — —
4 cups water
1 cup polenta (not instant)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the water, polenta and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a medium (3-quart) ovenproof saucepan with a lid.


Over medium heat on the stovetop, bring the contents of the saucepan to a simmer, stirring frequently. Cover. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Taste the polenta to make sure that it its completely cooked and not raw-tasting. Whisk in the Parmesan cheese, butter, olive oil and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve hot.


Makes just over 1 quart