Some recipes can be a source of comfort and pleasure in these difficult times, especially if you already have the ingredients in the pantry.
Here are some suggestions for soul-sustaining recipes that don’t require a lot of hard-to-find ingredients, ideas for making the most of what you’ve already stocked up on and even getting the home-bound kids involved in the cooking.
Raid that stocked-to-the-gills pantry and use up staples you might already have or stash the recipes away for the next essential grocery store run.
Rice and Bean Enchiladas with Creamy Tomatillo Sauce
Together, rice and beans in any combination make for a perfect comfort food. Here, they serve as a hearty filling for zesty enchiladas. The filling makes enough for a few extra enchiladas, so make another tray-full and freeze them for later. For a spicier bite, stir a small can of diced green chiles into the rice and bean mixture before filling your enchiladas. No cilantro or green onions? No worries. Just leave them out. No cream cheese? No worries. Skip it and use any grated cheese you might have instead.
½ cup long-grain white rice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
2 green onions, sliced, optional
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into ½-inch pieces, or other grated cheese
2 cups jarred salsa verde or any other salsa
⅔ cup heavy cream
½ cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnishing, optional
¼ cup vegetable oil
8 corn tortillas
1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water, rice and salt to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to low, cover and cook until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a medium bowl to cool slightly. Add the beans, 1¼ cups Monterey Jack, green onions and cream cheese; stir gently.
2. Meanwhile, using a blender or food processor, blend the salsa verde, cream and cilantro until smooth.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Using tongs, carefully place one tortilla at a time into the hot oil and fry, turning once, until softened, 5 to 10 seconds per side. Transfer to paper-towel-lined plates to drain.
4. Mound ½ cup of the filling down the center of each tortilla. Roll up tightly, then place seam side down in a 7-by-11-inch glass baking dish. Pour the sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining ¾ cup Monterey Jack cheese. Cover with foil and bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Serve, topped with more chopped cilantro.
— Adapted from Rachael Ray
Hard-boiled eggs can be shelled, halved and hollowed out up to two days ahead. Make the filling a day ahead and store it in a ziptop plastic bag. When ready to serve, snip the corner off the bag and pipe the filling into the egg halves.
12 hard-boiled eggs, see note below
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
2 teaspoons sweet relish, chopped olives, chopped kimchi, or any other condiment you have hanging out in the fridge
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Paprika, for dusting, optional
1. Remove shells from eggs and slice in half lengthwise. Separate egg yolks and place into a bowl. Place whites on a separate plate.
2. Add mayo, mustard, relish, salt and pepper, to taste, to yolks and mash together with a fork until creamy and smooth.
3. Transfer mixture to a quart-size ziptop bag. Cut off the corner of the bag and squeeze the mixture back into the egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Sweet, Salty and Spicy Nuts
Makes 4 cups
These are serious snacking times. With no fear of burning, the gentle heat of a slow cooker slowly draws out the nuts’ natural oils, gently toasting them while perfuming the kitchen. They crisp up nicely upon cooling. This is a mostly hands-off method, only requiring a stir every 30 minutes.
2 large egg whites
4 cups nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds cashews or a mixture)
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cayenne
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1. Coat the bowl of a slow cooker with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy; stir in nuts. In a small bowl, combine sugars, zest, rosemary, spices and salt. Add to nut mixture with butter and toss to coat.
2. Transfer to slow cooker. Cook, covered, on low for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
3. Spread onto parchment-lined baking sheets, sprinkle with salt, and cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.
Classic Beef Chili
Makes about 3 quarts
Nothing says comfort food more than a bowl of chili, especially when ladled over a layer of crispy, salty Fritos. Chili can also be dressed up by serving it over a bowl of spaghetti (or any pasta), topped with grated cheddar and diced onion.
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (optional)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
3-4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
1 pound ground beef
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans pinto or red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 (14-ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, including the liquid
Assorted toppings, such as: sour cream, grated cheese, diced onion, Fritos, saltines, avocado and lime wedges
1. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add jalapeños, garlic and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.
2. Add beef, season with a bit of salt and pepper (you will check seasonings at the end — this is just to flavor the meat) and sprinkle with chili powder and cocoa powder. Cook, breaking up pieces with back of a wooden spoon until beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in beans and tomatoes with juices and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently until chili thickens and flavors blend, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Skim any fat from surface of chili.
4. Ladle chili into bowls. Serve, passing bowls of sour cream, grated cheese, green onions and cilantro separately.
NOTE: If you prefer thicker chili, stir in a few tablespoons of masa harina toward the end of cooking and simmer for a few minutes. Chili can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Bring to simmer before continuing, stirring occasionally.
Lentils, like beans, soak up whatever flavors they are cooked in. Here, it’s a chile oil made with dried and fresh chiles. Eat the lentils with a squeeze of lemon juice and chopped parsley on toast, grains, pasta, a sweet potato, bitter greens or on their own. The lentils will keep for up to four days in the fridge; reheat over low heat or in the microwave loosened with a little water. No lentils? No worries. Use any variety of dried beans you have in the pantry. Soak them in water overnight and increase the cooking time to an hour or so. Or used canned beans for more of an instant gratification meal.
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 jalapeño, halved, seeded if desired, and finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup tomato paste
1½ cups brown or green lentils
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
2. Add the jalapeño, garlic, paprika, black pepper and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.
4. Add the lentils and cover with 1½ inches of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then lower to a gentle simmer and cook until the lentils are soft and the water has mostly evaporated, 30 to 35 minutes. If they are looking dry at any point, add a little hot water. Season with the salt and serve.
— Adapted from NewYorkTimes.com
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cookies
Makes 2-3 dozen
These not-too-sweet cookies are delicious as is, but we all know peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in heaven, so feel free to fill a few with Nutella or some melted chocolate.
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1½ cups smooth peanut butter (not natural)
⅔ cup grape jelly
1. Whisk the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg until combined, then beat in the peanut butter until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just combined.
2. Turn out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and pat into a rectangle. Top with another piece of parchment and roll out the dough into a ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
3. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 375 degrees. Trim the edges of the dough and cut into 1½-inch squares. Arrange 2 inches apart on two unlined baking sheets; press each with the back of a fork to make a crisscross pattern, flattening slightly.
4. Gather the scraps and refrigerate until firm, if needed; reroll to cut out more cookies.
5. Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the cookies are almost set, about 14 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on the pans, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Sandwich the grape jelly (about 1 teaspoon per sandwich) between the cookies.
— Adapted from Food Network