Comfort Foods Contest Winners
September 25th, 2017 by Jennifer Brown

Sometimes, the best cure for what ails you is food that provides a little emotional comfort. We asked our readers for “comfort food” recipes—whether they be for a dish reminiscent of childhood, a beloved relative or a favorite destination—that could be featured in our Comfort Food Cookbook.

We received submissions from members of many of the electric utilities we serve—and even from some that we don’t. It was not easy to choose the winners of the recipe contest, but after great debate, we chose our seven favorites.

The winners are featured on these In the Kitchen pages and will appear in our next cookbook, along with other recipes submitted for the contest. Enjoy!

Outrageously Delicious Cheese Bread

  • 1 round loaf of Shepherd’s bread
  • 6-oz. package of sliced Swiss cheese
  • 3 to 4 slices of raw bacon
  • 1 stick of butter at room temperature
  • ¼ c. diced onion
  • ½ tsp. Accent seasoning mix
  • 1 T. poppy seeds
  • 1 T. dried parsley

Slice bread six times on top of loaf, but not all the way through.

Cream together the stick of butter, chopped onion, seasoning mix, poppy seeds and parsley. Spread butter mixture between slices of bread, but save enough for the top. Place cheese between the slices of bread. Spread remaining butter mixture over top of loaf. Put slices of raw bacon over the top of the loaf.

Bake at 350 degrees on tinfoil-lined baking sheet for 30 minutes.

To serve, slice six times in the opposite direction of the cuts. Enjoy!
This is wonderful with a glass of white wine.

This cheese bread recipe was my grandmother’s recipe, and the whole family was so excited when she would make this.

Judy Medley
Lakewood Ranch, Florida • Peace River Electric Cooperative


Chocolate Bread Pudding

  • 6 slices cinnamon bread, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Zest of one orange
  • ¼ c. cooking oil
  • ¼ c. orange juice
  • ½ c. honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ c. chocolate morsels

In a 11/2-quart casserole dish, combine bread, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest. Measure oil, juice and honey in same cup. Mix well and pour over bread mixture. Slightly beat together eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour over all. Add chocolate morsels. Mix all ingredients until bread is moistened.

Cover and microwave on medium for 10 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes. In oven, bake at 350 F for about 40 minutes. Stir to remix ingredients. Bake 20 minutes longer.

Lynne Schaefer
Sunriver, Oregon • Midstate Electric Cooperative


Betty Sue’s Vanilla Orange Pudding

  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 T. cornstarch (4 T. flour may be substituted if corn allergies are an issue)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 orange cut into bite-size pieces

In a saucepan, bring the milk just barely to a simmer.

In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch beating until blended. Note: Mixture will bunch up in the whisk; keep beating until it flows out into the bowl. A hand beater/mixer can be used for this step.

When milk comes to a simmer, slowly add about half of the hot milk to the egg mixture while whisking or stirring, then pour back into saucepan with the rest of the milk. Cook, stirring until mixture becomes thick.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Stir well. Chill until cool.

Stir in chopped orange pieces just before serving.

Use 1 c. unsweetened coconut milk (not coconut water) with 1 c. milk.
Use 2 c. half-and-half for a richer pudding.
Add nuts, coconut or dried fruit

When I was a child in the ’50s living in a small in rural town, and would stay home from school for one thing or another, Mom always made me this pudding. I loved the fresh juicy oranges mixed with creamy, rich pudding that always made me feel better.

Susan Conklin
Mosier, Oregon • Wasco Electric Cooperative


Chicken Reuben

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 16-oz. can of sauerkraut, drained and pressed to almost dry
  • 1 c. Thousand Island dressing
  • 4 to 5 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1 T. chopped parsley

Heat oven to 350 F.

Place chicken in greased Pyrex dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread sauerkraut over chicken. Top with cheese. Pour dressing over cheese.

Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

This is really tasty with toasted rye bread on the side.

Mindy Street
Midstate Electric


Tater Tot Casserole

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 package dry onion soup mix
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (or cream of celery)
  • 1 bag frozen tater tots
  • 1 can green beans (optional, I never put them in)
  • 1 c. sour cream

Heat oven to 350 F.

Brown beef with dry onion soup mix. Spray casserole pan with cooking oil. Mix soup and sour cream in a separate bowl.

Layer ingredients:
1/2 tater tots
1/2 soup and sour cream mixture
1/2 hamburger mixture
All of green beans, if desired
Repeat layers, ending with ground beef mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Serves 4

In 1972, I went from Texas to work at a Girl Scout camp in Minnesota. First grand adventure away from home on my own. This casserole was the opening-night dinner every session for the two summers I was there. My parents came up to see me, and I asked the camp cook to give my mom a family-size version because I liked it so much. It is quick to make with few ingredients but the flavors blend wonderfully. I even like the leftovers cold. Easy for beginning cooks, too.

Paula Christy
The Dalles, Oregon • Northern Wasco PUD


Mom’s Potato Soup

Peel one large or two small potatoes. Cut into a dice (small cubes).

Slice a small onion. Put potato and onion into a small saucepan (not non-stick). Barely cover with water. Add a little salt; boil until done.

Cube a slice or two of bread (Mom always used white, so I do, too) and put in a bowl. Pour the liquid from cooking the onion and potato over the bread. Your choice whether or not to remove the crusts.

Mash cooked potato and onion with a potato masher, fork or small mixer. Stir in one beaten egg.

Add soaked bread cubes with liquid and milk to desired consistency. I like mine on the thick side. Season to taste.

Heat until hot on low heat, but do not cook. Stir often. To serve, top with a chunk of butter and chives or parsley if you have some.

This recipe is for one serving. Mom said that if you make a larger batch, still only use one egg.

Nancy Caslick
Oceanside, Oregon • Tillamook PUD


Grandma Grace’s Apple Cake

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 cube butter (softened) or 3/4 stick Crisco baking stick
  • 2 med-large or 3 small red, sweet apples peeled, scored and thinly sliced**If using tart apples, add 1/3 c. additional sugar
    1/2 c. milk

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in large mixing bowl. Blend. Add butter and work through thoroughly with a pastry cutter or clean hands. Add apples and mix thoroughly. If apples aren’t juicy enough, add just enough milk (1 T. at a time) until dough is crumbly but slightly sticky. Press firmly down into a well-greased shallow pan, dish, or onto cookie sheet (about 1 to 1½” high). Mix 1 T. sugar with 1 tsp. sugar and sprinkle over the top of unbaked cake.

Bake at 400 F (375 F for dark, nonstick) for about 40 minutes (pan or dish) or about 30 minutes (cookie sheet) or until top and sides look brown and crispy and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Top with vanilla ice cream or yogurt.

Optional: For a richer dessert, add 1/2 c. chopped walnuts. Drizzle melted gourmet chocolate on top of the finished cake. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!

This recipe was handed down by my mother’s mother (my grandmother) Grace, who was a wonderful and inventive cook. This recipe is as comforting as apple pie or cobbler, but way easier and faster to make.

Margaret Gilbert (submitted by daughter Glenna Lee)
Westwood, California • Lassen Municipal Utility District


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