We meant to tell y’all about Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods at least two weeks ago. Really, we did. (We like to be the first on the scene with stuff like this, you know.) But the Hartwig household came down with a cold, and a sniffling baby takes precedence over blog posts.
Little takes precedence over cooking healthy, delicious dinners, however—and luckily none of us were so sick we couldn’t whip up a few new recipes. So really, it’s a good thing we held off, because now we can tell you from firsthand experience how amazing the recipes in Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods really are.
It’s a tough job, but someone has to eat Good Food and write about it.
Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods
We reviewed the original Paleo Comfort Foods (PCF) in August 2011, introducing you to cookbook authors Charles and Julie Mayfield with a series of fun questions about their book, their food, and their love for cooking. The original PCF showed all of you Paleo-loving folks that “comfort food” doesn’t have to be synonymous with unhealthy (or prompt guilt, remorse, and regret after consumption).! According to Julie, “Comfort foods were those meals cooked at ome by mom, where we said a blessing around the table, and had a family meal that wasn’t a Hungry Man special.”
But as Charles and Julie write in the introduction of their new book, “When we were writing Paleo Comfort Foods, life was… chaotic. There were nights when we’d come home from work or the gym exhausted, with hours of editing left to do, and then we’d realize we needed to eat something. We needed and wanted something quick, easy, and delicious that still fit into our Paleo way of life.”
And that is how Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods was born—out of a desire to feed themselves and their family delicious, nutritious food even around a chaotic schedule. (Can you relate?)
The Quick & Easy Part
These recipes have all been tested in Charles and Julie’s own kitchen, around the demands of a newborn baby and busy lives. These are meals you can cook for your family in minutes, without sacrificing flavor. The give you ideas to make your time in the kitchen really count, and to stretch one meal into two (or three). And they’re keeping it simple, minimizing the number of dishes that call for fancypants cooking techniques.
To make things even easier, each recipe has an indication of how much hands-on time is required, not just total time. Knowing a meal takes only 10 minutes to prepare and 50 minutes to cook (while you’re free to do other things!) is a lot more helpful that thinking the whole thing is going to take an hour from start to finish.
Recipes We Loved
The first recipe we tried was the chicken and broccoli casserole on page 127. It’s officially fall, and we wanted something hearty, filling, and creamy. (Sounds like comfort food to us.) The dish was everything we hoped it would be, and reheated beautifully the next day. (And the day after. Because we made extra, because we also have a new baby, and ain’t nobody got time for cooking three meals a day, seven days a week from scratch.)
We also made the Meatloaf Muffins from page 94 (which Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo wrote about—peep the recipe on her page). They were perfect—if you like egg muffins, these will be a hands-down winner for portability, reheat-ability, and ease.
But our favorite dish—the one that had us mmmmm-ing with pleasure—was the butternut squash puree. Trust us when we tell you that you will look at this recipe and think, “Hm, that looks almost too simple.” And then you will cook it and taste it and think, “Those Mayfields are some kind of crazy squash geniuses.”
We’re going to feature the recipe here, because once you make this, you’ll see exactly what we mean. (And if you like this one as much as we did, you’ll basically run-don’t-walk to your nearest bookstore or keyboard to pick up your copy of Quick & Easy Paleo Comfort Foods.)
Butternut Squash Puree
- 3 tablespoons ghee
- ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into pieces
- ½ cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Active hands-on time: 10 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes. Note: buy precut butternut squash to save even more time.
- Melt the ghee in a Dutch oven over medium heat and sauté the onions for about 5 minutes, adding the garlic in the last minute.
- Stir in the squash, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes.
- Add the apples, chicken stock, coconut milk, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and pepper; cover and simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Uncover and cool for a few minutes.
- Puree with an immersion blender, or transfer the squash mixture to a food processor or blender and puree in batches.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Inside the Actors Studio, Paleo Kitchen Edition
On the long-running TV show Inside the Actors Studio, host James Lipton is famous for asking the same ten questions of all of his guests. Just for fun (because a straight-up cookbook review is kind of boring, and we know our friend Charles and Julie are decidedly not boring), we decided to ask them those same questions… with a few small modifications.
What is your favorite (cooking) word?
What is your least favorite (cooking) word?
What turns you on (in the kitchen)?
Charles: My wife… and bacon
Julie: Perfectly seared scallops
What turns you off (in the kitchen)?
Charles: Anything bland
Julie: Dirty dishes (that I have to clean…but when cleaned by someone else (ahem Charles) it’s a total turn on!)
What (kitchen, cooking, or food-related) sound or noise do you love?
Charles: Hot pan, hot oil…the crackle of meat
Julie: The “whoosh” of the gas burner igniting
What (kitchen, cooking, or food-related) sound or noise do you hate?
Charles: The farting noise mustard makes when you squeeze the last little bit out (did you say love or hate?)
Julie: The sound made when you open up the pour spout on Morton’s Iodized salt (all the more reason not to use the crap).
What is your favorite curse word (often used during a cooking fail)?
Julie: Mothertrucker (Hey, we have a 9 month old. We have to start censoring ourselves sometime!)
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Charles: Stunt double for Dallas Hartwig
Julie: A judge on Iron Chef (the original, not Iron Chef America). I’d love to hear what they dubbed over my voice.
What profession would you not like to do?
Charles: Oprah or Brittany’s personal trainer
Julie: Gastroenterologist. I don’t want to deal with other people’s crap!
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Charles: “Only pastured animals make it to heaven” (the cookouts will be amazing!)
Julie: “You’re not lost.”