Monday, October 10, 2011

Cookbook Review: Ellie Krieger's Comfort Food Fix

It's that time of year again when we are all craving our favorite comfort foods and Ellie Krieger's  Comfort Food Fix couldn't have come at a better time.  Full of healthy comfort food recipes, Ellie's book is a treasure trove for anyone wanting to have their cake and eat it too. 

In Ellie's newest book, you will find 150 recipes to suit your every craving.  From Honey-Crisp Oven-Fried Chicken, to Country Fried Steak with Gravy, to something both decadent and chocolatey for dessert. You will really feel like you are truly indulging in your favorites, but without all the guilt.

The book is hardbound and has 304 pages with lots of beautiful photographs.  The chapters, along with some of the recipes I'd like to try are:

Chapter 1: Breakfast, Brunch and Bakery: Crispy French Toast Fingers with Blueberry Maple Sauce and Ellie's Honey Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Chapter 2: Snack and Starters: Five-Layer Mexican Dip with Chili Tortilla Chips and also Sesame Whole-Wheat Soft Pretzels, plus the "Everything" Parmesan Crisps

Chapter 3: Soups and Sandwiches: Broccoli-Cheddar Soup

Chapter 4: Meat Main Dishes: Horseradish, Cheddar and Caramelized Onion-Stuffed Burgers

Chapter 5: Poultry Main Dishes: Chicken Alfredo with Zucchini Ribbons, Spicy Chicken Fried Rice with Peanuts, Cincinnati Turkey Chili, and Chicken and Biscuit Potpie

Chapter 6: Seafood Main Dishes: Crispy Crab Cakes with Creamy Chili-Garlic Dipping Sauce

Chapter 7: Vegetarian Main Dishes: Autumn Vegetable Curry

Chapter 8: Sides and Salads: Herbed Squash Casserole, Rustic Mashed Potatoes with Blue Cheese, and Corn and Cheddar Spoonbread

Chapter 9: Desserts: I really want to try all the desserts, but I've narrowed it down to her Pumpkin Pie with the Better Basic Pie Crust for now.

First up, I made the Crispy Beef and Bean Tacos.  Ellie uses a lean ground beef and adds black beans to the taco filling.  As a bean lover, this is something that I've done before BUT the one thing I haven't done before is to make my own taco shells.  Instead of frying the taco shells, she brushes them with a little oil and bakes them in the oven like this:

As the tortillas bake, the sides drape down further creating a flat-bottomed taco shape.  My 10 year old daughter thought this was the coolest thing ever and I have to admit that I did too.
These Crispy Beef and Bean Tacos really hit the spot and everyone loved the oven-baked shells.  With flavorful toppings like tomato, red onion, romaine lettuce, cilantro and a little bit of cheese, these tacos rang in at 340 calories for two.  I would, and will, definitely make these again.
 Next up, and completely heavenly, were these Honey-Crisp Oven-Fried Chicken Thighs.  Meaty, tender, succulent chicken thighs are soaked in buttermilk for up to 4 hours and then brushed with honey and coated with crushed cornflakes, seasoning, and baked to perfection.  
I was incredibly impressed with this recipe.  Since the chicken thighs soaked in the buttermilk for 4 hours it was incredibly moist and tender.  The honey provided a touch of sweetness and the cornflake crust was very crunchy.  You could even hear the crunch when you took a bite!  My Mom and I were bowled over with this recipe. This is a recipe that will go into regular rotation here at my house. With very little fat, lots of protein, and only 330 calories per thigh, this is a good thing!
Did you know that you could have Country Fried Steak with Gravy with Smooth and Creamy Mashed Potatoes and not feel guilty?  Yep, it was news to me too!  I had no idea that cubed steak was already a lean cut of meat.  With a mixture of whole wheat and all purpose flour, these cube steaks are double-dipped to create a thick coating around the steak.  The gravy was nice and creamy and went perfectly with the Smooth and Creamy Mashed Potatoes (which by the way were made with only 1 tablespoon of butter in the whole batch).  A down-home comfort food dinner that is delicious and healthy, with about 610 calories total.


Paper Bag Popcorn was a fantastic, easy, and no-fuss snack that we enjoyed and will continue to enjoy for years.  In fact, I wish I'd known that you could make popcorn in the microwave using a paper bag earlier. I would have definitely saved lots of money on microwave popcorn.  Additionally, this paper bag popcorn can be seasoned with whatever seasoning blend you chose, from savory to sweet, and is only 100 calories per serving compared to 170 calories per serving out of the microwave bag.

However, being the chocoholic I am, it was these Dark Chocolate Pretzel Clusters that totally grabbed my attention when first paging through the book and it was these Dark Chocolate Pretzel Clusters that were my very favorite recipe I tried.  Goodness gracious these things are good!!  Chocolatey, crunchy, and salty, they are so ultra satisfying.  The best part is that they really couldn't be any simpler to make.  Just two easy ingredients.

Dark Chocolate Pretzel Clusters
Adapted from Comfort Food Fix by Ellie Krieger
Makes about 12 (I got 15)

Ellie says: "Chocolate with a salty crunch is all the rage now - even the mass market candy makers have caught on.  but some of us are long-time devotees.  Dark chocolate-covered pretzels have been a favorite of mine since childhood, so when I found myself with a bag of broken pretzels what else could I do but smother them in the best quality chocolate and turn them into a mouthwatering candy cluster."

4 ounces any shape thick-style salted pretzels (I used normal-sized twists)
6 ounces dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids), chopped

Note: I used Lindt brand chocolate 
Note:  I sprinkled a tiny dash of salt into the mixture as it melted
Line a baking sheet with wax paper.  Put the pretzels into a sealable plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin or mallet into about 1/4-inch pretzel pieces.
Place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water.  Make sure the bottom of the pan does not touch the water.  Melt the chocolate, stirring frequently, about 1 minute.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Add the pretzel pieces to the chocolate and stir until well coated.  

Scoop heaping tablespoon-size stacks of the chocolate-covered pretzel pieces onto the prepared baking sheet.  Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and allow to cool and set, about 20 minutes.  Store and serve at room temperature.

Serving size: 1 piece
Per serving: Calories 110; Total Fat 5g (Sat Fat 3g; Mono Fat 0.1g, Poly Fat .1g); Protein 2g; Carb 16g, Fiber 2g, Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 130mg


I've always been a huge fan of Ellie Krieger's recipes.  I find that her recipes are always well-tested and extremely well-written.  In fact, in all the Ellie recipes I've tried I've never come across a bad recipe.  I've come to count on Ellie's recipes and believe that they are very tried and true.  I was super excited to see that Ellie had a third book coming out and even more excited when I learned that it had to do with comfort food.  I raced to the store and bought the book on the day it came out.   

If you like comfort food and are concerned about eating healthfully, then this book is for you.  I think you'll be very pleased with your purchase.

Disclosure: I bought and paid for the book on my own. All opinions are my own.

18 comments:

  1. I am a huge fan of hers. I don't think that I have ever made anything of Ellie's that I haven't liked. I will keep my eye out for this book.
    Thanks
    - Holy Cannoli Recipes

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  2. It all looks wonderful. I'm loving that taco shell idea too! The inside of your microwave is so clean, I need to go clean mine...ha!

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  3. Thanks for the review! Anyone wanting to cook/bake Ellie's recipes and post them, you are welcome to make as many or as few as you like and leave your link here: http://www.cravingellieinmybelly.blogspot.com/

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  4. This looks a cookbook everyone should have - for the basics - with less fat and lots of warmth. (I'm a huge fan of chocolate covered pretzels!) Lovely round-up - will be doing the tacos first!

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  5. This book sounds great, Kim! What a fantastic idea for making taco shells...you can bet I'll be trying that soon. And those chicken thighs...sigh. Delicious review :D

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  6. Those pretzel clusters would NOT be low cal once I ate the whole batch! And come on...those look so good we all know that would happen!

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  7. Joanne- You are so right. I made the pretzel clusters this morning and they are almost all gone. No one could stop at one. Definitely too dangerous to have around.

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  8. I have to go back and read this post again. After seeing the taco thing--which IS the coolest thing ever--I couldn't focus on anything else. (Well, except the chocolate).

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  9. Great review! I'll be on the look out for this book. That chicken looks incredible.
    Mimi
    btw I got my Egglands Best package on Friday, they sure were prompt!

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  10. i seriously want to hop on amazon and buy this book right now based on your review. i'm completely taken with every single thing you featured. i LOVE the taco shells, adn that steak? delicious! excellent review!

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  11. Very cool what you did with the taco shells! I just picked up an Ellie book at my favorite second hand bookstore. It's not this one though. I am looking forward to trying her recipes. Right now I am besotted with my old Williams Sonoma. Very nice review Kim.

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  12. I would go for Honey-Crisp Oven-Fried Chicken ThighsDark and Chocolate Pretzel Clusters. They are comforting indeed and stuffing!

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  13. What a great review! The crunch chicken really caught my attention. I'll have to see if my library has this cookbook, so I can check into it further. The pretzels, by the way, would certainly grab my attention. They sound addicting.

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  14. I love that tortilla trick, how imaginative! I knew she was bright but that is impressive to me. Stealing that idea for future use :)

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  15. Excellent review. I keep telling myself not to buy yet another new cookbook but I might have to make an exception for this one. ;-)

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  16. I have the book and have been cooking from it for a week. I think, I have made five recipes and as you say, they are all successful.

    Would you like to link any of yours up to CEiMB?

    http://cravingellieinmybelly.blogspot.com/

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