An arsenal of hunger-busting comfort food for the End Times.
With stay at home orders extended thru May 8th (at least), it’s time to talk quarantine food, people!
Basic survival eats for sheltering in place: quick, filling dishes using limited ingredients with extended shelf lives. Tasty meals and snacks you can throw together in a flash when tummies are grumbling and you’re trying to keep a handle on the take-out budget.
These recipes have been tested for ease and mass appeal to modern American palates. Season and substitute ingredients as you please.
FRESH-BAKED BREAKFAST MEAT Make extra for sandwiches, salads and snacks.
1 package of bacon (and/or sausage and/or scrapple). For best results, use Spring Hollow Farms products available at NouVaux Market or buy direct for local pickup Saturdays at the East Falls Farmers Market.
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line one or two cooking trays with foil. Place bacon/sausage/scrapple side by side on foil, filling the trays with all your meat (try not to overlap). Bake until edges are brown (10 – 15 mins), flip trays around in oven. Bake another 15 – 20 mins, until desired doneness.
Salty-Sweet Variation: When you flip the trays around, take bacon/sausage/scrapple out of oven and drizzle with about 3 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup. Return to oven to finish baking/browning. When done, let cool 5 mins before serving.
OVEN PANCAKES You don’t even have to be awake to make this.
One 7-oz container Bisquick Shake ‘n Pour Buttermilk pancake mix
Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Add water to pancake mix as directed on container. Pour pancake mixture into buttered 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan, tilt to distribute evenly. Bake 12 – 15 minutes, until golden. Cut into squares; serve with butter & syrup.
Optional additions to batter: blueberries, finely chopped apple, chocolate chips, banana slices.
Meaty variation: After pouring into pan, arrange links of Brown ‘n Serve sausage on top so they bake right in.
APPLE PIZZA Halfway between a snack and dessert.
one 12-inch “Boboli”-type pizza shell (thin variety, if possible)
one cup shredded cheddar cheese (plus extra for garnish, optional)
one or two tart apples, peeled and sliced
one or two tablespoons sugar
¼ cup apricot jam (optional glaze)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set pizza shell on a baking tray. Sprinkle with cheese. Arrange the apple slices on top of the cheese in a spiral pattern; garnish with a little more cheese and the sugar. Bake 15 mins or until the apples start to brown. Remove from oven & let rest 10 minutes before eating. If using the glaze, melt it on stovetop (or in microwave) and brush the top of the pizza with the melted jam before serving.
TOASTIE When grilled cheese is too much effort.
sliced white bread
sliced melty cheese (like cheddar or American)
Directions: Toast bread, make a sandwich with one or two slices of cheese. Lightly wrap in a paper towel or wax paper, microwave on high until cheese begins to melt, about 10 to 20 seconds. Enjoy with hot chocolate like they do in Amsterdam coffeeshops.
SATAY SOUP Thai peanut sauce you can eat with a spoon.
16 oz bag of frozen carrots
1 10-oz can of condensed chicken broth
1 13.5-oz can of coconut milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
garlic powder (about 1 tsp)
dried basil (about ½ tsp)
dried ginger (about ¼ tsp)
sriracha sauce (1 tsp)
soy sauce (1 tsp)
splash of lime or rice vinegar
Directions: Combine first three ingredients in saucepan, cover and bring to a quick boil over high heat; turn heat down and simmer 20 minutes. Puree carefully in blender (or, ideally, in the pan with an immersion wand). Return to heat, stir in peanut butter. Season to taste, garnish with chopped peanuts and/or toasted coconut. Hungry? Add cooked, shredded pork, chicken or other protein.
AVOCADO SASHIMI “I can’t believe it’s not tuna!”
ripe Haas avocado
Japanese 7 Spice Blend (Shichimi Togarashi), optional
Pickled sushi ginger, optional
Directions: Peel and evenly slice avocado; squeeze over with lemon juice. Sprinkle with spice blend, if using. Serve with wasabi and soy sauce (pickled ginger, too, if you like).
CITRUS WHIPPED SWEET POTATOES The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Ingredients: Sweet potatoes, limes
Directions: Bake, nuke, boil or grill as many whole, unpeeled sweet potatoes as you want until they are very done. Scoop out the insides & place in bowl. Mash till smooth. Add fresh lime juice to taste (start with about 2 teaspoons per sweet potato then adjust from there). Finish with a pinch of salt.
Fruity Variation: stir in a 15 ½ oz can of crushed pineapple (drained) and sprinkle with toasted coconut and/or cinnamon-sugar (optional).
INSTANT MEGA PIEROGIES You’re welcome.
4-oz bag of Idahoan instant mashed potatoes (any flavor)
8 oz shredded or sliced melty cheese
Directions: Make mashed potatoes according to package directions. Spread evenly over 4 flour tortillas. Divide the cheese and distribute over potatoes. Top with another quesadilla. Transfer to cookie sheets and bake in 375 degree oven until melted & lightly browned (you can also fry individually in a wide skillet). Serve with sour cream.
Variation: Add fried onions, if you can, it makes a huge difference! Mushrooms are nice too, so is meat. Or all of it. What the hell, live a little. There’s a pandemic.
TOTCHOS Replace corn chips with potatoes for a satisfying supper.
Tater tots (as many as you want to eat)
shredded cheese: cheddar/mont jack/Colby/etc. cheese (a blend is nice)
Suggested add-ons: diced chicken, sliced black olives, jalapeno peppers, chopped tomato, chopped onion, crumbled bacon, chorizo or other sausage, seasoned jackfruit, seiten or tofu, etc.
Directions: Bake tater tots according to directions on package. Top browned tater tots with add-ons and cheese; return to oven until the warm and melted. Serve with salsa, sour cream and/or guacamole.
DRUNK BREAD The flour absorbs the alcohol so you don’t have to.
1 12-oz can of beer (plain old American style is fine)
3 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons sugar
Directions: Blend ingredients and pour into a buttered 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes (ovens vary, keep your eye on it the first time you make it). Cool thoroughly before slicing.
Variation: Stir a cup of shredded cheddar cheese into the batter.
ONION TOAST Garlic bread’s ritzy sister.
One stick butter, softened
½ package of dry onion soup mix
Baguette or rolls
Directions: Combine butter and onion soup mix. Half your bread, smear each cut side with the onion butter. Bake halves at 375 for about 10 minutes or brown over grill/under broiler.
Variation: Serve with brie or goat cheese.
BALSAMIC DRIZZLE Your new secret weapon.
Ingredients: one cup balsamic vinegar (any brand off the shelves is fine)
Directions: Heat vinegar to boiling in small saucepan (open a window if fumes are a problem). Turn the heat way down, and simmer uncovered until the liquid reduces by half, about 30 minutes. Transfer to lidded jar and store at room temperature. Use this sweet & sour syrup to perk up veggies, soups, sauces, pizzas. Pro Tip: try it on fruit and ice cream.
CARROT PICKLES So fun to make you’ll forget you’re cooking.
1 lb baby carrots
1 cup water
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp mustard seeds (black or yellow)
1 ½ tbsp honey
4 – 5 cloves garlic
1 (or more) springs of fresh dill or other herb you like
Directions: Add water to a medium-sized saucepan with the salt, the mustard seeds and about half the vinegar. Heat to just beginning to boil, then stir in the honey till dissolved. Toss in the carrots, garlic and dill. Lower heat to simmer and cook (uncovered) about 10 minutes, until the carrots are crisp-tender. Cool to room temperature, then add the rest of the balsamic vinegar. Top it off with another sprig or two of dill or whatever. Store in a jar in your fridge. Snack with abandon, and serve alongside any meal for extra zip and crunch.
KRISPY KRUNCHY CHICKPEAS Caution: highly addictive
Olive oil and seasonings
Directions: Drain, rinse and dry a can (or two) of chickpeas. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet (line with foil or parchment paper for maximum crunch). Bake 30 minutes at 375 degrees, stopping to shake the pan every now and then. Remove from oven, add hot chickpeas to shallow bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with whatever you like (1/2 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp chili or garlic powder is nice). Return to oven for another 10 – 15 minutes longer until browned and crackly.
DIY DORITOS Once you open a bag of tortillas, you might as well use them all.
Corn or flour tortillas
melted butter (optional)
Directions: Cut tortillas into quarters or Dorito-sized wedges. Pull each slice lightly through the melted butter (or use water instead); place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until crisp, about 10 minutes (flipping them at least once). When done, sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika, chili/garlic/onion powders, parmesan cheese, etc. or use a commercial Mexican spice blend, Hidden Valley Ranch dressing powder, or other flavoring.
Variation: Make a dessert version by seasoning with cinnamon sugar, honey and shaved chocolate.
PARMESAN CRISPS Like eating the melted cheese off the top of a casserole.
Ingredients: ½ lb grated Parmesan cheese (the real stuff, not from a green can)
Directions: Add cheese to a wide non-stick skillet in little piles about 2 ½ inches across. Fry on each side until crisp and golden, about 3 minutes. Cool on plate. Makes about 25 wafers, but no matter how many times you double the recipe, you’ll never have leftovers.
PEANUT BUTTER PRONTO Hot cookies from your oven in 15 minutes, starting now.
I cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1 cup sugar
1 egg (or 3 tbsp egg whites)
Directions: Mix peanut butter, sugar and egg together in a bowl until smooth & creamy (an electric mixer makes quick work of this). Roll mixture into small balls and place on baking sheet; flatten with fork. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Cool several minutes on sheet before removing to plate.
NO-BAKE CEREAL STACKERS A little magic happens when cereal cools in hot melted chocolate.
8 oz chocolate bar or 1 cup of chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)
3 cups corn flakes or rice crispies
Directions: Melt chocolate carefully on stove or in microwave, then stir in cereal one cup at a time until the mixture is thick and all of the flakes are covered. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper or parchment. Cool at least one hour at room temperature, but ideally in fridge or freezer until hardened. Variation: Add ½ cup creamy peanut butter to melted chocolate before stirring in cereal.
BANANA ICE CREAM Remember when you made this in Scouts?
Ingredients: Ripe bananas – sliced, peeled and frozen solid (ideally overnight)
Directions: Pulse about one banana’s worth of frozen chunks in blender or food processer until creamy. The banana will go through several stages on its way to the consistency of soft-serve – varying degrees of crumbly and smashed; scrape down the edges and keep pulsing and blending until you’ve got ice cream. Eat immediately or transfer to airtight container and refreeze to the texture of “hand dipped.”
Variation: Fold in honey, Nutella, almonds, peanut butter, chocolate chips, vanilla extract, shredded coconut or frozen berries to the blended bananas before serving/refreezing.
Margorie Dolan first moved to East Falls in the 90’s then bounced around in East and West Germantown before landing, literally, in Paradise last year. She once spent an entire summer living on a boat, where she tested all of these recipes on herself and her crewmates. These days when she’s not in isolation, Margorie enjoys attending free concerts, museums and openings. She also plays a mean game of darts.