Comfort Food Recipe
by Rhys Ford
Skip to the recipe if you’ve already seen this part. *grins*
When I first thought about writing Fish Stick Fridays, it was a lot darker than it turned out. I know. I’ll let you have a moment to be shocked and amazed. But then I wrote it and its innards changed, softening a bit. A lot of that change had to do with building a relationship between Deacon and his niece, Zig and then adding Lang into the mix.
I went round and round on the title. Nothing was working. They were decent titles. Hell, Mary Calmes even stole one of them for her own book but nothing was fitting the story. Then I said… why the hell aren’t I calling it what it is? Fish Stick Fridays.
That might seem a random, odd title and kind of off. But see, it’s not so much about the actual fish sticks or Fridays. It’s about what Fish Stick Fridays represents. For Zig and Deacon, it’s about being together, in a home. An actual home. Where Fridays means no vegetables but cups of hot cocoa and maybe eating in front of the television. It means a place to come to and find a family—their family.
Of course, this doesn’t mean Deacon knows how to cook gourmet meals but he can cook. So for this blog tour, it’s all about cooking out of the pantry—cheap, relatively easy and cobbling together meals from fresh, canned, and jarred food. So much of Deacon’s cooking on the fly really is about how to maximize time and using what’s in the pantry. We don’t have a lot of time in our lives. That’s a fact. But we can make do. Making do is so very much a kitchen life hack.
So for this tour, I am sharing some comfort food recipes even Deacon can make and it took him a bit to get the fish sticks and blue box macaroni & cheese right. Follow all of the blog tour stops and get a new comfort food recipe every day. Recipes include:
- Fried Chicken
- Beef Stew
- Portuguese Watercress Soup
- Nutty Mushroom Pasta
- Fried Rice
- Kalua Pig
- Mac Salad / Loco Moco
- Pad Thai
- Shoyu Chicken
Also, if you want a gluten free way to thicken soups and stews… and soupy potato salad, use instant mashed potato flakes. You’ll see me say that time and time again through the blog tour. It also adds a layer of flavour. I sometimes grab the garlic and herb instant potato packets and just keep them for when I need to thicken a stew.
And now, for what’s next in Deacon’s recipe book.
Lasagna is a dish that can take hours to prep, assemble and then cook. Not denying it’s a fantastic long-haul dish with plenty of payoff if you’ve the time and inclination to do everything from scratch. However, there are also fast and dirty ways of making lasagna. This might take you half an hour of prep time and half an hour of baking time. Feeds a hell of a lot of people.
(use 13x9x2 or deeper pan)
1-1.5 lb hamburger (can also use some loose Italian sausage meat)
(For vegetarian, use soft tofu and the optional ingredients.)
1 med onion, chopped
4 T garlic, minced
Optional for hamburger but necessary for tofu:
1 C chopped brown or white mushrooms
1 small bag frozen spinach (run under hot water to thaw then squeeze all the water out)
1 bottle spaghetti sauce
1 large (32 oz) cottage cheese, drained (use a sieve, colander or cheese cloth).
I prefer large curds. Using this instead of ricotta. You CAN use ricotta.
4-6 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1 box lasagna noodles
(I use Barilla’s flat noodles but whatever you like)
Brown hamburger, onion, garlic (and optional items) in skillet with a touch of olive oil. Or no oil if using non-stick. Drain liquid, then salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to taste.
Take off the heat and add spaghetti sauce. This will be your meat-sauce mixture. We are going to be making two layers so we’ll be using half of the pan for each layer.
Get your lasagna pan. Put down a single layer of uncooked lasagna noodles. They can overlap just don’t double layer. Cover the bottom of the pan.
Spoon half of meat-sauce mixture on noodles and spread out evenly until all of the noodles are covered.
Spoon half of cottage cheese over meat and spread out. Helps if you put dollops evenly in spots then spread outward. Doesn’t have to cover.
Spread mozzarella cheese over cottage cheese.
Now, place another layer of uncooked noodles. Press the noodles down firmly into the pan so there is a light pack. Don’t get crazy, just press them down. You can overlap noodles’ edges.
Repeat meat, cottage cheese, and mozzarella layers then top with parmesan cheese and sprinkles of Italian seasoning.
Cook uncovered in 325º oven for 20 mins or until top is bubbling and brown. Take out and let cool for 10 mins. Noodles will have cooked through and the layers will settle down. Serve with salad or veggies but definitely with bread for sopping up liquids.
About Fish Stick Fridays
Deacon Reid was born bad to the bone with no intention of changing. A lifetime of law-bending and living on the edge suited him just fine—until his baby sister died and he found himself raising her little girl.
Staring down a family history of bad decisions and reaped consequences, Deacon cashes in everything he owns, purchases an auto shop in Half Moon Bay, and takes his niece, Zig, far away from the drug dens and murderous streets they grew up on. Zig deserves a better life than what he had, and Deacon is determined to give it to her.
Lang Harris is stunned when Zig, a little girl in combat boots and a purple tutu blows into his bookstore, and then he’s left speechless when her uncle, Deacon Reid walks in, hot on her heels. Lang always played it safe but Deacon tempts him to step over the line… just a little bit.
More than a little bit. And Lang is willing to be tempted.
Unfortunately, Zig isn’t the only bit of chaos dropped into Half Moon Bay. Violence and death strikes leaving Deacon scrambling to fight off a killer before he loses not only Zig but Lang too.
About Rhys Ford
Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.
Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats of varying degrees of black fur and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and an overworked red coffee maker.
What’s the Giveaway? Because there is ALWAYS a giveaway… Leave a comment or enter the Rafflecopter if the blog uses one and hopefully win the right to tell me where to send a set of childrens’ books to a library or charity of your choice. Book sets will randomly be chosen from a list and cost between $20 and $50 USD and donated in your name. The giveaway starts now and ends December 7th at 11:59 p.m. To enter, just click the link below!
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Don’t forget to check out Morgan’s review of Fish Stick Fridays to see what she thought of it!