Win “Simply Suppers” Cookbook + Author Q&A & Cuban Panini

by on September 23, 2010

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Get Dinner on the TableI’ve got another dinner-themed cookbook to share with you today – Simply Suppers. This time it’s all about comfort food and familiar classics.

In the book, Memphis-based author Jennifer Chandler shares her tried and true recipes for homemade family meals. Since I’ve been focused on weeknight meals this month, I gravitated to the “30 in about 30″ category of dishes that can be prepared in about 30 minutes. The Cuban sandwich (see the recipe at the end of this post!) was hugely flavorful and an excellent use of my leftover roast pork. I couldn’t resist the urge to discover what the Cheeseburger Pie was like – it took a bit longer than 30 minutes but worth the wait for a hearty, unique savory pie. Our favorite recipe of all so far is definitely the Shrimp and Grits, seasoned with Cajun spices, bacon and garlic. Yum!

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Win a copy of Simply Suppers!

To enter: Leave a comment on this post with your favorite comfort food. (I have many favorites in this category, but my ultimate would have to be fries).

The giveaway ends Monday, September 27, 2010 at 12 PM PDT. [GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED] One winner will be selected at random via Random.org and announced by Tuesday, September 28, 2010. One entry per person, please. Due to shipping costs, you must have a U.S. or Canadian address to be eligible.

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Read on for my interview with author Jennifer Chandler. And, YES, we’ve got a panini recipe today as well – Jennifer’s mouthwatering Cuban!

Jennifer Chandler

Jennifer Chandler, Simply Suppers

Q & A WITH JENNIFER CHANDLER, author of SIMPLY SUPPERS

What does comfort food mean to you?

Comfort food is all about home-cooking. Dishes that warm our souls and put a smile on our faces. That’s what I want for supper. Don’t you?

Good food isn’t about being gourmet…it’s about being delicious. In fact, some of our favorite foods are the simplest dishes.

Think about it. Aren’t there certain foods that make you feel good inside just thinking about them?

Maybe a gooey mac-n-cheese, a perfectly roasted chicken, or creamy mashed potatoes? For me, it’s warm brownies fresh from the oven, a simple grilled cheese sandwich, and my grandmother’s eggplant casserole.

Simply Suppers is all about showing you how easy it can be to put a homemade meal on the table each night. This book includes my tried and true recipes that I make over and over again. My wish is that some of the recipes in this book will become your favorites too.

Many of the recipes in Simply Suppers are familiar favorites many of us will recall from our childhoods. Does comfort food tend to evoke a bit of nostalgia?

Yes! Comfort food does tend to evoke a bit of nostalgia. Some of the dishes we love the most have a happy memory associated with them. The comfort not only comes from the satisfying taste of the dish but also from the memories that come when you savor that first bite. For example, whenever I eat the Cauliflower Au Gratin in Simply Suppers, I can’t help but think of family get-togethers at my Dad’s house.

I will point out that whereas many of the recipes in Simply Suppers will be familiar, many offer a modern twist in the classics we grew up with. For example, my Mac-n-Cheese has a twist with the addition of fresh herbs and country ham. Also, I add white cheddar cheese to the sauce and pecans to the topping of my Green Bean Casserole.

What are your best tips for making getting dinner on the table easier for busy families?

• Be armed with a repertoire of basic cooking techniques. When choosing the recipes to include in this book, I intentionally included a variety of cooking skills. Sautéing, pan-roasting, braising, baking, and making sauces are all simple techniques that can be used to make an infinite number of dishes.

• Make it easy on yourself and take the stress out of cooking. Use short-cut ingredients like rotisserie chickens and frozen vegetables. Do whatever you can in advance, keeping in mind that some dishes actually taste better the next day. Make double-batches of recipes that freeze well so you will always have a home-cooked meal available in the freezer for those days when you really don’t have time to cook but still want to feed your family a home-cooked meal. (Look for my list of “Freezer Go-To’s” on page xi.)

Use the best ingredients. The key to delicious food is simple: use fresh, in-season, top-quality ingredients. And remember, best does not always mean the most expensive. Let flavor be your guide when choosing what goes into your food.

Maintain a well stocked kitchen. Having the right ingredients in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer can make the difference between ordering take-out pizza and having a delicious last minute meal. Mustards, vinegars, and dried spices can all help turn a bland dish into something your whole family will enjoy.

Describe your ideal dinner at home.

No matter how simple the meal, the ideal dinner is when we all sit down together and enjoy the comfort of good food and good company. Our family has had just a memorable meal enjoying a simple soup or sandwich as they have had eating my Boeuf Bourguignon. It’s about eating a delicious and nourishing meal while we take a break from the busy day to re-connect with each other.

Thanks so much, Jennifer, for taking the time to share your delicious insights! Read more about Jennifer and her recipes on her website, Cook with Jennifer.

Cuban Panini

The publisher of Simply Suppers is providing one copy of the book for me to review and one to a reader for this giveaway.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:






>Ready to buy a panini press? Check out my Panini Press Buying Guide for the features to look for.

>Want more panini recipes? See my Recipe Index for a list of all recipes on Panini Happy.

>Traveling to a new city soon? Browse Panini Happy’s Great American Sandwich Guide to find the best sandwiches across the country!

{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sara September 23, 2010 at 11:02 pm

My favorite comfort food is definitely mac and cheese. Mmmmm…always makes me happy!
sara´s last blog post ..Chicken Pie with Cheddar Biscuits

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2 Julie @ Willow Bird Baking September 24, 2010 at 4:18 am

Macaroni and cheese, without a doubt!!
Julie @ Willow Bird Baking´s last blog post ..Assorted Donut Muffins and Project Food Blog- Vote Now!

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3 Tom September 24, 2010 at 5:17 am

I have chicken tacos down to a science, when I need something quick, filling, and enough for leftovers I whip some up. I caramelize the onions first so they get a little crunchy. Yum

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4 KT September 24, 2010 at 5:25 am

My favorite comfort food is the chili recipe I learned from my husband. We won a chili cook-off with it! It makes short winter days and long winter nights more bearable.

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5 Dorene Stander September 24, 2010 at 6:00 am

My favorite comfort food is mashed potatoes -these days I especially love garlic mashed potatoes with chives. Mmmmmm…..

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6 Joycee September 24, 2010 at 6:31 am

It just might be this sandwich…and a bowl of potato soup! Would LOVE to have this cookbook, we do paninis often…love your recipes!

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7 Michelle September 24, 2010 at 7:07 am

My favorite comfort food is meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy.

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8 Terri September 24, 2010 at 7:21 am

Macaroni and cheese is my comfort food

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9 Mary September 24, 2010 at 7:33 am

My favorite comfort food hands down is anything that’s chocolate and right out of the oven! Last night it was chocolate cream cheese cupcakes. Of course, I had a ham, cheese and spinach panini first!

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10 sara September 24, 2010 at 7:35 am

my favorite comfort food has to be chicken soup!

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11 jordan September 24, 2010 at 7:39 am

my favorite comfort food is definitely spaghetti and meatballs!

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12 lisa o shea September 24, 2010 at 7:41 am

My comfort food is Spaghetti bolognese, but not anyones, has to be mine and you can throw fries in there too!Yum!!

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13 delphine September 24, 2010 at 7:45 am

chili for sure, especially in the fall :)

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14 Gail Richard September 24, 2010 at 7:46 am

My favorite comfy, feel good recipe is scalloped potatoes and ham.
Studded with chunks of honey-glazed ham and with a creamy,buttery white sauce—–IT IS TO DIE FOR !!

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15 Christy September 24, 2010 at 7:47 am

Turkey dinner — mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, the works. But mac and cheese does the trick as well, as long as it isn’t the boxed kind.

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16 Heather September 24, 2010 at 7:48 am

The first thing that comes to mind is a bowl of cheesy, creamy Macaroni and Cheese. I like when the edges get a bit crispy and dark brown. Yum……..

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17 Lynne September 24, 2010 at 7:49 am

Mac and Cheese is top of my list!!!

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18 Heidi September 24, 2010 at 7:54 am

My favorite comfort food is warm bread with butter, any kind of bread as long as it is just baked!

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19 Maureen September 24, 2010 at 7:55 am

I am torn between mac and cheese and grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup.

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20 Danielle Johnson September 24, 2010 at 8:02 am

I have 2 go to comfort foods. Either homemade wild rice soup or mashed potatoes with butter. Yum. I think I might do both this weekend with some sandwiches!
Danielle Johnson´s last blog post ..Here we go again!

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21 AGeekyMom September 24, 2010 at 8:06 am

My favorite comfort food is Bigos (Polish hunter’s stew.) 2nd favorite would be white chicken chilli.
I can’t wait to try the Cuban sandwich recipe!

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22 Ericka H. September 24, 2010 at 8:08 am

Mac & Cheese! Whenever I’m homesick, that is what I eat.

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23 Michele September 24, 2010 at 8:16 am

Ahhh…it would have to be Ham-n-Bean soup with a side of warm cornbread, no shortcuts, though, has to be from dried beans soaked overnight, and then simmered gently all afternoon. Comfort in a bowl!!

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24 Mindy September 24, 2010 at 8:22 am

I think in our family, it would be breakfast for dinner!
Mindy´s last blog post ..Our Weekly Menu- September 19-25- 2010

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25 Marie September 24, 2010 at 8:25 am

My favorite is mashed potatoes with milk, butter, salt, garlic and chives!!!
Yummy!!!!!!! I can taste them now!!! Think I will make some for supper tonight!

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26 Iris H September 24, 2010 at 8:26 am

Ice cream has been my favorite comfort food since my childhood. Flavor or how it is served does not matter.

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27 Bob T September 24, 2010 at 8:34 am

My favorite comfort food has to be a nice roast, with pan gravy, and mashed potatoes.
It just doesn’t get any better than that!!

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28 Robbi September 24, 2010 at 8:39 am

I also have to say homemade mac & cheese is my favorite comfort food.

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29 Shelly September 24, 2010 at 9:14 am

Monday night dinner – my Dad’s hamburger, mac and tomatoes. He passed when I was 13, so even though I dress this tried and true dinner up a little – I think of home every time I smell it cooking.

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30 Laurie September 24, 2010 at 9:21 am

cream of tomato soup with hot ham and cheese sandwiches!

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31 Lisa September 24, 2010 at 9:39 am

Chocolate in any form.

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32 Christine September 24, 2010 at 9:41 am

Like many others, Mac and Cheese is my go-to comfort food!

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33 mamagriz September 24, 2010 at 9:58 am

anything my mom used to make for us as kids – meatloaf and mashed potatoes, cinnamon toast under the broiler, biscuits and gravy…….

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34 Sherri September 24, 2010 at 10:03 am

My favorite comfort food is chocolate.

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35 geraldinne September 24, 2010 at 10:04 am

My favorite comfort food has to be my mom’s pozole. It’s so hardy and I have so many great memories of us eating it :)

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36 Cheryl September 24, 2010 at 10:24 am

My favorite comfort food would be mac and cheese. And it has to made with the right kind of cheese.

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37 Jodi September 24, 2010 at 10:32 am

1. Chocolate Chip Cookies right out of the oven 2. BROWNIES!! And 3. Mom’s home made baked Mac and Cheese. That seems to be almost everyone’s fav!

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38 Steven September 24, 2010 at 10:43 am

Favorite comfort food? OoohBoy, you’re making me think about this one here……….but, I think I’d have to say a nice beef shepherd’s pie —Mmmmm!

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39 Olivia September 24, 2010 at 11:04 am

I must say that my all-time favorite comfort food is some good chilli (turkey, chicken or vegetarian chilli). If I had to name a second comfort food it would definitely be my grandma’s chicken and dumplings, life was great with a big plates of that dish!

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40 Tupou September 24, 2010 at 11:17 am

A bit ashamed to admit this but my fave comfort food is 5 cheese pasta casserole w/onion & ground beef . What else is better than cheesy gooey meaty pasta goodness? Yum.

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41 Mary Jane September 24, 2010 at 11:30 am

My all time favorite comfort food has to be the all american hamburger. I love hamburgers grilled or fried, with or without condiments. They are my food warm & fuzzy!

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42 Nancy September 24, 2010 at 12:03 pm

My favorite comfort food is homemade soup. It always reminds me of my Grandma.

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43 Carrie September 24, 2010 at 12:06 pm

ah. homemade mac n cheese or lasagna. its gotta be cheesy.

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44 Cookie September 24, 2010 at 12:35 pm

My favorite comfort food has got to be my mom’s chicken noodle soup. It’s the combination of childhood memories and the way a hot bowl of soup makes you feel all warm inside! Whenever I’m not feeling well or need to be cheered up, I always crave it.
Cookie´s last blog post ..Finally Opening Up That Red Curry Paste!

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45 Cheryl W. September 24, 2010 at 12:48 pm

My favorite comfort food is a big pot of Chicken and Dumplings. So yummy!

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46 Roger September 24, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Of course it has to be meatloaf,mashed potatoes with gravy,and sweet tea that is true comfort..

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47 jessica September 24, 2010 at 1:44 pm

my comfort food has to be chicken soup

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48 Cheryl R September 24, 2010 at 3:19 pm

My favorite comfort food is mashed potatoes.

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49 Amanda Perez September 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Macaroni and cheese! Sooo good!

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50 Joan September 24, 2010 at 5:01 pm

My favorite comfort food has to be mac and cheese followed closely by fried potatoes.

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51 April in CT September 24, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Homemade gooey and cheesey macaroni and cheese!

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52 The Mrs. September 24, 2010 at 6:39 pm

Okay so maybe it’s not exactly a “food” but hands down it is tea for me. And to be perfectly honest, it is not even so much about drinking it. It is the whole experience. The warmth of the cup in my hands. And ooohhh I just linger over it ans inhale. It is aromatherapy to me. Now that’s comforting. Ummmm I think I’ll go brew some chai :-)
The Mrs.´s last blog post ..Need a Little Encouragement

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53 Vicki Chester September 24, 2010 at 6:49 pm

I usually go for a hearty stewy soup.
Vicki Chester´s last blog post ..Pulled Pork Chilquiles

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54 Kristen September 24, 2010 at 7:11 pm

That looks like a winning cookbook! My mom’s spaghetti and meatballs is my comfort food.
Kristen´s last blog post ..“Getting” Blogging Recipe- Snickerdoodle Cookies

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55 Stacy Taylor September 24, 2010 at 8:13 pm

My comfort food is a meal that mom made me on special occasions–meatloaf (smothered in ketchup not gravy), mac and cheese, green beans, and mashed potatoes. :0)

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56 Elisabeth September 24, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Grilled cheese, mac and cheese, brie and bread, so cheese, really.

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57 Judith September 25, 2010 at 9:38 am

Comfort food to me is something I never tire of, something I could eat several times a week , every week. That would be PIZZA! all kinds, every kind.

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58 LuAnn September 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm

My favorite comfort food is homemade macaroni and cheese. I love to eat it with any meal or make it a meal all by itself!

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59 scrapper al September 25, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Comfort food = potatoes, in any shape or form. Thanks for the giveaway!

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60 Teslaca September 26, 2010 at 4:55 am

A big cheese omelet with home fries and whole wheat toast works for me! I suspect it’s the cheese and potatoes that do it.

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61 Carole September 26, 2010 at 6:42 am

Homemade soups comfort me, especially chicken noodle. :-)

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62 dineindiva September 26, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese. Mmmmmm
dineindiva´s last blog post ..Field Trip- Hartville Marketplace and Flea Market

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63 Ros September 26, 2010 at 6:14 pm

A favorite comfort food (when I need something small) would be chocolate. If I want something warm and heavier, it would be pasta of some sort!

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64 Cheryl September 26, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Oatmeal comforts me anytime of day. I can spice it up or just plain and simple. It reminds me of my childhood days.

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65 Maria September 27, 2010 at 8:13 am

PB, Banana, and Honey sandwiches are my favorite comfort food. Looks like a great book! Thanks!
Maria´s last blog post ..Peach Crumb Bars

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66 elaine September 27, 2010 at 8:45 am

My fave comfort food is yummy mac & cheese! :)

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67 Kathryn Baldwin September 27, 2010 at 11:06 am

My favorite comfort food would have to be a baked macaroni & cheese! with a crispy breadcrumby crust – and not just with cheddar… a mix of cheeses to make it really gooey!
the combo of the crispy top with the creamy inside!

i may make some tonight! its cold and rainy in NY!

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68 Kristi September 27, 2010 at 11:39 am

So many to choose from, but I think I’m gonna have to go with ice cream, probably rocky road :P

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69 cejones September 28, 2010 at 4:57 am

Mashed Potatoes! All the way, though french fries are a close second…are we reading carbs here? You bet! When hubby is traveling, mashed potatoes are my meal, when I’m in a “mood” give me mashed potatoes. Any add-ins are fine, but plain is just as good.

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70 Alison September 28, 2010 at 10:22 am

My mom’s mac and cheese. I am not sure what she does to it, but noone seems to make it quite like her.

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71 Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary September 28, 2010 at 1:15 pm

I would have to say homemade bread with lots of butter!

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