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

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!


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 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.


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


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


From Simply Suppers, by Jennifer Chandler – reprinted with permission

Jennifer’s note: “You don’t have to head to Miami to enjoy this Cuban favorite. It’s easy to make this popular pressed sandwich at home. It’s so easy to put together …plus it’s a delicious way to give leftover roast pork a makeover! Crusty warm bread, tangy mustard, gooey melted cheese and crunchy dill pickles transform a ham and pork sandwich into a tasty treat. We like to serve it with plantain chips on the side. ¡Buen Provecho!”


1 1-pound loaf of ciabatta bread, ends trimmed and cut into 4 pieces
4 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
4 teaspoons unsalted butter
8 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 pound thinly sliced baked ham
8 ounces roast pork, sliced*
1/2 cup sliced dill pickles


Cut the bread in half lengthwise and place on a work surface. To assemble the sandwiches, evenly spread the insides of each sandwich with 1 tablespoon of the mustard and lightly butter the outside of each sandwich with 1 teaspoon of the butter. Inside each sandwich, layer 2 slices of the cheese, 1/4 of the ham, 1/4 of the pork, and 1/4 of the pickles. Close the sandwiches.

Heat your panini maker or sandwich press to medium-high. Place the sandwiches inside, press down, and grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted, about 8 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 4.

* I opted to use leftover shredded roast pork

Cooking Tip: If you don’t have a panini press, you can cook the sandwiches on a griddle or skillet. To create the “pressed” sandwich, place a heavy skillet on top of the sandwich and press down as it cooks.

Variation: Ciabatta bread is an Italian white sandwich bread. If you can’t find it at the bakery, use crusty sandwich rolls instead.


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


KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
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  1. sara wrote:

    My favorite comfort food is definitely mac and cheese. Mmmmm…always makes me happy!

    Posted 9.23.10 Reply
  2. Macaroni and cheese, without a doubt!!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  3. Tom wrote:

    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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  4. KT wrote:

    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.

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  5. Dorene Stander wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  6. Joycee wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  7. Michelle wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  8. Terri wrote:

    Macaroni and cheese is my comfort food

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  9. Mary wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  10. sara wrote:

    my favorite comfort food has to be chicken soup!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  11. jordan wrote:

    my favorite comfort food is definitely spaghetti and meatballs!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  12. lisa o shea wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  13. delphine wrote:

    chili for sure, especially in the fall 🙂

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  14. Gail Richard wrote:

    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 !!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  15. Christy wrote:

    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.

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  16. Heather wrote:

    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……..

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  17. Lynne wrote:

    Mac and Cheese is top of my list!!!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  18. Heidi wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  19. Maureen wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  20. 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!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  21. AGeekyMom wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  22. Ericka H. wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  23. Michele wrote:

    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!!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  24. Mindy wrote:

    I think in our family, it would be breakfast for dinner!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  25. Marie wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  26. Iris H wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  27. Bob T wrote:

    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!!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  28. Robbi wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  29. Shelly wrote:

    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.

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  30. Laurie wrote:

    cream of tomato soup with hot ham and cheese sandwiches!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  31. Lisa wrote:

    Chocolate in any form.

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  32. Christine wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  33. mamagriz wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  34. Sherri wrote:

    My favorite comfort food is chocolate.

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  35. geraldinne wrote:

    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 🙂

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  36. Cheryl wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  37. Jodi wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  38. Steven wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  39. Olivia wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  40. Tupou wrote:

    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.

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  41. Mary Jane wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  42. Nancy wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  43. Carrie wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  44. Cookie wrote:

    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.

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  45. Cheryl W. wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  46. Roger wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  47. jessica wrote:

    my comfort food has to be chicken soup

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  48. Cheryl R wrote:

    My favorite comfort food is mashed potatoes.

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  49. Macaroni and cheese! Sooo good!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  50. Joan wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  51. April in CT wrote:

    Homemade gooey and cheesey macaroni and cheese!

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  52. The Mrs. wrote:

    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 🙂

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  53. I usually go for a hearty stewy soup.

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  54. Kristen wrote:

    That looks like a winning cookbook! My mom’s spaghetti and meatballs is my comfort food.

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  55. 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)

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  56. Elisabeth wrote:

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

    Posted 9.24.10 Reply
  57. Judith wrote:

    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.

    Posted 9.25.10 Reply
  58. LuAnn wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.25.10 Reply
  59. scrapper al wrote:

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

    Posted 9.25.10 Reply
  60. Teslaca wrote:

    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.

    Posted 9.26.10 Reply
  61. Carole wrote:

    Homemade soups comfort me, especially chicken noodle. 🙂

    Posted 9.26.10 Reply
  62. dineindiva wrote:

    Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese. Mmmmmm

    Posted 9.26.10 Reply
  63. Ros wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.26.10 Reply
  64. Cheryl wrote:

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

    Posted 9.26.10 Reply
  65. Maria wrote:

    PB, Banana, and Honey sandwiches are my favorite comfort food. Looks like a great book! Thanks!

    Posted 9.27.10 Reply
  66. elaine wrote:

    My fave comfort food is yummy mac & cheese! 🙂

    Posted 9.27.10 Reply
  67. Kathryn Baldwin wrote:

    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!

    Posted 9.27.10 Reply
  68. Kristi wrote:

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

    Posted 9.27.10 Reply
  69. cejones wrote:

    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.

    Posted 9.28.10 Reply
  70. Alison wrote:

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

    Posted 9.28.10 Reply
  71. I would have to say homemade bread with lots of butter!

    Posted 9.28.10 Reply