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The beloved host of QVC’s In the Kitchen with David is back with a brand-new cookbook featuring 110 comfort food recipes that save on time—without skimping on flavor.
Time is the one thing everybody wants—and the one thing nobody has enough of. Time to spend with your family, time to share meals together. Now, thanks to David Venable’s supermarket shortcuts and an array of innovative kitchen appliances, you can save precious time and still prepare incredible meals.
For more than two decades, Venable has helped others make and eat good food. Here he continues his passion for tasty, easy comfort meals with 110 fail-proof recipes that utilize time-saving tips, ingredients, and appliances that home cooks can use every day. Forget making it all by scratch—Venable shows you how you can put great food on the table in record time. In this book, you’ll find fast and simple cooking methods for everything from soups and salads to appetizers and entrées to sides, noodles, desserts, and special occasion beverages. You’ll discover:
• Tex-Mex Skillet Nachos • Potsticker Soup • Asian Shredded Salad • Meatball Lasagne • Creamy French Onion Chicken Casserole • Tex-Mex Country Ribs Under Pressure • Beef Empanadas • Roasted Potatoes with Bacon and Ranch Dressing • Slow Cooker Chocolate Pudding Cake • Summer Sangria
Loaded with mouthwatering photographs for every recipe, Comfort Food Shortcuts is a cookbook you’ll have plenty of time to return to again and again.
Under the Cover
An excerpt from Comfort Food Shortcuts: An "In the Kitchen with David" Cookbook from QVC's Resident Foodie
When friends or family come to my house, we spend time together laughing, sharing stories, enjoying each other’s company, and of course, eating. There’s no better way to get the evening started than with some quick and easy appetizers. Too often, we tend to rely on the same old cheese-and-cracker platter or bowls of nuts and olives. Instead, take advantage of my supermarket shortcuts to put together some creative appetizers and snacks in no time. And they can be great conversation starters, too. Make-ahead Million Dollar Dip or Pepperoni-Stuffed Cheesy Breadsticks are no-fuss bites when entertaining at dinner parties and holiday gatherings.
I’ve also included two seasonal beverages for adults to enjoy. The cooling Summer Sangria is made with white wine, orange-flavored liqueur, and seasonal fruits like watermelon and berries. The Winter Punch includes pears and warm spices, such as cinnamon, star anise, and fresh ginger.
If the kids ask, “When will dinner be ready?” put together some Antipasto Kebabs or Crazy for Caprese Flatbreads to hold them over.
Million Dollar Dip
I’ve been to many potluck dinners and parties where this dip is always the first thing to disappear. With just a handful of easy-to-find ingredients, the dip comes together in fewer than five minutes. It would be easy to eat this favorite by the spoonful, but I suggest crackers, tortilla or pita chips, or vegetables as dippers instead.
Makes 4 cups
8 ounces bacon, chopped
¾ cup (6 ounces) mayonnaise
¾ cup (6 ounces) sour cream
1 8-ounce package whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar
½ cup chopped scallions, plus 1 tablespoon sliced scallion
3 garlic cloves, minced
Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the bacon on a paper towel–lined plate.
Put the mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, and pepper in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until creamy. Using a spatula, fold in the shredded cheese, scallions, garlic, and bacon until fully incorporated.
The dip can be served immediately garnished with the 1 tablespoon scallions or refrigerated for 2 days. Bring to room temperature about 1½ hours before serving.
Philly Cheesesteak Dip
Put some Philadelphians in a room and the talk invariably turns to two topics: the Eagles, who won the 2018 Super Bowl, and where to find the city’s best cheesesteak. This beloved sandwich is made with thinly sliced grilled steak, onions, and bell peppers. Cheese is melted on top and then everything is piled onto a soft, oblong roll. While I do love my cheesesteaks, I thought, “Why not turn all that goodness into a warm dip?” Serve with crunchy, salty tortilla chips; pretzel sticks; or some frozen prebaked soft pretzels or pretzel sticks that quickly warm up in the oven. No matter what team you root for, this dip is a winner.
Makes 6 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 pound cheesesteak meat, frozen and cut into 2-inch pieces (frozen meat is thin, so it will be easy to slice)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 15-ounce jar Cheez Whiz Original Cheese Dip, at room temperature
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces, at room temperature
8 ounces Velveeta, cut into 1-inch pieces, at room temperature
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and bell peppers and sauté until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the frozen meat, Worcestershire, and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the Cheez Whiz, cream cheese, and Velveeta and cook, stirring constantly, until all the cheeses are melted and the mixture is warm. Pour into a bowl and serve with dippers. This dip is best when served the same day it’s made.
Dill Pickle Dip
When I was a little boy, I loved to fish a crunchy dill pickle from the glass jar, sometimes chasing the last one around with a fork. All those great tangy, salty, and vinegary flavors are combined in this simple dip. People go crazy for this! Serve with ridged potato chips; they’re stronger and hold more dip. Caution: You will most likely lick the bowl.
Makes 3 cups
1 8-ounce package whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup (2 ounces) sour cream
2 cups diced dill pickles
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup pickle juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh dill leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Put the cream cheese and sour cream in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until creamy. Using a spatula, fold in the pickles, onion, pickle juice, garlic, dill, and pepper until fully incorporated. Spoon into a serving dish, cover, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight before serving. Garnish with the remaining 1 teaspoon dill leaves before serving. The dip does not keep more than 1 day.
Crazy for Caprese Flatbreads
Yes, I am! Insalata Caprese (salad from the Isle of Capri), made with the ripest tomatoes, the freshest mozzarella, brightest green basil leaves and some good extra-virgin olive oil, is my favorite summer salad. When entertaining a crowd, I find it easier to pile the ingredients on prebaked flatbreads and then cut them into serving pieces. If you don’t have time to make the pesto, you can certainly use premade sauce.
Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
To make the pesto, put the basil, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano, the ½ teaspoon pepper, and the salt into a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped, 6 to 8 times. While the machine is running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream until a thick paste forms.
Arrange the flatbreads on the prepared sheet pan. Bake until lightly crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the flatbreads from the oven and evenly spread the pesto over them. Sprinkle ½ cup mozzarella over each flatbread and evenly distribute the tomato slices on top of the flatbreads. Sprinkle each with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Bake until the tomatoes are soft and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 2 minutes before slicing and serving.
The secret to successful nachos is to put half of the cooked beef mixture in the bottom of the skillet and top with some tortilla chips, then repeat and sprinkle on the cheese before baking.
Makes 8 servings
1 10-ounce can RO*TEL Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, drained
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup (4 ounces) sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
12 ounces ground beef
1½ cups frozen chopped onions and peppers
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 8-ounce jar medium taco sauce
1 8-ounce bag tortilla chips
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Pepper Jack
Heat the oven to 400°F.
Combine the canned tomatoes and chilies and cilantro in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream and lime juice. Set bowls aside.
Put the ground beef and frozen onions and peppers in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is no longer pink and some of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the beans and taco sauce. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.
Remove half of the beef-bean mixture from the skillet to a bowl. Put the tortilla chips on top of the beef-bean mixture in the skillet. Put the reserved beef-bean mixture on top of the tortilla chips. Sprinkle the cheese on top.
Bake until the cheese is melted, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven, drizzle with the sour cream sauce, and top with the tomato mixture.
RO*TEL Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies • taco sauce
A colorful, eye-catching, and ready-in-no-time appetizer doesn’t get any easier than these no-cook kebabs. Sliced prosciutto, grape tomatoes, mild pepperoncini, jarred artichoke hearts, and small mozzarella balls (called ciliegine) are arranged on 8-inch-long wooden skewers and piled onto platters, then drizzled with balsamic glaze.
Set up an assembly line and let the kids pitch in. Put an empty glass on the table so guests have a place to put their used skewers. I’m not sure which I love more: that every bite offers a new flavor or that there are no dishes to wash.
Makes 12 servings
24 small fresh mozzarella balls
24 marinated and quartered artichoke hearts from a jar, liquid reserved
24 red grape tomatoes
24 thin slices prosciutto
24 fresh basil leaves
12 8-inch wooden skewers
3 tablespoons balsamic glaze
Put the mozzarella balls, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and 1∕3 cup of the artichoke liquid in a bowl. Toss gently to coat all of the ingredients. Refrigerate and marinate for 1 hour.
Assemble by alternating the marinated ingredients, prosciutto, pepperoncini, and basil leaves on the skewers in any order you wish. Arrange the skewers on a platter and drizzle with the balsamic glaze before serving.
marinated and quartered artichoke hearts • balsamic glaze
Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Blue Cheese Dip
These one-bite delights have all the great flavors of Buffalo chicken wings, but without the bones. Ground chicken and bread crumbs are shaped into mini meatballs, then simmered in Buffalo wing sauce. The meatballs absorb the flavors of the sauce, making every bite warm and spicy.
Makes about 40 meatballs
1 cup bottled blue cheese dressing
¾ cup minced celery
2 pounds ground chicken
¾ cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups bottled Buffalo wing sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions
Combine the dressing and celery in a bowl to make a blue cheese dip. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Combine the chicken, bread crumbs, and eggs in a bowl. Using a 1-inch ice cream scoop, shape the mixture into 40 meatballs.
Put the Buffalo wing sauce and ½ cup water in a large sauté pan; add the meatballs and cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium-low heat, and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes, gently stirring halfway through.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water until smooth. Increase the heat under the meatballs to high and add the cornstarch mixture. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring often.
Serve hot, with the sauce, garnished with scallions and the dip.
blue cheese dressing • Buffalo wing sauce
Pepperoni-Stuffed Cheesy Breadsticks
Thank goodness for the ease and magic of refrigerated bread doughs. They allow us to take America’s favorite pizza flavors—pepperoni, cheese, and Italian seasoning—and roll them into delicious party or meal starters. Use your favorite jarred marinara sauce or pizza sauce for dipping. These also reheat well in the microwave or toaster oven.
Makes 8 servings
2 11-ounce cans refrigerated Crusty French Loaf
48 (about 3.2 ounces) pepperoni slices
8 mozzarella string cheese sticks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon garlic salt
¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning
Pizza sauce, for dipping
Heat the oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
Unfold the bread dough from one can and place on a work surface. Cut into 4 rectangles measuring 5½ x 6 inches. Place 6 pepperoni slices on the longer side closest to you, then place 1 string cheese stick on top. Fold the dough over, carefully stretching it over the filling to cover it. Then roll the dough like a jelly roll. Pinch the dough to seal all the seams (top and sides). Place the rolled breadsticks on the prepared sheet pan. Using the tip of a paring knife, make 4 small slits in the dough to allow steam to escape. Repeat with the other can of bread and the remaining pepperoni and cheese.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Brush the butter mixture evenly over the breadsticks. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve with the pizza sauce, for dipping.
refrigerated Crusty French Loaf • string cheese sticks • Italian seasoning • pizza sauce
Most people tend to make sangria with red wine, but when hosting an outdoor dinner party in the summer, I like to offer my guests this colorful sangria with white wine, white grape juice, and orange liqueur. Add the fruit and refrigerate for a few hours. To keep the sangria chilled, frozen mango pieces are added to the picher or glasses when pouring.
Makes 6 servings
1 bottle (750 ml) Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
2 cups white grape juice
½ cup orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or
½ cup watermelon cubes
½ cup sliced fresh strawberries
½ cup fresh raspberries
½ cup fresh blueberries
2 cups frozen mango cubes
torn mint leaves
Pour the wine, grape juice, and orange liqueur into a large pitcher and stir well. Add the watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Refrigerate for 3 hours. Add the frozen mango and mint to these glasses before serving.
frozen mango cubes
Move aside, eggnog! Make room for a warming punch that is perfect for all your winter gatherings. Pear juice is infused with cinnamon, star anise, and ginger, then combined with white wine. (Look for star anise in the spice or Asian foods aisles.) Orange slices, pineapple pieces, and ruby red pomegranate seeds add festive colors. The whole thing comes to life when sparkling wine is added. It’s all the flavors of the holidays poured into a glass.
Makes 6 servings
3 cups pear juice
4 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1 cup chilled Sauvignon Blanc
½ navel orange, thinly sliced
½ cup pomegranate seeds
1 ½ cups frozen pineapple chunks
1 bottle (750 ml) dry sparkling wine, such as Prosecco
Put the pear juice, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and ginger into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Refrigerate the mixture until chilled.
Strain the pear-spice mixture through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard the spices. Pour the pear-spice mixture into a large pitcher. Stir in the white wine, orange slices, and pomegranate seeds. Just before serving, add the frozen pineapple and sparkling wine to the pitcher and stir well.
pomegranate seeds • frozen pineapple chunks
Just before serving punch or coolers, add some frozen mixed berries, sliced peaches, and pineapple or kiwi and mango chunks to the pitcher or glasses to keep the liquid chilled.
You can also use frozen fruit on skewers for a lovely garnish.
QVC’s “resident foodie” David Venable has been a program host since 1993 and has logged more than 12,000 hours in front of the camera. Viewers can watch him twice weekly on QVC’s In the Kitchen with David® and anytime on his YouTube series, Half Homemade. Venable has appeared on NBC’s Today, ABC’s The Chew, the Rachael Ray Show, and Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family. His recipes have been featured in People, HuffPost, Woman’s World, and Good Housekeeping, as well as in other popular publications. Raised in North Carolina, Venable graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.