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Tummy warming dinners

Michele Frazier, Wikimedia Commons

Homemade broccoli cheese soup is a good choice for cold winter nights.


The only things I dislike about winter are ice on the roads and thick fog. Both have to do with driving, which is something else I am not fond of.

I didn’t get my drivers license until I was 19, and that was only because I was working and my parents were tired of chauffeuring me around. To this day, I much prefer if someone else does the driving, especially in a city. Luckily, I have no such aversion to eating or collecting recipes.

This time of year, I enjoy cooking meals that are warm and comforting, such as soups, stews or casseroles. I’m sure I am just one of many who appreciate a home-cooked, cozy meal on a cold night.

Let’s get right to the recipes.

Beef Stroganoff

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin tips

2 packages (8-oz. each) fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 medium sweet onions, diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups beef broth

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 package (16-oz.) egg noodles (medium or wide)

1/2 cup sherry

2 tablespoons flour

1 container (8-oz.) sour cream

Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

1. Sprinkle beef tips evenly with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown beef tips in a small amount of cooking oil, then add mushrooms and onions and saute 3 to 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

2. Stir tomato paste, broth and mustard into beef mixture. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook 1 hour, or until beef is tender.

3. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. In a bowl, toss with a bit of butter and season lightly with salt and pepper.

4. Combine sherry and flour; stir into beef mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.

5. Stir in sour cream until it is well blended. Serve over the hot, cooked noodles. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Family’s easy mostaccioli and cheese

I am not sure there is any difference between mostaccioli and penne pasta, so I use whichever I can find. Usually, penne is more available. This is a recipe my mother always made at home, then brought along on our camping trips to enjoy on the first night. She made her own sauce, but I find that there are many pre-made pasta sauces that work just fine.

1 package (16-oz.) mostaccioli or penne pasta

1 jar or can (about 24-oz.) your favorite marinara sauce

About 4 cups shredded Cheddar or Colby-Jack cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta according to package directions, then drain into a colander.

2. Return pasta to the cooking pot and add the sauce, mixing well.

3. Add desired amount of shredded cheese and mix well. My family prefers about 4 cups of cheese, but you can use more or less.

4. Place pasta mixture into a well-greased casserole dish, spreading evenly. Lightly coat one side of a sheet of aluminum foil with some cooking spray, then cover the casserole. (Or the pasta may stick to the foil when you remove it.)

5. Bake in preheated oven about 40 minutes, or until all the cheese has melted and the pasta is heated through. Makes at least 6 servings.

Mississippi pot roast

The first time I had this (or even heard of it) was when my oldest son brought some that he had made. When he mentioned the ingredients, I confess it did not sound like something I would like. But, I was pleasantly surprised. He says his friends beg him to make it for them. There are a few versions of the recipe going around. This one uses a slow cooker.

1 3-pound chuck roast

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 packet dry ranch dressing mix

1 packet dry onion soup mix (or au jus gravy mix)

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter

8 peperoncini (pickled peppers in a jar)

1. Heat a large skillet on high, then add oil. Pat the pot roast dry with a couple of paper towels, then season it with salt and pepper. Sear it on both sides in the hot oil, making sure to brown it well. It should be seared about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

2. Transfer the meat to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the packets of ranch dressing powder and onion soup mix (or au jus powder) over the pot roast. Top with the stick of butter, then place the peppers on and around the roast.

3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours. Do not open the lid and do not cook on a higher heat setting.

4. When the roast is done, take two forks and begin shredding the meat. Discard any large pieces of fat before serving. Great over mashed potatoes, or if you prefer, noodles. Makes 6 servings.

Easy broccoli cheese soup

4 cups fresh broccoli, cut into florets and chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup heavy cream

3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (see note)

Note: Use pre-shredded cheese. If you use a block of cheese that you have shredded yourself, toss it with a little bit of cornstarch before adding to the soup, so it will be much less likely to clump when you add the cheese. Also, add only a little cheese at a time and keep stirring as you are adding the cheese.

1. In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, saute garlic in a small amount of oil until it is fragrant. (Be careful it doesn’t burn.)

2. Add chicken or vegetable broth, heavy cream and chopped broccoli. (Note: I was a little leery of adding the cream at this point, so I allowed the broccoli to become tender in just the broth and added the cream later.) Simmer over low heat for 10 to 20 minutes.

3. Use a slotted spoon to remove about a third of the broccoli, if you prefer your soup with a few chunks. Set the broccoli aside. Use an immersion blender to puree the rest of the broccoli in the soup pot.

4. With heat still on low, add the shredded Cheddar cheese, no more than 1/2 cup at a time. Stir constantly until all the cheese is melted. Puree again to make it smooth.

5. Remove from heat and add the reserved broccoli. Makes 8 servings.


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