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Four Comfort Food Recipes for Cozy Snow Days

February 2, 2015

When the forecast calls for snow and the world runs out for bread and milk, my mom and I go shopping for big batch cooking ingredients.  The cold temps and softly-falling snow just make me want to be warm and cozy, which somehow translates to cooking comfort food.

During our latest snowstorm, I called my mom.

“What are you making today?”

My mom is an excellent cook who always had a big pot of something going during snow days, too.  My standards used to be giant pots of either beef and beans chili, or homemade pasta sauce made with tons of Italian sausage (Mom’s recipe, of course), but lately I’ve been looking for newer recipes to fit the comfort food snow day cooking bill. So we chatted for a bit, but neither of us was inspired by any new ideas, so I took to the internet.

I found three new ideas to try over the two days that we’d be inside and I’m happy to report that they were all hits with my family of five.  If you’re like me and love to cook during a snow storm, give these a try.  And please SHARE YOUR FAVORITE SNOW DAY RECIPES IN THE COMMENTS BELOW. I’d love to try some new dishes!

1.  Pioneer Woman’s Potato Soup — This was such a hearty hit, that even my pickiest non-soup eater, gobbled it up.  I did find a puddle of celery and onion pieces in the bottom of his bowl, but I’ll tell myself that he got some veggies in by eating the puree.  😉  (Tip:  Cook the whole pound of bacon so you can fend off the hungry vultures who circle when they smell it, but won’t back away till they’ve had a slice.  Just be sure to reserve enough for the garnish when serving.  It really makes the dish.)

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2.  Pear & Vanilla French Toast Bake — This was breakfast, lunch and dinner at different times during the weekend for my family.  I made a few modifications, which I think worked really well.  First, use a hearty, whole-grain bread for this instead of mushy white bread.  It will hold up after soaking up the liquid, plus it makes leftovers last much longer.  Second, triple the amount of cinnamon and add 1 tsp of nutmeg as well for more flavor.  Third, walnuts should not be optional as they are the star of this dish and give it great crunch as well as some healthy protein.  Double the amount of chopped walnuts and layer them both in the middle and on top.

Pear & Vanilla French Toast Bake

 

3.  Pull Apart Pizza Bread — This one is definitely for the kids.  It is such a tasty recipe, but if your kids like to help in the kitchen, this is easy for them to do, too.  I highly recommend adding more olive oil, as ours was a bit dry, plus whatever additional seasonings your family will eat.  We added some fresh basil along with the dried basil because we had some on hand.  If your kids aren’t picky, this could stand some peppers and onions, too, but I left them out and my kids devoured this in one sitting.  For the sauce, I used some leftover homemade sauce (recipe below), but if you use canned or jarred sauce, add some additional seasoning.

 

4.  Mom’s Homemade Meat Sauce with Italian Sausage — No quick links for this one as it’s my mom’s recipe, not one from the internet.  This is great on its own over pasta, used in a large baked ziti or lasagna, or really in place of any tomato sauce.  Once you see how easy it is to make your own sauce homemade, you’ll never buy jarred again.

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs Italian sausage (I use half hot, half sweet)
  • 4 large cans crushed tomatoes
  • grated Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup or more, to taste)
  • spices:  basil, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. In large soup/sauce pot, heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat until garlic softens. At least 4-6 cloves of garlic, but I often add tons more.
  2. Remove sausage from casing and use your hands to separate into small pieces (mine vary from the size of peas to the size of small meatballs.  It’s all good!) and brown it in pot with garlic.
  3. Drain fat from cooked sausage.
  4. Add crushed tomatoes (careful of the splatter) and stir to help separate chunks of sausage.
  5. Add spices to taste.  I never measure, but start with at least 1 full rounded tablespoon of each of the herbs, and a whole tsp of the salt and pepper.  About a quarter to a half tsp of the red pepper flakes because they will heat up the whole pot if you have some who don’t like spices.  As with any dish, taste frequently along the way and add more spices to your liking.
  6. Add parmesan cheese (again, as much as you see fit), and stir to evenly incorporate all ingredients.
  7. Simmer on low in large pot for 1 to 2 hours (or more).
  8. Serve over pasta, mixed in a lasagna or baked ziti, on the side for dipping, or in a bowl with a spoon.  YUM!

Displaying Italian meat sauce.jpg

So what are you cooking today?

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