3 comfort foods for cold weather
It’s time to warm up with soothing comfort food. Nothing beats a bowl of steaming hot chili, soup or stew on frigid days like these.
Here, we’re featuring three Test Kitchen recipes to get you through any cold snap — one soup, one chili and a tasty roast.
Feel free to adjust each recipe to your own taste with seasonings and such.
Test kitchen tips:
Use a variety of chili powders for your desired spice level. Check ingredient labels on chili powders. Most are a blend of ground chilis, oregano and cumin. If it’s pure chili powder you are after, the ingredients should be “ground chili peppers.”
When using whole beef cuts to make chili or stews, freeze the whole piece of meat for about 25 minutes — it will be easier to cut into smaller pieces. Pat the meat dry well with paper towels before sauteing; this helps the meat brown.
Save Parmesan rinds to drop in soups for added flavor.
Super Easy Beef Chili
Makes: 8 cups
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, peeled, chopped
11/2 pounds ground or diced beef (such as sirloin)
2 cups favorite bloody mary mix (spicy preferred)
2 cans (14 ounces each) diced tomatoes with green chilies (or 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice)
2 cans (14 ounces each) kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
4 tablespoons (or more if you like) favorite chili powder, divided
Sliced green onions
In a medium pot, heat the oil. Add the onion and saute about 8 minutes until it becomes lightly golden brown. Add the beef and cook until it browns, breaking it up as it cooks. Stir in the bloody mary mix and heat on medium-high, stirring and scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
Add the tomatoes, beans and 2 tablespoons of the chili powder. Stir well. Bring to just a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover slightly and simmer 30 minutes.
Just before serving, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of chili powder. Serve with desired toppings.
From and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
Nutrition: 366 calories (32 percent from fat), 13 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 31 g carbohydrates, 32 g protein, 647 mg sodium, 72 mg cholesterol, 9 g fiber. Analysis based on regular canned diced tomatoes and lean ground beef.
Winter Chicken Vegetable Soup With Spaetzle
Makes: about 8 cups
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
3 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon chicken base
6 cups hot water
1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast, washed, patted dry, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 carrots, peeled, diced
3 celery ribs, washed, diced
1 small turnip, peeled, diced
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cooked spaetzle (see note) or small bowtie or other small pasta
In a large soup pot, mix together the bouillon and hot water. Bring to a boil. Add the diced chicken, reduce heat to medium and continue cooking. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, carrots, celery and turnip. Saute until they are lightly browned. Add them to the broth mixture and simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes. Add the cabbage and thyme and continue cooking 20 minutes longer.
After simmering the soup, season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the spaetzle just before serving.
Cook’s notes: To make spaetzle, lightly beat 1 egg in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup of flour, 1/4 cup at time, until thoroughly incorporated. Add 1/3 cup of milk and a pinch of nutmeg. If dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour as needed. If using a spaetzle maker, place the dough in the basket of the spaetzle maker over a pot of boiling salted water. Slide basket back and forth to allow dough to drop in small pieces into the boiling water. Or cut the dough in small pieces and drop in the boiling salted water. Spaetzle will rise to the top when they are done. Drain and add to the soup.
From Sandra Biagini of Clarkston. Tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
Nutrition: 184 calories (32 percent from fat), 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 18 g carbohydrate, 13 g protein, 827 mg sodium, 24 mg cholesterol, 42 mg calcium, 3 g fiber.
Serve the roast straight for the slow-cooker or pile high on buns for sandwiches.
Preparation time: 15 minutes (if searing)
Total time: 8 hours using a slow-cooker
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 4-pound boneless chuck roast or top or bottom round roast
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 (1-ounce) packet dry ranch dressing seasoning mix
1 (1-ounce) packet dry au jus gravy mix
1 stick unsalted butter
5-6 pepperoncini or more if you like
Cut the roast if needed to fit in the skillet and slow cooker. Season both sides of the roast with salt and pepper to taste.
In a large skillet, heat the oil. When hot, add the roast and sear on both sides.
Transfer the seared roast to the slow-cooker. Sprinkle the ranch seasoning mix on top of the chuck roast, then sprinkle the dry au jus mix and place the stick of butter on top of the roast. Arrange the pepperoncini around the roast.
Cook on low for 8 hours or until the meat is falling-apart tender. Shred the roast and serve with gravy juices.
Cook’s note: To make this in the oven, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Sear the roast and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with the ranch and au jus seasoning. Cut the butter into pieces and arrange all over the roast along with the pepperoncini. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 2 to 3 hours or until meat is fork tender.
Adapted from several recipes on Pinterest and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen. Nutrition information not available.