Warm Your Winter Belly

Cold winds are blowing, temperatures arewinterhouse freezing and below, snow is falling, and the ice on the steps refuses to melt. Sounds like the basics of weather this time of year. These conditions make it hard to be outdoors, but it’s a wonderful time for some rib-sticking comfort foods.

While researching this article I started by looking at what my family has been having on the supper menu the last couple of weeks. Although we are located in North Carolina, the temperatures here have been unusually cold, with nights in the single digits and days barely getting out of the teens. Our family meal choices have reflected the foods I grew up with in the Northeast.

Here are some of my recipes for you to share with your families.

Hearty Chili with Red Beans

1 pound Ground Venison or Lean ground beef

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped fine

16 ounces red kidney beans, drained (I use Bush’s brand)

1 16-ounce can of prepared chili (I use Texas Pete’s brand)

Shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)

Sliced scallion greens (optional)

In a cast iron skillet, brown meat, breaking into crumbles as it cooks. Add onions and cook until onions are clear. Add beans and chili. Simmer on low heat until bubbling hot.

Serve in bowls garnished with cheese and scallions if desired. Also good with corn bread or steamed rice.

Serves 4 – 6

Chicken Pot Pie

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized cubes

4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces

1 cup baby carrots, halved

1 small onion, peeled and chopped fine

2 ounces butter (1/2 stick)

2 cloves minced garlic

1 cup frozen baby peas (optional)

½ cup milk or cream

2 Tablespoons flour

Double recipe of pastry/pie crust or 2 packages of pre-made crust dough

9″x13″ casserole dish

Blanch potatoes and carrots 5-10 minutes and drain well.

In a heavy skillet, melt 1 Tablespoon butter and brown chicken pieces.

Remove chicken and set aside. In skillet sauté onion until translucent. Add drained potatoes, garlic, and carrots and cook until golden, adding more butter if needed. Add the chicken back into the skillet. Blend milk and flour well and stir into skillet with chicken/vegetable mixture. Remove from heat and cool.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Line casserole dish with ½ the pastry dough to form bottom crust. Pour in cooled chicken/vegetable mixture and dot with remaining butter. Top with remaining pastry crust and seal and crimp edges.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Serves 6 – 8

Italian Baked Ziti

1 pound box of Ziti pasta, cooked al-dente according to package directions, drained well

1 lb. ground beef

½ lb. sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing

1 small onion, peeled and diced fine

4 cloves garlic, peeled and diced fine

16 ounces tomato sauce

16 ounce container of ricotta cheese

16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

1 egg, well beaten

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 – 2 Tablespoons Olive oil – to brown meats, onion and garlic

9″x13″ baking dish

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet. Crumble Italian sausage in skillet and brown, then add ground beef and crumble as it browns. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is clear. Set aside and cool.

Pre-heat oven to 350°.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked Ziti, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese (reserve 1 cup for top), egg, sugar, Italian seasoning, tomato sauce, and cooked meat mixture. Blend together well.

Pour pasta/cheese mixture into baking dish and sprinkle evenly with remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover well with aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 minutes and carefully remove foil, then bake for 15 to 20 more minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Serves 8 – 10

Warm your body and your soul with these hearty, winter comfort meals.

About Dori Fritzinger

I live and work with my multi-generational family in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. We have a farm of cows and calves, wool sheep, dairy goats, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, honey bees, a horse and a donkey. We have a goat's milk soap and bath products line available on our farm web site. I enjoy reading, quilting and doing embroidery.