It is so freaking cold outside that I can’t get warm anywhere in my house. So I decided to see if I could warm myself from the inside outward with some hot comfort food.
Warning: most of these suggestions are not in the least bit healthy or low-cal or allergy sensitive. I’m not a chef and certainly no gourmet. My only goal is to warm your tummy.
1. Shepherd’s Pie: Ground beef, Campbell’s Golden Mushroom Soup, milk, instant mashed potatoes. Brown the ground beef in a pot and then drain the fat. Mix in the Golden Mushroom Soup and milk. Put it in a pie plate and frost it with the mashed potatoes (which you have already cooked). Put in oven at 400 degrees for perhaps 30 minutes (I am terrible at estimating times. My rule is: Cook until it’s done!). If you want, you can broil it for a few minutes to brown the mashed potatoes on top. Optional: throw in some mushrooms (canned or fresh) and/or onions (fresh or flakes). Or even some peas and carrots, if you prefer.
2. Non-Orange Mac and Cheese : Prepare macaroni of any type. Put it in a bowl with some butter and some American cheese on top. Microwave it for 30 seconds at a time until the cheese is sufficiently melted. When it seems melted, mix it up until the macaroni is all evenly coated with cheese. Wallow in its gooey deliciousness.
3. Tuna Melt: Rye toast, canned tuna, mayo and cheese. Toast the rye bread. Prepare the tuna the way you like it (I’m a mayo only gal) and spread it on the rye bread. Put slices of cheese on top of the open-faced sandwich and put in toaster over and broil it until cheese melts. I like it brown and bubbly.
4. Grilled Cheese and Bacon: Prepare the bacon in advance and drain it with paper towels. Put butter in frying pan and put two pieces of white bread in the melted butter for a couple of seconds until they are brown. Turn the bread over. Put cheese on top of one of the pieces of bread, then some bacon, then more cheese. Put the piece of uncheesed but browned white bread on top of the cheese and bacon. Heat until the cheese is melted and it’s all goopy and gloppy. Cut into quarters (triangles). Mmmmm.
5. Matzoh Ball Soup: Buy the mix, made by Maneschevitz, in the kosher food aisle. You will also need some cooking oil and an egg to make the matzoh balls. In the box are two envelopes: one is soup mix and one is matzoh ball mix.
Make the soup per directions on the box. While the soup is cooking, make the matzoh balls. You need to put the matzoh ball mix in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before you actually make the matzoh balls. The secret to fluffy matzoh balls is minimal handling. So when you are forming them, do it quickly without a lot of fussing. The balls you drop into the soup should be small – about the size of half-dollar – maybe one inch to one and a half inches in diameter. They will quickly expand into large fluffy matzoh balls like magic. Yummy, plus it has known curative powers.
6. Green Bean Casserole: Frozen green beans, canned French fried onion rings, milk, pepper, cream of mushroom soup. Mix everything together per the recipe on the side of the French fried onion rings, which tells you to mix in about half of the onion rings and reserve the other half.
To save baking time, I put everything (including the frozen green beans) into a casserole dish and microwave for about 12-18 minutes. When you take it out of the microwave oven, it should be warm but not hot. Mix it around. Pour the rest of the FFOR on top of the contents of the casserole dish and put it into the oven at 425 degrees for about a half hour or until piping hot. If you wish, you can broil the top to make the FFOR brown. This is a corny old Thanksgiving recipe but so delicious that even non-veggie eating children will love it.
7. Oatmeal: I haven’t had old-fashioned cooked oatmeal since I was a kid. Instant oatmeal does the job just fine, and takes mere minutes. In my house, we have a water dispenser with instant hot water, so it takes only seconds. For the rest of you, heat some water in the microwave for 2 minutes and use it to make your oats. I am partial to Apples and Cinnamon flavor, but there are lots of delicious flavors available. It’s also a healthy food, I believe.
8. Chicken Pot Pie: From your grocer’s freezer. I have no intention of actually making this from scratch. You can buy a big box of frozen mini pot pies now and microwave them as you need them. So warm and nurturing.
9. Hot Cocoa: I’m partial to Nestle’s mix, but my husband prefers Swiss Miss (of course he does!). Don’t mix it with hot water – mix it with heated milk and experience a whole new dimension of internal warmth. Also good for making you sleepy at bedtime.
It’s amazing how well hot food warms your whole body. If you have some kids or spouses around the house, ask them to snuggle with you, and if necessary, bribe them with any of the above. We are almost halfway through the winter!