Comfort For Cold, Winter Nights

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The highs for the next several weeks are predicted to be in the upper 50’s and on occasion inch into to low 60’s, but the lows are most likely going to hover around freezing. That bite of chill comes quickly when the sun sets, so having a warm supper is great comfort on a cold night.

Since we are not a hibernating species, activities don’t slow with the cooler temperatures, so having a few quick solutions for those nourishing, warm, comforting suppers are essentials.

Jenny Harper, consumer test kitchen project manager for the Nestlé Test Kitchens, says, “Whether you call them bakes or casseroles, your family will simply call them delicious. And as a timesaving extra, you can make these creamy dishes ahead of time, then just pop them in the oven when you need them. Toss a fresh green salad and add some warm bread, and you have a meal they’ll love to sit down to.”

Cheesy Oven Burrito Bake

Makes 12 servings (1/2 burrito each)

Nonstick cooking spray

2 large sliced red and/or green bell peppers, cut into thin strips

1 medium onion, sliced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1, 12-fluid-ounce can Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Lowfat 2% Milk, divided

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced fat 2% cheddar cheese

1, 4-ounce can diced green chilies, undrained

1-1/2 cups cooked long or medium grain brown rice, heated

1, 16-ounce can fat-free refried black beans

6, 8-inch multi-grain or whole-wheat tortillas

Salsa and guacamole (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Spray large, nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Add peppers, onions and cumin; cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, combine 1-1/4 cups evaporated milk, cheese and chilies in small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese has melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Stir 3/4 cup of cheese sauce into heated brown rice; reserve remaining cheese sauce.

Combine refried beans and remaining 1/4 cup evaporated milk in medium, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH (100% power) for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring after each minute or until slightly thickened.

Fill tortillas with hot beans, rice and vegetables, dividing equally. Fold sides over filling. Place filled burritos, seam-side down, in prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheese sauce. Cover with foil.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. Serve with salsa and guacamole, if desired.

Tips: Cooked chicken or ground beef may be added to filling. Look for precooked ready-to-use brown rice to save prep time.

Turkey & Hash Brown Bake

Makes 10 servings

1, 16-ounce bag or 4-1/2 cups frozen, shredded hash brown potatoes

2 cups chopped frozen or fresh broccoli

8 ounces sliced turkey, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)

1, 12-fluid-ounce can Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Lowfat 2% Milk

1, 10-ounce can condensed fat-free cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish.

Combine all ingredients in large bowl until well blended. Pour into prepared baking dish.

Bake for 50 minutes or until heated through. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tips: When you visit the deli counter, ask for the amount of turkey you’ll need and it can be cut into one thick piece.

For more easy weeknight dinner recipes, visit www.TheCookingMilk.com.

Another solution for getting warm, comforting suppers on the table quickly these chilly nights after a jam-packed day is the slow cooker.

Slow cookers are a simple, no-nonsense solution to making delicious meals for a family on the go. With minimal prep time, you can walk away and let the slow cooker work its magic - welcoming you home to an aromatic, ready-to-serve dinner. Here are some tips for slow cooker success:

• Brown your meat before you heat. The extra few minutes you take to do so will greatly enhance the flavor of your meal. If you dredge your meat in a little flour before browning, you’ll also get a thicker sauce. While some foods will brown during the cooking process, they won’t have the same color and flavor they get when browned first on the stovetop. If you can find the time for this step, the results are worth it.

• Prioritize your ingredients. Hardy, fresh vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, or turnips for example, cook more slowly than meat. To avoid undercooking these types of veggies, place them on the bottom or sides and the meat on top. Add tender vegetables, such as peas, and strongly flavored vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower or onions in the last 15 to 60 minutes. Dairy products like sour cream, milk or yogurt, tend to break down in the slow cooker. To prevent this, add them during the last 15 to 30 minutes of cooking. However, prepared items such as the Bob Evans’ Refrigerated Mashed Potatoes in this recipe can be added at the beginning. Stir in spices for the last hour of cooking. They will lose flavor if cooked with the rest of the ingredients for the duration.

• Resist the urge to stir. Each time you lift the lid to do so, heat escapes, extending the needed cooking time by up to half an hour. Some recipes do instruct you to stir halfway through the cooking process or toward the end, but otherwise it’s best to leave the lid closed. To check progress without lifting the lid, spin the cover until the condensation falls off. Then it’s easy to see inside.

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Photo courtesy of Family Features

Casserole combo

Here’s a deliciously simple slow cooker recipe from Bob Evans Food Products that your whole family will love:

Slow Cooker Shepherd’s Pie

Preparation time: 10 minutes; cooking time: 4 to 6 hours; makes 6 servings

1 pound Bob Evans Original Recipe Sausage Roll

1, 24-ounce package Bob Evans Mashed Potatoes

2 cups frozen peas and carrots

1, 12-ounce jar beef gravy

In medium skillet over medium heat, crumble and cook sausage until brown. Place in slow cooker. Add peas and carrots. Top with mashed potatoes. Pour gravy on top of potatoes. Cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours.

For more family-friendly slow cooker recipes, visit www.bobevans.com.

One of the great, all-time cold night comfort foods has to be macaroni and cheese.

Macaroni and cheese, the classic American comfort food staple beloved by kids and adults alike, just got easier to prepare. No, not packaged or frozen-from your own stovetop (no baking) in under 30 minutes.

Stovetop Mac & Cheese begins with Dreamfields pasta, a premium pasta made from durum wheat semolina — just like traditional pasta, but with a healthful twist. A one cup serving of Dreamfields not only tastes great, but also has only five grams of digestible carbohydrates and five grams of fiber — which is twice the amount in traditional pasta. The fiber comes from inulin, a 100 percent natural prebiotic fiber (which may help promote healthy digestion) found in common foods like asparagus, raisins and chicory root.

To prepare this one pot, four-ingredient, stovetop mac and cheese, simply cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, then add the prepared light Alfredo sauce, shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese and nonfat milk. Stir for a couple of minutes and you’ll be rewarded with a creamy, delicious dish.

Many people don’t realize how versatile this iconic favorite is.

• Try different cheeses — Colby, Swiss, goat, Gouda, blue, or a combination.

• Don’t stop there — Vegetables like broccoli florets, green peas and cherry tomatoes make great stir-ins, as do protein choices such as cooked turkey, chicken or ham, even meatballs.

It’s a deliciously doable winner... one pot, four ingredients, on the table in under 30 minutes.

photo

Photo courtesy of Family Features

Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Preparation time: 10 minutes; cooking time: 13 minutes; makes 6 servings

1 box Dreamfields Elbows

1 cup prepared light Alfredo sauce (in a jar by Ragu, Bertolli, etc.)

2 cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese or part-skim mozzarella cheese or a combination

1/2 cup skim milk

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pan; remove from heat.

Immediately add Alfredo sauce, cheese and milk to pasta; stir constantly until cheese is melted. Add additional milk if necessary for desired consistency. Serve immediately.

Stir-ins: Cooked chicken, turkey, ham cubes, hot dog pieces, meatballs, cooked chicken or turkey sausage, cooked broccoli florets, green peas, chopped tomato or halved cherry tomatoes.

For this and more amazing recipes, visit www.dreamfieldsfoods.com.

Sources: Nestlé; Bob Evans Foods; and Dreamfields Foods From Family Features

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