The Recipe Gals: Hardy, cozy meals for chilly days

The groundhog said we would have six more weeks of winter, and I believe it with the frigid temperatures and snow every other day. Since we have a few more weeks of the cold weather, why not make some hardy items to make you feel warm and cozy?

The first dish is for breakfast or brunch. A great dish to make ahead, on the weekend or when company comes, it will make you feel satisfied.

Breakfast tater tot casserole

1 16-ounce bag frozen tater tots

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound spicy bulk breakfast sausage

1 medium onion, diced

1 cup milk

1/2 cup half and half

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 large eggs

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

1 cup grated pepper jack cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Spray a 13×9 pan with non-stick spray and line the dish with the tots. Do not overlap them put in a single row.

Add the olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and onion and cook, breaking the sausage up with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, then sprinkle it over the tater tots.

In a large bowl, mix the milk, half and half, cayenne, eggs, bell peppers, half of both cheeses and some salt and pepper. Pour over the tots and sausage mixture, then top with the remaining cheeses.

Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight or bake at 350 degrees. Bake covered with foil for about 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the cheese is brown and bubbly and the casserole is cooked through, another 20-25 minutes.

Cut into squares and serve.

Hint: This can be a gluten free

recipe. Make sure the tater tots are gluten free as well as the sausage. Some sausages can have fillers that are not gluten free. It should say on the packages if they are gluten free.

If you are not a green pepper person you can use 2 red peppers or an orange or yellow pepper which I prefer because they are sweeter. You can use regular sausage instead of spicy and the same with the cheese, if you are not a spicy food kind of person you can use all cheddar.

This is a great dish to serve if you have company. With a side of fruit salad, it makes a great breakfast or brunch.

Another comfort food recipe I have is a soup-stew meal. This will make you feel warm and cozy on those cold wintery days.

Pork posole

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds lean, boneless pork loin, 1/2 inch diced

1 large onion, chopped

1/3 cup small-diced poblano pepper

2 yellow or orange bell peppers, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

6 cups chicken stock

1 12-ounce jar salsa verde, your spice preference

2 cans white hominy, rinsed and drained

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

3 cups corn tortilla chips, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add pork and saute for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned on all sides. Transfer the pork and the liquids to a bowl and set aside. Heat an additional 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the onion, and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the poblano pepper and the bell peppers and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, chili powder, and oregano and cook for one minute. Return the pork and the juices into the pot.

Add the chicken stock and salsa verde and bring to a simmer. Stir in the hominy, black beans, and tortilla chips. You can season with salt and pepper at this point to your liking. Continue to simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes is up you can serve into soup bowls. Garnish with lime wedges, more tortilla chips, sour cream, avocado, scallions, more cheese, radishes the list is endless.

Hint: This is a gluten free meal and again depending on how spicy you like your food, you can omit the poblano pepper and you can buy mild salsa verde. I did not add any salt to this recipe. I felt it was salty enough with the tortilla chips in the dish. It is amazing how the tortilla chips help to thicken the soup-stew you don’t even know they are in the dish. I just bought the pork tenderloin and cut it up myself. They are very tender and easy to cut. This dish is very flavorful, and if you like Mexican food then you will love this recipe. Bon appetit!

-Pam Rolley

Creamy delicious, thick and hearty, mushroom soup, made even more delicious with roasted garlic. Great meal for a chilly night!

Roasted garlic mushroom soup

Roasted Garlic:

1 head garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

Mushroom soup:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small yellow onion chopped

24 ounces fresh cremini or button mushrooms coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

3 cups vegetable broth

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

fresh rosemary for garnish

Roast the garlic:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Remove papery outer skin from the garlic head (do not peel or separate the cloves). Rub 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil on the garlic head, and wrap it in foil. Bake for 1 hour; let cool for 10 minutes. Separate cloves, and peel the skin off of them. Place the garlic cloves in a small dish and set aside.


While the garlic roasts, begin chopping and cooking the rest of the soup.

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook until onion is soft and starting to brown, about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the onion starts cooking too quickly, add a little water to the pan to slow the cooking.

Add in chopped fresh mushrooms and soy sauce. Cook over medium heat for 10-20 minutes, or until the moisture from the mushrooms disappears.

Add flour and smoked paprika and cook 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Remove from heat.

Allow the garlic to finish roasting, and cool a bit so you can separate the garlic cloves, and peel the skin off of the cloves.

Place half of the roasted garlic in the soup, and reserve the other half for garnish.

Stir the broth into the cooked veggies, and use an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree the soup. Transfer the pureed soup back into the soup pot.

Add the bay leaf to the pureed soup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

While soup simmers, in a separate saute pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute sliced mushrooms until they start to brown, about 10 minutes.

Add milk and the sauteed sliced mushrooms to the soup, and heat through, about 5 more minutes on low heat.

Remove from heat, remove the bay leaf, and mix in the sour cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve, hot, garnished with reserved roasted garlic cloves, fresh rosemary, and additional pepper.

This salad is so tasty with fresh shredded cabbage, peanuts, chopped veggies, tossed with a Thai peanut dressing. The perfect side salad, or make it a main dish by simply adding chopped cooked chicken.

Thai peanut salad

Yield: 8 Servings


4 cups cabbage, shredded

1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup green onions, sliced

1/2 cup salted peanuts

1/2 cup red bell pepper diced

Optional: make it a full meal by adding 12 ounces diced cooked chicken

Thai peanut salad dressing:

1/3 cup peanut butter, use natural peanut butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons rice vinegar or regular vinegar

2 tablespoons coconut aminos, tamari, or regular soy sauce

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon finely minced ginger

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro (optional)

In a large bowl add cabbage, cucumber, green onions, peanuts, pepper, and chicken (if you’re using it).

In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Pour dressing over the salad and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

-Karen Sick

The Recipe Gals, Pam Rolley and Karen Sick, together have more than 60 years’ experience as nutritionists in the public school and university settings. You’ll find their delicious offerings every other week in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette’s section, The Taste.


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