Yummy Comfort Food For A Cold Winter’s Night

Mama Mia, it’s cold! It’s dark! We’re HUNGRY!! What’s for dinner?

I don’t know about all of you, but when I’m stuck in the deep freeze of winter, with short days and long, cold nights, I crave comfort food. And, of course, it has to be pretty simple cooking, since time is always of the essence when you’re looking at homework, after-school activities, and all that other stuff. Plus, by that time of the day, during the winter months, I’m usually lagging a bit in the old energy department.

My family is big on soups and stews this time of year and we’ve definitely got our favorites. There is something really satisfying about  a meal made up of a healthy, homemade soup with a couple of sides to go along with it. Delicious and nutritious, and a pretty easy clean-up to boot.

So I thought I would share one easy menu that’s a long-time-favorite with my own kids. Maybe your crew will like it too. I started cooking this one many years ago, and my little darlings still love it.

Here’s the menu: Colorful Potato Soup, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, and Tossed Green Salad.

♥ Make the soup in the morning and you’ll be pretty much all set by the time everyone’s shouting for food.

Colorful Potato Soup (I don’t remember where I got this recipe, so my apologies to the originator for not giving credit)

1 medium onion chopped

2 tbsp. butter, melted

1 large can low-sodium, non-fat chicken broth

3 cups peeled, diced baking potatoes

1 cup grated carrot (buy the baby ones already peeled and grate them in the cuisinart)

1/4 tsp. pepper

2 tbsp. flour

1 8-ounce carton light or non-fat sour cream

2 tbsp. parsley flakes (or freshly chopped if you’re up for it)

——————————————————————————————–

1. Saute onions in butter in a big soup pot (dutch oven) till tender, stirring constantly.

2. Add chicken broth; bring to boil.

3. Add potato, cover, lower heat and simmer 15 minutes.

4. Add carrot and pepper, cover, lower heat and simmer another 15 minutes or till potato is soft.

5. Mix flour with a little of the cooking liquid and stir with wisk till smooth.

6. Add flour mixture to the soup. Stir and continue cooking until it’s thickened.

7. Turn heat down to low and add sour cream and parsley.

8. Cook till its heated through.

♥ Serves 4. Can easily double recipe and have more for another night.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Use a griddle or a cast iron pan for best results.

1. Place low-fat cheese slices (or whatever you guys like) inside 2 pieces of whole wheat bread.

2. Spread Hellman’s or Best Foods Light mayonnaise on the OUTSIDE of the top piece of bread.

3. Place sandwich, mayo side down, on preheated griddle and spread mayo on top of other piece of bread.

4. Cook for about 4 minutes or till lightly browned. Press down gently on sandwich with spatula.

5. Flip sandwich when it’s browned and continue to cook till other side is brown and toasty too.

Green Salad

To make it super easy, get the pre-washed salad mix. Throw in some pre-washed baby spinach for extra nutrition. Otherwise, use romaine or anything except iceburg, which has practically no nutritional value.

1. Wash lettuce, spin dry, tear into pieces, and put in large salad bowl.

2. Cut a washed tomato into chunks and add to lettuce.

3. Cut a cucumber into chunks and add to lettuce.

4. Slice a few pieces of red onion and add to lettuce.

5. Toss in a handful of shelled sunflower or pumpkin seeds for extra nutrition.

6. When almost ready to serve, pour a little olive oil on the salad.

7. Pour a little red wine vinegar on the salad.

8. Add a sprinkling of black pepper and toss well.

That’s it ladies. Easy, tasty, nutritious, and kid-friendly. Just what the doctor ordered to get you through the dark nights of winter.

P.S. You can also skip the salad and go with soup and sandwiches coupled with some fresh fruit for dessert. Mine liked a combo of apples and pears cut into cubes along with banana slices.

If you put the fruit on a small plate or bowl and give your little dudes a toothpick to use instead of a fork, they will love it. It’s fun, and a good way to build fine motor skills, too. Just make sure they are at least nursery-school-aged so they don’t end up eating the toothpick, poking their eyes out with it, or sticking it in their ear. You know the drill.

Enjoy!

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.


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