Get Warm & Cozy

By Cindy Coopwood and Cordelia Capps
Photography by Will Jacks

Comfort Food Recipes fo Dark Winter Days

It’s January, and the holidays are officially over; it is frigid outside, and it gets dark by 5 o’clock. One of the best ways to ward off the winter doldrums is to drown yourself with lots of comfort food. Warm-ups and Netflix help too, but these recipes will fill your belly and warm your heart. There will be plenty to share, so invite your friends or make school nights a little easier in the weeks to come by dividing and freezing for later.

Sausage Stuffed Shells in Marinara

1 24-ounces marinara sauce, your favorite recipe or quality store-bought
1  pound bulk Italian sausage
2  cups fresh spinach
3  cloves finely chopped garlic
1 pound jumbo shells, cooked al dente
15 ounces ricotta 1 egg
1⁄4 cup parmesan grated cheese additional parmesan, shredded olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Pour marinara sauce in a 9 x 13 dish, reserving a little for topping, if desired. Cook sausage over medium heat. When sausage is mostly browned, add spinach and garlic. Cook until spinach is wilted and remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, parmesan, and egg. Add sausage and spinach into ricotta and stir until evenly distributed. Fill cooked pasta shells with 3-4 tablespoons of filling. Arrange shells in marinara sauce in a 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil followed by 15 minutes uncovered. Top with a dollop of additional sauce and sprinkle with parmesan.

Chicken Huntington

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 to 5 cups water seasoned with 1 1⁄2 teaspoons 
salt, or can use chicken broth
1 cup chopped onion
1  cup chopped bell pepper
2  cups chopped celery
4 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounce bag wide egg noodles
1⁄2 poundsharpcheddar,grated
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (babyBellas)
1 large jar roasted red peppers, chopped
1 teaspoon creole seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Place chicken in a large pot and cover with seasoned water or chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. Allow chicken to cook until heated through, about 25 minutes. Remove chicken from water, allow to cool and shred. Boil noodles in remaining seasoned water. Drain when cooked to al dente, reserving some of the water (about 1 cup) to moisten casserole if needed. Saute’ onion, celery and bell pepper in oil until tender. Mix the chicken, noodles and all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. If too dry add some of the reserved water. Pour into a greased 13×9 dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas

8 chicken breast halves, skinned
4 to 5 cups water seasoned with 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt, or can use chicken broth 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
2 10-ounce packages, frozen chopped spinach
1 tablespoons butter, melted 3⁄4 cup milk
3 4-ounce cans diced green chiles, drained
3 cups (12-ounce block) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
16 flour tortillas
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
24 ounces sour cream

Place chicken in a dutch oven; add salt and water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat, and simmer 30 to 40 minutes or until tender. Remove chicken and let cool slightly, dice and set aside. Cook spinach according to package directions; drain well, reserving 1 cup spinach broth. Saute’ onion in a large skillet until tender. Stir in spinach and chicken. In a separate bowl, combine soup, reserved spinach broth, milk, green chiles, sour cream and half of cheese in a bowl; mix well. Stir half of sauce into spinach and chicken mixture. Reserve remaining sauce. Spoon chicken mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla; roll up tortillas and place seam down in two lightly greased 13×9 baking dishes. Spoon remaining sauce over tortillas. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Casseroles freeze well. If frozen, allow to thaw prior to baking.

Simplest Salad

1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated
1⁄2 head of green leaf lettuce
1 head of radicchio, leaves separated
3 green onions, thinly sliced at an angle
20 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced

1  cup sundried tomato halves, sliced
2  tablespoons capers
Dressing
2 garlic cloves crushed
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1⁄2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl whisk all dressing ingredients together, season generously with salt and pepper. Wash and dry lettuce keeping pieces whole for presentation, if desired. Place in a large bowl adding remaining ingredients. Just before serving pour dressing over salad and toss gently. Just before serving sprinkle with capers.

Individual Shepard’s Pie

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
4  medium to large Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
5  whole garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons better
salt and pepper
Meat filling
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1⁄2 cups frozen pearl onions, halved
3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
3⁄4 cups chopped celery
2  cups chopped fresh mushrooms
3  tablespoons flour
2 pounds ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup beef broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1⁄2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1⁄2 cup chopped parsley
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1⁄2 cup grated cheddar cheese

In a saucepan, combine potatoes and garlic cloves; cover with water by 1 inch. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain; return garlic and potatoes to same pan. In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter till very warm and butter melts. Season potatoes with additional teaspoon of salt and slowly pour in warm milk and butter into potatoes (not using all at once). Mash or process until smooth or desired consistency, using remaining milk if necessary. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sauté onions in olive oil in a large skillet, cover and steam until they begin to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, celery and mushrooms. Cook until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir 1 tablespoon flour into the vegetables and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add meat, breaking it up and seasoning with salt and pepper, cooking until browned. Add broth, tomato paste, thyme and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer until sauce thickens. Stir in 1⁄2 cup parsley and remaining flour. Pour filling into a deep pie dish, casserole or divide among 8 individual ramekins.Top filling with mashed potatoes. Bake 25 minutes or until potatoes begin to brown, watching carefully.