Feeling chilly? Try these five cold-weather dinner ideas

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By: Lydia Sheaks
lsheaks@elkharttruth.com

It’s just cold enough outside to start thinking about bonfires, apple picking and food meant to warm you up.

If you’re looking for a cozy recipe you can fix for dinner tonight, grab your fluffiest slippers and snuggle in to your warmest blanket, and peruse these five options. 

If you don’t have anything defrosted…

This Slow Cooker Potato Soup from Cooking with Ruthie doesn’t contain any meat except for bacon bits (and you can leave those out if you prefer). If you have potatoes and some cheddar cheese in the house, you can probably put this together in about 10 minutes. And it cooks all day in the slow cooker, so you won’t have to crawl out from under that warm blanket again until dinnertime.  

Ingredients

  • 10 red potatoes, cubed
  • 1 large onion, diced and sauteed in butter
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp ranch dressing mix
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (3oz) package of real bacon bits
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • ¼ cup chives or green onions

Place the first nine ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for four hours or low for eight hours. The potatoes should be tender. Stir in half and half, cheese, sour cream and chives or green onion. Heat through and serve.

If cheese is your idea of the perfect meal…

Traditional red-sauce lasagna is, of course, pretty cheesy. But this recipe for Chicken and Mushroom Lasagna from The Kitchn promises something a little different by melding three cheeses with a white sauce, baby bella mushrooms and shredded chicken. Bonus: You can assemble this lasagna 24 hours before you are ready to cook it, if you’re the type who likes to plan ahead.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 pound baby bella mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 or 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups cooked and shredded chicken (equivalent of 1 rotisserie chicken)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups warmed milk, preferably whole milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dry sherry or marsala (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, divided
  • 16 lasagna noodles (from a 1 pound box)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups grated gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a large, rectangular casserole dish or lasagna pan. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt two tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they start sweating liquid, about 4 minutes.

Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking, stirring often, until onions are translucent, about eight minutes.

Add the wine and bring to a boil; continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated out. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a separate bowl along with the shredded chicken.

To make the white sauce add the remaining four tablespoons of butter to the pot and melt over medium heat.

Stir in the flour until thick paste forms; continue cooking to remove the “raw” taste, about a minute.

Pour in the milk and chicken stock and cook, whisking often until the mixture is thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the salt, mustard powder, sherry, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, followed by 1/4 cup grated Parmesan.

While the sauce is thickening, prepare the noodles. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and arrange on a lightly greased sheet pan to prevent sticking.

Fold the chicken and mushroom mixture into the white sauce.

In a separate bowl, combine mozzarella, gruyere, remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Spread 1 cup of the chicken mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange 4 noodles on top of the chicken, overlapping if necessary. Spread about 1 cup of chicken mixture over the noodles followed by 1 cup of cheese. Repeat layers, ending with the remaining cheese on top.

Bake, uncovered, until the lasagna is hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

If you are assembling the lasagna ahead of time, add 15 minutes to the cooking time. 

If you’re looking for super-easy…

Frozen pizza has convenience on its side, but it won’t be as tasty as something fresh. Try this Garlic Bread Margherita Pizza from Amanda K. By the Bay for a variation on your usual pie. This is another recipe using mostly ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

Ingredients

  • Loaf of french bread
  • Approx. 2 tbs. roasted garlic cloves
  • Approx. 2 tbs. butter
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Leaf Oregano

Slice the loaf of french bread in half vertically, then in half horizontally. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a microwave safe dish. Chop roasted garlic and add to melted butter. Use a fork to mash garlic with butter.

Spread butter/garlic mixture on the four pieces of french bread. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar on bread. Top french bread with tomato and mozzarella slices. Sprinkle bread with oregano and top with fresh ground pepper.

Place loaves on cookie sheet, and let cook for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Turn on your broiler to low, and let pizza broil for just a few minutes. Watch them the whole time, you don’t want it to burn. Cheese should start to bubble and edges of the bread should be golden.

Remove from oven, top with fresh basil and sprinkle with a little more balsamic vinegar. Cut pieces of bread in half again.

If you need to use up some apples…

Picking your own apples is fun and it’s easy to pick more than you can eat. Use the extra apples to make this Slow Cooker Apple Garlic Pork Roast from The Taylor House

Ingredients

  • 1 pork loin roast
  • 4 apples, cut
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp. garlic
  • 2 tsp. chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

Place your roast in the slow cooker. Whisk together your applesauce, water, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper and pour over the roast.

Cut up the apples and place on top of the roast. Turn on low for six hours.

If you want a creative sandwich…

Sandwiches can be perfect for a cold-weather dinner. For these Turkey Hummus Sandwiches with Black Pepper Honey from Framed Cooks, you’ll need just six simple ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 slices hearty bread, your choice
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup hummus
  • 1/2 pound thin sliced turkey
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Heat grill to medium high. Brush both sides of bread with olive oil and grill until both sides are toasted to your liking. Remove and cool slightly. 

Spread each slice of bread with 1/4 cup hummus. Divide turkey among sandwiches and lay on top of hummus.

Heat honey in microwavable measuring cup until liquid, about 10 seconds. Grind a generous portion of black pepper into honey and swirl to mix. Drizzle over sandwiches and serve.

Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks
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