Comfort Food to Warm You

It's cold out. The wind is whipping at your back as you open your front door and shuffle into the house, kicking snow off your feet as you press the door shut and remove about eight layers of clothing before shivering and looking at the kitchen.

What's for dinner?

When Old Man Winter gives you his worst, you want something warm and comforting. But, if you're like us, you don't want to be in the kitchen for hours, either. So this month, we offer a gift. A simple menu chock full of warm and satisfying food that comes together in, literally, minutes.

We begin with a rich, creamy soup that is perfect for pouring into a bowl and enjoying in front of a roaring fire. The blend of creaminess and seasonings will have you thinking that the wind whipping outside your door can just stay there for a while!

Creamy Potato Soup

  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 11/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 1/3 cups instant mashed potato flakes (dry)

Heat margarine, onion, salt, celery salt, pepper and milk to scalding. Stir in potato flakes; continue cooking until smooth, stirring constantly. (soup should be consistency of heavy cream.) If desired , garnish each servings with paprika and parsley.

  • Yields: 4 servings (1 cup each)
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Nothing goes better with hot soup than warm bread. These biscuits are made in the southern tradition and have a buttermilk tang and a soft texture. Dip them in the creamy soup for a dreamy dinner.

Southern Biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk

Heat oven to 450. Measure flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and into bowl. Cut in shortening thoroughly, until mixture looks like meal. Stir in almost all the buttermilk. If dough is not pliable, add just enough milk to make a soft, puffy, easy-to-roll dough. Round up dough on lightly floured cloth-covered board. Knead lightly 20 to 25 times, about 1/2 minutes. Roll a little less than 1/2 inch thick . Cut with floured biscuits cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

  • Yields: About 2 dozen 1 3/4 -inch biscuits
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Rich, creamy hot cocoa can be enjoyed alongside this dinner, but when it's this dreamy you might want to save it for dessert! Enjoy a mug as you relax for the evening and realize you got a homemade dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes!

Hot Cocoa

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in large saucepan. Add water. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Stir in milk; heat through but do not boil. If desired, add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Just before serving, beat with rotary beater until foamy or foamy or stir until smooth.

  • Yields: 9 servings ( 2/3 cup each)
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes