From casseroles to slow-cooked stews, winter is a great time to cook for comfort and convenience.
January is here and so is the dead of winter. As temperatures hit freezing and there are fewer hours in the day, it’s the perfect time to cook for comfort and convenience — especially, when attempting to get Shabbat dinner on the table before sunset at 5 p.m.
An effective solution can be found within myriad possibilities of all-in-one meals. This method of cooking is also a great way to introduce children to the kitchen because of the simplicity involved. How can you go wrong when prepping, cooking, serving, storing and cleaning only require a few items?
In this issue I’d like to share a few delicious favorites from our family table with yours.
This recipe is best described as heart-healthy winter comfort food.
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsps. whiskey — it’s okay for kids, I promise; it reduces and cooks down
2 Tbsps. and 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. cocktail sauce
2 tsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic
1⁄4 cup water
1 lb. ground turkey
11⁄2 cups uncooked “no yolks” wide
1 can (15.5 oz.) small red Goya beans
Spritz the bottom of a slow cooker with cooking spray and whisk together the first 11 ingredients.
Add the turkey.
Cook on low for 6 hours.
Add the uncooked pasta and beans and turn the heat up to high for an additional 2 hours. The noodles should absorb some of the liquid and be extra soft in texture.
Enjoy warm and freeze the leftovers in a large plastic bag for up to 1 month.
Serves 8 to 10.
This dish takes under 15 minutes to prepare and is as easy as, well, pie! It combines lots of flavors to make a perfect healthy dinner, or even a breakfast option. If you’re not having a dairy meal, the cheese can be swapped for shredded boneless skinless chicken breast.
1 ready-to-bake 9-inch piecrust
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1 container (10 oz.) baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1⁄2 cup scallions, chopped
1 cup spinach
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh sage
3⁄4 cup fat-free, part-skim ricotta cheese
4 large eggs
2 Tbsps. all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375˚. Using a 9-inch round glass dish, unroll the pie shell into the dish and let it sit on the counter for 5 minutes until it reaches room temperature.
Crack 1 egg in a ramekin and brush around the empty shell to coat. Bake for 9 minutes. (Reserve the leftover egg.)
In a medium saucepan, sauté oil, mushrooms and scallions on medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the spinach, salt, pepper and sage and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the spinach has wilted.
In a separate bowl, whisk the ricotta and eggs (include remaining egg leftover from pie shell).
Next, add the vegetable mixture and flour and give it all another toss until the entire mixture combines.
Pour into the pre-cooked piecrust and place in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes. The quiche is finished when you stick a knife in the middle and it comes out clean.
If the top of the crust starts to brown, you can place a metal pie crust shield or foil over the edges to prevent burning.
Serves 9 one-inch slices.
Sweet-and-Sour Slow Cooker Brisket
In this dish each ingredient retains its own flavor and texture but blends together for one unique bite. It’s an alternative way to enjoy a traditionally popular Jewish cut of meat but with a different flare — and a great way to introduce children to bold pairings outside their everyday comfort zone.
11⁄2-2 lb. brisket
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
20 oz. pineapple juice
1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
1⁄4 cup water
2 Tbsps. soy sauce
pinch of salt
2 cups uncooked brown rice
Trim the fat on the brisket and place in a skillet over medium heat. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on either side to get a little bit of browning on the top. It doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through. This is just to get a nice crisp before putting it in the slow cooker.
Add the chopped onion and pepper to the bottom of the slow cooker and place the brisket directly on top (fat side down).
Mix all the other ingredients (minus the rice) in a separate bowl until they are all combined.
Pour liquid mixture into the slow cooker, cover with lid and cook on low for 6 hours.
Add the uncooked rice to the slow cooker and turn the heat up to high. Cook for an additional 2 hours, or until the liquid is absorbed.
Serve in a bowl immediately, or store in the fridge up to 1 week.
Serves 6 to 8 one-cup servings.
Zesty Dill Salmon and Potato Bake
This fish-and-potato bake is almost foolproof to make. Which means small children can lend a hand. It’s loaded with fiber, protein and Omega 3, is low in saturated fat and will keep you full for hours. We serve it warm for dinner but you can eat the leftovers cold for lunch or even try it as a salad over some lettuce.
1 medium lemon
12 oz. raw uncooked salmon (farm-raised if possible)
3 Tbsps. fresh dill
1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsps. white sugar
1 large orange pepper, cut into pieces
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3⁄4 cup chopped onion
1⁄2 cup broccoli florets
2 Tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. pepper
Cut a few round slices from the lemon and place the raw salmon on top.
Squeeze approximately 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and sprinkle the dill on the top and sides of your fish; then set aside. (This can be done a few hours in advance or overnight.)
Preheat oven to 350˚.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and sugar for three minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
Add pepper, potatoes, onion and broccoli to a 9×13-inch baking dish and mix in the oil, salt and pepper until everything is coated.
Pour the balsamic/sugar mixture evenly across the top and bake for 35 minutes.
Add the marinated fish to the top of the dish and bake for another 25 minutes until flaky (salmon should be approximately 145˚ in the center).
Break the fish apart using the side of a fork and lightly fold into the dish.
Serve warm. You can squeeze more fresh lemon juice and dill on top if desired.
Serves 5 to 6.
Taylor Orlin, who works as an account executive for the Jewish Exponent, is a lifelong foodie. She has spent years developing and modifying recipes to adapt for specific dietary needs, including her own Crohn’s Disease. She also believes in instilling healthy eating habits at a young age.