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Beef stew is sure to draw ahhhs. (Linda Smith / For the Enterprise)
Beef stew is sure to draw ahhhs. (Linda Smith / For the Enterprise)
What's Cookin': Frigid winter weather stirs appetites for comfort food
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food Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

The brutally cold weather we've been experiencing lately calls for warm, savory comfort foods. Serving a lettuce salad with cold cubed chicken or turkey on it I can guarantee you will not elicit smiles on many faces at the dinner table during January and February in northern Minnesota. Almost anything that requires baking or stewing will fit the bill here. Don't forget the healthy salads, fresh fruits and vegetables as accompaniments, but save them as the main course until it warms up a bit.

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Apple Meat Loaf

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 T. butter

2 1/2 lbs. ground beef

1 1/2 c. fresh breadcrumbs

2 c. finely chopped peeled and cored apples

3 eggs, beaten

1 T. chopped parsley

1/2 t. pepper

2 t. salt

1/4 t. allspice

1 T. prepared mustard or 1/4 t. dry mustard

1/4 c. ketchup

Sauté onion in butter until soft. In a large bowl, combine onion, beef, breadcrumbs, apples, eggs, parsley, pepper, salt, allspice, mustard and ketchup. Form into loaf and place in 10-x14-inch baking pan or pack into a large greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8-10.

Baked Spaghetti

8 oz. spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces

2 T. butter

1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1 egg, well beaten

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

1/4 c. chopped green pepper

2 T. vegetable oil

1 (15 1/2-oz.) jar thick spaghetti sauce

1 t. sugar

1/2 t. leaf oregano, crumbled

1/2 t. garlic salt

1 c. cottage cheese

4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded

Cook spaghetti in boiling water following label directions; drain. Place in 9-x13-inch baking pan. Stir in butter, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and egg until thoroughly combined. Spread mixture evenly in pan. Sauté hamburger, onion and green pepper in oil in large skillet until meat is brown; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce, sugar, oregano and garlic salt. Spread cottage cheese over spaghetti layer and top with meat mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over top and bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and just begins to brown. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Serves 6.

Pork Tenderloin with Apples

1/2 c. olive oil

1 T. minced garlic

3 t. cinnamon, divided

1 t. nutmeg, divided

1 t. cumin

3 lbs. pork tenderloins, trimmed of fat

Salt and pepper

1/4 c. butter

4 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and sliced 1/2-inch thick

3 T. sugar

In large zipper-lock bag or bowl, combine oil, garlic, 1 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. nutmeg and cumin. Add pork; rub to coat with marinade. Seal bag or cover dish. Refrigerate, turning occasionally, up to 8 hours. Heat large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove pork and place in skillet; discard marinade. Brown on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to rectangular baking pan large enough to allow 2 inches between each tenderloin. (Do not wash skillet.) Roast at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of tenderloin registers 160 degrees F. Remove and allow to rest 5 minutes. Melt butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender and browned. With spatula, scrape any browned bits on skillet bottom. Reduce heat if apples are browning too quickly. In small dish, combine sugar, remaining 1 1/2 t. cinnamon, and remaining 1/2 t. nutmeg; add to skillet. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes or until sugar melts. Slice pork at an angle into 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange on large platter; spoon apples in center. Serves 6-8.

Beef Stew with Dark Beer

1/2 lb. salt pork, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

3 lbs. stew beef, cut into 2 1/2-inch cubes

1 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

6 large onions, thinly sliced

1 t. minced garlic

1/2 c. flour

1 1/2 c. dark beer

2 c. beef or chicken broth or 2 bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 c. boiling water

1 bay leaf

1/2 t. thyme

2 t. sugar

3 T. wine vinegar

2 T. chopped fresh parsley

Brown salt pork cubes until crisp in large skillet. Lift out to small bowl and reserve. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper and brown in hot fat over medium heat. Transfer browned beef to 2-qt. baking dish or casserole. To fat remaining in skillet, add 3 T. butter if necessary. Add onions and cook gently until golden. Add garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Stir in flour, blending well with onions and garlic, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Gradually stir in beer, then broth or bouillon, stirring constantly over medium heat. Add bay leaf, thyme and sugar, turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Then turn down heat immediately and simmer sauce for 5 minutes. Pour sauce over meat in casserole, cover casserole and bake at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender. Stir in vinegar and sprinkle stew with parsley and browned salt pork. Remove and discard bay leaf. Serve over noodles, rice or boiled potatoes. Serves 8-10.

Hot Chocolate Fudge Sauce Cake

1 c. all-purpose flour

3 T. plus 1 1/2 t. cocoa

3/4 c. sugar

2 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

1/2 c. milk

1 t. vanilla extract

2 T. melted butter

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. chopped pecans

1 c. cold water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1 1/2 t. of the cocoa, 1/4 c. of the sugar, the baking powder and salt. Stir in the milk, vanilla and butter and continue stirring until the batter is smooth. Pour into a greased 8-x8-inch baking pan. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 c. of sugar, brown sugar, 3 T. of the cocoa and the pecans. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter in the baking pan. Pour the cold water over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

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