Heartwarming dishes to keep your family warm and cozy

Gitta Bixenspanner

Here in the Northern hemisphere we feel temperatures dropping every day. Winter season is around the corner. And what better way to prepare for winter than by offering heartwarming dishes that keep us toasty and cozy after a day of withstanding the cold weather.

Hearty beef and vegetable stew:

This warming beef stew simmers in a Dutch oven and gets classic flavor from red wine.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs canola oil

2 Kielbasa (Polish sausage) cut in pieces ( 1 ½ cup)

1 pound beef stew meat

⅛ tsp kosher salt or sea salt

⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally

4 stalks celery, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

2 large onions, coarsely chopped

3 Tbs tomato paste

6 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 cup dry red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon) or pomegranate juice

2 Tbs white vinegar (optional)

4 cups water

3 fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

1 bay leaf

Directions:

In a 4-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add Kielbasa cook about 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.

Add beef to Dutch oven. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cook about 8 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove meat from Dutch oven; set aside.

Add carrots, celery, and onions to Dutch oven. Add tomato paste, stirring to coat vegetables; cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, wine, and vinegar. Bring to boiling, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the Dutch oven. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add liquid, the thyme sprigs, the bay leaf, and browned beef mixture. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Uncover and simmer about 30 minutes more or until thickened and beef and vegetables are tender.

Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf. To serve, divide stew among six soup bowls. Serve with a fresh whole wheat roll or ½ cup of rice.

Preparation 15 minutes.
Serves 6 persons.

Slow-cooker Mediterranean chicken & ozo:

Perk up basic chicken breast and whole-wheat orzo with the vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean, like lemon and olives. This load-and-go recipe makes a complete and satisfying meal; just add a green salad

Ingredients

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 medium onion, halved and sliced

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground pepper

¾ cup precooked whole-wheat orzo or Israeli couscous

⅓ cup quartered black or green olives

2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Cut each chicken breast in half into 4 pieces. Combine the chicken, broth, tomatoes, onion, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a 6-quart slow cooker. Cook on High for 2 hours or on Low for 4 hours. Stir in orzo and olives; cook for 30 minutes more. Let cool slightly. Sprinkle with parsley.

Preparation 15 minutes.
Serves 4.

Ginger roasted salmon & broccoli:

This quick Asian salmon recipe uses the sauce for both glazing the salmon and coating the broccoli. Serve over rice noodles or brown rice tossed with sesame oil and scallions.

Ingredients

1½ Tbs toasted (dark) sesame oil

1½ Tbs reduced-sodium tamari

1½ Tbs rice vinegar (see notes)

1 Tbs grated fresh ginger

¼ tsp salt, divided

8 cups large broccoli florets with 2-inch stalks attached (about 1 pound)

1 Tbs maple syrup

4 slices salmon fillet

2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Whisk oil, tamari, vinegar, ginger and ⅛ teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add broccoli and toss to coat. Transfer to the prepared pan using tongs or a slotted spoon, leaving as much marinade as possible in the bowl. Whisk maple syrup into the remaining marinade.

Roast the broccoli for 5 minutes. Move it to one side of the pan and place salmon on the other side. Season the salmon with the remaining ⅛ teaspoon salt and brush with the maple syrup glaze. Roast until the salmon is just cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes more. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Preparation 20 minutes

Serves 4.

Notes: Rice vinegar is not very popular in our circles but it is definitely worth adding to your list of ingredients in taste and texture, as it is a great addition to any dish calling for vinegar or Apple cider vinegar. It enhances the flavor of any salad.

Best homemade fried rice:

Here are some side dishes to complement any meal.

Fried rice is ever so popular in Chinese restaurants. Learn how to make fried rice with this classic recipe. It only takes 15 minutes to make, it’s easy to customize with your favorite add-ins, and it’s SO flavorful and delicious!

Ingredients:

3 Tbs margarine or butter, divided (see tips)

2 eggs, whisked

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 small white onion, diced

1/2 cup frozen peas

3 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups cooked and chilled brown rice (only cooked and chilled will work well)

3 green onions, thinly sliced

3-4 Tbs soy sauce, or more to taste

1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Directions:

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of margarine in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until melted. Add egg, and cook until scrambled, stirring occasionally. Remove egg, and transfer to a separate plate.

Add 1 additional tablespoon margarine to the pan and heat until melted. Add carrots, onion, peas and garlic, and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.

Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onion and carrots are soft. Increase heat to high, add in the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of marge or butter, and stir until melted. Immediately add the rice, green onions, soy sauce and stir until combined. Continue stirring for an additional 3 minutes to fry the rice. Then add in the eggs and stir to combine. Remove from heat, and stir in the sesame oil until combined.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Important tips to achieve the best results

Use cold rice: You’ve gotta plan ahead and use thoroughly-chilled cooked rice. A fresh batch of warm (or even lukewarm) rice will not fry well when it hits the hot pan, and will result in soggy and sticky clumps — no good. So leftover refrigerated rice is ideal! Or, if you are in a hurry just cook up a fresh batch of rice. Then spread it out on a baking sheet or another large flat pan, drape the rice with a layer of plastic wrap, then pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes (or in the freezer for 10-15 minutes) until it is thoroughly chilled (not frozen).

Use margarine or butter if you are serving it with a milk meal Yes, butter. It just tastes so much better, and also makes everything brown up perfectly.

Use veggies: In addition to adding some nice spots of color, veggies go a long way in adding some flavor and freshness to fried rice. Feel free to modernize this recipe with any delicious stir-fried veggies as well!

Use toasted sesame oil – It is my favorite smelling ingredient in my kitchen, and tastes wonderful in fried rice. (Also note that sesame oil is meant as a finishing oil, not a cooking oil, so remove the pan from the heat and then stir it in.)

Use high heat: This will help fry and brown the rice and veggies well, and will also help prevent the rice from steaming in the pan and sticking together too much.

Maple-Chili roasted butternut squash:

With fall slowly fading into winter there are many options to keep us warm and toasty. The markets are abound with a variety of winter squashes that are downright healthy and good for you.

Ingredients

2 Tbs pure maple syrup

2 Tbs olive oil

1-3 tsp chili powder or to taste

1 tsp salt 1 tsp cinnamon powder 4 cups cubed butternut squash

4 small shallots, quartered

1½ tsp lemon juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Mix maple syrup, oil, chili powder and salt in a large bowl. Add squash and shallots and toss to evenly coat. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Roast the vegetables uncovered, stirring once or twice, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drizzle with lemon before serving if desired.

Preparation 10 minutes
Serves 4.

Gitta Bixenspanner is a certified nutritionist who lives in Montreal with her husband. She teaches high school, seminary and give inspiring adult education classes in Jewish topics. As a certified nutritionist she gives cooking seminars, the main purpose being to teach people to adopt healthier lifestyles in keeping with the mitzvah of taking care of our bodies.

Gitta Bixenspanner just released her brand new cookbook KOSHER CLASSICS now arriving to your favorite bookstores. This magnificently illustrated book takes you on a tour around the Jewish year with recipes and customs appropriate for every month. A must addition to your cookbook selections as it is a delight to the eyes.