Daylight savings time, cold nights, cool days, and it’s that time of year again. I can’t say it, it’s coming but not here yet...you know the “W” word. Rhymes with splinter, and is long and annoying just like its cousin splinter. But one redeeming factor, the cold weather meals are comforting, delicious, and so satiating. Soups, stews, bread bowls, pastas, and lots of warm cheesy dishes are what the body craves in this season. I’m going to stay warm and busy in the kitchen creating new recipes for all seasons. In the meantime, enjoy some of these favorites this wwwwwwinter.

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Rolls

Photo by Ethan Calabrese

Serves 6

Dipping grilled cheese into tomato soup is not new, but these dippers are super adorable and new to me! I saw them on instagram and had to make my own version. This will be both an adult and kid favorite.

  • 3 tablespoons butter (use real butter here), divided
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 oz. (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups PAREVE chicken (or vegetable) broth (I use the Imagine No-chicken broth) ***This soup is dairy. DO NOT mix with chicken broth ONLY use the vegetarian version of chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
  • ½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 8 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 8 slices cheddar cheese

In a large pot over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add onion and cook until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add crushed tomatoes and broth and season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in heavy cream. With an immersion blender or traditional blender, puree the soup until smooth. Add kosher salt and pepper if needed.

Using a rolling pin, roll bread into flat, ¼ -inch-thick squares. Place 1 slice cheddar cheese on each piece of bread and tightly roll up.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Working in batches, add rolled cheese bread to skillet, seam-side down, and cook, turning often, until bread is golden and cheese is melty, about 3 minutes. Wipe skillet clean with a paper towel and add 1 tablespoon more butter before next batch.

Ladle soup into bowls and serve with grilled cheese rolls and sprinkle with fresh basil.

Pat LaFrieda’s Sunday Saucy Pasta - with a kosher twist

Photo by Food and Wine

Serves 8

Pat LaFrieda is the famous butcher (not kosher) who sells meat to restaurants all over the world including the simple but popular Shake Shack in NYC. His meats are treif but his advice and knowledge about meat, at least the cuts we can eat are very helpful. I’ve learned a lot about how to cook cuts of eat from his book. Remember though kosher butchers name the cuts a bit differently than non-kosher butchers so follow the diagrams more than the names if using this as a reference.

Start this early, it takes some time to come together. I love it for a cold Sunday night dinner.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds bone-in, English-cut beef short ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces (parallel to the bone, they are often called gourmet cut beef ribs, not flanken cut)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled
  • 2 pounds spaghetti

In a large enameled cast-iron skillet with 3-inch sides, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and add them to the casserole in a single layer. Cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned, 10 minutes. With tongs, transfer the short ribs to a plate.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet. Add the onions and a generous pinch of kosher salt; cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste, garlic and oregano and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes with their juices and the carrot and bring to a boil.

Return the short ribs and their juices to skillet, cover partially and simmer over low heat, turning the short ribs occasionally, until the meat is very tender and the sauce is thick, about 4 hours.

Transfer the short ribs to a plate; discard the carrot. Discard the bones and cut the meat into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Return the meat to the sauce and season with another generous pinch of salt and pepper; keep warm over low heat.

In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente, about 9 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta, and transfer the spaghetti and reserved pasta water to the pot with the sauce, toss well and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the pasta immediately.

Throwback Sloppy Joe’s

Serves 5

This 70’s favorite is back on blogs and social media. It’s homestyle quick cooking at it’s best. You can jazz it up with lots of different flavors like smoked paprika, cumin and turmeric, shawarma spice or stick to this traditional version that is loaded with flavor and lots of fun to eat. I serve it with roasted potato wedges and a zesty coleslaw.

  • 2 tablespoons water, divided
  • ½ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon baking soda, divided
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 teaspoons brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ⅓ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (NON FISH variety - I use Heinz)
  • ½ teaspon cornstarch
  • 5 hamburger buns

Combine 1 tablespoon water with ½ teaspoon baking soda in a small bowl. In a large bowl, mix meat with baking soda mixture and salt until combined.

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onions and remaining ⅛ teaspoon baking soda and stir. Cook until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir. Add sugar, paprika, red pepper flakes, and remaining ⅛ teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato paste, and cook 3 more minutes until fragrant. Add ground beef and cook, stirring to break up pieces until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. With a fork, mash so that the texture is crumbly or fine. Add ketchup, vinegar, and Worcestershire and stir.

Combine cornstarch and remaining 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl then pour over meat mixture. Cook for a few minutes until mixture starts to thicken a bit. Season with a little more salt if needed.

Toast buns. Spoon beef and juices over toasted bun and serve immediately.

Classic and Perfect Pot Roast

Serves 8

This is as the title says classic, and rich, delicious, and perfect for a winter meal or even for Yom Tov. Make it a few days ahead of time, it gets better and better.

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One 3 to 5-pound chuck roast or pot roast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 6 to 8 whole carrots, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 275°F.

Generously salt and pepper the roast.

Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions to the pot, and cooking until lightly browned.

Add the carrots into the pot and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove carrots and onions from pot.

If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the pot. Place the meat in the pot and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is lightly browned all over. Remove the roast to a plate.

With the burner still on high, add red wine to deglaze the pot, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon. Place the roast, onions, and carrots back into the pot and add beef stock to cover the meat halfway. Add the herbs all around.

Bring liquid to boil, cover, and place in the oven for 3 hours for a 3-pound roast and 4 hours for 4 to 5-pound roast.

Remove from oven, and cool slightly. Cut into thick slices or chunks. Serve warm, with onions, carrots and pan juices.

Super Soft, Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies

Photo by Pinch of Yum

Makes 2 dozen

I can’t resist a good cookie recipe, especially a soft chocolate chip cookie recipe. I have a few favorites that I make over and over but for some reason I’m always trying new ones, just in case I find a keeper. This one is just that, a keeper recipe, perfect every time and no leftovers. Mix it up and use it as a base for other great add-ins, like toasted coconut and pecans, M & M’s and peanuts and pretzels, or white chips and macadamia nuts to name a few.

  • 8 tablespoons of unsalted margarine or butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (I use a combination of chocolate chips and chocolate chunks)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Using an electric beaters, beat the margarine/butter with both sugars until creamy. Add the vanilla, vanilla sugar and the egg; beat on low speed until just incorporated – 10-15 seconds or so (do not overbeat or the cookies will be stiff).

Add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until crumbles form. Use your hands to press the crumbles together into a dough. It should form one large ball that is easy to handle. Add the chocolate chips and incorporate with your hands.

Roll the dough into 12 large balls and place on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 9-11 minutes until the cookies look puffy and dry and just barely golden.DO NOT OVERBAKE. Take them out even if they look like they’re not done yet, they will be pale and puffy.

Cool on the pan before removing from pan and storing.