Cold-weather comfort foods

   Supper was another slow cooker meal — beef stew this time around — at our house last night. But the next time the slow cooker is percolating on the countertop, it will likely be filled instead with chicken, thanks to the following recipe graciously submitted by Jeanine Spomer of Worthington.

“Here’s what is in my Crockpot for dinner tonight; I tasted it at our daughter’s in Georgia in 2009 and thought it was delicious,” explained Jeanine in an e-mail after my call for slow cooker recipes.

Jeanine also added the following note: “Having made it several times, I cut the chicken breasts into nice-size pieces and mix with the cream mixture before I put in the Crockpot.”

Creamy Slow Cooker Chicken

Brown 6 boneless chicken breasts (about 2½ pounds total) in 2 tablespoons oil, sprinkling the chicken with seasoned salt as it cooks.

In a saucepan, combine 1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup, 8 ounces cream cheese, ½ cup white cooking wine, 1 package sliced mushrooms and 1 envelope dry Italian dressing mix; cook for 2 minutes.

In the slow cooker, layer half the meat and ½ the cheese-soup mixture, repeating layers. Cook on low for 4½ hours.

Serve with rice or pasta of choice.

 It isn’t exactly potato salad weather, but Allison Koster of Northfield — who grew up in Round Lake — recently posted her favorite picnic side dish as a comment on my online blog. We’ll save that for a time when our outside world isn’t quite so white.

“As for cold-weather dishes,” writes Allison, “here’s one I just can’t get enough of this winter. I’ve cobbled it together from several online recipes.”

Allison’s Moroccan Tagine

In 3-plus-quart heavy covered pot or Dutch oven, combine 1 to 2 medium carrots, sliced; 1 pound yam, cut in 1-inch cube (Allison prefers bright orange Jewel Yam; 1 pound potatoes, cut in 1-inch cube (Allison likes Yukon Gold potatoes); 1 can (or 1 pint) diced tomatoes, undrained; 1 pound chicken breast, cut in 1-inch cubes or 1 pound tilapia (or other firm white fish), cut in 1-inch cubes or 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed; 5 cloves garlic, sliced; ¼ cup black olives, preferably Moroccan or Kalamata; handful of raisins (optional); 2 teaspoons preserved lemon (rind only, rinsed in water) or 1½ teaspoons fresh lemon zest; 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger; 1½  teaspoons ground cumin; 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric; ½ teaspoon paprika; scant ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon; ½ teaspoon salt; ½ teaspoon black pepper; 2 to 4 tablespoons water (depending on how much liquid is on the tomatoes)

Bake at 350 for about an hour, or until all is done. Sprinkle with 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro just before serving.

“This dish is super-simple, quite healthful, and makes the house smell wonderful while it is baking,” raved Allison.

 So what’s cooking at your house on these cold and blustery days? Jeanine and Allison have plowed (OK, bad weather pun) the way for the rest of your readers out there to share your favorite winter comfort foods. Recipes can be e-mailed to brickers@dglobe.com; mailed to Daily Globe, Box 639, Worthington 57187; or posted as a comment (as Allison did) on the online blog site: http://lagniappe.areavoices.com.

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