Cozying up to comfort foods

She doesn’t know it, but I’m having a bit of a love-annoyance relationship with longtime friend Amy Moritz at the moment.
I love, love, love Amy because she answered my request for “cozy” recipes with five selections from her personal file — and volunteered to send more if needed. At the same time, I’m annoyed (hate is way too strong a word!) because they all sound delicious but don’t fit into the low-carb initiative that is under way in my own kitchen. Darn it!
However, I have to admit that the first recipe was on the menu at our abode just last week. The Chow Mein Casserole is a favorite from a tattered church cookbook on my shelf. To make it a bit more diet-friendly, I use brown rice — considered a “good carb” — and the low-fat, low-sodium versions of the canned soups.
Here are all of Amy’s offerings:

Chow Mein Casserole

In a large skillet, brown 1 pound ground beef with 1 small onion, chopped. Add 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 can chicken broth, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 cup Minute Rice. Mix well. Pour into greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Top with chow mein noodles and bake for another 15 minutes.

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook 1 small box elbow macaroni according to package directions; drain.
In a large bowl, combine macaroni, two 5-ounce cans chunk chicken, 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 1 cup milk, 2 cans cream of chicken soup and 1 can peas. Transfer mixture to a greased 9- by 13-inch pan.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Corned Beef Casserole

Cook an 8-ounce box shell macaroni according to package directions; drain.
Combine pasta with one 12-ounce can corned beef, diced or shredded; ½ pound Velveeta cheese, shredded (Amy uses the preshredded variety that comes in a bag); 1 can cream of chicken soup; 1 can corn, drained; and ½ to ¾ cup milk. Season to taste. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Top with 1 small can shoestring potatoes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until shoestrings are brown.

Tater tot hotdish is in just about every Midwestern cook’s repertoire, but this version is a little different. Not only is it super oniony, but the tots go on the bottom instead of the top.

Onion Tater Tot Casserole

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9- by 13-inch pan with cooking spray. Cover bottom of pan with about ¾ bag of frozen onion-flavored tater tots.
In large skillet, brown 1 pound ground beef with 1 chopped onion. Add 1 can cream of mushroom soup and 1 can cream of chicken soup. Spread mixture over top of tater tots. Sprinkle ½ bag shredded cheddar cheese on top.
Bake for 40 minutes.

Souper Spaghetti

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook 1 pound lean ground beef  with 1 medium onion, 1 stalk celery and 1 medium carrot, all chopped, and 1 teaspoon minced garlic (or a sprinkling of garlic powder) over medium heat until vegetables are tender and meat is browned, stirring frequently. Drain excess fat.
Add two 14½-ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained, 2½ cups water, one 13- to 15-ounce jar spaghetti sauce, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper. Bring mixture to a boil.
Add two ounces spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces. Return to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 12 to 15 minutes, until spaghetti is tender. Serve immediately.

Since that darn groundhog predicted a few more weeks of winter weather, more “cozy” recipes are appreciated for this forum — carbs or no carbs. I’ve received a few low-carb ideas that will be shared in the near future, but additional ideas would certainly be nice. Share your recipes by emailing brickers@dglobe.com; mailing Lagniappe, Daily Globe, Box 639, Worthington 56187; or check out the online blog at http://lagniappe.areavoices.com.

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