Feel-good foods help whisk away the cold weather blues

Sure, in January, we’re all watching what we eat. Come February, though, the cold has settled into your bones, despite what the thermometer might say, and you just need some home-cooked comfort food. Everything in moderation, right?

Readers Sonia Gildea of Dysart, Gina Smith of Altoona, Chuck Gojmerac of Roaring Spring, who is the athletic director at Central High School and Spring Cove Middle School, and Eleanor Shaffer of Tyrone recently shared some of their favorite winter comfort recipes with the Altoona Mirror.


Gildea gave us several recipes. Here are a couple of those that will help lift your spirits: Funnel cake and Reuben casserole.

“The funnel cakes I make when I have had it with the snow and cold weather,” she said. “It makes you feel like you are at the amusement park or a baseball game or county fair. It helps.”

Funnel Cakes

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Oil for deep frying and powdered sugar for dusting

In a bowl, beat eggs. Add milk, water and vanilla. Mix well. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat into egg mixture. In electric skillet or deep fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a measuring cup held several inches above the oil, pour about a 1/2 cup of batter in a spiral motion. Fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove the cake and drain it on paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Makes about 8 cakes.

Reuben Casserole

1 14-ounce can of sauerkraut, rinsed and drained

1 cup Thousand Island salad dressing

1 pound of thinly sliced deli corned beef, cut into strips

2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese

4 to 6 slices of rye bread, toasted and buttered

Combine sauerkraut and salad dressing, spread into greased 13-by-9-by-2 baking dish. Top with the corned beef and cheese. Place bread, buttered side up, over top.

Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until heated through and bubbly.

Serves four.


Smith said her son,who lives out of town, requests the soup recipe she submitted when he visits.

“My family and friends say it’s awesome,” she said. “Great on a chilly day. It’s comfort food.”

Stuffed Baked

Potato Soup

4 medium baking potatoes

1 stick butter

1 cup flour

6 cups milk

4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 cup chopped scallions

6 slices cooked bacon

Bake the potatoes, then cool and peel them. Dice three of them and mash the fourth with a fork. Melt butter in large pot. Whisk in flour. Add milk slowly, continuing to whisk.

Cook on medium heat until it thickens. Add all the potatoes, spices and cheese. Remove from heat. Add sour cream and garnish with onions, bacon and pepper.


Gojmerac said he serves this recipe for chili he “concocted” himself for workers at home football games. The workers get to enjoy food during half time.

“[I] never heard a complaint from the Altoona Mirror sports staff about the taste of Scarlet Dragon Chili,” he joked.

Scarlet Dragon Chili

2 pounds ground beef

1 medium onion

2 regular chili mix packets

2 14-ounce cans of petite cut tomatoes

2 14-ounce or 16 ounce cans of red kidney beans

2 cans of condensed tomato soup

1/4 to 1/2 cup of Franks Red Hot Sauce (to taste)

Finely dice onion and brown with ground beef. Drain fat from beef.

Combine chili mix packets, petite cut tomatoes, kidney beans, tomato soup and Franks Red Hot in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.


“This is a good winter recipe,” Shaffer said of her twist on a pizza. “Kids love it. It was given to me by a clerk in a deli back in about 1979.”

Upside Down Pizza

1 1/2 pounds of ground beef

28-ounce can Hunt’s tomato sauce

5 or 6 tablespoons flour

1/2 pound thinly sliced mozzarella cheese slices

Season with onion flakes,

garlic salt, oregano and parsley flakes

Brown the ground beef. Add tomato sauce and seasonings. Add the flour one tablespoon at a time to thicken. It will be thick.

Put in a 9-by-13 pan. Cover with cheese slices.

Pizza Topping

2 eggs slightly beaten

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Mix in the order given and use a hand beater to beat. It makes a difference. Pour this over the cheese slices and sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over top.

Bake in a 425 degrees Fahrenheit preheated oven for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes and cut into squares and serve.

Serves about six.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.