DadsStory: Fall And Winter Meals

Submitted by:  Virginia Mesko 

Now that the weather is getting chilly, it’s time to think warm soups and roasted pumpkin seeds.  Here’s some recipes that have been a hit for me, with a few suggestions on how to change the taste a bit if you would like to.





If your in the mood for a good warm soup and sandwich night (besides tomato soup) and short on time, then here’s your answer!  For those younger children and those who don’t like anything spicy, just omit the chili powder in this soup and substitute some taco seasoning from the spice packet you get with taco shells.  Or better yet, just pick up a packet of taco seasonings and add a tablespoon into the soup!

1/2 pound extra-lean ground beef
     1/2 cup chopped onion
     1 14.5-ounce can diced tomates
     1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
     1 15-ounce can corn, drained
     1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
     1 Tbsp ground chili powder
     1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
     1/8 tsp ground red pepper

     1. Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and add the ground beef and chopped onion. Separate the ground beef with a fork. Cook the beef and onions, stirring occasionally, until the beef is no longer pink and the onions are soft.
     2. Add the next 7 ingredients, through the ground red pepper, and stir until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed.
     3. Simmer the soup over medium heat for 15 minutes and serve warm.

Serves 6

The colder weather makes a perfect night for a nice bowl of chili and some cheese and crackers while it’s cooking. You can also brown the beef and then transfer everything into a crockpot so it cooks while your at work; just turn the crockpot on “slow” and you’ve got Chili when you get home! You can also gather the kids at the table, give them some cookie cutters (or if you don’t have any just use a small glass turned upside down), some sliced white bread, and let them cut the bread for you to toast in the oven with the chili.


2 lbs. ground beef
     2 (30-oz.)cans tomatoes
     2 (30-oz.) cans kidney beans
     2 onions, chopped
     2 green peppers,chopped
     4 Tablespoons chili powder
     2 teaspoons oregano
     4 small bay leaves
     1 teaspoon pepper
     4 teaspoons salt
     1 teaspoon fennel seed
     1/4 teaspoon paprika
     1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
     2 tablespoons dried parsley
     1/4 cup sugar

Brown ground beef in large pot; drain grease. Add remaining ingredients. Cook 3-4 hours on low heat, stirring occasionally.

Serves 8-10


Sit around and carve your pumpkins while you much on fritos and this soup.  By the time you’re finished with the pumpkins, you could also roast the seeds for the next day. They make wonderful snacks!  Have the kids pick out all the seeds and place in a bowl as they go. It’s messy but believe me, they will have fun. Rinse the seeds off and dry on a paper towel while you clean up the kitchen.

     1. Rinse pumpkin seeds. Use your fingers to remove all the pulp. Drain pumpkin seeds and discard pulp. Spread out on a cookie sheet to dry overnight.
     2. Preheat oven to 250 F. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil.
     3. Toss pumpkin seeds in only a little bit of olive oil, butter, or spray with cooking spray enough to evenly coat the seeds. Sprinkle with salt, garlic salt, onion salt,  seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, or your choice of seasonings. Toss to coat.
     4. Bake about 1 hour, tossing every 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
     5. Cool pumpkin seeds before eating. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 months or refrigerate up to 1 year.
If you like your toasted pumpkin seeds extra-salty, soak overnight in a solution of 1/4 cup salt to 2 cups of water. Dry an additional day, then proceed as above.


If you are looking for something to serve quickly and start a good fun day before an outing together, a trip to the park or home movie night, then try this with a pre-bought salad mix tossed into a salad bowl and some frozen French fries from the oven. Good for lunch or dinner!

     Package of Hot Dogs
     Container of Squeeze Cheese
Pillsbury Corn Bread Sticks (in the dairy section)
     Place bread sticks separated on a cookie sheet. Put cheese down the middle. Wrap hot dog in the bread stick. Heat until done. About 15 minutes, check time on the bread stick container for temperature and time. 

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