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Big chills call for comfort food

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that with hungry people to feed and a cold wind blowing out there, you can never have too much comfort food ready to dish out. Here, therefore, are easy recipes for a tasty pulled pork dish to cook in your slow cooker (crock pot), and for a couple of savory, rib-sticking soups. Invite diners into the kitchen if the good cooking aromas haven't already drawn them there, and serve the food straight from the pan.


SPICY PULLED PORK

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 pounds pork shoulder roast, cut into 1-inch pieces

16-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 cup ketchup

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce

Hot cooked noodles, green beans, optional side dishes

Combine cumin, garlic powder, salt and oregano in large bowl. Add pork; toss to coat well. Stir in tomatoes with their liquid, ketchup, onion, vinegar, molasses and hot pepper sauce.

Place mixture in 4-quart slow cooker (crock pot). Cover. Cook on high-heat setting 4 to 5 hours, or low-heat setting 8 to 10 hours, stirring occasionally, until very tender. Then, using two forks, pull meat apart into shreds.

Serve with hot cooked noodles and green beans, if desired. Makes 8 servings. — Tabasco


CREAMY CORN BISQUE

(Prep time 30 minutes, cooking time 15 minutes)

For the pepper cream:

7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry

3 tablespoons sour cream

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper sauce

For the bisque:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large leek (white portion only) well rinsed and chopped

2 carrots, diced

3/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves

14 1/2-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth

3/4 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

10 3/4-ounce can condensed cream of corn soup

1 cup half-and-half

1 cup frozen corn

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce

To make the pepper cream: Combine roasted peppers, sour cream and 2 tablespoon cayenne sauce in blender or food processor. Cover; process until pureed. Set aside.

Heat oil in large saucepan. Add leeks and carrots; cook over medium heat 4 minutes until just tender. Add thyme and basil; cook 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, covered, 5 minutes or until potatoes are just tender. Stir in corn soup, 1 cup water, half-and-half, corn and salt. Bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook 3 minutes, stirring. Stir in cayenne pepper sauce.

Ladle soup into bowls. Top with dollop of reserved red pepper cream; swirl into soup. Garnish with chives, if desired. Makes 6 servings (7 cups soup), and 1 cup pepper cream. — Frank's Redhot


HOPPIN' JOHN SOUP

(Preparation 15 minutes, cooking time 20 minutes)

4 strips uncooked bacon, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Two 15-ounce cans black-eyed peas, undrained

14 1/2-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth

3 or 4 tablespoons cayenne pepper sauce

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

2 cups cooked long grain rice

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Cook bacon, onion and garlic in large saucepan over medium high heat 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add peas with liquid, broth, 1/2 cup water, cayenne pepper sauce, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, covered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard bay leaf.

Combine rice and parsley in medium bowl. Spoon rice evenly into 6 serving bowls. Ladle soup over rice.

Note: For an alternative presentation, pack rice mixture into small ramekin dishes. Unmold into soup bowls. Ladle soup around rice. Makes 6 servings. — Frank's Redhot