This picture explains the inspiration for the Winter Blog:

Snowed in BBQ
Snowed in for the season

The Solstice is upon us and Winter is officially here!  It’s cold, the roads are snowy, icy and slippery, which makes it a perfect time to stay home, crank up the oven and the wood stove and make some comfort food.

While the BBQ might be closed for the season, there are still plenty of things that can bring family and friends together.

Eating seasonally in the winter consists mainly of these top five veggies:

1.) Squash
2.) Root Veggies
3.) Beets
4.) Brussels Sprouts
5.) Kale
For all you carnivores, I’ve included something for you as well.

I wanted to deviate from writing the same ole’ things that everyone else writes about and keep it interesting and adventuresome.  I’ve included some traditional winter favorites as well as a few with a slant to them.

Meat Loaf

Serves 6


1 1/2    Lbs         Lean (80/20)ground beef (or buffalo, etc.)
3    Large        Eggs (beaten)
1    15 oz can     Stewed Tomatoes (chopped and drained)
1    Med-Lg         Onion (minced)
1/4    Cup         Chopped celery (about 1 Lg. stalk)
1/4    Cup         Chopped carrots (or grated)
1/4    Cup         Chopped green bell pepper
1-1/2    Cup         Bread crumbs, panco or rolled oats
2    tsp.         Kosher or Sea Salt
1/2    tsp.         Ground black pepper
1/2    Cup        Finely chopped Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
1/2    Cup +        Ketchup (Plus some for the top)
2    teas.        Worcestershire Sauce
4    Slices         Bacon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put all ingredients except bacon in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly but not over mixed.  Put the meat mixture in a loaf pan and pat it to fill the pan evenly. Lay the strips of uncooked bacon over the top of the meatloaf, tucking the ends under. Put remaining ketchup on top of meatloaf and place the loaf pan on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.  Place a pan of hot water in the oven with the meatloaf and this will keep the ketchup from drying and cracking.  Internal temperature should be 160 degrees F. when done.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Yams)

Serves: 2


2    LG    Sweet Potatoes or Yams
Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
2    TBS    Unsalted Butter
Maple Syrup (Optional)


Pre-heat oven to 400f.  Wash the potatoes thoroughly and dry with a paper towel.  Slather the potatoes with the olive oil to coat them.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on a baking dish and put in oven for 45min. to 1 hour depending on the thickness of the potatoes.  Check with a fork or wooden skewer for doneness.

When tender, remove from oven, slit the top with a knife and put butter in the slit.  Drizzle with maple syrup if desired.

Awesome Mac and Cheese


8    Oz.    Farfalle (Bow Tie) Pasta

1 1/2    TBS.    Butter
1 1/2    TBS.    Flour
1/2    sm.    Onion (peeled and halved)
2    Cups    Organic Whole Milk

1    Cup    Broccoli Florets
4- 5    Oz.    Organic Beef

1/2    Cup    Cravanzina Cheese (or Brie)
1/2    Cup    Maytag Bleu Cheese
1/2    Cup    Cheddar

2    Oz.    Panco (Japanese bread crumbs)
2    pinches    Salt and Pepper Mixture
2    TBS.    Italian Parsley (Chopped)
1    TBS.    Butter
1/2    Oz.    Manchego Cheese (or parmesan) Grated


Pre-heat oven to 400 f.
In a large pot with boiling salted water, cook the pasta till al-dente’ (about 11 min.) then strain in a colander and cool by running under cold water.  Let drain.

Melt butter in a saucepan, add onion and let sauté for several minutes. Stirring occasionally so the onions don’t burn.  Add flour and cook till the flour just starts to get some color.  Add milk and let simmer until it starts to thicken.

While milk sauce is thickening, grill or pan sear the beef for about 3-min. on each side then remove and let rest.  Blanch broccoli in boiling salted water for 2 – 3 min., strain and reserve.

In a skillet, belt butter.  When butter becomes hot and frothy, add the panco, salt and pepper, and parsley.  Stir until the panco absorbs the butter and just starts to get some color.  Remove from pan and hold.

By now the milk is starting to thicken.  Add the cheeses and mix with a stiff whisk until all the cheese is melted.  Keep under low heat stirring occasionally so a film doesn’t form.

Mix the pasta, beef and broccoli in a bowl then pour the cheese sauce in and gently fold in the mixture.  Pour into a casserole or pie dish.

Grate the manchego cheese and mix in with the seasoned panco.  Sprinkle on top of the mac and cheese and bake for about 20 min. or until it gets bubbly and the top is golden brown.

“It’s like camping inside the comfort of your own home.
It’s not only an adventure, it’s useful in case of an emergency if the power goes out.”

Granted, not everyone has a wood stove, but if you’re fortunate enough to have one, you can have a blast cooking as well as keeping warm this winter.

Woodstove Beef Stew

Serves 4 – 6


1    LB    Cubed Beef
1    sm.    Red Onion (Cut into bite sized pieces)
2    ea.    Scallions
1    Med.    Potato (1/2” cubes)
1    LG    Zucchini (Cut into bite sized pieces)
1    LG    Yellow Squash (Cut into bite sized pieces)
1    LG.    Carrot (Cut into bite sized pieces)
1        Jalapeño (sliced into small wheels)
2 – 4    TBS    Chopped Cilantro (according to your taste)
4    Cloves    Garlic (Chopped)
4    TBS    Lime Juice
1    tsp.    Red Pepper Flakes
3    pinches    Salt and Pepper
2    TBS    Olive Oil
1    Cup    Beef Stock


Light the wood stove using plenty starting material (isn’t that why they publish the National Enquirer?), kindling and hardwood for fuel.  This will ensure that the fire lights properly and maintains a nice hot fire without having to open the door and keep adding more logs.  After the logs burn down some, are glowing and have some white ash on them, brush them aside as much as you can to rest the container of stew on the floor of the stove.  I put an oven thermometer in at this point and my stove registered 425f, a good temperature for this dish.

Meanwhile as the stove is heating up, mix the above ingredients in a bowl and place in a container (a metal bread loaf pan works great!) double lined with foil.  Fold the foil over making sure you have a good tight seal.

Place container on the space that you just made for it inside the woodstove and close the door.  Cook for 50 – 60 min. turning the container once every 10 min. to ensure even cooking.

IF there are any leftovers, this is great to heat up the next morning with eggs and coffee.

Woodstove Roasted Potatoes, Onions and Garlic

The basics are the same for all three:


Root veggie of your choice (Roasted Potatoes, Onions and Garlic, etc.)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Aluminum foil


Slather the veggie of your choice with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with Salt and Pepper.  Wrap in at least three layers of aluminum foil (shinny side towards the veggies).

Same as above:  Light the wood stove using plenty starting, kindling and hardwood for fuel. Slather the veggie of your choice with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with Salt and Pepper.  Wrap in at least three layers of aluminum foil (shinny side towards the veggies).  After the logs burn down some, are glowing and have some white ash on them, brush them aside as much as you can to rest the foil wrapped veggies on the floor of the stove.

Cooking times will vary, this is just a guideline:

Garlic        25 – 30 min.

Potatoes        60 min +/- (until tender when pierced with a fork)

Onions        60 min +/- (until tender when pierced with a fork)

Woodstove Top Hot Cocoa

Serves 2

2    Cups    Whole Milk*
3    TBS.    Cocoa Powder
3    TBS.    Sugar
½    tsp.    Vanilla Extract

Place above ingredients in saucepan, whisk briskly with a wire whisk and place on top of the wood stove.  Stir often.  Serve when steaming hot!

* use 1 cup milk and 1 cup half and half for a real creamy cocoa.

Try spicing it up a bit by adding any of the following to taste:

Orange Zest
Cayenne Pepper
Tequila, Rum or Cognac, etc.

Have a warm and delicious Winter!


Chef Trusan