As temps dip in Florida, turn to your kitchen for warmth with these 5 cold-weather comfort foods

News 6 meteorologists are forecasting overnight lows in the 40s and 50s next week

Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies (Mates)

As cooler temperatures move into the Sunshine State, it’s a good time to make some comfort food to help keep you warm.

News 6 meteorologists are forecasting overnight lows in the 40s and 50s for the foreseeable future.

Here are some easy, hearty meals you can churn out to keep you and your family content.

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  • 1 chuck roast, cubed into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 16 oz chicken stock
  • 8 oz water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 jalapenos, deveined, deseeded and diced
  • 8 oz guajillo chilis, cut into pieces with the stems and seeds removed
  • 8 oz ancho chilis, cut into pieces with the stems and seeds removed
  • 4 oz arbol chilis, cut into pieces with the stems and seeds removed
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans
  • 1 15 oz can of dark red kidney beans
  • vegetable oil (for cooking)
  • salt and pepper

Step 1: First, you need to bloom your chili. Set a dry, high-walled skillet over medium-low heat. Add your chilis and let them toast until fragrant. This should take about 2-3 minutes and you’ll want to give the pan a shake a couple of times to prevent any burning. Once, the chilis are bloom, add your water to the skillet and let the peppers steep and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Step 2: Carefully blend together the water and the rehydrated chilis. You can let everything cool down first to make it easier, but if you blend the hot liquid, do so carefully as the sudden release of steam from the liquid could cause the lid of your blender to blow off. Once blended, set aside.

Step 3: Now, put a stockpot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once warmed, add vegetable oil. Season your meat generously with salt and pepper. Then, in batches, you will sear your meat on all sides. You don’t want to put too much meat in the pot at once. If you crowd the meat, it will steam instead of sear and you want a nice brown crust to form on the exterior. Set your meat aside once seared.

Step 4: Add your own onions, bell peppers and jalapenos to the pot. Lightly salt them and keep them moving in the pot. You want to scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure you get all those brown bits off the bottom. That brown stuff is called fond and it is packed with flavor.

Step 5: Once your vegetables start to sweat, add your tomato paste. Saute until the sharp tomato smell goes away. The paste may start to stick to the bottom of the pan. That is fine, so long as it doesn’t burn. Make sure you keep scraping the bottom of the pan.

Step 6: Add your chili mixture to the pot, along with your beans, meat and chicken stock. Bring it up to a simmer. While you are waiting for your chili to come to a simmer, heat your oven to 300 degrees.

Step 7: Once your oven is heated and your chili is simmering, put a lid on your pot, but don’t cover completely — leave about a half-inch opening. Place the pot into the oven for about two hours, stirring occasionally. Be sure to scrape down the sides as the chili reduces.

The spice in this comes mostly from the arbol chilis, so you can add more or less to your liking. The other dried chilis have some heat, but not an overwhelming amount. The jalapeno is mostly for flavor and won’t be too spicy, so long as you remove the veins and seeds.



  • 8 oz guajillo chilis, cut into pieces with the stems and seeds removed
  • 8 oz ancho chilis, cut into pieces with the stems and seeds removed
  • 4 oz arbol chilis, cut into pieces with the stems and seeds removed
  • 8 oz water
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 small white onion, quartered
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 8-10 oz of queso fresco, shredded (whole milk, low moisture mozzarella works too)
  • 8-10 soft corn tortillas (do not use flour tortillas)
  • vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper

Step 1: Bloom your dried chilis (similar to the chili recipe above). Toast the chilis in a dry, high-walled skillet until fragrant over low heat. Then remove the chilis. Add some oil. Once the oil has a sheen, add your tomatoes, onion and garlic. Cook until slightly softened

Step 2: Add water to the skillet and return the chilis to the mixture. Let simmer for about 10 minutes.

Step 3: Carefully blend together the water and the rehydrated chilis. You can let everything cool down first to make it easier, but if you blend the hot liquid, do so carefully as the sudden release of steam from the liquid could cause the lid of your blender to blow off. Once blended, set aside.

Step 4: Wipe down your skillet and place it over medium heat. Season both sides of your chicken with salt and pepper. Add oil and then add your chicken. Be sure to brown it on both sides.

Step 5: Add half of your chili sauce to the skillet with the chicken. Reserve the rest. Reduce your heat to medium-low and allow the chicken to simmer until you can pull it apart with a fork. Then set aside to cool.

Step 6: Heat a shallow frying pan over medium heat, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot. Doing one or two at a time, lightly fry your tortillas. You don’t want them to brown, just gain a little rigidity while remaining flexible. Set them aside on a paper towel-lined plate when done.

Step 7: Shred your chicken. Pour some of your reserved sauce on a plate. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Step 8: One at a time, coat your tortillas in the sauce. Then, fill the tortilla with chicken and cheese (reserve some cheese for later) and roll it over onto itself, leaving both sides open. Line your enchiladas into a casserole dish. Once your dish is filled, pour your remaining sauce over the top of the enchiladas and then sprinkle your reserved cheese over the top.

Step 9: Bake for 10-15 minutes. Optionally, you can also turn on your broiler for another 10-15 minutes to brown the cheese over the top of the enchiladas.

This dish can be served on its own or over rice. Again, the arbol chilis provide most of the heat and can be adjusted to your liking. You can also swap out the arbol chilis with chipotle peppers for a more mild and smokey flavor.

Gumbo (Mates)



  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 lb. of smoked sausage (andouille is best, but kielbasa works too)
  • 4 ribs of celery
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, plus 3 tbsp. in reserve
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 32 oz. chicken stock
  • 12 oz. dark beer
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper

Step 1: This is the most important step by far. You will want to get everything chopped measured and in place near your stove before you start cooking. The French call this mise en place, or everything in its place. Start with your vegetables. Dice the onion, celery and green peppers and place them in a bowl. Then, mince your garlic. Next, slice your sausage into medallions and set them aside. Then season your chicken generously on both sides with salt and pepper and set that aside. Again, make sure everything is measured out and set close to your stove, because things will move quickly when the time is right.

Step 2: Now it’s time to make the roux. This is the hardest part of the process. Put a stockpot on medium-low heat and immediately add your oil and flour. You’ll need to stir the roux almost constantly. Make sure you are scraping the bottom of the pan. You want to slowly brown the mixture to a very rich, chocolate color. It is very tedious but if you’re not paying attention, it will burn. You can smell when it’s burning and it is pretty nasty. So, take your time.

Step 3: As soon as you reach that chocolate color, you’ll want to add your vegetables. Stir them up until they are thoroughly coated in your roux and then add a healthy pinch of salt. Let it sweat it out for about 2 minutes. Then add your garlic. Stir that until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Step 4: Add your beer and chicken stock to the pot, but reserve some of the stock, about a 1/2 cup. You can also add the sausage as well.

Step 5: Now, reduce the heat to a bare simmer. While that sits, you can now sear your chicken. Put a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once it is hot, your reserved vegetable oil. Add the chicken to the pan, two a time, you don’t want to crowd the pan. Sear it until there is a golden crust on each side and then it to the stockpot. Once the chicken is seared, pour your reserved chicken stock into the pan and scrap the bottom. You want to get all that tasty, brown stuff off the bottom. Then, add that to the stockpot as well.

Step 6: Add the cayenne, paprika and bay leaves to the mix along with a couple of healthy pinches of salt and pepper. Now, you just have to let it simmer at low heat for about two hours, stirring occasionally.

You can serve this gumbo over white rice, but you can also eat it on its own. It’s got a good kick, but it’s not too spicy. This recipe is great for cooler weather but can be enjoyed anytime.

Earl Grey Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 2 bags of earl grey tea
  • 2 tbsp milk or non-dairy milk substitute
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt+ pinch of cardamom
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2: Steep one of the teabags in a cup of hot milk. (Though only two tablespoons of milk are needed for this recipe, I’ll pop a tea bag in a cup of milk in the microwave for two minutes and then let it steep for 15 minutes. After I use the requisite amount of milk in the recipe, I enjoy the rest of the tea+milk as a non-cookie-related treat while baking).

Step 3: Cut open the second teabag and add its contents to a medium mixing bowl. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and nutmeg to the bowl and stir.

Step 4: In a separate, bigger bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until smooth. (You can use an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or a hand mixer and a big mixing bowl, or heck — be too lazy to bring all that equipment out and just mix with a fork and strong arm.)

Step 5: Add the egg, vanilla extract, and the two tablespoons of the milk to the butter-and-sugar mixture, and mix until combined.

Step 6: Gradually add the dry contents to the bigger bowl and mix until a smooth dough forms. Then mix in the chocolate chips.

Step 7: Add your cookie dough to the baking sheet, one tablespoon of dough at a time. Leave 2 inches of space between each cookie. Continue adding dough until the sheet is full.

Step 8: Bake your cookies in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden around the edge.

Step 9: Remove the sheet from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before moving the cookies off the sheet and allowing them to cool completely on a plate or wire rack.

The flavor of these cookies has a little more depth to it than your average chocolate chip cookie. The earl gray takes some of the edge off of the sweetness and it goes great with a cup of coffee.

Fried Rice


  • 1 cup of cooked rice
  • 8 oz of the protein of your choice (steak, chicken, pork, tofu all work here)
  • 2 scallions sliced thin (for garnish)
  • 1/2 a white onion, diced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 carrot, sliced thin
  • 1 cup frozen peas (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • vegetable oil (for cooking)
  • salt and pepper

Step 1: Make sure all your ingredients are chopped, whisked, measured and close by before doing anything else. Because you will be working at high heat, this recipe moves fast.

Step 2: Heat your wok over high heat. Smear the interior of the wok with a thin layer of oil. When it starts smoking, you know its hot enough.

Step 3: First, add vegetable oil to your hot wok, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Give it a swirl and try to cover a good amount of surface area with the oil. Then, add your protein and spread it out into a single layer.

Step 4: Once your protein is cooked through (or to your preferred temperature in the case of steak), remove it from the wok and keep it nearby in a bowl. Then add your beaten egg and let that cook through. This shouldn’t take more than a moment. Once the egg is cooked, you can add it to the bowl with your protein.

Step 5: At this point, you may need to add more oil to the wok. Now, add your vegetables. Keep them moving. You just want to sweat them a bit. Once the carrots soften you can move on to the next step.

Step 6: Add your cooked rice to the wok with the vegetables. Toss them together until they are well combined. Now, add your soy sauces, oyster sauce and sesame oil to the mix. Again, keep it all moving and keep going until it is thoroughly mixed.

Step 7: Now, add your protein and egg to the wok and stir everything together. Give it a taste and season it with salt and pepper as needed. Then, once you’ve plated your fried rice, sprinkle it with your thinly sliced scallions and serve.

It’s a quick recipe but also delicious — very rich and savory. You can still do this with a normal frying pan, if you do not have a wok, just be careful with your heat. Woks work best at high heat, so you’d have to turn down your burner quite a bit from what is suggested in the recipe.

Do you have a cold-weather dish that you enjoy? Share it with News 6. Just email You could see your recipe in an upcoming edition of our Florida Foodie newsletter.

About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.