Hearty soups, roasted vegetables, savory stews: Fall has finally arrived. As the temperatures drop and the seasons change, there is no better time for some down-home goodness like Big Momma used to make.
“My mother and grandmother used to always say, ‘Boy, sit down and eat this hearty meal,’” recalls Food Network chef Pat Neely. Today, the Memphis dad calls daughters, Shelbi, 18, and Spenser, 24, to the dinner table, even though they’re grown.  “Hearty meals [such as] pork chop soup, braised cabbage or the turkey meatloaf ward off colds and prepare our kids to have a strong, healthy day.”

As a working mom, Pat’s wife, Gina, empathizes with parents who are too overwhelmed with to-do lists and busy schedules to whip up a full spread on a weeknight. Gina and Pat recommend grocery shopping for the week on Saturday, using a slow cooker to cook throughout the day, and even chopping potatoes and carrots to store in plastic bags, cutting down on mid-week cook time. Although fresh vegetables are always best, the Neelys also keep frozen green beans and peas on hand as a backup they can count on. “When you buy fresh produce, it doesn’t keep as long,” says Gina, who will toss frozen veggies into chicken or beef broth for a quick soup base. “But it’s going to give [the food] a great flavor and keep the family healthy.”

Here are some cold-weather weeknight dinners to warm up the whole family:

1|BBQ Turkey Meatloaf
Serves 6 to 8

1 tablespoon Neelys’ BBQ Seasoning  (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon crab boil seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cups Neelys BBQ Sauce, reserving  cup for the top (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 pounds lean ground turkey
1 cups bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix BBQ seasoning, crab boil seasoning, soy sauce, beaten egg, 1 cup of the BBQ sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Add onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper and garlic. Sauté until tender. Remove from heat and add to wet barbecue sauce mixture.
Pour mixture into bowl with the ground turkey. Add bread crumbs, and mix all together with your hands.
Transfer the meat mixture to a cookie sheet or baking pan. Using your hands, form the meat into an oblong or rectangular shape. (Note: Alternately, you can pat the meat into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and pour  cup of BBQ sauce on the top of the loaf.)
Bake for 35 minutes. Remove and add the reserved  cup of BBQ sauce to the top and continue to bake for 20 more minutes.

2|Neelys BBQ Seasoning
makes 2 cups

1 cups paprika
cup sugar
3 tablespoons onion powder

Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir until combined. Keep in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

3|Neelys BBQ Sauce
Makes 3 1/2 cups

2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons sugar
tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
tablespoon onion powder
tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently,  for 1 hour 15 minutes.

4|Broccoli Pasta Slaw
Serves 3 to 5

pound bow tie pasta, cooked and cooled
1 (16-ounce) bag shredded broccoli slaw
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup dried cranberries
cup lowfat plain yogurt
cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
teaspoon cayenne
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Cool.
Combine pasta, broccoli slaw, slivered almonds and dried cranberries in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise, cider vinegar, sugar, cayenne, and salt and pepper. Add the dressing to the pasta mixture and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

5|Pat & Gina’s Oven Fried Chicken
Serves 8

Olive oil nonstick
cooking spray
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons salt
teaspoon ground
black pepper
teaspoon smoked paprika
teaspoon cayenne pepper
teaspoon garlic powder
1 (3-pound) chicken
cut into 8 pieces, skin removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fit a sheet tray with a wire rack and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In a pie plate or shallow bowl, whisk the eggs, mustard, honey, hot sauce and salt and pepper, to taste, together until thoroughly combined.
Add the panko, salt and pepper, paprika, cayenne and garlic powder to another pie plate and whisk together.
Dredge the chicken through the wet mixture, then the dry mixture, patting the breading on so it adheres. Arrange on a wire rack-lined sheet tray, making sure there is ample space between each piece of chicken. Give the chicken a spritz of the olive oil cooking spray. This will help brown and crisp the coating.
Put on the upper rack of the oven and bake until the chicken is golden and crisp. The temperature should register 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve

6|Braised Cabbage
and Carrot
Serves 4 to 6

1 large head (about 3 pounds) green cabbage
4 slices extra-thick bacon,
cut into 1-inch squares
1 cup water
2 tablespoons Smash Seasoning
(recipe follows)
1 (10-ounce) bag baby carrots
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Core cabbage and chop into 2-inch pieces. Clean thoroughly and let drain.
In a large pot over medium heat, cook bacon halfway through. (Note: It should  release fat and be lightly browned but still moist.)
Add the cabbage, water and Smash Seasoning. Cover and reduce to a simmer and steam 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes. Drain water from pot and add carrots. Cover and simmer another 15 minutes, until carrots are tender. Add salt and pepper, to taste.


1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon celery seed
 tablespoon lemon pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder

Mix ingredients thoroughly and keep in a tightly sealed container for up to 6 months.

8|Grandma Neely’s
Pork Chop
Serves 4

Soup Ingredients
3 tablespoons butter
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
32 ounces vegetable broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 large white potato, cubed
 (10-ounce) box frozen corn
 (10-ounce) box frozen peas
5 ounces fresh green beans, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

Pork Chop Ingredients
1 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon seasoning salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 (1-inch thick) bone-in center cut pork chops
Peanut oil for frying

In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter and sauté carrots, celery and onion until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the flour to the vegetables and blend well. Cook the flour until it achieves a slight blond color. Next, stir in the tomato paste and allow to slightly cook, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in vegetable broth while stirring and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and add the can of diced tomatoes and the potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the peanut oil in an electric fryer or large pan fitted with deep-fry thermometer set to 325 degrees. In a large casserole dish, mix together flour, and season with salt and pepper. Dredge chops in flour mixture, patting excess off. Place chops, 2 at time, in fryer until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly and remove to a paper towel-lined sheet tray.
Add the cooked chops to the soup and simmer another 30 minutes or until the meat falls off the bone. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the corn, peas and green beans. Ladle soup into individual bowls, top with a pork chop and sprinkle with parsley.

9|Momma Neely’s Pot Roast
Serves 6 to 8

1 (3- to 4-pound) boneless bottom-round roast
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into -inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
to taste
Freshly chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Season the roast on all sides with salt and pepper.
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil and sear the roast on all sides. Add the onions, garlic and tomato paste and cook until slightly colored. Add the wine, stock, thyme and bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover and place in the oven.
Roast for 1 hours
and then add the carrots. Continue to cook for 1 more hour. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Slice and place on a platter. Skim the fat off the braising liquid and serve with the roast.
Garnish with parsley.