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All-Star potato, bacon and corn chowder

Family Features | 1/12/2011, 5 p.m.

Just before the start of spring, there are those last chilly nights of winter that call for foods that warm the body and the soul. And that's the very definition of comfort food. Here are some of my favorite ways to bring some comfort to the table and smiles to the faces of those around it:

* A make-ahead casserole - I like to put together a hearty one-dish meal that makes enough for leftovers on another night.

* Homemade hot cocoa mix - Keeping a container of homemade mix ready lets me make a cozy cup of cocoa to warm things up after school or any time at all.

* Quick loaves - Waking up to the smell of baking lemon bread, banana bread or pumpkin bread makes the day better already.

* Soups and chowders - I like to make a big batch so there's some for supper and plenty left over to send some to school for a good, hot lunch.

In this All-Star Potato, Bacon and Corn Chowder, potato flakes bring familiar flavor and act as a thickener. Sunny yellow corn and crispy bacon really brighten up the taste, and evaporated milk makes it extra creamy and super comforting.

For more favorite comfort food recipes before spring is upon us, visit www.TheCookingMilk.com

2 cans (14 fluid ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cans (12 fluid ounces each Nestlé Carnation Evaporated Milk
2 cups instant mashed potato flakes
1 can (15 1/4 ounces) no-salt added whole-kernel corn, drained
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, additional cooked and/or crumbled bacon (optional)

Combine broth and evaporated milk in large saucepan. Bring mixture just to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low. Add potato flakes, corn, bacon, onion powder and pepper.

Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 8 minutes until creamy and slightly thick. Top each serving with cheddar cheese, green onions and/or bacon.

Nutrition Information per serving: 240 calories; 90 calories from fat; 10g total fat; 6g saturated fat; 0g trans fat; 40mg cholesterol; 350mg sodium; 25g carbohydrate; 2g fiber; 11g sugars; 13g protein; 80% DV vitamin C; 25% DV calcium.