When the weather outside is frightful, it’s no surprise that you’ll want to indulge in meals that are quite delightful. Comfort food is wildly popular in the first month of the new year thanks to its ability to keep us warm and cozy even when the winter winds are howl against our lawn furniture covers. These delicious and hearty meal inspirations will bring warmth and positivity to keep you and your kitchen feeling comfortable, safe and satisfied all month long.
The slow cooker or crockpot is the unsung hero of wintertime meal preparation. There’s plenty to love about this versatile appliance thanks to its huge variety of recipes from pot roast to chicken cacciatore to jambalaya and everything in between. All are as simple as dumping the ingredients into the pot and hitting the power button. And the super simple clean up that comes with a one-pot setup doesn’t hurt either.
Plan out your slow cooker meals ahead of time, making sure you have the freshest ingredients on hand for each recipe. When you’re ready to toss them in the pot, it’s recommended that you place the heartier components of your meal like meats and heavy vegetables at the bottom of the pot to ensure even cooking. You’re free to leave your pot unattended while you put your lawn furniture covers in place to maintain your backyard living space. Once you’re done, you’ll have a hearty meal ready to serve with little to no work on your part.
Hearty and Healthy
Just because your comfort meals are on the rich side of flavor doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice healthy eating habits. It may seem unlikely, but it’s very much possible to indulge in satisfying dinners while sticking to your new year’s resolution of staying healthy. The secret to balancing flavor and nutrition is all in the ingredients.
When it comes to comfort food recipes, there are countless ways to sub out less healthy ingredients with lighter, more diet-friendly options. Homestyle favorites such as Shepherd’s Pie can be given a healthy twist by ditching carb-heavy potatoes and replacing them with nutritious mashed cauliflower. And even though it’s too cold to pull off the grill cover and sizzle some steaks, grilled lean meats and seafood can be prepared in the kitchen for a dish that’s satisfying and light on calories.
I’ll Drink to That
Food isn’t the only warm creation you can concoct in the kitchen. Consider adding hot drinks of both the alcoholic and kid-friendly variety to your winter menu for some after-dinner relaxation. If the weather allows it, you can even do away with your waterproof sofa cover and enjoy a homemade hot beverage in the comfort of your own backyard.
Your slow cooker will come into play once again as an easy way to prepare batches of delightfully hot beverages. Drink recipes such as rich and slightly spicy Mexican hot chocolate or traditional mulled wine are simple to prepare and are ready to enjoy right as your hearty dinner comes to an end.
Spice of Life
Spices are the key to transforming a so-so dinner into a hearty indulgence the whole family will enjoy. From cumin to coriander, there’s a spice that’s tailor-made to add a delicious kick to whatever comfort meal you’re cooking up as winter snows fall and your waterproof sofa cover and chair cover keep your backyard furniture dry.
International grocery stores are the prime destination for picking up unique spices on the cheap. Staples such as paprika, chili powder, and red pepper flakes can be bought in bulk for pennies on the dollar while more adventurous flavors like saffron or turmeric can be purchased in smaller portions for experimenting with new flavors.
Soups and stews are the backbone of cold-weather cuisine. There are countless combinations of vegetables, meats, and savory broths that will please just about everyone. And with the help of a slow cooker or traditional stew pot, whipping up hearty meals like traditional chicken noodle soup is as easy as pulling down your patio blinds or placing a protective chair cover onto your backyard furniture.
You may think soup dinners will wear out their welcome throughout the first few weeks of the new year, but there’s more versatility in this winter favorite than meets the eye. Keep your dinner menu exciting by never using the same recipe twice and keeping flavor profiles diverse. One night you can serve up a classic tomato soup paired with a grilled cheese sandwich while the next week you and your family can enjoy some spicy taco soup. Just like the customization options for a waterproof sofa cover, the possibilities are endless when it comes to hot and hearty soups.