Warm and Hearty Winter Delights to Keep You Cozy

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Over the course of the four seasons, Americans dine out about 4.5 times per week. It’s likely that much of that weekly dining is done during summer and spring. The winter months may be a time for staying in, dining heartily, and chasing away the cold and grey with warm, colorful dishes prepared at home. Read on for a full buffet of meals and drinks that will keep your kitchen and belly warm this winter.

Breakfast

Hot Chocolate French Toast

While it’s doubtful that the Aztecs had this delightful morning dish, they definitely had the chocolate to make it: the Aztecs introduced this delectable dessert food to the Spanish and the rest of the new world in 1657. The “French” part of it is a little trickier to parse out: what we know as “French toast” actually has Roman roots. Hot deliciousness, however, has no nationality.

Coffee Cake

Tried, true, and traditional, nothing has better commerce with coffee than a cake of any kind. I’m saving the red velvet and chocolate varieties for dessert, however, and designating this confection for the morning repast.

Lunch

Bacon Guacamole Grilled Cheese

Really, any one of these is a winner on its own: bacon; guacamole; grilled cheese. Put them all together, however, and you have a unique, hot, and hearty winter lunch. That butter-soaked bread and sizzled bacon make this great grub for the greasiest gourmands, but it’s the acme of acne if you have sensitive skin. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that over 50 million Americans suffer from acne, with 85% of those being teenagers. But this sandwich, especially when paired with a bowl of hot tomato soup, is worth the risk every once in a while.

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Soup

Another hot brew that pairs well with a souped-up grilled cheese is this New England favorite prepared with fresh, whole winter squash. As with any fresh vegetable, be sure to clean it well and tidy up after. If you decide to peel and chop your squash before roasting, prepare yourself for a good bit of cleaning up afterward.

Chicken Quesadillas

The classic Latin-American quesadilla is not just for weekends and Mexican dining anymore: it can be as easy and versatile as a grilled cheese sandwich. Bonus points if you get some masa harina and a press and make your own corn or flour tortillas. And chicken quesadillas lend themselves well to spiciness, which adds a layer of warmth to winter lunches.

Portuguese Chorizo and Kale Soup

America’s bounty of cultures has enriched us nowhere greater than in our kitchens, and this Portuguese classic is dug in and traditional. It’s also rounded and robust, with peppery kale and the mild heat of chorizo. I love kale and chorizo any time of year, but this soup is definitely a winter lunch favorite.

French Onion Soup

There are hundreds of variations on this international favorite, but they all come down to this: caramelized onions, rich broth, and fortified wine all soaking through a thick end of good bread anchored by a flavorful medium cheese. I like sherry in my French onion soup, but brandy is a popular choice as well. Be sure to cook off the alcohol with a nice long winter simmer.

Cocktail Hour

Hot Toddy

There are not really any bad times of day for a hot toddy, but winter is definitely the perfect time of year. Nothing is a better offering for a winter pre-dinner cocktail hour than a hot toddy. Fantastic for afternoon experimentation for sure with a nearly infinite range of spice and liquor combinations possible. The popular hot hootch is a comfort for colds, as well.

Hot Buttered Rum

Butter, rum, cider, spices. What could be better? Well, whipping this old colonial drink together on a cold, snowy afternoon, and getting your kitchen on. Which brings us to the main event: winter dinners.

Dinner

Spaghetti Carbonara

Hot and heavy can be a hard sell in summer. That’s what makes carbonara such a catch in winter. Creamy, thick, saucy, hot, and rich: spaghetti carbonara is everything a deep winter dinner should be. It’s also refreshing to pair his with a salad of peppery greens like arugula and a Meyer lemon dressing.

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff, the trendy ‘70s quickie, is making a comeback in American kitchens, big time. Fat, broad egg noodles and tender sauteed beef are drowned in sour cream and dill and served piping hot. This a go-to on many winter nights.

Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit seems never to have truly caught on in the States, but it’s an excellent grain and dairy (and then some!) addition to a winter dinner, or can be a meal all on its own. There’s no fondue hosts are more fond of on a late winter afternoon or evening.

Four-Cheese Pasta with Peas and Ham

A classic. If you’re feeding kids, you will likely have discovered that peas are one of the few green things you can get in their bellies on a regular basis. In this case, the pasta, cheese, and nice salty ham will help.

Dessert

Red Velvet Cake

Told you there was a red velvet cake. There’s really never a wrong season for red velvet cake. But a Christmas party without a red velvet cake, what is that? Sometimes, color is everything. Just be careful with the flour — baking prep stations are as much a magnet for dust and debris as your carpeting, which can conceal up to one whole pound of dirt in a square yard.

German Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake is a competitive category, but there’s no version of it better than this one. Done right, it’s rich and dark, toothsome and tender, and just a touch tart. And it’s chocolate, so you can’t go wrong experimenting with your own unique versions: coconut, cinnamon, nuts, caramel, and even cayenne and paprika can spruce up a classic German chocolate cake.

Chocolate Pie

This is a simple and delicious quick dessert that you can take in a number of directions. It’s worth emphasizing the quickness: getting it out of the oven and onto dessert plates while it’s still oozing, gooey, and glistening with residual heat. Pie crust and chocolate: simple and fast.

Coffee

Affogato

If you have to have ice cream in winter, this is the way to do it. An affogato is simply a scoop of good vanilla ice cream dropped in a demitasse of fresh, hot espresso. It’s coffee and dessert at once. And it can be prepared decaf for curious kiddos.

With these compelling courses, dining in during the dark of winter can be as winning as suppers in the summer sun. Winter is a great time to eat and be well, and be together.

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