It’s no secret that every season has its own foods.
Yet another reason I look forward to winter is the ability to eat lots of soups, chilis, and crock pot dishes. Besides being relatively quick to make, soups and chilis are also the type of food that make leftovers, a must for a busy family.
Below I have shared 5 of my husband and my favorite winter recipes. There’s some soups, a bread, and even a favorite dessert (not necessarily exclusive to winter, but you know…).
Thanks to the fact that my husband loves Betty Crocker, most of these foods can be found in one of her cookbooks. (No lie, he’s the one who regularly checks the Ollies book section for new Betty books that we don’t have. It’s also not uncommon for the words “I tried this new recipe for dinner because I saw it on Betty’s site”—yes, we’re on first name basis.)
I love this chili for so many reasons. First, I grew up on really traditionally chilis that didn’t really have corn, so the addition of corn to chili has been a real joyful discovery. Also, I love that there are literally two steps to this recipe: cook the meat and add all the ingredients. Next, this chili tends to be a little dryer (though you can easily add water or tomato juice and liquify it more), some people wouldn’t like that, but it can be made into an almost dip like consistency. For someone like me who loves scooping chili with chips, a dip-like consistency is amazing. Third, unlike many recipes that claim to take only 30 minutes to make, this one really can be made in that amount of time. And finally, it’s super easy to double.
Trick: Stir sour cream into your bowl of chili. It’s a fun streak of creamy cold in your otherwise warm scoop of chili.
Another two step recipe from Betty that totally knocks it out of the park. Tim and I eat a lot of chicken, and this is one of favorite recipes to do so. If you know someone who doesn’t like a lot of vegetables, this is a great dish to feed them, as it has a good bit of vegetables in it, but you almost don’t notice it. (Tim dislikes onions, but he’ll eat this even though there’s a whole onion in it!) This skillet dish cooks to a lovely creamy consistency and you really can’t go wrong with egg noodles.
Trick: Use a food processor to chop your carrots, broccoli, and onions to cut down on prep time and also slip more of those yummy vegetables into this dish!
This is an extremely accurate copycat recipe of Panera Broccoli Cheese soup. So, if you have some time and don’t want to pay $5 for a bowl of soup, this recipe is for you! I make a couple of alterations to the recipe as it stands: I substitute regular milk for the whipping cream (it takes a little longer for the soup to thicken, but it makes the soup less heavy). I don’t tend to add the salt, no particular reason other than that growing up my mother usually left the salt out of stuff, also there’s enough salt in the cheese that you don’t really need the extra. This is another one of those recipes that a food processor can be a helpful tool to cut down on preparation time.
Tim and I love to eat this soup with some French bread dipped in it. There’s really nothing like a warm bowl of soup and buttered bread for a cold evening. Probably out of all these recipes, this is the one that Tim requests the most during the winter.
Trick: Buy a block of cheddar cheese and shave it yourself. Shaved cheese right off the block melts better into soups and you’re saving yourselves from whatever preservatives are put on pre-shredded cheese to keep it from drying out! (Also blocks of cheese can often be cheaper than bags of shredded cheese.)
Until I lived with a family in college, I’d never had a homemade bread I liked. My experience with homemade was that it was bitter and yeasty. That perception stood until I met this French Bread recipe. If you’re anything like me, the idea of making bread seems pretty daunting. And in some ways, it is. However, I made this bread correctly on the first try, and I’m no baking wizard. Also, there’s just something about making your own bread that makes you feel like you’ve arrived. It’s a great way to impress friends and family.
I couldn’t find the exact French Bread recipe I use (I use the Easy French Bread recipe out of the More with Less cookbook), so here are my modifications: I use butter instead of oil, though I suppose you could really use any sort of fat you desire. Also, I bake my bread at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Finally, as soon as I pull the bread out of the oven, I melt butter all across the top of it. It smells amazing and also gives the crust a smooth buttery flavor.
There for a while Tim and I pretty much stopped buying bread and relied solely on this bread for toast, soup-dipping, and sandwiches. It’s that good.
Trick: My amazingly talented friend Tabi shared this secret to making perfect bread: bake it until its internal temperature is 200. This might mean you bread takes a little longer than 20 minutes to cook, but it will save you from having a squishy inside to your bread.
This cake recipe is actually life. Full disclosure, I don’t even like cake, but this flourless cake is perfection. It’s so smooth and rich and offers you a luxury experience. You will savor each bite like you’re an actor in a yogurt commercial.
One of the tricky parts of this recipe is in the “water bath”—the part where you put the springform pan in a pan of boiling water in the oven. It’s a little complicated, but the instructions are very user-friendly. Pro tip: make sure you have a pan that is big enough for your springform pan to sit inside of in the oven. You’re supposed to use a roasting pan, but I don’t have one…so I may have unscrewed the handles from one of my big skillets and used that…whatever works man.
The other tricky part in this recipe is really a test of personality. If you lack in confidence, like me, the “bake until cake has risen slightly, edges are just beginning to set, thin glazed crust (like a brownie crush) has formed on the surface” part is going to be a little stressful. Everything in you is going to want to leave it in just a little longer. You’re going to find yourself second guessing yourself—are the edges really getting like a brownie crush or am I imagining it? I don’t want to underdo it! #panic Do not leave it in more than 25 minutes. Trust me. It’ll be okay, I promise.
I have full confidence that you can succeed at this recipe. Like the French Bread, you will feel like an absolute boss after finishing this cake. All of your guests will be blown away when you present them with this 5-star restaurant quality dessert.
Trick: Get a kitchen thermometer. Like the bread, it really helps if you can take the temperature of the item at various stages. Especially if you’re a novice in the kitchen like me, a thermometer can save your life.