As soon as temperatures dip (and here in Florida, that can mean just into the 60s & 70s) it’s like my body instinctually goes into hibernation mode and I start craving those warm, filling meals that are synonymous with the season. So, let’s break out the crockpots, Instapots, and sweaters and take a look at some cold weather recipes with a few twists and ideas for leftovers.
Is there any dish more Fall-ish than chili? For me, the thought of a warm bowl of chili conjures images of tailgates, football, and leaves falling. Depending on where you’re from, your chili might be very different from others. The most classic variation that I am partial to is a tomato-based version with beef and beans (sorry Texans). The one I make is very similar to this recipe, but I add a secret ingredient. You ready? Cinnamon. Yes, you heard me, cinnamon. This might come as a surprise to many of you, but it is common in Greek chili recipes (though I am not Greek, unfortunately). It adds a warmth and depth of flavor that I absolutely love. So, the next time you’re making a pot of chili, throw in a teaspoon, or maybe a tablespoon, and see how you like it. Want your chili a little sweeter? Shred a couple of carrots and let them simmer to add a natural sweetness. Have lots of chili leftover? Make some homemade chili-cheese fries, chili nachos, load it onto a baked potato, or try it Cincinnati-style: on a pile of spaghetti topped with copious amounts of cheddar cheese – you won’t regret it.
White Chicken Chili
Not in a tomato mood? No worries, you can still fulfill that chili craving with a white chicken chili recipe like this one. Rotisserie chicken from the grocery store can make this already simple recipe, even faster. Personally, I always like to keep canned green chilis on hand (they make fantastic queso dip) and chicken broth (sub for water and add a tablespoon of butter for the best rice). Leftover white chicken chili can also be transformed into spinach-chicken enchiladas by adding some spinach & cheese, rolled into a tortilla, topped with more leftover soup & cheese, and baked. Of course, either of these chili recipes can be made vegetarian by omitting meat, and veggie broth can be used instead of chicken broth.
Next on my list of favorite cold-weather recipes is broccoli-cauliflower soup, and surprisingly enough, it’s also my 6-year-old son’s favorite. It’s a great way to get extra veggies into your day and to use up extra produce. I start by sautéing onion, garlic, carrot, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and any other veggies that sound good. I cover the veg with chicken/veggie stock, add some salt & pepper to taste and a teaspoon of dried thyme and let it simmer until soft (you can also put this in an insta- or crockpot). When the veg is just soft, I remove it from the heat and use my immersion blender to mix it all to a smooth(ish) consistency. At this point, if you want the soup thicker, you can put it back over heat and simmer to the desired thickness. If you want it thinner, just add some more stock. You could also add a splash of cream and/or a few handfuls of shredded cheese to add some creaminess. And bacon is always a nice addition if you’re a pork person. If you prefer measurements instead of my eyeball method, here’s a recipe that’s similar — I’ve never added the Dijon mustard like this recipe, but it sounds interesting. Leftovers can be made into a delicious rice or potato bake, just substitute the leftover, homemade soup for whatever canned soup you might normally use.
After spending 11 years in the cold northern part of the country, I could go on for days with cold-weather recipes. But hopefully, these few give you a good start and inspire some new meals for your family.