Every year, it happens. Cold weather sneaks up when nobody seems to be paying attention, and suddenly the carefree, balmy breezes of long summer days and lazy evenings are but a memory. Suddenly it is cold outside and dark far too early. However, here are some tips for warming up winter and turning it into a season that offers some fun and relaxation for everyone.
Summer is not the time for lots of heavy cooking and baking, and the heat of the oven is not generally welcome when using air conditioning to cool the house. Winter provides the perfect opportunity, however, to make comfort foods that everyone is reminded of when temperatures fall. One of the best examples of hearty fare that everyone, including the youngest family members, enjoys is pot pies. Made from scratch or store-bought from the fresh or frozen aisles, they hit the spot, especially when offering flaky crusts with fork-tender chicken or beef and colorful vegetables inside. Nothing more is needed nutrition wise, though adding a side dish, such as a green leafy salad or serving of applesauce, perhaps a dinner roll, will make the meal stretch even further to satisfy and warm up winter appetites.
Speaking of pot pies, my family and I recently sampled Marie Callender’s Chicken Pot Pies. I had some reservations as to how they would taste because hey, these were frozen pot pies, but I was pleasantly surprised. They were yummy and really tasted as if they were homemade.
You can prepare them either in the oven or in the microwave. I opted to use the microwave. Even though I prepared them in the microwave, the crust was nice and golden and flaky. Inside the pot pie was filled with lots of white tender and juicy chicken and vegetables. Both Phil and Z.E.N. approved!
Other warming and hearty meals to alternate with pot pies include chili, stews, soups, and casseroles that, somehow, do not pass muster as easily in the warm weather months. Come winter, they are like old friends that everyone is eager to see once more. Taking this idea further, making hot cocoa and topping it with marshmallows is a dessert many children, adults also, enjoy and when using pure cacao powder, it is possible to control the sugar content so that the warm milk helps rather than hinders at bedtime.
Winter also invites building a fire or enjoying a gas generated one, in either case a way to ward off the chill and howling winds outside and snuggle closer. Family members can share blankets and throws while munching on popcorn and playing games, not something they would be remotely interested in during summer. However, board and card games have a purpose, not only providing wholesome challenges but also encouraging the verbal communication that is sometimes lost with video games, especially the new individual gaming devices. Other activities for winter snuggling involve finishing read-aloud stories by providing individually unique endings or taking turns reading from a classic and acting out some of the scenes.
When it comes to ways to warm up winter, the key elements are food, fun, and family togetherness. With those intact, it is not important to seek outdoor activities, especially in inclement weather. Moreover, when necessary to be outdoors, there is nothing nicer than stepping inside and into a home that is warm and welcoming with hearty pleasures, like aromatic pot pies or hot chocolate, and thoughts of games by the fire. Experiences like these make winter not so bad, after all.