10 favorite winter dinners


Do you have recipes or dishes that you come back to again and again when cold weather hits? Do you think there is a difference between warm weather food and cold weather food?

I was watching a Giant Bomb video podcast a while ago with Paul, and the guys were talking about whether there is a difference between summer food and winter food. They seemed to agree that they eat more salad in summer and more soup in winter. I would definitely say that’s true for me.

I love the opportunity to make soups and stews in the fall and winter months. In the California heat of summer, I try not to turn on the oven or use the crockpot much, as that quickly raises temperature of our already hot home. Even using the stove can be tough when it’s already sweltering. Once it gets cold, I am so happy to use my oven and crockpot. They can make for more hands-off cooking.


1. Beef ribs

This recipe for beef ribs created by yours truly uses a Dutch oven, a can of beer, a  jalapeño and seasoning. It doesn’t require much effort, but by the end you have tender, flavorful meat that falls off the bone with a butter knife.

Chicken pozole rojo

2. Chicken pozole rojo soup

Every fall and winter for the past five years, I have loved making this. This soup is sort of similar to chicken soup but it’s spicy. You can make it more or less so pretty easily depending on your preference. No noodles, but it has hominy.


3. Chicken tortilla soup

My sister Katie made this recipe for chicken tortilla soup up many years ago. It must have been more than a decade ago already! It’s a family favorite, but here I’ve updated it to be more spicy and added a note on how to make it thicker, almost like a chowder, if you would like.


4. Creamy broccoli soup

Vegetarian food can be comfort food too. This is one of my favorite soups ever. My somewhat picky husband likes it even though it has three vegetables and no meat.


5. Slow-cooker vegetarian chili

Here’s another recipe for you vegetarians, or if you’re like me and just want a break from meat sometimes. This recipe is so easy. You just put a few cans of things and some seasoning in a pot and let it simmer, but it tastes great.

6. Cranberry pecan spinach salad

This salad is made with a baby spinach and greens mix, pecans, cranberries, and a triple berry balsamic dressing. I was inspired to make the dressing when I came across my cousin Laura’s recipe for Triple Berry Spinach Salad in our family cookbook.

Orange chicken two servings

7. Fried rice and orange chicken

My mom used this fried rice recipe clipped from a newspaper column quite often when I was growing up and my Grandma Donna used the orange chicken recipe a few times, when she wasn’t baking it from the frozen Trader Joe’s bag.

Teriyaki meatballs with udon noodles_3

8. Teriyaki meatballs with udon noodles

This is most definitely the easiest recipe in this list. It uses packaged meatballs and the whole dish comes together fast. I like making this with kale, but spinach bok choy or cabbage would all work too.

9. My mom’s macaroni and cheese

There’s no shame in the boxed mac and cheese game. But once you try homemade you may be surprised how simple it is to make restaurant quality macaroni and cheese at home. This is a great comfort meal.

10. Skillet chicken with orzo pasta

Out of 10 recipes, this is the fourth in the list to come from my mom’s collection. Hey, she’s a great cook and I’m still finding and making my own favorites. I love that this recipe is healthy, filling and makes for fantastic leftovers, even cold in a packed lunch.

I also love making toasted sandwiches in the fall and winter, such as beef dip and meatball sandwiches. I don’t use recipes for those, as they’re so simple, so I didn’t include them on this list. Happy cooking!

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