3 Tips for warm foods on cold nights
Craving comfort foods to ward off frozen feet? A bowl of steaming fare can insta-melt the icicles from a tired body and warm you up from the inside out. Light a fire and snuggle with a family picnic dinner. Or make it a romantic dinner a deux and hunker down with your honey and try sipping and cooking with luscious liqueurs to get the warm and tinglies all over.
Melt the big chill with chili
Nothing dishes comfort like a bowl of beans, meat and simmered seasonings. Try con carne (with ground beef, turkey or chicken), or vegetarian with black, red, pinto or white beans. Chili's charm is it lets you create a big vat of flavor without getting caught in the kitchen.
Offer a toppings "bar" with everyone's favorite's: sour cream, croutons, chopped onions, grated cheese, chili sauces and nacho chips. A basic chili recipe with ample toppings warms up even the pickiest eater and satisfies the budget-conscious.
We don't mean a nip of cooking Sherry while you stir (although that works). The sweet richness of liqueurs are the perfect cold weather warm up and sweet treat in coffees and hot chocolate. Liqueurs add a layer of flavor and indulgence to a long list of sweet (and a few not so sweet) warm-your-toes recipes.
The goddess of chocolate, Godiva, has delicious creamy-liquors that easily marry with desserts and cold weather hot drinks. Other liqueurs like almond, orange, hazelnut, coffee, anise or Irish cream flavors can add a kiss of flavor to your special hotty totty or dessert.
Spike your cocoa: Get hot with a huge mug of steaming cocoa heaped with whipped and gooey goodies on top. Kick up your cocoa an adult notch and spike it with a splash of your favorite liqueur. Godiva's Devilishly-Hot Hot Chocolate is just the right decadence for cold nights.
Ever thought of drinking chocolate fondue? A Fondue-tini may not be warm but it's delicious enough to warm you from head to toe. Blend Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Mexican-coffee flavored liqueur, Irish Cream and creamy Milk Chocolate.
When a chill blows through your bones, ooey gooey cheesy foods make you feel better. Try a mozzarella Panini with sliced tomato on crusty French or Italian bread. Pair with creamy tomato soup topped with seasoned croutons. Your insides will purr.
Go low fat with your buttery spreads and cheeses. Add extra bulk to sandwiches by adding red onion, spinach leaves and dash of lemon pepper for flavor.
Fondue: A once trendy Swiss fave from the sixties, fondue has long made a comeback as the cold weather comfort food everyone loves to dive into with friends and dipping forks.
The secret to great fondue is to use fresh ingredients and dippers and to keep the cheese from "seizing up" into clumps, which happens when fat separates from proteins. Food science expert and author of "On Food and Cooking" Harold McGee, suggests the following to keep your fondue flowing:
Use well-aged or most grating cheeses for the sauces (Swiss styles like Jarlsberg, Emmenthaler, and Gruyere work well).
- Avoid heating cheese past its melting point as it balls up at higher temps.
- Don't let cheese cool down too much before serving.
- Don't over stir to avoid stringiness.
- Coat grated cheese with a starch such as flour or corn starch to stabilize the sauce.
Added Tip: Add a tablespoon of cherry-flavored liqueur for authentic Swiss flavor. White wine will keep cheese moist. A dash of lemon juice will also do the job.
With just a few creative twists on traditional warm meals and drinks you can take the big chill off cold nights.