Ultimate Comfort Foods – Easy, Warming Winter Meals

My slow cooker is my life saver during the winter. In the UK, the days get shorter and shorter as we head towards Christmas. In December, it can get dark as early as around 4pm. Getting off work at 6 makes me feel like I’m getting out at midnight and who the hell wants to cook a full on dinner when they feel like it’s the middle of the night. No one, that’s who.

So my friend Lisa and I had a discussion the other day, we’re both on Weight Watchers, and we wanted comforting, warm foods that wouldn’t completely blow our diets. They needed to be good enough that our husbands and children would eat them, and yummy enough that we would want to eat them again. So I scoured the interwebs for the ultimate list of one pot, slow cooker wonders that wouldn’t break the bank or your belt.

Slow Cooker Beef Casserole

Slow Cooker Recipes - Beef Casserole

Six ingredients, a frying pan and a slow cooker are just about all you need for this fantastic Slow Cooker Beef Casserole from Candis. What is perfect about this casserole is you can easily substitute other meats and other casserole sachets to create different meals. Make a bit more and freeze some for a rainy day or lunch left overs. Plus if you use something like chicken it’s easy on the waistline so you won’t have to worry about packing a few extra pounds after winter.

Greek Style Roast Fish

warming winter meals - fish is the dish - tale of two sisters

Fish is a major winner in our house. We love it for it’s flexibility and low calorie count. It helps that it absolutely tastes divine. This recipe from BBC Good Food quickly became a family favourite. Whilst it isn’t exactly a 30 minute meal it’s under an hour, extremely filling and delicious. I’ll be honest, we don’t always have white fish with it, I’ve also topped it with peeled prawns and salmon. The tastes continue to delight, though I wouldn’t recommend it for leftovers as the fish doesn’t reheat nicely.

Macaroni and Cheese Carbonara

One pot meals that warm you through - tale of two sisters - macaroni and cheese carbonaraLove macaroni and cheese? Love carbonara? This recipe from The Food Network is a brilliant combination of both. I love making homemade macaroni and cheese, it’s definitely my go to comfort food when I’m missing home.

Now for all of us in the UK, this recipe is an American one so we have to make do with what we can. It calls for Guyere cheese, I substitute 1/2 mozzarella and 1/2 sharp cheddar. Our typical bacon does work with the recipe (though I do love crispy bacon) what I do is dice smoked back bacon and fry in the skillet until cooked and add it into the mix instead of topping the dish with it. It adds a smokey flavour throughout the dish that is so good, I mean what isn’t made better with bacon?

To flesh it out a bit more I also add steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. It makes it more of a main dish instead of a creamy side.

Sweet Potato Gratin with Ginger, Coconut Milk and Kale

Warm Winter Meals - Sweet Potato Gratin with Kale - tale of two sistersIf you’re looking for something for tea that is more vegetarian that what we’ve featured, look no further. This recipe from ZLiving is absolutely fantastic. I happen to love Indian food, and this recipe reminds me of that sort of food with beautiful, fragrant coconut.

You can make this as the perfect side dish for upcoming dinners (Thanksgiving if you’re American) and blow your family away. They will be expecting the normal potatoes au gratin and will be wowed with they tuck into this. Sweet, filling and warm, the only word that does it justice is perfection.

Chicken and Yellow Rice

Warm Winter Meals - Chicken and Yellow RiceWhen Des and I were growing up our mother made Chicken and yellow rice all the time. It’s really simple to make if you’re in America because you can buy these little packets of saffron rice, mix in a bit of chicken and cheese and voila you have yourself some comfort food.

Not so simple when you don’t have handy packets of saffron rice here in the UK. My alternative is a bit lengthy and requires the ever elusive saffron but its well worth it once you taste it.

Ingredients:

  • 4 good sized chicken breasts, diced and sauteed
  • 20g butter
  • Spring Onions (2 chopped, green and white parts)
  • Heavy Pinch of Saffron
  • 950ml Chicken Stock
  • 390g Basmati Rice
  • Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 75g Cheddar Cheese (grated)

In a saucepan, simmer your stock and add the saffron. Allow the saffron to simmer until infused.

Bring another saucepan (medium) to medium heat. Add butter and allow to melt, add the chicken and onion and cook thoroughly. Add the rice and ensure rice is fully coated in the butter sauce that is in the bottom of the pan. Add the saffron infused chicken stock and bring to a boil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until rice is cooked al Dente and the majority of the liquid is gone. Fluff rice and stir in the cheese. Garnish with parsley.

Just writing out this recipe makes me want to run home and make it. Out of all the things my mother made this one stuck with me and is now a favourite of my family, too.

Image Credit: Errens Kitchen

Have a favourite one pot meal? Simple winter dish? Skillet to die for? Share it with us! We’re always on the lookout for new things to make the husbands and kiddos try!

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