Easy Winter Beverages

 

I am COLD. In fact, I get cold more easily than anyone I know!

I am also always thirsty and drink on a semi-constant basis.

The solution to my problem here is clear.

 

So I bring you my five favorite easy and warm beverages to make in the winter!

All beverages on this list are nonalcoholic, largely due to the fact that I rotate them throughout the day. And I use “make” loosely, because I do mean easy–I am among the laziest chefs and also have books to write.

Without further ado:

 

  1. Chai.

    Tea in general is excellent in the winter, but if I must choose one, at the risk of waxing endlessly, chai is my favorite. Add in some milk and sugar and chai is probably the only reason I get out of bed.

    (No, really. I have to move out from underneath a cat. This requires extreme motivation.)

  2. Honeycrisp Apple Cider.

    I will accept other varieties of apple cider, of course, but honeycrisp apple cider is available by the jug here in Washington and it is AMAZING. I like heating it up with a mulling spice packet or cinnamon stick, but it’s good on its own, too. Honeycrisp apple cider is a permanent fixture at my house between November and February.

  3. Honey Lemon Tisane.

    This one’s especially good for when you’ve had enough caffeine for the day but don’t want to drink anything too filling. Put a couple dollops each of lemon juice and honey (do adjust dollops to taste–I am fond of sugar and err on the side of more honey always) into a mug, add a cinnamon stick, fill with water, heat, and stir. Done!

  4. Steamed Milk.

    A misnomer, but that’s how I learned to call it, and it’s a straightforward comfort drink after a hard or cold day. Add some honey to a mug of milk, heat, then add a couple drops of vanilla and stir. It’s that easy.

  5. Hot Chocolate.

    Last but not least, the classic. Adding marshmallows is traditional, but these days I love the variety of packets that come with salted caramel, cinnamon, or peppermint flavors. There are a thousand ways to do hot chocolate; you know what you like!

 

Combine warm beverage of choice with fleece blankets, a fireplace, and a comfortable cat or two, and I may make it through winter yet.

Let me know if you have suggestions for more winter beverages!

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Pecan Pie Cookies

I forget whom I promised to send this recipe to this weekend, so now everyone can enjoy =P. Any time vanilla or dark brown sugar is listed here, I recommend adding extra.

 

Pecan Pie Cookies

COOKIE INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

FILLING INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup chopped (small) pecans
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla

 

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. To make cookie dough, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; mix. Add flour and baking powder. Beat until well-mixed.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. With your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie (rotate your thumb to hollow it out slightly).
  4. Combine all the filling ingredients in a small bowl. Fill each cookie’s indentation with filling.
  5. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Summer Recipe Wins

I love experimenting in the kitchen. I also tend to simplify recipes if either they look excessively troublesome (I am definitely not a master chef) or I happen to have different ingredients on hand. I wanted to share my three favorite discoveries from this summer, because they are all super easy and delicious. No wild successes among meat dish experiments, sadly, so this is an uncharacteristically vegetarian-friendly assortment for me. All measurements are approximate or not listed at all.

Corn Spinach Salad with Honey Lime Dressing
This one is ready in minutes and requires basically no effort. It’s also easy to scale the proportions depending on how much you want to make.

INGREDIENTS

  • Frozen corn
  • Baby Spinach
  • Grape tomatoes, halved
  • Red onion, diced
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced cilantro
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • Salt

PROCEDURE
Whisk lime juice, honey, and cilantro together in a measuring cup. In a medium-sized bowl combine the rest of the ingredients (proportions to taste), stir, pour the dressing over it, stir some more. All done!

 
Blackberry Peach Goat Cheese Sandwich
The proportions below are for 4 sandwiches. I may be ruined for all other sandwiches. I’m already thinking about how I can adapt this for different fruit come fall (persimmons, anyone?).

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 slices of bread (I used potato)
  • 4 peaches, peeled and sliced
  • Oil
  • 8 oz goat cheese
  • Cilantro
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Blackberry or marionberry jam

PROCEDURE

  1. In a bowl, combine goat cheese, cilantro, and honey.
  2. On stove, splash oil into pan and grill peach slices.
  3. Toast bread.
  4. Spread goat cheese mixture on one slice of bread and jam on the other. Arrange peach slices on jam side and then combine both sides.

 
Cold Avocado Yogurt Soup
This may be the single most refreshing thing I’ve ever eaten.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 avocados
  • ½ container vanilla yogurt
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Cantaloupe, diced
  • Salt and pepper

PROCEDURE

  1. Blend avocado, onion, stock, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until smooth.
    • (If you have some sort of food processor or blender, that would probably work best. I used a hand mixer, which, I mean, worked, but was…messy.)
  2. Add melon chunks and stir. Spoon into bowls.

Latter two recipes bastardized from here and here respectively.