Cold Weather Meal Ideas

It’s October, which means the Fall season is officially in full swing.  The days are shorter, the leaves are changing colors, and there’s a certain crispness in the air that many of us associate with yummy cold weather comfort food.  If you’re running out of ideas for what to cook for dinner, here are some cold weather meal ideas you and your family will love.

Gourmet Mac & Cheese
Mac & cheese is the ultimate comfort food, and while you can’t go wrong with a simple batch of plain, cheesy goodness, why not shake it up a bit and put a gourmet twist on an old favorite?  There are tons of ways to make mac & cheese, from the kind of cheese and pasta you use to how you prepare it.  The great thing about mac & cheese is that you can add almost anything to it and it will most likely still taste amazing.  To give your mac & cheese some heat, toss in some jalapenos or spices.  For an even creamier, cheesier vibe, try using a few different kinds of cheese to achieve maximum deliciousness.  The colder months are also a great time to use the oven, so toss some breadcrumbs on top of your mac & cheese and bake it in a casserole dish for a little extra crunch.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Spaghetti squash is a healthier alternative to traditional spaghetti but still makes a delicious cold weather meal.  To make a spaghetti squash casserole, slice a spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds.  Then, scrape the inside of the squash and place the “noodles” into a casserole dish.  Finally, add tomatoes, parmesan cheese, basil, garlic, and any other seasons you want to use and bake for about 60 minutes, or until golden.  Spaghetti squash casserole is a quick and easy meal that will warm you up on even the coldest nights!

Chicken Quesadillas
Quesadillas are delicious and incredibly easy to make on those busy weeknights when you need a quick meal.  Another great thing about quesadillas is that they make yummy healthy snacks for work, and can easily be packed up in Tupperware containers.  To make chicken quesadillas, heat skinless chicken breast strips (you can opt for vegan chicken if you’d like) in a skillet with some olive oil and let cook until the chicken is done.  Then, add diced bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and any other vegetables of your choice and let simmer until the vegetables are golden brown in color.  In another pan, lay down a tortilla and transfer the chicken and vegetable mixture onto the tortilla, sprinkle some shredded cheddar cheese on top, and cover with another tortilla.  Using a spatula, press the top tortilla down and continue cooking until both sides are a golden brown color.  Cut the quesadilla like you would a pizza, top with some sour cream and salsa, and voila!  A delicious Mexican meal that took barely any time to make!

Hearty Vegan Chili
However you decide to make it, you really can’t go wrong with a good chili.  To make this delicious vegan chili, you’ll need a meatless ground beef of your choice (Gardein makes a very realistic version), different kinds of beans (black and kidney beans are popular choices), chopped celery, corn, diced onions, chopped bell pepper, 1 can of tomatoes with the juice, chili powder, and any additional spices and seasonings you may want to use.  Start by sauteing the harder to cook vegetables in a pan with some olive or vegetable oil.  In a separate pan, cook the ground beef for several minutes until browned.  In a stock pot, add the tomato with juice and the rest of the ingredients, and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened.  Serve with some vegan shredded cheese or sour cream and enjoy!  

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