Recipe Thread: Winter Cooking Blues

As promised..

I’m so very tired of winter cooking. Stews, soups (ok, I’m never really tired of soup), roasted meats and veggies. Time to freshen things up.

But with what? The produce section is often disappointing with flavorless items that haven’t seen the light of day. But there are some bright spots and with those I can wave away the winter cooking blues.

First up: Peppers and onions.

This is the time of year when you can find a variety of sweet peppers in all kinds of colors at a pretty reasonable price. My recipes are usually fairly simple. Heat up olive oil, add thinly sliced onions and peppers, season with a dash of salt and pepper. Sauté until they soften and onion are golden. Remove from heat and now you can cook up any number of things: chicken marinated in lemon juice and pepper, thin beef strips marinated in teriyaki and ponzu sauce, pork medallions marinated in apple juice and a bit of apple cider vinegar. The ideas are endless. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, butter noodles, quinoa…

Or how about Fajitas? That recipe is here.

Next up: Fresh salads.

I found a nice jicama one day and realized I hadn’t made a batch of Jicama Slaw since last summer.  A big bowl of that in the refrigerator to munch on all week really lifted the flavor blahs. You can find the recipe here.

Two other summer favorites that are easy to make mid-winter: Potato Salads (recipes here) and Coleslaw (recipe here).

How about fruits?

Now is the time for Strawberries (recipes here and here)

Blood Oranges (recipes here)

And Grapes – one of my favorite grape recipes is Grapes and Sausagesrecipe here.

That should be enough help you get through a few more weeks of winter while dreaming of the fresh vegetables soon to come from gardens and farm stands.

Bonus Recipe:

Pasta photo by JeffreyW

Pasta w/Spinach Cheese Marinara Sauce: 

  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, washed & sliced
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste*
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz bow-tie pasta (farfalle)

2 saucepans

Bring water for pasta to a boil in large saucepan, add pasta and cook according to directions to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat oil in the other saucepan; sauté onions, mushrooms & peppers until onions are golden.  Add remaining ingredients (except pasta) bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to med-low, cover and let simmer until pasta is done cooking. As the pasta finishes up, add a ladle or two of pasta water to the sauce.

Drain pasta well and toss together with sauce.  Serve with additional Parmesan & Romano cheeses if desired.

*you can freeze the remainder in an ice cube tray and store in a freezer bag.


And of course, bonus puppies. There is a complete update and lots more photos here.

What’s on your menu tonight?

54 replies
  1. 1

    I have dinner guests, so I’ll check back later to see if you have any questions.

  2. 2
    Sab says:

    Scout finally looks like a Great Dane. How long before she can grab things off the top of the fridge?

  3. 3
    Mary G says:

    That jicama slaw looks delicious. Scout is growing so fast, just like Bixby. That time-out face is priceless.

  4. 4

    I plan to make chocolate chocolate chip cookies tomorrow to bring as a hostess gift to dinner with friends.

  5. 5
    Ohio Mom says:

    The menu was chicken in cranberry sauce and roasted cauliflower. That was hours ago though.

    Now I could go for some ice cream but I’m not leaving the house in the dark snow to get any.

  6. 6
    eclare says:

    Those ears, so adorable! Funny you mention fajitas….when the red, yellow, and orange bell peppers were on sale a while back, I bought plenty, sliced them up and froze them. Fajitas sound….good.

  7. 7
    Dr. Ronnie James, D.O. says:

    Jicama slaw reminds me of the incomparable fruit salad you can get from Mexican street vendors. It usually mixes crisp neutral “fruits” like Jicama and peeled cucumber with more flavorful ones like watermelon, mango, pineapple or orange topped with a squeeze of lime, a pinch of salt and (if you like) some chili powder. SO GOOD.

  8. 8
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Oh man, I think I can see Scout getting bigger

  9. 9

    I just had a slice of pizza, so who knows what’s on the menu for later! Maybe I’ll go crazy and get enchiladas.

  10. 10
    Schlemazel says:

    Oh my gosh, you are going to need a couple of saddles for those ponies! Sweet when they are sleeping.

    Not recipe but food related. Tried a new Chinese place today, like 5th in a series since the really decent place closed. Had a Szechuan Hot Pot and it was stunningly good. The waitress tried to talk me out of it because it contained tripe & blood cake. When I told her I had already eaten both of those she kind of gave me the side eye but brought it out. It may have contained an entire bush of Szechuan peppercorns.

  11. 11
    Fair Economist says:

    I never get tired of winter cooking. I love stews, soups, and roasts, and on top of that it’s so easy. Chop and pop, basically.

  12. 12
    geg6 says:

    Love her sweet spotted pissed-off-at-mom face.

  13. 13
    gene108 says:

    That pasta looks lovely…wish I could eat it…

  14. 14
    geg6 says:

    Made a beef pot pie with leftover beef roast. It was delish.

    Tomorrow it’s cod with garlic, lemon and capers baked in packets with asparagus. Great sale on asparagus here. But I can’t wait until ours is ready to eat. No matter how nice the bunch you get at the grocery store might be, it cannot hold a candle to fresh asparagus straight from the garden.

  15. 15

    This morning I made basmati rice with roasted cauliflower, shrimp and chickpeas and served the meal with home brewed hard cider.

  16. 16
    JPL says:

    @geg6: Whatever happened to the pup that jumped into your arms?

  17. 17
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Scout in time out. Hilarious!

    I’m so glad Bixby is getting back to his old boisterous, happy self. Scout has done a great job in helping to heal broken hearts.

  18. 18
    Elmo says:

    Congratulate me! I seared scallops for the very first time, never tried it before. And they were golden brown and perfect. Two pounds worth, a batch at a time in my antique cast iron pan.

    PERFECT. Gordon Ramsey would have served them.

  19. 19
    ruemara says:

    I’m making beer battered fish and roasted parsnip “fries”. Possibly some onions & tomato saute for the veg portion of the meal. It’s quite on my bikini body eating plan, but by cooking it myself, I can make it work.

  20. 20
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Elmo: A simple appetizer is seared scallops with hummus – drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil.

  21. 21
    Elmo says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I love to cook and I cook every weekend, but seared scallops are new to me.

  22. 22
    Yutsano says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Protip: make the dough tonight, leave it in the fridge overnight, then bake off tomorrow afternoon. You’ll be amazed at the difference.

    Scout is making me want another big dog something fierce…

  23. 23
    neldob says:

    I want to snuggle some big puppy, but instead its dinner-time; cauliflower, parsnip, celeriac root soup.

  24. 24
    WaterGirl says:

    That photo with the pups bathed in the light is stunning.

    The 4 pups played together as a pack, racing back and forth through the house for nearly 3 hours. I thought it would never end! But about 5 minutes ago, they all crashed.

    The 2 young pups had a lot of energy to burn. They were in the crate for an hour while I took my kitty to the vet. I let them out to pee and then back in the crate because I had to run off to a memorial service for a good friend’s dad. Back home after an hour or so – skipped the cemetery so I could come back and let the pups out. Then back in the crate after about 45 minutes home because I went to join them at the restaurant after the cemetery. Gone for about 2 hours that time. Yikes. Good thing I have a quiet schedule for Sunday and Monday.

    Herb, the fellow who died, had just had his 99th birthday. The memorial service / celebration of life was lovely. I cried as each person who got up to speak started crying, and then I found myself thinking of all those 14 and 15 and 16 and 17-year olds who died, who might otherwise have lived a long life, maybe getting married and having kids and grandkids and great grandkids. Or not, but still having the opportunity for a full life.

  25. 25
    WaterGirl says:

    @Yutsano: We were just talking about that at the restaurant after the memorial service.

    They had the best chocolate chip cookies I have had in DECADES. They were really amazing. They had that complex flavor that can happen if you refrigerate the dough for 24-48 hours before baking, and they also had the amazing crispy but chewy thing going on that they also recommend on the NYT article for the best chocolate chip cookies. I still can’t make a cookie as good as these were. Simply amazing.

    (Baud, that article was from years and years ago before the NTY became garbage, so I hope I will be forgiven.)

  26. 26
  27. 27
    Doug R says:

    Re the tomatoes and colored peppers. This is the time of year when it’s ¡viva Mexico!
    It’s also good in the spring when the first BC Hothouse colors show up.

  28. 28
    WaterGirl says:

    @raven: Were you able to freeze it?

  29. 29
    raven says:

    @WaterGirl: Some of the meat and gravy. We ate on it for the better part of a week so all was not lost. It was my own fault for going overboard.

  30. 30
    Jeffro says:

    I would love to be cooking more this coming week, but we have so much stuff in the house all I’m doing is chicken and dumplings Monday night.

    Also, I want to go check out Succotash – several friends have been recently, and the menu looks like it’s RIGHT up my alley!

  31. 31
    WaterGirl says:

    @raven: Nah, I blame the people who didn’t show up. :-)

    One of the pups has a case of the hiccups – I had forgotten that pups get those. Poor thing. Maybe they’ll stop when he falls back asleep. Everyone had to wake up when the kitty got down from her kitty tree.

  32. 32
    raven says:

    @WaterGirl: If everyone had come there still would have been two-times too much.

  33. 33
    Mary G says:

    I consider Chuck Grassley to be just as evil as any other person in his party, but I must admit he cracks me up sometimes:

    @realDonaldTrump The next time President Trump that you talk to Putin tell him to butt out of our elections quit the cyber warfare interference in our democracy— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) February 17, 2018

  34. 34
    WaterGirl says:

    @raven: Okay, you win.

    @Mary G: I suspect Chuck Grassley is in bed with the Russians just like most of the Republicans seem to be.

  35. 35
    rikyrah says:

    Awe, they look so cute.😄
    Scout getting a nap.

  36. 36
    rikyrah says:

    Fixed pot roast for a potluck at work yesterday.
    Brought home some delicious spaghetti from said potluck, and had some fried catfish fillets with it tonight.

  37. 37
    efgoldman says:

    We had waffles for dinner, because we’re old and retired and no kids and because we can.

    Question for Adam and anybody else: When you grate potatoes for latkes, or hash browns, or tots, how do you keep them from turning brown?
    mrs efg owes me latkes so far this year, and wants to know

  38. 38
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @raven: Gravy? Come on. Call it sauce.

  39. 39
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: Keep them under water.

  40. 40

    @efgoldman: Submerge them in water till you are ready to use them.

  41. 41
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Mary G: while he and Lindsey Graham damage our relationship with Britain by calling Steele a criminal and are going to cost Susan Rice god knows how much in legal bills by pretending to believe she did some dirty work at the NSC. He’s a damn disgrace, and so is Graham

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:


    Submerge them in salted water and then drain them right before cooking and squeeze them dry. As Nora Ephron said in Heartburn, this will take more paper towels than you ever believed possible.

  43. 43
    JPL says:

    @efgoldman: I had salad for breakfast because I felt like greens. My son said you had salad for breakfast in his concerned voice. I answered it was a smoothie without the blender Waffles are great for supper.

    I’m not much help on the potatoes but keep them in cold water until ready to use, then wring in towels until almost dry. Adam is best though.

  44. 44
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I said that already and welcome back.*

    *Why did you go?

  45. 45
    WaterGirl says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I think we had a whole debate thread about that when Betty Cracker (I think) had a thread about Gravy.

  46. 46
    WaterGirl says:

    @efgoldman: Do you mean the grey color potatoes get when exposed to air? Adding salt helps, also.

  47. 47
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @WaterGirl: Really? Good god.

  48. 48

    @Omnes Omnibus: Thanks. Did you read BC’s immigration thread? I was not in favor of the tightrope walk to citizenship offered to the Dreamers by T and company while cutting legal immigration by 40% or more. Things got ugly and personal in that thread.
    ETA: I swear your suggestion to efgoldman was not there when I started typing out my comment. GMTA.

  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @schrodingers_cat: I came in late and said you were right. My read was that people were trying to negotiate a crappy situation in good faith. Your mileage obviously varied. I won’t tell you that your reaction was wrong.

  50. 50
    Gretchen says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Thanks for asking. Visit with the prospective in-laws went fine. There were a Iot of them – babies to grandma, cousins and uncles. They were all very nice. I found out later that Uncle Freddy had been invited because he’s very gregarious, so I guess they were just as nervous that we wouldn’t think of something to talk about as I was. My husband is fairly gregarious too, so that was fine.
    I was really worried about whether I’d be able to eat the food since I grew up in a house where they literally didn’t use any spices or seasonings at all, and I’ve had trouble with spicy Indian food before. Son in law warned his dad to dial back the spice on his biriyani, and they used about 1/4 of the usual, and daughter warned me to add the yogurt sauce with a heavy hand, and that was good. They warned me away from the pork. The chicken was bright red, and I was afraid that was from chilis, and didn’t take any, but husband told me later it must have been something else because it wasn’t particularly spicy. I was concerned about being noticed having a plateful of food and not being able to eat it. And then ice cream cake, because apparently the family is really into ice cream cake.
    At one point daughter told me a friend from home who now lives in New York is engaged. I asked where the wedding would be. Answer, our home town. I caught mom’s eye at that moment, and she looked a little sheepish, like she realized that I might have some feelings about not having any say about how my daughter’s wedding is going to be, because they’re doing it their way in New York. I’m glad that’s occurred to her (I think) because it does bother me. So, it went pretty well, and I’m glad the whole thing is done. The next visit will be much less fraught.

  51. 51
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Gretchen: The chicken was bright red, and I was afraid that was from chilis, and didn’t take any, but husband told me later it must have been something else because it wasn’t particularly spicy.

    Sounds like tandoori chicken, one of my favorites. I’m not sure where the red comes from in the marinade, but in most American restaurants I gather it’s from food coloring.

  52. 52
    Gretchen says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Yes, that’s what it was. Hubby thought the color was from turmeric? I tried a little later, and it was really good, so I regretted not being braver.

  53. 53

    @Yutsano: Too late! But a good idea. Thanks.

  54. 54
    Thor Heyerdahl says:

    Eggplant were on sale today so I bought a couple and made some Sicilian caponata… beefsteak tomatoes were lacking flavour to eat directly, but still good enough to stew.

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