By Deborah Ricketts
Comfort is the first word most of us associate with winter warming foods…and why wouldn’t it be? The last thing anyone feels like on cooler days is a cold salad. When it’s raining cats and dogs outside and icy gusts of wind blow rain in sideways, a dose of comfort is in order.
Here are three simple dinner ideas that are easy to make and will bring a little comfort to cooking during the cooler months.
1. Beef and Vegetable Casserole
Who doesn’t love a warm filling casserole on a blistering winter night? This traditional braised beef stew with thick, rich gravy is ideal for slow-cooking with cheap cuts of beef. It’s friendly on the budget and warming in the belly. Better yet with one pot and a simple fry pan, it’s a simple clean up job too!
- 1.2 kilogram beef chuck steak, chopped coarsely
- 1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
- 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
- 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 cup beef stock (250ml)
- 1 cup water
- 2 stalks celery (300g), trimmed, chopped coarsely
- 2 carrots (300g), chopped coarsely5cm pieces
- 3 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 dried bay leaves
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- Mix the flour and salt. Coat the beef in the flour mix.
- Heat the oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat.
- Combine the beef (in batches so it browns) and Worcestershire sauce in the frypan; cook until the beef is evenly browned on all sides.
- Transfer to a slow cooker but do not clean the frypan. Add the carrots, potatoes, parsley and pepper to the slow cooker.
- Heat remaining oil in same pan; cook onion, carrot, celery, garlic and potato’s; stirring, until onion softens. Add paste; cook stirring 1-minute remove from heat, stir in stock.
- Stir in vegetable mixture, bay leaves and parsley. Cook covered on low, 8 hours. Discard bay leaves; season to taste.
2. Creamy Broccoli and Cauliflower Soup
You don’t need meat to have a delicious and nutritious dinner. This healthy winter warming soup is sure to delight vegetarians and omnivores alike. A quick and easy dinner even the kids will enjoy, especially when accompanied with a hot crusty sourdough, sliced, lightly drizzled with oil and baked in the oven until toasty warm.
- 1 broccoli chopped
- 1 cauliflower chopped
- 3 cup milk
- 1 cup cream
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
- Place broccoli and cauliflower into a large pot with the milk. Slowly bring to the boil, then reduce heat and cook gently until vegetables are soft.
- Add stock cube, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Place in a blender and mix until smooth. Alternatively, mash mixture with a potato masher.
- Transfer mixture back to pot and add the cream.
- Serve with a crusty sourdough and lashings of butter or drizzled with olive oil.
3. BBQ Chicken Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Perfectly simple, filling, and a dinner winner for the whole family. When time is poor and comfort desire is high, try these crispy, fluffy potatoes (throw some steamed veggies on the side).
- 6 large potatoes
- Olive oil
- Rock salt
- BBQ chicken breast, shredded
- Grated cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F), line baking paper on a tray.
- Clean and dry potatoes, prick each potato with a fork and then place on baking tray.
- Drizzle potatoes lightly with oil, season with salt and pepper and bake for just over an hour until crisp on the outside and tender inside.
- When the potatoes have 10 minutes to go, place BBQ chicken in a fry pan and cover with BBQ sauce. Stir gently to combine and heat until hot.
- Remove potatoes from oven and slice each one down the center and fluff with a fork. Top with BBQ chicken, mix and add in chives, cheese and any other toppings you wish.
- Serve with some seasonal steamed green vegetables.
Cooking doesn’t need to be time consuming. We all want to warm our bellies with delicious food, so why not give these simple warming dinner ideas a try.
Want more dinner ideas? Click here for Winter Roast Chicken and Kale Salad with Avocado Dressing and here for Pesto Rosso.