5 Recipes to Heat Up Cold Nights

Stay warm and cozy this week with 5 dinners that warm you inside and out. Tom Yum Soup is perfectly spicy, and Skillet Chicken and Rice is ripe with coziness. Dinner is served!

This month, welcome Sara Bir. Sara Bir is the author of two cookbooks, Tasting Ohio and the IACP award-winning The Fruit Forager’s Companion. She also moderates and replies to your comments here on Simply Recipes. Follow her @sausagetarian.

As much as I love the holidays, there’s something liberating about how free-form January is. The only seasonal obligations I can think of are simply making it through dreary weather.

On nights when it’s just us, my daughter and I have taken to playing Connect 4 at the dinner table. Violating the sanctity of a family meal this way is something I never would have gone for a year ago, but nowadays it’s how we spice things up after spending yet another day in the house together.

With that in mind, these recipes bring spice, heat, or warmth in one form or another. Whether it’s playing games while distracted by food or turning the thermostat up a few degrees higher than normal, this January, I’m loosening up my wintery demeanor and leaning into the coziness we create.

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Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower Tacos

This is an entirely plant-based meal—exciting! But if you don’t care about being totally vegan, you can use melted butter in the Buffalo sauce, or skip making your own dressing and just use your bottle of ranch from the fridge.

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Thai soup with shrimp in a brightly patterned bowl with a silver spoon inside. Sliced lime, ginger, peppers and cilantro stems suround the bowl of light broth, shrimp, mushrooms and cilantro.

There’s not a Thai restaurant within a one-hour radius of us, so takeout is not on the table. Fortunately, a big bowl of steamy tom yum is not at all hard to make, and this recipe calls for ingredients you can find at most any grocery store. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

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Honey-Mustard Sheet Pan Pork Chops

Sheet pan meals are a lifesaver—fewer pots to wash, get an awesome window of time to do other stuff while the tray bakes, and the whole works looks so nice spread out on the pan and browned just so.

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Tailgate Beef Chili Recipe in a crock pot.

Chili was one of the meals my whole family agreed on when I was growing up. Now my otherwise picky daughter is a chip off the old block, gladly asking for seconds of this when she turns her nose up at so much else. The recipe includes directions for spicy homemade tortilla strips, but you can serve with bagged tortilla chips if you like.

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Skillet chicken and rice with peas

Comfort personified. To jazz this up, add a little finely grated lemon zest, or fresh herbs. Look through the reader comments for other playful flavor tweaks.

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Weekend Baking

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes Recipe

Citrus in the winter is so cheerful, and these light-as-a-feather pancakes will make lazy weekend mornings extra special.

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Sara Bir

Sara Bir a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and the author of two cookbooks: The Fruit Forager’s Companion and Tasting Ohio. Past gigs include leading chocolate factory tours, slinging street cart sausages, and writing pop music criticism. Sara skates with her local roller derby team as Carrion the Librarian.

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