Winter cooking

Batch Baking during the Winter Months

Baking in the winter is great. The weather is cooler and the warming effects of the oven make baking so much more enjoyable. Baking in large batches is great for gift giving and even freezing to have throughout the winter. You can bake batches of food to have throughout the week when you’re running around and don’t have time to cook or for weekday breakfasts. Here are some tips for baking large batches of food in the winter.

How to Double Cake, Muffin, and Quick Bread Recipes

More is better when it comes to cake, muffins, and breads, right? Passing out the extras to your neighbor, bringing one to your next pot luck, or just having some on hand for when you’re craving something sweet but don’t have time to whip something up. Doubling these recipes isn’t just a matter of doubling everything, though, because they just don’t come out right when you do.

You need to calculate the use of baking soda and baking powder based on how much flour you use. So the rule of thumb is use 1-1¼ tsp of baking powder for every one cup of flour and/or ¼ tsp of baking soda for every one cup of flour. Watch out though: if you have another acidic ingredient like buttermilk or yogurt, then you’ll need to add an additional ¼–½ tsp of baking soda per cup of buttermilk, yogurt, or other acidic ingredient.

How to Double Cookies and Bars

All ingredients for cookies and bars can be doubled normally. However if you want a more cake-like cookie, then you should keep the baking soda and baking powder ratios in mind. Also, putting the dough in the refrigerator between batches will make for a thicker cookie that doesn’t spread as much when baking.

How to Double Breads and Rolls

The yeast used in breads and rolls makes these much easier to double. So just doubling the ingredients will work just fine. If you do go beyond doubling though and want to triple or quadruple the recipe, then weighing the ingredients instead of measuring by volume will work better. This will help keep the ratios consistent.

When doubling any of your baked recipes, just remember not to change the cooking time. You can either use two separate pans to cook in smaller batches, but ultimately you’ll have to use your eye to test the doneness of your baked goods. Do not double the time. And do not change the cooking temperature.

Now if you’re not going to give away your extra batches of baked goods and want to freeze them, here’s how.

How to Freeze Cakes, Muffins, and Quick Breads

• Place unfrosted cake in the freezer in a freezer bag, tightly sealed. When ready to use, remove from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for 1–2 hours. Then frost.

• For frosted cakes, place on parchment paper. Let frosting harden for about an hour. Now put it in a freezer bag. Remove from freezer 1–2 hours before you’re ready to serve to defrost.

• When freezing muffins and quick breads, make sure they are cooled completely. Place in a freezer bag or wrap in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. When ready to use, remove from freezer and defrost at room temperature.

How to Freeze Cookies and Bars

• Cool cookies completely, then wrap individual cookies in plastic wrap. Place each cookie in a plastic freezer bag. Thaw at room temperature.

• For bars and brownies, cool completely. Do not cut individually. Wrap in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil and freeze. Defrost at room temperature and then cut into bars.

How to Freeze Breads and Rolls

Simply place the bread and rolls in a freezer bag and seal tightly. When ready to use, defrost at room temperature. Or wrap in paper towel and defrost for 30 seconds in the microwave.

Now you’re ready to bake large batches of goods for the winter. You’re ready to share or save for a later date. What are your best tips for batch baking?

Winter cooking

Spices to Warm Your Winter Meals

Using ingredients that are in season is sensible and an inexpensive way to cook. This goes for the spices too. Take advantage of those in-season spices and really make your winter cooking great. Here’s how to spice it up with winter spices.

When you think of winter spices you probably think of allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon. But there is also cardamom, cloves, coriander, and star anise. These are all really great spices that add a lot to your cooking during the winter months. Not just your meals, but your desserts as well. Let’s talk about the uses for each of these spices.


This spice is the dried berry of the Jamaican pepper tree. It can be mistaken for peppercorn. The allspice berry is best when dried before it reaches its full maturity, because this is when it possesses the most flavor. Allspice is used in many Caribbean and Latino dishes and it’s great in savory and sweet dishes. It makes great tomato and barbeque sauces as well as great desserts such as applesauce, fruit compotes, and oatmeal cookies. It couples well with cloves and cinnamon for a delicious spice cake.


This spice is deliciously strong. It has a very strong, sweet taste, while also being quite pungent. It is great sprinkled over vegetables, especially squash and spinach. You can use it to spice both red and white meats, fish, desserts, and white sauces. It’s integral of course in your eggnog, but go ahead and try it in other drinks like coffee, tea, or cocoa. When you are going for the sweet and savory with nutmeg, remember that a little goes a long way. Be subtle with your use of nutmeg when seasoning your meats.


Ginger is an Asian spice. It is so versatile and really well known. It’s obviously one of the main ingredients in gingerbread. Ginger is great for settling upset stomachs too, so it’s a great spice to keep around. Make a ginger tea the next time your stomach is upset. Just steep it in hot water. You can use ginger in desserts, to season roasted vegetables and meats, and for seafood and stir fries. It’s the perfect complement in soups like carrot or sweet potato soups.


Who doesn’t love a good cinnamon stick? This has got to be the one winter spice that everyone truly associates with winter. With its sweet and woody taste it is the perfect addition to not only desserts, but also many hot winter drinks.

Just do not eat cinnamon by the spoonful. Not only does it taste bad, it really does a number on your lungs. It can be great for keeping healthy in the winter, though; if you add it to your tea with a little lemon juice and honey, it helps with cold and flu season. Use cinnamon in spice blends for things like curry or a jerk seasoning. But even just bringing the smell of cinnamon in your home with cinnamon sticks has a warming, cozy feeling. So enjoy that cinnamon.


Known as the “Queen of Spices,” this spice comes from India. It’s smoky in flavor. Cardamom mixes well with citrus flavors. It’s great in sweet and savory dishes like curries and rice. Ground cardamom can be used in soups, pates, stews, and purees. Add a few seeds of cardamom to rice pudding, ice cream, custard, or sprinkled over fresh fruit. Cardamom can also be used to treat indigestion or other stomach problems and it’s a natural diuretic.


These are dry flower buds of a tree native to Indonesia. Clovers are great in roasted meats (think ham), baked beans, split pea or bean soup, desserts like apple pie, stewed and baked fruits, and pickles. Add cloves to broccoli or cabbage to aid in the digestion of these vegetables. Flavor soups and barbeque like sauces with cloves. Added to curries and other spicy dishes it will help with the heat.

Cloves make for a great home remedy for toothaches and other mouth or throat problems. A clove is also great for skin problems like acne or even styes on the eye. Wet the clove with some water and apply it directly to the eye. Cloves have a soothing, warming effect that really helps with home remedies.


This spice comes from the cilantro plant. The seeds of coriander have a flavor similar to lemon peel. This is one spice where you can never have too much. It’s perfect for tempering other spices that are too pungent or that you have overspiced with. It’s great at balancing things out.

Coriander works particularly well with cumin. This is great in Latin American cuisine like enchiladas or even in a pot of beans. It can also be found in many curry dishes. It’s perfect for spice rubs for chicken and fish. It also adds a nice flavor to homemade pickles. Toasting them lightly really brings out the flavor. Use them untoasted in sweet dishes.

Star Anise

This is a beautiful spice that has a strong licorice taste. Star anise is used in many Asian dishes – think Peking duck. Try it in fresh and pickled fruits, soups, stews, braising broths, curries, stir-fries, and with pork. It adds a sweet licorice pepper flavor to savory dishes. Use it sparingly, but making a braise for meat with it is great. Mix it with broth, onion, and soy sauce. These flavors work well with the star anise to naturally intensify the flavor of the meat.

The winter is about warm and hearty foods and these spices all work so well in soups and stews. That’s what makes them all great ingredients to add that extra flavor to your dishes. And many of them can even be used for health benefits. Since many people get sick in the wintertime, adding these spices might just help keep the sickness at bay. So experiment with all of these great winter spices and really embrace each and every one of them.

Winter cooking

One Dozen Warm and Cozy Winter Treats

There is nothing more enjoyable in the winter than sitting around the fire and enjoying cozy winter treats. Here are some wonderful treats you can enjoy sitting by the fire with the ones that you love.

  1. Peppermint punch: Peppermint ice cream, ginger ale, and Baily’s mixed together with a peppermint stick. Add a little whip cream to the top for an extra treat.
  2. Hot chocolate a la The Polar Express: Heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, bittersweet chocolate chips, milk, and vanilla. Stir everything together over low heat until chocolate is melted and fully incorporated with the other ingredients.
  3. Apple pie: You don’t even need a recipe for this. Really any apple pie will do. Heat it in the microwave and you have one warm delicious winter treat.
  4. Cinnamon buns: Warm ooey gooey cinnamon buns. Not exactly bathing suit ready, but a great winter treat nonetheless.
  5. Baked oatmeal bars: Get your morning oatmeal in a handy little bar. Add your favorite sweet treats (dried figs, raisins, chocolate chips) to make it a sweet treat.
  6. Apple crisp: Apples make perfect sweet treats. They taste great warm and a nice crunchy apple crisp is the perfect winter soul-soothing treat.
  7. Brownies: It doesn’t matter how you make them as long as you eat them right out of the pan. Because a warm fresh brownie is the ultimate warm and cozy winter treat.
  8. Banana bread: This isn’t too difficult to make. Some nice ripe bananas mashed up with flour, some sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. It tastes great warm with some butter (or peanut butter) and a cup of tea.
  9. Hot apple cider: Take it up a notch by adding some hot buttered rum and a cinnamon stick. Sure to keep you warm on those cold winter nights. Or just top your hot apple cider with a hint of caramel.
  10. Eggnog: You can’t go wrong in the winter with a little eggnog. For a classic holiday treat, try eggnog with rum and almond. A virgin drink that tastes great is a cider nog. Apple cider, an egg, and some sugar make this a great sweet treat for the winter.
  11. Mug cakes: Use your coffee mug for more than just coffee. Take your favorite cake and bake it in your coffee mug for a quick treat. And since it’s a single serving you don’t have to feel like you need to eat the whole cake. You can satisfy your sweet tooth by whipping up this one simple single-serve cake.
  12. Hot vanilla: Instead of hot chocolate, try hot vanilla. Some milk, sugar, and vanilla extract make tasty hot vanilla. Heat the milk and sugar in the microwave and then add the vanilla. Top it with a dollop of whipping cream, chocolate syrup, and a dash of cinnamon. Are you feeling warm yet?

With winter right around the corner, you will want to make sure to stock up on all of the things you’re going to need to stay warm and cozy. Just don’t forget the booze and the chocolate. With those things, you are sure to find a recipe that will keep you warm, cozy, and very happy this winter.

What are your favorite winter treats?

Winter cooking

How to Cook with a Wood Burning Stove

Not too long ago stoves were people’s fireplace. Now they have become more of a lovely thing to sit around for a romantic evening or just to relax. However, you can still put your fireplace or wood burning stove to use for more than just heating your home and providing ambiance. It’s still a great way to cook. It’s useful to have should you lose power during a winter storm as well. So here are some tips for using your wood burning stove or fireplace for winter cooking.

What You Need to Cook on a Wood Burning Stove/Fireplace

You will want to make sure you have the right utensils to cook on a wood burning stove or fireplace. The stuff you normally use in your kitchen might not be good enough. You’ll want things with long handles. Try some of these basic implements:

• Roasting fork
• Corn popper or chestnut roaster – has a wire basket you use to hold what you’re cooking over the coals
• Pie irons for grilling sandwiches
• Dutch oven – go for a cast iron one as it distributes the heat better. This will hang over the fire and cook
• Cast iron trivet – to help regulate the amount of heat your Dutch oven gets
• Aluminum foil
• Tongs
• A fireplace shovel
• Pot holders

These are all very helpful tools when you want to cook on your wood burning stove or fireplace this winter.

Judging the Fire for Cooking

Knowing when the fire is ready might seem quite simple, but it’s not really like cooking on your charcoal grill outside. You will need a fire that has been burning for about 30–45 minutes.

A fire in its first stages is really very unpredictable in temperature. With all the leaping flames and embers burning it is not the best fire for cooking by. It will either burn your food or leave parts uncooked.

Once those flames die down and you have a nice bed of coals, you have the perfect temperature for cooking with on your wood burning stove or fireplace.

Now you can rake and distribute the coals to make for a nice cooking surface. Placing a few coals on the lid of your Dutch oven will make things cook faster. Get at it from all directions. Remember, you must keep adding fuel to the fire to keep it burning hot.

Cooking Inside the Box of the Wood Burning Stove

You can bake white potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and apples inside your wood burning stove. Just double wrap them in aluminum foil and lay the box right on the coals. Pile some coals on top and close the box. Allow to cook for half an hour and then turn over. If one area of your box is hotter than another then move things around to give them a chance to use all of that heat.

Cooking on the Stove of a Wood Burning Stove

This is where the Dutch oven comes into use. You can use the stove of your wood-burning stove as a slow cooker. It’s great for making stews, soups, casseroles, and roasts. Place all of your ingredients in the Dutch oven and place on the stove uncovered. Allow it to come to a boil and then place the trivet on the stove and move the Dutch oven on top of the trivet. Put the lid on top and cook soups and stews all day.

A roast will be done in about 3-4 hours. Just check every hour or so that nothing is sticking and the fire is hot. Should the fire die down, just build it back up again. If the food cools, then take it off the trivet and allow to heat up directly on the stove (uncovered) as you did originally. Once heated, put it back on the trivet.

This is how you can use your wood-burning stove and fireplace to cook – killing two birds with one stone by heating your home and cooking a meal at the same time. What’s your favorite meal cooked on a wood-burning stove or fireplace?

Winter cooking

Warm and Tasty Winter Vegetables

There are many great vegetables we enjoy during the winter months. While the foods we probably most think about during that time are turkey, ham, and desserts, the vegetables really play an important role – both in that holiday meal and for the rest of the winter.

Everyone has their must-have vegetable at the dinner table. Here is a list of all of the warm and tasty winter vegetables you should really be taking advantage of this year when they are in season.


This is a great vegetable to enjoy all winter long. Fall to spring these are in season. They are sweet, especially when roasted and make a great addition to the salad. So enjoy that garden salad all winter long with some fresh roasted beets on top.


While this is a vegetable enjoyed year-round, the winter months are really the season for broccoli. It tastes its best when harvested in cooler temperatures because it is sweeter and less bitter. Broccoli is great added to casseroles or just steamed as a side dish.

You don’t have to do much to it for this vegetable to taste delicious. And if you get fresh broccoli in the winter when it is sweeter, the kids are more apt to like it. No need to cover in cheese and gravy when you have fresh winter broccoli.


Much like broccoli this is another vegetable that tastes best in the winter. The colder the weather it’s grown in, the sweeter it tastes. There’s a reason corned beef and cabbage is a staple of any St. Patrick’s day celebration. It certainly isn’t because it’s the traditional food of an Irish feast. This is one versatile vegetable, though. Have it raw in salads and slaws, or braised over low heat. Add it to your stir fry for that sweet aspect.


This vegetable is in the same group as broccoli and cabbage. It’s sold and harvested year round, but tastes its best in the winter. It’s another perfect cold weather crop. This is one you definitely want on the menu, too, because of all the great antioxidants it contains.

So serve a broccoli/cauliflower mix as a side with your next dinner. Add it to your pasta dishes with a little garlic, red pepper, olives, and capers for a quick, healthy, and delicious dish. Add it to a fritter or just steam it. It will taste great with your favorite winter meal.


Another “cold weather makes it sweet” vegetable. This is a good, hearty cooking green. They do take some extra time to cook, but who minds that in the winter. There are so many nutrients in kale that you’ll want to find a way to get this on your menu.

Simply boiling kale with a little salt for about 20 minutes is one way of cooking it, or make some kale chips out of it. To make chips out of kale, place torn leaves on a pan, cover in some olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and bake for 20 minutes in a 300 degree oven. You can also sauté or slow simmer kale.

Brussels Sprouts

People either love this vegetable or they hate it. This vegetable grows on a stalk and if you can find it on its stalk still you have hit the gold mine. It will last longer this way. If cooked properly this is one tasty, nutty little vegetable. Overcooking or boiling or steaming them bring out a funky, stinky taste. This is why canned Brussels sprouts are so reviled.

If you do steam them, then reduce the water and watch the cooking time. Roasting them is a great way to use them though and not get that stinky gym sock smell. Just toss them with some oil and salt and pop them in a nice hot oven. Or a quick turn in a hot sauté pan will really keep that nutty flavor. You can even use them raw in salad. Just chop them up real thin and add them to a salad or make a slaw out of it. You might find you love Brussels sprouts after all.


This is another one of those vegetables that tend to be hated, but fresh turnips have a sharp but sweet flavor. Make sure you have a fresh one; pick one that feels heavy for its size. You’ll probably enjoy it better that way. It’s a root vegetable that’s great for roasting, mashing, and adding to soups and stews. Look for them in fall and early winter; that’s when they’re at their best. Do you get turnips on your table for Thanksgiving? You probably should.

Winter Squash

This vegetable also comes into season late fall to early winter. There are many different types. Most commonly you have butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and pumpkin. All of these can simply be cooked by roasting them. Heat your oven to 375, cut off any stem and cut your gourd in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and place what’s left cut side down on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake until tender when pierced with a fork (anywhere from 15–45 minutes).

All of these vegetables will be great to have this winter. So try something new – you might find a warm and tasty vegetable you really love this season.

Winter cooking

Stay Energized during the Winter with These Ten Foods

There’s just something about winter that is very draining. Perhaps the indoors and the cold does it, or maybe it’s the lack of sun. Feeling energized during the winter is just hard to do. Couple that with illnesses that like to breed during the winter months, and you probably find yourself dragging and looking for a pick-me-up. Here are some foods that will keep you energized all winter long, and really all year long.

Ten Foods That Energize You in the Winter

  1. Water. You can’t forget to stay hydrated in the winter months. While it’s easy to remember to drink your eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day in the summer because you’re thirsty, you might need to force yourself to drink water more in the winter. Staying hydrated will keep your energy up, but that doesn’t mean with coffee either. Caffeine seems like the natural solution to energy, but remember it’s a drug and its effects will only last for so long. Stick to the water.
  2. Nuts. With plenty of protein and magnesium, this is a great choice for a midday pick-me-up. Some good ones to try which will help pick you up and improve your mood are almonds, walnuts, or Brazil nuts. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of energy-rich minerals. And since pumpkins are in season this time of year, you can get them pretty cheap. When you carve your pumpkins this year, save those seeds and roast them to snack on all winter long.
  3. Whole grains. Start your morning off with a nice steaming bowl of oatmeal. The fiber and B vitamins make it the perfect breakfast choice. And who doesn’t love a nice hot bowl of oatmeal on a cold winter morning? Brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat bread are also great energy-rich foods to eat throughout the day and help keep your energy up.
  4. Leafy greens. You need iron to help transport and store oxygen in the body, which is what you need for energy. Spinach, lettuce, and broccoli are great choices. Make yourself a veggie smoothie if you’re looking for an afternoon pick-me-up. Don’t discount celery in those leafy greens either. Ants on a log are a fun snack to have which will really help keep you energized during the day.
  5. Fresh fruit. An apple a day does more than keep the doctor away. Apples, blueberries, and bananas are perfect fruit choices. Blueberries might be hard to come by in the winter, but apples are a great fall and winter fruit. There are so many ways to enjoy fruit, too. A smoothie, added to your cereal, or a fruit salad and you have a delicious treat that will give you the energy you need throughout the day.
  6. Lean meat and fish. Chicken, pork, turkey, and lean ground meat are all great sources of iron. And much like with the leafy greens, you want that iron to help store and transport oxygen in the body to keep you energized. Salmon contains riboflavin, protein, niacin, and Vitamin B6, which all have energy-converting properties. Poached salmon is a quick and easy way to prepare this energy-rich food.
  7. Legumes. Lentils, beans, and peas contain iron, protein, and magnesium, making them a great food for energy. Chickpeas and black beans are full of fiber which slows down digestion. This helps keep you full and energized longer.
  8. Eggs. What a great way to start out your day with an egg. Once upon a time it might have been recommended that you not eat an egg every day, but they have such a high amount of protein in them that it is the perfect energy-fueled breakfast. No matter how you prepare them, it’s the perfect choice to start your day with plenty of energy.
  9. Yogurt. Greek yogurt is really becoming popular and there’s a reason for this. The amount of protein you consume from Greek or low-fat yogurt will multiply. And the probiotics in yogurt will help keep you healthy and keep your immune system strong.
  10. Dark chocolate. Satisfy your sweet tooth with this treat. Make sure it’s dark chocolate, though. The caffeine in dark chocolate will give you that initial pick-me-up, but then it just keeps on giving. It helps increase blood flow to your brain and contains antioxidants, magnesium, and iron. So it’s really a natural choice to fill your cravings and give you energy.

If you eat these foods throughout the day, then there’s no doubt you will feel energized and able to get through the long winter months without a problem.