Cloudy weekend ahead? Here are a few ideas to cook the winter blues away

Ugh, you guys.

These gray winter days tend to get the best of me. A chilly wind and a forecast that involves rain snatch the joy that I usually feel on our warm, sunny winter days.

Since we’re looking at a gloomy weekend, I thought I’d share some ideas for things you might cook to bring a little comfort and sunshine into your house.

You can make this chana masala in less than 15 minutes of hands-on cooking. I like simmering the garbanzo beans for at least half an hour to bring together the sauce. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

You can make this chana masala in less than 15 minutes of hands-on cooking. I like simmering the garbanzo beans for at least half an hour to bring together the sauce. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Last week, I made chana masala, one of the more comforting dishes that I can knock out in less than 15 minutes of hands-on cooking.

Here’s how I make it: Saute onions in coconut oil until they are clear. Add garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute, add a touch more oil and then throw a good amount of cumin, turmeric and curry powder. (Cooking the spices for a few seconds will help their flavors bloom.) Drain two cans of garbanzo beans and throw them in the pot. Add a can of diced or stewed tomatoes and their juices, as well as a good pinch of salt. Throw in a little water, more or less depending on how soupy your want your chana, and simmer until you’re ready to eat. I like to cook mine on low for at least 30 minutes, throwing in a handful of cilantro at the end. Serve with rice and naan.

Other cozy meals I’ve made this month? Beef short ribs, homemade mac and cheese and wine-poached pears for a Prohibition Creamery-inspired sorbet that I wrote about for next week’s food section.

I’ll confess that one of the best home-cooked meals I had in January was one that I didn’t cook. In fact, it involved a box of Zatarain’s.

This jambalaya might have come from a boxed mix, but it was just the home-cooked meal I needed during last month's cooking-at-home challenge. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

This jambalaya might have come from a boxed mix, but it was just the home-cooked meal I needed during last month’s cooking-at-home challenge. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

During the last week of this My Home Table challenge,  a pescatarian friend came over for an unexpected dinner, and I didn’t have much cooking enthusiasm or meat-free ideas to offer up. He saw the Brussels sprouts in my vegetable drawer, frozen shrimp in the freezer and a boxed jambalaya mix I’d received as a sample in the mail. Forty minutes later, we were eating shrimp jambalaya and the most delicious roasted sprouts. (He’d tossed them in a curry powder, which was most definitely the secret ingredient that made all the difference.)

After weeks and weeks of being solely in charge of the meals for me and my boys, it felt like a gift from heaven to have someone else come to my house and prepare a meal.

So, this weekend, when you’re feeling up or down or somewhere in between, scroll through these Austin360Cooks photos and see if someone else’s cooking might spark your own culinary fire.

Considering that we’re all prone to feeling the a little down this time of year, if your culinary homefires are burning bright, consider reaching out to someone who might not be in such a great space.

Cooking with or sharing a home-cooked meal with someone could be just the thing they need to turn their week (or winter) around.

 

 

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