Before Winter Ends…Make Some Awesome Hot Meals

The one thing that I really enjoy about winter, other than the holidays piled on top of each other, is the food. When it’s cold outside a nice bowl of soup, a warm crusty panini and hot cocoa are daily meals for me.  In the summer the idea of something hot generally makes me feel like stripping naked to stay cool…so you only have a few more weeks to enjoy the greatness that is: hot food.

Here are some of my favorite recipes that can be made affordably. They’re filling, healthy, and will have you wishing winter was just a couple weeks longer…

Butternut Squash and Vanilla Soup:

– 2 tablespoon olive oil

– 2 onions, peeled and sliced

– 4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeds scooped out and cut in chunks

– Salt, freshly ground pepper

– 1 tablespoon vanilla extract/paste (preferably natural), or one pod dry vanilla, split open

Serves 6.


Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add in the onion and cook over medium-high heat for five minutes or until softened, stirring regularly. Add in the squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook for ten minutes, stirring from time to time. Pour in hot water or stock to cover the vegetables and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Add in the vanilla extract, or scrape in the seeds from the vanilla pod and add in the pod itself as well. Cook for ten more minutes, or until the squash is tender. Fish out the vanilla pod if that’s what you used (otherwise don’t), and purée the soup in a blender. Adjust the seasoning and serve hot.

Courtesy of Chocolate and Zuccini

Tuna-artichoke panini


1 6-ounce can olive oil packed tuna

1 6-ounce jar olive oil packed artichokes, drained & chopped coarsely

1/8 cup sliced roasted red peppers

1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced thinly

1 teaspoon minced lemon zest

¾ teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Salt and pepper

½ head roasted garlic

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon lemon juice

4 slices light rye bread

1 tomato, sliced thinly

4 slices provolone

8 slices mozzarella

Olive oil


-Combine the tuna (don’t drain) with the drained, chopped artichokes, red peppers, olives, lemon zest, oregano, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

-In a separate bowl, combine the roasted garlic with the mayonnaise, Dijon, lemon juice and a little bit of salt and pepper.

-Spread the garlic mayonnaise on all four slices of bread, top two slices with provolone, then the tuna-artichoke mixture, then tomato slices and then mozzarella. Top with another slice of rye bread.

-Preheat a panini grill, barbeque or cast iron skillet. Brush tops of both sandwiches with olive oil and flipping that side down, place on the grill. Brush what are now the tops of both sandwiches with more olive oil and close grill or wait to flip once bottom is browned. Sandwiches are done when bread is browned and cheese is melted.

Courtesy of The Domestic Goddess

Grand Marnier Hot Chocolate


1 cup half n’ half

2 cups milk

1/2 cup orange juice

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/3 cup Grand Marnier


Heat half and half, milk, and orange juice until just boiling. In a mixing bowl, add about 2/3 cup of hot milk to the chocolate and whip smooth. Add the rest of the milk and whisk again. Simmer for around 2 minutes to reheat through

Courtest of Sean Paajanen


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