The coming months are all about simple and quick recipes that bring comfort to you and your family. Gone are salads and light bites and it’s time for warming dishes, filled with tried-and-tested ingredients to get everyone around the dinner table.
With a higher chance of rain, snow and other weather types that can stop a good day out, you’ll have plenty of time indoors to get your culinary skills up to scratch. Make a big deal about meal times by pulling out all the stops. The children can get involved too by enlisting them to help with food preparation and setting the table. There’s also the chance to teach them some great recipes to use later in life and during the winter months.
One of the best starters you can have in the winter months is a tasty, piping hot soup. This winter minestrone recipe from River Café is packed full of colour and flavour, with the addition of toasted bread to soak up all the yumminess. The younger children can help to wash the vegetables and set the table, while older children can help (under supervision) to chop the vegetables and help with other food preparations.
Another great option, and also a winner with the little ones is crab cakes. And this recipe from Jamie Oliver pairs sustainably-sourced crab meat with spring onions, mashed potato, cayenne pepper and free range eggs in a very simple five-step process.
The main event can be truly indulgent. And if chosen well, is sure to become a family favourite after the first recipe attempt! Steak and kidney pie is a great choice for this as it combines the homely feel of pastry with delicious, fresh ingredients to top up your five-a-day quota. You’ll find several recipes online for this comfort food staple but be careful to avoid the ones with red wine as an ingredient. BBC Good Food has a wine-free method created by food writer Ruth Watson.
Warming flavours don’t get any better than a chickpea curry. Perfect for vegetarians but also a crowd-pleaser for the meat eaters too, this dish can be made quickly and healthily for a mid-week treat or as the main event at a dinner party. Give this recipe a go from Delish, it takes only 35 minutes to make and is a simple enough dish for the children to have a go at making with you.
Creating this three-course meal can be a whole afternoon’s entertainment for the children as they help where they can with each stage of preparation. This is excellent experience for reading and following a recipe, along with understanding exactly what goes into each lovingly-prepared dish.
If the family have ‘left room’ for dessert, by eating a little less than they wanted of the starter or main, you had better make it worth their while…
Tesco has this lovely recipe for apple crumble with custard, which is ideal for carrying on the warm and comforting food theme of the dinner. The recipe calls for juicy Bramley apples and an oaty topping but other suggestions include adding ground cinnamon or ginger (for a bit of a kick) as well as swapping oats for chopped nuts.
A favourite for many is sticky toffee pudding and this easy recipe – serving 6-8 people comes from the queen of indulgence herself, Nigella Lawson. The cake and the sauce call for dark brown muscovado sugar, as well as other comforting ingredients to have children and adults asking for seconds. In the intro to her recipe, Nigella admits that you might need a brisk walk after indulging because of the decadence of this dish!
This winter-inspired three course dinner is perfect for a cosy family meal but also for a larger gathering, especially when the weather excludes outdoor entertainment. Turn your home into a welcoming space for friends and family by adapting your living room and dining room into one large entertaining area – bi-fold doors are great for this.
Setting the scene is also important so pay attention to your dinner table setting, getting the children to help with getting everything just right. A sense of occasion always heightens the effect of the food, giving the yummy courses the platform they need to become a memorable meal. A little candlelight and a wintery centrepiece are a good start.
All the recipes can be doubled or tripled in size to accommodate more guests and it also gives the children the opportunity to show off the food they helped to create. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your loved ones tucking into something you have created; even more so if they are really enjoying it!
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