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Cold weather meal ideas

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Having friends in town after the weather changes, want to cook a hommy meal. The only thing I'm certain of is mac & cheese. So far I'm thinking either meat loaf or braised short ribs, roasted carrot with butter & thyme, and mac & cheese. Maybe a simple dinner salad, a good crusty bread, and some sort of appetizer (I'm thinking of a mini chicken pot pie)

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  1. Definitely not a good idea in addition to Mac and cheese, but when I think cold weather, homey food, and dinner party I think cassoulet. Also the other night I had green chili goat cheese grits as a side with pork. If m and c is a given, how about some brats with it?

    11 Replies
    1. re: tim irvine

      I love cassoulet, but the only certain is the mac & cheese. I really want to stick with that. I guess I should have posed my question differently. Such as - what main is mac & cheese a great side for? Brats might be a good main for mac & cheese. Your gr chili/goat cheese/grits & pork sounds really yummy. Please share more.

      Thanks for the great ideas

      1. re: engie

        Here are my two cents. I think that Mac and cheese is delicious but needs something to break the richness. I would serve it with sausage and peppers, you can mix sweet and spicy italian sausages. I would finish it off with a good splash of vinegar. I would also serve garlicky broccoli rabe. I would blanch it, chock it, dry it and fry up at the last minute with lots of garlic and red pepper flakes.
        How about devils on horseback(dates stuffed with mango chutney, almonds or cheese and wrapped in bacon) -these smell delicious when cooking or figs with blue cheese wrapped in prosciutto. You could also wrap scallops or water chestnuts in bacon?
        You could end the meal with a beautiful apple tart.

        1. re: Gloriaa

          I agree, something is needed to counter the richness of the mac&cheese, a little acidity and/or a little heat would do the trick. As mentioned I was thinking of short ribs or meat loaf. The is Cajun style with a lot of heat - think that would work?

          1. re: engie

            What is Cajun style? IMO I would not serve meatloaf, too soft and short ribs are delicious but they beg for a neutral starch to soak up all the sauce. I think brats would work as would a big roast ham on the bone. Just remember balance, something rich needs something acidic and bitter ie endive and radicchio salad or broccoli rabe.

            1. re: Gloriaa

              Cajun style meat loaf has a lot of heat

              1. re: engie

                Thank you. I was confused whether or not you were referring to the meatloaf or the mac&cheese as Cajun style. I am French so can help you in that regard but have nothing to contribute to southern cooking. Sorry!

          2. re: Gloriaa

            Asparagus wrapped in proscuitto is divine. You can roast it that way, or chill the asparagus after lightly roasting (in olive oil, garlic, s&p.) So good.

          3. re: engie

            If m and c is a certainty and a side, I grew up having it with mixed green salad and a nice country ham steak..this time of year pan fried oysters also gone to mind.

            1. re: tim irvine

              ham did cross my mind, something to reconsider - thanks

              1. re: tim irvine

                what about something classic like fried chicken and stewed green beans, or maybe some sauteed greens?

              2. re: engie

                I like to stir in a creamy room temp cheese like brie into my mac and cheese sauce. Makes it so rich and creamy. I've used cream cheese before even though I know it's frowned upon. It makes it delicious.

            2. with mac and cheese as a side, you definitely don't need a starchy app, like pot pie.

              you can do a nice salad as the starter, with lots of peppery greens (think cress and arugula) and a sharp vinaigrette to perk up everybody's palate. it's also crunchy while the rest of your meal is quite soft.

              lots of people (myself included) don't care for meatloaf, so i vote shortribs. they're also better if made in advance and then you just need to rehat them for the dinner.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I liked her idea of short ribs. The salad would be perfect as well. I was thinking a tart salad would be perfect to balance the mac and cheese.

              2. Short ribs, pot roast, yes, but all manner of soups: vegetable soups both smooth and chunky, stuffed squashes,
                Root veggies roasted.
                Not all homey winter foods have to be heavy. Oh, stuffed cabbage!

                1. Maybe a crockpot of beef stew or chili?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: thedryer

                    If I scrap the mac&cheese obsession, then chili is the strongest contender. I love ATK's no bean chili recipe. It's make ahead friendly, and the potential toppings are endless - sour cream, shredded cheeses, onions, avocado, bacon, beans, Fritos, crackers, peppers...the possibilities are near endless.

                    1. re: engie

                      If you are unfamiliar with your guests' eating preferences this would be ideal with so many options to customize the meal

                      1. re: engie

                        Don't forget rice. Chili and rice are so good. You could also serve baked potatoes with it. They are good topped with chili, cheese, and sour cream. Pasta is also nice with chili. I like macaroni or spirals myself. You could do a chili bar and people could make it the way they want.

                    2. Don't forget a comforting dessert. I love apple crisp with vanilla ice cream!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: nlgardener

                        I'm not a dessert person - I might pick something up at the nearby French bakery - maybe and apple crisp. Since I have no real enthusiasm for sweets I usually ask one of my sweets motivated guests to handle that department.

                        1. re: engie

                          If you want an easy dessert, buy some well made oatmeal cookies. Heat them slight before serving. Serve with cinnamon ice cream, warm caramel or tres leches sauce, and whipped cream. So comforting.