Battling the Winter Blues? Let These Homely Hobbies Help

With all the of the festivities well and truly wrapped up for another year, you might be feeling the after effects of the season. There’s a reason why winter is the cruellest time of year and if you’re looking at the next few cold months with a lump in your throat, you might not be alone. What, though, if there were another way to approach the winter season? While winter might cut you off from the outdoors, there are plenty of ways that you can make the most of the next few months by changing up your schedule somewhat. These indoor hobbies can easily replace your summertime activity, allowing you to make the most of your free time without venturing too far out into the cold.

Cook Up A Storm

Want to improve your cooking skills? There has never been a better time than now in which to commit yourself to the project. Turning up the heat might be all but impossible during the summer months so now that things have well and truly cooled down, why not try experimenting with that recipe book that you had on hold? Even if you’re not adept in the kitchen, you can dedicate the coming days and weeks to perfecting your cooking style, experimenting with all kinds of dishes and flavors. Invest in a really good cookbook before you go and get started with the most classic of dishes out there.

Balance It All Out

Saying that you’re going to do something is a whole lot different to actually going through with it. While getting into yoga might have been high up on your to-do list for some time now, you might have been putting it off and putting it off, leaving the activity on the back burner. Now is the time in which to take action. Yoga is an incredible way to get in tune with your body and improve your strength and flexibility. Even if you already work out, you could be overlooking essential areas of your fitness in your exercise plan. Yoga will help you to destress, focus on specific muscle groups and tone yourself up. Better yet, the activity can be performed in the comfort of your own home, meaning that you don’t even have to go anywhere!

Brush Up Your Languages

Speaking a foreign language is something that so many of us want to do and yet, we seem to fail to find the time in which to actually go ahead with. The long winter evenings are yours for the taking. If travel is going to be a part of your year ahead, getting ahead of the curve and focusing on your language of choice can be a really great path to take. You can try attending evening classes, watching Youtube videos or downloading a language app on your phone. Just an hour or so every evening can make all the difference to your skills, giving you the foundation you need in order to go further.

Get Writing

Having a creative way in which to express yourself can work wonders for your wellbeing. If you’re interested in the world of writing, now might be the perfect time in which to put pen to paper – so to speak – and draft yourself up a blog. Your writing doesn’t have to reach a lot of people; it’s all about expanding your own creativity and trying something new. If you’re looking to get into creative writing and feel that you would like to pick up a skill of two, you can try looking into courses such as Skillshare in order to get going. Writing a little bit each day can help a great amount, giving you the foundation that you need in order to go further with your hobby.

Perfect Your Penmanship

Over the last couple of years, the popularity of calligraphy has really peaked. What was once an antiquated way of adding a little flourish to a piece of writing has now become something altogether different, giving you the chance to express yourself in any way that you should so please. Modern calligraphy can help you to make your own cards, table places or wall prints, expanding your creative possibilities a huge amount. If you’re not sure where to start, you can try searching for online classes or teaching yourself with a good old fashioned book and pen. Interactive apps also make it even easier than ever to express yourself, helping you to perfect your art either digitally or on paper.

5 Recipes For A Home Cooked Date Night

While Valentine’s Day might be over and done with, there’s no reason why you can’t prolong the sweetness of the holiday by indulging in a little home cooking. During the winter months, partaking in a little after-work dating might seem like the last thing on your mind, cosy nights in taking precedent when it’s cold out. If you want to socialize without venturing outdoors, however, your kitchen might hold all of the answers. After all, there’s nothing more impressive than whipping up a home cooked dish for a date.

Although we all have a list of tried and tested dishes that we turn to on date night, sampling something new can help to change things up and bit and introduce you to a whole new type of menu. Once you try these recipes once, you might not venture out for food again.

Asian Chicken Vegetable Soup

Let’s face it, when it’s blowing a storm outside, you need something comforting to put in your belly and there’s no better way to do this than with a bowl of home cooked chicken soup. While you might have your own family recipe that you swear by, this variation on the dish adds a little oriental spice into the mix, resulting in a soup that is both comforting and incredibly delicious. Stuffed with Asian vegetables, slow cooked stock and the most tender chicken you will ever taste, this is a dish that you might want to cook all of the time, date or no date.

Marinated Rib-Eye Steak

Sometimes, however, you really want to pull out all of the stops and if that’s the case, then you can’t go wrong with a side of steak. This rib-eye steak is quite possibly the best around, slowly marinated with lemon, garlic, chilli, rosemary and soy sauce. When you cook it in the pan, expect that marinade to get nice and sticky and really crisp up. You can serve this solo or with a healthy dollop of homemade pesto for a real flavor explosion. Your date will never forget it.

Seared Scallops

If you want to pull out all of the stops, then tackling seafood is a surefire way to get your date’s attention. Served with a side of herby butter, these seared scallops taste just as good as they look and won’t leave you slaving away in the kitchen. With the recipe calling for any variety of herbs, it is up to you what flavor combination you serve up with your scallops, although sage, tarragon or thyme might work the best. Completed with some seasonal greens, this is truly the dish of kings and it won’t cost you much extra time, either. Sneaky.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Some flavor combinations are simply so good that they deserve some kind of medal. These roasted sweet potatoes are exactly like that. Slow roasted in the oven and topped with a mixture of cheese, chilli and spring onions, the potatoes pack a serious flavor punch. While they’re great on their own, you can also try adding in an extra side of bacon or grilled fish if you’re looking for something a little more meaty. A no-nonsense recipe, these sweet potatoes practically do all of the work themselves, leaving you much more time to focus on what really matters.

Lemon and Asparagus Pasta

Nothing shows affection like a huge bowl of comfort food and if you really want to show how you feel, then you can’t do it better than with pasta. Accompanied by fresh asparagus and a creamy, vegan sauce, the recipe requires very little effort and can be whipped up well in advance. Using entirely natural, non-dairy ingredients, the meal is actually a lot more healthy than you would think, making the question of going back for seconds a little easier to figure out.

Thai Fish Parcels

If you want a cook-in-one recipe, then you need this fish parcel dish. Steamed in individual bags, all of the ingredients are cooked at the same time; all you need to do is prepare them beforehand. Topped with a Thai marinade, the dish is packed full of ginger, coriander, soy sauce and chilli. Even though it might still be cold out, you can pretend that you’re in much sunnier climes.

5 Winter Breakfast Recipes To Cosy Up To

When it comes to winter, it’s easy to feel down and, with the passing of the holiday season, it might feel like there’s not a lot to look forward to until spring. Getting through the cold snap is all about taking care of yourself, starting from the moment that you wake up. Beginning the day with a hearty breakfast is a great way to put a spring in your step, even if the real season is still months away. When it comes to winter breakfasts, it pays to be even kinder to yourself than normal and, while these recipes might seem too indulgent to whip out every morning, allowing yourself them once or twice a week is more than enough to cheer up any gray day.

With minimal work and maximum flavor, these tasty breakfast treats are guaranteed to make it feel like a sunny day, even if it’s still January.

Breakfast Casserole

Sometimes, you want a breakfast food that covers all corners and incorporating a number of ingredients into one dish is a great way to go. Whipping up a breakfast casserole couldn’t be easier and in the heart of winter, is the perfect way to get that cosy feeling from the start of your day. This one comes packed with sausages, cheese and a crispy dough base that is bound to keep you going for hours. Make it the night before and finish it off the in oven; you won’t say no to grilled cheese, even at 7am.

Gingerbread Pancakes

We all know that pancakes are the breakfast of kings – or should that be queens? – but even they can stand a little adaptation from time to time. Finished off with ginger, vanilla and molasses, these gingerbread pancakes are as sweet as they come. If the recipe is a little on the saccharine side for you, you can try cutting down on the extra sugar or syrup and serve them up with a side of fresh fruit. Complete with a cup of coffee, these will more than put a smile on your face in the morning.

Breakfast Frittata

Packed with potato, smoked haddock and the fluffiest eggs you can imagine, the breakfast frittata takes a lot of beating. While it has all the makings of an omelette, the frittata comes filled with a little extra flavor punch, which will keep your senses alive in the morning. If you’re not a fan of smoked haddock, you can try substituting it for a different type of fish such as mackerel, or foregoing it entirely. The beauty of the recipe is the ease with which it can be adapted; you’re always in charge.

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

When the words “breakfast” and “cake” come together in a sentence, you know that you’re in for a treat. Packed full of buttermilk, this breakfast cake is as light and fluffy as they come and is in no risk of drying out after a day or two. While the recipe calls for a large quantity of ingredients, it means that batching out the cake into smaller portions is much easier. You can slice up your breakfast for the week to come or, if you want to be really nice, hand slices around when you get to the office. You’re guaranteed to be the most popular member of the team.

Stuffed French Toast

Starting your day off with a hearty breakfast doesn’t mean that you have to forgo healthy eating entirely and if you’re looking for a way to eat well and stay full, then this french toast recipe might be the answer. Adding whole grain bread, coconut oil, almond butter and fresh berries into the mix, this recipe is a great deal nicer than its name suggests and won’t leave you feeling heavy for hours afterwards. Serve it up with freshly sliced banana and a green tea and you’re onto a healthy breakfast winner!

While eating well is a great way of feeling your best during the winter season, allowing yourself an indulgence from time to time is the perfect way to treat yourself when the outside world is blowing a storm. Making your mornings all about great food ensures that you will feel much happier throughout the day, even if things elsewhere don’t go entirely to plan. There’s always tomorrow for that!

The Cosy Holiday Dessert Menu

Cooking for friends and family this holiday season is one of the best ways in which to show them your appreciation and when it comes to winter, the cosier the menu you can whip up, the better. While starting the feasting off with a hearty main and warming sides is a great way in which to get things going, everyone knows that it doesn’t count for anything if your dessert isn’t on point. Although catering to the needs of all of your guests might seem like a challenge, you can guarantee that, with the right kind of sweet course, everyone will be on board. And the best way to start the Christmas season? Surrounded by pastries, buttery puddings and spiced fruit dishes, of course!

Topsy Turvy Apple Pie

While you might think that you’ve tasted every kind of apple pie there is to be had, you’ve probably not ever sampled anything like this before. Topped with brown sugar and roasted pecans, the crust of this pie is what it’s all about and it might just leave you coming back for more. Served upside down, think of this pudding like a winter warming tarte tatin, with all the buttery apples you could ever want.

Blackberry and Peach Crostata

Of course, cold weather doesn’t just call for apples and there is a warming winter dessert out there for any kind of fruit combination. Roughly covered in rustic pastry, the blackberries and peaches in this crostata are left to bubble and caramelize in the oven. Cooked until golden brown, the crostata makes the perfect accompaniment to any winter feast and is perfect topped with melting mascarpone or double cream.

Warm Chocolate Puddings

If you’re catering to the masses, then you can’t go wrong with a little bit of melted chocolate. Complete with butter, vanilla, rich yolks and a whole ton of good chocolate, these puddings are designed to be served fresh from the oven. Make sure you catch them while they’re still hot though; the trick is to serve the pudding while it’s still melted in the middle.

St. Clement’s Posset

While it might not exactly roll off the tongue, the St. Clement’s Posset is a dessert recipe that you will come back to time and time again. Flavored with oranges, lemons and just a touch of mint, the dessert takes a fresh stance on winter food, adding a much needed injection of freshness into the stodgy mix. Topped off with miniature star shortbreads, the desserts are a great way to impress all of your guests over the holiday season, and the perfect recipe to store for future holidays to come.

Apple Galette

Traditionally eaten over Epiphany, the humble galette is one of the best ways to indulge your sweet tooth this holiday season. Glazed with salted caramel and baked slowly in the oven, this apple galette is just a touch above the rest and is guaranteed to warm you up on any cold winter’s night. With the apples peeking through the top, there is a real rustic feel to this dish that is guaranteed to fill even the most hungry of eaters up.

Cherry Pastry Pies

Sometimes in order to get it right, you just need to keep it simple. Easy to prepare and even simpler to eat, these cherry pastry pies are a great accompaniment to any winter meal or snack time. Stuffed with a rich pastry jam, these little hand pies will give you all the sweetness of summer, and all the rich butter goodness of a winter dessert. Just think of them as the holiday gift that keeps on giving.

Chocolate and Chestnut Yule Log

Let’s face it, you can’t pass the Christmas season without eating a yule log of some kind and this one might just be the very best out there. Coated in thick chocolate and studded with chestnuts, the dessert gets the flavour combinations right on point, tasting neither too rich nor too nutty. Dusted with a festive coat of icing sugar, the log makes the perfect finishing centerpiece to any festive table and is bound to impress your guests in more ways that one.

This winter season, it’s all about the dessert and whether you’re into pastry, cream or chocolate, there’s something out there to please you. The time for dessert is now and as soon as you taste one of these, you might not look at another main again!