7 Warm Winter Menus | Midwest Living

7 Warm Winter Menus

Take the chill off winter evenings with these hearty main dishes, easy sides and luscious desserts.

Menu #1: Old-fashioned pot roast dinner

Four root vegetables combine with a tender, herbed pot roast to make a hearty, old-fashioned meal. Finish with a slice of Chocolate Mocha Gooey Butter Cake -- topped with vanilla ice cream, if you're in the mood for even more indulgence.

Your menu: DeSoto House Pot Roast
Mixed green salad
Chocolate Mocha Gooey Butter Cake (see next slide)

Tip: Use packaged baby vegetables to speed prep time on the pot roast.

DeSoto House Pot Roast

Chocolate Mocha Gooey Butter Cake

We used a cake mix in the crust for this creamy chocolate dessert from the former Chocolate Cafe and Coffee House in Missouri. The recipe makes a generous 24 bars, so it’s perfect for a potluck.

Chocolate Mocha Gooey Butter Cake

Menu #2: Unforgettable Chicken Pie

Start your meal with Unforgettable Chicken Pie, a from-scratch deep-dish chicken casserole from a Caledonia, Michigan, reader. Add Cranberry Cashew Salad for fresh flavor and crunchy texture. Double Chocolate-Cherry Cookies round out the menu.

Your menu: Unforgettable Chicken Pie
Cranberry Cashew Salad (next slide)
Double Chocolate-Cherry Cookies (slide 5)

Tip: For more great casserole and hotdish ideas, click on the link below.

Unforgettable Chicken Pie

Best Casserole and Hotdish Recipes

Cranberry Cashew Salad

Sliced apples, roasted cashews and dried fruit combine with mango chutney, spinach leaves and curry for an exotic, fresh-tasting salad. The recipe comes from the New Albany (Ohio) Cooking with Friends community cookbook.

Cranberry Cashew Salad

Double Chocolate-Cherry Cookies

Carol Schneider of Wausau, Wisconsin, brought home a blue ribbon when she entered these cookies at the Wisconsin State Fair some years ago. The recipe combines white and semisweet chocolate with dried cherries and walnuts.

Double Chocolate-Cherry Cookies

Menu #3: Slow cooker pork dinner

The Cranberry Pork Roast slow-cooker recipe comes from Carolyn Sinclair of Grey Eagle, Minnesota. "When I serve it, I almost always have to give out the recipe," she says. "The tangy gravy is a good complement to pork."

Your menu: Cranberry Pork Roast
Hot cooked rice pilaf, rice or noodles
Cooked carrots
Buster Brown Cake with Delicious Icing (next slide)

Tip: A slow cooker works most efficiently when it's half- to three-fourths full. That's because the heat comes from coils around the sides of the pot, rather than the bottom. When using a recipe, make sure it's sized for your cooker.

Cranberry Pork Roast

More slow-cooker recipes

Buster Brown Cake with Delicious Icing

A Canton, Ohio, reader contributed this recipe for a favorite brown sugar cake that is often served at family gatherings.

Buster Brown Cake with Delicious Icing

Menu #4: Bacon lover's menu

Bacon's irresistible scent warms up the kitchen on cold winter nights. Stir salty-smoky crumbled bacon into our cheesy potato soup and sprinkle some more on top. Serve the soup alone or with one of our Easy Bacon Sandwiches. Nibble on tangy lemon bars for dessert.

Your menu: Bacon and Baked Potato Soup
Easy Bacon Sandwiches (optional)
Fresh greens or fruit
Luscious Lemon Bars (next slide)

Tip: Cut down on splattering by placing slices on a microwave-safe rack or a plate lined with microwave-safe paper towels. Microwave on high (2-3 minutes for 2 slices, 3-4 1/2 minutes for 4, and 4-5 minutes for 6 slices), rearranging bacon once.

Bacon and Baked Potato Soup

Easy Bacon Sandwiches

Luscious Lemon Bars

Anyone who loves lemon chess pie will enjoy these sweet-and-tart bars. The recipe comes from Palmer's Deli and Market in Urbandale, Iowa. Top the moist bars with powdered sugar.

Luscious Lemon Bars

More bar cookie recipes

Menu #5: Quick-and-easy salad dinner

Sunflower seeds and dried berries give a burst of flavor to an easy main-dish salad that starts with rotisserie chicken. Heat up purchased refrigerated breadsticks in your oven, and serve a quick-fix chocolate mousse for dessert.

Your menu: Chicken-Romaine Salad
Mocha Chocolate Mousse (next slide)

Tip: Sprinkle fresh grated Parmesan cheese and dried basil on the breadsticks before baking.

Chicken-Romaine Salad

More sumptuous salads

Mocha Chocolate Mousse

Layer this delicious mousse over fresh fruit and top with your choice of miniature chocolate pieces, chocolate sprinkles or chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Mocha Chocolate Mousse

Menu #6: One-skillet supper

Create a quick-and-easy dinner with Simple Salsa Skillet, a recipe from a Westchester, Illinois, reader. "My mom and I love this recipe because it's easy, doesn't cost much to make and is low in fat," she says. "It's the perfect main dish for a cold Chicago night."

Your menu: Simple Salsa Skillet
Fresh greens
Tortillas or corn muffins
Warm Apple Spice Crumble (next slide)

Tip: For a Mexican-style meal, scoop Simple Salsa Skillet into a warm tortilla and add shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese, sour cream and chopped lettuce.

Simple Salsa Skillet

Warm Apple Spice Crumble

This homey dessert lets you put a warm, fresh-baked treat on the table in less than half an hour. Canned sliced apples and purchased granola cereal make the crumble easy to assemble.

Warm Apple Spice Crumble

Menu #7: Steak dinner

We took an old favorite, steak with mushroom sauce, and boosted its flavor and colors with caramelized sweet onions, a medley of mushrooms, dried tomatoes and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Add simple sides and a from-scratch pie.

Your menu: Top Sirloin with Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Trio
Cooked green beans
Purchased rolls
Fantasy Chocolate Pie (next slide)

Tip: Caramelizing brings out the sweet, intense flavor of onions. Thinly slice onions and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Let onions cook long enough to turn golden brown, but remove them before they burn.

Top Sirloin with Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Trio

Fantasy Chocolate Pie

Dream about all the ingredients you'd like to see in a dessert, and you'll see why we named this Fantasy Chocolate Pie. It's made with three kinds of chocolate pieces (milk chocolate, semisweet and semisweet-and-white-chocolate swirled)—plus coconut, pecans and almonds. Top with whipped cream and chocolate curls.

Fantasy Chocolate Pie

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