Grill away the Chill – Yes, Grill in Wintertime

Preparing to stay in on a cold winter night, you may opt to make a vat of soup and bake bread. Or, you could grill veggies. That’s right, I said grill. In wintertime. A raclette grill fits that bill perfectly.

Veggies on a raclette grill... indoors
Veggies on a raclette grill… indoors

It’s electric and sits on your table or countertop while it works its magic on vegetables, meats or fish. There is no smoke, no fire, no standing outside in inclement weather. You and yours can sit around the grill enjoying toasty food, together, indoors. I once saw my brother-in-law head out to a snowy deck during a New England blizzard to grill meat. Let’s just say that is commendable, but totally unnecessary.

The convenience with the raclette grill means I can place ingredients on the non-stick grill top (or granite top) and walk away. I’m a multi-tasker and may be doing laundry, working up a spreadsheet or playing with my dog while cooking. I have yet to experience burned food on the raclette. The closest I came to burning something was some liquefied cheese in a raclette pan (little cooking dishes for cheese or small pieces of food, such as shrimp).

Our first raclette grill experience combined veggies, cheese and sausage. I browned the sausages all the way around, then split them to cook in lengthwise halves. I’ve also cooked hamburgers, chicken fajitas, chicken cutlets, pork cutlets and fish on the raclette grill. The joy of this is akin to that of making a one-pot dish. There is only one think to clean and this cooking surface just wipes down in the sink.

If you must bake a casserole to combat the chill, consider the ease of using a cheese dip. I took leftover rice, added the cheese dip, a can of celery soup, a can of diced chiles and freshly diced tomatoes. After a half-hour at 375 degrees, we had a perfect cheesy rice casserole.IMG_6185IMG_6187

If you find yourself cooped up this winter, dreaming of a mixed grill meal with fresh veggies, oozy cheese and delicious meats, then why not adopt the raclette lifestyle?

Find Your Holiday Balancing Act with Take-It-Easy Meals

Christmas 2015 is in the books. Yet, there is still New Year’s and any additional Christmas gatherings you may have in the interim. We still have another family gathering for a special dinner tomorrow night. As I write, I am fending off an inclination to walk back over to the cookies and chocolates beckoning from the countertop. This time of year requires balance in our cooking and I find that eating simple outside of entertaining keeps me feeling centered. Here are a couple of recent dinners fixed between the more extravagant meals eaten around the holidays. (I cannot believe how creamy an over-the-top oyster mushrooms pasta dish was at a restaurant the other night. Geesh.) We had pork chops with grilled green tomatoes,

spinach atop garlic and olive oil before being covered to cook

and another night we had grilled salmon with baked potatoes. The grilled green tomatoes are a new favorite. Cooking sliced green tomatoes on an indoor grill really brings their flavor to life, especially in the winter. Another go-to dish to bring everything together is sautéed spinach. Start per usual for sautéed veggies by cooking sliced garlic in olive oil on low. Once the garlic is gold, add spinach (straight from a bag) and a pinch of salt, then cover. About 5-7 minutes later, you should have soft, garlic-y spinach ready to plate. The salmon was in a special weeknight display at the grocery store, which served as a reminder to try to eat a little healthy at this time of year. Granted, it was served with twice-baked potatoes. The cheesy potatoes may just offset the healthiness of the salmon, but that’s OK. That’s kind of the point of the salmon. For the potatoes, I first baked them an hour at 375 degrees.

baked potatoes dressed with paprika and spinach

Then I scooped out the middles and placed that potato meat in a bowl with grated parmesan cheese, a dollop of sour cream and spices. I spread that mixture back into the potato shells and broiled them until the tops took on a nice crust.


don't forget salad
don’t forget salad

To further ensure you are getting enough vegetables, make a simple salad. Romaine, bell pepper, tomatoes and green onions are easy to gather, chop and toss with any dressing you like, and complement any number of meats or fish.