It was yet another cold and cloudy day. Sometimes in the thick of winters one gets so resigned to dull weather, it feels it will never be sunny and beautiful again. Unfortunately that’s how it felt today. I am dying for the warm summer to melt the day and warm up my mood. Meanwhile I can’t help but remind myself how every season has an important role to play and how it too must be enjoyed for its sake. Here is a list of 10 wonderful things you can do on a cold, grey day to brighten your mood:
- Watch an old flick while wrapped up in bed – I feel the best part of winters is the license to watch your favorite movie while wrapped in a warm blanket and sipping a hot cup of cocoa.
- Eat Mac & Cheese – Comfort food is another blessing that winters offer in plenty. My favorite Mac and Cheese recipe includes Brussels sprouts and Panko bread crumbs and is listed below. But I also love to make hearty soups and have them for dinner with a loaf of garlic bread.
- Wrap up in a warm jacket and go for a walk – Don’t forget to catch up on Vitamin D by going for walk in the afternoon. It can do your mood loads of good.
- Go skiing – When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
- Throw a potluck party – I love potlucks. It is so much fun to sample and savor all the variety of foods you get at a potluck party. The weather may be too cold to venture outside but inside your house or at a friend’s house it is always warm, and the conversation is always engaging.
- Read a good book – This one is similar to #1. The idea is to cozy up with your favorite book or movie.
- Rake a warm fire and enjoy a cup of warm toddy – Winter is an excellent time to spike up romance by raking a fire and enjoying your favorite drink. Although I myself never like whiskey and am trying to stay away from alcohol, a friend gave me this recipe some time back. A toddy is easy to brew. Pour hot water into mug and steep tea for 2-3 minutes. Remove tea bag and add honey. Stir. Pour in whiskey, add squeeze of lemon and enjoy.
- Pamper yourself with hot oil massage – This is a really simple way to pamper yourself and your tresses. They will look beautiful the next day and when they bounce with shine you will be so glad you did it. Mix almond, olive and castor oil in equal parts in a bottle. Heat lightly in microwave till it is lukewarm to touch and apply in hair. Keep massaging the oil in with your finger tips. For best results leave it overnight but be sure to cover your pillow case. You will look like the Pantene girls the next day, I promise!
- Engage in your hobby – Do you like to paint, write, cook? Whatever your hobby is, engage in it. It is a sure shot way to spike up the feel-good hormones.
- Catch up on your zzz’s – When the weather is dull and it gets dark early, it is easy to want to settle for bed early. An excellent idea! Just remember to stay away from TV, internet, iphone and all technology unless you want to be counting sheep.
Mac and Cheese with Brussels Sprouts
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 2 1/4 cups whole milk
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces mild white cheddar cheese, grated and divided
- 8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed, cored, and very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- Cook macaroni according to package directions Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saute pan or high-sided skillet set over medium heat. When butter is melted and frothy, add flour and whisk until smooth and begins to bubble, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly pour in warm milk, a little at a time, whisking vigorously, until all the milk is incorporated and mixture is smooth. Don’t worry if the mixture gets oddly chunky for a bit, just keep adding milk a little bit at a time and whisking constantly to break up the chunks.
- Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking regularly, until sauce bubbles and has thickened slightly, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in cayenne, paprika, and salt and pepper. Slowly add cheeses, a handful at a time, whisking until melted before adding more. Add all but 1/2 cup of cheese (set this aside for sprinkling on top). Stir in macaroni and sliced Brussels sprouts until evenly coated.
- Pour into the prepared dish. Sprinkle with reserved cheese and breadcrumbs over top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until filling is bubbling, then broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.