Winter is always the best time of year for comfort food: creamy hot chocolate, chunky mashed potatoes and simmering pot roasts. But this year, we need that comfort more than ever, right?

Since everyone is spending even more time indoors than usual, it makes sense to use some of our extra free time to elevate our cooking skills and give ourselves a treat. Here are some of the yummy recipes we are cooking up for the holidays.

Vegetarian tamales

This classic New Mexican dish is filling and easy to make. The savory dish has a little kick in the chile sauce that ties the flavors together — a perfect way to spice up your Christmas meal. Note: This recipe makes 24 medium-sized tamales.

For the wrappers and masa:

4 ounces dried corn husks

21/4 cups masa harina de maiz

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

13/4 cups warm water

Preparation: Put the masa harina, baking powder and salt into a bowl and mix together. Stir in the melted butter. Add warm water and mix well to make a soft dough. In the bowl, knead the dough gently for 1 minute. Cover the masa and let rest for 10 minutes.

For the tamale filling:

2 mild green chilies, roasted peeled and diced

1 medium zucchini, washed and grated

1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1/2 cup grated Monterey jack cheese

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation: In a bowl, mix together the green chile, zucchini, corn, cheese, cilantro, oregano and salt. Stir well to combine. Lay softened cornhusk flat on a clean surface. Put a heaping tablespoon of masa in the center of the cornhusk. Flatten masa with fingertips to about 1/8 inch thick. Put a heaping teaspoon of filling into the center of the masa. Roll up and tie the ends of the tamale. Steam for 25 to 30 minutes, until tamales are firm

For red chile sauce (optional):

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons unbleached white flour

1/2 cup of ground mild red chile

21/4 cups water

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon dried oregano

Preparation: Put the garlic and butter into a saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the flour. Cook for about 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Whisk in the chile and cook only until fragrant. Slowly add the water in small intervals, string constantly. Bring to a boil. Add the salt, pepper and oregano. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, uncovered until thickened. Remove from the heat and serve with tamales.

Vegan ginger latte

Sometimes, all it takes is a hot drink on a wintry night to make everything better. This ginger latte warms you up from the inside!

2 shots of espresso or ½ cup of instant coffee

2 tablespoons of molasses

11/2 cups oat milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon maple syrup

½ teaspoon fresh, grated ginger

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of cloves

Preparation: Make ½ cup of coffee or 2 shots of espresso and split between two mugs. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together molasses, oat milk, vanilla extract and maple syrup. While the mixture simmers, grate ½ teaspoon of fresh ginger. Add ginger and spices to the mixture on the stove and whisk to combine. Once the mixture is combined, pour it into both cups over the coffee and stir. Enjoy!

Bacon strudel

Sometimes unique and flavorful cuisine comes from unexpected amalgams. Using an unusual combination of flavors, this particular strudel replaces the fruity nuttiness of the typical dish with the savory umami taste of bacon jam and pine nuts.

1½ pound of thick-cut bacon

1½ large white onion

3 shallots

2 cloves of garlic

½ cup brown sugar

Splash of apple cider vinegar

Splash of red wine

4 tablespoons of toasted piñon nuts

Salt

4 sheets of store-bought phyllo dough pastry

Around 3 tablespoons of butter

Preparation: Cook the bacon until crispy. Use tongs to break the bacon into smaller bits. Chop up all of the shallots and the onion, and throw these in the pan with the bacon. Cover the pan and cook over low heat to caramelize the onions and shallots completely. (Do not char the onions.) Once the mixture is soft and caramelized, add ¼ cup brown sugar, mashed garlic, wine and vinegar. Allow the mixture to thicken into a jam. Stir in the pine nuts. Season appropriately with salt. Stretch out your phyllo dough and brush with melted butter. Mix a proportionate amount of breadcrumbs and the remaining brown sugar in a bowl. Sprinkle this onto the dough and build a little stack, with the crumbs and sugar in between each layer. Spoon out the bacon mix in a horizontal line and roll the pastry around it. Put your pastry on a baking sheet and brush with butter, followed by more of the breadcrumb brown sugar mixture. Bake your strudel in a 450-degree oven until golden. This should take about 15 minutes. Then, let the pastry cool. Enjoy!

Pull-apart Christmas tree

Our most beloved carb, bread, is getting a festive makeover. If you’re looking for a fun way to serve dinner rolls this holiday season, here’s your ticket.

1 pound refrigerated pizza dough

Egg wash (1 egg whisked combined with 1 tablespoon water)

7 mozzarella sticks

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

1 tablespoons thinly sliced basil

1 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoons chopped rosemary

Marinara sauce (for serving)

Preparation: Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a large rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Cut mozzarella sticks into 1-inch pieces and set aside. (You will need 33 total pieces.) Flour a flat surface and begin to divide your premade pizza dough into two pieces. Stretch and roll each piece of dough into a long rectangle, then cut dough into 33 2-inch squares. Wrap a dough square around each piece of mozzarella, forming a tightly sealed ball. Place balls seam-side down on your baking sheet in the shape of a Christmas tree. Make sure the edges are touching! Brush your egg wash on dough balls and bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together melted butter, Parmesan and herbs, and brush on baked pizza balls. Once the dough is baked, serve warm with marinara for dipping.

Molasses sugar cookies

Christmas cookies are the main course of any holiday meal, and these molasses sugar cookies put traditional gingerbreads to shame.

1 cup of sugar

3/4 cup of vegetable oil

1/4 cup of molasses

1 egg

2 cups of all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Preparation: Combine the oil, sugar and molasses in a large bowl, until smooth. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and ginger. Add to the sugar and mix together until it is thick like a dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for around four hours or until it’s easy to handle (not sticky). Turn the oven to 375 and line two baking sheets (use more if needed) with parchment paper, or grease them. Shape the dough into balls, about 1 inch each. Dip the dough in the additional sugar until covered. Place the balls 3 inches apart from one another on the baking sheet. Place them in the oven for around seven to nine minutes or until the tops are slightly cracked. Let them cool.

Compiled by Luke Beingessner-Chavez,

Aviva Nathan, Ben Timm and Sofia Barker

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