I love the winter! I know…people don't often say that, but it's true, I do! And I live in Minnesota where we get the full brunt of winter weather. So, I understand what minus 30 feels like on the bare skin of your face. I know how beautiful and peaceful it is to stand outside and in the middle of a good snow listening to the quiet snowflakes fall. I know the thrill of waking to a fresh, bright winter wonderland and going out to play or ski or skate or snowshoe or sled in it and then come inside with numb fingers and toes and noses to mugs of hot chocolate and bowls of warm buttery popcorn and thick, cozy socks!
I love to make big pots of hot, soothing soups and bake comforting cakes and breads and muffins and cookies. We certainly enjoy game nights under the warm glow of our dining room light, huddling around our table as the cold swirls and howls outside. Sometimes we declare a whole day dedicated to watching movies, covered in blankets and squeezed onto one big bed.
In a nutshell, we embrace this season and all that it offers outside in nature and we love to get cozy inside too. It turns out there's a name for that. The Danish call this, "Hygge." Now, the pronunciation is a bit of conundrum. I have seen the pronunciation written out and spoken several different ways. In fact, how to say it has become an inside joke in our home, but regardless of how you say it, it's a great thing to learn and put into practice in your own life!
Hygge is the Danish term for coziness, but really it's much more than that. Here's how VisitDenmark.com explains what "hygge" means:
"In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – that's hygge too. There's nothing more hygge than sitting round a table, discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are the happiest people in the world?"
While winter is the high season of hygge, you can actually hygge any time really. And the more I learn about hygge, the more I realize that the Twin Citians do a really good job of hygge(ing) all year round.
We get out and do things in every season: picnics and outdoor movies and concerts and sports and walks and playing at parks and boating in the warmer months and skiing, snowshoeing and sledding and dinners with friends, and cozy coffee chats and marathon game nights and snuggly movie nights and boot hockey and relaxed brunches, winter hikes and hot chocolate and warm croissants and coffee shops on every corner, laughing, soaking up the beauty of the season, spending time with friends and family in the colder months.
So, embrace each season in your life, both the beauty of nature and the people surrounding you and the warmth of your own home, no matter how big or small it is.
Anna's Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 13 ounce can of chicken breast or 1.5 cup of shredded cooked chicken
½ cup of frozen corn or fresh from the cob
1 15 ounce can of black beans
2 cups chicken broth
¾ cup cream of tomato soup (I have made this with tomato sauce too for a dairy free version, but I like the cream of tomato much better)
¾ cup salsa
Salt & pepper to taste
Get pot hot, add olive oil, then garlic, chopped onion and pepper and corn. Sauté on medium for about 5 minutes until onion is translucent.
Add chicken, breaking up any big chunks. Then, add chicken broth, black beans, tomato soup and salsa. Stir all together.
Taste and add salt and pepper or a dash of hot sauce to taste. Simmer for about 20 minutes on medium high to thicken soup and meld flavors.
This soup is not very thick though. And I like this because that means my pickier son will eat it.
We top our soup with shredded cheese, a dash of hot sauce, sliced avocado and a dollop of sour cream and serve with corn tortilla strips that I bake with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper or corn chips from the bag.
For the tortilla strips. Use pizza cutter to cut a stack of corn tortillas into wedges or strips. Toss them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and back on 375 for about 20 minutes, use spatula to move them around and separate strips. Then, cook another 10 to 20 minutes or until crispy. YUM!
Here's to a merry and bright hygge high season! Over and out…