10 Cooking Projects Worth Spending a Weekend On

published Jan 9, 2020
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Credit: Faith Durand

January weekends are often cold and dark. They’re also the time when you’re most likely trying to avoid excess — and perhaps save some money. And that makes them ideal for hibernation cooking, where you spend a few hours hanging out around the stove and working on a cooking project.

Hibernation cooking warms the house and soothes the soul. And more importantly, you end up with something lovely and delicious after your effort. If you’re looking to do some kitchen hibernating, any one of these 10 weekend cooking projects will help feed you — body and soul.

1. Oven-Baked Beans

Have you ever picked up a few cheap bags of dried beans and then, after realizing how long the soak and simmering time was, left them to gather dust in the back of your pantry? Dig them out! Let a winter weekend become the time where you conquer those beans — you’ll have the most tender and delicious legumes for chilis and soups, and your can stock your fridge and freezer with the rest!

Recipe: How To Cook Beans in the Oven

Credit: Lauren Volo

2. Classic Beef Pot Roast

It’s hard to think of a recipe that embodies hibernation cooking better than pot roast. Spend a bit of the day chopping vegetables and preparing beef, and you can perfume your kitchen with the scent of caramelized meat, deglazed with wine. Soon the whole house will be thick with the smell of the pot braising in the oven. Save some time to make a pan of rolls or a plate of biscuits to sop all that goodness up.

Recipe: How To Cook Classic Beef Pot Roast in the Oven

3. Croissants

Homemade croissants take three days to make, but the result is a heavenly Sunday morning breakfast. You get the dough going with a little starter on Friday night, spend some time on Saturday mixing up dough and folding in those lovely layers, then enjoy a batch of freshly baked beauties on Sunday morning with your coffee. Throw in some movie watching and popcorn making on Friday and Saturday, and it’s one of the best ways to stay in and enjoy the weekend.

Recipe: How To Make Croissants

Credit: Joe Lingeman

4. Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e fagioli is a bean soup that gets finished with tender little noodles just before serving. It is the kind of meal that feels industrious (beans! Canned tomatoes! That Parmesan rind you’ve been saving in the cheese drawer!) but tastes luxurious. You can make this version in the slow cooker, then invite friends over and pretend like you cooked all day. Have friends bring a bottle of red wine and crusty bread, and you’ve got the makings of a dinner gathering masterpiece.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli

Credit: Joe Lingeman

5. No-Knead Bread

Sourdough bread from scratch cannot be in made in a single weekend (unless you already have a starter), but with no-knead bread you could bake several loaves in a single cold weekend. Better still? You can make a very good loaf of no-knead bread while taking on any number of other cooking projects too. Personally, I’d bake one to eat straight away — warm, with good butter — and another to eat alongside a pot of soup, pot roast, or Bolognese.

Recipe: How To Make No-Knead Bread

6. Homemade Tortellini

Why only eat fresh tortellini when you’re dining out? In a single afternoon you can make pasta dough from scratch and add a rich ricotta filling, and these beautiful little pockets of plump pasta are yours for the eating. They freeze well, too, so double the recipe and save half for a more time-sensitive day.

Recipe: How To Make Homemade Tortellini

7. Slow Cooker Bolognese

Really, really good Bolognese — not just weeknight “meat sauce” — gets its signature flavor and texture from the long, slow cooking process. You can putter around while the slow cooker is simmering, tasting it now and then to see how it progresses, and then treat yourself to a sumptuous and comforting Sunday dinner, with enough leftovers to carry that feeling into the cold winter week ahead.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

8. Homemade Doughnuts

Do I really need to talk you into making warm and yeasted, lightly glazed vanilla doughnuts over a weekend? They’re more doable than you might think. You’ve got plenty of time to mix up a simple dough, there’s no excuse to keep you from frying, and you get to eat fresh doughnuts without driving around looking for a “hot and ready” sign!

Recipe: How To Make Doughnuts: A Step-by-Step Guide

9. Homemade Asian Dumplings

As much as I love frozen dumplings and potstickers for busy weeknights, the flavor of from-scratch dumplings is worth experiencing. You only need to make a pretty straightforward filling (ground meat, some grated vegetables) and I highly recommend buying wrappers. That way the work is limited to stuffing and shaping each dumpling. It can still take a little while, so enlist friends, binge-watch a show on your laptop, or just totally zone into the zen of dumpling-making at home. This is another one of these cooking projects worth making more and freezing the rest for later.

Recipe: How to Make Homemade Asian Dumplings from Scratch

Credit: Supriya

10. Cheddar Cheese Crackers

These are just incredibly fun to make and eat at home. Cheddar cheese crackers from scratch are also a brilliant recipe for putting your kids to work in the kitchen when it’s too cold and wet to play outside. You can make squares, stars, or any tiny shape that you or the kids would love.

Recipe: How To Make Cheddar Cheese Crackers

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