It’s winter. It’s cold out. And all across America, we’re behaving like bears, hunkering down under our blankets and hoping to sleep till spring.

During winter’s coldest months, it’s common—and very natural—to feel more sleepy and hungry. That’s because our bodies are trying hard to warm up. With every beat of our heart, blood pumps nutrients to all the parts of our body. When we eat, our food is metabolized into those crucial nutrients that provide energy that in turn raises our body temperature and makes us feel warm.

So when it’s cold out and our body temperatures drop, we’re supposed to respond with hunger. Chowing down is nature’s way of warming up. And while we’re all for hunkering down under a favorite blanket in one of our Leland’s log cabin homes, we’ve also got a handful of favorite dishes to recommend to raise your body temperature and get you moving again.

What follows is a collection of Best Texas Recipes to Keep You Warm This Winter:

Texas chili.

Sure your Uncle Silas claims to make the best chili in Texas. And every office party includes somebody who says their Texas chili recipe is a blue-ribbon winner. But let’s face it. Texas chili is a very specific dish: No beans. No tomatoes. Just a bowl of beef and homemade chili paste, along with some flavorings. Die-hard Texas diners refer to it simply as “a bowl o’ red” because the tastes are pure and simple.

But you don’t have to be a purist. You can add your own variations like chorizo or Frito Pie. So whether you’re on Team Beans or Team No-Beans, check out Beef Loving Texans’ Texas chili recipes and choose one that works for you. Top if off with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of shredded cheddar, and a handful of sliced green onions, and you’re all set to warm your winter evenings.

Our favorite is the Texas-Style Chili made with ground beef, jalapeno pepper, and loads of spices. While the chili powder, paprika, and ground cumin keep things kicking, the canned tomatoes and green chilis make the recipe simple to execute. Prepare for some much-needed heat.

texascabinsbarbecue and beans 1 - BEST TEXAS RECIPES TO KEEP YOU WARM THIS WINTER

Barbecue beans.

Barbecue is as much a part of Texas as long-horn cattle and pointy boots. Add in some beans, and you’ll win the heart of most anyone who calls the Lone Star State home. For our favorite winter barbecue recipe, we turned to Big Tex, the 52-foot tall statue that is the official mascot of the State Fair of Texas.

And just as Leland’s cabins are Texas made and Texas proud, the recipes at Big Tex are part of a showcase of Creative Arts competitors whose recipes are compiled into a State Fair Cookbook. The “Best BBQ Beans in Texas” recipe that won us over comes from Phyllis Bustillos of Alvarado, Texas, who won 2nd Place at the 2011 State Fair. Phyllis’s recipe starts out with smoked brisket or bacon and includes black beans, dark red kidney beans, and baked beans. Beans and barbecue; we feel melty already.


Healthy caldo.

Caldo translates to “broth” or “soup” in Spanish, something perfect for cold-weather dining and popular in the Southern United States, Mexico, South America, and tracing its roots to Portuguese cooking traditions. Caldos come in any shape, size, or flavor. Consider making a caldo de pollo or chicken soup, caldo de res or beef soup, even caldo de albondigas or Mexican meatball soup.

We like these warming winter caldos that Texas Hill Country shares, especially the spicy shrimp caldo recipe with lime and avocado. For many Latin American countries, the hearty caldos are served not just as a side dish but as the meal itself, with the chunky vegetables and meats serving to satisfy hungry appetites. Caldos are considered to have healing powers too, served when loved ones are ill or after a woman goes through childbirth. Whatever your needs for winter, caldos can cure what ails you.


Mac ‘n’ cheese.

There are lots of reasons why we crave comfort foods. Because they’re typically high-fat and energy-dense, they give distinctive pleasure or make us temporarily feel better. We get a rush, a high. But we also associate comfort foods with memories from our childhoods—the dishes Mom used to make, or that we had at the holidays or special parties. Comfort foods often remind us of our social ties, say psychologists, and that means comfort foods tend to help us feel less alone.

Good ole mac ‘n’ cheese is a reliable comfort food and one of the best dishes to chase away winter blahs. And Luby’s Cafeterias have become synonymous with Texas comfort food dining since the 1920s, when Harry Luby opened his first cafeteria. So what better way to enjoy Texas comfort food than by making your own platter of Luby’s mac ‘n’ cheese in your Leland’s Cabins kitchen?

We like the simplicity of this recipe, which has just seven ingredients but produces infinite joys. The secret is in the shredded American cheese—three cups of it for gooey, delicious comfort on a cold winter’s night. You can make your own variations by adding jalapeno peppers for kick or breadcrumbs for crunchy goodness. But we at Leland’s believe in tradition, so we’ll stick with the good ole time-tested recipe for Luby’s Macaroni and Cheese.

Whatever soups, stews, or casseroles you prefer, we think there’s no better way to enjoy the winter months than tucking in tight with family and friends and enjoying the time spent together. Playing games, talking past midnight, sharing laughter, and especially enjoying meals together. There’s no greater comfort than that.

Stop by one of our Leland’s Cabins showrooms and let us give you a tour of our nine models of cabins. We’ll introduce you to the cabin that’s a perfect fit for your lifestyle, so you can start enjoying your winters—and springs, summers, and falls—with the people you love.