You know that in-between space where a movie requires a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate but it's before the holiday fanfare begins? Here are my favorite cold weather movies that you can watch on Netflix right now. IMPORTANT CLARIFICATION FIRST. Cold weather movies do not necessarily equal cozy ones. Gloomy fits, too.
World War Z
I know; you don't like zombies. It doesn't matter. This movie is AWESOME. It's a little dark in feel which makes it better for a winter, and it's the most entertained and surprised I've been by a movie in an embarrassing length of time. It's totally fascinating and fun, and it needs to be on your queue this winter.
A little cheesy, a lot predictable, but oh so good and such a good time-waster on a cold Wednesday. Tom Cruise is a charming young lawyer who sweats a lot (I mean A LOT) and is wooed by a law firm that looks perfect on the outside but has Southern skeletons in the closet. Tom is cast alongside Holly Hunter, David Strathairn, Ed Harris, Gene Hackman, and Jeanne Tripplehorn in a Grisham thriller that just feels right on a gray winter night. Plus we get to see Gary Busey practically play himself, and he's CRAZY. Grab popcorn and a blanket, and make it happen.
The Man From Snowy River
Stop it. Hallmark movies WISH they could be this cool. Snowy River is the story of Jim, a young man suddenly without a father who takes a job on a cattle ranch where he learns lessons about life, love, and super ornery horses. Jim is super sexy, constantly dirty which contrasts nicely with the white henley he always wears, and Kirk Douglas is great as the domineering ranch owner. It's also full of Australian accents, so WINNING.
Don't be steered wrong by the love interest, Jessica. She's a terrible actress and not even that cute, but it puts you in the perfect position to pretend that you're her because I'll bet you a cupcake you can act better than she can.
Phoebe in Wonderland
This is kind of a weird one, but give it a chance. An adorable Elle Fanning plays an imaginative, stifled young girl who seeks liberation from her world of rules via an eccentric teacher. She makes friends with characters and is all around a weird kid that my school-counselor husband would spend a lot of time with, BUT as a movie? It's dear. Colorful, interesting, well acted (Elle is magic), and the score is on point. Some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard in a movie. Because there's melancholy paired with the whimsy, it makes perfect sense in the winter.
NOT for everyone. Let's say that first. It's pretty violent in places, and the language can be intense during equally intense scenes. That said, it's a fascinating movie, and Chris Evans in a toboggan is everything.
It's a couple of decades from now, and world governments have released a chemical into the atmosphere to stop global warming. Instead of stopping its effects, however, the world froze over, killing all but a small number of people who are on a train that never stops. The rich are in the front, the poor are in the back, and you know that won't last long.
I mean, it's soooo fascinating. Beautifully shot, a great score, beyond-eccentric performances, and some really moving nuanced scenes. I'm shocked that it didn't get attention during awards season. Granted, the ending is kind of a head scratcher, but it's still worth seeing. And the word SNOW is in the title. No brainer.
This is one of those slow historical movies that can't be watched when it's warm outside. Again, the word cold is in the title. Another given that you watch this while wearing fleece.
Nicole Kidman is beautiful with a weird accent, and Jude Law is even more beautiful and barely says a word with his mouth but a LOAD with his eyes. I'm calling it; a paint color called "The Eyes of Jude" would be the top seller. We're talking hella sexy. It's a beautiful movie with a sweet but sad story, and it's meant to be enjoyed in the winter. Even though Jude should be appreciated in all seasons amen.
Again, all of these are on Netflix which everyone must have by now, so get cozy and be entertained.
In eight seasons, i.e. 192 super dramatic whisper-yelly hours, Jack Bauer never ate a bite. Apparently when you're saving your daughter, the president, and the world with only a gun, a com unit, and PTSD, you tend to forget to eat.
You, my friend, are not Jack Bauer. But close. Instead of saving the world, you're saving your world. Wife, mom, employee, friend... no matter your title, sometimes eating gets the shaft in the wake of more urgent matters.
This? SHALL. NOT. STAND.
We need a go-to, y'all, Chloe-like in dependability that will make us more qualified to do our jobs. This muffin is totally that. Make a big batch to freeze, and you'll always have a nutritious and tasty bite on-the-go.
Full of whole-grain flours, unrefined sweeteners, bananas, carrots, apples, walnuts, flax, and healthy fats, you're basically eating a green smoothie in muffin form. (Minus the greens but whatever.) You'll notice a higher number of ingredients than most muffin recipes, but we're packing a lot of goodness into these. Otherwise, Jack might pass out and the world will explode.
They're barely sweet, hearty, perfect with an egg and fruit at breakfast, and surprisingly satisfying. True story I eat one every morning. I vouch for them with the passion of a thousand Jacks.
Jack Bauer Power Muffins
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (you can also use whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, spelt flour, or any combination equal to 2 cups)
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 large carrots peeled and grated
- 1 large apple peeled, cored, and grated
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 3 large eggs
- 2 ripe bananas mashed
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 1/4 cup brown rice syrup (if you don't have/can't find this, use the same amount of agave nectar, honey, coconut sugar, or any natural sweetener you like)
- 1/4 cup agave nectar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
// INGREDIENT NOTE //
Use a food processor for the carrots, apples, and walnuts. Grate the produce first and then chop the nuts. Or chop them all if you only want to dirty one attachment. I've tried both ways, and both work. Do yo thang, gurl.
HOW TO MAKE THEM
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grab two muffins tins, and either spray them with cooking spray or line with muffins liners. Also? Make sure you spray the top of your muffin tin regardless; your muffins won't stick to the pan and spread out. Same goes for cupcakes by the way.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, flaxseed, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and ginger. Add the carrots, apple, coconut, and walnuts and stir until combined.
- In a small bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, bananas, coconut oil, olive oil, brown rice syrup, agave nectar, and vanilla. Measure your oils first followed by your sweeteners; they'll "fall out" of the measuring cup much easier.
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until barely blended. Muffins get super wonky if you beat them too much.
- Fill muffins pans about 1/2-2/3 full of batter (I use a food scoop so it's quick and equal), and bake in the preheated oven for 13-17 minutes. The range depends on the type of pan and how accurate your oven temperature is. Once the tops look done, stick a toothpick inside the biggest muffin. If it comes out clear of batter, you're done.
This recipe makes a 30 muffins. It's a shame that it doesn't make exactly 24, but you know. Can't win 'em all.
Now eat a muffin, and go save your world.
If I were to ask you to list off a handful of shows, books, or movies that you're emotionally attached to, you could do it faster than Honey Boo Boo can eat a cupcake, right? It's not hard to think of those characters that shape our view of family, that give us companionship during a lonely time, or that simply give us dancing eye candy for days.
But what about the next tier down? What about those movies we watched and loved but never watched again? The book that was so entertaining that rainy October weekend but you can't remember the name of it now? That show that when you catch it on TV, you say, "I forgot how great this show is!"
ER. NewsRadio. Driving Miss Daisy. Gilmore Girls. Once. You know they're great, but you forget how great until you happen to stumble across them while doing laundry. And then you can't stop watching until the thing is over. Good luck if it's a season one episode of a nine-season show because you now have new binge fodder.
We do that with food, too. A piece of milk chocolate used as a spoon for some peanut butter. Scrambled eggs with salsa. Sliced radishes on heavily buttered toast. I'm always surprised at how these simple foods escape me, how I head for albeit delicious but slightly complex citrus lavender pound cake when there's something far more simple just inside the refrigerator door.
Let's make a pact this weekend, shall we? Let's revive a simple and forgotten something or other - a show we haven't watched in years, a dinner we used to love as a younger cooler person, that board game that is always best in the moment than in the closet - something simple that hasn't gotten the proper attention in awhile.
For me, it's Gilmore Girls and chocolate ice cream. I know. It's such a hard life. But I've been on a dark TV show kick in recent months - Breaking Bad, Luther, True Detective, The Walking Dead - and because of my fantastic day job of making Sugar Boxes, there's always some kind of confection in the house, preventing me from the ever present, pleasantly patient chocolate ice cream in the freezer. I think they both deserve a little extra love.
So what do you say? What forgotten thing will you revive this weekend?
1. Having food = having friends.
Lorelai's "Make Friends Your First Night in the Dorm" game is on point. You order takeout from everywhere, rank the hotness of the delivery boys, and turn it into a chart like a beautiful genius. Granted, we all don't have wads of cash to spend on friend-bait food (Lorelai didn't either, but we won't begrudge the writers an awesome storyline). Still, you can't fight the truth that food brings people together.
2. The best boyfriends feed you. Always.
No matter where you are, what you're doing, or what you're eating, a good boyfriend accommodates the need without complaint.
3. When you watch a movie, you don't just watch the movie.
The Gilmores would've loooooved The Sugar Box. Sitting down to watch something shouldn't just be a tired default. Sometimes, it can be really special. Never shy away from the fanfare, and make it an experience.
4. Skip fancy first dates.
We were so excited when Sookie and Jackson went on their first date, but then it was to a fancy French restaurant with swan-shaped butter on the table. Let's quietly back away.
First dates should be easy and low pressure despite what The Bachelor has told us. If your first date involves a helicopter, a personal Kenny Chesney concert, or butter swans, run. The guy is more interested in impressing you than getting to know you.
Also, avoid dates with guys named Rune.
5. Naming food isn't weird.
Do you name stuff in your kitchen? Because I promise you're not insane. If Sookie can do it, the freedom is ours. My mixers are named Betsy and Fassy. When I cream butter and sugar, I encourage them like they're my kids on field day. I once threw a party where I made nine different carrot cakes and assigned them all personalities. Thank you, Sookie, for making us look a little less crazy.
6. Food is better than exercise.
Just be real about it. Exercise if you want, but don't you dare pretend that you like it more than you like a brownie or magical fruit cobbler. Because we all know you're lying.
7. A breakup isn't a breakup until you eat the world.
If we needed a class on eating your feelings, the Gilmore Girls would be Professors Emeritus. They know how to drown their sorrows in ice cream and Chinese food like no one on TV before them.
8. Food traditions can be a pain.
If your tradition is more about obligation than togetherness, it's a tradition worth breaking. Unless you're having to pay back a financial gift in the form of social obligations to an overwrought Talbots-wearing mother. Then you might have to stick it out.
Also, I will never understand how Lorelai and Rory furnished such a saturated Friday Night Dinner wardrobe. It wasn't until recently that I bought my third dress. That means I only had two for a solid five years. Emily Gilmore would never have stood for two rotating dresses. I would've been kicked out of the family immediately.
9. Local spots always win.
Wouldn't we all want to spend every day having breakfast at Luke's? I love that the show was bookended with the girls eating at that sweet Stars Hollow diner. Having a place to go, a place that isn't Applebee's or Red Lobster, is one of the overlooked joys of life. Find a handful of local spots that you love, and go to them as often as you can.
10. Jess is everything.
Wait, what were we talking about?