Still Nursing that Cold Weekend Special

stirring_the_potEarlier this week, I let everyone know that a cold had taken up residency in my chest and head. Well, it’s hunkered down and still there. I’m not sure how the weekend will pan out but I am hoping to join the Women’s March in Concord on Saturday. Whether I throw the covers over my head and cough my way through the weekend or feel well enough to head out and about, I’m going to need soup!

If you do too, here are a few ideas:

For many, Nana’s chicken soup is the only real cure for a cold. I hope you’ll consider one of my spiced up versions. My Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup and Curried Thai Soup with Noodles, Turkey (or Chicken) & Vegetables are both good choices.

For a different take on noodle soup, stir up a batch of my Raviolis in Broth with Turkey Meatballs & Greens or Tortellini en Brodo con Spinaci.

Not into noodles? How about my Mexican Chicken Soup?

Or think super foods with my Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup. It’s may be just the thing to build you back up.

Stay well and have a good weekend! Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

How are you spending the long holiday weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Feed a Cold? Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup

slippers_02As the last few days have progressed, it has become increasingly clear that a cold has finagled its way into my head and chest. If there is any doubt, I’ve got the cough, aches and pains to prove it. It’s all my dad’s fault. Yah, yah, I know, when in doubt blame the parents. In this case, it really is his fault. It was his cold to begin with.

Three or four years ago, my now ninety-year-old father moved the few miles between the house I grew up in and the one I live in now. As roommates go, he’s not a bad sort. We are two messy-messers but we agreed to hire someone to clean one morning a week. We both adore Sarah and Dad is very fond of my cooking.

Dad is remarkably hale and hearty and claims he never gets sick. That’s interesting (for lack of a better word) because he was recovering from a very serious illness when he moved down here. On top of that, over the past five years, he’s made numerous ambulance trips and spent more than a handful of nights at both New London Hospital and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. But as I like to say, “He’s ninety and good at it.”

After fighting a bit of a head cold for several days, the bug moved down into Dad’s chest. (It also jumped across the dinner table and into me.) A trip to the doctor and a dose of antibiotics seemed to slow it down; at least for a day or two. Unfortunately, Dad’s improvement was short-lived.

I guess I should have known. After all, it has been more than six months since his last hospital stay. Obviously, Dad was overdue for a visit with the EMTs, a ride in the ambulance and a few days in the hospital. As robust and healthy as he is, his chest cold had escalated into pneumonia. Let’s not forget, he is ninety (and he’s good at it.)

Perhaps if the nurses and LNAs weren’t so nice to him, he’d decide it wasn’t worth the trip. For his part, Dad charms the staff and they can’t help but be nice to him in return. Regardless of Dad’s charm, these women and men are phenomenal, as kind and caring as they are professional.

Anyway, as I started to say, between work and visits to the hospital, I’ve been nursing my own cold. Only problem, I can never remember, do you feed a cold or starve it. The same goes with a fever. And what the heck do you do if you have both a cold and a fever? Since I lost my thermometer more than a few years ago, I guess I don’t have to worry about that one. When in doubt, assume 98.6.

Since Dad comes home tomorrow, I’ll soon have two colds to worry about. I think I’ll go with feeding. A nice hot mug of soup sounds like a delicious cure for the sniffles.

Here’s to good health and bon appétit!

Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup
There is nothing like a mug of soup when you have a cold. Let the steam open your sinuses and the hearty goodness warm and heal you. Enjoy!
sweet_potato_red_lentil_soup_05Makes about 4 quarts

2 (about 1 1/2 pounds) sweet potatoes
Olive oil
2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon or to taste sriracha
2 cups red lentils
8-10 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Sea salt to taste
1 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
Grate zest and juice of 1 lime
Garnish: fresh chopped cilantro

Put the rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prick the sweet potatoes with a sharp knife. Bake at 450 degrees on a baking sheet until soft, 1–1 1/2 hours.

While the sweet potatoes bake, heat a little olive oil in a soup kettle over medium-high. Add the onion, celery and carrot, season with cumin and coriander and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and sriracha, and sauté for 2-3 minutes more.

Put the lentils in a sieve and rinse under cold, running water. Drain the lentils and add them to the vegetables and stir to coat and combine. Add 8 cups stock and the herbs, raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to very low and simmer the lentils for 30 minutes or until very tender. Season with salt.

As soon as they are cool enough to handle, halve the sweet potatoes, scoop out the flesh and it add to the lentils. Use a potato masher to break up the sweet potatoes and mix them into the soup. Or for a smoother soup, remove the bay leaf and thyme twigs and puree the soup with a handheld immersion blender or in the food processor .

Add the coconut milk and more stock if necessary to reach the desired consistency.

Can be made ahead to this point, covered, cooled to room temperature and refrigerated.

Reheat the soup to steaming, stir in the lime zest and juice, ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Tomato Soup
Two Years Ago – Savory Galette with Spinach, Mushrooms & Manchego
Three Years Ago – Mac & Cheese with Roasted Broccoli & Sun-dried Tomatoes
Four Years Ago – Red Bean Chili with Pork & Butternut Squash
Five Years Ago – Piri Piri Prawns
Six Years Ago – French Lentil Soup
Seven Years Ago – Spicy Chicken (or Turkey) Noodle Soup
Eight Years Ago – My Favorite Chili

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? What are your New Year’s resolutions? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Thaw to Freeze – We Love January (NOT) Special

pl_winter_01That’s the thing about January. One day its’ (relatively) warm and raining. The next it’s bright, sunny and arctic cold. This weekend, the cold creeps in again. So bundle up, strap on the skis or snowshoes and do your best to get out in the fresh air.

Afterwards, reward yourself with a delicious dinner with a few of your favorite people. Here are a few suggestions:

Start the evening with a delicious eggplant dip. Try my Baba Ganoush or Caponata with wedges pf warm pita bread or pita chips.

Sit down to the table with a fabulous salad. It’s probably been awhile (Thanksgiving? Halloween?) since you enjoyed my Mixed Greens with Warm Roasted Squash. Why not put it on the menu this weekend?

Next, cook up one of those family night classics. After all, home is the place we treat friends like family and family like friends. I’ve taken a few shortcuts and hope you’ll love my easy version of the Italian classic Tortellini en Brodo con Spinaci.

Stay with that homey theme through dessert. Think warm apples and spicy cinnamon. They may be homey but both my Apple Bread Pudding and Mini Tarte Tatin are delicious. Take your pick!

Have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

How are you spending the long holiday weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

A Magical Turn on the Ice & Tortellini en Brodo con Spinaci

pl_ice_17Looking back, we can all recall magical times. It could have been a day or a year when by some fantastic good fortune, everything came together. It could be as fleeting as a happy night on the beach, drinking beer with friends while the northern lights danced above. Perhaps a year in Spain or Montana still makes you smile. Maybe it was one unforgettable winter when your love life, job, haircut and the ski conditions were all spectacular.

About this time every year, I remember a few magical weeks on Pleasant Lake. It all started to come together in December. I was a senior in college. After taking my last final, I headed home to our little brown house in the woods near Pleasant Lake. Unlike past Christmas vacations, the week was not filled with glorious snow and fun on the ski slope. Snowmaking was still on the wish list at King Ridge and December reigned cold, calm and dry.

Like many schools, mine had what was called the January Plan. For about three weeks, at school or away, students worked on a special project. Some stayed on campus and watched movies; others went to Florida to count alligators or studied flora and fauna from a chairlift in France. Students loved it; their parents not so much. Dad still rants about the waste of time and money.

Anyway, it took three projects to graduate. Having done my three, I had a few extra weeks of vacation. I picked up a few bucks working the holiday rush and after-Christmas sale at a local clothing store. I slept late. Mom and I took a quick trip to Florida to check on my grandparents. All in all, it should have added up to a rather boring month.

Would have; except for the lake. While the snow drought put the kibosh on skiing, that combination of cold, calm and dry created something wonderful on Pleasant Lake. It was so cold that the lake quickly developed a thick layer of ice. It was so calm that the ice was as shiny and smooth as glass. It was so dry that there wasn’t a flake of snow or drop of rain to mottle the smooth surface. It was perfect.

A day or two after New Year’s, I found my skates and headed down to the beach. Mount Kearsarge loomed majestically over a massive expanse of ice. Almost two miles long and close to a mile wide, it was bigger than any rink and I had it all to myself.

Although cold, the sun was shining when I stepped onto the ice. After a few tentative glides, I found my skating legs and took off. It was exhilarating. Taking a turn around Blueberry Island, I skated from one end of the lake to the other. I explored nooks and crannies along the shore. The ice was so clear, I could almost see, or at least imagined I could see, trout swimming under my feet.

As beautiful as it was, the huge expanse of ice was also a bit terrifying. The ice warbled, creaked and groaned. Was something happening? Something I should know about? As I made my way down the lake, I came across long cracks in the ice. An art major, I knew nothing of the shifts that ice makes with changing temperatures. My active imagination wondered if one of those cracks might expand and swallow me. Active imagination or not, it was too glorious to stop so I continued skating.

The start of the new semester and the inevitable January thaw came much too soon. I headed back to school on a foggy, gray day. But somewhere packed among the clean clothes, Bean boots and ice skates, I brought along the lasting awe and wonder of a few magical weeks on the ice on Pleasant Lake.

Here’s to a magical New Year. Bon appétit!

Tortellini en Brodo con Spinaci
Pasta in a hearty broth is the perfect supper after a day on the ice. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1-2 carrots, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry white wine
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
About 12 cups chicken stock
1 rind from a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano* (optional)
2 pounds tortellini
12-16 ounces baby spinach
Garnish: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat a little olive oil in a soup kettle over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, season with paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes more.

Raise the heat to medium-high, stir in the wine and cook, stirring frequently until the wine has reduced by about half. Stir in the stock, add the herbs and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or longer.

Can be made ahead to this point, cooled to room temperature, covered and refrigerated.

Bring the broth to a rapid boil, add the tortellini and cook according to package directions.

Carefully transfer the tortellini to shallow bowls. Stir the spinach into the broth and cook until it wilts, 1-2 minutes. Ladle the broth and spinach over the tortellini and top with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

* While the Parmigiano-Reggiano rind is optional, it makes a world of difference!

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Spanish Stuffed Mushrooms
Two Years Ago – White Bean Soup with Sweet Potato and Wilted Greens
Three Years Ago – Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup
Four Years Ago – Mixed Greens Salad with Gorgonzola & Walnuts
Five Years Ago – Spanakopita Triangles
Six Years Ago – Braised Red Cabbage
Seven Years Ago – Apple Bread Pudding
Eight Years Ago – Root ‘n’ Tooty Good ‘n’ Fruity Oatmeal Cookies

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? What are your New Year’s resolutions? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

Welcome to January – A Cozy Dinner Special

Pleasant_Lake_Winter_MistBrrrr! It’s January, alright. In between a thaw or two or three, we can count on blistering, can’t feel my face cold. What to do? Cook cozy of course. Bake spicy muffins and cakes and stir up a stew or chowder or two. Then, invite friends over for a cozy evening.

Light a fire, open a bottle of wine and relax while dinner bubbles on the stove. Here are a few suggestions:

Everyone loves a little cheese with their wine. If you want to take it up a notch, whip up a batch of my Warm Gorgonzola with Caramelized Onions & Walnuts to start your evening.

Sit down to the table with a colorful salad. If you have not tried my Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette, please do!

Next, take a New England classic in a new direction. Chowder is a winter favorite in the northeast. My Spicy Shrimp Chowder might not be your Nana’s Chowder but it is just as delicious. (And spicier!)

Stay with the spicy theme through dessert. Think cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Both my Applesauce Cake with Brown Butter Icing and Carrot Cake are as cozy as they are delicious.

Have a great weekend! Bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

How are you spending the long holiday weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2017

A Kinder New Year & Spicy Shrimp Chowder

New_Years_EveMost pundits agree that 2016 was not a great year. Some would go so far as to call it a horrible, no good, very bad year. Who can blame them? After all, it was the year when a national debate deteriorated into a discussion on the size of a candidate’s hands. It was the year a foreign power hacked the electoral process and the price of an Epipen increased by 500 percent. From terrorist attacks in Brussels, Orlando, Nice and Berlin to the civil war in Syria, the horrors seemed endless.

Now, many of those same pundits are forecasting continued calamity in 2017. Unfortunately, they could be right. Faced with certain ugliness, is there something, anything you or I can do?

I suppose we could all shrug, claim impotence in a harsh world and go about our business. Instead of sitting back, I’d like to take a page or two from my mother’s playbook. I’d like to resolve to make 2017 a kinder year and invite you to join me.

It’s possible that all mothers have super powers. I don’t know. I can only speak for mine and her super power was her kindness. Mom died in early December after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. I don’t know if I will succeed in emulating her kind spirit, but it seems fitting to try. Here’s how we can all help create a kinder 2017:

Choose optimism. My mother had a beautiful smile and she wore it often. It’s hard to feel angry or pessimistic when you’re smiling. Unless you are some kind of narcissist or psychopath, it’s even harder to be mean or selfish when you’re smiling.

Be thankful. In an age of unmitigated materialism, it is easy to fall prey to envy. It didn’t matter if her glass was half-empty or half-full; Mom didn’t compare her lot with anyone else’s. She embraced her life and enjoyed it to the fullest.

Connect with people. My mother was a wonderful audience. She listened and laughed with you, cried with you, applauded your victories and commiserated over any setback. Instead of telling you what to do, Mom helped you discover your next, best steps.

Avoid judgments. Mom was full of opinions but was rarely judgmental. When it came to the people she loved, her opinions were overwhelmingly positive. As for strangers, young or old, from near or far, she approached them with an open mind and a warm heart.

Be yourself. Never domineering or condescending, Mom exuded strength and confidence. She encouraged her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to be exactly who they were. She marveled and took pride in the fact that each of us was so different; each our own person. She gave each of us unconditional love and inspired us to be our own best self.

Maya Angelou could have been speaking about Mom when she said,

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Through her kindness, my mother made people feel wonderful. Family, friends and even perfect strangers, she listened to our stories and laughed at our jokes. She encouraged and praised. She filled us with optimism and made our lives better.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and kinder new year. Bon appétit!

Spicy Shrimp Chowder
Although Mom was an unenthusiastic cook, she loved a good meal and an evening around the table with family and friends. Enjoy!
Serves 6

Olive oil
About 8 ounces sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1-2 carrots, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon (or to taste) chipotle chilies in adobo, mashed to a paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry sherry
5-6 cups broth – preferably a 50/50 mix of shrimp and vegetable or shrimp and chicken
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
About 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and halved
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
Grate zest and juice of 1 lime
Garnish: fresh chopped cilantro or chives

Heat a little olive oil in a soup kettle over medium heat. Add the sweet potato, onion, celery and carrot and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chipotle, season with cumin, salt and pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes more.

Raise the heat to medium-high, stir in the sherry and cook, stirring frequently until the sherry has reduced by about two-thirds. Stir in the broth and coconut milk, add the herbs and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove the chowder from the heat and cool to room temperature. Being careful to avoid the bay leaf and thyme twigs, remove about 2 cups of vegetables with a little broth and puree in a blender or food processor. Stir the puree back into the chowder and refrigerate for several hours or overnight to mix and meld the flavors.

To serve: bring the chowder to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, add the shrimp, corn and bell pepper and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and cooked through. Stir in the lime zest and juice, ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro or chives.

Print-friendly version of this post.

One Year Ago – Dhal (Lentils) with Roasted Cauliflower
Two Years Ago – Spiced Chai
Three Years Ago – Roasted Cauliflower, Radicchio & Arugula Salad
Four Years Ago – Old Fashioned Pot Roast
Five Years Ago – Pasta from the Pantry
Six Years Ago – Tartiflette – An Alpine Casserole with Cheese & Potatoes
Seven Years Ago – Four Cheese Lasagna Bolognese with Spinach
Eight Years Ago – Curried Chicken and Lentil Soup

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? What are your New Year’s resolutions? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2017

What’s Cooking? Christmas Special

Christmas_Tree_Fells_2015_01Are you in a panic? Wondering what to cook for Christmas? If that more or less describes your current state, you might ask, “What about you Susan? What are you cooking this Christmas weekend?”

I’m delighted to be cooking with my nieces again on Christmas Eve. We’ll be eight around the table. Seafood is traditional for the night before Christmas so that’s what we’ll be doing.

While a feast of seven fishes might be fun, we’ll keep it a lot simpler. Here what I’m thinking … a feast of a couple of fishes …

We’ll want a few things to nibble before dinner. I think Smoked Salmon Mousse sounds good. (I’ll check with the girlies – we may need to take it up a notch with a batch of Blinis with Smoked Salmon & Caviar.) I have some Sriracha Aioli and Tapenade on hand and I’ll get some veggies for dipping. And we’ll definitely want to roast some Rosemary Cashews.

A salad for the first course, kale sounds good. We’ll toss up a colorful combination healthy veggies with my Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad.

There will be shrimp for the main course. We could toss up a batch of Mediterranean Shrimp but I think we’ll roast the shrimp (but skip the Tarragon Aioli). Instead, we’ll stir up a creamy and delicious Lemon Risotto with Spinach & Herbs.

And for dessert? Chocolate of course. While I suppose with three or four women in the kitchen, all is subject to change. For now, Flourless Chocolate Cake is on the menu.

What about Christmas morning? While we are in the kitchen, we might as well prep a batch of Sticky Buns or bake a Cranberry Coffee Cake.

I will not be cooking Christmas dinner. If you are and still trying to decide what to cook … I’ve got two menus for you to peruse. In the meantime, I’m waiting for instructions or suggestions of what I can bring along to help.

Happy holidays and bon appétit!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What are your plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you. Let’s get a conversation going.

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! © Susan W. Nye, 2016