How to Avoid a Power Outage & Chicken Soup Florentine

When we were little kids, an approaching snowstorm was cause for excitement. With any luck, school would be cancelled. Yes, we did love those snow days. As it so happens, I still do. Com’on, who doesn’t like to spend the day in leggings and a ratty, no-longer-allowed-in-public turtleneck?

Now, I grew up in suburbia where power outages were rare. A snow day meant we could hang out in our PJs and watch television or read books until Mom sent us outside to build a snowman. As a would-be grownup, I can still hang out but a movie binge only works if the power stays on.

My neighborhood generally loses power a couple times a year. It happens when heavy snow takes down a tree which in turn takes down a power line. Sometime, instead of snow, a monster wind knocks them down. Or a frigid rain leaves a thick coat of ice on the lines, causing them to snap. Finally, and thankfully less frequently, some yahoo drives too fast and takes out a pole.

Just like a kid with inside-out and backwards PJs and ice cubes down the toilet, I’ve developed a series of rituals to ensure the lights stay on in spite of an approaching storm. I suppose none of this would be necessary if I invested in a generator but what’s the fun in that?

These rituals are not foolproof but, heck, they worked for the last two storms. Feel free to join me. For any hope of success, you must complete all the steps. The order doesn’t matter but completeness does. Just think, you might save your neighborhood from a power outage. Here goes:

Have the power company’s number handy so you’re ready to call the minute the lights go out.

Fill at least three large buckets with water. You’ll need it to refill the toilet after flushing. Fill several jugs or pitchers with water for drinking and cooking.

Run the dishwasher – even half-full. You’ll want plenty of clean dishes if the power goes out.

Do any urgent laundry. Of course, you define urgent but, if it were me and I was down to my last pair of leggings, I’d do a load.

Take a nice long shower. You want to be clean too.

Rummage around and locate every flashlight in the house. Check the batteries and stock up as needed.

Have candles ready as well as matches. Dinner, even in a power outage, tastes better by candlelight.

Don’t be left incommunicado – charge your phone. While you’re at it, charge your tablet and laptop.

Make soup. Whether the snow is gently falling or the wind is howling, there is nothing like curling up in front of the fire with a good book and a mug of soup.

And, just in case the power stays out for a couple of day … have plenty of wine on hand.

It worked last week. Hopefully, it will next time! Bon appétit!

Chicken Soup Florentine
Lights on or off, this delicious soup is great on a cold, winter evening. Enjoy!
Serves 8

Olive oil
1 1/2-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Pinch or to taste dried pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 or more quarts chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind* (optional)
1 pound whole mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1 pound baby spinach

Heat a little olive oil in a large soup kettle over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken, 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from the pot and reserve.

If necessary, add a little more olive oil to the pot. Add the onion, celery and carrot, sprinkle with thyme and pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more.

Return the chicken to the pot, add the stock, wine and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut or shred it into bitesize pieces.

Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a skillet, add the mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned.

Return the chicken to the pot and add the mushrooms. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.

This soup is best when made in advance to this point. If you have the time, cool the soup to room temperature and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

If the soup is too thick, add more stock. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the spinach and stir to combine and wilt. Simmer for 2-3 minutes and serve.

* Adding a piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano rind will add flavor and richness to your soup.

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One Year Ago – Orecchiette with Cauliflower & Bacon
Two Years Ago – Romaine & Radicchio Caesar Salad
Three Years Ago – Sausages with White Beans
Four Years Ago – Chocolate Panna Cotta
Five Years Ago – Turkey Scaloppini with Prosciutto & Sage
Six Years Ago – Cheese Fondue
Seven Years Ago – Flatbread with Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions & Spinach
Eight Years Ago – Tuscan White Bean Soup
Nine Years Ago – Wild Mushroom Risotto
Ten Years Ago – Swimming Pool Jello

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

What are your favorite snow day rituals? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

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Valentine Fun Facts & Ruby Sparkler

Happy Valentine’s Day! This week marks our annual celebration of sweethearts and love. But wait a minute – is the middle of winter really the best time for romance? And what’s with the cards, chocolate and roses? Here are a few fun facts to sort out Valentine’s Day:

  • While New Hampshire is still in a deep freeze, February heralds the start of spring in warmer climates. For the ancient Romans, it was a time for love and fertility. Festivals for Juno (the goddess of women and marriage) and Lupercus (the god of health and fertility) were celebrated in mid-February.
  • So then, why not Juno Day? Who was Valentine? Not much is known except that he was an ancient priest, martyr and saint. To add to the mystery, there are a couple of saints by the same name. Their stories are vague and time has mingled and muddled the details.
  • These shadowy figures share one thing – their support of love and marriage. Legend has it that one or the other Valentine boldly defied Emperor Claudius II. In an effort to boost army enlistment, the expansion-minded Roman ruler outlawed marriage. Unable to stand by while young lovers’ hearts were breaking, Valentine performed secret wedding cermonies. He was beheaded for his romantic deeds. Is it a coincident that he was executed on February 14?
  • Legend suggests that Valentine fell head over heels for his jailor’s daughter. On the morning of his execution, the smitten priest sent a note to his sweetheart and signed it, “Love from your Valentine.” Whether the story is true or not, it started something. These days, Americans send close to 200 million Valentine’s Day cards every year.
  • Speaking of cards, the industrious Esther Howland founded the first commercial Valentine’s card company in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1849. Her elaborate, handmade cards helped her grow the business to $100,00 in annual sales.
  • Roses are a lovely Valentine’s Day gift. Perhaps it is because red roses were the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Millions, as in 224 million, roses find their way into bouquets on this romantic holiday.
  • Long considered an aphrodisiac, chocolate is a delicious gift choice. The brilliant idea of selling chocolates in heart shaped boxed began in the 19th century with British chocolatier Richard Cadbury. This year, thirty-six million sweethearts will be happy to receive a heart shaped box of chocolates.
  • Or forget the chocolate. Jewelry ranks high on the list of favorite Valentine’s Day gifts. As for diamonds – they are a girl’s best Valentine. About six million future grooms will pop the question on February 14.

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and bon appétit!

Ruby Sparkler
Start your intimate evening with your Valentine with a special cocktail and let the sparks fly. Enjoy!
Makes 2 cocktails

2 ounces pomegranate juice, chilled
2 ounces Grand Marnier, chilled
8 ounces champagne or prosecco, chilled

Combine the pomegranate juice and Grand Marnier in small pitcher or mason jar and stir or shake to combine.

Divide the mix between two champagne flutes.

Carefully fill each glass with champagne and serve.

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Five Years Ago – Coq au Vin
Six Years Ago – Crostini with Beef Tenderloin & Stilton
Seven Years Ago – Flatbread with Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions & Spinach
Eight Years Ago – Lemon Cheesecake
Nine Years Ago – Pork Tenderloin with Mushrooms
Ten Years Ago – Raviolis in Broth with Meatballs & Escarole

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

How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

’Tis the Season for … Pasta & Gnocchi with Mushroom & Bacon Ragù

Winter is a great time for pasta. So much so that I seem to find a lovely bowl of warm and wonderful spaghetti, gnocchi or tortellini on my table at least a few times a week. I know the anti-carb lobby does not approve but there is something ever-so-cozy about pasta. Admit it, there’s nothing better on a cold winter night. Damp and rainy cold or polar vortex cold, it doesn’t matter – pasta is the answer.

Of course, you’ll never get bored because the variety of shapes and sizes is endless. It’s not just the hundreds of possible choices to throw in the boiling pot. The list of sauces goes on forever as well. Why – I bet you could enjoy a different dish every night for year without a single repeat.

When it comes to homemade pasta, I find that one thing leads to another. A batch of ravioli inspires a nest of tagliatelle. The same goes for gnocchi. I’ve no sooner served up a hearty platter of potato gnocchi that my brain starts to spin with new recipes. Spinach, butternut squash or what about roasted beet gnocchi? When was the last time you had a purple dinner?

Anyway, pillowy-soft gnocchi, tantalizing tortellini or a simply delicious fettucine, they all need a fabulous sauce. As kids, the only one to grace our table was a hearty Bolognese. However, we were in no way fancy enough to call it that. To us, it was simply Spaghetti Sauce. And by the way, my mother, who really never liked to cook, simmered up a mean Bolognese.

Eventually, I learned there was more to Italian cooking then a great red sauce. Given my penchant for pasta during the winter months, that’s a good thing, a very good thing. After a long day, if you have an urgent need for a cozy meal, consider pasta and any of the following for a quick and easy sauce:

  • Leftover roasted vegetables topped with browned butter and toasted hazelnuts are a wonderful combination – try butternut squash or cauliflower
  • For an early taste of spring, sauté asparagus, snow peas and spinach and drizzle with fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil
  • Cacio e Pepe – made with butter, cracked pepper and cheese – it’s the minimalist’s answer to Mac & Cheese
  • Sauté your favorite spicy sausage with broccoli rabe and garlic and finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon
  • Simmer garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes in olive oil, wine and lemon and add clams
  • Sauté some onion with lots of garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, add crushed tomatoes and simmer before adding shrimp, olives and a few capers
  • Whirl up a batch of bright green pesto with basil or your favorite herbs plus a sprinkle of cheese and nuts
  • Chop up a green sauce of spinach, herbs, olives and capers – finish with a touch of lemon and garlic
  • Anything with cream including just cream and cheese
  • Anything with bacon

The possibilities are endless. Bon appétit!

Gnocchi with Mushroom & Bacon Ragù
Last week’s column featured homemade Cheesy Potato Gnocchi. For a cozy supper, toss the gnocchi in an easy sauce of bacon and mushrooms. Enjoy!
Serves 6

1 1/2 pounds gnocchi,* homemade or store bought
6 ounces thick cut bacon, chopped
Olive oil
1 1/2 pounds whole mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cognac
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/4-1/2 cup half & half (optional)
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

If making homemade gnocchi, prepare the gnocchi.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and place over medium heat. Add the bacon and, stirring occasionally, cook until the bacon just starts to brown. Add the mushrooms and onion, sprinkle with rosemary and thyme, season with salt and pepper and sauté for 5-8 minutes. When the mushrooms start to brown, add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes more.

Add the wine, stir in the mustard and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cognac. Return the skillet to the stove, stir and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add the broth and simmer until reduced by half. Reduce the heat to very low to keep warm.

Cook the gnocchi according to directions.

Use a spider or slotted spoon to add the gnocchi to the mushrooms and gently toss to combine. If the mixture seems dry, add the half & half or a little pasta water and toss again. Cover and cook on medium heat for 1 minute.

Transfer the gnocchi to shallow bowls and serve with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

* if you don’t have homemade gnocchi in the house, the ragù will be just as delicious with tortellini or fettuccine.

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One Year Ago – Pa Jun – Savory Korean Pancakes
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Five Years Ago – Sour Cream Cupcakes with White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting
Six Years Ago – White Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Coulis & Fresh Raspberries
Seven Years Ago – Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets & Lentils
Eight Years Ago – Chicken Niçoise
Nine Years Ago – Greek Pizza
Ten Years Ago – Triple Threat Brownies

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

What are your favorite dishes to cook up on a cold winter day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

Winter in New England & Cheesy Potato Gnocchi

Oh yes, we think we are soooo clever when we quote Mark Twain and tell visitors, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.” Among ourselves, we don’t find anything funny about below freezing temperatures, fifty mile an hour wind gusts or torrential rain in January. As for those January monsoons, they are particularly unfunny when followed by plummeting temperatures. While many of us like to ice skate, we prefer to do it on a lake or pond; not the post office parking lot.

Now let’s be clear, when it comes to New England weather, you can rant and rave as much as you want. You can complain; you can pout but throwing a tantrum will not change a darn thing. Your childish outburst will have zero influence on Mother Nature. Take note, that’s MOTHER Nature. Mothers have been there and done that. From a meltdown in Macy’s to a tantrum over a Tyrannosaurus Rex t-shirt, mothers have seen it all and are rarely daunted. Save your strength for battling the elements. Your fit of temper won’t phase her.

Unfortunately, calm negotiations won’t either. Mother Nature is a stubborn sort when it comes to winter in the northeast. So, what to do? How about …

Live in layers. Make every day Throwback Thursday and channel Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. Hey, it was a look and I for one was a big fan. I think I may still have a bowler hat somewhere. Anyway, start with a turtleneck, layer on flannel shirt, top with a sweater of some sort and finish it off with a big, wooly cardigan. Add a pair of long johns, sometimes two, underneath your trousers to keep your legs warm. For those feet, leave the city boots in the closet. You’ll want heavy snow boots and wool socks. Don’t forget your hat and gloves.

Latch on to a winter hobby. Indoors or out, find something that is best done in winter. Something like, setting a goal to become the world’s greatest baker. Winter is the perfect time. Who wants to turn on the oven in the middle of summer? No one. Or take up snowshoeing and enjoy the peace and quiet of the woods after a storm. Start a movie club and vow to see all the nominees before Oscar night. Then, host an Oscar party.

Stay in shape. Who knows, maybe an old friend will surprise you with a free trip to Hawaii. You’ll want to be ready to don a swimsuit at a moments notice. Besides, you’ll feel much better, mentally and physically, if you get some exercise. If you hate the cold, switch it up and try an aerobics class or climb a rock wall. Your mood and your thighs will thank you.

Beware of ruts and doldrums. A change of scenery will do you a world of good. Get out of town and visit an ice castle, see a show or spend an afternoon wandering through a museum. You don’t need to travel far. Up to Hanover or down to Concord should do it. Before or after your adventure, treat yourself to a lovely lunch or dinner.

Make something warm and wonderful. If you are yarn person, knit a magnificent hat. A foodie? Try something new in the kitchen. Want a cozy spot to relax and read? Make your living room more inviting by rearranging the furniture and adding a few homey accessories.

And remember, spring will come eventually. Stay warm and dry. Bon appétit!

Cheesy Potato Gnocchi
There is nothing better than delicious comfort food at the end of a dreary winter day. Serve the gnocchi with your favorite sauce or roasted vegetables and browned butter. Enjoy!
Makes about 1 1/2 pounds (5-6 servings)

1 large (about 12 ounces) baking potato
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 large egg
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4-1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prick the potato 3-4 times and bake at 375 degrees until tender, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, put the ricotta and egg in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses, sprinkle with thyme, season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Let the potato cool for about 10 minutes. Cut the potato in half and scoop out the flesh. Run the potato through a ricer. If you don’t have a ricer, mash with a fork.

Put the riced potato in bowl and fold in the cheeses and egg mixture. Add the flour and stir until a soft dough forms. Gently knead the dough on a floured surface.

Divide the dough into 4 balls. Working on a floured surface, roll the dough balls into ropes about 3/4-inch thick. Cut the ropes into pieces 3/4-1-inch long. Place the gnocchi on baking sheets lined with parchment or wax paper.

Can be made a few hours ahead, covered and refrigerated until ready to cook. Or freeze on the baking sheet, transfer to a container or resealable plastic bag and store in the freezer. Do not defrost before cooking.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, simmer until they rise to the surface and then continue simmering for 2 minutes.

Serve the gnocchi with your favorite sauce and a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and/or Pecorino Romano cheese.

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One Year Ago – Penne alla Vodka
Two Years Ago – Oven Braised Chicken Cacciatore
Three Years Ago – Poverty Casserole
Four Years Ago – Roasted Cauliflower
Five Years Ago – Savory Blinis
Six Years Ago – Lettuce Cups with Shrimp & Noodles
Seven Years Ago – Caribbean Black Beans
Eight Years Ago – Mac & Cheese with Cauliflower & Bacon
Nine Years Ago – Chocolate Mousse
Ten Years Ago – Shrimp & Feta

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

What are your favorite dishes to cook up on a cold winter day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

A Cozy Dinner Party & Oven Braised Lemon-Rosemary Chicken with Vegetables

When was the last time you hosted a dinner party? Not a potluck or chili and beer on football night and definitely not a mountain of fast food piled up for a championship buffet. No, I’m asking about a real, honest to goodness, sit at the table and enjoy each other’s company dinner party. Perhaps you had the family over for Thanksgiving or Christmas but what about your friends and neighbors? In case it hasn’t occurred to you, winter is a great time for a dinner party.

Here are a few reasons why –

It’s been too long. A few weeks or a few years, I’ll let you define how long is too long since you set your table for an evening of good food, wine and conversation.

Baby, it’s cold outside. There’s been a definite chill in the air lately – as in hovering-around-zero-type chill. Can you think of a better time to spend a few hours in the kitchen?

Slow cooking, comfort foods are perfect for winter and entertaining. These dishes simmer in the oven allowing you to relax with your guests. A cozy classic is perfect on a cold night.

So why the hesitation? Perhaps you have visions of Elizabeth Taylor taunting Richard Burton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I promise you, most guests are very well behaved. If you run across one who’s not, well then, don’t invite him next time. Or her.

Still hesitating? Don’t. You can do this; you can throw a fabulous dinner party. Here are a few suggestions –

Be realistic. Do you remember when cassoulet was all the rage at winter dinner parties? A big part of the allure was that it took three days to prepare. However, that was then and we are now well into the twenty-first century. Three days toiling in the kitchen is not (and never has been) a prerequisite for fabulous.

Less is more and balance is good. Yes, a beautifully prepared five course dinner is nothing short of spectacular. All those little plates are delightful. However, part of the magic of entertaining in the wintertime is that oh-so delicious and cozy one-pot supper. Keep it simple or simple-ish. When in doubt, pare down the menu. If you make a wonderfully complex stew, don’t follow it with your richest, most complicated dessert.

Make a plan and map out a timeline. Least you forget something – like shoveling the walk – grab a pen and piece of paper and write it done. Make a few notes on what to do when. Be honest. Don’t pretend you can get the stew prepped and in the oven in all of five minutes. Allow yourself ample time to relax and appreciate the Zen of chopping.

Wishing you delicious fun with friends, stay warm and bon appétit!

Oven Braised Lemon-Rosemary Chicken with Vegetables
Chicken simmered with vegetables in wine with lemon and rosemary are sure to become a favorite one-dish wonder. Enjoy!
Serves 8

8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
8 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
4 carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, cut in thin wedges
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
Olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups or more chicken stock or broth
3/4 cup or more dry white wine
1 bay leaf

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a roasting pan large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer in the oven for 10 minutes.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place it skin-side down in the hot roasting pan. Return the pan to the oven and roast at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

While the chicken cooks, put the vegetables in a bowl, drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat and toss to combine. Sprinkle with half of the rosemary and thyme, season with salt and pepper and toss again.

Put the mustard and lemon zest in a bowl, whisking constantly slowly add the lemon juice, stock and wine.

Remove the chicken from the oven, turn the pieces and sprinkle with the remaining rosemary and thyme. Add the liquid ingredients and the bay leaf and scatter the vegetables around the chicken. Return the pan to the oven.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue roasting, adding more wine and broth if necessary, for 45 minutes-1 hour or until the chicken is cooked-through and golden and the vegetables are tender.

Transfer the vegetables to a large platter or individual plates, top with the chicken and serve.

You can time this dish to add the vegetables a few minutes before your guests arrive. Then, let dinner simmer while you catch up and enjoy a glass of wine. Or make ahead, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Adding more wine and broth if necessary, reheat in a 350-degree oven until bubbling and piping hot.

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Two Years Ago – Chocolate-Hazelnut Bars
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Five Years Ago – Chicken, Sausage & Bean Ragù
Six Years Ago – Spicy Tequila Chicken Wings
Seven Years Ago – Caribbean Black Beans
Eight Years Ago – Fettuccine with Escarole, Radicchio & Mushrooms
Nine Years Ago – Cassoulet
Ten Years Ago – Caribbean Fish Stew

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

What are your favorite dishes to cook up on a cold winter day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

A Cooking Marathon & Roasted Cauliflower-Cheddar Soup

What a strange winter it has been? Well, strange so far, it ain’t over yet. Yes, we New Englanders like to joke about snowsuits at Halloween. However, what we don’t tell the rest of the world, the snow rarely piles up and it usually melts within a day, maybe two. This year the snow held off until November but it kept coming and coming and coming. Kept coming until December which was unusually warm and rainy instead of snowy.

Now, what will the rest of the winter bring us? Mercifully, January has not given us a whole lot of it’s typical frozen tundra-type temperatures. That said, it could be me but, so far at least, it feels like the month has brought way too many cloudy days. Sure, we’ve had some sun and a couple of real, plowable storms but, mostly, we’ve been plagued with gray skies and what I call nuisance snow.

Since I’m a skier, you might wonder how I could consider any snow a nuisance. Let me explain. Nuisance snow is that inch of fluffy white stuff. It comes with a miserable dampness that makes it feel colder than the actual temperature. Furthermore, that skim of snow is quickly beaten into the pavement and is as slick as ice. In other words, it’s both uncomfortable and an accident waiting to happen.

But when the going gets rough, the tough get cooking! And when it’s really rough, it’s time for a cooking marathon.

Take for instance the other day. I was headed to the supermarket for a gallon of milk. That’s all I really needed. It was snowing so it was slowing going up the hill. As I inched my way to town, a whole bunch of tasty would-be recipes began floating around head. By the time I pulled into the snowy parking lot, I had a list a mile long. In the less than ten minute drive, I developed a hankering for both eggplant and cauliflower. I was betwixt and between curry, an over-indulgent Greek casserole and New England style soup.

Lucky for me, eggplant was on sale and the cauliflower was a beautiful, creamy white. No need to choose, I bought them both plus some greens, a couple of onions and garlic. I remembered the cilantro for curry but forgot the ginger root. And oops, the cheddar for the cauliflower soup. It’s tough to keep track when you shop without a list. A second trip to the supermarket and I was ready to spend a few afternoons in the kitchen.

Here’s how these marathons usually work. First, I get two or three interesting dishes or ideas stuck in my head. Then, I buy too much food. Next, I mull over ingredients and spices and whether to roast, braise, sauté or simmer. More often than not, it’s usually a combination.

At some point, the mulling stops and chopping begins. For the next few days, usually a weekend, I’ll cook enough to feed an army of foodies. As I put things together, I scribble out the list of ingredients and make notes of temperatures and timings. That’s one of the challenges of sharing recipes. You have to write them down.

On the other hand, the best part is inviting guinea pigs over to sample the results. Of course, they generally have to put up with a mini photoshoot. I like to photograph new recipes. Plus, not every dish is a brilliant success. Hopefully, the wine and company make up for any flops.

Wishing you a delicious 2019, stay warm and bon appétit!

Roasted Cauliflower-Cheddar Soup
What could be better than soup on a cold winter evening. Roasting the vegetables gives this soup a rich, deep flavor. Enjoy!
Serves 8

About 1 1/2 pounds cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets
1-2 red potatoes, about 8 ounces, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks, cut in thirds
1 large onion, cut in eighths
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
8-12 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth
1 cup half and half (optional)
1 bay leaf
About 6 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
Garnish: fresh chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the vegetables in a large roasting pan, drizzle with enough equal parts olive oil and vinegar to lightly coat, sprinkle with thyme and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and coat.

Stirring and tossing 2-3 times, roast at 375 for about 30 minutes. Add 4 cups of stock, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and return to the oven for 15 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Remove from the oven and cool for about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the vegetables with a little stock in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Put the cauliflower puree into a soup pot, add the remaining stock and bay leaf and place on the stovetop. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the half and half and cheddar and reheat to steaming.

If you have the time, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Reheat on medium low.

To serve: ladle the soup into bowls or mugs, garnish with chives and serve.

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Five Years Ago – Mac & Cheese with Roasted Broccoli & Sun-dried Tomatoes
Six Years Ago – Red Bean Chili with Pork & Butternut Squash
Seven Years Ago – Piri Piri Prawns
Eight Years Ago – French Lentil Soup
Nine Years Ago – Spicy Chicken (or Turkey) Noodle Soup
Ten Years Ago – My Favorite Chili

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

What are your favorite dishes to cook up on a cold winter day? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

The ABC’s of Resolution & Roasted Butternut Squash & Chickpea Salad with Tahini Vinaigrette

It’s been a week since the clock struck twelve and pushed us into 2019. I suppose that means it’s past time to think about resolutions. It’s always a bit of a bother. You promise yourself to take on some herculean task. All the while, you know you probably won’t see it through.

Instead of highfalutin goals, let’s take a run through the alphabet and see what we come up with. It has to be easier than climbing Kilimanjaro or winning a Pulitzer prize.

Appreciate all that’s good in your world. A little gratitude will brighten a dark day.
Be present to those around you. Put the d#$%m phone down.
Celebrate achievements – both yours and others. Sharing success is a great motivator.
Dare to be your best self. You might be surprised at how wonderful you are.
Energize and make things happen. Life will be better for one and all.
Foster courage in yourself and in others. It’s not easy being brave.
Generate enthusiasm for fabulous, new projects and ideas.
Heal the wounds that weigh you down. Forgiveness leads to freedom.
Imagine something wonderful and make it happen.
Jettison deadweight. Whether you empty a closet or ban negativity – it’s all good.
Know your value and make things happen for yourself and those you love.
Live with integrity. Your actions will inspire everyone around you.
Motivate yourself.If you don’t feel it; fake it. Inspiration will soon follow.
Negotiate more. Let diverse options and opinions combine together for the best outcome.
Object vigorously to injustice. Don’t stand silent in the face of deceit and cruelty.
Play more and take the time to enjoy life. You only go around once.
Quarrel less but stand your ground when it really matters. Only you know when it really matters.
Reach out. Whether you’re looking for help or to help, everyone benefits.
Smile more. You and everyone around you will feel better for it.
Try new things. Get out of that rut and enjoy a new friend, game, book or recipe.
Unite because, grade school flashcards aside, one plus one is almost always greater than two.
Visit some of those places you’ve been meaning to see. Expand your horizons for personal growth.
Walk every day. You knew this one was coming.
XeroxTM and multiply good thoughts and deeds.
Yell like hell and howl at the moon. Don’t be afraid to let loose and enjoy.
Zip through the everyday and routine. Leave plenty of time for the more interesting bits.

Wishing you only the best in 2019 and bon appétit!

Roasted Butternut Squash & Chickpea Salad with Tahini Vinaigrette
I love salads twelve months of the year. During our long, cold New Hampshire winters, roasted vegetables pair beautifully with greens. Enjoy!
Serves 8

About 1 1/2 cup (14-15 ounce can) chickpeas, rinsed and well drained
Tahini Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
About 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut in bite size pieces
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon or to taste sriracha or your favorite hot sauce
1 tablespoon tahini
About 8 ounces arugula or mixed greens
1/2-1 small head radicchio, cored and cut in thin ribbons
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2-3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Put the chickpeas in a bowl, add enough Tahini Vinaigrette to lightly coat and toss to combine. Set aside. If prepping ahead, cover and store in the refrigerator.

Put the spices in a large bowl and whisk to combine, add the olive oil, vinegar and sriracha and whisk again. Add the squash and toss to coat.

Put the squash on a sheet pan in a single layer and roast at 425 degrees until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and transfer to a bowl, add the tahini and gently toss to coat.

Put the arugula, radicchio and scallions in a bowl and toss to combine. Add enough Tahini Vinaigrette to lightly coat and toss again.

To serve: transfer the leafy salad to a deep serving platter or individual plates, top with squash and sprinkle with chickpeas and sesame seeds.

Tahini Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 cloves garlic
1-inch chunk red onion
1/2 teaspoon or to taste sriracha or your favorite hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Juice and zest of 1/2 lime
2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-4 tablespoons water

Put the garlic, onion, spices, lime juice and zest and vinegar in a small food processor and pulse to combine and finely chop. Add the tahini and olive oil and process until smooth. A tablespoon at a time, add the water and process until smooth and creamy.

Let the vinaigrette sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or longer in the refrigerator to combine the flavors. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Cover and store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

Print-friendly version  of this recipe.

One Year Ago – Roasted Shrimp & Andouille Sausage
Two Years Ago – Tortellini en Brodo con Spinaci
Three Years Ago – Spanish Stuffed Mushrooms
Four Years Ago – White Bean Soup with Sweet Potato and Wilted Greens
Five Years Ago – Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup
Six Years Ago – Mixed Greens Salad with Gorgonzola & Walnuts
Seven Years Ago – Spanakopita Triangles
Eight Years Ago – Braised Red Cabbage
Nine Years Ago – Apple Bread Pudding
Ten 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 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, 2019