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.

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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

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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

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

Holiday Entertaining – Dinner Party with Friends

Christmas_Cheers_01The holidays are a great time to entertain. Dinner for eight, brunch for a dozen or cocktails for fifty; you decide. Perhaps you are thinking that you are long overdue for a dinner party? Maybe it is your book club or the neighbors or your favorite, oldest, nearest and dearest friends. The ones you met when you first moved to town … how many decades ago? Whomever the company, take a break from the hustle and bustle and get a group together for a long and lazy dinner party. Let casual meet elegant with your favorite cashmere sweater and cozy bistro dishes.

Maybe you’re thinking … what the heck is a cozy bistro dish or how did that hole find my sweater? I can’t help you with the sweater but I can suggest a menu!

So, here we go.

Start with a glass of champagne and a tasty amuse-bouche. (Translation – amuse-mouth. It’s just a fancy way to say a one or two bite treat.) How about a nice little tartlet (or tartelette in French)? You might like to try my Butternut Squash Tartlets or Tartelettes au Fromage avec Saucisse et Poireaux (Sausage and Leek Tartlet). Add bowls of Spicy Olives and Rosemary Cashews to nibble.

Moving à table (to the table) … a lovely soup is just the thing on a chilly night. I suggest you try my Wild Mushroom Soup.

For the main course … you can’t go wrong with my Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs. Serve the chicken with a spoonful of Whole Grain Pilaf and Roasted Parsnips with Rosemary and/or Roasted Carrots (skip the pearl onions).

Next, comes the salad; yes, after the main course. Keep it simple with Salad Greens with Classic Vinaigrette. Keeping with the French theme, add a wedge of your favorite cheese and a basket of artisan bread and/or crackers.

Now, it’s time for dessert. As always, you can’t go wrong with chocolate. My Chocolate Walnut Tart is rich and delicious. If you’d prefer a creamy French pud, then give my Cranberry Clafoutis or Ginger Crème Brûlée a try.

Have a lovely evening! 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! target=”_blank”>Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Cozy Weekend Special

books_coffeeThere are a whole lot of reasons to get cozy this weekend. The election results could be bumming you out … or maybe you are celebrating or figuring it all out and cautiously contemplating the future. One thing is for sure, in northern New England, we’ll be doing the whole chilly and partly cloudy thing. It seems like a great time to take a break from politics and make some soup.

Celebration, commiseration or contemplation, feel free to invite friends in for a cozy evening by the fire. Here are a few thoughts if you’d like help with the menu:

Pour a glass of wine and pass some delicious appetizers. I can suggest Butternut Squash Tartlets or Mushroom Crostini. Or let your friends help themselves to Gorgonzola & Walnut Shortbread with Savory Fig Jam.

stirring_the_potNow, what about that soup? With chilly air and cloudy skies, I’m thinking hearty. If you are too, you must try my French Lentil Soup with Chicken and Sausage, Harira (Middle Eastern Soup with Chicken, Chick-Peas and Lentils) or Raviolis in Broth with Turkey Meatballs & Greens.They are all full of flavors and delicious at the end of late autumn day.

If you’d like to add a salad, I can suggest a couple of my favorites. Roasted vegetables make a great addition to the greens in my Roasted Cauliflower, Radicchio & Arugula Salad and Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets & Goat Cheese.

For a cheery dessert, think mini. A sweet little treat might be a Pumpkin Cupcake or Mini Tarte Tatin.

Have a cozy weekend and bon appétit!

What’s up with you for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

Post-Election Blues? & Butternut Squash Tartlets

I_votedBy the time you read this, you will have already voted … or set aside time for your trip to the polls. I’m assuming most Americans will be riveted to the returns tonight. I know I will be. Depending on how things go, we’ll be in dreamland before the clock strikes midnight … or stagger off to bed around dawn. Your guess is as good as mine.
Thank goodness, we can get back to normal tomorrow. The red, white and blue signs that have decorated the neighborhood for the last month or so can be hauled off to the dump. For those of us who plunged into the deep, dark abyss of round-the-clock news coverage, withdrawal might be tough. I’m thinking a chick flick binge and a bowl of popcorn with a glass of chardonnay will help. In any case, we’ll all be thankful to see the last of the seemingly endless run of political ads.

Assuming the election isn’t contested; don’t look to Washington for excitement for the next couple of months. If you’re hoping for a resolution of one stalemate or another, don’t hold your breath. The House and Senate will be on vacation for a good part of November and December. Not much will be happening until January or beyond. Over at the White House, I’m guessing life will become pretty low key. In spite of being a lame duck, in a couple of weeks Mr. Obama will pardon a turkey. After Thanksgiving, Mrs. Obama will put up a tree and deck the halls. That should be about it until the next president moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Be it tomorrow or a week from tomorrow, if you start to feel any post-election blues, here are a few suggestions to get you through it:

Thanksgiving is three weeks away. Pour your heart and soul into it. Go all out with your biggest and best effort yet. Buy up every foodie magazine you can find and start planning. Forget cable news, the cooking shows are calling.

Take up a new hobby. Knit scarves for the entire family or the entire neighborhood for that matter. Go online and find ideas for homemade Christmas ornaments. Glue ribbons and beads on popsicle sticks or Styrofoam balls, have fun with felt and learn origami.

Go through your closets. Make a pile of all the warm, wooly clothing you no longer wear. Do a second sort and toss out anything that’s threadbare. Donate the good stuff.
Ignore the cold and get in shape. If you’ve spent the last month or two glued to cable news, the fresh air will do you good. While you’re at it, treat yourself to some new exercise gear … just stay away from red or blue. Think fluorescent green or pink.

It’s a little early to put up the Christmas decorations. So, do the next best thing; re-arrange the living room furniture. It will give you a new perspective. But please, make sure you turn the lights on before you enter the room. The days are short and it’s dark early; no accidents please.

Now, if your favorite candidate isn’t be the one taking the oath of office on January 20, your post-election blues may be quite intense. If any or all of the above fails to cheer you up, you can always start packing. I’m not sure if Canada or any other country will take you but you can give it a try.

Here’s to peace and prosperity. Bon appétit!

Butternut Squash Tartlets
Looking for a new appetizer for Thanksgiving? How about a tasty little tartlet? Enjoy!butternut_squash_tartlet_06
Makes 24 mini tartlets

Olive oil
2-3 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
About 1 cup finely chopped butternut squash
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
About 1 cup baby spinach or kale, chopped
4 ounces fontina cheese, shredded
2 eggs
1/4 cup half & half
24 mini phyllo pastry shells or 1 batch of Savory Pastry Dough
About 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium. Add the sausage and breaking into small pieces, sauté until nicely browned. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain.

If necessary, add a little more olive oil to the pan. Add the butternut squash and sauté until the edges start to brown. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and continue to sauté until the onion is translucent and the squash is tender. Add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more.

Add the sausage and greens, toss to combine and wilt the greens. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Add the fontina to the vegetables and sausage and toss to combine.

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

Put the eggs in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the half & half and whisk until smooth. Add the eggs to the vegetables, sausage and cheese and toss to combine.

Gently press the phyllo cups or Savory Pastry Dough into nonstick mini muffin tins. If using Savory Pastry Dough, freeze the dough in the muffin tin for 30 minutes.

butternut_squash_tartlet_01Fill the prepared muffin cups about the veggie, sausage and cheese filling. (If you have leftover filling, toss it with spaghetti for an easy lunch or supper.)

Sprinkle each tartlet with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake until golden, about 15 minutes for the phyllo cups and 30 minutes if using Savory Pastry Dough. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

Transfer the tartlets to a platter (you may need to use a knife to loosen them) and serve.

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One Year Ago – Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad
Two Years Ago – Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing
Three Years Ago – Sweet Potato & Goat Cheese Crostini
Four Years Ago – Pumpkin Cheesecake
Five Years Ago – Rustic Apple Croustade
Six Years Ago – Cranberry Sauce
Seven Years Ago – Decadent Cheesy Potatoes
Eight Years Ago – Broccoli Puree

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

What’s your secret? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Comfort Food Weekend Special

casserolesAs I said earlier this week, this political season has been particularly ugly. Last weekend, I hunkered down, wrote my column for Parenting NH and whipped up a big batch of Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. It was raining and the news was as grim as the weather.

Maybe you are inviting friends in this weekend or going out to a potluck. It could be you are laying low and spending the weekend at home with family. Whatever your plans, think comfort food when it comes to dinner:

For quick and easy comfort, you can’t beat my Creamy Polenta with Mushroom & Kale Ragù.

For elegant comfort, how about Lobster-Corn Chowder?

For absolutely luscious and keeping busy for a good part of the afternoon, try your hand at my Butternut Squash Lasagna.

For a bit more exotic, travel to warm and dry North Africa and stir up my Moroccan Chicken with Green Olives & Preserved Lemon with Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts.

For old school New England, it’s got to be an Old Fashioned Pot Roast.

You’ll probably want to add a salad … I’ve got two great ideas for you. Either Lemony Kale & Radicchio Salad or Radicchio, Fennel, and Arugula Salad would be a great choice.

If you’d like to bake a warm and cozy sweet treat this weekend, either Apple Bread Pudding or Cranberry Clafoutis would be delicious. For easy, you can’t beat Hot White Chocolate.

Have a cozy weekend and bon appétit!

What’s up with you for the weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016