Linguine with Fresh Spinach, Red Pepper, and Lemon

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I love going to the grocery store; I do it several times a week, if only for a few things. I know, I know, it is poor planning on my part, but I enjoy weaving through the aisles, checking out new and interesting ingredients I may have missed during my previous visit. I recall going to the grocery store with my dad when I was small. He would take a list with everything we needed but inevitably, we’d return home with something he wanted. I remember riding in the cart or walking alongside my dad down every aisle in the grocery store. He’d take his time, selecting a bottle of this, or a jar of that, turning it over in his hands, considering its use, before returning it to the shelf or placing it in our cart. Mom never really knew what he’d bring home. Sometimes it was a jar of pickled herring, sometimes it was a new mustard, and sometimes it was a package of cookies he’d open on the drive home for the two of us to sample.

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Puréed Vegetarian Mulligatawny Soup

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Guys, I’m sick. I caught a beast of a cold earlier this week and I am one grumpy Sara. I’m achy, I’ve been sneezing, and if I’d known this was coming, I’d have purchased stock in tissues. I’ve been spending a lot of time in bed, but I’m awake now and before I head back to the warmth of my blankets, I wanted to share this recipe with you. This soup won’t cure your cold, but it’ll sure make you feel better.

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Green Soup

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If you’re anything like me, you tend to overindulge during the holiday season – we’re not even to New Year’s, yet – and then regret it later.  I know that after rich, decadent meals and equally sinful desserts, all I want is a Big Salad, à la Elaine Benes.  My body craves vegetables, leafy greens, and no meat whatsoever.  Let me introduce to you the Green Soup.

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The Wine List (Thanksgiving Edition Part 2)

Thanksgiving has to be one of my most favorite holidays.  Even though it was a week ago, I’m still dreaming of the sausage stuffing made by my friend, Holly.  The delicious smell of roasted fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts with garlic and rosemary still lingers in my kitchen.  The turkey…oh, the turkey!  Pieced out and slow-roasted to a golden brown – pure heaven!  We also enjoyed a boozy version of cranberry relish spiked with vodka and Grand Mariner, and a lovely kale caesar salad that has become a specialty of my friend, Pat.

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The table was set with my great grandmother’s china.

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Roasted Carrot Soup

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The weather here in Omaha is on the fence.  It doesn’t know what it wants.  Sunny?  Overcast?  Chilly?  Rainy?  Make up your mind already and move on!  Yes, it is Spring, but my brain wants nonstop sunny weather.  Anyway, I woke up the other morning unsure of what to make for that night’s dinner.  I knew I had some things going on during the day, so standing over the stove for hours wasn’t an option.  I wanted something fresh, something Spring-like, something easy.

After my day’s activities, I stopped at the market.  Wandering around the produce section, I spotted some bright orange carrots.  They were exactly what the overcast day called for.  I thought, “Well, I could roast these and maybe have pork chops or something on the side.”  But I wanted to do something more with them.  Carrots are an under-utilized vegetable, if you ask me.  They have a natural sweetness that comes out during the roasting process, but I didn’t want to stop there.

Soup.  I came up with soup.  Sounds boring, right?  Or weird, maybe?  Well, you’d be wrong on both accounts.  This soup was easily one of the tastiest vegetable-centered dishes to come out of my kitchen.  I could hardly believe it!  Not that it was without faults, but those aside, it was hearty, spicy, a little sweet, and totally satisfying.

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This recipe was also just enough for Scott and I to have dinner and then leftovers the following day for lunch.  It reheated on the stove quite nicely and paired well with a sliced baguette and salted butter.

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Roasted Carrot Soup

**You’ll need an immersion blender or regular blender for this soup.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 – 2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds or half-moons
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
cracked black pepper
kosher salt
1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced lengthwise and then into half-moons
3 large shallots, chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ginger paste
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake (adjust if you like it a little spicier)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 quart chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you want to go vegetarian)

Method:

Heat oven to 400ºF.  Place carrots in a medium bowl and drizzle evenly with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and kosher salt.  Toss with your hands so the carrots are evenly coated and turn out onto a large rimmed baking sheet.  Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender.  Remove from oven and set aside.

When carrots are done, heat remaining 1 tablespoon in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add shallots and leek to pan, sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked black pepper and sauté until tender, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring often.  Be mindful not to burn the shallots and leeks, adjust heat if necessary.

Add minced garlic and ginger paste, stir well.  Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in crushed red pepper flake, ground cumin, and ground coriander and stir until fragrant.  Add sherry vinegar and honey, stir into mixture.  Add roasted carrots and chicken stock.

Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and allow it to simmer for at least 15 minutes.  Use an immersion blender or regular blender to purée.  Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil.  A dollop of crème fraîche or some chopped fresh cilantro would be lovely, as well.

 

 


What We Ate (Thanksgiving for Two)

In case you all were wondering, our ‘Thanksgiving for Two’ menu:
  • Brined and slow-roasted bone-in turkey breast with homemade gravy
  • Grandma Vera’s sage stuffing
  • Port and cranberry gelée
  • Kale salad with apples and hazelnuts
  • Brown sugar-roasted sweet potatoes
  • Homemade rolls
  • Maple pot de crème
  • Cardamom, orange, and chocolate ribbon cookies

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My Dad’s Refrigerator Pickles

Just look at those two.  Look at them.  Those are my parents, Jim and Vivian, in June of 1976.  I haven’t confirmed this, but my guess is that this photo was taken on or around my mother’s birthday.  At the time of this photo, my parents had only been married just under 3 years.  They still have newlywed glow surrounding them.  They are both simply perfect, aren’t they?  Well, aren’t they??

I decided to include this amazing photo of my parents because this post has a lot to do with my dad and my childhood.  Growing up, I would help my dad in the garden each year.  I would hold the tiny beans in my tiny hand as my father made an indentation in the dirt with his index finger.  I would plop them in, one by one, and pat them down gently with my palm.  I would loosen the roots of the tomato plants as my dad dug holes for them.  I would help spread grass all over the garden, making sure not to miss a spot.  When it was time, my dad would send me out to “harvest” what was ready.

One of my earliest memories is of picking cucumbers in order for my dad to make quart upon quart of dill pickles.  I can virtually guarantee that my love of all things vinegar started then and there, right in our kitchen.  He’d send me to the garden with a bucket and I’d tiptoe through the cucumber plants, lifting up their scratchy leaves, and hunt for the perfect batch.

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