Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Potato Leek Soup

Happy December, friends! I feel like the super-late date of Thanksgiving has caused December to sneak up on me even more rapidly than usual. For me, December usually equates to a significant uptick in baking, candy-making, and gift-crafting that keeps me in the kitchen late into the night breaking up toffee and tying ribbon around pretty little boxes of mulling spices before packing them gently in bubble wrap and shipping them to friends and family across the continent.

And as much as I might like to convince myself that I can survive on party mix, mini cheesecakes, and pomegranate salsa, I work really hard to make sure I also have some real food in my fridge to sustain me. Something, warm, easy to prepare after late nights of baking, and filling enough to get through the busy days. To keep cooking to a minimum, I often turn to soups.

I had a bit of a soup explosion last fall and posted A LOT of them on the site: Butternut Squash Soup, my Favorite Chili, Sweet Potato Soup, Colorado Cape Cod Chowder, and more. This year I’ve been repeating many of those soups, but I did discover a simple potato leek soup recipe that I HAD to share with you.

Simple ingredients
Like so many soups, this one has fairly humble components: potatoes, leeks, and an onion make up the base, and a little butter, salt, pepper, and cream bring it all together.

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Cozy January meal

Let me begin by saying that I realize the title of this post doesn’t make sense. Colorado is home to neither capes nor cod. I know.

I also know that I cooked this meal in North Carolina and cooked this meal using East Coast cod.

In addition, I have no idea what chowder from Cape Cod actual tastes like. No idea what the recipe is. So despite the fact that both my mom and grandma have been making “Cape Cod Chowder” (as is written in my grandma’s hand on a splattered recipe card) to ward off the chill of January in Colorado for my entire life, I couldn’t really call it that for fear of the wrath of proper Cape Cod residents with their own opinions on what is or is not Cape Cod Chowder.

It’s rather dizzying.

Chowder time

But I adore this soup. I look forward, each winter, to the stick-to-your-bones warmth provided by this hearty meal composed of relatively simple ingredients.

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If fall is pumpkin-everything season, then early winter is certainly the moment for the tart, gem-like cranberry to rise to prominence. I find myself recently obsessed with the immense versatility of cranberries, but this simple recipe is, by far, the best way I’ve found yet to feature these beautiful little berries.

Cranberries are, on their own, incredibly tart, and I rarely see them served raw and unaltered. But they are also so fashionable in that state, aren’t they? It’s sort of a shame that most of us consume the majority of our cranberries either liquified in fruit juice cocktails or gel-ified in classic, ruby-red sauce served aside turkey and cornbread stuffing at Thanksgiving.

This method gives the cranberries a nice level of sweetness to cut the sour but lets the berries glisten as a centerpiece of your holiday party spread. And while the berries require several hours of soaking in the fridge, these are incredibly easy to make. All you need is a bag of cranberries, sugar, and water.

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This Halloween is a bit odd for a huge swath of the U.S. A deep cold has arrived much earlier than normal due, in major part, to the massive storm that walloped the Eastern seaboard early this week and continues to wreak havoc as it churns slowly west. Durham was spared much of the power of the storm, but for many cities with transit systems shut down, widespread power outages, hugely destructive flooding, fires, and heavy snows, it is a bit of an understatement to suppose that many a trick-or-treater’s plans have been marred or cancelled all together.

This chili, based on my mom & dad’s recipe, is normally something I strongly associate with winter. I didn’t particularly care for it much as a kid, and yet there was nothing I wanted more after a day outside in the snow. Thick, warm, and hearty, I’ve come to favor it earlier and earlier in the season every year.

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Yesterday was dreary. And lazy. I got up at 11:30 and did approximately nothing until 4:30. Nothing. It. Was. Glorious. Lazy days like this come rarely. I can normally talk myself into doing something moderately productive, even on the weekends: errands, cooking projects, editing photos, planting seeds, writing posts. But yesterday, for five surprising hours, nothing.

I crave soup on days like yesterday. Something warm, something filling, something that simmer and bubbles on the stove while the gray sky presses down outside. I have some old standbys, yes, but my friend Sara brought this one to my attention a while back, and let me tell you: it’s perfect for a dreary, lazy day because it’s super easy and comfort food to the max.

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Let’s take a minute to talk about real life.

Some days, there is time to make fresh pasta. Fancy desserts. Elaborate multi-course meals.

Most days though, it’s all I can do to get out the door in the morning toting a breakfast and lunch, and on show days, dinner, so that I can avoid the oh-so-tempting bounties of college food available at work. Especially in January, when fresh food is somewhat difficult to come by and most of my cravings are for something warm and filling.

But I’ve found an answer. An answer to the winter blues, the I-don’t-feel-like-cooking doldrums, and the whoa-we-have-so-much-leftover-turkey-from-the-holidays reality in my freezer.

Sierra’s turkey salad.

I know I’m probably way late catching this train. I’ve never really been a fan of chicken salads and won’t come within ten feet of tuna salads, so I suppose I thought turkey salad would be equally unpleasant. I. Was. Wrong.

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