Winter

meyerlemonpastaMy love for Meyer lemons continues this week with another dish using these amazingly flavorful citrus fruits. This time it's a pasta dish that's done in less than 15 minutes. It's meatless, so it's great for vegetarians. But the savory flavors of garlic and crushed red pepper will also appeal to the meat-and-potatoes guys. But what really lifts this dish is the Meyer lemons, which add a tantalizing zing that refreshes the palate.

As fast as you can boil pasta is as fast as you can make this recipe. The sauce is made with just the lemons and some pasta water. Then it's a matter of finishing it off with Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Make this meal in minutes—it's perfect for the weeknight when you're lacking the time or creativity to make anything complex. And if you can't find Meyer lemons, use regular ones and get results that are just as great.

Read more ...

ducksalad.jpgIf you don’t think salad is a hearty enough meal for the dead of winter, this one will certainly change your mind… With a warm duck breast sliced atop a flavor packed mix of greens, vegetables, nuts and cheese, it’s a dish that’s rich and satisfying but also pretty skinny.

I only recently stumbled upon this fabulous combination of flavors at The Waterfront Restaurant in our favorite home away from home, Camden, Maine. It was Christmastime and there was a fresh blanket of snow on the ground…but the sun was bright, the sky a vivid blue and the outside temperature was an almost balmy 34 degrees. Somehow, I didn’t feel like a cold seafood salad but didn’t really want a hot chowder either.

I ended up ordering this dish instead and, by the time lunch was finished–and everyone at the table had sampled my plate–we all decided that this warm salad would be perfect any time of year.

Read more ...

beercheesesoup009I ‘d always look forward to this time of year when I worked at North Dakota State University. One of my colleagues would bring a big slow-cooker full of her delicious Beer Cheese Soup. Up to that point in my life, the only Beer Cheese soup I had tasted was served at a Fargo restaurant. It was very thick, very cheesy and very goopy. In my opinion, too thick, too cheesy and too goopy.

Nancy’s Beer Cheese Soup would send a sweet, yeasty beer aroma wafting through the NDSU hallway. Lunch that day would be a big mug of soup ladled from the hot slow-cooker topped with freshly popped corn right out of the microwave oven.

Now, I don’t normally do much cooking with Cheez Whiz, but I just can’t make this soup any other way. You’ll see why when you taste it. The soup is light and creamy with just the right amount of beer and cheese flavors. I use unsalted butter in this recipe. The soup gets plenty of salt from the Cheez Whiz and chicken broth.

Read more ...

soup3So far I have stuck to my New Year’s resolutions except for the part about the peppermint bark. I resolved to eat nothing but healthy foods and have done so religiously since December 31st–except for the peppermint bark. I just gave the peppermint bark (what was left of it) to Aunt Christina so now I am totally on track.

I made this soup which is full of high-fiber vegetables and makes you feel virtuous even before you finish chopping the leeks. Tom and I have been eating it all weekend and we both feel as fit as say, that guy in “Creed.” (Michael B. Jordan, not Sylvester Stallone.)

I gotta be honest, it’s a pain in the neck to make but worth the trouble because you end up with enough to last for ages so it’s three meals for the aggravation of one. Plus you get all that upper-body exercise from the veggie choppage. Okay, it’s unlikely M.B.J. got those biceps by this method but still.

So give your peppermint bark to an unsuspecting relative and make this soup. You will be glad you did.

Read more ...

lentilsoupA few years ago a press trip took me Spokane, Washington and Moscow, Idaho. The area is well-known for its agricultural products, most importantly lentils. A representative of the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council gave us a "Lentils 101" talk that described the many varieties of lentils, their nutritional value and economic importance to protein-starved regions of the world. Each of us was given a copy of The Pea & Lentil Cookbook: From Everyday to Gourmet which has recipes using dried legumes in dishes as varied as appetizers, soups, salads, entrees and desserts.

Cooking with lentils is easy.

The basics are wash and rinse the lentils. Discard any broken or misshapen lentils. Generally speaking lentils are cooked in water at a ratio of one cup of lentils to two and a half cups of water. Simmer covered for 30-50 minutes, tasting the lentils as they cook and removing the pot from the stove when they are to your taste. Cooked longer, lentils will soften and can be used in purees for soups, dips, sauces and spreads.

I like the lentils to retain their shape so I cook them only until they are al dente.

Read more ...