Winter

Winter-Root-Vegetable-PureeI have gone on and on here about how much I love mashed potatoes (one of my fave recipes). Who doesn't really? However, I do consider them "special occasion" food with their copious amounts of butter, cheese and cream. 

The rest of the time I often just puree cauliflower for a "faux" mashed potato fix and don't add much of anything, it doesn't need it. Kind of like this Winter Root Vegetable Puree, it has so much flavor from the veggies themselves. I love, love root veggies more than one can imagine, I'm not even sure where it came from. I didn't grow up eating this stuff. But geez it's such a yummy, low-calorie way to enjoy what your brain thinks is mashed potatoes. It totally satisfies my urge for that starch side dish.

One of the root vegetables I used was celery root. Have you ever used it or seen one? They are pretty ugly and look challenging to cut..but they're not. They peel easily with a knife and are available at almost every market. Try adding it to soup, it's delicious.

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ImageEat your beets! We've all heard that from our moms quite often as kids. Unfortunately it was more often canned beets that we were persuaded to eat. As a curious eater, I've come to appreciate beets in many different preparations. I especially love them roasted in salads. But have you ever thought of eating them raw? Sliced very thinly, beets and other root vegetables, make great salads. Yes, it's possible to slice them thin with a knife, but a mandoline does the job better than anything else to get paper-thin shavings.

In this beautiful salad I combine three different colors of beets, plus a watermelon radish, and add pomegranate seeds for additional ruby color. The radish adds a different type of crunch and hotness. The pomegranate seeds along with a squeeze of orange juice add sweetness and tang to the salad. A sprinkling of dill adds green color as well as herbal flavor. After trying this salad, you will be surprised to find how naturally sweet beets taste when eaten raw. They are nature's candy in both taste and color.

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irishstewI feel compelled to get my final tastes of Winter under my belt. The cold days are perfect matches for braising meats, chowders and simmering soups.

This time of the year, I revel in the thought of a warm hearty dinner that's not too complicated. Winter stews are my perfect canvas for putting together some of my favorite ingredients, cooking them up, and transforming them into thick and rich savory blends of meat and vegetables. The bubbling pot warms my kitchen and even my house while the aromas whet my appetite for something good to come.

Since March is upon us I took the opportunity to celebrate the land of the Emerald Isle, nothing could be more appropriate than Irish Beef Stew. Now I'm no Dubliner, but beef stew made with Guinness and red wine are the perfect combinations to bring a little Irish luck into my life.

Personally, one of the best things about winter stews is the variety of root vegetables abundant this time of year. Peppery parsnips, crunchy carrots and potatoes in many sizes and colors are just a few of the choices available.

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