My dad and stepmother are visiting New York this weekend. They are now retired and spend most of their time in a warm climate. New York decided to give them a taste of the winter weather they’ve been missing as winter came really early this year! While the purpose of their trip is to spend time with their grandchildren, a visit to New York City wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Times Square and more specifically a Broadway show! I became a little nostalgic thinking about my days working at db Bistro Moderne in the theater district. Those pre-theater rushes were no joke! One of my favorite recipes from my days in the kitchen there is Butternut Squash Soup. Here is the recipe so you can make it this weekend and warm your body from the inside out!
Butternut Squash Soup
Makes 4 servings
1 large butternut squash, peeled, cubed and seeds removed
-Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss the butternut squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange butternut squash in an even layer on a large sheet pan. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes.
-Meanwhile in a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook 7-9 minutes, until tender. Season generously with salt and pepper.
-Add roasted squash to the vegetable mixture and cover with vegetable stock. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
-Blend carefully in small batches until the soup is smooth and creamy.
-Serve garnished with fresh thyme, your favorite croutons or a drizzle of crème fraiche.
There is nothing like a week at home with three kids to get you craving a vacation. We survived(and enjoyed) President’s Week with a bit of a stay-cation. We went to a few museums and had dates with friends. I put just the right amount of activity on the calendar to keep the kids busy enough that they wanted to go to sleep every night! Last week I wrote about getting away to somewhere warm. When I started to think about it, I realized some of my best vacations have been in places where it is cold and there is lots of snow on the ground.
I didn’t learn how to ski until I was in my 20’s. Shortly after that I moved to Denver, Colorado to go to Johnson and Wales for Culinary School. I learned a lot at school but also learned that I love the mountains and specifically skiing! I don’t actually have the genetic make up of a good skier… I get cold really easily and I also get altitude sickness. Once I figured out a few tricks to get over those obstacles, I really started to LOVE skiing. I would take trips up to the mountains and ski for the morning before heading into work for the dinner shift. It was a great! My first trip with my husband was to Vail, Colorado; making it very fitting that part of our honeymoon would be spent on the slopes in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
To this day, one of my all-time favorite vacations was to a little town in northern Italy called Selva Val Gardena. My husband and I were living in London at that time and knew we wanted to go skiing in the Dolomites in Italy. I found Hotel Laurin through some online reviews and our trip was set. We would fly into Venice, Italy and then drive up to the mountains for a few days. We would end our trip walking and boating through Venice. It all sounded very romantic and it was, once we finally arrived at the hotel. We hit some snow on the way up, to Selva Val Gardena; which was awesome in the context of skiing but not awesome in the context of driving a tiny car up a mountain. Long story short, we were installing chains on our tires in the dark on a Saturday night in some small town in Italy. The good news is we finally made it up and over the mountain and arrived at the hotel safe and sound.
The rest of the trip was amazing. The Hotel Laurin was just what it advertised, small and charming. The owners were very hands on taking care of our needs from espresso in the morning to cocktails before dinner and a night cap before bed. You could book the hotel with dinners included but being the foodies that we are we decided not to do that as we wanted to explore other options. It turns out that was a mistake, the food at the Hotel Laurin was amazing and plentiful and the only other dining options in the town are other hotels. When your hotel has an amazing restaurant you don’t want to venture out too much. The next year when we returned we took all of our dinners at the hotel. The food was a mix of Italian, Swiss and German. It wasn’t fancy but it was just what you needed after a day on the snow. I still remember an evening where we had fondue… meat fondue. They specially prepared a broth for us which we used to cook different meats. It was amazing. The trip was so great we returned the following winter to the same hotel. I hope someday to return to Hotel Laurin with all of our children in tow but it will be a few years before they are all able to ski.
Winter holidays in the snow are just as fun as those in the sun. Food plays a big part in any vacation I take and the food on the mountains in Selva Val Gardena, and most mountains in Europe, surpasses the expectations set by the cafeteria style eateries you find on the mountains in the states. I’ll probably fall asleep tonight dreaming of the mountains, skiing and fondue. I’ll wake up to reality here in NYC and maybe with some snow on the ground.
The dead of the winter has finally hit NYC, encasing the city in sub-zero temperatures. Thankfully, January is nearly over and this is the first of extremely low temperatures that we’ve experienced this winter, so I can’t complain… after all it is January in New York City. This weather however, and I assume as we continue on through winter, makes it seemingly harder and harder to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits. The gym, which a few weeks ago was filled to the brim with people, is becoming increasingly less crowded as we delve deeper into the winter months. It’s important, however, to maintain a healthy eating and exercise regimen this time of year. So, what are you doing to stay active, healthy, and happy this winter?
Greens. First and foremost, do not forego eating greens. Even though we tend to crave heartier, carbohydrate-dense food in the winter, it is very important to get your daily dose of greens as well, which are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K, are loaded with antioxidants, and boast high levels of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. These phytochemicals are essential for keeping our bodies nourished, as well as regulated during the winter months. Thankfully, we now carry Farmhouse Lab dressings, which makes consuming your greens even easier and so very delicious! If you’re not in the salad mood, try adding raw greens like spinach and kale to a smoothie, or sauté heartier greens with lemon juice, garlic, chili pepper, and olive oil to accompany roasted chicken or fish. It may sound silly, but getting your daily dose of greens is really so important to keeping you not only healthy, but happy this winter.
Balance. Not only are greens important, but it’s also important to make sure that the food you’re consuming is balanced. Each time you sit down for a meal, your plate should contain protein, fat, complex carbohydrates, as well as greens. Creating a balanced plate will help keep you fuller longer, will create satiety, and will also help you from over-eating, which is so easy to do in the winter time, as heavier foods feel warming and comforting. Balance should also include finding time for meaningful play, and balancing that play with your hectic work life. The winter blues are no joke, and one way to combat them and stay mentally healthy, besides consuming the proper nutrition, is making time for play. Whether it’s meeting friends for drinks, going to the movies or a play, or perhaps going bowling, it is so important to make time for laughter and enjoyment. Your body will thank you!
Stay active. Finding time for exercise is necessary to stay healthy this winter. Whether it be going to the gym, lifting weights, taking a yoga or spin class, or going for a run outside if the weather permits, making time for exercise will aid in staying healthy and happy this winter. It doesn’t have to be everyday of the week, but one should shoot for at least two or three active days per week. It’s tricky at times, especially when it’s blistering cold outside, but speaking for myself, I always feel so much brighter and happier after completing a workout. The endorphins that are released during exercise trigger positive feelings in the body, in addition to other brain-boosting chemicals, which all aid in improving cognitive function and mood elevation. I also find that keeping an exercise regime helps me make healthier food choices, as I feel more in-tuned with my body and what it needs for nourishment and sustenance.
All-in-all, the coldest part of winter has just seemed to set in, and being that it’s nearly February, hopefully we don’t have too many more months of winter left. But in the meantime, it’s important to find happiness, peace, and enjoyment amongst the cold and barren landscape. I hope that the tips above help you, as they have helped me, find health and happiness this winter.
We all know that salads become a little harder to eat, let alone crave, once the weather begins to get colder. The nourishment that a salad provides, however vast, becomes slightly unappealing with the decline of exterior temperatures. Luckily, we’ve recently stocked our shelves with a delicious and versatile new line of salad dressings from Farmhouse Labs to improve your salad game, moreover food game in general, as these dressings are a delicious addition to more than just salads. These sustainably sourced creations from Farmhouse Lab will have you craving salad even in the dead of winter, which is a win for your body and for preventing winter weight gain, as well as a win for bringing a little summery brightness to your next meal.
I usually begin my day with a large black coffee and then fast for the next few hours — I feel like this allows my body time to flush everything out of my system before restarting digestion for the day. My favorite thing to eat for breakfast after having fasted for hours, as odd as it may sound, is a large mixed green salad loaded with fruit, veggies, nuts and grains — so I’m very excited about the addition of Farmhouse Lab Dressings to our marketplace. I especially love a baby kale and baby spinach salad with quinoa, avocado, carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, blueberries and strawberries all dressed in a simple lemon Tahini vinaigrette. I feel like this salad will also pair perfectly with Sunny Avocado, which boasts a delicious fruity sweetness and acidic tang.
I love salads for their versatility, as you can add nearly anything you desire to a salad, from meats and cheese, to vegetables and legumes, to chips and crackers, to fruit, nuts, and seeds — really anything goes! That’s the beauty of it. You can pack so many nutrients into a salad and set your day off right! When it’s colder, try serving something hot or warmed over a bed of heartier greens like kale or rainbow chard. A simple chicken salad with chickpeas, roasted root vegetables, and toasted walnuts may be the way to go, as you can add chicken directly from the stove or oven to your salad and enjoy warm. Try marinating chicken breasts with herbs, citrus, and Farmhouse Lab Red Sunflower dressing for an added spicy kick for at least 12 hours. Then roast in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the breast reads 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Also, while we’re experimenting, maybe add some cooked brown rice that has been tossed with cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and raisins to the base of your salad before adding the marinated chicken and roasted vegetables. Of course, drizzle with more Farmhouse Lab Red Sunflower dressing to serve.
This Thanksgiving, why not impress your friends and family with a modern take on a traditional Caprese salad recipe. First, cook one package of Semolina Artisanal Strozzapreti Pasta according to package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, quarter 3 quarts of cherry tomatoes — try to find an heirloom organic variety at your grocery store — and add to a large bowl. Meanwhile, add 1 pound of cubed fresh mozzarella to the bowl of tomatoes, as well as 2 cups of basil leaves that you have gently torn. For added interest, roughly dice 3 peaches, peeled, and add to the bowl as well. Once the pasta has finished cooking — al dente… now is not the time to over cook your pasta — allow to cool for roughly 10 minutes and then add it into the bowl with tomatoes, cheese, peaches and basil. Finally, add a generous pour of Farmhouse Lab Berry Olive dressing, a nice amount of freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste. Serve this modern take on a Caprese salad over a bed baby arugula and enjoy. I’m sure this with be a crowd pleaser!
As snow is in the forecast for the coming days, be sure to not allow it to stop you from consuming your greens. Farmhouse Lab dressings will rescue your salad from its winter blues, as well as help transform many other foods into delicious culinary works of art. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!