many-veggie vegetable soup

many-veggie vegetable soup / @loveandlemons

A few weeks ago, I was pretty sick. It’s not usual for me, but I didn’t leave the sofa for three or four days in a row. Jack would bring me soup and crackers and somehow we started watching Friends – in marathon form – from the very beginning. He doesn’t want his friends and coworkers to know this, but we’re now 3 seasons in and he couldn’t BE anymore into it.

many-veggie vegetable soup / @loveandlemons

Once I was back on my feet, I was still craving soup and I had a ton of random veggies to use up. This is pretty straight forward – the flavors aren’t big, bold, or spicy because I just wasn’t in the mood for that at the moment. But taste and spice this up however you like. (For some additional ideas, see the spice chart at the bottom of this post).

Use whatever vegetables you have on hand and/or skip the ones you don’t have. Make a big pot, eat it the next day, and the day after that. (It also freezes well). It’s a great bowl to cozy up with - especially when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.

many-veggie vegetable soup / @loveandlemons

butternut squash walnut & sage pasta

Butternut Squash, Walnut and Sage Pasta / @loveandlemons #glutenfree

Happy Saturday! Jack and I are in Nashville this weekend for the wedding of one of my best college friends. It’s been fun getting out of town for a few days to spend time catching up with old friends. But the thing Jack and I really love about weddings is attending them when they’re not our own. Last month, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary and although we had an amazing wedding day – the stress of planning it all is still part of the memory as well. (Note to self, next time: elope in Italy).

Butternut Squash, Walnut and Sage Pasta / @loveandlemons #glutenfree

But what’s not stressful is this pasta. (I know, dumb segue – but hey, it’s early and we were up late last night electric sliding). This is a pretty easy throw-together pasta made from a classic fall flavor combo: butternut squash, sage and walnuts.

Butternut Squash, Walnut and Sage Pasta / @loveandlemons #glutenfree

I threw some chickpeas in here because I had some that I needed to use up. This can be customized a few other ways: omit the pecorino if you’re vegan, if you’re not vegan some creamy feta or goat cheese might be a nice addition, and if you’re not vegetarian, some crispy pancetta would add a nice salty bite.

Either way, this a great dish to stay in and cozy up with someone you love.

Butternut Squash, Walnut and Sage Pasta / @loveandlemons #glutenfree

produce tips: cleaning, storing & using

Fresh Produce Tips: cleaning, storing and using / @loveandlemons

Once or twice a week, I get a huge bounty of fresh produce. My Farmhouse box arrives every other Wednesday, and I shop my local farmers market on Saturdays. Over the years I’ve learned a few strategies for cleaning, storing and using fruits and vegetables to make sure everything lasts throughout the week. I absolutely hate throwing food away. I know you do too, so I’m hoping you find this little guide helpful to avoid food-waste for yourself.

We’ve partnered with McCormick to share these tips as well as a few easy ideas to whip up farm-fresh dishes using their Gourmet dried herbs & spices.

Fresh Produce Cleaning Tips / @loveandlemons

CLEANING TIPS:

1. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables (except mushrooms) in cold running water. Clean mushrooms with a damp cloth to gently remove the dirt.

2. I like to wash leafy greens in a large bowl so any dirt can fall to the bottom.

3. Dry salad leaves in a spinner or just lay them on a towel for 20 or so minutes.

4. Scrub root veggies (sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.) with a brush to remove dirt. Or just rinse & peel, but I like to preserve the nutrients by leaving skins on.

5. Except for leafy salad greens, fruits and vegetables should be washed just before you’re ready to use it, (i.e. not days in advance).

Storing Fresh Produce / @loveandlemons

STORAGE TIPS:

1. Certain vegetables (and fruits) contain a gas called ethylene. Ethylene triggers the ripening process and will deteriorate some veggies faster. My #1 storage tip is to make sure you store ethylene-producing vegetables separate from ethylene-sensitive vegetables.

ethylene-producing produce: apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, melons, mango, peaches, pears, tomatoes.

ethylene-sensitive produce: apples, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, leafy greens, potatoes, summer squash.

2. Store veggies un-cut to last the longest. Cut produce should be tightly covered and used within 1-2 days.

3. Below are a few storage suggestions. This is just a rule of thumb – your vegetables may last longer or shorter depending on when (and where) they were picked and when you took them home.

Storing Fresh Produce / @loveandlemons Storing Fresh Produce / @loveandlemonsspicing up fresh produce / @loveandlemons

USING FRESH PRODUCE:

At the start of the week (with the freshest fruits & veggies):

I always use up my most fragile produce first. Early in the week I make salads from crisp lettuces, cucumbers, peppers, and lightly roasted summer or winter squash. I start the week off with lightly cooked meals while produce is at peak freshness. For example:

Salads with chili-lime dressing: whisk olive oil, lime, honey, and chili powder.

Sliced veggie plates with hummus: blend chickpeas with olive oil, lemon, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin & coriander.

Simple pasta: lightly sauté summer squash with basil, oregano & parmesan.

using up leftover veggies / @loveandlemons

Toward the end of the week (with any veggies that are left):

I usually end up with a random assortment of (lightly wilted) veggies to use up. I often make frittatas or stir fries but, especially now that it’s fall, my favorite go-to meal is soup. Chop everything up and toss it in a big soup pot with olive oil, salt & pepper. Cook veggies until lightly browned, add a splash of white wine (or white wine vinegar) and let it cook out (2-3 minutes). Add vegetable broth and simmer until all veggies are cooked through. Create different flavor profiles by changing just a few spices and pantry items:

Mediterranean: add crushed red pepper, bay leaves, oregano & a can of tomatoes. (Click for the full recipe).

Mexican/southwestern: add coriander, chili powder, cumin & black beans for a soup that’s similar to this vegetarian chili.

Indian: add madras curry, turmeric, cayenne & a can of coconut milk for a creamy curried soup similar to this one.

spicing up fresh produce / @loveandlemons

This post is sponsored by McCormick. All thoughts, words and images are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that support Love and Lemons.

apple cardamom oat crumble

Apple Cardamom Oat Crumble / @loveandlemons

Pie is something I enjoy most when other people make it. I usually don’t have the patience for crust, but that’s probably because I’m more of a filling person anyway. (When I was a kid, I’d always eat the pumpkin pie filling and leave the shell of the crust behind).

So naturally, crisps and crumbles are my fall dessert of choice. This recipe is much easier than pie but still has all of the fruity-crunchy-fall-spiced goodness.

Apple Cardamom Oat Crumble / @loveandlemonsApple Cardamom Oat Crumble / @loveandlemons

I made this nutty, oat-y crumble with a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. Cardamom has a sweet floral flavor that’s just a little bit unexpected. Spice yours up however you like – nutmeg or allspice would work too.

Toss with apples and bake until golden. (Btw, your kitchen will smell amazing). Let it cool a little bit and always serve with ice cream. (I especially love this with Nada Moo’s mmm…Maple Pecan vegan ice cream).

Apple Cardamom Oat Crumble / @loveandlemons

apple zinger tea-tails & tea tour

Apple Zinger Tea-tails / @loveandlemons

Last week I had the opportunity to go on a super fun trip to Boulder Colorado to visit the headquarters of Celestial Seasonings. I’ve been drinking their tea for years so it was fun to learn more about the process of making tea and meet the wonderful people behind the brand. The trip started with the warmest welcome (the employees greeted us outside, cheering and holding signs with each of our blog names on them!).

Celestial Tea Tour Celestial Tea Tour

I drank about a million cups of tea (Sweet Harvest Pumpkin is totally my new favorite). After that, my highlights of the visit were: listening to Kay Wright (the Director of Botanicals Purchasing) talk about her travels sourcing all of the various herbs, touring the facility (in stylish Tyvek suits & blue hairnets), and tasting (more tea) with Charlie Baden, the Senior Blendmaster.

I found Charlie’s job so fascinating. Even though Celestial is a fairly large company, blending the tea isn’t an exact science. Depending on seasons, regions, and other growing variables, individual ingredients taste different every time (cherries can be more tart, hibiscus can be more or less bitter, etc…)” so he personally tastes and adjusts each blend in order to make sure every box of tea tastes consistent. “The zingers have to zing,” he says.

Celestial Tea Tour

These are some of my favorite tea facts:

- Black tea, green tea, and white tea are all made from the same plant: Camellia Sinensis. It’s a white-flowered evergreen bush native to China and India.

- The difference? Black tea leaves are allowed to oxidize which causes the leaves to darken and bring out a full-bodied flavor. Green tea leaves are steamed immediately after they’re picked so the leaves don’t oxidize (which is why green tea is more mild in flavor). White tea comes from only the first few tender leaves and new buds and it has the most delicate (slightly sweet) flavor. Herbal teas (unless they’re blended with tea leaves), are not actual tea.

- Celestial Seasonings was the first to bring green tea to the mainstream US market in 1995. They began mixing it with white tea in order to make a smoother tasting green tea.

- Independent artists & illustrators are commissioned to create all of the artwork for the tea boxes. (I actually used to save mine and store my art supplies in them)

- The ingredients in Celestial Seasonings Teas come from all over the world, but the teas are blended in Boulder. Many ingredient suppliers have been part of the Celestial family for more than 30 years.

- Celestial Tea bags don’t have strings, tags or individual wrappers which saves 3.5 million pounds of waste from entering landfills each year.

- The Celestial Tea Tour is open to the public and is Boulder’s #1 tourist attraction!

Tea Tips:

- Use filtered or distilled water. (the water you use affects your tea’s taste).

- Don’t over-boil your water for green tea. Bring it just barely to a boil, and remove the tea bag after 3-5 minutes or your green tea will become bitter.

- Watch the clock, not the color. 3-5 minutes for green & black teas, 4-6 minutes for herb teas, 6 minutes for wellness teas.

- It’s ok to squeeze the bag to get the most flavor from your tea.

Celestial Tea Tour, Boulder Colorado

After the tour, I had just a few minutes to stroll around Boulder before we headed to The Kitchen, for a tea-inspired meal. Some of my favorite dishes were: a beet & hazelnut salad with orange tangerine tea dressing, chai roasted squash with wheat berries, and for dessert: rooibos tea sorbet.

I can’t wait to recreate some of the dishes myself. But for now – a tea-tail recipe! Before we left Celestial, they served these cocktails (and some others) for happy hour. This recipe is by Conor McDermott, from Salt who recently won Boulder’s Best Mixologist. At the event, this was served as a non-alcohol drink… of course when I made it later at home I added some bourbon.

Apple Zinger Tea-tails / @loveandlemons