romanesco & chickpea salad

romanesco and chickpea salad / loveandlemons.comromanesco and chickpea salad / loveandlemons.com

Two things happened on Monday: It was Jack’s birthday and also we won the Saveur Reader’s Choice Best Cooking Blog award! Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all of you who voted for us! As someone who’s not used to winning things, I really didn’t see this coming. I’m shocked and just so flattered.

I realize — I probably should be posting cocktails and cake, but it’s been a heck of a busy week, so today I bring you: Celebration Salad. (Although, stay tuned, I have some yummy birthday carrot cake coming up next week).

But for now, this salad. (Which I think is worth celebrating). It’s fresh, springy, and would be so perfect for easter. I had some gorgeous romanesco, but you could sub cauliflower just as easily. I blanched the romanesco just a bit and tossed it with a lemony dijon dressing along with chickpeas, avocado, eggs, capers and smoked salmon.

Happy Easter!

healthy loaded sweet potatoes

(healthy) loaded baked sweet potatoes / loveandlemons.com

I’ve never loved baked potatoes. I know… that’s hardly the way to begin a baked potato post. In my world (growing up), they came 2 ways: On our dinner table – plain with just a bit of margarine (sorry mom!)… and at the Yorktown Mall food court – those giant sour-cream-piled ones that seemed like a heart attack on a plate. (Which, by the way, were considered the “healthy” option because they were baked not fried! Gotta love the midwest in the 90′s).

The kind that wasn’t an option? This kind… baked sweet potatoes stuffed with black beans, a little bit of cheese (which is optional), toasted pumpkins seeds for crunch, and a big dollop of creamy chile-spiced greek yogurt. Healthy comfort food at it’s finest (and easiest).

(healthy) loaded baked sweet potatoes / loveandlemons.com(healthy) loaded baked sweet potatoes / loveandlemons.com

stuffed acorn squash

stuffed acorn squash / @loveandlemons

Over the years we’ve had more than a few untraditional Thanksgivings… the ones where we didn’t make it to the family feast because flying during the holiday weekend is the biggest. hassle. ever.

We’ve had a slew of friendsgivings, well before they were the cool hipster thing to do… One year, Jack and I spent a nice evening alone over a romantic dinner of butternut squash risotto… And I’ll never forget the year I didn’t fly home from college and I ate a can of tuna and frozen green beans. I know, so sad. But I had schoolwork to catch up on, and Publix frozen veggies were 10 for $1, so that was surely something to be thankful for.

stuffed acorn squash / loveandlemons.comstuffed acorn squash / loveandlemons.com

Last week, as we sat down to eat this dish, I couldn’t help but think – if only I knew how to make this back then. It’s not expensive, it’s not at all hard… and it’s practically Thanksgiving on one platter (minus the turkey of course, but I’m not a turkey eater). Creamy squash, hearty mushrooms, toasty pecans, and tart cranberries…

stuffed acorn squash / loveandlemons.comstuffed acorn squash / @loveandlemons

Of course, this would be a beautiful veggie addition to your thanksgiving table. It would also be a nice dinner for 2, or a hearty meal for 1 hungry college student + leftovers for the rest of the week. You could sub in quinoa here, but millet is my new favorite grain. It’s still gluten free, but tastes just like couscous.

kale & apple butternut salad

raw kale & apple butternut squash salad / loveandlemons.com

We’re on a butternut squash kick this week. It wasn’t intentional, it’s just that one butternut squash times two people equals about four meals. It’s a squash that keeps on giving.

Today’s special shape: ribbons! No special gadgets required – just get out your regular veggie peeler, and peel away. Toss with a tangy dressing (it’ll help tame down the raw bite), and toss with kale, apples, herbs and nuts.

raw kale & apple butternut squash salad / loveandlemons.comraw kale & apple butternut squash salad / loveandlemons.com

If this is all too green and healthy for your traditional thanksgiving meal, just think of it as your pre-turkey-day (delicious) detox!

roasted carrot turmeric soup

roasted carrot & sweet potato turmeric soup / loveandlemons.com

I freaking love soup. Warm, comfy, and healing for the soul. And with turmeric – supposedly healing for the body. A natural anti-inflammatory, “they say.” Which is what sparked the idea for this soup: Literal sparks of pain.

Do you have those weeks where things seem to unravel? Where one mishap, leads to the next? For me, it began with a broken glass on the kitchen floor and a teeny tiny piece that I somehow couldn’t get out of my foot. I limped around for a couple days, until I could feel it was gone. Also gone  my sense of balance, apparently. During the making of this post, I tripped over some photo equipment and crashed to the floor, tangled in orange extension cords. Blog: 1, Jeanine: 0

I probably should have resorted to takeout for the rest of the week to rest my aches and pains. But I had this idea for turmeric soup (and the blog must go on!). The up side — a super tasty soup… creamy, spicy and everything I needed.