Herbed Tomato Soup with Cornbread Croutons

Herbed Tomato Soup with Cornbread Croutons | coffeeandquinoa.com

Well hello there! Surprised to see me?

It’s pretty obvious that I’ve been taking a bit of a break from the blog recently. To be honest, it’s been lovely to follow other people’s recipes, only cook at mealtimes, and keep my camera hidden out of site. I think my break will continue for a little while, but I couldn’t keep myself from popping in to share this soup recipe with you.

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Shredded Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

Shredded Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad | coffeeandquinoa.com

Thank you for all your sweet comments on Monday’s post! I loved reliving our wedding day through sharing it with you. There are more photos to come, but first I thought we could use some food to tide us over.

I was up early before work last week, making this salad for a Thanksgiving potluck, when it hit me: now it feels like the holidays. I never, ever cook before work – oatmeal or a smoothie is my max! – so it’s a rare occasion that I’m shredding sprouts before my morning cup of coffee. (Should I have kept that to myself so you’d think I’m a super dedicated blogger who whips up blog recipes in the wee hours? Oops.) In real life, morning cooking is limited to the holidays, when there’s so much food to cook and so little time. Such was certainly the case last week! Somehow, slicing kale at an ungodly hour of the morning felt like something special, and I was suddenly ready for all December’s festivities. Isn’t it nice that raw vegetables can put me in the holiday spirit?!

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Creamy Cajun Cauliflower Pasta

Creamy Cajun Cauliflower Pasta | coffeeandquinoa.com

Remember that time I spent a weekend in the Big Easy (does anyone actually call it that?!) eating alll the food? I promised you (and myself) that I’d create some Cajun-inspired recipes when I got home, and what do you know, here I am doing just that.

Creamy Cajun Cauliflower Pasta | coffeeandquinoa.comCreamy Cajun Cauliflower Pasta | coffeeandquinoa.com

Emphasis on the Cajun-inspired. Because the “cream” in this creamy pasta is, well, a vegetable. Cauliflower, to be exact. And, in my experience, that doesn’t come close to authentic Cajun cooking. The restaurant that inspired this recipe certainly did not let any cruciferous florets near their creamy Cajun pasta. Nope, they used a heavy hand with the real cream, and it was deeeelicious. But in our own kitchens, we have to do things a little differently, right? That’s where the cauliflower comes in.

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Twice-Baked Butternut Squash with Ricotta and Sage

Twice-Baked Butternut Squash with Ricotta and Sage | coffeeandquinoa.com

Twice-Baked Butternut Squash with Ricotta and Sage, a.k.a. The Day I Fell In Love With Ricotta Cheese.

Discovering new ingredients is one of the most rewarding parts of writing this blog. I can only imagine what a cooking rut I’d be stuck in if I wasn’t always brainstorming new recipes!

But seriously, in 2+ years of writing this blog, why has no one told me about ricotta?

I mean, I knew about ricotta, but I’d be surprised if I’ve ever used it. I’ve only ever known it in stuffed shells and lasagna, dishes which (let’s be honest) I’m too lazy to make. But as I was planning this twice-baked butternut squash, Deb from Smitten Kitchen made these Squash Toasts with Ricotta and Cider Vinegar. I served them as an appetizer a few weekends ago, and though I ended up using goat cheese instead out of convenience, it occurred to me that ricotta would be the perfect thing to add creaminess to this twice-baked squash.

Waaaas it ever. The tangy ricotta and sweet, smooth butternut are a match made in heaven. Which brings me to the whole butternut part of the equation…

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Spinach Salad with Strawberry Jam Vinaigrette

Spinach Salad with Strawberry Jam Vinaigrette | coffeeandquinoa.com

Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but I feel repeatedly insulted by my dry cleaner.

It’s not just the prices, although those are absurd. It’s only recently that I started buying clothes (read: silk blouses) that I can’t just throw in my trusty Dryel bag to “dry clean,” and it’s hard to stomach more than $10 to clean a piece of clothing I already paid too much for.

But no, it’s the tags they attach to my clothing that get under my skin.

“It is our professional opinion that this stain cannot be removed.” That was attached to one of my blouses a few weeks ago, inducing immediate panic. I searched it high and low for a stain – I hadn’t known it had one! – and eventually came to the conclusion that they meant it had some underarm discoloration. Translation: It is our professional opinion that you sweat an ungodly amount. Well, sorry!

I wore that blouse on a Monday, and spilled coffee down my front, first thing. I wish I were kidding.

Spinach Salad with Strawberry Jam Vinaigrette | coffeeandquinoa.com

Most recently it was an Anthropologie sweater that I decided was worth dry cleaning because I was afraid I’d ruin it any way I attempted to clean it. It’s super delicate – a really loose weave, almost like a lace sweater, if that makes any sense – and I can barely put it on over my earrings without it catching. But when I picked it up from the dry cleaner it had a big bold tag that said “ATTENTION: DO NOT DRY CLEAN.” Might as well have said  “ATTENTION: LEARN TO READ” because when I checked the tag, sure enough, “do not dry clean.”

I guess that one’s my fault. But the chances of that “hand wash cold” foolishness happening? Roughly 0%. No, I take that back. Exactly 0%.

We’ll see what the dry cleaner has in store for me next time. Do they notice if I stretch stuff out?

In any case, may this not be the kind of Monday that starts with an insult and a coffee stain on your shirt. May this be the kind of Monday where you make a salad dressing out of jam!

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