thanksgiving prep tips + big news!

Before we dive into the upcoming holiday, I have some huge news to announce – I’m moving to the West Coast! The Simple Pairings kitchen will be officially relocating to sunny California. Lots of exciting things are in the works, and I hope you share in my enthusiasm for what this fresh energy will bring to my kitchen!

Before the colossal move, I’ll be on the East Coast for the Thanksgiving. And let’s face it, as largely anticipated as it is, a critical part of planning the Thanksgiving feast is knowing how much food to prepare per person. It can be a bit daunting walking through grocery store aisles with turkeys ranging so vastly in size. Once you throw in the wrench of targeting a desired amount of leftovers [aren’t those the best?] you’re potentially left befuddled. Here are some good reads to help prepare for the big day. My favorite article is the last one, which highlights some ways you can dial back the pressure on yourself and enjoy the holiday along with your guests. Because who wants a stressful holiday? Let the countdown to the feast begin!

1. Planning for enough turkey and potatoes [food52.com]

2. A guide to planning amounts for the entire meal [wholefoodsmarket.com]

3. A week of Thanksgiving prep [latimes.com]

4. Importantly, how to be a relaxed host [thekitchn.com]

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potato leek soup

potato leek soup | simple pairings

Now that we’re fully in the midst of soup season, I knew that Potato Leek Soup was in order. One of my favorite soups, I was introduced to it from a wonderful neighbor from days gone by. Hearty and laden with leeks, it’s super savory and incredibly satisfying. That’s why I was excited to collaborate with Melissa’s Produce – their Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes are perfect for this soup. As soon as they hit the doorstep, I got busy in my kitchen.

These potatoes are dreamy – the perfect base for a thick, creamy soup. They stand well as a backbone for the vast amount of leeks in this recipe, too – great for when you’re want to enjoy an ample amount of veggies. The potatoes cook quickly due to their tiny size – making prep work a breeze. If you’re a regular soup-maker, I advocate picking up one of these immersion blenders, as it will make the process incredibly easy. No need to transfer batches to the blender to puree – just blend right in the pot in which you’re already cooking. Because easier soup-making means more time to relax and enjoy this beautiful fall weather.

potato leek soup | simple pairingspotato leek soup | simple pairingspotato leek soup | simple pairingspotato leek soup | simple pairingspotato leek soup | simple pairings

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potato leek soup

Hearty and healthy, as elusive as the pair might be, co-exist quite beautifully in this soup. Earthy potatoes and mild leeks make for a brilliantly green, savory soup. A simplistic soup, seasoned only with bay, salt, pepper and cayenne, the vegetables shine well here.

Note: Be sure to thoroughly rinse your leeks, as they tend to be incredibly sandy, and you’ll want to avoid that grittiness from ending up in your finished soup. It helps to rinse the whole leeks well, and then after slicing, place them in a large bowl of water, swish and massage the leeks with your fingers, and let the sand sink to the bottom of the bowl.

Makes about 8 cups
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking and Robert Irvine

1 1/2 pounds Baby Dutch potatoes [can substitute Yukon Gold]
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 stalks celery, diced
2 large leeks, rinsed thoroughly, both white and green parts, sliced finely in half-moons
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cups vegetable stock
2 medium bay leaves
1/2 cup milk [I use almond]
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Heavy dash of cayenne, to taste, optional [I use three heavy shakes]
Crumbled bacon, grated cheddar, minced chives, or sliced scallions, for serving, all optional

In a medium stockpot, add the potatoes and cover with water. Cover the pot and bring to a rapid boil. Boil for 10 minutes or so, or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain and set aside. Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters, depending on the size of the potatoes.

In a very large stockpot or enameled dutch oven, warm the butter and olive oil until hot on medium-high heat. Add the celery and stir until coated. Add the leeks and onion, and stir until coated. Cook until the leeks are tender and reduce by about half, stirring often to ensure even cooking, about 15-20 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, bay leaves, and cooked potatoes. Stir well, and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender and the soup is fragrant.

Transfer the soup to a blender, or using an immersion blender, blend the soup until completely smooth. Add the milk. Taste the soup – it will be a bit mild, so seasonings will be important here. Season somewhat generously with sea salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, to taste, stirring as your go. Give the soup a thorough stir, let it sit for a few minutes, and give it another taste. Adjust any seasonings, if desired.

Serve warm, and with toppings of choice, if desired: crumbled bacon, grated cheddar, minced chives, or sliced scallions.

© Simple Pairings. All rights reserved.

happy halloween + links to celebrate

happy halloween from simple pairings!

Happy Halloween, guys! Although you won’t find me camping out at haunted houses to celebrate, I do love Halloween festivities. I have such wonderful memories from all the years that my sister and I carefully planned our costumes and collected buckets of candy. Now it’s time to pay it forward and spread that same excitement to all the little kids running around the neighborhood. You’ll find me snacking on these sour gummies, pretzel M&M’s, and some of my favorite licorice ever between doorbell rings.

To celebrate, a few of my favorite Halloween links -

1. The history of jack-o’-lanterns [marthastewart.com]

2. Halloween candy bar cart styling [theskinnyconfidential.com]

3. How to make your pumpkins last longer! [thekitchn.com]

4. I want these festive cupcakes [realsimple.com]

5. Beautiful, DIY candy [saveur.com]

I’d love to hear, what is your favorite part about Halloween?

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