Baked spinach.

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My family was sitting around the dinner table one night in the mid ’90s. I was about eight or nine, still young enough to play with my dollhouse, but old enough to start stressing out about things like our house getting burglarized or burning to the ground. (I was a weird kid.) My sister must have been about six, probably missing a couple of her front teeth and generally being adorable.

Our mom had made zucchini for dinner, and neither of us really enjoyed it. I could handle it, but Katie – ever the typical showman youngest child – could. not. even. We were not rude, spoiled monsters, so we obviously did our best to eat stuff we didn’t like, but at that point in time, neither of us had much success conjuring up any enthusiasm. (Currently, we both dig it. THIS IS GROWING UP, KIDDOS.)

My mom asked us – probably in a sarcastic way that was meant to convey one or both of us was being ridiculous about something – what we thought the worst thing god could ever make us do was. I said something probably apropos of my weird, macabre, overly anxious childhood self, like, “Make you kill the people you love.”

Katie, however, was more…well, Katie about it.

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Chicken flaurentine.

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Yes, yes, I know, that’s not how you spell florentine, but since I made this up, and my name is Lauren, you get flaurentine.

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Okay, I know. That was rather dorky, but that’s what you get when you come ’round here. Recipes with a side of dorkiness and occasional puppy pictures. You should know this by now.

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Pasta with vegetables in a creamy yogurt sauce

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I’m not really one for making new year’s resolutions. Sure, I probably made some when I was younger, because I thought it was the “thing” to do, but it seems to me that more often than not, new year’s resolutions are about eating better, getting in shape, losing weight or something along those lines. Anyone who has ever frequented the gym knows that trying to get a workout in during January is all but impossible – really, it’s better to just wait ’til February, when the herd thins out – and I think that kicking off the longest, coldest, worst month ever (come at me, January fans) with a pledge to purge your diet of all things sweet/salty/carby/boozy is just a form of masochism, and I want no part of it.

In light of my resolution hangups, and as a tip of the hat to all of you who don’t share this mindset, I think I’ve found something that qualifies as both comfort food and a (quasi) healthy alternative. Also, it’s vegetarian-friendly, so, yay for that.

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Spicy soups make winter tolerable.

Originally posted February 2013.

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Every year, I do this thing where I get tired of winter and start doing things that one has no business doing during winter. For example, this weekend I made a side dish of sauteed zucchini and tomatoes to go with my salmon. While pretty much perfect during July and August, they’re a discolored, flimsy disappointment in February.

And today, I decided that I’d wear a dress. Not a sundress, mind you, but not something with sleeves, or made out of wool, and not something that came even remotely close to hitting my knees. In my defense, I did pair it with a cardigan and tights, although those tights were pantyhose and did basically nothing to keep my gams toasty.

I’m not sure if I’m just impatient, or defiant, or unconsciously trying to will the seasons to change early, but whatever the underlying cause may be (I’m going to go ahead and say that it’s an equal blend of all three of those things), whenever I start doing this, I always end up somewhat disappointed. At this point in the season, I’d really like to be able to fast-forward to June, when I’ll be over the hump of debilitating pollen allergies, able to escape to the beach after work (!!!), and go to a couple of sweet family reunions. However, I’d settle for being able to fast-forward to March 31, when the greatest show ever (with maybe the exception of Arrested Development) returns with what are guaranteed to be crazy-awesome episodes, and when I’ll be able to walk my dog for more than 30 seconds without wanting to run back into my apartment and wrap myself in a bathrobe, Snuggie and approximately 785,219 blankets.

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