At Home for the Holidays: Fill your Plate with Love and Happiness

Starting at a young age, many of us learn that food can make us feel better. Throughout our lives, we equate food with positive feelings like happiness and satisfaction, and we turn to food for comfort. It makes sense—who doesn’t feel happy, satisfied and even a bit sleepy after a big turkey dinner? 


All cultures have customs and traditions around food. For me, birthdays meant choosing a special meal and a type of cake and ice cream. We all have memories of happy times, and by eating foods that remind us of those times, we symbolically consume that past happiness. 

Comfort foods can also be linked to specific people in our lives: Eating a specific food that a loved one favored can produce happy thoughts by triggering fond memories or associations of that person.


I remember the tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches my mom would make for me that always made me feel special. Comfort food could be the food your mother prepared for you when you were a sick kid. No wonder you think of your mom when you have some hot chicken noodle soup.

Keep the old and try some new recipes that make you feel at home or like celebrating and make some new memories this holiday season. Here are a couple of recipes from Chef Jen Richards who was the previous owner of Rainbow Café & Catering in Pine Island and is now with Grand Rounds Brewing Company & Restaurant in downtown Rochester. In addition, we have turkey roasting tips from the turkey producers and owners of Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls. 

Carrot, Ginger & Roasted Garlic Soup 

Recipe provided by Jennifer Richards

  • 2 cups carrots, diced small 
  • 4 cloves garlic, rubbed in olive oil  
  • 1/2 sweet Vidalia onion, sliced 
  • olive oil/sea salt 
  • 2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger 
  • 2 Tbsp. grated fresh turmeric 
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup 
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon 
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme 
  • 2 cups (preferably organic free-range) chicken stock (or vegetable stock) 
  • ½ cup heavy cream  (or coconut milk) 

Drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, then roast carrots, onion, garlic (wrapped in foil) on a parchment lined sheet pan at 350˚ until tender. While still hot, add to all other ingredients, sans cream, in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth (may add more chicken/vegetable stock if needed
for consistency). Stir in cream (or coconut milk). Season with sea salt and white pepper to taste.

Cranberry Ginger Salsa 

Recipe provided by Jennifer Richards

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped 
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced 
  • 1×1-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced 
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime 
  • 1 Tbsp. local honey 
  • Sea salt to taste 

Combine all ingredients, season to preference with sea salt and let macerate for at least 20 minutes before serving with chips, as a condiment on fish tacos, burgers, chicken/turkey breasts or pork chops. It’s also good on baked 
sweet potatoes. 


Check out locally raised, specialty meat for the holidays from Rochester Downtown Farmers Market or Ferndale Market in Cannon Falls. When the temperatures fall outdoors, roast meat in the oven or crockpot to fill your home with the aromas that encourage your family to gather. 

When Dale Peterson and his wife, Fern, first started raising turkeys on their Cannon Falls farm, they did it without shortcuts. Seventy-five years and three generations later, that philosophy hasn’t changed. “We take pride in growing turkeys the way both our farm’s namesake and nature intended. Without the use of antibiotics or artificial growth promotants. Free-range during the warmer months. Fed their natural diet of grains, vitamins and minerals from a local feed mill. And processed naturally, without additives,” says Dale. 

Ferndale Market offers turkey roasting tips to make sure your bird is juicy and full of flavor, no matter how you prepare it. For cooking a juicy turkey, Ferndale Market recommends:

  1. Make sure your turkey is fully thawed in the refrigerator. Let your turkey rest on the counter until it reaches room temperature before putting it in the oven.
  2. Melt some butter and rub the melted butter under the skin of the breast, thighs, and legs and all over the exterior of the bird. Season the exterior with salt and pepper or any additional spices if you wish.
  3. To keep the bird from drying out, tent the breast with tin foil or cook the turkey upside down in a roasting rack so the juices pool in the breast instead of running down the turkey. Upside down cooking also puts more heat on the thighs, allowing them to reach the higher internal temperature more quickly. If you want crispy skin, simply flip the bird upright at the end. 
  4. The breast should reach 165˚ F and the legs and thighs 170-175˚ F.
  5. Make sure to let the turkey rest on the counter 30-40 minutes after cooking so the juices are absorbed back into the meat.  

Dawn Sanborn is a professional photographer and enjoys lots of pickles with her grilled cheese sandwich.