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In the Kitchen: More resolutions and winter soup recipes

In the Kitchen: More resolutions and winter soup recipes
New year's is a good time to check and recalibrate your oven's accuracy. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Are you a fan of New Year's resolutions? Regardless of where you stand (or whether or not you've already broken any this year), there's no time like the beginning of the year to think about a fresh start. It's also a good time to clean your kitchen. We offer several tips to help you reboot your kitchen for the new year.

We've also looked through our recipe database for some of our favorite low-calorie recipes, because, well, resolutions. We share three great salad recipes that come at or under 300 calories. And if you're a big smoothie fan, we've found a service that will deliver smoothie ingredients right to your door.

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Are you looking for perfect cold-weather recipes? Sometimes there's nothing like a rich bowl of soup to warm you up. We share a number of favorite recipes you can easily make on a busy weeknight.

Finally, even if you have resolved to be more healthful this year, it is always fun to indulge, if only occasionally. When you do, you'll want to make the maple butter-soaked hoe cakes from Barrel & Ashes.

7 ways to reboot your kitchen for the new year

Freshen up your spices for a new year of cooking.
Freshen up your spices for a new year of cooking. (Gina Ferrazzi / Los Angeles Times)

There's no time like the start of a new year to take hard look at your kitchen. In the L.A. Times Test Kitchen, this is the time we clean out the refrigerators. We check our ovens for calibration and go over our kitchen tools to make sure everything is working properly. There's something about having a clean kitchen at the start of the year that puts cooking and baking — perhaps even dietary habits — in a fresh perspective. Here are a seven ways to reboot your kitchen for the year ahead.

3 salad recipes with fewer than 300 calories

It's the start of the new year and you're trying your hardest to keep that resolution to eat better. If you're attempting to fit more salads into your diet, there's no rule that says they have to be boring. We have three salad recipes that may be low in calories, but they are big on flavor. Think quinoa with orange and crumbled feta or broccoli, wild rice and pecans. Because eating a salad for dinner isn't the end of the world, especially when there's cheese involved.

Smoothie ingredients delivered right to your door

Salad of oranges, quinoa, radishes and feta
Salad of oranges, quinoa, radishes and feta (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

There's no shortage of make-at-home meal delivery kits that include everything you'll need to cook dinner at home. And now, there's a make-at-home smoothie delivery service.  And yes, it's all organic, non-GMO and vegan. Deputy Food Editor Jenn Harris reports on the new Green Blender smoothie delivery service, that started on the East Coast and has just expanded to Los Angeles. All you need is a blender, some water and ice.

6 chicken soup and stew recipes to warm you up tonight

A cranberry smoothie made with ingredients from a Green Blender delivery box. The company is now delivering smoothie ingredients to homes in Los Angeles.
A cranberry smoothie made with ingredients from a Green Blender delivery box. The company is now delivering smoothie ingredients to homes in Los Angeles. (Green Blender)

With El Niño finally making its presence known here in Southern California -- what is this wet stuff falling from the sky? -- we scoured our recipe database for some of our favorite soups and stews. Because soup is comfort food in a bowl. We've compiled six recipes for chicken soups and stews, along with five robust vegetarian soups, perfect for a chilly winter evening. These recipes are perfectly suited for a busy weeknight -- one even comes together in the microwave -- ideal when you're short on time, energy or both.

Barrel & Ashes hoe cake

Recipe: <a href="http://recipes.latimes.com/recipe-chunky-vegetable-chicken-soup/" target="_blank">Chunky vegetable chicken soup</a>
Recipe: Chunky vegetable chicken soup (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Food Editor Amy Scattergood is a big fan of the hoe cakes at Barrel & Ashes, the Studio City barbecue joint, so much so that she got the recipe. "These are not so much the hoe cakes of the traditional South — the name possibly comes from the slavery-era practice of baking flat rounds of cornmeal batter on a hoe blade heated in a fire — but rich discs of butter-laden cornmeal cakes fired in small cast iron pans." Out of the oven, the cakes are doused with maple butter, along with a generous sprinkling of green onions and coarse salt.

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