Fresh Roasted Vegetables

These are the best roasted vegetables you’ll ever make and the easiest roasted vegetables you’ll ever make. I’d have to say we cook these about once a week because they are so easy and go with almost every meal. Of course they’re best in the summer, when the vegetables can be bought from our local farmer’s market, but I wouldn’t discourage you from making these year round.

The ingredients are as simple as it gets: vegetables, olive oil, and Tony Chachere Cajun Season. Gather your favorite vegetables and cut into even sized pieces. My favorite veggie combination for this is zucchini, summer squash, onion, and cherry tomatoes, but you can really use whatever you’d like.

Roasted Vegetables

Place the vegetables onto a cookie sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and liberally season with Tony Chachere Cajun Seasoning. This seasoning has the perfect amount of spice but doesn’t overpower the vegetables.

Roasted Vegetables

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping with a spatula about half way through. Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

Roasted Vegetables

Fresh Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 onion
  • 1 small container of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBSP Tony Chachere Cajun Seasoning
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut vegetables into bite sized pieces, keeping a consistent size between them all. Place onto a cooking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with the cajun seasoning.
  3. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, flipping the vegetables half way through.

Roasted Vegetables

Minestrone Soup

There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a cold day. Even though it’s now officially spring, it doesn’t necessarily feel like it. This morning it was 30 degrees outside when I left for work and it made me crave nothing more than a comforting bowl of minestrone soup when I got home.

This recipe is one of my favorite soup recipes because it is quick and simple to make. No need to worry if you don’t have all day to let a pot of soup simmer, this will be ready to enjoy in about 45 minutes. Serve with a sandwich or a crusty loaf of bread and you have the perfect one-pot lunch or dinner. The ingredients are simple: carrot, celery, onion, garlic, ground beef, diced tomatoes, cannellini beans, tomato paste and beef broth.

Minestrone Soup

Dice the carrot, celery, and onion. Place in a large dutch oven and saute until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. add the ground beef and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the meat is browned, about 5 minutes.

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Stir in the tomato paste and mix to combine. Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, and bay leaf. Simmer on low until the soup has reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces lean (8 percent fat) ground beef
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Directions

  1. In a large Dutch oven, add and heat the oil over medium hear. Stir in the onion, carrot, celery, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to high and add the ground beef and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the beef is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste and mix to combine. Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

St. Joseph’s Day Zeppoles

March 19th is St. Joseph’s day. In the Catholic-Italian community where I grew up, St. Jospeh’s day meant going to your favorite Italian bakery and eating zeppoles (a type of cream puff pastry). Growing up, I was extremely fortunate to have many places to buy a pastries from for St. Joseph’s day. However, here in Virginia, there is no bakery in driving distance to find a zeppole (trust me, I checked). That’s why, last year I finally decided to make them on my own.

Little did I know that there was an extreme difference between a “Rhode Island zeppole” and the type of zeppole most people think of. Most people know zeppoles as being like a fried donut, similar to Giada’s recipe here. A Rhode Island zeppole, on the other hand, is a puff pastry with a cream filling topped with a cherry. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many recipes out there for our specific type of zeppole, but I found one that gets pretty close to the pastries I grew up eating on St. Joseph’s Day.

I’m not going to lie, this recipe takes a little bit of work and can be frustrating if you don’t get the dough completely correct. But the final product is absolutely delicious and well worth it! Although, when all is said and done, I will probably stick to making it once a year on March 19th.

Zeppole

St. Joseph’s Day Zeppoles

Ingredients

Pastry shells:
1 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs

Filling:
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 ounce cornstarch
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups whipping cream, whipped
Powdered sugar for garnish
Dark cherries for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan, boil the water with the butter, salt and sugar. Add the flour all at once and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture pulls away from the sides without sticking. Remove from the fire and beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Let cool.
  3. Line a sheet pan with baking paper. With a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, pipe the dough into puffs on the sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for approximately 15 minutes more or until golden brown. Remove and let cool.
  4. Make the filling: Beat the yolks with the sugar until very light. Add the flour and cornstarch to the yolk mixture. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a boil slowly, and add the yolk mixture while beating until smooth. Over low heat, cook until thickened, stirring all the time. Remove from heat and add the rum, orange zest and vanilla. Let cool completely and fold in the whipped cream.
  5. Fill the pastries: Split the pastries and hollow them out; fill and put the tops back on. Dust with powdered sugar. Top with cherries. 4 servings.
Zeppole

Skillet Mac and Cheese

Mac n cheese has got to be one of our favorite side dishes with BBQ. Normally, I use a crock-pot mac n cheese recipe that my mother-in-law gave me. It’s perfect because it cooks long and slow – just about the same amount of time it takes Jon to smoke or grill ribs. However, the other night we wanted to make this dish but didn’t have all of the time needed for the crock pot recipe. That’s where this skillet recipe, inspired by a recipe from Southern Living, came into play. This dish is flavorful and is the perfect base if you want to add any additional items (like bacon, sun-dried tomatoes, green onions, etc…..)

Skillet Mac and Cheese

Skillet Mac and Cheese

Skillet Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 qt. milk
  • 6 TBSP butter, cut into pieces
  • 6 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 1 lb pasta (I used penne)
  • 1 (8 oz) package shredded extra sharp cheddar
  • 1 (8 oz) package shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups panko
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler with oven rack 8-9 inches from heat.
  2. Bring 1/4 cup salt and 4 qt water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.
  3. Meanwhile, microwave milk in a microwave safe 1-qt glass measuring cup covered with plastic wrap at HIGH 3 minutes. While milk is heating, melt butter in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; add flour, and cook whisking constantly. 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in hot milk. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a low boil, whisking often.
  4. Add pasta to boiling water and cook 8 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, continue to cook sauce, whisking often. 6 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in cheeses, hot sauce, 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Cover.
  6. Stir together panko and olive oil.
  7. Drain pasta and fold into cheese sauce. Sprinkle with panko mixture.
  8. Broil 1 to 2 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Serve immediately.
Skillet Mac and Cheese

Gram’s Mississippi Mud Pie

When I first met Jon’s grandma she told me how much he loves her Mississippi Mud Pie. So when it came to his birthday this last year I thought it would be great to surprise him with a Mississippi Mud Pie dessert. Little did I know, there are approximately a million different recipes out there. I randomly selected a recipe I thought looked the best (having never made it before) but the consensus was that it was not like grandma’s.

Luckily, Gram was kind enough to mail us the recipe to her mud pie a few months later. Thank goodness, because her recipe is amazing. It’s a perfect dessert for a large group (or just a dessert-loving husband). Hope you enjoy this classic recipe from Jon’s Gram!

Mississippi Mud Pie

Gram’s Mississippi Mud Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, divided
  • 1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 cartons cool whip, thawed and divided
  • 2 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 2 packages instant chocolate pudding mix
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place flour in a small bowl, cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in 1/2 cup walnuts. Press onto bottom of ungreased 13x9in baking dish. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely.
  3. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar until smooth. Fold in one carton of whipped topping. Spread mixture over crust.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk milk an pudding mix for 2 minutes. Gently spread over cream cheese layer. Top with remaining cool whip. Sprinkle the res of the walnuts over the cool whip. Refrigerate 1-2 hours before serving.
Mississippi Mud Pie