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.

BBQ Cajun Grilled (Half) Chicken

It’s crazy that we’re 8 posts in and haven’t showcased a grilling recipe. Jon loves is obsessed with grilling. Whether it is 100 degrees or 20 degrees, you can always count on him being outside cooking something up. This particular chicken that he cooked has got to be one of my favorites. It is so flavorful and moist, and the leftovers are perfect for a soup or pot pie.

Begin by cleaning one whole chicken, discarding the innards and cutting it in half (or just purchase a half chick at the grocery store).

Grilled half chicken

Liberally season with our favorite Cajun Rub – don’t be afraid of over seasoning here.

Grilled half chicken

Place on a preheated grill on indirect flame. Cook for 2 hours, checking and rotating periodically.

In the meantime, prepare the barbeque sauce. This particular sauce is pretty sweet, which works well with the spiciness of the Cajun Rub. In a small pan over medium heat combine the following: ketchup, beer, minced garlic, ground mustard, Worcestershire sauce, honey, brown sugar, chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic salt and celery seed. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes. One the sauce has thickened, marinate the chicken while it is still on the grill. Continue marinating every 15 minutes for the last 45 minutes of grilling. Insert a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken has reach 165 degrees before removing from the grill. Let the chicken sit 10 minutes before serving.

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BBQ Cajun Grilled (Half) Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, cut in half
  • Cajun Rub
  • For the barbeque sauce (I normally don’t measure, so these are pure estimates. Adjust the amounts to your preference)
    • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 2 TBSP minced garlic
    • 3/4 cup light beer
    • 1/2 TBSP ground mustard
    • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 TBSP honey
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 tsp black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
    • 1/2 tsp celery seed

Directions

  1. Preheat grill. Clean chicken, removing innards, and cut in half. Liberally season with Cajun Rub. Place on grill, in indirect flame, for two hours. Check and rotate periodically.
  2. In the meantime, prepare the barbeque sauce by combining the ketchup, brown sugar, minced garlic, beer, ground mustard, Worcestershire sauce, honey, cayenne pepper, black pepper, chili powder, garlic salt, and celery seed in a small pan over medium heat. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
  3. Marinate the chicken for and additional 45 minutes, applying sauce every 15 minutes. Insert a thermometer to test that the chicken is at 165 degrees before removing from grill. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Mom’s Meatballs & Pasta Sauce

This is my mom and grandmother’s meatball and pasta sauce recipe. It’s really the only meatball and sauce recipe you need to know. The sauce is simple, flavorful, and perfect for any type of pasta you want to use it with. It’s a simple meal, but nothing tastes better than a homemade sauce.

Meatballs and Pasta Sauce

For the meatballs, mix together ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Roll the meat into small balls, about an inch in width (one pound of ground beef should get you about 35 meatballs). Heat oil in a large pan and fry the meatballs until they are browned on all sides, about five minutes.

Meatballs and Pasta Sauce

Remove the meatballs from the pan, reserving the liquid, and set aside. In the same pan, add tomato paste, tomato puree, 1 can water of each, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and a basil leaf. Simmer sauce for 30 minutes, add meatballs back in and simmer together for an additional hour.

Meatballs & Pasta Sauce

Use sauce for pasta, lasagna, ravioli, or freeze for later use.

Meatballs and Pasta Sauce

Meatballs and Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1 can each water
  • 1 basil leaf
Directions
  1. Heat a large Dutch oven with oil. In a medium bowl, mix together ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, parsley, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Form into small ball.
  2. Place the meatballs into the Dutch oven and cook until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Reserve the liquid.
  3. Add the tomato paste, tomato puree, 1 can each water, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 basil leaf, salt and pepper to taste, to the Dutch oven. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for another hour.

Rick’s Chicken and Rice Casserole

This recipe was given to me by Jon’s mom because it was one of his favorites growing up. It’s a pretty rich meal, but it’s SO delicious (and easy to make)!

All you need for ingredients is one can each of cream of celery, cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, and evaporated milk, long grain rice, butter, chicken, and a mixture of spices. We did a combination of chicken thighs and breasts, but you can do either-or (and you can definitely put in a lot more chicken than we did, since we’re just cooking for two).

Chicken & Rice Casserole

Assembly is as easy as it gets. Grease a 9×17 pan. Mix together the soups and milk directly in the pan and stir in the rice until it’s well blended. Place the chicken directly on top of the rice mixture. Generously season the chicken with the following spice mixture: paprika, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, salt & pepper. This mixture has the perfect amount of spice to it.

Chicken & Rice Casserole

Cut up small pieces of butter and place directly onto the chicken.

Chicken & Rice Casserole

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Chicken & Rice Casserole

Rick’s Chicken and Rice Casserole (recipe courtesy of Stacey Holaday)

Ingredients

  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain rice
  • Paprika
  • Poultry seasoning
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease a 9x17in pan and mix the soup and milk together. Add the rice and mix until well blended.
  3. Place the chicken directly on top of the rice mixture. Generously season the chicken with the following mixture: paprika, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Baked Stuffed Lobster

Baked stuffed lobster has got to be one of my favorite seafood dishes. My mom would always make this for special occasions and it was a great way to introduce out-of-town guests to some delicious New England food.

This dish is both impressive and easy to make. Only a handful of ingredients are needed: lobster, margarine, ritz crackers, and white wine. When shopping for this meal, we normally look for lobsters that are around 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 pounds each.

Baked Stuffed Lobster

The first step is prepping the lobsters. Lay the lobster on its back and take a dish towel to hold down the big claws with one hand. With the other hand, take a large, sharp knife and cut into the top of the lobster. Continue cutting into the lobster through the center and down the tail. Clean out the inside completely, making sure to remove the vein that runs through the center of the shell.

Baked Stuffed Lobster

Cut off the large claws and place them into boiling water for 15-20 minutes. Clean the meat out of the claw shells and set aside.Baked Stuffed Lobster

While the claws are boiling, place  1 1/2 sleeves of ritz crackers into a food processor and blend until finely crushed. Melt 1 stick of margarine. Assemble the stuffing by combining the ritz crackers, margarine, claw meat, and about 2 tablespoons of white wine. The stuffing should be a wet consistency; add more margarine if necessary.

Baked Stuffed Lobster

Evenly distribute the stuffing into the lobsters, making sure to place the stuffing all the way down to the tail.

Baked Stuffed Lobster

Bake the lobsters at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve with melted butter.

Baked Stuffed Lobster

Baked Stuffed Lobster

Ingredients

  • 2 lobsters (approximately 1.5 pounds each)
  • 1.5 sleeves ritz crackers, crushed
  • 1 stick margarine, melted
  • 2 TBSP white wine

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the lobsters and clean out the insides, making sure to remove the vein. Cut off the claws and place in boiling water for 15-20 minutes. Remove the meat from the claws.
  3. While the claws are cooking, place 1 1/2 sleeves of ritz crackers into a food processor and pulse until finely crushed. Combine the ritz crackers, melted margarine, claw meat, and white wine. Add more margarine, if necessary, to create a wet consistency.
  4. Evenly distribute the stuffing into the lobsters. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve with melted butter.