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

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.

Easy Bruschetta

Bruschetta is best in the summer when you can use fresh tomatoes and basil. But on a night like tonight, where it is a chilling 12 degrees outside, it’s nice to make something that tastes like summer. This is always a big hit as an appetizer because it is quick an easy to make and so fresh and tasty.

Easy Bruschetta garlicandgrits.com

I prefer to use a French loaf because the slices are small and perfect for an appetizer, but really any type of bread can be used. The same goes for tomatoes. I love the size and sweetness of the cherry tomatoes. You also want to make sure to use a good olive oil because the flavor will be front and center on this dish!

Easy Bruschetta garlicandgrits.com

Slice the loaf of bread (one loaf should get you about 15 pieces) and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes. The bread should be crispy with a light golden brown color. While the bread is toasting, quarter the tomatoes, chop the basil, and peel 1-2 cloves of garlic.

Easy Bruschetta garlicandgrits.com

Once the bread is finished toasting, the bruschetta is ready to be assembled. Take a garlic clove and rub it onto each slice of toasted bread. Next, press the tomato slices into each slice. Top with a little bit of salt, a generous amount of olive oil, and sprinkle with basil. Enjoy quickly – they won’t last long!

Easy Bruschetta garlicandgrits.com

Easy Bruschetta

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of French bread
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • Cherry tomatoes (approximately 25)
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Basil

Directions

  1. Slice the bread into about 15 pieces and toast in the oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes. While the bread is toasting, quarter the tomatoes, chop the basil, and peel the garlic cloves.
  2. Rub each slice of bread with a garlic clove. Press the cherry tomatoes into the bread, sprinkle with salt, generously top with olive oil and basil.

Easy Bruschetta garlicandgrits.com