Minestrone Soup

 Minestrone4

 

There’s something incredibly satisfying about using up a whole bunch of random ingredients at one time….and actually having a bit of a culinary success with it.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a LOT of kitchen fails (especially lately, it seems), but one weekend, I was bound and determined to just get rid of a bunch of random pantry things and a whole bunch of produce that I had over-bought…once again.

I woke up relatively early (thanks to Scout who now does this thing where she stands right next to my bed and stares at me…without blinking…until I wake up and realize she has to go out.  It’s actually kind of cute, and I would much rather her wake me up to make me take her out than deciding to take matters into her own “paws”.)  After that, I felt a little jolt of inspiration to get into the kitchen and just “go.”  Turn my music on, drink some tea, and play around.   And chop some vegetables.  (There’s something extremely cathartic about chopping vegetables…if I’m in the mood for it.)

So…a minestrone soup was born.  With a few cans of random beans, a half-opened bag of whole wheat orzo, and some celery/carrots that were still good in the crisper…from God knows when I bought them.  I played around here with the ingredients, and since this is kind of a hodge podge recipe, you can take creative liberty here as well.  Use (or omit) your favorite kind of pasta.  For a vegan soup, don’t put in the Parmesan rinds (which I am absolutely loving having on hand-I’ve been freezing them since I seem to go through Parmesan like water-it adds so much additional flavor.)  And of course, you can add in whatever kinds of vegetables you like.  Serve with some warm, crusty bread…and you are good to go.

 

 Minestrone1

 

Minestrone Soup

Servings: about 6-8

 

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

One 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (keep the juices!)

1 bay leaf

One 2-inch Parmesan rind (optional, but highly recommended)

4 cups vegetable broth

One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 head kale, torn into pieces, stems discarded (I used lacinato kale here.)

1 cup cooked whole wheat orzo (or whatever kind of pasta you like)

 

Minestrone8

Instructions

1. In a large saucepot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.

2. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 5-6 minutes.

3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. Add the diced tomatoes (and their juices), bay leaf, Parmesan rind, vegetable broth, and both types of beans.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.  You can go ahead and cook your orzo in a separate pot at this point if you would like.

5.  Add the kale leaves and cooked pasta, stirring to thoroughly combine, and let cook for an additional 10-15 minutes (until the kale leaves have softened).  Enjoy.

 

Source:  A Curvy Carrot original.

February 18, 2014 - 9:24 am

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - I love soup with a whole wack of ingredients too! Especially minestrone! Loving this :)

February 18, 2014 - 9:42 am

Joanne - A bowl full of minestrone is the kind of thing that just makes my heart happy! Partly because it is SO GOOD FOR YOU. But also because comfort food = love.

February 18, 2014 - 12:12 pm

Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl - Yum!! You had better believe that this is my kind of soup! I cannot wait to give it a try :).

February 18, 2014 - 1:58 pm

Eileen - This minestrone sounds wonderful! Definitely super warming and delicious on a cold day. I especially love the idea of stuffing in all the kale in the house. :)

February 18, 2014 - 2:50 pm

Maria Tadic - My dog does the same thing!!! Except he puts his nose to my face and just keeps it pressed into my cheek… crazy animals! But loveable. As is this soup!!!

February 18, 2014 - 11:42 pm

Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody) - Minestrone is the soup of the gods! I’m a firm believer that a good minestrone soup can convert even the most wilful soup-haters.

April 11, 2014 - 6:02 am

Friday Foodie Favorites: April 11, 2014 - [...] easy peasy to make and result in me having a TON of leftovers.  I made Shanon’s recipe for Minestrone Soup a couple of weeks ago and instantly fell in love.  While I pretty much love any recipe that [...]

Baked Walnut Blueberry French Toast

BakedWalnutBBFT4

 

I love dishes like this one.  Something that, while it does have to soak for an extended amount of time, can be divided into two simple, quick steps:  prepping and baking.  Something that allows me to multitask-which has somehow become my way of life as things have gotten so incredibly busy.  Tonight is the first night in a long time that I don’t have an after-work obligation-which is great, considering most days I’m  already pretty tired after a long day in the office and all I really want to do is go home and read a book.  (Which I am doing after I finish this post, by the way.)

Sidenote:  if any of you have any really great book recommendations, I would love to hear.  I finished The Signature of All Things recently by Elizabeth Gilbert as well as Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall (who happens to be the mother of one of my best old friends/boyfriends from high school…tee hee), and I’m in need for another fiction reality departure.

So this dish-completely amenable to your own needs/desires.  The original recipe called for a pecan topping, but you can substitute with whatever you have on hand-I had a ton of walnuts needing to be used up.  As far as the fruit goes, apples would be great, too.  I even thought about adding in some orange zest-but then quickly forgot (what can you do?).  It’s great because it takes very little time to get the custard ready.  Simply soak the bread overnight and then all you have to do in the morning is preheat the oven and bake.

So, you know, you can have time to add more things to your schedule.  :)

 

 

BakedWalnutBBFT2

 

Baked Walnut Blueberry French Toast

Servings: 8

 

Ingredients

 

For the French toast:

1 pound loaf challah, sliced 1” thick

4 eggs

4 egg yolks

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole milk

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon sea salt

For the topping:

½ cup walnuts

2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 cup blueberries (you can use fresh or frozen here)

 

Instructions

1. For the French toast:  Spray a 13×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Arrange the bread slices in the baking pan (they will overlap a bit, and that is ok.)

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

4. Pour the mixture over the bread, making sure to cover the bread as best as you can.

5. Cover and chill at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.  You can also make the walnut crumble at this point and store in a tightly sealed container until ready to use.

6. For the topping:  In the bowl of your food processor, pulse together the walnuts, butter pieces, brown sugar and salt until the walnuts are coarsely chopped.

7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

8. Sprinkle the topping  and blueberries over the bread.

9. Place your baking pan on a rimmed baking sheet and cover tightly with foil.

10. Bake for 25 minutes.

11. Carefully remove the foil and bake until deeply golden, 35–40 minutes longer.

 

Source:  Adapted from Bon Appetit.

February 14, 2014 - 10:22 am

Lauren - Yum! I have heard good things about Signature of All Things so will try it (but I hated Eat Pray Love with such a passion she put me off!).
My favourite book of all time is ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. It’s a beautiful historical fiction and quick and easy to read.

February 14, 2014 - 10:52 am

srlacy - Thanks for the recommendation, Lauren. Yes, Signature of All Things is definitely different than Eat, Pray, Love…by leaps and bounds. I am going to look this one up!

February 14, 2014 - 2:29 pm

S.Lynn - I read “Enjoy the Decline” by Aaron Clarey. He blogs at http://captaincapitalism.blogspot.com/ Has many youtubes up, also. I passed the book on to my son (in the Navy) and my husband. They both loved it. Was a real eye opener. As for french toast, I’ll take it any way I can over pancakes, blintzes or crepes.

February 14, 2014 - 6:59 pm

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - That topping looks especially unreal – such a nice recipe!

February 14, 2014 - 11:31 pm

Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody) - That is a fabulous way to start the day. Baked French toast is one of the most easily prepared and luxurious breakfasts around. I could totally see myself making this and then sneaking back into bed to enjoy it.

February 16, 2014 - 10:02 am

Joanne - Waking up to this on a lazy morning would be absolutely ideal. Maybe I can get myself together enough to prep tonight for tomorrow! I really love Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Couldn’t put it down.

February 17, 2014 - 10:12 pm

Colleen - Love your blog…I’ve never commented but read regularly. We’re having your pad thai tomorrow night: my 2 and 4 year olds (and my husband) love it, and we haven’t ordered out since I started making it! I wanted to offer a couple of book recommendations: Longbourn is lovely, about the downstairs staff of Pride and Prejudice; We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, thoughtful and thought-provoking (and set in Bloomington, a bonus for a homesick Hoosier like me); and The Rosie Project, sweet and funny. And if you like mysteries, the Hugo Marston series, by Mark Pryor, is great: start with The Bookseller. Happy reading!

February 17, 2014 - 10:29 pm

srlacy - Colleen! I’m a homesick Hoosier, too. I went to undergrad at IU. I’m definitely checking that one out!!

March 3, 2014 - 10:27 am

Baked Egg (Toad in the Hole) French Toast | FamilyFreshCooking.com — Family Fresh Cooking - [...] Baked Walnut Blueberry French Toast The Curvy Carrot [...]

Rosebud’s Sugar Cookies

Rosebud Sugar Cookie1

I had an unexpected surprise the other day.  I was emptying out my email and found an old one that my mother had sent me a couple of years ago.  Attached in the email were a few more recipes from my late grandmother that my mother had found.  It was like finding a buried treasure.  This is the same woman who introduced her Butter-Topped White Bread, her Wheat Bread, what I believe is the world’s best Cinnamon Roll, and a Sticky Bun that will make you want to cry.

So I made these cookies.  I thought it was a nice nod to my grandmother as she equated baking with love.  She baked because she loved it-my mom always talks about some of her favorite childhood memories spent in the kitchen watching my grandma bake, and this experience forever imprinted in my mother.  And because of these positive experiences, my mom carried on the tradition of baking a lot when I was a child.  So, thankfully, it trickled down to me…and now I’m able to spread her love to you, too.  Very fitting.

You can frost these cookies with whatever your favorite frosting might be.  I used this frosting for these cookies because I remembered that it had a nice, creamy consistency with a lot of buttery flavor.  (Why not?  It’s Valentines Day.  Treat yourself.)

Rosebud Sugar Cookie3

Rosebud’s Sugar Cookies

Servings:  Make about 16-18 cookies

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Frosting and sprinkles, of course

Rosebud Sugar Cookie4

Instructions

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

2. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer), beat the butter  and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

3.  Add the egg, milk, and vanilla, mixing until smooth.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until combined.

5.  Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

7.  Once firm, place the dough on a flat, clean, lightly-floured surface and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thick.

8. Using the cookie cutter of your choosing, cut each cookie out individually and place each one on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing each cookie about 2 inches from one another.

9. Bake the cookies until lightly golden around the edges, about 5-8 minutes.  Cool the cookies completely before frosting.

Source: A Curvy Carrot original, courtesy of my late grandmother, Rosebud.

February 11, 2014 - 10:08 am

Joanne - This is such a sweet tribute to your grandmother and I’m sure she loves that you remember her through baking! The sentiment behind these (and that pretty in pink frosting) makes them V-Day perfect!

February 12, 2014 - 7:31 pm

Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody) - What a wonderful sentiment. I love recipes with a tale and if they’re delicious, colourful cookies all the better!

February 19, 2014 - 2:43 pm

Phi @ www.sweetphi.com - The beautiful photos of these and the story behind them … so sweet!

September 24, 2014 - 4:37 am

SapphireIce - Hi there! I just found your website this morning, and I love it! It’s wonderful how you share so much with each post, and your pictures are some of the best I’ve seen! I’ve been trying to find a really good sugar cookie recipe, and was hoping you’d reply to my comment. It’s always heartbreaking to have a recipe fail after putting so much effort into it, so I was wondering about these – you didn’t mention the flavor of these – if they were really good, if you’d make them again, or if they’re soft or crispy? Also, I’ve subbed, so I’ll be sure to stay updated on your posts! :)Thank you!