Minestone Soup (kid approved with an occassional whine)

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The calendar say it’s Spring, but Northeastern Ohio says otherwise.  It seems we had our Spring in Winter and now our Winter in Spring.  Sure,  I’m a tad disappointed we can’t have those Springtime temperatures all the time, but that just leaves me rolling with the cooler weather punches.   In this case it is a warm, hearty and tasty punch 🙂

I’ve made this minestrone soup for years. You just can’t go wrong with the soup.  It’s fast, easy and you adapt the ingredients to most of your families likings .   It usually gets a kid approval with occasional whines of, “why do you  have to put tomatoes in it”, or ” can I pick the beans out?”.   The original recipe is from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.  I have adapted the original recipe to fit my families forever changing tastes.  There are some ingredients that I sneak in the soup, but then there are other ingredients that I know will cause the big sighs and whines so I omit those all-together.

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Zucchini Cakes with Diavolo Sauce

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Inspiration is all around me. It comes in various forms, colors, textures, feelings, tones, and nature (I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea 🙂 ).  Many times throughout the day I have my own display of fireworks shooting off in my head. Ideas come alive and that is when I’m usually grabbing my notebook to jot down a thought or reaching for my phone to take pictures for later use. 

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Cheeseburger Pizza

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Pizza is one of those meals that comes to mind when in a pinch for a quick meal or feeding a group of hungry kids. It’s easy to pick up the phone and order from your local pizza shop (which I do often) but where is the personal creative touch in that? Lets put aside the usual marinara sauce and stir things up a bit with giving cheeseburger pizza some much needed attention. There are many versions and components in making a pizza. This version happens to bring the best of two worlds together in one big messy bite. A cheeseburger taste in pie form and creating a dinnertime buzz. Wait till you taste this. It packs a serious cheeseburger taste!

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Classic Italian Meatballs

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Meatballs. Meatballs. Meatballs!  Slightly browned, round balls of ground meat, flavored with a handful of components that create happiness in your mouth.  Texture and flavor are key to making the best meatballs.

My make-believe Italian side came out the other day.  There is something about the aroma of meatballs and tomato sauce simmering on the stove that makes me very happy.  My senses go into overdrive while stove-top magic is happening.  The air is filled with tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil, parsley, parmesan cheese, and red wine.  I feel like I should be singing, or better yet, have an Italian man using his expressive tone and hands while serenading me 😉

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Basic (But Not Boring) Tomato Sauce

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Tomato sauce can be simple and flavorful with just a few ingredients. Or, it can be detailed and chunky, as if you have a garden in your pot.

I love the smell of fresh herbs, mountains of garlic (maybe a little exaggerated), tomatoes, and red wine.  It’s important to pick a red wine that you enjoy drinking because a little is added to your sauce and a glassful for you.  A splash here and a taste there 🙂

I’ve said it before and will say it again: recipes are guidelines.  Especially tomato sauce recipes!  This is your chance to play around.  A pinch more of this and a splash more of that, you can add sautéed onions, mushroom, zucchini or peppers (hence the garden-in-your-pot analogy.)  Add a variety of meats for a more complex flavor.

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Garden Medley Ratatouille

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A garden medley to satisfy any vegetable lovers’ tastes.  This can be served on a bed of rice and served as a main meal or used as a side dish.

These vegetables are available year round in grocery stores but we are embarking on summer’s production of an abundance of fresh green zucchinis, deep purple eggplants, colorful peppers, and a variety of tomatoes.  Whether you have your own backyard garden or exploring local farmer’s markets, summer is about ready to explode with fresh pickings.

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