Marcella Hazan’s Minestrone (Vegetable Soup)

Minestrone Soup

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cups peeled, diced potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white beans, if available or 1 1/2 cups canned cannellini beans or Great Northern beans or 3/4 dried white beans, cooked
  • 2 cups diced zucchini ( about 2 medium zucchini)
  • 1 cup diced green beans
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 6 cups Homemade Meat broth or 2 cups canned beef broth mixed with 4 cups water
  • the crust from a 1 or 2 pound piece of Parmesan cheese, carefully scraped clean (optional)
  • 2/3 cups canned Italian tomatoes, with their juice
  • 1/3 cup  freshly grated Parmesan cheese

20141227_204342Choose a stockpot large enough for all the ingredients. Put in the oil, butter and sliced onion and cook over medium-low heat until the onion wilts and is pale gold in color but not browned. Add the diced carrots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring once or twice. Repeat the procedure with the celery, potatoes, white beans (if you are using fresh beans), zucchini, and green beans, cooking each one a few minutes and stirring. Then add the shredded cabbage and cook for about 6 minutes giving the pot an occasional stir.

Add the broth, the cheese crust, the tomatoes and their juice, and a little bit of salt. (Go easy on the salt especially if you are using canned broth. You can correct the seasoning later.) Cover and cook at a very slow boil for at least 3 hours. If necessary, you can stop the cooking at any time and resume it later on. Minestrone should never be thin and watery, so cook until it is soupy thick. If you should find that the soup is becoming too thick, you can add another cup of homemade broth or water. Do not add more canned broth.

Fifteen minutes before the soup is done, add the canned or cooked dry beans (if you are not using fresh ones). Just before turning off the heat, remove the cheese crust and swirl in the grated cheese, then taste and correct for salt.

Classic Italian CookbookYield: 6 to 8 servings

From: The Classic Italian Cook Book by Marcella Hazan

Katie: My family decided to take a departure from traditional Christmas meals by having soup and sandwiches. My contribution was this minestrone soup. I’ve always wanted to make it, and I thought a recipe from this cookbook would be most like traditional minestrone soup. It turned out so well! I didn’t think it looked as pretty as some that I have seen in restaurants, but the taste was just phenomenal. Due to the way you cook it, even the cabbage still had some texture. I would definitely make this again anytime I want a delicious vegetable soup. The only drawback is that it does take time to chop all the vegetables, but there aren’t any hard procedures to try to master. So, as long as you have enough time, you’re good to go!

Gray: I though this was great.  As Katie said, the only drawback to the recipe is the time involved.  It is very hearty, more like a stew than a soup, but I would make this again in a heartbeat.  It is straightforward to make, but a little time consuming, and requires a while to cook.  If you had space to have  a second person chopping in the kitchen it might help some, but it is basically, chop-add, chop-add…  If you like minestrone, give this a try.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Butterscotch Blondies

Butterscotch Blondies

  • 9 ozs all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 10 T unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup egg substitute (or 3 eggs)
  • Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Stir with a whisk.

3. Place butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook 6 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Pour into a small bowl, and cool for 10 minutes. Combine butter and egg substitute (or eggs), stirring with a whisk. Pour butter mixture over flour mixture and stir until moistened. Spoon batter into a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Smooth top with spatula. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 48 squares.

Cooking Light Quick BakingYield: 4 dozen

From Cooking Light Quick Baking Magazine

Katie: I wanted to make something different for Christmas. I got to looking in this cookbook and found these butterscotch blondies. I was intrigued by the brown butter and wanted to give it a try. I do not keep egg substitute in the house and did not want to buy it for 3/4 cup, so I looked up the conversion to eggs and used 3 eggs. This recipe was definitely a winner and came out looking like the picture in the cookbook! I always think that is a good sign. When we tasted the blondies, we were so impressed. They are crunchy around the outside edges and the top is crisper. The inside was a wonderful gooey texture, which sometimes indicates not done, but since the toothpick came out clean I think they are supposed to taste like this! Whether or not the gooey inside was intended by the recipe, I would make them the same way again because they were so good!!

Gray: Wow, these are great!  I could eat them all day, every day… That’s probably not a good thing, but if you want to have some great blondies, make these now.  I’m not sure how this recipe came out of a Cooking Light publication, but these are fantastic.  I can’t say enough about how good these are.

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Cabbage Casserole

Cabbage Casserole

  • 1 medium cabbage, cut into thin wedges
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2/3 cup (2.6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp chili sauce

Combine cabbage wedges and water in  a dutch oven; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Drain well; place cabbage wedges in an ungreased 13×9-inch baking dish.

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk; cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Stir in salt and pepper; pour over cabbage. Bake uncovered at 375°F for 15 minutes.

Combine cheese and remaining 4 ingredients in a small bowl; stir well. Spread over cabbage. Bake 10 more minutes. Serve hot.

Ultimate Southern Living CookbookYield 8 servings

From: The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook

Gray: This was from the section entitled “how to take vegetables and make them not healthy.”  Just kidding, but it definitely is rich and tastes fantastic. I think you could give broccoli or cauliflower a similar treatment and have a delicious dish. This is not a healthy eating or light option dish, but if you want a treat I say go for it. I had to substitute orange bell peppers for the green, so it was probably a touch sweeter, but other than that it was good, and very easy to make.  Enjoy!

Katie: This was tasty, but it is a very different flavor that other things I have eaten. It might be because when Gray said he wanted to make cabbage, this is NOT what I envisioned. All that being said, if you want a rich, cheesy cabbage dish, this is it!

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Maple Pecan Cupcakes

Maple Pecan CupcakesCake

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • generous 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cups finely chopped pecans


  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Put 30 paper liners into shallow muffin pans or put double-layer liners onto cookie sheets.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and add the butter, sugar, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla extract. Beat well until the mixture is smooth, then stir in the pecans.

3. Divide the mixture among the paper liners. For the topping, combine the pecans, flour, sugar, and melted butter to make a crumbly mixture and spoon a little on top of each cake.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until risen, firm, and golden brown. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.

1 Mix, 100 CakesYield: 30 cupcakes

From 1 Mix, 100 Cakes

Katie: I decided to make something for one of my coworkers for Christmas, and tried to find something I thought would be good and easy to package. I love making things with maple syrup, so I knew this was the recipe I wanted to make when I found it. They turned out good, and are more like muffins than cupcakes. It was a nice departure from all the super sweet things that often accompany the Christmas season. I hope you enjoy these!

Gray: These were delicious and I really enjoyed the topping.  It gave it a nice crunch.  I also appreciated the way they were sweet without being over-powering. Enjoy!

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Rachel Ray’s Oven Steak Fries

Apparently we forgot to take a picture of this one, but it was so good we wanted to share anyway. Enjoy!

  • 5 russet potatoes, with skins, cut into thin wedges
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp steak seasoning blend such as Montreal seasoning by McCormick OR salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to high. Cut potatoes and spread out on a cookie sheet, coat potatoes with olive oil, dried herbs, and steak seasoning or salt and pepper. Spread potatoes to the corners of the cookie sheet and cook in a very hot oven, 25 minutes, turning them once, halfway in the cooking process. Serve fries hot from the oven.

Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals 2Yield: 4 servings

From: 30-Minute Meals 2 by Rachel Ray

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Alton Brown’s Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

  • 10 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 12 ounces sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 pound fresh pumpkin
  • 4 ounces hulled pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas. Do not use the unhulled seeds that come out of a standard jack-o-lantern)

1. Crank the oven to 325°F.

2. Take the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt for a spin in your food processor, then move them to a large mixing bowl.

3. Spin the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in the processor, pulsing just a few times to bring everything together. Dump the goo right on top of the dry team and stir to combine. (Don’t worry if there are a few lumps.)

4. Install the food processor’s shredding blade and shred the pumpkin in the food processor. Dump onto a kitchen towel and twist into a ball to wring out as much water as possible (within reason) – oh, and do this over the sink. Fold the pumpkin and the pumpkin seeds into the batter using a large rubber spatula, or better yet, your hand.

5. Pour into a 9x5x3″ loaf pan or standard nonstick muffin pan, filling the latter two thirds full. (If your only loaf pan is not nonstick – i.e., it’s a “stick” pan, lightly butter it and dust with flour.)

6. Bake the loaf for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, or until an internal temperature of 200° to 210°F is reached. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely. If making muffins, bake them for 30 minutes, and remove from the muffin tin to a cooling rack immediately.

Good Eats: The Early YearsYield: 1 9-inch loaf or a dozen muffins

From: Good Eats: The Early Years by Alton Brown

Katie: I really wanted to make pumpkin bread from scratch with a real pumpkin. So I looked through my cookbooks and didn’t find one until I came across this recipe. I had not ever thought about making it with shredded pumpkin, because I had in my head that it would require roasting the pumpkin and pureeing it. I thought it was worth a try! When I saw that it didn’t require a lot of pumpkin to make and didn’t make a huge amount, I decided to make two batches. One version like the recipe above (except that I didn’t have pepitas), and another version with roasted, pureed pumpkin (see picture below). For the roasting part of the process, I followed these instructions by Alton Brown, except I rubbed olive oil on the outside of the pumpkin skin so it wouldn’t burn. Both versions were delicious, although I preferred the result I got by following the recipe more than the other. The batter was a little like carrot cake, but I think the shredded pumpkin baked even better than shredded carrots. When it was hot out of the oven, the shredded pumpkin bits were a little like buttery pumpkin morsels that melted in my mouth! What could be better than that?!

Gray: I think both versions were delicious, but I liked the version with the shredded pumpkin better than the one with the pureed pumpkin.  It was delicious right from the oven. Both kept well and we were able to share them with several groups of people, but If you can serve them fresh definitely do it. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread Version 2

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Bill Neal’s Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk Pie

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt
  • 1 recipe pie pastry for 8 ounces of dough, partially baked (last week’s recipe)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Cream the butter and sugar well and add the egg yolks, one by one. Beat in flour and buttermilk and add the lemon juice and nutmeg with a pinch of salt. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the filling. Pour the filling into the partially baked pie pastry and cook in the middle level of the preheated oven until the the custard is set and slightly brown, about 1 hour. Serve topped with fresh fruit such as peaches, strawberries, or blueberries and slightly sweetened whipped cream. Fresh fruit sauces are also excellent with this.

Bill Neal's Southern CookingYield: 6-8 servings

From: Bill Neal’s Southern Cooking by Bill Neal

Gray: This turned out great, I was a little surprised at how it baked up, but it was delicious and it was a different type of pie to try.  I struggled a bit with this one.  I had read the recipe through, but when I was baking it, I missed the part about separating the eggs. I got to the instructions and I added the egg yolks, while ceremoniously dumping the whites. Then I got  a few more pages in and realized that I would have to crack some more eggs. I was a little frustrated with myself, but I didn’t let it get me down.  I whipped up the whites and folded them into the pie filling well, and the results were delicious.  I hope you enjoy it!

Katie: Here’s the delicious filling for the pastry crust we shared last week! I didn’t know what buttermilk pie would taste like, but it was wonderful. It has a hint of the sourness of buttermilk, but not too much. The sugar sweetens it just enough without being cloyingly sweet. We didn’t have any fruit or fruit sauce to go on our pie, and I think that would have made it even better. Next time we’ll have to try that. Let us know how your version turns out if you give this a try!

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