Tuesday, April 21, 2015

RECIPE I LOVE: Vegetable Minestrone Soup

I am not a food blogger, but I love food and feed my family regularly so I figure I can get away with a favorite recipe or two.  =)  I only post recipes that my entire family loves ... and mostly just to remind myself how I made it so it can be made again. This soup is so tasty and filling and healthy ... and reminds me of my favorite minestrone soup at The Olive Garden.

I just made this for the third time this month, y'all. It reheats beautifully and is my lunch option on most days. Here is what I used in this batch:

The fabulous folks at Little Spice Jar posted a recipe that I [almost] followed.  Changes I made include removing the Parmesan rind, onion, and celery. I used more vegetable stock and no water. I used frozen vegetables and frozen spinach, and didn't include the pasta in the soup. Rather, I allowed the kids to "layer" pasta and soup and I enjoyed the soup sans pasta. Fewer carbs for me. =)  I also cooked it in a soup pot in under an hour although having the crock pot option is great.

From Little Spice Jar's "Homemade Minestrone Soup"

  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with garlic
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 1 parmesan rind (I just sprinkled some parmesan into the soup)
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 bag frozen vegetables (diced carrots, corn, peas, green beans)
  • 1 bag shredded carrots
  • 4 - 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, rosemary (I use an Italian seasoning)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1½ cups zucchini, diced
  • 2½ cups baby spinach, chopped (frozen)
  1. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato pesto, Parmesan (rind or shredded Parmesan), vegetable stock, frozen vegetables, frozen spinach, garlic, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves to a soup pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook until heated through, about 15 minutes.
  2.  Add diced zucchini and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add red kidney beans, great northern beans and cook for an additional 5 minutes. 
  4. Cook pasta separately as directed on package.
  5. Serve by layering pasta and vegetable soup as desired (or skip the pasta altogether; it's delicious and filling without it)
  6. Top with Parmesan cheese.I enjoy mine with a splash of Tabasco on top! YUM!
SO delicious, PACKED with vegetables, and reminiscent of the fabulous Olive Garden soups!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Hershey's Chocolate World

We couldn't spend a year in Pennsylvania without visiting the famous city of Hershey and I'm so glad we spent today at Hershey's Chocolate World. One highlight of the day was creating our own Hershey bar and watching our creation being made from start to finish. Fascinating and delicious!

We also enjoyed a trolley tour of the city, focusing primarily on the life of Milton Hershey (my new favorite person!) and the amazing philanthropic contributions he made (and continues to make, long after his passing) to this amazing little city. He and his wife were faithful Christians and spent their time, energy, and money giving back to others. We were able to see the Milton Hershey School, founded in 1909 to better the lives of children in need. It has grown to an impressive array of homes, educational buildings, and various facilities to offer top-notch education. From the school website:

For more than 100 years, Milton Hershey School has helped children to realize their full potential by offering a top-notch education to students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade from income-eligible families.

Milton Hershey School is a cost-free, private, coeducational school in Hershey, PA. We offer state-of-the-art facilities, advanced technology and hundreds of extracurricular activities.

Milton and Catherine Hershey established the school in 1909 to provide a positive, structured home life year-round to help children gain the skills to be successful in all aspects of life.

Today, more than 2,000 students from across the U.S. attend Milton Hershey School. They have access to unique award-winning programs, experienced teachers and caring adult mentors.

Our curriculum includes rigorous academics with opportunities for hands-on learning, after-school homework hours and tutoring assistance. Because our class sizes are small, students get individualized attention and the opportunity to explore their own interests and abilities.

We believe all children deserve the very best education regardless of their financial circumstances. A family’s income should not determine a child’s outcome.

Philly: The Rocky Statue

Philly: The Liberty Bell