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If I Ever Plan Another Excursion….

Another pause from the Spanish Tales to mention a brief visit to an interesting Louisiana city. Natchitoches is in Central Lousiana, the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Territory. Initially, it was on the Red River, but a logjam diverted the river and another waterway was formed. It is located  on the Cane River. A dam was built down-river and now the city is on Cane River Lake. Natchitoches was the setting for the movie “Steel Magnolias,” and several of the sites in the movie and other interesting points of interests are available for tours. The church used for the movie is down river near the Melrose Plantation. It was built by Augustin Metoyer for the plantation family, is named St Augustin Catholic Church and has a portrait of St. Augustin at the altar and another of Mr. Metoyer in the church foyer. Still an active church a fund raiser is held each fall to help sustain its activities.

In Natchitoches itself, the French influence permeates the entire town. A charming downtown with New Orleans-style building is across the main street from the river. A park lines the river bank and on the Saturday Night that I visited, two different jazz groups from Northwestern University played a free concert. Later we ate crawfish etoufee at a local restaurant, the Landing. At lunch that day we had mini-meatpies, chicken and sausage gumbo and delicious chicken salad at Merci Beaucoup on Church Street. Since no hotels had rooms (we never figured out exactly what was going on in town except a large wedding), we felt fortunate to find a B&B.

My friend and I drove south along the river to the Melrose Plantation. Our guide, a descendant of the first owner, a slave whose freedom was bought by the Frenchman who fathered 10 of her children, gave us a first-class tour. The owner’s crowning accomplishment, aside from running a plantation, was buying freedom
for all of her children and grandchildren. Her descendants and others are Creoles of color in Central Louisiana. The guide and her daughter recommended a convenience store on the main highway that had meat pies, tamales, crackling and other foods. We tried the delicious meat pies, and I munched on the crispy cracklings for several days.

If you haven’t had a Natchitoches meat pie, either make your own or go to Natchitoches. Even though I’m including a recipe, I highly recommend going to Natchitoches.

Natchitoches Meat Pies
Recipe by Emerille LaGosse, with a few changes


For the filling:

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound lean ground meat
1/2 ground pork
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 chopped bell pepper       FYI–These three veggies are called the “trinity” in La cooking.
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
l tablespoon flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
A “dash” of the following: paprika, dried oregano and dried thyme.

For the pastry:

3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons lard
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water)
Solid vegetable shortening for deep-frying
Or prepared pie crust. (This is a good choice if you make miniature pies. This recipe makes such a rich pie that the minis are a great choice.)

In a large skillet heat oil and cook beef and pork, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, Essence, cayenne and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are wilted, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to3 minutes.

Dissolve the flour in the water and add to the meat mixture. Stir until the mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the green onions. Mix well and let cool.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour salt, and baking powder. Cut in the lard until mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small beat the egg with the milk. Gradually add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, working it to make a thick dough. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll each portion of dough into a thin round of about 5 inches in diameter. Place about 1/4 cup of meat filling in the center of each round and brush edges lightly with egg wash. Fold edges together and crimp closed with a fork. (If using a prepared dough, just cut as many as possible from the rolled crust. Use the scrap to reform a ball and roll into a round. For miniature pies, cut 3″ circles.)

Heat shortening in a deep pot or electric deep-fryer to 350 degrees F. Fry the pies. To bake, set oven at 350 degrees F. and bake until the crust is golden brown.

Hmm. I have a free evening. These would taste SO-O-O-O-O GOOD.

Happy cooking and eating.

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The Wonderful Tatin

My favorite pan, the TATIN, awaits my attention. I have used it for the Apple Tart Tatin with apples and pears. It’s time for me to branch out into something savory. The Le Creuset Cookbook that accompanies the Tatin includes  recipe for a veggie tart. With all the attention on the Mediterranean diet, this will be my next adventure in the kitchen. The recipe follows:

Mediterranean Vegetable Tarte Tatin
Serves 8-10
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Wait: 5 minutes
(Recipe is for a 12 inch pan)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 red or orange peppers, seeded and cut lengthwise into 3/4 inch wide strips
1 lb courgettes, cut into 1/2 inch slices,  aka zucchini squash
1- 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1- 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
10-1/2 onions cherry tomatoes
1-1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1-1/2 tbsp fresh chopped majorum
Fresh ground black pepper

10-1/2 puff pastry
1/2 c feta or mozzarella

1. Heat oil in the Tatin  dish and then add the red onion, garlic and pepper. Fry gently on low heat. Add the courgettes and fry longer.
2. Add the red wine and sugar. Cook until the juices turn syrupy.
3. Remove from heat. Add the tomatoes, herbs and seasoning. Leave to cool.
4. Spread the dough in a circle of similar diameter to the the top of the dish. Place it over vegetables and tuck in the edges. Punch two or three holes in the pastry.
5. Bake in the center of the oven (400F.) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.
6.. Leave to cool in the dish for 5-10 minutes; then, separate the edges with a knife. Turn over on a large serving dish.
7. Dice the cheese and scatter over the top just before serving.

And as all good entree recipes suggest–add a green salad–and as I suggest a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio.

Happy, healthy eanting.
Jo An

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Our Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes

Thumbprint Cookies


1 pkg.  (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened

3/4 cup  (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened

1 cup  sugar

2 tsp. Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla

2-1/4 cups  flour

1/2 tsp.  baking soda

1 cup  Chopped Pecans

1-1/4 cups fruit preserve (we like Stonewall Kitchen’s Holiday Jam)

HEAT oven to 350°F. Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add flour, baking soda and pecans; mix well. Refrigerate 30 min.

SHAPE dough into 1-inch balls. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets. Indent centers.

BAKE 10 min. Fill each cookie with about 1 tsp. preserves. Bake 8 to 10 min. or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets 2 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies



1/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon Nielsen Massey vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup white baking chips


In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture and mix well. Stir in cranberries and chips.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 1 minute before removing to wire racks. Yield: 2 dozen.

Gingerbread Men Cookies


3 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 large egg

1 cup molasses, warmed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons warm water

Combine dry ingredients.

In large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, beat in the egg, beat in the molasses.

Dissolve the baking soda in the warm water and add the wet ingredients.

Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Cover and chill for several hours.

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease baking sheets.

On floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.

(If you like softer, thicker cookies you can roll dough thicker)  Using cookie cutters,

cut out cookies and place 1 1/2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until dry-looking and firm to touch.  Don’t over cook, edges do

not need to be brown.  Let cool before frosting.

Royal Icing

3 T. Meringue powder

4 c. powdered sugar

6 T. warm water

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a high powered mixer)

*Icing must be kept in airtight containers prior to use

Glaze for Decorated Cookies

2 1/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted

2 T. corn syrup

2 T. milk (may need to add 1 t. more)

Food coloring (optional)

Mix all ingredients and frost cookies.

*Glaze will dry with a film on top.  Keep air tight prior to use


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BLT Canapes with Basil Mayonnaise


Makes 33

2 cups fresh basil leaves, plus 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2/3 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
11 slices hearty white bread
Vegetable oil spray
11 slices bacon
6 oz cherry tomatoes

Process basil leaves, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt to taste.

Adjust 1 oven rack to middle position and second rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.
Using 2″ round cutter, cut rounds out of bread (3 per slice), avoiding crust.
Spray both sides of bread rounds with oil spray and arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Broil until golden brown on both sides, about 3 – 5 minutes, flipping rounds halfway through broiling. Let rounds cool completely. (Can be made and held at room temperature for up to 6 hours.)

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange bacon in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crispy and brown, 10 – 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and let cool completely. Break each bacon slice evenly into 3 short pieces.

Cut tomatoes into 1/3″ thick slices. season with salt and pepper. Spread basil mayonnaise evenly over 1 side of each toast, then top with 1 piece bacon and 1 slice tomato. Sprinkle with chopped basil. Serve.


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Southwest Cornbread Dressing

Southwest Cornbread Stuffing for 20


8+ cornbread crumbled

6+ cups jalapeno cheddar sourdough (from Schmaltz) cubed

¾ c butter

8 stalks celery sliced thin

2 medium yellow onions diced

4-5 eggs

4 cups chicken broth

2+ cups milk or cream

½ – 1 t cayenne



1 T rubbed sage

1 T dried parsley

1 T dried thyme

1 T dried oregano


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Sauté celery and onion until translucent. While this is cooking, toss cornbread and sourdough in a very large bowl. Combine eggs, chicken broth, cream and seasonings in a mixing bowl and blend together with a whisk. Pour egg mixture breads and toss together. The combination should be a little bit soupy but not overmixed.

Butter two 10-12 cup Bundt pans (traditional pan). Put half of the bread mixture in each, tamping down to ensure that there are no air bubbles.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until firm and browned.


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Cranberry Sauce with Balcones Texas Rumble Whiskey

Cranberry Sauce with Balcones Rumble Whiskey


Serves 10                               

2 – 12 oz bags fresh Cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

2 tablespoons Balcones Rumble Whiskey

1 teaspoon Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract

In a medium saucepan, add the cranberries, sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens a bit. Turn to low and add the whiskey and vanilla. Cook for  another minute , remove from the heat and serve warm.

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Thanksgiving Turkey with Seasoned Herbed Butter

Whether you’re roasting a turkey for the first time or looking for an easy, foolproof recipe, this one is worth a try. We’ve used this method to roast our holiday turkey for years and it never disappoints.

Thanksgiving Roast Turkey with Seasoned Herbed Butter


Serves 12

  • 12 – 14 lb turkey, thawed, giblets and neck removed from the cavity
  • 12 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Pepper Creek All Purpose Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 – 3 large carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 large onion, cut in half
  • Fresh herbs such as sage, thyme and rosemary (optional)
  • Water


  1. Add the seasonings to the herbed butter and mix to combine.
  2. Place some of the carrot, celery and onion into the bottom of the roasting pan and add two cups of water.
  3. Place the remaining carrot, celery, onion and optional herbs into the cavity of the turkey.
  4. Loosen the skin from the breast and add the butter under the skin.
  5. Place the turkey on a rack inside the roasting pan.
  6. Let the turkey “rest” for 30 – 45 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  8. Loosely cover the turkey with foil.
  9. Roast the turkey for 15 min per pound.
  10. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, remove the foil and increase the temperature to 375 F.
  11. Remove the turkey from the oven and keep covered with foil until serving. (Internal temperature of the turkey should register 165 F.)

Crockpot Turkey


READY IN: 7hrs 10mins



  • 6 -7 lbs  turkey breast, thawed, if frozen
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped onion
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped celery
  • 8 T unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons Pepper Creek All Purpose Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup  chicken broth
  • Option: fresh sage or thyme leaves


  • turkey broth, from crock pot
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons  flour


Place onion and celery in cavity of turkey breast. (If using herbs, place them inside with the vegetables.)

Sprinkle turkey with seasonings and place in 5 to 6 quart slow cooker.

Pour broth over turkey, cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Remove turkey to serving platter, cover with foil to keep warm while making gravy.

Place liquid in saucepan after straining out veggies, and add 1 to 2 cans chicken broth- depending on how much gravy you want to make.

In a covered jar, shake together the flour mixed with about 1/2 to 1 cup of water until smooth- or you can whisk it in a bowl.

When liquid comes to a boil, slowly stir in flour mixture, adding just enough to thicken it to your liking.

Cook until it bubbles and thickens, stirring often.



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Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

This decadent pie is remarkably simple. It’s a great dessert for Thanksgiving, but we think it’s okay to make any time of the year. It’s great as a last minute dessert that requires no cooking!

Pumpkin Chiffon Pie


Serves 6 to 8

1 jar (11 oz.) New Canaan Farms Pumpkin Butter

1 5.85 oz Instant Vanilla Pudding

1-pt. heavy whipping cream

1 graham cracker-pie crust

Garnish: whip cream, ground nutmeg, toasted pecans (chopped)

In a 2-quart bowl, mix pumpkin butter with vanilla pudding mix. With electric mixer, slowly add whipping cream to pumpkin-pudding mixture. Beat until mixture forms stiff peaks. Spread into piecrust and chill at least one hour before serving.

Garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg and pecans.

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Our Favorite NEW Thanksgiving Side Dishes

We love trying a new recipe each year for Thanksgiving. These are two that we’ve discovered are a few of our family’s favorites, and now a tradition at our Thanksgiving gathering.

Sweet Potato with Raspberry Chipotle Sauce


Yield: 6 servings

6   medium      Sweet potatoes
1/3 cup            Butter
1/4 – 1/3 cup   Heavy whipping cream
1/2 – 1/3 cup   Delicae Raspberry Chipotle Sauce
2 – 4 Tbsp.      Brown sugar
Salt, to taste


1/3 cup        Pecans, if desired
1 Tbsp.         Butter

Boil the sweet potatoes until tender and drain.

Mash potatoes until fluffy, with butter and cream.

Mix in Raspberry Chipotle Sauce and brown sugar.

If too stiff, add more cream.

Taste and add salt or more brown sugar to taste.

Keep warm.

Sauté pecans in butter over medium heat for 3 – 4 minutes.

Top potatoes with pecans before serving.

Winter Salad with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Apples, serves 8


  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoons Taste Elevated Tangy Mustard Seeds
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar, honey or maple syrup
  • Pinch of red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons candied rosemary orange zest
  • 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar or Champagne Vinegar
  • 5 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 1/2 red apples, such as Fuji or Gala, cored and thinly sliced


To make the salad, in a large bowl whisk both mustards, vinegar, brown sugar, pepper, the candied rosemary orange zest, vinegar, 5 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper.

In a large nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the brussels sprouts, salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are just tender and lightly browned, about 11 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the vinaigrette, add the walnuts and apples and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a platter and serve.


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Red Curry with Pumpkin or Butternut Squash

We love the balance of sweet and spicy in this seasonal curry. It’s a great recipe to start with if you’re looking to incorporate new spices into your dishes.

Red Curry with Pumpkin or Butternut Squash

Serves 6 -8




1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil or avocado oil

1 shallot, minced

2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger

2 Tbsp minced garlic

1 small jalapeno pepper, stem + seeds removed, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise

3 Tbsp red Thai curry paste

3 1/2 cups peeled and cubed pumpkin or butternut squash

2 14-ounce cans light coconut milk

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp ground turmeric

Healthy pinch sea salt

1 Tbsp coconut aminos or soy sauce

1 cup chopped, fresh broccoli

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2/3 cup roasted cashews or peanuts


FOR SERVING optional:  Fresh basil or cilantro, Lemon juice & Jasmine rice, Brown rice, Quinoa, or Cauliflower Rice



  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, shallot, ginger, garlic, and pepper. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add bell pepper and curry paste and stir. Cook for 2 minutes more. Then add pumpkin/butternut squash and stir. Cook for 2 minutes more.
  3. Add coconut milk, sugar, turmeric, sea salt, and coconut aminos/soy sauce and stir. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  4. Once simmering, slightly reduce heat to low and cover. You want a simmer, not a boil, which should be around low to medium-low heat.
  5. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to soften the pumpkin and infuse it with curry flavor.
  6. At this time, also taste and adjust the flavor of the sauce/broth as needed. Don’t be shy with seasonings – this curry should be very flavorful.
  7. Once the broth is well seasoned and the pumpkin is tender, add broccoli, lemon juice, and cashews and cover. Simmer for 3-4 minutes more over low to medium-low heat.
  8. Optional: Scoop out half of the broth/sauce and half of the pumpkin (try to exclude the broccoli) and blend until creamy and smooth in a blender for a thicker, creamier curry. Return to pot and warm for a few minutes before serving.
  9. Serve as is or over rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice. This dish gets elevated with the addition of fresh lemon juice and Thai or regular basil or cilantro for serving.
  10. Best when fresh, though leftovers will keep in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for 1 month. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until hot.
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Our Favorite Holiday Appetizers

One can never have enough favorite appetizer recipes. Here are a few of ours – enjoy!

Bruschetta with Roasted Tomato, Pesto and Mascarpone


Makes 24

2 pints cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 baguette, cut on the diagonal into 3/8” thick slices

8 oz marscarpone or whipped cream cheese

½ cup basil pesto


Preheat oven to 425. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the cherry tomatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes until they collapse and are lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Set aside.


Preheat the broiler. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Place 6 inches under the broiler and brown on both sides (3 to 4 minutes total).

Spread a liberal amount of mascarpone on each slice of toasted bread, top the mascarpone with a thin layer of pesto, spoon a dollop of the roasted tomatoes in the middle of each slice, making sure not to completely cover up the pesto.


Apple, Pear & Walnut Brie Bites

Makes 10 -12


1 8 oz  wheel of brie, some rind removed, cut into 1 ½” pieces

1 package puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator

½ cup Apple Cranberry Chutney

1 egg plus 2 tablespoons water, slightly beaten


Preheat oven to 375. Cut the puff pastry into 4-5” squares. Place one piece of brie in the center of each piece of pastry and top with 1 tablespoon of chutney. Gently gather the edges of the pastry up around the brie and twist at the top. Brush with egg wash and place on parchment on a baking sheet. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately with crackers and apples slices.

Warm Rosemary Olives

Makes 2 Cups


12 oz kalamata olives

Zest of 1 lemon, grated or cut into fine slivers

Zest of 1 orange, grated or cut into fine slivers

Several sprigs of fresh rosemary

½ cup extra virgin olive

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon fennel seed


Place olives, lemon and orange zest, rosemary sprigs, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and fennel seed in a saucepan and heat until the herbs sizzle. Remove from heat and let sit at room temperature for about 5 hours. Before serving, remove the browned herbs and replenish with fresh, serve garnished with Rosemary Sprigs.


  • Make ahead – this will keep for 2 weeks in refrigerator. Allow the olives to come to room temperature before serving.
  • For a bit of Spanish pizzazz, serve these olives with Almonds and a medium bodied dry sherry.

Karyn’s Broiled Shrimp with Cherry Tomatoes and Green Olives

Serves 6 – 8


1 # med shrimp, peeled and deveined

12 large green olives, pitted & sliced

8 oz sweet cherry tomatoes, halved

2 T garlic, minced

1 T fresh or dried thyme

1 t salt

1 t black pepper

1 T lemon juice

4T olive oil

Preheat broiled to high. Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and toss to coat. Place ingredients in a baking dish (safe for the broiler) and broil for 5 minutes. Remove dish from oven, stir ingredients to expose uncooked portions of shrimp and return to oven for 2-3 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

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One Pot Minestrone

Reasons why we love this soup:

  • Ready in 30 minutes
  • It’s a one pot dish
  • A perfect recipe to use up leftover fresh veggies
  • It’s delicious!

One Pot Minestrone Soup

Serves 8



2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1/2 white or yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds

1 1/2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed, roughly chopped

1 Tbsp All Purpose Seasoning

sea salt & black pepper + more to taste

1 small zucchini diced into 1” pieces

1 15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

6 + cups  vegetable broth

2 tsp dried basil (or 1 Tbsp fresh)

2 tsp dried oregano

1 Tbsp Parmesan + more for serving

½ Tbsp (or more) Pizza Seasoning

1 Tbsp sugar or honey

1 15-ounce can white beans or chickpeas, rinsed + drained

2 cups pasta noodles, like penne, macaroni, or rotini

1 cup baby kale or spinach, roughly chopped



  1. Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat and then add your oil.
  2. Add carrots and green beans and season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened slightly and have some color.
  3. Next, add onion, and garlic and stir. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add zucchini, fire-roasted tomatoes, vegetable broth, basil, oregano, Parmesan cheese, pizza seasoning, sugar, and beans. Stir to coat.
  5. Increase heat to medium-high and bring soup to a strong simmer. Then reduce heat slightly to medium-low until the soup is simmering but not boiling. Add pasta and stir. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, reducing heat if needed to keep the soup at a simmer.
  6. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste soup and adjust seasonings as needed.
  7. Add kale or spinach and stir. Cook for another 3-4 minutes to wilt the kale and allow the flavors to meld together. Turn off heat and let rest for a few minutes before serving.
  8. To serve, divide soup between serving bowls and garnish with fresh herbs and parmesan cheese (optional).
  9. Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days or the freezer up to 1 month.
  10. Be careful not to overheat the soup when warming leftovers, as the pasta is tender once cooked and will get mushy if overcooked.