All I can say is, this soup is just about the most flavorful thing you can put in your mouth.  In fact, while I was making it, I cut my finger quite deep on my chef knife.  Even so, I keep continuing on until completion so the soup could be eaten.  I wasn't about to let the ER and a few silly stitches keep me from tasting such a yummy creation.

Hearty Minestrone Soup

Cook's Illustrated, Jan & Feb 2010


* table salt
* 1/2 lb dried cannellini beans, rinsed and picked over (about 1 cup)
* 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
* 3 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
* 2 medium celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
* 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 2 small onions, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
* 1/2 small head green cabbage, halved, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 8 cups water
* 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
* 1 piece parmesan cheese, rind (about 5-inchx2-inch)
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 1/2 cups v 8 juice
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaf
* fresh ground black pepper
* grated parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Dissolve 1 1/2 tbsp salt in 2 qts. cold water in large bowl. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
2. Heat oil and pancetta in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is lightly browned and fat has rendered, 3-5 minutes. Add celery, carrots, onions, and zucchini; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 5-9 minutes. Stir in garlic, cabbage, 1/2 tsp salt and red pepper flakes; continue to cook until cabbage starts to wilt, 1-2 minutes longer. Transfer vegetables to rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
3. Add soaked beans, water, broth, Parmesan rind, and bay leaf to now-empty Dutch oven and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and vigorously simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are fully tender and liquid begins to thicken, 45-60 minutes.
4. Add reserved vegetables and V8 juice to pot; cook until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf and Parmesan rind, stir in chopped basil, and season with salt and pepper. Serve with olive oil and grated Parmesan.

Self Filled Cupcakes


This picture doesn’t do the cupcake justice. On the outisde – humble
chocolate cupcake. On the inside – surprise decadent creamy
deliciousness! Notice how there is only one cupcake in this picture?
it was the only survivor from the other 24 that were around just
yesterday …

Self Filled Cupcakes:


* 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
* 1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), or to the
temperature recommended on the cake mix package.
2. Prepare chocolate cake mix according to package directions, but
do not bake. In separate bowl cream together cream cheese and sugar
until smooth. Beat in the egg until well blended, then stir in
chocolate chips.
3. Line cupcake tins with cupcake papers. Fill 2/3 full with
chocolate cake batter. Add 1 teaspoon cream cheese mixture to the
center, and top with more cake batter.
4. Bake according to package directions for cupcakes. Cool and
frost with chocolate or cream cheese frosting.

Mexican Spiced Almond, Peanuts, and Pumpkin Seeds


Do you still have pumpkin seeds at your house? Then you must try a
new way of roasting them! Andrew made this – he swapped the amounts
of the almonds and pumpkin seeds. It was extra delicious.

Mexican Spiced Almonds, Peanuts and Pumpkin Seeds

1 1/4 cups (4 1/2 ounces) sliced almonds
2/3 cup (3 ounces) roasted unsalted shelled peanuts
1/4 cup (1 ounce) raw pumpkin seeds

mexican spice mix
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

simple glaze
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350
degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread
the almonds on it in an even layer. Toast for 4 minutes and rotate the
pan; add the peanuts and pumpkin seeds, spreading them in an even
layer. Continue to toast until fragrant and the color deepens
slightly, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer the baking sheet with the
nuts and seeds to a wire rack.

FOR THE SPICE MIX: While the nuts and seeds are toasting, stir the
sugar, salt, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and garlic powder
together in a medium bowl; set aside.

FOR THE GLAZE: Bring the water, brown sugar, and butter to a boil in a
medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Stir in
the toasted nuts and seeds and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden
spoon, until the nuts are shiny and almost all the liquid has
evaporated, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Transfer the glazed nuts and seeds to the bowl with the spice mix;
toss well to coat. Return the glazed and spiced nuts and seeds to the
parchment-lined baking sheet to cool.

The spiced nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.