better than take-out

My dear readers…I’ve missed you!  I won’t apologize because you all were so kind to point out after my last absence that I have no reason to, but I will say that life has been, in one word, busy.  The kind of busy that comes with having a house guest for two full weeks.  The kind of busy that sends you to Florida for an unexpected family emergency.  The kind of busy that keeps you in the office until 3am to meet a deadline.  The kind of busy that leaves you with little time to cook, let alone time to write about what you cook. 

minestrone-1

And, in the midst of all of that busyness, I’ve become completely obsessed with this book.  And this one.  So, the little spare time I’ve been able to find over this last week (you know, like when I should be sleeping), I’ve spent engrossed in the world of Edward and Bella.  Its been so long since I’ve read a romance, let alone a fantastical one involving vampires and werewolves, that I’d forgotten how nice it is to step out of my own busy world for chunks of time to get lost in a fictional one.  I don’t know how I managed to resist the inexplicable pull of the saga for so long, especially with all of the hype the movie created last fall (which I finally watched last weekend in Florida with my stepsisters and which led to my buying the first book in the airport on the way back home) but the escape has been welcome.  I feel a bit silly, especially when I read reviews that state “teens will relish this newest adventure…”, but as a friend pointed out, there’s just something about a good vampire romance that the female population can’t resist, no matter how juvenile the books may be.  And this female can’t disagree.

minestrone-2

When life gets hectic Brian and I try to plan meals that are quick to prepare and last for days.  Our crock pot comes in handy on these occasions, acting as our own personal chef slaving away while we’re at the office.  This particular soup was the result of us running home on our lunch break to read a chapter of Twilight let our dogs out and discovering while hastily making sandwiches for lunch that we had some veggies in the fridge that needed to be used up. Knowing that there would be no time after work to prepare dinner (this was to be the 3am night), I pulled down the trusty crock pot and got to work.  In one hour’s time Brian and I ate lunch, made dinner, cleaned the kitchen AND I got a little reading in.  Talk about productive.

minestrone-5

That evening I hurried home, ladled soup into pyrex bowls, grabbed a bottle of wine and our dogs and got back to work.  Even though dinner was eaten while sitting in front of my computer it felt good to know that it was homemade and healthy, so much better than the take-out that is usually consumed on such late nights. 

This week will be busy as well (I had to work this weekend to prepare for it) but hopefully things will be back to normal soon.  And, I’m halfway through the Twilight saga, for which my kitchen (and my husband!) will be grateful, I’m sure.

minestrone-8

Obviously this recipe can be modified in many ways to suit different tastes.  I personally think that adding a bit of spice to the broth would be delicious.  

Crock Pot Minestrone

serves 6, or 2 for three meals

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini, or 2 small, diced into bite-size chunks
  • 2 summer squash, diced into bite-size chunks
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped ham
  • 28-oz can of diced tomatoes (I used the kind with basil)
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dried cannellini beans
  • 1 cup Israeli cous-cous, or other small pasta
  • 2 large handfuls of fresh spinach

Method:

  1. Put the chopped zucchini, squash, bell pepper, ham, tomatoes, beans, bay leaves and fresh thyme in the crock pot.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in saute’ pan.  Add onion and saute’ for 3 minutes.  Add garlic and fresh oregano and saute’ an additional minute.  Add mixture to crock pot and put pan back on heat.
  3. Add chicken broth to saute’ pan to de-glaze the pan.  Pour into crock pot.
  4. Cook soup on high for 6 hours.  When the beans are tender, add the cous-cous or pasta and fresh spinach.  Place lid back on crock pot and continue to cook until pasta is tender and spinach is wilted, about 15 minutes.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.  (be sure to remove thyme stems and bay leaves before serving)

minestrone-7

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36 responses to “better than take-out

  1. I know what you mean about being busy! Somehow life is always getting in the middle of blogging. 🙂 As always, I love to see your great creations!

  2. The soup looks wonderful! Minestrone soup is just one of those meals that is always satisfying

  3. Beautiful soup… I love using the crockpot 🙂

  4. Yum! Your soup looks so comforting and delicious! I’m always looking for tried-and-true Crockpot recipes-nice to find one. And please, feel no shame about the Twilight saga-I can barely pull my almost-30 self away from it! You will LOVE the third book!

  5. Hahaha I’m afraid to start reading Twilight because I don’t want to become addicted!

  6. Missed your blog posts!

    Eh, I thought “Twilight” was overrated and offensive, but apparently, I’m the only one.

  7. Mica – haha…I kinda feel the same way, but somehow can’t stop reading! 🙂 Sometimes its nice to just read fluff…

  8. I read book 1 of Twilight and while I think I will eventually read the rest, for some reason other books pull me in. Its nothing like Harry Potter.

    Glad to have you back! I just made your banana date bread tonight so I needed to check your site for the recipe and I was shocked that you disappeared for 10 days!

    I am about to go into finals studying-mode and I really don’t want to give up on my cooking/blogging. Life should know better than to get in the way!

  9. Hello, old friend!

    I read Twilight too, and 1/2 of New Moon, but kind of got waylayed. I think if i see the Twilight movie I might be reinspired.

    Hope all is okay with the family emergency thing. Scary!

    Minestrone is my favorite soup, and this one could be easily made meatless. YUM!

  10. Katie W – I keep hearing that the 3rd book is the best!

    Whitney – I totally agree…Harry Potter is #1 in my heart for fantastical fiction. The writing isn’t nearly as good in Twilight… But I keep hearing that it gets better as the saga continues.

    Sarah – Hello! The movie was definitely what pulled me in, I was never interested in the saga before that. Sadly, our emergency did not end on a happy note, but it was still good to be with family. I hope you’re feeling better soon, lady!

  11. Oh boy, don’t even get me started on Twilight 😉 I’m so glad that you’re enjoying the books and the movie. It makes me so happy when others feel the way I feel about them – it’s amazing to me how powerful one author’s words can be. It just makes me more certain that someday, I hope to be able to write something that means something to someone!

    Your minestrone looks superb. I love the crock pot! I don’t use it nearly enough – but hope to do it more often next winter since school will be over.

  12. I have yet to read the Twilight series, but the books are on my to-read list.

    The minestrone looks delicious!

  13. The Twlight books are WAY better than the movie! Hope your enjoying them =)

    Glad to see a post from you, and beautiful soup!

  14. Nice to have you back Andrea! Don’t feel silly about Twilight, I teased anyone mercilessly that read those books, but then I did and was hooked!

    Plus, the soup looks amazing, I love the addition of Israeli couscous!

  15. Minestrone is always a winner to me! Looks fantastic!

    Sorry to hear you’re so busy!! Life has a way of coming all at once, doesn’t it?!

  16. i love using my crock pot!

    I have not read the Twilight books, but my sister in law has told me that I need to, too.

  17. I’ve missed you! So glad to hear you are still alive and kicking! That minestrone looks FAB!

  18. Lovely soup. I’m a little more than half way through the saga myself. Life and other books have gotten in the way for the past few weeks though so I’m going through Bella and Edward withdrawals. I have Twilight on my lovefilm (UK’s netflix) list, but I’m a bit hesitant to watch until I finish the books…

  19. Love it! I’ve been searching for a new recipe to use on my inaugural run with the crock pot we just got in the mail.

    Beware: the Twilight books are each better than the last. You may as well do what I did, which was to call in sick and spend two days reading all four of them. (Actually, don’t do that. Dave lost some respect for me that day.)

  20. I can’t wait to make your delicious minestrone soup. I am a first-time reader – so glad I found you.

  21. Soup is always a great way to use up stray veggies! I imagine when I am inundated with CSA this summer, I’ll be making and freezing lots of soups!

  22. Your soup looks delicious!

  23. Man, you are seriously busy! Good thing you have that crockpot to do the dirty work for you. Hopefully your life slows down a little bit soon!

  24. Sweet and Fit

    welcome back! welcome back! welcome back! love the beautiful pictures =)

    the minestrone looks incredible!

  25. I too was sucked into the Twilight series! Such a great escape when life is going by at lightening pace….Enjoy!

  26. Looks delicious!

    Hope things slow down a bit and you get a break!

  27. Good to see you back. I have missed your regular posts. And…..

    Coming from a 26 year old, married mommy (a 7 year old and one on the way) I must state this about the Twilight…………..

    Edward is mine and I will fight to the death for him!!!

    *clears throat and looks around nervously*

    Sorry. I get a little worked up over Edward. 🙂

  28. That looks better than anything you can get in any restaurant

  29. I can’t agree with you more about the Twilight Saga. I had no clue what it was until I watched the movie, then went out the next day and bought the book and proceeded to read it in two days! Completely not normal. And I too felt odd when the cover reviews mentioned teen as I am 20 something too! It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this! I only hope I can finish the series soon and return to my normal life! Great photos of the soup, it looks delicious!

  30. your photography is beyond incredible. seriously! have you ever thought of working for a magazine or cookbook?

  31. Welcome to the Twilight club, haha! I have finished the series and am embarrassed to admit that I was embarrassed to read them in the first place! I always thought people were judging me on the subway. 🙂 But honestly, what is reading if not for the pleasure of escape? Twilight definitely fulfills that, so I’m not going to feel guilty for enjoying a few books (a lot), even though I know there is “better” literature out there.

    Kudos to you for making healthy food even when life is at its busiest. There are few things more satisfying!

  32. Glad you’re back, Bella!

    Haha, I remember the first time I read the Twilight series…those books are impossible to put down!

  33. Bella,

    Not only are your pictures gorgeous, but you write well too! I’ve just started visiting bellaeats and I just had to stop and tell you that it really stands out from the pack. I’ll be checking in often for sure!

    Be not ashamed of your Twilight addiction. I work at Barnes and Noble and I could tell you stories about the strangest folks buying the books! You are not alone. 😀

    With Love,

    Emily

  34. Pingback: keeping it simple « bella eats

  35. Emily (CurlyTop):

    Thanks so much for your sweet comment! I love hearing from new readers and am so glad that you are enjoying the blog!

  36. So funny…I’m on the Twilight wagon too. I hear it ends badly…

    Love that minestrone!

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