Simple Recipe: “Magic” Minestrone

Easy and Hearty Minestrone Soup Recipe
Whenever someone in my family gets sick, my mom makes her famous minestrone soup, and it always works like a charm. No one has come down with a cold over here (yet) but we’re feeling the chill of these autumn days, and that has set us on the hunt for comfort foods. In the notes my mom made for this recipe, it says, “Lots of ingredients, but easy–mostly dumping!” Which is true: chop, chop, chop, dump into pot–and voila! Magic soup.

I love that this soup is thick, almost like a stew, but you can water it down with more chicken broth or water at the end if you like it thinner. It’s one of those dishes that’s great to make on a Sunday because it’s such a big batch that it can last through the week. I’m a fan of putting it into a thermos for a steaming hot lunch at work. Anyone else out there a thermos fan? I think it’s the perfect intersection of nostalgia and function.

Easy and Hearty Minestrone Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
14-oz can chicken broth
1 quart water
2 medium carrots, diced
Half of small cabbage or 1 small Chinese cabbage, sliced
1 medium potato, diced
15-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, diced
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1⁄2 cup uncooked macaroni

Instructions:

1. In a large stockpot, add beans, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and tomatoes to chicken broth and water. Simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Coat the bottom of a skillet with cooking spray; sauté the onions for few minutes until the edges are just beginning to turn gold. Add zucchini, garlic, pepper, and basil. Cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp. Add to the stockpot (with the beans, broth, vegetables, and tomatoes) with tomato sauce and macaroni.

3. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Add water or more broth if it’s too thick for your taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Frock Files | More Simple Recipes

Life Update: Lucky Ones

Anniversary Photo by Carrie Ann Photography

Although I’m hesitant to say it, I think our streak of bad luck ended with the arrival of autumn. As the leaves really started to turn, everything began to improve. You’ll probably think I’ve spent too much time in hippie dippy Portland when I tell you that I think it must have something to do with the moon and the seasons and some nastiness with the tilt of the earth, but I do. So while I’m always happy for fall’s arrival, this year it was especially welcome.

Life Update: Autumnal Bliss | Frock FilesLife Update: Autumnal Bliss | Frock Files

A couple of weeks ago, James and I went up to our very favorite place in Vermont–a trip I look forward to all year long. While we have the option of going to the falconry school or driving a Range Rover up the mountain, we opt instead to swim the length of the indoor pool, drink wine by the fire pit, play Scrabble in the library, begin our Christmas shopping, and have dinners in the downstairs pub. They are the most glorious three days of the year. I always wish we could stay for longer.

While we were there we had the chance to meet up with our friend Carrie Bombria, who also happens to have been our elopement photographer. As part of her wedding/elopement packages, Carrie offers a free anniversary photo session for life! The photos Carrie took this year were my favorite photos of us, ever. Aside from the fact that she’s an amazing photographer, I think we look natural in these photos because we’re so comfortable around her–we were also extra comfy because we shot the whole thing in our pajamas. As I mentioned on Instagram, I respect James’ wishes not to show up on the blog or social media, so these photos are a rare appearance.

Anniversary Photo by Carrie Ann Photography

More good news: two days ago, my father-in-law went home after a successful three weeks of rehab. He’s doing so incredibly well that no one can really believe it. To put it in perspective, most people a third of his age take between six months and two years (or longer) to get to the point he’s at now, two-and-a-half months in. His speech is almost normal, he makes jokes, and he remembers almost everything–past and present. He’s already making plans to be back in his garden next summer.

I’m now busy pretending that the leaves will be this bright and beautiful forever! Although despite my state of denial, I’m thinking ahead–to two trips and the holidays. There’s so much to be thankful for, especially this year. And among those blessings, there’s you. Thanks for sticking around.

J xoxo

Photographs of us by the talented Carrie Ann Bombria of Carrie Ann Photography in Vermont!

Favorite Fall Recipes

Cozy fall food is my favorite! Here’s a roundup of my favorite simple recipes for the season:

Frock Files | Favorite Fall Recipes

Maple Apple Tart | One of the easiest recipes ever! When people drop by, I can whip one of these up almost as quickly as a couple of cappuccinos.

Frock Files | Favorite Fall Recipes

Pumpkin Mochi | This is a twist on traditional Hawaiian butter mochi! For those who are gluten-free, this recipe is a great way to enjoy a pumpkin cake without missing the wheat flour.

Frock Files | Favorite Fall Recipes

Pumpkin “Pop Tarts” | Using pie crust and pumpkin pie filling, you can have a pumpkin filled breakfast hand pie in just a matter of minutes. Kids love helping out with these!

Frock Files | Favorite Fall Recipes

Mom’s Apple Butter | While apple butter can be complicated, this one is so, so, so simple and delicious. To make it, just cook the apples, mash, and season.

Frock Files | Favorite Fall Recipes

The Easiest Beef Stew | I have two go-to beef stew recipes, but this one usually wins out. Why? Because I can put it in the oven and walk away from it, and when I come back it’s a hot, delicious meal with tender meat and veggies. A winner every time.

What are your favorite fall recipes?

Life Update: Back and Forth

Frock Files | Life Update: Back and Forth

As you may have noticed, I took a little unexpected hiatus last week. Since school started and we’re still dealing with health issues in this family, I got a little overwhelmed and I needed to take a break. Thank you for understanding!

For the first time in six years, I’ve had back-to-school excitement, as the students came back to the university. The energy on the campus completely changes when they’re there. And while, yes, I do deal with a lot of eye roll worthy tweets about parking and cafeteria food, I also have the good fortune of being the first in line to see how excited everyone is to be back. It’s one of the best parts about my job.

And while it would be lovely for everything to continue chugging along with forward momentum, life doesn’t always work out that way. My father-in-law has now been in and out of rehab three times within a week, largely because of lack of decent care at the rehab facility we were using. On Saturday afternoon, we were all breathing a sigh of relief as he was settling back into his room in New Hampshire–at midnight, he was being taken by ambulance to the hospital again. My poor mother-in-law is the most exhausted of all, and tough as she is, even she is becoming wary.

But it is the loveliest time of year to live in New England. Every time I go outside, I get a little reminder to be in this moment because autumn is my favorite and it will go as quickly as it’s come. This past weekend, with its 50-degree mornings, I filled my drawers with sweaters again, pulled out my boots, and even bought a scarf. James and I got to have one dinner together–at a restaurant! outside!–with the knowledge that we have just a few weeks left for al fresco dining. It’s only a matter of time before I give into the giant pumpkins at the farm stand down the road!

So whatever you’re doing, whether you’re having a lovely time or a difficult one, I hope you’ll have a moment to stop and enjoy being alive this week. Treat yourself to a hot apple cider. Sit down and read a book. Laugh with all the air in your belly. There’s time.

Love, Joy

Fall Fashion Necessities

Fall Fashion Necessities | Frock Files

After a strangely cool August (heck, a strange August all around), it’s been really hot here for the past few days. Summer’s last hurrah, I think! And since autumn is my faaaaavorite time of year, so I’ve been fall fashion hunting from my cool, air conditioned nest.

Fall always brings me back to my favorite basics, like cashmere sweaters and a good pair of jeans. But even though a lot of the pieces I own are classics, they’re not made to last forever. So it’s time to replace some of these core pieces, which is harder and more fun than I imagined.

Aside from online shopping, I’ve been trying to get more reading in (more on that next week) and a bit of cooking, too. Since James is never home for dinner these days, I’ve been eating like a bachelor, but I’m vowing to put an end to that this week–at least most nights. We’re scheduling in a little relaxation this weekend, thanks to your sweet comments on the earlier post, which urged us to do so. What are you up to this weekend?

1. Ellen Tracey Mini Trench Coat | 2. J.Crew Factory Colorblock Wool Baseball Cap | 3. J.Crew Factory Cashmere Sweater | 4. J.Crew ZigZag Scarf | 5. Gap Side-Zip Pants | 6. French Sole Sloop Ballet Flats

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