A Minestrone Recipe Worth the Time

Winter is upon us, and soup is one of the most comforting and easy-to-make meals around. Particularly, this recipe for smoky minestrone with tortellini and pesto from Food52 is packed with flavor and perfect for a chilly winter day. This is especially true because it only takes about 30 minutes to make and it is packed full of flavorful ingredients like balsamic vinegar, all-natural bacon, kale, and tortellini add a lovely bit of heartiness. The basil or parsley pesto garnish really ties everything together and gives the soup a beautiful flavor profile, meaning that this soup is sure to become a wintertime favorite.

Ingredients for Minestrone

Directions for Minestrone

  1. You’ll start this delicious recipe by heating one tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Take your 2 slides of all-natural bacon and chop them into small pieces. Add these bacon pieces and cook them for a couple of minutes until they begin to brown.
  2. Next, add two more tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil along with your chopped garlic, onion, and leek. Continue to cook while stirring occasionally over medium heat until the ingredients have softened. Add your chopped zucchini, celery, carrot, and potato into the pot. Stir the ingredients around for about one to two minutes.
  3. Then, add your vegetable or chicken stock, your cooked chickpeas, and your tomatoes. You’ll want to crush the tomatoes with your gloved hands as you continue. Add a few (generous) pinches of salt and bring the contents of the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to a light simmer and cook the contents for 30-40 minutes, just until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Add in your tortellini and kale. Continue to cook over a light simmer until both the kale and tortellini are tender and cooked through, which will take about 5-7 minutes. Taste the contents of the pot and add in more kosher salt if you determine that it’s necessary.
  5. One of your garnishes for the final product is a parsley or basil pesto. You’ll start this recipe by chopping your basil or pesto by hand until it’s very fine and minuscule, reducing it down to about ¼ of a cup. As you chop the basil or parsley, you’ll start to incorporate your 2 cloves of garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese until it has a pesto consistency. Transfer it to a small bowl and stir in one tablespoon of olive oil for your garnish.
  6. Serve the dish garnished with a spoonful of parsley or basil pesto, a few drops of your aged balsamic, and a rather generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, if you would like.


  • You can easily find fresh tortellini  for this minestrone recipe in the freezer or refrigerator section of most grocery stores, as well as stocking your pantry with a box of dried tortellini. This quick-cooking, stuffed pasta makes for a comforting and hearty meal, without needing to put too much effort into it. In addition, you can use it for easy side dishes,delicious soups, tasty pasta salads, and even appetizers – all you need is 2 minutes and you’re ready to go! With their bold flavors, these recipes are perfect ways to enjoy this type of pasta.
  • If you are looking for a great addition to your recipe, pesto is an excellent choice. You can buy it in jars or in the refrigerator section of your grocery store, but there is nothing better than making it yourself. Fresh basil is available in abundance at farmers’ markets in the summer. Clean, take off the stems, and grind the leaves with nuts and garlic in a food processor. Add oil and you have a versatile sauce that goes well with chicken, pasta, and fish.

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LDOE Announces Students to Represent Louisiana at U.S. Senate Youth Program

The Louisiana Department of Education announced the two high school students that have been selected for the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), in which they will represent the state of Louisiana during the 61stannual USSYP Washington Week and receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study. The announcement came from LDOE in a news release that also detailed that the two students, Margaret Moe of Baton Rouge and James Stratton of Shreveport, will also be a part of the 104 national student delegation during the program week.

Being selected as a high school student for the United States Senate Youth Program is a high honor on account of just how competitive the merit-based program is. Only two high school students from each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defence Education Activity are selected for the program which is described as being a week-long study of our federal government and those who lead it. The news release described the program week by saying, “the overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations will provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history, and public affairs.”

Both of the Louisiana high school students selected for the USSYP will be joining Senator Bill Cassidy, MD and Senator John N. Kennedy during the 61st annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 4-11. The student delegates will be attending briefings and meetings with Senate Co-Chairs, other Senate leaders, and the Senate parliamentarian and historian; a justice of the Supreme Court, the president, officials from the Departments of Stateand Defense, and other executive agencies, a foreign ambassador to the U.S. and senior members of the media.

Dr. Cade Brumley, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education, spoke about this opportunity by saying, “this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m proud to have these young leaders represent Louisiana at our nation’s capital.They will get an inside look at the American government and develop an even deeper appreciation for our country.”

Baton Rogue’s Margaret Moe, who is a senior at St. Joseph’s Academy, will be serving as a Louisiana representative for USSYP. Moe is a representative of Louisiana in the Youth Governors Association, the president of the Science Club, and the vice president of her campus’s Youth and Government organization. Additionally, she is an accomplished powerlifting athlete for St. Joseph’s Academy and a State Board officer for Louisiana Model United Nations. In the future, she plans to “pursue an undergraduate degree in chemical or biological engineering and political science, along with a public policy and research career ambition at the Centers for Disease Control, United Nations, or World Health Organization.”

Shreveport’s James Stratton, who is a senior at C. E. Byrd High School, will be serving as the other Louisiana representative for the USSYP. Stratton is the president of his school’s Student Council and a school ambassador and member of the Louisiana Legislative Youth Advisory Council. Stratton “aspires to attend law school and later pursue a political career as a legislator or judge.”

The two other Louisiana students who were selected as alternates for the 2023 United States Senate Youth Programwere Baton Rouge’s Edward Carter Mayeux, who attends Catholic High School, and Metairie’s Brinley Belle Pethe, who attends Haynes Academy of Advanced Studies. Students are selected to be a delegate or alternate for the USSYP by their state’s department of education, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity after they are nominated by their teachers and principals for their participation in the program.

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Baton Rogue’s Red Stick Farmers Market Celebrates 26 Years of Growth

Recently, Lauren Cheramie, a nola.com staff writer interviewed Darlene Adams Rowland, the executive director of Big River Economic and Agricultural Development Alliance (BREADA), which oversees numerous locations of Baton Rogue’s Red Stick Farmers Market. The interview gave insight into how this farmers market grew from its origins as an LSU thesis project into much more.

BREADA, the nonprofit organization of which Darlene Adams Rowland is the executive director, works to connect itslocal community to fresh, healthy food and to create more economic opportunities for small family farmers in Louisiana. The Red Stick Farmers Market, which now has four locations that are overseen by Rowlands, originally began as the thesis project of an LSU architecture student named Chris Pampany, under professor Suzanne Turner’sdirection. The first market was then held in November of 1996 in the Government building parking lot in downtown Baton Rouge, and it was officially recognized as a 501© 3 non-profit organization that same year.

Rowlands sees BREADA as “more than just a farmer’s market,” especially since the popularity of farmers markets has risen across the country in the 26 years since the Red Stick Farmers Market’s original conception. Farmers markets not only allow for food distribution and commerce, but for many areas of the country, they stand as a tenet of community gathering.

Rowlands stated the nonprofit’s mission by saying, “we look at our mission as sort of three-pronged. First, supporting and sustaining small family farmers. Second, connecting the community with fresh, healthy food. Third, creating community and a space for people to connect and be together. We saw that was so important right after Hurricane Ida, and of course after the pandemic.”

One of the largest events in BREADA’s growth was the establishment of the Louisiana Small Farm Survival Fund at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation in 2005. This fund, which has since given approximately $400,000 in direct grants to small farmers since its 2005 conception, was designed to assist small farmers after any type of natural disaster or weather-related event. This is obviously needed in south Louisiana when devastating hurricanes continually threaten farm infrastructure and crops, so when this happens BREADA’s fund is able to be distributed to get farmers back on their feet.

Another milestone in BREADA’s history is its ability to accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at all of its farmers market locations. Additionally, they are able to double all transactions for low-income families that use SNAP thanks to, according to Rowland, “a successful campaign with the legislature to fund that on a statewide level so that every farmers market in Louisiana will have access to match and double those transactions.”

Rowland is a member of the LSU Agriculture Leadership Class’s Class XVII, and she regularly meets with state and national agricultural leaders in order to address issues facing Louisiana farmers. For over a decade, she has also been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and has even served on their board of directors as secretary, vice president of communications, and governmental relations chair.

Additionally, Rowland is also an accomplished writer, as she is a contributor to Country Roads Magazine, where she curates compelling stories that highlight local foodways and travel. Furthermore, she is the recipient of the 2022 John W. Barton Sr. Excellence in Nonprofit Management Rising Star Award.

When asked about what plans BREADA has for Baton Rouge farmers markets in 2023, Rowlands said, “we’ll be starting the renovation of Main Street Market. A lot of people don’t realize that BREADA also manages the brick-and-mortar facility downtown, Monday through Saturday, six days a week. The state will be embarking on a renovation of that facility sometime in 2023, so that will be exciting. We’re also moving into advocacy so that we can look out for those smaller markets that are just starting like BREADA 26 years ago. We consider ourselves a mentor to other small markets throughout the state.”

For more Louisiana-related articles, click here.

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket with Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Looking for a delicious and effortless way to cook up a tasty beef brisket? Look no further than this beef brisket slow cooker recipe from the food blog Recipe Tin Eats. With only a few ingredients and minimal prep time, you’ll have a flavorful BBQ-style beef brisket that will be sure to impress your family and friends. Read on to find out how it’s done!



  1. You’ll want to begin this recipe with the brisket dry rub portion of the ingredients. You’ll mix the seasonings together and then rub them all over the brisket from top to bottom. Then, if time permits, you’ll leave them together for anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Doing so a full day ahead of time isn’t required, but the longer you let the dry rub rest atop the beef brisket, the more flavorful the final product.
  2. Next, take the ingredients for your barbeque sauce, and combine them inside a slow cooker. Mix these ingredients and then add your beef brisket to the slow cooker. It’s okay if you need to “squish” the brisket in order for it to fit.
  3. The next step is to essentially “slow cook” your seasoned beef brisket for anywhere from 8 to 10 hours. If you’re using a pressure cooker instead, you’ll cook it for 2 hours, and if you’re cooking this brisket in the oven you can see the specific instructions in the Notes section below.
  4. After a maximum of 10 hours in the slow cooker, you’ll remove the beef brisket and place it onto a tray. Then take the liquid that’s inside the slow cooker and pour it into a saucepan. You’ll bring this to a simmer over medium-high heat and reduce this to a syrup-like consistency. The more that it cools down, the thicker this liquid will become.
  5. Meanwhile, you’ll take your beef brisket and drizzle the vegetable oil on top of it and roast it in an oven set at 390°F for 15 minutes. You’ll roast the brisket until brown spots appear on its exterior, then you will remove it from the oven and baste generously with the reduced sauce. Return the brisket to the oven for an additional 5 minutes, remove it, baste it again, and return it to the oven for 5-10 minutes. Keep roasting it until it caramelizes.
  6. When you’re ready to serve the beef brisket, you’ll slice it thinly across the grain and serve it with the remaining barbeque sauce.


  • If you’re choosing to roast this brisket in the oven instead of a slow cooker, then you’ll put the sauce ingredients in a roasting pan, add 2 cups water, mix it up, add beef, and cover it with a lid or double layer of foil. 3. Bake at 320°F for 4 hours, then uncovered for 30 minutes, until it’s fork tender. Baste every hour or so with pan juices. Check every now and then to ensure that the liquid doesn’t reduce beyond a barbeque sauce consistency, and if it does simply add water.
  • Excellent side dishes for this recipe include coleslaw or mashed potatoes, as these are always a popular choice when it comes to beef brisket side dishes. Another great option is roasted vegetables. This is a great way to get your veggies in while also enjoying the delicious flavor of beef brisket.

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The Best Southern Lakes to Visit in 2023

Simply put, there’s nothing quite like a day spent out on the lake. Whether you prefer fishing, boating, or simply soaking up the sun, there’s something magical about spending time on a large body of water surrounded by nature. If you’re looking to experience this magic for yourself, then look no further than the wide array of Southern Lakes, and thanks to this travel blog post from Southern Living, you’ll have all that you need to visit and enjoy some of the most beautiful and tranquil lakes in the country.

Lake Lanier, Georgia

If you’re looking for an ideal lake destination in the American South, know that you can’t go wrong with Lake Lanier. The Peach State’s Lake Lanier Islands is a resort that’s made up of over 200 guestrooms and 30 charming cottages that perch themselves above Lake Lanier. Located just north of Atlanta, Lake Lanier makes itself a convenient getaway destination for city dwellers.

But don’t let its proximity to the city fool you; the Lake Lanier Islands is a true oasis, complete with sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush vegetation. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy at the lake, including swimming, sunbathing, fishing, boating, and hiking. Then, when you’re ready to take a break from the outdoors, you can retreat to one of the islands’ many restaurants or shops. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a reliable vacation spot, Georgia’s Lake Lanier Islands is a destination that is sure to please.

Douglas Lake, Tennessee

Tennessee’s Lake Douglas or Douglas Lake is one of the best lakes in the Southern United States for a number of reasons. First, it is one of the largest lakes in the region, with over 20,000 acres of surface area. Second, it is located in a beautiful setting among the rolling hills of Tennessee. Third, it is one of the most popular and rewarding destinations for both fishing and recreation. This is because Douglas Lake is home to a variety of fish species,including bass, crappie, catfish, and trout. Lastly, Douglas Lake is surrounded by a number of parks and public access areas, making it easy to enjoy the lake whether you are camping, hiking, picnicking, or just enjoying a day out on the water. If you are looking for a great lake to visit in the Southern United States, be sure to put Tennessee’s Douglas Lake at the top of your list!

Lake Austin, Texas

Lake Austin is a wonderfully popular reservoir located on the Colorado River in Central Texas. The city of Austin owns more than 22,000 acres of land along the shores of Lake Austin, meaning that the lakeshore is also home to several public parks, including Bull Creek District Park, Emma Long Metropolitan Park, Mount Bonnell Shores Park, Red Bud Isle, West Bouldin Creek Greenbelt, and Zilker Metropolitan Park, so there’s no shortage of recreational space when you visit Lake Austin.

Lake Austin is well known for its recreational opportunities. The lake is widely considered to be one of the best places in central Texas to boat, fish, and swim. The Lower Colorado River Authority operates several public boat ramps around the lake and there are numerous private marinas as well. Fishing is popular on Lake Austin for species such as largemouth bass, catfish, and sunfish. The lake is also a popular swimming destination with several public beaches open year-round.

Lake Ouachita, Arkansas

Located near Hot Springs and within the picturesque Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas’s Lake Ouachita is not only the largest man-made lake in Arkansas, but it’s one of the best lakes in the Southern United States. The lake itself encompasses 1,000 miles of shoreline and stretches over 40 acres, making its clear waters and scenic beauty the perfect destination for swimming, fishing, boating, and much more. With its towering mountains and deep blue waters, it’s no wonder Lake Ouachita is such a popular destination.

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Your Guide to Visiting Ohio

Filled with stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, and plenty of entertainment options, the exciting state of Ohio offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a week-long adventure, there is something in Ohio that will make your trip an unforgettable one. In this travel guide, which is courtesy of the travel blog iExplore, you can peruse some of the best places to visit in Ohio and what makes them special, as this comprehensive guide will help you plan the perfect Ohio getaway in 2023.

Simply stated, there’s something to do in Ohio; from world-renowned museums and art galleries to trendy boutiquesand farmers markets. You can spend a day browsing the shops in downtown Cleveland or taking in the sights and sounds of Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district. This state has plenty to offer in the way of shopping and leisure, and when it comes to finding the perfect place to relax and unwind, you’ll be spoiled for choice with the Buckeye State’s many scenic parks, outdoor recreation areas, and charming small towns.

If you’re seeking specific events to take part in, you’re in luck as there’s always something going on in Ohio. The Cincinnati Reds Festival, or Redsfest, is one of the biggest baseball-themed events in the country. The four-day festival celebrates all things related to the Cincinnati Reds, including America’s pastime. There are interactive games, autograph signings, and plenty of family fun. Additionally, the Cleveland International Film Festival is one of the largest film festivals in North America. The festival showcases over 1000 films from more than 60 countries, making it a truly international event. The Columbus Arts Festival is a three-day celebration of the arts, featuring over 400 artists from around the world. The festival also includes live music, dance performances, and delicious food.

If you want to visit a reliable establishment in Ohio that’s sure to blow your mind, whether you’re looking for a unique gift or you just want to explore Ohio’s rich history, there are plenty of shopping and leisure options to choose from. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is one of the top zoos in the country, and features over 500 animal species and3,000 plant varieties. The zoo also has a number of unique shops, cafes, and attractions, making it a great place to spend a day. The Cleveland Museum of Art is one of the most prestigious art museums in the United States, and it features an impressive collection of both modern and classical art. The museum is also home to a number of unique shops and eateries, making it a great place to spend an afternoon. Similarly, the Columbus Museum of Art is another top art museum in Ohio and features an extensive collection of American art.

When deciding the best time to visit Ohio, you should know that it depends on what you want to do while you’re here. This is due to the face that the state’s climate ranges from humid summers to cold, snowy winters. For example, if you’re interested in exploring the state’s many parks and outdoor attractions, the spring and summer months are ideal. However, if you’d prefer to experience Ohio’s cities and take advantage of its many indoor attractions, the fall and winter months are better. No matter when you come, though, you’re sure to find plenty to keep you busy.

When it comes to what city to visit, there are plenty of options to check out for different reasons. Cleveland is the state’s largest city, and is located on the shores of Lake Erie. The city is known for its museums and cultural institutions, as well as its professional sports teams. Columbus is the state capital and is the site of the Ohio State University. The city has a lively downtown area with many restaurants and bars, and is also home to a variety of museums and theaters.

The city of Cincinnati is located in southwestern Ohio, on the Ohio River. The city is known for its large collection of art museums, as well as its historic architecture. Located in northwestern Ohio, the city of Toledo is found on the shores of Lake Erie. The city has a strong manufacturing heritage, and is also home to a number of universities and colleges. Lastly, Dayton is located in southwestern Ohio, and is home to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The city is known for its contributions to aviation, as well as its many music venues.

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